Commentaries for the Sunday Masses of Year B (Dec 3, 2017-Dec 1, 2018)

ADVENT SEASON

First Sunday of Advent.
Second Sunday of Advent.
Third Sunday of Advent.
Fourth Sunday of Advent.

CHRISTMAS SEASON TO EPIPHANY
Note: Traditionally Epiphany is celebrated on January 6. In the USA it is celebrated on the Sunday following January 6.

Dec. 24. Vigil Mass for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord.
Dec. 24-25. Mass During the Night: The Nativity of the Lord (Midnight Mass).
Dec. 25. Mass at Dawn: The Nativity of the Lord.
Dec. 25. Mass During the Day: The Nativity of the Lord.

Sunday Within the Octave of Christmas (Feast of the Holy Family). If a Sunday does not fall between Dec. 26 and Dec 31 then the Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on Dec. 30.

!!! The Epiphany of the Lord.

ORDINARY TIME, INCLUDING THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
Note: Scroll down for the seasons that interrupt Ordinary Time.

!!! Baptism of the Lord. Celebrated in 2018 on Monday, Jan. 8.
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. In 2018 the Lenten season begins during this week. See LENTEN SEASON below.
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. Superseded in 2018 by Pentecost (see under EASTER SEASON).
Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Superseded by the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. See next link.
!!! Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.
Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Superseded in 2018 by the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood. See next link.
!!! Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood (Corpus Christi).
Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Superseded in 2018 by the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist. See next link.
!!! Commentaries for the Solemnity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist. (Vigil and Mass of the day).
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.
!!! Solemnity of Christ the King. (Final Sunday of the year).

NEXT YEARS POSTS. Actually, this list will become permanent at the top of the blog since it will cover all the Sundays of the three year cycle, along with most solemnities and feasts. It will replace the current static post on Dec. 2, 2018, the First Sunday of Advent, which begins the Church’s new liturgical and lectionary cycle.

LENTEN SEASON

Ash Wednesday.
Thursday After Ash Wednesday.
Friday After Ash Wednesday.
Saturday After Ash Wednesday.
First Sunday of Lent.
Second Sunday of Lent.
Third Sunday of Lent.
Fourth Sunday of Lent.
Fifth Sunday of Lent.
!!! HOLY WEEK. Palm Sunday thru the Saturday Easter Vigil.

EASTER SEASON

Easter Vigil (Holy Saturday).
EASTER SUNDAY.
Divine Mercy Sunday (Second Sunday of Easter).
Third Sunday of Easter.
Fourth Sunday of Easter.
Fifth Sunday of Easter.
Sixth Sunday of Easter.
!!! Feast of the Ascension of the Lord.
Seventh Sunday of Easter.
!!! The Vigil of Pentecost Sunday.
!!! Pentecost Sunday.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 3

ANALYSIS OF ROMANS CHAPTER 3

Having convicted the Jews, in the preceding chapter, of grievous violations of the Law of Moses, the Apostle commences this with pointing out some external advantages which the possessed over the Gentiles (Rom 3:1-2). He next refutes certain objections against the veracity and justice of God, springing out of the subject (Rom 3:2–9). He proves from the testimony of SS. Scripture that both Jew and Gentile were under sin. And these testimonies from SS. Scripture he shows to have special reference to the Jews (Rom 3:9–21). He next lays down the great theme of the Epistle, viz.: Justification by Faith, opposed to the works of the law of nature, or the Law of Moses (Rom 3:22). He shows the congruity of such a means of justification (Rom 3:23), and its gratuitousness (Rom 3:24-25). Hence, all boasting is excluded (Rom 3:27-28). Finally, he shows the congruity, on the part of God, of adopting such a means of justification, as being so universal, and accommodated equally both to Jew and Gentile.

Rom 3:1 What advantage then hath the Jew: or what is the profit of circumcision?

(If, then, he alone is regarded by God as a Jew, who is such interiorly, and if the circumcision of the heart is alone approved of by Him), what peculiar excellence or superiority can there be in the profession of Judaism, or what can be the advantage of the external rite of circumcision?

“What advantage then,” &c. This question, or rather objection, is supposed to arise out of the foregoing (chap. 2 verse 29). As much as to say—God, in selecting the Jews as his chosen people, and in commanding them to practise circumcision as a sign of his covenant, must certainly have intended thereby to confer some favour or privilege on the Jews; but, from the foregoing it would follow, that no such favour was conferred on them.

Rom 3:2 Much every way. First indeed, because the words of God were committed to them.

The profession of Judaism gives, in every respect, the Jews many external advantages and prerogatives not enjoyed by the Gentiles. For, in the first place (to pass over all the other advantages), they were made the depositaries of God’s sacred oracles, of which the most important were those that contained the absolute promises of the future Messias.

The Apostle denies the inference. Some Commentators say, the Apostle in this chap. replies to the first part of the question or objection, reserving the reply to the second, regarding circumcision for chap. 4. There were certain external privileges conferred on the Jewish people, as such. “First, indeed.” He mentions one of the principal of them, reserving the rest for chap. 9 verse 6. “Because the words of God,” &c., i.e., the oracles of God, containing many promises, but especially those regarding the promise of the Messiah to be born of them—a promise absolute and unconditional—irrespective of their fidelity. “Were committed to them”; which is a singular privilege.

Rom 3:3 For what if some of them have not believed? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid!

For, what if some of the Jews have not believed these oracles, especially those referring to the coming Messias? Does it cease to be a benefit on the part of God to deposit these oracles with them? Will the incredulity of his people neutralize and cause the veracity of God in the fulfilment of his absolute promises to be of no effect? By no means.

Promises made by God, which are absolute, cannot fail of their accomplishment, owing to the incredulity and disobedience of men. Now, the promise of the Messiah, which is the principal of the oracles referred to, is absolute and unconditional, irrespective of the fidelity of the Jews, as appears from Psalm 88:34.

Rom 3:4 But God is true and every man a liar, as it is written: That thou mayest be justified in thy words and mayest overcome when thou art judged.

The veracity of God is wholly independent of the lying nature of man. For God is essentially true, although every man, of his own corrupt nature, be a liar and liable to be deceived; and David also testifies, in his own particular case, that the incredulity and disobedience of man will not render ineffectual the promises of God; for, (Psalm 50 verse 6), he prays God to have mercy on him and not rescind his promises, although he sinned and did evil in His sight; for, thus it would come to pass that God’s veracity and fidelity in the fulfilment of His promises would be justified, and would appear even more conspicuous; and when men would sit in judgment on His fidelity, He would come off victorious in the cause.

The Apostle proves in this verse, that the unbelief of men will not render ineffectual “the faith,” i.e., the fidelity or veracity of God in the fulfilment of his promises. First, by a general testimony—“God is true,” i.e., veracious, “and every man a liar”—in which the veracity of God is put forward as totally independent of the deceitful and lying nature of man. The first member of the sentence, “God is true,” is a self-evident truth. The second, “and every man is a liar,” is taken from Psalm 115 verse 2. Every man is said, by the corruption of his nature, to be lying and liable to be deceived, as God is essentially, and by the perfection of his nature, “true,” i.e., veracious, incapable of deceiving or of being deceived. Secondly, by a particular testimony of David, who, after his sin, begs of God to spare him, and not rescind the promises made him, although he sinned and did evil in his sight.—(Psalm 50 verse 6). For, thus it would happen, that God’s veracity would be justified and fully vindicated; and when impious and unbelieving men would sit in judgment regarding his fidelity in the case of David, his fidelity and veracity would come off victorious in the judgment. In the Greek, for “God is true,” it is, γενέσθω δὲ ὁ θεὸς αληθὴς, let God be true, i.e., in all his words and promises, let God be believed to be true, although every man is a liar; or, in every case, let us maintain God’s truth or veracity. The Greek word for “art judged,” (ἐν τῶ κρίνεσθαί σε) may be understood in the middle voice, and have an active signification, “thou judgest.”

Rom 3:5 But if our injustice commend the justice of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust, who executeth wrath?

If, then, you will say, our injustice renders the justice of God, i.e., his fidelity in the fulfilment of his promises, more conspicuous, what shall we say? Does it not follow that God is unjust in punishing that which confirms and commends his justice?

Verses 5–8 may be regarded as a digression from the principal subject which the Apostle resumes, verse 9. This objection arises out of the foregoing testimony from the Psalms, wherein it is said that the sin of David shall render the fidelity or justice of God in his covenants more manifest. If, then, our injustice, as in the case of David and the Jews, renders the justice of God more manifest and more commendable; is it not unjust in God to punish that which displays attributes to such advantage?

Rom 3:6 (I speak according to man.) God forbid! Otherwise how shall God judge this world?

(I speak not my own words, but those of the impious). Far be it from us to entertain such a blasphemous thought; for, if God were unjust, how could he discharge the office of supreme judge of this world in rewarding the good and punishing the wicked?

“I speak according to man.” For fear of giving scandal, the Apostle states expressly, that this question or objection is proposed by him not as from himself, but on the part of the impious. “God forbid,” i.e., far be it from us to think so. “Otherwise, how shall God judge this world?” The Apostle refutes the objection from its very absurdity; for, it is acknowledged by all, as demonstrated from Holy Scripture and the very light of reason, that God is to be the judge of this world, that he will reward the good and punish the wicked; but how could he punish the wicked in the supposition now made? Justice being the essential attribute of a judge, God must, therefore, be supremely just. The direct answer to this objection, which is repeated (verse 8), is, that our injustice is not the cause of rendering God’s justice more conspicuous, but the mere accidental occasion. The cause is God’s own infinite goodness and power, eliciting good out of evil, contrary to the very nature and tendency of that evil.

Rom 3:7 For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie, unto his glory, why am I also yet judged as a sinner?

But if the truth and veracity of God has become, through my sin, more conspicuous, why am I condemned as a sinner, for doing that which contributes to his glory?

The same objection proposed (verse 5), is repeated here in clearer terms. “Abounded unto his glory,” is the same as, that he should become more celebrated and distinguished.

Rom 3:8 And not rather (as we are slandered and as some affirm that we say) let us do evil that there may come good? Whose damnation is just.

And why should we not rather do evil and commit sin, that good, viz., the greater manifestation of God’s glory, may result therefrom (perverse principles and teachings with which we are calumniously charged by some men, of whom all we can say is, that their damnation is just).

This verse may also admit of this construction, why should we not rather affirm (what some slanderously assert that we affirm) let us do evil that good may come from it. The construction in Paraphrase is preferable, why not rather do evil (as some slanderously say, that we assert, let us do evil that good may follow, whose damnation is just), The occasion of this slanderous and calumnious imputation, made against the Apostle, may have arisen from his proclaiming that “grace superabounded where sin abounded.” The Apostle, as a wise disputant, thinks it proper not to answer such calumnious charges. He merely despises them, and simply asserts that the authors and abettors of such calumnies shall justly be condemned.

Rom 3:9 What then? Do we excel them? No, not so. For we have charged both Jews and Greeks, that they are all under sin.

But to return to the subject. What then, if we possess certain external advantages and privileges not enjoyed by the Gentiles; do we really excel them in that which constitutes true excellence, viz., the possession of justice? By no means; for we have already made good the charge which we undertook to prove, viz., that all, both Jews and Gentiles, are under sin.

The Apostle now returns to his subject from which he digressed (verse 5). But, although we, Jews, excel the Gentiles in the possession of external blessings, do we really excel them in the concern of salvation, in true justice? “No, not so,” or “By no means,” is the answer. “For we have charged both Jews and Greeks,” &c. “Charged,” in the Greek, προῃτιασαμεθα, already charged, (Vulgate, causati sumus) means, to prove already, to make good the charge, by adducing well-grounded evidences, that both Jew and Gentile are all sinners, and subject to the damnation which their sins deserve. Neither of them could, therefore, on the score of merit, lay claim to the Gospel. This he proved in reference to the Gentiles (chap. 1) and in reference to the Jews (chap. 2).

Rom 3:10 As it is written: There is not any man just.

Which is still further proved by the irrefragable testimony of SS. Scripture, in reference to both Jew and Gentile; for it is written (Psalm 13), there is no one that doth good or just works. There is no one who knows

Lest it might be alleged, that what was said in the preceding chapters regarded only the principal men among the Jews and Gentiles, the Apostle adduces the irrefragable testimony of SS. Scriptures to prove that the ignorant portion also, that, in fact, all were equally guilty. In the following quotations, he considers man left to himself, and in his corrupt nature, destitute of grace and of the faith of Christ. And in these quotations, he sums up what he had proved regarding the crimes of the Gentiles and Jews in the first and second chapters, and confirms the charge he made good against them (verse 9). “As it is written: there is not any man just.” This is the general proposition which he asserts regarding Jew and Gentile. The words are read only in sense in Psalm 13 thus, “There is none that doth good” (verse 1).

Rom 3:11 There is none that understandeth: there is none that seeketh after God.

God, or seeks after him.

There is none that understandeth.” These words also are quoted only according to sense from the Psalm. In place of this reading we have in the Psalms, If there be any that understandeth and seek God. However, “if” has a negative signification. The remainder of the passage is quoted almost verbatim from Psalm 13 as it is now read in our Vulgate. They are not found in the above Psalm in either the Hebrew or Septuagint versions. St. Jerome tells us (in Prefatione, lib. 16, Commentar. in Isaiam), that the entire passage is taken from several parts of the Psalms and from the Prophet Isaias (as noted in Paraphrase), but that the compiler of the Psalms, finding more of this quotation to be contained in the 13th Psalm than in any other passages of SS. Scripture, viz., as far as the words, “their throat is an open sepulchre, &c.,” and being ignorant of the Apostle’s art in uniting together texts from several parts of Scripture bearing on his subject, put the entire passage as found here, from verse 13–18 inclusively, without any authority, under the 13th Psalm. It is also to be borne in mind, that the Apostle does not suppose all the crimes which he enumerates here, to be found in every person; but that some of them were found in some men, and some, in others; so that all had sinned, which is the conclusion the Apostle wishes to establish. “There is none that understandeth,” may refer to the Gentile knowing not God, and having his reason and intellect corrupted. “There is none that seeketh after God,” refers to the Jew, whose will was corrupted, so that he served not God whom he knew.

Rom 3:12 All have turned out of the way: they are become unprofitable together: there is none that doth good, there is not so much as one.

They have all turned aside from the straight road of God’s precepts to crooked and perverse ways. They are become unprofitable, and have disabled themselves for fulfilling God’s commandments. There is no one doing good. No, not even one.

Unprofitable.” Useless for the end of their creation. “There is none that doth good” &c. This refers to man left to his own corrupt nature, devoid of grace and faith.

Rom 3:13 Their throat is an open sepulchre: with their tongues they have dealt deceitfully. The venom of asps is under their lips.

(Psalms 5). Their throat is like an open sepulchre. They have employed their tongues for the purpose of deceiving others. In their mouths they have a deadly poison, no less noxious than the venom of asps.

Their throat,” &c. These words are taken from Psalm 5.; the preceding from Psalm 13. Their throat, owing to their impure, noxious, and pernicious discourses, is compared to an open sepulchre sending forth a noisome stench. “The venom of asps,” i.e., the most deadly poison, “is under their lips.” They are constantly prepared to spew forth the most deadly and malignant calumnies, under the gloss of smooth, alluring language.

Rom 3:14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

(Psalm 9). Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.

This is taken from Psalm 9. Full of bitter, offensive, and reproachful language, uttered publicly.

Rom 3:15 Their feet swift to shed blood:

(Isaias, 59:7). Their feet are swift to shed blood.

From Isaias, 59:7. Quick in executing the evils they plan and concert.

Rom 3:16 Destruction and misery in their ways:

Destruction and misery follow their footsteps Wherever they go, they destroy and render others wretched.

Rom 3:17 And the way of peace they have not known.

And the way of peace they have not known, so as to approve of it; on the contrary, they hate peace and justice.

Rom 3:18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.

(Psalm 35). There is no fear of God before their eyes. They fear not his justice; this is the source of the preceding crimes.

There is no fear of God,” &c. This is the great source of the preceding disorderly crimes; they fear not the judgment of God. This is taken from Ps. 35. What a lively description have we not in this passage, of the melancholy results of concupiscence and sin in man? It robs him of justice—“there is not any man just” (verse 10). It corrupts his reason—“none that understandeth.” It makes his will depraved—makes him turn aside from God to creatures—“none that seeketh God.” “All have turned out of the way.” It renders him useless for good, or corrupts, owing to bad motives, the good he may do (verse 12). The virus of his corrupt heart is poured forth through the tongue; this world of iniquity (St. James, 2), which is made the instrument of deceit, by lying, perjuries, flattery, and evil counsellings, by procuring the death of the body through false accusations, and death to the soul by false and erroneous doctrines, this tongue becomes more noxious than “the venom of asps” (verse 13). It blasphemies God and curses our neighbour (verse 14). It inspired vengeance (verse 15). It plots the ruin and oppression of the poor (verse 16). It takes away all sense of religion, and of the fear of God (verse 18). This is the state out of which the grace and charity of Jesus Christ has rescued us. Blessed be his goodness for ever.

Rom 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law speaketh, it speaketh to them that are in the law: that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may be made subject to God.

And let not the Jew imagine that these testimonies, derived from the law, have reference merely to the Gentiles; for it is a well-known, certain fact, that what things soever the law speaketh, are principally addressed to those under the law, and to be understood, as regarding them. Hence, every mouth is closed, and all matter for boasting removed, and all mankind must acknowledge their liability to divine punishment for sin.

The Jew might object and say, that all these denunciations are addressed merely to the Gentiles, who are often similarly denounced in Scripture. The Apostle meets this plea and says, that when the law speaks in general terms and without exception, it must be understood to regard those principally who are under the law, i.e., the Jews. “The law speaketh.” The law comprised the Psalms and the Prophets, from which the foregoing testimonies are taken. “That every mouth may be stopped.” Hence, every mouth is closed against boasting; because, if the oracles of the Prophets be true of the Jews with their many helps, how much more true must they not be of the Gentiles, destitute of these helps. “And the whole world (Jew and Gentile), may be made subject,” ὑποδίκος (Vulgate, subditus), i.e., punishable or rendered liable to punishment for their crimes against “God.”

Rom 3:20 Because by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified before him. For by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Because no man shall be ever justified in the sight of God by the works which he performs through the sole aid and lights supplied by the law; for the only help held out by the law itself is, to show what we are to do, and what to avoid.

In this verse is conveyed an additional reason why “every mouth should be closed,” and no man should glory (in the preceding verse their glorying is excluded by their liability to punishment for sin), because men have no means of justification from themselves; for by the aids which the law holds out, no man can fulfil the law and be justified. The doers of the law will be justified (chap. 2 verse 13). By the “law.” is meant the moral law of the Jews, which alone gives us a “knowledge of sin,” and is a clearer exposition of the natural law of the Gentiles, which the Apostle here includes under it. And by “the works of the law,” are meant the works performed by the helps and lights furnished by this law towards its own fulfilment, exclusive of grace and faith. These helps, without grace, will never enable a man to fulfil the entire law; for, the only help it affords is to give a clear knowledge of our duty, without any aid towards the performance of this duty. And if the Jews could not fulfil the moral precepts of the law, though they had greater helps, a fortiori, the Gentiles—destitute of these helps—could not fulfil the same precepts.

Rom 3:21 But now, without the law, the justice of God is made manifest, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.

But in these latter times, the true justice by which we are rendered really just in God’s sight, and to which testimony has been rendered by the law and the prophets, is made manifest as proceeding from a source quite distinct from, and independent of, the helps of the law.

“The justice of God.” Real and true justification by which we are really justified before God; and hence called the “justice of God,” because emanating from him alone, “is made manifest without the law,” because by the preaching of the Gospel, it was abundantly confirmed and externally testified by miracles, that this justice has been bestowed on those who never received the law (v.g.), Cornelius the centurion and others. “Being witnessed by the law and the prophets.” “By the law,” (Genesis, 49:10); “the prophets,” (Habacuc, 2:4; Isaias, 55). Hence it is no novel doctrine.

Rom 3:22 Even the justice of God, by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all them that believe in him: for there is no distinction.

That justice, I say, comes from the faith of Jesus Christ, and is abundantly conferred on all who believe in him, as they ought; for there is no distinction between those who received the law and those who did not.

“Even,” i.e., I say, “the justice of God,” comes from a source quite distinct from that which the Gentiles and Jews imagined, viz., from the “faith of Jesus Christ,” “unto all and upon all.” Some say, these words express more strongly the universality and sublimity of this gift; others, that they only express the same thing, and are repeated for the sake of emphasis. “Upon all.” is not found in the Vatican nor in the other chief MSS. “That believe in him.” Of course, he leaves it to be understood, that their faith is accompanied with the other conditions requisite for justification. “In him,” is not in the Greek, which simply is, τους πιστευοντας.

Rom 3:23 For all have sinned and do need the glory of God.

For all have sinned, and have no glory, nothing wherein to glory before God; or, are destitute of justifying grace, the seed of future glory, which comes from God alone and is not merited by works. (And hence, the congruity of his adopting a means of justification, wholly independent of any merit on the part of man).

“For all” (Jew and Gentile, as has been already shown), “have sinned, and do need the glory of God.” “Do need,” in Greek, ῦστερουνται, “are behind,” or, come too late for. By “the glory of God,” some understand, the justifying grace of God which will redound to his glory, and which is the seed of future glory in us, and comes from God alone, not merited by works. The other exposition in the Paraphrase is also very probable, and means, they have no glory; or, nothing wherein to glory before God, and hence, the necessity of establishing a system of justification wholly unconnected with man’s merits (for he has none), entirely dependent on God, and consequently redounding to his glory alone. Such is the system of justification through faith. Against this latter exposition it militates, and is in favour of the former, that the Greek for “glory” is not καυχησις, but, δοξα.

Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

But they are justified gratuitously, without any previous merits on their part, by his grace, through the redemption which Christ Jesus purchased for us, having paid for it the price of his most precious blood.

“Being justified.” After having sinned (as in preceding verse) they were justified “freely,” i.e., gratuitously; because none of the things that precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification itself.—(Council of Trent, SS. 6, ch. 8). “By his grace.” This is the formal cause of justification, and must, consequently, be essentially gratuitous; otherwise it would be no grace. “Through the redemption.” The meritorious cause of this justification is the redemption through Christ. The Greek word for “redemption,” απολυτρωσις, implies, the payment given in ransoming. We are said to be justified by faith, inasmuch as it is, the beginning of man’s salvation, the foundation and root of all justification.—Council of Trent, ibidem.

Rom 3:25 Whom God hath proposed to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to the shewing of his justice, for the remission of former sins,

Whom God publicly exhibited as a real victim of propitiation—of which we are made partakers by faith in his blood or death for us—in order to manifest his justice or the infinite hatred he has for sin, which justice would appear to be in abeyance, owing to his having apparently remitted in past ages, sins for which no adequate ransom appeared to be given, or reparation made.

“Whom God hath set forth,” i.e., publicly exhibited on the cross, and gave to us “to be a propitiation.” The corresponding Greek word—ἱλαστηριον—may signify either a “propitiation,” or a “propitiator.” It more probably is taken in the former signification here, to denote a victim of propitiation “through faith in his blood.” The words, “in his blood,” are connected by many with the word “propitiation,” thus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, which propitiation is effected by the shedding of his blood, and is to be applied to us through faith; others connect the word as in the Paraphrase. “To the shewing of his justice,” i.e., in order to manifest his Attribute of eternal justice, whereby he holds sin in infinite hatred. This he manifests and vindicates by requiring a victim—an effusion of blood, of infinite value, before he remits sin. This “justice,” for the manifestation of which God had publicly exhibited his Son as the victim of propitiation, would also appear to extend to that justice whereby we are made just, which was exercised in the remission of sins in former ages, since it was only by the infusion of grace and justice that these sins were remitted. In the first signification of “justice,” to which it would appear allusion is principally made in this verse, the words, “for the remission of former sins,” are thus connected (as in Paraphrase), which justice of God hating sin would appear to be in abeyance, owing to his having remitted sins in former ages, &c.—(vide Paraphrase). The word “remission” may also signify, as appears from the Greek word—πάρεσινmoral languor and spiritual debility, which sin introduced into the world, and to cure which the great Physician came down from Heaven; or, rather, it signifies God’s having omitted to punish, and having passed over the sins of former ages. This exposition accords best with the following verse, “through the forbearance,” or patience, “of God.”

Rom 3:26 Through the forbearance of God, for the shewing of his justice in this time: that he himself may be just and the justifier of him who is of the faith of Jesus Christ

But with these sins God had hitherto patiently borne, in order to manifest more plainly in these latter times his two-fold justice, viz., his attribute of justice in himself, whereby he holds sin in infinite hatred, which required an atonement of infinite value to satisfy its claims, and his justice in us, whereby we are rendered just in his sight. The consequence of which economy on the part of God is, that his justice and hatred for sin are fully vindicated, and also the source is pointed out from which his justice in us is derived, viz., faith in Jesus Christ.

“Through the forbearance of God.” These sins, or (according to the other interpretation), this spiritual languor caused by sin, God had only borne with and merely tolerated. “For the shewing of his justice in this time,” i.e. in order to manifest more clearly, and vindicate his Attribute of justice, and also to show the abundant justice whereby he renders us just, in these latter days, when the victim of infinite value that satisfied the claims of the former, and that merited and procured the abundant effusion of the latter was offered. The satisfaction made by Christ had a retrospective effect; since it was in consideration of his future redemption, that all sins, from the beginning of the world, were remitted, and justice conferred, “for the remission of former sins;” hence he is called, “agnus occisus ab origine mundi.”—(Apoc. 3:8.) “That he himself may be just.” The consequence of which economy, on the part of God, is, &c. (vide Paraphrase). The word “justice” is taken, in both these verses, for God’s attribute of justice, and for his justice in us, or our justification, which, coming from God, is called “his justice.”

Rom 3:27 Where is then thy boasting? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith.

Where, then, in this system of justification, is there any subject for boasting? It is excluded, By what law? Is it by the Old Law, which merely, as such, prescribed certain things to be done, without supplying grace or aid for their fulfilment? No, not by this law so much as by the New Law, or the law of faith, to which faith, justification is attached quite gratuitously, independently of the merits of any works proceeding from men themselves.

The Apostle having laid down the source whence justification is derived, viz., the faith of Jesus Christ, “on all without distinction,” (verse 23), and having pointed out its perfeet gratuitousness (verse 24), now asks, where, in his system of justification, is there any matter for boasting, either on the part of Jew or Gentile? Accordding to the Vulgate reading, “thy boasting,” (“thy” is not in the Greek, ἡ καυχησις, the boasting), the question specially regards the Jew. “By what law?” “of works?” By “the law of works” is meant the Old Law, which prescribed works to be performed, but did not give the grace to perform these prescribed works. Boasting is not altogether excluded, at least apparently and externally, by this law; for although, in point of fact, men could not fully observe this law by the mere helps furnished by the law itself; and hence, could not in reality, make a boast of the law, the precepts of which they did not entirely fulfil; still, they might be influenced by threats of punishment, to make a show of external observance, and so make it the subject of boasting externally before men. “But, by the law of faith,” i.e., the New Law, which requires faith as a condition of justification, and makes justification quite gratuitous, quite independent of the works that precede it. St. Augustine (in his book de Spiritu et Litera, ch. xiii.) has left us a lively antithetical description of both laws: “the law of works is that which commands what is to be done, the law of faith is faith itself, which obtains the grace to do what the law commands. The law of works is the Old Law; the law of faith, the New Law. The law of works contains the precepts, the law of faith, the help. The law of works gives us light to know, the law of faith, the power to perform. By the law of works God says: ‘do what I command:’ by the law of faith we say: ‘grant us what you command.’ The law of works prescribes external deeds, and these numerous; the law of faith regulates the interior actions, the principal of which is faith and love,” &c.

Rom 3:28 For we account a man to be justified by faith, without the works of the law.

We come, then, to the conclusion, that a man, whether he be Jew or Gentile, is justified by faith, without any reference to the works of the Mosaic law, performed by the sole aid and helps of that law.

“For,” (in Greek, οὖν, therefore. The Alexandrian MS. supports the Vulgate γὰρ,) “we account,” the meaning of which, as appears from the Greek word λογιζόμεθα, is, we infer, by reasoning from the foregoing, “a man (every man, be he Jew or Gentile), to be justified by faith,” because faith is the root and foundation of all justification.—(Council of Trent, SS. 6, ch. 8). “Without the works of the law,” i.e., without the performance of the works which the law of Moses prescribes, solely with aids and lights administered by the law itself. Although the words of the Apostle here, addressing the Jewish converts, have expressly reference only to the works of the Mosaic law, still, his scope is to deny that any works, whether of the Mosaic or Natural Law, give us a claim to the grace of justification. Hence, addressing the converts from Paganism, he asserts the same.—(Ephes. chap. 11 verses 8, 9).

Objection.—Therefore, good works are not necessary for justification.

Resp.—The inference is quite raise, provided the Apostle does not in this verse speak of the works which Catholics hold to be necessary for obtaining and preserving, first, and for meriting second, justification. And, moreover, if it be clear from other passages of SS. Scripture that good works enter into man’s justification. Now, such is the case. First, “the works of the law,” of which the Apostle here speaks, are quite different from the works which Catholics maintain to be necessary for justification. What description of works do Catholics hold to be necessary for justification? Works done in faith, and by the aid of divine grace. Of this latter class of works there is no question here. For, the Apostle is speaking of works upon which would be based a system of justification opposed to the gratuitous justification by faith. He opposes these works to faith. He makes the first, the basis of the justification maintained by the converted Jews and Gentiles; the second, the basis of the justification propounded by himself. If he were treating of the works done in faith, there would be no such opposition; nor could the gratuitousness of justification be excluded by such works; for, Catholics, while maintaining that these works have a share in justification, still hold that these works preceding justification, although good, although performed by the aid of divine grace, give no claim to strict merit, and leave justification itself quite gratuitous. Moreover, the state of the controversy would admit of no reference to works done under the influence of faith and grace; for, the question at issue regarded the claim which the works upon which the converted Jews and Gentiles relied, gave towards obtaining faith and justification. Faith, then, in the minds of the converted Romans, was supposed to be given in reward for these works; hence, there must be question of works preceding faith. The Apostle, then, refers to the works performed by the sole aid of the law of Moses, and the law of nature, without grace and faith; and he comes to the conclusion, that these works have no share in justification. Secondly, we have numberless passages in SS. Scripture, in which the necessity of good works is asserted. St. Paul himself tells us (chap. 2 of this Epistle), “that only the doers of the law will be justified;” and the saving faith of the Galatians must be “a faith that worketh by charity.”—(Gal. 5:6); and we are told (1 Cor. 13) that faith strong enough to remove mountains, unless accompanied by charity, is worth nothing. St. James (chap. 2), is so clear on this subject as to render comment unnecessary. And we are informed by St. Augustine (Libro de Fide, &c., xiv.), that one of the principal objects of St. James, in writing his Epistle, was, to refute the error regarding the sufficiency of faith, exclusive of good works, for justification; an error which, even in his days was broached and grounded on the false interpretation of the words of the Apostle in this Epistle. The reason why the Apostle dwells on the necessity of faith, passing over the other dispositions for justification, is, because it is the ingredient of justification which most clearly showed its absolute gratuitousness—the point he had chiefly to prove. And if he were, in this Epistle, to point out all the conditions necessary for justification—good works among the rest—he would be only rendering his doctrine less forcible and more obscure; for, his adversaries might artfully endeavour to confound these good works, required by him, with those put forward by themselves, which latter description of works is altogether excluded by him in this Epistle.

Rom 3:29 Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? yes, of the Gentiles also.
Is God the God of the Jews only? Is he not the God of the Gentiles as well? Yes, truly, he is the God of the Gentiles as well as the God of the Jews.
Rom 3:30 For it is one God that justifieth circumcision by faith and uncircumcision through faith.
Since, therefore, there is but one God, equally the God of all, it is meet that he should have adopted one means of justification for all, and that means is faith, for the justification of both Jews and Gentiles.

(29-30) The Apostle, in these verses, adduces an additional reason, to show the congruity of the system of justification through faith “without the works of the law;” i.e., without the works performed by the sole aid of the law of Moses. For, if God attached justification to these works, he would appear to be the God of the Jews only, to the exclusion of the Gentiles. Hence, as he is the God of the Gentiles too, he must have adopted a means of justification for them also, and must afford them a means of attaining that felicity for which they are destined. This means is the same for all, viz., faith; for, it is congruous that one God would adopt one general system of justifying his creatures. “Circumcision,”—the Jews; “Incircumcision,”—the Gentiles. (For a fuller exposition of justification by faith and good works, see Commentary on chap. 2 Epistle of St. James).

Rom 3:31 Do we then, destroy the law through faith? God forbid! But we establish the law.

Are we then, by this doctrine of justification through faith, abolishing the Law of Moses? By no means; we are only establishing it the more firmly, by pointing out its term, Christ; and also by pointing out the source from which it can be fulfilled, viz., the grace of Christ.

From the foregoing doctrine it by no means follows that the Apostle is destroying the law. On the contrary, he is establishing it more firmly; for, if there be question of the ceremonial or typical part of the law, he establishes it by pointing out the thing typified by all the external observances and justifications, viz., true justification by Christ. If there be question of the moral law, he is establishing it by pointing out the means of fully observing it, viz., the grace of Christ, by which alone man can observe the entire moral law.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 2

ANALYSIS OF ROMANS CHAPTER 2

The Apostle, after having convicted the Gentiles, in the preceding chapter, of the grossest violations of the natural law, undertakes, in this, to prove that the Jews, notwithstanding their boasted privileges, were no less chargeable with grievous violations of the Law of Moses. In order to avoid offence, he alleges in a general way, however, without any express mention of the Jews, charges equally applicable to both Jews and Gentiles, and probably equally intended for both (Rom 2:1–16).

At verse 17, expressly applying himself to the case of the Jews in particular, he shows how much they abused the prerogatives and exalted favours of which they boasted, and how grievously they sinned against the law. The consequence of which was, that they dishonoured God and brought His holy religion into contempt among the idolatrous Gentiles (Rom 2:17–25).

The Apostle points out, in the next place, what the circumcision is, and who the Jew is, that are of any value in the sight of God.

Rom 2:1 Wherefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest. For wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself. For thou dost the same things which thou judgest.

(As, then, the philosophers were inexcusable, and deserving of death for their sins, having a knowledge of God and his justice), thou art no less inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest or condemnest the faults of others, whilst committing the same thyself; for, by the very fact of passing sentence on others, thou condemnest thyself, since thou dost perpetrate the very crimes condemned by thee in others.

“Wherefore.” Commentators are perplexed about the connexion of this particle. It may be regarded as a mere particle of transition; or, it may be connected with the foregoing in this way: since the philosophers were inexcusable (chap. 1 verse 20), and deserving of death (verse 32), for having deprived God of his glory, and for having committed sin and approved of it in others; thou art, therefore, no less inexcusable, whosoever thou art, be thou Jew or Gentile, that condemnest thy neighbour, and committest the same crimes thyself. In this sense the particle is a connecting link deducing an inference from what is asserted in the foregoing chapter. “Thou art inexcusable,” &c.; this is confined by some to the Jews who condemned in the Gentiles the crimes of which they themselves were also guilty. It is, however, more probable, that it expends to the Gentiles also, and includes all, whether Jews or Gentiles, who condemn in others what they themselves are guilty of. In fact, the proposition is announced as a universal proposition, “whosoever thou art,” &c.

Rom 2:2 For we know that the judgment of God is, according to truth, against them that do such things.

For, it is a matter well known and indubitable, that the judgment of God will be exercised agreeably to justice, and the real merits of the case, against those who commit the crimes of which thou art not less guilty than they are whom thou condemnest.

Such persons will suffer from God the judgment of condemnation which their crimes deserve. “For we know,” as a matter of undoubted certainty, the Jews know it for certain, from the Law of Moses, the Gentiles, from the light of reason, “that the judgment of God is according to truth,” i.e., that God will judge with impartial justice, those “that do those things.” i.e., both those who condemn in others what they themselves commit, and those who approve of them (chap. 1:32).

Rom 2:3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them who do such things and dost the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

Can it be that thou art persevering in the commission of these crimes which thou art condemning in others from the delusive hope of escaping the just judgment of God?

This form of interrogative, addressed to the sinner in the second person, adds great force to the style. “And thinkest thou,” &c., i.e., thou art greatly mistaken if thou imaginest that thou, who sinnest knowingly, wilt escape the judgment of God, or, if thou construest God’s present forbearance into approbation of thy conduct.

Rom 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and patience and longsuffering? Knowest thou not that the benignity of God leadeth thee to penance?

Is not thy present impunity the effect of God’s boundless goodness, of his great patience in bearing with thee, and of his long-suffering in deferring thy punishment, all of which thou art slighting and despising by persevering in sin? Art thou not aware that this benignity on the part of God is shown thee for no other purpose than to induce thee to return to penance?

The riches of his goodness,” i.e., his rich and immense goodness in bestowing so many favours on thee, “and patience” in bearing with and tolerating the wicked; “long-suffering” in deferring punishment. These, the sinner “despises,” when presuming on them, he sins with the hope of impunity. “Knowest thou not,” i.e., thou shouldst be aware, although thou appearest ignorant of it, “that the benignity of God leadeth thee to penance.” The design of God in showering his blessings on thee, and in patiently enduring thy sins, is not to encourage thy continuance in sin, but to lead thee to do penance for them by a change of life.

Rom 2:5 But according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest up to thyself wrath, against the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God:

But, according to thy hardness and obduracy of heart, callous to the motions and impressions of grace, and thy impenitence, from which neither allurements nor threats can awaken thee, thou art stirring up for thyself a treasure of wrath against the terrible day of vengeance, when God shall display the righteousness of his judgment, and will pour forth all his vengeance on the wicked.

“But according to,” i.e., by reason of “thy hardness” inresisting the impressions of divine grace, which hardness the infinite goodness of God cannot soften; “and impenitent heart,” deaf to the allurements of mercy and the threats and menaces of divine justice, “thou treasurest up.” This word, strictly speaking, is understood of what is good; but sometimes also, as here, James chap. 5 verse 3, and elsewhere, of what is evil. “Wrath,” i.e., vengeance “against the day of wrath and revelation,” &c., i.e., against the day of judgment, which is called “the day of wrath,” because on that day there will be no place for mercy, “and of revelation,” because on it everything will be exposed, “and of just judgment,” because, then, each one will be treated according to his deserts.

Rom 2:6 Who will render to every man according to his works.

Then he shall render to every man according as his works deserved it, whether reward or punishment.

“Who will render,” &c., to the wicked, eternal torments, and to the just, eternal life, as the reward of their good works, among which, sufferings for God’s sake are to be reckoned as being the most heroic deeds of merit.

Rom 2:7 To them indeed who, according to patience in good work, seek glory and honour and incorruption, eternal life:

To those who, by patient perseverance in good works, seek honour, glory and immortality, he will give eternal life:

“According to patience in good works,” by patiently persevering in good works, “who seek glory and honour, life everlasting,” in Greek, τοις ζητοῦσι δοξαν, &c., seeking glory, &c. The construction may also run thus, to those who seek life everlasting, he will give honour and glory and incorruption. These terms express “eternal life” differently; “honour and glory” express the dignity to which the just will be raised, together with the praiseworthy celebrity conferred on them, “and incorruption” expresses the never-ending duration of this bliss. This passage furnishes a proof of the Catholic doctrine of merit.

Rom 2:8 But to them that are contentious and who obey not the truth but give credit to iniquity, wrath and indignation.

But on the contentious, and those who obey not the truth, but follow their iniquity, will be inflicted heavy and condign punishment.

“But to them who are contentious, and obey not the truth,” i.e., who resist the divine truth of the Gospel announced to them, disbelieving its doctrines, and disobeying its precepts, “but give credit to iniquity,” i.e., adhere to the false teaching which favour their impure and iniquitous lives; “wrath and indignation,” i.e., heavy and severe punishment, such as is wont to be inflicted by an enraged and angry man. In the common Greek, the order of these two words is inverted, “indignation and wrath,” but the chief MSS. support the Vulgate. The words are in the nominative case, and hence, “will be inflicted,” or some such verb, is understood.

Rom 2:9 Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that worketh evil: of the Jew first, and also of the Greek.

Tribulation and anguish shall be the just portion of every man that doeth evil, of the Jew first (who resisted greater lights and graces), and also of the Gentile;

“Tribulation,” mental torture. “Anguish” expresses the straits to which the wicked will be reduced on the day of judgment, calling on “the mountains to fall upon them, and the hills to cover them.” “Of the Jew first,” because, having greater knowledge, he will be more guilty in sinning, “and also of the Greek,” i.e., the Gentile (see chap. 1 verse 16).

Rom 2:10 But glory and honour and peace to every one that worketh good: to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

On the other hand, glory, honour, and peace shall be given in reward to every one that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.

“Glory, honour,” &c., are a circumlocution for eternal life; “peace” expresses the quiet, uninterrupted, and secure possession of these blessings which they shall enjoy, “to the Jew first,” because, as the Jews were the principal objects of God’s predilection, they will be the first in the order of eternal rewards, if they correspond with divine grace. The Apostle places the Jews first in the order of remuneration, because he appeared to have lowered them before in placing them first for punishment (verse 9); “and also the Greek,” i.e., the Gentile; he refers to the faithful Gentile, both before Christ, such as Job, Melchisedech, &c., and to the faithful Gentile converts after he came, whose actions were performed under the influence of grace and faith; for, such actions alone are entitled to an eternal reward.

Rom 2:11 For there is no respect of persons with God.

For with God, whether in rewarding or punishing, there is no respect paid to persons; he solely regards men’s deserts, and the merits of the case.

The charge of “respect of persons” has reference to the claims of justice, and is incurred when, in the distribution of justice, the dispenser of it regards circumstances extrinsic and quite foreign to the merits of the case, as if a judge were to look to the lace, appearence, dignity, &c., of the parties. Hence, as God owes nothing to his creatures—since all his gilts are quite gratuitous—the charge of having “respect of persons” can never be incurred by him; but even when, by his own free will, he gives his creatures a claim upon him, he never admits “respect of persons;” for, although the Jew is placed first in the order of merit, it is but perfectly just, since he receives greater graces and was first called, which graces and call were perfectly gratutious in the first instance, and established a claim on the ground of merit afterwards; and vice versa, he should be the first punished for having abused greater graces.

Rom 2:12 For whosoever have sinned without the law shall perish without the law: and whosoever have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.

For those who have sinned without having the written law proposed to them, shall be punished, not as transgressors against the Law of Moses, but for having violated the natural or unwritten law; and those who have sinned in the Law of Moses shall be punished and condemned for the transgression of this law.

In this verse is proved, that with God there is no such thing as a “respect of persons,” but that his judgment is perfectly just, founded on men’s merits. The rule for guiding their conduct possessed by Jew and Gentile respectively will be the measure of God’s judgment regarding them, “for whosoever have sinned without the law,” i.e., receiving the written law of Moses (for no one can sin without violating some law, natural or revealed), and in this he refers to the Gentiles, “shall perish without the law,” in Greek, ανομως και απολοῦνται shall also perish, &c., will not be responsible, and will not have to render account for the law of Moses which they received not, although they shall “perish,” i.e., be condemned for their violation of the natural law, “and whosoever have sinned in the law,” i.e., the prevaricating Jews, will be held responsible and shall be judged by the Law of Moses which they violate, and will suffer all the punishments annexed to its violation.

Rom 2:13 For not the hearers of the law are just before God: but the doers of the law shall be justified.

For it is not those who merely receive and hear the law that are regarded as just before God, but those only who observe and fulfil the law, whether they received it in writing, like the Jews, or had it imprinted on the heart, like the Gentiles, that will really become just and be reputed as such in his sight.

This verse is connected in Paraphrase with verse 11. It is further evinced that with God there is no respect of persons (verse 11) if we look to the means of justifying both Jew and Gentile—a means within the reach of each—which he has fixed upon. That means is not the external hearing of the law, which means the Jew alone possessed, but the observance of the precepts of the law. That the Jews had this law needs no proof, and that the Gentiles had it, is proved next verse. It may be asked how can the general proposition, “the doers of the law shall be justified,” be verified regarding the Gentiles, or be applied at all to them, since without grace and faith no man can be justified? Resp.—It is clear from the following verse that the Apostle includes the Gentiles in the general proposition, and hence, he refers to the Gentiles before Christ, who, enlightened by divine faith, and assisted by grace, observe the precepts of the natural law. It also includes the Gentiles after Christ, who embrace the faith: and hence, faith alone does not justify, since, those who merely believe are only “hearers of the law,” and, therefore, not “doing the law,” or performing good works, they will not “be just or justified before God.”

Rom 2:14 For when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature those things that are of the law; these, having not the law, are a law to themselves.

For when the Gentiles, who have not received the Mosaic Law, by the natural and free motion of their own will, prevented and animated by divine grace and enlightened by divine faith, fulfil the precepts of the law, such persons are a law to themselves.

It is needless to prove that the Jews have a law; and as to the Gentiles, by performing naturally the precepts which the law inculcates, they show that they are a law to themselves. If the words, “those things that are of the law,” comprise the entire natural law or moral law of the Jews, then, the words, “by nature” are opposed to the Law of Moses; and mean, that by the strength of nature, prevented and animated by grace, they perform the works of the law, without the Law of Moses. In this signification, grace and faith are implied; but if they are taken to mean some precepts of the law, then, “by nature” will refer to the sole aid of nature, unassisted by the Law of Moses; for, a Pagan can, by the sole aid of nature, unaided by grace, perform some actions morally good, which, though not deserving of an eternal reward, are not, still, deserving of punishment. It more probably refers to the faithful Gentiles, both before Christ, such as Job, Melchisedech, &c., and those after him converted to the faith: for this is shown from the context. In verse 13, it is said that “the doers of the law will be justified,” which must certainly refer to those who act from grace and faith, and it is to show how this applies to the Gentiles, that this verse is introduced. Moreover, he says, verse 16, “in the day,” &c., when no action of an unbelieving Pagan will be rewarded.

Rom 2:15 Who shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness to them: and their thoughts between themselves accusing or also defending one another,

Since by performing without the impulse of a law, what the law exteriorly inculcates, they show that they have the precepts or mandates of a law engraven on their hearts, to the existence of which the dictates of their conscience urging them to perform one thing and avoid another, bear testimony; and this is still further confirmed by the applauses and remorses which they alternately experience, when they turn their thoughts to examine the nature of the actions.

“Who show the work,” &c. They prove that they are to themselves a law (verse 14), because they show by their exterior actions the mandates of the law engraven on their hearts; and of the existence of this law, the dictates of conscience, and the applauses and remorses consequent on their actions, are a further proof and testimony (vide Paraphrase); “their conscience bearing witness,” refer to the internal dictates of conscience, pointing out certain things to be done as good, and certain things to be shunned as evil. “Their thoughts” (in Greek, τῶν λογισμῶν, their reasonings) “between themselves,” this is the proper rendering of μεταξυ αλληλων; “accusing them,” &c., refer to the remorses and applauses of conscience, consequent on the performance of good or bad actions, which are an additional proof of the existence of this natural law.

Rom 2:16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

And these applauses or remorses have reference to the punishments or rewards to be administered, on the day of judgment, when God will judge through Jesus Christ, the Sovereign Judge, the most secret and private actions of men, which will then be publicly exposed according to the gospel which I preach.

“In the day,” i.e., unto the day when God will judge, &c., as in verse 5, “against the day of wrath,” &c. The meaning is, that these remorses and applauses of conscience have reference to the great day of judgment—(Paraphrase). Others understand the words thus: This testimony of conscience will be made still more manifest on the day of judgment; others connect this verse with verse 12, “shall be judged by the law—on the day,” &c., including the verses 13, 14, 15, within a parenthesis. The interpretation and construction adopted in the Paraphrase are more simple and seem more probable; “my gospel,” the Gospel delivered to me (Gal. 1 verses 11 and 12).

Rom 2:17 But if thou art called a Jew and restest in the law and makest thy boast of God,

(It is thus God will judge the Gentiles), but if thou, O Jew! enjoyest singular prerogatives, instead of alleviating thy punishment, they will only heighten thy damnation, shouldst thou violate the written law. Thou feelest complacency in being called a Jew, and congratulatest thyself for the blessing of possessing the law, and makest it thy boast to have the true God as thy God, to be thyself his special people.

In this verse, the Apostle expressly and openly addresses the Jews in particular, and proves them to be guilty of violations of the law, and of grievous sins, as he had shown in reference to the Gentiles in the preceding chapter. He, in the first place, admits the great advantages they possessed and of which they were justly proud, verses 17, 18, 19, 20, but t is to retort on them with greater effect, and show that the possession and enjoyment of these privileges only heightened their culpability in violating God’s law, verses 21, 22, &c. “But if thou art called a Jew.” In this reading, the sentence is, according to some Expositors, conditional and suspensive as far as verse 21. A’Lapide and others supply these words, “if thou art called a Jew” (and observest not the law, thy sentence and punishment will be more severe). The common Greek reading has for “but if,” ἴδε, behold! “thou art called a Jew,” &c., according to which the sentence is quite absolute and not suspensive. The chief manuscripts and ancient versions are in favour of the Vulgate, εἰ δε. “Called a Jew,” this was an honourable appellation implying that they were God’s people, as with us, the term, Christian, implies the same; “and restest in the law,” i.e., dost congratulate thyself on the blessing thou hast in possessing the law, “and makest thy boast of God,” whose special people thou art.

Rom 2:18 And knowest his will and approvest the more profitable things, being instructed by the law:

And knowest what he wishes thee to do, and what to avoid, and being instructed by the law, knowest to discern good from bad, and the more perfect from what is less perfect.

“His will,” (in Greek, τὸ θέλημα, the will), what he wishes thee to do and avoid, “and at provest the more profitable things,” according to the Greek, δοκιμαζεις τὰ διαφέροντα, canst distinguish things that differ.

Rom 2:19 Art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them that are in darkness,

And persuadest thyself that thou art a guide of the blind and canst hold forth the light of knowledge to the ignorant, who wander and err.

Dost arrogate to thyself such a degree of knowledge as to be a guide to the blind and a beacon or light to those who are going astray. He probably refers to the high sounding titles often claimed by the Jewish rabbins and doctors.

Rom 2:20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, having the form of knowledge and of truth in the law.

That is to say, that thou art the teacher of the ignorant and the instructor of the inexperienced, having in the law the perfect rule of faith and conduct, not only for self-direction, but also for the instruction of others.

He explains what is meant by their acting as guides and lights in the preceding verse. These prerogatives are exercised in instructing the ignorant or “foolish,” and teaching the inexperienced, “infants,” in point of knowledge; “having the form of knowledge and truth in the law,” i.e., having a rule of faith and conduct not only for self-direction, but also for the instruction of others, in the knowledge thou hast acquired from the study of the law. “Knowledge and truth,” i.e., true knowledge.

Rom 2:21 Thou therefore, that teachest another, teachest not thyself: thou, that preachest that men should not steal, stealest.

With all these boasted prerogatives thou art not, in the smallest degree, the better of them. Thou, then, that teachest another, teachest not thyself to perform the things thou prescribest for others; thou that teachest men not to steal, thyself committest theft.

The Apostle now sums up their boasted privileges and perfections with a view to retort on them with greater force and show their great culpability; he commences with the last mentioned quality of teacher, “teachest not thyself,” because thou dost what thou teachest others not to do.

Rom 2:22 Thou, that sayest men should not commit adultery, committest adultery: thou, that abhorrest idols, committest sacrilege:

Thou that forbiddest men to commit adultery, committest the same crime thyself. Thou that holdeth idols in abhorrence, committest the kindred sin of sacrilege.

“Committest sacrilege.” The prevalence of the preceding crimes cannot be questioned; but what is meant by “committing sacrilege,” is not so clear. It refers to some disrespect shown the honour and worship of the true God—(which is nearly akin to the crime of honouring false gods, or idolatry, from which the Jews were at this time exempt)—to a profanation of holy things, such as the buying of their sacred office practised by the high priests; it may also refer to the practice of partaking of Idolothytes, which is denounced by the Apostle as idolatrous.—(1 Cor. 10)

Rom 2:23 Thou, that makest thy boast of the law, by transgression of the law dishonourest God.

Thou that makest the law the subject of thy boasting, by the violation of this law dishonourest God.

The infraction of his law tends to the dishonour of the legislator. Verses 21–23 are read interrogatively in the Greek, which adds force to the style.

Rom 2:24 (For the name of God through you is blasphemed among the Gentiles, as it is written.)

For, through your fault in publicly transgressing the law, the name of God is spoken of reproachfully and irreverently among the idolatrous Gentiles, as has been charged upon your fathers before you, by Isaias, and the other prophets.

The name of God is blasphemed among the idolatrous Gentiles on account of the transgressions of the Jews; he is spoken of disrespectfully, as if he were negligent or unable to punish them, or even approved of their crimes. “As it is written.” Some refer this to Ezechiel, 36:20; others to Isaias, 52:5. Most likely, it is a mere allusion to these passages and other similar ones of the Holy Scripture, in which God complains of the dishonour reflected on Him among the Gentiles from the sins of the Jews. The words show that the sins referred to by the Apostle were externally committed; otherwise they could not be known among the Gentiles. The words of this verse are taken literally from Isaias, 52, according to the Septuagint Version. In Isaias, however, they refer to the blasphemies uttered against the name of God, in consequence of the temporal calamities which befell his chosen people. Hence, the Apostle quotes them merely in sensu accommodo, to convey his own meaning, as if he said, “the words of Isaias may be applied to your case.”—(Vide Beelen). To how many Catholics may not the same charge be applied? Their scandalous lives bring discredit on the holy spouse of Jesus Christ, among heretics and infidels.

Rom 2:25 Circumcision profiteth indeed, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a transgressor of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.

Indeed circumcision (the seal of the covenant) profiteth, provided it to be accompanied with the observance of the law, of which observance it is an external profession; but if thou become a transgressor of the law, thy circumcision will be of no more avail than uncircumcision. By thy prevarications thou losest all thy advantage over the Gentiles, and becomest only their equal.

The Apostle here anticipates an objection which the Jews might propose against what he had been saying—viz., that they had at least one great prerogative, circumcision, which was the seal of the covenant of God with Abraham, to which magnificent promises were attached, and which raised them far above the uncircumcised Gentiles. The Apostle admits that circumcision is of avail if accompanied by the observance of the law; for, then it will serve to remind the Jew of the internal circumcision, of the cutting away of the passions of which it is a sign. It was also a distinctive mark and seal of God’s people, and it gave a right to the promises, if the conditions of the covenant—that is, the observance of the law—accompanied it. “But if thou be a transgressor of the law,” then, the Jew breaks his part of the covenant; hence, it is not binding on the part of God, and then his “circumcision is made uncircumcision”—that is, he will be in precisely the same condition with the uncircumcised Gentiles, with whom no such covenant was entered into by God. When the Apostle speaks here of circumcision as profiting, he contemplates a period prior to the preaching of the Gospel. For, speaking of it after this period (Gal. 5:2–6), he declares the reverse.

Rom 2:26 If then, the uncircumcised keep the justices of the law, shall not this uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?

On the other hand, if the uncircumcised Gentile observe the precepts of the moral or natural law, to the observance of which justification is attached, will not he, really and in truth, be reputed before God as circumcised?

If, on the other hand, the Gentile observe the precepts of the law, which render a man just, and also prescribes what is just, he will, doubtless, have observed the Jewish covenant as to its moral part, and thus shall enjoy the blessings annexed to the covenant with the Jews. “Circumcision” and “uncircumcision” mean the Jew and the Gentile, the abstract for the concrete. Circumcision was merely a sign of the covenant of God with Abraham requiring certain conditions, and these conditions—viz., the observance of the law failing, circumcision became a vanum signum. Whereas, if the Gentile comply with the stipulated conditions—that is to say, if he observe the moral law, which is a portion of the Jewish law, he certainly has the principal thing intended, the res significata, to which the promises were attached in the Jewish covenant.

Rom 2:27 And shall not that which by nature is uncircumcision, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision art a transgressor of the law?

And shall not the Gentile remaining in the natural state of uncircumcision in which he was born, if he observe the precepts of the law, judge and condemn by contrast, thee, who dost violate the law, although written for thee, and although thou hast circumcision to remind thee of thy obligation to observe it?

“Judge thee” by the contrast.

Rom 2:28 For it is not he is a Jew, who is so outwardly: nor is that circumcision which is outwardly in the flesh.

Most undoubtedly; for, he is not so much the Jew before God, who is such externally and by profession: neither is that the real circumcision, pleasing to God, which is externally made in the flesh.

(Most undoubtedly). These, or such words, are understood as an answer to the question in the preceding verse; “for he is the Jew,” in the true sense of the word, who observes the law, to the observance of which are attached the rewards, and in the observance of which consist the principal duties of Judaism. “For he is not the Jew, &c.”—that is, he is not so much the Jew, &c.; because, a Jew by profession may be a Jew also in reality or “inwardly,” by the performance of interior virtues signified by the circumcision in the flesh.

Rom 2:29 But he is a Jew that is one inwardly and the circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit not in the letter: whose praise is not of men, but of God.

But, he is truly a Jew, in the proper sense of the word, who interiorly, and by possession of the interior virtues, is such; and that is true circumcision pleasing to God, which is of the heart, consisting in the cutting away of the corrupt passions and affections, which circumcision of the heart cannot proceed from the helps held out by the letter of the Mosaic law, but comes from the spirit of grace; the praise of which interior Jew and real circumcision of the heart, is not from men, who only see the exterior, but from God, who sees the heart, and judges justly of merit and demerit, and the several degrees of each.

That man shall enjoy all the rewards of Judaism, who is interiorly gifted with the virtues, which become the people of God. External circumcision is only a sign of the interior circumcision of the heart, which alone is approved of by God, and can only come from the spirit of grace.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 1

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on. My apologies for the formatting. I’m having trouble with the blog.

ANALYSIS OF ROMANS 1

After premising with the usual Apostolical salutation (Rom 1:1-7), the Apostle enters on the exordium of this Epistle, in which he displays consummate prudence, admirably calculated to render the Romans well affected towards him, and attentive to the instructions which he intends proposing to them (Rom 1:7–17). He next lays down the proposition or great subject of the Epistle, viz., that Justification is derived neither from the Law of Moses nor from the strength of nature, as the Jewish and Gentile converts at Rome respectively imagined, but from a source quite different, viz., from faith (Rom 1:17). With a view of showing how far their multiplied sins rendered the Gentiles deserving objects of the heavy anger of God, with which sinners are menaced in the Gospel (Rom 1:18), the Apostle, in the next place, draws a frightful picture of the abominable crimes into which those who were reputed the wisest among the Pagans, viz., their learned Philosophers, had fallen; he describes their abandonment of God, their idolatry, their unnatural lusts, and their other violations of the Natural Law; and leaves it to be inferred, that whereas these Philosophers were reputed the wisest and the most virtuous among the Gentiles, and the virtues which they practised made a subject of boasting among the people, the great mass of the Gentile world must, therefore, be sunk still deeper in vice and immorality; and, consequently, instead of having a claim to the Gospel on the ground of their exalted natural virtues, as the Gentile converts pretended, they were rather deserving of death and punishment.

Rom 1:1  Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, by divine vocation, an apostle, by a special and singular choice of the Holy Ghost set apart to announce the glad tidings of Redemption contained in the Gospel of God,

“Paul.” The original name of the Apostle was “Saul.” He assumed the name of “Paul,” according to St. Jerome, Baronius, and others, in compliment to his illustrious convert, Sergius Paulus, Proconsul of Cyprus (Acts 13:12). Paul, being a Roman name, is employed by him, when addressing the Gentiles; Saul, when addressing the Jews. Others, with St. Thomas, say he had both names from his infancy. They say that, in consequence of Tharsis, his native place, being a free city of the Roman Empire, he received the Roman name “Paul” with the Jewish name Saul. Hence; in the Acts of the Apostles (cts 13:9), he is called “Saul, otherwise Paul.” St. Augustine says, he assumed the name of Paul from a feeling of humility, and to express his diminutive stature. He prefixes his name in conformity with the usage of the time. In modern letter writing, it is needless to remark, the usage in this respect is the reverse of that which formerly prevailed.

“A servant of Jesus Christ.” He might be called the “servant of Jesus Christ,” on several titles, on account of his Creation, Redemption, call to the Faith, &c.; the word “servant” in this passage most likely regards his special engagement in the duty of preaching the Gospel, in quality of Apostle, as is more fully explained in the following words.

“Called.” The Greek word, κλητος, is a noun, and means “by vocation.” This the Apostle adds to show that he was not self-sent or self-commissioned, but that his authority was derived from a proper source. “He was called by God as was Aaron.”—(Hebrews 4:4)

“An Apostle.” This word, according to strict etymology, means one sent; but, in Ecclesiastical usage, and as designating the first office in the Church, as described (Ephesians 4:11), it means one sent to preach the Gospel, with power to found and establish churches. There were only twelve of this class, with whom were associated Paul and Barnabas.—(For a full exposition of this word, see Epistle to Galatians, chap. 1 verse 1—Commentary).

“Separated” expresses the singular and exalted choice made of him by the Holy Ghost, when he said, “Separate unto me Paul and Barnabas for the work whereunto I have taken them.”—(Acts 13:2).

Rom 1:2  Which he had promised before, by his prophets, in the holy scriptures,

A Gospel proposing nothing either false of novel; but long since promised by God through the oracles of the prophets contained in the inspired Scriptures.

“Which he had promised,” &c. This the Apostle adds in order to show the Christians of Rome, both converted Jews and Gentiles, that the Gospel which he preached contained nothing false or novel, nothing opposed to Moses or the prophets (whom he was calumniously charged with undervaluing), since it was no more than a fulfilment of the prophecies of the Old Testament, all of which regarded Christ—the principal subject of the Gospel—as their term. The word “promised,” also conveys in limine, that this Gospel, and the justification through Christ, was given gratuitously as a matter of free promise, on the part of God, and independently of the merits of man, whether actual or foreseen. For the meaning of the word “prophet,” see 1 Cor. 11:5. Here, it refers to the sacred writers of the Old Testament.

Rom 1:3  Concerning his Son, who was made to him of the seed of David, according to the flesh,

This Gospel had reference to the Son of God, endowed with divine and human natures, who, according to his human nature, was born to Him in time of the Virgin Mary, being herself of the seed of David.

The chief subject of this Gospel, as well as of the prophecies which ushered it in, was the Son of God, “who was made,” &c., who, even in his human nature, was of kingly descent, being born of the royal house of David. These words refer to the human nature of Christ.

Rom 1:4  Who was predestinated the Son of God in power, according to the spirit of sanctification, by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead:

Who, regarded according to this same human nature, or, as terminating human nature, was predestinated from eternity to become, in time, the Son of God (by being united personally with the Second Person of the Adorable Trinity); and this he was shown to be, by the divine power, which he had, of working miracles, by the sending of the Holy Ghost upon the faithful; and particularly, by raising himself from the dead.

The Greek of verses 3 and 4 runs thus:—περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ, τοῦ γενομένου εκ σπέρματος Δαβὶδ κατὰ σάρκα· verse 4, τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει, κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης, ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν, Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ Κυριου ἡμῶν.

According to the Vulgate rendering of the word ὁρισθέντος “qui praedestinatus est,” “who was predestinated,” the words mean, that this seed of David, according to the flesh, i.e., according to human nature, or, which amounts to the same in sense, that this Divine Person, considered not as terminating the divine nature, but as terminating human nature, was predestinated to become in time the Son of God, by a personal union with the Second Person of the Adorable Trinity. In this interpretation, generally adopted by the Latins, the word “who” refers not directly to the Divine Person of the Son of God, but to his human nature viewed in the abstract, and prescinding from its personal union with the Son of God.—(A’Lapide). It is to be borne in mind, that the God-man, Christ, had but one Person, the Person of the Eternal Word, and it could not be well said, that the person of the Son of God was from eternity predestinated to be the Son of God. It was, then, the human nature of Christ, that was from eternity predestinated to be the Son of God, by its personal union with the Word for, as man, Christ is the natural Son of God. Most likely, the Vulgate interpreter read προορισθεντος; but, this reading is not found at present in any Greek copy.

The Greek Commentators, taking the word ὁρισθεις, in its literal meaning of defined, declared, interpret the words thus:—This Jesus Christ, whom the Apostles proclaim as the Eternal Son of God, was most clearly shown to be such, by the prodigies of “power” or miracles performed at the invocation of his name, through the operation of the Holy Ghost, after his Resurrection from the dead. Ita Theodoret, who admits only one source of argument demonstrative of the eternal Sonship of Christ in the passage. Others, with St. Chrysostom, Theophylact, &c., contend that there are three sources of argument (as in the Paraphrase), miracles,—“in power;”—the gifts of the Holy Ghost plenteously showered down by him on his Apostles and the first believers,—“according to the spirit of sanctification;”—and the power displayed in his own resurrection,—“by the resurrection from the dead.” In this latter interpretation, the resurrection of Christ is placed last, although, in point of time, occurring prior to the sending down of the Holy Ghost; because, though hardly immediately intended here, it was the most splendid argument of Christ’s Divinity; and, moreover, the word “resurrection” might be regarded, as embracing the general resurrection of all men, of which that of Christ was the cause and the exemplar. The interpretation of the Greek is preferred by many eminent Commentators, Estius among the rest. It is also embraced by Beelen, who prefers that of Theodoret, who admits only one source of argument. The interpretation, according to the Vulgate, and that according to the literal meaning of the simple Greek word, ὁρισθεις, are united in the Paraphrase.

“The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead,” are interpreted by A’Lapide to mean, by a Hebrew idiom, “by the resurrection, or resuscitation, of himself from the dead.” Others include from, “who was made unto him” (verse 3), as far as, “by the resurrection from the dead” (verse 4), inclusively, within a parenthesis; and they connect the words, “of our Lord Jesus Christ,” with the words, “his Son” (verse 3), putting them in apposition, as if the Apostle meant to say, by the Son of God to whom I refer as preached by the Apostles and predestinated from eternity. I mean, “our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Greek in which the words, “from the dead” are joined to “by the resurrection,” thus “by the resurrection from the dead,” will clearly admit of this construction; which is regarded by many as the more natural meaning of the passage (vide Beelen, in hunc locum).

Rom 1:5  By whom we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith, in all nations, for his name:

Through him, both as God and man, we have received the grace and office of Apostleship to be exercised in his name and behalf, throughout all nations, in order that they may be brought to submit their reason to faith and embrace the Gospel.

“By whom,” both as Son of God and son of David, “we,” i.e., I myself and the other Apostles, “have received grace and Apostleship.” This by the figure, Hendiadys, is put for the grace of Apostleship, “in his name,” to be exercised by us, as his legates and vicegerents, “for the obedience of faith, &c.,” so as to bring all nations to embrace the Gospel, to submit their intellects to the obscure truths of faith, which requires the “obedience,” the pious motion of the will, aided by grace. “With the heart we believe unto justice.”—(Rom. 10:10; see also 2 Cor. 10:5). Note: concerning the term hendiady, see here.

Rom 1:6  Among whom are you also the called of Jesus Christ:

Among which nations given in charge to me, you, Romans, who by divine vocation are Christians, are to be reckoned; hence, it is in quality of Apostle, I address to you this Epistle.

“Among whom.” &c. Hence it is that St. Paul, as Apostle of nations, addresses this Epistle to them. “Called,” κλητος, is a noun, signifying “by vocation” Christians. This he adds to show them that the grace of Christianity bestowed on them was the result of a purely gratuitous call on the part of God. The passage, from the words, “who was made to him,” verse 3, to the end of this verse inclusively, is to be read within a parenthesis.

Rom 1:7  To all that are at Rome, the beloved of God, called to be saints. Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Salutes) all who are at Rome, the beloved of God called to a state and profession of sanctity. May you enjoy the abundance of all spiritual gifts, and the quiet, undisturbed possession of the same from their efficient cause, God the Father, and their meritorious cause, Jesus Christ, who is, in a special manner, our Lord, in right of Redemption.

After the long parenthesis, he now enters on the salutation. The word salutes, (writes to), or some such, is understood. “To all that are at Rome, the beloved,” &c., i.e., to all the Christians of Rome. “Called to be saints.” Every Christian is, by his very profession, bound to be a saint. How few are there who correspond with this sublime end of their vocation! “Grace to you and peace,” the usual form of Apostolical salutation. “God our Father” may refer to the entire Trinity; it more probably refers to the First Person; “and from the Lord Jesus Christ,” we are his purchased slaves; hence, he is our “Lord,” in a special manner, by Redemption.

Rom 1:8  First, I give thanks to my God, through Jesus Christ, for you all: because your faith is spoken of in the whole world.

And indeed, in the first place, I give thanks, on your account, to my God, through Jesus Christ, the source of all spiritual blessings, because your faith is a subject of universal celebrity throughout all parts of the known world.

In this verse, the Apostle commences the exordium, in which he displays consummate prudence, admirably calculated to gain the good-will of the Romans, in order to render them afterwards docile and attentive to his instructions. Masters of eloquence would call this “captatio benevolentiæ” (to capture or gain goodwill) “I give thanks to my God;” thanksgiving for past favours is a homage due to God for his benefits, and is the most efficacious means of insuring their continuance; “through Jesus Christ,” through him all graces have to come to us; hence, he is the fittest and most acceptable channel to convey back thanksgiving for these graces; “because your faith is spoken of,” i.e., is celebrated and rendered famous “in the whole world,” i.e., throughout the known parts of the entire world, then included in the Roman Empire.

Rom 1:9  For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make a commemoration of you:
Rom 1:10  Always in my prayers making request, if by any means now at length I may have a prosperous journey, by the will of God, to come unto you.

(9) For, I call God to witness, whom I worship and serve with all the ardour and energies of my mind in the cause of the Gospel of his Son, that I make continual commemoration of you (10) in my prayers, always entreating him, that by some means I may possibly obtain the fulfilment of my anxious wishes of paying you a visit, should God will it so.

“For God is my witness.” This is a form of oath, which the Apostle finds it necessary to resort to at present, in order to remove any prejudices the Romans might conceive against his addressing them.

“Whom I serve,” λατρευω (latreuo), i.e., minister to; “with my spirit,” is understood by some to mean spiritually and interiorly, in opposition to the carnal and merely external service of the Jews; “in the gospel of his Son,” in preaching the Gospel, and not in teaching the legal ceremonies; “that without ceasing I make a commemoration of you,” he shows in next verse how this commemoration is made.

“Always in my prayers,” not that he was continually engaged in prayer, but that as often as he prayed—and that was frequently—he remembered them, and the object of his unceasing prayer was to be permitted to see them. The crowding together of particles, “that,” “by any means,” “at length,” shows the ardent desire the Apostle had of seeing them but this was always in conformity and strict submission to the will of God, “by the will of God.”

Rom 1:11  For I long to see you that I may impart unto you some spiritual grace, to strengthen you:

For I eagerly long to visit you, not from worldly or selfish motives, but in order to impart to you some spiritual gift which will serve to confirm you in the faith you have already received.

His motive for wishing to see them was not the result of curiosity or avarice, it was solely for the purpose of imparting to them, by his ministry, some spiritual gift, in addition to those they had already received, and thus to confirm their faith which had been imparted to them by St. Peter. By “spiritual grace” is more probably understood some external grace, such as tongues, prophecies, &c., given for the benefit of others, to which he refers, 1 Cor. 14, and chap. 12 of this Epistle.

The Greek for “grace” χαρισμα (charisma), admits of this interpretation.

Rom 1:12  That is to say, that I may be comforted together in you by that which is common to us both, your faith and mine.

Or, to speak more correctly, in order to derive together with you, consolation from the mutual communication of our common faith.

Lest the preceding words might savour of arrogance, and might convey a depreciation of their faith and of the gifts already received, the Apostle now, in the depth of his humility, and to render them well affected toward him, says, that the advantages of his visit would be as much his own as theirs in the consolation he would receive as well as they, from the mutual communication of their common faith; mutual edification and consolation would be the result.

Rom 1:13  And I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that I have often purposed to come unto you (and have been hindered hitherto) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.

For, I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that I have often purposed visiting you (but certain obstacles intervened up to the present moment), in order to reap some fruit among you also, as I have done among other nations.

St. Paul now vindicates his right as Apostle of nations. He desired to visit them in order to reap some fruit of faith and edification among them, as he had already among the other nations—(“and I have been hindered hitherto.”) What this impediment was is mentioned (chap. 15), viz., his being occupied too much elsewhere.

Rom 1:14  To the Greeks and to the barbarians, to the wise and to the unwise, I am a debtor.

To the civilized and uncivilized nations, to the learned and unlearned, I am, in virtue of my office as Apostle, bound to preach the Gospel.

“Barbarians.” The Greeks regarded all nations not using the Greek language, barbarians. Even the Romans were not excepted from this class until they became masters of Greece. Hence, the words “Greeks” and “Barbarians,” here designate civilized and uncivilized nations; “the wise” refer to the philosophers reputed wise and learned; and “unwise,” to the ignorant and untutored; “a debtor,” i.e., in virtue of his office, as Apostle of nations, bound to preach the Gospel.

Rom 1:15  So (as much as is in me) I am ready to preach the gospel to you also that are at Rome.

And hence (as far as in me lies, and in the absence of contrary obstacles), I am willing and ready to discharge this debt towards you at Rome, by announcing to you also the glad tidings of Redemption.

“So,” i.e., therefore, because bound to preach to all without distinction, he is ready to preach the Gospel at Rome also, in the absence of contrary obstacles.

Rom 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel. For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth: to the Jew first and to the Greek.

For, although the preaching of the Gospel of a crucified God be to the Jew a scandal, and to the Gentile folly; still, I am not ashamed to announce it even in the mighty city of Rome, for, it is the powerful instrument whereby is conferred salvation on every one who embraces it, by believing its doctrine, on the Jew first and on the Gentile.

In some Greek copies, the words “of Christ” are added to the word “gospel,” but it is omitted in the chief MSS. and versions generally. He is ready and not ashamed to preach the scandal and folly of the cross even at Rome, where learning and science were united with the greatest dissoluteness of morals; where honours and riches alone were held in estimation; and where, consequently, the mysterious and humbling truths of the Gospel, as well as its precepts of self-denial, must prove particularly foolish and distasteful. “For it is the power of God, &c.,” it is the powerful instrument by which God confers salvation, of justice here, and glory hereafter, on all who believe it (for, to those who reject it, it becomes the source of greater damnation,), and observe the precepts which faith points out. The preaching of the Gospel, through the hearing of which alone faith comes, contains under it, the grace of the Holy Ghost, so necessary for faith. “To the Jew first,” the Jews were the first in the order of time to whom Christ directed the Gospel to be preached, “and to the Greek,” i.e., the Gentile; the Greek language was the most extensively used among the Gentiles; hence, the Apostle calls the Gentiles, “Greeks.” Moreover, the Hebrews divided the world into Jews and Gentiles.

Rom 1:17  For the justice of God is revealed therein, from faith unto faith, as it is written: The just man liveth by faith.

For it stimulates men to seek true justice by revealing to us the source from which real justification is derived; and that source is,—neither the law of Moses nor the law of Nature, but—faith as the root, faith as the abiding, conservative principle of this justice. And this is no new doctrine, but a doctrine revealed to us of old by the prophet Habacuc (chap. 2) who tells us, the just man liveth by faith.

He proves that the preaching of the Gospel is the powerful instrument, &c., “for the justice of God,” i.e., his justice bestowed on us, whereby we are rendered truly just before Him, it is called “the justice of God,” because it comes from Him alone. This justice is revealed in the Gospel to come “from faith,” (and not from the law of Moses, as the Jews supposed, nor from the strength of nature, as the Gentiles vainly imagined). “From faith to faith,” means, that faith is the beginning, the root, by which justice is acquired; faith increasing and supported by good works is the principle by which justice once obtained, is upheld and preserved. “As it is written;” this doctrine of justification by faith, is no new doctrine; the prophet Habacuc (chap. 2) says, “the just man liveth,” &c. For “liveth,” the Greek is, ζησεται (zesetai), shall live. The spiritual life of the just man consists in faith. Of course he includes good works; for, the words of the prophet, “the just man shall live by faith” (chap. 2) literally refer to the just Jew, under the Babylonish capativity, expecting the deliverer Cyrus, promised him by God, and in this faith and consequent expectation, patiently enduring the evils of his state and performing the works of justice. They are quoted by the Apostle in their mystical sense (the sense principally intended by the Holy Ghost), and refer to the persevering faith of the Christian, which, like that of the faithful Jew, must be supported in its progress by good works and patience; and in that sense, will constitute his spiritual life, will serve to obtain first, and uphold second justification. In this verse, the Apostle lays down the great proposition of the Epistle, viz., that justice comes from a source quite different from that which the Jews and Gentiles imagined, that is, from faith.

Rom 1:18  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and injustice of those men that detain the truth of God in injustice:

The Gospel of God is the powerful instrument of salvation on another ground; for, it serves to deter us from the commission of sin by clearly revealing the heavy anger of God, which will one day (on the day of judgment) be visited on those men from heaven, who by impiety have sinned against religion, and by injustice have injured their neighbour, unjustly concealing the truth of God, and not showing it forth in their conduct.

The connexion of this verse with verse 16, as given in the Paraphrase, appears the most probable. The Gospel is also a most powerful means of salvation, by deterring men from the commission of sin—such as the Gentiles had committed against the natural law—which carried no strength for self-observance; and the Jews against the law of Moses, which also contributed no help for self-observance either; and the remainder of this chapter is devoted by the Apostle to point out how far their multiplied crimes rendered the Gentiles deserving objects of the heavy threats held out in the Gospel against sinners. In the next chapter, the same is shown in reference to the Jews, so that after having shown (chap. 3) that all, both Jews and Gentiles, were under sin, he shows the only means of rescuing them from this state, and rendering them just, to be faith. “That detain the truth of God in injustice.” The words “of God,” are not in the Greek. How many are there now-a-days, whose conduct is in opposition to their knowledge? To whom can the charge of “detaining the truth of God in injustice” so strictly apply as to pastors, and parents and all those who, having the care of others, and therefore, in some measure, bound injustice to teach them the knowledge of God, still neglect this most important duty? The Apostle directly and immediately alludes to the Gentile philosophers, whose crimes he is about enumerating.

Rom 1:19  Because that which is known of God is manifest in them. For God hath manifested it unto them.

They unjustly concealed the knowledge of God. For, the Pagan philosophers to whom I refer, had a knowledge of whatever could be known concerning God, from the light of reason; for, God himself gave a clear, certain knowledge of himself to them, by the aid of natural reason.

“Because that which is known by God,” i.e., whatever could be known of Him from the light of reason, “is made manifest to them. For, God had manifested it to them,” by giving them the natural light of reason to arrive at this knowledge, and by placing this knowledge within the reach of reason (next verse).

Rom 1:20  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. His eternal power also and divinity: so that they are inexcusable.

For, since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes are clearly seen: not by the eyes of the body, but by the light of the understanding, inferring them from the visible effects of creation; and among these attributes the most prominently displayed in creatures, are his eternal omnipotence and divine essence—the first beginning and last end of all things. So that no excuse, on the ground of ignorance, was left them.

“For the invisible things of him,” i.e., his invisible Attributes or Perfections, “from the creation of the world, are clearly seen.” The Greek word for “creation,” απο κτισεως, may mean “creature,” as if he said “his invisible attributes are perceived from the creature, called the world.” However, as the following words, “understood by the things that are made,” sufficiently convey this idea, and, in this construction, they would appear to be an unnecessary repetition, the construction given in the Paraphrase seems, therefore, preferable. “His eternal power and divinity.” “Divinity” refers to the leading Attributes of the Godhead, which have a peculiar claim on the worship of creatures, who are, therefore, without excuse for not adoring him, having these means of knowledge within reach—nay, having actual knowledge (as in next verse). The works of creation serve as the great book in which are read in legible characters, and the mirror in which are faithfully reflected, the Attributes of the Divinity. Hence, this visible word is, as it were, a natural gospel to the Pagans, whereby they are brought to the knowledge of God; and St. Chrysostom tells us, “The wonderful harmony of all things speaks louder on this subject than the loudest trumpet. “So that they are inexcusable,” not having the excuse of ignorance, for not adoring him, as in the following verse.

Rom 1:21  Because that, when they knew God, they have not glorified him as God or given thanks: but became vain in their thoughts. And their foolish heart was darkened.

For, having known God, they did not exhibit the worship due to his Supreme Majesty, nor did they thank him, as the author of all blessings; but they vainly and foolishly confined themselves to idle disquisitions regarding Him, referring their knowledge to no practical useful conclusion; and in punishment of this abuse their senseless intellect was darkened, and … their will perverted.

“They have not glorified him as God.” Having an actual knowledge of God and of his divine perfections, they neither properly adored nor praised those perfections, nor did they pay Him the supreme honour due to Him as God; in which praise of his perfections and exhibition of due worship. “glorifiying him as God” consists. “Nor gave thanks” by referring to him, by grateful acknowledgement, the benefits received from him, an homage which reason dictates should be paid to him as the author of all blessings, “but became vain in their thoughts.” The Greek word for “thoughts,” διαλογισμοις, means, reasonings. They became vain in their reasonings; because they confined their knowledge of God to mere idle reasonings or disquisitions regarding him, without making this knowledge subserve to his worship. Hence as they did not attain the great end for which this knowledge was given them as a means, viz.: the worship and honour of God, they became “vain” in its exercise. “And their foolish heart was darkened.” Their mind, rendered stolid in punishment of so much ingratitude, was more and more darkened, and their will perverted. Religious error has been at all times the consequence of pride of intellect and depravity of will.

Rom 1:22  For, professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.

While publicly boasting of, and arrogating to themselves the reputation of wisdom, they have fallen into the excess of folly.

“Professing themselves wise.” Laying claim to the character of wisdom, “they (in reality) became fools,” since they failed in attaining the end of all true wisdom, viz.: the love and worship of God. Some interpreters regard this verse as parenthetical.

Rom 1:23  And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man and of birds, and of fourfooted beasts and of creeping things.

Which folly they carried to such an extreme as to transfer the glory, due only to the incorruptible God, to the image representing corruptible man, and birds, and four-footed beasts, and even the veriest reptiles.

And not only did they withhold from God the glory, due to him (verse 21), but they became foolish to such a degree as to transfer the glory, which is his inalienable due, to men, beasts, birds and reptiles, including fishes: and, what is worse, “to the likeness of the image” of them, or to the image representing these different creatures. The words, “likeness of the image,” mean, “the image like or representing them;” for, an image itself is nothing else but the likeness of an object.

Rom 1:24  Wherefore, God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness: to dishonour their own bodies among themselves.

In punishment whereof, God left them to the tyrannical dominion of their corrupt passions, suffering them to commit deeds of uncleanliness, dishonouring each other’s bodies by shameful impurities.

“Gave them up to the desires of their hearts.” (In Greek, “wherefore God also gave,” &c.; also is omitted in the chief MSS). The words “gave them up” do not imply a positive act of “giving them up” on the part of God, but merely the negative act of deserting them, of withholding his graces, which are indispensable for them in order to avoid sin. “Tradidit,” says St. Augustine, “non cogendo, sed deserendo.” (Serm. 57). He may also act positively, by throwing in their way obstacles, (v.g.) riches, honours. &c., things in themselves, good or indifferent, not necessarily inducing to sin, but which will as infallibly prove, owing to their abuse, the cause of sin to them, as if God had positively given them up to sin. In the same sense, God is said “to send to men the operation of error” “to harden their hearts,” &c.—(See 2 Thess. 2:10).

Rom 1:25  Who changed the truth of God into a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Because they exchanged the true God for false and imaginary deities, to whom they transferred the supreme honour due to Him alone; and they worshipped in their heart and served exteriorly the creature rather than the Creator, to whom may due honour and praise be rendered for ever and ever.

This verse contains but a repetition, in different words, of the idea conveyed in verse 23. “Into a lie,” i.e., idols, false divinities, which, as gods, have no real existence; and hence, as such, are “a lie.” “Who is blessed for ever;” these words convey that this God, whose worship they transfer to false and imaginary deities, is deserving of everlasting honour and glory. And the word “Amen” expresses, on the part of the Apostle, an earnest longing that this due worship may be rendered to him

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Commentaries for the Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

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NINTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
YEAR B

MASS READINGS AND OFFICE:

NABRE.

NJB.

Today’s Divine Office.

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: Deuteronomy 5:12-15.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Deuteronomy 5:12-15.

Word-Sunday Notes on Deuteronomy 5:12-15.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 81:3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 10-11.

Father Boylan’s Commentary on Psalm 81.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 81.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 81.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: 2 Corinthians 4:6-11.

Father Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:6-11. On 5-14.

R.D. Byles’ Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:6-11. On 1-15.

Word-Sunday Notes on 2 Corinthians 4:6-11.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL READING: Mark 2:23-3:6. Shorter reading Mk 2:23-28.

Short Reading. Aquinas Catena Aurea on Mark 2:23-28.

Short Reading. Word-Sunday Notes on Mark 2:23-28.

Long Reading. Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 2:23-3:6.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 2:23-3:6

Ver 23. And it came to pass, that He went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and His disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.24. And the Pharisees said unto Him, “Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?”25. And He said unto them, “Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?26. How he went into the house of God, in the days of Abiathar the High Priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?”27. And He said unto them, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:28. Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: The disciples of Christ, freed from the figure, and united to the truth, do not keep the figurative feast of the sabbath.  Wherefore it is said, “And it came to pass, that He went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and His disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.”

Bede, in Marc., 1, 13: We read also in the following part, that they who came and went away were many, and that they had not time enough to take their food, wherefore, according to man’s nature, they were hungry.

Chrys., see Hom. in Matt., 39: But being hungry, they ate simple food, not for pleasure, but on account of the necessity of nature. The Pharisees however, serving the figure and the shadow, accused the disciples of doing wrong.  Wherefore there follows, “But the Pharisees said unto Him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful.”

Augustine, de Op. Monach., 23: For it was a precept in Israel, delivered by a written law, that no one should detain a thief found in his fields, unless he tried to take something away with him. For the man who had touched nothing else but what he had eaten they were commanded to allow to go away free and unpunished. Wherefore the Jews accused our Lord’s disciples, who were plucking the ears of corn, of breaking the sabbath, rather than of theft.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: But our Lord brings forward David, to whom it once happened to eat though it was forbidden by the law, when he touched the Priest’s food, that by his example, He might do away with their accusation of the disciples.   For there follows, “Have ye never read, &c.”

Theophylact: For David, when flying from the face of Saul [1 Sam 21] went to the Chief Priest, and ate the shew-bread, and took away the sword of Goliath, which things had been offered to the Lord. But a question has been raised how the Evangelist called Abiathar at this time High Priest, when the Book of Kings calls him Abimelech.

Bede: There is, however, no discrepancy, for both were there, when David came to ask for bread, and received it: that is to say, Abimelech, the High Priest, and Abiathar his son; but Abimelech having been slain by Saul, Abiathar fled to David, and became the companion of all his exile afterwards. When he came to the throne, he himself also received the rank of High Priest, and the son became of much greater excellence than the father, and therefore was worthy to be mentioned as the High Priest,  even during his father’s life-time.  It goes on: “And He said to them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.”

For greater is the care to be taken of the health and life of a man, than the keeping of the sabbath. Therefore the sabbath was ordered to be observed in such a way, that, if there were a neccesity, he should not be guilty, who broke the sabbath-day; therefore it was not forbidden to circumcise on the sabbath, because that was a necessary work. And the Maccabees, when necessity pressed on them, fought on the sabbath-day.

Wherefore, His disciples being hungry, what was not allowed in the law became lawful through their necessity of hunger; as now, if a sick man break a fast, he is not held guilty in any way.  It goes on: “Therefore the Son of man is Lord, &c.” As if He said, David the king is to be excused for feeding on the food of the Priests, how much more the Son of man, the true King and Priest, and Lord of the sabbath, is free from fault, for pulling ears of corn on the sabbath-day.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He calls himself properly, Lord of the sabbath, and Son of man, since being the Son of God, He deigned to be called Son of man, for the sake of men. Now the law has no authority over the Lawgiver and Lord, for more is allowed the king, than is appointed by the law. The law is given to the weak indeed, but not to the perfect and to those who work above what the law enjoins.

Bede: But in a mystical sense the disciples pass through the corn fields, when the holy doctors look with the care of a pious solicitude upon those whom they have initiated in the faith, and who, it is implied, are hungering for the best of all things, the salvation of men.

But to pluck the ears of corn means to snatch men away from the eager desire of earthly things. And to rub with the hands is by example of virtue to put from the purity of their minds the concupiscence of the flesh, as men do husks. To eat the grains is when a man, cleansed from the filth of vice by the mouths of preachers, is incorporated amongst the members of the Church.

Again, fitly are the disciples related to have done this, walking before the face of the Lord, for it is necessary that the discourse of the doctor should come first, although the grace of visitation from on high, following it, must enlighten the heart of the hearer. As well, on the sabbath-day, for the doctors themselves in [p. 53] preaching labour for the hope of future rest, and teach their hearers to toil over their tasks for the sake of eternal repose.

Theophylact: Or else, because when they have rest from their passions, then are they made doctors to lead others to virtue, plucking away from them earthly things.

Bede: Again, they walk through the corn fields with the Lord, who rejoice in meditating upon His sacred words. They hunger, when they desire to find in them the bread of life; and they hunger on sabbath days, as soon as their minds are in a soothing rest, and they rejoice in freedom from troubled thoughts; they pluck the ears of corn, and by rubbing, cleanse them, till they come to what is fit to eat, when by meditation they take to themselves the witness of the Scriptures, to which they arrive by reading, and discuss them continually, until they find in them the marrow of love; this refreshment of the mind is truly unpleasing to fools, but is approved by the Lord.

Ver 1. And He entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.2. And they watched Him, whether He would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse Him.3. And He saith unto the man which had the withered hand, “Stand forth.”4. And He saith unto them, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?” But they held their peace.5. And when He had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, He saith unto the man, “Stretch forth thine hand.” And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

Theophylact: After confounding the Jews, who had blamed His disciples, for pulling the ears of corn on the sabbath day, by the example of David, the Lord now further bringing them to the truth, works a miracle on the sabbath; shewing that, if it is a pious deed to work miracles on the sabbath for the health of men, it is not wrong to do on the sabbath thing necessary for the body.

He says therefore, “And He entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched Him, whether He would heal him on the sabbath-day; that they might accuse Him.”

Bede, in Marc., 1, 14: For, since He had defended the breaking of the sabbath, which they objected to His disciples, by an approved example, now they wish, by watching Him, to  calumniate Himself, that they might accuse Him of a transgression, if He cured on the sabbath, of cruelty or of folly, if He refused.  It goes on: “And He saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand in the midst.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc., see Chrys, Hom. in Matt., 40: He placed him in the midst, that they might be frightened at the sight, and on seeing Him compassionate him, and lay aside their malice.

Bede: And anticipating the calumny of the Jews, which they had prepared for Him, He accused them of violating the precepts of the law, by a wrong interpretation.  Wherefore there follows: “And He saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath-day, or to do evil?”

And this He asks, because they thought that on the sabbath they were to rest even from good works, whilst the law commands to abstain from bad, saying, “Ye shall do no servile work therein;” [Lev 23:7] that is, sin: for “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” [John 8:34]

What He first says, “to do good on the sabbath-day or to do evil,” is the same as what He afterwards adds, “to save a life or to lose it;” that is, to cure a man or not. Not that God, Who is in the highest degree good, can be the author of perdition to us, but that His not saving is in the language of Scripture to destroy.

but if it be asked, wherefore the Lord, being about to cure the body, asked about the saving of the soul, let him understand either that in the common way of Scripture the soul is put for the man; as it is said, “All the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob;” [Ex 1:5] or because He did those miracles for the saving of a soul, or because the healing itself of the hand signified the saving of the soul.

Augustine, de Con. Evan., ii, 35: But some one may wonder how Matthew could have said, that they themselves asked the Lord, if it was lawful to heal on the sabbath-day; when Mark rather relates that they were asked by our Lord, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath-day, or to do evil?”

Therefore we must understand that they first asked the Lord, if it was lawful to heal on the sabbath-day, then that understanding their thoughts, and that they were seeking an opportunity to accuse Him, He placed in the middle him whom He was about to cure, and put those questions, which Mark and Luke relate. We must then suppose, that when they were silent, He propounded the parable of the sheep, and concluded, that it was lawful to do good on the sabbath-day.  It goes on: “But they were silent.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: For they knew that He would certainly cure him.  It goes on: “And looking round about upon them with anger.”

His looking round upon them in anger, and being saddened at the blindness of their hearts, is fitting for His humanity, which He deigned to take upon Himself for us. He connects the working of the miracle with a word, which proves that the man is cured by His voice alone.

It follow therefore, “And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.” Answering by all these things for His disciples, and at the same time shewing that His life is above the law.

Bede: But mystically, the man with a withered hand shews the human race, dried up as to its fruitfulness in good works, but now cured by the mercy of the Lord; the hand of man, which in our first parent had been dried up when he plucked the fruit of the forbidden tree, through the grace of the Redeemer, Who stretched His guiltless hands on the tree of the cross, has been restored to health by the juices of good works.

Well too was it in the synagogue that the hand was withered; for where the gift of knowledge is greater, there also the danger of inexcusable guilt is greater.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or else it means the avaricious, who, being able to give had rather receive, and love robbery rather than making gifts. And they are commanded to stretch forth their hands, that is, “let him that stole steal no more, but rather let him labour, working with his hand the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” [Eph 4:28]

Theophylact: Or, he had his right hand withered, who does not the works which belong to the right side; for from the time that our hand is employed in forbidden deeds, from that time it is withered to the working of good. But it will be restored whenever it stands firm in virtue; wherefore Christ saith, “Arise,” that is, from sin, “and stand in the midst;” that thus it may stretch itself forth neither too little nor too much.

Ver 6. And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him

Bede, in Marc., 1, 15: The Pharisees, thinking it a crime that at the word of the Lord the hand which was diseased was restored to a sound state, agreed to make a pretext of the words spoken by our Saviour.  Wherefore it is said, “And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.”

As if every one amongst them did not greater things on the sabbath day, carrying food, reaching forth a cup, and whatever else is necessary for meals. Neither could He, Who said and it was done, be convicted of toiling on the sabbath day.

Theophylact: But the soldiers of Herod the king are called Herodians, because a certain new heresy had sprung up, which asserted that Herod was the Christ. For the prophecy of Jacob intimated that when the princes of Judah failed then Christ should come; because therefore in the time of Herod none of the Jewish princes remained, and he, an alien, was the sole ruler, some thought that he was the Christ, and set on foot this heresy. These, therefore, were with the Pharisees trying to kill Christ.

Bede: Or else he calls Herodians the servants of Herod the Tetrarch, who on account of the hatred which their lord had for John, pursued with treachery and hate the Saviour also, Whom John preached.

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R.D. Byles’ Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:1-15

In this chapter St. Paul continues his praise of the ministry of the gospel; and  having shown how excellent it is in itself, he proceeds to speak of his employment of it, both in his preaching (4:1-6), and in his patient endurance of suffering, which he accepts anil offers for their sakes (4:7-15).

2Co 4:1  Therefore seeing we have this ministration, according as we have obtained mercy, we faint not.

this ministry—i.e., a ministry of such dignity as he has described it to be.

according as . . . This belongs to what precedes. He has this ministration, not as from himself, but according to the mercy he has received from God. The apostle explains this more fully in 1 Tim 1:12-16, where he says that God’s mercy was shown both in his conversion and in his being called to the apostolate for the sake of the increase of the Church by his means.

we faint not. St. Paul is here resuming what he said in chapter 3:12: We speak plainly and boldly, and do not shrink back through weakness or cowardice from any difficulties, such as are mentioned in vv. 8, &c.

2Co 4:2  But we renounce the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness nor adulterating the word of God: but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience, in the sight of God.

This verse contains a threefold antithesis: (1) We renounce the hidden things of dishonesty . . . commending ourselves to every man’s conscience; (2.) not walking in craftiness . . . (but) in the sight of God; (3) not adulterating the Word of God, but manifesting the truth.

the hidden things of dishonesty. Dishonesty here means what is dishonourable; such sins as men hide, and do not wish to have known even to their fellowmen, much less to God (cf. John 3:19-21). St. Paul teaches us here that all sin is a hindrance both to those who are seeking the light of truth, and to those who would declare it to others.

not walking in craftiness—that is hypocrisy, or dissimulation. St. Paul implies that he has rejected not only evil works, but also evil intention.

adulterating. This means, as in chapter 2:17, either mixing false doctrine with the true, or preaching to obtain glory or gain.

commending ourselves, i.e., not by speaking good about himself, which might very well not be believed, but by doing good.

to every man’s conscience. St. Paul said in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, “I became all things to all men that I might save all” (cf. 1 Cor 9:19-22). He implies here that when the gospel is clearly preached it is commended to every man’s conscience, so that those who do not receive it are resisting their consciences.

A Summary of verses 3-6~ In these verses St. Paul shows that if any do not receive this gospel, it is not because of any fault of the gospel, but of a blindness on the part of the unbelievers, which is, (ordinarily at least) the result of sin: since his gospel is no other than the gospel of Christ, which derives its power of illuminating from God Himself, the Author of all light.

2Co 4:3  And if our gospel be also hid, it is hid to them that are lost,

hid. The word means “veiled,”  and is an allusion to the similitude of the previous chapter. (i.e., the veil covering Moses’ face in chapter 3).

that are lost. This should be translated, “who arc perishing’” (Gr. εν τοις απολλυμενοις, Vulg. “in his qui pereunt”).

2Co 4:4  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of unbelievers, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine unto them.

the god 0f this world. Many ancient commentators suppose that by this is meant God Himself, who created and sustains this world; and who may be said to blind the minds of unbelievers, inasmuch as He withdraws His grace from those who are obstinate in refusing to believe. In support of this is the fact that God alone, in the strictest sense, is God of this world; but nevertheless it appears better to understand it as meaning the devil, who may be called the god of this world—(1) because he is permitted to exercise a certain power in this world by tempting men (cf Rev 12:12); (2) because there are so many in this world who follow him as if he were their god, that is, as though he had a claim to their service, and over whom he exercises dominion; (3) he is god of this world in the sense in which the ”world” is often used by our Lord and His apostles to denote the whole body of men who act without any regard to God as their last end, and who are opposed to the Church. It is in this sense that the devil himself in tempting our Lord claimed power over all the kingdoms of the world; with great presumption indeed, yet at least acknowledging that he did not have ihis power of himself, but only as it was delivered to him (Luke 4:6). Our Lord also three times called the devil the “prince of this world,” and declared that by the power of His crucifixion the usurped power of the devil should be overthrown (John 12:31; also John 14:30; John 16:11).

hath blinded, i.e., by suggesting and inclining them to sin, which, renders them less able to see the truth.

light (Gr. τον φωτισμον, Vulg. illuminatio). It would be better translated ”illumination” or “enlightenment.” God the Father is the original source of all light (1 John 1:5), and from this original light is derived its image, God the Son; who in the Nicene Creed is called “light from light” (lumen de lumine); and in the Epistle to the Hebrews is called the “brightness of the Father’s glory and the figure of His substance” (Heb 1:3). The Son having become incarnate, manifested to men the brightness of God (John 1:9, 14; John 8:12) by His Divine working. The gospel declares the glory of Christ, which is the glory of God, since Christ is the perfect image of God, being (unlike other imperfect images) in all things equal to Him Whose image He is. This declaration has a power of enlightening, by the help of grace, those who are not hindered by sin from receiving it.

2Co 4:5  For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord: and ourselves your servants through Jesus.

ourselves your servants through Jesus. That is to say, he did not commend himself, but made himself the servant of the Church, existing only for their spiritual welfare (cf 1 Cor 9:19).

2Co 4:6  For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus.

God, who commanded. … St. Paul, having spoken of his own ministry at the end of the last verse, now sums up this section of his Epistle. He says that God who, by His mere fiat, brought light out of darkness, has shone in his heart (namely, at his conversion, Acts 9:3), and not only shines upon and in him, but also shines forth from him to the enlightening of others, by giving them a knowledge of the glory of God, a glory which shines on the face of Christ Jesus.

hath shined in our hearts. As the created manifestation of God’s glory enlightened the face of Moses, and being reflected therefrom, illuminated also the children of Israel; in the same manner, but in a far higher degree, the perfect and uncreated glory of God, made manifest in our Lord’s sacred humanity, shines upon the apostles and priests of the New Testament, and being reflected from them enlightens both those who believe through their ministry, and also the whole Church of God. The antithesis is between the glory illuminating the face of Moses, and that illuminating the apostles. It is not directly between Moses and our Lord. But as the latter glory has its most perfect manifestation in our Blessed Lord, and as moreover the apostles, only as members of Christ, either have light themselves, or give it to others, therefore St. Paul speaks of the enlightenment which shines from himself, as existing in the Divine Face of our Lord.

Brief Summary of 2 Cor 4:7-15: In this passage St. Paul begins to declare the greatness of his ministry in another way. He has shown how great a dignity it is to have the glory of the apostleship; he now proceeds to rejoice that he is made a partner with our Lord, not only in His glory, but also in His suffering; without which suffering that glory would be imperfect, because it would not be sure to be attributed solely to God.

2Co 4:7  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of the power of God and not of us.

treasure; that is, the light with which he enlightens others. In earthen vessels has been explained in two ways: either (1) our bodies, which are formed of the dust of the ground (Gen 2:7; 3:19); or (2) our whole persons, as being weak and unworthy of such dignity ; as Isaiah 64:8 says, “Thou art our Father, and we are clay.”

2Co 4:8  In all things we suffer tribulation: but are not distressed. We are straitened: but are not destitute.
2Co 4:9  We suffer persecution: but are not forsaken. We are cast down: but we perish not.

God wishes His apostle to be despised and persecuted, in order that it may be quite evident that the power of the ministry is derived only from God, and not from St. Paul himself.

The four clauses in these two verses probably correspond to no exact distinction of different modes of suffering.

Verse 8. not distressed. The word expresses the situation of a man who is in a difficulty which offers no way of escape. It implies that while those who trust only in the world have no remedy if they are in tribulation from the world, those who trust in God are never left without resource. For if the world afflicts them, they still have a means of escape by God’s help.

straitened, but not destitute. This would be better translated “in want, but not in absolute want”.

Verse 9. cast down, or rather “struck down,” i.e., to the danger of death.

2Co 4:10  Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies.
2Co 4:11  For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake: that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
2Co 4:12  So then death worketh in us: but life in you.

St. Paul accepts all his sufferings not only with patience, but with eagerness; because he recognizes in them an opportunity of meriting, and a pledge of receiving, future glory with our Lord; and because he wishes to offer them for the salvation of his converts.

Verse 10. mortifcation. That is “putting to death.”’ It includes both the actual renunciation of all sin, as he said in writing to the Romans, “Reckon that you are dead to sin, but alive unto God” (Rom 6:11); and more especially the patient endurance of the sufferings which he continually had to undergo, and through which he hoped to obtain a share in our Lord’s resurrection (cf. Phil 3:8-12).
See note on 2 Cor 1:5.

Made manifest. This is chiefly the case in the resurrection of our bodies, which are made to live with the life of our Lord, even as He said, “Because I live, ye shall live also.”

Verse 11. we who live, i.e., as long as our life on earth lasts. Are always delivered unto death; that is, ”are always being delivered.” St Paul’s life was perpetual martyrdom; as the Psalmist says, “For thy sake we are killed all the day long” (Ps 44:23); or as St. Paul said himself, “I die daily” (1 Cor 15:31). This martyrdom is quite apart from the actual danger of death, in which St. Paul has often found himself (cf. 2 Cor 1:8-9; Acts 14:18, &c.).

Death worketh in us, but life in you; that is, suffeiings of mind and body, equivalent to death, continually have dominion over me. Though you do not indeed share these sufferings, yet by virtue of them (which I offer for your welfare) you are made partakers of the spiritual life to which they lead.

2Co 4:13  But having the same spirit of faith, as it is written: I believed, for which cause I have spoken; we also believe. For which cause we speak also:
2Co 4:14  Knowing that he who raised up Jesus will raise us up also with Jesus and place us with you.

St. Paul shows that the power to endure his sufferings rests only upon the certainty of faith, infused into his heart by the Holy Ghost, and assuring him of eternal life in our Lord.

Verse 13. The same, that is, the same as that of the Psalmist; for though the object of faith has become more fully manifested, yet the Spirit and the faith are the same.

Spirit. It is not clear whether by this word we are to understand the Holy Ghost, who imparts the faith, or the quality or virtue of faith itself, which is imparted.

I believed. (Ps 116:10.) The saints of the Old Testament had divine faith, and confessed their faith (cf. Heb 11 ).

Verse 14. knowing, that is, with the certainty of faith, for divine faith is the most certain form of knowledge.

With Jesus, that is, to receive the same glory as our Lord. The living members cannot be separated from their Head, who has said, “Where I am, there also shall my minister be” (John 12:26).

2Co 4:15  For all things are for your sakes: that the grace, abounding through many, may abound in thanksgiving unto the glory of God.

All things are for your sakes. These words explain the last clause of the preceding verse. He can well couple them with himself, because he does and suffers all things for their good.

That the grace abounding through many. . . . This clause probably means, ”that the grace having abounded by means of many may cause the thanksgiving to abound unto the glory of God.”

Through many. St. Paul, having said that all his sufferings were endured for their sakes, does not wish to seem to assume to himself all the merit for the grace they had received, and therefore he adds these words, implying that the prayers of all the members of the Corinthian Church had had a share in obtaining grace for them. Some commentators, however, take these words with “the thanksgiving” thus: “that the abundant grace may cause thanksgiving to abound througli many;” that is to say, that all who receive the grace may join in giving thanks for it.

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Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:5-14

I’ve included some suggested commentaries on 2 Corinthians at the end of this post.

A Synopsis of the Chapter~
1.
From what was said in the last chapter of the glory and honour belonging to the office of a preacher of the Gospel, S. Paul proceeds to assert that he discharges that office holily, sincerely, and blamelessly. He declares this to be a fact plainly known to all except to those whose minds were blinded.
2. He declares (ver. 7) that he and the other Apostles undergo many sufferings on behalf of the Gospel without flinching, and that they with fortitude always bear about in their bodies the mortification of Jesus, on account of the hope of resurrection to a better life.
3. He points out (ver. 17) that this our tribulation is but light and short lived, and works an eternal weight of glory.

Notes on 2 Cor 4:5-14~

2Co 4:5  For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord: and ourselves your servants through Jesus.

Ourselves your servants through Jesus. Supply “we show,” or “we preach.”

2Co 4:6  For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus.

For God . . . hath shined in our hearts. In the account of the creation of the world given in Genesis, light is said to have been created first of all, because light is a quality most splendid, pleasant, gladdening, useful, efficacious, and powerful. Cf. Dionysius (de Divin. Nomin. c. iv.), who enumerates thirty-four properties of light and of fire wonderfully adapted to set forth God and the things belonging to Him. Cf. note to Gen 1:2.

Hugo (de Sacram. pag. i. c. 10) and others point out, by way of allegory, that on the first day, when light was created and divided from darkness, the good angels were established in good and the evil in evil, and were separated each from other. What, therefore, was done in the world of sense was an image of what was being done in the unseen world. Nay, S. Augustine frequently maintains that the literal sense is that which refers to the angels.

The Apostle here explains this light tropologically. As God formerly produced light out of darkness, so now has He made unbelievers into believers, and has enlightened them with the light of faith. So, too, S. Augustine (contra Advers. Leg. lib. i. c. 8) lays down that by light and day succeeding the pre-existing darkness, and being again succeeded by darkness, is signified what spiritually takes place in man, viz., grace succeeding sin, and sin again grace.

To give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. To illuminate us, that we in turn may illuminate others with that clear and glorious knowledge which shines forth from God in the face of Christ, or else by means of our clear knowledge of Christ and His redemption. It is commonly said that a man is known by his face; hence to know “in the face” signifies to know clearly and openly. Just as at night a lighted torch throws light on the surrounding darkness, and is carried before travellers to show them the way clearly, so does Christ lighten us in the night of this world, so that we know God surely and plainly, and go on our way to see Him in the life of bliss in heaven. Hence the Glossa symbolically explains these words to mean: by Jesus Christ, who is the Face of the Father; for without Him the Father is not known. There is still kept up an allusion to the veil over Moses’ face contrasted with the open face of Christ (2 Cor 3:15). The word face may be, with the Syriac, translated the person, i.e., we illuminate, others in the name, place, and authority of Christ.  S. Cyril (de Fide ad Theodor. Imp.) says. “He hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. See how openly and plainly the light of the knowledge of God the Father has shone, forth in the person of Christ.”

2Co 4:7  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of the power of God and not of us.

But we have this treasure. The treasure is the ministry and preaching of the Gospel entrusted to him by God. Cf. ver. 1 and vers. 5 and 6.

In earthen vessels. (1.) In a body of dust frail and fragile. Our body is as an earthenware vessel; for as an earthen vessel is nothing but clay baked in the fire, so is our body nothing but earth made solid by the heat of the soul. Take away the soul, and the body returns to the dust whence it came. Cf. Ps 103:14. Or, (2.) in earthen vessels means in ourselves; for though we are Apostles, still we are men, frail and fashioned from the dust, and, like earthen vessels, are worthless, weak, and contemptible, exposed to injuries at the hands of all. This explanation is favoured by the words that follow: “We are troubled on every side,” &c. So in 1 Cor 1:27, it was said that God had chosen the Apostles as the foolish, and weak, and base things of the world; and also in 1 Cor 2:1, Paul said that he had come to the Corinthians, not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, but in weakness, and fear, and trembling ; and again, in 1 Cor 4:9, he expresses the same idea.

Origen (Hom. in Numer.) symbolically interprets this treasure as the grace of the Holy Spirit hidden in earthen vessels, i.e., in the rude, unpolished, and unadorned words of the law and the Gospel.

That the excellency may be of the power of God and not of us. God wills me to have this treasure in an earthen vessel, in order that the excellency which is in me, and the fruit that I gather in the conversion of the heathen, may not be ascribed to me, but to the power of God and the grace of Christ.

2Co 4:8  In all things we suffer tribulation: but are not distressed. We are straitened: but are not destitute.

In all things we suffer tribulation: but not distressed. Not made anxious. Physically he was distressed, hemmed in, and pressed down, but in the midst of adversity the Apostle’s mind was serene and lofty. So, in Ps 4:1, David says. “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.”

We are straitened: but we are notdestitute. The Latin Version gives “We are in want, but not destitute,” or, as Ambrose, Theophylact, Erasmus, and Cajetan explain it: We are pressed with want, but not oppressed. There is a similar play on words in the Greek. Poverty gives sufficiency, nay, plenty, to a soul that is patient, wise, serene, and fixed on God. To say nothing of Christian writers, this was taught by Favorinus, who says. “It is true what wise men have said as the result of their experience, that they who have much want much, and that indigence takes its rise from abundance, and not from want. Much more is desired in order to guard the abundance you already have. Whoever, therefore, has great riches, and wishes to take forethought and guard against need or loss, needs loss, not gain, and should have less, that less may be lost.”

The Greek may also be rendered: We are without guidance, and are perplexed in the midst of our evils and difficulties; still we are not overcome by them, nor by our anxiety and weariness. We do not despair, but we hope for, and we find counsel, help, and deliverance in God, and so we are conquerors. This explanation is nearer to the Greek α̉πόρια, which denotes, not only bodily distress, but mental, viz., want of counsel, doubt, and perplexity, when the mind, seeing itself surrounded by difficulties, is at a stand-still, and knows not what to do. But God succours the Apostles and their successors in these straits, and points out a way of escape. S. Xavier and Gaspar Barzæus found this true in their work among the Indians, and testified that in every difficulty the Holy Spirit taught them more than all doctors or wise men could have done,

2Co 4:9  We suffer persecution: but are not forsaken. We are cast down: but we perish not.

We suffer persecution: but are not forsaken. S. Gregory of Nyssa (de Beatitud.), explaining the last of the Beatitudes, “Blessed are they that suffer persecution,” acutely and piously weighs the meaning of the word persecution, which etymologically points to some running, or rather running before. He puts before our eyes a holy man and tribulation, like two runners running side by side. When the saint does not give place to tribulation, he says that he goes before it, as victorious over it, and that tribulation follows hard after him, and is, therefore, called persecution, not consecution, for it follows after but does not reach the holy man. He says that this word points out that the saints, through patience, run with great swiftness for the prize of glory, display their vigour and strength most brightly in the midst of persecutions. He goes on: “Martyrdom shows us the arena, and marks out the course to be run by faith; for ‘persecution’ denotes an ardent desire for swiftness, nay, it even indicates the winning of the prize; for who can be victor in the race save he who leaves his competitor behind? Since, therefore, he that has an enemy behind, seeking to deprive him of the prize, has one ‘persecuting’ him—and such are they who finish the course of martyrdom on behalf of their holy religion, who are persecuted by their enemies, but not overtaken. Christ seems in these last words to put before us the most glorious crown of bliss, when He says, ‘Blessed are they that suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’”

We are cast down: but we perish not. There is here an allusion to the earthen vessels of ver. 7. Though, he seems to say, we are earthen vessels, and cast down, as it were, from the most lofty towers of persecutions, yet are we not shattered. We are so hardened by the fire of charity that we cannot break. Some add, “We are humiliated, but not confounded,” but the words are wanting in the Greek and Latin copies.

2Co 4:10  Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies.

Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus. The death of Jesus, according to S. Ambrose, but the Greek is rather dying or mortification. The dying meant is the suffering of death like to the suffering of Jesus Christ, which is the road to and the beginning of death, a long and living death. This is the suffering spoken in vers. 8 and 9, suffering inflicted from without, though it may be extended also to any voluntary mortification of mind and body. It is called “the dying of Jesus,” (1.) because it is borne by His example; (2.) because it is undergone for His faith; (3.) because we, His servants, bear about in our body, by a kind of representation, the very death and Passion of Christ, just as slaves carry the badge and token of their master. Cf. Gal 6:17. So in Heb 11:26, it is said that Moses bore the reproach of Christ, and preferred it to the riches of Egypt (see note there). “There is no doubt,” says Ambrose, “that in His martyrs Christ is slain, and that in them that suffer chains or scourgings for the faith, Christ suffers the same.” Pau1 gives here the cause why, in the midst of trouble and distress, he is not crushed and destroyed, but is instead raised up and quickened. It is because by tribulation he is made like Christ crucified and smitten, and then raised and quickened; and, therefore, he rejoices in tribulation.

Salvianus (de Vero Jud. et Provid. Dei, lib. i.) says that no one is miserable who is content in the midst of misery, rather he is happy, because it is of his own devotion that he lives in misery. Toil, fasting, poverty, humility, weakness, persecution are not grievous to those that endure them, but to those that kick at them. Among the heathen, Fabricius, Fabius, Regulus, Camillus found poverty and affliction no burden. “No one,” he says, “is made miserable by other people’s opinion but by his own, and therefore false judgment cannot make them miserable whose conscience approves them. . . . None, I think, are happier than they who act according to their own knowledge and wish. Religious are of low estate, but they wish it so; they are poor, but pleased with poverty; they have no ambition, for they scorn it; they mourn, but they rejoice to mourn; they are weak, but they delight in weakness. ‘When I am weak,’ says the Apostle, ‘then am I strong.’ And so, no matter what may happen to those that are religious indeed, they are to be called happy. None are more joyous in the midst of all kinds of adversity than those who are in a state of their own choosing.”

That the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies. This is that future life when we shall rise with Christ to glory (ver. 14); and also the present life, when, after the pattern of the risen body of Christ, our afflicted bodies become more lively through the operation of the Spirit, on account of our hope of the resurrection and through the power of God, which delivers us from so many dangers every day and strengthens us against them.

2Co 4:11  For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake: that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

For we who live are always delivered unto death. In the midst of a life such as ours, we are exposed to constant danger of death and to every kind of trouble.

The thought, then, that in all our tribulation we are made like to Christ in His Passion and resurrection is what animates, comforts, and strengthens us. As in our afflicted and mortified body the death of Christ is visibly set forth, so in its deliverance, salvation, and strengthening do we see the life and resurrection of Christ. When we are thrown to the lions and other wild beasts, to be, as all expect, surely devoured by them, they spare us and fawn upon us; when we are cast into the fire it shrinks from us, nay, with genial warmth refreshes us; when we are thrown into the sea to be drowned, the sea bears us up and preserves us from all hurt; when I was stoned at Lystra and left for dead, I was soon after found to be alive. In all these and similar persecutions and afflictions I have fellowship with, I am made like, and I set forth the suffering, death, and burial of Christ, which by the power of God, were but the glorious prelude to the life of bliss. And for this reason I am strong, nay, I rejoice and glory in all my tribulations; for they give me a sure and certain hope of an eternal life of glory. “Therefore,” says Œcumenius, “was Christ permitted by God to be delivered to death, that His resurrection might be made manifest to all. He who daily raises us certainty raised up Himself also, and will in good time raise us up to eternal life.”

2Co 4:12  So then death worketh in us: but life in you.

So then death worketh in us, but life in you. Your spiritual life, your salvation is produced through faith and grace, but ours by the death of our body. The passion and death of the Apostles has been the life of the Church. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,” says Tertullian. Chrysostom gives a different explanation: “You live in peace and suffer no such persecutions for the faith as I do; and so you seem to live and I seem to die daily.”

2Co 4:13  But having the same spirit of faith, as it is written: I believed, for which cause I have spoken; we also believe. For which cause we speak also:

But having the same spirit of faith. As David was hemmed in with dangers, and yet was delivered by God alone from them all, and said. “I believed,” i.e., I believe that God will always be true to His promises and deliver me, so too do we believe and hope, and boldly profess that our help and strength, our deliverance and resurrection have been promised by God, and will most surely be wrought out.

Ps. 116., alluded to here by S. Paul, is a Eucharistic psalm, in which David gives God thanks for his safe deliverance. Hence it begins with, “I believed.” In other words: I, David, in the midst of dangers and adversity, when hunted by Saul and his men, when my life was sought by Achish and the Philistines, when I was so placed that I seemed to be deprived of all human help, and to be in desperate straits, yet put my trust in God, who had promised me safety and moreover the kingdom, by the mouth of Samuel. Wherefore, I said boldly that I believed, without doubting that God would deliver me from all these evils, and would bring me to His promised kingdom, as, in fact, He has delivered me, and has set me on the throne. “Right dear in the sight of the Lord is the death of His Saints.” My death is of great account and great price in the sight of the Lord. God, therefore, carefully watches that my death, or that of His other Saints may not be allowed, except for good cause and great gain, and He wonderfully guards us and delivers us. This, I, David, found in the cave and at other times when I was shut in by the bands of Saul and of my other enemies, and therefore with praise and thanksgiving do I exclaim, What return shall I make unto the Lord for all the benefits that He hath done unto me? I will receive the cup of salvation, of my many safe deliverances—that cup which is a witness and public profession of God’s goodness to me, and of my frequent escapes from danger—of God’s salvation will I take.

Observe here that (1.) the Jews had three kinds of sacrifices, the whole burnt-offering, the sin-offering, and the peace-offering. This last was a sacrifice of salvation, offered for the peace and salvation of any individual or family, or of the whole people, whether already obtained or to be obtained. (2.) In every Sacrifice a libation was made to God, just as if the sacrifice were God’s feast. The cup, therefore, of salvation is the cup of wine which was offered to God, poured out and drunk by the offerers. (3.) This cup was a figure of the Eucharistic chalice, which makes us not only mindful of the salvation wrought by Christ, but also partakers of it.

Tropologically: this “cup” is martyrdom and affliction, and the obstinate resistance that we make to sin, even unto death, says S. Basil, in his comments on Ps. cxvi. For Paul eagerly longed for martyrdom, and hence he speaks not of the cross, but of the cup of salvation, as though he should say: I will readily drink whatever the Lord may have given to me, even though it be the martyr’s death; and therefore knowing, says S. Augustine, that martyrdom is not within my own power, but depends on the grace of God, I will call upon that grace, and will publicly preach and celebrate the name of the Lord. Similarly, Christ speaks of His Passion as a cup, and bids His Apostles and martyrs and all His members drink of it (S. Matt 20:22, and Matt 26:42). As, then, every Christian offers to Christ, His Deliverer, the Eucharistic cup and sacrifice as a thanksgiving, so does Paul offer his sufferings, his afflictions, and death to Christ, as a most pleasing cup. So, too, have all the martyrs, by openly professing their faith and dying for it, offered to Christ the cup of their martyrdom.

I believed. I believed, and I still believe. This is a continuous act of belief, and not merely one that is inchoate, especially so since David speaks of the person of Paul and of us all, and puts his own belief forward as one deserving our imitation.

2Co 4:14  Knowing that he who raised up Jesus will raise us up also with Jesus and place us with you.

Will raise up us also . . . and place us with you. Shall present us with you in glory. He says out of modesty, “shall present us with you,” not “you with us,” because the Corinthians were the cause and object of his preaching, and so also of his glory.

2Co 4:15  For all things are for your sakes: that the grace, abounding through many, may abound in thanksgiving unto the glory of God.

That the grace, abound through many,  may abound in thanksgiving unto the glory of God. I.e., through many giving thanks. The Syriac renders it, “that since grace abounds through many, thanksgiving may be proportionately multiplied to the glory of God.”

SUGGESTED READINGS: All books listed are by Catholic authors. One should not infer that my listing them here is an endorsement of their particular views (e.g., Murphy-O’Connors theory that 2 Cor. is a composite document of several shorter letters of St Paul).

SECOND CORINTHIANS. By Fr. Thomas D. Stegman, S.J. Part of the new Catholic Commentary On Sacred Scripture.

SECOND CORINTHIANS (Sacra Pagina Series). By Fr. Jan Lambrecht, S.J. Somewhat technical, not for the beginner.

THE FIRST AND SECOND LETTERS OF ST PAUL TO THE CORINTHIANS. By Dr. Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch. Part of the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible). A good introductory commentary.

KEYS TO SECOND CORINTHIANS. By Fr. Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, O.P. Very expensive, scholarly, thorough. Not for the average reader.

THE THEOLOGY OF THE SECOND LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS. By Fr. Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, O.P. Scholarly, not for the average reader.

LECTURES ON SECOND CORINTHIANS (Online). By St Thomas Aquinas. This work, available online for free, still continues to exert influence 8 centuries after it production. The medieval style may not appeal to many.

ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM’S HOMILIES ON SECOND CORINTHIANS (Online).

NOTES ON CORINTHIANS, GALATIANS, ROMANS. By Fr. Joseph Rickaby, S.J. Somewhat dated. Originally published in 1898. slightly technical. Rickaby was a prolific author and a noted authority on St Thomas Aquinas.

THE SECOND EPISTLE OF ST PAUL TO THE CORINTHIANS. By R. D. Byles. Somewhat dated. Originally published in 1897. A very basic commentary.

AN EXPOSITION OF THE EPISTLE OF ST PAUL (Vol 2). By Bernardine de Picquigny. The author ((1633-1709) was a Capuchin monk who is also sometimes called Bernardin de Piconio. This volume contains commentary on 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that his 3 volume exposition of St Paul “has ever been popular among scripture scholars.”

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Commentaries for the Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: Deuteronomy 11:18,26-28, 32.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:18, 26-28, 32.

Word-Sunday Notes on Deuteronomy 11:18, 26-28, 32.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 31.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 31.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 31.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 31.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: Romans 3:21-25, 28.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans 3:21-25, 28.

Bernardin de Piconio on Romans 3:21-25, 28. Actually, this post is on all of chapter 3.

Father Callan on Romans 3:21-25, 28. Actually, this post is on verses 21-31.

Theodoret of Cyrus on Romans 3:21-25, 28. On all of chapter 3. Scroll down to find. Theodoret was a respected commentator on Scripture, however, some of his writings on christology were condemned as heretical.

Aquinas’ Lectures on Romans 3: 21-25, 28. On all of chapter 3

Word-Sunday Notes on Romans 3:21-25, 28.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Romans 3:21-25, 28.

COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL READING: Matthew 7:21-27.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 7:21-27.

Maldonado’s Commentary on Matthew 7:21-27.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 7:21-27.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 7:21-27.

Word-Sunday Notes on Matthew 7:21-27.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 7:21-27.

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 7:21-27

Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name?
Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.

Not every one that saith to me. c. Danger of spiritual barrenness. Here our Lord declares that neither the empty invocation of God’s name, nor even the “dona gratis data” of prophecy and miracles suffice to enter into life eternal, but that the fulfilment of the will of God is absolutely necessary for this. Hil. Aug. op. imp. Mald, are of opinion that these words are still addressed to the false prophets, but Chrysostom, Jerome, Euthymius, Theophylact, Dionysius the Carthusian, Jansenius, Cajetan, Lapide, Calmet, Arnoldi, Schegg, Schanz, Fillion maintain that Jesus speaks here to all men in general; Lk. 6:46 favors this latter view. It is here that Jesus for the first time calls God the Father “my Father.” Since in the early days of Christianity the gifts of miracles and prophecy were more common than later on, the warning of our Lord against too great confidence in these graces was especially in place [cf. 1 Cor. 12:4; Gal. 3:5; etc.]. The question whether bad and unbelieving men can have the gift of miracles and prophecy is of minor importance for us, since we have seen that the words of our Lord are not limited to false prophets. Cf. Maldonado, Suarez [De Rel. torn. ii. lib. i. de orat. c. 25. § 4], Benedict, 14. [De Canoniz. lib. iv. p. 1, cap. iii. n. 6], Melchior Cano, Est. etc. “On that day “refers to the day of judgment, as is clear from Lk. 17:24; 21:34; Acts 2:20; 1 Cor. 1:8; 5:5; 1 Thess. 5:2; etc. Since our Lord here declares that he will be the judge on the last day, he implicitly declares his divinity [cf. Mt. 5:25, 29, 30; 7:19; 25:41]. The clause of the judicial sentence “you that work iniquity” insists again on the uselessness of mere lip-service and faith without works, just as St. Paul declares, 1 Cor. 13:2.

Mat 7:24 Every one therefore that heareth these my words, and doth them, shall be likened to a wise man that built his house upon a rock,
Mat 7:25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded on a rock.
Mat 7:26 And every one that heareth these my words and doth them not, shall be like a foolish man that built his house upon the sand,
Mat 7:27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof.

Every one therefore. 2. Exhortation to practise the Christian principles. The similitude speaks of rain, winds, and floods; the rain falls on the roof of the house, the winds blow against its sides, the floods attack its foundation [Cajetan, Jansenius, Schanz]. The vehemence of the winter rains, the fury of the winds, and the suddenness of the floods or swollen rivers rendered the similitude especially pointed in the East, and on the mountain-side where our Lord pronounced the sermon on the mount. The picture applies, according to Maldonado, Schanz, Keil, to the last judgment; but Euthymius, Faber Stapulensis, Dionysius the Carthusian, Cajetan, Jansenius, Arnoldi, Fillion, Knabenbauer, refer it, with more reason, to the trials of the present life. The three agents of destruction have been variously interpreted: Jerome, Paschasius, Dionysius the Carthusian, see in them the degrees of our spiritual attacks in which we feel first the rain of sensual pleasure, then the torrents of the stronger passions, and finally the full blast of the powers of hell; Augustine sees in the rains our darksome superstitions, in the winds the opinions of men, in the floods our carnal passions; Lapide explains the three agencies as representing the flesh, the world, and the devil, or as symbolizing the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life. Chrysostom applies the rain, the winds, and the floods to all the miseries of this life of whatever nature. At any rate, our Lord teaches that by faithfully keeping his word we shall be enabled to withstand all these trials and difficulties, both in this life and at the last judgment; while he who does not keep it will come to grief now and on the last day. Cf. Ezech. 13:11; Is. 28:16, 17; Prov. 10:25. That the love of God is strong enough to overcome all trials has been clearly expressed by St. Paul, Rom. 8:35 f.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 7:21-27

Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Some commentators (Jansenius, &c.) say, there is a transition here from treating of false prophets, and the marks whereby they may be distinguished, to the faithful in general; and this is rendered probable by the reading in St. Luke (6:46), “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say,” as if our Redeemer, after having carefully cautioned them against being led astray by false teachers from the path of the true faith, now points out the necessity for all, not alone of professing the true faith, but, also, of performing good works, and observing God’s commandments, so that true faith shall not avail, nor the repeated invocation of God’s name, without observing His law. Others hold, that this is a continuation of the former subject; that there is no transition at all; and that our Redeemer continues to show, that neither preaching, nor the invocation of the name of God, is among the fruits whereby they may be known, since many who invoke God, shall be excluded from the kingdom of heaven, if they do not faithfully observe His commandments. The words are used in the second person by St. Luke, “why call you,” &c. It may be that our Lord used these words on two different occasions, and in the way recorded by both Evangelists. St. Matthew records what He said of the false prophets in particular; St. Luke, of His hearers in general.

The will of my Father.” Our Redeemer, when speaking of the Divine will, speaks of His Father’s will, as if conveying that to His Father, by appropriation, He attributes the office of Legislator, and that of Divine Legate to Himself. This might be also more agreeable to His hearers, although Father and Son are both equal in all things. Certain qualities are, by appropriation, attributed to each of Three Persons of the adorable Trinity, although common to the Three Persons who possess the same Divine nature and attributes. In Luke it is, “the things which I say,” which shows the will of both to be the same. The word, “Lord,” is repeated, “Lord, Lord,” for emphasis’ sake, and to show the fervour of invocation, as, in next verse, its repetition indicates affright and terror.

The kingdom of heaven,” i.e., of heavenly glory, the meaning of the words, when joined to the word, “enter” (Maldonatus). Here, He speaks of entering into heaven, not by words, but by deeds. Moreover, it is clear from the following, that He is speaking of the rewards to be given not in the Church, but in heaven, from which some are to be excluded, “on that day.”

The will of His Heavenly Father includes, faith and love, with good works, according to the words of St. John (1 Ep. 3:23), “And this is His commandment, that we should believe … and love one another,” &c.

Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name?

In that day,” the Lord’s own well-known tremendous day of General Judgment, to which all look forward, when the kingdom of heaven shall be revealed. In this verse, our Redeemer adduces a still stronger illustration of the necessity of good works, as well as of faith, to insure an entrance into the kingdom of God’s glory. Even those who were favoured with the gift of prophecy and miracles, and possessed strong faith, shall be excluded.

Lord, Lord.” The repetition here is expressive of the terror and affright into which they shall be cast, on seeing their doom about to be sealod for ever. “In Thy name,” by Thy power, and authority, granted to us. “Prophesied,” according to some, means, explaining the SS. Scripture, as the result of the inspiration of the moment, and teaching the people, as in. (1 Cor. 14:2, &c.) Others understand it of the faculty of predicting future events. “Cast out devils,” “and done many miracles,” i.e., many other wonderful manifestations of Divine power. In these words, our Lord in general expresses what He had been expressing in detail in the preceding, regarding prophecy, casting out devils. In this verse there is, most likely, question of true miracles and prophecy; otherwise, if there were question of false miracles performed by diabolical agency, our Redeemer’s argument would not hold, which is, that good works are so necessary for gaining an entrance into the kingdom of heaven, that even the highest supernatural gifts, such as prophecy, or the faculty of working miracles, shall not avail without them. On the subject of miracles, whether they can be performed by Satan, and on the proof of truth which miracles furnish, see Murray’s, Very Rev. Dr., “Annual Miscellany,” vol. ii., for a splendid and exhaustive dissertation.

Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.

And then,” hitherto I patiently dissembled my wrath and bore with them, waiting for them in mercy. But, “then,” when the reign of justice commences, “I will profess,” publicly proclaim, in the presence of the entire human race congregated together.

I never knew you,” not even at the very time you were performing wondrous works through the power I gave you, and while apparently doing my business. “Knew,” by a knowledge of love and predilection. The word, “know,” has frequently the meaning of loving, approving, &c., as in 2 Tim. 2:19. I did not know you, as my friends, my children, whom I predestined unto glory; I did not love you, because you did not practise what you preached. You omitted doing the will of my Heavenly Father.

Depart from Me,” &c. These words seem to be a quotation from Psa. 6:9, where the same words are used in the person of David. They correspond with the words to be addressed in judgment to the reprobate, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire,” &c. (Matt. 25:41) “That work,” the present tense, signifies, that they were engaged during life, and persevered, without repentance, unto the end, in performing wicked works, which is expressed by St. Luke (13:27), “ye workers of iniquity.”

Mat 7:24 Every one therefore that heareth these my words, and doth them, shall be likened to a wise man that built his house upon a rock,

Every one, therefore, that heareth these my words,” &c. This conclusion, “therefore,” would favour the interpretation of those who, in our Redeemer’s words, at verse 21, see a transition from treating of the marks of false prophets, to treating of the necessity of good works for all men in general. Here, the same idea would seem to be conveyed in different words, by means of a very striking similitude, which could not fail to make a lasting impression on all His hearers, and bring the important truth of which He was treating, home to their minds. In verse 15, our Redeemer treats of the necessity of true faith, free from the admixture of error, conceived from false teachers. In this verse, He shows the necessity of good works, of fulfilling God’s precepts, by a very striking illustration. Hearing His words, will not suffice. “Not the hearers of the law are just before God” (Rom. 2:13). Doing them also is necessary; “but the doers of the law shall be justified.” Besides faith, good works are necessary for justification. This dogma of faith is clearly laid down in this eloquent and beautiful similitude of our Divine Redeemer.

These my words,” refer as well to the discourse just delivered by our Redeemer, as to all His words in general.

Every one, therefore,” as if to say, to conclude, then, and briefly illustrate all I have been saying regarding the necessity of good works for “every one,” without exception, as well teachers as those taught.

A wise man,” a prudent, provident man.

That built his house upon a rock.” These words may be accommodated to the spiritual sense intended to be illustrated by our Redeemer in this way: The man who not only believes, but observes God’s commandments, has placed the whole structure and tenor of his life on a most solid, unshaken foundation, viz., upon the observance of the Evangelical doctrine of Christ. Having intimately received the doctrine of Christ in the very bottom of his heart, and minutely examined its depths, its promises and threats, present and future, he is founded on a firm hope, and never shall be shaken by the storms of temptation, from whatever quarter or direction they may proceed, whether from above (“rains”), or below (“floods”), or laterally (“winds”); whether from the world, represented and denoted by the rains descending and enriching the earth—an emblem of swelling ambition and love of riches—the flesh, denoted by the flood, coming forth from the bosom of the earth—or, the devil, the chief of these airy spirits, that descend from all sides, these Princes of the power of the air who wage a fiendish war with mankind. The words may be also allusive to that dreadful day when the heavens and earth shall be moved out of their places (Isa. 28:2; Psa. 49:3; Wisd. 5:18). On that day, the man, who doeth the words of Christ perseveringly and persistently, shall not be moved, but “shall stand in great constancy against those who afflicted him” (Wisd. 5:1).

Mat 7:25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded on a rock.

The rains,” &c. The different elements denote the different kind of assaults, from above, beneath, and laterally—assaults from all directions. They are differently explained or applied by the Fathers. Most likely, the “rains” descending from on high, irrigating and fertilizing the earth, denote the love of wealth and honours, whereby the world allures men and turns them aside from the ways and service of God. “The floods,” arising from the bowels of the earth, denote the temptations arising from man’s own flesh. “The winds,” invisibly rushing on the house from all sides, denote the devil—“the (subtle) spirit of wickedness in high places,” “the Prince of the powers of the air.”

Mat 7:26 And every one that heareth these my words and doth them not, shall be like a foolish man that built his house upon the sand,

Every one who heareth His words and doeth them not, shall be like a foolish man,” &c. The same is true of the man who neither hears nor does His words.

Mat 7:27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof.

And great was the fall thereof.” “Great,” entailing damnation which is irreparable, which is to last unchangeably for ever. No other conceivable ruin so great or deplorable.

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