Of the circumcision of the ears, and how in the first institution
of circumcision Abraham mystically foretold Christ by name.
1. And therefore the Scripture again speaks concerning our
ears, that God has circumcised them together with our hearts.
For the Lord says by the holy prophets, By the hearing of the ear
they obeyed me.
This is from Psalm 17:44 in the Septuagint, where
the chapter and verse divisions are different: "At the
hearing of the ear they obeyed me..."
2. And again, They who are afar off will hear and
understand what things I have done. And again, Circumcise your
hearts, says the Lord.
Compare with: "Hear, ye [that are] far off, what I
have done; and, ye [that are] near, acknowledge my
might." (Isaiah 33:13); "Circumcise yourselves to the
Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men
of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury
come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench
[it], because of the evil of your doings." (Jeremiah
3. And again he says, Hear O Israel! For thus says the
Lord your God. And again the Spirit of God prophesies, saying,
Whoever would live forever, let him hear the voice of my Son.
The source of these citations is uncertain.
4. And again, Hear, O Heaven, and give ear, O Earth!
Because the Lord has spoken these things for a witness.
See Isaiah 1:2.
5. And again he says, Hear the word of the Lord, you
princes of the people. And again, Hear, O Children, the voice of
one crying in the wilderness.
See Judges 5:3 and Isaiah 40:3.
6. He has circumcised our ears so that we should hear his
word, and believe. But as for that circumcision, in which the
Jews trust, it is abolished. For the circumcision of which God
spoke was not of the flesh;
7. But they have transgressed his commands, because the
evil one has deceived them. For thus God speaks to them; Thus
says the Lord your God (Here I find the new law) Sow not among
thorns, but circumcise yourselves to the Lord your God. And what
does he mean by this saying? Hearken to your Lord.
See Jeremiah 4:3, 4.
8. And again he says, Circumcise the hardness of your
heart, and harden not your neck. And again the Lord says, Behold
all the nations are uncircumcised (they have not lost their
foreskin), but this people is uncircumcised in heart.
Compare with: "Circumcise therefore the foreskin
of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked."
9. But you will say the Jews were circumcised for a sign.
And so are all the Syrians and Arabians, and all the idolatrous
priests, but are they therefore of the covenant of Israel? And
even the Egyptians themselves are circumcised.
See Romans 2:25ff.
10. Understand therefore, children, these things more
fully, that Abraham, who was the first that brought in
circumcision, looking forward in the Spirit to Jesus, was
circumcised, having received the mystery of three letters.
11. For the Scripture says that Abraham circumcised three
hundred and eighteen men of his house. But what was the mystery
that was made known to him?
12. Mark, first the eighteen, and next the three hundred.
For the numeral letters of ten and eight are I H. And these
13. And because it was by the cross we were to find grace,
he said, three hundred; the note of which is T (the figure of his
cross). Therefore by two letters he signified Jesus, and by the
third his cross.
Genesis 17:13 says Abraham circumcised all his
male servants, and Genesis 14:14 numbers them at three
hundred and eighteen. The first two letters of the
name Jesus in Greek are IH, but it is unclear how "the
numeral letters of ten and eight are I H" is arrived
at, for those are not the tenth and eighth letters of
the Greek alphabet. The first letter of the compound
word "three hundred" in Greek is T, and it may well
have been the form of the cross at the Crucifixion, for
it is so pictured in early Christian art (in medieval
art it is often Y-shaped).
Although many of the early Church Fathers
concurred with this ingenious but fantastically
extravagant interpretation, it merely shows how
obsessed they were with finding obscure evidences of
Christ in the Old Testament. Note that it all is based
on a reading of the Septuagint, written not in Hebrew,
but in Greek.
14. He who has put the engrafted gift of his doctrine
within us, knows that I never taught to anyone a more certain
truth; but I trust that you are worthy of it.
That the commands of Moses concerning clean and unclean beasts,
etc., were all designed for a spiritual significance.
1. But why did Moses say, You must not eat of the swine,
neither the eagle nor the hawk; nor the crow; nor any fish that
has not a scale upon it? Because he comprehended three doctrines
that were to be gathered in the understanding.
Leviticus 11 contains the Old Testament Jewish
dietary laws. It was permitted to eat animals that
chewed the cud, providing they also had cloven hoofs.
Permitted seafood must have both fins and scales.
Animals or birds specifically forbidden (as
translated in The New English Bible) were the camel,
rock-rabbit or rock-badger, hare, pig; griffon-vulture,
black vulture, bearded vulture; the kite and every kind
of falcon; every kind of crow and raven, the desert-
owl, short-eared owl, long-eared owl, every kind of
hawk; the tawny owl, fisher-owl, screech-owl; the
little owl, the horned owl, the osprey, the stork or
heron, every kind of cormorant, the hoopoe, and the
bat; all four-footed wild animals that go on flat paws;
the mole-rat (weasel), the jerboa, every kind of thorn-
tailed lizard, the gecko, the sand-gecko, the wall-
gecko, the great lizard, and the chameleon; all
creatures that teem on the ground, crawl on their
bellies, go on all fours or have many legs are
forbidden as vermin.
Every teeming winged creature with four legs was
forbidden as vermin, yet it was permissible to eat the
great locust, long-headed locust, green locust, and the
2. So he says to them in the book of Deuteronomy, I will
give my statutes to this people. Therefore it is not the command
of God that they should not eat these things, but Moses in the
spirit spoke to them.
Here Barnabas makes the vital point in Biblical
interpretation of noting who says what to whom: "And
the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you
statutes and judgments, that ye might do them in the
land wither ye go over to possess it." (Deuteronomy
3. He forbade them to eat the sow, meaning: You must not
join yourself to such persons who are like swine, who while they
live in pleasure, forget their God; but when any lack pinches
them, then they recognize the Lord; just as the sow when she is
full does not acknowledge her master, but makes a noise when she
is hungry, and being fed again, is silent.
4. Neither, says he, will you eat the eagle, nor the hawk,
nor the kite, nor the crow; that is, you must not keep company
with the kind of men who do not know how to get themselves food
by their labor and sweat, but injuriously steal the things of
others and watch how to lay snares for them, when at the same
time they appear to live in perfect innocence.
5. So these birds alone seek not food for themselves, but
sitting idle seek how they may eat the flesh others have
provided, being destructive through their wickedness.
6. Neither, says he, will you eat the lamprey, nor the
polypus, nor the cuttle-fish; that is, you must not become like
such men, by being used to conversing with them, who are
altogether wicked and adjudged to death. For so these fishes are
alone accursed, and wallow in the mire, and do not swim as other
fishes, but tumble in the dirt at the bottom of the deep.
7. But he adds, neither must you eat of the hare. To what
end? To signify this to us: You must not be an adulterer, nor be
like such persons. For the hare every year multiplies the places
of its conception; and so many years as it lives, so many it has.
The hare was forbidden "because he cheweth the
cud, but divideth not the hoof" (Leviticus 11:6); but
Barnabas is consistent in his anthropomorphic-
8. Neither must you eat of the hyena: that is, again, be
not an adulterer, nor a corruptor of others, neither be like
such. And why so? Because that creature every year changes its
kind, and is sometimes male and sometimes female.
This is pure fantasy or folklore; the hyena is
nowhere mentioned in the Bible.
9. For which reason also he justly hated the weasel, to the
end that they should not be like such persons who with their
mouths commit wickedness by reason of their uncleanness, nor join
themselves with those impure women who with their mouths commit
wickedness. Because that animal conceives with its mouth.
Whatever is meant by this is uncertain; but
Barnabas is clearly opposed to oral sex.
10. Moses, therefore, speaking as if concerning meats,
delivered indeed three great precepts to them in the spiritual
significance of those commands. But they according to the
desires of the flesh, understood him as if he had only meant it
11. And therefore David took aright the knowledge of his
three-fold command, saying in like manner.
This "three-fold command," mentioned also in verse
1, is not clear. The reference which follows is from
12. Blessed in the man that has not walked in the counsel
of the ungodly; as the fishes before mentioned in the bottom of
the deep in darkness.
13. Nor stood in the way of sinners; as they who seem to
fear the Lord, but yet sin, as the sow.
14. And has not sat in the seat of the scorners; as those
birds who sit and watch that they may devour.
15. Here you have the law concerning meat perfectly set
forth, and according to the true knowledge of it.
16. But, says Moses, you may eat all that divides the hoof
and chews the cud. This means one that after taking food, knows
him that nourishes him, and rests upon him, and rejoices in him.
17. And in this he spoke well, having respect to the
commandment. What, therefore, is it that he says? That we
should hold fast to them that fear the Lord, those who meditate
on the command of the word that they have received in their
heart, and with those that declare the righteous judgments of the
Lord and keep his commandments;
18. In short, with those who know that to meditate is a
work of pleasure, and therefore exercise themselves in the word
of the Lord.
To distinguish between currently popularized "New
Age meditation" and Biblical meditation, it is worth
noting that the word in Scripture means "to think
19. But why might they eat those that cleave the hoof?
Because the righteous lives in this present world, but his
expectation is fixed upon the other. See, brethren, how
admirably Moses commanded these things.
20. But how should we know and understand all this? We,
therefore, understanding aright the commandments, speak as the
Lord would have us. He has circumcised our ears and our hearts,
in order that we might know these things.
Baptism and the Cross of Christ foretold in figures under the
1. Let us now inquire whether the Lord took care to reveal
anything beforehand concerning water and the cross.
2. Now for the former of these, it is written to the people
of Israel how they will not receive that baptism which brings
forgiveness of sins, but will institute another to themselves
3. For thus says the prophet: Be astonished, O Heaven! And
let the earth tremble at it, because this people have done two
great and wicked things: they have left me, the fountain of
living water, and have dug for themselves broken cisterns that
can hold no water.
See Jeremiah 2:12, 13.
4. Is my holy mountain a Zion, a desolate wilderness? For
you will be as a young bird when its nest is taken away.
See Isaiah 16:1, 2
5. And again the prophet says, I will go before you, and
will make plain the mountains, and will break the gates of brass,
and will snap in pieces the bars of iron; and I will give you
dark, hidden, and invisible treasures, that they may know that I
am the Lord God.
See Isaiah 45:2, 3.
6. And again, He will dwell in the high den of the strong rock.
And then, what follows in the same prophet? His water is
faithful; you will see the king with glory, and your soul will
learn the fear of the Lord.
See Isaiah 33:16, 17.
7. And again he says in another prophet, He that does these
things will be like a tree, planted by the currents of water,
which will give its fruit in its season. Its leaf also will not
wither, and whatever he does will prosper.
Again a reference to Psalm 1.
8. As for the wicked, it is not so with them; they are as
the dust which the wind scatters away from the face of the earth.
9. Therefore the ungodly will not stand in the judgment,
neither sinners in the council of the righteous. For the Lord
knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly will
10. Consider how he has joined both the cross and the water
11. For thus he says: Blessed are they who put their trust
in the cross and descend into the water, for they will have their
reward in due time; then, he says, I will give it to them.
12. But concerning the present time, he says their leaves
will not fall, meaning that every word that will go out of our
mouth through faith and charity will be to the conversion and
hope of many.
13. In a similar manner another prophet speaks, And the
land of Jacob was the praise of all the earth, magnifying by that
the vessel of his spirit.
By the "vessel of his spirit" is apparently meant
the body of Christ. The quote referred to is likely
14. And what follows? And there was a river running on the
right hand, and beautiful trees grew up by it, and he that will
eat of them will live forever. The significance of which is
this: that we go down into the water full of sins and pollutions
but come up again, bringing forth fruit because we have in our
hearts by the spirit the fear and hope which is in Jesus. And
whoever will eat of them will live forever.
Perhaps a reference to: "And by the river upon the
bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow
all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither
shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring
forth new fruit according to his months, because their
waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit
thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for
medicine." (Ezekiel 47:12)
15. That is, whoever will pay attention to those who call
them, and will believe, will live forever.
The subject continued.
1. In a similar manner he determines concerning the cross
in another prophet saying, And when will these things be
2. The Lord answers, When the tree that has fallen will
rise, and when blood will drop down from the tree. Here you have
again mention made both of the cross and of him that was to be
crucified upon it.
The source for this citation is unknown.
3. And yet further he says by Moses, when Israel was
fighting with, and beaten by, a strange people, to the end that
God might teach them how that for their sins they were delivered
to death, yes, the Holy Spirit put it into the heart of Moses to
represent both the sign of the cross and of him that was to
suffer so that they might know that if they did not believe in
him, they would be overcome forever.
4. Moses therefore piled up armor upon armor in the middle
of a rising ground, and standing up high above all of them,
stretched forth his arms, and so Israel again conquered.
5. But no sooner did he let down his hands, but they were
again slain. And why so? So they might know that except they
trust in him, they cannot be saved.
See Exodus 17:8-12. Many Church Fathers believed
Moses and his outstretched arms symbolized the cross.
6. And in another prophet he says, I have stretched out my
hands all day long to a people who are disobedient and speak
against my righteous way.
Compare with: "I have spread out my hands all the
day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way
[that was] not good, after their own thoughts." (Isaiah
65:2); "But to Israel he saith, All day long I have
stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and
gainsaying people." (Romans 10:21)
7. And again Moses makes a type of Jesus in the example of
those that fell in Israel, to show that he was to die, and then
that he, whom they thought to be dead, was to give life to
Verses 7-11 describe the story (in Numbers 21:6-9)
how Moses erected on a pole a brazen serpent, to which
those bitten by fiery serpents could look and be
healed. In the above verse "to show that he was to
die, and then that he, whom they thought to be dead,
was to give life to others" refers to Christ.
8. For God caused all sorts of serpents to bite them, and
they died, just as by a serpent transgression began in Eve, so
that so he might convince them that they will be delivered into
the pain of death for their transgressions.
9. Moses, who had commanded them, then said, You must not
make to yourselves any graven or molten image to be your God; yet
now did so himself so that he might represent to them the figure
of the Lord Jesus.
10. For he made a brazen serpent, and set it up on high,
and called the people together by a proclamation. When they
came, they entreated Moses that he would make an atonement for
them and pray so they might be healed.
11. Then Moses spoke to them, saying: When any one among
you will be bitten, let him come to the serpent that is set upon
the pole, and let him assuredly trust in him, for though he be
dead, yet he is able to give life, and presently he will be
saved; and so they did. See therefore how here also you have in
this the glory of Jesus, and that in him and to him are all
Barnabas is on solid exegetical ground here
(Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, and St. John Chrysostum
concurred) for Christ himself said to Nicodemus: "And
as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even
so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever
believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal
life." (John 3:14, 15); Romans 11:36 says: "For of him,
and through him, and to him [are] all things: to whom
[be] glory for ever. Amen."
12. Again, consider what Moses, being a prophet, said to
Jesus the son of Nun, when he gave that name to him so that all
the people might hear him alone, because the Father did manifest
all things concerning his son Jesus, in Jesus the son of Nun.
When he sent him to spy out the land of Canaan, he gave him that
name and said, Take a book in your hands, and write what the Lord
says: inasmuch as Jesus the Son of God will in the last days cut
off by the roots all the house of Amalek. See here again Jesus,
not the son of man, but the Son of God, made manifest in a type
and in the flesh.
See Exodus 17:14. (The New Testament equivalent
of the name Joshua, or Jeshua, which means Jehovah is
salvation, is Jesus.)
13. But because it later might be said that Christ was the
Son of David, therefore David fearing and well knowing the errors
of the wicked, says, The Lord said to my Lord, sit on my right
hand until I make your enemies your footstool.
See Psalm 110:1.
14. And again Isaiah speaks like this. The Lord said to
Christ my Lord, I have laid hold on his right hand, that the
nations should obey before him, and I will break the strength of
The source of this is obscure; there is no such
reference in the Bible.
15. Behold how David and Isaiah call him Lord and the Son
The promise of God is not made only to the Jews, but also to the
Gentiles, and fulfilled to us by Jesus Christ.
1. But let us go yet further, and inquire whether this
people be the heir, or the former; and whether the covenant be
with us or with them.
2. And first, as concerning the people, hear now what the
3. Isaac prayed for his wife Rebecca because she was
barren, and she conceived. Afterwards Rebecca went forth to
inquire of the Lord.
4. And the Lord said to her, There are two nations in your
womb, and two people will come from your body; and the one will
have power over the other, and the greater will serve the lesser.
Understand here who was Isaac, and who was Rebecca, and of whom
it was foretold that this people will be greater than that.
Compare Genesis 25:21-23 with: "Who are
Israelites.... For they [are] not all Israel, which are
of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of
Abraham, [are they] all children: but, In Isaac shall
thy seed be called. That is, They which are the
children of the flesh, these [are] not the children of
God: but the children of the promise are counted for
the seed..." (Romans 9:5, 6-8, 10-16)
5. In another prophecy Jacob speaks more clearly to his son
Joseph, saying, Behold the Lord has not deprived me of seeing
your face, so bring me your sons that I may bless them. And he
brought to his father Manasseh and Ephraim, desiring that he
should bless Manasseh, because he was the elder.
6. Therefore Joseph brought him to the right hand of his
father Jacob. But Jacob by the spirit foresaw the figure of the
people that was to come.
7. And what says the Scripture? And Jacob crossed his
hands, and put his right hand upon Ephraim, his second and
younger son, and blessed him. And Joseph said to Jacob, Put your
right hand upon the head of Manasseh, for he is my first-born.
And Jacob said to Joseph, I know it, my son, I know it; but the
greater will serve the lesser; though he also will be blessed.
8. You see of whom he appointed it, that they should be the
first people, and heirs of the covenant
See Genesis 48. A careful reading shows Jacob
indeed crossed his hands to give his blessing; to the
Church Fathers this was another symbol of Christ's
9. If God took notice of this also by Abraham, our
understanding of it will then be perfectly established.
10. What says the Scripture to Abraham when he believed,
and it was imputed to him for righteousness? Behold I have made
you a father of the nations that without circumcision believe in
Abraham was living by faith when he was seventy-
five years old and his faith was imputed to him for
righteousness, but he was not circumcised until he was
ninety-nine years old: see Genesis 12:4, 15:3-6, 17:6-
11, 24. Compare with: "What shall we say then that
Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath
found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath
[whereof] to glory;; but not before God. For what
saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was
counted to him for righteousness. Now to him that
worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of
debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on
him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted
for righteousness." (Romans 4:1-5)
11. Let us therefore now inquire whether God has fulfilled
the covenant he swore to our fathers, that he would give this
people? Yes, truly, he gave it; but they were not worthy to
receive it because of their sins.
12. For thus says the prophet, And Moses continued fasting
forty days and forty nights in Mount Sinai, to receive the
covenant of the Lord with the people.
13. And he received from the Lord two tables written with
the finger of the Lord's hand in the Spirit. And when Moses
received them he brought them down to deliver them to the people.
14. And the Lord said to Moses: Moses, Moses, get down
quickly, for the people you brought out of the land of Egypt have
15. And Moses understood that they had again set up a
molten image; and he cast the two tables out of his hands, and
the tables of the covenant of the Lord were broken. Moses
received them, but they were not worthy.
See Exodus 24:18; 32:7-9, 15-29, and Deuteronomy
16. Now then learn how we have received them. Moses, being
a servant, took them; but the Lord himself, having suffered for
us, has given them to us in order that we might be the people of
17. He was manifested that they should fill up the measure
of their sins; and that we, being made heirs by him, should
receive the covenant of the Lord Jesus.
18. Again the prophet says, Behold, I have assigned you to
be a light to the Gentiles for salvation to all the ends of the
earth, says the Lord your God who has redeemed you.
See Isaiah 49:6.
19. Who was prepared for that very purpose so by his own
appearing he might redeem our hearts, already devoured by death
and delivered over to the irregularity of error, from darkness;
and establish a covenant with us by his word.
20. For so it is written that the Father commanded him by
delivering us from darkness, to prepare to himself a holy people.
21. Therefore the prophet says, I the Lord your God have
called you in righteousness, and I will take you by your hand and
will strengthen you. And give you as a covenant of the people,
for a light of the Gentiles, to open the eyes of the blind, to
bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in
darkness out of the prison house.
See Isaiah 42:6, 7.
22. Consider therefore for what we have been redeemed. And
again the prophet says, The spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me; he has sent me to preach glad tidings
to the lowly, to heal the broken in heart, to preach remission to
the captives and sight to the blind, to proclaim the acceptable
year of the Lord and the day of restitution, and to comfort all
Compare Isaiah 61:1, 2 with: "And there was
delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias, And
when he had opened the book, he found the place where
it was written, The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me,
because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the
poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to
preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of
sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are
bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
And he closed the book, and he gave [it] again to the
minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that
were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he
began to say unto them, This day is this scripture
fulfilled in your ears." (Luke 4:17-21)
That the Sabbath of the Jews was but a figure of a more glorious
Sabbath to come, and their temple, of the spiritual temples of
1. Furthermore it is written concerning the Sabbath, in the
ten commandments which God spoke face to face in Mount Sinai to
Moses, Sanctify the Sabbath of the Lord with pure hands and with
a clean heart.
See Exodus 20:8.
2. Elsewhere he says, If your children will keep my
Sabbaths, then will I put my mercy upon them.
Perhaps a condensed reference to Leviticus 26:2-5.
3. And even in the beginning of the creation he makes
mention of the Sabbath: And God made in six days the works of his
hands; and he finished them on the seventh day, and he rested the
seventh day, and sanctified it.
See Genesis 2:2, 3; that this was the basis of the
Sabbath is stated in Exodus 20:11.
4. Consider, my children, what it signifies, that he
finished them in six days. The meaning of it is this: that in
six thousand years the Lord God will bring all things to an end.
5. For with him one day is a thousand years, as he himself
testifies, saying, Behold this day will be as a thousand years.
Therefore, children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years,
will all things be accomplished.
That is, all things will be accomplished up to the
time of the Gospel. This was a popular interpretation
at that time, based on "For a thousand years in thy
sight [are but] as yesterday when it is past, and [as]
a watch in the night" (Psalm 90:4), and "But, beloved,
be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day [is]
with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years
as one day" (2 Peter 3:8).
Many cults have been created and many people have
been led astray by the practice of setting dates for
prophesied events. That some in the early Church
engaged in such speculation is surprising in view of
Christ's words to his disciples after the Resurrection:
"When they therefore were come together, they asked of
him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again
the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is
not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the
Father hath put in his own power." (Acts 1:6, 7)
6. And he rested the seventh day, means this: that when his
Son will come, and abolish the season of the Wicked One, and
judge the ungodly, and will change the sun and the moon and the
stars, then he will gloriously rest in that seventh day.
Compare with: "But the day of the Lord will come
as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall
pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall
melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works
that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then
[that] all these things shall be dissolved, what manner
[of persons] ought ye to be in [all] holy conversation
and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming
of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire
shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with
fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his
promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein
dwelleth righteousness." (2 Peter 3:10-13)
7. He adds lastly, You will sanctify it with clean hands
and a pure heart. Therefore we are greatly deceived if we
imagine that anyone can now sanctify that day which God has made
holy, without having a heart pure in all things.
8. Behold therefore, he will then truly sanctify it with
blessed rest, when we having received the righteous promise, when
iniquity will be no more, and all things have been renewed by the
Lord, will be able to sanctify it, because we ourselves will
first be made holy.
9. Lastly he says to them, I cannot stand your new moons
and your Sabbaths. Consider what he means by it: the Sabbaths,
he says, that you now keep are not acceptable to me, but only
those which I have made, when resting from all things I shall
begin the eighth day, that is, the beginning of the other world.
Compare with: "...the new moons and sabbaths, the
calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; [it is]
iniquity, even the solemn meeting." (Isaiah 1:13)
10. For which cause we observe the eighth day with
gladness, in which Jesus rose from the dead, and after showing
himself to his disciples, ascended into heaven.
Compare with: "...ye shall keep a feast unto the
Lord seven days: on the first day [shall be] a sabbath,
and on the eighth day [shall be] a sabbath." (Leviticus
This concept of the "eighth day" is mentioned in
the writings of some Church Fathers, and has several
connotations. In a literal sense, of course, it
corresponds to the first day of the week (Sunday), when
Christ rose from the dead after his redemptive work was
finished. In an eschatological (prophetic) sense, it
refers to Christ's coming again and the ensuing eternal
bliss of the faithful. Some monks of the Orthodox
Church used the term mystically to represent the
advanced state of personal spirituality.
11. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] It
still remains for me to speak to you concerning the temple, how
these miserable men, being deceived, have put their trust in the
house as if it were the habitation of God, and not in God himself
who made them,
12. For much after the same manner as the Gentiles, they
consecrated him in the temple.
13. But learn therefore how the Lord speaks, rendering the
temple vain: Who has measured the full extent of heaven, or the
earth with his hand? Is it not I? Thus says the Lord, Heaven is
my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What is the house that
you will build me? Or what is the place of my rest? Know
therefore that all their hope is vain.
Compare with: "Who hath measured the waters in the
hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span,
and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure,
and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a
balance?" (Isaiah 40:12); and "Thus saith the Lord, The
heaven [is] my throne, and the earth [is] my footstool:
where [is] the house that ye build unto me? and where
[is] the place of my rest?" (Isaiah 66:1)
14. And again he speaks after this manner: Behold they that
destroy this temple, even they will again build it up. And so it
came to pass, for through their wars it was destroyed by their
enemies, and the servants of their enemies built it up.
The reference is uncertain. Compare with: "Our
holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised
thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant
things are laid waste." (Isaiah 64:11); "... came
Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant of the
king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem: And he burnt the house
of the Lord..." (2 Kings 25:8,9); "They have cast fire
into thy sanctuary, they have defiled [by casting down]
the dwelling place of thy name to the ground." (Psalm
It is unlikely this cites Ezra 6:12, for the Jews
themselves rebuilt a rather shabby temple after their
return from the Exile. However, when Rome set up its
puppet government over the Jews, their appointee, Herod
the Great, in fact rebuilt the Temple of Jerusalem.
15. Furthermore it has been made evident how both the city
and the temple, and the people of Israel, should be given up.
For the Scripture says, And it will come to pass in the last
days, that the Lord will deliver up the sheep of his pasture, and
their fold, and their tower into destruction. And it is come to
pass, as the Lord has spoken.
Compare with: "And it shall come to pass at that
time, [that] I will search Jerusalem with candles, and
punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say
in their heart, The Lord will not do good, neither will
he do evil. Therefore their goods shall become a
booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also
build houses, but not inhabit [them]; and they shall
plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof."
(Zephaniah 1:12, 13); the Septuagint reads: "And it
shall come to pass in that day, [that] I will search
Jerusalem with a candle, and will take vengeance on the
men that despise the things committed to them; but they
say in their hearts, The Lord will not do any good,
neither will he do any evil. And their power shall be
for a spoil, and their houses for utter desolation; and
they shall build houses, but shall not dwell in them;
and they shall plant vineyards, but shall not drink the
wine of them."
"And the sea coast shall be dwellings [and]
cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks."
(Zephaniah 2:6); the Septuagint reads: "And Crete shall
be a pasture of flocks, and a fold of sheep;" but the
Hebrew is closer to Barnabas' allusion.
16. Let us therefore inquire whether there is any temple of
God. Yes there is, where he himself declares that he would both
make and perfect it. For it is written, As soon as the week will
be completed, the temple of the Lord will be gloriously built in
the name of the Lord.
Compare Daniel 9:24, 25, and Haggai 2:9.
17. I find therefore that there is a temple. But how will
it be built in the name of the Lord? I will show you.
18. Before we believed in God, the habitation of our heart
was as corruptible and feeble as a temple truly built with hands.
19. For it was a house full of idolatry, a house of devils;
inasmuch as there was done in it whatever was contrary to God.
But it will be built in the name of the Lord.
20. Consider how that the temple of the Lord will be very
gloriously built, and learn by what means that will be.
21. Having received remission of our sins, and trusting in
the name of the Lord, we are become renewed, being again created
as it were from the beginning. Therefore God truly dwells in our
house, that is, in us.
22. But how does he dwell in us? Through the word of his
faith, the calling of his promise, the wisdom of his righteous
judgments, and the commands of his doctrine. He himself
prophesies within us, he himself dwells in us, and opens to us
who were in bondage of death the gate of our temple, that is, the
mouth of wisdom, having given repentance to us; and by this means
he has brought us to be an incorruptible temple.
23. He therefore who desires to be saved looks not to the
man, but to him that dwells in him, and speaks by him, because he
is struck with wonder, for he never either heard him speaking
such words out of his mouth, nor ever desired to hear them.
24. This is that spiritual temple that is built to the
Of the way of light, a summary of what a Christian is to do, that
he may be happy forever.
1. And thus, I trust, I have declared to you as much, and
with as great simplicity as I could, those things which make for
your salvation, so as not to have omitted anything that might be
2. For should I speak further of the things that now are,
and of those that are to come, you would not yet understand them,
seeing they lie in parables. What I have said will suffice as to
Parables can both reveal and conceal; compare with
Christ's remark to his disciples: "And he said unto
them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the
kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all
[these] things are done in parables; That seeing they
may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear,
and not understand; lest at any time they should be
converted, and [their] sins should be forgiven them.
(Mark 4:11, 12)
"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, [is] come,
he will guide you into all truth... and he will shew
you things to come." (John 16:13); "But the Comforter,
[which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in
my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all
things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto
you." (John 14:26); "Which things also we speak, not in
the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the
Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with
spiritual." (1 Corinthians 2:13); "But the anointing
which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye
need not that any man teach you, but as the same
anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and
is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall
abide in him." (1 John 2:27)
3. Let us now go on to the other kind of knowledge and
doctrine. There are two ways of doctrine and power: the one of
light, the other of darkness.
4. But there is a great deal of difference between these
two ways; for over one are appointed the angels of God, the
leaders of the way of light; over the other, the angels of Satan.
And the one is the Lord from everlasting to everlasting; the
other is the prince of the time of unrighteousness.
5. Now the way of light is this: if any one desires to
attain to the place that is appointed for him, he will hasten
there by his works. And the knowledge that has been given to us
for walking in it, is to this effect: You must love him that made
you; you must glorify him that has redeemed you from death.
6. You must be simple in heart, and rich in the spirit.
You must not unite to those that walk in the way of death. You
must hate to do anything that is not pleasing to God. You must
abhor all dissimulation. You must not neglect any of the
commands of the Lord.
7. You must not exalt yourself, but must be humble. You
must not take honor to yourself. You must not enter into any
wicked counsel against your neighbor. You must not be over-
confident in your heart.
8. You must not commit fornication nor adultery. Neither
must you corrupt yourself with mankind. You must not make use of
the word of God to any impurity.
9. You must not accept any man's person, when you reprove
anyone's faults. You must be gentle. You must be quiet. You
must tremble at the words which you have heard. You must not
keep any hatred in your heart against your brother. You must not
entertain any doubt whether it will be or not.
10. You must not take the name of the Lord in vain. You
must love your neighbor above your own soul.
11. You must not destroy your conceptions before they are
brought forth, nor kill them after they are born.
Apparently abortion and infanticide were
sufficiently common to warrant this exhortation.
12. You must not withdraw your hand from your son, or from
your daughter, but will teach them from their youth the fear of
13. You must not covet your neighbor's goods, neither must
you be greedy. Neither must your heart be joined to proud men,
but you must be counted among the righteous and the lowly.
Whatever events will happen to you, you must receive them as
14. You must not be double-minded, or double-tongued, for a
double tongue is the snare of death. You must be subject in fear
and reverence to the Lord, and to inferior masters as to the
representatives of God.
By "inferior masters," probably is meant the
lowest order of clergy, the deacons, as contrasted with
the presbyters, or priests.
15. You must not be bitter when ordering any of your
servants who trust in God, for fear that you may not fear him who
is over both; because he came not to call any with respect of
persons, but whomever the Spirit had prepared.
16. You must communicate to your neighbor of all you have;
you must not call anything your own, for if you share in such
things as are incorruptible, how much more should you do it in
those that are corruptible?
17. You must not be too eager to speak, for the mouth is
the trap of death. Strive for your soul with all your might. Do
not reach out your hand to receive, and then withhold it when you
18. You must love, as the apple of your eye, everyone that
speaks to you the word of the Lord. Call to your remembrance,
day and night, the future judgment.
19. You must seek out every day the persons of the
righteous, and both consider and go about to exhort others by the
word, and meditate how you may save a soul.
20. You must also labor with your hands to give to the
poor, so that your sins may be forgiven you. You must not
deliberate whether you should give, nor, having given, complain
21. Give to every one that asks, so will you know who is
the good rewarder of your gifts.
22. Keep what you have received; you must neither add to it
nor take from it.
23. Let the wicked be always your aversion. You must judge
righteous judgment. You must never cause divisions, but make
peace between those that are at variance, and bring them
24. You must confess your sins and not come to your prayer
with an evil conscience.
25. This is the way of light.
Of the way of darkness, that is, what kind of persons will
forever be cast out of the kingdom of God.
1. But the way of darkness is crooked and full of cursing.
For it is the way of eternal death, with punishment, in which
those that walk will meet those things that destroy their own
2. Such are: idolatry, confidence, pride of power,
hypocrisy, double-mindedness, adultery, murder, pillage, pride,
transgression, deceit, malice, arrogance, witchcraft,
covetousness, and the lack of the fear of God.
By "confidence" here is meant an overweening sense of
self-confidence in one's abilities apart from God.
3. In this walk those who are the persecutors of them that
are good, the haters of truth and lovers of lies, who do not know
the reward of righteousness, nor adhere to any thing that is
4. Who administer not righteous judgment to the widow and
orphan; who examine wickedness, and not the fear of the Lord;
5. From whom gentleness and patience are afar off; who love
vanity, and follow after rewards; who have no compassion upon the
poor, nor take any pains for those who are burdened and
6. They readily speak evil, not knowing him that made them;
they are murderers of children, corrupters of the creatures of
God; they turn away from the needy and oppress the afflicted;
they are advocates of the rich, but unjust judges of the poor;
they are altogether sinners.
7. It is therefore appropriate that, learning the just
commands of the Lord we have before mentioned, we should walk in
them. For he who does such things will be glorified in the
kingdom of God.
8. But he who chooses the other part will be destroyed,
together with his works. For this reason there will be both a
resurrection, and a retribution.
9. I implore those that are in high estate among you (if
you will take the counsel that with a good intention I offer to
you), do not forsake those with you towards whom you may do good.
10. For the day is at hand in which all things will be
destroyed, together with the wicked one. The Lord is near, and
his reward is with him.
To destroy also means to utterly defeat and lay
waste; the Bible nowhere specifically implies the
actual annihilation of the wicked.
11. Therefore I ask you, again and again, be good lawgivers
to one another, continue to be faithful counselors to each
other, and remove from among you all hypocrisy.
12. And may God, the Lord of all the world, give you
wisdom, knowledge, counsel, and understanding of his judgments in
13. Be taught by God; seek what it is the Lord requires of
you, and do it, so that you may be saved in the day of judgment.
14. And if there is any remembrance among you of what is
good, think of me by meditating on these things, so that both my
wishes and my watching for you may turn to a good account.
15. I beg you, I ask it as a favor of you, that while you
are in this beautiful vessel of the body, be lacking in none of
these things, but seek them without ceasing and fulfill every
command, for these things are proper and worthy to be done.
16. Wherefore I have diligently written to you, according
to my ability, that you might rejoice. Farewell, children, in
love and peace.
17. May the Lord of glory and of all grace be with your
Although we find echoes in the New Testament of
nearly all the exhortations in this General Epistle of
Barnabas, we must remember that he is not so much
quoting but expressing the same thoughts as his
contemporaries, for all the books of the New Testament
had not yet been written (certainly not the Epistle of
Jude's Epistle or the works of John, which include his
Gospel, his three Epistles, and Revelation), and it
would be centuries before the canon was officially
Cotelerius affirms that Origen and Jerome esteemed
this Epistle genuine and canonical, although he himself
did not believe it to be either one or the other; on
the contrary, he supposes it was written for the
benefit of the Ebionites (the christianized Jews) who
were tenacious of rites and ceremonies.
It lays a greater claim to canonical authority
than most others and was read in the churches at
Alexandria, as the canonical scriptures were. It has
been cited by Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen, Eusebius,
and Jerome, and many ancient Fathers.
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