Third Book of Hermas,
The greatest mysteries of the militant and triumphant church
which is to be built.
1. After I had written the Commands and Similitudes of the
Shepherd, the Angel of Repentance, he came to me and said, I will
show you all those things that the angel spoke with you under the
figure of the Church. For that Spirit is the Son of God.
2. And because you were weak in body, it was not declared
to you by the angel until you were strengthened by the Spirit and
increased in force so you could also see the angel.
3. For then indeed the building of the tower was very well
and gloriously shown to you by the Church; nevertheless you saw
all things shown to you as it were by a virgin.
4. Now you are enlightened by the angel, but yet by the
same Spirit. But you must consider all things diligently, for
therefore I am sent into your house by that venerable messenger,
so that when you will have seen all things powerful, you may not
be afraid as before.
5. And he led me to the ascent of a mountain in Arcadia,
and we sat upon its top. And he showed me a great plain, and
about it twelve mountains in different figures.
6. The first was black as soot. The second was smooth,
without herbs. The third was full of thorns and thistles. The
fourth had herbs half dried, of which the upper part was green,
but that next to the root was dry; and when the sun grew hot,
some of the herbs were dry.
7. The fifth mountain was very rugged, but yet had green
herbs. The sixth mountain was full of clefts, some lesser and
some greater; and in these clefts grew grass, not flourishing,
but which seemed to be withering.
8. The seventh mountain had delightful pasture and was
wholly fruitful, and all kinds of cattle and the birds of heaven
fed upon it; and the more they fed of it, the more and better the
9. The eighth mountain was full of fountains, and from
those fountains were watered all kinds of the creatures of God.
The ninth mountain had no water at all, but was wholly destitute
of it and nourished deadly serpents, and was destructive to men.
10. The tenth mountain was full of tall trees and
altogether shady, and under the shade of them lay cattle resting
and chewing the cud.
11. The eleventh mountain was full of the thickest trees,
and those trees seemed to be loaded with several sorts of fruits,
that whoever saw them could not choose but desire to eat of their
12. The twelfth mountain was altogether white and of a most
pleasant aspect, which gave it a most excellent beauty.
13. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] In
the middle of the plain he showed me a huge white rock that rose
out of the plain, and the rock was higher than those mountains,
and was square, so that it seemed capable of supporting the whole
14. It looked to me to be old, yet it had in it a new gate,
which seemed to have been newly hewn out in it. Now that gate
was bright beyond the sun itself, so much that I greatly admired
at its light.
15. Around the gate stood twelve virgins, of which four who
stood at the corners of the gate seemed to me to be the chiefest,
although the rest were also of worth.
16. It added also to the grace of those virgins that they
stood in pairs, clothed with linen garments and decently attired,
their right arms being at liberty as if they were about to lift
up some burden, for so they were adorned and exceeding cheerful
17. When I saw this, I wondered with myself to see such
great and noble things. And again I admired upon the account of
those virgins, that they were so handsome and delicate, and stood
with such firmness and constancy as if they would carry the whole
18. And as I was thinking thus within myself, the shepherd
said to me, What are you thinking within yourself to be so
disquieted and filled with care?
19. Do not seem to consider, as if you were wise, what you
do not understand, but pray to the Lord that you may have ability
to understand it. What is to come you cannot understand, but you
can see what is before you.
20. Be not therefore disquieted at those things which you
cannot see, but get the understanding of those which you see.
21. Forbear to be curious, and I will show you all things
that I ought to declare to you; but first consider what yet
22. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] And
when he had said this to me I looked up, and behold I saw six
tall and venerable men coming. Their countenances were all
alike, and they called a certain multitude of men, and they who
came at their call were also tall and stout.
23. And those six commanded them to build a certain tower
over that gate. And immediately there began to be a great noise
of those men who came together to build the tower, running here
and there about the gate.
24. But those virgins who stood about the gate perceived
that the building of the tower was to be hastened by them. And
they stretched out their hands, as if they were to receive
something from them to do.
25. Then those six men commanded that they should lift up
stones out of a certain deep place and prepare them for the
building of the tower. And there were lifted up ten white
stones, square and not cut round.
26. Then those six men called the ten virgins to them and
commanded them to carry all the stones that were to be put into
the building through the gate to deliver them to those that were
about to build the tower.
27. Immediately all the virgins began together to lift up
those stones that had been taken out of the deep.
28. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] And
they who also stood about the gate carried stones in such a
manner that those stones which seemed to be the strongest were
laid at the corners, and the rest were put into the sides.
29. And thus they carried all the stones, bringing them
through the gate and delivering them to the builders, as they had
been commanded. These received them from their hands and built
30. But this building was made upon that great rock, and
over the gate, and by these the whole tower was supported. The
building of the ten stones filled the whole gate, which began to
be made for the foundation of that tower.
31. After those ten stones, five and twenty others rose up
out of the deep, and these were lifted up by those virgins and
placed in the building of the same tower, as the others had been
32. After these five and thirty others rose up, and these
were also in the same way fitted into the same work. Then forty
other stones were brought up, and all these were added to the
building of that tower.
33. So there began to be four ranks in the foundation of
that tower, and the stones ceased to rise out of the deep, and
they who built rested a little.
34. Again those six men commanded the multitude to bring
stones out of those twelve mountains for the building of the same
35. So they cut out of all the mountains stones of
different colors and brought them and gave them to the virgins,
who received them and carried and delivered them into the
building of the tower,
36. In which, when they were built, became white and
different from what they were like before, for now they had
changed their former colors and were all alike. But some were
carried up by the men themselves, and when they came into the
building, they remained just as they were put in.
37. These neither became white nor different from what they
were before, because they were not carried by the virgins through
the gate. For this reason these stones were disagreeable in the
building. When those six men perceived it, they commanded them
to be removed and put again in the place from which they were
38. And they said to those who brought those stones, Do not
reach up to us any stones for this building, but lay them down by
the tower, so these virgins may carry them and reach them up to
39. Do not labor in vain, for unless they will by carried
by these virgins through this gate, they cannot change their
40. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts]
Although the building that day was done, the tower was not
finished. It was to be built afterwards, but now there was some
41. And these six men commanded those that built to depart,
and as it were to rest for some time, but they ordered those
virgins that they should not depart from the tower; it seemed to
me they were to be left to guard it.
42. When all were departed, I said to that shepherd, Sir,
why is not the building of the tower finished? He said, Because
it cannot be finished until its Lord comes and approves of the
building, so if he finds any stones in it that are not good, they
may be changed, for this tower is built according to his will.
43. Sir, I said, I would know what the building of this
tower signifies, as also I would be informed concerning this
rock, and this gate.
44. And concerning the mountains, and the virgins, and the
stones that rose out of the deep and were not cut, but put into
the building just as they came forth, and why the ten stones were
first laid in the foundation, then the twenty-five, then thirty-
five, then forty?
45. Also concerning these stones that were put into the
building, and again taken out, and carried back into their place.
I pray you to fulfill the desire of my soul as to all these things
and reveal all to me.
46. And he said to me, If you will not be dull, you will
know all, and will see all the other things that are about to
happen in this tower, and will understand diligently all these
47. And after a few days we came into the same place where
we had sat before, and he said to me, Let us go to the tower, for
the Lord of it will come and examine it.
48. So we went there and found none but those virgins
there. And he asked them whether the Lord of that tower had been
there, and they replied that he would be there presently to
examine the building.
49. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] After
a very little while I saw a great multitude of men coming, and in
the middle of them a man so tall that he surpassed the tower in
50. About him were those six who before had given commands
for the building, and all the rest of those who had built that
tower, and many others of great dignity. The virgins who guarded
the tower ran to meet him, and kissed him, and began to walk near
51. But he examined the building with so much care that he
handled every stone, and struck every one with a rod he held in
52. Some being so struck turned black as soot, others were
rough, some looked as if they had cracks in them, others seemed
maimed, some were neither black nor white, some looked sharp, and
did not match with the other stones, and others were full of
53. These were the kinds of those stones that were not
found proper in the building; all of which the Lord commanded to
be taken out of the tower and laid near it, and other stones to
be brought and put in their places.
54. And they who built, asked him from which of the
mountains he would have stones brought to replace those that were
laid aside. But he forbad them to bring any from the mountains,
and commanded that they should take some out of a certain field
that was near.
55. So they digged in the field and found many bright
square stones, and some also that were round. Nevertheless, all
that were found in that field were taken away, and carried
through the gate by those virgins; and those of them that were
square were fitted and put into the places of those that had been
56. But the round ones were not put into the building,
because they were hard, and it would have required too much time
to cut them. But they were placed about the tower, as if they
should later be cut square and put into the building, for they
were very white.
57. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] When
he who was chief in dignity and lord of the whole tower saw this,
he called to him the shepherd who was with me and gave him the
stones that were rejected and laid about the tower, and said to
him, Cleanse these stones with all care, and fit them into the
building of the tower, so that they may agree with the rest; but
those that will not suit with the rest, cast away afar off from
58. When he had thus commanded him, he departed with all
those that came with him to the tower; but those virgins still
stood about the tower to guard it.
59. And I said to that shepherd, How can these stones,
seeing they have been rejected, return into the building of this
tower? He replied, I will cut off the greatest part from these
stones and will add them to the building, and they will agree
with the rest.
60. And I said, Sir, how will they be able to fill the same
place, when they will be so much cut away? He answered, They
that will be found too little will be put into the middle of the
building, and the larger will be placed outside to keep them in.
61. When he had said this to me, he added, Let us leave,
and after three days we will return, and I will put these stones,
being cleansed, into the tower.
62. For all these that are around the tower must be
cleansed, for fear the master of the house happens to come
suddenly and find those which are about the tower unclean, and be
exasperated because these stones should never be put into the
building of this tower, and I shall be looked upon to have been
unmindful of my master's commands.
63. When therefore we came after three days to the tower,
he said to me, Let us examine all these stones and see which of
them may go into the building. I answered, Sir, let us see.
64. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] And
we began first of all to consider those which had been black, for
they were found just such as they had been when they were pulled
out of the tower. For this reason he commanded them to be
removed from the tower and put by themselves.
65. Then he examined those which had been rough, and
commanded many of those to be cut round and fitted by the virgins
into the building of the tower. So they took them and fitted
them into the middle of the building; and he commanded the rest
to be laid by with the black ones, for they also were become
66. Next he considered those which were full of cracks, and
many of those also he ordered to be pared away, and so to be
added to the rest of the buildings by the same virgins.
67. These were placed outside because they were found
undamaged; but the residue that could not be reformed because of
the multitude of their cracks were therefore cast away from the
building of the tower.
68. Then he considered those that had been maimed: many of
these had cracks and were become black, others had large clefts;
these he commanded to be placed with those that were rejected.
69. But the rest, being cleansed and reformed, he commanded
to be put in the building. These therefore those virgins took up
and fitted into the middle of the building, because they were
70. After these he examined those which were found half
white and half black, and many of those were now black; these
also he ordered to be laid among those that were cast away.
71. The rest were found altogether white; those were taken
up by the virgins because they were found whole, and fitted into
the same tower and put in the outside so they might keep in those
that were placed in the middle, for nothing was cut off from
72. Next he looked upon those which had been hard and
sharp, but few of these were made use of, for they were found
very hard and could not be cut. But the rest that were weaker
were formed and fitted by the virgins into the middle of the
73. Then he considered those which had spots; a few were
found black and were carried to their fellows. The rest were
white and entire; they were fitted by the virgins into the
building and placed in the outside because of their strength.
74. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] After
this he came to consider those stones which were white and round,
and he said to me, What shall we do with these stones? I
answered, Sir, I cannot tell.
75. He replied, Can you think of nothing then for these? I
answered, Sir, I do not understand this art; neither am I a
stone-cutter, nor can I tell anything.
76. And he said, Do you see that they are very round? Now
to make them square, I must cut off a great deal from them;
nevertheless, it is necessary that some of these should go into
the building of the tower.
77. I answered, If it is necessary, why do you perplex
yourself and not rather choose, if you have any choice among
them, and fit them into the building?
78. Upon this he selected some of the largest and
brightest, and squared them. When he had done this, the virgins
took them up and placed them in the outside of the building.
79. And the rest that remained were carried back into the
same field from which they were taken. Nevertheless, they were
not cast away because, he said, there is still a little lacking
to build this tower, and perhaps the Lord will have these stones
fitted into this building, because they are exceeding white.
80. Then there were called twelve very stately women,
clothed with a black garment, girded with their shoulders free
and their hair loose. These seemed to me to be country women.
81. And the shepherd commanded them to take up those stones
which were cast out of the building, and carry them back to the
mountains out of which they had been taken.
82. And they took them all up joyfully, and carried them
back to their places from where they had been taken.
83. When not one stone remained around the tower, he said
to me, Let us go around this tower and see whether anything is
84. We began therefore to go round about it, and when he
saw that it was handsomely built, he began to be very glad, for
it was so beautifully framed that anyone who had seen it must
have been in love with the building:
85. No joint appeared anywhere, and it all seemed to be a
single stone, as if it had all been cut out of one rock.
86. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] And
when I diligently considered what a tower it was, I was extremely
pleased. He said to me, Bring some lime and little shells, so I
may fill up the spaces of those stones that were taken out of the
building and put in again; for all things about the tower must be
87. I did as he commanded me, and he said to me, Be ready
to help me, and this work will quickly be finished.
88. He therefore filled up the spaces of those stones, and
commanded the place about the tower to be cleansed.
89. Then those virgins took brooms of twigs and cleansed
all the place around and took away all the rubbish, and threw
water on. When this was done, the place became delightful, and
the tower beauteous.
90. Then he said to me, All is now clean. If the Lord
should come to finish the tower, he will find nothing to complain
91. When he had said this he would have departed. But I
laid hold on his bag, and began to entreat him for the Lord's
sake, that he would explain to me all things that he had shown
92. He said to me, I have now a little business, but I will
suddenly explain all things to you. Wait here for me till I
93. I said to him, Sir, what shall I do here alone? He
answered, You are not alone, for all these virgins are with you.
94. I said, Sir, then take me to them. Then he called them
and said to them, I commend this man to you until I shall come.
95. So I remained with those virgins, who now were cheerful
and courteous to me, especially the four who seemed to be the
chiefest among them.
96. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] Then
those virgins said to me, That shepherd will not return today. I
said to them, What then shall I do? They answered, Wait for him
till the evening, if perhaps he may come and speak with you; but
if not, yet you will continue with us till he does come.
97. I said to them, I will wait for him till evening, but
if he does not comes by that time, I will go home and return here
again the next morning.
98. They answered me, You are delivered to us and may not
depart from us. I said, Where shall I stay?
99. They replied, You will sleep with us as a brother, not
as a husband; for you are our brother, and we are ready from now
on to dwell with you, for you are very dear to us.
100. Nevertheless I was ashamed to continue with them. But
she who seemed to be the chiefest among them embraced me and
began to kiss me. And the rest, when they saw I was kissed by
her, began also to kiss me as a brother and lead me about the
tower to amuse me.
101. Some of them sang psalms while others made up the
chorus with them. I walked about the tower with them, rejoicing
silently and seeming to myself to be grown young again.
102. When the evening came on, I would immediately have
gone home, but they did not allow me to depart. Therefore I
continued with them that night near the same tower.
103. They spread their linen garments upon the ground and
placed me in the middle, and did nothing else but pray.
104. I also prayed with them without ceasing, not less than
they. They rejoiced greatly when they saw me pray in that
manner, and I continued there with them till the next day.
105. And when we had worshipped God, then the shepherd came
and said to them, Have you done no injury to this man? They
answered, Ask him. I said to him, Sir, I have received a great
deal of satisfaction by remaining with them.
106. And he said to me, How did you eat? I answered, Sir,
I feasted the whole night upon the words of the Lord. He said,
They received you well then. I said, Sir, very well.
107. He answered, Will you now learn what you desired? I
replied, Sir, I will, but first I pray you to show me all things
in the order that I asked them.
108. He answered, I will do all as you would have me and
not hide anything from you.
109. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts]
First of all, Sir, I said, tell me what this rock and this gate
denote? He said, This rock and this gate are the Son of God. I
replied, Sir, how can that be, seeing the rock is old, but the
110. He said, Hear, O foolish man, and understand. The Son
of God is indeed more ancient than any creature, so much so that
he was in council with his Father at the creation of all things.
111. But the gate is therefore new, because he appeared in
the last days in the fullness of time, so that they who will
attain to salvation may by it enter into the kingdom of God.
112. You have seen, he said, those stones which were
carried through the gate, how they were placed in the building of
the tower, but those that were not carried through the gate were
sent away into their own places?
113. I answered, Sir, I saw it. Accordingly, he said, no
man will enter into the kingdom of God but he who will take upon
him the name of the Son of God.
114. For if you would enter into any city and that city was
encompassed by a wall with only one gate, could you enter into
that city except by that gate?
115. I answered, Sir, how could I do otherwise? As
therefore, he said, there would be no other way of entering into
that city but by its gate, so neither can anyone enter into the
kingdom of God, but only by the name of his Son, who is most dear
116. And he said to me, Did you see the multitude of those
who built that tower? Sir, I said, I saw it. He answered, All
those are the angels, venerable in their dignity.
117. With those is the Lord encompassed as with a wall; but
the gate is the Son of God, who is the only way of coming to God.
For no man will go to God, but by his Son.
118. You saw also, he said, the six men, and in the middle
of them that venerable great man who walked about the tower and
rejected the stones out of the tower?
119. Sir, I said, I saw them. He answered, That tall man
was the Son of God, and those six were his angels of most eminent
dignity, who stand about him on the right hand and on the left.
120. None of these excellent angels comes in to God without
him. He added, Whoever therefore will not take upon him his
name, he will not enter into the kingdom of God.
121. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] Then
I said, What is this tower? This, he said, is the Church. And
what, Sir, are these virgins? He said to me, These are the holy
spirits, for no man can enter into the kingdom of God, except
these clothe him with their garment.
122. For it will avail you nothing to take up the name of
the Son of God, unless you will also receive their garment from
them. For these virgins are the powers of the Son of God. So
will a man in vain bear his name, unless he will be also endued
with his powers.
123. And he said to me, Did you see those stones that were
cast away? They bore indeed the name, but put not on their
garment. I said, Sir, what is their garment? Their very names,
he said, are their garment.
124. Therefore whoever bears the name of the Son of God
ought to bear their names also; for the Son of God also himself
bears their names.
125. He continued, As for those stones delivered by their
hands, which you saw remain in the building, they were clothed
with their power; this is why you see the whole tower of the same
color with the rock and made as if it were one stone.
126. So also those who have believed in God by his Son,
have put on his spirit. Behold there will be one spirit, and one
body, and one color of their garments; and all will attain this,
who will bear the names of these virgins.
127. And I said, Sir, why then were those stones that were
rejected cast away, seeing they also were carried through the
gate and delivered by the hands of these virgins into the
building of this tower?
128. He said, Seeing you take care to inquire diligently
into all things, hear also concerning those stones which were
rejected. All these received the name of the Son of God, and
with that the power of these virgins.
129. Having therefore received these spirits, they were
perfected and brought into the number of the servants of God; and
they began to be one body and to have one garment, for they were
endued with the same righteousness, which they alike exercised.
130. But after they beheld those women whom you saw clothed
with a black garment, with their shoulders at liberty and their
hair loose, they fixed their desires upon them, being tempted
with their beauty; and were clothed with their power, and cast
off the clothing of the virgins:
131. Therefore they were cast off from the house of God and
delivered to those women. But they who were not corrupted with
their beauty, remained in the house of God. This, he said, is
the significance of those stones that were rejected.
132. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] And
I said, Sir, what if any of these men will repent, and cast away
their desire of those women, and be converted, and return to
these virgins, and put on again their virtue, will they not enter
into the house of God?
133. They will enter, he said, if they will lay aside all
the works of those women, and will resume the power of these
virgins and will walk in their works.
134. And this is why there is a stop in the building, so
that if they will repent, they may be added to the building of
this tower; but if they will not repent, others may be built in
their places, and so they may be utterly cast away.
135. For all these things I gave thanks to the Lord, that
being moved with mercy towards all those upon whom his name is
called, he sent to us the angel of repentance to preside over us
who have sinned against him; and that he has refreshed our
spirits which were almost gone, and who had no hope of salvation
but are now refreshed to the renewal of life.
136. Then I said, Show me now, Sir, why this tower is not
built upon the ground, but upon a rock and upon the gate? He
replied, You ask this because you are foolish and without
137. And I said, Sir, I need to ask all things of you,
because I understand nothing at all. For all your answers are
great and excellent, but which a man can hardly understand.
138. Hear, he said. The name of the Son of God is great
and limitless, and the whole world is supported by it. If
therefore every creature of God is sustained by his Son, why
should he not support those also who have been invited by him,
and who carry his name, and walk in his commandments?
139. Do you not see, he said, that he does support them who
with all their heart bear his name? He therefore is their
foundation and gladly supports those who do not deny his name,
but willingly bear it.
140. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] And
I said, Sir, tell me the names of these virgins and of those
women that were clothed with the black garment.
141. Hear, he said, the names of those virgins who are the
more powerful and stand at the corners of the gate. These are
142. The first is called Faith, the second Continence, the
third Power, the fourth Patience; the who are under these are
Simplicity, Innocence, Chastity, Cheerfulness, Truth,
Understanding, Concord, and Charity.
143. Whoever therefore bears these names, and the name of
the Son of God, will enter into the kingdom of God.
144. Hear now, he said, the names of those women, which
were clothed with the black garment. Of these, four are the
principal: the first is Perfidity, the second Incontinence, the
third Infidelity, and the fourth Pleasure.
145. And the rest which follow are called: Sadness, Malice,
Lust, Anger, Lying, Foolishness, Pride, and Hatred. The servant
of God who carries these spirits will see indeed the kingdom of
God, but he will not enter into it.
146. But, Sir, what are those stones that were taken out of
the deep and fitted into the building? The ten, he said, which
were placed at the foundation are the first age; the following
five and twenty, the second, are righteous men.
147. The next thirty-five are the prophets and ministers of
the Lord, and the forty are the Apostles and doctors of the
preaching of the Son of God.
148. And I said, Sir, why did the virgins put even those
stones into the building after they were carried through the
gate? And he said, Because these first carried the spirits, and
they departed not one from the one, neither the men from the
spirits, nor the spirits from the men:
149. But the spirits were joined to these men even to the
day of their death, and if they had not had these spirits with
them, they could not have been useful to the building of this
150. And I said, Sir, show me more about this. He
answered, What do you ask? Why did these stones come out of the
deep and were placed into the building of this tower, seeing that
long ago they carried those holy spirits.
151. It was necessary, he said, for them to ascend by water
so they might be at rest. For they could not otherwise enter
into the kingdom of God, except by laying aside the mortality of
their former life.
152. Even though they were dead, they were nevertheless
sealed with the seal of the Son of God, and so entered into the
kingdom of God.
153. For before a man receives the name of the Son of God,
he is ordained to death; but when he receives that seal, he is
freed from death and assigned to life.
154. Now that seal is the water of baptism into which men
go down under the obligation to death, but come up appointed to
155. For that reason, to those also was this seal preached,
and they made use of it so they might enter the kingdom of God.
Compare 1 Peter 3:19
156. And I said, Why then, Sir, did these forty stones also
ascend with them out of the deep, having already received that
157. He answered, Because these Apostles and teachers who
preached the name of the Son of God, dying after they had
received his faith and power, preached to them who had died
before and they this seal to them.
158. Therefore they went down into the water with them, and
again came up. But these went down while they were alive, and
came up again alive; whereas those who were before dead, went
down dead, but came up alive;
159. Through these therefore they received life and knew
the Son of God. For this reason they came up with them and were
fit to come into the building of the tower uncut and put in
whole, because they died in righteousness and in great purity;
only this seal was lacking to them.
160. Here you have the explication of these things.
161. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] I
answered, Sir, tell me now what concerns those mountains, why are
they so different, some of one form and some of another.
162. Hear, he said. These twelve mountains you see are
twelve nations, which make up the whole world. Therefore the Son
of God is preached to them by those whom he sent to them.
163. I said, But why are they different and every one a
symbol? He replied, Pay attention. These twelve nations that
possess the whole world are twelve people.
164. And as you have beheld these mountains different, so
are they. I will therefore open to you the meaning and actions
of every mountain.
165. But first, Sir, I said, seeing these mountains are so
different, show me how have they conformed into the building of
this tower, and been brought to one color, and are no less bright
than those that came out of the deep?
166. Because, he replied, all the nations which are under
heaven have heard and believed in the same one name of the Son of
God by whom they are called.
167. So having received his seal, they have all been made
partakers of the same understanding and knowledge; and their
faith and charity have been the same, and they have carried the
spirits of these virgins together with his name.
168. And therefore the building of this tower appeared to
be of the same color and shone like the brightness of the sun.
169. After they had thus agreed in one mind there began to
be one body of them all; however, some of them polluted
themselves and were cast off from the kind of the righteous, and
again returned to their former state and became even worse than
they were before.
170. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] I
said, Sir, how were they who knew the Lord worse? He answered,
If he who does not know the Lord lives wickedly, the punishment
of his wickedness accompanies him.
171. For he who has known the Lord ought to abstain
altogether from all wickedness, and more and more to be the
servant of righteousness.
172. Does not he who ought to follow goodness, if he will
prefer the part of sin, seem to you to sin more than he who
offends without knowing the power of God?
173. For this reason these are indeed ordained to death;
but they who have known the Lord and have seen his wonderful
works, if they will live wickedly, they will be doubly punished
and will die forever.
174. You have seen after the stones that had been rejected
were cast out of the tower, they were delivered to wicked and
cruel spirits, and you beheld the tower so cleansed as if it all
had been made of one stone.
175. So the church of God, when it will be purified (the
wicked and counterfeits, the mischievous and doubtful, and all
who have behaved themselves wickedly in it and committed various
kinds of sin, being cast out) will become one body, and there
will be one understanding, one opinion, one faith, and the same
176. And then will the Son of God rejoice among them and
will receive his people with a pure will.
177. And I said, Sir, all these things are great and
honorable, but now show to me the effect and force of every
mountain, so that when every soul that trusts in the Lord hears
these things, it may honor his great, wonderful, and holy name.
178. Hear, he said, the variety of these mountains, that
is, of the twelve nations.
179. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] They
who have believed of the first mountain, which is black, are
those who have revolted from the faith and spoken wicked things
against the Lord, and betrayed the servants of God.
180. These are condemned to death, so there is no
repentance for them; therefore they are black because their kind
181. Of the second mountain, which was smooth, are the
hypocrites who have believed, and the teachers of vulgarity;
these are next to the foregoing, which have not in them the fruit
182. For as their mountain is barren and without fruit, so
also such kind of men have indeed the name of Christians, but are
empty of faith; nor is there any fruit of the truth in them.
183. Nevertheless is room left to them for repentance, if
they will suddenly pursue it; but if they will delay, they also
will be partakers of death with the foregoing kind.
184. I said, Sir, why is room left for repentance to those,
and not to the foregoing kind, seeing their sins are practically
185. There is to these therefore, he said, a return to life
by repentance because they have not blasphemed against their Lord
nor betrayed the servants of God, but have deceived men by their
desire of gain, leading them according to the lusts of sinners;
this is why they will suffer for this.
186. However there is still left them room for repentance,
because they have not spoken any thing wickedly against the Lord.
187. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] They
of the third mountain, which had thorns and brambles, are those
who believed, but some of them were rich and others taken up with
many affairs. The brambles are their riches; the thorns are
those affairs in which they were engaged.
188. They who are entangled in much business and in
diversity of affairs do not associate themselves with the
servants of God, but wander, being called away by those affairs
with which they are choked.
189. And so they who are rich yield themselves with
difficulty to the manner of life of the servants of God, fearing
anything should be asked of them. These therefore will hardly
enter into the kingdom of God.
190. For as men walk with difficulty barefoot over thorns,
even so these kind of men will scarcely enter into the kingdom of
191. Nevertheless there is afforded to all these a return
to repentance if they will quickly return to it, because in their
former days they have neglected to do spiritual, but in the
future they may do some good.
192. If they will do the works of righteousness after
repenting, they will live; but if they will continue in their
evil courses, they will be delivered to those women who will take
away their life.
193. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] As
for the fourth mountain, which had many herbs, the upper part of
which is green but the roots dry, and some of which being touched
with the heat of the sun are withered:
194. It denotes the doubtful who have believed, and some
others who carry the Lord in their tongues but do not have him in
their heart. Their grass is dry and without root because they
live only in words, but their works are dead.
195. These therefore are neither dead nor living, but are
doubtful. For the doubtful are neither green nor dry, that is,
neither dead nor alive.
196. For as the herbs dry away at the sight of the sun, so
as soon as the doubtful hear of persecution and fear
inconveniences, they return to their idols and again serve them,
and are ashamed to bear the name of their Lord.
197. This kind of men then is neither dead nor alive;
nevertheless these also may live, if they will presently repent;
but if not, they will be delivered to those women who will take
away their life.
198. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] As
concerning the fifth mountain, which is craggy and yet has green
grass, they are of this kind who have believed and are faithful
indeed, but believe with difficulty and are bold and self-
conceited, and want others to think they know all things, but
really know nothing.
199. By reason of this confidence, knowledge is departed
from them, and a rash presumption is entered into them.
200. But they carry themselves high like prudent men, and
though they are fools, yet would seem to be teachers.
201. Now by reason of this folly many of them, while they
magnify themselves, are become vain and empty. For boldness and
vain confidence is a very evil spirit.
202. Many of these are cast away, but others acknowledging
their error have repented and submitted themselves to those who
203. And to all the rest of this kind there is repentance
allowed, forasmuch as they were not so much wicked as foolish and
void of understanding.
204. If these therefore will repent, they will live to God;
but if not, they will dwell with those women who will exercise
their wickedness upon them.
205. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] For
what concerns the sixth mountain, which had greater and lesser
clefts, they are such as have believed; but those in which were
lesser clefts are they who have had controversies among
themselves, and by reason of their quarrels languish in the
206. Nevertheless many of these have repented, and so will
the rest when they will hear my commands; for their controversies
are but small, and they will easily return to repentance.
207. But those who have the greater clefts will be as stiff
stones, mindful of grudges and offenses, and full of anger among
themselves. These therefore are cast from the tower and refused
to be put into its building; for this kind of men will hardly
208. Our God and Lord, who rules over all things and has
power over all his creatures, will not remember our offenses, but
is easily appeased by those who confess their sins; but man
being languid, mortal, infirm, and full of sins, perseveres in
his anger against man, as if it were in his power to save or
209. But I, as the angel who am set over your repentance,
admonish you that whoever among you has any such purpose should
lay it aside and return to repentance, and the Lord will heal
your former sins, if you will purge yourselves from this evil
spirit. But if you will not do it, you will be delivered to him
210. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] As
for the seventh mountain, in which the grass was green and
flourishing, and the whole mountain faithful, and all kind of
cattle fed upon the grass of it, and the more the grass was eaten
so much the more it flourished,
211. They are such as believed and were always good and
upright, and without any differences among themselves, but still
rejoiced in the servants of God, having put on the spirit of
these virgins and been always eager to show mercy to all men,
readily giving to all men of their labors without upbraiding or
212. Therefore the Lord, seeing their simplicity and
innocence, has increased them in the works of their hands and
given them grace in all their works.
213. But I, who am the angel appointed over your
repentance, exhort you that as many as are of this kind would
continue in the same purpose, so that your offspring may not be
rooted out forever.
214. For the Lord has tested you and written you into our
number, and all your descendants will dwell with the Son of God,
for you are all of his spirit.
215. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] As
concerning the eighth mountain, in which were a great many
springs by which every kind of all the creatures of God was
watered, they are such as have believed the Apostles whom the
Lord sent into all the world to preach.
216. And some of them being teachers have preached and
taught purely and sincerely, and have not in the least yielded to
any evil desires, but have constantly walked in righteousness and
217. These therefore have their conversations among the
218. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts]
Again, as for what concerns the ninth mountain, which is desert
and full of serpents, they are such as have believed but had many
219. These are such ministers as discharge their ministry
amiss, seizing and carrying away the goods of the widows and
fatherless, and serve themselves, not others, out of those things
they have received.
220. These, if they continue in this covetousness, have
delivered themselves to death, nor will there be any hope of life
for them. But if they will be converted and will discharge their
ministry sincerely, they may live.
221. As for those which were found rough, they are such as
have denied the name of the Lord and not returned again to the
Lord, but have become savage and wild, not applying themselves to
the servants of God but, being separated from them, have for a
little carelessness lost their lives.
222. For as a vine that is forsaken in a hedge and never
dressed, perishes and is choked by the weeds, and in time becomes
wild and ceases to be useful to its lord, so this kind of men,
despairing of themselves and being soured, have begun to be
unprofitable to their Lord.
223. Yet to these there is, after all, repentance allowed,
if they will not be found from their hearts to have denied
Christ; but if any of these will be found to have denied him from
his heart, I cannot tell whether such a one can attain to life.
224. I say therefore that if any one has denied, he should
in these days return to repentance, for it cannot be that anyone
who now denies the Lord can afterwards attain to salvation;
nevertheless repentance is proposed to them who have formerly
225. But he who will repent must hurry his repentance
before the building of this tower is finished; otherwise he will
be delivered by those women to death.
226. But they that are maimed are the deceitful and those
who mix with one another; these are the serpents you saw mingled
in that mountain.
227. For as the poison of serpents is deadly to men, so the
words of such persons infect and destroy men. They are therefore
maimed in their faith by reason of that kind of life they lead.
228. However some of them, having repented, have been
saved, and so will others of the same kind also be saved if they
will repent; but if not, they will die by those women whose power
and force they possess.
229. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] For
what concerns the tenth mountain, in which were the trees
covering the cattle, they are such as have believed, and some of
them have been bishops, that is, governors of the churches.
230. Others are such stones as have not feignedly, but with
a cheerful mind entertained the servants of God.
231. Then such as have been set over inferior ministries
and have protected the poor and the widows, and have always kept
a chaste conversation; therefore they also are protected by the
232. Those who do like this are honored with the Lord, and
their place is among the angels, if they will continue to obey
the Lord even to the end.
233. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] As
to the eleventh mountain, in which were trees loaded with several
sorts of fruits, they are such as have believed and suffered
death for the name of the Lord, and have endured with a ready
mind and given up their lives with all their hearts.
234. And I said, Why then, Sir, have all these fruit
indeed, but yet some are fairer than others?
235. Pay attention, he said. Whoever suffered for the name
of the Lord are esteemed honorable by the Lord, and all their
offenses are blotted out because they have suffered death for the
name of the Son of God.
236. Hear now, why their fruits are different, and some of
them excel others. They who, being brought before magistrates
and being asked, denied not the Lord but suffered with a ready
mind, these are more honorable with the Lord. The fairest fruits
therefore are these.
237. But they who were fearful and doubtful and have
deliberated with themselves whether they should confess or deny
Christ, and yet have suffered, their fruits are smaller because
this thought came into their hearts.
238. For it is a wicked and evil thought for a servant to
deliberate whether he should deny his master. Take heed
therefore you who have such thoughts that this mind does not
continue in you, and you die to God.
239. But you who suffer death for his name's sake ought to
honor the Lord that he has esteemed you worthy to bear his name,
and that you should be delivered from all your sins.
240. And why therefore do you not rather esteem yourselves
happy? Yes, think truly that if anyone among you suffers, he
performs a great work! For the Lord gives you life, and you do
not understand it. For your offenses did oppress you, and if you
had not suffered for his name's sake, you would now be dead to
241. For this reason I speak this to you who deliberate
whether you should confess or deny him. Confess that you have
the Lord for your God, for fear that at any time denying him, you
will be delivered not merely to bonds.
242. All nations punish their servants who deny their
masters, so what do you think the Lord who has the power of all
things will do to you?
243. Therefore remove these doubts out of your hearts, so
that you may live forever to God.
244. As for the twelfth mountain, which was white, they are
such as have believed like sincere children into whose thought
there never came any malice, nor have they ever known what sin
was, but have always continued in their integrity.
245. So this kind of men without all doubt will inherit the
kingdom of God, because they have never in anything defiled the
commandments of God, but have continued with sincerity in the
same condition all the days of their life.
246. Whoever therefore, he said, will continue as children
without malice will be more honorable than all those of whom I
have yet spoken; for all such children are honored by the Lord
and esteemed the first of all.
247. Happy therefore are you who will remove all malice
from you and put on innocence, because you will first see the
248. And after he had thus ended his explication of all the
mountains, I said to him, Sir, show me now also what concerns the
stones that were brought out of the plain and put into the tower
in the place of those that were rejected;
249. As also concerning those round stones that were added
into the building of the tower, and also of those who still
250. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] Hear
now, he said, concerning those stones which were brought out of
the plain into the building of the tower and placed in the room
of those that were rejected; they are the roots of that white
251. Because those who have believed of that mountain were
very innocent, the Lord of this tower commanded that they which
were of the roots of this mountain should be placed into the
252. For he knew if they were put into this building they
would continue bright, nor would any of them any more be made
253. But if he had added from the rest of the mountains in
this manner, he would almost have needed again to visit the tower
and to cleanse it.
254. Now all these white stones are the young men who have
believed, or will believe; for they are all of the same kind.
Happy is this kind, because it is innocent.
255. Hear now also concerning those round and bright
stones. All these are of this white mountain, but they are found
round because their riches have a little darkened them from the
truth and dazzled their eyes:
256. They nevertheless have never departed from the Lord,
nor has any wicked word proceeded out of their mouths, but all
righteousness, and virtue, and truth.
257. When therefore the Lord saw their mind, and that they
might adorn the truth, he commanded that they should continue
good, and that their riches should be pared away.
258. For he would not have them taken wholly away, because
they might do some good with that which was left, and live to
God, for they also are of a good kind.
259. Therefore there was a little cut off from them, and so
they were put into the building of this tower.
260. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] As
for the rest which continued still round and were not found fit
for the building of this tower because they have not yet received
the seal, they were carried back to their place because they were
found very round.
261. But this present world the vanities of their riches
must be cut away from them, and then they will be fit for the
kingdom of God. For they must enter into the kingdom of God,
because God has blessed this innocent kind.
262. Of this kind therefore none will fall away; if any of
them become tempted by the devil and should offend, he will soon
return to his Lord God.
263. I the angel of repentance esteem you happy, whoever
are innocent as little children, because your portion is good and
honorable with the Lord.
264. And I say to all you who have received his seal: keep
simplicity and remember not the offenses which are committed
against you, nor continue in malice or bitterness through the
memory of offenses.
265. But become one spirit, and provide remedies for these
evil rifts and remove them from you so that the lord of the sheep
may rejoice at it; for he will rejoice, if he will find all
266. Woe will be to the shepherds if any of these sheep
will be found scattered away. But and if the shepherds
themselves will be scattered, what will they answer to the lord
of the sheepfold? Will they say that they were troubled by the
sheep? They will not be believed.
267. For it is an incredible thing that the shepherd should
suffer because of his flock; he will be punished more for his
268. Now I am the shepherd, and I must especially give an
account of you.
269. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] For
this reason take care of yourselves while the tower is yet
building. The Lord dwells in those that love peace, for peace is
beloved; but he is far off from the contentious and those who are
full of malice.
270. Therefore restore to him the spirit as entire as you
received it. For if you will give a new and whole garment to one
who shrinks and thickens woolen cloth by moistening and pressing,
you will expect to receive it whole again; if therefore he will
restore it to you torn, would you receive it?
271. Would you not be angry and reproach him, saying, I
gave my garment to you whole; why have you rent it, and made it
useless to me? Now it is of no use to me, by reason of the rent
which you have made in it. Would you not say all this to such a
person, for the rent which he made in your garment?
272. If therefore you would be concerned for your garment
and complain that you had not received it whole, what do you
think that the Lord will do, who gave his Spirit to you entire,
and you have rendered him altogether unprofitable so that he can
be of no use to his Lord? For being corrupted by you, he is no
longer profitable to him.
273. Will not therefore the Lord do the same concerning his
Spirit, by reason of your deed? I say he undoubtedly will do the
same to all those whom he will find to continue in the
remembrance of injuries.
274. Tread not then under foot, he said, his mercy; but
rather honor him because he is so patient with respect to your
offenses, and not like one of you; but repent, for that will be
profitable for you.
275. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] All
these things which are above written, I the shepherd, the angel
of repentance, have shown and spoken to the servants of God.
276. If therefore you will believe and pay attention to
these words, and will walk in them, and will correct your ways,
you will live. But if you will continue in malice and in the
remembrance of injuries, no such sinners will live to God.
277. All these things that were to be spoken by me I have
thus delivered to you. Then the shepherd said to me, Have you
asked all things of me? I answered, Sir, I have.
278. Why, then, he said, have you not asked concerning the
spaces of these stones that were put in the building, that I may
explain that also to you? I answered, Sir, I forgot it. Hear,
then he said, concerning these also.
279. They are those who have now heard these commands and
have repented with all their hearts.
280. And when the Lord saw that their repentance was good
and pure, and that they could continue in it, he commanded their
former sins to be blotted out. For these spaces were their sins,
and they are therefore made even that they might not appear.
Here is a summary of this lengthy and complex
The twelve mountains are the "twelve nations that
make up the whole world," or representative of those
peoples who have heard the Gospel and professed to
believe. The following is the description of the
"mountains" and interpretation of each:
1. black as soot: those who revolted from the
faith, betrayed the servants of God, and spoke wicked
things against the Lord. No repentance is possible.
2. smooth, without herbs: hypocrites, profligates,
and teachers of vulgarity, who have no fruit of
righteousness in them. Repentance is possible for
3. full of thorns and thistles: rich and entangled
in many affairs, with no time to live as a servant of
God. Repentance is offered.
4. herbs half dried, with upper part green, but
some dry near the roots: doubting believers, professing
with their mouths, but not their deeds. Repentance is
5. rugged, but with green herbs: those who believe
with difficulty because of their vain conceit, but
desire to be teachers without knowing anything.
Repentance is possible.
6. full of clefts, in which some withering grass
grew: believers who have controversies and quarrels
among themselves. Repentance is possible.
7. delightful pasture and wholly fruitful, where
the more cattle and birds ate, the better the grass
grew: believers who were always good, without
differences among themselves. They need no repentance
if the continue as they are.
8. full of fountains, which were full of living
creatures: believers who constantly obeyed the Apostles
in all things. They "have their conversations among
9. destitute of water, inhabited by poisonous
serpents: wayward ministers who are covetous and serve
themselves rather than others. Repentance is possible.
10. full of tall, shady trees, under which cattle
rested and chewed the cud: the especially faithful
bishops, priests, and deacons.
11. full of thick trees full of delectable fruits:
believers who have suffered for the Lord and remained
faithful unto death.
12. altogether white and majestically beautiful:
those who have believed like children and continued in
childlike simplicity and innocence.
The white rock with a bright new gate in the plain
that rose higher than the mountains: the ancient rock
represents the pre-existent Christ, the Second Person
of the Trinity. The new gate represents the Son of God
in his earthly ministry.
The twelve virgins who stood around the gate, ten
of whom took stones through the gate to build the
tower, are "holy spirits" or the powers of the Son of
God, named Faith, Continence, Power, Patience,
Simplicity, Innocence, Chastity, Cheerfulness, Truth,
Understanding, Concord, and Charity.
The six tall men are angels of eminent dignity who
stand on the right and left hand of the Son of God);
the multitude of strong men they commanded to build the
tower are other venerable angels.
The ten stones used first in the building of the
tower are "the first age," presumably the righteous of
the Old Testament; the next twenty-five stones are
simply called "righteous men"; the next thirty-five
stones are prophets and ministers of the Lord; the next
forty stones are Apostles and doctors (teachers) of the
preaching of the Son of God.
The following is a brief recapitulation of the
actions taken in building the tower (Church):
The six men (eminent angels) command the multitude
(other venerable angels) to cut colored stones
(professing Christians) out of the mountains (nations
or peoples), which become white and fit perfectly if
carried by the virgins (the powers or virtues of the
Son of God), but stayed the same color when handled by
the multitude (angels). The virgins (the Christian
virtues) did not carry those through the gate. The six
men (angels) command the multitude (other angels) to
return the stones (professing believers) to the
mountains (place of their origin), and from now on
bring stones (professing believers) for the virgins
(the Christian virtues) to handle.
The process of building the tower (Church) is
delayed until the Lord of the tower approves what was
done; the virgins (Christian virtues) guard the tower
The Lord comes with the six (eminent angels) and
others (angels) of great dignity, with the multitude of
(angelic) workers. He is greeted by the virgins
(Christian virtues). He strikes each stone (professing
believers) with a rod (of revelatory judgment). Some
stones (professing believers) turned (symbolically)
black, some of mixed color (maimed), some did not match
but were full of blemishes. These stones are laid near
the tower, and others brought to replace them, but not
from the mountains, but from a field (the root of the
white mountain of innocent believers). Some of these
are square and fitted perfectly into the building to
replace those which had been removed. Some from the
field were white but round (innocent believers slightly
contaminated by riches, which must be pared away) and
not put in the building. These were cleansed and
fitted, but those that did not agree with the others
were carried far from the tower.
The Shepherd (of repentance) is to cut these
stones (professing believers) to fit, even the small
ones will be used in the middle of the building to hold
the others in place. After three days, he examines
Black (unrepentant) ones removed from the tower
(Church) that are still black (unrepentant), he puts
together in one place. Rough ones that had been
removed were cut to fit (repented), but some had become
black (unrepentant) and were put with those.
Those cracked (defective believers) were pared
away (submitted to repentance) and put into the tower
(Church) on the outside. Others that could not be
pared away (not submitting to repentance) were cast
Those that had large clefts (irremediable defects)
or had become black (unrepentant) were cast away, but
those that were cleansed (by repentance) were put into
the middle of the building (Church) because they were
Some of those that were both black and white (good
and bad) had become all black (unrepentant), others all
white (repentant). The former were cast away, the
latter were put in the building. (The same is done
with hard and sharp stones.)
The white and round stones (innocent believers
tempted by riches) were cut away and squared
(disciplined by repentance and made fit); those who
remained big (innocent after repentance) were built
into the tower (Church), the others were taken back to
the field from which they had come. Since they were
exceedingly white (still innocent), they were kept in
case they were needed to finish the tower (Church).
All rejected stones (professing believers who did
not repent) were given to twelve stately women dressed
in black (Perfidity, Incontinence, Infidelity,
Pleasure, Sadness, Malice, Lust, Anger, Lying,
Foolishness, Pride, and Hatred), who returned them to
the mountains (populations of the earth) from which
they had come.
Lime and small shells are used to finish the
building (Church) and make it smooth. (The spaces were
the past sins of the repentant, now erased by God and
made not to appear.) Then the site is swept, the
building is washed and becomes beauteous.
(The Shepherd then left Hermas in care of the
twelve virgins (Christian virtues), then returned to
explain the symbolisms given above.)
Of repentance and alms-deeds.
1. After I had written this book, the angel who had
delivered me to that shepherd, came into the house where I was
and sat upon the bed, and that shepherd stood at his right hand.
2. Then he called me and said to me, I delivered you and
your house to this shepherd, so that you might be protected by
him. I said, Yes, Lord.
3. He said, If therefore you will be protected from all
vexations and from all cruelty, and have success in every good
word and work, and have all virtue and righteousness, walk in
those commands he has given you, and you will have dominion over
4. For if you keep those commands, all the lust and
pleasures of this present world will be subject to you, and
success will follow you in every good undertaking.
5. Take therefore his maturity and modesty towards you, and
say to all that he is in great honor and renown with God, and is
a prince of great authority and powerful in his office.
6. To him only is the power of repentance committed
throughout the whole world. Does he not seem to you to be of
7. But you despise his goodness and the modesty he shows
8. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] I said
to him, Sir, ask him since the time that he came into my house
whether I have done any thing disorderly, or have offended him in
9. I know, he said, that you have done nothing disorderly,
neither will you from now on do any such thing. Therefore I
speak these things with you so that you may persevere, for he has
given me a good account concerning you.
10. But you must speak these things to others so they who
either have repented, or will repent, may be like-minded with
you, so that he may give me as good an account of them also, and
I may do the same to the Lord.
11. I answered, Sir, I declare to all men the wonderful
works of God, and I hope that all who love them and have before
sinned, when they will hear these things, will repent and recover
12. Continue therefore, he said, in this ministry and
fulfill it. And whoever will do according to the commands of this
shepherd, he will live and have great honor both here and with
13. But they who will not keep his commands, flee from
their life and are adversaries to it. And they that follow not
his commands, will deliver themselves to death and will be every
one guilty of his own blood.
14. But I say to you, keep these commandments, and you will
find a cure for all your sins.
15. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts]
Moreover, I have sent these virgins to dwell with you, for I have
seen that they are very kind to you. You will therefore have
them for your helpers, so that you may the better keep the
commands which he has given you; for these commands cannot be
kept without these virgins.
16. And I see how they are willing to be with you, and I
will also command them that they will not all depart from your
17. Only purify your house, for they will readily dwell in
a clean house. For they are clean and chaste and industrious,
and all of them have grace with the Lord.
18. If therefore you will have your house pure, they will
abide with you. But if it will be ever so little polluted, they
will immediately depart from your house, for these virgins cannot
endure any manner of pollution.
19. I said to him, Sir, I hope that I shall so please them
that they will always delight to dwell in my house. And as he to
whom you have committed me makes no complaint of me, so neither
will they complain.
20. Then he said to that shepherd, I see that the servant
of God will live and keep these commandments, and place these
virgins in a pure habitation.
21. When he had said this, he delivered me again to that
shepherd and called the virgins, and said to them, I see that you
will readily dwell in this man's house, so I commend him and his
house to you, so that you may not at all depart from his house.
And they willingly heard these words.
22. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] Then
he said to me, Go on manfully in your ministry. Declare to all
men the great things of God, and you will find grace in this
23. And whoever will walk in these commands will live and
be happy in his life. But he that will neglect them will not
live, and will be unhappy in his life.
24. Say to all who can do well, not to cease exercising
themselves in good works, for it is profitable to them. For I
would that all men should be delivered from the inconveniences
they lie under.
25. For he who lacks and suffers inconveniences in his
daily life is in great torment and necessity. Whoever delivers
such a soul from necessity gets great joy to himself.
26. For he who is grieved with such inconveniences is just
as equally tormented as if he were in chains. And many upon the
account of such calamities, being not able to bear them, have
chosen even to destroy themselves.
Evidently this is a very compassionate reference
to some suicides.
27. He therefore who knows the calamity of such a man and
does not free him from it, commits a great sin and is guilty of
28. For this reason, as many as have received ability from
the Lord, exercise yourselves in good works, for fear that while
you delay to do them, the building of the tower be finished;
because for your sakes the building is stopped.
That is, the Church is not yet completed.
29. Except therefore you will make haste to do well, the
tower will be finished, and you will be shut out of it.
30. And after that he had thus spoken with me, he rose up
from the bed and departed, taking the shepherd and the virgins
31. However, he said to me that he would send back the
shepherd and virgins into my house. Amen.
Despite its overwhelming abundance of symbolism,
the trilogy called the Shepherd of Hermas is not really
about visions of angels, towers, mountains, stones,
virgins, etc. We should be mindful that it actually
deals with the types of people who seek salvation, and
the faith, virtue, and sanctity they must acquire to
overcome vice, weakness, and the vexations of life.
The writings of Hermas thus treat vividly the all-
important themes of redemption through Christ, the
purity of the Church, and the spiritual struggles of
those who aspire to righteousness.