Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume III/Moral Treatises of St. Augustin/Of the Work of Monks/Section 16

16. For he himself also, with an eye to the like necessities of saints, who, although they obey his precepts, “that with silence they work and eat their own bread,” may yet from many causes stand in need of somewhat by way of supplement to the like sustenance, therefore, after he had thus said, teaching and premonishing, “Now them which are such we command and beseech in our Lord Jesus Christ, that with silence they work and eat their own bread;”[1] yet, lest they which had whereof they might supply the needs of the servants of God, should hence take occasion to wax lazy, providing against this he hath straightway added, “But ye, brethren, become not weak in showing beneficence.”[2] And when he was writing to Titus, saying, “Zenas the lawyer and Apollos do thou diligently send forward, that nothing may be wanting to them;”[3] that he might show from what quarter nothing ought to be wanting to them, he straightway subjoined, “But let ours also learn to maintain good works[4] for necessary use, that they be not unfruitful.” In the case of Timothy also,[5] whom he calls his own most true[6] son, because he knew him weak of body, (as he shows, in advising him not to drink water, but to use a little wine for his stomach’s sake and his often infirmities,) lest then haply, because in bodily work he could not labor, he being unwilling to stand in need of daily food at their hands, unto whom he ministered the Gospel, should seek some business in which the stress of his mind would become entangled; (for it is one thing to labor in body, with the mind free, as does a handicraftsman, if he be not fraudulent and avaricious and greedy of his own private gain; but another thing, to occupy the mind itself with cares of collecting money without the body’s labor, as do either dealers, or bailiffs, or undertakers, for these with care of the mind conduct their business, not with their hands do work, and in that regard occupy their mind itself with solicitude of getting;) lest then Timothy should fall upon such like ways, because from weakness of body he could not work with his hands, he thus exhorts, admonishes, and comforts him: “Labor,” saith he, “as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man, going a warfare for God, entangleth himself with secular business; that he may please Him to whom he hath proved himself.[7] For he that striveth for masteries, is not crowned except he strive lawfully.”[8] Hereupon, lest the other should be put to straits, saying, “Dig I cannot, to beg I am ashamed,”[9] he adjoined, “The husbandman that laboreth must be first partaker of the fruits:” according to that which he had said to the Corinthians, “Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? Who feedeth a flock, and partaketh not of the milk of the flock?”[10] Thus did he make to be without care a chaste evangelist, not to that end working as an evangelist that he might sell the Gospel, but yet not, having strength to supply unto himself with his own hands the necessities of this life; for that he should understand whatever being necessary for himself he was taking of them whom as provincials he as a soldier was serving, and whom as a vineyard he was culturing, or as a flock was feeding, to be not matter of mendicity, but of power.


  1. 2 Thess. iii. 12, 13
  2. Infirmari benefacientes
  3. Tit. iii. 13, 14
  4. Bonis operibus præesse, καλῶν ἔργων προΐστασθαι. E.V. in margin, “profess honest trades.”
  5. 1 Tim. i. 2
  6. Germanissimum.” 1 Tim. v. 23
  7. Cui se probavit
  8. 2 Tim. ii. 3–6
  9. Luke xvi. 3. [See R.V.]
  10. 1 Cor. ix. 7