You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the judgment of hell?
All Commentaries on Matthew 23:33 Go To Matthew 23
Cyril of Alexandria
The punishment of all the murders committed in the past will fall on the last generation of murderers according to a certain pattern, although God speaking through the prophet does say that “the fathers will not die for the sins of the children” … and indeed, “each will die for his own sin.” What then should we think about this? How can a later generation be punished for the murders committed by others, concerning whom Christ says these things? Won’t Cain be punished for the murder of Abel? … How is it that these poor souls will be subjected to the punishment due to all these people? For God is not unjust but is the righteous judge, powerful and patient, according to the testimony of the Scripture. Therefore we think there is a certain intention contained within the things that have been spoken that applies to the present case and helps us to fit one thing to another. Let it be taken for granted then that this may be so in the present case. Let us say that they have become robbers in that land. These men were plundering the surrounding villages and killing their inhabitants. But the prince of the realm did not immediately strip them of the ruler’s sword. Rather, he was eager to teach them differently through the use of threats …. But I suppose someone of the last who have been cruelly punished will say that they have received the penalty due to all …. You will also understand something such as this concerning God. For God was extremely patient in the preceding times until he deemed it necessary to set a boundary on his longsuffering. For it was also necessary that the divine anger fall upon these. On the one hand, they continued to sin against people and their fellow servants. On the other hand, they killed the Lord of all. Not that it is for this reason that he harshly punished the last ones but that it is astonishing that he has borne patiently with them to the present time.