I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night comes, when no man can work.
All Commentaries on John 9:4 Go To John 9
Cyril of Alexandria
Lo here again in these words, plainly and reasonably, He rebukes in a similar manner the disciples, as if they had done something they ought not, and having left the high road, well-trodden and firm, had ventured on another which seemed not at all fit for them. For, why do ye ask, says He, things touching which it is good to be silent? Or why, leaving that which suits the time, do ye hasten to learn things beyond the capacity of man? It is not a time for such curiosity, says He, but for work and intense zeal; for I deem it more becoming, passing by such questions, to execute zealously God's commands, and since He has appointed us Apostles, to fulfil the works of the Apostleship. When the Lord numbers Himself with those who are sent, and enrols Himself among those who ought to work, in no way does He make Himself really one of us, or say that He Himself is subject as we are- by a certain servile necessity to the will of a commander: but He uses a common habit of speech, even to ourselves trite and familiar. For, especially when the bare substance of an argument is not calculated to impress our hearers, we are wont to join ourselves to them, and to reckon ourselves with them. For which reason doubtless the most wise Paul addressed the Corinthians as if concerning himself and Apollos, and at last added: Now these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos; that in us ye might learn not to be wise beyond the things which are written. While therefore it is day, says He, let us work the works of Him that sent us; for the night will come, when no man can work. In these words He calls the time of bodily life, day; and the time we are in death, He calls night. For since the day was given for works, but the night for rest and sleep, therefore the time of life in which we ought to work what is good, people call day; and the time of sleeping, in which nothing whatever can be done, they call night. For he that hath died is justified from sin, according to the saying of Paul, being found unable to do anything, and therefore unable to sin.
Thus Holy Scripture really does recognise a theory of a metaphorical day, and in no less degree a corresponding theory of night. And if taken into consideration at the right moment each of these metaphorical interpretations exhibits the aspect of the questions under investigation in a manner free from error. But concerning unsuitable subjects, and when it ought not to be done, to attempt violently to drag round to a spiritual interpretation that which ought to be taken historically, is nothing else than unlearnedly to confuse what is profitable if understood simply, and to spoil its usefulness through excess of ignorance.