Commentaries on the Sunday, Solemnity and Feast Readings, Years A, B, C (where applicable)

UPDATE: Sept 19/20. I just added Fr. MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans 6 to the site. See the link “Commentaries on Romans” above.

PARISH CORONAVIRUS NEWS: Until things return to normal, Sunday Masses from our parish can be viewed here as they become available. You can view daily Masses live at 12 noon from the cathedral on the Diocese’s youtube channel. EWTN broadcasts live Masses at 12 AM; 8AM; 12 Noon and 7 PM. Their full TV program schedule can be found here. Commentaries on the daily Mass readings can be found here. Our weekly Bulletin can be found here (note: you can subscribe to receive it via email).


First Sunday of Advent:  A  C
Second Sunday of Advent:  A  B  C.
Third Sunday of Advent:   A  B  C.
Fourth Sunday of Advent:  A  B  C.


Vigil for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Dec. 24).
Christmas Mass During the Night (Midnight Mass).
Christmas Mass At Dawn.
Christmas Mass During the Day.
Sunday Within the Octave of Christmas.
Jan. 1. Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.
The Epiphany of the Lord.

(Scroll down for the Lenten and Easter Seasons)

Baptism of the Lord: B  C. Always Corresponds to the First Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Second Sunday of Ordinary Time: A  B  C.
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time:  A  B  C.
Solemnity of Christ the King (always the final Sunday of the year):  A  B  C.


Ash Wednesday.
Thursday After Ash Wednesday.
Friday After Ash Wednesday.
Saturday After Ash Wednesday.
First Sunday of Lent:  A  B  C.
Second Sunday of Lent:  A  B  C.
Third Sunday of Lent:  A  B  C.
Fourth Sunday of Lent:  A  B  C.
Fifth Sunday of Lent:  A  B  C.
Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion:  A  B  C.
Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
Holy Thursday Chrism Mass.
Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion.

Including Ascension and Pentecost

Easter Vigil. In the evening of Holy Saturday.
Easter Sunday The Resurrection of the Lord.
Divine Mercy Sunday (Second Sunday of Easter):  A  B  C.
Third Sunday of Easter:  A  B  C.
Fourth Sunday of Easter:  A  B  C.
Fifth Sunday of Easter:  A  B  C.
Sixth Sunday of Easter:  A  B  C.
Seventh Sunday of Easter:  A  B  C.
The Ascension of the Lord:  A  B  C.
Vigil of Pentecost Years A, B and C.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

My Summary of the Mass Readings for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Isa 55:6-9 and Ps 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18.  In today’s first reading and the psalm we are bidden to seek the Lord (Isa 55:6) by forsaking all that would separate us from him (Isa 55:7), confident in his greatness, justness, and holiness (Ps 145:3, 17)  that he will forgive us (Isa 55:7) even when those human beings who are closest to us refuse to do so, for His ways are not our ways (Isa 55:8-9). As the responsorial psalm says, the Lord’s way is to be  gracious and merciful: patient and plenteous in mercy (Psalm 145:8); nigh (near) unto all them that call upon him: to all that call upon him in truth (Psalm 145:18).

Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a.  The second reading comes from Philippians, a letter whose highpoint is the exhortation to Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus (Phil 2:3-5 RSV). Is this not what Christ himself did, Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross (Phil 2:6-8).
St Paul himself lived out this ideal (Phil 1:12-18). Though St Paul writes: My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better, he also is aware that  to remain in the flesh is more necessary on his readers account.  For this reason he declares I am convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith (Phil 1:23-25 RSV). If Christ did not account equality with God as a thing to be held selfishly onto while others were separated from the divine (Phil 2:6), then neither will St Paul hold his longing for the far better thing of being with Christ while his converts are still in need. What is far better for him, (to be with Christ) is surrendered for that which is more necessary for others (his continuing ministry). With this mindset of Christ’s he imitates God generosity, imitating his ways (Isa 55:7) and his thoughts (Isa 55:8).

Matt 20:1-16a.  The parable begins with a landowner going out at dawn (probably to the city gate or market) to hire day laborers to work in his vineyard for the normal daily wage. Apparently, however, the landowner has an urgent need for more workers and so he goes out again at 9 AM and hires more men, promising to pay them “what is just.” The landowner does the same at noon, 3 and 5 PM. In this process he has hired those willing to work (Matt 20:1-2); the idle (Matt 20:3) and those who had not previously been offered employment (Matt 20:6-7).

At sundown (about 6 PM in the parable, see time references in Matt 20:9-12) the owner ordered that all his workers be paid , beginning with those who had worked the least amount of time (Matt 20:8). These men received a full days wage for one hours work.

Needless to say, those hired at dawn, seeing the largesse of the landowner toward these Johnny-come-lately employees, expected more than the normal daily wage which the late-comers had received, and to which they themselves had agreed to work for (Matt 20:2). But they received the same pay as the rest and are incensed: These last have worked but one hour, and thou hast made them equal to us, that have borne the burden of the day and the heats (see Matt 20:11-12).

Here we have selfishness, and the lament that others are made our equals. A day laborer has no more of a claim on God than does a prince. Who is as the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high: And looketh down on the low things in heaven and in earth? Raising up the needy from the earth, and lifting up the poor out of the dunghill: That he may place him with princes, with the princes of his people (Ps 113:5-8). As today’s Psalm tells us: The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made (Ps 145:9). We should be content to take what is ours and go our way (Matt 20:14), knowing that “what is ours” is by the grace of God; his gifts, not our due.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 145

A psalm of praise, to the infinite majesty of God

1 I will extol thee, O God my king: and I will bless thy name for ever; yea, for ever and ever.
2 Every day will I bless thee: and I will praise thy name for ever; yea, for ever and ever.

The two first verses contain a preface, in which the prophet tells us what he proposes singing of in this Psalm, and he does so in a poetical manner by addressing himself directly to God. “I will extol thee;” I will celebrate thee in these my verses, in order that, supreme as you are, you may be looked upon and considered as the most supreme by men. He styles God “his King,” either to show that, king as he was himself, he still had God as a King, who rules all, and is ruled by none over him, or because he was about to praise God for the works and attributes that pertained to him as King and Governor of mankind and of all created things. “And I will bless thy name,” which is no more than a repetition of the previous sentence; and he adds, “forever, yea, forever and ever,” to give us to understand that his praise would be everlasting, commencing with himself and continued by the succeeding generations, who were to chant his Psalms to the end of the world, and after that without end in the country above, as he says in Psalm 84, “Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, O Lord; they shall praise thee forever and ever.” This is more clearly repeated and explained in verse 2, where he says, “Every day will I bless thee;” I will praise thee forever, whether in prosperity or in adversity, while I am here below, and hereafter in heaven. “I will praise thy name forever and ever.”

3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised: and of his greatness there is no end.

Greatness consists in breadth, length, height, and depth, which, to a certain extent, exist in God, according to the Apostle, “That you may be able to comprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth, and height, and depth,” etc. The prophet then commences by praising God by reason of his greatness, and if we apply it to his divine essence, he is great therein in breadth, because it is immense; in length, because it is everlasting; in height, because it is most sublime; and in depth, because it is incomprehensible. Or if you will have the prophet call him great by reason of his sovereign power, he is great as to breadth or extent, inasmuch as all created things, from the highest Angel to the crawling insect, are subject to him; as to length, because his kingdom is to last forever; as to height, because he rules everything with supreme and absolute power; and as to depth, because he not only rules our bodies, but also our hearts with its most intimate and secret thoughts and affections; and, finally, there is nothing so secret or so hidden, that the scepter of his kingdom does not reach. Therefore, “great is the Lord,” and on that account, “greatly to be praised,”—“and of his greatness there is no end.” Whether as to length, breadth, height, or depth. God’s greatness, then, is infinite, and therefore, quite incapable of being investigated by us, who are finite beings; which does not imply that we are thoroughly ignorant of God’s greatness, for we know him to be great, and that there is no end of his greatness, though we cannot take it in or comprehend it. This infinite greatness of God admonishes us, that as well as his greatness has no end, so our praises should have no end. It also reminds us that we should not be satisfied with moving in the narrow limits in which we are placed here below, but that we should daily endeavor to increase in that real greatness that arises from virtue, as Psalm 84, has it. “In his heart he hath disposed to ascend by steps in the vale of tears; they shall go from virtue to virtue,” for they who seek to increase in riches and in power, that they may get above others, they, instead of being great, are only swollen; instead of being full of juice, they are only distended with wind, for pride and magnanimity are two very different things.

4 Generation and generation shall praise thy works: and they shall declare thy power.
5 They shall speak of the magnificence of the glory of thy holiness: and shall tell thy wondrous works.

He passes now from the essence of the great king, which is inscrutable, to his wonderful works, that convey some idea of his power; and he does not say, I will praise thy works, but, “generation and generation shall praise thy works.” I, of myself, am inadequate to praise your works, but generations unborn will praise them, for there never will be wanting souls to reflect on them, admire them, and praise them, “and they shall declare thy power.” The unborn generations who shall study your works, will constantly proclaim the power that shines forth in them.

6 And they shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and shall declare thy greatness.

Having spoken, in general, of the wonderful works of God, he now distinguishes three sorts of his works, some of them glorious and beautiful, and therefore, wonderful, by reason of their surpassing beauty and splendor; some of them terrible, and therefore, very wonderful, by reason of the great terror inspired by them; and some of them most lovely, and from their being the channels of conveying God’s kindness to us, no less wonderful than the others. In this verse, then, the works that are wonderful, by reason of their splendor and beauty, are praised, such as the heavens, than which nothing more beautiful can be imagined, and speaking of which he says in another Psalm, “The heavens show forth the glory of God,” as also the sun, moon, and the other heavenly bodies, whose number, variety, splendor, and perpetual motion, without fatigue or labor, are truly wonderful. “They shall speak of the magnificence of the glory of thy holiness.” All future generations shall speak in praise of the excellence of the glorious works of your magnificence, and in thus praising them, “shall tell thy wondrous works,” that appear so numerous and so conspicuous therein.

7 They shall publish the memory of the abundance of thy sweetness: and shall rejoice in thy justice.

This is the second sort of God’s works, in which the fear of the divine majesty, in punishing the wicked, is shown, “And they shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts,” they shall be talking of the dreadful and severe scourges with which you chastised the wicked, such as the deluge, the destruction of whole cities by fire from heaven, the plagues of Egypt and of Pharao, the opening of the earth to swallow Dathan and Abiron alive; and finally, the earthquakes, plagues, thunderbolts, inundations, and storms, which frequently express God’s anger to man.

8 The Lord is gracious and merciful: patient and plenteous in mercy.

Here is the third sort of God’s works that appertain to mercy, which is expressed at greater length, and more redolent of gratitude, as all God’s faithful servants should be. “They shall publish the memory of the abundance of thy sweetness;” that is to say, all generations having been filled with the abundance of the sweetness and the kindness of thy mercy, for “the earth is full of God’s mercy,” such abundance will cause them to publish the memory of the sweetness that so abounds, or in other words, they will hand down to posterity the record of so many and so great favors conferred on them; and they will not confine themselves to so publishing the memory of these favors, but they will, themselves, “rejoice in thy justice,” by reason of your having so faithfully carried out what you promised. To this class of favors belong the innumerable gifts of providence bestowed so bountifully on man, such as the alternations of night and day, the rains of heaven, the fruitfulness of the earth, the countless multitude of cattle, birds, and fish, designed for the use and behoof of man, the verdant groves and beautiful gardens, the seas and the rivers, that serve for transport, and many other blessings beside. And all those, nothing, positively nothing, as compared with the gifts of grace; for instance, the Incarnation of the Divine Word, the passion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, the sending of the Holy Ghost, the calling of the gentiles, the preaching, the promise, and the publication of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone devoutly meditate on these points, and it will be truly wonderful, if in his fullness he will not “publish the memory of the abundance of the sweetness” of God.

9 The Lord is sweet to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.
10 Let all thy works, O lord, praise thee: and let thy saints bless thee.

Not content with having said that such was the abundance of God’s sweetness that all generations would publish the memory of it, he comes out the first to publish and to proclaim it, saying, “The Lord is gracious and merciful, patient, and plenteous in mercy.” He is the Lord because he removes all troubles, by forgiveness, by justification, by glorification; and he is not only “gracious,” but he is “merciful,” as merciful as a father; and, furthermore, he is “patient,” which means that his mercy is continuous; for no matter how often we may provoke him, he will not turn to anger at once, but rather waits to see would we do penance; and finally, such mercy is not small, confined, or illiberal, but on the contrary, “most plenteous.” That is most fully explained in the next verse, where he says, “The Lord is sweet to all;” and so he is to those who can appreciate his sweetness; and he is not only sweet and kind to all, and merciful too, but “his tender mercies, are over all his works;” for there is no one of his works, however insignificant, to which he does not extend his mercy. The expression, “The Lord is sweet to all,” is absolutely true, because God “maketh his sun to rise upon the good and the bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust;” and in Psalm 86, we read, “For thou, O Lord, art sweet and mild, and plenteous in mercy, to all that call upon thee;” and again, in Psalm 103, “For according to the height of the heaven above the earth, he hath strengthened his mercy to those that fear him. As a father hath compassion on his children, so hath the Lord compassion on them that fear him. But the mercy of the Lord is from eternity and unto eternity upon them that fear him;” which the blessed Virgin also expressed, when she said, “And his mercy is from generation to generation to them that fear him.”

11 They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom: and shall tell of thy power:
12 To make thy might known to the sons of men: and the glory of the magnificence of thy kingdom.
13 Thy kingdom is a kingdom of all ages: and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations. The Lord is faithful in all his words: and holy in all his works.

Having hitherto sung of the glorious, terrible, and lovely works of God, he now comes to describe his kingdom, and then the virtues peculiar to the King himself. “Let all thy works, O Lord, praise thee.” Let all the works for which I have been hitherto praising you, now unite with me in praising you; for the productions of an artist, when they are beautiful, redound to his praise and glory, and God’s works are such as to admit of no improvement, either by adding or taking from them. “And God saw all the things that he had made, and they were very good;” and in Psalm 111, “Great are the works of the Lord sought out according to all his wills.” These words may be considered as a conclusion to the first part of the chapter, as he now enters on a different subject with the words, “and let thy saints bless thee;” that is to say, generations unborn will praise thee by reason of the works that are visible to all, but it is the saints alone, through the revelation of the Holy Ghost, that are aware of the nature of your kingdom I am now about to speak of; and, therefore, “let thy saints,” to whom it has been revealed by the Holy Ghost, “bless thee,” which means praise thee; and he tells for what, when he adds, “They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and shall tell of thy power.” The glory of a kingdom is synonymous with its power. The power of a kingdom consists in the number of its subjects, and the sufficiency of its revenue, to maintain them. Now, the glory, or the power of God’s kingdom, may be inferred from the difference between it and that of man. There are four points of difference. First, the kings of this world have but few subjects, without much wealth; not more than the population and wealth of one kingdom, or one province, while God reigns over all Angels, all men, all demons, and all the wealth on land, in the sea, or in the air, belong to him. There is another difference, that while the kings of this world rule their subjects, they are still ruled by them, they are dependent on them, can do nothing without them; and, however, abundant their revenues may be, they are generally in want, nay even in debt, and, consequently, always calling for fresh tributes and taxes; but God, while he governs all, is subject to none, because he needs nobody’s help or assistance; instead of being in want, he abounds in everything, because he could, in one moment, bring from nothing much more than he now beholds or enjoys. The third difference is a consequence of the second, while the kings of this world seem so to enjoy their honors and dignities, they are, at the same time, suffering acutely from interior fears, doubts, and cares, which have sometimes been so burdensome, as to cause them to abdicate altogether. God never suffers such pressure, is subject to no fear, no misgivings, but reigns absolutely in perfect tranquillity. The fourth difference, an essential one, is, that the kings of this world reign but for a time; but God reigneth forever. Now, the first difference is touched upon in the verse, “They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and shall tell of thy power;” your saints will proclaim the power and the glory of your kingdom, which consists in the number of your subjects, and the inexhaustible abundance of your wealth. The second and third are included in the words, “To make thy might known to the sons of men, and the glory of the magnificence of thy kingdom,” which indicate an immense difference between the kingdom of God and any human kingdom, for he says, “To make known to the sons of men,” to make them understand that their kingdoms are a mere nothing as compared with that of God, and not content with having said, “To make thy might known,” he adds, “and thy glory;” and not content with that even, he adds again, “of the magnificence of thy kingdom,” or the glory of your most magnificent kingdom. The fourth difference is apparent in the verse, “thy kingdom,” etc. “The Lord is faithful in all his words, and holy in all his works.” He now enters on the virtues that belong to a king, that are so conspicuous in God, and in Christ, as man, and which all kings, and all in power, should constantly look to and seek to imitate. The first virtue that should distinguish a king is uprightness, with a strict adherence to truth, for the king’s example is all powerful, and of Christ, the King, we read, “Who did no sin, neither was guilt found in his mouth,” nearly word for word with what the prophet says here, “The Lord is faithful in all his words;” that is to say, truthful, no liar, no deceiver, observing all his promises most faithfully; “and holy in all his works;” or in other words, “Innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners,” and immaculate in all his actions.

14 The Lord lifteth up all that fall: and setteth up all that are cast down.

Here is the second virtue that should adorn a king and a pastor, for both should rule in such a manner that their subjects may not fall; and if they chance to fall, that they should be prompt in raising them. That virtue is called mercy, and one essential to all in power. The expression “lifteth up,” in the Hebrew, conveys the idea not only of lifting up, but enabling the person so lifted to keep up, as we read in another Psalm, “Being pushed I was overturned, that I might fall, but the Lord supported me.” But is it true that God lifts up all that fall, when we daily see many falling without being lifted, either as regards soul or body? God is said to lift up all that fall, inasmuch as those who fall not when tempted, keep up, through God’s grace; and they who rise after falling, are set up by God’s grace; while they who fall, or do not rise after falling, must blame themselves for it, and not God, which Osee expresses in different language, when he says, “Destruction is thy own, O Israel, thy help is only in me.” That David did not mean to say absolutely that all, without any exception, that may chance to fall would be raised, is clear from the following expression, where he says, “And setteth up all that are cast down.” For if God were to support all that were about to fall, he would have no occasion to set up anyone, or nobody would fall; how, then, is it true that he “setteth up all that are cast down”? These words are to be taken in a spiritual sense. As to the actual falling of anyone, it remains to be said that God is naturally inclined to raise and to set up all; and if he does not do so by all, nay, more, if he sometimes precipitates and brings them down, he does so either with a view to prove them and to crown them, as he does to the just, in which case it proves a raising up rather than a taking down, or he does so in order to punish and chastise, and that when the sins of the parties themselves call for it, and thus the very first root of the evil springs from ourselves, and thus what Osee said, “Destruction is thy own, O Israel, thy help is only in me,” will always be true.

15 The eyes of all hope in thee, O Lord: and thou givest them meat in due season.
16 Thou openest thy hand, and fillest with blessing every living creature.

Liberality is the third virtue that should adorn a king. Kings should not fleece their subjects, and seek to squeeze money out of them under various pretences, and thus, perhaps, reduce them to poverty; on the contrary, they should deal liberally with them, supporting them, as if they were their own children; but, yet, taking care not to allow them to eat to excess, or spend whole days in feasting. “The eyes of all hope in thee, O Lord.” The eyes of all living things look to thee, expecting food from thee, that they may be supported by it, and keep up their life, “and thou givest them meat;” and you, through the agency of the creatures subject to you, the earth, the sun, and the rain, produce fruits in abundance, as meat for all living creatures, and that “in due season,” when they have need of it, for they should not be always eating; and thus, they who eat to excess, have not their meat from God, but from their own gluttony. “In due season” also implies when hunger calls for it, when it is useful or necessary; and therefore, they who accumulate and hoard up their superfluities, steal so much from the community; and it cannot be a matter of surprise to find so many in dire necessity. He also gives it “in due season,” when it is right to give it, because sometimes it is better to withhold it, because man’s sins deserve it, as the physician will sometimes prescribe total abstinence from food and strong drink; and hence God, not infrequently, visits sinners with dearth and famine, in punishment of their sins. “In due season” also expresses the variety of food that God provides for us in the various seasons. That we may carry with us the fact of God’s liberality, being the primary source of all our blessings, he next adds, “Thou openest thy hand, and fillest with blessing every living creature,” every word of which is expressive of profuse liberality. “Thou openest thy hand.” It is not with a closed but an open hand that you give to your creatures; it is with extreme liberality; “and fillest,” satisfy to the fullest extent of their desires, “every living creature,” not only man, but all living things; “with blessing,” in the most abundant manner; such is the sense in which St. Paul uses the word blessing, when he writes to the Corinthians to have the alms collected, “to be ready, so as a blessing, not as covetousness;” that is, that their alms should be liberal. But if God fills every living thing so abundantly, whence have we so many beggars, so many poor, hungry, thirsty? We have already observed that a good deal of it arises from the injustice of the rich, who either hoard up, or sinfully squander, what they should share with the poor; and we added, that such often arises from the just punishment of God, that is called for by the sins of the parties themselves; and finally, we may add, that the very poor in question are often themselves the cause of it, either because they depend more on their scheming than they do on God, or because they cannot content themselves with the food and raiment befitting their station in life, or because they will often spend in one day’s debauch what they may have been earning for an entire week.

17 The Lord is just in all his ways: and holy in all his works.

Justice is the fourth virtue befitting a sovereign, and one of absolute necessity, in order to ensure peace and tranquillity among the people. “The Lord is just in all his ways.” The Lord displays extreme justice in his external acts, by which alone we can form an idea of his justice; for he renders to all what is due to them, and he repeats the same in the next sentence when he says, “and holy in all his works.”

18 The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him: to all that call upon him in truth.

The fifth virtue becoming a king consists in his being easy of access to all who come to him looking for assistance. This God does to a wonderful extent, for “he is nigh unto all them that call upon him;” no matter how high above the heavens he may be, he comes nigh at once to all that call upon him, never refusing an audience to anyone. Hence, Moses boasts in Deuteronomy, “Neither is there any other nation so great, that hath gods so nigh them, as our God is present to all our petitions;” and he tells us how we are to understand the expression, “to all that call upon him,” when he repeats it with the addition of “in truth,” for that expression comprehends all the conditions that are necessary for prayer. He that prays without faith does not pray “in truth,” because, instead of calling on God, he calls on the idol of his own brain. He that prays without hope does not pray “in truth,” because, he cannot be serious in praying to anyone by whom he does not hope to be heard. And he who prays without charity, or, at least, without inchoate love, does not invoke God “in truth,” because nobody will seriously pray to one whom he hates, and who, he has reason to think, hates him. They, too, who pray without affection and desire, such as those who recite the Psalms or any other prayers, without any desire of obtaining what they ask, though they appear to do so, “do not invoke God in truth.” They also who pray without attention, without knowing what they are saying, pray merely with their lips, and they also “do not call upon him in truth,” because, instead of calling on him, they only show an empty appearance of calling on him.

19 He will do the will of them that fear him: and he will hear their prayer, and save them.

Benignity, or kindness, is the sixth royal attribute, by virtue of which the king not only admits his subjects to an audience, but graciously grants all their petitions, provided it be right for him to grant them. “He will do the will of them that fear him;” on having heard their prayer, he will do what they want, but he qualifies it by adding, “of them that fear him,” for it is but fair that God should do the will of those only that do his will; and those who have a holy horror of offending God, and would lose the whole world rather than his grace, are the people that do his will. That, as usual, he repeats, when he says, “and he will hear their prayer.” He finally adds, “and save them,” to give us to understand how God always hears the prayers of those that fear him. God frequently appears not to hear the prayers of such people, as when he would not deliver St. Paul from “the sting of his flesh,” though he had prayed three times to be delivered from it; and still he really hears the principal desire of such people, which consists in a desire of eternal salvation. For, as the Lord ordered to “seek first the kingdom of God and his justice,” or in other words, his glory and his grace; thus all they who fear God with the holy fear becoming him, will first and principally, in every prayer of theirs, ask for inchoate salvation or grace; and then for perfect salvation which is glory. God, then, always hears those that fear him, for “he will save them;” that is to say, he hears them in the time and the mode most conducive to their salvation.

20 The Lord keepeth all them that love him; but all the wicked he will destroy.

The last but most necessary virtue for a king is that of providence, by virtue of which he protects the just from oppression on the part of the wicked, and prevents the wicked, if not from injuring the just, at least from injuring them to the extent of their wishes. For though he sometimes allows the just to suffer much from sinners, still he so protects them, that such suffering cannot harm them; nay more, that it turns to their advantage. God suffered the holy martyrs to be flogged and to be slain, but he “kept them,” by the gift of constancy, in their faith, and patience in their sufferings, with a view to securing glory to their souls, and a glorious and immortal body, and thereby realizing the truth of the promise, “A hair from your head shall not be lost.” As to the sentence, “but all the wicked he will destroy;” the truth of that will appear either because the wicked will be converted, and will then not be there, as wicked, for destruction; or because they persevere in final wickedness, and will then be scattered by being consigned to hell, so that they can never again come near the just.

21 My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord: and let all flesh bless his holy name forever; yea, for ever and ever.

He now concludes the Psalm by uniting the first and last verses, as if he said, In consequence of all I have stated regarding the greatness of God, of his works, of the perpetuity of his kingdom, of his royal qualities that are so numerous and so perfect in him, “My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord” forever. And I not only mean to do so myself, but I earnestly desire that “all flesh,” that every human being, everything that lives and breathes, should praise the name of the Lord forever.

Posted in Catholic, Notes on Psalms | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 6

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this chapter, the Apostle answers an objection to which his doctrine in the preceding chapter (Rom 5:20), might give rise (Rom 6:1). From the very rite of baptism, he shows that we should no longer commit sin; on the contrary, we should lead a new life of grace; for the rite of immersion practised in his time in baptism, was a type of our death to sin, and the egress from the waters of baptism was a type of our spiritual resurrection, both of which were effected, as well as signified, by the sacrament of baptism; and both had the death and resurrection of Christ for models (Rom 6:2–9). He next shows, from the very nature of Christ’s death, which took place but once, and of his resurrection, which was the entrance to an immortal life, that we, too, after his example, should persevere in a life of grace (Rom 6:9–11). He exhorts to a life of sanctity (Rom 6:11–20). He points out the present and future fruits of a life of sin and of a life of grace (Rom 6:21-23).

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

Rom 6:1. What inference, then, are we to draw from the foregoing doctrine, viz., that “where sin abounded, grace did more abound.” Is it that we should continue in sin in order that grace may abound the more?

The Apostle proposes an objection which might be derived from his words in the preceding chapter, verse 20, that “where sin abounded, grace abounded more,” why not then continue in sin to give occasion to the abundant effusion of grace? Instead of “shall we continue,” the chief MSS. have, επιμενωμεν, “should we continue.”Rom 6:2Far be it from us to entertain for a moment so foolish and impious a thought. For how could we, who are dead to sin, who, from our Christian profession, should have no more commerce with sin than the living have with the dead, live any longer in that unhappy state? How is it possible to live and die to the same thing?

He at once rejects the thought as impious and absurd—since it would be absurd for men who, by their Christian profession, “are dead to sin.” i.e., who renounced all intercourse with sin, as the dead do in regard to the living, to live any longer in a state which they have so thoroughly renounced. He shows the absurdity of the consequence, since it is impossible to live and die to the same thing.

Rom 6:3For that we are dead to sin, you may clearly see, by calling to mind what you already know, viz., that when we are baptized in the name and by the authority of Jesus Christ, we are baptized into the likeness and representation of his death.

He now proves that they are dead to sin, since by being “baptized in Christ Jesus,” in the Greek, εἰς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν, into Christ Jesus, i.e., by professing ourselves followers of Christ in the rite of baptism. In the Codex Vaticanus, the word “Jesus” is wanting, it simply is, “baptized unto Christ.” “Are baptized in his death”; in the Greek, εἰς τὸν θάνατον, into his death, i.e., into the likeness and representation of his death. So that his death on the cross would be represented by our death to sin, of which the baptism by immersion—the form of baptism in use in the time of the Apostle—was a significant type; and this death to sin on our part is effected by baptism, since, according to the doctrine of St. Thomas, the sacraments operate what they signify.

Rom 6:4For, in order vividly to represent his death, we have been buried with him in the baptismal rite of immersion. So that as Christ has been resuscitated from the grave by the glorious operation of his Father’s power, we also, emerging from the baptismal waters, would lead a new life, as he did after his resurrection, and continue perseveringly in it.

He shows how our spiritual death to sin is signified by baptism. For, our immersion in baptism is a type of our burial, and, consequently, of our death to sin, of which his death on the cross was the model. “For we are buried together with him by baptism,” his burial, and, consequently, his death, being the model of our burial and death to sin, signified by our immersion in the waters of baptism. In all the Greek copies we have, οὖν, therefore, instead of “for.” “Into death,” to represent his death, which must precede burial. “That as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father,” i.e., by the glorious operation of the Father’s power, to enter on a new and immortal life, we too, after emerging from the waters of baptism, which is a type of our spiritual resurrection, would, like Christ, risen from the grave—our resuscitated model—enter on a new and holy life. As the death of Christ is the model of our death to sin, so is his resurrection from the tomb the model of our spiritual resurrection, and both signified by the rite of baptism, then conferred by immersion.

Rom 6:5For, if, like young shoots, we have been engrafted on him by baptism, so as to represent, by our death to sin, his death on the cross, we shall certainly, for a like reason, be engrafted also unto the likeness of his resurrection, which will be effected by our leading a new life of grace, after the model of his glorious and immortal life.

He shows why we should walk in the newness of life, or become assimilated to Christ in his resurrection; for, our assimilation to him in our spiritual death, was not to rest there. Baptism not only represented and effected our spiritual death to sin—for this was but one spiritual effect signified and caused by baptism—but it also signified and effected our resurrection to a new life, in which we are to live after the model of Christ resuscitated from the grave. Our death to sin was the precursor of our new life of grace. Hence, if we die with Christ, with much greater reason shall we rise with him. “Planted together with him,” συμφυτοι γεγοναμεν; there is allusion in these words to the grafting of young shoots on the stock of another tree: Christ is the stock of the true and faithful vine on which we must be engrafted, to die with him to sin, and to live with him to grace, as the young graft participates in all the vicissitudes of the stock on which it is inserted. The nutriment we derive from our insertion on him, will not be merely confined to our dying to sin; it is intended to produce in us the fruits of a new and spiritual life.

Rom 6:6We should die to sin and live a new life of grace, if we consider that in baptism, our old man, i.e., the corruption of nature, which we inherited from Adam, is crucified with Christ, so that the whole mass, or body of sin consisting of different members, may be destroyed, and we may no longer serve as slaves under the tyranny of sin.

From the end of baptism he shows that we should be dead to sin, and walk in the newness of life (verse 4); for, while baptism represents the crucifixion of Christ, it also signifies and effects the crucifixion of our vices. “Our old man,” i.e., the sinfulness and corruption inherited from Adam, or rather man himself, as affected by this sinfulness. The Apostle distinguishes two men, the old and the new. The “old man was crucified” with Christ; for, in his person “who was made for us a malediction,” the entire fallen race of Adam was nailed to the cross. “That the body of sin,” i.e., the entire mass or collection of sins—the members of which collection are uncleanness, avarice, &c. (Colossians 3). They are called a body, because as different members joined together constitute a body, so all the particular sins committed by the “old man” constitute a “body” also; in using the word body, the Apostle carries with him the idea of crucifixion, and alludes to the body of man after he fell in Adam, before he was renewed in Christ. This corrupt body was made by man the instrument of indulging his concupiscences. “May be destroyed,” by mortifying and restraining its members, “and may serve sin no longer.” “Sin” is represented as a tyrant exercising dominion over us.

Rom 6:7For, as the dead slave is freed from servitude, so are we, who are dead to sin by baptism, freed from its tyranny; and hence, we should no longer serve it.

He continues to represent sin as a tyrant exercising sway—“is justified from sin?” “justified” is taken in a legal sense to signify acquitted, fully absolved, so as not to be again questioned on that account.

Rom 6:8But if we be really dead to sin with Christ, we have a firm hope and confidence, that one day we shall enjoy with Christ a glorious and immortal life.

“We believe,” i.e., we confidently hope, “we shall live together with Christ.” These words are understood by Estius to refer to our living a life of grace after the model of His glorious and immortal life. The interpretation in the Paraphrase, which makes it refer to our living with him one day a life of glory in heaven, is, however, to be preferred; for, the Apostle would appear to take occasion, from treating of the life of grace, to refer to the reward of future glory, as a means of stimulating men to the practice of virtue. The opinion of Estius, however, derives great probability from the meaning given to the words, alive unto God, verse 11, where the foregoing example is applied.

Rom 6:9As we know that Christ, resuscitated from the tomb, dies no more, death has no further dominion over him he (enjoys a glorious and immortal life, free from all the ills of mortality).

These words show that Christ, now risen, shall live for ever; and hence, as we are to live with him, we are to enjoy an immortal life. The connexion is more easily seen in the interpretation of Estius: “We shall live also together with Christ,” (verse 8). But what life is that?—an unceasing, continuous life of grace; for such is its model—the life of Christ resuscitated from the tomb; or, perhaps, it might be more probably said, that this verse has no immediate connexion with the foregoing; but that in it is merely introduced a new reason for persevering in grace—founded on the mode of Christ’s death and resurrection. From the very nature, the oneness, of Christ’s resurrection, he shows our obligation to persevere in good, and not relapse again into the state of sin.

Rom 6:10For, so far as his death is concerned, it took place but once for the expiation of sin, but as to his life, it is altogether employed for the glory of God.

“He died to sin, he died once,” i.e., he died one death to expiate and atone for sin. In the common Greek, the punctuation is so placed that the words “to sin” are joined to “once,” thus, “he died to sin once.” The punctuation in the Codex Vaticanus “ὅ γὰρ απεθανεν, τῆ αμαρτία, απεθανεν εφαπαξ,” leaves the matter doubtful. “But he liveth unto God,” i.e., solely for God’s glory; and hence, our life of grace should be devoted to the same; or, the words, “unto God,” may mean, he lived a life worthy of God, immortal and unchangeable.

Rom 6:11So do you, therefore, after his example, regard yourselves as dead to sin by baptism, and gifted with an unchanging, unfading life of grace, to be wholly devoted to the promotion of God’s glory, through the grace and merits of Jesus Christ our Lord.

He applies the foregoing, and founds on it the exhortation to sanctity of life. Hence, we should regard ourselves after baptism as dead once and for ever to sin, and living, like Christ, solely for God, performing all the actions of our life solely for the end of advancing his glory.

Rom 6:12Do not, therefore, permit sin to exercise dominion or tyranny over your mortal bodies, by obeying and consenting to its corrupt desires.

He continues the metaphor, wherein “sin” is represented as a tyrant. By “sin” is meant, concupiscence, which the Apostle calls “sin,” because it is an effect of sin, and inclines us to it, quia ex peccato est et ad peccatum inclinat.—(Concil. Trid. SS. v., Can. 5). “In your mortal body;” he reminds them of their mortality and of the short duration of their shameful gratifications, in order to stimulate them to trample on them, and seek these rewards which are eternal. “So as to obey the lusts thereof.” It is by obeying the lusts of concupiscence, that we permit it to exercise tyranny over us. In the common Greek the words run thus: εἰς τὸ ὑπακούειν (αυτῃ ἐν) ταῖς επιθυμιαῖς αυτοῦ, “so as to obey (it in) its lusts.” The Vulgate is conformable to the chief MSS. and ancient versions, in which, αυτῃ εν, are altogether omitted.

Rom 6:13And do not yield your members to the tyrant sin, as instruments for carrying out the ends of iniquity; but rather devote and give up your entire being to God, as having been raised from the death of sin to lead a new life of grace, and yield your members to God as instruments for carrying out the ends of justice.

No commentary is offered beyond the paraphrase.

Rom 6:14Nor should you apprehend any great difficulties in this struggle, from the fear that concupiscence would once more regain dominion over you; it will no longer domineer over you; for, you are no longer under the Mosaic Law, where sin reigned with such uncontrollable dominion, but you are under the New Law, where grace abounds and enables you to keep sin under subjection.

The Apostle points out the facility with which they can obtain the victory. There is no fear that sin would exercise its dominion over them; they are no longer under the Mosaic law, which pointed out the sin to be avoided, but did not give grace to overcome or avoid it; and hence, sin reigned with more uncontrollable dominion under it; but they are under the Gospel law, in which they have ample graces to resist and battle against sin. “Under the law” has reference to the threats and menaces which the law holds out against those who are unable to fulfil its precepts, for the fulfilment of which the law itself gives no assistance. They, therefore, are said “not to be under the law,” who, though bound by the precepts of the law, still, in consequence of being enabled, owing to the numerous graces liberally dealt out to them “under grace,” to fulfil all its precepts, can set its threats and menaces at defiance. In the Greek it is, “under Law.” The article is wanting.

Rom 6:15As, then, we are “not under the law,” does it not follow that we are free to neglect its precepts and thus sin against it? And as we are “under grace,” should we not sin that grace may abound the more (verse 1)? The inference is, in the first place, too impious and silly to deserve refutation.

This wrong influence is founded on the erroneous interpretation of the words, “under the law.” His first answer to it is, “God forbid,” i.e., far be it from us to assent to so unmeaning and impious an idea. Instead of, “shall we sin,” the reading of the chief MSS. is, ἁμαρτησωμεν, should we sin.

Rom 6:16In the next place, the contrary should be deduced; viz., that you should no longer sin. For, are you not aware, that to whomsoever you give yourselves as servants to obey, you are his servants; you acknowledge him as your master, whether it be sin that entails eternal death, or gospel obedience—the fruit of which is justice here and eternal life hereafter?

He answers it, in the second place, by showing that if they were to adopt the wrong and unmeaning inference referred to, they would be incurring the very inconvenience for the avoiding of which he proposed to them the abundant grace of the Gospel—viz., they would become the slaves of the tyrant, “sin;” because, men are the slaves of whomsoever they obey. “Of obedience unto justice.” By “obedience” he means the Gospel law, which prescribes obedience, and it is opposed to “sin.” because every sin involves disobedience.

Rom 6:17But thanks be to God, that having ceased to be servants of sin, you have become servants of Christ, by sincerely obeying the true form of gospel teaching, which has been delivered to you, or, to which you voluntarily submitted.

“That you were the servants of sin,” is the same as, that you have long since ceased to be what you were—viz., “the servants of sin.” “That form of doctrine,” i.e., that doctrine marked out by the Gospel. “Into which you have been delivered,” i.e., you have voluntarily and spontaneously submitted and yielded yourselves.

Rom 6:18But having been freed from the galling servitude of sin, you have passed to the glorious service of justice, in regard to God, to serve whom, is to reign.

They have ceased to be what they heretofore were, “the servants of sin;” and hence, they should no longer sin, which is the contrary inference of that deduced by the impious (verse 15). “Made the servants of justice;” they should serve justice, and have no part in a service incompatible with it.

Rom 6:19I propose to you an easy precept, by no means beyond your reach, and perfectly accommodated to human weakness, and it is, that you would now, after becoming servants of justice, use the same exertions in advancing the cause of justice and sanctification, that you have, heretofore, employed in your former degraded state, towards forwarding the purposes of iniquity and uncleanness.

Having shown that they were servants of justice, and therefore bound to promote the ends of sanctity, he points out the extent to which he requires of them to exert themselves in this service. “I speak a human thing,” i.e., a precept not above human strength, aided by ordinary grace, “because of the infirmity of your flesh,” more in accommodation to your weakness than in accordance with what God, your new master, deserves at your hands. The easy precept is, to do as much for justice as they did before for uncleanness and sin, although the Apostle might require of them to use greater zeal in the service of the former.

Rom 6:20For, while you were the degraded slaves of sin, and so wholly engrossed with its degrading servitude, you had nothing at all to do with justice—no thoughts or concern whatever about it. (Hence, now, in serving justice, you should be wholly engrossed with it, having no further thoughts about sin or injustice).

They will comply with this easy precept, by altogether discarding any connexion with sin; for, their service under sin was equally exclusive of justice.

Rom 6:21And in order to exert greater zeal in the service of justice than you have shown in the cause of iniquity, consider the rewards of both. The present fruit of your past services in the cause of sin, is shame at the remembrance of them, and their final end shall be everlasting death.

He stimulates them in the discharge of the duties which they owe in justice to God, by pointing out the present and future rewards, and fruits of their service to both.

Rom 6:22But the present fruit of your labours in the cause of God, in whose service you are engaged, after having been freed from the degrading servitude of sin, is the sanctification of your souls; and the final recompense shall be, eternal life.

The present fruit of justice is not shame, but sanctification, wherein we should glory; and the final end to which it conducts, is not death, but everlasting life.

Rom 6:23For, the wages given to the sinner, like the military pay given to the soldier, is eternal death; but the donative of God, given to the man who fights under the banner of justice, is eternal life, which is merited for us by Christ Jesus our Lord.

“The wages of sin,” (the Greek word for “wages,” ὀψωνια, means, the military pay given to soldiers); as if he said, the military pay, to which those that fight under the banners of sin are entitled, is death. “But the grace of God.” The Greek word for “grace,” χαρισμα, means, the donative or liberal allowance which the generals were sometimes accustomed to give the soldiers beyond their ordinary pay. Here, then, the words mean: the liberal donative given by God to the followers of justice is eternal life.

Objection.—If eternal life can be merited as a reward of good works, as faith teaches, how could the Apostle call it a “grace,” since a reward is strictly due, and a “grace” is essentially gratuitous?

Resp.—Although eternal life be a merces or reward, the Apostle still calls it a “grace,” because it is really such in a certain sense—viz., inasmuch as the very works by which it is earned must proceed from grace. Hence, St. Augustine has said, “that in crowning our good works, God only crowns his own grace;” 2ndly, the Apostle calls it a “grace” here, because it is not the wages or stipend of good works, in the same way that death is the wages of sin, i.e., deserving it of its own intrinsic nature. Good works, viewed in themselves, are not deserving of eternal life, only inasmuch as God has graciously promised to attach to them eternal life; and it is on this promise of God, and not on the nature of abstract distributive justice, that the right to eternal life, resulting from good works, is founded. St. Paul, then, calls eternal life a “grace,” because grace is the more exalted principle for gaining it; and, besides, as eternal life far exceeds the merits of good works, it may be called a grace in this respect also. The chief object which the Apostle had in view in this Epistle was to refute the errors of the Jewish and Gentile converts at Rome, who relied too much on the merit of their natural good works. Hence, he directs his whole reasoning to prove the gratuitousness of eternal life, and of the means to obtain it, and he abstracts from the other view, in which it may be regarded—viz., as a subject of merit. For, to consider it under this latter respect, would only involve his reasoning in obscurity, and interfere, in a great measure, with his principal object in this Epistle. The same is observable in his reasoning (chap. 4) regarding Abraham’s justification. He there abstracts from the good works of the Patriarch, and attributes all to faith.

Posted in Catholic, Notes on Romans | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 5

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

The Apostle, having proved in the preceding chapters, that our justification comes from faith and not from the works performed by the sole aid of cither the natural law or the law of Moses, now points out the excellence if this justification from its effects and the fruits which it produces. The first effect is, peace and tranquillity of conscience (Rom 5:1). The second is the adoption of us, as sons of God (Rom 5:2). The third is joy in our afflictions, which subserve as means to bring us to the enjoyment of our eternal inheritance (Rom 5:3-5). We have two most consoling and certain grounds for this hope, viz., the diffusion of the Holy Ghost in our hearts, and the death if Christ, than which God could not furnish a greater proof of his boundless love (Rom 5:6–10). The fourth effect of our justification is our glorying in God, as our Father, and in Jesus Christ, as our Mediator (Rom 5:11). In order to show the absolute necessity of this reconciliation on the part of Christ, the Apostle traces matters to the very root of all evil, viz., original sin, of which subject he treats in the remainder of the chapter (Rom 5:12-21).

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

Rom 5:1Having, therefore, been justified through faith (in Christ resuscitated from the grave to complete our justification, Rom 4:25), let us be at peace with God, by sinning no more; or, by laying aside the terrors of conscience to which we are subject while in the state of sin, having been reconciled through our Lord Jesus Christ.

“By faith,” and not by the cause advanced by the Jews and Gentiles respectively, viz., the works of the moral and Mosaic laws. “Let us have peace.” In the common Greek copies it is, εχομεν, we have peace, i.e., we have God propitious and reconciled to us. The Vulgate reading, εχωμεν, is that of the Alexandrian and Vatican MSS., and followed by many of the Holy Fathers, SS. Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine, &c. The meaning of both readings differs but little. Beelen prefers the indicative reading, “we have,” which is the reading of the other verses; “we stand,” verse 3; “we glory,” verse 3 etc.

Rom 5:2Through whose merits we have had access, by means of faith, to this grace of reconciliation, wherein we are firmly established, and wherein we glory, in the hope of enjoying one day the bliss in store for the sons of God.

“By whom also,” i.e., through whose merits, “we have access,” (in the Greek, την προσαγωγην εσχηκαμεν, we had access,) i.e., we had been admitted to that happy state of grace in which we firmly persevere—sanctifying grace, as a habit, firmly adheres to us—and of which we boast, since it furnishes us with the most assured hope of one day enjoying the glorious inheritance prepared for the sons of God, of which grace is the seed and the sure earnest. The Greek word for “access,” literally means approach, and frequently means, permission to approach great men. Here it is used metaphorically to denote introduction to a state of grace. “Sons” is not in the Greek, which runs thus, “in the hope of the glory of God.” “Through faith.” Christ has given us access through faith, as through a door, to sanctifying grace.

Rom 5:3. And not only do we glory in this grace which is the seed of future glory; but, we even rejoice and glory in tribulation, as conducing to bring us to this happy end. Knowing well from the principles of our faith, that tribulation is the matter and occasional cause of patience.

And to show how great are our expectations of this future bliss, we glory in the means of obtaining it, be they ever so opposed to flesh and blood, such as tribulations are. “Knowing that tribulation worketh patience,” tribulation being the matter by which patience is exercised.

Rom 5:4Now, the patient endurance of sufferings tries us and shows what we are. And this trial, after passing through the order of tribulations, enlivens and animates our hope of future bliss.

“And patience (worketh) trial.” Because, it is the patient endurance of affliction that alone tries us, and shows what we are, “as gold and silver are tried in the fire, so are acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation.”—(Eccles. 1). St. James would appear to contradict the Apostle here, for he says (chap. 1) “the trying of faith worketh patience.” There is no real contradiction, however; for, by the “trying of faith,” St. James means the tribulation itself; and this worketh patience, as it is said by St. Paul, in the preceding verse; whereas, here, by “trial” the Apostle means the result of patiently enduring tribulation, the proof we give of the extent of our love for God, and of the sterling virtue which we possess; “and trial (worketh) hope,” because it wonderfully animates and enlivens our hope of heavenly bliss to pass unhurt through the furnace of tribulation.

Rom 5:5But this hope of future bliss shall never cause the shame of disappointment, since, as a pledge of the fulfilment of this hope, the charity and liberality of God is poured forth into our hearts by the Holy Ghost who has been given to us. (After giving us this pledge of our future inheritance, what can God deny to us?)

“And hope confoundeth not.” The Greek for “confoundeth,” καταισχύνει, means shameth, by which is expressed the shame of disappointment resulting from grounding our hopes on vain, delusive promises; but our hopes in God are most certain and infallible, as is seen from two indubitable proofs which he has given us of the fulfilment of his promises. The first proof is the diffusion of the gift of charity, by which we Gove him through the Holy Ghost, who is given to us, and permanently resides and inheres in our souls by his gifts. The words, “in our hearts” favour this meaning of “charity of God.” “The charity of God” may also refer to the love of God for us manifested by his pouring forth plenteously into our souls the gifts of his Holy Spirit, which permanently reside and inhere in us; and these gifts of sanctifying grace, and the virtues which are inseparable from it, being the seed of future glory, are the surest earnest God could give us of one clay attaining that glory. This latter meaning of “the charity of God,” is rendered probable by verse 8. It may refer to both God’s love for us, and our love for Him. Some Commentators understand the words, “by the Holy Ghost who is given to us,” to refer to a personal union of the Holy Ghost, in a manner peculiar or proper to him, and not common to the Father and Son (see Beelen). From this verse is derived an argument, that sanctifying grace is intrinsic and permanent, as it is “poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given to us,” to reside in us.

Rom 5:6. In the next place, why should Christ die for us at the prescribed time, when we were yet impious and languishing under the infirmity of sin, unless it were to display his charity towards us and confirm our hope?

The second proof of God’s love for us, and a further confirmation of our hope is, the death of Christ for us, “for why did Christ … die for the ungodly?” unless it was by this splendid proof of his love for us to animate and confirm our hope, and give us an assurance, that, one day he would crown his gifts in us. “Why,” is not in the common Greek, which gives the sentence in an affirmative form, ἔτι γὰρ. The ancient MSS. have various readings. The Codex Vaticanus, εἴ γε. Irenæus and other Fathers support the Vulgate; “weak,” i.e., labouring under the infirmity of infidelity and sin, which is more clearly expressed in the word “ungodly.” The first proof of his great charity which God has given us, is the diffusion of the gifts of his Holy Spirit in our hearts. The second is the death of Christ for us. “According to the time,” i.e., at the precise period, pointed out by the prophets, and fixed on by his heavenly Father.

Rom 5:7Now, scarcely will you find among men an instance of one man dying for another: even though that other be a just man. I say, scarcely, because, perhaps, for the just man, who may be at the same time a benefactor, one may submit to die.

The Apostle, in order to render the love of charity displayed by God for us in the death of his Son the more conspicuous, contrasts this great act of love on the part of God, with similar manifestations on the part of mankind to one another. “Scarcely will you find one” to carry his love for another to such a degree, as to die for him, even though that one be “a just man.” It may, however, possibly happen that this rare instance of love may be shown in behalf of a just man, who may be, at the same time, beneficent to us. “A good man,” implies, not only that one is just, rendering to every one what is due, but also beneficent to us; and therefore, having some grounds for demanding a sacrifice from us.

Rom 5:8-9But in this does God display in a conspicuous manner his charity and love for us, that Christ has died in the plenitude of lime for us, while we were yet his enemies and in the state of sin. Having suffered so much for us while in a state of sin, much more shall we be saved and preserved by him from the eternal punishment, with which we will, in his wrath, visit the impious, now that we have been justified at the price of his precious blood.

But the charity of God surpasses anything ever heard of, or anything even supposed to be possible among men, by His dying for us, when we were neither “just” nor “good,” but when we were “sinners” and enemies The Greek word for “commends,” συνιστησιν, means, to set forth, to display. The words “according to the time,” κατα χαιρον, are not in any Greek copies, and were probably introduced from verse 6. The word “God” is omitted in the Codex Vaticanus, according to which “Christ” is the nominative to “commendeth.” What a lively picture is drawn here by the Apostle of the boundless love of God for man—the Creator dying for us, his wretched creatures, when we were his enemies. How few correspond with this boundless love. How few make a suitable return. Tam amantem quis non redamet? in quantum possumus, amemus, redamemus vulneratum nostrum.—(St. Bernard, de Passione). What wonder that the Apostle should invoke the heaviest malediction on the head of him who loves not our Lord Jesus Christ.—(1 Cor. 16:22.) “Let us therefore love God, because God first hath loved us.”—(1 John 4:19). How frequently should we not meditate on the different circumstances of God’s love for us, as here set forth by the Apostle.

Rom 5:10For, if when we were his enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more now that we are reconciled to him, shall he complete this work of our justification by saving us after having entered on his exalted state of glorious and immortal life.

In this verse, he repeats with greater emphasis, founded on the contrast between Christ’s ignominious death and glorified life, the idea conveyed in the preceding one. If Christ, in his weak, possible and humiliated state, had, at the expense of his precious blood, performed the more difficult work of reconciling us with God; is it not much more natural to expect, that he will now, in his glorious state of immortal and impassible life, perform in our behalf the complement of the preceding, without which it would be unavailing, viz., bring us to consummate salvation, and thereby perfect the work of our reconciliation?

Rom 5:11But not only do we glory in the hope of future bliss, and in tribulations as conducing thereto; but, we also glory in God, whose adopted sons we have become, not through any merits of our own, but through those of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have been admitted to the grace of reconciliation with God.

“And not only so.” Some Commentators, among the rest, Estius, connect these words with the preceding, thus: “and not only have we been reconciled, but we also glory,” &c. The participial form of reconciliati and gloriantes favours this. The connexion in the Paraphrase appears far more probable, and is also well sustained by external authority. The Greek for “we glory” is a participle, καυχωμενοι, glorying, but it is equivalent to the indicative.

Rom 5:12(Through Christ alone have we been reconciled to God, and we needed him to reconcile us). For, as by one man (Adam) sin entered into this world, and by sin death, thus death has passed into all men, since all sinned in Adam, as the principal and head of the human race. (So also through one man Christ—the principal and head of all who are spiritually regenerated—has justice entered into the world, and through justice, eternal life).

The Apostle, in order to show the necessity of reconciliation through Christ, traces matters back to the root of all evil, and propounds the mysterious doctrine of original sin. What it is that constitutes this sin, and what the particular mode is of contracting it, which we have inherited from Adam, and which has been transmitted to all who have been, by the natural course of generation, descended from him (the glorious Mother of God, alone, excepted, who, according to the doctrine of faith, “by a singular privilege and grace of Almighty God, has been preserved free from all stain of original sin in the first instant of Her conception, in view of the merits of Christ Jesus, the Saviour of the human race”), no way concerns us to inquire. This much we know and believe as an article of Catholic faith, that this sin has been transmitted to all men, not by imitation, but by carnal generation. “Hoc Adæ peccatum … propagatione non imitatione transfusum omnibus, inest unicuique proprium.”—(Concil. Trid. SS. 5. de Peccato Orig.) And this doctrine has been proved from this passage by several Councils against the Pelagians.

“Wherefore,” δια τουτο, may mean, for, with the connexion in Paraphrase, or it may be thus connected: “Since, then, Christ is the meritorious cause of our salvation, it is meet that we should, therefore, institute the following comparison. “As by one man,” i.e., Adam, who was by God constituted the head and representative of the whole mass of mankind, “sin entered into this world,” i.e., infected the whole human race, which thereby contracted the necessity of dying. By “sin,” is meant the guilt of original sin, and not its effects, death and bodily suffering, as defined by the Council of Trent—(SS. 5, Can. 2). It is opposed to justification, and moreover, if it referred to the effects of sin, it would be identified with “death.” “And so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.” “In whom,” regards the “one man,” δἰ ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπου, or Adam, as is clear from the Greek, ἐφʼ ᾧ. This is the interpretation of St. Augustine and St. Chrysostom. In this construction, the words intervening between “one man,” and “in whom.” are included in a parenthesis, “wherefore, as by one man (…) in whom all have sinned.” Others understand the words, ἐφʼ ῳ, causatively to mean inasmuch as, or because, and this is preferred by many (see Beelen). Some Commentators say the sense is suspended as far as verse 18—“therefore as by the offence,” &c.—others finish the sense as in Paraphrase. And this is the more probable; for in verse 18, it is a conclusion that is expressed, “therefore,” &c. Others, with Beelen, say the second member of the comparison which should correspond with the words, “as by one man,” &c., and should complete the sentence, is expressed, if not in words, at least in reality, wherein is conveyed the contrast between the first and second Adam, in verse 14, “who is a figure,” &c.

Rom 5:13-14And that this sin existed in the world at all times, even before the written law was given to Moses, although before the law, it was not so much attended to by mankind, following the bent of their corrupt passions, and having no positive law to point out the enormity and fix the special punishment of their crimes, is evident from the fact, that death, its consequence, reigned from Adam to Moses even over those (v.g., infants and idiots) who were incapable, by actual transgression, of sinning after the manner of Adam, who, as the head of a sinful race, was, by contraries, a type of the second Adam, Christ, through whom, as the head of a ransomed race, justice and life were to be introduced into this world.

13. In this verse, the Apostle anticipates and solves an objection which might be made against the universality of the preceding doctrine, namely, as sin is the violation of some law, how could there be any violation of a law before it was given? The Apostle says, that even before the law was given to Moses, this sin of Adam, as well in itself as in its effects, viz., actual sins, existed in this world; but these sins were not “imputed,” or attended to by mankind following their corrupt passions; because there was no particular positive enactment clearly to point out their enormity—so that “sin” in this verse embraces not only original but actual sins, of which the corruption we have inherited from Adam is the source and principle. “But sin,” under which are included original sin, and the actual sins flowing from it, superadded by our own wills—“was not imputed.” Some say was not imputed unto punishment, or as a transgression. The interpretation adopted in the Paraphrase is preferable; for, it is very hard to reconcile the other interpretation with the heavy chastisements always visited upon sin, even before the time of Moses; for, even then, death reigned as well as afterwards.

14. But as a proof that this sin existed, even during the interval that elapsed between Adam and Moses, the Apostle adduces the fact that death, the consequence and punishment of sin, reigned over those who could not deserve any such punishment by actual positive guilt of their own. Such, for instance, were infants and idiots, who, unlike Adam, were incapable of actual sin.

“Who is a figure of him who was to come.” Adam was, by contraries, a type of the future or second Adam, Christ, who is the principle of spiritual life, as the first Adam was the principle of spiritual death. Some Commentators, and among them Beelen, are of opinion that the second member of the antithesis between Adam and Christ is insinuated here, although not clearly expressed, as has been done in Paraphrase of verse 12.

This passage had been adduced by St. Augustine and the early Fathers, to establish against the Pelagians the doctrine of original sin. The Apostle says, “all have sinned,” verse 12, and that this is not to be understood of actual sin, he shows in verse 14, since death, the consequence and punishment of sin, had been inflicted upon all, not even excepting those who were incapable of committing actual sin, viz., infants and idiots. Hence, it must be inflicted as a punishment of that sin, which by generation was transmitted to them from Adam, whom, in his infinite wisdom, God had constituted the head of all his descendants; so that his sin would be imputable to them, as would his fidelity have been accounted in their favour, had he persevered in justice.

Rom 5:15We are not, however, to imagine, that the sin of the first Adam has been so detrimental in its effects, as the gift of the second Adam, by which these effects were removed, has been useful. For, if by the sin of the first Adam his many descendants were deprived of spiritual life and rendered subject to eternal death, far more numerous and precious were the gratuitous gifts of God, through the grace of one man Jesus Christ, conferred on the many (for, besides restoring spiritual life, he has bestowed many gifts of the Holy Ghost and immortality itself).

In the preceding verse, the Apostle had asserted, that Adam was a type or figure of him, “who is to come,” i.e., of Christ, who is often in SS. Scripture styled, the last Adam.—(1 Cor. 15:45). He was a figure by contraries, because, as the first Adam was the principle of death and sin, so the last was the principle of justice and of life, in all who were to be spiritually regenerated and born of him. This resemblance was not, in every respect, perfect. “Many died,” in Greek, οἱ πολλοὶ, “the many.” The first point of dissimilitude, even on contrary sides, was that the guilt of the one had only inflicted temporal and eternal death; whereas, “the grace of God and the gift,” i.e., the gratuitous gift of God furnished by the grace and merits of the man-God, Jesus Christ, “hath much more abounded,” not in point of extensive application, but in the comprehensive excellence and abundance of the benefits which it conferred; since it was not merely confined to the removal of the evil effects of the sin of Adam, but it also bestowed the gifts of the Holy Ghost and perseverance in grace, of which the sin of Adam did not deprive us; for, Adam had not these gifts in Paradise.

“Unto many,” or, as in the Greek, εἰς τους πολλους, “unto the many.” Of course, “the many” in this latter member of the sentence is not as extensive as in the former member, “by the offence of one many died;” for, the many in the former are called “all men,” verse 12; while in this latter part, there is question only of the many who are spiritually born or begotten of Christ, in the same way as treating of the descendants of Adam there is question of those carnally descended from him. It is not in the extent of their actual application that the Apostle compares “the gift” and “the sin,” but in their comprehensive or intrinsic effects where they are applied.

Rom 5:16There is another point of difference besides; for, it was only for the one sin of Adam, that all have been subject to the sentence of condemnation; whereas, the gratuitous gift effected the justification of all, not only from that sin, but from all others, and so it rescued us from more evils than the sin of Adam had introduced.

There is another point of dissimilitude. For, the gift of the last Adam did more than remove the evil effects of which the transgression of the first was productive. For, by the transgression of Adam, all had been subject to the sentence of condemnation for only one sin; whereas, the gratuitous gift of Christ not only justified us from that one general sin, but from all our own actual sins, superadded by depraved and corrupt nature. “And not as it was by one sin,” the Greek is, καὶ ουχ ὡς δἰ ἑνος ἁμαρτησαντος, “and not as by one who sinned.” The Vulgate reading is, however, found in some of the principal Greek manuscripts, and in the Arabic version.

Rom 5:17For, if through the sin of one man (Adam), and as the consequence of his sin, death reigned over the entire human race; with far greater reason should we believe, that those who receive the abundance of divine grace, of justice, and of all supernatural favours, shall reign for endless ages, through the merits of the one man, Jesus Christ, which are boundless and infinite.

The Apostle repeats, with greater emphasis in this verse, the points of similitude and dissimilitude between Christ and Adam, as opposite principles of life and death. He represents life and death introduced by both, as reigning over the human race. Adam introduced the reign of death and sin; Christ, the reign of justice and life. He does not say, as In the preceding member, that “life shall reign,” but “they shall reign in life,” to point out the dignity of the sons of God, to whom the form, “they shall reign in life,” is more honourable than “life shall reign over them,” as is said of death in the preceding; “much more”—i.e., it is much more natural, considering the infinite power and boundless merits of the one man, Jesus Christ, the principle of spiritual and eternal life, to expect that his children shall reign for ever; the word “reign” expresses the height of happiness, together with the exalted honour they shall enjoy. “Abundance of grace” may mean the abundant, transcendant grace; “and of the gift, and of justice,” (in the common Greek, καὶ της δωρεας της δικαιοσυνης, “and of the gift of justice.”). In the Vatican MS. the word “gift” is wanting.

Rom 5:18Therefore, as by the sin of one man, Adam, the entire mass of mankind incurred the guilt through which they were subject to condemnation; so also, by the justice of one man, Christ, have all men born of him, obtained that justice which makes them sharers of eternal life.

In this verse, according to the interpretation adopted by many, the Apostle reverts to the preceding, for the purpose of completing the sense, and of filling up the comparison left incomplete at verse 12. The intervening verses are, according to this connexion, to be read as within a parenthesis, in which the sacred writer is hurried off from the main subject to note some points of similitude or dissimilitude that occurred to him in reference to the subject in question—a thing not at all unusual in the style of the Apostle. Against this connexion, however, it may be fairly objected, that in this verse the Apostle only draws a conclusion from the foregoing, in which the comparison is supposed to have been already instituted, and indeed, according to many (vide Beelen), the points of comparison are carried out in the words of verse 14, “who is a figure of him who was to come;” “Therefore,” i.e., so then, “as by the offence of one unto all men to condemnation,” the word judgment is understood (judgment passed), “unto all men to condemnation,” as in verse 16; “so also by the justice of one,” (grace or justice passed) “unto all men to justification of life;” “all men,” in this latter clause, regarding justification, are to be understood of all spiritually born of Christ, as in the preceding, reference is made to all carnally descended from the principle of death and condemnation—viz., Adam.

Rom 5:19For, as by the disobedience of one man, Adam, the many descended from him are made sinners; so also, by the obedience of Christ, shall the many, spiritually born of him, be constituted just.

On account of the great importance of the doctrine, the Apostle repeats in this verse the same thing conveyed in the preceding, “as by the disobedience of the one”—viz., Adam eating the forbidden fruit, “the many,” i.e., all his descendants, who are many (he calls them “all men,” verse 18), “are made sinners;” “so also by the obedience of the one, the many (descended of him) shall be,” &c.; “the many,” in this latter member is not co-extensive with “the many” in the preceding, according to the interpretation now given; or, if we take “the many” who shall be “made just,” to refer to the entire human race, then the words “made just” will not imply that they are actually justified, but only that the grace of justification is intended for all, and it is their own fault if they fail to obtain it; and that all who are rendered just, are made so by the grace of Christ. From this and the preceding verse is derived a convincing argument of the Catholic doctrine of inherent justice, as Beelen well observes. For, according to the teaching of the Apostle, we are constituted just, and even obtain the gift of justice, through the obedience of Christ, as we are constituted sinners through the disobedience of Adam. Now, in the latter case, we were really sinners, “by nature, children of wrath,” (Eph. 2:3) by the guilt of sin inherent in each of us, transmitted by carnal generation from him. Therefore, by the obedience of Christ, all who are spiritually born of him are constituted really just by justice really inherent in them, and not by the imputation of the justice of Christ, as it was not by the imputation of the sin of Adam that all are sinners. For, the spiritual regeneration in Christ corresponds with the carnal descent from Adam, in which guilt is not imputed but really contracted.

Rom 5:20In the interval that elapsed between the transgression of the first Adam, and the obedience of the second, the law was introduced; but, so far was it from remedying the evil, that, on account of human depravity, it became the occasion of greater sin. This increase in sin was, however, only the occasion of manifesting the superabundance of God’s grace.

Lest it might be imagined from what he said (verse 13), that the law could have the effect of abolishing this sin, the Apostle says, that although the law was introduced in the same space of time that intervened between the sin of the first Adam, and the furnishing of a remedy by the second; still, so far was it from remedying the evil, that it was the occasion of its increase, owing to the depravity of man’s nature. In this interpretation the word “that” means the consequence of what happened—a signification in which it is often employed. Some interpret it as expressing the final cause or end of the law. “The law entered in, in order that sin might abound,” and that thus, from a consciousness of their spiritual miseries and disorders, men might look forward with greater ardour to the coming of the remedy, which alone could remove them. If we take “that” to signify the final cause or end of giving the law, then the words are not to be understood as conveying that the immediate and direct end God had in view was the “abounding of sin;” but, the humiliation of man resulting from the increase of sin by occasion of the law. From which it would follow that, conscious of his weakness and sinfulness, he would implore the aid of a deliverer. “Entered in,” παρεισηλθεν, as if by stealth, and only for a time, until the plenitude of grace would be conferred by the Gospel. “And where sin abounded,” &c., not that this happened in every instance—but only where God thought fit to apply it. Some Commentators give “where” the meaning of “when sin abounded,” owing to the introduction of the law, then the superabundant grace of Christ was given to the world. The Greek particle, οὗ, will mean either where or when. The signification of when in this passage is preferable, because the Apostle is treating of different periods of time, and the different degrees of grace and sinfulness during these times.

Rom 5:21So that, as until the time of the dispensation of this superabundant grace, sin reigned over all mankind, bringing death upon all; so, grace also would reign, bestowing upon all, that justice which leads to eternal life, through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord.

So that as sin extended its dominion far and wide, bringing death upon all men, the reign of divine mercy and grace would also be extended, bestowing life-giving justice on all who are to be saved, through the infinite merits of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Posted in Catholic, Notes on Romans | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 4

The commentary on Romans by Fr. MacEvilly can be accessed here.

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this chapter, the Apostle adduces the example of Abraham, whose justification was the model of that of all the faithful, to prove the principal proposition and the leading subject of this Epistle, viz., that justification is neither derived from circumcision, nor from the works preceding faith, but from faith itself. He first proves that Abraham was not justified by circumcision or by the external works of the law of Moses (Rom 4:1-2); but that his justification was the gratuitous justification through faith. In proof of this, he quotes a text from the Book of Genesis, and builds his argument on this quotation (Rom 4:3-5). He also proves the gratuitousness of justification from the prophetic words of David (Rom 4:6-8), from the universal extension of which he also shows, that justification is conferred on the uncircumcised Gentiles; and, consequently, that it is independent of the works of the law (Rom 4:9). He likewise proves, from the date of Abraham’s justification, which occurred prior to his circumcision, that he was not indebted to circumcision, nor, consequently, to the works of the law, for his justification (Rom 4:9-10). He proves the same, also, from the object and nature of circumcision, which was a seal of his former justice, obtained in faith. Hence, his circumcision was posterior to his justification (Rom 4:11). He shows the reason why Abraham’s justification preceded his circumcision, and why he received circumcision after being justified (Rom 4:12). From the circumstances and qualities of the promise made to Abraham, the Apostle derives another argument in favour of justification by faith, independently of the observance of the law (Rom 4:13-15). Having shown, that justification comes neither from circumcision nor from the works of the law, the Apostle concludes, that it must come from faith, in which case, will be observed the gratuitousness of the promise made to Abraham, and its universal extension to all Abraham’s spiritual children (Rom 4:16). The Apostle, finally, extols the heroic firmness of the Patriarch’s faith, which, he tells us, was to be the model of ours, and similar in its object and happy results (Rom 4:17–25).

Links are to the Douay-Rheims translation which is the text Fr. MacEvilly is commenting on. Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the paasage. 

Rom 4:1What justification then shall we say, Abraham our father according to the flesh received? Was it the justification through faith, or through the works performed by his own natural strength, without grace or faith?

“That Abraham hath found, who is our father, according to the flesh.” Some Commentators, following the common Greek reading, τον πατερα ἡμων εὑρηκεναι κατα σαρκα, connect the words, “according to the flesh,” with the verb “found,” and understand the verse to mean—what did our father Abraham profit by carnal circumcision? These understand the words to mean the same as the question (chap. 3.) “What is the profit of circumcision?” To which, they say, the Apostle gives an answer in this chapter. Others, who also prefer the same construction, and connect the words “according to the flesh,” with the verb “found,” understand the word, “flesh,” of the works performed by his natural strength, so as to mean the same as “works” (verse 2). The particle “for,” would make it very probable, that the Apostle was referring to the same thing in both verses. The reading adopted in the Paraphrase is that of the Vulgate, which, as regards the words, “according to the flesh,” is conformable to the Codex Vaticanus, τι οὖν εροῦμεν Αβρααμ τον προπατερα ἠμῶν κατα σαρκα. In this reading of the Codex Vaticanus, the verb, εὑρήκεναι, found, is wanting. No doubt, the Vulgate reading, “Quid ergo dicemus invenisse Abraham patrem nostrum secundum carnem?” will admit of either construction. According to it, secundum carnem, may be joined to either, invenisse, or patrem nostrum. It is in favour of the former construction, that it does not seem to accord much with the Apostle’s scope in this Epistle, to attach any great importance to carnal descent from Abraham—(see Rom 9:10).

Rom 4:2. Surely, not the justification through the works in question, because if Abraham were justified by such works, he would have cause for glorying in himself (such works being supposed to be performed by his own natural strength), but not in God, whose gratuitous benefits would not be acknowledged in such a system of justification.

“Justified by works.” He speaks of works done without grace or faith; since, it is of these alone he could say, that they deprived a man of all cause for glorying in God, which is the meaning of the words, “before God,” according to Mauduit. Moreover, it was only of such works that there was question between the converted Jews and Gentiles, as establishing for them respectively a claim to the Gospel. The words of this verse are commonly explained by interpreters thus: “He would have external subject for glorying before men, but he would have no real subject for glorying in the sight of God,” and they connect the following verse, 3, thus: “But we have the testimony of Scripture assuring us that Abraham was really and interiorly justified before God, for it is said that ‘he believed, and his belief was reputed by God unto justice.’ ”—(Genesis 15:6). Therefore, it was not by external works, but by faith, he was justified. According to the interpretation adopted in the Paraphrase, which is that of Père Mauduit, making “before God” mean “in God,” the connexion in verse 3 is quite different (vide Paraphrase). This connexion adopted in the Paraphrase accords better with the Apostle’s reasoning on the Scriptural text in Rom 4:4-5 below “Whereof to glory,” καυχημα subject for boasting.

Rom 4:3But that Abraham had cause for glorying in God, owing to the gratuitousness of his justification, which was wholly independent of the works performed by his mere natural strength, is clear from the history of his justification given in the book of Genesis 15:6, “Abraham believed God, and it,” i.e., his faith (not his works), “was reputed to him unto justice.”

But that Abraham had reason to glory in God, on account of the gratuitousness of his justification, and not in himself, for any merit of works, is clear from the words of Genesis 15:6, in which his justification is described as perfectly gratuitous—“Abraham believed … and it was reputed to him unto justice.”

Rom 4:4On which words I build this argument: to the man who performs a work, the wages due to the performance of that work is given, not as a matter of mere gratuitous favour, but as a debt due in strict justice. (As, therefore, justification was given to Abraham, as a matter of grace and favour, which is implied in the word, reputed, it must not proceed from works establishing a just claim to it).

On the words of Genesis, it was reputed, &c., the Apostle builds an argument in favour of the gratuitous justification of Abraham by faith. If the works of Abraham, performed by his natural strength, were the principle of his justification, it could not be said that it was a mere voluntary act of grace on the part of God to bestow it, as the word, “reputed” implies; it would be given as a debt of strict justice; for, the man who performs a work entitled to reward, shall receive that reward as a debt and not as a favour. Hence, as the justification of Abraham was a mere matter of gratuitous acceptance on the part of God, it was not bestowed in consideration of such works as establish a claim to it.

Rom 4:5. It is only in reference to the man who performs no works establishing a strict claim to justification, beyond the mere work of believing in him, who justifies the impious, that it could be said, “his faith is reputed to justice,” according to the decree of God, vouchsafing liberally and gratuitously to confer justice, as a grace, on such a person (and hence, it is only as having been gratuitously bestowed in consideration of his faith, that we can regard the justification of Abraham)

It is only on the supposition that he performed no works establishing a claim to justification, except the mere act of faith, or “believing in him who justifies the ungodly,” to which his justification is ascribed, that we can say that “his faith is reputed unto justice,” according to the liberal purpose of God, decreeing to give justification gratuitously, through grace and faith. The words, “according to the purpose of the grace of God,” are omitted in the Greek, and, from being a marginal explanation of how “faith is reputed,” very probably crept into the Sacred text.

Objection.—Does not this passage furnish an unanswerable argument in favour of the doctrine of justification by faith only, and against the Catholic doctrine of merit? 1st. The Apostle denies that the justification of Abraham could come from works, because works would establish a claim to merit and strict right. Therefore, justification by works, as held by Catholics, is opposed to its gratuitousness, on which the Apostle builds his argument. 2ndly. The Apostle not only excludes the works performed by Abraham before his conversion, but all works, even those performed in faith; for, at the time that the words of Genesis, chap. 15, here quoted, were used, Abraham was justified, as appears from Genesis, chap. 12, and from St, Paul to the Hebrews, chap. 11. Hence, the Apostle speaks of Abraham’s second justification, and denies, on the grounds of its perfect gratuitousness implied in the words, “he believed, … and it was reputed,” &c., that works had any share in Abraham’s second justification, which destroys the Catholic doctrine of merit.

Resp.—In reply to the 1st.—The works excluded by the Apostle from any share in the justification of Abraham are the works performed without grace or faith, and we exclude the same.—That these were the works excluded by the Apostle is clear from his scope in this Epistle, which is, to prove that the works performed by the sole aid of the natural law, or the law of Moses, gave neither Jew nor Gentile a claim to the Gospel. The same appears from verse 2. He excludes works which would give Abraham cause to glory in himself and not in God (this reason holds equally good should we understand “before God” to mean in the sight of God). Now, it is only the works performed by his sole natural strength, that would redound thus to his own glory. Whereas, no one can be impious enough to assert that the works done in grace and faith would not give us cause to glory in God, or, in the sight of God, since the grace of God would be the chief principle in their performance. Hence, the works excluded are those performed without grace or faith. But the gratuitousness of justification here insisted on by the Apostle does not exclude works done under the influence of grace and faith; for, according to Catholic doctrine, good works performed in grace and faith before justification are mere necessary conditions, establishing no claim to justification which God might not refuse; and hence, they leave it still quite a gratuitous act of grace on the part of God. This is no arbitrary interpretation. Besides the reasons already adduced, we have the authorty of St. James (chap. 2), who maintains that no one is justified by faith without good works, and he adduces the example of Rahab, (James 2:25), who he says, was justified by works, and this, probably, in her first justification; for, at the time she received the messengers, she was, most probably, an infidel and in sin; for he calls her, a harlot. St. James, then, speaks of good works done in faith, and St. Paul here speaks of faith accompanied by good works as dispositions of justification. The two Apostles opposed different errors; and hence, St. Paul puts forward one condition necessary for, or one of the ingredients of, justification, viz., faith; and St. James, another; namely, good works, done in grace and faith.

Resp. to the 2nd.—Although Abraham was justified at the time the words of Genesis here referred to were spoken, and his faith commended, still the inference deduced from this is quite unfounded. For, the Apostle is only proving that in the first justification of Abraham, works done without grace or faith, such as the converted Jews and Gentiles put forward, had no share, and this he proves effectually by an argument a fortiori, by referring to what the Scripture says of Abraham’s second justification; for, if Abraham, already just, did not receive an increase of justice, that is to say, second justification, through works without faith, therefore, a fortiori, he did not become just from being a sinner, or, in other words, did not receive first justification through the same works.

Objection.—But were not the works of Abraham, at the time these words were spoken of him, meritorious even of a reward? How then could the Apostle insist on the gratuitousness of his justification, since it was even merited as a debt, which is here excluded?—(verse 4).

Resp.—The Apostle only excludes such a strict debt and reward as would be independent of grace, such a debt as the works performed by the Jews and Gentiles would, in their minds, give them a claim to. Now, although second justification be given as a debt due to merit, it is a grace also. The Apostle views it under this latter respect; and by doing so sufficiently refutes the errors of the Romans; for they regarded justification as the price of works, as a strict debt without any reference to a gratuitous concession, such as Catholic faith teaches to exist in the reward of merit. The Apostle, then, only excludes such merit as would leave room for us to glory in ourselves, and not in God (verse 2); such a merit as the Jews and Gentiles put forward as claims for the Gospel—a merit in which grace has no part. Merit like this, the Catholic Church has ever repudiated; and although the works of Abraham were, at the time referred to, meritorious, they were still not meritorious in the sense understood by the Jews and Gentiles, that is to say, independently of grace and faith, and such merit as this and this only, as every candid reasoner on this passage must admit, is excluded in the argument of the Apostle.

Rom 4:6. This gratuitousness of justification, independenth of works establishing a claim to it, perfectly accords with what David says, when speaking on this subject.
Rom 4:7. Psalm 31. (modern translations, Ps 32) Blessed are they whose iniquities are gratuitously remitted, and whose sins are so fully wiped away as not to appear at all.

He adduces the authority of David also in proof of the gratuitousness of justification without works, of course, in the sense of works already assigned. Psalm 31 [Ps 32]. “Blessed are they,” &c. This furnishes no argument in favour of the erroneous doctrine of imputative justice, by which, in other words, is meant, that our sins are covered in consequence of God not regarding them for Christ’s sake, although still really unremitted. For, it is worse than foolish to say, that anything is concealed from God. Sins are said to be “covered” from him, because, wholly removed by the grace of justification, which, whilst it covers, heals and removes altogether the disease and leprosy of sin. The non-imputation of sin only proves that sin does not exist, because God essentially hates and abominates sin, wherever it does exist. To Him, the impious man and his impiety are alike an abomination. Hence, by not imputing sin, he removes and remits it. The words “not impute,” refer only to punishment with which sin will not be visited in consequence of having been remitted.

They may also have reference, as Bellarmine well remarks (Com. in Psalm 31 [32]) to those singularly just men, such as Abel, Henoch, Noe, Abraham, Isaac, &c., of whose sins the SS. Scriptures are silent; and also to Jeremias, John the Baptist, sanctified from the womb; not excepting Her, blessed above all the rest of creation, the solemn proclamation of whose glorious preservation from the stain of original sin has filled the earth with joy and universal jubilee. In this interpretation, there is no ground whatever for any objection; and even if we understand the words of those who sinned, the passage only proves that “sin is not imputed,” because having been gratuitously remitted, it no longer exists.

Nor, does it follow from this passage, that justification consists in the bare remission of sin, without the infusion of sanctifying grace; for, the same Psalmist represents justification as consisting in cleansing and rendering us “whiter than snow.” Hence, together with remitting sin, and removing from the soul that stain analogous to corporal leprosy which sin causes, it renders us pure and lovely in the sight of God, and by the increase of sanctifying grace which permanently inheres, the soul acquires still greater beauty and whiteness. Wash me yet more, &c. And I shall be made whiter than snow.—(Psalm 50 [Ps 51]).

Rom 4:8Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute sin, either as to guilt or punishment, in consequence of its gratuitous remission.

No comments are offered beyond the paraphrase.

Rom 4:9From the universal extension of these words of David, it is clear, that this blessedness is not confined merely to the Jews, but that it extends to the Gentiles also. The same is clear from the case of Abraham, whose faith, we have said, was reputed unto justice.

The question is equivalent to a strong form of affirmation, deducing from the universality of the words of David, that this blessedness extends to the Gentiles also; and it is implied, and left to be inferred that, consequently, justification is bestowed independently of the works of the Mosaic law. The words, “doth it remain only,” are not expressed in the Greek; they are, however, understood as being necessary to complete the sense. “Circumcision” and “uncircumcision” mean Jew and Gentile; the abstract for the concrete. “For we say,” &c. Here is introduced another argument derived from the condition in which Abraham was, when the words “it was reputed unto justice,” were applied to him.

Rom 4:10Let us see what state Abraham was in, at the time that this occurred to him. Was he circumcised or uncircumcised? Undoubtedly, it occurred to him not when he was circumcised, but while he was uncircumcised.

In what state was he when “his faith was reputed?” &c. He was yet uncircumcised. An interval of about thirteen or fourteen years elapsed between the date of his justification and his circumcision, as appears from the history of Genesis. The preceding is the reasoning of A’Lapide on this passage. Other Commentators say, that verses 9 and 10 contain but one argument, derived from the Apostle’s application of the case of Abraham, to his general purpose, which is, to show, that this beatitude extends to the Gentiles also. These Commentators do not admit that in the quotation from David, there is a distinct or independent argument in proof of the same. The interpretation of A’Lapide, as given in the Paraphrase, appears the more probable. According to it, two distinct proofs are referred to in verse 9; the one, founded on the words of David universally extended, the other, on the date of Abraham’s justification, prior to his circumcision.

Rom 4:11We have an additional argument of Abraham’s having been justified before his circumcision, and consequently that his justification was independent of the legal observances, in the fact, that Abraham received circumcision as a seal and testimony, on the part of God, of the justice which had been bestowed on him, while uncircumcised, in consideration of his faith in God’s promises; and this justice had been conferred on him before his circumcision, in order that he would be the father of the uncircumcised Gentile believers, whose faith also, like his, may be reputed unto justice.

Another argument, to prove that Abraham was not justified in circumcision, is founded by the Apostle on the fact, that “he received the sign of circumcision”—i.e., circumcision itself (which was given as a “sign” of God’s covenant with Abraham, and of his faith in God’s promises), “as a seal of the justice” bestowed on him in consideration of his faith, while uncircumcised; consequently, his justification must have been anterior to his circumcision. It was a “seal of his justice”—i.e., a testimony whereby God declared and confirmed his justice. “That he might be the father of all them that believe,” &c. The justice was bestowed on Abraham in his uncircumcised state, in order that he might be the spiritual father of all the believing Gentiles, whose justification by faith would have his for a model, “which he had being uncircumcised,” is rather a liberal rendering of the words, τῆς εν τῃ ἀκροβυστία, quæ est in præputio, “which is in uncircumcision.” The same applies to the words, “them that believe being uncircumcised,” which should be literally rendered, “them that believe by uncircumcision.”

Rom 4:12And after being justified, he received circumcision, that he might be the father of the circumcised Jews, not of them, who are merely circumcised externally, without imitating his faith; but, of them who also imitate the faith by which Abraham, though uncircumcised, was justified.

And he received circumcision after his justification, in order that he might be the spirtual father of the circumcised Jew. Not of the Jew who is merely circumcised externally, &c.—(Vide Paraphrase). In truth, by receiving justification while uncircumcised, and by receiving circumcision afterwards, he became the spiritual father of all believers, both Gentiles and Jews, circumcision having been a sign and a protestation of faith, on the part of Abraham, in the future Messiah; hence, for the Jews, who were destitute of this faith in Christ, circumcision is a vain, empty sign, without the reality signified; and it was only to the faithful Jews, that the signification of circumcision had reference.

Rom 4:13Justification was no more attached to the observance of the Mosaic law than it was to circumcision; for, it was not on the condition of observing the law (which had not then existed) but on account of the justice which his faith procured for him before receiving the law, that God made to Abraham the promise of being the heir of the world.

Another argument in favour of justification by faith without works is derived from the circumstances of the promise made to Abraham.—(Vide Paraphrase). It is, therefore, through faith, and not through the law, that this promise is to be fulfilled in his posterity, his justification being the model of theirs.

Rom 4:14For, if the inheritance were confined merely to those who observe the law, then, the faith of Abraham, believing in the multiplication of his seed, “as the stars of heaven,” &c. (Genesis 22:17), would be made void (because few or none observed the law); for the same reason, the promise would be of no effect, because the conditions being wanting on the part of man, the promise on the part of God would not be binding.

“Who are of the law,” may also mean, who are under the law, “be heirs.” That is to say, if the Jews alone be heirs, then, “faith is made void;” because, the law was confined merely to Judea, and did not extend to the entire earth. The interpretation in the Paraphrase, referring the words, “who are of the law,” to those who observe the law, appears, however, the more probable.

Rom 4:15It is clear, if the promise were attached to the observance of the law, the promise would be voided for want of the performance of the conditions on the part of man; for, the law gave no help for its own fulfilment, and hence, it was the occasion of anger by its frequent violations; for, where there is no law manifesting the malice of sin, there can be no voluntary transgression of the law.

“The law worketh anger.” It became the occasion of anger by its frequent violations. It was not, however, given for that end, just as happened in the case of our Redeemer, who “was set,” as well, “for the fall,” as “for the resurrection of many in Israel.”—(St. Luke 2:34). The law, then, on account of its universal transgression, worked anger, which would not happen if the law were not given at all; for, in that case, there would be no prevarication, or voluntary transgression of it. A’Lapide connects this verse immediately with verse 12, “For where there is no law,” &c. This negative sentence, as Beelen well remarks, contains the opposite affirmative, that where there is a law, there prevarication is not wanting.

Rom 4:16Therefore, this promise comes through faith; by which means, its gratuitousness will be consulted for, as well as its universal extension not only to the Jews, but to all the believers who imitate Abraham’s faith, who is the father of us all who believe, Gentiles as well as Jews.

As, then, the observance of the law, or according to others, the giving of it, was not sufficiently extensive and universal to answer the designs of God, in calling all mankind, Jew and Gentile; and, moreover, as the attaching to the observance of the law the grace of justification, in which the promise to Abraham chiefly consisted, would appear to interfere with the gratuitousness of this grace; it must, therefore, come from faith. The Apostle appears to make this disjunctive; “justice comes either from the law or from faith, but not from the law does it come, therefore, from faith;” in which case, will be preserved the gratuitousness of the promise, “that according to grace,” &c. And also, its universal extension, not only to the Jew, who observed the law, or received it, but to all the imitators of the faith of Abraham, who is the spiritual father of all the believers; “not to that only which is of the law,” &c.

Rom 4:17(According as it is written of him in Genesis 17:5, where, in assigning the cause of his change of name from Abram to Abraham, God says, I have made thee a father of many nations), not by carnal generation, which is perceptible to men, but by spiritual paternity, which is seen only by God, and which recommends men to him, whom Abraham believed, relying on his promises, who exerts his omnipotence in raising the dead to life, and in calling into existence the things that are not, and uses them for his purposes, like things already in being.

He proves that Abraham was the father of us all from the quotation (Genesis 17:5), where God, assigning a reason for changing the Patriarch’s name from “Abram,’ i.e., high father, to “Abraham,” i.e., father of a multitude, says, “because I have made thee,” &c. This quotation is to be read within a parenthesis, and the words. “before God,” are to be immediately connected with the words of the last verse. “The father of us all (…) before God, whom he believed,” &c. Some understand the words, “before God,” to mean like God, who holds the relation of paternity towards us by creation, which Abraham does by faith. “Who quickeneth the dead,” &c., most probably, refers to the faith in God’s omnipotence, particularly manifested in the raising the dead to life, and creating all things out of nothing; and it, most likely, refers to the examples of each operation of Omnipotence, that came under Abraham’s faith. First, the raising of Isaac from the dead, of which the Apostle says to the Hebrews 11:19, “accounting, that God is able to raise up, even from the dead.” And, secondly, his creating a new unto the power of generation, and vivifying the dead womb of Sara. These two examples had a particular reference to the things believed by Abraham.

Rom 4:18Relying on this power of God, so strong was the faith of Abraham, that he firmly hoped in that, which he should regard as naturally impossible, viz. that he should become, at so advanced an age, the lather of many nations, according to what was promised him (Genesis 15:5): Look up to heaven and number the stars if thou canst, so shall thy seed be.

The Apostle now gives an animated account of Abraham’s faith: he shows its heroism, and the happy consequences of imitating it. “Who, against hope,” i.e., against the natural obstacles apparently, and humanly speaking insuperable, “believed” in God’s promises, with a firm and unshaken confidence of their fulfilment. “That he might.” &c. This referred to his carnal descendants, but it was particularly verified in the spiritual children of Abraham; and this is principally referred to in the promise then given.

Rom 4:19His faith was not weakened, nor had the consideration of natural impossibilities (his body being now dead as to generative powers, owing to his advanced age of nearly one hundred years, and the womb of Sara similarly dead) any effect upon his mind.

The consideration of natural impossibilities had no effect in weakening his faith. “The dead womb of Sara.” “Dead.” as to the power of conceiving children, being now ninety years old. In the Greek it is, τὴν νέκρωσιν τῆς μήτρας Σαῤῥας, “the deadness of the womb of Sara,” the sense of which is expressed in our version.

Queritur.—How could the body of Abraham be said to be dead, whereas, he had six children, forty years after this, by Cetura?

Resp.—This was the result of the miraculous power here given him, and which continued with him after. The same happened to Anna, the mother of Samuel, who had other children after Samuel, though his birth was miraculous.—(1 Kings, &c.)

Queritur.—Did not Abraham live seventy-five years after the one hundred? How, then, was his body dead at the age of one hundred?

Resp.—He was an old man at the age of one hundred; for, the decline as well as the vigour of life continued for a long time in the patriarchal age. Isaac was an old man at one hundred and twenty, so old, that he lost his sight from age, and still he lived to be an hundred and eighty.—(Genesis 35).

Rom 4:20And at the promise of God he did not stagger through any feeling of unbelief, but he was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God (to whose attributes of omnipotence and veracity he paid homage by this belief).

“In the promise;” (in Greek, εἰς δὲ την ἐπαγγελίαν εἰς, frequently means, at “at the promise.”) “By distrust; (in Greek τῇ ἀπιστία, “unbelief.”) He gave “glory to God:” for, by this faith he acknowledged his infinite veracity and omnipotence, as in following verse.

Queritur.—But, did not Abraham stagger, for he said in his heart, on hearing the promise (Genesis 17), “Shall a son, thinkest thou, be born to him that is a hundred years old?”

Resp.—The common answer of the Holy Fathers is, that in these words, Abraham only expressed his unworthiness to be favoured with so great a blessing, as having a son at that age.

Rom 4:21Being most fully and thoroughly persuaded that whatever God promised, he has power to execute and fulfil.

“Most fully knowing.” In Greek, και πληροφορηθεις, “and having obtained a plenitude,” i.e., of persuasion or conviction, as the subject matter implies; hence, our version expresses the meaning of the passage. “He is able to perform.” He expressly mentions Abraham’s faith in God’s omnipotence, because it was the more difficult point to be believed. The faith in his veracity is implied.

Rom 4:22And this heroic faith was imputed to him unto justice.

“And, therefore, it was reputed,” &c. Hence, Abraham’s was a justifying faith. Now, the object of Abraham’s faith was not his own justification, but the power of God (verses 20, 21); and hence, the object of justifying faith is not our own individual justification, as is erroneously taught by the sectaries. As often as Abraham believed, after his justification, so often was his faith imputed unto justice, and so often did he obtain an increase of sanctifying grace.

Rom 4:23Now, these words of Scripture, assuring us that Abraham was justified on account of his faith, were not written merely in praise of him.
Rom 4:24But they were principally intended for our instruction and encouragement, to point out to us the model of our faith and also of our gratuitous justification by believing in him who raised up our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead.

The Apostle now shows the application of the foregoing example of Abraham. His justification is the model of ours; hence, all his spiritual children i.e., all the believers, whether Jews or Gentiles, (verses 11, 12), are to be justified gratuitously by faith; of course, in the sense marked out in the foregoing. “Unto justice,” (verse 23), are omitted in the Greek. “If we believe in him that raised up,” &c. The resurrection of Christ is referred to by the Apostle, as the principal object of our faith. Under it, are included the other mysteries. It is also the great proof of faith; and our faith in it will be reputed to us unto justice, as his faith was reputed to Abraham.

Rom 4:25Who was delivered unto death to make atonement and offer satisfaction for our sins, and was resuscitated from the dead to complete our justification (which comes through faith, and without the resurrection of Christ, our faith is vain).—1 Cor. 15:14.

The Apostle having referred to Christ’s resurrection, now shows its results to us. Although Christ merited nothing in his resurrection—he merited all by his death—still, if he had not risen, our faith would be vain; and, hence, we would not be justified. The word “for,” may also express the exemplary cause. As Christ’s death was a type of our death to sin, so he arose to be the model of our resurrection to grace, and of our walking in the newness of life. The exposition in the Paraphrase is the more natural meaning of “for,” in both cases—of his death and resurrection.

Posted in Catholic, Notes on Romans | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 2

Text in red are my additions.

A Summary of 2 Cor 2:1-4.

The vindication begun in 2 Cor 2:15 is continued here. The reason the Apostle did not pay the Corinthians the visit which he had intended and which they desired was because their disorders were such that another visit from him would be to their sorrow, and not to their joy. Hence he preferred to write to them.

 2 Cor 2:1. But I determined this with myself, not to come to you again in sorrow.

Not to come to you again, etc. Better, “Not again in sorrow to come to you” (B א A C D F G), i.e., he would not pay them a second sorrowful visit. This implies that he had already come to them in sorrow, which certainly could not refer to the first time he visited Corinth and founded the Church with great success and reason for joy (Acts 18:1 ff.). That the Apostle here refers to a second visit to Corinth, which must have occurred after writing 1 Cor., is further confirmed by 2 Cor 12:14; 13:1, where he speaks of his coming visit as the third.

 2 Cor 2:2. For if I make you sorrowful, who is he then that can make me glad, but the same who is made sorrowful by me? 

Here the Apostle tenderly observes that if he comes to Corinth bringing pain to the faithful, there will be no one else there who can give joy to him ; if his visit must cause them sorrow, they will not be in a condition to contribute to his joy, and they alone can give him joy. The singular ὁ λυπούμενος (= ho lympoumenos)  sums up the Corinthian Church as one individual (Plum.).

 2 Cor 2:3. And I wrote this same to you ; that I may not, when I come, have sorrow upon sorrow, from them of whom I ought to rejoice: having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.

 I wrote this, etc. Comparing this passage with vii. 8 we see that there must be a reference here to some Epistle previous to the present one.

This can refer back to the determination of verse 1, or, more probably, to the severe rebuke which he had been obliged to send before, and to which allusion is made in verse 4. Now since the language of this and the following verse cannot well be applied to 1 Cor., we must conclude that the Apostle is referring to what he said in the lost letter written between 1 and 2 Cor. He wrote that severe Epistle that the Corinthians might correct their disorders before he should arrive, and thus make his visit one of joy.

To you (Vulg., vobis after scripsi) should be omitted according to the best authorities.

2 Cor 2:4. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart, I wrote to you with many tears : not that you should be made sorrowful : but that you might know the charity I have more abundantly towards you.

Here again the reference seems plainly to be to a letter more severe than our First Corinthians.

I wrote to you, etc., i.e., in the lost letter between 1 and 2 Cor. The Apostle’s purpose in writing was not to cause sorrow, but to show the greatness of his charity for the faithful, whose disorders he would not be so cruel as to condone, but whose feelings he would spare by writing rather than by appearing before them in person. He wanted to correct them, but with as little pain as possible.

The in vobis of the Vulgate should be in vos, or erga vos.

A Summary of 2 Cor 2:5-11.

According to the traditional opinion, followed by Comely, MacRory and most Catholic exegetes, St. Paul is speaking in this section of the incestuous man of 1 Cor. 5:1-8. But Le Camus, Lemonnyer and many other recent interpreters believe that the present passage and 2 Cor 7:8-12 refer to some other offender of whom we know nothing outside this letter, and who in some way gave particular offence to St. Paul. In favor of this latter opinion it is argued (a) that the language of the present passage is too mild to refer to a crime so heinous as incest; (b) that if the incestuous man is meant here, his crime was even greater than represented in 1 Cor. 5:1;; for, since 2 Cor 7:12 and this passage are the same, it would follow that the incestuous man married his father’s wife while his father was still living—a crime which we can hardly imagine the Corinthians would have tolerated for a moment; (c) in 1 Cor. 5:1 ff. the Apostle is resenting a stain on the whole Church, whereas here the offence seems to be rather an individual affair. These arguments, however, are not entirely convincing. At any rate, St. Paul is now urging charity toward a repentant sinner. The obedience of the faithful has been manifest before in punishing crime, and now it will not be wanting in granting pardon. The Apostle, therefore, promises to ratify their decision.
2 Cor 2:5. And if any one have caused grief, he hath not grieved me; but in part, that I may not burden you all.

The sense is that the offender referred to has not only grieved St. Paul, but in a measure all the faithful. The conditional form, if any one, etc., is used to spare the feelings of the repentant sinner.

But in part, etc. Better, “But in measure (not to be too severe with him) all of you.” The offender has grieved the whole Church, although ἀπὸ μέρους (= apo merous) may imply that some of the Christians were not pained. This could apply to the incestuous man, or to the other offender.

2 Cor 2:6. To him who is such a one, this rebuke is sufficient, which is given by many:

To him who is, etc. The meaning is: The punishment he has received from many is sufficient for one who has committed such a crime. St. Paul had ordered the excommunication of the incestuous man (1 Cor. 5:1, 13), and if the reference here is to him, the faithful are now told that they may resume friendly relations with him.

By many. This may imply that many were present when the sentence was pronounced, or that a minority of the Christians were not satisfied with the penalty. Did they think it insufficient or too severe? Since the context implies that this minority were devoted to St. Paul, it would seem that they regarded the penalty as inadequate. This interpretation is made very probable by what follows.

2 Cor 2:7. So that on the contrary, you should rather forgive him and comfort himlest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.

On the contrary, etc., i.e., instead of continuing the punishment of the repentant sinner, or wishing that he had received a severer penalty, the faithful ought now to forgive him and comfort him, lest a continuation of severity do more harm than good.

2 Cor 2:8. Wherefore, I beseech you, that you would confirm your charity towards him.

Confirm your charity, etc. “Your” should be omitted. The sense is given by Theodoret: “Unite the member to the body, add the sheep to the fold, show him warm affection.” How the faithful are to do this is not stated. Although a legal term, κυρῶσαι (= kyrosai), to ratify, perhaps does not mean that a formal decree is suggested.
2 Cor 2:9. For to this end also did I write, that I may know the experiment of you, whether you be obedient in all things.
Did I write. As in verse 3, the reference here seems to be to the lost letter which was written between 1 and 2 Cor., rather than to our First Corinthians. In that former letter St. Paul put to test the obedience of the Corinthians by requesting that they punish the sinner, and now he again tries them by asking that they receive back their repentant brother. He wants to see if the faithful are obedient in all things.
2 Cor 2:10. And to whom you have pardoned anything, I also. For, what I have pardoned, if I have pardoned anything, for your sakes have I done it in the person of Christ.

The Apostle tells the Corinthians not to hesitate to forgive the sinner, because he will ratify their action. Have pardoned should be present, “pardon” (χαρίζεσθε = charizesthe).

What I have pardoned. Very probably the Apostle means here that he has already forgiven the sinner in question, and that the Corinthians need not hesitate, therefore, in forgiving him also. It is possible that some other pardon is referred to, such as the remission of the punishment he had intended to inflict by handing the guilty man over to the power of Satan (1 Cor. 5:3-5).

If I have pardoned, etc. The conditional form here, as in verse 5, is merely a mild way of stating the fact; no doubt is implied.

In the person of Christ, i.e., with the authority of Christ (Estius), or in the presence and with the approval of Christ (Cornely). In forgiving the offender St. Paul did not act merely to please the faithful.

The donastis of the Vulgate should be donatis.
2 Cor 2:11. That we be not overreached by Satan. For we are not ignorant of his devices.

The purpose St. Paul had in pardoning the sinner was to defeat the machinations of Satan who might make use of severe punishment to tempt the offender to despair.

We, i.e., St. Paul and the Corinthian Christians, must not allow our efforts for good to be turned to evil by the low devices of the wicked one.

We are not ignorant, etc. St. Paul and the faithful knew from Scripture that Satan could draw evil out of good, as of old he had tempted Eve to sin under the guise of good (Gen. 3:4-5)

A Summary of 2 Cor 2:12-17.

Speaking in verse 4 of his great sorrow and anguish of heart the Apostle was led to digress (verses 5-11) into speaking about the cause of his pain; but now he returns to the thought of the first part of the chapter. It was his great charity for the Corinthians that caused him to defer his visit and change his plan to go to them. After writing to them he sent Titus to Corinth, hoping to meet him later at Troas and receive his report of Corinthian conditions. Titus finally returned and the two met in Macedonia. St. Paul was delighted at the good news, and thanked God, who throughout his ministry had been so faithful to him, giving his labors everywhere divine assistance and approval.

2 Cor 2:12. And when I was come to Troas for the gospel of Christ, and a door was opened unto me in the Lord, 
 2 Cor 2:13. I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother; but bidding them farewell, I went into Macedonia.

To Troas. Troas was the name of a district and of a town on the northwest coast of Asia Minor. The town is referred to here. St. Paul had arranged to meet Titus returning from Corinth at Troas, but having been himself obliged to leave Ephesus earlier than was expected (Acts 19:23), he arrived at Troas before the appointed time and did not find his ambassador there. So anxious was the Apostle about the effect of his letter and the mission of Titus to Corinth that, though he found an excellent opening for preaching the Gospel at Troas, he pressed on across the Aegean Sea into Macedonia, in order to meet Titus sooner.

For the gospel of Christ, i.e., for preaching the Gospel. On a previous occasion St. Paul had preached at Troas (Acts 16:8).

No rest in my spirit. Better, “No relief for my spirit.” The Apostle’s mind was in a state of extreme anxiety and tension, and so he could not tarry at Troas. The opportunity here was not so pressing as the crisis at Corinth. There was danger in delay.

My brother, i.e., my fellow-worker in preaching the Gospel. Titus was afterwards made Bishop of Crete (Titus i. 5), and St. Paul addressed one of his last Epistles to him.

2 Cor 2:14. Now thanks be to God, who always maketh us to triumph in Christ Jesus, and manifesteth the odour of his knowledge by us in every place.

Now thanks be to God, etc. The Greek is much stronger and marks the transition more emphatically; Τῷ δὲ Θεῷ χάρις (= to de Theo charis). So relieved and exhilarated was St. Paul by the news learned through Titus that he burst out into thanksgiving for God’s great mercies to him in preaching the Gospel, which have caused his labors and those of his companions to issue in triumph everywhere.

Maketh us to triumph. This is the sense commonly given to θριαμβεύοντι (= thriambeuonti) here, but in the only other passage of the New Testament where it occurs (Col. 2:15) and in classical Greek it means “to lead in triumph.”

In Christ Jesus, i.e., by means of Christ’s help.

Jesus is not in the Greek.

The odour of his knowledge, i.e., the knowledge of God in Christ, diffused by the Apostles and their followers in every part of the world. God is revealed in Christ, and this revelation was preached everywhere by the Apostles. The preaching of the Apostles and their co-workers is represented as a sweet perfume ascending from earth to heaven.

In the Vulgate Jesu should be omitted.

2 Cor 2:15. For we are the good odour of Christ unto God, in them that are saved, and in them that perish.

We are the good odour, etc., i.e., the Apostles were the sweet fragrance of Christ unto God at all times. They were this also to those among men who were ready to welcome the revelation of Christ, namely, to those that are saved, i.e., to those that are in the way of salvation (Luke 13:23; Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 1:18) ; and to them that perish, i.e., to those who are in the way of perdition (2 Cor 4:3; 1 Cor. 1:18; 2 Thess. 2:10).

2 Cor 2:16. To the one indeed the odour of death unto death : but to the others the odour of life unto life. And for these things who is so sufficient?

Of death … of life. The best MSS. Read: The preaching of the Apostles is a source of spiritual life to those who are willing to receive it and put it into practice; but to those who refuse it, or fail to conform their lives to its requirements, it occasions spiritual ruin. The true preachers of the Gospel are, like their divine Master, “set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel” (Luke 2:34).

Who is so sufficient? “So” should be omitted. If the preaching of the Apostles is so tremendous, being an occasion of life to some and of death to others, who of himself and with his own strength is capable of undertaking it. St. Paul is emphasizing the responsibility of the Apostolate preparatory to an inquiry into his own Apostolic office and a vindication of his own conduct.

The tam of the Vulgate should be omitted.

2 Cor 2:17. For we are not as many, adulterating the word of God; but with sincerity, but as from God, before God, in Christ we speak.

Unlike certain teachers, as in Corinth, who mixed false doctrines with the Gospel teaching, or degraded that teaching by seeking money through it, St. Paul and his companions preached with sincerity, as sent and inspired by God, and as laboring in God’s presence and with His approval through the grace given them as members and ministers of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 5:17; Rom. 16:10).

Many cannot mean the majority here, at least as regards the Church at large. The reference is doubtless to the ludaizers who were scattered about in Corinth and other places.

Posted in Catholic, Notes on 2 Corinthians | Leave a comment

Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 1

Text in red are my additions.


A Summary of 2 Corinthians 1:1-2~As in the previous letter so here, St. Paul begins by an assertion of his Apostolic authority and divine commission. Timothy, his faithful companion and fellow-laborer in preaching the Gospel (1 Cor 16:10; Rom 16:21), is associated in the writing of this Epistle because, since the Apostle is going to speak much of himself and defend his life and actions against his adversaries, he could have no better witness than Timothy, and no one who was more highly esteemed by the Corinthians. Here too, all the faithful, not only of Corinth, but of the whole Roman Province of Achaia, are addressed.

2 Cor 1:1. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother: to the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints that are in all Achaia:

Paul, an apostle, etc. See on Rom 1:1Here is what Fr. Callan wrote in his comments on Rom 1:1~Paul. The Apostle probably assumed this name for the first time in Cyprus when he converted the Proconsul Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:7-12), perhaps, as St. Jerome says (in Philem.), in honor of his victory in making so great a convert. St. Thomas and others, however, think he was called both Paul and Saul from his infancy; the latter being his Jewish, and the former his Latin name. As Tarsus, the Apostle’s birth place, was under the Roman Empire, it seems not improbable that he should have been given a Latin, as well as a Jewish name, from the beginning. It seems unlikely (pace St Jerome) that St Paul would have been so ostentatious as to “honor his victory in making so great a convert” as to adopt the name Paulus from the Proconsul Sergius Paulus Gallio.

Of Jesus Christ (Vulg., Jesu Christi) is according toA D G K; whereas B M P read, “Of Christ Jesus.”

Our brother. Literally, “The brother,” i.e., not only a fellow-Christian, but a co-laborer in preaching the Gospel. In five other Epistles (Philip., Col., 1 and 2 Thess. and Philem.) Timothy is similarly associated with St. Paul.

With all the saints, etc., i.e., this letter is addressed to Corinth, and also to all the other Christian communities of Achaia. Unlike Galatians, however, this was not a circular Epistle. It embraced the outlying Churches of Achaia only so far as they shared the disorders and opinions of the central Church at Corinth.

Achaia was a distinct Roman Province including the Peloponnesus and north Greece as far as Macedonia. Corinth was its capital.

2 Cor 1:2. Grace unto you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

See on Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3. Concerning grace and peace Fr. Callan wrote this on Rom 1:7~Grace . . . peace, etc. This form of well-wishing, which occurs in nearly all the Epistles of St. Paul, is found nowhere before the Apostle, and therefore seems to have been his own creation (Lagrange). Grace, in its proper sense, is a special gift of God by which one is made holy and agreeable in God’s sight, and is rendered a participant of the divine nature, a brother of Christ, and heir to the glory of the Father in heaven. Peace with God insures interior tranquility of mind and soul, and is one of the most precious effects of grace. St. Paul here speaks of these eminent gifts as coming from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ, thus placing the latter on a level with the former, but not identifying the two as persons.

At 1 Cor 1:3 he wrote~Cf. 1 Thess 1:1 and 3:11, where the Father and the Son stand together as subjects of a verb in the singular, showing the perfect unity of their nature.


A Summary of 2 Corinthians 1:3-11~The Apostle has lately passed through dire perils, for deliverance from which he now thanks God, especially since his trials and his safe escape from them have been ordained to the ultimate good and comfort of his dear ones in the faith. It was by their prayers that he was assisted in time of danger, and he trusts to their devout cooperation for deliverance from similar circumstances in the future.

2 Cor 1:3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.

The Apostle now thanks God the Father for the mercy and comfort which he, Timothy, and perhaps other fellow-laborers (verse 19) have experienced in their trials and toils.

The God and Father ( ο θεος και πατηρ). The one article for the two names shows that they both refer to the one Divine Person. The Father is called the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, just as the Saviour Himself said: “I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God” (John 20:17).

The Father of mercies, etc., i.e., the merciful Father who is the source of all consolation (Eph 2:4).

2 Cor 1:4. Who comforteth us in all our tribulation; that we also may be able to comfort them who are in all distress, by the exhortation wherewith we also are exhorted by God.

God comforts St. Paul, Timothy and their fellow-workers in the ministry, in order that they in turn may comfort the faithful in their afflictions.

Distress represents the same word in Greek (θλιψει) as tribulation; and likewise comfort and comforteth render the same Greek terms as exhortation and exhorted. The same variation between our version and the Vulgate, on the one hand, and the Greek text, on the other, occurs again in verse 6.

The et . . . et (“also”) of the Vulgate here are not in the Greek.

2 Cor 1:5. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us: so also by Christ doth our comfort abound.

If the sufferings of the Apostles were extraordinary, their consolations were correspondingly great.

The sufferings of Christ, i.e., the sufferings which Christ bore for the diffusion of the Gospel and the salvation of souls, and which are continued in the members of His mystical body (Col 1:24). There is no thought here of Christ now suffering in glory.

2 Cor 1:6. Now whether we be in tribulation, it is for your exhortation and salvation: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation: or whether we be exhorted, it is for your exhortation and salvation, which worketh the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer.

The Apostle wishes to say now that whatever happens to him and his fellow workers for Christ—whether it be joy or sorrow, comfort or affliction, it is all ordained for the good of the faithful. Their afflictions beget patience, and their comfort inspires hope in the goodness of God.

The text of this verse causes much confusion. In the first place the Vulgate clause, sive autem tribulamur pro vestra exhortatione et salute must be omitted as a repetition of the last part of the first clause (a case of scribal dittography). The corresponding words in our version, or whether we beexhorted, it is for your exhortation and salvation must likewise be omitted.

This done, there are two principal readings of the verse: (a) “Now whether we be in tribulation, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is wrought out in the endurance of the same sufferings which we also suffer; or whether we be comforted it is for your consolation, knowing that,” etc. [as in verse 7] (see manuscripts B D F G K L); (b) “Now whether we be in tribulation, it is for your comfort and salvation; or whether we be comforted, it is for your comfort, which worketh in the endurance of the same sufferings that we also suffer” (see manuscripts A C M P). The latter reading is more like the Vulgate and is preferable.

2 Cor 1:7. That our hope for you may be steadfast: knowing that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so shall you be also of the consolation.

The Apostle expresses his unwavering hope that as the Corinthians bear their afflictions courageously they may also experience much comfort and consolation.

That our hope, etc. ( Vulg., Ut spes nostra, etc.) should be “And our hope,” etc. This clause is transferred by the Vatican MS. and many other authorities to the middle of the preceding verse, but such placing is against the best internal and external evidence. It is true that the participle knowing is without an antecedent, but this is not uncommon in St. Paul.

 2 Cor 1:8. For we would not have you ignorant, brethren, of our tribulation, which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure above our strength, so that we were weary even of life.

A particular instance of great suffering endured by St. Paul, and perhaps by Timothy, in Asia is now recalled to the minds of the Corinthians. What was this terrible affliction? Since it seemed to be well known to the Corinthians, it was probably the report of the rebellion in Corinth against the Apostle’s authority. It overwhelmed him with grief. Now this could hardly be said of the uproar caused by Demetrius at Ephesus (Acts 19:23), for Timothy was not there at that time (Acts 19:22). Neither could we easily suppose it to have been some mere private distress caused by sickness, shipwreck or the like.

In Asia, i.e., in the Roman Province of Asia, which consisted of the coastlands of Asia Minor on the Aegean Sea, of which Ephesus was the capital.

That we were pressed, etc., i.e., exceedingly above our strength, so that we were weary, etc., i.e., so that we despaired even of life. The Apostle is saying that his affliction was more than his natural strength could support, but which he was able to bear by the grace of God (1 Cor. 19:13).

2 Cor 1:9. But we had in ourselves the answer of death, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead.

So great was the affliction of St. Paul and Timothy that they felt sure they must die, if left to their own strength. This extremity of suffering was given them that they might learn to trust in God who is able to raise the dead to life, and so, a fortiori, can rescue from death (Rom. 4:17).

But (ἀλλὰ) is not adversative here; it confirms what was said before and should be translated, “Nay.”

The answer of death, i.e., the sentence, the judgment, the expectation of death (St. Chrys.).

2 Cor 1:10. Who hath delivered and doth deliver us out of so great dangers: in whom we trust that he will yet also deliver us.

So great dangers. More literally, “So great a death.” The danger was naturally tantamount to death.

That he will yet also, etc. This shows that the same situation might occur again, which is against the supposition that the affliction in question was caused by the uproar of the silversmiths (Acts 19:23).

And doth deliver (Vulg., et emit with F G K L) would better be “and will deliver,” et eruet (B א C).

2 Cor 1:11. You helping withal in prayer for us: that for this gift obtained for us, by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many in our behalf.

The Apostle is confident that in future the help of God will not be wanting to him, because he trusts in the prayers of all the faithful, and of the Corinthians in particular.

That for this gift, etc. The meaning is: That from many persons (faces) thanks may be given on our behalf for the gift obtained for us through the prayers of many. St. Paul desires many prayers to be offered for him and his companions, so that when the favor is obtained God may be honored by the thanksgiving of many.

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 1:12-14

There has been a mutual sharing of benefits between St. Paul and the Corinthians: the good things which he experienced, like the evils that he suffered, have both turned to the welfare of the faithful ; while he, in turn, has been assisted by their prayers in rising above his afflictions. And he is confident that they will continue to help in the future as in the past. This confidence is grounded on the testimony of his conscience that when with them he always acted with the utmost sincerity and candor, and he firmly trusts they will find that same spirit of sincerity in this letter, and that they will continue to acknowledge that they have reason to glory in him and his helpers as their Apostles, while he and his co-workers will rejoice in them as in their spiritual children when Christ comes in judgment. This section leads up to the first part of the body of the Epistle in which the Apostle gives a general defense of his Apostolic life. The Judaizers at Corinth as in other places sought by defaming the Apostle, to destroy his Apostolic authority, and thus remove the great obstacle to the spread of their errors. They said he was a weak and inconstant man who was always changing his mind and plans, that he was proud and full of conceit, that he forced people to accept his doctrines by constant threats, and so on. Such reports as these naturally made some, if not many, of the faithful suspicious of St. Paul. But when the Apostle learned of conditions at Corinth he lost no time in refuting these calumnies of his adversaries, so that when he would later arrive there the situation might not demand severity. Therefore in the first part of the present Epistle (2 Cor 1:12-7:16) he is chiefly at pains to disprove accusations of fickleness and inconstancy (2 Cor 1:15-2:17); to show that he was not guilty of pride and arrogance (2 Cor 3:1-4:6); and finally, by laying bare his motives in preaching and by explaining the reasons that impelled him in the exercise of his ministry, to foil all the efforts of his enemies (2 Cor 4:7-6:10). The Apostle terminates this part of his letter with an affectionate exhortation to the faithful to entertain towards him the same tender love which he has always cherished for them (2 Cor 6:11-7:16).

2 Cor 1:12. For our glory is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity if heart and sincerity of God, and not in carnal wisdom, but in the grace of God, we have conversed in this world : and more abundantly towards you.

For our glory is this, etc., i.e., the reason for glorying in the future help of the prayers of the Corinthians is founded on the testimony of his conscience that, while he and his companions were doing the work of God among them, they were at all times moved by candor and sincerity.

In simplicity. This is according to D F L, the Vulgate, Old Latin, and Syriac versions; but the best Greek MSS. read: “In holiness” (ἐν ἁγιότητι), and this reading has been adopted by all modern critics.

Sincerity of God, i.e., the sincerity that comes from God, God given sincerity.

Carnal wisdom is here set over against “simplicity” (holiness) and sincerity, and means the product of hypocrisy and duplicity; it is not to be confounded with the “wisdom of this world” (1 Cor. 2:5-6).

In the grace of God, i.e., moved by the grace of God.

We have conversed, etc., i.e., St. Paul and his co-workers have everywhere in their preaching been moved in simplicity and candor by God’s grace, but more especially so at Corinth, where they refused even the support to which they were entitled (2 Cor 11:7-9; 1 Cor. 9:1-15).

Of heart (Vulg., cordis) should be omitted.

2 Cor 1:13. For we write no other things to you, than what you have read and known. And I hope that you shall know unto the end: 
2 Cor 1:14. As also you have known us in part, that we are your glory, as you also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

You have read and known. Better, “You read and even acknowledge.” The meaning is that he is not writing anything in this Epistle which the Corinthians do not already know from his life and conduct when among them, and from the other letters he has sent them and which they have.

And I hope, etc. This clause should be separated from what follows in verse 14 by a comma only. The Apostle is not quite certain, but he hopes the Corinthians will continue to the end of their lives, even to the end of the world, to acknowledge, as in part, i.e., as some of them have already done, that he and his companions, as Apostles, are their glory, while they are his glory, as his spiritual children, in the day of judgment.

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 1:15-22

The Judaizers who sought to destroy the Apostle’s authority and work at Corinth charged him, among other things, with fickleness and instability, and they gave as an instance his change of plan regarding his visit to Corinth from Ephesus. Against these calumniators he now asserts the consistency of his teaching, which is based on the truthfulness of God Himself, and upon the special character as Apostles with which God has consecrated him and his companions for their ministerial labors and duties.

2 Cor 1:15. And in this confidence I had a mind to come to you before, that you might have a second grace:
2 Cor 1:16. And to pass by you into Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come to you, and by you to be brought on my way towards Judea.

In this confidence, etc., i.e., in view of the Apostle’s firm belief in the mutual reasons for glorying which existed between the Corinthians and himself, he had at first planned to go directly from Ephesus to Corinth, then to Macedonia, and finally back to Corinth again; and it seems he had made known this plan, or a part of it, to the faithful at Corinth, perhaps through the letter, now lost, which he first sent them (1 Cor. 5:9). When, therefore, he told them in 1 Cor. 16:5 ff. that he had made other arrangements and would go first to Macedonia and then come to Corinth, his enemies seized upon this change to accuse him of lightmindedness and inconsistency.

A second grace. i.e., a second joy and a spiritual favor. The first joy would be on his way to Macedonia, the second on his return from there. Some, with Estius, hold that the first “grace” was when St. Paul first preached the Gospel at Corinth, and that consequently the “second grace” here would have been his second visit there. But this view would be against the very probable opinion that the Apostle paid a hurried visit to Corinth between the writing of our First and Second Corinthians (see Introduction, 1).

Towards Judea, whither he was to carry the collection for the poor Christians of Palestine.

2 Cor 1:17. Whereas then I was thus minded, did I use lightness? Or, the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that there should be with me, it is and it is not?

Did I use lightness? i.e., did I change my mind out of mere fickleness? That he did not is shown by the fact that his resolutions are not made according to human considerations and passions, but according to the illumination and direction of the Holy Ghost. If he did not go directly from Ephesus to Corinth, it was because the Spirit restrained him, as had happened before, when he and Silas attempted to go into Bithynia (Acts 16:7).

That I purpose. The change here from the past to the present tense draws attention to the Apostle’s general conduct.

That there should be, etc. Better, “So that with me it is now ‘Yea, yea,’ and now ‘Nay, nay.’ ” i.e., that he should resolve to do a thing while at the same time having the intention not to do it.

Both in the English and in the Vulgate here the affirmation and the negation should be repeated twice to agree with the Greek.

2 Cor 1:18. But God is faithful, for our preaching which was to you, was not, It is, and It is not. 

Digressing for a moment from the question of his visit to Corinth St. Paul insists upon the consistency of his teaching in general.

God is faithful. This may mean that he calls God, as by an oath, to witness the truth of what he is saying (cf. 2 Cor 11:10; Rom. 14:11) ; or, more likely, that “God is faithful to His promises; He had promised to send you preachers of truth, and therefore since I am sent to you, our preaching is not ‘Yes and No’ i.e., there is no falsity in it” (St. Thomas).

Our preaching . . . was not. Better, “Our preaching . . . is not” (B K A C D F G P), i.e., all the promises and preaching of the Apostle and his companions are reliable and consistent.

The Vulgate qui fuit and in illo are not represented in the Greek.

2 Cor 1:19. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, by me, and Sylvanus, and Timothy, was not, It is and It is not, but, It is, was in him.

In this and the three following verses St. Paul is proving the faithfulness and consistency of his promises and of his preaching at all times. His argument is: “Just as the Son of God whom we preached to you was faithful to God’s promises (verse 19), since through Him were fulfilled all the promises of God (verse 20), so we ministers of that faithful Christ, having been confirmed and anointed by God (verse 21) and sealed with the pledge of His Spirit (verse 22), are also faithful to our promises and consistent in our preaching.”

The Son of God, etc., whom we preached to you, and who, as God, is truth and immutability itself, was not fickle and unfaithful, but, on the contrary, was the fulfillment of all God’s promises to men.

Silvanus was doubtless the same as Silas (Acts 15:40; 16:1 ff.), who, together with Paul and Timothy, had labored in the foundation of the Church in Corinth (Acts 18:5).

2 Cor 1:20. For all the promises of God are in him. It is; therefore also by him, amen to God, unto our glory.

The last words of the preceding verse are now explained.

For all the promises, etc. Better, “For how many soever are the promises,” etc., i.e., all the Messianic promises made by God to the Patriarchs and Prophets (1 Cor 7:1; Rom. 9:4; Gal. 3:16-21; Heb. 6:12; 8:6; 11:13, etc.) are verified and fulfilled in Christ.

Therefore also by him. Better, “Wherefore also through him.” The meaning is that since through Christ have been fulfilled all the Messianic promises, through Him also is made possible the Amen by which the fulfill ment of those promises is acknowledged. The Apostle is alluding to the practice on the part of the faithful of saying Amen in response to the prayers of the priest in the public religious assemblies (1 Cor. 14:16).

To God, unto our glory. Better, “To God’s glory through us.” The sense is that the acknowledgment of the fulfillment of God’s promises, as preached by Paul and his companions (which is expressed by the word Amen), redounds to the glory of God.

The nostram of the Vulgate should be per nos.

2 Cor 1:21. Now he that confirmeth us with you in Christ, and that hath anointed us, is God:

As Christ, whom the Apostles have announced, is unchangeable, so is their preaching of Him, and this by a special spiritual anointing which they have received from God.

Confirmeth us, i.e., renders us Apostles firm and unchangeable in teaching the doctrines of revelation to the faithful. The words with you imply that the faithful also received from God the firmness and stability with which they retained the doctrines preached to them.

Hath anointed us, i.e., has especially called us to preach the Gospel, and has given us the graces necessary to discharge this high office. The word χρίω (= chriō) from which the name Christ is derived, is used only four times in the New Testament, and in each instance of our Saviour (Luke 4:18; Acts 4:27; 10:38; Heb. 1:9). Therefore the anointing here spoken of must mean that Paul and his companions were especially called to preach the Gospel and perform their ministry. The reference is not to the Sacrament of Confirmation, nor to Baptism, which is received by all the faithful, but more properly to ordination, since God was the anointer and the purpose of the anointing was to enable the Apostles to discharge the spiritual duties of their ministry. In the Old Testament kings, priests, and prophets were anointed before undertaking their offices (1 Sam 9:16; Ex 40:13).

 2 Cor 1:22. Who also hath sealed us, and given the pledge of the Spirit in our hearts.

Hath sealed us. Not only did God anoint and consecrate Paul and his companions for the work of preaching the Gospel, but He also stamped upon them, as it were, the seal of His divine authority and sanction by giving them the power of miracles, and by enriching them with the various gifts of the Holy Ghost These gifts were a pledge and an earnest of the still more precious endowments reserved for them in the life to come.

The pledge of the Spirit
. The sense is that the Holy Ghost dwelling in the hearts of the Apostles was an earnest of the still greater gifts awaiting them hereafter.


2 Cor 1:23. But I call God to witness upon my soul, that to spare you, I came not any more to Corinth: not because we exercise dominion over your faith : but we are helpers of your joy: for in faith you stand.

After having proved the firmness and consistency of his promises and preaching the Apostle now returns to the subject of verse 17, and explains why he did not go directly from Ephesus to Corinth as he had planned.

Upon my soul, etc. He calls God to witness against his soul, meaning that God should destroy it, if he is not telling the truth when he says that the reason why he did not come to Corinth as first planned was in order to spare the Corinthians. The condition of the Church there was so bad that the Apostle could not at the time have gone thither without using great severity, and hence he preferred to remain away till later. But even in this he was not acting “according to the flesh”: he was acting under the guidance of the Spirit, as in Acts 16:7 (St. Chrys.).

I came not any more. The Apostle here seems to be repeating the complaint of the Corinthians, who regretted that he “came not any more to Corinth.” He means to say that he did not pay the visit alluded to in verse 15 above. This statement does not interfere with the very probable opinion which holds that St. Paul paid a short and painful visit to Corinth after writing 1 Cor. (2 Cor. 12:14, 21; 13:1), because that painful visit was not of the nature, duration or extent of the one alluded to in verse 15 above, and promised very likely in the lost letter to the Corinthians of which there is question in 1 Cor. 5:9.

Not because we exercise, etc. Better, “Not that we exercise,” etc. Having just spoken of sparing the Corinthians the Apostle now explains his meaning. He does not want the faithful to think that he and his companions desire to tyrannize over their faith, using despotic methods with them: rather he wishes to promote their joy in believing; and since, on account of their factions and disorders he could not do this, he preferred to remain away. As regards their faith they were not in need of correction, but they were at fault in other matters (Theod.).

Posted in Catholic, Notes on 2 Corinthians | Leave a comment

Father Callan’s Introduction to Second Corinthians

Text in red are my additions. This commentary was published nearly one hundred years ago. Those wanting newer resources are encouraged to acquire the following:

Ignatius Study Bible: First and Second Corinthians. An excellent place to begin a bible study. Can be used for both individual and group studies.

Navarre Bible Commentary: St Paul’s Letters to the Corinthians. Doctrinal and spiritual commentary.

Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture: 2 Corinthians. Outstanding.

The Occasion and Purpose of this Letter.

Although the present Epistle is the only extant source from which we may gather the events and causes that called it forth, scholars find in the information which it affords reasons for two opposing conclusions. All are agreed that it immediately followed upon knowledge communicated to St. Paul in Macedonia regarding conditions in Corinth (2 Cor. 2:12-13; 7:6). But what in particular was it among the faithful there, reported by Titus, that gave rise to this Epistle? Was it the reception of First Corinthians, or of a letter subsequent to First Corinthians? Certainly whatever Paul had written thither had much to do with the situation as observed and reported by Titus.

The opinion universally accepted until recently held that this second Epistle was occasioned by information brought to St. Paul from Corinth, perhaps by Timothy first (1 Cor. 4:17; 16:10) but later certainly by Titus (2 Cor. 7:6), shortly after the Corinthians had received our first canonical letter. In recent years, however, the opinion has been gaining adherents which believes that the present letter was occasioned by the report that followed a letter written by St. Paul to the faithful of Corinth after their reception of First Corinthians. According to this latter opinion, then, St. Paul addressed four Epistles to the Corinthians : (a) that mentioned in 1 Cor. 5:9, which has been lost; (b) our First Corinthians; (c) this intermediate Epistle, which has also been lost; (d) our Second Corinthians.

1. Patrons of the first opinion explain as follows: St. Paul sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia and Corinth (Acts 19:22; 1 Cor. 4:17; 16:10) shortly before he dispatched our first canonical letter. Whether Timothy ever reached Corinth or not, we do not know. If he did, his arrival there likely took place about the same time that First Corinthians was received. At any rate, St. Paul, perhaps fearing for the certainty, or for the success, of Timothy’s visit to Corinth, soon sent Titus thither with instructions to take account of conditions among the Corin thians, to observe the effect of the letter recently sent them, and to report to him at Troas (2 Cor. 2:12-13; x12:18). The Apostle was intending to remain at Ephesus until Pentecost (1 Cor. 16:8), but the unexpected tumult stirred up by Demetrius (Acts 19:23) caused him to hasten his departure. Arriving at Troas earlier than he had calculated and not finding Titus there, he went immediately to Macedonia (2 Cor. 2:13). Shortly the envoy arrived, and gave the Apostle a complete account of con ditions and affairs at Corinth. The report was, on the whole, consoling (2 Cor. 7:6). The letter had been well received and had produced salutary results, causing many of the faithful to feel real sorrow for their misdeeds and to grieve for having offended the Apostle, whose authority they now admitted without question (2 Cor. 7:7 ff.). They had expelled the incestuous man from their number, thus bringing him to repentance; and now they asked St. Paul how they should conduct themselves towards this repentant sinner (2 Cor. 2:5 ff.).

But Titus also had something unpleasant to report. There were still in the Corinthian community those who refused to acknowledge St. Paul’s Apostolic authority. While his letter had saddened some of the faithful unto repentance, it had turned others against him and had greatly aroused the fury of his enemies, who now seemed to belong to the faction of the Judaizers, but who pretended to be Apostles of a very superior order (2 Cor. xi. 5; 12:11). They redoubled their bitter attacks on St. Paul, accusing him of fickleness and vacillation (2 Cor. 1:15-17), and of commending himself because no one else had recommended or would recommend him (2 Cor. 3:1-2). They said his preaching was most obscure and full of veiled meanings (2 Cor. 4:2-3) ; when present he was grovelling in his humility, but when absent he was full of pride and arrogance (2 Cor. 10:1-2) ; his appearance was weak and insignificant (2 Cor. 10:10) ; he acted like a fool, an insane man (2 Cor. 11:1, 16) ; he was too proud, or too uncertain of the reality and truth of his Apostolate, to accept support from the faithful (2 Cor. 11:16-21) ; his pretended visions and revelations were only the ravings of his own disordered brain and imagination (2 Cor. 12:1-10) ; he was a nobody (2 Cor. 12:11) ; he was crafty, a deceiver full of guile (2 Cor. 12:16-18) ; and he seemed to realize that he was a self-appointed, untimely Apostle (1 Cor. 15:8-9). Titus had further to report that the collection for the poor Christians in Jerusalem was not making sufficient progress (2 Cor. 8:1 ff.), and that there was grave danger of a new outbreak of dissension and trouble (2 Cor. 12:20-21; 13:1-10).

These tidings, partly pleasing and partly saddening, announced by Titus to Paul in Macedonia were, according to the first opinion explained above, the occasion of the present Epistle. The Apostle wished, first of all, to express his satisfaction that so many of the faithful were now true to him, to explain why he had written the previous letter, and to give definite instructions for the collection in behalf of the poor of Jerusalem. Secondly, he wished to reply to the attacks of his adversaries, and thus to establish, on a final and unshaken basis, his Apostolic authority.

2. The opinion which is more popular to-day gives a different explanation of the cause which was chiefly responsible for the information that provoked our Second Corinthians. The effect of our first canonical Epistle to the Corinthians seems to have been disappointing. Paul’s authority and influence at Corinth appeared to be waning. The letter which he had hoped would promote a spirit of peace and harmony between the various factions, while doing some good, stirred up among his enemies a new and violent storm. His excommunication of the incestuous man (1 Cor. 5:1-13) had so enraged the Judaizers that Timothy, who had been sent to Corinth (1 Cor. 16:10), was unable to handle the situation, and so returned to Ephesus, bringing to Paul a sad report of the state of affairs. Straightway the Apostle set out for Corinth in person (2 Cor. 12:14). Upon arriving there his reception was very humiliating. Being unprepossessing in appearance and inelegant in speech he availed but little by his presence against his powerful enemies (2 Cor. 10:10). On the contrary, he seems to have sustained some severe public insult or injury (2 Cor. 2:4-11; 7:12). In affliction and sorrow of spirit he therefore returned to Ephesus; but from there he soon addressed to the Corinthians a letter so terrible in its tone and contents that he afterwards repented having written it (2 Cor. 2:4; 7:8). Anxious to learn the effect of this letter he sent Titus to Corinth, perhaps as bearer of the letter, with instructions to observe effects and investigate matters, and report to him at Troas. As said above, the Apostle was obliged to leave Ephesus sooner than he had first planned, and so met Titus in Macedonia, before the latter could arrive at Troas (2 Cor. 2:13). The tidings brought by Titus relative to the general situation, and in particular with regard to the effect of this severe letter sent by St. Paul, occasioned the writing of 2 Corinthians, which, according to this opinion, was in reality the fourth Epistle addressed to the Church of Corinth. The force of this opinion depends upon the establishment of three points: (a) that St. Paul visited Corinth before leaving Ephesus; (b) that a letter intervened between our First and Second Corinthians; (c) that the offender of 2 Cor. 2:5 ff. was other than the incestuous man of 1 Cor. 5:1 ff.

(a) That St. Paul paid the Corinthians an unexpected visit before writing our present letter seems certain from his own words. He says he will not come to them again in sorrow (2 Cor. 2:1). But his first visit to them, when he came as a stranger to announce the glad tidings of the Gospel, was surely not in sorrow ; it must have been in great joy, with high anticipations of the harvest he would reap there. Again he says: “Behold, now the third time I am ready to come to you” (2 Cor. 12:14) ; “this is the third time I am coming to you” (2 Cor. 13:1). If this second visit to Corinth had preceded the writing of First Corinthians, as some have suggested, there would cer tainly be some mention of it in that Epistle; but such a thing is not even hinted in that letter.

(b) To the supporters of this second hypothesis it seems that the terms used by St. Paul in 2 Cor. relative to the Epistle that had immediately preceded it cannot be applied to 1 Cor., and hence they must refer to an intermediate letter. Referring to that letter the Apostle says (2 Cor. 2:4) that he wrote it “out of much affliction, and anguish of heart, and with many tears,” etc. He not only flayed his adversaries, but he delivered, as it were, an ultimatum to the faithful themselves that he might test their spirit (2 Cor. 2:9; 7:11). The letter was so severe that he was afterwards sorry he had sent it (2 Cor. 7:8). Such passages as these, as well as those of 2 Cor 7:12; 10:1, 9, 10, can only with greatest difficulty be made applicable to First Corin thians; they postulate an intermediate letter. This conclusion is made still more likely when we reflect that St. Paul could hardly have sent Titus to Corinth where he was unknown without some letter of recommendation, some sign of authorization. Influenced by the force of these arguments some scholars have gone so far as to say that the last part of our Second Corinthians (2 Cor 10:1-13:10) constitute that intermediate Epistle, or at least a part of it. This, however, we cannot well admit, although there is doubtless a very sudden break in the continuity of thought at x. 1, and the tone of the following chapters is very different. We must remember that this letter throughout is one of many different, swiftly changing and contrary moods.

The defenders of the first opinion, explained above, say that the expressions of rebuke, denunciation and sorrow alluded to in the passages just cited from 2 Cor. can find their explanation in certain sections of our first canonical letter. The severe words referred to as addressed to the Corinthians, they maintain, are found in 1 Cor. 4:18-21; 5:1-2; 6:8; 11:17-22; while others, which the Apostle’s enemies regarded as proud and arrogant, are in 1 Cor. 2:16; 4:1; 9:11; 14:8; 15:8.

(c) The references in 2 Cor. 2:5-1 1 to some offender cannot very well apply to the incestuous man. They seem rather to refer to some bitter member of the Judaizing party. It does not appear at all likely that the “indignation,” the “fear,” the “revenge,” etc., of 2 Cor. 7:11-12 could refer to what is said of the incestuous person of 1 Cor. 5:1 ff. In 2 Cor. 7:12 the Apostle seems to be utterly careless of the destiny of the transgressor: “I wrote to you . . . not for his sake that did the wrong . . . but to manifest our carefulness that we have for you” ; whereas in 1 Cor. 5:5 he says that his action against the offender was in order that his “spirit may be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Against the traditional view, then, it would seem that the great transgressor of 2 Cor. 2:5-11 was not the incestuous man of 1 Cor. 5:1, but some outrageous and personal opponent of the Apostle himself.

No matter which of the two hypotheses just exposed we prefer, it still remains true that St. Paul wrote our Second Corinthians in response to information given him by Titus in Macedonia upon the latter’s return from Corinth. The Apostle expresses his satisfaction at the good tidings reported, but turns all the fire and force of his wrath upon those who were trying to destroy his Apostolic authority and his work.

Date and Place of Writing.

The first Epistle was written at Ephesus in the spring of perhaps the year 57. Around Pentecost of the same year St. Paul left Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:8) and went to Troas. Not finding Titus there he passed over to Macedonia where he was soon met by Titus and informed of the conditions in Corinth (2 Cor. 2:12-13; 7:5-6). It was there in Macedonia, perhaps at Philippi, as the Vatican MS. and the Peshitto version indicate, that this letter was written probably some time in the autumn of the same year 57. This would allow about four or five months between the writing of the First and Second Epistles. At least so much time would seem to be necessary for the developments that took place at Corinth after the reception of the first letter. But if we accept the second opinion explained above, which to many now seems more probable, a longer period would be required between our first and our second canonical Epistle. Enough time would have to be granted for the intervening visit of St. Paul to Corinth, for the intermediate

letter which is supposed to have followed upon that visit, and for the ensuing developments in the Corinthian Church. Prob ably, therefore, this second letter was not written before the first part of the year 58.

The bearer of the Epistle was perhaps Titus, accompanied by those companions who were to assist in organizing the collection for the poor of Jerusalem (2 Cor. 8:16-24). Who the brother was, “whose praise is in the gospel through all the churches” (2 Cor. 8:18), we do not know. Perhaps it was Barnabas, or Silas, or Luke, or Mark. Likewise we do not know who is meant in verse 22 of the same chapter by the brother who had been “proved diligent in many things.” Probably the reference is to Timothy, or Apollo, or Sosthenes, or St. Luke.


That St. Paul was the author of this Epistle is admitted not only by all Catholic scholars, but also by the vast majority of non-Catholic authorities. It is true that external wit nesses for its genuineness are somewhat later than for the First Epistle, but from the middle of the second century we find abundant testimonies in its favor. The supposed allusions to it in the writings of Clement of Rome and of St. Ignatius are too vague and uncertain to be of any great value. In Polycarp, however, there are passages which seem clearly to prove that he was familiar with this letter, as well as First Corinthians. “He that raised Him from the dead will raise us also” (Poly., Ad Philip, ii. 2) is evidently a quotation from 2 Cor. 4:14. Also “providing always for that which is honourable in the sight of God and of men” (Poly., op. cit. vi. 1) is very much like 2 Cor. 8:21. Again, “among whom the blessed Paul laboured,” etc. (Poly., op. cit. xi. 3) doubtless refers to 2 Cor. 3:2 (This reference is erroneous. Polycarp is probably alluding to Phil 1:5). St. Irenaeus explicitly cites our Epistle several times (Adv. Haer. iv; xxviii. 3; xix. 1 and iii, vii. 1; v, iii. 1; xiii. 4). Sometimes this is done by name: “The Apostle says in the second epistle to the Corinthians” (op. cit. iv, xxviii. 3) ; “in the second to the Corinthians saying” (op. cit. v, iii. 1), after which he quotes from 2 Cor. 2, 3, 4, 5, 13. Clement of Alex, quotes this letter more than forty times (cf. Strom, iv. 16), and Tertullian over seventy times (cf. Adv. Marc, v, xi, xii; de Pud. xiii). St. Cyprian quotes from every chapter of it, excepting 1 and 10. The Epistle was known to the heretics Basilides, and Marcion included it in his own canon. It is also found in the Muratorian Fragment.

Many other authorities might be cited, but the above are some of the principal ones.

The internal evidence in favor of the authorship of this Epistle is as strong as it could be. First of all here we see the person ality, the style, and the peculiar characteristics of St. Paul plainly stamped on every page. Here we find expressed in a very high degree his entire devotedness to the cause of Christ, his intense love for his children in the faith, his burning zeal and that fire of temperament which are so peculiar to the great Apostle. “In its individuality of style, intensity of feeling, inimitable expression of the writer’s idiosyncrasy, it may be said to stand at the head of all the Pauline Epistles, Galatians not excepted” (Rob ertson, in Hastings Diet, of the Bible, I. p. 491). Furthermore, so numerous and evident are the similarities between this letter and the Acts of the Apostles and other letters of St. Paul, especially First Corinthians, Romans and Galatians, that no critic could, with out stultifying himself, pretend to deny that the author of all these Epistles was one and the same. This Second Epistle is, in fact, the natural and logical sequel to First Corinthians, either directly or indirectly. The conditions and evils which occasioned the first letter had simply increased and developed at the time when this one was deemed necessary.


That this letter with all its parts was written by St. Paul is, therefore, so universally admitted as to remove all question thereof. As we have seen, both the internal and the external evidence in this regard is overwhelming. And until modern times the integrity of the Epistle has been quite as certain as its authenticity, so far as external evidence goes. All MSS., versions and Fathers are for the entirety of our Epistle as we have it. But some recent scholars, looking carefully into the contents of the letter, have concluded that it contains portions of two or more Epistles, joined together at a very early date, perhaps by some copyist. This conclusion was first drawn by Semler (fi79i), but was little heeded until Hausrath of Heidelberg published a pamphlet in 1870 on “The Four Chapter Epistle of St. Paul.” Since that time two portions of the letter especially (2 Cor 6:14-7:1 and 2 Cor 10:1-13:13) have been suspected by many authorities of belonging to some other letter or letters of St. Paul. The reason for regarding the first section (2 Cor 6:14-7:1) as out of place are, (a) because it seems to interrupt the natural flow of the letter, and (b) because 2 Cor 6:13 joins so well with 2 Cor 7:2. Of the authors who hold that this portion does not belong to our present letter some (like Hausrath, McGiffert, Pfleiderer, etc.) think it is a fragment of some other Pauline letter that has been inserted here; while others (such as Sabatier, Hilgenfeld, etc.) believe it to be a part of the letter mentioned in 1 Cor. 5:9.

But the reasons given for this opinion are of little weight, and are against all textual evidence 1 The section is found here in all MSS. How could a fragment of one roll get inserted into the middle of another roll? (Plum.). Many letters and chapters of books contain abrupt paragraphs which do not fit in smoothly with the rest, but no one would therefore necessarily conclude that they are out of place. Moreover, the exhortation of 2 Cor 6:14 ff. follows not unnaturally on what is said in 2 Cor 5:10 and 2 Cor 6:1-2.

The case with x-xiii is not so easily settled. In the first part of the letter (2 Cor 1:12-7:16) St. Paul defends himself against his enemies, in the second part (2 Cor 8:1-9:15) he speaks about the collection for the poor in Jerusalem. Then suddenly in chapter x, without any apparent reason, he opens fire anew on his enemies. The commencement of the chapter is like the beginning of a letter: “Now I Paul myself beseech you,” etc. (2 Cor. 10:1). The reasons, therefore, that have led many scholars to regard this section (10-13) as not belonging to 2 Cor. are mainly the notable differences between what is said here and in the first part of the Epistle. For example, here he fears that when he arrives among them he will find them guilty of all kinds of sins and vices (2 Cor 12:20) ; there he recognizes the abundance of their faith and charity (2 Cor 8:7). Here he speaks with harshness and violence (2 Cor 3:1-10) ; there he is so full of sweetness as to feel almost obliged to apologize for it (2 Cor 2:4; 7:8).

But notwithstanding these and other marked differences be tween the first and last parts of this Epistle there seems to be hardly sufficient reason for denying the integrity of the letter. If we take what seems to us probably a more correct view of the matter, we shall find that the last chapters follow pretty naturally upon those that precede.

In the first part of the Epistle the Apostle is speaking more directly to that portion of the Corinthian community which has remained faithful to him, or at least has returned to him; and to these he explains, in calm and moderate language, the events and circumstances that have occasioned the misunderstanding between him and them. But toward the end of the letter, while still addressing the whole Church, he is speaking of his deter mined enemies, and therefore he uses more vigorous language and takes occasion to show his adversaries how superior to them he really is. The last part appears to suppose the first part and could not very well have been written before it, at least in its entirety. There seems to be a rather necessary and natural connection between the two. For instance, we find the same ideas expressed in 2 Cor 1:15 and 2 Cor 10:14; in 2 Cor 2:2; 7:9; 13:10; in 2 Cor 3:1; 5:12; 10:18; 11:16. 2 Cor 13:11-13. are evidently addressed to the readers of the first chapters, whom they presuppose. And even within the last section (10-13) a marked distinction is made at times between different readers. Some are addressed in terms of affection (2 Cor 11:2, 11; 12:19), while others are objects of extreme severity (2 Cor 11:4, 13, 21).

We are well aware that opponents of the integrity of the Epistle point to a great number of passages in Chapters 1-9 which, they say, suppose the previous writing of many things contained in the last four chapters. Thus they tell us that 2 Cor. 1:23, “To spare you, I came not any more to Corinth,” etc., and 2 Cor. 2:1, “I determined this with myself, not to come to you again in sorrow,” find their natural explanation only in 2 Cor. 10-13, where it is explicitly stated, “If I come again, I will not spare” (2 Cor. 13:2). Also 2 Cor. 2:4, “Out of much affliction, and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears,” cannot be understood aside from reference to the affliction and anguish that are expressed in 2 Cor. 10-13, which, therefore, must have been written beforehand. Again 2 Cor. 3:1 says, “Do we begin again to commend ourselves?” and 2 Cor. 5:12, “We commend not ourselves again to you,” etc. Now when do we find St. Paul commending himself, except in the closing chapters of 2 Cor., where there is question of “boasting” seventeen different times? Likewise 2 Cor. 7:8-9, “Although I made you sorrowful by my epistle,” etc., does not apply to 1 Cor., but is very natural if referred to the last chapters of 2 Cor. Furthermore, in 2 Cor. 7:15 St. Paul, speaking of the report made to him by Titus, upon the latter’s return from Corinth, says, “He remembereth the obedience of you all,” etc. How, we are asked, can this be made to harmonize with 2 Cor. 10:6, where the Apostle says he is “in readiness to revenge all disobedience,” etc., unless the latter was written before the former?

Finally, to sum up, we are asked how it is possible that St. Paul, in the same letter, could speak with so much confidence and approval in the first nine chapters, and then with such distrust and fear in the closing chapters. For example, “In faith you stand” (2 Cor 1:23) ; “my joy is the joy of you all” (2 Cor 2:3) ; “You are the epistle of Christ” (2 Cor 3:3) ; “great is my glorying for you” (2 Cor 7:4) ; “your zeal for me” (2 Cor 7:7) ; “in all things you have shewed yourselves to be undefiled in the matter” (2 Cor 7:11); “remembering the obedience of you all” (2 Cor 7:15); “I rejoice that in all things I have confidence in you” (2 Cor 7:16) ; “in all things you abound in faith, and word, and knowledge, and all carefulness,” etc. (2 Cor 8:7). And after all these commendations to say towards the end: “I fear lest perhaps when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found by you such as you would not. Lest perhaps contentions, envyings, animosi ties, dissensions, detractions, whisperings, swellings, seditions, be among you. Lest again, when I come, God humble me among you : and I mourn many of them that sinned before, and have not done penance for the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness, that they have committed” (2 Cor 12:20-21). To speak at the close of a letter so harshly, and in tones so contrary to what has preceded in the first part is, we are reminded, an incongruity and a want of tact which can hardly be supposed in St. Paul.

These are some of the passages cited and some of the arguments adduced by those who think the last four chapters of our Epistle preceded, in time, the writing of the other chapters. But in view of what we have said above we are not convinced that there is sufficient reason for departing from the traditional position regarding the integrity of this letter. St. Paul in the closing chapters was speaking of his inveterate enemies, and it would be only natural if there he repeated many things he had already said in the severe intermediate letter written previously from Ephesus. It is to this intermediate letter, now lost, that the above passages from 2 Cor. 1-11 doubtless refer. Cf. Jacquier, in Diet, de la Bible, torn, ii, col. 1000 ff.

Characteristics and Style.

In no other letter of St. Paul have we such a variety of thoughts and feelings as in Second Corinthians. It is one continuous alternation of “joy and depression, anxiety and hope, trust and resentment, anger and love” (Weizsacker). At one time we see the Apostle’s eyes flash with indignation, then fill with tears; at one time he lifts his head with dignity and independence, then bows down with sorrow and humility; now he is flushed with righteous anger, now pale with anxiety; first he moves with might and vehemence against his enemies, then he gives way to tenderness and love for his children in the faith. “The letter exhibits a tumult of contending emotions. Wounded affection, joy, self-respect, hatred of self-assertion, consciousness of the authority and the importance of his ministry, scorn of his opponents, toss themselves like waves on the troubled sea of his mind. . . . Strong language . . . figurative expressions, abrupt turns, phrases seized and flung at his assailants, words made up, iterated, played upon, mark this Epistle far more than any other of the Apostle’s letters” (Davies).

This is the most personal of all the Apostle’s writings. Here we learn how much he suffered for the Gospel; how he was beaten, shipwrecked, and in perils; how he labored, fasted, and prayed (2 Cor 11:24 ff.). Here also we are told of the marvelous divine favors that were accorded him, how he was rapt into the third heaven to hear unearthly words which mortal man is not allowed to utter (2 Cor 12:2 ff.). In this Epistle we see the Apostle’s “ardent love for Jesus Christ, his sense of personal weakness, his pride in his Apostolic authority, his contempt of temporal sufferings, his faith in the eternal, his anxiety for the poor, his tender love for his spiritual children, his burning indignation with those who sought to corrupt them, his withering sarcasm, his fearless courage, his melting compassion” (MacRory).

The style is in keeping with the thought. In the first part it is generally calm and peaceful, but vehement and polemical to an extreme degree in the four closing chapters. The language, like the thought, is like “a river which sometimes flows in a gentle stream, sometimes rushes as a torrent bearing all before it, sometimes spreads out like a placid lake, sometimes loses itself, as it were, in the sand, and breaks out in its fulness at some unexpected place” (Erasmus). On the whole it is doubtless true that “the style of this Epistle has not been so universally admired as that of the first. The Greek is rough. The account and the reasoning are often involved and broken, and there is a lack of ease and smoothness throughout. The thoughts, as beautiful in general as in the First Epistle, are not so well expressed; there is not one passage which in loftiness of eloquence equals the first letter. Nevertheless, in spite of the faults of the language, the eloquence of this Second Epistle is powerful. The intensity of the contending sentiments under the influence of which it was written has broken the rhythm and the arrangement of the phrases, but it gives an impression of life and of power which a more polished diction would be unable to do. One feels at each phrase that the writer is speaking from the bottom of his heart, of that heart on which Corinth is inscribed” (Plummer).

Relation Between First and Second Corinthians.

From what has been said above it is clear that the first letter was much more carefully done than the second. The latter was written in a hurry, and under high tension of thought and feeling, and hence is lacking, not only in the grace and polish, but also in the orderly arrangement of the former. In the second letter there is such a jumble of emotions, passions and feelings that, turning to it from the first letter, “one feels like passing from a park with paths intersecting but easily discernible into a pathless or tractless forest” (Schmiedel). In this letter St. Paul is concerned only with his personal defense and the collection for the poor in Jerusalem; whereas First Corinthians treats a larger number of topics of varied and great importance than perhaps any of the Pauline Epistles. As no other book of the New Testament tells us so much about the inside history and practices of the early Church as First Corinthians, so there is no book that gives us such a concrete and personal view of the character of St. Paul as Second Corinthians. In the one we behold the internal activities of the great Christian society, in the other the internal working of the ardent soul of the great Apostle.

 Division and Analysis.

Besides an Introduction and Conclusion, this Epistle contains three distinct parts: (a) A defense of the Apostle; (b) an exhortation regarding the collection for the poor in Jerusalem; (c) proofs of St. Paul’s Apostolic authority.

The Introduction (2 Cor 1:1-11)  contains (a) the salutations of St. Paul and Timothy to the Church of Corinth (2 Cor 1:1-2); (b) acts of thanksgiving for consolations received in the midst of afflictions (2 Cor 1:3-10); (c) a request that the Corinthians will lend their prayers (2 Cor 1:11).

The First Part (2 Cor 1:12-7:16) is a general apology for the Apostle’s life. St. Paul defends himself against the accusation of inconstancy and fickleness, in particular with regard to his intended visit to Corinth (2 Cor 1:12-17), and shows that his firmness of purpose is based on the faithfulness of God and the grace of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 1:18-22). He explains the reason for his change of plan to go directly from Ephesus to Corinth (i. 23-ii. 17).

The Apostle’s enemies had accused him of arrogance and pride, because he spoke with authority and at times alluded to himself. This he did only on account of the greatness of the ministry committed to him. He says that he is in need of no recommendation to the Corinthians; they are his commendation (2 Cor 3:1-3). His trust is in God, who has made him a minister of the New Testament (2 Cor 3:4-6). The Apostolic ministry is far superior to that of the Mosaic Law, and gives the right to speak with liberty and authority (2 Cor 3:7-18). Having this higher ministry the Apostle speaks with assurance and clarity; there is no obscurity in his Gospel, except for those who are blind, because he preaches only Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4:1-6). Apostles must be prepared to suffer (2 Cor 4:7-12), but in their trials they are sustained by the hope of the resurrection (2 Cor 4:13-18). Borne up by this glorious hope St. Paul seeks only to please Jesus Christ, his future Judge (2 Cor 5:1-10). It is the fear of the judgment of God that makes him defend himself (2 Cor 5:11-13) ; it is his love of Christ that moves him to seek, not his own interest, but only the glory of God (v. 14-21). His conduct has been in imitation of Christ (vi. 1-10). The Corinthians are exhorted to avoid the vices of the pagans (2 Cor 6:11-7:1). St. Paul protests his affection for them; he has joy over the good effects of his letter (2 Cor 7:2-16).

The Second Part (2 Cor 8:-9:15) treats of the collection for the poor in Jerusalem. The Apostle reminds the Corinthians of the generosity of the faithful of Macedonia (2 Cor 8:1-5). He sends Titus to take their gifts which, because of their many virtues, he is sure will be bountiful (2 Cor 8:6-7). Remembering Christ, who became poor for their sakes, the Corinthians will give willingly and generously according to their means (2 Cor 8:8-15). St. Paul recommends to them Titus and two others, who are charged with making the collection (2 Cor 8:16-24). The faithful of Corinth ought to give liberally, first, because the Macedonians who are coming with the Apostle understand that they are generous (2 Cor 9:1-5), and secondly because of the great reward attached to almsdeeds (2 Cor 9:6-15).

The Third Part (2 Cor 10:1-13:10) contains the Apostle’s personal defense of his Apostolate against his inveterate opponents, the Judaizers. He knows how to conquer all his adversaries (2 Cor 10:1-6), and at his forthcoming visit he will vindicate in person the Apostolic authority in which he glories (2 Cor 10:7-1 1). He will not imitate those who glorify themselves, for he is glorified by God and his own labors (2 Cor 10:12-16); it is God who must praise and recommend (2 Cor 10:17-18).

The Apostle affirms his superiority to his adversaries. He asks to be borne with while he commends himself and his labors (2 Cor 11:1-6). His disinterestedness among the Corinthians is proved by the fact that he refused recompense for his spiritual work (11:7-15). He again begs to be excused if, like his enemies, he glorifies himself (2 Cor 11:16-21); like them, he is a Jew, a servant of Christ (2 Cor 11:22-23); but he has suffered much more than they for his Apostolic ministry (2 Cor 11:24-33). He has enjoyed marvelous visions and revelations wherein he might glory (2 Cor 12:1-5), but he prefers to glory only in his infirmities (2 Cor 12:6-10). If he has had thus to commend himself, it is because the Corinthians have not defended him as they should have done (2 Cor 12:11-18). He is not trying to justify himself before the Corinthians; he is speaking before God for their edification, so that they may not be found back in their former sins when he comes to them (2 Cor 12:19-21). Upon his third visit he will be severe against those who are found impenitent (2 Cor 13:1-6), and he writes these things as a warning, hoping severity may not be necessary (2 Cor 13:7-10).

The Conclusion (2 Cor 13:11-13) consists of a brief exhortation (2 Cor 13:11), mutual salutations (2 Cor 13:12), and an Apostolic Benediction (2 Cor 13:13). We may observe here that there are some authors who make the conclusion of this Epistle begin at 2 Cor 12:19 (cf. Coghlan, St. Paul, p. 16

Posted in Catholic, Notes on 2 Corinthians | Leave a comment

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 22


1 Unto the end, for the morning protection, a psalm for David.
2 O God my God, look upon me: why hast thou forsaken me? Far from my salvation are the words of my sins.

David speaks here in the person of Christ hanging on the cross, in the height of his suffering, as appears from Mt. 27, in which we read that the Redeemer, just before he expired, exclaimed: “O God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The words, “Look upon me,” are not in the Hebrew; they were added by the Septuagint, for explanation sake. When Christ complains of having been forsaken by God, we are not to understand that he was forsaken by the Second Person, or that there was a dissolution of the hypostatic union, or that he lost the favor and friendship of the Father; but he signifies to us that God permitted his human nature to undergo those dreadful torments, and to suffer an ignominious death, from which he could, if he chose, most easily deliver him. Nor did such complaints proceed either from impatience or ignorance, as if Christ were ignorant of the cause of his suffering, or was not most willing to bear such abandonment in his suffering; such complaints were only a declaration of his most bitter sufferings. And whereas, through the whole course of his passion, with such patience did our Lord suffer, as not to let a single groan or sigh escape from him, so now, lest the bystanders may readily believe that he was rendered impassible by some superior power; therefore, when his last moments were nigh, he protests that he is true man, truly passible; forsaken by his Father in his sufferings, the bitterness and acuteness of which he then intimately felt. “O God, my God;” looking upon himself as a mere servant, he addresses the Father as his God, because, at that very moment, he was worshipping him as the true God, offering to him the most perfect sacrifice that ever had been offered, the sacrifice of his body. “Look upon me;” he asks him to behold how he suffers for his honor, to acknowledge, therefore, the obedience of his Son, and to accept the sacrifice so offered for the human race. “Why hast thou forsaken me?” As if he were surprised! Is it possible you could allow your beloved and only begotten Son to be overwhelmed in such an abyss of pain and sorrow? Similar expressions are met in Jn. 3, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son;” and, Rom. 8, “He did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all.” “Far from my salvation are the words of my sins.” Many, afraid of imputing sin to Christ, give a very forced explanation of these words. Some read them by way of interrogation, without any authority whatever. Others explain thus, “My sins,” having none, “are far from my salvation;” that is, are no obstacle to it. Without entering into other interpretations, mere gratuitous ones, inconsistent with the punctuation, the meaning simply is: with justice I said I was forsaken in my sufferings, because my exemption from them would be incompatible with my satisfying for the sins of the human race, which I have taken upon me, and which I mean to wipe away. And that Christ could take the sins of the human race upon himself, as if they were his own, is plainly shown in the Scripture, 1 Peter 2, “Who his own self bore our sins in his body upon the tree:” Isaias 53, “And the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all:” and, 2 Cor. 5, “Him who knew no sin he hath made sin for us;” that is, a victim for sin. As a victim for sin, then, must be immolated, in order to cleanse from the sin, so Christ, having undertaken to become the victim for the sins of the world, with much propriety says, “Far from my salvation are the words of my sins;” that is, I cannot avoid death, since the sins of the whole world are upon me to satisfy for them. “The words of my sins” is a Hebraism, meaning the sins themselves. “Are far from my salvation,” are inconsistent with my salvation, and I must, therefore, needs suffer.

3 O my God, I shall cry by day, and thou wilt not hear: and by night, and it shall not be reputed as folly in me.

He assigns another proof of his being forsaken by God, and without any hope of temporal salvation. Though I may cry out day and night to be delivered from this death of the body, you will not hear me. He alludes to his two prayers, one at night in the garden, the other by day on the cross. “And it shall not be reputed as folly in me.” Though I may cry, and though I know you will not hear me, so far as my escaping temporal punishment or suffering is concerned; still, it will “not be folly in me,” because my principal object, the redemption of the human race, will be effected, and I will not be kept in death, but will rise to life everlasting.

4 But thou dwellest in the holy place, the praise of Israel.

He proves that it was not folly in him to cry out at night, even though he was not heard by day, and that for four reasons. First, because God is holy and merciful. Secondly, because he is wont kindly to hear those that call upon him. Thirdly, because he is in the greatest straits. Fourthly, because, from his nativity, he has confided in God, and in him alone. The present verse contains the first reason. You, O Lord, will certainly hear me, for you “dwell in the holy place;” you are all sanctity and piety; malice or cruelty cannot come near you, and, therefore, you are “the praise” of thy people “Israel;” both because the people of Israel praise thee, and they are praised on your account. For the greatest praise thy people can have is their having a God so holy in every respect.

5 In thee have our fathers hoped: they have hoped, and thou hast delivered them.
6 They cried to thee, and they were saved: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.

Reason the second, from the instances of his kindness, numbers of which are to be found in Judges. As often as the children of Israel appealed to him, so often did he send them one of the judges to deliver them, such as Gedeon, Samson, Samuel etc.

7 But I am a worm, and no man: the reproach of men, and the outcast of the people.
8 All they that saw me have laughed me to scorn: they have spoken with the lips, and wagged the head.
9 He hoped in the Lord, let him deliver him: let him save him, seeing he delighteth in him.

The third reason, derived from the straits in which Christ is placed. “But I am a worm, and no man:” I am just now in that position that I am not only “made less than the Angels,” but even made less than man. “Despised and the most abject of men,” Isaias 53, nay, even beneath them, when even Barabbas and the robbers were preferred to me, and thus, I am now become so wretched, more “a worm than a man;” “the reproach of men;” at whom men blush, as they would at some opprobrious character; as did Peter, when he swore a solemn oath, “he knew not the man;” and “the outcast of the people;” one so rejected by the very scum of the people, that they called out, “Not this man but Barabbas.” “All they that saw me have laughed me to scorn:” When they saw me in that state they all mocked me, all manner of persons, high and low, priests and laics, Jews and gentiles; which was fulfilled when, as St. Luke 23, writes, “And the people stood beholding, and the rulers with them derided. And the soldiers also mocked him.” “They have spoken with the lips, and wagged the head.” This, too, was accomplished, as St. Matthew writes, chap. 27, “They blasphemed him, wagging their heads, and saying, Vah, thou who destroyest the temple of God.” “He hoped in the Lord, let him deliver him: let him save him, seeing he delighteth in him.” St. Matthew testifies in the same place that the Jews made use of the very words, saying, “He trusted in God, let him deliver him now, if he will.” Wonderful prophecy, predicting not only the facts, but the very words that would be used on the occasion.

10 For thou art he that hast drawn me out of the womb: my hope from the breasts of my mother.
11 I was cast upon thee from the womb. From my mother’s womb thou art my God,

The fourth reason, drawn from the eternal innocence of Christ. The word “For” does not imply a consequence; it is very often used in the Scriptures as a mere copulative; sometimes it is quite redundant. “You art he that hast drawn me out of the womb.” I am thine from my birth; specially so, because I have not been born like others; but, through thy singular favor, have been both conceived and born, my mother’s virginity remaining intact. “My hope from the breasts of my mother.” Not content with having “drawn me out of the womb,” it is you who principally nourished me; for, though apparently on the breast of any mother, I know milk from heaven was supplied by you; and, therefore, from her very breasts, I learned to hope and confide in thee. “I was cast upon thee from the womb;” The moment I left my mother’s womb, I fell into thy bosom, where I was cared with such singular love and affection. “From my mother’s womb thou art my God.” As well as you, from the moment of my birth, so providentially protected me, so I, from the earliest dawn of my life, began to serve and to love you as my God.

12 Depart not from me. For tribulation is very near: for there is none to help me.

“Depart not from me,” according to some, is a part of the preceding verse, a matter of no great moment; it means, since “I was cast upon thee from the womb,” since “thou art my God,” I may with justice ask you to “depart not from me,” especially when my most grievous and my last “tribulation is very near;” that is, my death. “For tribulation is very near.” This verse may, perhaps, apply to his agony in the garden, when he was so overwhelmed with fear at the idea of his approaching passion; but, I am more inclined to think it should be understood of his actual passion at hand, both because he uses the perfect tense, when he says, “They have dug my hands and feet.” “They parted my garments amongst them;” and because he, before that, quoted the language of the Jews, boasting of their having nailed him to the cross; and, finally, because the very first verse of this Psalm was quoted by our Savior, when hanging on his cross. According, then, to his expression in the 2nd verse, “it shall not be reputed as folly in me.” I will not cry to thee to deliver me from death, but not to detain me therein.

13 Many calves have surrounded me: fat bulls have besieged me.

An account of the cruelty of his enemies, whom he compares to bulls, lions, and dogs. He alludes to the High Priests and Pharisees, who insult him like bulls, goring him, as it were, with their horns, saying “Vah, thou that destroyest the temple of God;” or, like lions with their mouths open, hungering for him; thirsting for his blood, and bellowing, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him;” or like dogs gnawing and biting him when they belied him, saying, “We have found this man perverting our nation;” and again, “If he were not a malefactor we would not have delivered him up to thee:” which calumnies and detractions were the cause of our Lord’s immediate crucifixion; and, therefore, he says presently, “They have dug my hands and feet.” To come now to particulars. “Many calves have surrounded me.” We are not to understand young weak calves, but grown, with horns, almost bulls; for the following, “fat bulls have besieged me,” is only a repetition. The High Priests and Pharisees are called “strong” and “fat,” because they were powerful and rich. Some will have it that by the “calves” he meant the populace; by the “bulls,” the Pharisees; not at all improbable; but I prefer the first explanation.

14 have opened their mouths against me, as a lion ravening and roaring.
The High Priests and Pharisees panting for his death.
15 I am poured out like water; and all my bones are scattered. My heart is become like wax melting in the midst of my bowels.
16 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue hath cleaved to my jaws: and thou hast brought me down into the dust of death.

He tells in these verses how he dealt with the cruelty of his enemies. He offered no opposition to their violence, but always exhibited the humility, patience, and mildness, spoken of in Isaias, chap. 1, “I have not turned away my face from them that rebuke me and spit upon me;” and by 1 St. Peter, 2, “Who when he was reviled, did not revile; when he suffered he threatened not, but delivered himself to him that judged him unjustly.” He, therefore, says, “I am poured out like water;” I made no resistance, allowed myself to be turned, driven in all directions, as one would turn a stream of water. “And all my bones are scattered;” I have lost all my strength, not in reality, but I do not wish to exercise it. I let my enemies use theirs, according to St. Luke 22, “This is your hour and the power of darkness.” I have, therefore, shown myself weak and feeble in my resistance, as if I were flesh entirely; “And all my bones are scattered;” and thus incapable of resistance. “My heart is become like wax melting in the midst of my bowels;” I have patiently borne, and meekly borne, all those injuries before man, but I have been also interiorly “humble of heart;” which heart has not been swollen with anger, nor hardened with rage, in a spirit of vengeance, but has been on the contrary, like “melted wax,” in the spirit of affection and love to them, in the spirit of mercy for their blindness, by virtue of which I prayed of you, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” “In the midst of my bowels;” a usual phrase in the Scripture, to express our internal feelings; thus, John 7, “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water:” and, Cant. 5, “My bowels were moved at his touch:” “My strength is dried up like a potsherd.” My whole strength has dwindled away, dried up like a brickbat, when I allowed myself to be tied and beaten as if I were incapable of resisting them. “And my tongue adhered to my jaws:” I did not choose to say an offensive word to my enemies, or to complain of their wrongs. “And thou hast brought me down into the jaws of death.” In consequence of their persecutions, and my non resistance, you have, my God, without whose permission nothing can happen, brought me to my death and burial.

17 For many dogs have encompassed me: the council of the malignant hath besieged me. They have dug my hands and feet.
18 They have numbered all my bones. And they have looked and stared upon me.
19 They parted my garments amongst them; and upon my vesture they cast lots.
All which was fulfilled to the letter, as may be read in St. John, chap. 19.
20 But thou, O Lord, remove not thy help to a distance from me; look towards my defence.

He returns to the prayer with which he commenced the Psalm, and to which he recurred again in verses 10 and 11, and now resumes it here. Having gone through the details of his passion, he now prays to God for a speedy resurrection, as it is it that will deliver him perfectly from the persecution of his enemies. “But thou, O Lord, remove not thy help to a distance from me.” My enemies have arrived at the height of their malice, have put out all their strength against me; it is, therefore, your part to look to me now, to defer your help no longer, but kindly to defend me against their machinations.

21 Deliver, O God, my soul from the sword: my only one from the hand of the dog.
22 Save me from the lion’s mouth; and my lowness from the horns of the unicorns.

He tells the sort of assistance he requires. “Deliver my soul from the sword.” Deliver me from the instrument of death, making use of the word sword for any instrument, a thing common in the Scriptures, 2 Sam 12, “The sword shall not depart from thy house;” Ezechiel 33, “And see the sword coming upon the land;” Rom. 8, “Who, then, shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? or distress? or famine? or nakedness? or persecution? or the sword?” In like manner, the word soul is used here for life, a thing not uncommon in the Scriptures. “My only one from the hand of the dog;” by “the dog,” he means those dogs he had already spoken of; but he makes use here of the singular number by a figure, to show that the malice of them all appeared to be now concentrated in one, and, therefore, so much the more violent and malignant. “My only one;” he means his own life, which he loved in a singular manner, as being that of the incarnate Word. “Save me from the lion’s mouth;” that lion of which ver. 13. says, “They have opened their mouths against me, as a lion ravening and roaring;” “and my lowness from the horns of the unicorn.” He said before, “Fat bulls have besieged me.” Unicorns are now substituted for bulls, being much more fierce and wild, to show that the cruelty and ferocity of his enemies, so far from being softened by his many sufferings, was only excited and increased. Now, in all these petitions the Lord does not ask to have his temporal life spared; but, as we have repeatedly explained before, he asks that his life may be repaired quickly, and so repaired that he shall be no longer exposed or subject to the bite of the dog, the claws of the lion, or the horn of the bull or the unicorn.

23 I will declare thy name to my brethren: in the midst of the church will I praise thee.

He now begins to tell the fruit of his resurrection, the conversion of the world to God. “I will declare thy name to my brethren. When I shall have risen, I will send my apostles through the entire world, and through them, “I will declare my name;” that is, I will impart the knowledge of thy name and of thy Godhead to all men through them; all being my brothers, by reason of the flesh I assumed; and thus, “in the midst of the church will I praise thee;” no longer in a corner of Judea, but in the midst of the immense church, composed of Jews and gentiles, through the mouths of my ministers will I praise thee. St. Paul, writing to the Hebrews, quotes this passage, chap. 2, “For which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: I will declare thy name to my brethren: in the midst of the church I will praise thee.”

24 Ye that fear the Lord, praise him: all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him.
25 Let all the seed of Israel fear him: because he hath not slighted nor despised the supplication of the poor man. Neither hath he turned away his face form me: and when I cried to him he heard me.

Having said that he would “praise God in the midst of the church,” which was to be effected by getting his faithful to do so, he now exhorts the faithful to praise God, “Ye that fear the Lord;” ye who know and worship him; for fearing God, in the Scriptures, is synonymous with worshipping him; thus, Jonas, when questioned about his people, says, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the God who made the heavens and the earth;” and Daniel says, “Let all fear the God of Daniel;” and it is said of Judith, “that she feared God exceedingly.” The meaning, then, is, you who know and worship the true God, praise him; and, lest we should imagine this exhortation was addressed to a few, the Jews, for instance, he adds, “All ye seed of Jacob, glorify him. Let all the seed of Israel fear him;” that means, glorify, praise, and fear God, all ye children of Israel, and not only ye who are children in the flesh, but ye who are children according to the promise, namely, all the gentiles converted to Christianity; “Because he hath not slighted nor despised the supplication of the poor man.” He assigns a reason for wishing God to be praised by all, namely, because he heard the prayer he put up to him for his resurrection and glory, for his victory over the devil, and for the redemption of the human race. He calls himself “a poor man,” as, in truth, he was, when, in his agony, hanging on the cross, he hung naked, deserted, and suffering from hunger and thirst. “Neither hath he turned away his face from me, and when I cried to him he heard me.” A repetition of the preceding sentences.

26 With thee is my praise in a great church: I will pay my vows in the sight of them that fear him.

Having encouraged his faithful to praise God, he now predicts the certainty of it. The praise I will chant to thee through my faithful will not be from a corner, nor from a handful of the Jews, but from the church of all nations. “I will pay my vows in the sight of them that fear him.” Vows here signify sacrifices and oblations, as Isaias 9 has it, “They shall worship him in victims and offerings, and they shall make vows to the Lord, and perform them;” for when Christ saw how agreeable was the holocaust of his death to the Almighty, he promises now that, through his ministers, he will, in the best manner he can, most frequently renew the same holocaust, which he says, in the words, “I will pay my vows in the sight of them that fear him;” through my ministers, the priests of the New Testament, I will most constantly immolate that most agreeable of all sacrifices to God; “in the sight of them that fear him;” of those that acknowledge, worship him, for the sacrifice may not be performed before infidels.

27 The poor shall eat and shall be filled: and they shall praise the Lord that seek him: their hearts shall live for ever and ever.

Of this sacrifice “the poor shall eat,” when they acknowledge their spiritual neediness and poverty; “and shall be filled, because they will taste of the good, exceeding all good; “and they shall praise the Lord,” thanking him for such an immense favor: “that seek him;” those that hunger for and eagerly seek him; “their hearts shall live forever.” Such will be the fruit of this reflection, that the hearts nourished by such excellent and noble food will lead a spiritual life—a life of grace here, and of glory forever; for so the Truth speaketh, in John 6, “Whosoever eateth of this bread shall live forever.” For, as perishable food supports the body for a time, so the imperishable food confers life everlasting.

28 All the ends of the earth shall remember, and shall be converted to the Lord: And all the kindreds of the Gentiles shall adore in his sight.

He shows how it will happen that he shall have to praise God “in a great church,” because all nations will be converted to God through the merits of the sacrifice on the cross. “They shall remember” their first origin, how they were formed in their first parent, a thing they had quite forgotten, through original sin; and, therefore, they said to the wood and the stones, “Thou art my father,” Jerem. 3 “They shall remember” their first creation, “and all the ends of the earth shall be converted to the Lord;” that is, all the nations on the face of the globe, even to its remotest ends; that is to say, some from every nation. “And all the kindred of the gentiles shall adore in his sight.” An explanation of the preceding verse; because, “adoring” the Lord, and being converted to the Lord, imply the same thing; namely, the abandonment of idolatry by the whole human race all over the world.

29 For the kingdom is the Lord’s; and he shall have dominion over the nations.
They will deservedly be converted to and adore the Lord, because he, not the infernal spirits, being the true and natural king of all, will justly “have dominion over the nations.”
30 All the fat ones of the earth have eaten and have adored: all they that go down to the earth shall fall before him.

Having stated that “The poor shall eat and shall be filled, and shall praise the Lord;” and that “All the kindred of the gentiles shall adore in his sight,” for fear any one may suppose it was only the poor and the hungry would be called and converted, he now introduces the rich and the powerful. “All the fat ones have eaten, and have adored.” The very “fat ones” of this world, who abound in its blessings, such as princes, emperors, kings, they, too, shall eat of the Lord’s table, and will adore and praise the common Lord, whose sway is over all nations. In the style of the prophets, the perfect tense is used here for the future. Finally the words “that go down to the earth,” mean all mortals who to earth must return. “Shall fall before him;” shall bend their knees, and adore; and thus the conversion of the gentiles, the fruit of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, will be truly general.

31 And to him my soul shall live: and my seed shall serve him.

He concludes by saying, that he and his posterity would thence forward live for God’s glory alone, and for his faithful service; the soul is put here for the entire man, which is often done in the Scripture.

32 There shall be declared to the Lord a generation to come: and the heavens shall shew forth his justice to a people that shall be born, which the Lord hath made.

An explanation of the expression, “My seed shall serve him,” for “the generation to come;” meaning the people, under the new dispensation, will get good news concerning the Lord and his justice, the justice of Faith. “Then shall be declared to the Lord a generation to come;” that means, the generation to come shall get the news; it shall be announced to them, for it is a Greek phrase, like the expression, “The poor have the gospel preached to them;” whereas, literally translated, it would mean, the poor preached the gospel: the meaning, then, is, not that the Lord will be declared to the generation to come, but the generation to come will be declared, as enlisted to the Lord; this is plain from the following, where he says, “The heavens shall show forth his justice to a people that shall be born;” now, “that shall be born,” and “the generation to come,” are one and the same. The Lord, then, will be declared to the coming generation, for the heavens, that holy people, will do it. The justice of faith is called the justice of God, which makes men truly just, and which God gratuitously gives to those who believe in Christ. For the gospel strongly inculcates that we are all sinners, that we cannot be justified of ourselves, but that through faith in Christ we are to expect justice from God alone.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

On Matthew 1-7: The Authority of Jesus Word is Established

Matthew 1-7 consists of two parts: A narrative (Mt 1:2-4:25) and a sermon (Mt 5:1-7:29). The narrative is foundational to the sermon and can help explain its contents and, likewise, the sermon can help explain the significance of the narrative. Here I examine Matthew’s typological presentation of Jesus in the narrative and suggest ways in which such presentations prepare for the sermon.

By the time one gets to the Sermon on the Mount one should have in one’s mind the idea that Jesus is the prophet like–but greater than–Moses, and that he is the prophesied Righteous Son of David who makes known the will of God by the word of God–which is Jesus’ own word (“but I say to you,” Mt 5:21-48).

DEFINITIONS: Type: a sign, figure or foreshadowing of a greater reality. Antitype: means “in place of the type,’ designating the reality indicated by the sign, figure or foreshadowing.

MOSES – JESUS TYPOLOGY: That Jesus is presented as the prophet like Moses is well known. This is brought out in a multitude of ways, some very obvious, some subtle. Here are just a few examples:

Both faced state sponsored death of infants~ Ex 1:15-22 with Mt 2:16-18.

Both infants were saved by a family member~ Ex 2:1-9 with Mt 2:13-14.

Both lives were preserved by flight; the adult Moses fled out of Egypt, infant Jesus into Egypt~ Ex 2:11-22 with Mt 2:13-14.

Under God’s orders both returned to the land they fled from~ Ex 4:19 with Mt 2:19-20.

Both fasted forty days and nights in the desert~ Ex 24:18; 34:28 with Mt 4:2.

There are also a number of parallels between Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel and the figure of Moses in Jewish traditions. For example, Moses’ father, learning of his wife’s pregnancy was fearful and had a dream concerning his son and is told that “he will deliver the Hebrew nation” (Josephus, Antiquities, 2.210-216. see Mt 1:18-21).  Pharaoh persecuted the infants because he learned from his magicians that a deliverer of the Hebrews would be born (Targum Pseudo-Johnathan on Ex 1:15 see Mt 2:1-7). In a different version of this he learned it from royal scribes (Antiquities, 2.216, see Mt 2:4-6).

After presenting Jesus as like Moses he subtly present him as greater, especially in the so-called antithesis (Mt 5:21-48). Jesus taught with authority, unlike the scribes (Mt 7:29) who derived their authority from Moses (Mt 23:2). See Heb 3:1-6.

SOLOMON – JESUS TYPOLOGY: The typology is rooted in the title Son of David. Solomon asked God for wisdom and this pleased God who not only made him wise, but promised him riches and glory besides (1 Kings 3:5-14). Solomon reached the apex of his wisdom and glory with the visit of the Queen of Sheba who praised the God of Israel for establishing the wise Solomon to carry out righteousness and justice (1 Kings 10:1-9). Yet immediately following this we get details of his reign that are ominous. A comparison between the law of the king in Deut 17:14-20 with details of Solomon’s reign in 1 Kings 10:14-11:13 shows Solomon’s failures. Note that in this latter passage God is said to be the source of his wisdom, but not the source of his wealth, weapons, or wives. It seems that Solomon had ceased to be dependent on God for wealth and protection, hence his idolatry. This would result in the division of the kingdom and, eventually, the virtual disappearance of the ten northern tribes from history because of the Assyrian conquest.

As one like but greater than Solomon (Mt 12:42) Jesus is a sage king. Two of the most common features of wisdom teaching are beatitudes [the sermon begins with these] and two ways [or two roads] teachings [the sermon ends with this]. Other wisdom elements in the sermon are contrasts between good and bad deeds and the differing judgements they bring, almsgiving, curbing anger, avoiding rash judgements, etc.

Solomon was supposed to carry out justice and righteousness, major concerns in the sermon.

Solomon’s name is related to shalom [peace] but his sins inaugurated 200 years of internecine warfare between the brother tribes of Israel. Jesus, the true man of shalom, started his ministry in the tribal territories where the series of disasters begun by Solomon’s sins came to a head, signaling a reversal (Mt 4:12-17). He declares that peacemakers are blessed, and shall be called sons of God (Mt 5:9). He teaches the things that make for peace: avoiding anger and seeking reconciliation with adversaries (Mt 5:21-26); avoiding retaliation and loving enemies (Mt 5:38-48); avoiding false judgements (Mt 7:1-5) and observing the Golden Rule (Mt 7:12).

While Solomon ceased to be dependent on God for wealth Jesus counseled dependence on God (Mt 6:24-34) I see the reference to Solomon in this passage (Mt 6:29) as a subtle rebuke.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment