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There is no argument deducible from the statement of Christ regarding this man to favor the sects that are outside the Catholic Church. This man arrogated to himself no apostolic powers; he formed no independent sect. He was a member of Christ's Church, an ally of the Apostles, a man who had believed even to the extent of the working of great miracles. We know from history that the working of miracles was not confined to the Apostles or to their successors. It came to the members of the early Church, to laymen and to priests alike. Only the properly commissioned ones have a right to exercise the functions of the priesthood of the New Law, but the gift of faith is the common gift to all men, and the casting out of demons is the effect of a high degree of faith.
ΜATT. XVIII. 15-35 15. And if thy brother sin 15. Εάν δε αμαρτήση ο αδελ. against thee, go, show him his φός σου, ύπαγε, έλεγξον αυτόν fault between thee and him μεταξύ σου και αυτού μόνου εάν alone: if he hear thee, thou hast σου ακούση, έκέρδησας τον άδελgained thy brother.
φόν σου. 16. But if he hear thee not, 16. Εάν δε μή ακούση, take with thee one or two more, παράλαβε έτι ένα ή δύο μετά σου, that at the mouth of two wit- ένα επί στόματος δύο μαρτύρων ή nesses or three every word may τριών σταθή πάν ρήμα. be established. .
17. Εάν δε παρακούση αυτών, 17. And if he refuse to hear είπε τη εκκλησία: εάν δε και της them, tell it unto the church: εκκλησίας παρακούση, έστω and if he refuse to hear the ώσπερ ο εθνικός και ο τελώνης. church also, let him be unto thee as the Gentile and the publican.
18. Verily I say unto you: 18. 'Αμήν λέγω υμίν: “Όσα What things soever ye shall αν δήσητε επί της γης, έσται δεδεbind on earth shall be bound μένα εν ουρανώ: και όσα εάν λύσητε in Heaven: and what things επί της γης, έσται λελυμένα εν soever ye shall loose on earth ουρανώ. shall be loosed in Heaven.
19. Again I say unto you, 19. Πάλιν αμήν λέγω υμίν: that if two of you shall agree "Οτι εαν δύο συμφωνήσωσιν on earth as touching anything υμών επί της γης περί παντός πράγthat they shall ask, it shall be ματος, ού εάν αιτήσωνται, γενήσεται
done for them of my Father αυτοίς παρά του Πατρός μου, του who is in Heaven.
έν ουρανοίς. For where two or three 20. Ου γάρ εισιν δύο ή τρείς are gathered together in my συνηγμένοι εις το εμόν όνομα, έχει name, there am I in the midst είμι εν μέσω αυτών. of them.
Then came Peter, and 21. Τότε προσελθών ο Πέτρος said to him: Lord, how oft shall είπεν αυτώ: Κύριε, ποσάκις αμαρmy brother sin against me, and τήσει ο αδελφός μου εις εμέ, και I forgive him? until seven times? αφήσω αυτώ; έως επτάκις;
Jesus saith unto him: I 22. Λέγει αυτώ ο Ιησούς: Ού say not unto thee: Until seven λέγω σοι: "Εως επτάκις, αλλ' έως times; but: Until seventy times έβδομηκοντάκις επτά.
23. Therefore is the king
τούτο ώμοιώθη ή dom of Heaven likened unto a βασιλεία των ουρανών ανθρώπω certain king, who would make βασιλεί, δς ηθέλησεν συνάραι λόγον a reckoning with his servants. μετά των δούλων αυτού. 24.
And when he had be- 24. 'Aρξαμένου δε αυτού συνgun to reckon, one was brought αίρειν, προσήχθη εις αυτό οφειλέunto him, who owed him ten της μυρίων ταλάντων. thousand talents.
25. But forasmuch as he had 25. Μη έχοντος αυτού not wherewith to pay, his lord
αποδούναι, εκέλευσεν αυτόν ο κύριος commanded him to be sold, and παθήναι, και την γυναίκα, και τα his wife, and children, and all τέκνα, και πάντα όσα έχει, και that he had, and payment be
αποδοθήναι. made. .
26. The servant therefore fell 26. Πεσών ούν ο δούλος προσdown and worshipped him, say- εχύνει αυτό λέγων: Μακροθύμηing: Lord, have patience with σον επ' εμοί, και πάντα αποδώσω me, and I will pay thee all.
27. And the lord of that 27. Σπλαγχνισθείς δε ο κύριος servant, being moved with com- του δούλου, απέλυσεν αυτόν, και passion, released him, and for- το δάνειον αφήκεν αυτώ. gave him the debt. .
28. But that servant went 28. Εξελθών ο δούλος, out, and found one of his fel- εύρεν ένα των συνδούλων αυτού, low-servants, who owed him a δς ώφειλεν αυτώ εκατόν δηνάρια: hundred pence: and he laid hold και κρατήσας αυτόν έπνιγε, λέγων: on him, and took him by the 'Απόδος εί τι οφείλεις.
throat, saying: Pay what thou owest.
29. So his fellow-servant fell 29. Πεσών ούν ο σύνδουλος down and besought him, saying: αυτού, παρεκάλει αυτόν, λέγων: Have patience with me, and I Μακροθύμησον επ' εμοί, και αποwill pay thee.
δώσω σοι. 30. And he would not: but 30. Ο δε ουκ ήθελεν: αλλά went and cast him into prison, απελθών έβαλεν αυτόν εις φυλακήν, till he should pay that which έως αποδώ το οφειλόμενον. was due.
. * 31.
So when his fellow-sery- 31. 'Ιδόντες ούν αυτού οι σύνants saw what was done, they δουλοι τα γενόμενα, ελυπήθησαν were exceeding sorry, and came σφόδρα, και ελθόντες διεσάφησαν and told unto their lord all that τώ κυρίω εαυτών πάντα τα γενόμενα. was done.
32. Then his lord called him 32. Τότε προσκαλεσάμενος αυτόν unto him, and saith to him: ο κύριος αυτού, λέγει αυτώ: Thou wicked servant, I for- Δούλε πονηρέ, πάσαν την οφειλών gave thee all that debt, be- εκείνην αφήκά σου, έπει παρεκάλε
thou besoughtest me: 33. Shouldest not thou also 33. Ουκ έδει και σε ελεήσαι have had mercy on thy fellow- τον σύνδουλόν σου, ώς καγώ σε servant, even as I had mercy on ηλέησα; thee? 34.
And his lord was angry, 34. Και όργισθείς ο κύριος and delivered him to the tor- αυτού παρέδωκεν αυτόν τοίς βασαmentors, till he should pay all ισταίς, έως oύ αποδώ πάν το that was due. .
οφειλόμενον. 35. So shall also my Heav- 35. Ούτως και ο Πατήρ μου enly Father do unto you, if ye ο ουράνιος ποιήσει υμίν, εαν μη forgive not everyone his brother αφήτε έκαστος τώ αδελφή αυτού from your hearts.
από των καρδιών υμών. In the fifteenth verse eis oé is omitted in x and B. In the twenty-fourth verse tipoonvexon is the common reading of the codices. B and D have προσήχθη. In the twenty-fifth verse B alone has έχει: the other authorities have είχεν. Ιη the twenty-sixth verse Kúple is added in x and in thirteen other uncial codices. This reading is also followed by many codices of the Vulgate, and by all the other ancient versions. In the twenty-seventh verse εκείνου is added after δούλου in X, D, and many other uncial codices and versions. In the twenty-ninth verse eis tous módas aŭtoll is added in C?, E. F, H, K, M, S, U, V, P, A, II, et al. It is also adopted hy the Peshitto and Armenian versions. In the same verse távta is added at the end of the verse in 8°, C?, L, I, I, K, et al. This is the reading also of most of the versions.
The omission of eis oé in X and B throws a great doubt on the reading. Hence there arises a great uncertainty in regard to the sense. If we omit the phrase, the sense becomes general, and establishes the Scriptural basis for fraternal correction.
Though many grave authorities expunge the phrase, and treat the passage as a universal precept, it seems more probable that the Saviour here deals with the Christian's line of duty in regard to personal offenses. The whole context is aimed to commend Christian brotherhood, and to condemn hatred and strife. The argument of the opposition, that the offended party would be an unfit person to undertake the task of showing the brother his fault is absurd. Many a time peace has been established between offender and offended by a calm, dispassionate Christian conference between the persons. In most cases misunderstanding of each other's motives is a powerful factor in disagreements and contentions. If two persons at variance with each other should meet and confer in the spirit of these words of Christ, peace would be the inevitable result. A truly Christian conference would reveal just what was the actuating motive of the injury, just where the chief point of injury lay, and would open a way to a redress of the grievance. Of course, Christ is not speaking of the way to deal with the crimes of criminals. The way to deal with a man who is a menace to society is to hunt him down, and punish him in a manner that will preserve society, and at the same time be remedial, if possible, to the man. Christ is speaking of the relations that should exist between brother Christians. The best of men may in some way or other commit an offense against another. The Church militant is not made up of sinless perfect men. It is composed of toiling combatants, who fall and rise, and labor to put down the old nature that wars against all that is of God.
Now to hold these in the bond of perfection the Saviour gives a rule that is worthy of the wisdom of the Son of God. If men would obey it, the wild surges of hate of man against man would cease.
We do not deny that the moral obligation of fraternal correction is incumbent on men, but the proofs for its existence must be sought from other sources than from this text.
Another proof that the present text has regard to personal offenses is found in St. Luke. XI. 3-4, where the whole theme treated is identical with the present theme of Matthew. Now in Luke's text, though in all the best codices the eis dé is omitted in the third verse, it is expressed in the fourth verse in all the codices, so that no doubt exists that it is implied in the third verse. Wherefore, even if it were clearly proven that the eis oé were absent from Matthew's original, we would still believe that it must be implied. Thus Palmieri, in his note to paragraph 153 of Ballerini's Opus Theol. Moralis, admits that the present passage treats of a personal injury. Palmieri endorses the opinion of Maldonatus that, though the Lord spoke only of a personal offense, he wished all fraternal correction to be made in accordance with the rules laid down for this particular species of the same.
The present words of Christ are closely bound up with the whole theme which treats of forgiveness of injuries and of brotherly love. The precept of fraternal correction has a sufficient foundation in its deduction from the great universal law of charity. With the limitations under which it binds, it is not a difficult thing to do. It naturally follows from the law of the love of neighbor. But Christ is here speaking of a thing inuch harder to do. He is speaking of the Christian's obligations, when he is wronged by a brother. The natural impulse is to yield to anger, and straightway by word and deed to seek revenge. The prouder a man is, the more intense will be his anger, and the stronger his desire for revenge. This is the way of the world, and men follow it, even while they profess to be Christians. If remonstrated with, these men will tell you with clenched teeth and lips drawn by anger that other men act in the same manner. If you charge them in the name of the Gospel of Christ to put away the thirst for revenge, they