Saturday, February 17, 2018

Father Callan's Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:12-18

2 Cor 3:12-18 THE SUPERIORITY OF THE GOSPEL DISPENSATION GIVES ITS MINISTERS RIGHT TO SPEAK WITH BOLDNESS AND AUTHORITY



The hope of greater glory which belongs to the New Testament ministry, and which, though already come, is to continue and develop, gives the Apostles confidence and assurance in announcing the Gospel clearly and openly. To explain and enforce this St. Paul contrasts the Jews who, not recognizing Christ, do not grasp the meaning of their own Old Testament, with the Christians who plainly understand Christ and are trans formed into His glorious image.
 
 
2 Cor 3:12. Having therefore such hope, we use much confidence:

Such hope of one day enjoying the fulness of the glory which belongs to the New Testament ministry. "Christianity was young and undeveloped when this was written: we have seen its maturity and the fulfillment of the Apostle's hope" (Rick.).

Confidence. Better, "Boldness of speech" (παρρησίᾳ = parresia from πᾶς [pas] and ῥέω [rheo]). "We preach everywhere, hiding nothing, but speaking plainly, nor are we afraid of wounding your eyes, as Moses dazzled the eyes of the Jews" (St. Chrys.). The Apostle is hinting at the comparative silences of the Old Testament, e.g., as to the resurrection and eternal life (Plum.).


2 Cor 3:13. And not as Moses put a veil upon his face, that the children of Israel might not steadfastly look on the face of that which is made void.
 
And not as Moses put a veil, etc. The meaning is that the Apostles do not cover their faces as Moses did. From the Hebrew and the Septuagint of Ex 34:29 ff. it appears that Moses when communicating with God had no covering on his face, and that when he came forth and spoke to the people his face was likewise unveiled until he had finished speaking to them; then he again covered his face so that the Israelites might not see the fading of the brightness from his countenance. The passing of the splendor from the face of Moses was a symbol of the transitory nature of the Old Covenant (Ex 34:33), and God did not wish to reveal this feature of the Law to the Jews of the time. "There was an excuse, then, for their not seeing that the Old Covenant was transient; it was different now after God had revealed the fact through the Prophets and declared it openly through the Apostles" (MacR.).

Look on the face should be "look on the end," namely, the fading away of the brightness of Moses' face. All the Greek MSS., except A, and all the Greek and Latin Fathers read "end" (τέλος = telos) here in place of "face."

Of that which is made void, i.e., the fading away of the brightness from Moses' face, which was a symbol of the transient character of the Old Testament.

The in faciem of the Vulgate should be in finem.


2 Cor 3:14. But their senses were made dull. For, until this present day, the selfsame veil, in the reading of the old testament, remaineth not taken away (because in Christ it is made void).
 
Although the Apostles wear no veil, but speak openly and plainly of Christ, the Jews do not understand, because their senses, i.e., their minds, are blinded through their own fault. Little by little, through the Prophets, God lifted the veil which hung over the face of the Law, so that the Jews could have perceived the nature of the Old Dispensation, which was intended to lead them to Christ (Gal. 3:24); but, influenced by the devil (2 Cor 4:4), they willingly closed their eyes and their hearts to the light and warmth of the Gospel (Isa. 6:8 ff.; Acts 28:25 ff.).

Until this present day the Old Testament continues to be a veiled book to the Jews, because just as they could not perceive the vanishing glory of the face of Moses, so now, of their own choice, are they unable to understand the transitory nature of the Scriptures which they read.

The selfsame veil means that the symbolism of the veil is the same, namely, the inability to see that which was passing. The Jews read their Scriptures, but the veil hangs over what they read because they will not believe in Christ through whom alone their darkness can be lifted: in Christ it (the veil) is made void, i.e., is done away with.


2 Cor 3:15. But even until this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.
 
When Moses is read. The meaning is that even when St. Paul wrote this letter a veil hung over the hearts of the Jews, as a people, while they heard read every Sabbath in their synagogues the Old Testament Scriptures. The Jews remained insensible to the truth, because they kept their powers of perceiving truth covered.

Moses here stands for the entire Old Testament, because the Prophets were read every Sabbath, as well as the Law.

2 Cor 3:16. But when they shall be converted to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.

 
But when they shall be converted, etc. According to the Greek MSS. and Fathers, and the older Latin editions this verse should read: "But when he turneth to the Lord, the veil is taken away." The Apostle is alluding to Ex 34:34, where it is said that Moses removed his veil, when he turned to converse with the Lord. The action of Moses is allegorically applied to the Jews who shall be enlightened, when they shall have turned to the Lord.

The auferetur of the Vulgate should be aufertur.

2 Cor 3:17. Now the Lord is a Spirit. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

The first clause here reads as follows in Greek : "Now the Lord is the Spirit," i.e., the Holy Ghost is the Lord, a Divine Person (St. Chrys., Theod., etc.); or Christ (verse 16), to whom the Jews, typified by Moses, are to turn, is the Spirit, i.e., is the Holy Ghost mentioned above, in verses 6, 8, the life and principle of the New Law, inasmuch as the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Christ, or, inasmuch as Christ and the Holy Ghost have the same divine nature (Bisping, Maier, etc.); or the Lord here does not mean Christ, but God, the quickening Spirit of the New Covenant (verse 6), in contradistinction to the letter of the Old (Comely). But it is difficult to see how Κύριος (= Kyrios = Lord) here can mean Yahweh, to whom the Jews as a people had always turned. There seems rather to be question of Christ to whom they refused to turn. When, therefore, the Jews shall have turned from the letter of the Law which killeth to the Spirit of the Gospel which quickeneth, the blindness of their minds shall disappear, and they shall be freed from the servitude which now enslaves them.

There is liberty, i.e., from the bondage of the Law, from its ceremonial precepts. The Spirit makes us children of God (Rom. 8:14 ff.) and free "by the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free" (Gal. 4:31).

This verse is a proof of the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, as all the Greek Fathers argue.


2 Cor 3:18. But we all beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.
 
We are beholding, etc., i.e., unlike the Jews whose faces are veiled, all we Christians through our faith reflect, with uncovered countenance as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord resplendent in Holy Scripture, and especially in the Gospel, and are continually being transformed into the divine image we behold, because through faith and charity we receive a new form which renders us sons of God and brothers of Christ, and therefore conformable to the image of the Son of God (Rom. 8:29).

From glory to glory, i.e., the process of transformation is gradual, from one stage to another, from lesser to greater glory (cf. Rom. 1:17).

As by the Spirit of the Lord. The Greek here may be rendered in many ways. Perhaps one of the best is: "As by the Spirit who is the Lord"; and the meaning is that by the influence of the Spirit, the Holy Ghost, Christians are step by step made similar to the glorified image of Christ, and consequently of God (2 Cor 4:4).

Father Callan's Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:7-11

2 Cor 3:7-11. THE MINISTRY OF THE APOSTLES IS SUPERIOR TO THAT OF MOSES


Greater glory is due to the ministry of the New Covenant than to that of the Old, because of the superior excellence of the former as compared with the latter. The Old Law consisted of letters written on stones and led to spiritual death, while the New Testament gave the Holy Ghost and spiritual life; the Old Law was unto condemnation, the New unto justification; the former was transitory, the latter is eternal in its duration.

2 Cor 3:7. Now if the ministration of death, engraven with letters upon stones, was glorious; so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance, which is made void:
2 Cor 3:8. How shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather in glory?

 
If the ministration of death, etc., i.e., if the ministry performed by Moses in giving the Israelites the Law, which was written on tables of stone and led to death (verse 6) was glorious, i.e., was accompanied by a glorious manifestation which so shone in the face of Moses that the recipients of that Law could not steadfastly look upon his countenance (Exod. 34:29-35), how much more glorious is the ministry of the Apostles through whom is given to us the Holy Ghost and the supernatural gifts of grace and glory?

Which is made void. However dazzling the glory that accompanied the giving of the Law of Moses, it was only temporary; whereas the glory of the New Testament ministry is permanent and shall never fade. The glory on the face of Moses was only transitory, symbolical of the transitory character of his ministry and of the Law he gave.
 
2 Cor 3:9. For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more the ministration of justice aboundeth in glory.

The Old Testament ministry is called one of condemnation, because the Old Law was an occasion of sin, and thus provoked the anger and condemnation of God. See on Rom. 7:8-1 1. The New Law, on the contrary, is a ministration of justice, i.e., of justification, because through it are given the Holy Ghost, sanctifying grace and glory. See on Rom. 1:17; 3:23; Gal. 3:13.

Be (Vulg., est) should be was (fuit), as the sense requires. The Vulgate in gloria would better be gloria, to agree withδόξῃ (with B א A C).
 
2 Cor 3:10. For even that which was glorious in this part was not glorified, by reason of the glory that excelleth.
So superior is the glory attaching to the New Testament ministry over that of the Old Covenant that by comparison the latter was not glorious at all; the glory of the one entirely obscures the glory of the other.

That which was glorious, i.e., the Old Law, its ministers, and ministrations.

In this part. The meaning seems to be that the Old Covenant has been deprived of its glory in this respect, that something more glorious has appeared.
 
2 Cor 3:11. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is in glory.
 
Although glorious in its giving, the Old Dispensation and its ministry have come to naught, because they had only a transitory purpose, namely, to lead to Christ (Gal. 3:24). If, therefore, glory accompanied such a ministry, in spite of its passing character, how much more glorious is the ministry of the New Law which is enduring.

Father Callan's Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:1-6

2 Cor 3:1-6. TO THE ACCUSATION OF ARROGANCE ST. PAUL OPPOSES THE MINISTRY COMMITTED TO HIM

Often the Apostle had felt it necessary to speak to the Corinthians about himself and his authority. His enemies had made use of this to accuse him of boasting and arrogance, and thus tried to lead away the neophytes from one who, as they said, had to praise himself to get a following. Having, therefore, in the closing verses of the preceding chapter again spoken of himself and his ministry he is reminded of the sneer of his adversaries, and he consequently now, before going on with his general apology, takes occasion to tell his readers that he is in no need of self-recommendation, since the faithful themselves are his testimonial. If he speaks with assurance and authority it is because he has been divinely constituted a minister of the New Testament.


2 Cor 3:1. Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need (as some do) epistles of commendation to you, or from you?
Do we begin again, etc. This implies that the Apostle had already been accused of self-recommendation. Perhaps the reference is to such passages as I Cor. 2:16; 3:10; 4:9-16; 91-5, 15-22, etc., which might lead to such accusations. If chapters 10-13 are a part, or contains portions of the lost letter between 1 and 2 Cor. the "again" here is easily understood; for in those chapters the Apostle felt constrained to indulge considerably in what his enemies called boasting.

Or do we need, etc., i.e., are St. Paul and his companions who founded the Corinthian Church in need of recommendation to, or by the faithful there? Does a father need recommendation to his own children? If a preacher who has not founded, or taken part in founding, a Christian community comes to them, letters of recommendation are indeed necessary (Acts 15:25-27; 18:27; 1 Cor. 16:10, 11); but it is not so with the founder and spiritual father.
2 Cor 3:2. You are our epistle, written in our hearts, which is known and read by all men:


The Corinthians themselves were to St. Paul and Timothy something far better than an ordinary letter of recommendation; they were the Apostle's letter, written not with ink on perishable papyrus, but in lasting characters of love and affection on immortal souls.

Read by all men, i.e., all men could see the ties of affection that existed between St. Paul and the Corinthian faithful. This statement is rendered more literally true by the civil and social prominence of Corinth.
2 Cor 3:3. Being manifested, that you are the epistle of Christ, ministered by us, and written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in the fleshy tables of the heart.


Being manifested, etc., i.e., it is widely known that the Corinthian faithful were converted by Christ, through the grace of the Holy Ghost and the ministry of St. Paul and his companions. Christ, therefore, is the principal author of the Apostle's letter of commendation, because it was His word and the grace of His Holy Spirit that brought the Corinthians to the faith.

With the spirit, etc. Christ, by the Spirit of the living and life-giving God, wrote on the hearts of the Corinthians through the preaching of the Apostles, a knowledge of the truths of faith which has been so fruitful in virtue and sanctity of life that it is entirely evident that the human agents of that divine message were true and genuine Apostles.

Tables of stone is a reference to the Ten Commandments which were written in the desert, on two stone tables (Ex 31:18; 32:15, 16).

In the fleshy tables of the heart. Better, "On tables (that are) hearts of flesh." The Vulgate cordis should be cordibus, according to the best Greek.
2 Cor 3:4. And such confidence we have, through Christ, towards God.


And such confidence, etc. The Apostle means to say that his confidence that the faith of the Corinthians is a sure testimony of the validity of his Apostleship is felt even when he puts himself in the presence of God. His assurance did not come from his own merits or personal ability, but through the grace of Christ.
2 Cor 3:5. Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is from God.


The preceding verse is now better explained. St. Paul means to say that solely of our natural strength and ability it is not possible that we should be able even to think, much less to wish or to do, anything supernaturally good and meritorious of life eternal. For the beginning, as well as the completion, of each and every salutary act we need the grace of God ; and such is the doctrine of the Church against the Pelagians, who denied all need of grace, and against the Semi-pelagians, who denied the necessity of grace for the beginning of a salutary act (cf. St. Aug., De dono persev. 13; De praedest. sanct. 2; cont. duos epis. Pel. 8, etc.; St. Thomas, h. 1. ; Counc. of Orange, can. 7).

The words of ourselves, as of ourselves are to be connected with not that we are sufficient. Our whole sufficiency in super natural things is from God, as from its primary and principal cause.

We are sufficient (Vulg., sufficientes simus) should be "we were sufficient," sufficientes essemus, according to the best MSS.
2 Cor 3:6. Who also hath made us fit ministers of the new testament, not in the letter, but in the spirit. For the letter killeth, but the spirit quickeneth.


The Apostle and his companions have not only received all their supernatural sufficiency from God, but by Him also have they been enriched with the gifts necessary to be fit, i.e., competent, ministers of the New Covenant of grace established between God and man by Jesus Christ (Jer. 31:31 ff. ; Heb. 8:8; 9:15).

Not in the letter, etc. "He has been urging the superiority of his own claims on their affection and obedience to those of his Judaizing opponents. He now points to the boundless superiority of the dispensation of which he is the minister to that which the Judaizers represent" (Plummer). The latter represent the Old Covenant, which was founded on the written law, indicating, indeed, the good to be done and the evil to be avoided, but without giving the necessary grace to fulfil its mandates. The New Covenant, on the contrary, which is the law of the Spirit, gives all the help required to observe its precepts. See on Rom. 4:15; 5:20; 7:7; 8:2-3.

Father Callan's Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2:11-17


2 Cor 2:12-17. ST. PAUL THANKS GOD BY WHOM HE IS APPROVED AS A SINCERE APOSTLE AND MINISTER OF CHRIST

Speaking in verse 4 of his great sorrow and anguish of heart the Apostle was led to digress (verses 5-11) into speaking about the cause of his pain; but now he returns to the thought of the first part of the chapter. It was his great charity for the Corinthians that caused him to defer his visit and change his plan to go to them. After writing to them he sent Titus to Corinth, hoping to meet him later at Troas and receive his report of Corinthian conditions. Titus finally returned and the two met in Macedonia. St. Paul was delighted at the good news, and thanked God, who throughout his ministry had been so faithful to him, giving his labors everywhere divine assistance and approval.
 
2 Cor 2:12. And when I was come to Troas for the gospel of Christ, and a door was opened unto me in the Lord,
2 Cor 2:13. I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother; but bidding them farewell, I went into Macedonia
.

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

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


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


My brother, i.e., my fellow-worker in preaching the Gospel. Titus was afterwards made Bishop of Crete (Titus 1:5), and St. Paul addressed one of his last Epistles to him.

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

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


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

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

Jesus is not in the Greek.

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


In the Vulgate Jesu should be omitted.


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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




Father Callan's Commentary on 2 Corinthians 9:1-5



Text in red are my additions 

2 Cor 9:1-5 THE COLLECTION OUGHT TO BE MADE PROMPTLY

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 9:1-5~After commending the delegates who are to make the collection at Corinth, St. Paul urges that what the faithful have to give should be collected soon. He himself, perhaps accompanied by some Macedonians, will visit them shortly, and if the alms are gathered before that event, they will not be made ashamed by the presence of their generous neighbors; the reputation they have will be sustained.


2 Cor 9:1. For concerning the ministry, that is done towards the saints, it is superfluous for me to write unto you.

The Apostle has just been speaking of the collectors who are going to Corinth, and now he turns to the collection itself. But it is superfluous to commend that, as he will show in the following verse.

The ministry, i.e., the alms for the poor in Jerusalem.

2 Cor 9:2. For I know your forward mind : for which I boast of you to the Macedonians. That Achaia also is ready from the year past, and your emulation hath provoked very many.

There should be only a comma after Macedonians.

Also (Vulg., et) should be omitted. The sense is: I know your eagerness, of which I boast about you to the Macedonians, that Achaia has been prepared, etc.

Is ready, i.e., has been prepared (παρεσκεύασται = pareskeuastai), i.e., was begun.

From the year past. See on 2 Cor 8:10.

Your emulation hath provoked, etc., i.e., "your zeal has stimulated very many" (the reading of B K C P); or the emulation created by you has provoked very many (the reading of D F G K L).

2 Cor 9:3. Now I have sent the brethren, that the thing which we boast of concerning you, be not made void in this behalf, that (as I have said) you may be ready:

I have sent, is the epistolary aorist, as in 2 Cor 8:17, 18, 22. The Apostle is sending Titus and his two companions so that the praise he has bestowed on the charity of the Corinthians may not be disproved by facts in regard to the collection, but that they may be in readiness to give. Parentheses here and in the Vulgate are needless.


2 Cor 9:4. Lest, when the Macedonians shall come with me, and find you unprepared, we (not to say ye) should be ashamed in this matter.

The reason is assigned why the collection ought to be completed promptly.

Lest, when, etc. Better, "Lest if (any) Macedonians," etc. (ἐὰν ἔλθωσι = ean elthosin).

We . . . should be ashamed, at seeing the facts contrary to the praise we have given your charity.

In this matter. Rather, "In regard to this confidence," i.e., the confidence the Apostle has reposed in the Corinthians.


2 Cor 9:5. Therefore I thought it necessary to desire the brethren that they would go to you before, and prepare this blessing before promised, to be ready, so as a blessing, not as covetousness.

Would go to you before, i.e., that the three delegates would go to Corinth in advance of St. Paul.

This blessing, i.e., the collection for the Palestinians. The collection is here called a "blessing" (εὐλογίαν = eulogian), because contributed willingly (St. Chrys.).

As a blessing, not as, etc., i.e., as a generous, willing gift, and not as an extortion (πλεονεξίαν = pleonexian). The Apostle wishes the collection to be a free and liberal gift of the Corinthians, and not an extortion of the collectors.