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Luke 10:25-37 - Patristic Commentary

Patristic Commentary

OVERVIEW; The lawyer wants to entrap Jesus, but in doing so he shows that he does not understand the mystery of the incarnation, for this is not a mere man before him but the very Son of God (CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA). The answer assumes that the way of Torah is the way of life. All the teaching of Jesus stays aloft on the two wings of these two commandments (EPHREM THE SYRIAN). For to know the law is to know the sacrament of the divine incarnation, which is to know the truth (AMBROSE). Jesus' response to the lawyer's question about eternal life shows that the lawyer has missed his prey and that his interrogation of Jesus will bear no fruit (CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA).

The good Samaritan is his neighbor because he showed pity (ORIGEN). For all people are our neighbors, not only our brothers and relatives but also strangers (JEROME). Jericho is an image of the world to which Adam has been cast out from Paradise. It is a great surprise that the third traveler is a Samaritan and he is portrayed as the hero in the story-for this Samaritan is none other than Christ (AMBROSE).

Most of the church fathers treat the parable of the Good Samaritan allegorically with a christological interpretation (ORIGEN). It identifies the good Samaritan with Jesus, the oil and wine as the sacraments, and the inn as the church, showing that God's mercy may be found only in the sacraments of the church (AUGUSTINE). By binding up the wounds of the man, the Samaritan shows that he has many remedies for healing. The next day when he arrives is the Lord's day, the day of resurrection. The two pence he gives him are the two Testaments for preaching the gospel, for the inn-keeper is a steward of the mysteries (AMBROSE). Legalists who cross-examine Jesus make no progress until they recognize that they are the man half dead and Jesus is the one who does mercy as neighbor, for he is the one who wishes to be called our neighbor (AUGUSTINE), and we now love him as we love our neighbor (AMBROSE).

10:25 Inheriting Eternal Life


CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA: Anyone who thoroughly under-stands the mystery of the incarnation may say to the lawyer, "If you were skillful in the law and in the meaning of its hidden teaching, you would not forget who he is you try to tempt. You thought that he was a mere man, only man, and not God who appeared in human likeness, knows what is secret, and can look into the hearts of those who approach him. In many ways Emmanuel is depicted to you by the shadowing of Moses. You saw him there sacrificed as a lamb, yet conquering the destroyer and abolishing death by his blood. You saw him in the arrangement of the ark, in which the divine law was deposited. In his holy flesh he was as in an ark, being the Word of the Father, the Son that was begotten of him by nature. You saw him as the mercy seat in the holy tabernacle, around which stood the seraphim," He is our mercy seat for pardon of our sins. Yes, and even as man he is glorified by the seraphim, who are the intelligent and holy powers above. They stand around his divine and exalted throne. COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 68.

10:26-28 Love God and One's Neighbor


EPHREM THE SYRIAN: What is the greatest and first commandment of the law? He said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God, and your neighbor as yourself.... All this teaching is held high through the two commandments, as though by means of two wings, that is, through the love of God and of humanity. COMMENTARY ON



AMBROSE: With these verses belongs the text that exposes those who seem to them-selves to be experts on the law, who keep the letter of the law but disregard its spirit. He teaches that they are ignorant of the law from its very first chapter. He proves this immediately at the beginning of the law. Both the Father and the Son proclaimed and announced the sacrament of the divine incarnation, saying, "You shall love the Lord your God" and "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." The Lord said to the lawyer, "Do this, and you shall live." He who did not know his neighbor, because he did not believe in Christ, answered, "Who is my neighbor?" Whoever does not know Christ does not know the law either. How can he know the law when he is ignorant of the Truth, since the law proclaims the Truth? EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 7.69-70.


CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA: He says, "What is written in the law? How do you read?" The lawyer repeated what is in the law. As if to punish his wickedness and reprove his malicious purpose, Christ, knowing all things, says, "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live." The lawyer missed his prey. He shot off the mark. His wickedness is unsuccessful. The sting of envy ceased. The net of deceit is torn. His sowing bears no fruit, and his toil gains no profit. As some ship overwhelmed by misfortune, he has suffered a bitter shipwreck. COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 69.

10:29 Who Is One's Neighbor?


ORIGEN: He [the Lord] teaches that the man going down was the neighbor of no one except of him who wanted to keep the commandments and prepare himself to be a neighbor to every one that needs help. This is what is found after the end of the parable, "Which of these three does it seem to you is the neighbor of the man who fell among robbers?" Neither the priest nor the Levite was his neighbor, but as the teacher of the law himself answered "he who showed pity" was his neighbor. The Savior says, "Go, and do likewise." HOMILIES ON THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 34.2."


JEROME: Some think that their neighbor is their brother, family, relative or their kinsman. Our Lord teaches who our neighbor is in the Gospel parable of a certain man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho. ... Everyone is our neighbor, and we should not harm anyone. If, on the contrary, we under-stand our fellow human beings to be only our brother and relatives, is it then permissible to do evil to strangers? God forbid such a belief! We are neighbors, all people to all people, for we have one Father. HOMILY ON PSALM 14 (is).

10:30-35 The Parable of the Good Samaritan


Jericho is an image of this world. Adam, cast out from Paradise," that heavenly Jerusalem, descended to it by the mistake of his transgression, that is, departing from the living to hell, for whom change not of place but of conduct made the exile of his nature. He was greatly changed from that Adam who enjoyed eternal blessedness. When he turned aside to worldly sins, Adam fell among thieves, among whom he would not have fallen if he had not strayed from the heavenly command and made himself vulnerable to them. Who are those thieves, if not the angels of night and darkness, who sometimes transform them-selves into angels of light but cannot persevere? These first steal the clothes of spiritual grace that we have received and are then accustomed to inflict wounds. If we preserve unstained the garments that we have put on, we cannot feel the robbers' blows. Beware, for fear that you are first stripped as Adam was first stripped of the heavenly command, defrauded of protection, and divested of the garment of faith. He received a mortal wound by which the whole human race would have fallen if that Samaritan, on his journey, had not tended his serious injuries. EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 7.73.


AMBROSE: That extraordinary Samaritan did not himself shun him whom the priest and the Levite had shunned. In the name of a sect, you may not shun him whom you will admire by interpretation of the word. Indeed, "guard" is signified by the name Samaritan. The interpretation means this. Who is the Guard, if not, "The Lord preserves the infants"? Thus, as there is one Jew in the letter and another in the spirit, so there is one Samaritan in public, another in secret. Here the Samaritan is going down. Who is he except he who descended from heaven, who also ascended to heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven? When he sees half-dead him whom none could cure before, like her with an issue of blood who had spent all her inheritance on physicians, he came near him. He became a neighbor by acceptance of our common feeling and kin by the gift of mercy.



ORIGEN: One of the elders wanted to interpret the parable as follows. The man who was going down is Adam. Jerusalem is paradise, and Jericho is the world. The robbers are hostile powers. The priest is the law, the Levite is the prophets, and the Samaritan is Christ. The wounds are disobedience. The beast is the Lord's body. The pandochium (that is, the stable), which accepts all who wish to enter, is the church. The two denarii mean the Father and the Son. The manager of the stable is the head of the church, to whom its care has been entrusted. The fact that the Samaritan promises he will return represents the Savior's second coming....

The Samaritan, "who took pity on the man who had fallen among thieves," is truly a "guardian," and a closer neighbor than the Law and the Prophets. He showed that he was the man's neighbor more by deed than by word. According to the passage that says, "Be imitators of me, as I too am of Christ," it is possible for us to imitate Christ and to pity those who "have fallen among thieves." We can go to them, bind their wounds, pour in oil and wine, put them on our own animals, and bear their burdens. The Son of God encourages us to do things like this. He is speaking not so much to the teacher of the law as to us and to everyone when he says, "Go and do likewise," If we do, we will receive eternal life in Christ Jesus, to whom is glory and power for ages of ages. Amen. HOMILIES ON THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 34.3, 9.


AUGUSTINE: Robbers left you half-dead on the road, but you have been found lying there by the passing and kindly Samaritan. Wine and oil have been poured on you. You have received the sacrament of the only-begotten Son. You have been lifted onto his mule. You have believed that Christ became flesh. You have been brought to the inn, and you are being cured in the church.

That is where and why I am speaking. This is what I too, what all of us are doing. We are per-forming the duties of the innkeeper. He was told, "If you spend any more, I will pay you when I return." If only we spent at least as much as we have received! However much we spend, brothers and sisters, it is the Lord's money. SERMON 179A.7-8.23


AMBROSE: "And bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine." That Physician has many remedies with which he is accustomed to cure. His speech is a remedy. One of his sayings binds up wounds, another treats with oil, another pours in wine. He binds wounds with a stricter rule. He treats with the forgiveness of sins. He stings with the rebuke of judgment as if with wine. EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 7.75.24


AMBROSE: "The next day," what is this next day, if not that day of the Lord's resurrection, of which it was said, "This is the day which the Lord has made"? "He took out two coins, and gave them to the host, and said, 'Take care of him,'" EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 7.79.


AMBROSE: What are those two coins, unless per-haps the two Testaments that contain revealed within them the image of the eternal King, at the price of whose wounds we are healed? Precious blood redeemed us, that we may avoid the sores of final death. EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 7.80.


AMBROSE: Blessed is that innkeeper who can care for another's wounds. Blessed is he to whom Jesus says, "Whatever you shall spend over and above, I will repay you." A good steward is one who also spends over and above. Paul is a good steward, whose sermons and epistles overflow with the knowledge that he received. He followed the moderate command of the Lord with almost immoderate effort of mind and body, so that he raised many from deep sorrow by the stewardship of spiritual exhortation. He was a good keeper of his inn, in which the ass knows his master's crib and the flocks of lambs are enclosed. He feared that the way would be easy for ravening wolves howling outside the corrals to attack the sheepfolds. EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 7.82.

10:36-37 The One Who Showed Mercy


AUGUSTINE: God our Lord wished to be called our neighbor. The Lord Jesus Christ meant that he was the one who gave help to the man lying half-dead on the road, beaten and left by the robbers. The prophet said in prayer, "As a neighbor and as one's own brother, so did I please." Since the divine nature is far superior and above our human nature, the command by which we are to love God is distinct from our love of our neighbor. He shows mercy to us because of his own goodness, while we show mercy to one another because of God's goodness. He has compassion on us so that we may enjoy him completely, while we have compassion on another that we may completely enjoy him. CHRISTIAN INSTRUCTION.


AMBROSE: Since no one is closer than he who tended to our wounds, let us love him as our Lord, and let us love him as our neighbor. Nothing is so close as the head to the members. Let us also love him who is the follower of Christ, let us love him who in unity of body has compassion on another's need. EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 7.84.

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