Sacred Texts  Christianity  Early Church Fathers  Index  Previous  Next 

Chapter XXXVI.—The Parables of the Importunate Widow, and of the Pharisee and the Publican. Christ’s Answer to the Rich Ruler, the Cure of the Blind Man. His Salutation—Son of David. All Proofs of Christ’s Relation to the Creator, Marcion’s Antithesis Between David and Christ Confuted.

When He recommends perseverance and earnestness in prayer, He sets before us the parable of the judge who was compelled to listen to the widow, owing to the earnestness and importunity of her requests. 4917 He show us that it is God the judge whom we must importune with prayer, and not Himself, if He is not Himself the judge. But He added, that “God would avenge His own elect.” 4918 Since, then, He who judges will also Himself be the avenger, He proved that the Creator p. 410 is on that account the specially good God, 4919 whom He represented as the avenger of His own elect, who cry day and night to Him. And yet, when He introduces to our view the Creator’s temple, and describes two men worshipping therein with diverse feelings—the Pharisee in pride, the publican in humility—and shows us how they accordingly went down to their homes, one rejected, 4920 the other justified, 4921 He surely, by thus teaching us the proper discipline of prayer, has determined that that God must be prayed to from whom men were to receive this discipline of prayer—whether condemnatory of pride, or justifying in humility. 4922 I do not find from Christ any temple, any suppliants, any sentence (of approval or condemnation) belonging to any other god than the Creator. Him does He enjoin us to worship in humility, as the lifter-up of the humble, not in pride, because He brings down 4923 the proud. What other god has He manifested to me to receive my supplications?  With what formula of worship, with what hope (shall I approach him?) I trow, none.  For the prayer which He has taught us suits, as we have proved, 4924 none but the Creator. It is, of course, another matter if He does not wish to be prayed to, because He is the supremely and spontaneously good God! But who is this good God? There is, He says, “none but one.” 4925 It is not as if He had shown us that one of two gods was the supremely good; but He expressly asserts that there is one only good God, who is the only good, because He is the only God. Now, undoubtedly, 4926 He is the good God who “sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust, and maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good;” 4927 sustaining and nourishing and assisting even Marcionites themselves! When afterwards “a certain man asked him, ‘Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’” (Jesus) inquired whether he knew (that is, in other words, whether he kept) the commandments of the Creator, in order to testify 4928 that it was by the Creator’s precepts that eternal life is acquired. 4929 Then, when he affirmed that from his youth up he had kept all the principal commandments, (Jesus) said to him: “One thing thou yet lackest: sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 4930 Well now, Marcion, and all ye who are companions in misery, and associates in hatred 4931 with that heretic, what will you dare say to this? Did Christ rescind the forementioned commandments: “Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother?” Or did He both keep them, and then add 4932 what was wanting to them? This very precept, however, about giving to the poor, was very largely 4933 diffused through the pages of the law and the prophets. This vainglorious observer of the commandments was therefore convicted 4934 of holding money in much higher estimation (than charity). This verity of the gospel then stands unimpaired: “I am not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but rather to fulfil them.” 4935 He also dissipated other doubts, when He declared that the name of God and of the Good belonged to one and the same being, at whose disposal were also the everlasting life and the treasure in heaven and Himself too—whose commandments He both maintained and augmented with His own supplementary precepts. He may likewise be discovered in the following passage of Micah, saying: “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to be ready to follow the Lord thy God?” 4936 Now Christ is the man who tells us what is good, even the knowledge of the law. “Thou knowest,” says He, “the commandments.” “To do justly”—“Sell all that thou hast;” “to love mercy”—“Give to the poor:” “and to be ready to walk with God”—“And come,” says He, “follow me.” 4937 The Jewish nation was from its beginning so carefully divided into tribes and clans, and families and houses, that no man could very well have been ignorant of his descent—even from the recent assessments of Augustus, which were still probably extant at this time. 4938 But the Jesus of Marcion (although there could be no doubt of a person’s having been born, who was seen to be a man), as being unborn, could not, of course, have possessed any public testimonial 4939 of his descent, but was to be regarded as one of that obscure class of whom nothing was in any way p. 411 known.  Why then did the blind man, on hearing that He was passing by, exclaim, “Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me?” 4940 unless he was considered, in no uncertain manner, 4941 to be the Son of David (in other words, to belong to David’s family) through his mother and his brethren, who at some time or other had been made known to him by public notoriety? “Those, however, who went before rebuked the blind man, that he should hold his peace.” 4942 And properly enough; because he was very noisy, not because he was wrong about the son of David. Else you must show me, that those who rebuked him were aware that Jesus was not the Son of David, in order that they may be supposed to have had this reason for imposing silence on the blind man. But even if you could show me this, still (the blind man) would more readily have presumed that they were ignorant, than that the Lord could possibly have permitted an untrue exclamation about Himself. But the Lord “stood patient.” 4943 Yes; but not as confirming the error, for, on the contrary, He rather displayed the Creator.  Surely He could not have first removed this man’s blindness, in order that he might afterwards cease to regard Him as the Son of David! However, 4944 that you may not slander 4945 His patience, nor fasten on Him any charge of dissimulation, nor deny Him to be the Son of David, He very pointedly confirmed the exclamation of the blind man—both by the actual gift of healing, and by bearing testimony to his faith: “Thy faith,” say Christ, “hath made thee whole.” 4946 What would you have the blind man’s faith to have been? That Jesus was descended from that (alien) god (of Marcion), to subvert the Creator and overthrow the law and the prophets? That He was not the destined offshoot from the root of Jesse, and the fruit of David’s loins, the restorer 4947 also of the blind? But I apprehend there were at that time no such stone-blind persons as Marcion, that an opinion like this could have constituted the faith of the blind man, and have induced him to confide in the mere name4948 of Jesus, the Son of David. He, who knew all this of Himself, 4949 and wished others to know it also, endowed the faith of this man—although it was already gifted with a better sight, and although it was in possession of the true light—with the external vision likewise, in order that we too might learn the rule of faith, and at the same time find its recompense. Whosoever wishes to see Jesus the Son of David must believe in Him; through the Virgin’s birth. 4950 He who will not believe this will not hear from Him the salutation, “Thy faith hath saved thee.” And so he will remain blind, falling into Antithesis after Antithesis, which mutually destroy each other, 4951 just as “the blind man leads the blind down into the ditch.” 4952 For (here is one of Marcion’s Antitheses): whereas David in old time, in the capture of Sion, was offended by the blind who opposed his admission (into the stronghold) 4953 —in which respect (I should rather say) that they were a type of people equally blind, 4954 who in after-times would not admit Christ to be the son of David—so, on the contrary, Christ succoured the blind man, to show by this act that He was not David’s son, and how different in disposition He was, kind to the blind, while David ordered them to be slain. 4955 If all this were so, why did Marcion allege that the blind man’s faith was of so worthless 4956 a stamp? The fact is, 4957 the Son of David so acted, 4958 that the Antithesis must lose its point by its own absurdity. 4959 Those persons who offended David were blind, and the man who now presents himself as a suppliant to David’s son is afflicted with the same infirmity. 4960 Therefore the Son of David was appeased with some sort of satisfaction by the blind man when He restored him to sight, and added His approval of the faith which had led him to believe the very truth, that he must win to his help 4961 the Son of David by earnest entreaty.  But, after all, I suspect that it was the audacity (of the old Jebusites) which offended David, and not their malady.



Luke xviii. 1-8.


Luke 18:7, 8.


Meliorem Deum.




Luke xviii. 10-14.


Sive reprobatricem superbiæ, sive justificatricem humilitatis.




See above, chap. xxvi. p. 392.


Luke xviii. 19.




Matt. v. 45.


Ad contestandum.


Luke xviii. 18-20.


Luke 18:21, 22.


See above, chap. ix., near the beginning.


Adjecit quod deerat.






Matt. v. 17.


Mic. vi. 8. The last clause agrees with the Septuagint: καὶ ἕτοιμον εἶναι τοῦ πορεύεσθαι μετὰ Κυρίου Θεοῦ σου.


The clauses of Christ’s words, which are here adapted to Micah’s, are in every case broken with an inquit.


Tunc pendentibus: i.e., at the time mentioned in the story of the blind man.




Luke xviii. 38.


Non temere.


Luke xviii. 39.


Luke xviii. 40.






Luke xviii. 42.




That is, in the sound only, and phantom of the word; an allusion to the Docetic absurdity of Marcion.


That is, that He was “Son of David,” etc.


Censum: that is, must believe Him born of her.


This, perhaps, is the meaning in a clause which is itself more antithetical than clear: “Ruens in antithesim, ruentem et ipsam antithesim.”


In book iii. chap. vii. (at the beginning), occurs the same proverb of Marcion and the Jews. See p. 327.


See 2 Sam. v. 6-8.


The Marcionites.


See 2 Sam. v. 8.


Fidei equidem pravæ: see preceding page, note 3.




Et hoc filius David: i.e., præstitit, “showed Himself good,” perhaps.


De suo retundendam. Instead of contrast, he shows the similarity of the cases.


Ejusdem carnis: i.e., infirmæ (Oehler).


Exorandum sibi.

Next: Christ and Zacchæus.  The Salvation of the Body as Denied by Marcion. The Parable of the Ten Servants Entrusted with Ten Pounds. Christ a Judge, Who is to Administer the Will of the Austere Man, I.e. The Creator.