At that time, Jesus spoke this parable to His disciples: The kingdom of Heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in a field; which a man having found, hid it, and for joy thereof goeth, and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like to a merchant seeking good pearls. Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went his way and sold all that he had, and bought it. Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like to a net cast into the sea, and gathering together of all kinds of fishes; which, when it was filled, they drew out, and sitting by the shore, they chose out the good into vessels, but the bad they cast forth. So shall it be at the end of the world. The angels shall go out, and shall separate the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Have ye understood all these things? They say to Him, Yes. He said unto them, Therefore, every scribe instructed in the kingdom of Heaven, is like to a man who is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old.
Verse 44. Like unto a treasure. This hidden treasure is the gospel of Christ, which conducts to the kingdom of heaven. Thus he who by the knowledge which the gospel affords, has found the kingdom of heaven, should purchase it at the expense of every thing most near and dear to him: he cannot pay too great a price for his purchase.
Verse 46. This eternal kingdom faith opens to your view, but it does not put you in possession without good works. V.
Verse 52. Every scribe; i.e. master or teacher. Wi. — Because you know how invaluable is the treasure, the pearl, the kingdom, here mentioned; you, who are scribes and teachers, should cultivate it yourselves, and communicate the same blessing to others. Thus imitating a father of a family, who draws from his treasure both new and old things, and distributes them to his children, according to their several wants and necessities. This was a proverbial expression with the Jews, to signify every thing useful or necessary for the provision of a family. Jer. Aug. Chrys. Bede, and Tirinus. — Thus also a pastor of souls throws light upon the mysteries of the New Testament, by the figures of the Old, and explains the workings of grace, by the operations of nature.
44. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
CHRYSOSTOM. The foregoing parables of the leaven, and the grain of mustard-seed, are referred to the power of the Gospel preaching, which has subdued the whole world; in order to shew its value and splendour, He now puts forth parables concerning a pearl and a treasure, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field. For the Gospel preaching is hidden in this world; and if you do not sell your all you will not purchase it; and this you ought to do with joy; wherefore it follows, which when a man hath found, he hideth it.
HILARY. This treasure is indeed found without cost; for the Gospel preaching is open to all, but to use and possess the treasure with its field we may not without price, for heavenly riches are not obtained without the loss of this world.
JEROME. That he hides it, does not proceed of envy towards others, but as one that treasures up what he would not lose, he hides in his heart that which he prizes above his former possessions.
GREGORY. (Hom. in Ev. xi. 1.) Otherwise; The treasure hidden in the field is the desire of heaven; the field in which the treasure is hidden is the discipline of heavenly learning; this, when a man finds, he hides, in order that he may preserve it; for zeal and affections heavenward it is not enough that we protect from evil spirits, if we do not protect from human praises. For in this present life we are in the way which leads to our country, and evil spirits as robbers beset us in our journey. Those therefore who carry their treasure openly, they seek to plunder in the way. When I say this, I do not mean that our neighbours should not see our works, but that in what we do, we should not seek praise from without. The kingdom of heaven is therefore compared to things of earth, that the mind may rise from things familiar to things unknown, and may learn to love the unknown by that which it knows is loved when known. It follows, And for joy thereof he goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. He it is that selleth all he hath and buyeth the field, who, renouncing fleshly delights, tramples upon all his worldly desires in his anxiety for the heavenly discipline.
JEROME. Or, That treasure in which are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3.), is either God the Word, who seems hid in Christ’s flesh, or the Holy Scriptures, in which are laid up the knowledge of the Saviour.
AUGUSTINE. (Quæst. in Ev. i. 13.) Or, He speaks of the two testaments in the Church, which, when any hath attained to a partial understanding of, he perceives how great things lie hid there, and goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that; that is, by despising temporal things he purchases to himself peace, that he may be rich in the knowledge of God.
45. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46. Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
CHRYSOSTOM. The Gospel preaching not only offers manifold gain as a treasure, but is precious as a pearl; wherefore after the parable concerning the treasure, He gives that concerning the pearl. And in preaching, two things are required, namely, to be detached from the business of this life, and to be watchful, which are denoted by this merchantman. Truth moreover is one, and not manifold, and for this reason it is one pearl that is said to be found. And as one who is possessed of a pearl, himself indeed knows of his wealth, but is not known to others, ofttimes concealing it in his hand because of its small bulk, so it is in the preaching of the Gospel; they who possess it know that they are rich, the unbelievers, not knowing of this treasure, know not of our wealth.
JEROME. By the goodly pearls may be understood the Law and the Prophets. Hear then Marcion and Manichæus; the good pearls are the Law and the Prophets. One pearl, the most precious of all, is the knowledge of the Saviour and the sacrament of His passion and resurrection, which when the merchantman has found, like Paul the Apostle, he straightway despises all the mysteries of the Law and the Prophets and the old observances in which he had lived blameless, counting them as dung that he may win Christ. (Phil. 3:8.) Not that the finding of a new pearl is the condemnation of the old pearls, but that in omparison of that, all other pearls are worthless.
GREGORY. (Hom. in Ev. xi. 2.) Or by the pearl of price is to be understood the sweetness of the heavenly kingdom, which, he that hath found it, selleth all and buyeth. For he that, as far as is permitted, has had perfect knowledge of the sweetness of the heavenly life, readily leaves all things that he has loved on earth; all that once pleased him among earthly possessions now appears to have lost its beauty, for the splendour of that precious pearl is alone seen in his mind.
AUGUSTINE. (Quæst. in Matt. q. 13.) Or, A man seeking goodly pearls has found one pearl of great price; that is, he who is seeking good men with whom he may live profitably, finds one alone, Christ Jesus, without sin; or, seeking precepts of life, by aid of which he may dwell righteously among men, finds love of his neighbour, in which one rule, the Apostle says, (Rom. 13:9.) are comprehended all things; or, seeking good thoughts, he finds that Word in which all things are contained, In the beginning was the Word. (John 1:1.) which is lustrous with the light of truth, stedfast with the strength of eternity, and throughout like to itself with the beauty of divinity, and when we have penetrated the shell of the flesh, will be confessed as God. But whichever of these three it may be, or if there be any thing else that can occur to us, that can be signified under the figure of the one precious pearl, its preciousness is the possession of ourselves, who are not free to possess it unless we despise all things that can be possessed in this world. For having sold our possessions, we receive no other return greater than ourselves, (for while we were involved in such things we were not our own,) that we may again give ourselves for that pearl, not because we are of equal value to that, but because we cannot give any thing more.
47. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: 48. Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. 49. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from the just, 50. And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
CHRYSOSTOM. In the foregoing parables He has commended the Gospel preaching; now, that we may not trust in preaching only, nor think that faith alone is sufficient for our salvation, He adds another fearful parable, saying, Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net cast into the sea.
JEROME. In fulfilment of that prophecy of Hieremias, who said, I will send unto you many fishers, (Jer. 6:16.) when Peter and Andrew, James and John, heard the words, Follow me, I will make you fishers of men, they put together a net for themselves formed of the Old and New Testaments, and cast it into the sea of this world, and that remains spread until this day, taking up out of the salt and bitter and whirlpools whatever falls into it, that is good men and bad; and this is that He adds, And gathered of every kind.
GREGORY. (Hom. in Ev. xi. 4.) Or otherwise; The Holy Church is likened to a net, because it is given into the hands of fishers, and by it each man is drawn into the heavenly kingdom out of the waves of this present world, that he should not be drowned in the depth of eternal death. This net gathers of every kind of fishes, because the wise and the foolish, the free and the slave, the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak, are called to forgiveness of sin; it is then fully filled when in the end of all things the sum of the human race is completed; as it follows, Which, when it was filled, they drew out, and sitting down on the shore gathered the good into vessels, but the bad they cast away. For as the sea signifies the world, so the sea shore signifies the end of the world; and as the good are gathered into vessels, but the bad cast away, so each man is received into eternal abodes, while the reprobate having lost the light of the inward kingdom are cast forth into outer darkness. But now the net of faith holds good and bad mingled together in one; but the shore shall discover what the net of the Church has brought to land.
JEROME. For when the net shall be drawn to the shore, then shall be shewn the true test for separating the fishes.
CHRYSOSTOM. Wherein does this parable differ from the parable of the tares? There, as here, some perish and some are saved; but there, because of their heresy of evil dogmas; in the first parable of the sower, because of their not attending to what was spoken; here, because of their evil life, because of which, though drawn by the net, that is, enjoying the knowledge of God, they cannot be saved. And when you hear that the wicked are cast away, that you may not suppose that this punishment may be risked, He adds an exposition shewing its severity, saying, Thus shall it be in the end of the world; the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire, there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Though He elsewhere declares, that He shall separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; He here declares, that the Angels shall do it, as also in the parable of the tares.
GREGORY. (ubi sup.) To fear becomes us here, rather than to expound for the torments of sinners are pronounced in plain terms, that none might plead his ignorance, should eternal punishment be threatened in obscure sayings.
JEROME. For when the end of the world shall be come, then shall be shewn the true test of separating the fishes, and as in a sheltered harbour the good shall be sent into the vessels of heavenly abodes, but the flame of hell shall seize the wicked to be dried up and withered.
51. Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. 52. Then said he unto them, Therefore every Scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
GLOSS. (non occ.) When the multitude had departed, the Lord spoke to His disciples in parables, by which they were instructed only so far as they understood them; wherefore He asks them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.
JEROME. For this is spoken especially to the Apostles, whom He would have not to hear only as the multitude, but to understand as having to teach others.
CHRYSOSTOM. Then He praises them because they had understood; He saith unto them; Therefore every Scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like unto an householder who bringeth out of his treasure things new and old.
AUGUSTINE. (De Civ. Dei, xx. 4.) He said not ‘old and new,’ as He surely would have said had He not preferred to preserve the order of value rather than of time. But the Manichæans while they think they should keep only the new promises of God, remain in the old man of the flesh, and put on newness of error.
AUGUSTINE. (Quæst. in Matt. q. 16.) By this conclusion, whether did He desire to shew whom He intended by the treasure hid in the field—in which case we might understand the Holy Scriptures to be here meant, the two Testaments by the things new and old—or did He intend that he should be held learned in the Church who understood that the Old Scriptures were expounded in parables, taking rules from these new Scriptures, seeing that in them also the Lord proclaimed many things in parables. If He then, in whom all those old Scriptures have their fulfilment and manifestation, yet speaks in parables until His passion shall rend the vail, when there is nothing hid that shall not be revealed; much more those things which were written of Him so long time before we see to have been clothed in parables; which the Jews took literally, being unwilling to be learned in the kingdom of heaven.
GREGORY. (ubi sup.) But if by things new and old in this passage we understand the two Testaments, we deny Abraham to have been learned, who although he knew indeed some deeds of the Old Testament, yet had not read the words. Neither Moses may we compare to a learned householder, for although he composed the Old Testament, yet had he not the words of the New. But what is here said may be understood as meant not of those who had been, but of such as might hereafter be in the Church, who then bring forth things new and old when they speak the preachings of both Testaments, in their words and in their lives.
HILARY. Speaking to His disciples, He calls them Scribes on account of their knowledge, because they understood the things that He brought forward, both new and old, that is from the Law and from the Gospels; both being of the same householder, and both treasures of the same owner. He compares them to Himself under the figure of a householder, because they had received doctrine of things both new and old out of His treasury of the Holy Spirit.
JEROME. Or the Apostles are called Scribes instructed, as being the Saviour’s notaries who wrote His words and precepts on fleshly tables of the heart with the sacraments of the heavenly kingdom, and abounded in the wealth of a householder, bringing forth out of the stores of their doctrine things new and old; whatsoever they preached in the Gospels, that they proved by the words of the Law and the Prophets. Whence the Bride speaks in the Song of Songs; I have kept for thee my beloved the new with the old. (c. 7:13.)
GREGORY. (ubi sup.) Otherwise; The things old are, that the human race for its sin should suffer in eternal punishment; the things new, that they should be converted and live in the kingdom. First, He brought forward a comparison of the kingdom to a treasure found and a pearl of price; and after that, narrated the punishment of hell in the burning of the wicked, and then concluded with Therefore every Scribe, &c. as if He had said, He is a learned preacher in the Church who knows to bring forth things new concerning the sweetness of the kingdom, and to speak things old concerning the terror of punishment; that at least punishment may deter those whom rewards do not excite.