Cyril on Faith and Grace (Commentary on Luke)

A Commentary upon the Gospel according to S. Luke It’s been a treat to read Cyril of Alexandria’s (d. 444) commentary on the Gospel of Luke.  Some of his insights have been quite helpful; in fact, I’ve leaned on his interpretation more than a few times in my studies and sermons on Luke.  Recently I read Cyril’s exposition of Luke 7:36-50, where a sinful (but forgiven) woman showers Jesus with an extraordinary display of love and honor (much to the disgust of Simon, a Pharisee).  Here are some excerpts from Cyril’s comments:

“All ye people, clap your hands, and praise God with the voice of thanksgiving” (Ps. 47.1).  And what is the cause of the festival? It is that the Savior hath newly constructed for us a way of salvation, untrodden by them of old time. For the law, which the all-wise Moses ordained, was for the reproof of sin, and the condemnation of offenses: but it justified absolutely no one. For the very wise Paul writes, “Whosoever rejected the law of Moses, was put to death without mercy at the mouth of two or three witnesses” (Heb. 10.28).  But our Lord Jesus Christ, having removed the curse of the law, and proved the commandment which condemns to be powerless and inoperative, became our merciful High Priest, according to the words of the blessed Paul. For He justifies the wicked by faith, and sets free those held captive by their sins.

For there was no one so far advanced in virtue (spiritual virtue I mean) as to be able to fulfill all that had been commanded, and that blamelessly. But the grace that is by Christ justifieth, because, doing away with the condemnation of the law, it frees us by means of faith.

.And as a pledge and plain example of His grace, He freed that unchaste woman from her many iniquities by saying, “Thy sins are forgiven thee.” Worthy indeed of God is a declaration such as this! It is a word joined with supreme authority.

Acknowledge Him as God—Him so gentle and loving unto men. Seize upon the way of salvation: flee from the law that killeth: accept the faith which is above the law.*

Here’s how Cyril concludes this section:

Faith then in Christ is found to be the pledge to us of these great blessings: for it is the way that leadeth unto life: that bids us go to the mansions that are above: that raises us to the inheritance of the saints: that makes us members of the kingdom of Christ: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen.

If you’re looking for a good commentary on Luke, I very much recommend Cyril’s.  Logos has this commentary in digital format (HERE), but it is also on Kindle and in softcover on Amazon (HERE).  It is worth the money for sure – and it’s always good to have an ancient Christian commentary in your library!  Christians who have gone before us have taught the same Christian truth that we teach – and cling to – today.

The above quotes were taken from Cyril of Alexandria, A Commentary upon the Gospel according to S. Luke, trans. R. Payne Smith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1859).

shane lems

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