saint john chrysostom (the church father with the 'golden mouth')

today is the feast of saint john chrysostom!
to celebrate, i am going to post a modern version of his commentary on calling the Lord Jesus Christ out of egypt.
it is 5 pages, so log on when you are using a computer and then copy and paste it to a page and read it comfortably when traveling or sitting at home


  • Saint John Chrysostom; Matthew 2:12-16

    Paraphrased in modern English (from

    Bible quotes from The Orthodox Study Bible,
    Thomas Nelson, 2008.

    Then being divinely warned in a dream that
    they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another
    way. Matthew 2:12

    The wise men showed their faith by not
    being offended by this message. They did not question among themselves why the
    angel would send them out as fugitives and why such a great Child would not
    prevent the madness of the king. When people have faith, they do not require a
    reason for what they are requested to do. This is a especially important about
    having faith. When we have faith, we simply obey the commandments we receive.

    Now when they had departed, behold, an
    angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young
    Child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word;
    for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” When he arose, he took the
    young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until
    the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord
    through the prophet, saying “Out of Egypt I called My Son.” Matthew 2:13

    Even though the wise men had the faith to
    not be troubled by this, it is still worthwhile for us to inquire the reason
    why the wise men have to flee to Persia and why the Child and His family have
    to go to Egypt. Would the Lord, otherwise have fallen into the hands of Herod?
    Would He then have been destroyed? No, for then God’s great plan of salvation
    (by the Son of God taking flesh) would not have been believed.

    For even now, after all these great things
    have happened, some people dare to say that He did not really take on a human
    body, how much more would then have failed to believe, if He had shown His
    divine power by resisting the king in a supernatural manner.

    God sent off the wise men quickly,
    commissioning them as teachers in the land of the Persians. At the same time,
    He intercepted the madness of the king, so that he had the chance to learn that
    he was trying to do something impossible. God is able to easily deceive His
    enemies as well as being able to subdue them openly.

    For example, He deceived the Egyptians when
    the Jews were fleeing from them, by telling them to secretly hand over their
    wealth to the Hebrews. He could have done this openly, but in this way, He made
    His enemies terrified of the Hebrews. When the Philistines of Ashkelon took the
    ark of the covenant and suffered plagues, their leaders advised them not to
    fight, not to set themselves against the God of Israel. They said; ‘Why do you
    yet harden your hearts, as did Egypt, and Pharoah hardened their hearts? Was it
    not when he mocked them that they let the people go, and they departed?’ 1
    Kingdoms (1 Samuel) 6:6. So they considered this sign to not be inferior to the
    other signs which were performed openly, which demonstrated God’s power and His

    The same thing happened with Herod, and
    should have been enough to astonish him. For Herod would have been laughed at
    when he was deceived by the wise men and shocked, and this could have persuaded
    him to give in and cease his madness. It is not the fault of God, who performed
    wonders and ordered everything to be this way. So, as Herod proceeded in such
    great foolishness, he was sure to receive a much worse punishment.

    But people may ask why was the young Child
    sent into Egypt? In the first place, the evangelist has answered, saying; ‘that
    it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying
    “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”’ And at the same time, the beginning of the
    message of hope was proclaimed to the world. As Babylon and Egypt were the most
    ungodly places in the earth, God showed that firstly He intended to correct
    them both, and demonstrated to people that they should expect His goodness in
    the whole world. He sent the wise men to one of these places, and the other, He
    visited Himself with His mother.

    In addition to this, we can learn a
    valuable lesson about how we can remain strong in our faith during trials. We
    can see that from the beginning of our Lord’s incarnation, there were
    temptations and plots, even when he was a baby dressed in swaddling clothes.
    So, at the time of His birth, there was the raging of a tyrant, and then a
    flight and departure across the border. His mother was exiled into the land of
    the barbarians even though she committed no crime. So you should not be greatly
    troubled when you suffer evil and danger after being involved in spiritual
    matters. Don’t expect celebrations and glory for fulfilling the Lord’s
    commandments, but think of this example, so that you will endure trials without
    complaining, knowing that usually spiritual progress comes with temptations.
    This happened not just to the mother of the young child, but also to the wise
    men. They had to run off as fugitives, and she had to undergo a long and
    difficult journey following her spiritual labour and the Lord’s wonderful

    It is also amazing that the plot against
    our Lord happened in the land of the Jews, however it was Egypt that received
    him and kept him safe. Depictions of future events are prophetically declared
    by the Lord, such as the welcome He received in Egypt and also the event when
    He rode the donkey and her colt. These depictions are not limited to the
    patriarchs of Israel and their sons.

    The angel appeared and talks with Joseph,
    not with Mary. He said: ‘Arise, take the young Child and His mother’. He says
    ‘His mother’, not ‘your wife’. After the birth had taken place, there was no
    more suspicion and the husband was appeased, so the angel talked openly. He did
    not call the Child nor the wife Joseph’s. He explained that Herod was seeking
    the Child’s life.

    When Joseph heard this, he was not offended
    and he did not ask why someone who came to save should flee and why they had to
    go a long distance away and stay a long time. He did not complain that the
    facts he could see did not demonstrate the promise he had received. This is
    because he was faithful and he was not curious about the time of his return,
    although his flight was indefinite. He did not shudder, but submitted and
    obeyed, accepting the trial with joy.

    This is because God mixed pleasant things with
    hardships because of His great love for people. Neither danger nor refreshment
    is continual, but they are both woven into the life of all righteous people.
    God did this for Joseph too. First he saw that the young woman was pregnant and
    was very agitated as he expected she had committed adultery. But the angel
    removed his fears and suspicions immediately and Joseph rejoiced greatly when
    the Child was born. Then serious danger follows, with the city full of trouble,
    and the king raging and looking for the Child. 


  • (sorry about the big space above!)

    Then another joyful event happened when the
    star led the wise men to worship the Child. But then fear and danger followed
    when Herod wanted to kill the Child, who then needed to flee and hide like any
    mortal person. The time for miracles had not yet come, for if He had performed
    miracles from His earliest infancy, He would not have been considered a real


    Because of this, let me add, neither is a
    temple framed at once; but a regular conception takes place, and a time of nine
    months, and pangs, and a delivery, and giving suck, and silence for so long a
    space, and He awaits the age proper to manhood; that by all means acceptance
    might be won for the mystery of His Economy.

    But wherefore then, one may say, were even
    these signs wrought at the beginning? For His mother's sake; for the sake of
    Joseph and of Simeon, who was presently to depart; for the sake of the
    shepherds and of the wise men; for the sake of the Jews. Since they, had they
    been willing to mind diligently what was taking place, would from this event
    also have reaped no small advantage in regard of what was to come.

    But if the prophets do not mention what
    relates to the wise men, be not troubled; for they neither foretold all things,
    nor were they silent touching all. For as without any warning to see those
    things coming to pass, would naturally occasion much astonishment and trouble;
    so also to have been informed of all would dispose the hearer to sleep, and
    would have left nothing for the evangelists to add.

    5. And if the Jews should raise a question
    touching the prophecy, and say, that the words, Out of Egypt have I called my
    Son, were uttered concerning themselves; we would tell them, This is a law of
    prophecy, that in many cases much that is spoken of one set of persons is
    fulfilled in another; of which kind is that which is said touching Simeon and
    Levi, I will divide them, says He, in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.
    Genesis 49:7 And yet not in themselves did this come to pass, but in their
    descendants; and Noah's saying again about Canaan, came to pass in the
    Gibeonites, Canaan's descendants. And that concerning Jacob one may see to have
    so come to pass; for those blessings which say, Be lord over your brother, and
    let your father's sons worship you, Genesis 27:19 had no accomplishment in
    himself (how could they, he being in fear and trembling, and worshipping his
    brother over and over again? Genesis 33:3), but in his offspring they had. The
    very same may be said in this case also. For which may be called the truer son
    of God, he that worships a calf, and is joined to Baalpeor and sacrifices his
    sons to devils? Or He that is a Son by nature, and honors Him that begot Him?
    So that, except this man had come, the prophecy would not have received, its
    due fulfillment. It is worth observing, too, that the evangelist intimates the
    same by the phrase, that it might be fulfilled; implying that it would not have
    been fulfilled, unless He had come.

    And this makes the Virgin also in no common
    degree glorious and distinguished; that the very thing which was the whole
    people's special endowment in the way of praise, she also might thenceforth
    have for her own. I mean, that whereas they were proud of their coming up from
    Egypt, and used to boast of it (which indeed the prophet also was hinting at,
    when he said, Have I not brought up the strangers from Cappadocia, and the
    Assyrians from the pit ), He makes this pre-eminence belong to the Virgin

    Rather, however, both the people and the
    patriarch, going down there, and coming up thence, were together completing the
    type of this His return. Thus, as they went down to avoid death by famine, so
    He death by conspiracy. But whereas they on their arrival were for the time
    delivered from the famine, this man, when He had gone down, sanctified the
    whole land, by setting His foot thereon.

    At least it is observable how, in the midst
    of His humiliations, the tokens of His Godhead are disclosed. Thus, first of
    all, the angel saying, Flee into Egypt, did not promise to journey with them,
    either in their descent or return; intimating that they have a great
    fellow-traveller, the Child that had been born; such an one as actually changed
    all things immediately on His appearing, and wrought so that His enemies should
    minister in many ways to this Economy. Thus magi and barbarians, leaving the
    superstition of their fathers, have come to worship: thus Augustus ministers to
    the birth at Bethlehem by the decree for the taxing; Egypt receives and
    preserves Him, driven from His home, and plotted against, and obtains a sort of
    first impulse towards her union unto Him; so that when in after-time she should
    hear Him preached by the apostles, she might have this at least to glory of, as
    having received Him first. And yet this privilege did belong unto Palestine
    alone; but the second proved more fervent than the first.

    6. And now, should you come unto the desert
    of Egypt, you will see this desert become better than any paradise, and ten
    thousand choirs of angels in human forms, and nations of martyrs, and companies
    of virgins, and all the devil's tyranny put down, while Christ's kingdom shines
    forth in its brightness. And the mother of poets, and wise men, and magicians,
    were but inventions of sottish old women, but the real philosophy, and worthy
    of heaven, is this, which was declared unto them by the fishermen. And for this
    very cause, together with their so great exactness in doctrine, they exhibit
    also by their life that extreme seriousness. For when they have stripped
    themselves of all that they have, and are crucified to the whole world, they
    urge their course on again yet farther, using the labor of their body for the
    nourishment of them that be in need. For neither, because they fast and watch,
    do they think it meet to be idle by day; but their nights they spend in the
    holy hymns and in vigils, and their days in prayers, and at the same time in
    laboring with their own hands imitating the zeal of the apostle. For if he when
    the whole world was looking unto him for the sake of nourishing them that were in
    need, both occupied a workshop, and practised a craft, and being thus employed
    did not so much as sleep by night; how much more, say they, is it meet that we,
    who have taken up our abode in the wilderness, and have nothing to do with the
    turmoils in the cities, should use the leisure of our quiet for spiritual

    Let us then be ashamed all of us, both they
    that are rich, and they that are poor, when those having nothing at all but a
    body only and hands, force their way on and strive eagerly to find thence a
    supply for the poor; while we, having endless stores within, touch not even our
    superfluities for these objects. What kind of plea shall we have then, I pray
    you? And what sort of excuse?

    Yet further consider, how of old these
    Egyptians were both avaricious, and gluttonous, together with their other
    vices. For there were the flesh-pots Exodus 16:3 which the Jews remember;
    there, the great tyranny of the belly. Nevertheless, having a willing mind,
    they changed: and having caught fire from Christ, they set off at once on their
    voyage towards heaven; and though more ardent than the rest of mankind, and
    more headstrong, both in anger, and in bodily pleasures, they imitate the
    incorporeal powers in meekness, and in the rest of that freedom from passions
    which pertains unto self-denial.

    7. Now if any man has been in the country,
    he knows what I say. But if he have never entered those tabernacles, let him
    call to mind him who even until now is in the mouths of all men — him whom,
    after the apostles, Egypt brought forth — the blessed and great Antony; and let
    him put it to himself, This man, too, was born in the same country with
    Pharaoh; nevertheless he was not thereby damaged, but both had a divine vision
    vouchsafed him, and showed forth such a life as the laws of Christ require. And
    this any man shall know perfectly, when he has read the book that contains the
    history of that man's life; in which also he will perceive much prophecy. I
    allude to his prediction about those infected with the errors of Arius, and his
    statement of the mischief that would arise from them; God even then having
    shown them to him, and sketched out before his eyes all that was coming. A
    thing which most especially (among the rest) serves to demonstrate the truth,
    that no person, belonging to the heresies without, has such a man to mention.
    But, not to depend on us for this information, look earnestly into what is
    written in that book, and you will learn all exactly, and thence be instructed
    in much self-denial.

    And this advice I give, that we not merely
    peruse what is written there, but that we also emulate it, and make neither
    place, nor education, nor forefathers' wickedness an excuse. For if we will
    take heed to ourselves, none of these things shall be an hindrance to us, since
    even Abraham had an ungodly father, Joshua 24:2 but he inherited not his
    wickedness; and Hezekiah, Ahaz: yet nevertheless he became dear to God. And
    Joseph too when in the midst of Egypt, adorned himself with the crowns of
    temperance; and the Three Children no less in the midst of Babylon, and of the
    palace, when a table like those at Sybaris was set before them, showed the
    highest self-denial; and Moses also in Egypt, and Paul in the whole world; but
    nothing was to any one of these an hindrance in the race of virtue.

    Let us then, bearing in mind all these
    things, put out of the way these our superfluous pleas and excuses, and apply
    ourselves to those toils which the cause of virtue requires. For thus shall we
    both attract to ourselves more favor from God, and persuade Him to assist us in
    our struggles, and we shall obtain the eternal blessings; unto which God grant
    that we may all attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus
    Christ, to whom be glory and victory for ever and ever. Amen.

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