Being reviled, He reviled not…

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“For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile fould in His Mouth: Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He Suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously: Who His Own Self bare our sins in His Own Body on the Tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by Whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:23)

“Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous.” (1 Tim. 3:3)



Apostolic Canon 27

As for a Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon that strikes believers for sinning, or unbelievers for wrong-doing, with the idea of making them afraid, we command that he be deposed from office. For the Lord has nowhere taught that: on the contrary, He Himself when struck did not strike back; when reviled, He did not revile His revilers; when Suffering, He did not threaten. (c. IX of the First-Second; c. V of Antioch; cc. LVII, LXII, LXXVI, C, CVI, CVII; and 1 Pet. 2:23)


Interpretation by St. Nikodemus of the Holy Mountain

In teaching His Disciples His Divine Commandments the Lord used to say: “And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch.” (Mark 13:37)  One of His Commandments is to turn our left cheek to anyone that strikes our right cheek. (Mat. 5:39)  If, therefore, this Commandment ought to be kept by all Christians, it ought much more to be obeyed by those in Holy Orders, and especially by Bishops, regarding whom divine Paul wrote to Timothy that a Bishop ought not to be a striker. (1 Tim. 3:3)  That is why the present Canon says too: If any Bishop, Presbyter, or Deacon strikes those Christians who offend him, or unbelievers that do wrong to others, with a view to making others afraid of him with such blows, we command that he be deposed from Office. For in no part of the Gospel has the Lord taught to do such a thing as that: in fact, He has taught us quite the contrary with His example; since when beaten by the soldiers and Jews, at the time of His Passion, He did not lift an hand to beat them in return. When accused and insulted, He did not insult others, nor did He accuse them. Even when Suffering on the Cross, He did not threaten to chastise them, but begged His Father to pardon them. Those in Holy Orders ought to imitate the Lord by rebuking sinners and wrongdoers, in order that others may be afraid, (see 1 Tim. 5:20) as St. Paul says, and by sobering them, at times with teaching and admonition, and at times with ecclesiastical penances, but not taking revenge with wrath and anger, for villainy say, or for any offense such persons may have given them, or by beating them and thrashing them.  In mentioning this same Canon, c. IX of the First-Second also says that not only are those in Holy Orders to be deposed who strike others with their own hands, but also those who get others to deliver the blows.



Canon 43 of St. Basil the Great

Whoever has given his neighbour a blow is a murderer, whether he started the fight or was defending himself.          (Ap. c. LXVI; c. XCI of the 6th; cc. XXI, XXII, XXIII of Ancyra; Epistle of Athanasius to Amun. cc. II, VII, XI, XIII, XXXIII, XLIII, LI, LIV, LVI, LVII of Basil; c. V. of Nyssa)


Interpretation by St. Nikodemus of the Holy Mountain

Whoever strikes a person a vital and mortal blow, and the person struck dies from the blow, is a murderer, according to this Canon, whether he himself was the one who struck the first blow, or the other person struck him first, and he returned the blow in order to get revenge. See also Ap. c. LXVI.



Canon 9 of the First-Second Synod of 861

In view of the fact that an Apostolic and Divine Canon subjects to deposition priests that attempt to strike believers who have sinned or unbelievers who have wronged someone, those who are devising a way to satisfy their own animus and garbling the Apostolic Ordinances have taken it to mean priests striking persons with their own hands, when as a matter of fact neither does the Canon imply any such thing, nor does right reason permit this to be assumed. For it would be truly vain and exceedingly precarious to depose a priest from office for striking someone three or four times with his own hands, but to leave unpunished one who, permission being given, beats someone by order of another mercilessly and to death, instead of augmenting the punishment. Wherefore seeing that the Canon simply chastises the act of striking, we too join in condemning this. For a priest of God ought indeed to reprimand a disorderly person with instructions and admonitions, and at times even with ecclesiastical censures, but not with whips and blows to assault men’s bodies. If, however, there should be some men who are utterly insubordinate and refuse to yield to correction because of censures, no one is prohibited from correcting these persons by haling them before the local magistrates. In fact, c. V of the Council of Antioch has canonically decreed that person causing disturbances and revolts to the Church shall be converted and brought to their senses again by recourse to the civil authority. (Ap. c. XVII; c. V of Antioch; cc. LVII, LXII, LXXVI, LXXXIII, XCIX, CVI, CVII of Carthage)


Interpretation by St. Nikodemus of the Holy Mountain

Since some men in Holy Orders, misunderstanding Ap. c. XXVII, which depose those in Holy Orders when they strike a believer or an unbeliever, say that that Canon deposes only those who strike anyone with their own hand, and not those who by giving orders to others have someone else strike a person, because they are trying by means of this misunderstanding to satisfy their own irrational anger. It is absurd, say the present Canon, to suppose that the Divine Apostle commanded indeed that anyone in Holy Orders be deposed if he strike someone three or four times, say, with his hand, but failed to provide any punishment at all for one who has others beat a person most cruelly and to death. Hence, inasmuch as the Apostolic Canon says generally and indefinitely that anyone who strikes another person is to be deposed from office, whether he struck him with his own hands or had others trike him, we too agree with it in decreeing similarly. For priests of God ought to chastise the disorderly with admonitions, and words of advice, though sometimes with ecclesiastical disciplines too, excommunications, that is to say, and anathematizations, when they will not be persuaded with words of advice; but they ought not to assault men with cudgels. But if some persons will not return to sobriety even with the administration of ecclesiastical censures, it is permissible to turn them over to the civil authorities and let the latter chastise them: in the same way as c. V of Antioch decrees that disturbers of the Church shall be brought to their senses by appealing to the hand of the civil authorities. Read the said Ap. c. XXVII.