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Home > Fathers of the Church > The Harmony of the Gospels (Augustine) > Book I, Chapter 3

The Harmony of the Gospels, Book I

Chapter 3. Of the Fact that Matthew, Together with Mark, Had Specially in View the Kingly Character of Christ, Whereas Luke Dealt with the Priestly.

5. For the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the one true King and the one true Priest, the former to rule us, and the latter to make expiation for us, has shown us how His own figure bore these two parts together, which were only separately commended [to notice] among the Fathers. This becomes apparent if (for example) we look to that inscription which was affixed to His crossKing of the Jews: in connection also with which, and by a secret instinct, Pilate replied, What I have written, I have written. For it had been said aforetime in the Psalms, Destroy not the writing of the title. The same becomes evident, so far as the part of priest is concerned, if we have regard to what He has taught us concerning offering and receiving. For thus it is that He sent us beforehand a prophecy respecting Himself, which runs thus, You are a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedek. And in many other testimonies of the divine Scriptures, Christ appears both as King and as Priest. Hence, also, even David himself, whose son He is, not without good reason, more frequently declared to be than he is said to be Abraham's son, and whom Matthew and Luke have both alike held by—the one viewing him as the person from whom, through Solomon, His lineage can be traced down, and the other taking him for the person to whom, through Nathan, His genealogy can be carried up—did represent the part of a priest, although he was patently a king, when he ate the show-bread. For it was not lawful for any one to eat that, save the priests only. To this it must be added that Luke is the only one who mentions how Mary was discovered by the angel, and how she was related to Elisabeth, who was the wife of Zacharias the priest. And of this Zacharias the same evangelist has recorded the fact, that the woman whom he had for wife was one of the daughters of Aaron, which is to say she belonged to the tribe of the priests.

6. Whereas, then, Matthew had in view the kingly character, and Luke the priestly, they have at the same time both set forth pre-eminently the humanity of Christ: for it was according to His humanity that Christ was made both King and Priest. To Him, too, God gave the throne of His father David, in order that of His kingdom there should be none end. And this was done with the purpose that there might be a mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, to make intercession for us. Luke, on the other hand, had no one connected with him to act as his summarist in the way that Mark was attached to Matthew. And it may be that this is not without a certain solemn significance. For it is the right of kings not to miss the obedient following of attendants; and hence the evangelist, who had taken it in hand to give an account of the kingly character of Christ, had a person attached to him as his associate who was in some fashion to follow in his steps. But inasmuch as it was the priest's want to enter all alone into the holy of holies, in accordance with that principle, Luke, whose object contemplated the priestly office of Christ, did not have any one to come after him as a confederate, who was meant in some way to serve as an epitomizer of his narrative.

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Source. Translated by S.D.F. Salmond. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1888.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1602103.htm>.

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