John Chrysostom on John 3:14-16

For a discussion I’ve been having elsewhere on the internet, I translated Chrysostom’s discussion of John 3:14-16. Its powerful stuff and I thought I’d share it with you. The syntax here is pretty cool. Chrysostom is a great writer and what he’s done here is beautiful. I’ve treated quotations of scripture differently than other editions. I’ve treated them as intertextual. I think that Chrysostom has worked hard to maintain the flow of thought when he quote scripture and it seems evident here. And feel free to find and correct errors in my translation. This is a learning effort, as always.

Εἰ γὰρ πρὸς εἰκόνα χαλκῆν ὄφεως ἰδόντες Ἰουδαῖοι διέφυγον θάνατον· πολλῷ μᾶλλον οἱ εἰς τὸν ἐσταυρωμένον πιστεύοντες, εἰκότως καὶ πολλῷ μείζονος ἀπολαύσονται τῆς εὐεργεσίας. Οὐ γὰρ διὰ τὴν ἀσθένειαν τοῦ σταυρουμένου, οὐδὲ διὰ τὸ περιγενέσθαι Ἰουδαίους τοῦτο γίνεται, ἀλλ’ ἐπειδὴ Ἠγάπησεν Θεὸς τὸν κόσμον,

διὰ τοῦτο ὁ ἔμψυχος αὐτοῦ ναὸς σταυροῦται. Ἵνα πᾶς πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν, μὴ ἀπόληται, ἀλλἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον. Ὁρᾷς τὴν τοῦ σταυροῦ αἰτίαν, καὶ τὴν ἐξ αὐτοῦ σωτηρίαν; ὁρᾷς τοῦ τύπου πρὸς τὴν ἀλήθειαν τὴν συγγένειαν;

Ἐκεῖ θάνατον διέφυγον Ἰουδαῖοι, ἀλλὰ τὸν πρόσκαιρον· ἐνταῦθα τὸν αἰώνιον οἱ πιστεύοντες. Ἐκεῖ δήγματα ὄφεων ἰᾶτο ὁ κρεμάμενος ὄφις, ἐνταῦθα τοῦ νοητοῦ δράκοντος ἐθεράπευσε τὰς πληγὰς ὁ σταυρωθεὶς Ἰησοῦς· ἐκεῖ ὁ τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς τούτοις βλέπων ἐθεραπεύετο, ἐνταῦθα ὁ τοῖς τῆς διανοίας ὀφθαλμοῖς ὁρῶν, πάντα ἀποτίθεται τὰ ἁμαρτήματα· ἐκεῖ χαλκὸς τὸ κρεμάμενον ἦν εἰς σχῆμα ὄφεως διατυπωθεὶς, ἐνταῦθα σῶμα δεσποτικὸν ὑπὸ Πνεύματος κατασκευασθέν.

Ὄφις ἔδακνεν ἐκεῖ, καὶ ὄφις ἰᾶτο· οὕτω καὶ ἐνταῦθα θάνατος ἀπώλεσε, καὶ θάνατος ἔσωσεν. Ἀλλ’ ὁ μὲν ἀπολλὺς ὄφις, ἰὸν εἶχεν· ὁ δὲ σώζων, ἰοῦ καθαρὸς ἦν. Καὶ ἐνταῦθα τὸ αὐτὸ πάλιν· ὁ μὲν γὰρ ἀπολλὺς θάνατος ἁμαρτίαν εἶχεν, ὥσπερ τὸν ἰὸν ὁ ὄφις· ὁ δὲ τοῦ Δεσπότου, ἁμαρτίας πάσης ἀπήλλακτο, ὥσπερ οὖν ὁ χαλκοῦς ὄφις, ἰοῦ.

For if by looking toward the bronze snake, the Jews escaped death, to a greater degree will those who place their trust in he who was crucified–suitably, they will enjoy a much greater benefit, too!For this happened neither because of the weakness of the Cross, nor because the Jews prevailed over Christ. Rather it is because God loved the world.

Because of this, His living temple was crucified, so that anyone who puts his trust in him might not perish, but instead have live eternal. Don’t you see here the background behind the cross and the salvation that comes from it? Do you see the connection of the Type to the Reality.

There, the Jews escaped death but only temporarily. Here, the one who trusts has an eternal escape. There, the hanging serpent heals only snake bites. Here, to the wounds inflicted by the spiritual serpent, the Crucified Jesus brought healing. There those who looked with their physical eyes were healed, But here the person who looks with eyes that understand has all his sin put away. There, what hung was bronze shaped into a serpent. Here, the Master’s body built by the Spirit.

The snake bit there and the snake healed. So also here, death destroyed and death saved. But the destroy snake had venom, while the saving one was free of venom. and here it is the same again. For the death that destroyed had sin, exactly like the serpent had venom. But the Lord was free of all sin, just as the bronze serpent was of venom.