But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor.
Read Chapter 2
A brother asked Abba saying, “Why do the demons persuade my soul to look up to him who is superior to me and make me despise him who is my inferior?” The old man replied, “About that, the apostle has this to say: ‘In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and earthenware; and if anyone purifies himself from what is ignoble, then he will be a vessel for noble use, consecrated and useful to the master of the house, ready for any good work.’ ”
Paul indicates that the church has diverse members, who are at differing levels of maturity. The heretic Novatian believes that this passage applies to the world, since he defends the general truth and holiness of his church. But this is wrong. .
But in the Christian community, as far as sharing and communion in the sacraments goes, they have been multiplied beyond number. So number is one thing; beyond number is something else. Number is those of whom the apostle says, The Lord knows who are his. There are some beyond number, though, because in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also ones of wood and earthenware; some for noble, others for ignoble use. Number, then, applies to vessels for noble use; beyond number are vessels for ignoble use.
That law of charity was pronounced by the lips of the Lord Christ, for those parables are his about the cockle scattered through the world in the unity of the field until the time of the harvest and about the bad fishes which are to be left in the same net until the time for landing on the shore. .
Cyprian argued against those who, under the pretext of avoiding the society of wicked men, had severed themselves from the unity of the church. By the great house of which the apostle spoke—in which there were not only vessels of gold and of silver but also of wood and of earth—Paul understood nothing else but the church. In the church there should be good and bad, till at the last day it should be cleansed as a threshing floor by the winnowing fan. On Baptism, Against the Donatists.
Every one of us, indeed, who is instructed in the holy Scripture is the administrator of some one of those gifts which, according to the gospel, have been apportioned to us. In this great household of the church not only are there vessels of every kind—gold, silver, wooden and earthen—but also a great variety of pursuits.
Then, finally, what a great swelling of avarice it is, what a great forgetfulness of humility and meekness, what a great boasting of his own arrogance that anyone should either dare or think he is able to do what the Lord did not allow to the apostles, that he should think that he can discern the tares from the grain, or, as if it were granted to him to bear the spade and to purge the threshing floor, he should attempt to separate the chaff from the wheat and, although the apostle says, “But in a great house there are vessels not only of gold and silver but of wood and clay,” he should seem to chose the gold and silver vessels and to despise, indeed, to cast away, to condemn those of wood and clay. It is only in the day of the Lord that wooden vessels are to be burned by the fire of divine flame, and those of clay are to be broken by him to whom is given the rod of iron.
The apostle in his epistle says, "In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth, and some to honour and some to dishonour.".
What a boasting of his own arrogance, that any one should either dare, or think that he is able, to do what the Lord did not even grant to the apostles; that he should think that he can discern the tares from the wheat, or, as if it were granted to him to bear the fan and to purge the threshing-floor, should endeavour to separate the chaff from the wheat; and since the apostle says, "But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth"
For although there seem to be tares in the church, yet neither our faith nor our love ought to be hindered, so that, because we see that there are tares in the church, we ourselves should withdraw from the church. We must labor only that we may become wheat, so that when the wheat has begun to be gathered into the barns of the Lord, we may receive the reward for our work and labor.
In a great house there are Though St. Chrysostom by a great house, understands this world, and seems to think that in the Church there are none but precious vessels of gold and of silver, yet this is only true of the perfect part of the Church, as it comprehends the elect only. The common exposition, by the great house, understands the Catholic Church of Christ here upon earth, in which are mixed both vessels of gold and of earth, both good and bad; both the faithful that will be saved, and others that will be lost by not persevering in the faith and grace of Christ. Every one's endeavour must be to cleanse himself from these, to depart from the ways of iniquity, by the assistances of those graces which God offers him, that so he may be a vessel unto honour, not troubling himself about the mysteries and secrets of predestination, but believing and knowing for certain, that if he be not wanting on his part, he can never be lost: and therefore let him follow the admonition of St. Peter, ...
Noah’s ark was a type of the church…. As in the ark there were all kinds of animals, so also in the church there are men of all races and characters. As in the one there was the leopard with the kids, the wolf with the lambs, so in the other there are found the righteous and sinners, that is, vessels of gold and silver with those of wood and earth.
As in a great house it is likely there should be a great difference of vessels, so here also, in the whole world. He speaks here not of the church only but of the world at large. For do not think, I pray, that he means it of the church. For there he would not have any vessels of wood or of earth but all of gold or silver, which is the body of Christ, which is that “pure virgin, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.”
Many men are still even now perplexed to account for the fact, that the wicked are suffered to remain, and are not yet destroyed. Now doubtless various reasons may be assigned for this, as, that they may be converted, or that by their punishment they may be made an example to the multitude. But Paul here mentions a similar case. For he says,
In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and earth. Showing by this, that as in a great house it is likely there should be a great difference of vessels, so here also, in the whole world, for he speaks not of the Church only, but of the world at large. For think not, I pray, that he means it of the Church; for there he would not have any vessels of wood or of earth, but all of gold or silver where is the body of Christ, where is that pure virgin, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Ephesians 5:27 And this is what he means to say: Let it not disturb you that there are corrupt and wicked men. For in...