And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
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Augustine of Hippo
Quaest in Matt., q.3: Otherwise, “I am come to set a man against his father; "for he renounces the Devil who was his son; “the daughter against her mother,” that is, the people of God against the city of the world, that is, the wicked society of mankind, which is spoken of in Scripture under the names of Babylon, Egypt, Sodom, andother names. "The daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law,” that is, the Church against the Synagogue, which according to the flesh, brought forth Christ the spouse of the Church. They are severed by the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. “And a man’s foes are they of his household,” those, that is, with whom he before lived as intimates.
And a man's enemies He here alludes to our own passions of love, hatred, anger, envy which are our greatest enemies; and it is against these that we must make use of the sword our Saviour came to send amongst men. (Baradius)
Interlin.: Or connect it with what has gone before, As the fear of death ought not to draw you away, so neither ought carnal affection.
interlin.: Otherwise; He mean, I am not come among men to strengthen their carnal affections, but to cut them off with the sword of the Spirit; whence itis rightly added, “And a man’s foes are they of his household.”
Mor., iii, 8: For the subtle enemy when he sees himself driven out of the hearts of the good, seeks out those who most love them, and speaking by the mouth of those who are dearest, endeavours while the heart is penetrated by love, that the sword of conviction may pierce to the inmost bulwarks of virtue.
Mystically, a sword is the sharpest of all weapons, and thence it is the emblem of the right of authority, the impartiality of justice, the correction of offenders. The word of God, we may remember, is likened to a sword; so here the sword that is sent upon the earth is His preaching poured into the heart of man. The five inhabiting one house, whom He divides three against two, and two against three, we may explain thus; The three are the three parts of man, the body, the soul, and the will; for as the soul is bestowed in the body, so the will has power of using both in any way it chooses; and thence when a law is given it is given to the will. But this is only found in those who were first formed by God. By the sin and unbelief of the first parent, all the generations of men since have had sin for the father of their body, and unbelief for the mother of their soul. And as each man hashis will within him, there are thus five in one house.
He had said previously, “What I tell you in the dark, declare in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops.” He now explains what follows after this proclamation. The whole world is divided against itself for the sake of faith in Christ. Every house contains both unbelievers and believers. And a necessary conflict has been sent to break an evil peace. It is written in Genesis that God did a similar thing to the rebellious people who streamed out of the east and rushed to build a tower, by which they meant to reach the heights of heaven. God divided their languages. For this same reason David prays in the psalm, “O God, scatter the peoples who delight in war.” .
He had before said, “What I say to you in darkness, that speak ye in the light;” He now tells them what will follow upon that preaching, saying, “Think not that I am come to send peace upon earth; I am not come to send peace, but as word.”.
For in the matter of belief in Christ, the whole world was divided against itself; each house had its believers and its unbelievers; and therefore was this holy war sent, that an unholy peace might be broken through. Yet was it not Christ who made this division, but the evil nature of the parties; when He says that it is He that does it, He speaks according to the manner of Scripture. As it is written, “Godhath given them eyes that they should not see.” Here is also a great proof that the Old Testament is like the New. For among the Jews a man was toput his neighbour to death if he found him making a calf, or sacrificing toBaalphegor; so here to show that it was the same God who ordained both that and these precepts, He reminds them of the prophecy,...
For indeed among the Jews also something of the kind took place. That is, there were prophets, and false prophets, and the people was divided, and families were in dissension; and some believed the one, and some the other. Wherefore the prophet admonishes, saying, Trust ye not in friends, have not hope in guides; yea, even of her that lies in your bosom beware, in respect of communicating anything to her: and, A man's enemies are the men that are in his own house. Micah 7:5-6
And this He said, preparing him that should receive the word to be above all. For to die is not evil, but to die an evil death. On this account He said moreover, I have come to cast fire upon the earth. Luke 12:49 And this He said, to declare the vehemence and warmth of the love which He required. For, because He loved us very much, so He will likewise be loved of us. And these sayings would strengthen the persons present also, and lift them higher. For if those others, says He, are to despise kinsmen, and chil...
Hom. xxxv: How then did He enjoin them, that when they should enter any house they should say, “Peace be to this house,” as also the Angels sung, “Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace to men.” That is the most perfect peace when that which is diseased is lopped off, when that which introduces strife is taken away, for so only is it possible that heaven should be joined to earth. For so does the physician save the rest of the body, namely by cutting off that which cannot be healed. So it came to pass at the tower of Babel; a happy discord broke up their bad union. So also Paul divided those who were conspired together against him. For concord is not in all cases good; for there is honour among thieves. And this combat is not of His setting before them, but of the plots of the world.
. Harmony is not always a good thing, while separation sometimes is. The sword, then, is the word of faith which severs our bond to our families and relatives when they hinder our piety towards God. For He does not tell us simply to separate ourselves from them, but only when they will not come with us, and especially when they hinder us in our faith.