hermas
St. Hermas brother of Pius, Bishop of Rome (ca. 150 A.D.)

Christianity is a disciplic religion (Matthew 28:18-20), and as such, all of its core teachings are found in the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. The title “Apostolic Fathers” is generally ascribed to the direct disciples of the Apostles who lived between the first and second centuries. The book known as The Shepherd of Hermas was included in many of the New Testament Canons until the current list of 27 Books was officially voted by the Bishops of the Church under the direction of the Holy Spirit at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.

The Shepherd of Hermas was included in the personal canons and quoted extensively by important ecclesial personalities such as: Origen, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus, Athanasius, and Didymus the Blind. The oldest list of New Testament Scripture known as Muratorian Canon (ca.180-200?) includes The Shepherd as Scripture.

According to the Muratorian Canon, the author of The Shepherd was a Christian man who lived in Rome while his brother Pius was serving as the Bishop (ca. 140-154 A.D.) Some Church Fathers have suggested that the Hermas of The Shepherd is mentioned by name in Romans 16:14.

The following excerpt is a translation from the Greek original by Dr. Michael W. Holmes. We have included a free resource translated by Dr. Phillip Schaff for those who would like to continue reading the book. (see Shepherd of Hermas, Book 2.5.2)

Mastering An Angry Temper

1.“Now hear,” he said, “how an angry temper works, how evil it is, and how it subverts God’s servants by its working, and how it leads them astray from righteousness. But it does not lead astray those who are filled with faith, nor can it work on them, beause the Lord’s power is with them. But it can lead astray those who are empty-headed and double-minded.

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The Angel of Repentance instructing Hermas

2. For whenever it sees such people prospering, it insinuates itself into the person’s heart, and for no reason at all the man or the woman is embittered over worldly concerns, either about food or something trivial, or some friend, or about giving or receiving, or foolish matters such as these. For these things are all foolish and empty and senseless and inexpedient for God’s servants.

3. But patience is great and strong, and possesses a mighty and vigorous power, and prospers in a spacious area; it is joyful, exultant, free from care, glorifying the Lord at all times, having no bitterness in itself, always remaining gentle and quiet. This patience, therefore, lives with those whose faith is perfect.

4. But an angry temper is first of all foolish, fickle and senseless. Then from foolishness comes bitterness, and from bitterness wrath, and from wrath anger, and from anger vengefulness. Then vengefulness, being composed of all evil elements, becomes a great and incurable sin.

5. For when all these spirits live in one vessel, where the Holy Spirit also lives, the vessel cannot contain them, but overflows.

6. So the sensitive Spirit, which is used to living neither with an evil spirit nor with harshness, departs from a person such as this and seeks to live with gentleness and quiet.

GoodShepherd2
Early depiction of our Lord Jesus Christ as The Good Shepherd

7. Then, when it has left the one in whom it lives, that person is emptied of the Spirit of Righteousness, and from then on, since he or she is filled with the evil spirits, that one is unstable in everything he or she does and is dragged about here and there by the evil spirits, totally blind with respect to good intentions. So it goes, therefore, with all those who are ill-tempered.

8. Have nothing to do, therefore, with an angry temper, that most evil spirit. Instead, put on patience and resist an angry temper and bitterness, and you will be found in the company of the holiness that is loved by the Lord. So take care that you never neglect this commandment, for if you master it, you will also be able to keep the rest of the commandments that I am about to give you. Be strong in them, and empowered; indeed, let all who want to walk in them be empowered.”