Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume IX/Origen on John/Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of John/Book X/Chapter 9
9. Heracleon Says that Jesus is Not Stated to Have Done Anything at Capernaum. But in the Other Gospels He Does Many Things There.
But Heracleon, dealing with the words, “After this He went down to Capernaum,” declares that they indicate the introduction of another transaction, and that the word “went down” is not without significance. “Capernaum,” he says, “means these farthest-out parts of the world, these districts of matter, into which He descended, and because the place was not suitable, he says, He is not reported either to have done anything or said anything in it.” Now if the Lord had not been reported in the other Gospels either as having done or said anything at Capernaum, we might perhaps have hesitated whether this view ought or ought not to be received. But that is far from being the case. Matthew says our Lord left Nazareth and came and dwelt at Capernaum on the seaside, and that from that time He began to preach, saying, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And Mark, starting in his narrative from the temptation by the devil, relates that after John was cast into prison, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the Gospel of God, and after the call of the four fishermen to the Apostleship, “they enter into Capernaum; and straightway on the Sabbath day He taught in the synagogue, and they were astonished at His doctrine.” And Mark records an action of Jesus also which took place at Capernaum, for he goes on to say, “In their synagogue there was a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, saying, Ah! what have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art Thou come to destroy us? We know Thee who Thou art, the Son of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace and come out of him; and the unclean spirit, tearing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed.” And at Capernaum Simon’s mother-in-law is cured of her fever. And Mark adds that when evening was come all those were cured who were sick and who were possessed with demons. Luke’s report is very like Mark’s about Capernaum. He says, “And He came to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and He was teaching them on the Sabbath day, and they were astonished at His teachings, for His word was with power. And in the synagogue there was a man having a spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, Ah! what have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth? Hast Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee who Thou art, the holy one of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace and come out of him. Then the demon having thrown him down in the midst, went out of him, doing him no harm.” And then Luke reports how the Lord rose up from the synagogue and went into the house of Simon, and rebuked the fever in his mother-in-law, and cured her of her disease; and after this cure, “when the sun was setting,” he says, “all, as many as had persons sick with divers diseases, brought them to Him, and He laid his hands on each one of them and cured them. And demons also went out from many, crying and saying, Thou art the Son of God, and He rebuked them and suffered them not to speak because they knew that He was the Christ.” We have presented all these statements as to the Saviour’s sayings and doings at Capernaum in order to refute Heracleon’s interpretation of our passage, “Hence He is not said to have done or to have spoken anything there.” He must either give two meanings to Capernaum, and show us his reasons for them, or if he cannot do this he must give up saying that the Saviour visited any place to no purpose. We, for our part, should we come to passages where even a comparison of the other Gospels fails to show that Jesus’ visit to this place or that was not accompanied by any results, will seek with the divine assistance to make it clear that His coming was not in vain.
- i. 14–27.
- iv. 31–41.