ephrem-isaac-aphrahatLove is more excellent than anything else, and by it the righteous ones of the old times were perfected.

Scripture shows concerning Moses that he gave himself in behalf of the sons of his people, and he wished that he might be blotted out of the book of life if only the people might not be blotted out.

And also when they rose up against him to stone him, he offered up prayer before God in their behalf that they might be saved.

And David also showed an example of love when he was persecuted by Saul, and a trap was continually set for his life so that they might kill him.

David by love was generously performing acts of mercies in behalf of Saul his enemy, who was seeking his life.

Saul was twice delivered into the hands of David, and he did not kill him and repaid good in place of evil. Because of this good did not depart from his house, and he who forsook him was forsaken.

And Saul who repaid evil in place of good, evil did not depart from his house, and He called to God and He did not answer him, and he fell by the sword of the Philistines, and David wept over him bitterly.

And David fulfilled beforehand the precept of our Saviour, who said: “Love your enemies,” and “forgive, and it shall be forgiven unto you.” Thus David loved and was loved, and forgave and it was forgiven unto him.

And Elisha also showed love in respect to this, when his enemies came against him to take him so that they might do evil to him, and he, doing good to them, set forth bread and water before them and sent them away from him in peace.

Elisha fulfilled the word which is written: “If thine enemy is hungry feed him, and if he thirsts give him to drink.”

And also Jeremiah the prophet in behalf of those who made him a captive in a pit and were continually putting him to torture, but he also prayed ardently for them before God.

By this example of those who went before our Saviour taught us that we should love our enemies and pray for those who hate us.

And if He commanded us to love our enemies and to pray for those who hate us, what shall be our excuse to Him in the day of judgment, who have hated our brothers and our own members?

Because we are of the Body of Christ and members of His members. For he who hates one of the members of Christ will be separated from the whole body, and he who hates his brother will be separated from the sons of God.

Aphrahat the Persian (c.270-c.345): Demonstrations, 2 – On Love (17; 18). (The icon accompanying this extract depicts Ephrem the Syrian, Isaac the Syrian, and Aphrahat).