"St. Paul ... substituted another doctrine for ...the plain and profoundly revolutionary teachings of Jesus." (H.G. Wells, Outline of History 1921.)


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Macarius Magnes - Oldest Systematic Critic of Paul?

Macarius Magnes in his Apocriticus III.30-36 (ca. 300) defended orthodoxy throughout, but when it came to Paul, I dare say he left Paul hanging out to dry, so to speak.

Magnes recreated a debate over Paul's remarks, both stating the criticism and Magnes' answer. But his answers all evade the point, and really are feeble next to the criticisms that are well put, and truly have no answer. I believe Magnes did this because by that means he had no other way to criticize Paul and not appear to be a heretic.

But all his defenses of Jesus' words, etc., were well-defended and convincing. So here is an amazing excerpt from a set of dialogues Magnes created circa 300 AD about Paul visible at this link -- with the footnotes excerpted at the end - yet Paul is devasted by his inconsistencies about the Law, circumcision and pleas for financial support.

To prove my point, I will highlight in purple those aspects of the "Answer" which indeed indict Paul further for hypocrisy and inconsistency or lack of inspiration. Only one precommitted to accept any plausible defense for Paul would not see the good sense in the critic's points, and reject the subtle critique in the so-called "Answer" of Magnes. 

Here from Book III, we read:

CHAPTER XXX. Objection based on the inconsistency of S. Paul, in his circumcising of Timothy (Acts xvi. 3).

He remained a little while in deep and solemn thought, and then said: "You seem to me very much like inexperienced captains, who, while still afloat on the voyage that lies before them, look on themselves as afloat on another sea. Even thus are you seeking for other passages to be laid down by us, although you have  not completed the vital points in the questions which you still have on hand."189

If you are really filled with boldness about the questions, and the points of difficulty have become clear to you, tell us how it was that Paul said, "Being free, I made myself the slave of all, in order that I might gain all" (1 Cor. ix. 19), and how, although he called circumcision "concision," 190 he himself circumcised a certain Timothy, as we are taught in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts xvi. 3). Oh, the downright stupidity of it all! It is such a stage as this that the scenes in the theatre portray, as a means of raising laughter. Such indeed is the exhibition which jugglers give.191 For how could the man be free who is a slave of all ? And how can the man gain all who apes all ?192 For if he is without law to those who are without law,193 as he himself says, and he went with the Jews as a Jew and with others in like manner, truly he was the slave of manifold baseness, and a stranger to freedom and an alien from it; truly he is a servant and minister of other people's wrong doings, and a notable zealot for unseemly things, if he spends his time on each occasion in the baseness of those without law, and appropriates their doings to himself.

These things cannot be the teachings of a sound mind, nor the setting forth of reasoning that is free. But the words imply some one who is somewhat crippled in mind,194 and weak in his reasoning. For if he lives with those who are without law, and also in his writings accepts the Jews' religion gladly, having a share in each, he is confused with each, mingling with the falls of those who are base, and subscribing himself as their companion. For he who draws such a line through circumcision as to remove those who wish to fulfil it, and then performs circumcision himself, stands as the weightiest of all accusers of himself when he says: "If I build again those things which I loosed, I establish myself as a transgressor."

CHAPTER XXXVII. Answer to the objection based on the inconsistency of S. Paul, in his circumcising of Timothy, etc.

When his chosen band had stirred up such a swarm of subjects against Paul, and the multitude of points 195 had at length grown quiet again like bees which have rushed to the attack in dense array, we, being as it were pierced all round by the stings of the difficulties raised, stood and fought against each in dire necessity, saying thus:--- [It is not right that you should abuse a great man for behaving towards those young in faith just as a teacher, or a doctor or a general does. For a teacher educates by imitating the stammering voice of his pupil, a doctor cures by placing himself in the patient's circumstances, and a general wins over a barbarian chief to his king by adopting his customs rather than by force of arms. Paul did similar good by being all things to all men. Sometimes he is the teacher, imitating Gentiles in order to educate them to the Gospel, sometimes the doctor, saying: "Who is weak, and I am not weak ?" as if inflamed with the trouble196 (2 Cor. xi. 29); sometimes the general, softening men's prejudices by his strategy. So he went out to meet both those without law and the Jews, though he did not himself really feel as they.  [MY NOTE: Magnes admits therefore Paul's express hypocrisy.]

Therefore he only adopted circumcision in order to enrich the law with the Gospel by giving way on one point. A good doctor may forbid a certain drug as being harmful, and yet in a bad case he may combine it with other drugs in order to overcome the disease. Just so, Paul rejected circumcision, and yet at a crisis he combined it with the doctrines of the Gospel.197]

CHAPTER XXXII. Objection based on S. Paul's use of the law for his own advantage (as in 1 Cor.9:7, etc.).

[MY NOTE ON PASSAGE AT ISSUE: Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:14 concludes "those who preach the Gospel should receive their living from the Gospel." To prove this, Paul cites from the Law on not muzzling the ox. The fuller context to which Magnes is referencing is: "Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk?Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing?For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.”[a] Is it about oxen that God is concerned?10 Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest.11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? (1 Cor. 9:7-12, NIV.)]


That he dissembles the Gospel for the sake of vainglory, and the law for the sake of covetousness, is plain from his words, "Who ever goeth to war at his own charges? Who shepherdeth the flock and doth not eat of the milk of the flock?" (1 Cor. ix. 7). And, in his desire to get hold of these things, he calls in the law as a supporter of his covetousness, saying, "Or doth not the law say these things ? For in the law of Moses it is written, Thou shall not muzzle an ox that is treading out the corn " (v. 9). Then he adds a statement which is obscure and full of nonsense, by way of cutting off the divine forethought from the brute beasts, saying, "Doth God take care of the oxen, or doth he say it on our account? On our account it was written" (v. 10).203 It seems to me that in saying this he is mocking the wisdom of the Creator, as if it contained no forethought for the things that had long ago been brought into being. For if God does not take care of oxen, pray, why is it written, "He hath subjected all things, sheep and oxen and beasts and birds and the fishes" (Ps. viii. 8-9) ? If He takes account of fishes, much more of oxen which plough and labour. Wherefore I am amazed at_such an impostor, who pays such solemn respect to the law because he is insatiable, for the sake of getting a sufficient contribution from those who are subject to him.

CHAPTER XXXIX. Answer to the objection based on S. Paul's use of the law for his own advantage (1 Cor. ix. 7, etc.).

It is not in order to get something for himself that Paul introduces the comparison of the soldier and the shepherd, but in order to make the Corinthians thankful. For a soldier does his work faithfully only as long as the State pays him; and just so a herald of the Gospel will give his best work when his hearers respond to it. Similarly, the spiritual shepherd's encouragement is to see his sheep with fair fleeces and abundant milk. Again, the labourer sows the seed of the knowledge of God in his hearers' hearts, and is grieved if it does not bear fruit.204

Therefore it was in order to benefit his hearers that Paul introduced these things, and supported them with the witness of the law, so that they might show their gratitude. For the divine grace, though lacking nothing, demands a little answering tribute from those whom it enriches.205]

MY NOTE: But Jesus said take no wages to preach the gospel.

CHAPTER XXXIII. Objection based on his inconsistent attitude towards the law, condemning it in Gal. v. 3 and iii. 10, and approving it in Romans vii. 12 and 14.

Then he suddenly turns like a man who jumps up from sleep scared by a dream, with the cry, "I Paul bear witness that if any man do one thing of the law,206 he is a debtor to do the whole law" (Gal. v. 3). This is instead of saying simply that it is not right to give heed to those things that are spoken by the law. This fine fellow, sound in mind and understanding, instructed in the accuracy of the law of his fathers, who had so often cleverly recalled Moses to mind, appears to be soaked with wine and drunkenness; for he makes an assertion which removes the ordinance of the law, saying to the Galatians, "Who bewitched you that ye should not obey the truth," that is, the Gospel? (Gal. iii. 1). Then, exaggerating, and making it horrible for a man to obey the law, he says, "As many as are under the law are under a curse" (Gal. iii. 10). The man who writes to the Romans "The law is spiritual" (vii. 14), and again, "The law is holy and the commandment holy and just," places under a curse those who obey that which is holy!  Then, completely confusing the nature of the question, he confounds the whole matter and makes it obscure, so that he who listens to him almost grows dizzy, and dashes against the two things as though in the darkness of the night, stumbling over the law, and knocking against the Gospel in confusion, owing to the ignorance of the man who leads him by the hand.

CHAPTER XL. Answer to the objection based on his inconsistent attitude towards the law.

When he says that to do one thing in the law obliges a man to do all, he is not abusing the law, but pointing to its minuteness, and to that difficulty in carrying it out which Christ has freed us from, by coming to fulfil it Himself.

For a man who attempts to fulfil any part of it now may justly be accused of ignoring the complete fulfilment of it by the Only Begotten. He loses the effect of the Saviour's fulfilment, and yet cannot complete it himself, but is like one who has a hundred parasangs207 to ride to reach a city, and only rides ninety-five; in which case he is no more in the city than when he started. If a man keeps countless commandments, and yet leaves one undone, it is as bad as leaving one gate of a city undefended out of thirty-five.

As an example of the difficulty in fulfilling the whole law, take two enactments, concerning the sabbath and circumcision. What is to be done with the babe born on a sabbath, upon the eighth day after its birth ?208 Here one rule contradicts the other. If two points are so hard, what of the whole ? Indeed there are more rules than can be remembered concerning sacrifices, cleansings, etc. Such a burden proved too much for the Jews. Only Christ could fulfil it, and so cancel it that none need be subject to it any more.

As a cubit-rule measures dimensions, but can itself only be measured by the man who made it, so the law, which is the measure of life, could only be measured by Christ, who made it, and finally sealed it up by placing the better measure of the Gospel beside it.

To try and fulfil what Christ has thus fulfilled, is to act in opposition to Him. Thus does Paul warn the Galatians. As for his calling the law "holy," etc., it was holy because the Holy One fulfilled it.

Again, when he brings in the witness of the law and quotes from it, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn,"209 he is thinking of the apostolic band as the unmuzzled ox, which threshes that harvest which Christ has sowed. Hence he says, " Not concerning oxen were these things written, but concerning us" (1 Cor. ix. 10).]

CHAPTER XXXIV. Objection based on another inconsistency, in saying "The law entered that the offence might abound " (Rom. v. 20).

For see here, look at this clever fellow's record. After countless utterances which he took from the law in order to get support from it, he made void the judgment of his own words by saying, "For the law entered that the offence might abound"; and before these words,210 "The goad 211 of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law" (1 Cor. xv. 56). He practically sharpens his own tongue like a sword, and cuts the law to pieces without mercy limb by limb. And this is the man who in many ways inclines to obey the law, and says it is  praiseworthy to live according to it. And by taking hold of this ignorant opinion, which he does as though by habit, he has overthrown his own judgments on all other occasions.

CHAPTER XLI. Answer to the objection based on S. Paul's saying that "The law entered that the offence may abound " (Rom. v. 20).

There was naturally much wickedness in life, and this could not be corrected unless the law came to reveal it. Good and bad could not be distinguished till standards of right and wrong were set up. From such a life of ignorance and sin the law guided men to the life of light. But its enactments naturally revealed as sin what was not before understood as such, and in this sense it "made the offence to abound."

Sin was a "goad of death" to drive men from true life, and took its "strength" from the law, because the law punished sinners (see 1 Cor. xv. 56). A goad requires some one to wield it in order to make it deadly, and it was thus that the law wielded sin. Paul bids men flee from it, not to the law, but to Christ who is Master of the law. He does not destroy the law, but its work as "schoolmaster" ( paidagwgo&j ) is done when it has brought men to Christ (Gal. iii. 23). The law is like the moon, and the prophets like the stars, which fade away at dawn before the Sun and His twelvefold crown of Apostles, and yet remain, though without power.212]

CHAPTER XXXV. Objection based on S. Paul's words about their not having "fellowship with demons" in 1 Cor. x. 20, and also what he says in 1 Cor. viii. 4 and 8 and x. 25-26.

When he speaks again of the eating of things sacrificed  to idols, he simply teaches that these matters are indifferent, telling them not to be inquisitive nor to ask questions, but to eat things even though they be sacrificed to idols, provided only that no one speaks to them in warning. Wherein he is represented as saying, " The things which they sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, but I would not that you should have fellowship with demons" (1 Cor. x. 20).213

Thus he speaks and writes : and again he writes with indifference about such eating, "We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one" (1 Cor. viii. 4), and a little after this, "Meat will not commend us to God, neither, if we eat, are we the better, neither, if we eat not, are we the worse" (v. 8). Then, after all this prating of quackery, he ruminated, like a man lying in bed, and said, "Eat all that is sold in the shambles, asking no questions for conscience' sake, for the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof" (1 Cor. x. 25-26). Oh, what a stage farce, got from no one ! Oh, the monstrous inconsistency of his utterance ! A saying which destroys itself with its own sword! Oh, novel kind of archery, which turns against him who drew the bow, and strikes him!

CHAPTER XLII.214 Answer to the objection based on S. Paul's words about having fellowship with demons (1 Cor. x. 20), etc.

Now that we have laid bare the full meaning of this passage, we will deal with the rest, if agreeable to you--- namely, how it was that Paul forbade them to eat things offered to idols,215 [MY NOTE: Paul did not do so. So it is unclear what Magnes is referring to.] but he does not forbid them to take what was sold in the shambles, although it was well  known that it was Greeks who did most of the slaughtering at that time.216 So you may perceive in this the accuracy and wisdom of Paul, how he protects their daily life and forbids the godly to touch things sacrificed to demons, but he permitted his friends to eat what was sold in the shambles without asking questions.

[MY NOTE: Clearly Magnes is skirting the issue that Paul permitted eating such meat. Later he will address it. See below.]

For the sacrifice of animals was at that time manifold, and different in various parts of the world. There was one kind to the spirits of the air, another to those on the earth, while there were other sacrifices again to those under the earth. For error, taking the deceitful serpent as its minister, whistled many a strain, charming and subduing with its deadly spells 217 earth, sea, air, and the things beneath the earth. So invisible spirits which flew in the air, which Isaiah sang of as flying serpents (Isa. xxvii. 1), demanded white and transparent sacrifices of birds, seeing that the air chances to be bright, and filled with light for the manifestation of the things that are below. But there are certain of the demons of the earth, which demanded herds of beasts for sacrifices which were black-skinned and dusky, seeing that the earth is by nature black and gloomy; and they ordered their sacrifices to be slain on lofty altars. Other demons of the regions beneath them enjoined that black offerings should be sacrificed to them in trenches, and that they should be buried alongside the remains of the things that had been slaughtered.218 Other deceitful phantoms of things in the seas demanded sacrifices of black things that were winged and living, and ordered them to be sent down into the sea, since the sea is black and in constant motion. Seeing then that wickedness thus destroys the things without reason through those that possess it, by feeding in this pitiable way on a multitude of beasts and birds, the Apostle naturally forbade the faithful to touch such things.

You can verify these things from the book "Concerning  the philosophy of oracles,"219 and learn accurately the record of the things sacrificed, as you read the oracle of Apollo concerning sacrifices,220 which Porphyry, puffed up with conceit, handed down to his intimates in a mystery, charging them with a terrible oath, as he himself reckoned, that they should not freely tell these things to many. The tragedy of this novel calamity will be well known to you, how the plotting of destroying spirits ruthlessly mangled the human race in various ways, as a flock without a shepherd, coming like an attack of wild wolves from the desert. It was impossible for any one to breathe freely, or to be quiet, but everything was forced together, from one end of heaven to the other, as though by a staff or a thunderbolt. If a man was crossing the sea, he let slip a sacrifice ; if he was journeying by land, he sacrificed four-footed beasts. If he were hollowing a cave or digging a piece of land, he threw down a sacrifice to the powers below, and many, by way of buying off their own death, buried some of their own stock while still alive. At any rate, Amistra, the wife of King Xerxes, sent fourteen boys down to Hades alive every year on her own behalf, by covering them with a mound, by way of appeasing the demons of the earth. Stakes and goads and snares had filled the world everywhere; neither air nor land, island nor sea were inopportune for their plottings ; but a girdle of guile had encircled the inhabited world, a dark veil of ignorance had enveloped it, and it was not possible for a man to live without trouble and fear. Life was full of suspicion, conditions were unreal, the very fact of chance was affected.

Since therefore the world was full of disorder, and the greater part of life was devoted to demons, he proclaims to those who wish for a brighter221 life, that they must loathe the table of demons, lest perchance they  should at all corrupt the habit of the soul by their fellowship. And again, perceiving how impossible it was for any one who was clothed with flesh to renounce the daily life of the body, he gives permission by way of dispensation, and solemnly counsels them to respect the common market of the shambles and to get their victuals from it. For the matter did not call for trouble, and involved no blame for meddling with such things, seeing that those who undertook the business of the shambles were the ministers of a general and public means of diet. But there were certain servants of temples, picked out and separated from the rest, who in some kind of mystery poured out libations to images and sacrificed with a kind of mystic witchcraft. From these he bids them keep away, and not to touch them at all.

But he destroys the ignorant bounds of Greek belief, cuts their doctrine in pieces, and makes their judgment void, when he says, "An idol is nothing in the world." For the Greeks found out the naming of idols, as the serpent found out the naming of gods; but the judgment of truth does not lay down such an opinion at all. Therefore it is impossible that the theory or standard of idols should be preserved in the world. For the making of images is reasonably spoken of as images, not as idols. These figures, fashioned from gold, silver, bronze, and iron, are silver and gold, but not idols. And the dead bodies of living creatures exist as dead bodies, not as idols. Souls that are loosed from bodies are rightly souls, but not idols. But the representations in statuary of those who are called heroes are images, not idols. And the things that are skilfully painted in colours on tablets, are the delineation of bodies, but certainly not idols. And the things that are called appearances of visions are phantoms and shadows of dreams, but they are not idols. So the great Apostle speaks truth when he says, "An idol is nothing in the world." Unless perchance some one is mad enough to wish to call the elements idols, but he is refuted as he says it; for fire, water, air, and earth are not idols, but properly fire, water, air, and earth.

To what then do those men sacrifice who pay respect to idols ? To demons, not to idols; but he does not wish them to be partakers of demons and partakers of Christ. Those who sell food in the shambles do not act as butchers for demons, but for the common life of men, and the end they set before them is not witchcraft but profit, which neither ruins nor corrupts the man who eats. This is the answer to your problem, which you may readily be learning.

CHAPTER XXXVI. Objection based on S. Paul's words about virginity (1 Tim. iv. 1, and 1 Cor. vii. 25).

In his epistles we find another saying like these, where he praises virginity, and then turns round and writes, "In the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from meats" (1 Tim. iv. 1 and 3). And in the Epistle to the Corinthians he says, "But concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord" (1 Cor. vii. 25). Therefore he that remains single does not do well, nor will he that refrains from marriage as from an evil thing lead the way in obedience, since they have not a command from Jesus concerning virginity.222 And how is it that certain people boast of their virginity as if it were some great thing, and say that they are filled with the Holy Ghost similarly to her who was the mother of Jesus ?

But we will now cease our attack on Paul, knowing what a battle of the giants he arms against him by his language. But if you are possessed of any resources for replying to these questions, answer without delay.

CHAPTER XLIII. Answer to the objection based on S. Paul's words about virginity (1 Tim. iv. 1, and 1 Cor. vii. 25).

[Here, as always, the context must be studied. Often in Paul's writings a phrase by itself may suggest what he  did not mean, as when he says, "On whom he will he hath mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth," a statement which must be taken in conjunction with his words about Him "that willeth that all men should be saved." In this passage (from 1 Corinthians) about virgins, it is not clear at once why he should say, "I have no commandment of the Lord, yet I give my judgment as one that hath obtained mercy," seeing that he had Christ speaking within him. The explanation is as follows:---

Virginity is a difficult and unnatural state, and so it is left to the individual to choose it. If Christ forced it on people by a command, they might say that the fault was His if it led to a fall. In simpler matters Christ does give a command through Paul, such as theft, adultery, slander, etc. The wisdom of all this is obvious, and to make virginity a free choice only exalts its position. There is praise for the man who does as he is commanded, but for this act of free-will beyond what is obligatory there is a higher glory.223 Note that Paul's words show a humble reverence for what he speaks of, for he gives his opinion "as one that hath obtained mercy," not as an Apostle, nor as "judging angels" (but here the virgins are angels in his judgment).

When he says that "There shall arise certain having their Conscience seared with a hot iron," 224 it is because he knew that such heretics would attract men by guile in recommending so excellent a thing as virginity,225 and thus using a branding-iron of godliness for their own deceitful purposes. These "seared" heresiarchs are like makers of counterfeit coin, washing over their worthless creed with the fine gold of virginity.226 They are  "seared" because they know neither the dew of the Spirit nor the water of baptism, but are scorched at the Chaldean furnace.227 They insult creation and abuse the creatures of God which He meant to be received with thanksgiving.228]

Representatives of these have spread abroad in the children of the Manichaeans.229 Such heresies does the country of the Pisidians contain, and of the Isaurians; Cilicia also, and Lycaonia and all Galatia. Their names it is irksome to repeat; for they are called Encratites and Apotactites, and Eremites,230 not Christians. They are not seekers of protection from the grace of heaven, but rebels and wanderers from the faith of the Gospel, though, by their abstention from meats, they say that they raise the citadel of godliness. At the head of their chorus doubtless stands Dositheus,231 a Cilician by race, who confirms their teaching in the course of eight whole books, and magnifies his case by the splendour of his language, saying again and again that marriage is an illegal act, and quite contrary to law. Here are his words, "Through union the world had its beginning ; through abstention from it,232 it would fain have its completion." He says that the tasting of wine and the partaking of flesh is disgusting and loathsome altogether, thus  indeed ruthlessly lifting up a cruel branding-iron for those that delight 233 in him. By such reasoning all creation is accursed according to him, all life is under suspicion ard hurtful to everybody. Wherefore such men have come into conflict with the Divine, by insulting the beauty of the things that have been created; and nowhere have they benefited the common weal in anything, even though they do teach men to observe virginity, and set self-control as the highest point in life.

The Apostle therefore, knowing all this, protected the Church's doctrine before the time came, to prevent its admitting the attempts of heretical branding-irons. Here you will please conclude the discussion of all these questions. If there is anything which perplexes you again, we will meet and have another discussion, at the convenience of our leisure, with readiness on the part of him who comes off best.234


Here I will just collect some "Objections" to Paul by Magnes without any comment by me. You can find the text at this link.

CHAPTER XXXI. Objection based on S. Paul's inconsistency in claiming at different times to be a Jew (Acts xxii. 3) and a Roman (Acts xxii. 27).

This same Paul, who often when he speaks seems to forget his own words, tells the chief captain that he is not a Jew but a Roman, although he had previously said, "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, and brought up 198 at the feet of Gamaliel, instructed according to the exact teaching of the law of my fathers." But he who said, "I am a Jew," and "I am a Roman," is neither thing, although he attaches himself to both. For he who plays the hypocrite and speaks of what he is not, lays the foundation of his deeds in guile, and by putting round him a mask of deceit, he cheats the clear issue and steals the truth, laying siege in different ways to the soul's understanding, and enslaving by the juggler's art those who are easily influenced. The man who welcomes in his life such a principle as this, differs not at all from an implacable and bitter foe, who enslaving by his hypocrisy the minds of those beyond his own borders, takes them all captive in inhuman fashion. So if Paul is in pretence at one time a Jew, at another a Roman, at one time without law, and at another a Greek,199 and whenever he wishes is a stranger and an enemy to each |103 thing, by stealing into each, he has made each useless, robbing each of its scope by his flattery.

We conclude then that he is a liar and manifestly brought up in an atmosphere of lying.200 And it is beside the point for him to say : "I speak the truth in Christ, I lie not" (Rom. ix. 1). For the man who has just now conformed to the law, and to-day to the Gospel, is rightly regarded as knavish and hollow 201 both in private and in public life.

CHAPTER XXXVIII. Answer to the objection based on S. Paul's claim to be both a Jew and a Roman.

Here again Paul showed the strategic powers of a general. If a general is driven out by his own countrymen, he no longer considers himself one of them, and overcomes them by joining some one else. Just so Paul was driven by the Jews into the hands of the Romans, and so he could say he was not a Jew but a Roman.

He was not wrong in calling himself a Roman, for by the Romé ( r9w&mh = might) of the Spirit he was to teach among the Roman nation.

Just as one of the Galatian race is called an Asian by living in Asia, so might Paul become a Roman, and yet remain a Jew. When he calls himself a Jew, he honours his countrymen; when he calls himself a Roman, he proclaims his nobility.202]

 From Book IV, we continue:

CHAPTER IV. Objection based on the divine assurance given to both S. Paul and S. Peter, and their martyrdom in spite of it.

Let us look at what was said to Paul, "The Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee" (Acts xviii. 9-10). And yet no sooner was he seized in Rome than this fine fellow, who said that we should judge angels, had his head cut off.254 And Peter again, who received authority to feed the lambs, was nailed to a cross and impaled on it.255 And countless others, who held opinions like theirs, were either burnt, or put to death by receiving some kind of punishment or maltreatment. This is not worthy of the will of God, nor even of a godly man, that a multitude of men should be cruelly punished through their relation to His own grace and faith, while the expected resurrection and coming remains unknown.

CHAPTER XIV. Answer to the objection based on the divine assurance given to both S. Paul and S. Peter, and their martyrdom in spite of it.

[In each case the martyrdom came after the struggle of life was over, and the great work of bringing souls to Christ in many lands had been fulfilled.

Such an end to their life meant a higher fame. The highest honour is for soldiers who defend their country against the enemy to the death. So, after having marshalled the faithful all over the world into Christ's army, and stayed the fierceness of the enemy from the |127 rest, they won an unfading crown, and encouraged many to win it likewise. A violent death was a seal upon their life, and proved the greatness of their zeal.256

During their work both Peter and Paul were many times protected by their Lord from the plots of the Jews, but when the seeds of their faith had taken root, He granted them the final glory of martyrdom. In thus treating His soldiers, God acted as a wise general, for many were hostile, and might have ascribed their works to magic had they died an ordinary death, or vanished from before tribunals.257 To conquer torments by enduring to the end was their best answer to these.

Some paltry critics are prepared to find fault with the saints in either case. If they are protected from death, these would assert that they would never have endured to the end. If they face it to the end, they would say that it proved they were not really righteous men. And so God, in His love for His saints, sometimes rescues them from death, as in the case of Daniel and the three children, and sometimes lets them witness by their death that they are neither cowards nor hypocrites, as in the case of Peter and Paul.

MY COMMENT: The defense of Paul does not answer the question how Paul was promised by God supposedly that no man would hurt you, and yet he had his head cut off (at least by some reports). 

189. 1 Before the next sentence the MS. has 3Ellhn in the margin, as a new heading, in order to mark the place where the actual objection begins. For the support thus claimed for the theory that Macarius is merely borrowing from a book, and himself turning it into a discussion, see Introd., p. xvii.

190. 2 Phil. iii. 2, i.e. a mere meaningless cutting.

191. 3 Gk. parapa&llion.

192. 4 The MS. gives kaqhkeu&wn, which must be corrupt. The word, oddly enough, has just occurred in the previous answer of Macarius (ch. xxix. p. 122, 1. 2,kai/per kaqhkeu&wn toi~j 'Ioudai/oij polla&. Foucart suggested piqhkeu&wn in both places, as equivalent to piqhki/zw (to play the ape), Arist. Vesp. 1290). But this requires the further emendation of pa&ntaj to pa~si in the present instance. pa&ntaj has just occurred in the same line, which may have caused the mistake.

193. 5 The speaker takes this in the moral sense, as meaning " lawless," as is clear from what follows.

194. 1 The MS. u9popu&roj may be altered to u9poph&ron.

195. 2 After all, he only deals with seven objections instead of eight at the previous bout, but only four of them were against S. Peter, and all the eight are here attacks on S. Paul.

196. 3 The words tw~| po&nw| purou&menoj are taken as part of the quotation in Blondel's edition, but there is no need to do this.

197. 1 It will be noticed that Macarius makes no attempt to argue from the special case of Timothy.

198. 2 He omits the words, "In this city."

199. 3 Surely this is a slip for "a Jew."

200. 1 Or, more literally, " a foster-brother of that which is false."

201. 2 lit. " Festering beneath the surface."

202. 3 Such is the strangely inadequate three-fold answer given to the objection. The play upon the word 9Pw&mh is quite characteristic of patristic interpretation. Macarius does not seem to have grasped that a Jew could be a Roman citizen.

203. 1 The quotations are abbreviated, pa&ntwj is omitted after di0 h9ma~j, and the middle clause of v. 7 is wanting. Macarius, however, makes use of the latter in his answer.

204. 1 The clause, "Who planteth a vine and doth not eat of the fruit thereof?" was omitted by his opponent from I Cor. ix. 7, but here Macarius plainly refers to it.

205. 2 No answer is here given to the difficulty about God not taking care of oxen, but there is a brief word of explanation at the end of the next answer (ch. xl. p. 107, 11. 12-17).

206. 3 This is quite different from the text of Galatians, "to every man that is circumcised." Perhaps the "one thing" comes from James ii. 10. Macarius accepts the quotation as it stands, and repeats it.

207. 1 This spontaneous introduction of a Persian measure of distance is a proof that the writer was near that part of the world. His subsequent suggestion of a city with so many gates indicates that there were large cities in his district.

208. 2 He chooses the example given by Christ Himself in John vii. 22-23, but can scarcely have that passage in mind, for it decides the difficulty.

209. 1 Macarius had ignored this part of the previous objection, and here his reference to the quotation can scarcely be called an answer to the difficulty raised, which seems to have proved too much for him.

210. 2 This is evidently a slip, as it is unlikely that he placed the Corinthian before the Roman Epistle.

211. 3 This correct translation must be given, rather than "sting," as Macarius develops the idea of a goad in his answer.

212. 1 The above summary is in a very abbreviated form, but it will be seen that, unlike some of his defence of S. Paul, his line of argument is excellent, and is a sound interpretation of S. Paul's own attitude towards the law.

213. 1 The verse is quoted in an abbreviated form.

214. 2 The full translation of this answer is given, as its language is curious and interesting.

215. 3 The answer at once makes obvious what the objection failed to state explicitly—namely, that S. Paul's inconsistency lies in his contradiction of the decision in Acts xv. that the Gentile converts were not to eat things offered to idols.

216. 1 This is an attempt to render kai/per 9Ellh&nwn w9j e0pi\ to_ plei~ston tw~n makelleuo&ntwn to&te gnwrizome/nwn.

217. 2 i1ulci of the MS. must be for i1ugci.

218. 3 sfazome/nwn is the addition of a later hand in the margin, and scarcely seems to supply the sense required.

219. 1 This was a book by Porphyry, called peri/ th~j e0k logi/wn filosofi/aj. It is lost, but is mentioned by Fabricius, v. p. 744. See Introd., p. xiv., for the argument which the reference to this book affords, as against Harnack's belief that the writer of these objections is Porphyry himself.

220. 2 For this see Euseb., Praepar. Evang. iv. 8, 9.

221. 3 eu0age/steronperhaps "purer."

222. 1 The word applies to men as well as women, and it is the masculine plural which is here used, but the translation "virginity" best accords with the words which follow about the Blessed Virgin.

223. 1 Macarius reflects the attitude of his age in regarding virginity as a cause of "merit."

224. 2 I Tim. iv. 2. This is the passage quoted in the objection, but v. 2 was then omitted, and only vv. 1 and 3 given. ( a0nasth&suntai is not S. Paul's word, but is incorrectly borrowed from the a0posth&sontai of the previous verse.) These are the men who should "forbid to marry" and therefore commend virginity.

225. 3 Our apologist is on the wrong track, but it leads to many things of interest to us.

226. 4 This sentence represents the previous paragraph, but best fits into the argument here.

227. 1 This seems to refer to the fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar.

228. 2 He is referring to the further words of I Tim. iv. 3, "abstaining from meats," as well as "forbidding to marry."

229. 3 The followers of Manes are first found in Asia Minor, as here stated ; their system being founded on the theory of a god of good and a god of evil, which was to be found in the religion of Persia. For a further mention of Manes see Bk. IV. ch. xv.

230. 4 The Encratites (as the name implies) were the Gnostics whose contempt for matter showed itself in their strict asceticism, while the name Apotactites suggests the licentious tendencies of the Antinomian Gnostics, who showed their contempt in the opposite way. The Eremites were ascetics of the deserts.

231. 5 Dositheus cannot be the head of the Samaritan sect mentioned by Hegesippus (ap. Euseb., H.E. iv. 22) and represented in the Clementine writings as the disciple of John the Baptist. Macarius is alone in mentioning him (see also iv. 15, p. 128, 1. 24), which shows that this list is not a copy of that of Epiphanius, as Salmon suggested, D.C.B., art. "Macarius."

232. 6 e0gkra&teia, the word from which Encratite is derived.

233. 1 terpome/noij is the reading suggested by Blondel for MS. prome/noij or poqome/noij.

234. 2 If su_n eu0marei/a| tou~ krei/ttonoj is to be so rendered.