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Home > Fathers of the Church > The Harmony of the Gospels (Augustine) > Book III, Chapter 1

The Harmony of the Gospels, Book III

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Chapter 1. Of the Method in Which the Four Evangelists are Shown to Be at One in the Accounts Given of the Lord's Supper and the Indication of His Betrayer.

2. Let us commence here, accordingly, with the notice presented by Matthew, [which runs thus]: And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to His disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. Both Mark and Luke also gave this section. It is true that Luke has made mention of the cup twice over: first before He gave the bread; and, secondly, after the bread has been given. But the fact is, that what is stated in that earlier connection has been introduced, according to this writer's habit, by anticipation, while the words which he has inserted here in their proper order are left unrecorded in those previous verses, and the two passages when put together make up exactly what stands expressed by those other evangelists. John, on the other hand, has said nothing about the body and blood of the Lord in this context; but he plainly certifies that the Lord spoke to that effect on another occasion, with much greater fullness than here. At present, however, after recording how the Lord rose from supper and washed the disciples' feet, and after telling us also the reason why the Lord dealt thus with them, in expressing which He had intimated, although still obscurely, and by the use of a testimony of Scripture, the fact that He was being betrayed by the man who was to eat of His bread, at this point John comes to the section in question, which the other three evangelists also unite in introducing. He presents it thus: When Jesus had thus said, He was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, That one of you shall betray me. Then the disciples looked (as the same John subjoins) one on another, doubting of whom He spoke. And (as Matthew and Mark tell us) they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto Him, Is it I? And He answered and said (as Matthew proceeds to state), He that dips his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. Matthew also goes on to make the following addition to the preceding: The Son of man indeed goes, as it is written of Him; but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed! It had been good for that man if he had not been born. Mark, too, is at one with him here as regards both the words themselves and the order of narration. Then Matthew continues thus: Then Judas, which betrayed Him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said to him, You have said. Even these words did not say explicitly whether he was himself the man. For the sentence still admits of being understood as if its point was this, I am not the person who has said so. All this, too, may quite easily have been uttered by Judas and answered by the Lord without its being noticed by all the others.

3. After this, Matthew proceeds to insert the mystery of His body and blood, as it was committed then by the Lord to the disciples. Here Mark and Luke act correspondingly. But after He had handed the cup to them, [we find that] He spoke again concerning His betrayer, in terms which Luke recounts, when he says, But, behold, the hand of him that betrays me is with me on the table. And truly the Son of man goes as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom He shall be betrayed. At this point we must now suppose that to come in which is narrated by John while these others omit it, just as John has also passed by certain matters which they have detailed. In accordance with this, after the giving of the cup, and after the Lord's subsequent saying which has been brought in by Luke, — namely, But, behold, the hand of him that betrays me is with me on the table, etc., — the statement made by John is [to be taken as immediately] subjoined. It is to the following effect: Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, and said to him, Who is he of whom He speaks? He then, when he had laid himself on Jesus' breast, says unto Him, Lord, who is it? Jesus answered, He it is to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas, the son of Simon [of] Scarioth. And after the sop Satan then entered into him.

4. Here we must take care not to let John underlie the appearance not only of standing in antagonism to Luke, who had stated before this, that Satan entered into the heart of Judas at the time when he made his bargain with the Jews to betray Him on receipt of a sum of money, but also of contradicting himself. For, at an earlier point, and previous to [his notice of] the receiving of this sop, he had made use of these terms: And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas to betray Him. And how does he enter into the heart, but by putting unrighteous persuasions into the thoughts of unrighteous men? The explanation, however, is this. We ought to suppose Judas to have been more fully taken possession of by the devil now, just as on the other hand, in the instance of the good, those who had already received the Holy Spirit on that occasion, subsequently to His resurrection, when He breathed upon them and said, Receive the Holy Ghost, also obtained a fuller gift of that Spirit at a later time, namely, when He was sent down from above on the day of Pentecost. In like manner, Satan then entered into this man after the sop. And (as John himself mentions in the immediate context) Jesus says unto him, What you do, do quickly. Now no man at the table knew for what intent He spoke this unto him; for some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus said to him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. He then, having received the sop, went immediately out; and it was night. Therefore, when he had gone out, Jesus says, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him: and if God be glorified in Him, God shall also glorify Him in Himself, and shall straightway glorify Him.

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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. <>.

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