CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA:
I now consider it my duty to mention why the door to life is narrow. Whoever would enter must first before everything else possess an upright and uncorrupted faith and then a spotless morality, in which there is no possibility of blame, according to the measure of human righteousness.… One who has attained to this in mind and spiritual strength will enter easily by the narrow door and run along the narrow way.1
You may count certain others among those able to say to the judge of all, “We have eaten and drunk in your presence, and you have taught in our streets.” Who again are these? Many have believed in Christ and have celebrated the holy festivals in his honor. Frequenting the churches, they also hear the doctrines of the gospel, but they remember absolutely nothing of the truths of Scripture. With difficulty, they bring with them the practice of virtue, while their heart is quite bare of spiritual fruitfulness. These will also weep bitterly and grind their teeth, because the Lord will also deny them. He said, “Not everyone that says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”2
It was necessary for Paul to offer instructions for slaves. They were present everywhere in the church, which contains all classes and strata of human society, both men and women, parents and children, slaves and masters, rich and poor, governors and the governed.3
He shows that slavery and mastery are categories that are confined to this present life. When we pass on from here, these distinctions will no longer apply. There nothing will be based on social status, such as slave or master, but on virtue and vice.4
Society arrangements, like laws made by sinners, acknowledge these distinctions of classes. But we are all called to accountability before the law of the common Lord and Master of all. We are called to do good to all alike and to dispense the same fair rights to all. God’s law does not recognize these social distinctions. If anyone should ask where slavery comes from and why it has stolen into human life—for I know that many are keen to ask such things and desire to learn—I shall tell you. It is avarice that brought about slavery. It is acquisitiveness, which is insatiable. This is not the original human condition. Remember that Noah had no slave, nor Abel nor Seth nor those after them. This horrid thing was begotten by sin. It does not come from our earliest ancestors. We pay our ancestors no respect by blaming them. We have insulted nature by this system.… Note how Paul connects everything to the idea of headship. As to the woman he says to the husband: “love her.” As to children he says to parents: “you are to rear them in the instruction and discipline of the Lord.” As to slaves he can only say: “knowing that you too have a Lord in heaven.” In this light be benign and forgiving.5
- COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 99. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (pp. 229–230). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 99. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 230). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS 6.5. Edwards, M. J. (Ed.). (1999). Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians (p. 204). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS 6.8. Edwards, M. J. (Ed.). (1999). Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians (p. 205). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- HOMILY ON EPHESIANS 22.6.9. Edwards, M. J. (Ed.). (1999). Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians (p. 206). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.