Beware of false
prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are
ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes
of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good
fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring
forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every
tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be
cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.
Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom
of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall
enter into the kingdom of heaven. Many will say to me in that day: Lord,
Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name,
and done many miracles in thy name? And then will I profess unto them, I
never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity. Every one therefore
that heareth these my words, and doth them, shall be likened to a wise man
that built his house upon a rock, And the rain fell, and the floods came,
and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it
was founded on a rock.
And every one that heareth these my words, and doth them not, shall be like
a foolish man that built his house upon the sand, And the rain fell, and
the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it
fell, and great was the fall thereof.
And it came to pass when Jesus had fully ended these words, the people were
in admiration at his doctrine. For he was teaching them as one having power,
and not as the scribes and Pharisees.
For there is no
good tree that bringeth forth evil fruit; nor an evil tree that bringeth
forth good fruit. For every tree is known by its fruit. For men do not gather
figs from thorns; nor from a bramble bush do they gather the grape. A good
man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good:
and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth that which is evil.
For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
And why call you me, Lord, Lord; and do not the things which I say? Every
one that cometh to me, and heareth my words, and doth them, I will shew you
to whom he is like. He is like to a man building a house, who digged deep,
and laid the foundation upon a rock. And when a flood came, the stream beat
vehemently upon that house, and it could not shake it; for it was founded
on a rock. But he that heareth, and doth not, is like to a man building his
house upon the earth without a foundation: against which the stream beat
vehemently, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.
By St. John Chryostom
"And every one,"
saith He, "that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall
be likened to a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand."
And well did He call this man "foolish": for what can be more senseless than
one building a house on the sand, and while he submits to the labor, depriving
himself of the fruit and refreshment, and instead thereof undergoing punishment?
For that they too, who follow after wickedness, do labor, is surely manifest
to every one: since both the extortioner, and the adulterer, and the false
accuser, toil and weary themselves much to bring their wickedness to effect;
but so far from reaping any profit from these their labors, they rather undergo
great loss. For Paul too intimated this when he said, "He that soweth to
his flesh, shall of his flesh reap corruption."To this man are they like
also, who build on the sand; as those that are given up to fornication, to
wantonness, to drunkenness, to anger, to all the other things.
Such an one was Ahab, but not such Elijah (since when we have put virtue
and vice along side of one another, we shall know more accurately the
difference): for the one had built upon the rock, the other on the sand;
where fore though he were a king, he feared and trembled at the prophet,
at him that had only his sheepskin. Such were the Jews but not the apostles;
and so though they were few and in bonds, they exhibited the steadfastness
of the rock; but those, many as they were, and in armor, the weakness of
the sand. For so they said, "What shall we do to these men?"Seest thou those
in perplexity, not who are in the hands of others, and bound, but who are
active in holding down and binding? And what can be more strange than this?
Hast thou hold of the other, and art yet in utter perplexity? Yes, and very
naturally. For inasmuch as they had built all on the sand, therefore also
were they weaker than all. For this cause also they said again, "What do
ye, seeking to bring this man's blood upon us?" What saith he? Dost thou
scouge, and art thou in fear? entreatest thou despitefully, and art in dismay?
Dost thou judge, and yet tremble? So feeble is wickedness.
But the Apostles not so, but how? "We cannot but speak the things which we
have seen and heard."Seest thou a noble spirit? seest thou a rock laughing
waves to scorn? seest thou a house unshaken? And what is yet more marvellous;
so far from turning cowards themselves at the plots formed against them,
they even took more courage, and cast the others into greater anxiety. For
so he that smites adamant, is himself the one smitten; and he that kicks
against the pricks, is himself the one pricked, the one on whom the severe
wounds fall: and he who is forming plots against the virtuous, is himself
the one in jeopardy. For wickedness becomes so much the weaker, the more
it sets itself in array against virtue. And as he who wraps up fire in a
garment, extinguishes not the flame, but consumes the garment; so he that
is doing despite to virtuous men, and oppressing them, and binding them,
makes them more glorious, but destroys himself.For the more ills thou sufferest,
living righteously, the stronger art thou become; since the more we honor
self-restraint, the less we need anything; and the less we need anything,
the stronger we grow, and the more above all. Such a one was John; wherefore
him no man pained, but he caused pain to Herod; so he that had nothing prevailed
against him that ruled; and he that wore a diadem, and purple, and endless
pomp, trembles, and is in fear of him that is stripped of all, and not even
when beheaded could he without fear see his head. For that even after his
death he had the terror of him in full strength, hear what He saith, "This
is John, whom I slew,"Now the expression, "I slew," is that of one not exulting,
but soothing his own terror, and persuading his troubled soul to call to
mind, that he himself slew him. So great is the force of virtue, that even
after death it is more powerful than the living. For this same cause again,
when he was living, they that possessed much wealth came unto him, and said,
"What shall we do?" Is so much yours, and are ye minded to learn the way
of your prosperity from him that hath nothing? the rich from the poor? the
soldiers from him that hath not even a house?
Such an one was Elias too: wherefore also with the same freedom did he discourse
to the people. For as the former said, "Ye generation of vipers;"so this
latter, "How long will ye halt upon both your hips?" And the one said, "Hast
thou killed, and inherited?" the other, "It is not lawful for thee to have
thy brother Philip's wife."
Seest thou the rock? Seest thou the sand; how easily it sinks down, how it
yields to calamities? how it is overthrown, though it have the support of
royalty, of number, of nobility? For them that pursue it, it makes more senseless
And it doth not merely fall, but with great calamity: for "great indeed,"
He saith, "was the fall of it." The risk not being of trifles, but of the
soul, of the loss of Heaven, and those immortal blessings. Or rather even
before that loss, no life so wretched as he must live that follows after
this; dwelling with continual despondencies, alarms, cares, anxieties; which
a certain wise man also was intimating when he said, "The wicked fleeth,
when no man is pursuing."For such men tremble at their shadows, suspect their
friends, their enemies, their servants, such as know them, such as know them
not; and before their punishment, suffer extreme punishment here. And to
declare all this, Christ said, "And great was the fall of it;" shutting up
these good commandments with that suitable ending, and persuading even by
the things present the most unbelieving to flee from vice.
For although the argument from what is to come be raster, yet is this of
more power to restrain the grosser sort, and to withdraw them from wickedness.
Wherefore also he ended with it, that the profit thereof might make its abode
Conscious therefore of all these things, both the present, and the future,
let us flee from vice, let us emulate virtue, that we may not labor fruitlessly
and at random, but may both enjoy the security here, and partake of the glory
there: unto which God grant we may all attain, by the grace and love towards
man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory and the might forever
and ever. Amen.