And he said unto him,
Why do you call me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if you will enter into life, keep the commandments.
Read Chapter 19
Augustine of Hippo
The Lord said to a certain young man, “If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He did not say “If you would have life” but “If you would enter life,” defining that life as eternal life. Let us first consider then the love of this life. For this life is loved, whatever its quality; and however troubled it is, however wretched, people are afraid to end it. Hence we should see, we should consider, how much eternal life is to be loved, when this miserable life that must at some time be ended is so loved. Consider, brothers, how much that life is to be loved when it is a life you never end. You love this life, where you work so much, run, are busy, pant. In this busy life the obligations can scarcely be counted: sowing, plowing, working new land, sailing, grinding, cooking, weaving. And after all this hard work your life comes to an end. Look at what you suffer in this wretched life that you so love. And do you think that you will always live and never die? Temples, rocks, marbles,...
He said unto Him, &c. The Vulgate translator read in the Greek, Ï„Î¯ Î¼Îµ ÎµÌ‰ÏÏ‰Ï„Î±Ìƒ Ï€ÎµÏÎ¹Ì€ Î±Ì‰Î³Î±Î¸Î¿Ï…Ìƒ; This was S. Augustine"s reading, and that which S. Jerome followed in his commentary. Why askest thou me concerning good? The present reading is that given in the text. Origen gives both readings. He subjoins the reason, saying—
One is good, God: viz, in His nature and essence. Humbly does Christ refer this praise of His goodness to God, that He may teach us to do the same. For this man had not perfect faith concerning Christ, nor did he believe Him to be God. To this faith Christ desired to raise him by chiding him as it were. As though He had said, "If thou callest Me good, believe that I am God: for no one is good of himself save God." So S. Jerome, Theophylact, Euthymius.
Moreover good means the same as perfect, and the perfection of a thing is its goodness. That God is perfect, S. Denis proves in many ways (de.Divin. Nomin. c10.) In God there is infinite perfecti...
Why askest thou me concerning good? In the ordinary Greek copies, why dost thou call me good? (Witham)
One is good God alone, by his own nature, is essentially, absolutely, and unchangeably good; at the same time, he is the source of all created goodness, as all goodness is a mere emanation from his. The person here addressing our Saviour, appears not to have believed that Christ was God: wherefore our Saviour, to rectify his misconception, tells him that God alone is good, insinuating thereby, that he should believe him to be God, or cease to address him by the title of good. (Tirinus)
The sense is, that only God is good necessarily, and by his own nature. The Arians bring this place to shew, that Christ is not truly and properly God: but by this way of speaking, Christ does not deny that he is good, even by his nature, and consequently God; but seems to speak in this manner, to make the man know who he was. (Witham)
Wherefore then does Christ thus reply to him, saying, There is none good? Because He came unto Him as a mere man, and one of the common sort, and a Jewish teacher; for this cause then as a man He discourses with him. And indeed in many instances He replies to the secret thoughts of them that come unto Him; as when He says, We worship we know what; John 4:22 and, If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. John 5:31 When therefore He says, There is none good; not as putting Himself out from being good does He say this, far from it; for he said not, Why do you call me good? I am not good; but, there is none good, that is, none among men.
And when He says this self-same thing, He says it not as depriving even men of goodness, but in contradistinction to the goodness of God. Wherefore also He added, But one, that is, God; and He said not, but my Father, that you might learn that He had not revealed Himself to the young man. So also further back He called men evil, saying, If yo...
Why therefore did Christ reply to him in these words: “No one is good”? Because he considered Jesus a mere man and one of the crowd, and a Jewish teacher. For this reason he spoke as a man to him. For often he answers the hidden thoughts of the questioner, as when he says, “We worship what we know” and “If I bear witness of myself, my testimony is not true.” Therefore when he says, “No one is good,” he does not say this to show that he is not good; far from it. For he does not say, “Why do you call me good? I am not good” but “No one is good,” that is, no human being. When he says this, he does not mean to exclude men from goodness but to make a comparison with the goodness of God. Therefore he adds, “Except God alone.” The Gospel of Matthew, Homily
. The man did not come testing Christ, but desiring to learn and thirsting for eternal life. He approached Christ as if Christ were a mere man. That is why the Lord says, "Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but One, that is, God." This means, if you call Me good thinking I am one of the teachers, you speak wrongly, for no man is essentially good; both because we are changeable and easily turned away from good, and because, by comparison with God’s goodness, human goodness is counted as wickedness.