Overview of the Epistle of Barnabas
The Epistle of Barnabas was an early Greek text that purports to be written by Paul’s traveling and ministry companion, Barnabas. However, there are others in the early church, with the same name, that were large figures in the early church. One whom attribution has been given was Barnabas of Alexandria.
The earliest text of this letter is contained in the 4th century codex, Codex Sinaiticus. The letter was at the end of the codex, most likely because of it’s relation to the book of Revelation.
The early church fathers we both aware of the Epistle of Barnabas and they quoted from it. The earliest reference is Clement of Alexandria (160-215 CE) which has lead many to assume that the author was Paul’s traveling companion.
The Epistle of Barnabas is multi-faceted. In one respect it’s an apocalyptic epistle that has tones of Gnosticism.
Option #1 Barnabas, Paul’s companion in Acts.
Option #2 Barnabas of Alexandria.
Option #3 Pseudonymous and unknown
The various date proposed for this epistle have almost all be very early. However, at the earliest it would have been after the destruction of the temple in 70 CE and before the rebuilding of a Roman temple in it’s place, which was in 135 CE.
One reason why it is believed to be from this time period is the references to the temple, which was destroyed in 70 CE. For this reason alone some commentaries have given it a confident date, as post 70 CE.
Behold they that pulled down this
temple themselves shall build it. (Barnabas 16:3)
Again, it was revealed how the city and the temple and the people of
Israel should be betrayed. For the scripture saith; And it shall be
in the last days, that the Lord shall deliver up the sheep of the
pasture and the fold and the tower thereof to destruction. And it
came to pass as the Lord spake. (Barnabas 16:5)
The text also seems to allude to other post-temple issues such as the outlawing of circumcision (chapter 4). In addition, the text seems to illustrate tensions between the Jews and Christians that are characteristic of the diaspora after the destruction at the hands of Rome.
The most definitive piece of evidence comes from it’s quotation of Matthew’s gospel. Given the fact that this line only appears in Matthew and not earlier gospels like Mark, it’s safe to say that this epistle was written after the turn of the century, making the epistle of Barnabas at least as late as 100-135 CE.
The Epistle of Barnabas was fairly well known a circulated in it’s time. It was widely accepted in the late first century and the early second century (CE) as an authoritative text, declaring that the end time is near. The church in this time period thought the final battle between good and evil was about to blow wide open and that the final judgement was at hand. The epistle of Barnabas is one of many texts that seemed to support this idea.
However, it’s gnostic style content and it’s lack of coherence was a major obstacle. The letter seemed to lack an author, a clear audience, and it also seemed very partisan in it’s tone and content. Therefore, wide acceptance by the church at large was limited. However, the letter quotes from various early biblical passages, as well as some apocryphal books, such as Esdras and Enoch. One example of such biblical quotes comes from Jesus’ words in Matthew, right after Jesus give a parable that demonstrates salvation and damnation;
Moreover understand this also, my brothers. When ye see that after
so many signs and wonders wrought in Israel, even then they were
abandoned, let us give heed, lest haply we be found, as the scripture
saith, many are called but few are chosen. (Barnabas 4:14)
Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Parable of the banquet)
14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
Text of the Epistle of Barnabas
THE EPISTLE OF BARNABAS
Translated by J.B. Lightfoot.
I Bid you greeting, sons and daughters, in the name of the Lord that
loved us, in peace.
Seeing that the ordinances of God are great and rich unto you, I
rejoice with an exceeding great and overflowing joy at your blessed
and glorious spirits; so innate is the grace of the spiritual gift
that ye have received.
Wherefore also I the more congratulate myself hoping to be saved, for
that I truly see the Spirit poured out among you from the riches of
the fount of the Lord. So greatly did the much-desired sight of you
astonish me respecting you.
Being therefore persuaded of this, and being conscious with myself
that having said much among you I know that the Lord journeyed with
me on the way of righteousness, and am wholly constrained also myself
to this, to love you more than my own soul (for great faith and love
dwelleth in you through the hope of the life which is
His)–considering this therefore, that,
if it shall be my care to communicate to you some portion of that
which I received, it shall turn to my reward for having ministered to
such spirits, I was eager to send you a trifle, that along with your
faith ye might have your knowledge also perfect.
Well then, there are three ordinances of the Lord; the hope of life,
which is the beginning and end of our faith; and righteousness, which
is the beginning and end of judgment; love shown in gladness and
exultation, the testimony of works of righteousness.
For the Lord made known to us by His prophets things past and
present, giving us likewise the firstfruits of the taste of things
future. And seeing each of these things severally coming to pass,
according as He spake, we ought to offer a richer and higher offering
to the fear of Him. But I, not as though I were a teacher, but as
one of yourselves, will show forth a few things, whereby ye shall be
gladdened in the present circumstances.
Seeing then that the days are evil, and that the Active One himself
has the authority, we ought to give heed to ourselves and to seek out
the ordinances of the Lord.
The aids of our faith then are fear and patience, and our allies are
long-suffering and self-restraint.
While these abide in a pure spirit in matters relating to the Lord,
wisdom, understanding, science, knowledge rejoice with them.
For He hath made manifest to us by all the prophets that He wanteth
neither sacrifices nor whole burnt offerings nor oblations, saying at
What to Me is the multitude of your sacrifices, saith the Lord I am
full of whole burnt-offerings, and the fat of lambs and the blood
of bulls and of goats desire not, not though ye should come to be
seen of Me. or who required these things at your hands? Ye shall
continue no more to tread My court. If ye bring fine flour, it is
in vain; incense is an abomination to Me; your new moons and your
Sabbaths I cannot away with.
These things therefore He annulled, that the new law of our Lord
Jesus Christ, being free from the yoke of constraint, might have its
oblation not made by human hands.
And He saith again unto them; Did command your fathers when they
went forth from the land of Egypt to bring Me whole burnt offerings
Nay, this was My command unto them, Let none of you bear a grudge
of evil against his neighbor in his heart, and love you not a false
So we ought to perceive, unless we are without understanding, the
mind of the goodness of our Father; for He speaketh to us, desiring
us not to go astray like them but to seek how we may approach Him.
Thus then speaketh He to us; The sacrifice unto God is a broken
heart, the smell of a sweet savor unto the Lord is a heart that
glorifies its Maker. We ought therefore, brethren, to learn
accurately concerning our salvation, lest the Evil One having
effected an entrance of error in us should fling us away from our
He speaketh again therefore to them concerning these things;
Wherefore fast ye for Me, saith the Lord, so that your voice is
heard this day crying aloud? This is not the fast which have chosen,
saith the Lord; not a man abasing his soul;
not though ye should bend your neck as a hoop, and put on sackcloth
and make your bed of ashes, not even so shall ye call a fast that is
But unto us He saith; Behold, this is the fast which I have chosen,
saith the Lord; loosen every band of wickedness, untie the
tightened cords of forcible contracts, send away the broken ones
released and tear in pieces every unjust bond. Break thy bread to
the hungry, and if thou seest one naked clothe him; bring the
shelterless into thy house, and if thou seest a humble man, thou
shalt not despise him, neither shall any one of thy household and
of thine own seed.
Then shall thy light break forth in the morning, and thy healing
shall arise quickly, and righteousness shall go forth before thy
face, and the glory of God shall environ thee.
Then shalt thou cry out and God shall hear thee; while thou art
still speaking, He shall say ‘Lo, I am here’; if thou shalt take
away from thee the yoke and the stretching forth of the finger and
the word of murmuring, and shalt give thy bread to the hungry
heartily, and shalt pity the abased soul.
To this end therefore, my brethren, He that is long-suffering,
foreseeing that the people whom He had prepared in His well-beloved
would believe in simplicity, manifested to us beforehand concerning
all things, that we might not as novices shipwreck ourselves upon
It behooves us therefore to investigate deeply concerning the
present, and to search out the things which have power to save us.
Let us therefore flee altogether from all the works of lawlessness,
lest the works of lawlessness overpower us; and let us loathe the
error of the present time, that we may be loved for that which is to
Let us give no relaxation to our soul that it should have liberty to
consort with sinners and wicked men, lest haply we be made like unto
The last offence is at hand, concerning which the scripture speaketh,
as Enoch saith. For to this end the Master hath cut the seasons and
the days short, that His beloved might hasten and come to His
And the prophet also speaketh on this wise; Ten reigns shall reign
upon the earth, and after them shall arise another king, who shall
bring low three of the kings under one.
In like manner Daniel speaketh concerning the same; And I saw the
forth beast to be wicked and strong and more intractable than all
the beasts of the earth, and how there arose from him ten horns,
and from these a little horn and excrescence, and how that it
abased under one three of the great horns.
Ye ought therefore to understand. Moreover I ask you this one thing
besides, as being one of yourselves and loving you all in particular
more than my own soul, to give heed to yourselves now, and not to
liken yourselves to certain persons who pile up sin upon sin, saying
that our covenant remains to them also.
Ours it is; but they lost it in this way for ever, when Moses had
just received it. For the scripture saith; And Moses was in the
mountain fasting forty days and forty nights, and he received the
covenant from the Lord, even tablets of stone written with the
finger of the hand of the Lord.
But they lost it by turning unto idols. For thus saith the Lord;
Moses, Moses, come down quickly; for thy people whom thou
broughtest out of the land of Egypt hath done unlawfully. And
Moses understood, and threw the two tables from his hands; and their
covenant was broken in pieces, that the covenant of the beloved Jesus
might be sealed unto our hearts in the hope which springeth from
faith in Him.
But though I would fain write many things, not as a teacher, but as
becometh one who loveth you not to fall short of that which we
possess, I was anxious to write to you, being your devoted slave.
Wherefore let us take heed in these last days. For the whole time of
our faith shall profit us nothing, unless we now, in the season of
lawlessness and in the offenses that shall be, as becometh sons of
God, offer resistance, that the Black One may not effect an entrance.
Let us flee from all vanity, let us entirely hate the works of the
evil way. Do not entering in privily stand apart by yourselves, as
if ye were already justified, but assemble yourselves together and
consult concerning the common welfare.
For the scripture saith; Woe unto them that are wise for
themselves, and understanding in their own sight. Let us become
spiritual, let us become a temple perfect unto God. As far as in us
lies, let us exercise ourselves in the fear of God, [and] let us
strive to keep His commandments, that we may rejoice in His
The Lord judgeth the world without respect of persons; each man shall
receive according to his deeds. If he be good, his righteousness
shall go before him in the way; if he be evil, the recompense of his
evil-doing is before him; lest perchance,
if we relax as men that are called, we should slumber over our sins,
and the prince of evil receive power against us and thrust us out
from the kingdom of the Lord.
Moreover understand this also, my brothers. When ye see that after
so many signs and wonders wrought in Israel, even then they were
abandoned, let us give heed, lest haply we be found, as the scripture
saith, many are called but few are chosen.
For to this end the Lord endured to deliver His flesh unto
corruption, that by the remission of sins we might be cleansed, which
cleansing is through the blood of His sprinkling.
For the scripture concerning Him containeth some things relating to
Israel, and some things relating to us. And it speaketh thus; He
was wounded for your transgressions, and He hath been bruised for
our sins; by His stripes we were healed. As a sheep He was led to
slaughter, as a lamb is dumb before his shearer.
We ought therefore to be very thankful unto the Lord, for that He
both revealed unto us the past, and made us wise in the present, and
as regards the future we are not without understanding.
Now the scripture saith; Not unjustly is the net spread for the
birds. He meaneth this that a man shall justly perish, who having
the knowledge of the way of righteousness forceth himself into the
way of darkness.
There is yet this also, my brethren; if the Lord endured to suffer
for our souls, though He was Lord of the whole world, unto whom God
said from the foundation of the world, Let us make man after our
image and likeness, how then did He endure to suffer at the hand
Understand ye. The prophets, receiving grace from Him, prophesied
concerning Him. But He Himself endured that He might destroy death
and show forth the resurrection of the dead, for that He must needs
be manifested in the flesh;
that at the same time He might redeem the promise made to the
fathers, and by preparing the new people for Himself might show,
while He was on earth, that having brought about the resurrection He
will Himself exercise judgment.
Yea and further, He preached teaching Israel and performing so many
wonders and miracles, and He loved him exceedingly.
And when He chose His own apostles who were to proclaim His Gospel,
who that He might show that He came not to call the righteous but
sinners were sinners above every sin, then He manifested Himself
to be the Son of God.
For if He had not come in the flesh neither would men have looked
upon Him and been saved, forasmuch as when they look upon the sun
that shall cease to be, which is the work of His own hands, they
cannot face its rays.
Therefore the Son of God came in the flesh to this end, that He might
sum up the complete tale of their sins against those who persecuted
and slew His prophets.
To this end therefore He endured. For God saith of the wounds of His
flesh that they came from them; When they shall smite their own
shepherd, then shall the sheep of the flock be lost.
But He Himself desired so to suffer; for it was necessary for Him to
suffer on a tree. For he that prophesied said concerning Him, Spare
My soul form the sword; and, Pierce My flesh with nails, for the
congregations of evil-doers have risen up against Me.
And again He saith; Behold I have given My back to stripes, and My
cheeks to smitings, and My face did I set as a hard rock.
When then He gave the commandment, what saith He? Who is he that
disputeth with Me? Let him oppose Me. Or who is he that goeth to
law with Me? Let him draw nigh unto the servant of the Lord,
Woe unto you, for ye all shall wax old as a garment, and the moth
shall consume you. And again the prophet saith, seeing that as a
hard stone He was ordained for crushing; Behold I will put into the
fountains of Zion a stone very precious, elect, a chief
Then again what saith He; And whosoever shall set his hope on Him,
shall live forever. Is our hope then set upon a stone? Far be it.
But it is because the Lord hath set His flesh in strength. For He
saith; And He set Me as a hard rock.
And the prophet saith again; The stone which the builders rejected,
this became the head and the corner. And again He saith; This is
the great and wonderful day, which the Lord made.
I write to you the more simply, that ye may understand, I who am the
offscouring of your love.
What then saith the prophet again? The assembly of evildoers
gathered around Me, they surrounded Me as bees surround a comb;
and; For My garment they cast a lot.
Forasmuch then as He was about to be manifested in the flesh and to
suffer, His suffering was manifested beforehand. For the prophet
saith concerning Israel; Woe unto their soul, for they have
counseled evil counsel against themselves saying, Let us bind the
righteous one, for he is unprofitable for us.
What sayeth the other prophet Moses unto them? Behold, these things
saith the Lord God; enter into the good land which the Lord swear
unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and inherit it, a land flowing with
milk and honey.
But what saith knowledge? Understand ye. Set your hope on Him who
is about to be manifested to you in the flesh, even Jesus. For man
is earth suffering; for from the face of the earth came the creation
What then saith He? Into the good land, a land flowing with milk
and honey. Blessed is our Lord, brethren, who established among us
wisdom and understanding of His secret things. For the prophet
speaketh a parable concerning the Lord. Who shall comprehend, save
he that is wise and prudent and that loveth his Lord?
Forasmuch then as He renewed us in the remission of sins, He made us
to be a new type, so that we should have the soul of children, as if
He were recreating us.
For the scripture saith concerning us, how He saith to the Son; Let
us make man after our image and after our likeness, and let them
rule over the beasts of the earth and the fowls of the heaven and
the fishes of the sea. And the Lord said when He saw the fair
creation of us men; Increase and multiply and fill the earth.
These words refer to the Son.
Again I will shew thee how the Lord speaketh concerning us. He made
a second creation at the last; and the Lord saith; Behold I make
the last things as the first. In reference to this then the
prophet preached; Enter into a land flowing with milk and honey,
and be lords over it.
Behold then we have been created anew, as He saith again in another
prophet; Behold, saith the Lord, I will take out from these, that
is to say, from those whom the Spirit of the Lord foresaw, their
stony hearts, and will put into them hearts of flesh; for He
Himself was to be manifested in the flesh and to dwell in us.
For a holy temple unto the Lord, my brethren, is the abode of our
For the Lord saith again; For wherein shall I appear unto the Lord
my God and be glorified? I will make confession unto Thee in the
assembly of my brethren, and I will sing unto Thee in the midst of
the assembly of the saints. We therefore are they whom He brought
into the good land.
What then is the milk and the honey Because the child is first kept
alive by honey, and then by milk. So in like manner we also, being
kept alive by our faith in the promise and by the word, shall live
and be lords of the earth.
Now we have already said above; And let them increase and multiply
and rule over the fishes. But who is he that is able [now] to rule
over beasts and fishes and fowls of the heaven; for we ought to
perceive that to rule implieth power, so that one should give orders
and have dominion.
If then this cometh not to pass now, assuredly He spake to us for the
hereafter, when we ourselves shall be made perfect so that we may
become heirs of the covenant of the Lord.
Understand therefore, children of gladness, that the good Lord
manifested all things to us beforehand, that we might know to whom we
ought in all things to render thanksgiving and praise.
If then the Son of God, being Lord and future Judge of quick and
dead, suffered that His wound might give us life, let us believe that
the Son of God could not suffer except for our sakes.
But moreover when crucified He had vinegar and gall given Him to
drink. Hear how on this matter the priests of the temple have
revealed. Seeing that there is a commandment in scripture,
Whatsoever shall not observe the fast shall surely die, the Lord
commanded, because He was in His own person about to offer the vessel
of His Spirit a sacrifice for our sins, that the type also which was
given in Isaac who was offered upon the alter should be fulfilled.
What then saith He in the prophet? And let them eat of the goat
that is offered at the fast for all their sins. Attend carefully;
And let all the priests alone eat the entrails unwashed with
Wherefore? Since ye are to give Me, who am to offer My flesh for the
sins of My new people, gall with vinegar to drink, eat ye alone,
while the people fasteth and waileth in sackcloth and ashes; that He
might shew that He must suffer at their hands.
Attend ye to the commandments which He gave. Take two goats, fair
and alike, and offer them, and let the priest take the one for a
whole burnt offering for sins.
But the other one–what must they do with it? Accursed, saith He,
is the one. Give heed how the type of Jesus is revealed.
And do ye all spit upon it and goad it, and place scarlet wool
about its head, and so let it be cast into the wilderness. And
when it is so done, he that taketh the goat into the wilderness
leadeth it, and taketh off the wool, and putteth it upon the branch
which is called Rachia, the same whereof we are wont to eat the
shoots when we find them in the country. Of this briar alone is the
fruit thus sweet.
What then meaneth this? Give heed. The one at the alter, and the
other accursed. And moreover the accursed one crowned. For they
shall see Him in that day wearing the long scarlet robe about His
flesh, and shall say, Is not this He, Whom once we crucified and set
at nought and spat upon; verily this was He, Who then said that He
was the Son of God.
For how is He like the goat? For this reason it says the goats
shall be fair and alike, that, when they shall see Him coming
then, they may be astonished at the likeness of the goat. Therefore
behold the type of Jesus that was to suffer.
But what meaneth it, that they place the wool in the midst of the
thorns? It is a type of Jesus set forth for the Church, since
whosoever should desire to take away the scarlet wool it behoved him
to suffer many things owing to the terrible nature of the thorn, and
through affliction to win the mastery over it. Thus, He saith, they
that desire to see Me, and to attain unto My kingdom, must lay hold
on Me through tribulation and affliction.
But what think ye meaneth the type, where the commandment is given
to Israel that those men, whose sins are full grown, offer an heifer
and slaughter and burn it, and then that the children take up the
ashes, and cast them into vessels, and twist the scarlet wool on a
tree (see here again is the type of the cross and the scarlet wool),
and the hyssop, and that this done the children should sprinkle the
people one by one, that they may be purified from their sins?
Understand ye how in all plainness it is spoken unto you; the calf is
Jesus, the men that offer it, being sinners, are they that offered
Him for the slaughter. After this it is no more men (who offer); the
glory is no more for sinners.
The children who sprinkle are they that preached unto us the
forgiveness of sins and the purification of our heart, they to whom,
being twelve in number for a testimony unto the tribes (for there are
twelve tribes of Israel), He gave authority over the Gospel, that
they should preach it.
But wherefore are the children that sprinkle three in number? For a
testimony unto Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, because these are mighty
Then there is the placing the wool on the tree. This means that the
kingdom of Jesus is on the cross, and that they who set their hope on
Him shall live for ever.
And why is there the wool and the hyssop at the same time? Because
in His kingdom there shall be evil and foul days, in which we shall
be saved; for he who suffers pain in the flesh is healed through the
foulness of the hyssop.
Now to us indeed it is manifest that these things so befell for this
reason, but to them they were dark, because they heard not the voice
of the Lord.
Furthermore He saith concerning the ears, how that it is our heart
which He circumcised. The Lord saith in the prophet; With the
hearing of the ears they listened to Me. And again He saith;
They that are afar off shall hear with their ears, and shall
perceive what I have done. And; Be ye circumcised in your
hearts, saith the Lord.
And again He saith; Hear, O Israel, for thus saith the Lord thy
God. Who is he that desireth to live forever, let him hear with his
ears the voice of My servant.
And again He saith; Hear, O heaven, and give ear, O earth, for the
Lord hath spoken these things for a testimony. And again He saith;
Hear the words of the Lord, ye rulers of this people. And again He
saith; Hear, O my children, the voice of one crying in the
wilderness. Therefore He circumcised our ears, that hearing the
word we might believe.
But moreover the circumcision, in which they have confidence, is
abolished; for He hath said that a circumcision not of the flesh
should be practiced. But they transgressed, for an evil angel taught
He saith unto them; Thus saith the Lord your God (so I find the
commandment); sow not upon thorns, be ye circumcised in to your
Lord. And what saith He? Be ye circumcised in the hardness of
your heart; and then ye will not harden your neck. Take this
again; Behold, sayith the Lord, all the Gentiles are uncircumcised
in their foreskin, but this people is uncircumcised in their
But thou wilt say; In truth the people hath been circumcised for a
seal. Nay, but so likewise is every Syrian and Arabian and all the
priests of the idols. Do all those then too belong to their
covenant? Moreover the Egyptians also are included among the
Learn therefore, children of love, concerning all things abundantly,
that Abraham, who first appointed circumcision, looked forward in the
spirit unto Jesus, when he circumcised having received the ordinances
of three letters.
For the scripture saith; And Abraham circumcised of his household
eighteen males and three hundred. What then was the knowledge
given unto him? Understand ye that He saith the eighteen first,
and then after an interval three hundred In the eighteen ‘I’
stands for ten, ‘H’ for eight. Here thou hast JESUS (IHSOYS). And
because the cross in the ‘T’ was to have grace, He saith also three
hundred. So He revealeth Jesus in the two letters, and in the
remaining one the cross.
He who placed within us the innate gift of His covenant knoweth; no
man hath ever learnt from me a more genuine word; but I know that ye
But forasmuch as Moses said; Ye shall not eat seine nor eagle nor
falcon nor crow nor any fish which hath no scale upon it, he
received in his understanding three ordinances.
Yea and further He saith unto them in Deuteronomy; And I will lay
as a covenant upon this people My ordinances. So then it is not a
commandment of God that they should not bite with their teeth, but
Moses spake it in spirit.
Accordingly he mentioned the swine with this intent. Thou shalt not
cleave, saith he, to such men who are like unto swine; that is, when
they are in luxury they forget the Lord, but when they are in want
they recognize the Lord, just as the swine when it eateth knoweth not
his lord, but when it is hungry it crieth out, and when it has
received food again it is silent.
Neither shalt thou eat eagle nor falcon nor kite nor crow. Thou
shalt not, He saith, cleave unto, or be likened to, such men who now
not how to provide food for themselves by toil and sweat, but in
their lawlessness seize what belongeth to others, and as if they were
walking in guilelessness watch and search about for some one to rob
in their rapacity, just as these birds alone do not provide food for
themselves, but sit idle and seek how they may eat the meat that
belongeth to others, being pestilent in their evil-doings.
And thou shalt not eat, saith He, lamprey nor polypus nor cuttle
fish . Thou shalt not, He meaneth, become like unto such men, who
are desperately wicked, and are already condemned to death, just as
these fishes alone are accursed and swim in the depths, not swimming
on the surface like the rest, but dwell on the ground beneath the
Moreover thou shalt not eat the hare. Why so? Thou shalt not be
found a corrupter of boys, nor shalt thou become like such persons;
for the hare gaineth one passage in the body every year; for
according to the number of years it lives it has just so many
Again, neither shalt thou eat the hyena; thou shalt not, saith He,
become an adulterer or a fornicator, neither shalt thou resemble such
persons. Why so? Because this animal changeth its nature year by
year, and becometh at one time male and at another female.
Moreover He hath hated the weasel also and with good reason. Thou
shalt not, saith He, become such as those men of whom we hear as
working iniquity with their mouth for uncleanness, neither shalt thou
cleave unto impure women who work iniquity with their mouth. For
this animal conceiveth with its mouth.
Concerning meats then Moses received three decrees to this effect and
uttered them in a spiritual sense; but they accepted them according
to the lust of the flesh, as though they referred to eating.
And David also receiveth knowledge of the same three decrees, and
saith; Blessed is the man who hath not gone in the council of the
ungodly–even as the fishes go in darkness into the depths; and
hath not stood in the path of sinners–just as they who pretend to
fear the Lord sin like swine; and hath not sat on the seat of the
destroyers–as the birds that are seated for prey. Ye have now the
complete lesson concerning eating.
Again Moses saith; Ye shall everything that divideth the hoof and
cheweth the cud. What meaneth he? He that receiveth the food
knoweth Him that giveth him the food, and being refreshed appeareth
to rejoice in him. Well said he, having regard to the commandment.
What then meaneth he? Cleave unto those that fear the Lord, with
those who meditate in their heart on the distinction of the word
which they have received, with those who tell of the ordinances of
the Lord and keep them, with those who know that meditation is a work
of gladness and who chew the cud of the word of the Lord. But why
that which divideth the hoof? Because the righteous man both walketh
in this world, and at the same time looketh for the holy world to
come. Ye see how wise a lawgiver Moses was.
But whence should they perceive or understand these things? Howbeit
we having justly perceived the commandments tell them as the Lord
willed. To this end He circumcised our ears and hearts, that we
might understand these things.
But let us enquire whether the Lord took care to signify before hand
concerning the water and the cross. Now concerning the water it is
written in reference to Israel, how that they would not receive the
baptism which bringeth remission of sins, but would build for
For the prophet saith; Be astonished, O heaven, and let the earth
shudder the more at this, for this people hath done two evil
things; they abandoned Me the fountain of life, and they digged for
themselves a pit of death.
Is My holy mountain of Sinai a desert rock? for ye shall be as the
fledglings of a bird, which flutter aloft when deprived of their
And again the prophet saith; I will go before thee, and level
mountains and crush gates of brass and break in pieces bolts of
iron, and I will give thee treasures dark, concealed, unseen, that
they may know that I am the Lord God.
And; Thou shalt dwell in a lofty cave of a strong rock. And; His
water shall be sure; ye shall see the King in glory, and your soul
shall meditate on the fear of the Lord.
And again He saith in another prophet; And He that doeth these
things shall be as the tree that is planted by the parting streams
of waters, which shall yield his fruit at his proper season, and
his leaf shall not fall off, and all things whatsoever he doeth
Not so are the ungodly, not so, but are as the dust which the wind
scattereth from the face of the earth. Therefore ungodly men shall
not stand in judgment, neither sinners in the council of the
righteous; for the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, and the
way of the ungodly shall perish.
Ye perceive how He pointed out the water and the cross at the same
time. For this is the meaning; Blessed are they that set their hope
on the cross, and go down into the water; for He speaketh of the
reward at his proper season; then, saith He, I will repay. But now
what saith He? His leaves shall not fall off; He meaneth by this
that every word, which shall come forth from you through your mouth
in faith and love, shall be for the conversion and hope of many.
And again another prophet saith; And the land of Jacob was praised
above the whole earth. He meaneth this; He glorifieth the vessel
of His Spirit.
Next what saith He? And there was a river streaming from the right
hand, and beautiful trees rose up from it; and whosoever shall eat
of them shall live forever.
This He saith, because we go down into the water laden with sins and
filth, and rise up from it bearing fruit in the heart, resting our
fear and hope on Jesus in the spirit. And whosoever shall eat of
these shall live forever; He meaneth this; whosoever, saith He,
shall hear these things spoken and shall believe, shall live forever.
In like manner again He defineth concerning the cross in another
prophet, who saith; And when shall these things be accomplished?
saith the Lord. Whenever a tree shall be bended and stand upright,
and whensoever blood shall drop from a tree. Again thou art taught
concerning the cross, and Him that was to be crucified.
And He saith again in Moses, when war was waged against Israel by men
of another nation, and that He might remind them when the war was
waged against them that for their sins they were delivered unto
death; the Spirit saith to the heart of Moses, that he should make a
type of the cross and of Him that was to suffer, that unless, saith
He, they shall set their hope on Him, war shall be waged against them
for ever. Moses therefore pileth arms one upon another in the midst
of the encounter, and standing on higher ground than any he stretched
out his hands, and so Israel was again victorious. Then, whenever he
lowered them, they were slain with the sword.
Wherefore was this? That they might learn that they cannot be saved,
unless they should set their hope on Him.
And again in another prophet He saith; The whole day long have I
stretched out My hands to a disobedient people that did gainsay My
Again Moses maketh a type of Jesus, how that He must suffer, and that
He Himself whom they shall think to have destroyed shall make alive
in an emblem when Israel was falling. For the Lord caused all manner
of serpents to bite them, and they died (forasmuch as the
transgression was wrought in Eve through the serpent), that He might
convince them that by reason of their transgression they should be
delivered over to the affliction of death.
Yea and further though Moses gave the commandment; Ye shall not
have a molten or a carved image for your God, yet he himself made
one that he might show them a type of Jesus. So Moses maketh a brazen
serpent, and setteth it up conspicuously, and summoneth the people by
When therefore they were assembled together they entreated Moses that
he should offer up intercession for them that they might be healed.
And Moses said unto them; Whensoever, said he, one of you shall be
bitten, let him come to the serpent which is placed on the tree, and
let him believe and hope that the serpent being himself dead can make
alive; and forthwith he shall be saved. And so they did. Here again
thou hast in these things also the glory of Jesus, how that in Him
and unto Him are all things.
What again saith Moses unto Jesus (Joshua) the son of Nun, when he
giveth him this name, as being a prophet, that all the people might
give ear to him alone, because the Father revealeth all things
concerning His Son Jesus?
Moses therefore saith to Jesus the son of Nun, giving him this name,
when he sent him as a spy on the land; Take a book in thy hands,
and write what the Lord saith, how the Son of God shall cut up by
the roots all the house of Amalek in the last days.
Behold again it is Jesus, not a son of man, but the Son of God, and
He was revealed in the flesh in a figure. Since then men will say
that Christ is the son of David, David himself prophesieth being
afraid and understanding the error of sinners; The Lord said unto
my Lord, Sit thou on My right hand until I set thine enemies for a
footstool under Thy feet.
And again thus sayith Isaiah; The Lord said unto my Christ the
Lord, of whose right hand I laid hold, that the nations should give
ear before Him, and I will break down the strength of kings. See
how David calleth Him Lord, and calleth Him not Son.
Now let us see whether this people or the first people hath the
inheritance, and whether the covenant had reference to us or to them.
Hear then what the scripture saith concerning the people; And Isaac
prayed concerning Rebecca his wife, for she was barren. And she
conceived. Then Rebecca went out to enquire of the Lord. And the
Lord said unto her; Two nations are in thy womb, and two peoples in
thy belly, and one people shall vanquish another people, and the
greater shall serve the less.
Ye ought to understand who Isaac is, and who Rebecca is, and in whose
case He hath shown that the one people is greater than the other.
And in another prophecy Jacob speaketh more plainly to Joseph his
son, saying; Behold, the Lord hath not bereft me of thy face; bring
me thy sons, that I may bless them.
And he brought Ephraim and Manasseh, desiring that Manasseh should be
blessed, because he was the elder; for Joseph led him by the right
hand of his father Jacob. But Jacob saw in the spirit a type of the
people that should come afterwards. And what saith He? And Jacob
crossed his hands, and placed his right hand on the head of
Ephraim, the second and younger, and blessed him. And Joseph said
unto Jacob, Transfer thy right hand to the head of Manasseh, for he
is my first born son. And Jacob said to Joseph, I know it, my son,
I know it; but the greater shall serve the less. Yet this one also
shall be blessed.
Mark in whose cases He ordained that this people should be first and
heir of the covenant.
If then besides this He also recorded it through Abraham, we attain
the completion of our knowledge. What then saith he to Abraham when
he alone believed, and was ascribed for righteousness? Behold I
have made thee, Abraham, a father of nations that believe in God in
Yea verily, but as regards the covenant which He swear to the
fathers to give it to the people let us see whether He hath actually
given it. He hath given it, but they themselves were not found worthy
to receive it by reason of their sins.
For the prophet saith; And Moses was fasting in Mount Sinai forty
days and forty nights, that he might receive the covenant of the
Lord to give to the people. And [Moses] received from the Lord the
two tables which were written by the finger of the hand of the Lord
in the spirit. And Moses took them, and brought them down to give
them to the people.
And the Lord said unto Moses; Moses, Moses, come down quickly; for
thy people, whom thou leddest forth from the land of Egypt, hath
done wickedly. And Moses perceived that they had made for
themselves again molten images, and he cast them out of his hands
and the tables of the covenant of the Lord were broken in pieces.
Moses received them, but they themselves were not found worthy. But
how did we receive them? Mark this. Moses received them being a
servant, but the Lord himself gave them to us to be the people of His
inheritance, having endured patiently for our sakes.
But He was made manifest, in order that at the same time they might
be perfected in their sins, and we might receive the covenant through
Him who inherited it, even the Lord Jesus, who was prepared
beforehand hereunto, that appearing in person He might redeem out of
darkness our hearts which had already been paid over unto death and
delivered up to the iniquity of error, and thus establish the
covenant in us through the word.
For it is written how the Father chargeth Him to deliver us from
darkness, and to prepare a holy people for Himself.
Therefore saith the prophet; I the Lord thy God called thee in
righteousness, and I will lay hold of thy hand and will strengthen
thee, and I have given thee to be a covenant of the race, a light
to the Gentiles, to open the eyes of the blind, and to bring forth
them that are bound from their fetters, and them that sit in
darkness from their prison house. We perceive then whence we were
Again the prophet saith; Behold I have set Thee to be a light unto
the Gentiles, that Thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of
the earth; thus saith the Lord that ransomed thee, even God.
Again the prophet saith; The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
wherefore He anointed Me to preach good tidings to the humble; He
hath sent Me to heal them that are broken-hearted, to preach
release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to
proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of recompense,
to comfort all that mourn.
Moreover concerning the Sabbath likewise it is written in the Ten
Words, in which He spake to Moses face to face on Mount Sinai; And
ye shall hallow the Sabbath of the Lord with pure hands and with a
And in another place He saith; If my sons observe the Sabbath then
I will bestow My mercy upon them.
Of the Sabbath He speaketh in the beginning of the creation; And
God made the works of His hands in six days, and He ended on the
seventh day, and rested on it, and He hallowed it.
Give heed, children, what this meaneth; He ended in six days. He
meaneth this, that in six thousand years the Lord shall bring all
things to an end; for the day with Him signifyeth a thousand years;
and this He himself beareth me witness, saying; Behold, the day of
the Lord shall be as a thousand years. Therefore, children, in six
days, that is in six thousand years, everything shall come to an end.
And He rested on the seventh day. this He meaneth; when His Son
shall come, and shall abolish the time of the Lawless One, and shall
judge the ungodly, and shall change the sun and the moon and the
stars, then shall he truly rest on the seventh day.
Yea and furthermore He saith; Thou shalt hallow it with pure hands
and with a pure heart. If therefore a man is able now to hallow
the day which God hallowed, though he be pure in heart, we have gone
But if after all then and not till then shall we truly rest and
hallow it, when we shall ourselves be able to do so after being
justified and receiving the promise, when iniquity is no more and all
things have been made new by the Lord, we shall be able to hallow it
then, because we ourselves shall have been hallowed first.
Finally He saith to them; Your new moons and your Sabbaths I cannot
away with. Ye see what is His meaning ; it is not your present
Sabbaths that are acceptable [unto Me], but the Sabbath which I have
made, in the which, when I have set all things at rest, I will make
the beginning of the eighth day which is the beginning of another
Wherefore also we keep the eighth day for rejoicing, in the which
also Jesus rose from the dead, and having been manifested ascended
into the heavens.
Moreover I will tell you likewise concerning the temple, how these
wretched men being led astray set their hope on the building, and not
on their God that made them, as being a house of God.
For like the Gentiles almost they consecrated Him in the temple. But
what saith the Lord abolishing the temple? Learn ye. Who hath
measured the heaven with a span, or hath measured the earth with
his hand? Have not I, saith the Lord? The heaven is My throne and
the earth the footstool of My feet. What manner of house will ye
build for Me? Or what shall be my resting place? Ye perceive that
their hope is vain.
Furthermore He saith again; Behold they that pulled down this
temple themselves shall build it.
So it cometh to pass; for because they went to war it was pulled down
by their enemies. Now also the very servants of their enemies shall
build it up.
Again, it was revealed how the city and the temple and the people of
Israel should be betrayed. For the scripture saith; And it shall be
in the last days, that the Lord shall deliver up the sheep of the
pasture and the fold and the tower thereof to destruction. And it
came to pass as the Lord spake.
But let us enquire whether there be any temple of God. There is; in
the place where he himself undertakes to make and finish it. For it
is written And it shall come to pass, when the week is being
accomplished, the temple of God shall be built gloriously in the
name of the Lord.
I find then that there is a temple, How then shall it be built in
the name of the Lord? Understand ye. Before we believed on God, the
abode of our heart was corrupt and weak, a temple truly built by
hands; for it was full of idolatry and was a house of demons, because
we did whatsoever was contrary to God.
But it shall be built in the name of the Lord. Give heed then that
the temple of the Lord may be built gloriously.
How? Understand ye. By receiving the remission of our sins and
hoping on the Name we became new, created afresh from the beginning.
Wherefore God dwelleth truly in our habitation within us. How? The
word of his faith, the calling of his promise, the wisdom of the
ordinances, the commandments of the teaching, He Himself prophesying
in us, He Himself dwelling in us, opening for us who had been in
bondage unto death the door of the temple, which is the mouth, and
giving us repentance leadeth us to the incorruptible temple.
For he that desireth to be saved looketh not to the man, but to Him
that dwelleth and speaketh in him, being amazed at this that he has
never at any time heard these words from the mouth of the speaker,
nor himself ever desired to hear them. This is the spiritual temple
built up to the Lord.
So far as it was possible with all simplicity to declare it unto
you, my soul hopeth that I have not omitted anything [of the matters
pertaining unto salvation and so failed in my desire].
For if I should write to you concerning things immediate or future,
ye would not understand them, because they are put in parables. So
much then for this.
But let us pass on to another lesson and teaching. There are two
ways of teaching and of power, the one of light and the other of
darkness; and there is a great difference between the two ways. For
on the one are stationed the light giving angels of God, on the other
the angels of Satan.
And the one is the Lord from all eternity and unto all eternity,
whereas the other is Lord of the season of iniquity that now is.
This then is the way of light, if anyone desiring to travel on the
way to his appointed place would be zealous in his works. The
knowledge then which is given to us whereby we may walk therein is as
Thou shalt love Him that made thee, thou shalt fear Him that created
thee, thou shalt glorify Him that redeemed thee from death; thou
shalt be simple in heart and rich in spirit; thou shalt not cleave to
those who walk the way of death; thou shalt hate everything that is
not pleasing to God; thou shalt hate all hypocrisy; thou shalt never
forsake the commandments of the Lord.
Thou shalt not exalt thyself, but shalt be lowly minded in all
things. Thou shalt not assume glory to thyself. Thou shalt not
entertain a wicked design against thy neighbor; thou shalt not admit
boldness into thy soul.
Thou shalt not commit fornication, thou shalt not commit
adultery, thou shalt not corrupt boys. The word of God shall not
come forth from thee where any are unclean. Thou shalt not make a
difference in a person to reprove him for a transgression. Thou shalt
be meek, thou shalt be quiet, thou shalt be fearing the words
which thou hast heard. Thou shalt not bear a grudge against thy
Thou shalt not doubt whether a thing shall be or not be. Thou shalt
not take the name of the Lord in vain. Thou shalt love thy
neighbor more than thine own soul. Thou shalt not murder a child by
abortion, nor again shalt thou kill it when it is born. Thou shalt
not withhold thy hand from thy son or daughter, but from their youth
thou shalt teach them the fear of God.
Thou shalt not be found coveting thy neighbors goods; thou shalt not
be found greedy of gain. Neither shalt thou cleave with thy soul to
the lofty, but shalt walk with the humble and righteous. The
accidents that befall thee thou shalt receive as good, knowing that
nothing is done without God. Thou shalt not be double minded nor
Thou shalt be subject unto thy masters as to a type of God in shame
and fear. Thou shalt not command in bitterness thy bondservant or
thine handmaid who set their hope on the same God, lest haply, they
should cease to fear the God who is over both of you; for He came not
to call with respect of persons, but to call those whom the Spirit
Thou shalt make thy neighbor partake in all things, and shalt not say
that anything is thine own. For if ye are fellow partakers in that
which is imperishable, how much rather shall ye be in the things
which are perishable. Thou shalt not be hasty with thine own tongue,
for the mouth is the snare of death. So far as thou art able, thou
shalt be pure for thy soul’s sake.
Be not thou found holding out thy hands to receive, and drawing
them in to give. Thou shalt love as the apple of thine eye every
one that speaketh unto thee the word of the Lord.
Thou shalt remember the day of judgment night and day, and thou
shalt seek out day by day the persons of the saints, either laboring
by word and going to exhort them and meditating how thou mayest save
souls by thy word, or thou shalt work with thy hands for a ransom for
Thou shall not hesitate to give, neither shalt thou murmur when
giving, but thou shalt know who is the good paymaster of thy reward.
Thou shalt keep those things which thou hast received, neither adding
to them nor taking away from them. Thou shalt utterly hate the Evil
One. Thou shalt judge righteously.
Thou shalt not make a schism, but thou shalt pacify them that contend
by bringing them together. Thou shalt confess thy sins. Thou shalt
not betake thyself to prayer with an evil conscience. This is the
way of light.
But the way of the Black One is crooked and full of a curse. For it
is a way of eternal death with punishment wherein are the things that
destroy men’s souls–idolatry, boldness, exhalation of power,
hypocrisy, doubleness of heart, adultery, murder, plundering, pride,
transgression, treachery, malice, stubbornness, witchcraft, magic,
covetousness, absence of the fear of God;
persecutors of good men, hating the truth, loving lies, not
perceiving the reward of righteousness, not cleaving to the good
nor to the righteous judgment, paying no heed to the widow and the
orphan, wakeful not for the fear of God but for that which is evil;
men from whom gentleness and forbearance stand aloof and far off;
loving vain things, pursuing a recompense, not pitying the poor man,
not toiling for him that is oppressed with toil, ready to slander,
not recognizing Him that made them murderers of children, corrupters
of the creatures of God, turning away from him that is in want,
oppressing him that is afflicted, advocates of the wealthy, unjust
judges of the poor, sinful in all things.
It is good therefore to learn the ordinances of the Lord, as many as
have been written above, and to walk in them. For he that doeth these
things shall be glorified in the kingdom of God; whereas he that
chooseth their opposites shall perish together with his works. For
this cause is the resurrection, for this the recompense.
I entreat those of you who are in a higher station, if ye will
receive any counsel of good advice from me, keep amongst you those to
whom ye may do good. Fail not.
The day is at hand, in which everything shall be destroyed together
with the Evil One. The Lord is at hand and his reward.
Again and again I entreat you; be good lawgivers one to another;
continue faithful councilors to yourselves; take away from you all
And may God, who is Lord of the whole world, give you wisdom,
judgment, learning, knowledge of His ordinances, patience.
And be ye taught of God, seeking diligently what the Lord requireth
of you, and act that ye may be found in the day of judgment.
But if you have any remembrance of good, call me to mind when ye
practice these things these things, that both my desire and my
watchfulness may lead to some good result. I entreat you asking it
as a favor.
So long as the good vessel (of the body) is with you, be lacking in
none of these things, but search them out constantly, and fulfill
every commandment; for they deserve it.
For this reason I was the more eager to write to you so far as I was
able, that I might give you joy. Fare ye well, children of love and
peace. The Lord of glory and of every grace be with your spirit.
1. [The Anchor Bible Dictionary, v. 1, pp. 613-614]↩
2. [Oxford Bible Commentary, pp. 1312]↩