EPHREM THE SYRIAN:
Because Israel, symbolically called “son” since Egypt, had lost its sonship through having worshiped Baal and offered incense to idols, John gave them a name which suited them: race of vipers. Because these had lost that title of sonship, which had been poured over them through grace in the days of Moses, they received from John a name congruent with their deeds. After the Lord went down into the land of the Egyptians and had returned from there, the Evangelist said, “Now the true word spoken by the prophet is accomplished.” He said, “I will call my son out of Egypt.” He also said, “He will be called a Nazarene,” because in Hebrew nezer means a “scepter,” and the prophet calls him a “Nazarene” because he is the Son of the scepter.1
In the same book, it is written, “I am God and not man, the holy one in the midst of thee, and I will not enter into the city,” into the den, to be sure, of vices. He himself is the only one who does not enter into the city that Cain built in the name of his son, Enoch. All of this is chanted daily by the lips of the priests: ho monos anamartētos, which in our language is translated as qui solus est sine peccato.2
Nor staff.” Why do we who have the Lord as our help seek the aid of a walking stick? And since he had sent the apostles out to preach somewhat divested and ill equipped and the teachers seemed to be in difficult straits, he tempered the severity of his command with the following sentence: “The laborer deserves his living.” However, Jesus said, accept by way of food and clothing whatever you need. Jesus’ teaching is reflected in Paul’s words: “Having sufficient food and clothing, with these let us be content.” And in another place: “Let one who is instructed in the word share all good things with the teacher,” so that the disciples of those who have a healthy fear of the demonic will make them sharers of their own material goods, not because of greediness but genuine need. We said this by way of interpretation. According to another scriptural interpretation, teachers may not possess gold or silver or money in their belts. Gold is often understood to mean feeling, silver to mean speech and copper to mean voice. We are not allowed to accept these things from others but to possess them as given by the Lord. Nor are we allowed to accept the teachings of heretics and philosophers and false doctrine or to be burdened by the cares of the world or to be two-faced or to have our feet bound by deadly chains. But we are to be divested of everything as we advance on holy ground. We are not to have a staff that is changed into a snake or to lean upon the flesh for any support. A staff or walking stick of this kind is a reed: If you press on it just a little, it will break and will pierce your hand.3
- COMMENTARY ON TATIAN’S DIATESSARON 3.8–9. Ferreiro, A. (2003). Introduction to the Twelve Prophets. In A. Ferreiro (Ed.), The Twelve Prophets (p. 44). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- AGAINST THE PELAGIANS 2.23. Ferreiro, A. (2003). Introduction to the Twelve Prophets. In A. Ferreiro (Ed.), The Twelve Prophets (p. 45). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- COMMENTARY ON MATTHEW 1.10.10. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2001). Matthew 1–13 (pp. 196–197). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.