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Chapter XXXIII.—The Marcionite Interpretation of God and Mammon Refuted. The Prophets Justify Christ’s Admonition Against Covetousness and Pride. John Baptist the Link Between the Old and the New Dispensations of the Creator. So Said Christ—But So Also Had Isaiah Said Long Before. One Only God, the Creator, by His Own Will Changed the Dispensations.  No New God Had a Hand in the Change.

What the two masters are who, He says, cannot be served, 4772 on the ground that while one is pleased 4773 the other must needs be displeased, 4774 He Himself makes clear, when He mentions God and mammon. Then, if you have no interpreter by you, you may learn p. 403 again from Himself what He would have understood by mammon4775 For when advising us to provide for ourselves the help of friends in worldly affairs, after the example of that steward who, when removed from his office, 4776 relieves his lord’s debtors by lessening their debts with a view to their recompensing him with their help, He said, “And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness,” that is to say, of money, even as the steward had done. Now we are all of us aware that money is the instigator 4777 of unrighteousness, and the lord of the whole world. Therefore, when he saw the covetousness of the Pharisees doing servile worship 4778 to it, He hurled 4779 this sentence against them, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” 4780 Then the Pharisees, who were covetous of riches, derided Him, when they understood that by mammon He meant money. Let no one think that under the word mammon the Creator was meant, and that Christ called them off from the service of the Creator. What folly! Rather learn therefrom that one God was pointed out by Christ. For they were two masters whom He named, God and mammon—the Creator and money. You cannot indeed serve God—Him, of course whom they seemed to serve—and mammon to whom they preferred to devote themselves. 4781 If, however, he was giving himself out as another god, it would not be two masters, but three, that he had pointed out.  For the Creator was a master, and much more of a master, to be sure, 4782 than mammon, and more to be adored, as being more truly our Master. Now, how was it likely that He who had called mammon a master, and had associated him with God, should say nothing of Him who was really the Master of even these, that is, the Creator? Or else, by this silence respecting Him did He concede that service might be rendered to Him, since it was to Himself alone and to mammon that He said service could not be (simultaneously) rendered?  When, therefore, He lays down the position that God is one, since He would have been sure to mention 4783 the Creator if He were Himself a rival 4784 to Him, He did (virtually) name the Creator, when He refrained from insisting” 4785 that He was Master alone, without a rival god.  Accordingly, this will throw light upon the sense in which it was said, “If ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” 4786 “In the unrighteous mammon,” that is to say, in unrighteous riches, not in the Creator; for even Marcion allows Him to be righteous: “And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who will give to you that which is mine?” 4787 For whatever is unrighteous ought to be foreign to the servants of God. But in what way was the Creator foreign to the Pharisees, seeing that He was the proper God of the Jewish nation?  Forasmuch then as the words, “Who will entrust to you the truer riches?” and, “Who will give you that which is mine?” are only suitable to the Creator and not to mammon, He could not have uttered them as alien to the Creator, and in the interest of the rival god. He could only seem to have spoken them in this sense, if, when remarking 4788 their unfaithfulness to the Creator and not to mammon, He had drawn some distinctions between the Creator (in his manner of mentioning Him) and the rival god—how that the latter would not commit his own truth to those who were unfaithful to the Creator. How then can he possibly seem to belong to another god, if He be not set forth, with the express intention of being separated 4789 from the very thing which is in question.  But when the Pharisees “justified themselves before men,” 4790 and placed their hope of reward in man, He censured them in the sense in which the prophet Jeremiah said, “Cursed is the man that trusteth in man.” 4791 Since the prophet went on to say, “But the Lord knoweth your hearts,” 4792 he magnified the power of that God who declared Himself to be as a lamp, “searching the reins and the heart.” 4793 When He strikes at pride in the words: “That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God,” 4794 He recalls Isaiah: “For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is arrogant and lifted up, and they shall be brought low.” 4795 I can now make out p. 404 why Marcion’s god was for so long an age concealed. He was, I suppose, waiting until he had learnt all these things from the Creator. He continued his pupillage up to the time of John, and then proceeded forthwith to announce the kingdom of God, saying: “The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the kingdom of God is proclaimed.” 4796 Just as if we also did not recognise in John a certain limit placed between the old dispensation and the new, at which Judaism ceased and Christianity began—without, however, supposing that it was by the power of another god that there came about a cessation 4797 of the law and the prophets and the commencement of that gospel in which is the kingdom of God, Christ Himself. For although, as we have shown, the Creator foretold that the old state of things would pass away and a new state would succeed, yet, inasmuch as John is shown to be both the forerunner and the preparer of the ways of that Lord who was to introduce the gospel and publish the kingdom of God, it follows from the very fact that John has come, that Christ must be that very Being who was to follow His harbinger John. So that, if the old course has ceased and the new has begun, with John intervening between them, there will be nothing wonderful in it, because it happens according to the purpose of the Creator; so that you may get a better proof for the kingdom of God from any quarter, however anomalous, 4798 than from the conceit that the law and the prophets ended in John, and a new state of things began after him. “More easily, therefore, may heaven and earth pass away—as also the law and the prophets—than that one tittle of the Lord’s words should fail.” 4799 “For,” as says Isaiah: “the word of our God shall stand for ever.” 4800 Since even then by Isaiah it was Christ, the Word and Spirit 4801 of the Creator, who prophetically described John as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord,” 4802 and as about to come for the purpose of terminating thenceforth the course of the law and the prophets; by their fulfilment and not their extinction, and in order that the kingdom of God might be announced by Christ, He therefore purposely added the assurance that the elements would more easily pass away than His words fail; affirming, as He did, the further fact, that what He had said concerning John had not fallen to the ground.



Luke xvi. 13.






What in the Punic language is called Mammon, says Rigaltius, the Latins call lucrum, “gain or lucre.” See Augustine, Serm. xxxv. de Verbo domini. I would add Jerome, On the VI. of Matthew where he says: “In the Syriac tongue, riches are called mammon.” And Augustine, in another passage, book ii., On the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, says: “Riches in Hebrew are said to be called mammon.  This is evidently a Punic word, for in that language the synonyme for gain (lucrum) is mammon.” Compare the same author on Ps. ciii. (Oehler).


Ab actu.








Luke xvi. 13.


Magis destinabantur: middle voice.








Quem non posuit.


Luke xvi. 11.


Meum: Luke xvi. 12, where, however, the word is τὸ ὑμέτερον, that which is your own.”




Ad hoc ut seperatur.


Luke xvi. 15.


Jer. xvii. 5.


Jer. xvii. 10, in sense but not in letter.


Jer. xx. 12.


Luke xvi. 15.


Isa. ii. 12 (Sept).


Luke xvi. 16.


Sedatio: literally, “a setting to rest,” ἠρέμησις.


Ut undeunde magis probetur…regnum Dei.


Luke 16:17, Luke 21:23.


Isa. xl. 8.


See above, note on chap. xxviii., towards the end, on this designation of Christ’s divine nature.


Isa. xl. 3.

Next: Moses, Allowing Divorce, and Christ Prohibiting It, Explained. John Baptist and Herod. Marcion's Attempt to Discover an Antithesis in the Parable of the Rich Man and the Poor Man in Hades Confuted. The Creator's Appointment Manifested in Both States.