Quia ergo Ioannes non solum docuit quomodo Christus Iesus, Verbum Dei, est Deus super omnia elevatus et quomodo omnia per ipsum facta sunt, sed etiam quod per ipsum sanctificamur, et ei per gratiam quam nobis infundit, inhaeremus, dicit: de plenitudine eius omnes accepimus gratiam pro gratia. Ideo apparet, quod sua contemplatio perfecta fuit. Et haec perfectio ostenditur, cum subdit et ea quae sub ipso erat, replebant templum. Nam, sicut dicitur I Cor. c. XI, 3, caput Christi Deus. Quae ergo sub Christo sunt, sacramenta sunt humanitatis, per quae fideles replentur plenitudine gratiae. Sic ergo ea quae sub ipso erant, replebant templum, idest fideles qui sunt templum Dei sanctum, sicut dicitur I Cor. III, 17 inquantum per ipsius sacramenta humanitatis, fideles Christi omnes de plenitudine gratiae ipsius accipiunt.
Since John not only taught how Christ Jesus, the Word of God, is God, raised above all things, and how all things were made through him, but also that we are sanctified by him and adhere to him by the grace which he pours into us, he says below, of his fullness we all have received—indeed, grace upon grace (John 1:16). It is therefore apparent that his contemplation is perfect. This perfection is shown in the addition, and the things that were under him filled the temple. For the head of Christ is God (1 Cor 11:3). The things that are under Christ are the sacraments of his humanity, through which the faithful are filled with the fullness of grace. In this way, then, the things that were under him filled the temple, i.e., the faithful, who are the holy temple of God (1 Cor 3:17) insofar as through the sacraments of his humanity all the faithful of Christ receive from the fullness of his grace.
Fuit ergo Ioannis contemplatio ampla, alta et perfecta.
The contemplation of John was thus full, high, and perfect.
9. Sed notandum quod diversimode diversae scientiae istos tres modos contemplationis sortiuntur. Perfectionem namque contemplationis habet scientia moralis, quae est de ultimo fine; plenitudinem autem scientia naturalis, quae res a Deo procedentes considerat; altitudinem vero contemplationis inter scientias physicas habet metaphysica. Sed Evangelium Ioannis, quod divisim scientiae praedictae habent, totum simul continet, et ideo est perfectissimum.
9. We should note, however, that these three characteristics of contemplation belong to the different sciences in different ways. The perfection of contemplation is found in moral science, which is concerned with the ultimate end. The fullness of contemplation is possessed by natural science, which considers things as proceeding from God. Among the physical sciences, the height of contemplation is found in metaphysics. But the Gospel of John contains all together what the above sciences have in a divided way, and so it is most perfect.
10. Sic ergo ex praemissis colligitur materia huius Evangelii; quia cum evangelistae alii tractent principaliter mysteria humanitatis Christi, Ioannes specialiter et praecipue divinitatem Christi in Evangelio suo insinuat, ut supra dictum est: nec tamen praetermisit mysteria humanitatis; quod ideo factum est, quia postquam alii evangelistae sua Evangelia scripserunt, insurrexerunt haereses circa divinitatem Christi, quae erant quod Christus erat purus homo, sicut Ebion et Cerinthus falso opinabantur. Et ideo Ioannes Evangelista, qui veritatem divinitatis Verbi ab ipso fonte divini pectoris hauserat, ad preces fidelium, Evangelium istud scripsit, in quo doctrinam de Christi divinitate nobis tradidit, et omnes haereses confutavit.
10. In this way then, from what has been said, we can understand the matter of this Gospel. For while the other evangelists treat principally of the mysteries of the humanity of Christ, John, especially and above all, makes known the divinity of Christ in his Gospel, as we saw above. Still, he does not ignore the mysteries of his humanity. He did this because, after the other evangelists had written their Gospels, heresies had arisen concerning the divinity of Christ, to the effect that Christ was purely and simply a man, as Ebion and Cerinthus falsely thought. And so John the Evangelist, who had drawn the truth about the divinity of the Word from the very fountain-head of the divine breast, wrote this Gospel at the request of the faithful. And in it he gives us the doctrine of the divinity of Christ and refutes all heresies.
Patet ergo ordo istius Evangelii ex verbis praemissis. Primo enim insinuat nobis Dominum sedentem super solium excelsum et elevatum, in prima parte, cum dicit: in principio erat Verbum. In secunda vero parte insinuat quomodo omnis terra plena est maiestate eius, cum dicit: omnia per ipsum facta sunt. In tertia parte manifestat quomodo ea quae sub ipso erant, replebant templum cum ipse dicit: Verbum caro factum est.
The order of this Gospel is clear from the above. For John first shows us the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, when he says below, in the beginning was the Word (John 1:1). He shows second how the house was full of his majesty, when he says, through him all things came into being (John 1:3). Third, he shows how the things that were under him filled the temple, when he says, the Word was made flesh (John 1:14).
Patet etiam finis huius Evangelii, qui est ut fideles templum Dei efficiantur, et repleantur a maiestate Dei; unde et ipse Ioannes XX, 31: haec autem scripta sunt, ut credatis quia Iesus est Christus Filius Dei.
The end of this Gospel is also clear, and it is that the faithful become the temple of God, and become filled with the majesty of God; and so John says below, these things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (John 20:31).
Patet etiam materia huius Evangelii, quae est cognitio divinitas Verbi. Patet ordo, patet et finis.
The matter of this Gospel, the knowledge of the divinity of the Word, is clear, as well as its order and end.
11. Sequitur conditio auctoris, qui quidem describitur in praemissis quantum ad quatuor: quantum ad nomen, quantum ad virtutem, quantum ad figuram, et quantum ad privilegium.
11. Then follows the condition of the author, who is described above in four ways: as to his name, his virtue, his symbol, and his privilege.
Quantum ad nomen, quia Ioannes, qui huius Evangelii auctor fuit, Ioannes autem interpretatur in quo est gratia, quia secreta divinitatis videre non possunt nisi qui gratiam Dei in se habent; unde I Cor. II, 11 dicitur: quae sunt Dei nemo cognovit, nisi Spiritus Dei.
He is described as to name as John, the author of this Gospel. John is interpreted as in whom is grace, since the secrets of the divinity cannot be seen except by those who have the grace of God within themselves. No one knows the deep things of God but the Spirit of God (1 Cor 2:11).
Ioannes ergo vidit Dominum sedentem, quantum ad virtutem, quia fuit virgo: talibus enim competit videre Dominum; Matth. c. V, 8: beati mundo corde.
As concerns his virtue, John saw the Lord seated, because he was a virgin; for it is fitting that such persons see the Lord: blessed are the pure in heart (Matt 5:8).
Quantum ad figuram, quia Ioannes figuratur per aquilam. Et hoc quia cum alii tres evangelistae circa ea quae Christus in carne est operatus, occupati, designentur per animalia, quae gradiuntur in terra, scilicet per hominem, vitulum et leonem; Ioannes vero, supra nebulam infirmitatis humanae sicut aquila volans, lucem incommutabilis veritatis altissimis atque firmissimis oculis cordis intuetur, atque ipsam deitatem Domini nostri Iesu Christi, qua Patri aequalis est, intendens, eam in suo Evangelio, quantum inter omnes sufficere credidit, studuit praecipue commendare. Et de hoc volatu Ioannis dicitur Iob c. XXXIX, 27: numquid ad praeceptum tuum elevabitur aquila? Idest Ioannes; et infra: oculi eius de longe prospiciunt, quia scilicet ipsum Verbum Dei in sinu Patris oculo mentis intuetur.
He is described as to his symbol, for John is symbolized by an eagle. The other three evangelists, concerned with those things which Christ did in his flesh, are symbolized by animals which walk on the earth, namely, by a man, a bull calf, and a lion. But John flies like an eagle above the cloud of human weakness and looks upon the light of unchanging truth with the most lofty and firm eyes of the heart. And gazing on the very deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which he is equal to the Father, he has striven in this Gospel to confide this above all, to the extent that he believed was sufficient for all. Concerning this flight of John it is said: will the eagle, that is, John, fly up at your command? (Job 39:27) And further on it says, his eyes look far away, because the Word of God is seen in the bosom of the Father by the eye of the mind.
Quantum ad privilegium, quia inter caeteros discipulos Domini Ioannes magis fuit dilectus a Christo: iste est enim discipulus ille quem diligebat Iesus, sicut ipsemet non exprimens nomen suum dixit; et ideo, quia amicis revelantur secreta, ut dicitur ibid. XV, 15: vos autem dixi amicos, quia omnia quaecumque audivi a patre meo, nota feci vobis, secreta sua huic discipulo specialiter dilecto specialiter commendavit. Unde Iob XXXVI, 32 dicitur: immanibus, idest superbis, abscondit lucem, Christus scilicet divinitatis suae veritatem, et annuntiat de ea amico suo, scilicet Ioanni, quod possessio eius sit etc., quia ipse est, qui lucem Verbi incarnati excellentius videns, ipsam nobis insinuat, dicens: erat lux vera etc.
John is described as to privilege since, among the other disciples of the Lord, John was more loved by Christ. Without mentioning his own name John refers to himself below as the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 21:20). And because secrets are revealed to friends, I have called you friends because everything I have heard from my father I have made known to you (John 15:15), Jesus confided his secrets in a special way to that disciple who was specially loved. Thus it says in Job: from the savage, that is, the proud, he hides his light, that is, Christ hides the truth of his divinity, and shows his friend, that is, John, that it belongs to him (Job 36:32), since it is John who sees the light of the incarnate Word more excellently and expresses it to us, saying he was the true light (John 1:19).
Patet ergo materia, ordo, finis et auctor huius Evangelii beati Ioannis, quod prae manibus habemus.
Now the matter, order, end and author of this Gospel of the blessed John are clear.
Prologus S. Hieronymi
Prologue of Saint Jerome
Hic est Joannes Evangelista, unus ex discipulis Domini, qui virgo a Deo electus est, quem de nuptiis, volentem nubere, vocavit Deus.
This is John the Evangelist, one of the disciples of the Lord, who was chosen by God as a virgin, whom God called from his wedding, when he wished to marry.
II. Cui virginitatis in hoc duplex testimonium datur in Evangelio; et quod prae caeteris delectus a Deo dicitur: et huic matrem suam pendens in cruce commendavit Dominus, et virginem virgo servaret.
II. A twofold testimony of his virginity is given in this Gospel: both that he is called beloved above all the others by God; and that to him the Lord entrusted his mother when he was hanging on the cross, so that a virgin should protect a virgin.
III. Denique manifestans in Evangelio, quod erat ipse incorruptibilis Verbi opus inchoans, solus Verbum carnem factum esse, nec lumen a tenebris comprehensum fuisse, testatur, primum signum ponens quod in nuptiis fecit Dominus: ostendens quod ipse erat: ut legentibus demonstraret, quod ubi Dominus invitatus sit, deficere nuptiarum vinum debeat: et veteribus immutatis nova omnia, quae a Christo instituuntur, appareant. Hoc autem Evangelium scripsit in Asia, posteaquam in Pathmos insula Apocalypsim scripserat: ut cui in principio Canonis incorruptibile principium praenotatur in Genesi, ei etiam incorruptibilis finis per virginem in Apocalypsi redderetur; dicente Christo: Ego sum α et ω.
III. Finally revealing in the Gospel, that he was an inaugurating work of the incorruptible Word, he alone bears witness that the Word became flesh, and the light was not comprehended by the darkness, setting down the first sign that the Lord did at a wedding: showing that he himself was there: so that he could demonstrate to his readers that where the Lord was invited, the wedding wine had to run out: and that to the unchanged old ones, all the new things that are instituted by Christ would appear. But he wrote this Gospel in Asia, after he had written the book of Revelation on the island of Patmos: so that to him to whom in the beginning of the canon the incorruptible beginning is predicted in Genesis, to him also the incorruptible end through a virgin in Revelation would be rendered; by Christ’s saying: I am the alpha and omega.
IV. Et hic est Joannes, qui sciens supervenisse diem recessus sui, convocatis discipulis suis in Ephaso, per multa signorum experimenta promens Christum, descendens in defossum supulturae suae locum, facta oratione positus est ad patres suos: tam extraneus a dolore mortis, quam a corruptione carnis invenitur alienus.
IV. And this is John, who knowing that the day of his passing away was upon him, having called together his disciples in Ephesus, and presenting Christ through many experiences of signs, and descending into the place dug out for his tomb, having made his prayer was placed with his fathers: he is found as much a stranger to the sorrow of death as he was a foreigner to the corruption of the flesh.
V. Tamen post omnes Evangelium scripsit: et hoc virgini debebatur. Quorum tamen vel scriptorum temporis dispositio, vel librorum ordinatio, ideo a nobis per singula non exponitur, ut sciendi desiderio collato, et quaerentibus fructus laboris, et Deo magisterii doctrina servetur.
V. But he wrote his Gospel after everyone else: and this was owing to the Virgin. However the disposition of these writings in time or the ordering of the books, will not then be explained in detail by us, so that having granted the desire to know, both for those seeking the fruit of labor, and for God, the teaching of a master may be preserved.
Exposition of St. Thomas
12. In quo duo intendit Hieronymus exprimere, scilicet auctorem Evangelii, et ostendere quod ei scribere hoc Evangelium competebat.
12. In this Jerome aims to express two things, namely the author of the Gospel, and to show that he was qualified to write it.
Dividitur ergo in duas partes. Primo ergo describit Ioannem quantum ad vitam; secundo quantum ad mortem, ibi hic est Ioannes.
Therefore it is divided into two parts. First he describes John as to his life; second, as to his death, where it says, this is John.
Circa primum duo facit. Primo describit auctorem operis, quantum ad dona in vita sibi collata; secundo ex illis ostendit idoneitatem ad Evangelium conscribendum, ibi denique manifestans in Evangelio.
Concerning the first point, he does two things. First he describes the author of the work, as to the gifts conferred on him in life; second, he shows by them his fittingness for composing a Gospel, where he says, finally revealing in a Gospel.
Circa primum duo facit. Primo ostendit praeconia auctoris; secundo probat, ibi cui virginitatis in hoc duplex testimonium datur in Evangelio.
Concerning the first, he does two things. First, he shows the illustriousness of the author; second, he proves it, where he says, of whose virginity in this a two-fold testimony is given in the Gospel.
13. Describit enim auctorem quantum ad nomen, dicens hic est Ioannes, in quo gratia; I Cor. XV, 10: gratia Dei sum id quod sum. Secundo quantum ad officium, cum dicit Evangelista; Is. XLI, 27: primus ad Sion dicet: ecce adsum, et Ierusalem Evangelistam dabo. Tertio quantum ad dignitatem, cum dicit ex discipulis Domini; Is. LIV, 13: ponam universos filios tuos doctos a Domino. Quarto quantum ad castitatis virtutem, cum dicit qui virgo. Quinto ab electione est electus a Domino; infra XV, 16: non vos me elegistis. Sexto a modo vocationis, cum dicit, quod de nuptis vocavit, ab illis scilicet nuptiis ad quas est invitatus Iesus cum discipulis suis, ubi mutavit aquam in vinum.
13. For he describes the author according to his name, saying this is John, in whom there is grace: by the grace of God I am what I am (1 Cor 15:10). Second, according to his office, when he says, the Evangelist: the first shall say to Zion, behold, I am here, and I will give an Evangelist to Jerusalem (Isa 41:27). Third, according to his dignity, where he says, one of the disciples of the Lord; I will make all your children to be taught by the Lord (Isa 54:13). Fourth, according to the virtue of chastity, where he says, who was a virgin. Fifth, by election, at was chosen by the Lord; as it says in: you have not chosen me (John 15:16). Sixth, by the manner of his calling, where it says that he called him from his wedding, namely that wedding to which Jesus was invited with his disciples, where he changed the water into wine.
14. Sed contra est, quod dicitur Matth. c. VI, 21, quod vocatus est cum Iacobo fratre suo de navi, non autem de nuptiis.
14. But to the contrary is what is said in Matthew, that he was called with his brother James from their boat, not from a wedding (Matt 4:21).
Ad quod dicendum est quod diversae fuerunt vocationes apostolorum. Primo enim vocati fuerunt ad familiaritatem Christi, sed ultimo vocati ad discipulatum, quando scilicet relictis omnibus, secuti sunt Iesum. Quod ergo Hieronymus dicit, intelligendum est de prima vocatione, qua Ioannes ad familiaritatem Christi de nuptiis est vocatus; quod vero Matthaeus dicit, intelligendum est de ultima vocatione, qua de navi vocavit cum Iacobo fratre suo, quando scilicet relictis omnibus, secutus est Christum.
To this it should be said that there were several callings of the apostles. For first they were called to the acquaintance of Christ, but finally they were called to discipleship, namely, when having left everything, they followed Jesus. Therefore what Jerome says is to be understood concerning John’s first calling, when John was called from his wedding to the aquaintanceship of Christ; but what Matthew says is to be understood as to his final calling, in which he called him from his boat with his brother James, which was when he left everything and followed Christ.
15. Consequenter cum dicit cui virginitatis in hoc duplex testimonium datur, probat praeconium virginitatis Ioannis duplici signo.
15. Accordingly, when he says of whose virginity in this a two-fold testimony is given, he proves the illustriousness of John’s virginity by two signs.
Primo, signo maioris dilectionis. Et quantum ad hoc dicit cui, scilicet Ioanni, in hoc, scilicet Evangelio, duplex testimonium virginitatis datur in Evangelio, idest ex verbis Evangelii, sive quae continentur in Evangelio, quod et prae caeteris discipulis a Deo dilectus dicitur; infra XXI, 24: hic est discipulus ille qui testimonium perhibet de his et scripsit haec. Causa autem huius specialis dilectionis fuit munditia, quae ad dilectionem provocat, ut dicitur Prov. XXII, 11: qui diligit cordis munditiam propter gratiam labiorum, habebit amicum regem.
First, by the sign of his greater love. And as to this he says, whose, that is, John’s, in this, namely, this Gospel, a two-fold testimony of virginity is given in the Gospel, that is, by the words of the Gospel, or else those that are contained in the Gospel, because he is also said to be loved by God above the other disciples: this is that disciple who gives testimony of these things and has written these things (John 21:24). But for the sake of this special love was his purity, which further provoked him to love: he who loves cleanness of heart shall have the king for a friend on account of the grace of his lips (Prov 22:11).
Secundo probat idem signo commendationis matris, cum dicit: et huic, scilicet Ioanni, Dominus, scilicet in cruce pendens, matrem commendavit, ut dicitur Io. XIX, 27, ut virgo, scilicet Ioannes, virginem matrem congrue servaret.
Second, he proves the same thing by the sign of entrusting him with his mother, where he says: and to him, that is, to John, the Lord, that is, hanging on the cross, entrusted his mother, so that a virgin, that is, John, might protect a virgin mother fittingly (John 19:27).
16. Deinde cum dicit denique manifestans in Evangelio, etc. ostendit quod Ioanni competebat Evangelium scribere; et hoc quantum ad quatuor.
16. Next, when he says, finally revealing in the Gospel, he shows that John was qualified to write the Gospel; and this for four reasons.
Primo quantum ad principium Evangelii, quod incipit a Verbo incorruptibili, de quo non nisi incorruptum tractare oportuit. Et quantum ad hoc dicit denique manifestans, scilicet Ioannes, in Evangelio, quod ipse erat incorruptibilis Verbi opus inchoans, solus Verbum carnem factum esse, nec lumen a tenebris comprehensum fuisse testatur.
First, as to the beginning of the Gospel, which begins with an incorruptible Word, whom it was only fitting that an incorrupted man should discuss. And as to that, he says, finally revealing, that is, John, in the Gospel, because he himself was an inaugurating work of the incorruptible Word, he testifies that the Word was made flesh, and the light was not comprehended by the darkness.
17. Secundum quantum ad miraculorum exordium.
17. Second, as to the prelude to miracles.
Incipit enim miraculorum ordinem texere a miraculo quod Deus in nuptiis ostendit, quando scilicet aquam mutavit in vinum, ut patet Io. II, 1–11, in quibus vinum nuptiarum defecit, vino novo, scilicet virginitatis, restituto. Et quantum ad hoc dicit primum signum, id est miraculum, quod in nuptiis facit Dominus, ponens, scilicet in principio aliorum miraculorum, ostendens quod ipse erat, scilicet virgo, ut legentibus demonstraret quod ubi dominus invitatus sit, deficere vinum nuptiarum, idest coniugii delectatio, debeat; et veteribus immutatis, idest antiqua aqua in novum vinum, nova omnia quae a Christo instituuntur, appareant; quia scilicet homines conversi ad Christum, debent exuere veterem et induere novum hominem, ut dicitur Col. c. III, 10, et Apoc. XXI, 5: dicit qui sedebat in throno: ecce nova facio omnia.
For he begins to weave the order of miracles from the miracle that God shows at the wedding, when he changed water into wine, as is clear from John 2:1–11, where the wedding wine ran out, and was replaced with new wine, that is, virginity. And as to this, he says, the first sign, that is, miracle, which the Lord did at the wedding, setting forth, namely, in the beginning of all the other miracles, showing that he himself was, namely, a virgin, so that he might demonstrate to those reading that where the Lord was invited, the wine of the wedding, that is, the enjoyment of conjugality, had to run out; and to the unchanged old ones, that is, the old water into new wine, all the new things that were instituted by Christ would appear; because namely men converted to Christ should cast off the old man and put on the new man (Col 3:10), and the one who was sitting on the throne, says, behold, I make all things new (Rev 21:5).
18. Sed contra. Videtur per hoc quod dicit, quod ubi dominus invitatus est debeat deficere vinum nuptiarum, quod quicumque Deum amat, et diligit, debet cessare a coniugio: non ergo licet uxorem ducere.
18. But to the contrary. It seems by the fact that he says that where the Lord is invited the wine of marriage must run out, that whoever loves God, and loves him rationally, must quit marriage: and then it would not be permitted to take a wife.
Respondeo dicendum quod homo invitatur a Deo dupliciter: quantum ad communem gratiam et sic non est necesse deficere vinum nuptiarum; et quantum ad speciale contemplationis fastigium: et sic oportet deficere vinum nuptiarum. Cuius rationem Apostolus assignat I Cor. VII, 34: quia mulier, quae nupta est, cogitat quomodo placeat viro, et ideo oportet quod ab actu contemplationis impediatur, quae autem nupta non est, cogitat quomodo placeat Christo.
I answer that a man is invited by God in two ways: with regard to the shared grace and in that way it is not necessary for the wine of marriage to fall short; or with regard to the special zenith of contemplation: and in this way it is necessary for the wine of marriage to fall short. The reason for this the Apostle designates: for the woman who is married thinks how to please her husband, and thus she is necessarily hampered from the act of contemplation, but the one who is not married, thinks how to please Christ (1 Cor 7:34).