Origen on Scriptures, Word and Doctine

The gospel this week is John 4:5-26. I don’t think this works in the sermon, but something Origen comments on this Sunday’s gospel text is fascinating…

The Scriptures, therefore, are introductions, and are called Jacob’s well. Once they have been accurately understood, one must go up from them to Jesus, that he may freely give us the fountain of water that leaps into eternal life. But everyone does not draw water from Jacob’s well in the same way…Some who are wise in the Scriptures drink as Jacob and his sons. But others who are simpler and more innocent, the so-called sheep of Christ, drink as Jacob’s livestock. And others, misunderstanding the Scriptures and maintaining certain irreverent things on the pretext that they have apprehended the Scriptures, drink as the Samaritan woman drank before she believed in Jesus…The “you” refers literally to the Samaritans but anagogically to all who are heterodox regarding the scriptures. The “we” literally means the Jews, but allegorically it means, “I, the Word, and all who are changed by me receive salvation from the Jewish Scriptures.” For the mystery now revealed was revealed both through the prophetic scriptures and through the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ…if the Father seeks true worshippers, he seeks them through the Son ‘who came to seek and to save that which was lost’ purifying and educating those who he equips to be true worshippers through the Word and sound doctrine….

Sound doctrine is part of the sanctification process. It is a partner with the Word. But notice where he puts those who “misapprehend” the scriptures, outside of belief. The scriptures should lead to understanding and eternal life, but if one persists in anything but innocence then, trouble.