Father Rickaby’s Commentary on Romans 13:11-14

Text in red are my additions.

11. And that knowing the season, that it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we believed.

Punctuate: And that, knowing the season, that it is now the hour, &c.

And that. Cf. note on Rom 6:6, And that, knowing. Also 1Cor. 6:6, 8; Heb. 11:12 (και τουτο = kahee houtos). In his comments on Romans 6:6 to which he here refers, Father Rickaby notes that the pronoun (“that”) in the idiomatic construction και τουτο, is intended to connect to what has preceded it. In the current context, what Paul is about to say about the nearness of  salvation should be seen in close connection with what he has just said concerning love (verses 8-10). What is said in verses 11-14 is to be understood as giving additional circumstances for the exhortation to love one another. But one should also note that we are being taken all the way back to Romans 12:1-2 where we are told to present out bodies as living sacrifices and bidden not to be conformed to this age. We are not to be conformed to “this age” because we know “the season” and “the hour.” Because we are called upon to offer our bodies as sacrifices we must not make “provisions for the flesh and its concupiscences” (verse 14, below). Everything that is said between the exhortations Rom 12:1-2 and Rom 13:11-14 should be seen in relation to them.

The season, or as we should say now, the situation. The Greek word καιρον (kairon) refers to an occasion, a set or appropriate time.

Now our salvation (our final deliverance in soul and body) is nearer than when we believed (επιστευσαμεν = episteusamen the inceptive aorist, like ébasileusen, reigned, i.e. came to the throne, 1 Kings 11:43; 14:20, 31, &c.: here it means, than when we first came to the faith). Our final deliverance in soul is when we die and are admitted into heaven: in body, at the day of the resurrection. Both events are nearer now than on the day when we were baptized the former much nearer, relatively to the time yet to be run; the latter perhaps not much nearer. Of St. Paul’s ignorance of the time of the Second Coming (he knew no more of that than we do, Mark 13:32), of his and conjectures thereupon, see notes on 1 Cor. 15:50, seq.; 7:29-31; 2 Cor. v. 1-4. He must have reflected at times that the conversions which announced to take place before that last consummation of all things (Rom 11:25, 26), must needs take years, perhaps centuries, to effect. The Apostles were inspired to utter their anticipations on this head, while warning their hearers that they were not certainties and definitions: so 2 Pet. 3. Our Lord would have us live in constant looking for the day of judgment (Matt. 24:36 47). As for St. Paul’s prophecy just referred to (see note on Rom 11:27 see below), which seems to give the present world a long lease to run, it is, like other prophecies, not without its obscurities. Origen writes: “God only knows, and His only-begotten Son, and any friends that may be privy to His secrets, what is all Israel that is to be saved, and what is the fulness of the gentiles that is to come in.”

Father Rickaby’s Note on Rom 11:27~And this is to them my covenant (from Isaiah 59:21): when I shall take away their sins (from Isaiah 27:9, where we read in the Septuagint: And this is his -Jacob’s- blessing, when I shall take away his sin).

In these verses, 25-27, we have three unfulfilled prophecies, two of them of the highest interest:-

(a) That before the end of the world, all nations of the Gentiles shall be converted to Christianity, that is to say, such a large portion of every nation, that will be morally true to say that the nation has been converted.

The fulness of the gentiles,” says St. Thomas, “is not some individuals from the Gentiles, as converts were being made then, but it stands for the whole or the greater part of all nations.”

(b) That before the end of the world, the Jews, as a people, shall become Christian. This does not mean that each and every Jew will be converted, any more than it is meant that there will be no outstanding pagans among the Gentiles.

(c) That the general conversion of the Gentiles will happen before the general conversion of the Jews. The Jews will be the last to be converted; and the conversion of the rest of the world will provoke them to emulation (παραζηλωσαι = parazelosai, see above, Rom 11:11, 14, and Rom 10:19).

These prophecies should be pondered by all who feel tempted to announce the immediate advent of the Day of Judgment. See however note on Rom 13:11.

12. The night is passed, and the day is at hand: let us, therefore, cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light.

The night is past, προεκοψεν = proekopsen, say, the night is far advanced. Some of the old Latin versions read processit, a correct rendering of the Greek, as above. Processit has got altered into præcessit, an error. If a train had passed you all but the guard’s carriage, you might say, processit, it is well on its way: not præcessit, it is past. St. Paul’s idea is of rising just before daybreak.

The day is the day of the Lord (On the day of the Lord see 2 Thess. 2:2: the brightness of his coming (επιφανεια = epiphaneia, appearance, 2 Thess 2:8), the Sun of Justice appearing in judgment. Hence all the time before the judgment day is comparatively night. Now however that our Lord has come for the first time as Saviour, we may say that the night is well on (προεκοψεν = proekopsen,), that its darkest hours are past, and that the day of full salvation is at hand.

In John 9:4, the metaphor is inverted. The working time of this life is the day; and the night cometh, when we die and do no more work of merit or demerit.

The works of darkness. Cf. Eph. 5:11-12: For the things that are done by them in secret (the unfruitful works of darkness0, it is a shame even to speak of. Works of darkness are then in the first place works of indecency and shame, referred to in verse 13. Secondly, they are works of ignorance, often culpable ignorance, of God, and the blindness of the sensual man to the things of the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14). Thirdly, they are eminently unchristian works, works that our Lord came into this world to scatter and expel (John 1:9 13; 3:19; Luke 1:79; 11:33, 36). One of the early names of baptism is illumination: cf. Eph. 5:14, probably a quotation from an early Christian hymn.

Put on the armour of light, Eph. 6:13 17. A man puts on his clothes, or his armour, it he is a soldier in the field at rising. It is called the armour of light, because it suits the coming light, and prepares one to go abroad without shame. A man would not walk in the light of day in a night-dress.

13. Let us walk honestly as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy:

Let us walk honestly, ευσχημονως = euschemonos, decently, no reference to commercial dealings. Such too is the meaning of the Latin honeste: cf. 1 Cor. 7:35; 12:24.

Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, the text that converted St. Augustine, as he relates in his Confessions, 1. viii. c. 12.

Rioting, the κωμοις = komois, the last stage of a Greek drinking-bout, when they went out singing in the streets: cf. Gal. 5:21.

14, But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscences.

Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, like baptized persons, Gal. 3:27: cf. also Gal. 2:20, and above, Rom 6:4, 12, with notes.

Here is Father Rickaby’s notes on Rom 6:4~We are buried together with him. Baptism in the Apostolic age was commonly by immersion; and the Church still insists that the water shall flow over the head of the child. St. Chrysostom explains the rite: “When our head is plunged into the water, as into a tomb, the old man is buried and entirely submerged: then, as we emerge, the new man rises.” Thus, alike by the external rite and by the inward spiritual change wrought by that rite, on the principle that “sacraments effect what they signify,” baptism represents in us the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It is a resurrection, and therefore a regeneration, or new birth (John 3:5; Titus 3:5).

Here is what he wrote on Rom 6:12~Let not sin reign, i.e. concupiscence, the effect of sin. A king reigns by the consent of his people. Concupiscence may attempt to tyrannize, but reign it cannot without the man’s consent.

In your mortal body, because being mortal, the body is obnoxious to concupiscence, from which Adam s body, while it was deathless, was free.

In its concupiscences: εις επιθυμιας = eis epithumias, unto lusts.

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One Response to Father Rickaby’s Commentary on Romans 13:11-14

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for the First Sunday of Advent, Year A | stjoeofoblog

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