That which I tell you in the dark, speak ye in the light, saith the Lord; and that which you hear in the ear, preach ye upon the house tops.
Verse 27. That which I tell you, &c. We must not suppose that our Saviour was accustomed to deliver his instructions to his apostles in the secret of the night, or teach them in private by whispers. But here he uses a figure of speech, to convey to the minds of his apostles the insignificancy of Judea, where he was speaking in comparison of the whole world, which they were to instruct; and the low whisper of his voice, compared to the sound which they shall send forth to the ends of the earth. S. Chrysos. hom. xxxv. — Upon the house-tops. The tops of the houses in Palestine were flat, and the inhabitants were accustomed to assemble on them and discourse together in great numbers. To preach, therefore, on the top of a house, is the same as to preach where there is a great concourse of people. M.
26. Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. 27. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. 28. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
REMIGIUS. To the foregoing consolation He adds another no less, saying, Fear ye not them, namely, the persecutors. And why they were not to fear, He adds, For there is nothing hid which shall not be revealed, nothing secret which shall not be known.
JEROME. How is it then that in the present world, the sins of so many are unknown? It is of the time to come that this is said; the time when God shall judge the hidden things of men, shall enlighten the hidden places of darkness, and shall make manifest the secrets of hearts. The sense is, Fear not the cruelty of the persecutor, or the rage of the blasphemer, for there shall come a day of judgment in which your virtue and their wickedness will be made known.
HILARY. Therefore neither threatening, nor evil speaking, nor power of their enemies should move them, seeing the judgment-day will disclose how empty, how nought all these were.
CHRYSOSTOM. Otherwise; It might seem that what is here said should be applied generally; but it is by no means intended as a general maxim, but is spoken solely with reference to what had gone before with this meaning; If you are grieved when men revile you, think that in a little time you will be delivered from this evil. They call you indeed impostors, sorcerers, seducers, but have a little patience, and all men shall call you the saviours of the world, when in the course of things you shall be found to have been their benefactors, for men will not judge by their words but by the truth of things.
REMIGIUS. Some indeed think that these words convey a promise from our Lord to His disciples, that through them all hidden mysteries should be revealed, which lay beneath the veil of the letter of the Law; whence the Apostle speaks, When they have turned to Christ, then the veil shall be taken away. (2 Cor 3:16.) So the sense would be, Ought you to fear your persecutors, when you are thought worthy that by you the hidden mysteries of the Law and the Prophets should be made manifest?
CHRYSOSTOM. Then having delivered them from all fear, and set them above all calumny, He follows this up appropriately with commanding that their preaching should be free and unreserved; What I say to you in darkness, that speak ye in the light; what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
JEROME. We do not read that the Lord was wont to discourse to them by night, or to deliver his doctrine in the dark; but He said this because all His discourse is dark to the carnal, and His word night to the unbelieving. What had been spoken by Him they were to deliver again with the confidence of faith and confession.
REMIGIUS. The meaning therefore is, What I say to you in darkness, that is, among the unbelieving Jews, that speak ye in the light, that is, preach it to the believing; what ye hear in the ear, that is, what I say unto you secretly, that preach ye upon the housetops, that is, openly before all men. It is a common phrase, To speak in one’s ear, that is, to speak to him privately.
RABANUS. And what He says, Preach ye upon the housetops, is spoken after the manner of the province of Palestine, where they use to sit upon the roofs of the houses, which are not pointed but flat. That then may be said to be preached upon the housetops which is spoken in the hearing of all men.
GLOSS. (ord.) Otherwise; What I say unto you while you are yet held under carnal fear, that speak ye in the confidence of truth, after ye shall be enlightened by the Holy Spirit; what you have only heard, that preach by doing the same, being raised above your bodies, which are the dwellings of your souls.
JEROME. Otherwise; What you hear in mystery, that teach in plainness of speech; what I have taught you in a corner of Judæa, that proclaim boldly in all quarters of the world.
CHRYSOSTOM. As He said, He that believeth on me, the works that I do he shall do also, and greater things than these shall he do; (John 14:12.) so here He shews that He works all things through them more than through Himself; as though He had said, I have made a beginning, but what is beyond, that I will to complete through your means. So that this is not a command but a prediction, shewing them that they shall overcome all things.
HILARY. Therefore they ought to inculcate constantly the knowledge of God, and the profound secret of evangelic doctrine, to be revealed by the light of preaching; having no fear of those who have power only over the body, but cannot reach the soul; Fear not those that kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.
CHRYSOSTOM. Observe how He sets them above all others, encouraging them to set at nought cares, reproaches, perils, yea even the most terrible of all things, death itself, in comparison of the fear of God. But rather fear him, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
JEROME. This word is not found in the Old Scriptures, but it is first used by the Saviour. Let us enquire then into its origin. We read in more than one place that the idol Baal was near Jerusalem, at the foot of Mount Moriah, by which the brook Siloc flows. This valley and a small level plain was watered and woody, a delightful spot, and a grove in it was consecrated to the idol. To so great folly and madness had the people of Israel come, that, forsaking the neighbourhood of the Temple, they offered their sacrifices there, and concealing an austere ritual under a voluptuous life, they burned their sons in honour of a dæmon. This place was called Gehennom, that is, The valley of the children of Hinnom. These things are fully described in Kings and Chronicles, and the Prophet Jeremiah. (2 Kings 23:10. 2 Chron. 28:3. Jer. 7:32; 32:35.) God threatens that He will fill the place with the carcases of the dead, that it be no more called Tophet and Baal, but Polyandrion, i. e. The tomb of the dead. Hence the torments and eternal pains with which sinners shall be punished are signified by this word.
AUGUSTINE. (De Civ. Dei, xiii. 2.) This cannot be before the soul is so joined to the body, that nothing may sever them. Yet it is rightly called the death of the soul, because it does not live of God; and the death of the body, because though man does not cease to feel, yet because this his feeling has neither pleasure, nor health, but is a pain and a punishment, it is better named death than life.
CHRYSOSTOM. Note also, that He does not hold out to them deliverance from death, but encourages them to despise it; which is a much greater thing than to be rescued from death; also this discourse aids in fixing in their minds the doctrine of immortality.