The Gospels of Jesus Christ - Authors Various - E-Book

The Gospels of Jesus Christ E-Book

Authors Various

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Our image of Jesus Christ is mostly based upon the tradition which can be found in the New Tes-tament. The four canonical gospels share the same basic outline of the life of Jesus. Preached for centuries by priests, monks, theologians, etc. biblical image of Jesus is deeply incised into the col-lective memory through out the Christian world and beyond. Bearing this in mind, it should be noted however, that most of the testimonies regarding Jesus' life and work written by his contemporaries or persons who lived immediately after his death, never made it to the New Testament. These texts compose the so called New Testament apocrypha. Those are writings by early Christians that give accounts of Jesus and his teachings, the nature of God, or the teachings of his apostles and of their lives. The New Testament apocrypha offer a somewhat different image of Jesus from the one that is fa-miliar to the most of us. Most of these texts are not opposed to the canonical gospels but they pro-vide additional information regarding Jesus' life. Therefore, the best way to observe the New Tes-tament apocrypha is to observe them as a missing puzzle. Jointly, with the canonical gospels they will help us fully to perceive Jesus and to get closer to his human nature. The intention of this book is to shed light to Jesus' life entirely and to bring him closer to the readers of these passages. After reading this book one will meet the real Jesus Christ as he truly was. Contents: Infancy Gospels The Gospel of the Birth of Mary The Gospel Called the Protevangelion The First Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ The Second, or St. Thomas's Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ The History of Joseph the Carpenter Passion Gospels The Gospel of Nicodemus, Formerly Called the Acts of Pontius Pilate The Gospel of Peter Dialogues With Jesus The Gospel of the Egyptians General Texts Concerning Jesus The Letter of Lentulus Pistis Sophia

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The Gospels of Jesus Christ

Collected Early and Later Gospels, Including the History of the Bible
Translator: William Wake, Montague Rhode James, G.R.S. Mead, Alexander Walker
Madison & Adams Press, 2021. Contact: [email protected]
EAN  4066338118783

Table of Contents

The History of the Beginnings: The Founding of the Church by Christ and His Apostles
Character of the History of the Beginnings
Jesus Christ the Saviour of the World
The Ministry of the Apostles Before Paul
The Ministry of the Apostle Paul
The Other Apostles After the Appearance of the Apostle Paul
Canonical Gospels
Infancy Gospels
The Gospel of the Birth of Mary
The Gospel Called the Protevangelion
The First Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ
The Second, Or St. Thomas's Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ
The History of Joseph the Carpenter
Passion Gospels
The Gospel of Nicodemus, Formerly Called the Acts of Pontius Pilate
The Gospel of Peter
Dialogues with Jesus
The Gospel of the Egyptians
Additional Texts About Jesus and his Message
The Letter of Lentulus
Pistis Sophia


Table of Contents

Our image of Jesus Christ is mostly based upon the tradition which can be found in the New Testament. The four canonical gospels share the same basic outline of the life of Jesus. Preached for centuries by priests, monks, theologians, etc. biblical image of Jesus is deeply incised into the collective memory through out the Christian world and beyond.

Bearing this in mind, it should be noted however, that most of the testimonies regarding Jesus' life and work written by his contemporaries or persons who lived immediately after his death, never made it to the New Testament. These texts compose the so called New Testament apocrypha. Those are writings by early Christians that give accounts of Jesus and his teachings, the nature of God, or the teachings of his apostles and of their lives.

The New Testament apocrypha offer a somewhat different image of Jesus from the one that is familiar to the most of us. Most of these texts are not opposed to the canonical gospels but they provide additional information regarding Jesus' life. Therefore, the best way to observe the New Testament apocrypha is to observe them as a missing puzzle. Jointly, with the canonical gospels they will help us fully to perceive Jesus and to get closer to his human nature.

The intention of this book is to shed light to Jesus' life entirely and to bring him closer to the readers of these passages. After reading this book one will meet the real Jesus Christ as he truly was.

The History of the Beginnings: The Founding of the Church by Christ and His Apostles

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Character of the History of the Beginnings

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The propriety in a treatise on general church history of separating the Times of Jesus and the Times of the Apostles, closely connected therewith, from the History of the Development of the Church, and giving to them a distinct place under the title of the History of the Beginnings, rests on the fact that in those times we have the germs and principles of all that follows. The unique capacity of the Apostles, resulting from special enlightenment and endowment, makes that which they have done of vital importance for all subsequent development. In our estimation of each later form of the church’s existence we must go back to the doctrine and practice of Christ and His Apostles as the standard, not as to a finally completed form that has exhausted all possibilities of development, and made all further advance and growth impossible or useless, but rather as to the authentic fresh germs and beginnings of the church, so that not only what in later development is found to have existed in the same form in the beginning is recognised as genuinely Christian, but also that which is seen to be a development and growth of that primitive form.

Jesus Christ the Saviour of the World

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“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal. iv. 4, 5). In accordance with prophetic announcements, He was born in Bethlehem as the Son of David, and, after John the Baptist, the last of the prophets of the Old Covenant, had prepared His way by the preaching of repentance and the baptism of repentance, He began in the thirtieth year of His age His fulfilment by life and teaching of the law and the prophets. With twelve chosen disciples He travelled up and down through the land of the Jews, preaching the kingdom of God, helping and healing, and by miracles and signs confirming His divine mission and doctrine. The Pharisees contradicted and persecuted Him, the Sadducees disregarded Him, and the people vacillated between acclamations and execrations. After three years’ activity, amid the hosannas of the multitude, He made His royal entry into the city of His kingly ancestors. But the same crowd, disappointed in their political and carnal Messianic expectations, a few days later raised the cry: Crucify Him, crucify Him! Thus then He suffered according to the gracious good pleasure of the Father the death of the cross for the sins of the world. The Prince of life, however, could not be holden of death. He burst the gates of Hades, as well as the barriers of the grave, and rose again the third day. For forty days He lingered here below, promised His disciples the gift of His Holy Spirit, and commissioned them to preach the gospel to all nations. Then upon His ascension He assumed the divine form of which He had emptied Himself during His incarnation, and sits now at the right hand of power as the Head of His church and the Lord of all that is named in heaven and on earth, until visibly and in glory, according to the promise, He returns again at the restitution of all things.

In regard to the year of the birth and the year of the death of the Redeemer no absolutely certain result can now be attained. The usual Christian chronology constructed by Dionysius Exiguus in the sixth century, first employed by the Venerable Bede, and brought into official use by Charlemagne, assumes the year 754 A.U.C. as the date of Christ’s birth, which is evidently wrong, since, in A.D. 750 or 751, Herod the Great was already dead. Zumpt takes the seventh, others the third, fourth, or fifth year before our era. The length of Christ’s public ministry was fixed by many Church Fathers, in accordance with Isaiah lxi. 1, 2, and Luke iv. 19, at one year, and it was consequently assumed that Christ was crucified when thirty years of age (Luke iii. 21). The synoptists indeed speak only of one passover, the last, during Christ’s ministry; but John (ii. 13; vi. 4; xii. 1) speaks of three, and also besides (v. 1) of a ἑορτὴ τῶν Ἰουδαίων.

Among the non-biblical witnesses to Christ the earliest is probably a Syrian Epistle of Mara to his son Serapion, written, according to Cureton (“Spicileg. Syriacum.” Lond., 1855), about A.D. 73. The father, highly cultured in Greek wisdom but dissatisfied with it, writes from exile words of comfort and exhortation to his son, in which he places Christ alongside of Socrates and Pythagoras, and honours him as the wise King, by whose death the Jews had brought upon themselves the swift overthrow of their kingdom, who would, however, although slain, live for ever in the new land which He has given. To this period also belongs the witness of the Jewish historian Josephus, which in its probably genuine portions praises Jesus as a worker of miracles and teacher of wisdom, and testifies to His death on the cross under Pilate, as well as the founding of the church in His name. Distinctly and wholly spurious is the Correspondence of Christ with Abgar, Prince of Edessa, who entreats Christ to come to Edessa to heal him and is comforted of the Lord by the sending of one of His disciples after His ascension. This document was first communicated by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., i. 13) from the Archives of Edessa in a literal translation from the Syriac, and is also to be found in the Syrian book Doctrina Addæi. Of a similar kind are the apocryphal Acta Pilati, as well the heathen form which has perished, as the Christian form which is still extant. An Epistle of Lentulus, pretending to be from a Roman resident in Palestine on terms of intimacy with Pilate, containing a description of the appearance of Christ, is quoted, and even then as a forgery, by Laurentius Valla in his writing on the Donation of Constantine. Since in many particulars it agrees with the description of the person of Christ given in the Church History by Nicephorus Callisti, in accordance with the type then prevailing among Byzantine painters, it may fairly be regarded as an apocryphal Latin retouching of that description originating in the fifteenth century. At Edessa a picture of Christ was known to exist in the fourth century (according to the Doctr. Addæi), which must have been brought thither by the messengers of Abgar, who had picked it up in Jerusalem. During the fourth century mention is made of a statue of Christ, first of all by Eusebius, who himself had seen it. This was said to have been set up in Paneas by the woman cured of the issue of blood (Matt. ix. 20). It represents a woman entreating help, kneeling before the lofty figure of a man who stretches out his hand to her, while at his feet a healing herb springs up. In all probability, however, it was simply a votive figure dedicated to the god of healing, Æsculapius. The legend that has been current since the fifth century of the sweat-marked handkerchief of Veronica—this name being derived either from vera icon, the true likeness, or from Bernice or Beronice, the name given in apocryphal legends to the woman with the issue of blood—on which the face of the Redeemer which had been wiped by it was imprinted, probably arose through the transferring to other incidents the legendary story of Edessa. On the occurrence of similar transferences.

The Ministry of the Apostles Before Paul

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After the Apostolate had been again by means of the lot raised to the significant number of twelve, amid miraculous manifestations, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the waiting disciples as they were assembled together on the day of Pentecost, ten days after the Ascension of the Lord. It was the birthday of the church, and its first members were won by the preaching of Peter to the wondering multitude. By means of the ministry of the Apostles, who at first restricted themselves to Jerusalem, the church grew daily. A keen persecution, however, on the part of the Jews, beginning with the execution of the deacon Stephen, scattered them apart, so that the knowledge of the gospel was carried throughout all Palestine, and down into Phœnicia and Syria. Philip preached with peculiarly happy results in Samaria. Peter soon began a course of visitation through the land of Jews, and at Cæsarea received into the church by baptism the first Gentile family, that of Cornelius, having been prepared for this beforehand by a vision. At the same time there arose independently at Antioch in Syria a Christian congregation, composed of Jews and Gentiles, through the great eagerness of the Gentiles for salvation. The Levite Barnabas, a man of strong faith, was sent down from Jerusalem, took upon himself the care of this church, and strengthened his own ministry by securing Paul, the converted Pharisee, as his colleague. This great man, some years before, by the appearing of Christ to him on the way to Damascus, had been changed from a fanatical persecutor into a zealous friend and promoter of the interests of the church. Thus it came about that the Apostolic mission broke up into two different sections, one of which was purely Jewish and had for its centre and starting point the mother church at Jerusalem, while the other, issuing from Antioch, addressed itself to a mixed audience, and preeminently to the Gentiles.

It is difficult to determine with chronological exactness either the beginning or the close of the Apostolic Age. Still we cannot be far wrong in taking A.D. 30 as the beginning and A.D. 70 as the close of that period. The last perfectly certain and uncontested date of the Apostolic Age is the martyrdom of the Apostle Paul in A.D. 64, or perhaps A.D. 67. We have it on good evidence that James the elder died about A.D. 44, and James the Just about A.D. 63, that Peter suffered martyrdom contemporaneously with Paul, that about the same time or not long after the most of the other Apostles had been in all probability already taken home, at least in regard to their life and work after the days of Paul, we have not the slightest information that can lay any claim to be regarded as historical. The Apostle John forms the only exception to this statement. According to important witnesses from the middle and end of the second century, he entered upon his special field of labour in Asia Minor after the death of Paul, and continued to live and labour there, with the temporary interruption of an exile in Patmos, down to the time of Trajan, A.D. 98–117. But the insufficient data which we possess regarding the nature, character, extent, success, and consequences of his Apostolic activity there are partly, if not in themselves altogether incredible, interesting only as anecdotes, and partly wholly fabulous, and therefore little fitted to justify us, simply on their account, in assigning the end of the first or the beginning of the second century as the close of the Apostolic Age. We are thus brought back again to the year of Paul’s death as indicating approximately the close of that period. But seeing that the precise year of this occurrence is matter of discussion, the adoption of the round number 70 may be recommended, all the more as with this year, in which the last remnant of Jewish national independence was lost, the opposition between Jewish and Gentile Christianity, which had prevailed throughout the Apostolic Age, makes its appearance under a new phase.

The Ministry of the Apostle Paul

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Set apart to the work by the church by prayer and laying on of hands, Paul and Barnabas started from Antioch on their first missionary journey to Asia Minor, A.D. 48–50. Notwithstanding much opposition and actual persecution on the part of the enraged Jews, he founded mixed churches, composed principally of Gentile Christians, comprising congregations at Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. When Paul undertook his second missionary journey, A.D. 52–55, Barnabas separated himself from him because of his refusal to accept the company of his nephew John Mark, who had deserted them during their first journey, and along with Mark embarked upon an independent mission, beginning with his native country Cyprus; of the success of this mission nothing is known. Paul, on the other hand, accompanied by Silas and Luke, with whom at a later period Timothy also was associated, passed through Asia Minor, and would thereafter have returned to Antioch had not a vision by night at Troas led him to take ship for Europe. There he founded churches at Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth, and then returned through Asia Minor to Syria. Without any lengthened interval he entered upon his third missionary journey, A.D. 55–58, accompanied by Luke, Titus, and Timothy. The centre of his ministerial activity during this period was Ephesus, where he founded a church with a large membership. His success was extraordinary, so that the very existence of heathenism in Asia Minor was seriously imperilled. Driven away by the uprising of a heathen mob, he travelled through Macedonia, pressed on to Illyricum, visited the churches of Greece, and then went to Jerusalem, for the performance of a vow. Here his life, threatened by the excited Jews, was saved by his being put in prison by the Roman captain, and then sent down to Cæsarea, A.D. 58. An appeal to Cæsar, to which as a Roman citizen he was entitled, resulted in his being sent to Rome, where he, beginning with the spring of A.D. 61, lived and preached for several years, enduring a mild form of imprisonment. The further course of his life and ministry remains singularly uncertain. Of the later labours and fortunes of Paul’s fellow-workers we know absolutely nothing.

It may be accepted as a well authenticated and incontestable fact that Paul suffered martyrdom at Rome under Nero. This is established by the testimony of Clement of Rome—μαρτυρήσας ἐπὶ τῶν ἡγουμένων οὕτως ἀπηλλάγη τοῦ κοσμοῦ—and is further explained and confirmed by Dionysius of Corinth, quoted in Eusebius, and by Irenæus, Tertullian, Caius of Rome. On the other hand it is disputed whether it may have happened during the imprisonment spoken about in the Acts of the Apostles, or during a subsequent imprisonment. According to the tradition of the church given currency to by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., ii. 22), which even in our own time has been maintained by many capable scholars, Paul was released from his first Roman imprisonment shortly before the outburst of Nero’s persecution of the Christians in A.D. 64, and made a fourth missionary journey which was brought to a close by his being a second time arrested and subsequently beheaded at Rome in A.D. 67. The proofs, however, that are offered in support of this assertion are of a very doubtful character. Paul certainly in A.D. 58 had the intention (Rom. xv. 24, 28) after a short visit to Rome to proceed to Spain; and when from his prison in Rome he wrote to Philemon (v. 22) and to the Philippians (i. 25; ii. 24), he believed that his cherished hope of yet regaining his liberty would be realised; but there is no further mention of a journey into Spain, for apparently other altogether different plans of travel are in his mind. And indeed circumstances may easily be conceived as arising to blast such hopes and produce in him that spirit of hopeless resignation, which he gives expression to in 2 Tim. iv. 6 ff. But the words of Clement of Rome, chap. 5: δικαιοσύνην διδάξας ὅλον τὸν κόσμον καὶ ἐπὶ τὸ τέρμα τῆς δύσεως ἐλθών, etc., are too indefinite and rhetorical to be taken as a certain testimony on behalf of a Spanish missionary journey. The incomplete reference in the Muratorian Fragment to a profectio Pauli ab Urbe ad Spaniam proficiscentis may be thought to afford more direct testimony, but probably it is nothing more than a reminiscence of Rom. xv. 24, 28. Much more important, nay almost conclusive, in the opposite direction, is the entire absence, not only from all the patristic, but also from all the apocryphal, literature of the second and third centuries, of any allusion to a fourth missionary journey or a second imprisonment of the Apostle. The assertion of Eusebius introduced by a vague λόγος ἔχει can scarcely be regarded as outweighing this objection. Consequently the majority of modern investigators have decided in favour of the theory of one imprisonment. But then the important question arises as to whether the Epistles to Timothy and Titus, claiming to be Pauline, with the journeys referred to or presupposed in them, and the residences of the Apostle and his two assistants, can find a place in the framework of the narrative in the Acts of the Apostles, and if so, what that place may be. In answering this question those investigators take diverse views. Of those who cannot surrender their conviction that the Pastoral Epistles are genuine, some assign them to the Apostle’s residence of almost three years in Ephesus, others to the imprisonment in Cæsarea which lasted two years and a half, and others to the Roman imprisonment of almost three years. Others again, looking upon such expedients as inadmissible, deny the authenticity of the Pastoral Epistles, these having appeared to them worthy of suspicion on other grounds.

The Other Apostles After the Appearance of the Apostle Paul

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Only in reference to the most distinguished of the Apostles have any trustworthy accounts reached us. James the brother of John, at an early period, in A.D. 44, suffered a martyr’s death at Jerusalem. Peter was obliged by this persecution to quit Jerusalem for a time. Inclination and his special calling marked him out as the Apostle of the Jews (Gal. ii. 7–9). His ministry outside of Palestine was exercised, according to 1 Pet. i. 1, in the countries round about the Black Sea, and, according to chap. v. 13, extended to Babylon. The legend that, contemporaneously with the beheading of Paul, he suffered death by crucifixion under Nero at Rome (John xxi. 18, 19), is doubtful; and it is also questionable whether he ever went to Rome, while the story of his having down to the time of his death been Bishop of Rome for twenty-five years is wholly fabulous. John, according to the tradition of the church, took up Asia Minor as his special field of labour after it had been deprived of its first Apostle by the martyr death of Paul, fixing his residence at Ephesus. At the head of the mother church of Jerusalem stood James the Just, the brother of the Lord. He seems never to have left Jerusalem, and was stoned by the Jews between A.D. 63–69. Regarding the rest of the Apostles and their fellow-workers we have only legendary traditions of an extremely untrustworthy description, and even these have come down to us in very imperfect and corrupt forms.

The Roman Episcopate of Peter.—The tradition that Peter, after having for some years held the office of bishop at Antioch, became first Bishop of Rome, holding the office for twenty-five years (A.D. 42–67), and suffered martyrdom at the same time with Paul, had its origin in the series of heretical apocryphal writings, out of which sprang, both the romance of the Clementine Homilies and Recognitions, and the Ebionite Acts of Peter; but it attained its complete form only at the end of the fourth century, after it had been transplanted into the soil of the church tradition through the Acta Petri et Pauli. What chiefly secured currency and development to this tradition was the endeavour, ever growing in strength in Rome, to vindicate on behalf of the Roman Episcopate as the legitimate successor and heir to all the prerogatives alleged to have been conferred on Peter in Matt. xvi. 18, a title to primacy over all the churches. But that Peter had not really been in Rome as a preacher of the gospel previous to the year A.D. 61, when Paul came to Rome as a prisoner, is evident from the absence of any reference to the fact in the Epistle to the Romans, written in A.D. 58, as well as in the concluding chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. According to the Acts, Peter in A.D. 44 lay in prison at Jerusalem, and according to Gal. ii., he was still there in A.D. 51. Besides, according to the unanimous verdict of tradition, as expressed by Irenæus, Eusebius, Rufinus, and the Apostolic Constitutions, not Peter, but Linus, was the first Bishop of Rome, and it is only in regard to the order of his successors, Anacletus and Clement, that any real uncertainty or discrepancy occurs. This, indeed, by no means prevents us from admitting an appearance of Peter at Rome resulting in his martyrdom. But the testimonies in favour thereof are not of such a kind as to render its historical reality unquestionable. That Babylon is mentioned in 1 Pet. v. 13 as the place where this Epistle was composed, can scarcely be used as a serious argument, since the supposition that Babylon is a symbolical designation of Rome as the centre of anti-Christian heathenism, though quite conceivable and widely current in the early church, is not by any means demonstrable. Toward the end of the first century, Clement of Rome relates the martyrdom of Peter as well as of Paul, but he does not even say that it took place at Rome. On the other hand, clear and unmistakable statements are found in Dionysius of Corinth, about A.D. 170, then in Caius of Rome, in Irenæus and Tertullian, to the effect that Peter and Paul exercised their ministry together and suffered martyrdom together at Rome. These statements, however, are interwoven with obviously false and fabulous dates to such a degree that their credibility is rendered extremely doubtful. Nevertheless they prove this much, that already about the end of the second century, the story of the two Apostles suffering martyrdom together at Rome was believed, and that some, of whom Caius tells us, professed to know their graves and to have their bones in their possession.

The Apostle John.—Soon after the death of Paul, the Apostle John settled in Ephesus, and there, with the temporary break caused by his exile to Patmos (Rev. i. 9), he continued to preside over the church of Asia Minor down to his death in the time of Trajan (A.D. 98–117). This rests upon the church tradition which, according to Polycrates of Ephesus (Eus., Hist. Eccl., v. 24) and Irenæus, a scholar of Polycarp’s (Eus., iv. 14), was first set forth during the Easter controversies in the middle of the second century by Polycarp of Smyrna, and has been accepted as unquestionable through all ages down to our own. According to Irenæus (Eus., iii. 18), his exile occurred under Domitian; the Syrian translation of the Apocalypse, which was made in the sixth century, assigned it to the time of Nero. But seeing that, except in Rev. i. 11, neither in the New Testament scriptures, nor in the extant writings and fragments of the Church Fathers of the second century before Irenæus, is a residence of the Apostle John at Ephesus asserted or assumed, whereas Papias, according to Georgius Hamartolus, a chronicler of the 9th cent., who had read the now lost work of Papias, expressly declares that the Apostle John was slain “by Jews” (comp. Matt. xx. 23), which points to Palestine rather than to Asia Minor, modern critics have denied the credibility of that ecclesiastical tradition, and have attributed its origin to a confusion between the Apostle John and a certain John the Presbyter, with whom we first meet in the Papias-Fragment quoted in Eusebius as μαθητὴς τοῦ κυρίου. Others again, while regarding the residence of the Apostle at Ephesus as well established, have sought, on account of differences in style standpoint and general mode of thought in the Johannine Apocalypse on the one hand, and the Johannine Gospel and Epistles on the other hand, to assign them to two distinct μαθηταὶ τοῦ κυρίου of the same name, and by assigning the Apocalypse to the Presbyter and the Gospel and Epistles to the Apostle, they would in this way account for the residence at Ephesus. This is the course generally taken by the Mediation theologians of Schleiermacher’s school. The advanced liberal critics of the school of Baur assign the Apocalypse to the Apostle and the Gospel and Epistles to the Presbyter, or else instead of the Apostle assume a third John otherwise unknown. Conservative orthodox theology again maintains the unity of authorship of all the Johannean writings, explains the diversity of character discernible in the different works by a change on the part of the Apostle from the early Judæo-Christian standpoint (Gal. ii. 9), which is still maintained in the Apocalypse, to the ideal universalistic standpoint assumed in the Gospel and the Epistles, and is inclined to identify the Presbyter of Papias with the Apostle. Even in Tertullian we meet with the tradition that under Nero the Apostle had been thrown into a vat of boiling oil, and in Augustine we are told how he emptied a poisoned cup without suffering harm. It is a charming story at least that Clement of Alexandria tells of the faithful pastoral care which the aged Apostle took in a youth who had fallen so far as to become a bandit chief. Of such a kind, too, is the story told of the Apostle by Jerome, how in the extreme weakness of old age he had to be carried into the assemblies of the congregation, and with feeble accents could only whisper, Little children, love one another. According to Irenæus, when by accident he met with the heretic Cerinthus in the bath, he immediately rushed out to avoid any contact with him.

James, the brother of the Lord.—The name of James was borne by two of the twelve disciples of Jesus: James, the son of Zebedee and brother of John, who was put to death by the command of Herod Agrippa I. (Acts xii. 2) about A.D. 44, and James, son of Alphæus, about whom we have no further information. A third James, designated in Gal. i. 19 the brother of the Lord, who according to Hegesippus (Euseb., Hist. Eccl., ii. 23) on account of his scrupulous fulfilment of the law received the title of the Just, is met with in Acts xii. 17; xv. 13; xxi. 18, and is recognised by Paul (Gal. i. 19; ii. 9–12) as the President of the church in Jerusalem. According to Hegesippus, he was from his childhood a Nazirite, and shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jews at the Passover having desired of him a testimony against Christ, and he having instead given a powerful testimony on His behalf, he was hurled down from a pinnacle of the temple, stoned, and at last, while praying for his enemies, slain by the blows of a fuller’s club. According to Josephus, however, Ananus, the high priest, after the recall of the Proconsul Festus and before the arrival of his successor Albinus, along with other men hostile to James, hastily condemned him and had him stoned, about A.D. 63. In regard to the person of this last-named James three different theories have been proposed.

In the ancient church, the brothers of Jesus, of whom besides James other three, Joses, Simon, and Judas, are named, were regarded undoubtedly as step-brothers of Jesus, sons of Joseph and Mary (Matt. i. 25), and even Tertullian argues from the existence of brothers of the Redeemer according to the flesh against the Docetism of the Gnostics.

Soon, however, it came to be felt that the idea that Joseph had conjugal intercourse with Mary after the birth of Jesus was in conflict with the ascetic tendency now rising into favour, and so to help themselves out of this embarrassment, it was assumed that the brothers of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife.

The want of biblical foundation for this view was the occasion of its being abandoned in favour of a theory, first hinted at by Jerome, according to which the expression brothers of Jesus is to be taken in a wider sense as meaning cousins, and in this way James the brother of the Lord was identified with James the son of Alphæus, one of the twelve disciples, and the four or five Jameses named in the New Testament were reduced to two, James the son of Zebedee and James son of Alphæus. It was specially urged from John xix. 25 that James the son of Alphæus was the sister’s son of Jesus’ mother. This was done by a purely arbitrary identification of the name Clopas or Cleophas with the Alphæus of the Synoptists, the rendering of the words Μαρία τοῦ Κλωπᾶ by the wife of Clopas, and also the assumption, which is scarcely conceivable, that the sister of the mother of Jesus was also called Mary. We should therefore in this passage regard the sister of the mother of Jesus and Mary wife of Clopas as two distinct persons. In that case the wife of Alphæus may have been called Mary and have had two sons who, like two of the four brothers of Jesus, were named James and Joses (Matt. xxvii. 56; Mark xv. 40; Luke xxiv. 10); but even then, in the James here mentioned, we should meet with another James otherwise unknown, different from the James son of Alphæus in the list of the Apostles, whose name occurs in Luke xv. 16 and Acts i. 13 in the phrase Judas of James, where the genitive undoubtedly means brother of James son of Alphæus. And though in Gal. i. 19, James the brother of the Lord seems to be called an Apostle, when this is compared with Acts xiv. 14, it affords no proof that he belonged to the number of the twelve.

But the fact that the brothers of Jesus are all and always expressly distinguished from His twelve Apostles, and form a group outwardly and inwardly apart from them (Matt. xii. 46; Mark iii. 31; Luke viii. 19; John ii. 12), tells decidedly against that idea. In John vii. 3, 5, they are, at a time when James son of Alphæus and Judas brother of James were already in the Apostolate, described as unbelieving, and only subsequently to the departure of the Lord, who after His resurrection appeared to James (1 Cor. xv. 7), do we meet them, though even then distinguished from the twelve, standing in the closest fellowship with the Christian believing community (Acts i. 14; 1 Cor. ix. 5). Besides, in accordance with Matt. xxviii. 19, none of the twelve could assume the permanent presidency of the mother church, and Hegesippus not only knows of πολλοὶ Ἰάκωβοι, and so surely of more than two, but makes James enter upon his office in Jerusalem first μετὰ τῶν ἀποστόλων.

The Later Legends of the Apostles.—The tradition that after the Lord’s ascension His disciples, their number having been again made up to twelve (Acts i. 13), in fulfilment of their Lord’s command (Matt. xxviii. 18), had a special region for missionary labour assigned by lot to each, and also the other tradition, according to which, before their final departure from Jerusalem, after a stay there for seven or twelve years, they drew up by common agreement rules for worship, discipline and constitution suited to the requirements of universal Christendom, took shape about the middle of the second century, and gave occasion to the origin of many apocryphal histories of the Apostles, as well as apocryphal books of church order. Whether any portion at all, and if so, how much, of the various contradictory statements of the apocryphal histories and legends of the Apostles about their mission fields and several fortunes can be regarded as genuine tradition descending from the Apostolic Age, must be left undecided. In any case, the legendary drapery and embellishment of casual genuine reminiscences are in the highest degree fantastic and fabulous. Ancient at least, according to Eusebius, are the traditions of Thomas having preached in Parthia, Andrew in Scythia, and Bartholomew in India; while in later traditions Thomas figures as the Apostle of India. The statement by Eusebius, supported from many ancient authorities, that the Apostle Philip exercised his ministry from Hierapolis in Phrygia to Asia Minor, originated perhaps from the confounding of the Apostle with the Evangelist of the same name (Acts xxi. 8, 9). A history of the Apostle Barnabas, attributed to John Mark, but in reality dating only from the fifth century, attaching itself to Acts xv. 39, tells how he conducted his mission and suffered martyrdom in his native country of Cyprus; while another set of legends, probably belonging to the same period, makes him the founder of the church of Milan. John Mark, sister’s son of Barnabas, who appears in Col. iv. 10; 2 Tim. iv. 11; and Philem. 24, as the fellow-labourer of the Apostle Paul, in 1 Pet. v. 13 as companion of Peter at Babylon, and, according to Papias, wrote his gospel at Rome as the amanuensis of Peter, is honoured, according to another very widely received tradition, quoted by Eusebius from a Chronicle belonging to the end of the second century, from which also Julius Africanus drew information, as the founder and first bishop of the church of Alexandria, etc., etc.

Canonical Gospels

Table of Contents


Table of Contents

1:1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

1:2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;

1:3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;

1:4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;

1:5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;

1:6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;

1:7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;

1:8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;

1:9 And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;

1:10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;

1:11 And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:

1:12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;

1:13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;

1:14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;

1:15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;

1:16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

1:17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

1:19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.

1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

1:22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

1:24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

1:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

2:2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

2:3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

2:4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

2:5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

2:6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

2:7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

2:8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

2:9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

2:10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

2:11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

2:12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

2:13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

2:14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

2:15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

2:16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

2:17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,

2:18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

2:19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

2:20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.

2:21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.

2:22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:

2:23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,

3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

3:3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

3:4 And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

3:5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,

3:6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

3:10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

3:12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

3:13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

3:14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

3:15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

3:16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

4:2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

4:3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

4:5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,

4:6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

4:7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

4:8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

4:9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

4:10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

4:11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

4:12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;

4:13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:

4:14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,

4:15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;

4:16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.

4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

4:18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

4:20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

4:21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.

4:22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

4:23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

4:24 And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.

4:25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.

5:1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

5:2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

5:5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

5:15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

5:21 Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

5:23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

5:24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

5:25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.

5:26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

5:27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

5:29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

5:30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

5:31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:

5:32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

5:33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:

5:34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:

5:35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.

5:36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.

5:37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

5:38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

5:39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

5:40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.

5:41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

5:42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

5:46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

5:47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

6:2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

6:3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

6:4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

6:8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

6:10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.

6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

6:17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

6:18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

6:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

6:23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.