Christian Churches of God

No. B10v




The Shepherd of Hermas Part 5


(Edition 2.0 20000414-20060722-20221005)


Similitudes 1 to 7



Christian Churches of God

PO Box 369,  WODEN  ACT 2606,  AUSTRALIA






(Copyright ©  2000, 2006, 2022 Wade Cox, anor)


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 The Shepherd of Hermas Part 5




He says to me, “You know that you who are the servants of God dwell in a strange land; for your city is far away from this one. If, then," he continues, "you know your city in which you are to dwell, why do ye here provide lands, and make expensive preparations, and accumulate dwellings and useless buildings?  He who makes such preparations for this city cannot return again to his own.  Oh foolish, and unstable, and miserable man! Dost thou not understand that all these things belong to another, and are under the power of another? For the lord of this city will say, ‘I do not wish thee to dwell in my city, but depart from this city, because thou obeyest not my laws.' Thou, therefore, although having fields and houses, and many other things, when cast out by him, what wilt thou do with thy land, and house, and other possessions which thou hast gathered to thyself? For the lord of this country justly says to thee, ‘Either obey my laws or depart from my dominion.' What, then, dost thou intend to do, having a law in thine own city, on account of thy lands, and the rest of thy possessions?  Thou shalt altogether deny thy law, and walk according to the law of this city.  See lest it be to thy hurt to deny thy law; for if thou shalt desire to return to thy city, thou wilt not be received, because thou hast denied the law of thy city, but wilt be excluded from it.  Have a care, therefore: as one living in a foreign land, make no further preparations for thyself than such merely as may be sufficient; and be ready, when the master of this city shall come to cast thee out for disobeying his law, to leave his city, and to depart to thine own, and to obey thine own law without being exposed to annoyance, but in great joy.  Have a care, then, ye who serve the Lord, and have Him in your heart, that ye work the works of God, remembering His commandments and promises which He promised, and believe that He will bring them to pass if His commandments be observed.  Instead of lands, therefore, buy afflicted souls, according as each one is able, and visit widows and orphans, and do not overlook them; and spend your wealth and all your preparations, which ye received from the Lord, upon such lands and houses.  For to this end did the Master make you rich, that you might perform these services unto Him; and it is much better to purchase such lands, and possessions, and houses, as you will find in your own city, when you come to reside in it.  This is a noble and sacred expenditure, attended neither with sorrow nor fear, but with joy.  Do not practise the expenditure of the heathen, for it is injurious to you who are the servants of God; but practise an expenditure of your own, in which ye can rejoice; and do not corrupt nor touch what is another's nor covet it, for it is an evil thing to covet the goods of other men; but work thine own work, and thou wilt be saved."



BOOK THREE -  Similitude 1


Hermas is told to seek not of this city, but to seek the city to come. The city of God is what we are all striving to reach. We do this by living a righteous life, following God's Commandments, doing good deeds and learning God's word.  (See the papers The City of God (No. 180) and The Eternal Kingdom of God (No. 144).)  This is also to cast out the One World Order.







As I was walking in the field, and observing an elm and vine, and determining in my own mind respecting them and their fruits, the Shepherd appears to me, and says, “What is it that you are thinking about the elm and vine?" "I am considering," I reply, "that they become each other exceedingly well.” "These two trees," he continues, "are intended as an example for the servants of God.” “I would like to know," said I, “the example which these trees, you say, are intended to teach." “Do you see, he says, "the elm and the vine?” “I see them, Sir," I replied.  "This vine," he continued, "produces fruit, and the elm is an unfruitful tree; but unless the vine be trained upon the elm, it cannot bear much fruit when extended at length upon the ground; and the fruit which it does bear is rotten, because the plant is not suspended upon the elm.  When, therefore, the vine is cast upon the elm, it yields fruit both from itself and from the elm.  You see, moreover, that the elm also produces much fruit, not less than the vine, but even more; because," he continued, “the vine, when suspended upon the elm, yields much fruit, and good; but when thrown upon the ground, what it produces is small and rotten.  This similitude therefore, is for the servants of God - for the poor man and for the rich." “How so, Sir?" said I; “explain the matter to me." “Listen," he said: "The rich man has much wealth, but is poor in matters relating to the Lord, because he is distracted about his riches; and he offers very few confessions and intercessions to the Lord, and those which he does offer are small and weak, and have no power above.  But when the rich man refreshes the poor, and assists him in his necessities, believing that what he does to the poor man will be able to find its reward with God - because the poor man is rich in intercession and confession, and his intercession has great power with God - then the rich man helps the poor in all things without hesitation; and the poor man, being helped by the rich, intercedes for him, giving thanks to God for him who bestows gifts upon him.  And he still continues to interest himself zealously for the poor man, that his wants may be constantly supplied.  For, he knows that the intercession of the poor man is acceptable and influential with God.  Both, accordingly, accomplish their work.  The poor man makes intercession; a work in which he is rich, which he received from the Lord, and with which he recompenses the master who helps him.  And the rich man, in like manner, unhesitatingly bestows upon the poor man the riches which he received from the Lord.  And this is a great work, and acceptable before God, because he understands the object of his wealth, and has given to the poor of the gifts of the Lord, and rightly discharged his service to Him. Among men, however, the elm appears not to produce fruit, and they do not know nor understand that if, a drought come, the elm, which contains water, nourishes the vine; and the vine, having an unfailing supply of water, yields double fruit both for itself and for the elm.  So also poor men interceding with the Lord on behalf of the rich, increase their riches; and the rich, again, aiding the poor in their necessities, satisfy their souls.  Both, therefore, are partners in the righteous work.  He who does these things shall not be deserted by God, but shall be enrolled in the books of the living.  Blessed are they who have riches, and who understand that they are from the Lord. [For they who are of that mind will be able to do some good.]



Similitude 2

Hermas is given the parable of the vine supporting the elm. Just as the rich man is helped by the prayer of the poor, we are taught to help our neighbour, share the wealth because then one becomes rich with the power of God. Prior to receiving the power of God, a rich man is only concerned with money and getting more money and not helping God or God's people. A poor man will pray for the rich man that he will turn to God and grow stronger through faith. 


A poor man in money is a rich man with faith versus a rich man in money is a poor man in faith (Lk. 16:19). Just as the vine and elm are dependent upon each other, the vine cannot be supported by itself, but with the help of the elm they both will produce more.







He showed me many trees having no leaves, but withered, as it seemed to me; for all were alike.  And he said to me, "Do you see those trees?” “I see, Sir," 1 replied, "that all are alike, and withered." He answered me, and said "These trees which you see are those who dwell in this world.” “Why, then, Sir," I said, “are they withered, as it were, and alike?" “Because," he said,  “neither are the righteous manifest in this life, nor sinners, but they are alike; for this life is a winter to the righteous and they do not manifest themselves, because they dwell with sinners: for as in winter trees that have cast their leaves are alike, and it is not seen which are dead and which are living, so in this world neither do the righteous show themselves, nor sinners, but all are alike one to another."



Similitude 3:

To the eye, the just man and the unjust man look alike.  It is from what is in their heart that God is able to tell them apart (Lk. 16:15).






He showed me again many trees, some budding and others withered. And he said to me, “Do you see these trees?” “I see, sir,” I replied, “some putting forth buds, and others withered.” “Those,” he said, “which are budding are the righteous who are to live in the world to come; for the coming world is the summer of the righteous, but the winter of sinners. When, therefore, the mercy of the Lord shines forth, then shall they be made manifest who are the servants of God, and all men shall be made manifest.  For as in summer the fruits of each individual tree appear, and it is ascertained of what sort they are, so also the fruits of the righteous shall be manifest, and all who have been fruitful in that world shall be made known.  But the heathen and sinners, like the withered trees which you saw, will be found to be those who have been withered and unfruitful in that world and shall be burnt as wood, and [so] made manifest, because their actions were evil during their lives.  For, the sinners shall be consumed because they sinned and did not repent, and the heathen shall be burned because they knew not Him who created them.  Do you therefore bear fruit, that in that summer your fruit may be known. And refrain from much business, and you will never sin: for they who are occupied with much business commit also, many sins, being distracted about their affairs, and not at all serving their Lord. How, then," he continued, “can such a one ask and obtain anything from the Lord, if he serve Him not?  They who serve Him shall obtain their requests, but they who serve Him not shall receive nothing.  And in the performance even of a single action a man can serve the Lord; for his mind will not be perverted from the Lord, but he will serve Him, having a pure mind.  If, therefore, you do these things, you shall be able to bear fruit for the life to come.  And every one who will do these things shall bear fruit.”



Similitude 4:


The just differ from the unjust in happiness. The just know what is to come, they learn God's word, they understand and they follow God's commandments. The unjust are uncertain, scared of the things to come.


Those that follow in righteousness will bear fruit during the First Resurrection. That is symbolic of the summer. The unjust are symbolic of the winter, not having the knowledge (the leaves). The sinners will have to first learn to repent and then learn the truth. The sinner will not reign with Christ during the Millennium.






Chapter I

While fasting and sitting on a certain mountain, and giving thanks to the Lord for all His dealings with me, I see the Shepherd sitting down beside me, and saying, "Why have you come hither [so] early in the morning?” “Because, Sir," I answered, "I have a station." "What is a station?" he asked.  "I am fasting, Sir," I replied.  "What is this fasting,” he continued, "which you are observing?" "As I have been accustomed, Sir," I reply, “so I fast." "You do not know," he says, "how to fast unto the Lord: this useless fasting which you observe to Him is of no value." " Why, Sir," I answered, “do you say this?" “I say to you," he continued, "that the fasting which you think you observe is not a fasting.  But I will teach you what is a full and acceptable fasting to the Lord.  Listen," he continued “God does not desire such an empty fasting. For fasting to God in this way you will do nothing for a righteous life; but offer to God a fasting of the following kind: Do no evil in your life, and serve the Lord with a pure heart: keep His commandments, walking in His precepts, and let no evil desire arise in your heart; and believe in God.  If you do these things, and fear Him, and abstain from every evil thing, you will live unto God; and if you do these things, you will keep a great fast, and one acceptable before God.


Chapter II

"Hear the similitude which I am about to narrate to you relative to fasting.  A certain man had a field and many slaves, and he planted a certain part of the field with a vineyard and selecting a faithful and beloved and much valued slave, he called him to him, and said, “Take this vineyard which I have planted, and stake it until I come, and do nothing else to the vineyard; and attend to this order of mine, and you shall receive your freedom from me.' And the master of the slave departed to a foreign country.  And when he was gone, the slave took and staked the vineyard; and when he had finished the staking of the vines, he saw that the vineyard was full of weeds.  He then reflected, saying, 'I have kept this order of my master: I will dig up the rest of this vineyard, and it will be more beautiful when dug up; and being free of weeds, it will yield more fruit, not be choked by them.' He took, therefore, and dug up the vineyard, and rooted out all the weeds, that were in it.  And that vineyard became very beautiful and fruitful, having no weeds to choke it. And after a certain time the master of the slave and of the field returned, and entered into the vineyard.  And seeing that the vines were suitably supported on stakes, and the ground. moreover, dug up, and all the weeds rooted out, and the vines fruitful, he was greatly pleased with the work of his slave.  And calling his beloved son who was his heir, and his friends who were his councillors, he told them what orders he had given his slave, and what he had found performed.  And they rejoiced along with the slave at the testimony which his master bore to him.  And he said to them, ‘I promised this slave freedom if he obeyed the command which I gave him; and he has kept my command, and done besides a good work to the vineyard, and has pleased me exceedingly. In return, therefore, for the work which he has done, I wish to make him co-heir with my son, because, having good thoughts, he did not neglect them, but carried them out.' With this resolution of the master his son and friends were well pleased, viz., that the slave should be co-heir with the son.  After a few days the master made a feast, and sent to his slave many dishes from his table.  And the slave receiving the dishes that were sent him from his master, took of them what was sufficient for himself, and distributed the rest among his fellow-slaves.  And his fellow-slaves rejoiced to receive the dishes, and began to pray for him, that he might find still greater favour with his master for having so treated them.  His master heard all these things that were done, and was again greatly pleased with his conduct.  And the master again calling together his friends and his son, reported to them the slave's proceeding with regard to the dishes which he had sent him.  And they were still more satisfied that the slave should become co-heir with his son."


Chapter III

I said to him, "Sir, I do not see the meaning of these similitudes, nor am I able to comprehend them, unless you explain them to me." "I will explain them all to you," he said, “and whatever I shall mention in the course of our conversations I will show you. [Keep the cornmandments of the Lord, and you will be approved, and inscribed amongst the number of those who observe His commands.] And if you do any good beyond what is commanded by God, you will gain for yourself more abundant glory, and will be more honoured by God than you would otherwise be.  If, therefore, in keeping the commandments of God, you do, in addition, these services, you will have joy if you observe them according to my command.” I said to him, “Sir, whatsoever you enjoin upon me I will observe, for I know that you are with me." “I will be with you," he replied, “because you have such a desire for doing good and I will be with all those," he added, "who have such a desire.  This fasting," he continued, “is very good, provided the commandments of the Lord be observed.  Thus, then, shall you observe the fasting which you intend to keep. First of all, be on your guard against every evil word, and every evil desire, and purify your heart from all the vanities of this world.  If you guard against these things, your fasting will be perfect. And you will do also as follows. Having fulfilled what is written, in the day on which you fast you will taste nothing but bread and water; and having reckoned up the price of the dishes of that day which you intended to have eaten, you will give it to a widow, or an orphan, or to some person in want, and thus you will exhibit humility of mind, so that he who has received benefit from your humility may fill his own soul, and pray for you to the Lord.  If you observe fasting, as I have commanded you, your sacrifice will be acceptable to God, and this fasting will be written down; and the service thus performed is noble, and sacred, and acceptable to the lord.  These things, therefore, shall you thus observe with your children, and all your house, and in observing them you will be blessed; and as many as hear these words and observe them shall be blessed; and whatsoever they ask of the Lord they shall receive."


Chapter IV

I prayed him much that he would explain to me the similitude of the field, and of the master of the vineyard, and of the slave who staked the vineyard, and of the stakes, and of the weeds that were plucked out of the vineyard, and of the son, and of the friends who were fellow councillors, for I knew that all these things were a kind of parable.  And he answered me, and said, “You are exceedingly persistent with your questions.  You ought not,” he continued, "to ask any questions at all; for if it is needful to explain anything, it will be made known to you.” I said to him, "Sir, whatsoever you show me, and do not explain, I shall have seen to no purpose, not understanding its meaning.  In like manner, also, if you speak parables to me, and do not unfold them, I shall have heard your words in vain." And he answered me again, saying, "Everyone who is the servant of God, and has his Lord in his heart, asks of Him understanding, and receives it, and opens up every parable; and the words of the Lord become known to him which are spoken in parables. But those who are weak and slothful in prayer, hesitate to ask anything from the Lord; but the Lord is full of compassion, and gives without fail to all who ask Him.  But you, having been strengthened by the holy Angel, and having obtained from Him such intercession, and not being slothful, why do not you ask of the Lord understanding, and receive it from Him?" I said to him, "Sir, having you with me, I am necessitated to ask questions of you, for you show me all things, and converse with me; but if I were to see or hear these things without you, I would then ask the Lord to explain them."


Chapter V

"I said to you a little ago,” he answered, “that you were cunning and obstinate in asking explanations of the parables; but since you are so persistent, I shall unfold to you the meaning of the similitudes of the field, and of all the others that follow, that you may make them known to everyone. Hear now," he said, "and understand them.  The field is this world; and the Lord of the field is He who created, and perfected, and strengthened all things; [and the son is the Holy Spirit] and the slave is the Son of God; and the vines are this people, whom He Himself planted; and the stakes are the holy angels of the Lord, who keep His people together; and the weeds that were plucked out of the vineyard are the iniquities of God's servants; and the dishes which He sent Him from His table are the commandments which He gave His people through His Son; and the friends and fellow-councillors are the holy angels who were first created; and the Master's absence from home is the time that remains until His appearing." I said to him, “Sir, all these are great, and marvellous, and glorious things.  Could I, therefore," I continued, "understand them?  No, nor could any other man, even if exceedingly wise.  Moreover," I added, "explain to me what I am about to ask you." "Say what you wish," he replied.  "Why, Sir," I asked, "is the Son of God in the parable in the form of a slave?”


Chapter VI

"Hear," he answered: “the Son of God is not in the form of a slave, but in great power and might." "How so, Sir?" I said; "I do not understand." "Because," he answered, "God planted the vineyard, that is to say, He created the people, and gave them to His Son; and the Son appointed His angels over them to keep them; and He Himself purged away their sins, having suffered many trials and undergone many labours, for no one is able to dig without labour and toil.  He Himself, then, having purged away the sins of the people, showed them the paths of life by giving them the law which He received from His Father. [You see," he said, "that He is the Lord of the people, having received all authority from His Father]. And why the Lord took His Son as councillor, and the glorious angels, regarding the heirship of the slave, listen.  The holy, pre-existent Spirit, that created every creature, God made to dwell in flesh, which He chose. This flesh, accordingly, in which the Holy Spirit dwelt, was nobly subject to that Spirit, walking religiously and chastely, in no respect defiling the Spirit; and accordingly, after living excellently and purely, and after labouring and co-operating with the Spirit, and having in everything acted vigorously and courageously along with the Holy Spirit, He assumed it as a partner with it.  For this conduct of the flesh pleased Him, because it was not defiled on the earth while having the Holy Spirit.  He took, therefore, as fellow-councillors His Son and the glorious angels, in order that this flesh, which had been subject to the body without a fault, might have some place of tabernacle, and that it might not appear that the reward [of its servitude had been lost], for the flesh that has been found without spot or defilement, in which the Holy Spirit dwelt, [will receive a reward].  You have now the explanation of this parable also."


Chapter VII

I rejoice, Sir," I said, "to hear this explanation." "Hear," again he replied: "Keep this flesh pure and stainless, that the Spirit which inhabits it may bear witness to it, and your flesh may be justified.  See that the thought never arise in your mind that this flesh of yours is corruptible, and you misuse it by any act of defilement.  If you defile your flesh, you will also defile the Holy Spirit; and if you defile your flesh [and spirit], you will not live." "And if anyone, Sir," I said, "has been hitherto ignorant, before he heard these words, how can such a man be saved who has defiled his flesh?" “Respecting former sins of ignorance," he said, “God alone is able to heal them, for to Him belongs all power. [But be on your guard now, and the all-powerful and compassionate God will heal former transgressions], if for the time to come you defile not your body nor your spirit; for both are common, and cannot be defiled, the one without the other: keep both therefore pure, and you will live unto God."




Similitude 5:

Fasting defined by Webster's Dictionary is to abstain from food. According to Strong's Concordance of the Bible it is to abstain from physical nourishment. There are several biblical references to fasting. There was fasting with prayer (Acts 14:23; 1Cor. 7:5; Lk. 2:37); fasting with sackcloth (Ps. 35:13; Ps. 69:10; Dan. 9:3)


Esther 4:16 for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day.


Hermas is fasting and he learns from the Shepherd that he was not truly fasting and he tells Hermas that he will teach him what is full and acceptable fasting to God.  God does not want an empty fast.  Hermas is told that when he is fasting he should do the following:


Do no evil in his life

Serve God with a pure heart

Keep His commandments

Walk in His precepts, his rules of conduct

Let no evil desire arise in his heart

Believe in God

Fear God

Abstain from evil things

Live unto God


Doing these spiritual things (listed above) along with the physical fast is an acceptable fast to God, and God will be joyful by this type of fast.


The Shepherd then tells Hermas of a parable about a master and a slave that does more work than what he is told. The master is so impressed that he makes the slave a co-heir with his son for his fine work.  Hermas is told that the field is the world, the Lord of the field is He who created, and perfected, and strengthened all things. The son is the Holy Spirit and the slave is the Son of God.  The vines are the people whom He planted; the stakes are the holy angels of the Lord and the weeds that were plucked out of the vineyard are the iniquities of God's servants. The dishes he sent to the slave were the commandments and the friends and fellow-councillors are the holy angels who were first created; and the Master's absence from home is the time that remains until His appearing. 


God planted the vine, which is that God created the people and gave them to his son. And the son appointed his angels to watch over them. Christ purged away the sins. He showed them the path of life by giving them the Law which he received from His Father.  Christ is the Lord of the people, having received all authority from God. All power belongs to God; only God can heal; God is the creator of all things. This parable is similar to the one Christ told about the Prodigal Son (Lk.15:1-32).  See the paper Lost Sheep and the  Prodigal Son (No. 199) and Atonement (No. 138).


The type of fasting referred to above is of the lesser fast where some bread and water is taken at night over a longer period. The fasts of Atonement and 7 Abib are complete fasts where no where no bread or water is taken at all for the entire 24 hours. This is the full fast to be taken for serious prayer (see Isaiah chapter 58). 





Chapter I

Sitting in my house, and glorifying the Lord for all that I had seen, and reflecting on the commandments, that they are excellent, and powerful, and glorious, and able to save a man's soul, I said within myself, "I shall be blessed if I walk in these commandments, and everyone who walks in them will be blessed." While I was saying these words to myself, I suddenly see him sitting beside me, and hear him thus speak: "Why are you in doubt about the commandments which I gave you?  They are excellent: have no doubt about them at all, but put on faith in the Lord, and you will walk in them, for I will strengthen you in them.  These commandments are beneficial to those who intend to repent; for if they do not walk in them, their repentance is in vain. You, therefore, who repent cast away the wickedness of this world which wears you out; and by putting on all the virtues of a holy life, you will be able to keep these commandments, and will no longer add to the number of your sins.  Walk, therefore, in these commandments of mine, and you will live unto God.  All these things have been spoken to you by me." And after he had uttered these words, he said to me, "Let us go into the fields, and I will show you the shepherds of the flocks." "Let us go, Sir," I replied.  And we came to a certain plain, and he showed me a young man, a shepherd, clothed in a suit of garments of a yellow colour: and he was herding very many sheep, and these sheep were feeding luxuriously, as it were, and riotously, and merrily skipping hither and thither.  The shepherd himself was merry, because of his flock; and the appearance of the shepherd was joyous, and he was running about amongst his flock. [And other sheep I saw rioting and luxuriating in one place, but not, however, leaping about.]


Chapter II

And he said to me, "Do you see this shepherd?" “I see him, Sir," I said.  "This," he answered, “is the angel” of luxury and deceit: He wears out the servants of God, and perverts them from the truth, deceiving them with wicked desires, through which they will perish; for they forget the commandments of the living God, and walk in deceits and empty luxuries; and they are ruined by the angel, some being brought to death, others to corruption,” “Listen," he said. “The sheep which you saw merry and leaping about, are those which have torn themselves away from God for ever, and have delivered themselves over to luxuries and deceits [of this world.  Among them there is no return to life through repentance, because they have added to their other sins, and blasphemed the name of the Lord.  Such men, therefore, are appointed unto death. And the sheep which you saw not leaping, but feeding in one place, are they who have delivered themselves over to luxury and deceit], but have committed no blasphemy against the Lord.  These have been perverted from the truth: among them there is the hope of repentance, by which it is possible to live.  Corruption, then, has a hope of a kind of renewal, but death has everlasting ruin." Again I went forward a little way, and he showed me a tall shepherd, somewhat savage in his appearance, clothed in a white goatskin, and having a wallet on his shoulders, and a very hard staff with branches, and a large whip.  And he had a very sour look, so that I was afraid of him, so forbidding was his aspect.  This shepherd, accordingly, was receiving the sheep from the young she herd, those, viz., that were rioting and luxuriating, but not leaping; and he cast them into a precipitous place, full of thistles and thorns, so that it was impossible to extricate the sheep from the thorns and thistles; but they were completely entangled amongst them. These, accordingly, thus entangled, pastured amongst the thorns and thistles, and were exceedingly miserable, being beaten by him; and he drove them hither and thither, and gave them no rest; and, altogether, these sheep were in a wretched plight.


Chapter III

Seeing them, therefore, so beaten and so badly used, I was grieved for them, because they were so tormented, and had no rest at all.  And I said to the Shepherd who talked with me, "Sir, who is this shepherd, who is so pitiless and severe, completely devoid of compassion for these sheep.” “This," he replied,”is the angel of punishment; and he belongs to the just angels and is appointed to punish.  He accordingly takes those who wander away from God, and who have walked in the desires and deceits of this world, and chastises them as they deserve with terrible and diverse punishments." "I would know, sir," I said, "Of what nature are these diverse tortures and punishments?" "Hear," he said, "the various tortures and punishments.  The tortures are such as occur during life. For some are punished with losses, others with want, others with sicknesses of various kinds, and others with all kinds of disorder and confusion; others are insulted by unworthy persons, and exposed to suffering in many other ways: for many, becoming unstable in their plans, try many things, and none of them at all succeed, and they say they are not prosperous in their undertakings; and it does not occur to their minds that they have done evil deeds, but they blame the Lord. When, therefore, they have been afflicted with all kinds of affliction, then are they delivered unto me for good training, and they are made strong in the faith of the Lord, and for the rest of the days of their life they are subject to the Lord with pure hearts, and are successful in all their undertakings, obtaining from the Lord everything they ask, and then they glorify the Lord, that they were delivered to me, and no longer suffer any evil.”


Chapter IV

I said to him, "Sir, explain this also to me. “What is it you ask?" he said.  "Whether, sir,” I continued, "they who indulge in luxury, and who are deceived, are tortured for the same period of time that they have indulged in luxury and deceit?" He said to me, "They are tortured in the same manner." ["They are tormented much less, Sir," I replied;] "for those who are so luxurious and who forget God ought to be tortured seven-fold." He said to me, "You are foolish, and do not understand the power of torment." "Why, Sir," I said, “if I had understood it, I would not have asked you to show me." "Hear," he said, “the power of both.  The time of luxury and deceit is one hour; but the hour of torment is equivalent to thirty days.  If, accordingly, a man indulge in luxury for one day, and be deceived and be tortured for one day, the day of his torture is equivalent to a whole year.  For all the days of luxury, therefore, there are as many years of torture to be undergone.  You see, then," he continued, "that the time of luxury and deceit is long."


Chapter V

“Still," I said, “I do not quite understand about the time of deceit, and luxury, and torture; explain it to me more clearly." He answered, and said to me, "Your folly is persistent; and you do not wish to purify your heart, and serve God.  Have a care," he added, "lest the time be fulfilled, and you be found foolish.  Hear now," he added, “as you desire, that you may understand these things.  He who indulges in luxury, and is deceived for one day, and who does what he wishes, is clothed with much foolishness, and does not understand the act which he does until the morrow; for he forgets what he did the day before.  For luxury and deceit have no memories, on account of the folly with which they are clothed; but when punishment and torture cleave to a man for one day, he is punished and tortured for a year for punishment and torture have powerful memories.  While tortured and punished, therefore, for a whole year, he remembers at last his luxury and deceit, and knows that on their account he suffers evil.  Every man, therefore, who is luxurious and deceived is thus tormented, because, although having life, they have given themselves over to death." “What kinds of luxury, Sir," I asked, "are hurtful?" "Every act of a man which he performs with pleasure," he replied, “is an act of luxury; for the sharp-tempered man, when gratifying his tendency, indulges in luxury; and the adulterer, and the drunkard, and the back-biter, and the liar, and the covetous man, and the thief, and he who does things like these, gratifies his peculiar propensity, and in so doing indulges in luxury.  All these acts of luxury are hurtful to the servants of God.  On account of these deceits, therefore, do they suffer, who are punished and tortured.  And there are also acts of luxury which save men; for many who do good indulge in luxury, being carried away by their own pleasure: this luxury, however, is beneficial to the servants of God, and gains life for such a man; but the injurious acts of luxury before enumerated bring tortures and punishment upon them; and if they continue in them and do not repent, they bring death upon themselves.”




Similitude 6:

To accept the commandments we have to put our faith in God; we will then walk in the commandments. "Those who know the truth and do not follow it are then as religious hobbyists" (Fruit of the Holy Spirit" (No. 146)).


The Shepherd then shows Hermas the shepherds of the flock and explains to him the meaning behind each shepherd and his flock.


Shepherd clothed in a suit of yellow. Sheep feeding luxuriously and merrily skipping and the shepherd was joyous. 

This is the angel of luxury and deceit. He wears out the souls of the servants of God and perverts the truth from them. He forgets the commandments of God. The sheep have torn themselves away from God and will never go back; they have blasphemed the name of the Lord, and are put to death.


Sheep that are feeding but are not jumping around.  These have delivered themselves over to luxury and deceit, but have not blasphemed the Lord.  There is the hope of repentance.


Tall shepherd, clothed in white, with a large staff with branches and a large whip.  A sour look. 

This shepherd was receiving sheep from the young shepherd that were rioting and luxuriating, but not leaping. The sheep were placed where there were ties and thorns so that it was impossible to extricate the sheep from the thorns and thistles. The sheep were beaten by the shepherd, with no rest. This shepherd is the angel of punishment, who belongs to the just angels and is appointed to punish.  Some of the punishments are disorder, confusion, suffering, unstable, and unsuccessful. Once they repent then they are turned over for training and are made strong in the faith of God.


The Shepherd then explains to Hermas that the power of luxury and deceit is like one hour that is equivalent to thirty (30) days of punishment.  Thus one day of luxury is one year of punishment.  Luxury and deceit have no memory, but punishment and torture have powerful memories. 





After a few days I saw him in the same plain where I had also seen the shepherds and he said to me, "What do you wish with me?" I said to him, "Sir, that you would order the shepherd who punishes to depart out of my house, because he afflicts me exceedingly." "It is necessary," he replied, “that you be afflicted; for thus," he continued, “did the glorious angel command concerning you, as he wishes you to be tried." "What have I done which is so bad, Sir," I replied, "that I should be delivered over to this angel?" "Listen," he said: "Your sins are many, but not so great as to require that you be delivered over to this angel; but your household has committed great iniquities and sins, and the glorious angel has been incensed at them on account of their deeds; and for this reason he commanded you to be afflicted for a certain time, that they also might repent, and purify themselves from every desire of this world.  When, therefore, they repent and are purified, then the angel of punishment will depart.” I said to him, "Sir, if they have done such things as to incense the glorious angel against them, yet what have I done?" He replied, "They cannot be afflicted at all, unless you, the head of the house, be afflicted; for when you are afflicted, of necessity they also suffer affliction, but if you are in comfort, they can feel no affliction." “Well, sir,” I said, "they have repented with their whole heart." "I know, too," he answered, "that they have repented with their whole heart: do you think, however, that the sins of those who repent are remitted? Not altogether, but he who repents must torture his own soul, and be exceedingly humble in all his conduct, and be afflicted with many kinds of affliction; and if he endure the afflictions that come upon him, He who created all things, and endued them with power, will assuredly have compassion, and will heal him and this will He do when He sees the heart of every penitent pure from every evil thing: and it is profitable for you and for your house to suffer affliction now. But why should I say much to you? You must be afflicted, as that angel of the Lord commanded who delivered you to me. And for this give thanks to the Lord, because He had deemed you worthy of showing you beforehand this affliction, that, knowing it before it comes, you may be able to bear all affliction.” “I will be with you” he said, “and I will ask the angel of punishment to afflict you more lightly’ nevertheless, you will be afflicted for a little time, and again you will be re-established in your house. Only continue humble, and serve the Lord in all purity of heart, you and your children. and your house, and walk in my commands which I enjoin upon you, and your repentance will be deep and pure; and if you observe these things with your household, every affliction will depart from you. And affliction,” he added. “will depart from all who walk in these my commandments.”



Similitude 7:

The lesson taught to Hermas is regarding repentance. The Shepherd explains that because Hermas' house has committed sin, in order for his family to be afflicted, as head of the house, Hermas must be afflicted.  You will be afflicted for a little time; again you will be re-established in your house. Job never denounced God. Job was found to be justified and his companions were rebuked (Job: 40:1-42:6; 42:7-9) and the Lord restored Job (42:10-17).


See also Baptism and Repentance (No. 052)