Saturday, July 23, 2016

Father Callan's Commentary on Romans 8:31-39

Text in red are my additions. 

A Summary of Romans 8:31-39

The certainty of the Christians’ future glory being proved, St. Paul now terminates the second section of the Dogmatic Part of this Epistle with a hymn of praise and triumph, moved by the evidence of the love of God and of Christ which the reasons for our hope have inspired. He shows that the faithful have nothing to fear, and that nothing can separate them from the charity of Christ.

Rom 8:31. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who is against us?

What shall we, etc., i.e., what conclusions are we Christians to draw from the arguments we have just finished considering?

To these things (προς ταυτα), i.e., about the arguments we have just given.

If God be for us,—as He evidently is from the preceding verses—who is there that we should fear? Surely no one, is the implied response.

Rom 8:32. He that spared not even his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how hath he not also, with him, given us all things?

The Apostle here gives a most undeniable proof that God is for us, and that He has provided us with all things necessary to conquer our enemies.

He that ( ος γε), i.e., the God, indeed, that spared not, etc. If God has given us so immense a benefit as His only Son to suffer and to die for us, what other lesser good can He refuse us? The words του ιδιου υιου (“his own son”) show the difference between God’s own natural Son and His sons by adoption. This is the only instance in the New Testament where γε (“that”) is used with the relative.
The donavit of the Vulgate should be donabit, in conformity with the Greek.

Rom 8:33. Who shall accuse against the elect of God? God that justifieth.
Rom 8:34. Who is he that shall condemn? Christ Jesus that died, yea that is risen also again; who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

In these verses (33-34) St. Paul shows the absurdity of the Christians thinking or feeling that anyone can be against them (verse 31).

Who shall accuse against the elect of God, i.e., against the Christians? Certainly no one, because it is God that has justified them, absolving them of all guilt. In the face of God’s acquittal, the condemnation of the world counts for nothing.

Who shall condemn them? Certainly not Christ, the Judge of the living and the dead (Rom 2:16; 2 Cor 5:10); for it is Christ that has died for our sins and risen again for our justification (Rom 4:25), and that now sits at the right hand of God (1 Cor 15:24) to make intercession for us (1 John 2:1). Therefore no one shall be able to oppose us Christians. The context shows that the Apostle is speaking not alone of the future judgment, but of the general condition of the Christians, present and future. It is disputed whether the clauses, God that justifieth and Christ Jesus that died, etc., should be read as affirmations (Cornely, Kuhl, etc.), or as interrogations (St. Aug., Toussaint, Weiss, etc.). The sense is the same in either case, and the responses in reality are certainly negative.

Rom 8:35. Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? or distress? or famine? or nakedness? or danger? or persecution? or the sword?

The Apostle now shows that, after so many blessings, nothing in the world ought to be able to separate Christians from the love of Christ, i.e., the love of Christ for them.

Then (Vulg., ergo), is not represented in the Greek.

Love of Christ, for us, according to modern interpreters. The Apostle is insisting on the certainty of our future glory because of the gifts we have received from God, not because of our faithfulness to Christ; this latter of course is presupposed. “Love of Christ” here is doubtless the same reading as “love of God” in verse 39, which shows that St. Paul identified Christ and God.

Rom 8:36. (As it is written: For thy sake we are put to death all the day long. We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.)

The tribulations unto death of the just had already been described by the Psalmist in Ps 44:22 (44:23 in some translations), where there was question of persecutions which the people of Israel sustained from their enemies (very probably under Antiochus Epiphanes, when some of the Israelites were put to death) for the sake of God. The Apostle applies these words to the Christians to show what they must bear for Christ, thereby again identifying God and Christ.

For thy sake, i.e., for the cause and religion of the true God.

All the day long, i.e., continually.

There should be no parentheses around this verse.

Rom 8:37. But in all these things we overcome, because of him that hath loved us.

In all our tribulations, distresses, etc., we come out victorious because of the help we receive from God, because of the love of Christ for us. As in verse 35, so here it is Christ’s love for us that is in question. The reading: δια τον αγαπησαντα is supported by only three MSS.; the best MSS. have: δια του αγαπησαντος.

The Vulgate propter eum should be per eum.

Rom 8:38. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might,
Rom 8:39. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Apostle here tells us that, on account of the love which God has for us in Christ, nothing, even the most terrible, or the most alluring things in creation can suffice to separate us from God. St. Paul is stressing the potency of God’s love for us, which nothing can shake or impair, except, of course, our own will.

Death, the most terrible physical evil.

Life, the most desirable good of the present natural state. 

Angels, i.e., spirits sent as messengers.

Principalities, spirits of a superior order.

Powers (Vulg., virtutes), i.e., forces of nature. This term “powers” is wanting in the best MSS., and is likely a repetition of fortitude (fortitudo) of the Vulgate. No powers, conditions or influences of the present or future time, no creature, material, human or angelic, can separate the Christian from God—from the love which God has for us and which He has shown us through Christ. St. Paul is here emphasizing God’s love for us, which, of itself, is able to do so much for our souls; he is taking it for granted that we shall not choose, by our own free will, to defeat the effect of God’s love for us.

Father Callan's Commentary on Romans 8:14-30

As always, text in red are my additions.

A Summary of Romans 8:14-30

In this section the Apostle considers the qualities of Christians, who are the adopted sons of God. If we are sons of God, we are heirs with Christ, and therefore heirs of future glory (Rom 8:14-18). The certainty of this future glory is proved: (a) from the desire of irrational creatures (Rom 8:19-22); (b) from the desire of the faithful (Rom 8:23-25); (c) from the desire of the Holy Ghost dwelling in us (Rom 8:26-27); (d) from the designs of God Himself (Rom 8:28-30).

Rom 8:14. For whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Whosoever are led, etc., i.e., those who are governed by the Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost, and who, consequently, repress and control the desires of the flesh, are the sons of God, because sanctifying grace, communicated to them by the Holy Ghost, unites them to Christ, and makes them members of His mystical body and His brothers. To be a son of God, therefore, it is necessary not only to have received the Holy Ghost, but to be also governed by Him.

Rom 8:15. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear; but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba (Father).

This and the following verse constitute a kind of parenthesis in which the Apostle shows why Christians are truly the adopted sons of God. He does not say that formerly they received the spirit of servitude, but only that the spirit they now have is unlike that which used to move them. Hence παλιν (“again”) is to be joined to εις φοβον (“in fear”), and not to ελαβετε (“received”).

You have not received, etc., in Baptism the spirit of bondage or slavery which in Judaism you possessed, and which made you serve God without affection and from fear, as an unwilling slave would serve his master. Such a spirit could not come from God, or be pleasing to God.

The pagans served their divinities in this servile manner, being always moved by the fear of chastisement. The Jewish Law also was called the law of fear, because it did not exclude all servility. To secure its observance it had no power to confer grace (Rom 9:3; Gal 3:12, Gal 3:21), but was forced to hold out threats of chastisement or promises of temporal reward (Heb 8:6; Heb 9:15). A spirit like this, says the Apostle, the Christians have not received. On the contrary, they have received the spirit of adoption of sons, i.e., a disposition of mind and soul which enables them to serve God out of love, as a good son would serve his father.

The spirit, therefore, which the Christians have received, and which is here in question, is not the Holy Ghost (verse 16), nor a supernatural principle of their actions, but a disposition of mind given by God, and as such, supernatural, similar to the spirit of wisdom spoken of in the Old Testament (Isa 11:2-3; Isa 28:6). Cf. Lagr., h. 1. This spirit is a characteristic mark of a Christian, whereby he is known to be of the adopted sons of God; and of a filial disposition of soul which makes him freely choose to serve God not out of fear, but out of love. To this spirit of piety which the Christian possesses the Holy Ghost also bears witness (verse 16) that the faithful are the sons of God.

Abba is an Aramaic word which the Apostle here tells us means Father (cf. Mark 14:36; Gal 4:6). Some think the term pertained to an official prayer, but more probably it was only an expression of tenderness toward God, the Father.

Rom 8:16. For the Spirit himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God.

This verse completes the previous one and shows still more clearly that we are the sons of God. For the Spirit himself giveth testimony, etc., i.e., the Holy Ghost joins our spirit (verse 15) in bearing witness that we are truly the adopted children of God, because it is by the impulse of this Holy Spirit, together with our own, that we, with filial love, invoke God by the name of Father (Gal 4:6). Here, however, we must observe that short of a special divine revelation we can never be absolutely certain that we are in a state of grace and are the sons of God; and that, consequently, the testimony which seems to come from the Holy Spirit may not be a deception of our own minds or of the evil one (cf. Conc. Trid., Sess. VI. de Justif., cap. 9. can. 14, 15). Moral certitude in such matters is all we can hope for.

Lagrange holds that our spirit of the present verse is not the same as the spirit spoken of in the second part of the preceding verse, but is rather a more complete gift of God, coming from an outpouring of love from the Holy Ghost, who dwells in our souls and is the principle of our good actions.

That we are (οτι εσμεν) refers to the Christians who are the sons of God. The term τεκνα here is used in the same sense as υἱόἱ. Both can be translated as “sons” or “children.”

Rom 8:17. And if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God, and joint-heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him.

St. Paul now alludes to the Roman law which recognized the same rights to inheritance in adopted sons as in natural ones (Gal 4:1 ff.); and he concludes that since we are the adopted children of God, we shall be heirs together with Christ of God’s life and glory (Rom 8:13, Rom 8:18). It is by reason of our union with Christ that we have a right to share in the eternal goods which are His by nature. But we shall be glorified with Christ only on condition that here below we suffer in union with Him. As He only through humiliation, sufferings and death entered into His glory; so we also must bear our sufferings and crosses in union with Him, in a disposition akin to His, if we wish to have part in His life and glory hereafter.

Yet so. The conjunction  ειπερ may be translated, as in the Vulgate, by si tamen (yet so; if so); or by si quidem (if indeed), as many moderns prefer. The sense is nearly the same, except for the meaning which  ινα (“that”) receives in these two interpretations. According to the first, suffering with Christ in order to be glorified with Him is a matter of free choice; but if we choose so to suffer, it is with the intention (eo fine ut) that we shall be glorified with Him. According to the second interpretation, suffering with Christ is looked upon more as a fact of our present existence, the natural outcome of which is that we shall be glorified with Christ hereafter. This latter interpretation establishes a natural connection between suffering with Christ and reigning with Him, without this expressed intention on our part, which the former interpretation does not seem to recognize.

Rom 8:18. For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us.

Having spoken in the preceding verse about suffering and reigning with Christ, the Apostle was reminded by the reference to δοξαν (glory), to note here the contrast between the passing trials and crosses of the present life, on the one hand, and the lasting glory that is in store hereafter for the faithful Christian, on the other. He who had suffered so much (2 Cor 11:23 ff.), and had also been elevated even to the third heaven (2 Cor 12:2 ff.) was able to speak from personal experience. Hence I reckon means I am certain.

This time means the present life of the Christian.

The glory to come, that shall be revealed, that shall be poured out upon us, body and soul (εις ημας, in nos, rather than in nobis of the Vulg.), is now hidden from us, waiting upon death first, and for its complete and final unfolding, upon the resurrection of the body.

Rom 8:19. For the expectation of the creature waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God.

In Rom 8:19-22 the Apostle, representing the irrational world as a person, proves the certainty of our future glory from the longing after it which is manifest even in irrational creatures. The present state of our own physical nature, with its many sufferings and limitations, finds its analogy in all material creation; for the material world shows by its actions that it is irresistibly, though unconsciously, striving after a liberation from the state of change and corruption to which it is now subjected. Following the great authorities we have taken the creature here to mean irrational creation. It is true, however, that the word κτισεως has various meanings in the Epistles. Sometimes it means the creature as distinguished from the Creator (Rom 1:25), sometimes it signifies men and angels (Col 1:15-16), sometimes it stands for creation or the creative act (2 Pet 3:4), sometimes it means mankind or the human creature (1 Pet 2:13).

Rom 8:20. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him that made it subject, in hope:

A reason is now assigned for the condition just given of the material world. The creature (κτισις), i.e., irrational creation, was made subject, by the sentence pronounced by God against Adam after the latter’s sin (“cursed is the earth,” etc., Gen 3:17), to vanity, i.e., to mutability, corruption, dissolution and death,—from which condition it yearns to be delivered by participating in the glory and incorruption of the sons of God (St. Chrys., St. Thomas, Toussaint and many non-Catholics). According to Comely, Prat, Crampon and others, “the creature” has been “subjected to vanity” inasmuch as, since the sin of Adam, in place of serving and glorifying God, it has become, in the hands of fallen man, an instrument of sin and rebellion against God.

Not willingly, i.e., irrational creation, which, like everything else, naturally seeks its own perfection and permanence, has not chosen either the corruption and death, or the profane and sinful uses to which it has been subjected by reason of him, i.e., by the ordination of God, who has cursed nature along with fallen man, but who at the same time has left in it a hope that in the future renovation it will be delivered from its present condition and will have part in the glorification of man (Cornely, Lagrange, etc.).

In spe of the Vulgate would better be in spem.

Rom 8:21. Because the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.

St. Paul explains in what the hope of the creature consists. It hopes to be delivered from the state of corruption to which it is now subjected, and to have a share in the glory and incorruption of the sons of God. This is the renovation of nature foretold by the Prophet (Isa 65:17) and expressly designated in the New Testament (2 Peter 3:13; Rev 21:1).

It is evident that the part nature shall have in the glory of the children of God will be negative rather than positive. It will be delivered from its present state of corruption, dissolution and death, as well as from the profane uses to which it is now subjected.

Rom 8:22. For we know that every creature groaneth, and travaileth in pain, even till now.
We know, i.e., we Christians know from revelation (Gen. 3:17) that the condition of nature is far from what it ought to be, and that it will have a better state hereafter (2 Peter 3:13; Rev 21:1).

Groaneth, and travaileth, as a woman in the pangs of childbirth, who feels the pain of her present state, but looks forward to another one of joy when the child is born (John xvi. 21). Nature feels its state of bondage even till now, i.e., at the present moment, as it has felt it all along since the Fall; but the figure of parturition here used does not mean that, as in the case of a woman in childbirth, nature is soon to be delivered from its sufferings. Its emancipation will follow only upon the glorification of man.

Rom 8:23. And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body.

The Apostle now passes to the second argument in favor of the certainty of our future glory. Not only it, i.e., not only irrational nature yearns for deliverance from the present state of corruption, but ourselves also, i.e., all Christians, have the same longing. It is not correct to say, as some of the ancients did, that ourselves refers only to the Apostles.

The first fruits of the Spirit, i.e., the first gifts of the Holy Ghost, such as faith, sanctifying grace, hope, etc., but which are not the fulness of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that shall be ours in the state of glory. Lagrange and others understand “the first fruits of the Spirit” to mean the Holy Ghost dwelling in us with His grace, who is an earnest and a pledge of the gift of glory hereafter (2 Cor 5:5).

The adoption, i.e., the complete and perfect adoption which will consist in the glorification of both soul and body; now we enjoy only that imperfect adoption which follows upon justification. The last and final fruit of our consummate adoption will be the resurrection and glorification of our body. The body needs redemption, because it became the seat of sin and death (Rom 7:24; Rom 8:11), because it is through the body that we are connected with the physical universe, and because our happiness would not be complete without the redemption of our whole being, body as well as soul.

Of the sons of God (Vulg., filiorum Dei) is not in the Greek.

Rom 8:24. For we are saved by hope. But hope that is seen, is not hope. For what a man seeth, why doth he hope for?

St. Paul shows here that our adoption and salvation are now complete
only in hope, and not in reality. Hence τη ελπιδι (“in hope”), is a modal dative, which shows the manner in which our redemption is now complete, namely, in hope. Being justified we have already the beginning of our salvation and perfect adoption, the full possession and realization of which waits upon the glorification of both our body and our soul.

As a matter of fact, according to the doctrine of St, Paul, we are saved by faith; we firmly believe that God will save us, and hope vividly anticipates the fulfillment of God’s promises and the realization of all we believe.

But hope that is seen, etc. The meaning is that hope regards an absent object, and not one “that is seen,” that is present. That which is present and is seen, is no longer hoped for.

For what a man seeth, etc. Better, “Who hopeth for what he seeth” (ο γαρ βλεπει τις ελπιζει, as it is in the Vatican MS.).

Rom 8:25. But if we hope for that which we see not, we wait for it with patience.

But if we hope, etc., i.e., it is of the essence of hope to regard not that which is present, but that which we see not; and for this we wait with patient endurance (υπομονης), steadily resisting all adverse influences. Patient and firm expectancy is the peculiar quality of Christian hope. The Greek υπομονης (hupomenō) is derived from ὑπό ( hupo = under) and μένω (menō = stay, abide, endure). It is the opposite of  cowering in fear. See Lk 8:15; Lk 21:19; Rom 2:7; Rom 5:3; Rom 8:25; Rom 15:4; 2 Cor 6:4; 1 Tim 6:11; 2 Tim 3:10; Heb 12:1; James 1:3; James 5:11; 2 Pet 1:6; Rev 2:2; Rev 2:19.

Rom 8:26. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings.

The third proof of the certainty of our future glory comes from the Holy Ghost who dwells in the faithful soul. As the creature, and as we ourselves yearn for our complete redemption, so likewise does the Holy Spirit, who dwells in our hearts. And this Holy Spirit also helpeth (συναντιλαμβανεται, i.e., lends a helping hand and cooperates with us) the infirmity of our prayers. The Greek συναντιλαμβάνομαι (sunantilambanomai) is a kind of tri-compound word meaning to take hold of, with the implication of some form of substitution: “Let us take in hand what others can not do.”

For we know not, etc. Although we know in a general way from the Our Father (Matt 6:9) what form our prayers should take, still often we do not know how to ask in particular cases. At these times the Spirit himself comes to our aid and asketh for us, i.e., moves us to ask as we ought (Matt 10:20), putting on our lips unspeakable groanings, i.e., words unintelligible to man, but understood by God. There is question here of an extraordinary kind of prayer in which the soul is absorbed in God, and does not understand what it says or what it does. The state is somewhat comparable to that of the gift of tongues possessed at times by the early Christians who could pray in strange languages without being able to interpret their prayers (1 Cor 14:2-39); but there is not a complete parity between the state here mentioned and that of those early Christians. The gift of tongues has disappeared now, but the inspiration or direction of the Spirit concerning which St. Paul wrote to the Romans is always present to the faithful soul, teaching it how to pray (Matt 10:20).

Rom 8:27. And he that searcheth the hearts, knoweth what the Spirit desireth; because he asketh for the saints according to God.

While the utterance which the Spirit frames for us and puts on our lips may be altogether inexplicable to us and unintelligible to others, nevertheless God, whose science penetrates all the secrets of our hearts (1 Sam 8:39; Ps 7:10), knoweth the desires (το φρονημα) which the Spirit utters through us, i.e., God knows the end to which the petitions of the Spirit tend and the purpose which they serve.

Because (οτι, in the sense of quod, i.e., “that”). God knows not only the desire of the Spirit, but He knows also that what the Spirit asks is always conformable to the divine will (κατα θεον), and tends, therefore, to the fulfillment of the divine decrees and to the consequent salvation of the faithful soul (Cornely).

For the saints, i.e., on behalf of those who are dear to God, namely, the faithful.

Rom 8:28. And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints.

In Rom 8:28-30 the certainty of our future glory is proved from the testimony of God Himself. This is the fourth proof the Apostle has given regarding the certainty of our coming blessedness. These arguments are calculated to encourage and strengthen the Christians to bear their sufferings patiently in view of their glory to come.

That the object or term of the series of divine acts mentioned in these verses (Rom 8:28-30), which give assurance to the hope of the just is not grace, as St. Chrysostom and his school have said, but glory, is evident from the fact that the testimony of God Himself, which is the confirmation and completion of the Christian’s hope, is concerned with that which we have not yet seen, but which we hope for (Rom 8:24), namely, future glory. St. Paul is considering two states, the state of present grace, and that of future glory (Rom 8:21); the first has been discussed already in the preceding verses, the second remains to be considered, unless the final and supreme confirmation of our hope is to go without consideration. This would seem to result in the opinion held by St. Chrysostom.

In the present verse (Rom 8:28) the Apostle tells the Christians not to be disheartened over the troubles and sufferings of this passing life, because God in His eternal, all-wise decree concerning them has so arranged matters that He will make all things—trials, crosses, sufferings, etc., contribute to their present sanctification, and thus to their future glory.

To them that love God, i.e., to the Christians, all of whom the Apostle is supposing to be in the state of grace, and therefore, through love to belong to Christ (Rom 8:9).

All things work together, etc. The subject of “work together” (συνεργει) is not “all things,” but God (ο θεος), which must be supplied,—(a) because “God” is surely the subject of the verbs that follow coordinately with συνεργει (work together) in the succeeding verses (29, 30), and (b) because it would only be by the action or causality of “God” that “all things” could be said to cooperate or “work together” for our salvation. The meaning is that God makes use of all things as helps and aids to those whom He calls to sanctity and glory.

To such as, etc., i.e., to those who are called to be Christians, and who respond to that call (Cornely, Prat). St. Paul is not referring here to the distinction between the “called” and the “elect” (Matt 20:16; Matt 22:14); his words are not restrictive, but explanatory, as referring to all the Christians that have embraced the faith, without entering here into the further question of those who are finally to be saved. In this and the two following verses St. Paul is speaking only of what God does, of God’s calling the Christians to the faith, of His sanctifying them and of His glorifying them,—all of which is according to His eternal decree; the Apostle is not now affirming or denying the possibility of some of the Christians failing to cooperate with God’s grace, thereby coming short of their eternal crowns. Had he wished in these verses to distinguish two classes among the Christians—those who were to be saved, and those who were to be lost—he would have greatly saddened some of them, at least, and this was surely contrary to his purpose, which was to encourage them all.

According to his purpose (κατα προθεσιν) , i.e., according to God’s eternal decree. Everywhere in the New Testament, with the exception of three places (2 Tim 3:10; Acts 11:23; Acts 27:13), where it indicates the purpose of man, the word πρόθεσις (prothesis) signifies a divine decree to confer some supernatural benefit, as in Rom 9:11; Eph 1:11; Eph 3:11; 2 Tim 1:9 (Cornely). God, therefore, has called Christians to the faith, because He has decreed to do so from all eternity; and this decree is gratuitous, as not depending on the merits of men; it is absolute, as having for its effect an efficacious call (Lagrange, Prat).

It is de fide that we cannot merit the first habitual grace of justification, or the grace of final perseverance ; these are gratuitous gifts of God. Given the first grace, we may merit subsequent graces, with the exception of the final one. Whether God’s eternal decree (πρόθεσις = prothesis), in the mind of St. Paul, has reference to predestination to glory ante or post praevisa merita is disputed. Indeed, it seems that in this verse the Apostle is not treating either phase of this question directly; proximately and directly he is speaking at present only of an efficacious call to the faith (Cornely). Naturally, however, predestination to glory is on the horizon here, and is necessarily bound up with what is said in these verses, 28-30, and in the following chapter. If one is not predestined to be called to the faith, he is lacking the first requisite for predestination to glory.

Rom 8:29. For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of his Son; that he might be the firstborn amongst many brethren.

This verse is explanatory of the preceding one. The Apostle tells the Christians that efficacious divine assistance is assured them, because they are predestined to be participants in the glory of Christ.

For (οτι, because) explains παντα συνεργει (“all things” in verse 28), why God causes all things to contribute to the help of those whom He calls.

He foreknew (προεγνω). For St. Chrysostom and other Greek Fathers, who understand πρόθεσις, purpose, of the preceding verse, to mean only the good disposition on the part of Christians which makes their call to the faith efficacious, “foreknew” of this verse does not include the idea of choice, but simply means the foreknowledge by which God understood those who would respond to His call, and whom He, therefore, predestined. For those who regard the call as efficacious and the purpose a divine decree, “foreknew” means: (a) knowledge accompanied by a choice or preference on the part of the divine will (Zahn, Allo, etc.); (b) the knowledge which God has from eternity of the perseverance of some in faith and love (Cornely); (c) foreknowledge, as distinguished from predestination, and yet accompanied by a predilection of which St. Paul does not here assign the cause (Lagrange, St. Thomas).

Those, therefore, whom God has known and loved from all eternity, He has predestinated (verse 29) to be made conformable, etc. This conformity is not the motive or cause, but rather the effect or consequence of predestination; and it will consist finally, in the resurrection, in our complete and perfect adoption as sons, in our transformation and glorification of body and soul, so as to share in the glory of Christ’s risen, glorified body (Cornely, Toussaint, etc.). God, then, has predestined Christians to be conformable to His Son, and the Son has taken our body, in order that we might share in the glory of His risen body, in order that we might be His adopted brethren and He the firstborn among His many brethren. St. Paul is here telling the Christians that the call to the faith, to which they have responded, is, in the divine plan, the pledge of their eternal glory (Lagrange). Doubtless a conformity to Christ here below through grace is presupposed to our final and glorious conformity to Him in the resurrection, but it is only this latter that is under consideration now.

Nam of the Vulgate would better be quoniam, and filii sui should be filii eius.

Rom 8:30. And whom he predestinated, them he also called. And whom he called, them he also justified. And whom he justified, them he also glorified.

The Apostle here enumerates the various acts by which God in time executes His eternal decree regarding Christians. The first of these acts is the call to the faith, the next is justification, and the last is glorification. Obviously there is question in the Apostle’s mind only of an efficacious call, of an actual embracing of the faith and of a real internal justification through grace which persists to the end of life, and which is finally crowned by a glorification of body and soul that will render the Christian conformable to the glorified risen Christ. It is true that glorified (εδοξασεν), being in the past tense, causes a difficulty. We can easily understand how the predestination, the call and the justification of the faithful, to whom the Apostle is writing, are past; but it would seem that their glorification should be expressed by a future tense. St. Chrysostom explained this by saying that the faithful have already acquired glory by adoption and grace. But since the great majority of interpreters hold that there is question here only of future glory, we can explain εδοξασεν (“glorified”) by saying that the Apostle, speaking of the consummation of the Christian life, regards all as past, and so rightly speaks of the Christians’ glorification as completed. Or it may be observed that the verbs in this verse —predestinated, called, justified, glorified—are in the aorist tense in Greek, and as such they abstract from time, and might be rendered by the present tense in English, as expressing an abiding truth, namely, God’s eternal mode of acting.

Throughout this section (verses 28-30) St. Paul is assuring the Christians as a body of the certitude of their future glory. His aim is to encourage them to bear their present sufferings and labors, and to persevere in view of the future glory which God has decreed for them. As far as God is concerned, he wishes to tell them their call to the faith and their justification are a sure pledge of salvation; their cooperation with God’s grace and their perseverance are tacitly presupposed. The Apostle is not considering the particular destiny of each Christian in the designs of God, but only the designs of God for Christianity; he is considering Christians as a body, those who have responded to God’s call, who have believed, who have received Baptism and have been justified. He is taking it for granted that the faithful will do their part by cooperating with God’s grace to the end, and consequently he is describing the glorious consummation of the work of their salvation as far as God’s part is concerned. Cf. Cornely, Lagrange, etc., h. 1.

Father Callan's Commentary on Romans 8:11-13

Today's Section is quite brief.

Romans 8:11-12

A Summary of Romans 8:11-12~These two verses are a corollary from all that has been said since chapter 6, and they give the final answer to the objections of Rom 6:1 and Rom 6:15. From what has been said it follows that for all the benefits that have been enumerated we are not debtors to the flesh, which enslaved us to sin and which of itself would again reduce us to slavery. The Apostle leaves it to be understood that we are debtors to the Spirit, to live according to its dictates rather than according to the dictates of the flesh.
The works of the flesh lead to the death of the soul here and hereafter. But if we live in the spirit which we have received in Baptism, which is a principle of spiritual life in us, opposing to the works of the flesh the works of grace, we shall live now

Rom 8:11. And if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you; he that raised up Jesus Christ from the dead, shall quicken also your mortal bodies, because of his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

In this verse we are told that they in whom the Spirit of God dwells do not only enjoy now the life of grace for their souls, but that they shall also have their mortal bodies raised gloriously from the dead on the last day. The Resurrection of Jesus and of all the dead is attributed to the Father because the Resurrection is a work of power, and to the Father especially such works are attributed. As God, of course, our Lord raised Himself from the dead (John 10:18) ; but as man He was raised by the Father. The Resurrection of Christ was the type of our resurrection (1 Cor 6:14; 2 Cor 4:14; Phil 3:21; 1 Thess 4:14). The reason here assigned for the resurrection of the bodies of the just is because during life they were the temples of the Holy Ghost. The Apostle is not now speaking about the resurrection of the wicked.

Because of his spirit, etc. There are different readings of this final clause. Soden prefers the genitive reading:  “through the Spirit dwelling in you,” which would mean that the Holy Ghost will be the immediate cause of our resurrection. The accusative reading, which is that of the oldest MSS., has: δια το ενοικουν αυτου πνευμα, i.e., “on account of the Spirit dwelling in you,” propter dignitatem Spiritus, etc. This latter is the reading adopted in the Vulgate.

Rom 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.
Rom 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live.

These two verses are a corollary from all that has been said since chapter 6, and they give the final answer to the objections of Rom 6:1 and Rom 6:15. From what has been said it follows that for all the benefits that have been enumerated we are not debtors to the flesh, which enslaved us to sin and which of itself would again reduce us to slavery. The Apostle leaves it to be understood that we are debtors to the Spirit, to live according to Its dictates rather than according to the dictates of the flesh.

The works of the flesh lead to the death of the soul here and hereafter. But if we live in the spirit which we have received in Baptism, which is a principle of spiritual life in us, opposing to the works of the flesh the works of grace, we shall live now the life of grace, and hereafter the life of glory. There are, therefore, for the Christian the alternatives of eternal life, if he lives according to the spirit; or of eternal death, if he follows the dictates of the flesh. The spirit here means the principle of the spiritual life, namely, grace (Cornely), and not the Holy Ghost (Zahn, Kuhl). With this verse St. Paul has done with the flesh, and turns to consider more exclusively the spirit.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

An Overview of 1 Thessalonians 4:1-5:28

Like the previous two major parts of the letter this third and final one is arranged concentrically:

A). 1 Thess 4:1-12. Moral Exhortations, How to Behave According to the Will of God.

B).  1 Thess 4:13-5:11. Resurrection of the Dead and the Second Coming of Christ. 

A2). 1 Thess 5:12-28. Moral Exhortations, How to Behave According to the Will of God.

Indeed, it could be argued that the the three major parts are themselves concentric:

PART 1. 1 Thess 1:1-2:16. How the Thessalonians and the Missionaries Behaved When Paul Came to Them.

PART 2. 1 Thess 2:17-3:19. St Paul's Desire to Return to Thessalonica.

PART 3. 1 Thess 4:1-5:28. How the Thessalonians Ought to Behave.


1 Thess 4:1-2. These verses introduce the third and final part of the letter and not just the exhortations of  the A1 section (4:1-12). Verses 1-2, with their reference to previous teaching clearly calls to mind the earlier missionary activity of St Paul and his companions, especially as presented in Part 1 (1 Th 1:1-2:16). But the exhortatory nature of St Timothy's recently ended visit to  the city (subject of Part 2) is also no doubt being recalled (see esp. 1 Th 3:2). The exhortation in 4:1 that they ought to live and please God more and more should be seen against the backdrop of these statements: "We now live if you stand fast in the Lord," and prayed that "we may... supply what is lacking in your faith," and that Jesus might "establish [their] hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints" (1 Th 3:8, 10, 13). the reference to "instructions" in 4:2 strikes a military theme which will become prominent. The Greek word parangelias refers to orders passed down the chain of command. Note that the parangelias is made "through the Lord Jesus" (2).

1 Th 4:3-8. God's will is that His people be holy. Holiness (sanctity) means being set apart for the service of God and can be used in reference to people, places, or things. What is holy or sanctified must no longer be used for profane purposes; when used of people it often has moral connotations, as it does here. It is clear in theses verses that St Paul is concerned primarily with sexual purity, but certain ambiguities in these verses, especially 4, have led to a number of different interpretations. I'll deal with that issue in the comments if anyone asks. It should be noted that in the Old Testament, soldiers were required to sanctify themselves by refraining from sexual relations (1 Sam 21:2-7; 2 Sam 11:10-11). 

1 Th 4:9-12. Just as the opening verses of this section recalled content of part 1, so too the closing verses of the section do the same. "You yourselves have been taught by God" (9) recalls 1 Th 2:13~"when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers" (RSVCE). The words of verse 10a~"indeed you do love all the brethren throughout Macedonia" recalls the example the Thessalonians faith had set for the people of Macedonia and Achaia (1 Th 1:7-8). But Paul exhorts them to greater love in 10b. Apparently, some among them had become idle (1 Th 5:14), and had begun to meddle in other people's affairs (see 2 Th 3:6-12). If faith becomes an excuse for becoming a burden on the charity (love) of others this would reflect badly on the Church in the eyes of outsiders. Here one should recall the emphasis in part 1 on the missionaries' labors and toils and their refusal to accept aid from the Thessalonians (1 Th 2:3-9). 


1 Th 4:13-18. The Thessalonians had been taught that the Lord would come unexpectedly (1 Th 5:1-2), and they apparently equated this with the idea that He would come very soon. The  death of some believers raised a question (or questions) in the Thessalonian's minds concerning the status of the faithful departed. As one Protestant scholar puts it: "What is their situation now? Are they disqualified from the final blessings? Will they be at a disadvantage because they did not live until Jesus’ return?" (Cousar, Charles B. Reading Galatians, Philippians, and 1 Thessalonians : a Literary and Theological Commentary. Reading the New Testament Series. Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2001.).

St Paul begins his response in 14 with a statement of what they already know: "For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again...," which he follows with a further teaching they apparently had not been taught: "even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep." He goes on to assert in 15 something further as "the word of the Lord;" insisting with great emphasis that "we who are alive, who remain until the coming of the Lord, shall certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep" (my translation).

The full significance of verses 15-17 cannot be dealt with here. "Cry of command" is military terminology. A trumpet was blown when it became known that Jehu had been anointed as a warrior king (2 Kings 9:12-13). The coming of a king (Lord) and people meeting him before he reaches his destination evokes military and royal images. Recall that the crowd in Jerusalem went out to meet Christ, heralding him as a warrior king (see Jn 12:12-15 with 1 Macc13:51; 2 Macc 10:7; 2 Kings 9:13).

1 Th 5:1-11. These verses emphasize that the Lord's return will be sudden and unexpected, hence the emphasis on their being informed (1 Th 5:1-2, 4), and the exhortations to stay alert (1 Th 5:6) and prepared (1 Th 5:8).

A thief in the night ( 1 Th 5:2, 4). For similar imagery see Mt 24:43; Lk 12:39; 2 Pet 3:10; Rev 3:3; 16:15.

Night / darkness (1 Th 5:2, 4-5, 7); The day of the Lord / that day / the day (1 Th 5:2, 4-5, 8). These words are stock eschatological images. (Eschatological = the end of an era, or the end of time). "The day of the Lord was often associated with darkness in order to move God's people out of the sinful presumption that they could be complacent regarding it (see Amos 5:18-20; 8:9; Joel 2:1-2; Isaiah 13:1-10; Ezek 7:1-27). Note that their is military themes in these passages; especially Joel and Isaiah). Often in apocalyptic literature an eschatological night precedes and glorious, eschatological day (Rom 13:11-14. See also 2 Pet 1:19).

Children of the light and of the day. See Lk 16:8; Jn 12:36; Eph 5:8. The Qumran community that gave us the Dead Sea Scrolls, in a document entitled "The War Scroll," called themselves "sons of the light," and they called unbelievers "sons of darkness". 

Putting on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet that is hope for salvation (1 Th 5:8). Recall that the three theological virtues were emphasized in part 1 of the letter (1 Th 1:3). May be an allusion to the military garb Zion's Redeemer is said to wear in Isaiah 59:17.

Other Phrases Associated With Military Themes:  Peace and Security and labor pains (1 Th 5:3). People in Jerusalem were saying "peace, peace" even as the prophet proclaimed the city's impending siege and destruction which would bring anguish upon them as a mother in labor (Jer 6:1-26; especially verses 14 and 24).


1 Th 5:12-28. Like the A1 Section this passage is concerned with how to behave according to the will of God. St Paul opens this section with a reference to leaders in the community. The reference to these leaders' labors on behalf of the Thessalonians calls to mind the missionaries description of their own labor in the city in part 1 of the letter (1 Th 2:1-12). The love and respect shown to the missionaries for their labors ought also to be shown to the leaders of the church. 

 Esteem them very highly in love because of their work (1 Th 5:13). The word translated as "esteem" is hegeisthai, a word derived from hegeomai, denoting a ruler, governor or--as in 1 Macc 9:30; 2 Macc 14:16--a military leader.

Be at peace among yourselves (1 Th 5:13).  Recall that those who do not know the times and seasons will be caught unaware by the Second Coming as they are ,"peace and security" (1 Th 5:1-3).

Note how all the exhortations from verse 14-22 follow upon the what was said at the end of verse 13~"be at peace among yourselves." Those who live in accord with this teaching will have peace among themselves even as they wage spiritual warfare against outsiders. 

Admonish the idlers (1 Th 5:14). Ataktous ("idlers") was originally a military term which referred to soldiers who broke rank or failed to hold their position. a better translation would be " the disorderly" (see 2 Th 3:6-7, 11).

May the God of peace Himself sanctify you (1 Th 5:23). Recall what was said about sanctity and the holy war above on 4:3-8.

May your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Th 5:23). "Kept" (terethele), watched over, as if guarded by a soldier (Mt 27:36; 54, Acts 12:4-5).

Monday, July 04, 2016

Israel and Assyria in the Time of Isaiah

Note: It is important to keep in mind that the Kingdom of David split in two as a result of Solomon's sins (see 1 Kings 11:1-13:10, 33-34). 10 of the 12 tribes went into rebellion against Solomon's son and formed a new kingdom which retained the name, "Israel." Modern scholars often refer to this new entity as "the Northern Kingdom." Two tribes remained under the control of David's line and became known as the "Kingdom of Judah." Modern scholars refer to it as "the Southern Kingdom." This division took place circa 922 BC, about 180 years before the beginning of Isaiah's ministry. The northern kingdom, Israel, was destroyed by the Assyrians in 722/721 BC.  Oftentimes, the prophets, including Isaiah, use the term "Israel" to refer to this new kingdom, but the term is also still used to describe the people as a whole, regardless of the division. Such is the case in Isa 1:3-4.

The following is excerpted from The Cambridge Bible For Schools and Colleges (with some modification by me). This is an old Anglican reference work published in 1897. I've supplied a brief list of suggested readings from Catholic authors at the end of this post.

Israel and Assyria in the time of Isaiah 

Isaiah is the most distinguished of the remarkable group of prophets who enforced the lessons of the Assyrian crisis in the eighth century b.c. His public career, which covers (approximately) the last 40 years of the century, was nearly co-extensive with the successive reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah; and during the greater part of that period he exercised a commanding political influence in Jerusalem. Of no other prophet can it be said with so much truth that his biography is the history of his time. In the case of his predecessors Amos and Hosea, or of his contemporary Micah, a general knowledge of the internal condition of the country and its foreign relations may suffice for the understanding of their writings; but for any profitable study of the work of Isaiah the indispensable preliminary is a somewhat minute acquaintance with the course of events both at home and abroad. It is all the more necessary that this should be briefly sketched here, because the biblical narrative has been so largely illustrated and supplemented from outside sources, especially through the decipherment of the Assyrian inscriptions.

The great political fact of the time was the westward extension of the Assyrian Empire. This commenced in earnest, after a pause of 40 years, with the accession of Tiglath-pileser III. in 745; and was thenceforward prosecuted by a succession of vigorous monarchs, till it reached its goal in the conquest of Egypt by Esarhaddon (672). It must have been evident to thoughtful observers, even before Isaiah’s entrance on public life, that the independent existence of all the smaller nations of Western Asia was endangered by the steady advance of this new and formidable power. Singly, they were helpless against the solid and disciplined might of Assyria; while at the same time they possessed too little stability of purpose to present a united front to the common enemy. The two Israelitish kingdoms, from their geographical position, ought to have been amongst the last to come into collision with the Assyrian power, and if they had been wise enough to keep aloof from political entanglements they would at least have secured a breathing space in which much might have been accomplished for the furtherance of those moral and religious interests which the prophets had at heart. The short-sighted policy of their rulers, however, involved them in premature and compromising relations with the Assyrian Empire; and in both cases with disastrous results.

The Age of Uzziah. The death of Uzziah (or Azariah) after a successful reign of about 50 years (1), marks the close of a singularly brilliant chapter in the history of both North and South Israel. The crippling of Damascus in the Assyrian campaigns of 797 and 773 afforded to the kingdom of Samaria an opportunity of recovering from the long Syrian wars by which its strength had been exhausted. Under the strong rule of Jeroboam II. the bounds of the empire were extended almost to the utmost limits of David’s conquests (2 Kings 14:25; Amos 6:14); and wealth no doubt began to flow in rapidly from the tribute of the subjugated states. Under Uzziah, Judah appears to have been nearly as prosperous. The conquest of Edom and the restoration of the Red Sea port of Elath (2 Kings 14:22) secured the control of the caravan trade with Southern Arabia; and the revenue obtained from this source seems to have been wisely applied to develop the resources of the country and perfect its military efficiency (see 2 Chron 26:1-15). The result was that when Isaiah began his public work Judah had attained a degree of wealth, power and civilisation which must have placed it, along with Israel, in the front rank of the petty principalities that now separated Egypt from Assyria. “The land was full of silver and gold and there was no end of its treasures; the land was full of horses and there was no end of their chariots” (Isa 2:7).

But this remarkable outburst of material prosperity was attended in both kingdoms by an aggravation of the social evils which seem inseparable from every oriental system of government. The influx of wealth appears to have accelerated certain economic changes, affecting large masses of the population, against which the prophets at all times loudly protested. The spread of debauchery and luxury amongst the upper classes (Isa 3:16-23; 5:11-12; 5:22; 28:1-8; 32:9 ff.) was a natural consequence of the increased means of enjoyment which came to these classes from the improved position of the country. But still greater evils followed from the accumulation of capital in the hands of a few. The rise of great landed estates (Isa 5:8; Mic 2:2; 2:9) meant the expropriation of the old peasant proprietors, who had been the strength of the state, and the creation of a destitute and landless lower class. And if anything were wanting to enhance the indignation of the prophets at this glaring contrast between the extremes of poverty and luxury, it was found in the methods by which it was brought about. The eviction of the smaller land owners was largely effected by systematic abuses of the forms of justice, corrupt judges favouring the suit of the rich man against the poor, in return for a share of the spoils (Isa 1:23; 3:14-15; 5:23; 10:1-2; 29:21). Hence the writings of the prophets abound in denunciations of the injustice and oppression, the avarice and licentiousness which prevailed in the higher ranks of society at this time (see also Isa 1:17; 5:7). And although it may be true that these were permanent features in the life of the Hebrew commonwealth, and would have attracted the attention of the prophets in any period, it cannot be doubted that they were all greatly aggravated by the peculiar social conditions of the age of Uzziah.

In these evidences of national declension and disorder the prophets of the time read the sure premonition of a terrible day of judgment. But their anxiety was not shared by the governing classes either in Samaria or Jerusalem. In both capitals a spirit of optimism and careless security prevailed in political circles (Am 6:1; 6:13). The strange lull in the conquering career of Assyria which preceded the accession of Tiglath-pileser appears to have fostered the delusion that all danger from that quarter had passed away. About the time when Isaiah appears on the scene, however, events took place which ought to have effectually dispelled that notion. The capture of Arpad (circa 740), and Hamath (738), and the intervention of Pul (Tiglath-pileser) in the reign of Menahem (2 Kings 15:19) brought the danger close to the doors of North Israel. If it be the case, as is held by some Assyriologists, that Uzziah himself, shortly before his death, suffered a defeat at the hands of Tiglath-pileser,[2] the lesson cannot have been altogether lost upon Judah. But no trace of such a disaster is found in the Old Testament; nor do the earliest writings of Isaiah suggest that there was any general uneasiness with regard to the immediate prospects of the country.

The Syro-Ephraimitic War (c. 735). Perhaps the event which first roused the politicians of Jerusalem from their dream of security was an indirect consequence of the forward movement of Assyria. In 735, shortly after Ahaz ascended the throne, a combined attack on Judah was planned by Rezin and Pekah the kings of Syria and Ephraim. The war, indeed, seems to have commenced before the death of Jotham [3] (2 Kings 15:37); but it is clear from Isa 7:1-2 that some fresh and startling development followed the accession of Ahaz, causing the utmost consternation in Jerusalem. From all we know of the character of Ahaz he was a man little fitted to cope with a crisis of this a magnitude. In his panic-stricken imagination, the immediate peril overrode all considerations of national honour and political prudence, and he resolved to throw himself on the protection of the king of Assyria. This decision has been defended by some modern historians, as that which would have recommended itself to any statesman in similar circumstances. It is safer to trust the unerring political sagacity of Isaiah, in whose judgment Ahaz at this juncture played the part of a craven. A calmer view of the situation would have convinced the king that the danger was not so great as to justify what was on the face of it a counsel of despair. Nor is it clear that he gained any substantial advantage in return for his tribute and his offer of submission. For although Tiglath-pileser promptly responded to his appeal by ravaging the Northern and Eastern districts of Israel (2 Kings 15:29) [4], this was probably no more than he would have done of his own initiative. He was not likely to permit his feudatories to carry on wars of conquest on their own account, and if Ahaz had but shared the courage and faith of Isaiah, deliverance would have come without the degrading and dangerous conditions implied by the Assyrian suzerainty.

The Fall of Samaria (c. 721). Judah had thus, by the deliberate act of her sovereign, passed under the hard yoke of the king of Assyria. It was long, however, before the evil consequences of this fatal step became fully apparent. Ahaz appears to have remained steadfast in his allegiance to Tiglath-pileser, and he died (probably in 727) [5] bequeathing the legacy of political servitude and a galling tribute to his son and successor Hezekiah. In 727 Tiglath-pileser was succeeded by Shalmaneser IV. The change of sovereign was the signal for a revolt of several of the recently subjugated provinces in the West, where Egyptian intrigue was now busily fomenting disaffection towards the Assyrian government. There is no evidence that Hezekiah was involved in any treasonable negotiations at this time, although we may be certain that great pressure would be brought to bear on him to join the conspiracy. In Samaria, however, the efforts of the Egyptian party were successful. Hoshea, the last king, opened communications with Sevé [6] of Egypt, and renounced his allegiance to Assyria by withholding the annual tribute. When Shalmaneser advanced against him he seems to have surrendered, but his subjects prepared to defend the capital to the last. After a siege of three years Samaria was captured about 721; and the kingdom of the Ten Tribes was finally incorporated in the Assyrian Empire (2 Kings 17:3-6).

Events in the reign of Sargon (722–705). The siege of Samaria, begun by Shalmaneser, was brought to a conclusion under Sargon, who succeeded to the throne in 722. In the first years of his reign, whilst he was occupied with the affairs of Babylon, the still smouldering insurrection in Palestine suddenly assumed such formidable dimensions as to threaten the loss of nearly the whole territory annexed by Tiglath-pileser. But in the year 720 Sargon himself marched westwards, and so effectually crushed all opposition that for nearly ten years he seems to have had no more trouble in that region. He penetrated as far south as Gaza and terminated a successful campaign by defeating the allied Philistine and Egyptian troops in the battle of Raphia, near that city. The event is memorable as the first armed collision of the rival powers of Egypt and Assyria.
Throughout these troubles Judah had maintained an attitude of wise neutrality which is probably in part at least to be attributed to Isaiah’s influence with the court. The first definite indication of the growing restiveness of Judah occurs in an inscription of Sargon relating to the year 711. He speaks of “[the inhabitants] of Philistia, Judah, Edom and Moab who … had to bring tribute and presents to Asshur, my lord” but who now “meditated hostilities and plotted evil, who … sent their tokens of homage to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, a prince who could not save them, and sought an alliance with him [7].” The focus of the conspiracy on this occasion seems to have been the Philistine city of Ashdod, against which Sargon despatched an expedition under the Tartan or commander-in-chief (Isa_20:1). With the capture of that city the insurrection collapsed. Hezekiah appears to have withdrawn from the league in time to escape the vengeance of Sargon. The hypothesis of an Assyrian invasion of Judah at this date, at one time adopted by some high authorities as throwing light on certain important prophecies of Isaiah, has never commanded general acceptance, and is now practically abandoned [8].

Sennacherib’s Invasion (701). We now come to the last and most eventful period of Isaiah’s long ministry. The early years of Sennacherib’s reign (from 705) seemed to the advisers of Hezekiah a favourable opportunity for a determined effort to shake off the supremacy of Assyria. In the year following the accession of Sennacherib, a new monarch succeeded to the crown of the Ethiopian kingdom of Napata. This was the able and enterprising Tirhakah (Egyptian, Taharqa; Assyrian, Tarqu), who ultimately asserted his sway over the whole of the Nile-valley; and vigorously adopted the policy of checkmating Assyria by stirring up disaffection amongst the Assyrian vassal states in Palestine. At the same time Sennacherib had a formidable opponent in Babylon, in the person of the Chaldaean rebel Merodach-baladan, who had already for twelve years defied the power of Sargon, and had been subdued only with great difficulty. Sennacherib was hardly seated on the throne when this doughty champion of Babylonian independence reappeared on the scene, and eventually (before 702) succeeded in establishing himself once more as king of Babylon. It has been very generally supposed that it was at this time that Merodach-baladan sent his embassy to Hezekiah soliciting his cooperation against the king of Assyria. Although this view seems less probable than that which assigns the event to the reign of Sargon (see p. xv), it is certain that the revolt of Babylon seriously embarrassed Sennacherib, and had an important influence on the course of events in Palestine. There is little doubt, at all events, that the Ethiopian embassy, mentioned in ch. 18, was sent by Tirhakah, and falls within this period (between 704 and 701). The temptation proved irresistible. Hezekiah’s scruples were overcome, Isaiah’s remonstrances being overborne by the influence of the Egyptian party in the court, and Judah was definitely committed to rebellion by the conclusion of a treaty with Egypt [9].

Having once taken the irrevocable step, Hezekiah seems to have acted with great spirit and energy. His chief care was naturally bestowed on the defence of his capital, and we learn from Sennacherib’s inscriptions that with this object he strengthened the garrison of Jerusalem by enlisting a force of Arabs and other mercenaries. A further indication of the leading part he played in the confederacy is furnished by the fact that Padi, the Assyrian vassal-king of Ekron, having been dethroned and imprisoned by his subjects, was sent to Jerusalem for safe custody. The dangerous pre-eminence thus accorded to Judah by the revolted states made a reconciliation with Assyria impossible; and thus while other kings (as those of Ammon, Moab and Edom) escaped by tendering their submission, Hezekiah had to bear the brunt of Sennacherib’s vengeance.

It was not till his third campaign that Sennacherib, having previously “accomplished the destruction of Merodach-baladan,” was able to turn his attention to the state of affairs in the West. The incidents of that famous expedition are recorded with great fulness of detail in no fewer than three practically identical inscriptions of Sennacherib, the best known of which (the so-called “Taylor-Prism”) is translated in the Records of the Past (New Series, vol. VI. pp. 80 ff.). In these official narratives the campaign is divided into four stages: (1) the subjugation of the Phoenician cities, (2) the chastisement of Tsidqa, king of Ashkelon, (3) the operations against Ekron, and (4) the invasion of Judah. The first two of these may here be passed over as not immediately bearing on our subject. The people of Ekron, as we have already seen, had deposed their king Padi, and sent him in chains to Hezekiah. At the approach of the Assyrian king they “feared in their hearts”; but before Sennacherib could proceed to the siege of the city he had to encounter “a force without number” of Egyptians and Arabs which was marching to the relief of Ekron. The engagement took place at Eltekeh (Jos 19:44; Jos 21:23); and although Sennacherib claims a decisive victory, it has been pointed out that the record omits the elaborate enumeration of the spoils which usually adorns the accounts of really important victories of Assyrian kings. The Egyptians, however, failed in their main object; Ekron was speedily reduced, and stern punishment was meted out to the ringleaders of the rebellion. In order to complete what he has to say about Ekron the annalist here relates the surrender of Padi by Hezekiah, and his restoration to the throne; but this no doubt slightly anticipates the actual course of events. Next follows the account of the operations against Judah, which may best be given in Sennacherib’s own words. “But Hezekiah of Judah, who had not submitted to my yoke, I besieged 46 of his strong cities, fortresses, and small cities of their environs without number, (and) by casting down their walls (?) … I took them. 200,150 men, young (and) old, male and female, horses, mules, asses, camels, oxen and sheep without number I brought out from them, I counted them as spoil. Himself I shut up like a caged bird in Jerusalem his royal city; the walls I fortified against him (and) whosoever came out of the gates of the city I turned back. His cities, which I had plundered, I divided from his land and gave them to Mitinti, king of Ashdod, to Padi, king of Ekron, and to Tsil-bal, king of Gaza, and (thus) diminished his territory. To the former tribute, paid yearly, I added the tribute of alliance of my lordship and laid that upon him. Hezekiah himself was overwhelmed by the fear of the brightness of my lordship; the Arabians and his other faithful warriors whom as a defence for Jerusalem his royal city he had brought in, fell into fear. With 30 talents of gold (and) 800 talents of silver, precious stones … a heavy treasure and his daughters, his women of the palace, his young men and young women, to Nineveh the city of my lordship, I caused to be bought after me, and he sent his ambassadors to give tribute and to pay homage [10].'

We must now compare this circumstantial and undoubtedly, in the main, reliable narrative with the corresponding account in 2 Kings 18:13 to 2 Kings 19:37 (cf. Isaiah 36, 37). We are at once struck by their remarkable agreement with regard to certain leading features of the campaign. Both relate (1) the capture of the “fenced cities” of Judah, (2) the investment of Jerusalem by an Assyrian army, (3) the submission of Hezekiah and the exaction of a heavy tribute; and another important point of correspondence is (4) that Sennacherib himself does not claim to have effected the reduction of Jerusalem. But there is one essential difference between the two records: whereas Sennacherib represents Hezekiah’s surrender as the consequence of the siege of Jerusalem, the Hebrew historian places it before the assault on the capital. It is obviously of the utmost importance for the understanding of Isaiah’s work that a satisfactory solution of this discrepancy should be obtained, and a number of widely diverging theories have been propounded with that object. One suggestion is that Sennacherib has purposely falsified the sequence of events in order to give the appearance of success to what was really an abortive attack on Jerusalem [11]. Other critics have supposed that the biblical narrative combines the accounts of two entirely different Assyrian invasions of Judah, one in 701 and another near the close of Sennacherib’s reign [12]. But of this second campaign no independent evidence whatever has been discovered. The most reasonable supposition after all is that Sennacherib’s narrative simply breaks off before reaching the last and most unfortunate stage of the campaign, in other words that the Old Testament parallel to the Assyrian account is found in 2 Kings 18:13-16, while the subsequent narrative of vv. 17 ff. refers to events passed over in silence by the inscription. There is no improbability in the assumption that Jerusalem was twice blockaded in the course of the war, provided a sufficient motive can be assigned for a renewal of hostilities on the part of Sennacherib. Such a motive is readily enough suggested by the situation in which the Assyrian king found himself towards the close of this campaign; and in this way we are led to a conception of the progress of events which, if not altogether free from difficulty, has commended itself to many of the best critics as affording the most satisfactory solution of a somewhat intricate problem.

We must assume, then, that after the terms of capitulation had been arranged and after the first siege of Jerusalem had been raised, Sennacherib saw reason to change his mind, and to insist on the absolute surrender of the capital. His position at the end of an arduous campaign, and in front of an enemy who might at any time be reinforced from Ethiopia, was becoming daily more critical, and he probably realised that it would be a strategical blunder of the worst kind to leave an important fortress like Jerusalem in the hands of so doubtful a vassal as Hezekiah. It is possible also that Hezekiah, encouraged by the rumour of Tirhakah’s advance, may have been indiscreet enough to exhibit some indication of a hostile disposition. At all events, the steps now taken by Sennacherib reveal at once his eagerness to obtain possession of Jerusalem, and his inability to direct the whole force of his army against it. We are told, indeed, that he sent from Lachish, “a great host” with the Rabshakeh and other officers to demand the surrender of Jerusalem; but it is evident that the display of force was merely a stratagem, and that the Great King relied mainly on the eloquent tongue of his chief minister. The object of the mission, in fact, was in the first instance to intimidate Hezekiah by threats, and failing that to induce the people to rise up against him. But Hezekiah, now acting under Isaiah’s advice, declined to enter into fresh negotiations, and the officers retired baffled to Lachish. A second attempt [13] to play on the fears of Hezekiah by means of a royal letter met with no better success, and Sennacherib was obliged to proceed southwards, leaving Jerusalem still unreduced in his rear.

The state of matters within the walls of Jerusalem during this crisis will fall to be more fully considered in the next chapter. Here it is enough to say that the resolute attitude of the king was due solely to the lofty faith and courage of Isaiah and his confident and reiterated predictions that the Assyrian should not be permitted to inflict the smallest injury on Jerusalem (ch. Isa 37:6-7; Isaiah 21-35). These anticipations were more than realised, when in a single night “the angel of the Lord … smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand” (Isa 37:36), and Sennacherib was compelled to return to his own land (Isa 37:36). The political consequences of this mysterious calamity, as read in the light of our fuller knowledge of Assyrian history, may seem meagre and disappointing. It is now known that Sennacherib survived the catastrophe for 20 years and during that time waged many successful wars. It is certain also that the deliverance did not permanently affect the relations of Judah to the Assyrian Empire. The Assyrian monarchs still exacted their yearly tribute from the kings of Jerusalem and treated them as their subjects. On the other hand it may well be doubted whether Sennacherib was able to enforce the hard conditions which he imposed on Hezekiah at the time of his submission.

The very fact that during the 20 remaining years of his reign he never again appeared in Palestine, or renewed the attack on Egypt, is sufficient proof that his policy was permanently altered by the serious disaster which there befel him. But if we measure the crisis by the spiritual interests that were at stake we shall find that it possesses an importance that cannot be over-estimated. Whatever may be uncertain, it is certain that the political existence of Judah was then saved from seemingly inevitable extinction. If Sennacherib had attained his object the people would have been led into captivity (see ch. Isa_36:17). Israel would have perished as a nation, and with it the hopes on which the religious future of humanity depended would have been lost. That this result was averted was due to the inspiration which guided Isaiah throughout his life and to the providential interposition which crowned his prophecies with their fulfilment. The events of 701 form, therefore, a fitting close to the public career of the great prophet, who from this time vanishes from the stage of history.

SUGGESTED RESOURCESUnless otherwise noted all resources are books.

General Introductions to the Old Testament or Bible as a Whole:

Bible Basics for Catholics. Dr. John Bergsma. Outstanding, succinct introduction to major theological and covenantal themes.

A Father Who Keeps His Promises. Dr. Scott Hahn. Written before "Bible Basics" it can provide a good follow up to it.

DVD (or CD): Unlocking the Mystery of the Bible. Jeff Cavins and Sarah Christmyer. 

Walking With God: A Journey Through the Bible. By Dr. Tim Gray. Jeff Cavins. A good, broad overview of salvation history divided into 12 time periods and focusing on 14 of the narrative books of the bible (e.g. Gen., Ex., Num., Josh., Judg., 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Sam., etc.).  

The Men and Message of the Old Testament. By Peter F. Ellis. A well formatted introduction to the Old Testament. Rather outdated now but still useful.

God's Word To Israel. Father Joseph Jensen. College textbook. A bit outdated.

Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction. Father Lawrence Boadt. Popular and widely used. First published in 1984 the work was recently revised and updated by two of Fr. Boadts friends, noted biblical scholars Richard M. Clifford and Father Daniel J. Harrington. 

On the Book of the Prophet Isaiah:

Online Article:  Who is Isaiah and Why is His Message So Critical Today? Outstanding article by Monsignor Charles Pope.  

Online Article:  Introduction to Isaiah. Online. Catholic. A very brief introduction written by Mark Giszczak.

Online Book: Father William Most's Chapter Summaries of Isaiah. Online. Catholic. Opens with some introductory material. 

The Book of Isaiah: Vol 1 & 2. Father Edward Kissane. 

Isaiah 1-39: Old Testament Message Series. By Father Joseph Jensen.

Isaiah 40-66: Old Testament Message Series. By Father John Scullion.

Isaias: Prophet for Our Time. By Father Hubert von Zeller. Originally published in 1938.  


Saturday, July 02, 2016

Father Callan's Commentary on Romans 8:1-12

Text in red are my additions.

Romans 8:1-11

A Summary of Romans 8:1-11~This chapter contains a sublime exposition of the precious treasures and glorious prospects of the Christian life. In the present section the Apostle concludes, after all that has been said so far regarding the fruits of justification, that those who have been regenerated in Jesus Christ by Baptism are no longer under penalties; for the new life effected in us by the Spirit has delivered us from former tyranny. The shortcomings of the Law, which was undermined by the perversity of the flesh, God has supplied for by sending His Son to triumph over the flesh, and to enable us to live hereafter according to the spirit, thus fulfilling the Law in our lives. This last they cannot do who follow the flesh, because the flesh and the spirit are mutually opposing agencies. But the spirit of Christians has been reinforced by God’s Spirit dwelling in them. Being in Christ they possess His Spirit, and so are enabled not only to live a spiritual life now, but to look forward to the glorious life of the resurrection.

Rom 8:1. There is now therefore no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh.

After having shown that those justified by means of faith in Christ are delivered from the wrath of God, from sin, and from the Law, St. Paul draws a very important and consoling inference, which is a conclusion to all that has preceded since Chapter 6 We know from sad experience, he says, what it means to be under the Law, and we know also what it means to be under grace. Now, i.e., under the New Law of grace, there is no condemnation, i.e., there is nothing that merits condemnation to them that are, etc., i.e., to the faithful who by means of Baptism have been incorporated in Christ Jesus (Rom 6:3-10) and live by His life (Rom 6:11, Rom 6:23), members of His body, as the branches live from the vine (1 Cor 12:13; Gal 2:20; John 14:19-20).

Who walk, etc. This final clause of the verse is wanting in the best Greek MSS., and is regarded as a gloss by most critics. Hence also in the Vulgate, qui non secundum carnem ambulant should be omitted.

Rom 8:2. For the law of the spirit of life, in Christ Jesus, hath delivered me from the law of sin and of death.

This verse is a proof of the preceding. Those who are in Christ Jesus live according to the Spirit that has delivered them from the law of sin and death, i.e., they live a spiritual life through the grace of the Holy Ghost which is communicated to their souls. The law of the spirit can mean the law of the Holy Ghost, as such; or the law of grace, the proper effect of the Holy Ghost communicated to man (St. Thomas). The second meanings seems more probable here. The opposition is with the law of sin which was in our flesh, and to some extent with the law of the reason (Rom 7:23). Sin, as is supposed, has been forgiven, and the law of reason has been fortified by the law of grace.

Of life, i.e., of life in Christ Jesus. It is better to join Christ Jesus with life than with hath delivered (St. Thomas, Kuhl, etc.).

Me (μέ), the reading of the Vulgate and of the ordinary Greek, is better supported than “thee” (σε) by the Fathers; but less so by the MSS. The sense is the same in either case, since the question regards regenerated man.

The law of sin does not mean concupiscence, because it is a matter of faith and of experience that the Christian is not free from this effect of original sin. It means, therefore, the dominion of sin, from which we are delivered by the spiritual life, the life of grace. By this same spiritual life, or life of the spirit, we are delivered from the law of death inasmuch as temporal death would be at the same time eternal death (Lagrange).

Rom 8:3. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh; God sending his own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh and of sin, hath condemned sin in the flesh;

In the preceding verse we were told how Christians through their union with Christ are delivered from sin, and here we see how God has condemned sin through the Incarnation of His Son. St. Thomas says this verse shows three things: (a) the necessity of the Incarnation, (b) the mode of the Incarnation, (c) the fruit of the Incarnation.

For what the law could not do ( το γαρ αδυνατον του νομου). Literally, “What was impossible to the law”—not because it was not good and holy in itself, but because of our corrupt human nature—God has effected by sending his own Son, i.e., through the Incarnation of His Only- begotten Son.

In the likeness, etc. The resemblance between the flesh of Christ and ours was in this, that the Word of God assumed real human flesh and human nature just like our own, but without the stain of sin upon it. Christ’s conception was by the Holy Ghost, not by sinful man; and the flesh and blood which He took was of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. Hence He had our real human nature and flesh, but not the corruption which sin has left in our nature—Ostendit nos quidem habere carnem peccati, Filium vero Dei similitudinem habuisse carnis peccati, non carnem peccati (“He showed that we indeed have the flesh of sin, the Son of God was shown to have the likeness of sinful flesh, and not the flesh of sin” – Origen). But since the human nature of Christ, although pure and holy, was subject to pain and death, which were the consequences of sin, it is said to have had the likeness or resemblance of sinful flesh.

And of sin (και περι αμαρτιας), i.e., on account of sin, in order to destroy it. These words are to be connected with what precedes (Cornely, Lagrange); they show that the mission or purpose of Christ’s coming was to conquer sin and thus redeem man.

Hath condemned sin, i.e., has destroyed the reign of sin personified which, from the fall to Christ, held mankind in slavery. But when was this destruction of the dominion of sin effected? Some say it was at the death of Christ on the cross, but others (Lagrange, Zahn, etc.) hold that the deliverance here spoken of through the condemnation of sin took place at the very time of the Incarnation itself of the Son of God. It was then that God saw all that Christ would do to conquer sin, and then that sin was vanquished, because Christ took flesh free from sin (Lagrange).

In the flesh, i.e., in the flesh of Christ immolated for us all on the cross. God finally condemned and cast out sin through the sufferings of His Only-begotten Son “in the flesh,” especially on the cross. This victory of Christ over sin is extended to all flesh, i.e., to all human nature, inasmuch as all by faith and grace may share in the merits and triumph of Christ.

The in quo (“in that”) of the Vulgate has the sense of quia (“because”) or quatenus (“in so far as”). The accusative in similitudinem (“in the likeness” – εν ομοιωματι) follows the participle mittens (“sending”) because motion is implied.

Rom 8:4. That the justification of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit.

That the justification, etc. God destroyed the regime of sin in order that “the justification of the law,” i.e., the moral precepts or commandments of the Law, might be fulfilled in us. The passive might be fulfilled (πληρωθη) is used to show that the observance of the Law is due more to the action and grace of God, than to our efforts and strength.

In us, who walk, etc., indicates the fact of our cooperation with God’s grace in living not according to the concupiscence of the carnal man, but according to grace. The Greek πνευμα (“spirit”),  as opposed to σαρκα (“flesh”) here, means grace, the spiritual principle of our actions, and not
the Holy Ghost (Lagrange).

Rom 8:5. For they that are according to the flesh, mind the things that are of the flesh; but they that are according to the spirit, mind the things that are of the spirit.

The opposition between the flesh and the spirit, indicated in the preceding verse, induced the Apostle to show more at length (verses 5-8) the contrasts between the two. They that are according to the flesh, i.e., they that follow the concupiscence of their flesh, put their thoughts and affections in the things of the flesh, such as impurity, gluttony, and the like; whereas they who follow the spirit, i.e., grace, aspire to the things of grace, which are charity, joy, peace, etc.

Sentiunt of the Vulgate is not in the Greek (i.e., the second "mind" in verse 5 is not in the Greek).

Rom 8:6. For the wisdom of the flesh is death; but the wisdom of the spirit is life and peace.

The wisdom (το φρονημα), i.e., the aspiration, the tendency of the flesh is toward the death of the body and of the soul; but the aspiration or tendency of the spirit, i.e., of grace, is toward life and peace here and hereafter. The difference here indicated is the contrast between a life of sin and a life of grace in union with Christ.

In the Vulgate prudentia (prudence, understanding, wisdom) would better be studium (interest, pursuit), affectus (affection, desires, inclinations).

Rom 8:7. Because the wisdom of the flesh is an enemy to God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither can it be.
Rom 8:8. And they who are in the flesh, cannot please God.

In these verses St. Paul gives two reasons why the wisdom, i.e., the tendency of the flesh is towards death: (a) because it is an enemy of God, the source of all life, since it is not subject to the divine will as expressed in God’s law, but seeks rather the things that God has forbidden; (b) because they whose flesh is under the domination of sin, whose flesh cooperates with sin, cannot please God, and are consequently surely condemned to death.

Neither can it be, i.e., so long as the wisdom of the flesh holds sway, it cannot be subject; let the wisdom of the flesh cease, and man can be subject” (St. Aug.).

Verse 7 in the Vulgate has translated (φρόνημα) by sapientia (i.e., wisdom), but studium (interest, pursuit) or affectus (affection, desires, inclinations) is again the correct word. The phrase inimica est Deo (is the enemy of God) should be inimicitia est in Deum (is at enmity with God).

Rom 8:9. But you are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

The Apostle now applies his doctrine to the Roman Christians. But you Romans in your life do not follow the promptings of the flesh, the enemy of God, but the promptings of the spirit, i.e., of grace, if so (ειπερ), i.e., if, as I have reason to believe, the Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost, abides in you. St. Paul takes care to note that if the Romans are following, as he believes, the promptings of grace, it is not due to their own efforts, but to the Holy Ghost who dwells in them. But since it is possible for the Christian to lose, through mortal sin, the Holy Spirit whom he received in Baptism, who is the Spirit of Christ as well as of God the Father, St. Paul goes on to observe that if anyone has lost this Holy Spirit, he no longer pertains to Christ, and has ceased to be a living member of Christ’s fold.

The Spirit of God is here the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit that proceeds equally from the Father and from the Son (John 15:22). The text proves nothing against the distinction of the Third Divine Person; neither does it prove directly that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son. The Spirit is here termed the Spirit of Christ because He dwells in the soul through union with Christ.

Rom 8:10. And if Christ be in you, the body indeed is dead, because of sin; but the spirit liveth, because of justification.

Here the Apostle says to the Romans that if Christ by His Holy Spirit dwells in them, their bodies indeed are dead, i.e., subject to death, on account of original sin in which they were born; but their spirit, i.e., their souls, live the life of grace for the purpose of producing good works, the fruits of “justification.”

Because of justification (δια δικαιοσυνην) can mean: (a) that the justification given to the soul by God is the source of the spiritual life (St. Thomas, Cornely); or (b) that the spiritual life is the source of good works, that the spiritual life is propter justitiam exercendam (“the exercise of justice”– Lietzmann, Lagrange).

Romans 8:11-12

A Summary of Romans 8:11-12~These two verses are a corollary from all that has been said since chapter 6, and they give the final answer to the objections of Rom 6:1 and Rom 6:15. From what has been said it follows that for all the benefits that have been enumerated we are not debtors to the flesh, which enslaved us to sin and which of itself would again reduce us to slavery. The Apostle leaves it to be understood that we are debtors to the Spirit, to live according to its dictates rather than according to the dictates of the flesh.
The works of the flesh lead to the death of the soul here and hereafter. But if we live in the spirit which we have received in Baptism, which is a principle of spiritual life in us, opposing to the works of the flesh the works of grace, we shall live now

Rom 8:11. And if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you; he that raised up Jesus Christ from the dead, shall quicken also your mortal bodies, because of his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

In this verse we are told that they in whom the Spirit of God dwells do not only enjoy now the life of grace for their souls, but that they shall also have their mortal bodies raised gloriously from the dead on the last day. The Resurrection of Jesus and of all the dead is attributed to the Father because the Resurrection is a work of power, and to the Father especially such works are attributed. As God, of course, our Lord raised Himself from the dead (John 10:18) ; but as man He was raised by the Father. The Resurrection of Christ was the type of our resurrection (1 Cor 6:14; 2 Cor 4:14; Phil 3:21; 1 Thess 4:14). The reason here assigned for the resurrection of the bodies of the just is because during life they were the temples of the Holy Ghost. The Apostle is not now speaking about the resurrection of the wicked.

Because of his spirit, etc. There are different readings of this final clause. Soden prefers the genitive reading:  “through the Spirit dwelling in you,” which would mean that the Holy Ghost will be the immediate cause of our resurrection. The accusative reading, which is that of the oldest MSS., has: δια το ενοικουν αυτου πνευμα, i.e., “on account of the Spirit dwelling in you,” propter inhabitantem Spiritus, etc. This latter is the reading adopted in the Vulgate.

Rom 8:12. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh
Rom 8:13. For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live.

These two verses are a corollary from all that has been said since chapter 6, and they give the final answer to the objections of Rom 6:1 and Rom 6:15. From what has been said it follows that for all the benefits that have been enumerated we are not debtors to the flesh, which enslaved us to sin and which of itself would again reduce us to slavery. The Apostle leaves it to be understood that we are debtors to the Spirit, to live according to Its dictates rather than according to the dictates of the flesh.

The works of the flesh lead to the death of the soul here and hereafter. But if we live in the spirit which we have received in Baptism, which is a principle of spiritual life in us, opposing to the works of the flesh the works of grace, we shall live now the life of grace, and hereafter the life of glory. There are, therefore, for the Christian the alternatives of eternal life, if he lives according to the spirit; or of eternal death, if he follows the dictates of the flesh. The spirit here means the principle of the spiritual life, namely, grace (Cornely), and not the Holy Ghost (Zahn, Kuhl). With this verse St. Paul has done with the flesh, and turns to consider more exclusively the spirit.