Isaiah 29:13

Therefore the Lord said, Since this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:
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Ambrose of Milan

AD 397
Again the form of righteousness is described and magnified when Scripture says, “The law of his God is in his heart, and his stride will not be broken.” The law of God is in the heart of the righteous. Which law? It is not the written law but the natural law, because “the law was not laid down for the righteous but for the unrighteous.” The law is in his heart, not superficially, as it is on the lips of the Jews, for “he who believes with his heart is justified.” The one who believes also speaks, but the one who speaks does not necessarily believe. For instance, the people did not believe about whom it is written: “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” - "Explanation of the Twelve Psalms 36.69"

Arnobius the Younger

AD 499
For God is necessary to all things, but nothing is necessary to him. Because, however, he loved everything he created, by the great grace of his kindness he deemed it worthy to invite the soul to come to him through the law, through trials of virtue, through sorrows of the heart, and through the greatness of human works. He gave not only the bread of angels, therefore, but also the flesh of innumerable birds to the concupiscent, even to the ungrateful. And lest their descendants fail to fear the unpunished crime of the ungrateful, “the wrath of God came upon them when their food was still in their mouths” because they did not believe in his wonders. “Their days vanished in emptiness and their years in partying.” Truly, as I have said, you will not desire to do good unless you are compelled by the fear of suffering evil: “When he killed them,” it says, “they sought him, repented, and came to him immediately.” It was then that “they remembered that God is their helper and their defense.”...

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
“See, Lord, I will not keep my lips sealed, you know it.” My lips speak, and I will not restrain them. My lips speak to the ears of men and women, but you know my heart. “Lord, I will not keep my lips sealed, you know it.” A human being hears one thing, but God perceives something else. This is emphasized because our proclamation must not be with our lips only, so that it could be said of us, “Do what they tell you, but do not imitate what they do.” Nor must it be said of us, as it was said of that people who praised God with their mouths but not their hearts, “This people honors me with its lips, but its heart is far from me.” Sing with your lips, but draw near to him with your heart, for “the faith that issues in righteousness is in the heart, and the confession that leads to salvation is made with the lips.” This was true of the thief who hung on the cross with the Lord and from the cross acknowledged the Lord. Others failed to recognize the Lord even as he performed miracles, but t...

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
This is why he can say, “My friends and neighbors drew near and stood against me; and my neighbors stood far off.” Do you understand what I mean? I have called those who approached him “neighbors,” yet they stood far off; for though they drew near in body, they stood far away in their hearts. Who was so near physically as those who hoisted him onto the cross? Yet who so far away in heart as those who uttered blasphemies? Far distance of this latter kind was mentioned by Isaiah; listen to what he said about being near while really being far away: “This people honors me with its lips (that means, they are physically near), but its heart is far from me.” The same people are said to be near and yet far: near with their lips, far away in their hearts. However, the fearful apostles certainly ran far away, so we can more simply and obviously refer the saying to them, understanding it to mean that some of them drew near and others stood far off. Even Peter, who had been bold enough to follow o...

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
Leah, too, received children by her handmaid, from the desire of having a numerous family. Zilpah, her handmaid, is, interpreted, an open mouth. So Leah’s handmaid represents those who are spoken of in Scripture as engaging in the preaching of the gospel with open mouth but not with open heart. Thus it is written of some, “This people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” To such the apostle says, “You that preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You that say a man should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?” - "Reply to Faustus the Manichaean 22.55"
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Caesarius of Arles

AD 542
According to what the prophet says, “This people honors me with their lips, though their hearts are far from me.” To them the Holy Spirit exclaims, “But to the wicked person God says, ‘Why do you recite my statutes and profess my covenant with your mouth?’ ” It is as if he were saying it does you no good to praise God. It is profitable for those who live well to praise him, but if you praise him and do not abandon your sins, it avails nothing. Why do you praise me? Listen to the Scriptures say, “Unseemly is praise on a sinner’s lips.” If you live a wicked life and say good things, you do not yet praise God. Again, if when you have begun to live well you attribute it to your own merits, you do not yet praise God. I do not want you to be a robber deriding the cross of our Lord, but neither do I want you as his temple to throw away his merits in you and conceal his wounds. - "Sermon 133.4"

Cassiodorus Senator

AD 585
Though we never withdraw ourselves from the Lord since he is wholly everywhere, we nonetheless become distant when we are displaced through the nature of our deeds. - "Exposition of the Psalms 94.1"
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Cassiodorus Senator

AD 585
If the fear of God is not mingled with love, he is not sought in the heart’s entirety. It is certain that it is the keenest of sins for a person to say that he confesses to him with his tongue, while his heart deep down is at odds with him; does God not know all that goes on within us?… He does not hear merely what the tongue proclaims, as a human person does. It is the person who faithfully believes his testimonies who truly loves him. Fides (faith) gets its name from words uttered (quod fiant dicta). The Lord himself offers a testimony like this verse when he says, “This people glorifies me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” - "Exposition of the Psalms 77.37"

Cassiodorus Senator

AD 585
The habit of sinners is … after they have achieved the aspiration of their most wicked plans, they then give thanks to the Godhead since they have attained their wish. But they in their utter wretchedness do not realize that he originates only successful aspirations that are holy. “They shall bless” not with their hearts but their mouths, the source of hypocritical utterances for the most part. As Isaiah says, “This people glorify me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” - "Exposition of the Psalms 48.14"
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Cyprian of Carthage

AD 258
What is this obstinacy or what is this presumption to place human tradition before the divine plan and not to notice that God is offended and angered as often as human tradition subverts and disregards the divine precepts? He cries and says through Isaiah, the prophet, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far separated from me. In vain, moreover, they honor me, teaching the commandments and doctrines of men.” - "Letter 74.3"
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Fulgentius of Ruspe

AD 533
God cannot be separated from his creatures by time or space but only by their iniquities. Of the iniquitous, therefore, he said, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” He also said, “I am a God who draws near, not a God who remains far away. If a man tries to hide, will I not see him? Do I not fill heaven and earth?” Nevertheless, blessed David himself said, “Those who distance themselves from you will perish.” Book - "to Victor Against the Sermon of Fastidios the Arian 5.1"
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George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
Men. Our Saviour applies this to the Jews. The evangelists follow the Septuagint, Matthew xv. 8., and Mark vii. 6. (Calmet) "This people approacheth to me, (Grabe adds, with its mouth and with) their lips they honour me, but their heart is far from me. Yet in vain do they honour me, teaching the commands of men and doctrines. "(Haydock) They still continue to corrupt God's word by their false interpretations.
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Gregory of Nyssa

AD 394
For speaking in this way or in that is not the cause of the thought within us, but the hidden conception of the heart supplies the motive for such and such words, “for from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” We make the words interpret the thought; we do not by a reverse process gather the thought from the words. Should both be at hand, a person may certainly be ready in both, in clever thinking and clever expression; but if the one should be wanting, the loss to the illiterate is slight, if the knowledge in his soul is perfect in the direction of moral goodness. “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” What is the meaning of that? That the right attitude of the soul toward the truth is more precious than the propriety of phrases in the sight of God, who hears the “groanings that cannot be uttered.” Phrases can be used in opposite senses; the tongue readily serving, at his will, the intention of the speaker; but the disposition of the soul, as...


AD 420
But if we are impure and unfaithful, all things are profane to us, either due to heresy inhabiting our hearts or to a sinful conscience. Moreover, if our conscience does not accuse us and if we have pious trust in the Lord, “we will pray with the spirit and we will pray with the mind; we will sing with the spirit and sing with the mind,” and we will be far removed from those about whom it is here written: “their minds and consciences are polluted.” “They claim to know God, but they deny him with their deeds. They are accursed, disobedient and repelled by every good deed.” It is about these persons whose minds and consciences are polluted, who claim to know God but deny him with their deeds, that it is said in Isaiah: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” See how they honor God with their lips while fleeing from him in their heart; professing belief in God with words, their works deny him. - "Commentary on Titus 1.15–16"


AD 420
This oration is directed against all who act with iniquity. It is summarized neatly in one sentence by the seventy-second Psalm, wherein the prophet says, “How good is the God of Israel to those who are upright in heart! But my feet had almost been moved and my step had nearly slipped, for I was jealous of sinners when I saw the ease of their lives.” This is said particularly against heretics, who, because they are impious, prosper in their ways and generate children of their own, whom they deceive with heresy. They conspire and act with iniquity, all of this for the purpose of plundering the church and of portraying themselves as having been planted by God and having sunk roots and produced children and bore fruit, even while continuing in the wickedness of their intentions. Although they frequently repeat the name of Christ, God does not inhabit them, as Isaiah said: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” “And you know me, Lord, you see me and you pr...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
If we do not see our children deriving any benefit from the teachers we send them to, then we blame the teachers and take our children to other teachers. What excuse will we have for putting so much emphasis on earthly things but not putting emphasis on virtue? Our teachers here [at church] are far more numerous. No less than the prophets and apostles and patriarchs and all righteous people are set over you as teachers in every church. And there is no profit in merely chanting out two or three psalms, making the accustomed prayers at random and then being dismissed. Do you think this is enough for your salvation? Have you not heard the prophet (or rather God through the prophet) say, “These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me”? To keep this from being the case with us as well, then wipe out the letters and impressions the devil has engraved on your souls, and bring me a heart that has been set free from worldly tumults so I can write on it what I want to. - ...

Maximus of Turin

AD 423
Suppose someone says, “We are Christians too; we believe in the Lord, the Savior.” But it is necessary to believe in deed and not in word, not with the tongue but with the heart, lest it also be said to us, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” - "Sermon 102.3"
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Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation - 2 Peter 1:20

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