Sunday, November 24, 2013

My Notes on Luke 21:12-19

Luk 21:12  But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and into prisons, dragging you before kings and governors, for my name's sake.


Before all these things. The words are a reference to what Jesus has just said; i.e., his warning regarding false Messiahs and his prediction of disasters (Lk 21:6-11).

They will lay their hands upon you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and into prisons.... These words recall Lk 12:11-12 and, as a consequence, their broader context (Lk 12). The allusion to Luke 12 reminds the reader that one is to avoid hypocrisy brought about by fear  (Lk 12:1-3); especially a fear of persecution and death (Lk 12:4-12); a fear of losing ones possession due to legal judgments imposed as a form of persecution (Lk 12:13-21), and anxiousness about how one will survive if this happens (Lk 12:22-34).

The words lay their hands upon you will be used in Luke's second volume, Acts of Apostles, in reference to the persecutions here predicted (see Acts 4:3; 5:18). See also: persecution in Acts 9:4; 22:4. Synagogues in Acts 9:2, 26:11. Prisons in Acts 5:19; 8:3; 12:4; 16:23.

Dragging you before kings and governors (ηγεμονος). This is the danger Jesus faced when men tried to entrap him (Lk 20:20). The Greek word here translated as dragging (απαγομενους) will reappear in Lk 22:54 when Jesus is arrested (ηγαγον). Both words are from the Greek root ἄγω (lead, bring, drive, etc.). His being dragged away led to his appearing before King Herod (Lk 23:6-12), and Pilate, the Governor. See Lk 23:1-5, 13-25.  The followers of Jesus will have to endure what he did, facing kings (Acts 12:1; 25:13) and governors (Acts 23:24; 26:30).

For my name's sake. Concerning suffering for the sake of Christ's name see Lk 6:22; Acts 4:7-18; 5:28, 40.

Luk 21:13  And it shall happen unto you for a testimony.

What is to befall the followers of Jesus is to be an opportunity to witness. In Acts of Apostles the act of witnessing both leads to persecution and the persecution becomes an opportunity for further witnessing (read Acts 3-5 and note especially Acts 3:15, 4:33; 5:32). See St Paul's attitude in the face of persecution and imprisonment in Philippians 1:12-18. See also Acts 16:25-32;  Eph 3:1-13; Eph 6:18-20; 2 Tim 2:8-10. 

Luk 21:14  Lay it up therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before how you shall answer:
Luk 21:15  For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to resist and gainsay.

Lay it up therefore in your hearts. Dragged before human courts, before human judges, they are themselves not to rely on human means when it comes to witnessing to the Gospel. Jesus will himself supply them with what they are to say (I will give you a mouth), and with a wisdom which their adversaries will not be able to resist or gainsay. He is here speaking about the gift of the Holy Spirit (see Lk 12:11-12). See the promise God makes regarding Moses and Aaron in Exodus 4:15. Stephen experienced such help (Acts 6:9-10). Boldness in the face of opposition and hostility thus becomes a trademark of the early disciples (Acts 4:8-13; Acts 4:23-31). This is part of the fulfillment of prophecy celebrated by Zachariah, the father of the Baptist (Lk 1:68-73).  

Luk 21:16  And you shall be betrayed by your parents and brethren and kinsmen and friends: and some of you they will put to death

How many pressures do Christians face today from family and friends because they will not cater to their views regarding politics and moral issues such as the intrinsic value of all human life, euthanasia, abortion, sex, marriage, contraception, etc. Judas was an apostle of Christ; Brutus was a friend of Caesar; Absalom was David's son; Benedict Arnold was a general in the Continental Army. Historically, all these have been reprehended and loathed, even by those they sided with (e.g., Arnold died in Britain alone and virtually friendless; and see the priests response to Judas in Mt 27:3-10). Today, however, Catholic politicians and news-mongers who distort, deny, obfuscate the truths of the faith and encourage others to do so are honored for having concocted a Jesus according to their own imagination and liking! A Jesus that does their bidding, and this will be the end result: yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doth a service to God (Jn 16:2).

Luk 21:17  And you shall be hated by all men for my name's sake.

The phrase for my name's sake recalls verse 12,  where I noted: Concerning suffering for the sake of Christ's name see Lk 6:22; Acts 4:7-18; 5:28, 40.

Luk 21:18  But a hair of your head shall not perish.  
Luk 21:19  In your patience you shall possess your souls.

The phrase is used in Scripture to indicate that God protects his own; see 1 Sam 14:45; Lk 12:7. See also 2 Sam 14:11 and 1 Kings 1:52 where the phrase is used as an oath of protection. Like other statement in the today's reading this one echoes back to Lk 12. Christians are to maintain courage under persecution because of the great value their creator places upon them. This should lead to the patience required and spoken of in the next verse. What is promised here is not preservation from persecution and death-that would contradict what has just been said-rather, the promise here refers to eternal life: you shall possess your souls. The use of the word posses in relation to souls recalls Jesus' teaching regarding what is of most value to those wishing to follow him (Lk 9:24-25; 12:15, 33-34; 14:33; 18:29).





Sunday, September 08, 2013

Bishop MacEvilly's Commentary on Colossians 2:6-15



This post opens with the Bishop’s brief analysis of Colossians chapter 2, followed by his comments on Colossians 2:6-15. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on.


ANALYSIS OF COLOSSIANS CHAPTER 2

The Apostle commences this chapter by expressing his anxious solicitude for the Colossians, as also the object of this solicitude, which was to afford them the consolation that would result from their close union in the bonds of charity, and their perfect knowledge of the leading truths of Christian faith (Col 2:1-2).

He next cautions them against the deceitful wiles of the false teachers, both Gentiles and Judaizers. Against the former, he shows that Christ is the great fountain of all knowledge (Col 2:3.) He encourages the Colossians to guard against their false reasoning, and by closely adhering to Christ, to persevere in the faith and Christian life, which they had embraced (Col 2:4–8). He points out the means which the Gnostics would employ to seduce them from the faith, viz., false and erroneous philosophy, opposed to the true principles of Christian faith. These false principles of Pagan philosophy, they should reject, and have recourse to Christ, in whom, as God, was eminently contained all knowledge, who is also the ruler of all the hosts of angels, and, therefore, to be adored before them (Col 2:8–10). Against the Jewish zealots, who proclaimed the necessity of circumcision, and the legal ceremonies, he reminds the Colossians that the circumcision which they received in baptism as far surpassed that of the Jews, as the reality exceeds the sign (Col 2:11-12).

He ascends to the source of their spiritual blessings, viz., redemption through Christ, and graphically describes the mode in which redemption was accomplished, and the triumph which Christ achieved over the whole hosts of demons, driving them before his triumphal car, as so many trophies of victory (Col 2:13-15). From the foregoing he infers, that the Colossians should pay attention neither to the Judaizers, who endeavoured to turn them aside from these real blessings to vain, empty shadows (Col 2:16-17), nor to the Simonians or Gnostics, who encouraged the false worship of angels (Col 2:18)—and adhered not to Christ, the head of the Church, from whom she derived all graces (Col 2:19). He concludes the chapter, by mildly rebuking the Colossians for attending to the false teaching of either the Gnostics or Judaizers (Col 2:20-23).

Col 2:6 As therefore you have received Jesus Christ the Lord, walk ye in him:


As, then, you have been instructed in Christ Jesus; so persevere in his doctrine and in the observance of his precepts;

“Jesus Christ the Lord.” In Greek, Christ Jesus the Lord. He tells them to persevere in the faith of Christ, taught them by Epaphras, at their conversion. See Col 1:3-8.

Col 2:7 Rooted and built up in him and confirmed in the faith, as also you have learned: abounding in him in thanksgiving.


Having been engrafted on him as the stock and root, and reared on him as the foundation, and confirmed in the faith which you have learned; nay, advancing in grace and faith, with thanksgiving for so many distinguished favours.

Under a twofold similitude of a tree, and of an edifree, the Apostle represents their close connexion with Christ. He is the foundation: they, the superstructure, He is the root, and the stock; they, the tree or branches. This verse is connected with the preceding, thus: persevere in his doctrine, &c., having been ingrafted on him, &c., so as to increase and advance in faith and grace with thanksgiving.

“Abounding in him.” In Greek, abounding in it. The Vulgate reading is found in some of the chief manuscripts.

Col 2:8 Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy and vain deceit: according to the tradition of men according to the elements of the world and not according to Christ. 


(Since, then, by ceasing to be in connexion with Christ, you would be as so many trees without roots, edifices without foundations); Take care, lest any person deceive you, and rob you of your faith, by the display of false philosophy, which is no better than empty fallacy, calculated to impose upon us; the teachings of which are not derived from the authority of God, but founded on the corrupt and false opinions of men, and grounded on elementary principles either false in themselves, or falsely applied, and altogether at variance with the doctrine of Christ, and, therefore, to be rejected.

The philosophy condemned here by the Apostle is not the science of philosophy, the knowledge of human things derived, by legitimate reasoning, from certain fixed principles; he only condemns the false and erroneous systems of Pagan philosophy, wherein were contained the most monstrous errors in matters appertaining to God and religion. It was a philosophy which, in reference to religion, was nothing but “vain deceit,” which inculcated systems of belief, founded only on the corrupt inventions of men, transmitted from generation to generation; founded on elementary axioms, either false or falsely applied, and outstripping the proper limits to which they could be applied. See, for example, the abuse which they made of the logical axiom, quæ sunt eadem uni tertio, sunt eadem inter se, in reference to the mystery of the Trinity. See, also, the moral axiom current with the philosophers, expedit populos decipi in negotio religionis. The “elements of the world,” may, according to some, refer to the carnal outward precepts of the ceremonial law of the Jews, in which sense, the word “elements” is employed, chapter 4 verse 3, of the Epistle to the Galatians (Gal 4:3); in this interpretation, he is here alluding, partly, to the errors of the Judaizantes.

“But not according to Christ.” In this, he condemns the system of religion introduced by the Gnostics and Judaizantes; because, they were opposed to the purity of the gospel.

“Beware lest any man cheat you.” The Greek for “cheat,” συλαγωγων, means, to despoil, or lead away captive.

Col 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead corporeally.


Let no one seduce you from Christ: for, in him, the entire plenitude of the Godhead dwells, really and substantially, or personally, in a manner somewhat resembling the dwelling of the soul in the body.

The Apostle assigns the reason, why they should follow Christ, as teacher, in preference to those opposed to him, viz., because he is God: and hence, in him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He adds this rather than repeat the third verse, because it is the truth announced in this verse, viz., that Christ is God, which verifies Col 2:3. Hence, no other is to be heard before him. “Corporally,” i.e., personally. The divine Person has really assumed the human nature of Christ, so that the divine Person is alone the Person of this perfect humanity.

Col 2:10 And you are filled in him, who is the head of all principality and power.


And you are abundantly filled by him with all gifts and knowledge necessary for salvation without recurring to the law of Moses or the philosophy of the Gnostics. And he is the head, the ruler and master of all the angels, and hence, to be adored in preference to them.

“Who is the head of all principality and power.” He is the head of all the good angels, represented by the two orders referred to, inasmuch as he is their Lord, and rules them, to promote their happiness. This is added by the Apostle in opposition to the Gnostics, who inculcated the adoration of angels. This verse is more fully expressed (Ephesians, 1).

Col 2:11 In whom also you are circumcised with circumcision not made by hand in despoiling of the body of the flesh: but in the circumcision of Christ.


In whom, also, you have received circumcision, not like the Jewish circumcision, made by hands consisting merely in taking away the foreskin from the body of the flesh, but a spiritual circumcision, consisting in the destruction of sin, and of sinful passions, of which the circumcision among the Jews was but a mere type or figure.

He cautions them against the Jewish zealots, who endeavoured to superadd the rite of circumcision to the Christian religion, and says, we have a circumcision which as far surpasses that in use among the Jews, as the reality, or thing signified, exceeds the sign and the figure. In the Greek, the particle, “but,” is omitted, and the word “sins,” added to the preceding clause, thus: in despoiling of the body (of the sins) of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ; a reading, according to which, the entire verse is understood without any antithesis of the circumcision of Christ, thus: by whom you were circumcised with a circumcision not made by hands, which consists in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, in other words, in entirely laying aside the old man of sin, which is the circumcision of Christ, and not of Moses. This is a very probable interpretation.

Col 2:12 Buried with him in baptism: in whom also you are risen again by the faith of the operation of God who hath raised him up from the dead.

You received this spiritual Christian circumcision, when in receiving baptism you were buried, and consequently dead to your sins, with Christ, in which baptism also, while emerging from its waters, you rose to a new spiritual life of grace, of which spiritual resurrection, faith in the omnipotence of him who raised Christ from the dead is required as a necessary condition.

He shows how this circumcision is effected by baptism. The immersion in baptism—the form, in which it was conferred in the time of the Apostle—is a type of our burial, and consequently of our death to sin, which death to sin it also operates as well as signifies; and the emersion from the waters of baptism is also a type of our spiritual resurrection to a life of grace, which resurrection it also effects, requiring as a condition, faith in the omnipotence of him who raised Christ from the dead.

Col 2:13 And you, when you were dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he hath quickened together with him, forgiving you all offences:

And you, when dead in your sins, both actual and original, together with the passions flowing from original sin, were raised by him to spiritual life, by an effort of the same power by which he raised Christ from the dead, pardoning all your sins, through his merits.

When they were dead in their actual and original sins as well as in all the evils flowing from original sin, he raised them spiritually, with Christ, and made them desert their former vicious ways, and live to God, “and the uncircumcision of your flesh,” the sign, for the thing signified, the foreskin, for original sin, and the evils following from it.

Col 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of the decree that was against us, which was contrary to us. And he hath taken the same out of the way, fastening it to the cross. 

Having first blotted out and abolished the sentence of eternal death, which had been recorded against us all, by the decree of God after the sin of Adam, and the same sentence he took out of the way and annulled, by nailing it to his cross, i.e., destroying it, by the atonement and satisfaction which he made on the cross.

In this verse, some Expositors say, there is reference to the abolition of the obligation which every Jew had contracted to observe the law of Moses. Hence, by “handwriting” they understood the liability to observe “the decree,” or Mosaic law. Others, following the Greek reading, which is, τοῖς δόγμασιν, by decrees, understood it to have the same meaning that it has in the passage to the Ephesians (2:15), “the law of commandments in decrees,” which refers to the abolition of the ceremonies of the Mosaic law, and the substituting of “the decrees,” or precepts of the Christian faith, in their stead. This interpretation, however, does not well accord with the next verse; for, how can it follow from his abolishing the Mosaic ceremonial law, that he was “despoiling principalities,” &c.? (15). Besides, the Mosaic law is never called a “decree;” and if we desert the Vulgate reading, to which the Ethiopic version is conformable, and read, “by decrees,” we must confine it to the Jews; whereas, it is clear that the Apostle refers to all, by saying, “you,” verse 13, “us,” this verse. Hence, the common interpretation is far the more probable, which makes “handwriting” refer to the liability to eternal death pronounced against us by the “decree” of God after the sin of Adam, of which, by an unsearchable judgment of God, we were all made sharers; and this liability or sentence is called “a handwriting,” either because we ourselves, by actual sin, subscribed to the justice of this sentence of punishment, or probably, to signify that it is as certain against us as is the debt against the debtor, whose bond or note of hand is in the possession of the creditors. “Fastening it to the cross;” this refers to the ancient custom of annulling bonds or covenants, by driving a nail through them. Hence, the words may be translated, driving a nail through it by his cross, i.e., by the satisfaction made on the cross. All this, therefore, refers to the atonement which Christ made for the sins of all mankind, by his death on the cross.

Col 2:15 And despoiling the principalities and powers, he hath exposed them confidently in open shew, triumphing over them in himself.


And stripping the entire host of infernal spirits, who were to be the executioners in carrying out this decree, of the dominion and power they had over man, he exposed them publicly to the gaze and derision of men and angels, triumphing over them thus prostrate and vanquished, by his own power.


These words are very expressive of Christ’s triumph over his prostrate enemies; he first stripped them of the power which they had over mankind, during the time that this sentence of death was hanging over their heads. He afterwards publicly exposed them to derision, dragging them after his triumphal car, or rather driving them before it, as so many trophies of victory. This public exposure of the devils is now made before angels and men, who see it by faith; but it will be evidently seen, on the great day of judgment. The two orders, of “principalities” and “powers,” are put for all the orders of demons. There is but one word in the Greek corresponding with the words “confidently” and “open show,” εν παρρησια. The word, however, bears both the significations, given to it in our English version, after the Vulgate.

Father Callan's Commentary on Colossians 2:6-17


To help provide context this post contains Father Callan’s summaries of Col 2:1-7 (also posted yesterday) and Col 2:8-23.

WHY ST PAUL WRITES TO UNKNOWN CHURCHES

A Summary of Colossians 2:1-7~
St. Paul writes to the Colossians and their neighbors of Laodicea, though he has never seen them, in order that they may be united in charity and have a full understanding of that divine secret of which he has been speaking. The secret is to know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent (John 17:3). The Apostle is anxious about his unknown readers, because of the specious errors that are abroad among them. Though absent in body, he is spiritually present with them, and he rejoices at the solid battle front their faith is presenting to the enemy. They have learned the truth about Christ, and may they show it in their lives, and ever abound in thanksgiving!

Col 2:6. As therefore you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk ye in him,


As therefore, referring to what he has just said about their firm faith. In this and the following verse the Apostle is stressing the need of continuing united to Christ, or persevering in the faith which the Colossians received from Epaphras, their apostle and master, and of shaping their lives according to its teachings.

The Lord. This expression shows that the historic Jesus was also the Christ, the Messiah, and the sovereign and universal Master. See on Eph 3:11; Phil 2:11.

Col 2:7. Rooted and built up in him, and confirmed in the faith, as also you have learned, abounding in it in thanksgiving.

Rooted . . . built, two metaphors—one taken from a tree firmly fixed in the ground and the other from a house strongly constructed—to enforce again the necessity of adhering to Christ, the sole principle of the supernatural life; and the means of this union is the faith, as they “have learned” it from Epaphras. See
on Eph 3:17, Eph 2:22.

In it, i.e., in faith, producing the full fruit of faith.

The Vulgate in illo should be in ea, to agree with the Greek, though some MSS. have simply, “abounding in thanksgiving,” It was entirely becoming that the faithful should be abundantly grateful for the gift of faith and for the rich blessings it brought them.

THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE FALSE TEACHERS IS OPPOSED TO CHRIST

A Summary of Colossians 2:8-23~St. Paul now directly considers the so-called philosophy of the false teachers among the Colossians, and he finds it is in opposition to Christian principles in doctrine and in practice. It is based on human traditions and worldly elements, instead of following Christ, in whom dwells the fullness of the Godhead, in whom the Colossians will find all they need for salvation, and who is superior to all powers. In Christ they have received the true circumcision, which is of the heart, having been buried with Him in Baptism and risen with Him through faith to a new life. Yes, when they were dead in their sins, God gave them new life in Christ, pardoning them their offences and liberating them from the burdens of the Law. It was the victory of the cross that cast off the principalities and powers, and led them away in triumphal defeat (Col 2:8-15). Therefore, the Colossians must not be judged by regulations and observances which were only shadows of the reality which is Christ. Nor let them be cheated of their prize by a wrong asceticism and worship of angels which would lead away from Christ, the head of all; for it is through Christ alone that the Church attains that full growth which is of God. Since, then, the Colossians have died to the elements of the world, they should pay no need to those things which perish in the using. These precepts and doctrines of men have an outward appearance of value, but they are really impotent against sensual indulgences (Col 2:16-23).

Col 2:8. Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy, and vain deceit: according to the traditions of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ:


Cheat you. Better, “make you his spoil,” or “spoil you.”

Philosophy here is to be understood in a wide sense, as embracing a system of teaching in religious matters. Thus it was often used in antiquity, as when Philo speaks of the Jewish religion and the Law of Moses as a philosophy (Leg. ad Caium, 23, 33); and Josephus applies the same name to the doctrines of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes (Ant., xviii. i, 2). There is no thought in this passage of belittling true philosophy, which is the fruit of correct reasoning from sound principles.

Vain deceit. The false teachers pretended to have a superior wisdom to communicate, but which in reality was empty and far removed from truth. Instead of coming from God, or divine revelation, or the use of right reason, their so-called philosophy was based on “the traditions of men” (i.e., mere human opinions) and ”the elements of the world” (i.e., certain Jewish rites and institutions, which were regulated by the Jewish calendar, such as new moons, sabbaths, and other recurring festivals). See below, on Col 2:16. Other authorities think the term “elements” here is used in a technical sense “for spiritual beings supposed to animate and preside over the elements of the physical universe, and generally conceived as resident in the heavenly bodies” (so Dodd, in Abingdon Bible, h. l.). It seems best to say with Fr. Rickaby that “it was not the mere observance of Jewish festivals, but beyond that the positive cultus of the heavenly bodies or of angels as controllers of those bodies, that displeased St. Paul” (Further Notes on St. Paul, h. l.).

Col 2:9. For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead corporally;

The faithful must not seek spiritual knowledge and help outside of Christ, for in Him dwells the “fullness of the Godhead,” i.e., the totality of deity.

Corporally, i.e., corporally, totally, entirely. See on Col 1:19 above. Others explain “corporally” to mean, not figuratively, but substantially and personally; or with a bodily manifestation (Lightfoot).

Col 2:10. And you are filled in him, who is the head of all principality and power:

As the fullness of deity is in Christ, making Him all-perfect, the faithful can find in Him all they need for their salvation and religious perfection; they need not seek elsewhere. Christ is the “head of all principality, etc.,” i.e., all angels are subject to Him and inferior to Him.

Col 2:11. In whom also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the despoiling of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ:

The false teachers were advocating circumcision of the body as a means to spiritual perfection; but St. Paul reminds the Colossians that in virtue of their union with Christ they have already received the real, interior, spiritual circumcision, which is of the heart, and which alone counts before God. This spiritual circumcision consists “in the despoiling, etc.,” better, “in the stripping off of the fleshy body,” i.e., in the cutting away of the lower instincts and appetites in man, in the putting ofif of the old man of sin (Rom 6:6).

The word sed in the Vulgate should be omitted.

Col 2:12. Buried with him in baptism, in whom also you are risen again by faith in the operation of God, who raised him up from the dead.

The Apostle explains when and how the Colossians received the circumcision of Christ. It took place at the time of their Baptism, when their immersion in the water signified their death and burial to sin, and their coming out of it represented their resurrection to a new life of grace. See on Rom 6:4 flf.

By faith, etc. In order that Baptism may confer spiritual life, faith in the power of God who raised Jesus to life is required in adults who have the use of reason (Rom 1:17).

Who raised him, etc. The Apostle mentions the resurrection of Jesus, because this mystery is fundamental to Christianity.

Col 2:13. And you, when you were dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he quickened together with him, forgiving us all offences:


Such is the circumcision of Christ, which is conferred through Baptism; and now the Apostle will apply to the Colossians what he has been saying on this subject, recalling first to their minds their former miserable condition of soul as pagans.

The uncircumcision of your flesh means their unregenerate state, in which they obeyed the promptings of the flesh (Eph 2:3).

He quickened, etc., i.e., God the Father raised you to new, spiritual life, “with him” (i.e., with Christ), when by faith you became united to Christ in Baptism. According to the best Greek MSS., the Vulg. should read donans nobis; the forgiveness of sins was something common to all converts, Jewish and Gentile.

Col 2:14. Blotting out the handwriting of the decree that was against us, which was contrary to us. And he hath taken the same out of the way, fastening it to the cross


Blotting out, etc., is parallel to the preceding phrase, “forgiving us all offences” (ver. 13), and means that God had cancelled the indebtedness which our sins had caused to be registered against us.

Handwriting of the decree. Better, as in R. V., “the bond written in ordinances,” i.e., the signature of obligation to observance, whether expressed in the “ordinances,” or “orders,” or “decrees” of the Mosaic Law for the Jews (Deut 27:15-26); or in the dictates of the natural law and conscience for the pagans (Rom 2:12-15).

The reference then is primarily to indebtedness incurred by the Jews in violating the decrees and prescriptions of the Law of Moses, but secondarily also to that incurred by the Gentiles in violating the law written on their own hearts. Therefore, when the Apostle says, “which was contrary to us,” all are included, all were under the curse of law, Gentiles as well as Jews. See on Eph 2:15. Now God, through Christ, has destroyed this account that stood against us, taking it “out of the way,” in which it stood between us and God; and this He did by “fastening it to the cross” of Christ, on which our Lord suffered and atoned for all our sins and transgressions.

The Vulgate chirographum decreti should be made to agree with the Greek, which has τοις δογμασιν (dative); hence we should read decretis, and understand a chirographum which was expressed in or based on “decrees,” or “orders,” or “ordinances.”

Col 2:15. And despoiling the principalities and powers, he hath exposed them confidently in open shew, triumphing over them in him.

As God through Christ has quickened us, forgiving our offences and blotting out the handwriting that was against us (ver. 13-14), so has He spoiled, exposed to contempt and derision, and triumphed over the hostile powers that had held man captive. It was through the Law that those principalities and powers were able to enslave man (Gal 3:19, Gal 4:9-10); and hence those agencies met their defeat when our Lord by His death on the cross abolished the Law, bringing it to an end.

Principalities and powers
. These two terms are used above (Col 1:16, Col 2:10) in a favorable sense for good angels, but here they are taken in an evil sense for demons, as in Eph 6:12.

Exposed them confidently. Better, “made a show of them with outspokenness,” i.e., exposed them publicly to ridicule and contempt, leading them as captives in triumphal procession (θριαμβευσας αυτους).

The Latin confidenter and palam are a rendering of the Greek εν παρρησια (“confidently in open show”); and in semetipso should be in eo (εν αυτω), i.e., in Christ, or In the cross. It is not certain whether the subjects of the verbs in verses 13-15 should be understood to be God or Christ, but it seems better, in the light of the context, to take God as the subject. God triumphed over the enemies of man through Jesus Christ by means of the cross of Christ.

Col 2:16. Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of a festival day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath,
Col 2:17. Which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ.


So far, in Col 2:8-15, St. Paul has been opposing the erroneous speculations of the false teachers, and now, in Col 2:16-23, he will attack their false asceticism. He warns his readers not to be disturbed about their neglect of outworn Mosaic observances regarding food and drink, the Jewish festivals, such as the New Moon, the Sabbath, and the like, the importance of which the false teachers were stressing and magnifying. All these things were good in their day, under the Old Law, as foreshadowing the reality to come, which was Christ; but now that Christ has come, these things are done away; they are a hindrance to be avoided.

The Vulgate sabbatorum  (Sabbath) is according to the Greek, but σαββατων (Sabbaths), though plural in form, is singular in meaning (Matt 12:1; Mark 1:21, Mark 3:2; Luke 4:16, etc.).

Bishop MacEvilly's Commentary on Colossians 1:24-2:3

Text in purple indicates the Bishop's paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on.

Col 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church:

Who now rejoice in the sufferings, which I endure for your sake and for your good, because, by them I fill up and complete in the place of Christ these sufferings which he left to be endured for his mystical body, which is his Church.

“And fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ.” In this, it is by no means implied, that anything was wanting to the sufferings of Christ, as a sufficient atonement. This would be heretical; for, Christ made not only a sufficient, but also a superabundant atonement. But although Christ did this, and would even wish to submit to every kind of suffering, necessary for the formation and perfection of his Church; still, it was the will of God, that to his Apostles and the ministers of the gospel he would leave much to be endured for his Church, and that in his own place, as the Greek for “fulfil,” ανταναπληρω, implies. So that “wanting,” (ὐστερήματα, shortcomings), does not regard “the sufferings of Christ,” but wanting on the part of St. Paul to be endured for the Church. He, then, rejoices in having to undergo what was wanting to himself, or, on his own part, of the sufferings he was to have undergone for the Church, in quality of minister of Christ. Others, by “the sufferings of Christ,” understand the sufferings which St. Paul himself underwent. These he calls “the sufferings of Christ,” because Christ regards the sufferings of his members as his own, since they are parts of his mystical body. It was in this sense, he said to Saul, when persecuting his followers: “Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts, 11:24). Hence, as Christ, while here on earth, suffered in his natural body; so, now in heaven will he suffer in his mystical body, in order to apply to us the fruits of his passion. In this interpretation, “the sufferings of Christ,” mean the sufferings which Christ endures in the members of his mystical body. This latter is the common interpretation; the former, nevertheless, appears the more probable.

Col 1:25 Whereof I am made a minister according to the dispensation of God, which is given me towards you, that I may fulfil the word of God:


Of which mystical body, or Church, I am made a member, according to the wise dispensation of God, by which I am constituted the Apostle of you, Gentiles, and fulfil the promise of God regarding your vocation to the faith.

For the full meaning of this verse, see third chapter to the Ephesians.

Col 1:26 The mystery which hath been hidden from ages and generations, but now is manifested to his saints,

Which vocation of the Gentiles is the mystery that has been hidden from all past ages and generations of men, but is now manifested to the Apostles and faithful of the new law.


“The riches of the glory of this mystery,” is fully expressed in the passage referred to, viz., that the Gentiles were to be made “fellow-heirs of the same body, and co-partners of his promise,” &c. (Col 3:6), “which is Christ,” which mystery, or, great secret has for object, all the leading events of our Blessed Redeemer’s life, death, and resurrection. He is the cause and fountain of our hope.

Col 1:27 To whom God would make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ, in you the hope of glory.

To whom God wished to make known how vast are the riches and the glory of this great secret which is accomplished among the Gentiles, which has for object, Christ, who is the cause of your hope of eternal glory.

Col 1:28 Whom we preach, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.

Whom we announce, rebuking every man living in ignorance and sin, and instructing every man in the perfect knowledge of God and of his mysteries, wherein consists true wisdom, so as to exhibit every man as possessing a perfect knowledge of the faith and gospel of Christ.


“Admonishing every man,” &c., i.e., every man that we can admonish, excluding no man, so as to be able to have every man within our reach, perfectly instructed in the mysteries of God. Happy the pastor of souls, who at judgment can exhibit those committed to his charge instructed in the necessary truths of faith! But how few are there who can meet death with this confidence—how many are there whose little ones cry for bread, without one to break it for them!

Col 1:29 Wherein also I labour, striving according to his working which he worketh in me in power.


In discharging this duty I labour strenuously, exerting myself according to the strength which Christ powerfully exercises in me.


“Which he worketh in me in power,” may mean, which he worketh, or which is worked in me, by the power of performing miraculous wonders, confirmatory of the doctrine preached, or, the strong internal virtue conferred on him by divine grace.

Col 2:1 FOR I would have you know what manner of care I have for you and for them that are at Laodicea and whosoever have not seen my face in the flesh:


For, I wish to make known to you my anxiety and solicitude for you and the people of Laodicea, and for all others, who, as well as you, have never seen me.

“For” is a connecting link between this and the last verse of the preceding chapter, as if he said: I have made mention of my labours and exertions, because I wish you to know the struggle I sustain for you.

“What manner of care.” In Greek, ἀγῶνα, what a struggle or contest. From this verse, it is commonly inferred that St. Paul, although he visited some part of Phrygia, had never been at Colossæ. Theodoret, however, comes to an opposite conclusion; but, his inference is very improbable.

Col 2:2 That their hearts may be comforted, being instructed in charity and unto all riches of fulness of understanding, unto the knowledge of the mystery of God the Father and of Christ Jesus:


The object of my labours, and anxious solicitude both for you and them is, that your hearts may be filled with spiritual consolation, having been firmly united by the bond of charity, and furnished with the most perfect and valuable knowledge, and firm persuasion regarding those truths, that appertain to the mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The end and object of his anxiety was, to procure for them true spiritual consolation, which is acquired by being united in charity (for “instructed in charity,” the Greek is, συνβιβασθεντων, united, compacted, as joints are in a body); and also, by being introduced to, or furnished with, “all riches of fulness of understanding,” i.e., the fullest and most perfect knowledge and persuasion. The words, furnished with, introduced to, or some such expression, must be understood, to make full and perfect sense; it is implied in the foregoing Greek participle. “Unto the knowledge of the mystery of God the Father,” who is the principle of the Godhead, one in nature, and three in persons; “and of Jesus Christ;” in other words, regarding the two grand, fundamental mysteries of the Trinity and Incarnation—the two great points in which the Gnostics wished to corrupt the faith of the Colossians. Charity and perfect knowledge are means to obtain consolation. “Of God the Father,” &c. In Greek, of God and of the Father, and of Christ.

Col 2:3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

In whom—the man God—are concealed, in such a way as never to be communicated to creatures, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

“In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” “In whom,” as God and man. As God, his knowledge is infinite; and as man, he has the most perfect finite knowledge. “Are hid;” hid (ἀπόκρυφοι), is an adjective. “All the treasures” express the great abundance of this knowledge, &c. Nothing can escape him. In him they are “hid.” No creature can fully know them. The finite share which we are capable of comprehending, is known to us from revelation. From Christ, then, is to be obtained all that knowledge of which the Gnostics boasted, as their name implies, and for which they wished that recourse should be had to other sources than Christ.

Father Callan's Commentary on Colossians 1:24-2:3

This post On Col 1:24-2:3 includes Father Callan’s brief summaries of Col 1:24-29 and Col 2:1-7 in order to help provide context for the reader.

THE APOSTLES COMMISSION

A Summary of Colossians 1:24-29~Paul tells the Colossians that he is suffering on their account, but that this is a source of joy to him since his afflictions help the Church to contribute her part toward the sufferings of Christ; for God has commissioned him a servant of the Church for the purpose of making known the long-hidden mystery that Gentiles, as well as Jews, are to be embraced in the one Church of Christ, thus becoming heirs of heavenly glory. This is the universal doctrine St. Paul proclaims, laboring and striving with the help of divine power.

24. Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church.


The qui (“who rejoice”) of the Vulgate at the beginning of this verse is not supported by the best Greek MSS. St. Paul will explain in the verses that follow (up to Col 2:3 inclusive), why he is writing to a Church he has not founded, nor ever visited.

Now I rejoice
, etc. The Apostle is in prison for preaching to pagans the same Gospel that the Colossians have received, and he rejoices on their behalf, because of the spiritual benefits his afflictions bring to them and to the Church.

Fill up those things, etc. Better, “fill up on my part (ανταναπληρω) those things, etc.” The Apostle does not mean to say that his labors and sufferings on behalf of the Gospel added anything to the efficacy and satisfactory value of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and death on the cross, which, being superabundant and infinite, were more than sufficient for the redemption of all mankind, and of many more worlds than ours (St. Thomas). But by “the sufferings of Christ” he means here the fatigue, labors, persecutions, and the like, endured by our Lord in His public life and ministry, which, as they were the lot of Christ, the head, during His brief mortal existence, must also be the lot of His mystical body, the Church, till the end of time; it is these sufferings of Christ’s mystical body that must be supplied by the Apostles and their true followers throughout the history of the Church. Our Lord labored, preached and suffered for a time for the spread of the Gospel, and His Church must continue through its ministers to labor, to preach and to suffer for all time for the same purpose, thus vicariously supplying to the ministry of Christ what was not possible for our Lord in person to supply. This is the obvious and natural meaning of this great passage. But the Greek Fathers explain it otherwise. Admitting that the passion of our Lord was entirely sufficient to save all mankind, they hold that its fruits are not applied to all except through the sufferings of the saints; and hence what is “wanting of the sufferings of Christ” is their application through the trials and tribulations which the Apostles and the faithful endured and continue to endure for Christ’s sake and in union with Him.

In my flesh, i.e., in St. Paul’s own body. The Apostle endured in his own body and person many grievous sufferings and afflictions for the sake of the Gospel and the Church.

25. Whereof I am made a minister according to the dispensation of God, which is given me towards you, that I may fulfill the word of God,


Whereof, i.e., on behalf of which, namely, the Church, he has been “made a minister,” or servant, “according to the dispensation,” or stewardship, committed to him by God Himself for the benefit of the Colossians, as of all other pagans. The Colossians were embraced by Paul’s ministry, for to him it was given to “fulfill the word of God,” i.e., to spread the teachings of the Gospel, to found Churches etc. everywhere, especially among the Gentiles (Rom 15:19; 1 Cor 14:36; 2 Cor 2:7), that he might “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (ver. 28).

26. The mystery which hath been hidden from ages and generations, but now is manifested to his saints,


The mystery, i.e., the “word of God,” or the teaching of the Gospel, spoken of in the preceding verse. This mystery, or secret, undiscoverable by natural means, was the salvation of all men. Gentiles as well as Jews, through Christ and the revelation made by Him, and the union of all men in the one Church of Christ. See on Eph 3:2-9.

To his saints, i.e., the faithful, both of Jewish and pagan origin.

27. To whom God hath willed to make known the riches of the glory of this ministry among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

To whom God hath willed, etc. These words show that the revelation of the great secret was a free and gratuitous act on the part of God.

The riches of the glory, etc., i.e., the wealth of divine goodness and mercy which has been manifested in the conversion of the Gentiles even more than in that of the Jews, for the latter had a revelation of the Messiah to come and of a future life.

Which is Christ, i.e., this mystery or the riches of this mystery is all in Christ, in whom are contained all the divine counsels regarding human salvation and all the blessings promised to man.

In you, i.e., among you, and in your hearts by faith (Eph 2:12 ff.).

The hope of glory, i.e., Christ is their and our hope of glory and eternal beatitude; He is the author and source of all good for time and eternity.

In the Vulgate there should be no comma after Christus, but one may be placed after vobis.

28. Whom we preach, admonishing every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.

Such is the Christ whom St. Paul and his companions preach, the sole and all- sufficient author and means of salvation here and of future blessedness hereafter, whose hidden mystery has been made known to all men for the salvation of all. The Apostle is criticizing the false teachers at Colossae who were insisting on the necessity of legal prescriptions, on an exaggerated cult of angels, and on an initiation into perfection which was confined to a select few.

Every man. St. Paul repeats these words three times in this verse in order to stress the universality of salvation for all, Gentiles as well as Jews.

In all wisdom may mean, (a) that St. Paul and his helpers corrected faults and explained doctrine with all the knowledge with which they were endowed, or (b) that they disciplined and instructed every man in a perfect knowledge of God, so as to enable each one to live a life worthy of God.

That we may present, etc. The scope of Apostolic discipline and teaching was to make every man perfect in the faith and love of Christ.

29. Wherein also I labor, striving according to his working which he worketh in me in power.


Here the Apostle tells us that the end and purpose of all his labors and struggles, like those of an athlete in the arena, was to render every man perfect in Christ, and that the secret of his endurance and success was to be found, not in his own strength and merits, but in the grace of Christ which was efficacious in him.

Striving. The Greek of this word contains a reference to the contest of the athletes in the arena. Cf. 2 Tim 2:9; 2 Tim 4:7.

WHY ST PAUL WRITES TO UNKNOWN CHURCHES

A Summary of Colossians 2:1-7~St. Paul writes to the Colossians and their neighbors of Laodicea, though he has never seen them, in order that they may be united in charity and have a full understanding of that divine secret of which he has been speaking. The secret is to know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent (John 17:3). The Apostle is anxious about his unknown readers, because of the specious errors that are abroad among them. Though absent in body, he is spiritually present with them, and he rejoices at the solid battle front their faith is presenting to the enemy. They have learned the truth about Christ, and may they show it in their lives, and ever abound in thanksgiving!

1. For I would have you know, what manner of care I have for you and for them that are at Laodicea, and whosoever have not seen my face in the flesh:

The first three verses of this Chapter are intimately connected with the end of the preceding Chapter, and they explain St. Paul’s “labor” and “striving” in behalf of the Colossians and their neighbors whom he had not seen. The Apostle’s zeal and solicitude went out to all Christian communities, and especially those of Gentile origin (2 Cor 11:28).

Care means rather “struggle,” according to the Greek.

Laodicea. See Introduction to this Epistle, No. II.

2. That their hearts may be comforted, being instructed in charity, and unto all riches of fullness of understanding, unto the knowledge of the mystery of God the Father and of Christ:


The Apostle here tells the purpose of his solicitude and prayers for his unknown correspondents, namely, “that their hearts may be comforted,” i.e., that they may be admonished and strengthened in faith, as there is question of doctrine and of guarding against errors; that “being instructed in charity,” or rather, “being bound together in charity” (i.e., in Christian love), they may attain to a full understanding of the mystery which God the Father has revealed to us in Christ. The phrases “unto all riches, etc.” and “unto the knowledge of the mystery, etc.” are parallel, one to the other, and explain each other.

The last words of this verse, “of God the Father, etc.,” are variously read in the MSS., versions, and Fathers; but the sense is clear in any reading. Perhaps the best reading is that of the Vatican MS. and St. Hilary: του θεου χριστου.

Christ is in apposition with “mystery.”

3. In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.


The Mystery of God which St. Paul would have his readers grasp is none other than Christ, in whom are contained all the riches of divine and human wisdom and knowledge. As God, Christ possessed infinite wisdom and knowledge, and as man His knowledge was superior to that of men and angels. The faithful, therefore, need not go to other teachers or masters, nor give heed to the doctrines preached by the false teachers in the name of angels; let them hear and follow in all things Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life. “Jesus Christ is a great Book. He who can indeed study Him in the word of God will know all he ought to know. Humility opens this Divine Book, faith reads in it, love learns from it” (Quesnel, quoted by Moule, h. l.).

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Some Background and Brief Notes on Wisdom 9:13-18

 I am here using the RSVCE in accordance with its copyright permission: The [New] Revised Standard Version Bible may be quoted and/or reprinted up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses without express written permission of the publisher, provided the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible or account for fifty percent (50%) of the total work in which they are quoted.   

Notice of copyright must appear on the title or copyright page of the work as follows:  “The Catholic Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1965, 1966 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

Background~Wisdom 6:22-11:1 consists of a praise of wisdom focusing on its nature; its power; and Solomon's quest for it. After a brief introduction (Wis 6:22-25), the author,  in Wisdom 7:1-8:21, presents a speech by Solomon which consists of seven parts arranged as a reverse parallel (see the outline in this post). At the beginning of his speech Solomon acknowledges that he is like all other men (Wis 7:1-6), and at the end he comes to his conclusion, in spite of his nobility he is still human and must needs have divine Wisdom as a gift (Wis 8:17-21). His speech concluded and the realization that one can possess wisdom only as a gift, leads Solomon to pray for wisdom (Wis 9:1-18). In his prayer he acknowledges that God's wisdom is at man's source and actions (Wis 9:1-6), and so he asks for wisdom (Wis 9:4), for without it he could not rule as king (Wis 9:7), build the temple (Wis 9:8), accomplish the work God has given him, know God's will, be guided by it, and thus be acceptable to God (Wis 9:9-12). It is at this point that today's reading (Wisdom 9:13-18) begins. It is not hard to see how this reading relates to the Gospel for Today (Luke 14:25-33).

Wis 9:13 For what man can learn the counsel of God? Or who can discern what the Lord wills? 
Wis 9:14 For the reasoning of mortals is worthless, and our designs are likely to fail, 
 Wis 9:15 for a perishable body weighs down the soul, and this earthy tent burdens the thoughtful mind. 
Wis 9:16 We can hardly guess at what is on earth, and what is at hand we find with labor; but who has traced out what is in the heavens? 
Wis 9:17 Who has learned thy counsel, unless thou hast given wisdom and sent thy holy Spirit from on high? 
Wis 9:18 And thus the paths of those on earth were set right, and men were taught what pleases thee, and were saved by wisdom." 

Verse 13 For what man can learn the counsel of God? This is a common question in the Scripture (Isa 40:13-14, 55:8; Prov 30:2-4; Sir 1:1-10; 18:1-7; 24:28-29), and ancient Jewish writings (1 Baruch 3:29-37; 1 Enoch 93:11-14).  The question here must be seen in light of what has preceded and by what follows; by himself man can do nothing. Even Solomon, in spite of his ancestry, his nobility and his wealth, had to confess: I also am mortal, like all men, a descendant of the first-formed child of earth; and in the womb of a mother I was molded into flesh, within the period of ten months, compacted with blood, from the seed of a man and the pleasure of marriage. And when I was born, I began to breathe the common air, and fell upon the kindred earth, and my first sound was a cry, like that of all. I was nursed with care in swaddling cloths. For no king has had a different beginning of existence; there is for all mankind one entrance into life, and a common departure (Wis 7:1-6). He thus realized the need to pray for wisdom as a gift: Therefore I prayed, and understanding was given me; I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me (Wis 7:7). In this way he acknowledged:  I am thy slave and the son of thy maidservant, a man who is weak and short-lived, with little understanding of judgment and laws (Wis 9:5).



verses 14-15 For the reasoning of mortals is worthless, and our designs are likely to fail, for a perishable body weighs down the soul, and this earthy tent burdens the thoughtful mind. Simply put, man's nature has its limitations. A number of scholars like to draw comparisons between these verses (especially 15) and the philosophy of Plato (Phaedo 66B; Republic 611C; Timaeus 43BC), claiming that the author of Wisdom was a dualist who held matter to be evil. But the foundations upon which Platonism was built are not the same as the foundations of the teaching of the Book of Wisdom, and superficial comparisons cannot change that. "(T)he author does not go beyond such texts as Psalm 10314; Job 4:19; Isa 38:12; he merely says that the earthbound body is a weight on the heavenward aspirations of the soul (cf. also Gal 5:17; Rom 7:14-25; 2 Cor 4:7)." [Addison G. Wright, S.S., in his Commentary on Wisdom in THE JEROME BIBLICAL COMMENTARY 34:29].


verses 16-18 We can hardly guess at what is on earth, and what is at hand we find with labor; but who has traced out what is in the heavens? Who has learned thy counsel, unless thou hast given wisdom and sent thy holy Spirit from on high?And thus the paths of those on earth were set right, and men were taught what pleases thee, and were saved by wisdom.” These words hearken back to verses 9 & 10: With thee is wisdom, who knows thy works and was present when thou didst make the world, and who understand what is pleasing in thy sight and what is right according to thy commandments. Send her forth from the holy heavens, and from the throne of thy glory send her, that she may be with me and toil, and that I may learn what is pleasing to thee. God in wisdom made the earth and the heavens and all they contain according to a wise plan (counsel), therefore man, a part of God's wise creation, cannot comprehend fully what is on earth, and what he can comprehend (what is at hand) he can only find with labor. Wisdom must therefore be sent, that she may be with me and toil, and that I may learn what is pleasing to thee (verse 10). Only because God has sent wisdom to men as a gift can the author say: And thus the paths of those on earth were set right, and men were taught what pleases thee, and were saved by wisdom








St Augustine's Notes on Psalm 52

I have edited in the footnotes (i.e., the scripture references) but it is a tedious process and I may have missed a few.

1. The title of the Psalm hath: “At the end, understanding of David, when there came Doeg the Edomite and told Saul, David hath come into the house of Abimelech:” whereas we read that he had come into the house of Achimelech. And it may chance that we do not unreasonably suppose, that because of the similarity of a name and the difference of one syllable, or rather of one letter, the titles have been varied. In the manuscripts, however, of the Psalms, when we looked into them, rather Abimelech we have found than Achimelech. And since in another place thou hast a most evident Psalm, intimating not a dissimilarity of name, but an utterly different name; when, for instance, David changed his face before King Achish, not before king Abimelech, and he sent him away, and he departed: and yet the title of the Psalm is thus written, “When he changed his countenance in the presence of Abimelech” (the title of Ps 33)—the very change of name maketh us the rather intent upon a mystery, lest thou shouldest pursue the quasi-facts of history, and despise the sacred veilings.…

2. Observe ye two kinds of men; the one of men labouring, the other of those among whom they labour: the one of men thinking of earth, the other of heaven: the one of men weighing down their heart unto the deep, the other of men with Angels their heart conjoining: the one trusting in earthly things, wherein this world aboundeth, the other confiding in heavenly things, which God, who lieth not, hath promised. But mingled are these kinds of men. We see now the citizen of Jerusalem, citizen of the kingdom of heaven, have some office upon earth: to wit, one weareth purple, is a Magistrate, is Ædile, is Proconsul, is Emperor, doth direct the earthly republic: but he hath his heart above, if he is a Christian, if he is a believer, if he is godly, if he is despising those things wherein he is, and trusteth in that wherein he is not yet. Of which kind was that holy woman Esther, who, though she was wife of a king, incurred the danger of interceding for her countrymen: and when she was praying before God, where she could not lie, in her prayer said, that her royal ornaments were to her but as the cloth of a menstruous woman (Esther 14:6) Despair we not then of the citizens of the kingdom of heaven, when we see them engaged in any of Babylon’s matters, doing something earthly in republic earthly: nor again let us forthwith congratulate all men that we see doing matters heavenly; because even the sons of pestilence sit sometimes in the seat of Moses, of whom is said, “What things they say, do ye: but what things they do, do not: for they say, and do not" (Mt 23:3) Those, amid earthly things, lift up heart unto heaven, these, amid heavenly words, trail heart upon earth. But there will come time of winnowing, when both are to be severed with greatest diligence, in order that no grain may pass over unto the heap of chaff that is to be burned, that not one single straw may pass over to the mass that is to be stored in the barn (Mt 3:12 So long as then now it is mingled, hear we thence our voice, that is, voice of the citizens of the kingdom of heaven (for to this we ought to aspire, to bear with evil men here, rather than be borne with by good men): and let us conjoin ourselves to this voice, both with ear and with tongue, and with heart and work. Which if we shall have done, we are here speaking in those things which we hear. Let us therefore speak first of the evil body of kingdom earthly.

3. “Why doth he glory in malice that is mighty?” (ver. 1). Observe, my brethren, the glorying of malignity, the glorying of evil men. Where is glorying? “Why doth he glory in malice that is mighty?” That is, he that in malice is mighty, why doth he glory? There is need that a man be mighty, but in goodness, not in malice. Is it any great thing to glory in malice? To build a house doth belong to few men, any ignorant man you please can pull down. To sow wheat, to dress the crop, to wait until it ripen, and in that fruit on which one has laboured to rejoice, doth belong to few men: with one spark any man you please can burn all the crop. To breed an infant, when born to feed him, to educate, to bring him on to youth’s estate, is a great task: to kill him in one moment of time any one you please is able. Therefore those things which are done for destruction, are most easily done. “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord" (1 Cor 1:31): he that glorieth, let him glory in goodness. Thou gloriest, because thou art mighty in evil. What art thou about to do, O mighty man, what art thou about to do, boasting thyself much? Thou art about to kill a man: this thing also a scorpion, this also one fever, this also a poisonous fungus can do. To this is thy mightiness reduced, that it be made equal to a poisonous fungus? This therefore do the good citizens of Jerusalem, who not in malice but in goodness glory: firstly, that not in themselves, but in the Lord they glory. Secondly, that those things which make for edification they earnestly do, and do such things as are strong to abide: but things which make for destruction they may do, for the discipline of men advancing, not for the oppression of the innocent. To this mightiness then that earthly body being compared, why may it not hear out of these words, “Why doth he glory in malice that is mighty?”

4. “In iniquity the whole day upon injustice hath thy tongue thought” (ver. 2): that is, in the whole of time, without weariness, without intermission, without cessation. And when thou doest not, thou thinkest; so that when anything of evil is away from thy hands, from thy heart it is not away; either thou doest an evil thing, or while thou canst not do, thou sayest an evil thing, that is, thou evil-speakest: or when not even this thou canst do, thou wiliest and thinkest an evil thing. “The whole day,” then, that is, without intermission. We expect punishment to this man. Is he to himself a small punishment? Thou threatenest him: thou, when thou threatenest him, wilt send him whither? Unto evil? Send him away unto himself. In order that thou mayest vent much rage, thou art going to give him into the power of beasts: unto himself he is worse than beasts. For a beast can mangle his body: of himself he cannot leave his heart whole. Within, against himself he doth rage of himself, and dost thou from without seek for stripes? Nay, pray God for him, that he may be set free from himself. Nevertheless in this Psalm, my brethren, there is not a prayer for evil men, or against evil men, but a prophecy of what is to result to evil men. Think not therefore that the Psalm of ill-will saith anything: for it is said in the spirit of prophecy.

5. There followeth then what? All thy might and all thy thought of iniquity all the day, and meditation of malignity in thy tongue without intermission, hath performed what, done what? “As with a sharp razor thou hast done deceit” (ver. 3). See what do evil men to Saints, they scrape their hair. What is it that I have said? If there be such citizens of Jerusalem, that hear the voice of their Lord, of their King, saying, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul:” that hear the voice which but now from the Gospel hath been read, “What doth it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and of himself make wreck" (Mt 16:26): they despise all present good things, and above all life itself. And what is Doeg’s razor to do to a man on this earth meditating on the kingdom of heaven, and about to be in the kingdom of heaven, having with him God, and about to abide with God? What is that razor to do? Hair it is to scrape, it is to make a man bald. And this belongeth to Christ, who in the Place of a Skull was crucified (Mt 27:33). It maketh also the son of Core, which is interpreted baldness (1 Chron 6:22). For this hair signifieth a superfluity of things temporal. Which hairs indeed are not made by God superfluously on the body of men, but for a sort of ornament: yet because without feeling they are cut off, they that cleave to the Lord with their heart, so have these earthly things as they have hair. But sometimes even something of good with “hair” is wrought, when thou breakest bread to the hungry, the poor without roof thou bringest into thy house; if thou shalt have seen one naked, thou coverest him (Isa 58:7): lastly, the Martyrs themselves also imitating the Lord, blood for the Church shedding, hearing that voice, “As Christ laid down His life for us, so also ought we also to lay down for the brethren" (1 Jn 3:16), in a certain way with their hair did good to us, that is, with those things which that razor can lop off or scrape. But that therefore even with the very hair some good can be done, even that woman a sinner intimated, who, when she had wept over the feet of the Lord, with her hair wiped what with tears she wetted (Lk 7:38). Signifying what? That when thou shalt have pitied any one, thou oughtest to relieve him also if thou canst. For when thou hast pity, thou sheddest as it were tears: when thou relievest, thou wipest with hair. And if this to any one, how much more to the feet of the Lord. The feet of the Lord are what? The holy Evangelists, whereof is said, “How beautiful are the feet of them that tell of peace, that tell of good things!” (Isa. 52:7; Rom. 10:15) Therefore like a razor let Doeg whet his tongue, let him whet deceit as much as he may: he will take away superfluous temporal things; will he necessary things everlasting?

6. “Thou hast loved malice above benignity” (ver. 4). Before thee was benignity; herself thou shouldest have loved. For thou wast not going to expend anything, nor wast thou going to fetch something to love by a distant voyage. Benignity is before thee, iniquity before thee: compare and choose. But perchance thou hast an eye wherewith thou seest malignity, and hast no eye wherewith thou seest benignity. Woe to the iniquitous heart. What is worse, it doth turn away itself, that it may not see what it is able to see. For what of such hath been said in another place? “He would not understand that he might do good" (Ps 36:4).  For it is not said, he could not: but “he would not,” he saith, “understand that he might do good,” he closed his eyes from present light. And what followeth? “Of iniquity he hath meditated in his bed;” that is, in the inner secrecy of his heart. Some reproach of this kind is heaped upon this Doeg the Edomite, a malignant body, a motion of earth, not abiding, not heavenly. “Thou hast loved malignity above benignity.” For wilt thou know how an evil man doth see both, and the former he doth rather choose, from the other doth turn himself away? Wherefore doth he cry out when he suffereth anything unjustly? Wherefore doth he then exaggerate as much as he can the iniquity, and praise benignity, censuring him that hath wrought in him malignity above benignity? Be he then a rule to himself for seeing: out of himself he shall be judged. Moreover, if he do what is written, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Mt 22:39); and, “Whatsoever good things ye will that men should do unto you, these also do ye do unto them" (Mt 7:12): at home he hath means of knowing, because what on himself he will not have to be done, he ought not to do to another. “Thou hast loved malice above benignity.” Iniquitously, inordinately, perversely thou wouldest raise water above oil: the water will be sunk, the oil will remain above. Thou wouldest under darkness place a light: the darkness will be put to flight, the light will remain. Above heaven thou wouldest place earth, by its weight the earth will fall into its place. Thou therefore wilt be sunk by loving malice above benignity. For never will malice overcome benignity. “Thou hast loved malice above benignity: iniquity more than to speak of equity.” Before thee is equity, before thee is iniquity: one tongue thou hast, whither thou wilt thou turnest it: wherefore then rather to iniquity and not to equity? Food of bitterness dost thou not give to thy belly, and food of iniquity dost thou give to thy malignant tongue? As thou choosest whereon to live, so choose what thou mayest speak. Thou preferrest iniquity to equity, and preferrest malice to benignity; thou indeed preferrest, but above what can ever be but benignity and equity? But thou, by placing thyself in a manner upon those things which it is necessary should go beneath, wilt not make them to be above good things, but thou with them wilt be sunk unto evil things.

7. Because of this there followeth in the Psalm, “Thou hast loved all words of sinking under” (ver. 5). Rescue therefore thyself, if thou canst, from sinking under. From shipwreck thou art fleeing, and dost embrace lead! If thou wilt not sink, catch at a plank, be borne on wood, let the Cross carry thee through. But now because thou art a Doeg the Edomite, a “motion,” and “of earth,” thou doest what? “Thou hast loved all words of sinking-under, a tongue deceitful.” This hath preceded, words of sinking-under have followed a tongue deceitful. What is a tongue deceitful? A minister of guile is a tongue deceitful, of men bearing one thing in heart, another thing from mouth bringing forth. But in these is overthrowing, in these sinking under.

8. “Wherefore God shall destroy thee at the end” (ver. 6): though now thou seemest to flourish like grass in the field before the heat of the sun. For, “All flesh is grass, and the brightness of man as the bloom of grass: the grass hath withered, and the bloom hath fallen down: but the word of the Lord abideth for everlasting" (Isa 40:6-8). Behold that to which thou mayest bind thyself, to what “abideth for everlasting.” For if to grass, and to the bloom of grass, thou shalt have bound thyself, since the grass shall wither, and the bloom shall fall down, “God shall destroy thee at the end:” and if not now, certainly at the end He shall destroy, when that winnowing shall have come, and the heap of chaff from the solid grain shall have been separated (Matt. 3:12, 13:40). Is not the solid grain for the barns, and the chaff for the fire? Shall not the whole of that Doeg stand at the left hand, when the Lord is to say, “Go ye into fire everlasting, which hath been prepared for the devil and his angels”? (Mt 25:41) Therefore “God shall destroy at the end: shall pluck thee out, and shall remove thee from thy dwelling.” Now then this Doeg the Edomite is in a dwelling: “But a servant abideth not in the house for ever" (John 8:35). Even he worketh something of good, even if not with his doings, at least with the words of God, so that in the Church, when he “seeketh his own" (Phil 2:21), he would say, at least, those things which are of Christ.

“But He shall remove thee from thy dwelling.” “Verily, verily, I say unto you, they have received their reward" (Matt. 6:2).  “And thy root from the land of the living.” Therefore in the land of the living we ought to have root. Be our root there. Out of sight is the root: fruits may be seen, root cannot be seen. Our root is our love, our fruits are our works: it is needful that thy works proceed from love, then is thy root in the land of the living. Then shall be rooted up that Doeg, nor any wise shall he be able there to abide, because neither more deeply there hath he fixed a root (Mt 13:5): but it shall be with him in like manner as it is with those seeds on the rock, which even if a root they throw out, yet, because moisture they have not, with the risen sun forthwith do wither. But, on the other hand, they that fix a root more deeply, hear from the Apostle what? “I bow my knees for you to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye may be in love rooted and grounded.” And because there now is root, “That ye may be able,” he saith, “to comprehend what is the height, and breadth, and length, and depth: to know also the super-eminent knowledge of the love of Christ, that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God" (Eph. 3:14, 17–19). Of such fruits so great a root is worthy, being so single, so budding, for buddings so deeply grounded. But truly this man’s root shall be rooted up from the land of the living.

9. “And the just shall see, and shall fear; and over him they shall laugh” (ver. 7). Shall fear when? Shall laugh when? Let us therefore understand, and make a distinction between those two times of fearing and laughing, which have their several uses. For so long as we are in this world, not yet must we laugh, lest hereafter we mourn. We have read what is reserved at the end for this Doeg, we have read and because we understand and believe, we see but fear. This, therefore, hath been said, “The just shall see, and shall fear.” So long as we see what will result at the end to evil men, wherefore do we fear? Because the Apostle hath said, “In fear and trembling work out your own salvation" (Phil 2:12); because it hath been said in a Psalm (Ps 2:11), “Serve the Lord in fear, and exult unto Him with trembling.” Wherefore “with fear”? “Wherefore let him that thinketh himself to stand, see that he fall not" (1 Cor. 10:12).  Wherefore “with trembling”? Because he saith in another place: “Brethren, if a man shall have been overtaken in any delinquency, ye that are spiritual instruct such sort in the spirit of gentleness; heeding thyself, lest thou also be tempted" (Gal 6:1).  Therefore, the just that are now, that live of faith, so see this Doeg, what to him is to result, that nevertheless they fear also for themselves: for what they are to-day, they know; what to-morrow they are to be, they know not. Now, therefore, “The just shall see, and they shall fear.” But when shall they laugh? When iniquity shall have passed over; when it shall have flown over; as now to a great degree hath flown over the time uncertain; when shall have been put to flight the darkness of this world, wherein now we walk not but by the lamp of the Scriptures, and therefore fear as though in night. For we walk by prophecy; whereof saith the Apostle Peter, “We have a more sure prophetic word, to which giving heed ye do well, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day shine, and the day-star arise in your hearts" (2 Pet. 1:19). So long then as by a lamp we walk, it is needful that with fear we should live. But when shall have come our day, that is, the manifestation of Christ, whereof the same Apostle saith, “When Christ shall have appeared, your life, then ye also shall appear with Himself in glory" (Col 3:4), then the just shall laugh at that Doeg.…

10. But what shall they then say that shall laugh? “And over him they shall laugh; and shall say, Behold a man that hath not set God for his helper” (ver. 8). See ye the body earthly! “As much as thou shalt have, so great shalt thou be,” is a proverb of covetous men, of grasping men, of men oppressing the innocent, of men seizing upon other men’s goods, of men denying things entrusted to their care. Of what sort is this proverb? “As much as thou shalt have, so great shalt thou be;” that is, as much as thou shalt have had of money, as much as thou shalt have gotten, by so much the more mighty shall thou be. “Behold a man that hath not set God for his helper, but hath trusted in the multitude of his riches.” Let not a poor man, one perchance that is evil, say, I am not of this body. For he hath heard the Prophet saying, “He hath trusted in the multitude of his riches:” forthwith if he is poor, he heedeth his rags, he hath observed near him perchance a rich man among the people of God more richly apparelled, and he saith in his heart, Of this man he speaketh; doth he speak of me? Do not thence except thyself, do not separate thyself, unless thou shalt have seen and feared, in order that thou mayest hereafter laugh. For what doth it profit thee, if thou dost want means, and thou burnest with cupidity? When our Lord Jesus Christ to that rich man that was grieved, and that was departing from Him, had said, “Go, sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come follow Me" (Mt 19:21): and great hopelessness for rich men foretold, so that He said, more easily could a camel pass through the eye of a needle, than a rich man enter into the kingdom of Heaven (Mt 19:24), were not forthwith the disciples grieved, saying with themselves, “Who shall be able to be saved?” Therefore when they were saying, “Who shall be able to be saved?” did they think of the few rich men, did there escape them so great a multitude of poor men? Could they not say to themselves, If it is hard, aye an impossible thing, that rich men should enter into the kingdom of heaven, as it is impossible that a camel should enter through the eye of a needle, let all poor men enter into the kingdom of heaven, be the rich alone shut out? For how few are the rich men? But of poor men are thousands innumerable. For not the coats are we to look upon in the kingdom of heaven; but for every one’s garment shall be reckoned the effulgence of righteousness: there shall be therefore poor men equal to Angels of God, clothed with the stoles of immortality, they shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father: what reason is there for us about a few rich men to be concerned, or distressed? This thought not the Apostles; but when the Lord had spoken this, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven:” they saying to themselves, “Who shall be able to be saved,” meant what? Not means, but desires; for they saw even poor men themselves, even if not having money, yet to have covetousness. And that ye may know, that not money in a rich man, but covetousness is condemned, attend to what I say; Thou observest that rich man standing near thee, and perchance in him is money, and is not covetousness; in thee is not money, and is covetousness. A poor man full of sores, full of woe, licked by dogs, having no help, having no morsel, not having perchance a mere garment, was borne by the Angels unto Abraham’s bosom (Lk 16:22). Ho! being a poor man, art thou glad now; for are even sores by thee to be desired? Is not thy patrimony soundness? There is not in this Lazarus the merit of poverty, but that of godliness. For thou seest who was borne up, thou seest not whither he was borne up. Who was borne up by Angels? A poor man, full of woe, full of sores. Whither was he borne up? Unto Abraham’s bosom. Read the Scriptures, and thou shall find Abraham to have been a rich man (Gen. 13:2). In order that thou mayest know, that not riches are blamed; Abraham had much gold, silver, cattle, household, was a rich man, and unto his bosom Lazarus, a poor man, was borne up. Unto bosom of rich man, poor man: are not rather both unto God rich men, both in cupidity poor men?…

11. Therefore that man having been condemned that “hath trusted in the multitude of his riches, and hath prevailed in his vanity:” for what more vain, than he that thinketh coin more to avail than God? Therefore that man having been condemned that said, blessed of the people to whom these things are: thou that sayest, “Blessed the people of whom is the Lord their own God,” dost think of thyself what? dost hope for thyself what? “But I;” now at length hear that body: “But I am like an olive, fruit-bearing in the house of God” (ver. 9). Not one man speaketh, but that olive fruit-bearing, whence have been pruned the proud branches, and the humble wild olive graffed in (Rom 11:17). “Like an olive, fruit-bearing in the house of God, I have trusted in the mercy of God.” He did what? “In the multitude of his riches:” therefore his root shall be plucked out from the land of the living. “But I,” because “like an olive, fruit-bearing in the house of God,” the root whereof is nourished, is not rooted out, “have trusted in the mercy of God.” But perchance now? For even herein men err sometimes. God indeed they worship, and are not now like to that Doeg: but though on God they rely, it is for temporal things nevertheless; so that they say to themselves, I worship my God, who will make me rich upon earth, who to me will give sons, who to me will give a wife. Such things indeed giveth none but God, but God would not have Himself for the sake of such things to be loved. For to this end often times those things He giveth even to evil men, in order that some other thing good men of Him may learn to seek. In what manner then sayest thou, “I have trusted in the mercy of God”? Perchance for obtaining temporal things? Nay but, “For everlasting and world without end.” The expression, “For everlasting,” he willed to repeat by adding, “world without end,” in order that by there repeating he might affirm how rooted he was in the love of the kingdom of heaven, and in the hope of everlasting felicity.

12. “I will confess to Thee for ever, because Thou hast done” (ver. 9). “Hast done what?” Doeg Thou hast condemned, David Thou hast crowned. “I will confess to Thee for ever, because Thou hast done.” Great confession, “Because thou hast done”! “Hast done” what? except these very things which above have been spoken of, that like an olive fruit-bearing in the house of God, I should trust in the mercy of God for everlasting and world without end? Thou hast done: an ungodly man cannot justify himself. But who is He that justifieth? “Believing,” he saith, “on Him” that justifieth “the ungodly" (Rom 4:5). “For what hast thou which thou hast not received? But if thou hast received, why dost thou glory as if thou hast not received, as if of thyself thou hast?” (1 Cor. 4:7) Be it far from me that I should so glory, saith he, that is opposed against Doeg, that beareth with Doeg upon earth, until he remove from his dwelling, and be rooted up from the land of the living. I glory not as if I have not received, but in God I glory. “And I will confess to Thee because Thou hast done,” that is, because Thou hast done not according to my merits, but according to Thy mercy. But I have done what? If thou recollectest, “Before, I was a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious.” But thou, what hast thou done? “But mercy I have obtained, because ignorant I did it" (1 Tim 1:13).  “I will confess to Thee for ever, because Thou hast done.”

13. “And I will look for Thy name, for it is pleasant.” Bitter is the world, but Thy name is pleasant. Even if certain sweet things are in the world, yet with bitterness they are digested. Thy name is preferred, not only for greatness but also for pleasantness. “For unjust men have told to me their delights, but it is not as Thy law, O Lord" (Ps 119:85). For if there were nothing sweet to the Martyrs, they would not have suffered with equanimity so great bitterness of tribulations. Their bitterness by any one was experienced, their sweetness easily could no one taste. The name of God therefore is pleasant to men loving God above all pleasantnesses. “I will look for Thy name, for it is pleasant.” And to what dost Thou prove that it is pleasant? Give me a palate to which it is pleasant. Praise honey as much as thou art able, exaggerate the sweetness thereof with what words thou shalt have the power: a man knowing not what honey is, unless he shall have tasted, what thou sayest knoweth not. Therefore the rather to the proof the Psalm inviting thee saith what? “Taste and see that sweet is the Lord" (Ps 34:8).  Taste thou wilt not, and thou sayest, Is it pleasant? What is pleasant? If thou hast tasted, in thy fruit be it found, not in words alone, as it were only in leaves, lest by the curse of the Lord, to wither like that fig-tree (Matt. 21:19) thou shouldest deserve. “Taste,” he saith, “and see, that sweet is the Lord.” Taste and see: then ye shall see, if ye shall have tasted. But to a man not tasting, how provest thou? By praising the pleasantness of the name of God, whatsoever things thou shall have said are words: something else is taste. The words of His praise there hear even the ungodly, but none taste how sweet it is, but the Saints. Further, a man discerning the sweetness of the name of God, and wishing to unfold and wishing to show the same, and not finding persons to whom he may unfold it; for to the Saints there is no need that he show it, because they even of themselves taste and know, but the ungodly cannot discern what they will not taste: doth, I say, what, because of the sweetness’ of the name of God? He hath borne him forthwith away from the crowds of the ungodly. “And I will look,” he saith, “for Thy name, for it is pleasant, in the sight of Thy Saints.” Pleasant is Thy name, but not in the sight of the ungodly. I know how sweet a thing it is, but it is to them that have tasted.

Father Boylan's Introduction to Psalm 52

THE FATE OF SINNERS

THE psalm is directed against some rich and powerful, but godless man. It threatens him with failure and destruction, and forecasts the joy of the pious at his fall. The psalmist himself will flourish when his enemy has failed, and will praise God ever for His goodness.

Tradition connects the psalm with the incident narrated in 1 Sam 22. Doeg, however, neither slanders, nor speaks falsely, nor boasts of any malice in the narrative in Samuel. Again, it is difficult to understand the allusion to the Temple in verse 10 in a Davidic poem. The psalm has been compared to Isaiah's denunciation of Shebhna (Isaiah 22:15-25). The contrast between the godless who comes to ruin, and the pious singer who flourishes like a green olive tree, reminds one of Psalm 1.

Bishop MacEvilly's Commentary on Luke 4:16-30

Luk 4:16 And he came to Nazareth, where he was brought up: and he went into the synagogue, according to his custom, on the sabbath day: and he rose up to read.

“And He came to Nazareth,” which He passed by on a former occasion (Matthew 4:13), “where He was brought up.”

“Nazareth” was His native place, where He spent the period of boyhood and youth.

“He went into the synagogue according to His custom,” &c. It was usual with the Jews to assemble on Sabbath and festival days in their synagogues for devotional exercises, such as, reading and hearing the Word of God, as also, prayer. “His custom,” may signify the custom He observed from infancy, of frequenting the places of devotion on Sabbath days; or, His custom of frequenting the synagogues since He commenced His mission, for the purpose of expounding the SS. Scriptures. Our Lord taught everywhere, all those who came to Him for instruction; and He availed Himself of every befitting occasion, especially when He wrought miracles, to expound His heavenly doctrines. But, on Sabbath days, He availed himself of the religious meetings in the synagogues to instruct the assembled people.

“He rose up to read,” and expound the SS. Scriptures. It was usual with the Jews to have a certain portion of the Pentateuch read for the people in the synagogue on Sabbath days, to which was subjoined a section from the prophetical books bearing in sense on the passage read from the Pentateuch. Any one learned in the law, might be invited to read and expound such passages. See Acts 13:15, where “the reading of the law and the prophets” is referred to, also Acts 15:21. Our Lord “rose up to read,” thereby intimating, that He had “an exhortation to make to the people” (Acts 13:15). He read the SS. Scriptures in a standing posture, not only to be better heard, but chiefly out of reverence for the Word of God.

Luk 4:17 And the book of Isaias the prophet was delivered unto him. And as he unfolded the book, he found the place where it was written:

The Book of the Prophet Isaias was delivered to Him by “the minister” of the synagogue (Lk 4:20). This, although humanly speaking, apparently accidental, was arranged by God’s providence, to afford Him an opportunity of showing His Divinity and Divine mission, from the writings of their own prophets.

“Unfolded the book.” Unlike our modern form of books, the parchment was folded round a roller, in the form of a map—whence the term, Volume—and on unfolding it off the roller, “He found the place where it was written.” He lighted, doubtlessly, by the deliberato guidance of God’s providence, on the following passage (Isaiah 41:1). This passage is quoted by St. Luke, according to the Septuagint version, save that Luke himself adds to the passage, according to that version, the words, “to set at liberty them that are bruised,” probably taken from Isaiah 58:6, where these words are used in the Septuagint, in the imperative mood.

Luk 4:18 The spirit of the Lord is upon me. Wherefore he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the contrite of heart,


“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” In Isaiah 61:1-2, the Lord promises the Jewish people a Redeemer; some say, the Prophet primarily refers to the deliverance of the Jewish people from the Babylonish captivity, under Cyrus, which mystically and principally signifies their spiritual deliverance through Christ—“He shall come like a violent stream which the Spirit of the Lord driveth on” (Isaiah 59:19). In the passage quoted here by St. Luke (Isaiah 61:1), the Prophet represents the Deliverer or Redeemer as having already come, and saying, “the (promised) Spirit of the Lord is upon me,” or as is said elsewhere (Isaiah 11:2), “rests upon Him.” I am filled with His gifts, which are bestowed upon me without stint or measure. This Spirit our Lord received at His Incarnation and from the hypostatic union. This Spirit guided and influenced all His actions.

“Wherefore He”—the Hebrew has, “the Lord, hath anointed me.” “Anointed” is allusive to the rite employed in consecrating Kings, Prophets, and Priests. Here Christ is the Messiah or Anointed. It is because He had the fulness of all Divine gifts given Him without measure, at His Incarnation, therefore did the Lord anoint Him with the oil of gladness at His baptism; by this unction consecrating and preparing Him for the great office of preaching the Gospel. The words, “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me,” have reference to His Incarnation; and the words, “wherefore He hath anointed me,” to His baptism. The former is the cause of the latter. Some Commentators connect the words, “He hath anointed me” with, “to preach to the poor,” this being the office for which He was anointed and consecrated, to fit Him for it. “He hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor,” and these connect the words, “sent me,” with “to heal the contrite,” &c., “He sent me to heal the contrite of heart.”

“The poor.” This is the Septuagint rendering. The Hebrew has, “to the meek” (see Matthew 11:4). “To heal the contrite of heart,” whose hearts are heavily bruised with the heavy load of sin. These words are wanting in some Greek copies.


Luk 4:19 To preach deliverance to the captives and sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of reward.

“To preach deliverance to the captives,” captive in the bonds of sin. “Deliverance,” from their chains, and also the providing of means for effectively accomplishing such deliverance.

“And sight to the blind,” To bestow the light of faith and truth on those who are sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, and open the eyes of their understanding to the light of faith, against which they have been hitherto shut.

“To set at liberty them that are bruised.” These words would seem to signify the same as the words, “to heal the contrite of heart.” Hence, some Expositors regard one or the other as redundant; and as the words, “to set at liberty, &c.,” are not found either in the Hebrew, or Chaldaic, or Greek, it is, most likely, the redundant phrase. A similar sentence is found in Isaiah 58:6, “let them that are broken go free.” Probably, St. Luke inserted these words in the quotation here, taken from Isaiah 61:1 as illustrating the benefits conferred by our Redeemer, and more fully explaining the sense of the passage.

The Hebrew phrase, Laasurim Peqach, signifies, Laasurim, “those bound,” and Reqach, “an opening.” St. Jerome then rendered the words, “clausis apertionem,” “deliverance to them that are shut up.” But the Septuagint rendered them, τυφλοις αναβλεψιν, “sight to the blind.” For, assurim signifies, those bound. This is true of the blind, whose eyes are bound, and Peqach signifies, an opening. The blind, when restored to sight, have their eyes opened; hence, the Septuagint rendering of the words.

“To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” “Year,” is put for time. There is manifest allusion here to the year of Jubilee, which occurred every fiftieth year among the Jews, when slaves were set at liberty, and the possessions that were sold, reverted to their original owners. This Jubilee year among the Jews, and the blessings it brought with it, were a type of the entire period of the Christian dispensation, a period of time productive of the greatest blessings to mankind, when they are rescued from the slavery of Satan and sin; the greatest gifts of grace are conferred on them, and they are restored to their lost inheritance of heaven. Our Lord proclaimed this as present, “appropinquavit regnum, &c.” (Matthew 4:17.) This is the period of benevolence on the part of God; of His good-will towards man. This shall continue now to the end of the world. Hence, the Apostle says, “Ecce nunc tempus acceptabile; ecce nunc, dies salutis” (2 Cor. 6:2). Our Lord was sent to announce these glad tidings of a year of jubilee and perpetual reconcilation of God with man. “Pascha nostrum immolatus est Christus” (1 Cor. 5:7.)

“And the day of reward.” St. Jerome renders the Hebrew, Jom naquam, “diem ultionis,” “the day of vengeance,” which some understand of the last day of general judgment, when the Lord, while rewarding the good, shall take vengeance on His enemies. Others, seeing that the entire prophetic quotation regards the benefits to be conferred by Christ on the children of the New Law, understand “vengeance,” of the evil spirits, the enemies of men’s souls, on whom our Lord will take signal vengeance, by publicly exposing them, to public view, to grace His triumph (Col 2:15); judging the Prince of this world and casting him out. To this, reference is made in Isaiah (35), “Behold your God shall bring the revenge of recompense; God Himself will come and will save you” (Isa 35:4). It is the same as the acceptable year. “Acceptable,” as regards God’s servants; “the day of vengeance,” as regards His and their enemies.

Luk 4:20 And when he had folded the book, he restored it to the minister and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.

And when He had folded the book,” on the roller round which it was folded, “He returned it to the minister,” the person who was in attendance on the chief officer of the synagogue, and had charge of the sacred books. “He sat down,” as was usually done in such cases before delivering a discourse on the subjects read previously in a standing posture by the speaker.

“And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him.” Probably, on seeing Him read who had not learned letters. It may be also that a Divine effulgence shone from His countenance; and as the Jews knew, that the prayer read had reference to the Messiah, they were anxious to know, if He might not Himself be the Messiah, considering the wonders wrought by Him elsewhere (v. 23), and the fame that went abroad regarding Him.

Luk 4:21 And he began to say to them: This day is fulfilled this scripture in your ears.


“This day is fulfilled this scripture in your ears.” “In your ears.” A Hebrew phrase for, in your hearing. This oracle of the prophet, which, as you know, regards your expected Messiah, is now fulfilled in me, whom you see preaching to the poor, and of whom you heard it stated, that He performed elsewhere the works described by the prophets, as the distinguishing characteristics of the Messiah. He thereby, without expressly stating it, insinuated that He Himself was the Messiah spoken of by Isaiah.



Luk 4:22 And all gave testimony to him. And they wondered at the words of grace that proceeded from his mouth. And they said: Is not this the son of Joseph?

“Gave testimony to Him;” not exactly that He was the Messiah, as appears from their calling Him “the son of Joseph,” and their attempt at precipitating Him down the hill; but, they testified to the superior way in which He acquitted Himself, as expressed in the following words, “and wondered at the words of grace, &c.,” the graceful, eloquent words that were uttered by Him, full of persuasiveness, so calculated to move and convince. “He spoke like one having authority, not as their Scribes and Pharisees” (Matthew 7:29).

“Is not this the son of Joseph?” (Matthew 13:55). The son of a poor carpenter, Himself a carpenter, brought up in our midst, without influence or consideration or education of any kind. Hence, their wonder. Likely with this, at least in some of them, were mixed up feelings of scorn at His low extraction and humble occupation. “They were scandalized in His regard” (Matthew 13:57).



Luk 4:23 And he said to them: Doubtless you will say to me this similitude: Physician, heal thyself. As great things as we have heard done in Capharnaum, do also here in thy own country.

Doubtless you will say to me this similitude: Physician, cure thyself;” a trite proverb, sometimes addressed to physicians, whose powers in the healing art benefit strangers without proving of any service to themselves or theirs; and generally applied to such, as attending to the concerns of others, neglect their own. “Physician,” confine not the advantages of your skill and healing powers to strangers; make yourself and your friends sharers in them. In thus divining the thoughts of their hearts, and their latent objections to Him, to which He replies in the following verse, He displays His Omniscient Divinity.

“As great things,” &c. Here, the proverb is applied to Him, in regard to His fellow-citizens. The people of Nazareth were scandalized or offended at two things in our Redeemer—First, His humble extraction. To this, He replies in Lk 4:24; secondly, the fewness of His miracles among them. To this, He replies in Lk 4: 25–27, and He illustrates His own mode of acting on account of their unworthiness, by example of a similar line of acting, from the same causes, on the part of the ancient prophets. If He did not perform a greater number of wonders among them, they had to blame themselves as the guilty cause. From this passage, it is clear our Lord had been in Galilee performing wonderful works and miraculous cures. The visit, therefore, referred to in Lk 4:14, was His second visit. For, on the first occasion, He passed by Nazareth (Matthew 4:13), and proceeded to Capharnaum, which He made His place of abode, and the centre of His missionary labours. The Nazarites, our Lord’s fellow-citizens, wished that He would favour His own people, who naturally had greater claims than strangers had, with these miraculous wonders that He was reported to have performed elsewhere.

Luk 4:24 And he said: Amen I say to you that no prophet is accepted in his own country
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In this, He taxes their depreciation of Him, as their fellow-citizen, and shows that He scanned the inmost thoughts of their minds. He assigns in this verse, a reason for not favouring them with His miracles, of which, from their pride and contemptuous depreciation of Himself, they would be unworthy (see Matthew 13:58).


Luk 4:25 In truth I say to You, there were many widows in the days of Elias in Israel, when heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there was a great famine throughout all the earth
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Luk 4:26 And to none of them was Elias sent, but to Sarepta of Sidon, to a widow woman

Again, He shows that their incredulity rendered them unworthy of what they wished for; and hence, following the example of the most celebrated prophets of old, He withheld from them the miracles which were performed in favour of strangers, who proved themselves not undeserving of such blessings. St. Matthew says, “He performed not many miracles, because of their unbelief” (Mt 13:58).

“When heaven was shut up three years and six months.” This is not mentioned in the SS. Scriptures of the Old Testament. Hence, our Lord knew it by His omniscient intelligence, or from Jewish tradition, from which source St. James (chap. 5) must have learned it, or from the revelation of our Lord. In the 3rd Book of Kings (1 Kings 17:1) there is no mention made of the prayer of Elias, that a drought would come; but only that he proclaimed that a drought would prevail. But St. James supplies what is omitted there, when he tells us it was at Elias’ prayers it was done (James 5:17). Indeed, it was always the custom with the Prophets and Apostles and our Lord Himself to commence important events with prayer. In 1 Kings 18:1, it is said, that it was in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elias about “giving rain upon the face of the earth.” But this “third year,” may denote the third year completed; others reconcile the words of the Old Testament, by saying that the years there referred to are to be computed, not from the beginning of the drought; but, from the time Elias came to Sarepta. Others say, the “third year” is to be computed from the commencement of the famine, which began to be felt nearly a year after the drought commenced.

Luk 4:27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet: and none of them was cleansed but Naaman the Syrian.


By these two examples well known to the Jews, our Lord wishes to convey, that as their celebrated prophets of old, by the command of God—“to none of them was Elias sent”—refused performing miraculous cures among their countrymen, on account of their unbelief, while they exercised the same in favour of strangers, who proved worthy of such blessings; so, might the people of Nazareth blame themselves, if He did not work many miracles among them. This was owing to their unworthiness and unbelief.

Luk 4:28 And all they in the synagogue, hearing these things, were filled with anger.
Luk 4:29 And they rose up and thrust him out of the city: and they brought him to the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong
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Perceiving the force of His rebuke, when charging their own pride and incredulity with the fewness of the miracles performed by Him in their midst, the Nazarites were “all in the synagogue filled with anger.” Even those, who before admired His graceful words and His eloquence, are now suddenly changed. Their pride was such at finding themselves corrected by Him, at being told of their envy and incredulity, which rendered them more undeserving of His miracles than the rest of their countrymen, nay, than the very Pagans themselves; that, notwithstanding the cures they saw Him perform among them; notwithstanding the sacredness of the Sabbath, and their natural feelings of consideration for a fellow-citizen, who had already done so much to reflect honour on their hitherto despised district of Nazareth; they are prepared for the last extremity, and mean to compass His death.

Luk 4:30 But he passing through the midst of them, went his way.

“But He passing through the midst of them.” Some say He rendered Himself invisible; others, that He changed their wills, so that they no longer meditated His death; others, that He so stupified them and restrained their hands and feet, that seeing Jesus, they could not or dare not lay hands on Him. His hour had not come. The mode in which He was to die was different from that kind of death, with which He was now menaced; hence, He exerted His power to prevent it. “Went His way,” fearing no one. No one could harm Him save by His own free will and consent.