“Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do the things that I command you.” (Jn15:13-14)
We aren’t discouraged by punishment for our sins. It is meant to train us in self-discipline, so that as we press on in holiness, we can overcome our fear of death. If those who aren’t afraid (“because of the faith which works by love.”) are hardly noticed, then there wouldn’t be much glory in martyrdom. And the Lord couldn’t say, “ Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John, in his epistle, expresses it in these words: “As He laid down His life for us, so ought we to lay down our lives for the brethren.” Therefore, it would be useless to praise those who face death for righteousness’ sake if death wasn’t really a severe trial. But those who overcome the fear of death by their faith, will receive great glory and fair compensation for their faith. No one should be surprised, therefore , that death is a punishment for previous sins are forgiven to exercise the fearlessness of righteousness by conquering their fear of death. Augustine:
Augustine, City of God pg 580-81. “who is our TRUE PRIEST.”
Which of the fathers in that Egyptian slavery, but Aaron, was his father, who, when, they were set free, was chosen to the priesthood? It was his lineage, therefore, he has said in this passage it should come to pass that they should no longer be priests; which already we see fulfilled. If faith be watchful, the things are before us: they are discerned , they are grasped, and are forced on the eyes of the unwilling, so that they are seen: “Behold the days come,” he says, “that I will cut off thy seed, and the seed of thy father’s house, thou shalt never have an old man in mine altar, so that his eyes shall be consumed and his heart shall melt away.”[1 Kings (1 Samuel) 2:31] Behold the days which were foretold have already come. There is No priest, after the order of Aaron; and whoever is a man of his linage, when he sees the sacrifice of the Christians prevailing over the whole world, but that great honor taken away from himself, his eyes fail and his soul melts away consumed with grief.
But what follows belongs properly to the house of ELI, to whom those things were said: “And everyone in thy house that is left shall fall by the sword of men, (Ezk24:21) And this shall be a sign unto thee that shall upon these thy two sons, Hopni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them.” This, therefore, is made a sign of the change of the priesthood from this man’s house, by which it is signified that the priesthood of Aaron’s house is to be changed. For the death of this man’s sons signified the not of the men, but of the priesthood itself of the sons of Aaron. But what follows pertains to that Priest whom Samuel typified by succeeding this one. Therefore the things which follow are said of Christ Jesus, the true Priest of the New Testament: “ And I will raise me up a faithful priest that shall do according to all that is in my heart and in my soul; and I will build Him a sure house .” The same is the Eternal Jerusalem above. “And He shall walk, says He, before my Christ always.” He shall walk “ before me fore ever.” But what he says, “ He shall walk before my Christ, is to be understood entirely of the house itself, not of the priest, who is Christ Himself, the Mediator and Saviour. His house. Therefore, shall walk before Him. “Shall Walk” may also be understood to mean from death to life, all the time this mortality passes through even to the end of this world.
But where God says, “ who will do all that is in mine heart and in my soul,” [1 Kings (1 Samuel) 2:35] we must not think that God has a soul, for He is said to have hands and feet and other corporal members. And lest it, should be supposed from such language that man in the form of this flesh is made in the image of God, wings also are ascribed to Him, which man has not at all; that men may understand that such things are said of that ineffable nature not in the proper but in the figurative words.