Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume VI/Peter of Alexandria/Canonical Epistle/Canon VIII
But to those who have been delivered up, and have fallen, who also of their own accord have approached the contest, confessing themselves to be Christians, and have been tormented and thrown into prison, it is right with joy and exultation of heart to add strength, and to communicate to them in all things, both in prayer, and in partaking of the body and blood of Christ, and in hortatory discourse; in order that contending the more constantly, they may be counted worthy of “the prize of their high calling.” For “seven times,” he says, “a just man falleth, and riseth up again,” which, indeed, if all that have lapsed had done, they would have shown forth a most perfect penitence, and one which penetrates the whole heart.
Balsamon. Some had had information laid against them before the tyrant, and had been delivered up, or themselves had of their own accord given themselves up, and then being overcome by their torments, had failed in their testimony. Afterwards repenting, and acknowledging what was right and good, they confessed themselves to be Christians, so that they were cast into prison, and afflicted with torments. These this holy man thinks it right to receive with joy of heart, and to confirm in the orthodox faith, and to communicate with, both in prayers and in partaking of the sacraments, and to exhort with cheering words, that they may be more constant in the contest, and counted worthy of the heavenly kingdom. And that it might not be thought that they ought not to be received, because they had lapsed, he brings forward the testimony of Scripture to the effect that “seven times,” that is, often, “the just man falleth, and riseth up again.” And, says he, if all who have failed in their confession had done this, namely, taken up their struggle again, and before the tyrant confessed themselves to be Christians, they would have shown forth a most perfect penitence. The subject, therefore, comprehended in this canon differs from that contained in the first canon, for there indeed those who by reason of their torment had lapsed, were not converted so as to confess the faith before the tyrants; but here those who by reason of their torment have lapsed, with a worthy penitence, confess the Lord before the tyrants, wherefore they are reckoned not to have fallen.
Zonaras. But, says he, if any have had information laid against them before the tyrants, and have been delivered up, or have of themselves given themselves up, and being overcome by the violence of their torments have failed in their testimony, not being able to endure the distresses and afflictions with which in the dungeon they were afflicted; and afterwards taking up the contest anew, have confessed themselves to be Christians, so that they have been again cast into prison and afflicted with torments: such men this holy martyr judges it reasonable that they should be joyfully received; and that they should be strengthened, that is, have strength, spirit, and confidence added to them, in order that they may confess the faith, and that they should be communicated with in all things, both in prayer, and in partaking of the sacraments, and that they should be exhorted with loving words, to rouse themselves to give testimony to the faith, that they may be more constant in the contest, and counted worthy of the heavenly kingdom. And that it might not be thought by any that they ought not to be received from the fact that they had lapsed, and sacrificed to the idols, he brings forth this testimony from Holy Scripture: “Seven times,” that is, often, “the just man falleth, and riseth up again.” And, says he, if all who have failed in their confession had done this, that is, after their fall, taken up the contest afresh, and confessed themselves to be Christians before the tyrants, they would have given proof of a most perfect repentance.
- Philipp. iii. 14.
- Prov. xxiv. 16.