Saturday, June 25, 2016

Commentary on Romans 13

 A Summary of Romans 13:1-7

We find here no special introduction to the subject which the Apostle begins to discuss. The connection, however, with what precedes is this, that after having given certain counsels regarding the private life of Christians, he now turns to consider their duties to the civil authority. Aside from a desire for completeness in indicating the duties of Christians, there seems to have been no special reason why St. Paul took up this question of civil obedience. The treatment is general, and does not appear to have been occasioned by any pressing need in Rome. Of course in those early days the Christians were generally regarded as a Jewish sect, or at least as having sprung from the Jews, and there was perhaps reason to fear lest, for some causes, the punishments which were frequently inflicted by the Roman authority on the latter might at times be visited on the former. At any rate, the Christian communities throughout the Empire were becoming more and more numerous, and there was an ever-increasing need, for the sake of private duty as well as public peace and safety, of clear and explicit views regarding the Christian's attitude and obligations toward lawful civil authority. Therefore, the Apostle enjoins that the faithful be obedient to their civil rulers; for to resist their lawful superiors is to resist God, from whom all authority is derived. Civil superiors are divinely empowered for the promotion of good and the repression of evil. Hence it is needful to be obedient for the sake of one's conscience. The Apostle confirms his doctrine by the fact that the faithful pay their taxes to civil magistrates as if to the ministers of God. Let each one, therefore, render to all men their dues.

Rom 13:1. Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God.

Every soul, i.e., every human being. There is no question here of animals or things inanimate.

Be subject, i.e., be respectful and obedient, saving, of course, the rights of God and of conscience. St. Paul is supposing the authority to be just and lawful, and to be rightly exercised.

To higher powers, i.e., to the State, to those that have lawful authority in any degree. Those who have authority are said to be higher powers (υπερεχουσαις = hyperechousais) , or to possess higher powers by reason of the superiority which is theirs with respect to those under them. Hence the meaning is that all lawful superiors are to be obeyed, whether those superiors are personally good or bad, or are in places of higher or lower dignity. And the reason for this is that all power is from God. God is the Creator and supreme Regulator of all things, and consequently all power to administer affairs, or to rule under God, comes radically from Him alone.

Those that are, i.e., the superiors that now possess authority are ordained, i.e., have been constituted by God, and should therefore be obeyed in all things that come within the limits of their authority.

Rom 13:2. Therefore he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation.

Since all authority is from God, it follows that he who resisteth power or authority, i.e., he who will not be subject to authority, opposes the divine ordinance which God has established. To rebel, therefore, against authority is to sin against God and against man; and they who act thus purchase, better, "shall purchase," to themselves damnation, i.e., they shall become liable to temporal punishment here and to eternal punishment hereafter. As said before, St. Paul is supposing the civil power to be exercised within its proper limits, and consequently not to encroach upon the rights of God. Habet autem hoc divina ordinatio, ut potestati inferiori non obediatur contra superiorem = "But the divine order requires that a lower power not be obeyed in opposition to a higher one" (St. Thomas).  The quote is taken from Aquinas' Lectures on Romans 13, #1028: "But contrary to this is the fact that the Apostles and Martyrs appear to have resisted potentates and authorities and did no receive damnation from God as a result, but rather, a reward. The response is that the Apostle is now speaking of one who resists a lower power as established by God. But the divine order requires that a lower power not be obeyed in oppostion to a higher one, as a duke is not obeyed against God, as in Acts 5:29: 'We must obey God rather than men.'"

In the Vulgate acquirunt should be future, to agree with the Greek. As indicated above, purchase should read in the future tense, shall purchase.

Rom 13:3. For princes are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good: and thou shalt have praise from the same.

The civil authority has been ordained by God and holds its power from God, in order to promote good and to curb evil.

Princes, i.e., rulers (αρχοντες = archontes) are not objects of fear to those who do good, but to those who do evil. Those who do good, far from fearing, have a right to expect praise from those in authority. Cf. 1 Pet. 2:13-14.

The boni operis, sed mali of the Vulgate should be bono operi, sed malo, according to many MSS.

Rom 13:4. For he is God's minister to thee, for good. But if thou do that which is evil, fear: for he beareth not the sword in vain. For he is God's minister: an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil.

 He, i.e., civil authority, or the one possessing it, has been constituted by God and ordained for good, i.e., for the benefit of all the members of society. The first object of authority, then, is to promote the welfare of its subjects; the second is to repress and punish evil as a menace to the good to which the members of society are entitled. The sword is the symbol or emblem of the right to inflict capital punishment for crimes committed against the social and civil power.

Rom 13:5. Wherefore be subject of necessity, not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake.

As a result of the fact that authority is from God, and the possessor of authority is God's minister, it follows that we should be subject to our lawful superiors by the very nature of the case. Not that our liberty is taken away, but only that there is need to be subject (αναγκη υποτασσεσθαι = ananke hypotassesthai) , and this for two reasons: for wrath, i.e., out of fear of the punishment which disobedience merits, and for conscience' sake, i.e., for the peace of our conscience, which dictates submission to those who represent God. From this it is clear that legitimate human law and authority oblige in conscience, so that those who transgress them are liable to temporal punishment and are guilty of sin and deserve punishment from God.

Rom 13:6. For therefore also you pay tribute. For they are the ministers of God,
serving unto this purpose

For therefore (δια τουτο γαρ = dia touto gar) . St. Paul appeals to the ordinary practice of the Christians to prove their duty of obedience to the civil authority. They pay tribute, because they recognize that they are held in conscience to obey the law, and further because they look upon the revenue officers as ministers of God (λειτουργοι θεου = leitourgoi theou), i.e., as taking care of the public interest and providing for the public welfare—functions committed to them by God. Civil rulers who fulfil their charge faithfully are truly ministering to God, they are "God's ministers" in temporal and profane affairs; as, in a higher and more sacred sense, they who serve God in spiritual and eternal matters are His ministers.

The servientes of the Vulgate should be assidue incumbentes (Cornely), or perseverantes (St. Aug.).

Rom 13:7. Render therefore to all men their dues. Tribute, to whom tribute is due: custom, to whom custom : fear, to whom fear: honour, to whom honour.

Making some practical applications of his doctrine the Apostle, in conformity with the teaching of our Lord (Matt. 22:21), says to render to every superior, high or low, the obedience which is due him according to his office. Tribute is tax on land or on persons, land-tax or poll-tax. Custom is tax on exports and imports. Fear means the respect and reverence that are due to lawful superiors.

The ergo of the Vulgate is not represented in the Greek; hence therefore should be omitted.


That which is fundamental to all our duties to all men, whether superiors or equals, is charity, the distinctive mark of the Christian. In it are summed up all the precepts of the Decalogue. There is special need for us to practice this virtue, since our lives are drawing to a close. 

Rom 13:8. Owe no man anything, but to love one another. For he that loveth his neighbour, hath fulfilled the law. 

Owe no man anything, etc., i.e., have no debt to any man, except the debt of love or charity. All other debts besides this latter can be paid finally and completely, so as no longer to exist; but the debt of charity, however constantly paid, is ever due, because it rests on God’s abiding precept and upon the relations of nature and of grace that we have in common with our neighbor. Semper autem debeo caritatem quae sola etiam reddita definet redditorem (St. Aug.). St. Thomas gives the reasons why we can never pay our debt of charity to our neighbor: “First, because we owe our neighbor love for the sake of God, whom we can never sufficiently recompense (1 John 4:21); secondly, because the motive of love always remains, being likeness in nature and grace (Ecclus 13:19) ; thirdly, because charity does not diminish, but increases by love (Phil 1:9).” 

He that loveth his neighbour, hath fulfilled the law, because the love of one’s neighbor is founded on the love of God (John 15:17), and the love of God implies the fulfillment of all the precepts of “the law” of Moses. Cf. Matt 22:35 ff.; Gal 5:14; 1 John 4:20, 21. 

Rom 13:9. For Thou shalt not commit adultery: Thou shalt not kill: Thou shalt not steal: Thou shalt not bear false witness: Thou shalt not covet: and if there be any other commandment, it is comprised in this word, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

This verse proves that “law” of the preceding verse meant the Law of Moses, of which only certain precepts are here cited. St. Paul does not recite the whole Decalogue, but only those precepts of it regarding the neighbor which one might fail to see were involved in the general precept of charity. That he did not wish the other Commandments regarding God and the neighbor to be omitted is evident from the words, “and if there be any other commandment,” etc. The order here differs from the Hebrew text in Exod 20:13 ff.; Deut 5:17 ff.; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20. 

Thou shalt not bear false witness. These words are omitted in the best Greek copies, but they are included in the statement, and if there be any other commandment, etc.

Thou shalt love thy neighbour, etc. These words are taken from Lev 19:18, and signify that we should love all men with the same kind of love with which we love ourselves.

The instauratur of the Vulgate would better be recapitulatur (St. Jer., St. Aug.). 

Rom 13:10. The love of our neighbour worketh no evil. Love therefore is the fulfilling of the law.

Summing up what he has said about charity the Apostle observes that love of our neighbour worketh no evil to the neighbour, as it is in the Greek. That over and above this negative good it works positive good to the neighbor is clear from what follows in the verse, which is a repetition of the end of verse 8. To love perfectly is to fulfil the law, because, as said above, the love of the neighbor is based on the love of God, and this, when perfect, means the fulfilling of all the precepts of the law.

In the Vulgate dilectio proximi should be dilectio proximo, according to the Greek.

Rom 13:11. And that knowing the season; that it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed.

Another reason for practicing charity is drawn from the special circumstances of time in which the Romans found themselves. The Apostle admonishes them that it is now needful that they should rise from sleep, i.e., from the state of tepidity and negligence into which some may have fallen since their conversion. The reason is because time is growing shorter for them. 

Our salvation, i.e., our final deliverance from earth is nearer than when we believed, i.e., than when we were converted to the faith, consequently we should lose no time, but should stimulate all our energies and increase our fervor. Every day that passes brings us nearer to death and to our eternal reward. This was certainly true of individuals, and of the whole generation whom St. Paul was addressing, but we must not thence gather that the Apostle meant to teach anything about the nearness of the Second Coming of Christ for all; he had not forgotten his teaching (11:25) regarding the conversions of the nations and of Israel, which were surely far off”. The “salvation” of the Christians began with their conversion, and its final glorious consummation is drawing nearer every day. This fact the Apostle makes use of here to rouse the faithful from tepidity and negligence, and to stimulate them to vigorous and spiritual effort. Beyond this his argument at present does not go. 

Rom 13:12. The night is passed, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light. 

The night is passed, i.e., our course in this world of darkness and sin is far advanced (προεκοψεν). The night began with the sin of Adam, but the day of salvation dawned with the death of Christ. This day, already shedding its light over the world, and cheering the Christians in particular, will reach its meridian later on in the final glorification of our souls and bodies (5:9; 2 Tim 4:18). Since, therefore, we are living in the daylight of redemption, we should conduct ourselves as children of light and put aside all sins, because these are works of darkness (5:13; John 3:20; Eph 6:12) and lead to eternal night; we should put on the armour of light, i.e., the armor of Christian virtues, and war against evil (1 Thess 5:8; Eph 6:11 ff.; 2 Cor 10:4 ff.). 

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

In this verse the Apostle is showing how different should be the conduct of Christians from the practices of pagans. The vices he enumerates were those commonly practiced by the pagan Romans during the night at their feasts and banquets. The Christians, then, who are living in the bright day of redemption, should be adorned with all virtues and should live and act as becomes children of light, and not according to the immoral standards of paganism.

The first two vices here mentioned pertain to gluttony and debauchery (Gal 5:21); the second two refer to sins of luxury (Gal 5:19); and the remaining were sins against charity and one’s neighbor (1 Cor 3:3; 2 Cor 12:20; Gal 5:20). 

Chambering means all kinds of acts of impurity. 

Rom 13:14. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscences.

Not only should the Christian put away and shun the works of darkness, but he must go further and put on the Lord Jesus Christ, i.e., he must clothe himself with the virtues, the spirit, and the grace of Christ. Already in Baptism Christians are clothed with Christ (Gal 3:27), but it is their duty thereafter to cooperate with grace and thus increase their likeness to our Lord by constantly imitating the virtues which shone in Him. 

Make not provision, etc., i.e., cease to provide for the flesh in the way of exciting and satisfying its unclean and perverse desires and tendencies; all necessary provision and care for the body is not here in question, except in so far as the needs of the body must not be the dominant motives in the Christian’s life.

It is well known that St. Augustine was converted by the reading of the last two verses of this chapter {Confess., viii. 12, 22).

Saturday, June 11, 2016

An overview of 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:19

1 Thess 2:17-3:19 provides the central section of this three part letter and, like the other two sections, it is in the form of a simple chiasmus (reverse parallel):

A1). 1 Th 2:17-20. St Paul and his fellow missionaries expresses a desire to come back to Thessalonica.

B). 1 Th 3:1-8. Timothy is sent back to Thessalonica.

A2). 1 Th 3:9-19. The missionaries again expresses their desire to return to Thessalonica. 


READ 1 THESS 2:17-20

1 Th 2:17. Bereft of you. The missionaries had been forced to leave Thessalonica as a result of persecution (Acts 17:5-10; cf. 1 Th 2:14-16). The word translated here as "bereft" is aporphanisthentes, "made orphans." The word orphanizo was used to denote children who had lost their parents, but also parents who had lost their children. It is in this latter sense that it is used here, building upon the mother/father images used in 1 Th 2:7-11.

1 Th 2:18. Satan hindered us. This is probably a reference to the persecutors who drove the missionaries out, but this is by no means clear. In 2 Cor 12:7 Satan is said to be behind a physical malady afflicting St Paul. Recall too that Satan tried to hinder Jesus' mission (Mt 4:1-11).

1 Th 2:19. Crown of boasting. In 1 Th 2:2 St Paul spoke of the preaching of the Gospel in spite of "great opposition." The word used there was αγωνι (agoni = contention, conflict, etc. See Philippians 1:30; Col 2:1; 1 Tim 6:12; 2 Tim 4:7; Heb 12:1). Agoni (whence our word "agony") was an athletic term denoting various types of competition (foot racing, boxing, etc.). Likewise, crown (Greek: stephanos) is also an athletic term (diadema is the term for royal crown) . St Paul seems to have had a liking for athletic images (Gal 2:2; Eph 6:1; Philip 1:30; 2:16; 3:14; Col 1:29; 2:1; 4:12; 1 Tim 6:12; 2 Tim 2:3; 4:7).

Aquinas on 1 Th 2:19-20~"Then when Paul says: for what is our hope, he gives the reason for his proposal. First, in regard to the future; secondly, in regard to the present (2:20). Paul says: I desire to see you and I give thanks for your blessings which are our hope; for it is on account of these blessings that we hope for rewards from God, when He shall come to render to every one according to his deeds. For the greatest reward of the preacher comes from those whom he has converted. Or joy, because their joy is the Apostle’s joy, just as their goodness is the Apostle’s goodness; for the goodness of the effect is accounted for by the goodness of the cause. Or crown of boasting, because as a result of their struggles he who encouraged them to struggle shall be decorated; for the commander who led the soldiers to combat is decorated: “He who disciplines his son will profit by him, and will boast of him among acquaintances” (Sir. 30:2). 1 ask what is this hope; is it not you? Yes, assuredly: in the future, that is, before our Lord Jesus at his coming; but also in the present, for you are, among all the faithful, our glory: I would rather die than have any one deprive me of my ground for boasting” (1 Cor. 9:15); and joy, for which reason Paul rejoices over their good fortune in the present." 

Before our Lord Jesus at his coming (19). The Second Coming of Christ is a major theme of this letter (1 Th 1:10; 3:13; 4:13-5:11; 5:23-24. See also 1 Th 1:3; 2:12).

READ 1 THESS 3:1-8~

1 Th 3:1-5. Therefore. What was written in the previous section supplies the reason for sending Timothy back to Thessalonica.

When we could bear it no longer. The immediate context indicates that the state of being bereft (orphaned, 1 Th 2:17) from their converts is what they could not bear. They were willing to be left behind, literally, abandoned or forsaken, of Timothy, by sending him back to the Thessalonians to establish them in their faith and to exhort them. Thus is introduced a second thing they could not bear: the thought that their converts might be moved by these affliction. Many scholars see the afflictions as solely a reference to the sufferings the converts were experiencing because of their fellow townspeople (1 Th 2:14), but I would suggest that the missionaries separation from the converts is also an affliction they have undergone. Whatever the case may be, the missionaries had warned the Thessalonians that affliction is to be our lot.

When I could bear it no longer. The letter basically repeats in verse 5 the words that opened verse 1, only changing the plural we to the emphatic singular pronoun, I. A similar change took place near the end of chapter 2~because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. As leader of the missionary band St Paul no doubt felt it necessary to emphasize his own desires and concerns over and above those of his companions.

1 Th 3:6-8. Timothy's return from his mission has brought to an end the missionaries distress and afflictions regarding the faith of the Thessalonians. In verse 1 the missionaries spoke about their inability to bear (literally, "stand") it no longer; now, in verse 8, they are comforted and live if the converts stand fast in the Lord (the Greek word στήκω = stēkō is used in both places).

READ 1 THESS 3:9-13~

1 Th 3:9-10. What thanksgiving can we render to God for you, for all the joy we feel. The missionaries suggest that, given the circumstances and how things have played out, any thanksgiving to God would be an inadequate return for the joy they now feel (recall that in the A1 section the Thessalonians had twice been described as "our joy") Nevertheless, the missionaries pray earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith (recall that in the A1 section the missionaries had expressed their desire to see the converts "face to face"). What exactly it is that is lacking to the faith of the Thessalonians unspecified, however, later in the letter the missionaries do give instructions about things their converts were ignorant of (1 Th 4:13-18). No doubt there were other matters as well.

1 Th 3:11. Now may our God and father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you. Continues the theme of the missionaries desire to return to Thessalonica.

1 Th 3:12-13. May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all men.  The missionaries are here preparing for the final part of the letter where the theme of love will be dealt with extensively (1 Th 4:9-10; 5:8, 12-13).  The statement that love is to be oriented not just to one another but to all men likewise prepares for the next part of the letter. Living in love towards one another will command the respect of outsiders (1 Th 4:11), and Christians ought to do good not only to one another, but to all (1 Th 5:15). Proclaiming the Gospel of Love without living it is mercenary, not missionary.

As we do to you. The missionaries love towards their converts is held up as a model to be imitated (1 Th 1:3; 2:14). Remember that this injunction to love all men is said to those suffering persecution at the hands of their fellow countrymen. 

As the closing verse of today's reading indicates, love is essential so that he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints (1 Th 3:13). Recall that the coming of our Lord Jesus was mentioned in the A1 section (1 Th 2:19).

Friday, May 13, 2016

An Overview of 1 Thessalonians 1:1-2:16

The Prion at Philippi (Acts 16:16-40; 1 Th 2:2)

BACKGROUND: By reading Acts 15:1-18:22 one will get some background specifically relating to the "Second Missionary Journey of St Paul," including how he came to be associated with Silvanus (Silas) and Timothy, co-authors of the letter (1 Th 1:1); the events at Philippi (mentioned in 1 Th 2:2), and Jewish opposition (1 Th 2:14-15). Although the frequent use of plural pronouns in the letter suggest that all three evangelists were active in the composition of the letter, it is clear that St Paul was the primary author (1 Th 2:18, 5:27) and for convenience I'll write as if he were the sole author. 

Read 1 Th 1:1-3. The first verse constitutes an opening address and need not detain us here. In most of St Paul's letters a thanksgiving, thanksgiving report, or blessing, follows immediately upon the greeting; the only exceptions are Galatians, Titus, and 1 Timothy. Although often labeled a "Thanksgiving," 1 Th 1:2-10 is more properly a "Thanksgiving Report." St Paul assures his readers that he thanks God concerning them and then goes on to state why. One should always pay close attention to the opening prayer, report or blessing of a pauline letter, for he invariably hints at subjects that will recur in the body of the letter.

. St Paul gives thanks on behalf of the Thessalonians by doing two things: (a) constantly mentioning you in our prayers, (b) remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ (2-3). As I noted in my previous post on 1 Thess: Prayer/thanksgiving defines the very structure of this letter. Note that the letter begins with an opening greeting and a blessing for grace (1 Th 1:1) followed by a thanksgiving prayer report(1 Th 1:2-10). The letter ends in reverse fashion--St Paul loves reverse parallels. Specifically, St Paul prays for the Thessalonians (1 Th 5:23); asks for their prayers on his behalf (1 Th 5:25); gives a final greeting and blessing for grace (1 Th 5:26, 28). But prayer doesn't just bookend the opening and closing of this letter. Note that each the the three major parts of this letter ends with a prayer which is directly related to the major theme(s) of the part it concludes (see 1 Th 2:13-16; 3:9-13; 5:23).   Faith will become an important issue in chapter 3 (explicitly mentioned in 1 Th 3:2, 5-7, 10), love will be dealt with in 1 Th 3:6, 12, and especially in chapter 4 (though explicit only in 1 Th 4:9). Hope looms large as well, especially in relation to the Second Coming where mention of it opens the entire treatment (1 Th 4:13-5:11).

The emphasis on the "work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope" is also important. St Paul will emphasize his own work/labor (conduct) in 1 Th 2:2, 9-12. The work/labor and conduct of the Thessalonians will be dealt with in 1 Th 4:1-12, 5:12-25 (explicit in 1 Th 4:1, 11-12; 5:12-14). St Paul exhibited steadfastness (or "endurance") in preaching the gospel in the face of suffering and opposition (1 Th 1:2). He will associate his own suffering with that of the Thessalonians in 1 Th 2:14-16 and 1 Th 3:1-8.

Read 1 Th 1:4-10. St Paul renders thanks to God because of his knowledge that God has chosen the Thessalonians (1 Th 1:4). This knowledge is first the result of God's action in his ministry among them, which was done not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction (1 Th 1:5).  Here St Paul is preparing for the extended treatment of his ministry in 1 Th 2:1-12. The power and conviction manifested by his ministry led to the Thessalonians becoming imitators of Paul. This in spite of afflictions they underwent --which Paul himself had undergone just before coming to Thessalonica--(1 Th 1:6, and see 1 Th 2:2). In turn, the Thessalonians became model believers (1 Th 1:7). How they became such is treated in the remainder of the passage (1 Th 1:8-10).

Read 1 Th 2:1-12.  Having spoken about his own knowledge of how things had transpired in Thessalonica (1 Th 1:4) as a result of his visit (1 Th 1:9), he know moves to speak of the Thessalonian's knowledge of how he had acted during his time there. Many scholars are of the opinion that certain opponents of the gospel were claiming that St Paul was just another traveling charlatan. It is, however, quite possible that Paul writes what he does, not because of opponents, but rather, because of failures among some of his converts (1 Th 4:1-8). He wants them to start acting as he did, hence this reminder. My own opinion is that both problems were at play but in the present context (1 Th 1:1-2:16) it is the charge of the opponents that is the concern (St Paul is preparing for 1 Th 2:13-16). To counteract the accusation of charlatanism St Paul invokes his experience at Philippi where he received a beating and imprisonment (1 Th 2:2; Acts 16:16-40). No doubt many a charlatan received such treatment for their doings, but how many of them would have returned to it so quickly? One might argue that a brave charlatan might, but it is precisely at this point that St Paul invokes God as his backbone: we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the face of great opposition (2); and as both the source and end of his ministry: but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but to please God who tests our hearts (4a). These statements of how Paul did act should be seen in close relation with his statements of how he did not act (1 Th 2:3, 4b-12). The tender, familial images in the final verses (1 Th 2:7, 11), along with the reference to Paul's toil (1 Th 2:9) and exhortation regarding conduct (1 Th 2:12), should be seen as laying foundations for the moral exhortations later in the letter (1 Th 4:1-12).

Read 1 Th 2:13-16. And we also thank God constantly for this. Just as the A1 section ( 1 Th 1:1-10 concerning Paul's thanksgiving and the reasons for it) laid the foundations for the B section (1 Th 2:1-12), and for much of the rest of the letter, so too, this second thanksgiving (A2) recaps much of what was said in A1 and B, but also prepares for things to come.

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. The maroon section of verse 13 directly relates to the point that St Paul insisted the Thessalonians knew (1 Th 2:1), namely, that he came among them with sincerity, not as a charlatan. We speak, he said in verse 4, not to please men, but to please God. What they heard St Paul speak, was not the word of men, but the word of God. True, he did refer to the Gospel as his ("our") gospel in 1 Th 1:5, but he immediately went on to indicate that both its power, and his own convictions concerning it, were from the Holy Spirit. It was his gospel only in the sense that he had been entrusted by God with it, and spoke accordingly, thus he wrote in 2:4~we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but to please God who tests our hearts. It is this the Thessalonians know (2:1), and for which he now thanks God.

The red section of verse 13 (see above quote) takes up the theme of work. The gospel (also known as the word of God) which was a power in Paul's ministry (1:5) is also at work in the Thessalonians. Part of Paul's work included having courage in God to declare the gospel in the face of opposition (1 Th 2:2). The gospel that Paul declared to them, and which they accepted upon hearing, has brought them suffering, but for this too St Paul gives thanks (1 Th 2:14-16.).

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Father Callan's Commentary on Romans 5:1-11

Following Cornely and others we have made the second section of the Dogmatic Part of this Epistle begin with the present chapter (see Introd., vii). Up to this chapter the Apostle has been engaged in showing the need of redemption and the necessity of obtaining justification through faith. For him justification is essentially the same as sanctification, although he seems to restrict the term to the first justification from a state of sin and unbelief to a life of faith and sanctification through grace. Accordingly, after having discussed in the first section of the Dogmatic Part of the Epistle the origin and source of the new life of justification, he passes on in the second section to dilate upon the fruits of this new Christian life of sanctification.


A Summary of Romans 5:1-11~In these verses we have an enumeration of the first fruits and blessings of justification. Man justified through faith in Christ enjoys first of all a state of peace. And while the present life is a time of trial, we have the hope that the same love which freed us from sin will also maintain us in our new and perfect state.

But these observations led the Apostle to reflect again on the necessity of justification, and consequently also on original sin, and the relation between it and the Law, on the one hand, and grace and justification, on the other. As a consequence, the remaining verses (Rom 5:12-21) of the chapter treat of the part played by sin, the Law, grace and justice in the history of humanity down to the time of Christ (Lagr.).

On account of the subjects discussed in the second part of this chapter Fr. Lagrange thinks it better to regard the whole chapter as pertaining to the first main part of the Epistle rather than to the second, or as suspended, so to say, between the two. Here, however, we have followed the division given by Cornely.

Rom 5:1 Being justified therefore by faith, let us have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Let us have peace. The subjunctive reading of this clause (εχωμεν) has the support of the best MSS.; and yet the indicative (εχομεν) is preferred by Cornely, Lipsius, etc., because as these authors observe, peace with God is the natural result of justification, not of special personal effort after justification. Still, the phrase can readily mean: “Let us maintain the peace we have by sinning no more, by not incurring again the anger of God, or by reflecting on the anguish of soul we had while in sin.”

Through our Lord, etc., i.e., through the merits of whose Passion and death we have obtained the grace of reconciliation with God (2 Cor 5:18).

Rom 5:2. By whom also we have access through faith into this grace, wherein we stand, and glory in the hope of the glory of the sons of God.

By whom, etc. By the merits of Christ we have obtained through faith, as through its beginning and root, the grace of justification which we now enjoy. Likewise through the same merits we glory and rejoice in the hope—lost through sin, but regained in justification—of having one day a part in the glory and happiness of the children of God in heaven.

The term προσαγωγην (“access”) means that Christ has actually reinstated us in the favor of God.

Of the sons (Vulg., filiorum before Dei) is wanting in the Greek. Fide is more literal than per fidem (Lagr.).

Rom 5:3. And not only so; but we glory also in tribulations, knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
Rom 5:4. And patience trial; and trial hope;

Being justified we not only rejoice in present peace and in the hope of future rewards; but we even find pleasure in trials and troubles, because through faith we know that these give occasion for the exercise of the virtue of patience: they try our constancy and fortitude in the service of God, and thus increase our hope of future glory. We are purified and humbled by afflictions. “As gold and silver are tried by fire, so are acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation” (Eccles 1:5).

St. James 1:3 says, “the trying of faith worketh patience,” i.e., the tribulation which tests faith produces patience. But St. Paul here (verse 4) by trial means the result of patient endurance, the state of those whom God has tested and proved, like gold in the furnace (cf. Phil 2:22; 2 Cor 2:9; 2 Cor 9:13; 2 Cor 13:3). Hence the former is speaking of the cause of patience; the latter, of its effect or result.

Rom 5:5. And hope confoundeth not: because the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us.

Hope confoundeth not, i.e., our hope of future glory is not vain and deceptive like human hope, which rests on the uncertain power and fidelity of man; our hope is unshakable because grounded on the power and fidelity of God. The proof of this is that the charity of God, i.e., the love God has for us (Cornely, Lagrange, and others) “is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us” at Baptism; and this love of God for us now is an earnest of our future bliss with Him. Love or charity is attributed to the Holy Ghost by appropriation, because the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity proceeds from the mutual love of the Father and the Son.

Who is given to us. Literally, “Who hath been given to us.”

The charity of God is understood by other authorities (St. Aug., Martini, etc.) to mean the love we have for God. Since the love we have for God is the effect of God’s love for us, it seems reasonable to understand the “charity of God” both in his sense and in the sense given above. Both God’s love for us and our love for Him are a pledge of salvation and future glory, because charity or sanctifying grace is a habit of the soul and already a participation of the Divine Nature.

Rom 5:6. For why did Christ, when as yet we were weak, according to the time, die for the ungodly?

Another proof of God’s love for us, and of the consequent certainty of our hope, is found in the fact that Christ died for our salvation. When as yet we were weak, etc., i.e., when we were in a state of sin and unable to save ourselves, Christ at the precise and opportune time foretold by the Prophets and foreordained by the Eternal Father, gave up His life on the cross for the ungodly, i.e., for sinners, to save those who were His own enemies.

In Greek the verse is not in an interrogative, but in a declarative form, ετι γαρ, according to most MSS. The Vulgate reading, however, is very old, and is preferred by Cornely and many others. Interrogative (DRB): For why did Christ, when as yet we were weak…  Declarative (KJV): For when we were yet without strength…

Rom 5:7. For scarce for a just man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man some one would dare to die.

To show still more the charity of God for us, which was manifested in the death of Christ, St. Paul notes that it is very difficult to find anyone who would be willing to sacrifice his life, even for a just and good man; while to die for one’s own enemies, as Christ has done, is indeed a singular and unheard of thing. The words just (δικαιου) and good (αγαθου) here are usually taken as synonymous; but some authorities see in the former an honest man, and in the latter a benefactor. Hence there would be a stronger reason for dying for the “good man” than for him who is only “just,” i.e., honest.

Rom 5:8. But God commendeth his charity towards us; because when as yet we were sinners, according to the time,
Rom 5:9. Christ died for us; much more therefore, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from wrath through him.

In these verses St. Paul shows the forceful reasons we have in hoping for salvation and future glory. God, he says, commendeth, i.e., proves (συνιστησιν) His charity towards us especially in this (as said above, in verse 6) that He has offered up Christ in death for us while we were yet His enemies. If He did so much for us while we were still in sin and enmity towards Him, how much more will He save us eternally, now that we have been justified by the blood of Christ! If the death of Christ for sinners is a proof of God’s love for us, it is also a proof of the union between God and Christ, and shows that God in Christ was redeeming the world (2 Cor 5:19) (Lagr.). These verses illustrate how comparatively easy salvation has become under the Christian dispensation, if only men care to make use of the means provided for salvation.

The words, according to the time (Vulg., secundum tempus) of verse 8, are not in the Greek, and are regarded as a gloss introduced here from verse 6. The in nobis of the Vulgate should be in nos or erga nos, to agree with the Greek.

Rom 5:10. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son ; much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

In a positive form, founded on the contrast between Christ’s ignominious death and glorified life, the Apostle here repeats the same thought as in the preceding verse. If through the death of Christ we were changed from enemies to friends of God, how much more now, being His friends, shall we be saved unto life everlasting through the same Christ, risen, glorified, and immortal! Christ who paid such a price to redeem us, will surely complete His work by saving us eternally, if we will only cooperate with His grace.
According to the best Greek reading, by his life should be “in his life”; it is by having part in the Resurrection life of Jesus that we shall be saved.

Rom 5:11. And not only so; but also we glory in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received reconciliation.

And not only so, i.e., not only shall we be saved from the wrath of God (verse 9) and obtain life eternal (verse 10), but even now, in this present life, we glory and rejoice in God our Father, to whom we are united by charity, and whose adopted sons we are through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, who by His death has reconciled us to the Father. God has loved us, has justified us through Christ, has given us His Holy Spirit—He will surely complete His work in us.

The indicative gloriamur of the Vulgate is in participial form in Greek, καυχωμενοι.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Outline of Philippians

Philippians consists of three major blocks of material arranged in a concentric (reverse parallel) structure (note the color coding). In addition, part 1 of the Letter has 3 subsections, also concentrically arranged (note the underlining, italics, and boldface print).

PART 1: Philippians 1:1-3:1. Paul And The Philippians' Partnership In The Spread And Defense Of The Gospel In Spite Of Enemies And Threats To Freedom And Life. A Life Worthy Of The Gospel Will Have Its Reward. Joy And Rejoicing.

A1. Philippians 1:1-30. In Spite Of Conflict, Oppression And Danger To Life, Christians Must Spread The Gospel While Living A Manner Of Life Worthy Of It And Obedient To It. Joy and Rejoicing.
B. Philippians 2:1-18. To Live And Act In This Way is To have The Mind Of Christ And To Imitate His Obedience. Because Of His Obedience Christ Was Exalted (rewarded, saved from death).
A2. Philippians 2:19-3:1. The Gospel Service Of Timothy And Epaphroditus (the latter nearly died for "the work of Christ"). Joy and Rejoicing
PART 2: Philippians 3:2-16. Growth And Gain In Christ Is Dependent On Faith.

PART 3: Philippians 3:17-4:23. One Must Live Worthily And Not As Enemies Of The Cross of Christ. Paul's partner in the Gospel (Clement) must help Euodia and Syntyche end their conflict. The Philippians Partnership In Giving And Receiving. Joy And Rejoicing

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Commentary on Romans 11:1-10

A Summary of Romans 11:1-10

Having shown in the preceding chapter that the rejection of the Jews was due to their own persistent disobedience and obstinacy to the will of God and the divine overtures, St. Paul now is at pains to observe that God, notwithstanding, has by no means ceased to be merciful to His chosen people. For their rejection is not complete; a good number have been converted, although the others have been hardened.

Rom 11:1. I say then: Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

After all the Apostle has said about the culpability and responsibility of the Jews (Rom 9:30-10:21), one would be inclined to think that Israel had been entirely rejected and had ceased to be the people of God. But even before this, when speaking of the absolute right of God to choose or to reject whom He will (Rom 9:6-26), the Apostle had insinuated, in a passing way, that there was still, as in former times of apostasy, a faithful remnant in whom the mercy of God was manifest. Here, borrowing the words of Psalm 94:14, he asks the question plainly whether God hath cast away his people. The answer must be negative, first because the Apostle's teaching cannot be contrary to the promise of the inspired Psalmist. In the second place, he refers to himself, who was an Israelite of the seed of Abraham, i.e., a carnal descendant of the father of the Jewish race, and a member of the tribe of Benjamin which, with the tribes of Juda and Levi, had, in the past, remained faithful to the Lord (2 Cor. 11:22; Philip, 3:5). Finally, if God had entirely rejected the Jews, He would not have selected from among them "the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of his mysteries" (1 Cor. 4:1), and sent them out to preach the faith to the Gentiles (Rom 1:5). So much for an indirect reply to the question proposed.

Rom 11:2. God hath not cast away his people, which he foreknew. Know you not what the scripture saith of Elias; how he calleth on God against Israel? 

St. Paul now responds directly to the above question. It is impossible that God should reject entirely and definitely all the Jews, because God does not thus change His eternal decrees (see Rom 11:28-29).

Which he foreknew, i.e., which he formerly recognized and willingly approved as His own people. There is no question here of those who God foreknew would be faithful to Him, or of the predestined (Cornely), but of the Jewish people as a whole, who would not be finally cast off by God.

Know you not, etc. The Apostle draws an example from the history of Elijah (1 Kings 19:10) to illustrate the designs of God in the present instance. It seemed to Elijah that the whole people had fallen into idolatry and had been rejected by God; but God revealed to the Prophet that a remnant had been preserved. So it is now. While it seems that all Israel has been rejected, there is no doubt that some will be saved.

The scripture, i.e., that section of the Old Testament which deals with Elijah (cf. Mark 12:26; Luke 20:37).

Against Israel, i.e., accusing Israel.

Rom 11:3. Lord, they have slain thy prophets, they have dug down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.

The words of Elijah and the reply of God (1 Kings 19:10, 14, 18) are here abbreviated and cited according to the LXX. They have slain, i.e., the Israelites, at the command of the impious Jezabel, killed the Prophets (2 Kings 18:4).

They have dug down, etc., likely refers to private altars erected by pious Israelites on high places for good purposes, although contrary to the Law (Deut. 12:4 ff.). Living under an idolatrous king these Israelites were not able to adore God in Jerusalem (1 Kings 18:30), and so felt justified in building private altars. At any rate, to destroy these altars, as was done, out of hatred toward God, was very impious.

Alone, of the faithful who adored the true God; or of those faithful who were able to act for God, that is, of the Prophets (Lagrange, Beelen).

Rom 11:4. But what saith the divine answer to him? I have left me seven thousand men, that have not bowed their knees to Baal.

Answer. The word χρηματισμός (= chrēmatismos) here has the sense of an oracle; but it may also have the meaning of answer or reply, because generally the oracles responded to questions proposed. In reality there was an interrogation at the bottom of Elijah's words to God: he was imploring God to intervene. To this God replied: I have left me, etc. In 1 Kings 19:18 we have the future: "I will leave me," etc. The fact remains that seven thousand were preserved from idolatry. The divine reply makes manifest the power of God's grace. In spite of the extraordinary persecution instituted by Ahab and Jezebel, under which it seemed that all Israel had suffered defection, the grace of God was able to preserve from idolatry and hold fast in the worship of the true God seven thousand men, i.e., an indeterminate but very great number (cf. Gen. 4:15; Lev. 26:18, 24, etc.).

Baal was the chief God of all the Canaanite tribes. Baal or Bel means the Lord, and especially the husband. We have here the feminine article with the masculine name, τη βααλ (= ho Baal), most probably because the Hellenist Jews wished to avoid the utterance of the idol's name, and substituted in the reading, the shame, just as the name YHWH was written with the pointing of Adonai. Likely the LXX MS. which Paul was using had the reading τη βααλ (= ho Baal).

Rom 11:5. Even so then at this present time also, there is a remnant saved according to the election of grace.

Applying to his purpose the lesson of the preceding verses St. Paul says that, as in the time of Elias a number were preserved faithful, so now there is a remnant of the Jews saved, i.e., brought to Christianity.

According to the election of grace, i.e., in virtue of an election altogether gratuitous, and independent of merit on the part of the saved. The grace of justification can never be merited (Cone. Trid., Sess. VI, cap. 8).

St. Paul leaves all indeterminate the number of Jews that were actually converted to the faith. He is satisfied to note, (a) that the designs of God were not frustrated, because a remnant has been saved, which is a pledge of future restoration; and (b) that grace is the sole principle of one's call.

In the Vulgate salvae should be omitted, and factae sunt should be fuerunt (Lagrange). 

Rom 11:6. And if by grace, it is not now by works: otherwise grace is no more grace.

Having spoken of grace the Apostle takes occasion again to insist that grace and works are two opposing principles. What is of grace is entirely gratuitous; that which is from works is due as a recompense. The Council of Trent (1. c.) says: Nihil eorum, quae justificationem praecedunt, neque fidem neque opera, ipsam
justifications gratiam promereri.

While St. Paul is speaking here of the call of God to Christianity, the principle he lays down is absolute. Both the call to justification and to eternal glory are equally gratuitous; but when one is already justified and living the life of grace there is no opposition between the works he performs, proceeding from grace, and grace itself. Therefore, works performed under the influence of grace are meritorious of life eternal. Of these latter works, however, there is no question in the present verse. Some of the Greek MSS. and a Syriac version add here: "But if of works, it is no longer grace: otherwise the work is no longer a work." The addition contributes nothing to the sense already expressed.

Rom 11:7. What then? That which Israel sought, he hath not obtained: but the election hath obtained it; and the rest have been blinded.

This verse concludes what precedes in the present chapter.

What then, i.e., what should we say of Israel? As a nation the great majority of the Jews have not attained that which they sought; namely justification, because they sought it through works without the aid of faith and grace.

But the election, i.e., those who were chosen by God have obtained justification through faith and the grace of their divine election.

The rest have been blinded, hardened (επωρωθησαν = eporothesan), so that they have not recognized the Messiah and the true way of salvation. 

That which Israel sought should be "that which Israel is seeking"; and hence also the quaerebat of the Vulgate ought to be present, quaerit, to correspond with the Greek.

Rom 11:8. As it is written: God hath given them the spirit of insensibility; eyes that they should not see; and ears that they should not hear, until this present day.

The blindness of the Jews had already been foretold. St. Paul is citing freely, according to the LXX, and combining two texts,—the first from Isa. 29:10, the second from Deut. 29:3.

God hath given them, etc., i.e., on account of their own perversity and infidelity God withdrew His grace from the Jews, thus permitting them to have a spirit of insensibility, or moral torpor which made them incapable of seeing, hearing or understanding the truth, although it was in their very midst. The term κατανυξεως (= katanyexeos) (Vulg., compunctio) properly means a violent puncture (from κατάνυξις = katanuxis), and therefore great, numbing pain; but in its figurative sense, as used here by St. Paul and in the LXX (Isa 29:10; Ps. 60:5), it signifies torpor, profound sleep, deafness, etc. By reason of their blindness and deafness the Jews failed utterly to recognize Christ and His preaching, or the Apostles and their preaching, in spite of all the miracles that were worked in their presence in confirmation of that preaching.

Until this present day. These words show the persistence of the divine plan, and that the Jews of the time of Moses and Isaias were a type of the Jews in the time of our Lord (Matt 23:32).

Rom 11:9. And David saith: Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a
stumbling block, and a recompense unto them.
Rom 11:10. Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see : and bow down their
back always.

The better to point out the blindness of the Jews, St. Paul now cites the testimony of the Psalmist (Ps. 69:23-24), whose imprecated curses on the Jews of his own time were typical of the punishment that had justly fallen on those of the Apostle's time. The Jews, says the Apostle, have come to regard as advantageous for themselves that which is their ruin.

Let their table be made a snare, etc., i.e., let their table be like a bait which draws the bird to the trap (Cornely); or let their table be set with poisoned dishes destined for certain guests who, nevertheless, will oblige the hosts themselves to consume those dishes (Lagrange). The term "table" principally means the Sacred Scriptures, which were spread out before the Jews as spiritual nourishment, but which were converted by them into sources of error and mischief, and were turned by the Christians against them (MacEvilly).

Let their eyes be darkened, etc. What the Psalmist imprecates for his enemies, who were also his own people, St. Paul applies to the Jews. The Law, which was intended to be a help and a guide for the Jews, and to lead them to Christ, on account of their willful perversity became a grievous yoke and burden that bowed them down to earthly things.

According to St. Paul the hardening of the Jews was the chastisement of a first fault (Rom 1:26). It was, therefore, voluntary (Rom 10), but was not directly relative to life eternal. It prevented the Jews from recognizing the Messiah; but, being only temporary, it can always be changed for the nation as a whole, to
say nothing of individuals, for whose conversion the Apostle was ever solicitous (Lagrange).

A Commentary on Romans Chapter 10

A Summary of Romans 10:1-4

The Apostle protests again (cf. Rom 9:1-3) to the Romans his sincere affection and sympathy for his fellow-Jews. Their failure, he says, is due, not to lack of zeal, but to the error of insisting on their own false notion in preference to the true notion of justice. The theme is the same as in Rom 9:30-33; but, while there he was speaking of Israel stumbling at the stumbling-block, he is here entering into a psychological analysis of the Jewish mind which, in observing the Law, came short of Christ, the end of the Law.

Rom 10:1. Brethren, the will of my heart, indeed, and my prayer to God, is for them unto salvation.

Here St. Paul gives renewed assurance of his abiding interest in the salvation of his fellow-Jews. And yet, their incredulity has put a chasm between him and them, as is evident from the fact that he speaks of them in the third person, while addressing the Romans in the second person as brethren.

The will of my heart (ευδοκια = eudokia), i.e., my strong desire (St. Chrysostom), or my inclination, purpose (Lagrange). The particle μεν (men), not followed by δε (de), is most probably to be used in its adverbial sense of confirmation, meaning here, certainly translated above as "indeed" (Lagrange).

Rom 10:2. For I bear them witness, that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

I bear them witness, etc. The Apostle, who had been a zealous Pharisee, and had himself been eaten up with zeal for God (Gal. 1:14; Acts 22:3), was well able to testify to the zeal of his fellow-Jews. They certainly were most assiduous in studying the law of God, but they failed to understand God's designs. They were at great pains to promote the honor and glory of God, but they were little concerned to scrutinize their own conceptions to see what God's honor and glory might consist in. Hence their ignorance was culpable. Thus St. Paul (1 Tim. 1:13) blamed his own ignorance, and St. Peter (Acts 3:17) said that the Jews crucified Christ through ignorance.

A zeal of God, i.e., a zeal for the cause of God.

Knowledge, i.e., a profound understanding (επιγνωσιν = epignosin) . Cf. Eph. 1:17; 4:13; Col. 1:9-10; etc.

Rom 10:3. For they, not knowing the justice of God, and seeking to establish their own, have not submitted themselves to the justice of God.

They not knowing, through their own culpable ignorance, the justice of God, i.e., the system of gratuitous justification by means of grace through faith in Christ to come, as the Scriptures had announced (Rom 3:21; 41-25). To receive this grace of justification it was needful that the Jews should recognize themselves as sinners, even like the Gentiles; but they were persuaded that it was necessary for the honor of God to establish their own, i.e., to defend as true justice their own idea of justification, based on the external observance of the Law, and the result of their own personal efforts. Considering this frame of mind we can readily understand how they would not submit themselves to "the justice of God," i.e., the justification which God communicates to men, which is a gratuitous gift of God dependent upon faith in Christ. Cf. Philip, 3:9.

 Rom 10:4. For the end of the law is Christ, unto justice to every one that believeth.

For (γαρ = gar) explains why the submission of the preceding verse was required.

The end, etc., i.e., the purpose of the Mosaic Law was to lead to Christ. All the precepts and ceremonies of the Law were types of Christian mysteries, intended to prefigure Christ and to prepare man for His coming. How far astray, then, were the Jews in trying to establish a system of justification independent of faith in Christ! But Fr. Lagrange and others understand τελος νομου (= telos nomou, "end of the law") here to mean not that the Law was ordained and led to Christ, or that Christ was its perfection and fulfillment; but that, since the justice of God is now given in Christ, the Law has come to an end, as an instrument of justice, and has no further purpose (cf. also Gal. 3:25). Hence in the first explanation τελος (telos) would mean purpose; in the second, end, or term. We see no reason why both explanations cannot stand.

Law, although without the article in Greek, means the Mosaic Law, as is clear from the context (Lagrange, Cornely, etc.), and not law in general (Weiss, Zahn, etc.).

That believeth. To obtain justification and salvation faith in Christ has at all times been the indispensable means,—in Christ to come under the Old Law, and in Christ already come under the New Dispensation.

A Summary of Romans 10:5-13

 The Apostle speaks in these verses, first of the justice of the Law, as contrasted with the justice of faith ; he then shows that this latter is also necessary for the salvation of the Jews; there is no distinction, both Jew and Gentile must be saved by faith.

Rom 10:5. For Moses wrote, that the justice which is of the law, the man that shall do it, shall live by it.

The Apostle quotes Moses (Lev. 18:5, according to the LXX) to show the difference between the justice of the Law and that of faith. If a man is able to obtain the justice of the Law, he will have as his reward, temporal, and even eternal life; but this justice is very difficult, being beyond man's natural strength.

The justice ... of the law, i.e., the justice which resulted from an observance of all the precepts of the Mosaic Law.

The man that shall do it, etc., i.e., the man that is able to do such a difficult thing.

Shall live by it. To the observers of the Law there was promised a life of temporal blessings (Deut. 28:2-13; 30:9-10), and also life eternal (Matt. 19:17; Luke 10:25-28). But to obtain this latter it was necessary to observe, not only externally, but also internally, all the precepts of the Law; and, in particular, to love God and have faith in Christ to come (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:36; Rom. 2:13; 4:11)—a task utterly beyond the powers of fallen human nature unaided by grace (Rom 7:22-25). This grace, however, which the Law could not provide, would be given by God in virtue of faith in Christ to come. The Jews erroneously thought they could keep the Law by their own mere natural strength, and thereby obtain the rewards promised.

Wrote should be "writeth," and scripsit of the Vulgate should be scribit, to conform to the Greek.

Rom 10:6. But the justice which is of faith, speaketh thus: Say not in thy heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? that is, to bring Christ down;
Rom 10:7. Or who shall descend into the deep? that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.

To show that the justice of faith, unlike that of the Law, is not difficult to obtain St. Paul here personifies it, and makes it address man in the words of Deut. 30:11-14. These words, in their primary and literal meaning, refer to the Law of Moses, the precepts of which were not difficult to understand; but in their accommodated sense, here made use of by the Apostle (Calmet, Beelen, Cornely, etc.), they relate to the justice of faith,— to Christian faith, which is comparatively easy to obtain, involving no such insurmountable difficulty as ascending into heaven, to bring down Christ, the object of faith ; or descending into the deep, i.e., into the grave, to bring up Christ again from the dead, i.e., to believe that Christ, the object of our faith, descended there. As Moses told the Hebrews that it was not necessary "to ascend into heaven," or "go over the sea" in search of the Law which was indeed very near to them; so here the Apostle, accommodating the words of the Prophet, says that, since Christ descended from heaven and became incarnate once, and likewise once died, was buried and rose again for our salvation, it is not necessary that we should try either to ascend into heaven or descend to the abode of the dead to work out the redemption which Christ already has wrought for us. Since, therefore, the two fundamental mysteries of our redemption, the Incarnation and the Resurrection, have already been accomplished for us, our justification is easy, provided we have proper faith in God through His incarnate and risen Son.

The words of Deut. 30:13 ("which of us can cross the sea") are here somewhat modified by St. Paul ("who shall ascend into the deep"), in order to render more vivid the contrast between heaven and the abyss, and better to accommodate the words of Moses to Christ's burial and Resurrection from the dead.

Rom 10:8. But what saith the scripture? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart. This is the word of faith, which we preach.

The word scripture is wanting in Greek, and is considered a gloss. This verse is the positive complement of the thought of the preceding verses. Justice personified is still speaking. It is not necessary to seek salvation afar off, it is very near. It consists in a word which must be received by faith. As Moses said the word, i.e., the Law, was nigh and easy to understand; so, says St. Paul, it is with the word of faith, which we preach, i.e., the Gospel truths that are necessary for salvation. These words, through the preaching of the Apostles, are carried to all in such a way that all may have them in their mouth and in their heart, without the necessity of long journeys or grave fatigue.

In the Vulgate scriptura should be omitted; justitia, understood from verse 6, is the subject of dicit.

Rom 10:9. For if thou confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thy heart that God hath raised him up from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

The Apostle explains yet more clearly what is required in order to have part in the salvation of Christ. Not only is it necessary to believe, but thou must also confess with thy mouth, i.e., make public confession that Jesus is Lord (the literal order) of the universe, and therefore truly God. This means a public confession of Christ's Divinity, such as was required before Baptism (Acts 8:37; 16:31). Further, besides believing and confessing the Incarnation of the Son of God, it is necessary to believe in His Resurrection from the dead. Paul mentions these two mysteries because they are the principal ones of Christianity, those on which all others depend. If he speaks first of external, and then of internal faith, it is only because he is following the order of Moses' words, which speak of the mouth first, and secondly of the heart.

Rom 10:10. For, with the heart, we believe unto justice; but, with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation.

St. Paul here returns to the natural order and speaks first of internal belief, and then of external profession of faith.

With the heart, etc., i.e., the internal act of faith is the beginning and foundation of justification.

We believe. More literally, Faith is formed (πιστευεται = pisteuetai), i.e., a state of faith is formed on our part, as the present tense indicates. The phrase εις δικαιοσυνην (eis dikaiosynen), and not εις δικαιοσιη (eis dikaiosin), shows that one attains real justice, and not a mere declaration of it, just as salvation will be really possessed (Lagrange).

Confession . . . unto salvation, i.e., salvation will follow upon our faith and justification, provided we persevere to the end of life in the justification we have received, and do not fail to make at times external profession of our faith. Again the present tense, ομολογειται (homologeitai = "confession"), marks a state of justice, and not a mere act, on man's part. Of course, justification, if ever lost through mortal sin, can always be regained by a proper use of the Sacrament of Penance.

Rom 10:11. For the scripture saith: Whosoever believeth in him, shall not be confounded.

The New Dispensation is one of faith which gives to all the same rights to salvation. This doctrine of faith, however, is not new, having been already announced by the scripture, i.e., by Isaiah 28:16. St. Paul had previously (Rom 9:33) quoted these same words of the Prophet; but here he adds the word πας (= pas), whosoever, to the text of Isaias, in order to express more clearly the universality of salvation through faith.

In him, in the context of Isaias, refers to the "corner-stone," which was a figure of Christ.

Shall not be confounded, because through faith in Christ we are reconciled with God and have a firm hope of attaining salvation.

Rom 10:12. For there is no distinction of the Jew and the Greek: for the same is Lord over all, rich unto all that call upon him.

There is no distinction, etc. The Apostle had used the same argument, only more openly, to prove the universality of salvation in Rom 3:29. There he said God was the God of the Gentiles as well as the Jews; here he insists that both have the same Saviour. 

Lord means Jesus Christ (Comely, Lagr., etc.), and not God the Creator, as some of the older commentators thought, because there is question here of faith in Christ. Jesus is the κυριος παντων (= kyrios panton, "Lord over all"), as in Acts 10:36; Philip, 2:11. 

Rich unto all, because by His death Christ has provided an infinite treasury of merits (Eph. 3:8) which He holds at the disposition of all, on condition that they call upon him, i.e., that they believe in Him with their hearts and confess Him with their mouth (verse 10).

Rom 10:13. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved.

St. Paul appeals to the Prophet Joel 2:32 to prove that whosoever will call upon the name of Jesus shall be saved. The same text from Joel was quoted by St. Peter in his sermon to the faithful on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:21). The Apostle applies to Christ what Joel had said of Yahweh, which is a clear proof of the Divinity of Jesus.


 In these verses St. Paul shows all that God has done to lead the Jews to the faith. He has shown already (verse 3) that they misunderstood the justice of God, although it was easily within their reach to grasp and understand, if only they would have had faith (verses 6-13). Now he goes on to prove that they could have made this act of faith, and that if they have not done so, it is manifestly their own fault. Faith should be supported by authorized preaching, and such preaching faith has had, as Isaias proves. But all have not believed. Yet they have heard and understood, and it is their own fault if they have not believed. Cf. St. Chrys., Lagr., h. 1. 

Rom 10:14. How then shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear, without a preacher?
Rom 10:15. And how shall they preach unless they be sent, as it is written: How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, of them that bring glad tidings of good things!

In the preceding verse it was said that invocation of the name of Christ was necessary for salvation. But to invoke a person, it is first necessary to believe in him; and to believe, one must first have learned. One learns through preaching, provided the preaching be duly authorized and reliable. These conditions being presupposed, there is no reason for not believing.

Preaching, therefore, is the ordinary means of learning the truths of faith; but it must be done by those who have the proper authority and the right to preach : there are many pseudo-apostles and pseudo-prophets (2 Cor. 11:13; Titus 1:11). God, of course, is free to make known the truths of salvation otherwise than through preaching, if He wishes, but that would be something out of His ordinary way of acting.

How shall they believe him, etc. The Vulgate querm non audierunt, corresponding to the Greek ου ουκ ηκουσαν (hou ouk ekousan = "whom they have not heard"), would seem to suggest that those who had not heard Christ could not believe in Him. But ηκουσαν (ekousan = "heard") with the genitive sometimes means in classic Greek to hear of or about a person (Cornely). Our English translation, “of whom they have not heard,” is therefore correct, and the Vulgate should read, de quo non audierunt. At any rate, the fact that very few who were then living had seen Christ or heard Him was an argument for the necessity of duly authorized preachers, Apostles, envoys of Christ.

Unless they be sent, i.e., by God, either directly, as was St. Paul himself, or indirectly, through the authority constituted by God, as are all those who receive their commission from the Apostolic body and Church instituted and empowered by Christ. This Apostolate which, through its preaching, is to convert souls to Christ, had already been foretold by Isaias 52:7. The citation is more according to the Hebrew than the LXX. The Prophet’s words refer literally to the messengers who announced the fall of Babylon and the return of the Jews from captivity; but in their mystical sense, as here used by St. Paul, they have reference to the preachers of the Gospel. 

Of them that preach the gospel of peace is an addition to Isaias which is not found in the best Greek MSS. 

Glad tidings, etc., literally refers to the announcement made by the messengers of whom Isaias spoke, but figuratively, to the preachers of the Gospel of Christ. 

Rom 10:16. But all do not obey the gospel. For Isaias saith: Lord, who hath believed our report? 

Although the Gospel was preached, St. Paul here affirms that generally, especially by the Jews, it was not obeyed. He says all do not, etc.; better, “all have not,” etc., simply to soften, as much as possible, the sad truth of Jewish indifference and obduracy. This deplorable fact of disobedience to the Gospel and to the preaching of the Apostles was foretold by Isaias 53:1, whom St. Paul cites almost literally according to the LXX. The word Lord is added to the citation. Isaias was about to describe the passion and humiliation of the future Messiah, and he cried out full of anguish and fear, who will believe what I am going to announce? How few they were who afterwards did believe in the Messiah we are told by St. John 12:
37, 38. 

Our report literally means “our hearing,” i.e., our preaching, what they heard from us.

To conform to the Greek the obediunt of the Vulgate ought to be obedierunt. 

Rom 10:17. Faith then cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of Christ. 

As said above (verse 14), faith cometh by hearing, i.e., by preaching, according to God’s ordinary Providence, and hearing, i.e., preaching, comes by the word of Christ, i.e., by the commission and mandate of Christ given to the Apostles and their successors (Cornely), or by the word revealed through Christ (Lagr.).

Rom 10:18. But I say: Have they not heard? Yes, verily, their sound hath gone forth into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the whole world.

St. Paul anticipates an objection or excuse on the part of the Jews. Will they, i.e., the Jews, say they have not heard the preaching of the Gospel? That they certainly have heard it, he proceeds to prove by a quotation from Psalm 19:4, cited according to the LXX. The Psalmist is speaking of the glory of God being declared by the heavens; and St. Paul, accommodating the text to his purpose (Cornely, Zahn, etc.), says that as the heavens declare everywhere the glory of the Creator, so has the preaching of the Gospel been heard everywhere in the world. Hence there is no excuse for the incredulity of the Jews. 

All the earth and the ends of the whole world are obviously hyperboles, used to express a great truth. The Apostle merely wishes to say that the Gospel was then widely known in the Roman world, and so could not be unknown to the Jews (cf. Acts 1:8).

Rom 10:19. But I say: Hath not Israel known? First, Moses saith: I will provoke you to jealousy by that which is not a nation; by a foolish nation I will anger you.

Another objection is forestalled and refuted by the Apostle. It having been proved that the Jews had heard the Gospel preaching, could it be that they would say that they did not understand it? That is impossible; for the Apostle adduces certain texts from the Old Testament (Deut. 32:21) in which it had been foretold that the Gentiles, far less prepared than the Jews, would understand and embrace the faith ; from which it follows that the Jews could not plead an obscurity in the preaching of the Gospel that would excuse their failure to understand.

Hath not Israel known? i.e., have not the Jews understood (ουκ εγνω = ouk egno)? There is question here of the Jews understanding that which they had heard, namely, the Gospel.

First, Moses, i.e., God through Moses first, in order of time among the inspired writers, threatened the Jews on account of their obstinacy in not understanding, that is, in rendering homage to "that which was no god" (Deut. 32:21), i.e., to an idol; and He told them that He would incite them "to jealousy and anger" by
bestowing first temporal, and later spiritual blessings upon that which is not a nation, upon a foolish nation, i.e., the Gentiles. The pagans were called "not a nation," i.e., an inferior nation, as compared with the religious and moral standard of the Jews. They were looked upon as "a foolish nation," i.e., as almost incapable of understanding the things of God; and yet they understood the preaching of the Gospel which the Jews, with all their superior privileges and divine assistances, did not grasp and obey. The words of Moses found their entire fulfillment when the Jews were rejected and the spiritual blessings of the Messiah were conferred upon the Gentiles.

Rom 10:20. But Isaias is bold, and saith: I was found by them that did not seek me: I appeared openly to them that asked not after me.

St. Paul now cites Isaiah 65:1, whose words clarify the obscurity that might lurk in Moses' words of the preceding verse. God is speaking through the Prophet.

Isaias is bold, i.e., outspoken, without regard for the sensibilities and prejudices of his fellow-Jews.

I was found, etc., i.e., I permitted myself to be discovered, through the preaching of the Gospel, by the Gentiles that did not seek me, i.e., that were wrapped in the darkness of idolatry, and that consequently neither knew Me nor adored Me.

I appeared openly, through the same preaching of the Gospel, to them, i.e., to the Gentiles, that cared not for Me, nor desired My revelation. How much more, therefore, should the Jews have known and understood the Gospel message! In their failure to do this how great was their culpability!

Rom 10:21. But to Israel he saith: All the day long have I spread my hands to a people that believeth not, and contradicteth me.

 Isaiah 65:2 is here cited directly against the Jews. It was said in verses 19, 20 that if a people that did not know God have recognized Him in His manifestations, much more should Israel have known and understood His messages. And why has Israel not recognized and understood the revelation of God in the Gospel? Simply because it was incredulous and resisted God's proffered gifts, because of its continual disobedience and opposition to God. On the part of God there were invitations the most tender; on the part of Israel, obstinate refusal. St. Paul is not retracting what he said in Romans 9 about the designs of God ; he is picturing here the problem under the aspect of the responsibility incurred by human wills deaf to the call of God (Lagrange).

To Israel. The preposition "to," προς (= pros), according to modern interpreters should rather be concerning, with regard to. "To," however, sufficiently renders the meaning of the Vulgate ad and of the Greek προς (pros), in the present instance.

All the day, etc., i.e., God at all times, like a loving father, stretched out His arms and desired to embrace Israel, but in vain.

To a people, etc., i.e., to Israel, incredulous and rebellious. Throughout its history Israel was unfaithful and rebellious to the law and will of God, but its obstinacy and disobedience became most manifest when it rejected the Messiah and His Gospel. To itself alone, therefore, is due Israel's exclusion from the Messianic kingdom. Cf. Matt 23:37; Luke 11:15; John 8:48; 9:10, etc.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

First Thessalonians: Controversies

 Note: Most scholars who hold the opinions I am arguing against in this post accept only 6 or 7 of the Letters of St Paul as authentic. These so-called "undisputed letters" are 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, Philemon, Philippians, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians(?), and Romans. I accept as authentic all the letter in the pauline corpus, however, in this post I have tried for the most part to limit myself to the narrower parameters.   

First Thessalonians originates from St Paul, but not as a single letter. It is, in fact, two of Paul's missives  carpentered together by an editor

 ARGUMENT 1: According to Earl J Richard, what we have in 1 Thessalonians is two letters sent at two different times, but we possess them now as a single letter because someone interpolated an early letter (EL), which he identifies as 1 Th 2:13-4:2, into a later letter (LL, identified as 1 Th 1:1-2:12, 4:3-5:28). Several things are said to confirm this; for example, unlike the other undisputed letters, this one contains two thanksgivings (the LL at 1 Th 1:2-10 and the EL at 1 Th 2:13), and it also contains two conclusions (the EL at 1 Th 3:11-4:2 and the LL at 1 Th 5:23-28). What could possibly account for this except the fact that two letters have been combined?

RESPONSE: First point. Why bother with interpolating one "letter" into another and destroying the integrity of both in the process? It would have been just as easy (and far saner) to keep each "letter" intact, one following the other.

Second Point. Rather than a clumsily constructed, composite document, 1 Thess. is--as the following outline shows--a finely structured, unified letter. It consists of three major parts, each containing three subsection which are concentrically arranged, i.e., parallels (the "A" subsections) constructed around a center ("B" subsections). Such an arrangement explains the second thanksgiving (note: parallels are indicated by underlining and/or italics):

PART 1: 1 Thess 1:1-2:16.
A1. 1 Th 1:1-10. Opening greeting and thanksgiving.
B. 1 Th 2:1-12. Having been entrusted with the Gospel the missionaries acted uprightly in preaching it.
 A2. 1 Th 2:13-16. A second thanksgiving.

PART 2: 1 Thess 2:17-3:19.

A1. 1 Th 2:17-20. The missionaries desire to return to the Thessalonians who will be their hope, joy, and crown of boasting at the Second Coming of Lord Jesus.
B. 1 Th 3:1-8. The missionaries send Timothy to Thessalonica.
A2. 1 Th 3:9-13. The missionaries pray to be able to return to the Thessalonians and that they will be kept blameless and holy until the Second Coming of Lord Jesus.
PART 3: 1 Thess 4:1-5:28.
A1. 1 Th 4:1-12. General moral exhortations concerning the will of God.
B. 1 Th 4:13-5:11. Moral exhortations relating to aspects of the Second Coming.
A2. 1 Th 5:12-28. General moral exhortations concerning the will of God. A closing prayer and final greeting.
ARGUMENT 2: The outline is interesting but it does not really address the two problems mentioned in argument 1. No other letter in the pauline corpus contains two thanksgiving except 2 Thess., a letter not written by Paul, so why does this one have two? Also, what about the two conclusions? Consider this: the conclusion to the earlier letter employs the Greek word λοιπον (loipon) at 4:1 and is rightly translated as "finally." It is properly used at the end of letters as in 2 Cor 13:11, Philippians 3:1, 4:8. If 1 Thess is a single, unified letter, the word's appearance here makes no sense given the length and varies subject matter that follows it.

RESPONSE: First Point. (Note: I wont be dealing with the false claim the 2 Thess is not by St Paul). Prayer/thanksgiving defines the very structure of this letter. Note that the letter begins with an opening greeting and a blessing for grace (1 Th 1:1) followed by a thanksgiving prayer (1 Th 1:2-10). The letter ends in reverse fashion--St Paul loves reverse parallels. Specifically, St Paul prays for the Thessalonians (1 Th 5:23); asks for their prayers on his behalf (1 Th 5:25); gives a final greeting and blessing for grace (1 Th 5:26, 28). But prayer doesn't just bookend the opening and closing of this letter. Note that each the the three major parts of this letter ends with a prayer which is directly related to the major theme(s) of the part it concludes. Part 1 ends with a thanksgiving prayer (1 Th 2:13-16) that picks up the themes mentioned earlier in that part: receiving God's word (cf. 1 Th 1:6); imitating suffering (cf. 1 Th 1:6);  God's wath (cf 1 Th 1:10). Part 2 ends with a prayer (1 Th 3:9-13) which picks up the part 2 themes of seeing the Thessalonians face to face (cf. 1 Th 2:17)' the Lord's coming (cf. 1 Th 2:19); and joy (cf. 1 Th 2:20). Part 3 ends with a prayer (1 Th 5:23) focusing on that part's theme of sanctification and blamelessness (cf. 1 Th 4:3-4).

Second Point. The Greek word λοιπον (loipon) is used 15 times in the NT and has a variety of meanings:  finally, moreover, now, then, besides, it remains, furthermore, henceforth. In the so-called "undisputed" letters of St Paul it appears 7 times (1 Cor 1:16, 4:2, 7:29; 2 Cor 13:11, Philip 3:1, 4:8; 1 Th 4:1). Only two of these are unequivocally letter closings (2 Cor 13:11, Philip 4:8). The claim that Philip 3:1 and 1 Th 4:1 are letter closings relies on the assumption that these documents are composite. In fact, Philippians, like 1 Thess, is a unified, concentrically structured document (see the link to an outline of Philippians at the end of this post). 

As for the translation of poilon as finally, the NABRE gives a much better translation of 1 Thess 4:1~As to the rest. With the word St Paul is introducing the final section of the letter, not the end of an alleged letter. The KJV has furthermore; DRV, as for the rest; NIRV, Now I want to talk about other matters; NIV As for other matters

1 Thessalonians 2:13-16 is clearly an interpolation.

Argument A. Let's look at verses 2:11-12 with verse 17; it reads as follows: for you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. But since we were bereft of you, brethren, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face. It is clear that they go together intentionally and that verses 13-16 interrupts the flow.

RESPONSE: The outline to the letter given above, along with the stylistic feature of prayer closing out each of its three main parts, is good evidence that 2:11-12 was not intended to directly connect with 2:17. As one would expect in a concentric arrangement, the disputed "A2" subsection (1 Th 2:13-16), inasmuch as it closes out part 1 of the letter (subsection "A1", 1 Th 1:1-10 and Subsection "B", 1 Th 2:1-12) recapitulates major themes of these subsections. Most obvious (next to the theme of thanksgiving) is the emphasis that the word of God which the Thessalonians received was not a human word (2 Th 2:13). This builds upon the statement of 1 Th 1:5 that the gospel came to them not in word only, but with power and with the Holy Spirit. 1 Th 1:5-6 also introduces the theme of the missionaries' behavior while in Thessalonica and suggest this as a basis for imitation. 1Th 2:1-12 focuses primarily on that behavior, and opens with a reference to the missionaries sufferings, drawing a connection with the afflictions undergone by the Thessalonians for embracing the gospel (1 Th 1:6). These themes come to a head in the disputed passage, 1 Th 2:13-16.

ARGUMENT B: 1 Th 2:14 speaks of imitating μιμητής (mimētēs) the churches in Judea, an oddity in Paul's writing, for elsewhere, including this letter, he speaks only of imitating the Lord or himself/fellow missionaries (see 1 Th 1:6). This suggests that the verse, and by implication the context to which it belongs

RESPONSE:  Outside of 1 Thess 1:6, 2:14, St Paul uses μιμητής (mimētēs = imitate, mimic) only in the "undisputed" 1 Corinthians 4:16, 11:1. In the rest of the pauline corpus there is only one other usage (Eph 5:1). Of these five instances only the two in 1 Cor are identical (both speak of imitating Paul). The two uses in 1 Thess are each unique (imitators of us and the Lord, 1:6; imitators of the churches 2:14). The Ephesians usage is also unique (imitators of God).  The infrequent use of mimētēs and the fact that outside of the two uses in 1 Cor there is no standard, makes the above argument quite irrelevant. 

ARGUMENT C: The anti-Semitic sentiment of these verses "can hardly be attributed to Paul, who even in his last letter still proudly speaks of himself as an Israelite (Rom 11:1). He never attributes Jesus' death to the Jews but only to 'the rulers of this age' (1 Cor 2:8). Far from being despised by God, the Jews have not been abandoned by him, for 'all Israel will be saved' (Rom 11:26). And according to 1 Thess 1:10 the wrath of God is still to come; it is not something that has already shown itself" (Ivan Havener, O.S.B., Collegeville Bible Commentary on the New Testament, Vol. 8. Collegeville, Minn: The Litrugical Press, 1983, pgs. 25-26).  

RESPONSE: I will respond to the above argument in five points.

Point 1. Among both ancient Pagans and modern men the term "Jew" could/can be used in a pejorative sense; but it is not always used pejoratively. The Jews themselves often did, and still do, use it in reference to themselves. In the pauline corpus "Jew(s)" appears 28 times, 22 of these in the "undisputed letters" (specifically, Rom., 1 Cor., Gal.). Does the charge of anti-Semitism by this alleged anti-Semitic, Gentile interpolator make any sense in light of the reference to the churches of God that are in Judea (2:14)? Are we to assume that this alleged interpolator was under the delusion that those churches were made up of Gentiles, like his alleged self? 

Point 2. St Paul "still proudly speaks of himself as an Israelite." So what! Ulysses S. Grant served the United States of American in two wars and was also President for two terms; yet when he wrote his autobiography he did not refrain from criticizing the War with Mexico in which he had taken part. Only a moral reprobate arrogantly addicted to nationalism, patriotism, race or religion would be incapable of criticizing aspects of his country, race or religion. 

Point 3. "He never attributes Jesus' death to the Jews but only to 'the rulers of this age' (1 Cor 2:8)." This is a very common argument; and a very fallacious one. In 1 Cor 1:10-4:21 St Paul is contrasting various forms of worldly wisdom with the "wisdom of the cross." The worldly wise include Jews who demand signs and Greeks who seek wisdom (1 Cor 1:18-25). Both will be destroyed, "For it is written: 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart.'”  This quote used verse 19 of 1 Cor 1 is quite instructive regarding what Paul is up to in the first part of the letter. It comes from Isa 29:14, part of a broader context wherein the Prophet is inveighing against the rulers of Judea who, in their "wisdom," are making alliances with Babylon and Egypt, rejecting God's wisdom and revelation (see Isa 28:15-18; 30:1-22; 31:1-3). The Gospels and Acts make it clear that the Jewish leaders (rulers) and many of the Jerusalem Jews aligned themselves with Roman rule to bring about the death of Jesus (e.g., Mt 20:18-19; Jn 19:15; Acts 3:17; 4:27-28). 

Point 4: "Far from being despised by God, the Jews have not been abandoned by him, for 'all Israel will be saved' (Rom 11:26)."  Where does the alleged interpolation in 1 Thess. say that God despises Israel or has abandoned it? An anti-Semitic interpretation of the disputed verses is hardly a valid reason for excising them. Oddly, those who perpetrate an anti-Semitic interpretation of the verses and those who want to excise them both ignore St Paul's teaching regarding God's wrath and His plan for Israel.  

St Paul in Rom 11:26 is referring to a future event; 1 Thess 2:13-16 is dealing with a present reality. But note that the verse has been ripped from both its immediate and broader contexts. 

Regarding the broader context of Rom 11:26:  St Paul, speaking of the present reality says that their zeal for God has not been enlightened by the Gospel and they have not submitted to God's righteousness (Rom 10:1-4). Their current state of rejection by God--brought about by their rejection of the Gospel--is for the sake of the Gentiles and is not permanent (Rom 11:11-16). 

Regarding the Immediate context of Rom 11:26: In verse 25 we read, a hardening has (at the present time) come upon a part of Israel. In verse 28 we read, as regards the gospel they are (at the present time) enemies of God

Point 5. "And according to 1 Thess 1:10 the wrath of God is still to come; it is not something that has already shown itself"" Scripture speaks of God's wrath as both a present reality (Rom 1:18) and a future one. God's manifestation of present wrath is oriented towards repentance and conversion so that his final wrath may be escaped from (Mt 3:7).