Origens Commentary On The Gospel Of Matthew by Origen
40. Discussion of the Saying of Peter.
But let us next see what was the thought of Peter when he answered and said to Jesus, |Lord, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles,| etc. And on this account these words call for very special examination, because Mark, in his own person, has added, |For he wist not what to answer,| but Luke, |not knowing,| he says, |what he spake.| You will consider, therefore, if he spake these things as in a trance, being filled with the spirit which moved him to say these things, which could not be a Holy Spirit; for John taught in the Gospel that, before the resurrection of the Saviour, no one had the Holy Spirit, saying, |For the Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified.| But if the Spirit was not yet, and he, not knowing what he said, spoke under the influence of some spirit, the spirit which caused these things to be said was some one of the spirits which had not yet been triumphed over in the cross, nor made a show of along with them, about whom it is written, |Having put off from Himself the principalities and the powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in the cross.| But this spirit was perhaps that which is called a stumbling-block by Jesus, and which is spoken of as Satan in the passage, |Get thee behind Me, Satan; thou art a stumbling-block unto me.| But I know well that such things will offend many who meet with them, because they think that it is opposed to sound reason that he should be spoken ill of who a little before had been pronounced blessed by Jesus, on the ground that the Father in heaven had revealed to him the things concerning the Saviour, to-wit, that He was verily Jesus, and the Christ, and the Son of the living God. But let such an one attend more exactly to the statements about Peter and the rest of the Apostles, how even they made requests as if they were yet alien from Him who was to redeem them from the enemy and purchase them with His own precious blood; or let them also, who will have it that even before the passion of Jesus the Apostles were perfect, tell us whence it came about that |Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep.| But to anticipate something else of what follows and apply it to the subject in hand, I would raise in turn these questions, -- whether it is possible for any one to find occasion of stumbling in Jesus apart from the working of the devil who caused him to stumble; and whether it is possible for any one to deny Jesus, and that in presence of a little maid and a doorkeeper and men most worthless, unless a spirit had been with him in his denial hostile to the Spirit which is given and the wisdom, (which is given) to those who are assisted by God to make confession, according to a certain desert of theirs. But he who has learned to refer the roots of sin to the father of sin, the devil, will not say that apart from him either the Apostles were caused to stumble, or that Peter denied Christ thrice before that well-known cock-crowing. But if this be so, consider whether perhaps with a view to make Jesus stumble, so far as was in his power, and to turn Him aside from the dispensation whose characteristic was suffering that brought salvation to men, which He undertook with great willingness, seeking to effect these things which seemed to contribute to this end, he himself also here wishes as it were, by deceit, to draw away Jesus, as if calling upon Him no longer to condescend to men, and come to them, and undergo death for them, but to abide on the high mountain with Moses and Elijah. But he promised also to build three tabernacles, one apart for Jesus, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah, as if one tabernacle would not have sufficed for the three, if it had been necessary for them to be in tabernacles and in the high mountain. And perhaps also in this he acted with evil intent, when he incited him |who did not know what he said,| not desiring that Jesus and Moses and Elijah should be together, but desiring to separate them from one another, under pretext of the three tabernacles.| And likewise it was a lie, |It is good for us to be here;| for if it had been a good thing they would also have remained there. But if it were a lie, you will seek to know who caused the lie to be spoken; and especially since according to John, |When he speaketh a lie he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar and the father thereof;| and as there is no truth apart from the working of Him who says, |I am the Truth,| so there is no lie apart from him who is the enemy of truth. These contrary qualities, accordingly, were still in Peter truth and falsehood; and from truth he said, |Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God,| but from falsehood he said, |May God be propitious to Thee, Lord, this shall not be unto Thee,| and also, |It is good for us to be here.| But if any one will not admit that Peter spoke these things from any evil inspiration, but that his words were of his own mere choice, and it is demanded of him how he will interpret, |not knowing what he said,| and, |for he did not know what to answer,| he will say, that in the former case Peter held it to be a shameful thing and unworthy of Jesus to admit that the Son of the living God, the Christ, whom already the Father had revealed to him, should be killed; and in the present case that, as having seen the two forms of Jesus and the one at the transfiguration which was much more excellent, being well pleased with that, he said that it was good to make their sojourning in that mountain, in order that he himself and those with him might rejoice as they beheld the transfiguration of Jesus and His face shining as the sun, and His garments white as the light, and, in addition to these things, might always behold in glory those whom they had once seen in glory, Moses and Elijah; and that they might rejoice at the things which they might hear, as they talked and held intercourse with each other, Moses and Elijah with Jesus, and Jesus with them.