Sunday, August 28, 2016

My Notes on Amos 6

Am 6:1 Woe to those who dwell in ease at Zion, and to the ones who think themselves secure on the mountain of Samaria, leaders of the first of th nations to whom the people of Israel come!
Am 6:2 Go over to Calneh and see, pass on from there to Hamath the great, and from there go down to Gath of the Philistines! Are you superior to these kingdoms? Are your borders greater than their borders?
Am 6:3 You would put far from you the evil day, yet you bring on quickly the reign of violence. (My Translation)

This is the beginning of the third woe oracle (see Am 5:1, 7) and is directed to the leaders of the people. Here the oracle is directed not only to the leaders of Israel but to the leaders of Judah as well. At this time Judah was in vassalage to the Israel which is described somewhat sarcastically as the first of nations, and it appears that the primary focus of the oracle is Israel. The fact is that both Judah and Israel were small, neither being much bigger than the nations and peoples they had subjugated. Their presumed military might seems silly in the face of rising Assyrian power but the leaders were unconcerned, trusting in their armies. In their carelessness and unconcern for the growing threat of Assyria they have, put far from themselves the evil day, yet their slovenly luxury will be their downfall for it brings on quickly the reign of violence.

Am 6:4 Woe to you who recline on beds of ivory and stretch out in comfort upon couches to dine upon lambs from the flock and calves from the stall
Am 6:5 as you compose songs to the tune of a harp and, like David, improvise the accompaniment;
Am 6:6 all the while drinking wine from bowls and anointing yourselves with fine oil, not at all sickened by the demise of Joseph!
Am 6:7 For this reason, you will be the first to go into exile, your unseemly celebrations shall come to an end. (My Translation)

The prophet now shows us how the people have put far from themselves the evil day (vs 3). It would appear that they were engaging in escapism through luxury, giving no thought, paying no heed to the moral decay in their own lives and in their nation. Food, finery, and freedom from manual labor would be their undoing. The reference to beds of ivory reminds us of what was said about the destruction of the houses of ivory in  Am 3:15. The reference to couches is a reminder of what was said in Am 3:12: "Thus says the Lord: As a shepherd grabs from the lion’s mouth two legs, or a portion of an ear, so shall the sons of Israel be saved with a corner of a couch, or a portion of a bed" (my translation).

The attitude of these people reminds one of our Lord's description of the people in Noah's day as the flood approached (see Matt 24: 37-39).

Am 6:8 The Lord God has sworn by his own self, 'I the Lord, the God of hosts say, the arrogance of Jacob I loathe, his strongholds I detest, and his city I shall deliver up with all that it contains.
Am 6:9 If ten men remain in a single house, then surely these shall die too.
Am 6:10 A handful will remain to dispose of the dead that are in the houses, and if one these should say to a survivor in a house "is anyone in there with you?" he shall respond "not one;" and he shall say "Quiet! The name of the Lord we must not speak." (My translation)

Once again the prophet returns to the theme of the military invasion and defeat of Israel (see Am 2:13-16; and Am 3:11-15). Israel, under Jeroboam the second had grown strong militarily and had expanded its borders, but without God it would be no match for the might of the Assyrian empire, the nu-named but obvious threat the prophet has in mind. Once again we see that the devastation will be immense.

A relative fulfilling his familial obligations is portrayed as calling into a house for possible survivors and finds that only one is alive. The command not to speak the Lord's name is probably connected to the fact that contact with the dead constituted ritual impurity.

Am 6:11 Because the Lord commands it, the great house shall be struck into fragments, and the small house into rubble
Am 6:12 Do horses run across the rocky heights? Does a man furrow the sea with his oxen? Yet you have turned justice into something toxic. You have made the fruit of righteousness sour.

Verse 8 attributed the judgement described in verses 9 and 10 to the arrogance of Jacob. Verses 11 reiterates that such judgement is commanded by the Lord, and verse 12 attributes the judgement to the perversion of righteousness, surely a sign of the arrogance of Jacob. Just as it is unthinkable that horses would run across rocky heights, or that a man would furrow the sea with oxen, so too is the perversion of justice unthinkable, but the people have done it.

Am 6:13 Yet you glorify yourselves over Lodebar, saying, 'did we not, by virtue of our own strength, take to ourselves Karnaim?'
Am 6:14 Look out! I will raise against you a people, O house of Israel, says the the Lord, the God of hosts, and they will oppress you from the opening of Hamath to the brook of Arabah. (My translation) 

Lodebar and karnaim were two Ammonite cities. The name of the first means "nothing," and that of the second means "two horns," a symbol of strength. In other words, the people are glorifying themselves with the taking of "nothing." They are celebrating their strength by the taking of "two horns." Horns were not only a symbol of strength, they were also found on altars. If one whose life was in danger could seize these horns he would be safe (see 1 Kings 2:28). The people trust that their own strength, by which they took Karnaim (two horns) will be their protection and salvation, but such is not the case. the opening of Hamath and the brook of Arabah defined the borders of the kingdom. The entire nation will be afflicted.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Father de Piconio's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:11-23

1 Cor 3:11 For other foundation can no one lay, beside that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus. 

Other foundation can no one lay.  He has just said (verse 10) he laid the foundation, and his metaphor might be misunderstood, as if he meant himself.  Christ is the foundation of foundations, like a rock, St Thomas says.  The Apostles are a foundation in a secondary sense (Eph 2:20).

1Co 3:12  Now, if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble:
1Co 3:13  Every man’s work shall be manifest. For the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire. And the fire shall try every man’s work, of what sort it is. 

The Apostle is still speaking of Christian teachers, as in verse 10.  He doesn’t not refer to heretical teachers, who destroy God’s temple, and will be condemned in verse 17; but who teach true doctrine, and build upon the true foundation.  Gold, silver, precious stones, things rare, incorruptible, and valuable, signify doctrine solid, pure, lucid, derived from Holy Scripture, or the principles of the faith, or the mysteries of the Church.  Wood, hay, stubble, things worthless and easily consumed, signify doctrine in itself good, or else it would be destroy instead of edifying, but valueless, curious, pompous, or fantastic, drawn from secular philosophy and learning, which may win applause, but cannot help to save souls.

13.  The day of the Lord shall declare it. This life is our day, says St Anselm and St Thomas, in which we do our own will, even when it is against the will of God.  The last day will be the day of the Lord, when he will do his will, and men, by justice, will either be rewarded or condemned. 

It shall be revealed in fire. “Fire will go before Him” (Ps 94:3).  the fire that will consume the world, the minister of divine justice, will go before the Judge, and the works of each will not only be made manifest, but tried and proved.  St Paul was under the belief that the day of judgment would come in the lifetime of many then living, and this may help to explain the present allusion to it.  That fire will prove the just, but leave them harmless and free from pain.  See Dan 3:92.  Those who are good and faithful, but imperfect by venial sin, it will purge by suffering.  The evil it will torment in hell for ever.  It is this fire to which the Apostle here alludes, in the opinion of Cornelius a Lapide, who examines the question at some length.  The Latin Fathers, in the Florentine Council, understood the purgatorial fire, which tries the souls of the just after death.  but they are, in the opinion of Cornelius, one and the same; and on the cessation of purgatory, at the end of the world, the same fire will try the just of the generation still existing.  there is a moral application of these two verses, distinct from their literal meaning, for which, see the Corollary of Piety below.

1 Cor 3:14  If the work of any shall remain, which he has built, he shall receive a reward.
1 Cor 3:15  If the work of any shall be burnt, he shall suffer loss; but himself shall be saved; yet as by fire.
1 Cor 3:16  Know you not that you are the temple of god, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
1 cor 3:17  And if any shall have violated the temple of god, God shall destroy him.  for the temple of God is holy, which is you

The workman whose work, built of solid materials, on the Foundation, shall stand the fire, shall be reputed a good worker, and receive his reward from the Supreme Architect; if his work of worthless hay or stubble, is consumed in the flames, he must bear its loss, but he shall save his soul, like one escaping from a burning house.  He has not yet spoken of heretical teachers, who destroy the work of God, and ruin his edifice.  You, Corinthians, are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in you by faith, hope, charity: as the Ark of the Covenant dwelt in the tabernacle in the desert, and in the temple of Solomon.  god ruins and destroys the violators of his temple, as Athalia, who profaned the temple (2 Kings 24:6-7), Baltasar, who applied the sacred vessels to common use (Dan 5:3).  But if God thus overthrew the profaners of his material temple, much more will he destroy those who violate his spiritual Temple, which is you, by false doctrine which leads you away from the Apostolic communion.

1 Cor 3:18  Let no one deceive himself; if anyone among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
1 Cor 3:19  For the wisdom of this world is folly with God.  For it is written: I will take the wise in their craft.
1 Cor 3:20  And again: the Lord know the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.
1 Cor 3:21  Let no one therefore glory in men.
1 Cor 3:22  For all things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollo, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or to come: for all are yours:
1 Cor 3:23  And you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.

18-20 It is evident that the instructors of the Corinthian Christians, against whom this rather severe admonition is levelled, must have assumed a great deal on the score of their rhetorical skill and familiarity with the intricacies of Grecian philosophy: so much so that there was ground of apprehension of their relapsing into actual heresy, or of suspicion that they were inclined to it.  The wisdom of the world is in God’s sight no better than folly: its wild conjectures and groundless theories must seem to him infinitely contemptible and absurd, since he knows all things.  It is written: see Job 5:13, Psalm 93:11.

21-23 Let none of you, therefore, boast or glory in the teacher you follow.  All are yours, at your disposal, for your salvation; Paul, Peter, Apollo, all Christian teachers are sent for your instruction and edification.  The world, and all contained in it, is for your use, temporal and eternal.  Life is yours, to prepare for eternity; death is the penance of your sins, and the entrance to immortality; in the present, you have God’s grace, in the future the hope of glory.  All good things, of nature, of grace, of glory, are yours: the world exists for the sake of God’s chosen ones.  You belong to Christ, who has purchased you at the price of his blood.  Christ is God’s son in his Divine nature, God’s servant in his humanity.  Glory, therefore, not in man, but in Christ, the source of all grace,  in God, the giver of all good. 

Corollary of Piety 

Every human soul in whom Christ dwells by faith, is God’s building.   God is its Architect: His fellow-workers are Apostles, Bishops, Priests.  The foundation is the faith of Jesus Christ: but man’s will is the workman who builds upon the foundation.  What will he build?  Gold, silver, precious stones; works of charity, penance, prayer, for himself and others, for the Church of God and for the holy souls in suffering; chastity: the ascetic perfection of the spiritual life.  There are things which shall stand the fire of the last day; fitting adornment and decoration for the temple whose inhabitant is the Spirit of God.  Wood, hay, stubble: earthly riches, influence, power, popularity, fame, fine houses, costly dresses, spectacles and amusements, races, balls, the trailing on the fringe of regal splendor: classic literature, pagan philosophy, reading and knowledge applied and applicable to no good and holy purpose, nor tending to the glory of God and the advancement of his faith; mere amusement to kill time and occupy the mind; sordid luxury, rough and vulgar play, thoughtless ribaldry and idle talk.  How shall these things help the soul in her hour of trouble; how shall such a building stand the fire of God’s justice?  How can such things as these enter God’s eternal kingdom?  What can such a builder expect but at the best to save his soul by fire, the purgatorial fire of God’s justice?

At worst, let him not ruin the temple of God, the dwelling-place of God’s Spirit.  Whoever lays waste God’s temple, him shall God lay waste.  For his temple is you, and in your heart the glorious presence given you in Baptism still dwells, for your worship and adoration, not for your forgetfulness, neglect, or contempt.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Father de Piconio's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:1-10

In this chapter the Apostle insists on the unity of the Church of Christ, as the field which God cultivates, the temple he is building, and compared with this unity, the rivalry of particular teachers is insignificant and contemptible.
1 Cor 3:1  And I, Brethren, could not speak to you as spiritual, but as carnal.  As infants in Christ,

The first three verses belong properly to the last chapter, and explain why St Paul has insisted so much on the distinction between the spiritual and animal man.  To you, Corinthians, I would not speak as spiritual.  You were animal, and a degree worse: for this implies limitation of intellectual power; you were carnal, which implies also some fault of the will and affection.  You were like children in Christ, unable to digest the solid food of higher spiritual instruction.

1 Cor 3:2 I give you milk to drink, not food: for you were not yet able, neither now are you able: for you are still carnal.
1 Cor 3:3 For when there is among you zeal and contention; are you not carnal, and walk according to man? 

Milk to drink.  Suitable to those who could taken nothing more solid and substantial; and yet containing in itself the principle of nourishment, on which the body gradually grows in strength and advances towards its full development.  I gave you as much as you could receive.  I could not give you more, not that I was not capable of giving it, but because you were not capable of receiving it. 

Neither now are you able.  A sudden and effective blow.  You are no better than infants even now.  There is among you zeal and contention-the Greek text and the Syriac version add, and dissension.

As long as you are divided into parties, full of party spirit, zeal for party, which divides you, not zeal for God, which would unite you, and childish rivalries between the followers of different teachers, are you not guided and influenced less by the love of God than by human and carnal affections?  Zeal of party, or envy, produces contention, and contention leads to division or dissension.

1 Cor 3:4 For when one says: I indeed am of Paul; and another: I Apollo; are you not men?  What then is Apollo? and what is Paul?
1 Cor 3:5 Ministers of him in whom you have believed; and as God has given to each. 

Are you not men? Guided by mere human reason, influenced by merely human affection and preference, carnal, animal, imperfect, infants? 

What is Apollo? Compared with God, the great Teacher, the human instrument is nothing.  They are ministers of Him in whom you have believed (vs. 5).  The Greek text and the Syriac read: the ministers through whom you believed, whose external ministry God made use of to preach to you the word, through which faith was given you.  As God gave to each the ministry he exercised, the power to fulfill it, the success that attended it, and from Him all three proceed.  The teacher is the minister, not the Lord, the channel, not the fountain.  The fount of wisdom is the Word on high.

1 Cor 3:6  I planted, Apollo watered: but God gave the increase. 

I planted, Apollo watered.  I first, as God’s minister, an Apostle, by the will of God, planted the faith of Christ in your city.  Apollo, coming after me, watered the seed sown with richer and fuller supply of Christian doctrine.  But God gave the increase, for it was he that supplied to you the grace of faith.

1 Cor 3:7 Therefore neither who plants is anything, nor who waters: but he who gives the increase, God.

The planter and the waterer are alike nothing.  God is the author of the grace of life, and of the increase of that grace.  They are nothing in or of themselves; they have nothing to teach but what God has given them; they are not the authors of the grace of conversion, or of sanctification and the further increase of that grace by faith, hope, charity.

God is the real cultivator of his field, though He uses the agency of mortal men,  et nos colimus Deum, et Deus colit nos, says St Augustine.

1 Cor 3:8 And he who plants, and he who waters, are one,  And each shall receive his own reward according to his labor. 

He who plants, and he who waters, are one. In themselves they are nothing, and in so far as they are anything they are alike, merely ministers of him who gives the increase.  And if one excels another in labor or in merit, that does not concern you, for God will give to each his reward.  According to his labor.  Not according to his success, which is not in his power,  His labor, solicitude, prayer, are in his power, and these God will reward.

1 Cor 3:9 For we are God’s helpers: you are God’s agriculture, God’s building.
1 Cor 3:10 According to the grace of God, which is given to me, as a wise architect I laid the foundation: and another builds upon it.  But let each look how he builds upon it. 

We are God’s helpers.  we are one, or alike, because we all co-operate with God, who directs our labors.  In MarK 16:20 we are told that the Lord worked with the Apostles.  Here we are told that the Apostles worked with God.  Although compared with God, the Apostles and Apostolic men are nothing, yet compared with us, and in what should be our estimate of them, they are worthy of the highest honor and reverence.  For their office is nothing less that to do-operate with the Creator of the world in the task of bringing the rational soul back to its principle and origin, the conversion of the souls of men to God.  Saint Dionysius, quoted by Estius, and Cornelius a Lapide. 

You are God’s building.  St Paul here introduces another metaphor.  You, the Church of the Corinthians, are a temple reared by God.  I laid the foundation of this temple (vs. 10) as a skilled architect; but he adds, I did so, according to the grace of God, the great architect-in-chief, of whom I am only the instrument.  Apollo, and others, have built upon this foundation.  Let each look how.  There was at Corinth a redundancy of eloquent talkers, rather given to display of their own powers, to whom, and to their hearers, the Apostle here administers a necessary caution.  There is no reason to think these last words are intended to apply to Apollo.

Father de Piconio's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1-16

In this chapter the Apostle declares that the language he had used when at Corinth was simple and unpretending; but that the truths he taught were high and heavenly, taught neither by men nor angels, but by the Spirit of God.

1 Cor 2:1  And I, when I came to you, brethren, came not in sublimity of language, or of wisdom, announcing to you the testimony of Christ. 

Not in sublimity of language.  The simplicity which the apostle has just declared a characteristic of the preachers of the Gospel, and which the Greeks, proud of their elaborate skill in rhetoric and philosophy, despised as folly, St Paul here declares he had practiced and adopted himself when he first went to Corinth.  He used no lofty language, made no parade of wisdom.  The Syriac version says: ‘not with grandiloquent language or show of wisdom, I proclaimed to you the secret of God.’  The Greek text has: the testimony of God.

1 Cor 2:2  For I did not judge that I knew anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 

I did not judge. I judged it best, coming to a city of learned men, to seem to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified.  The death and passion, resurrection and ascension of Christ, were the message he had to deliver, and this he delivered in the plainest language.  And to do this with more effect, whatever else he knew, he kept to himself.

1 Cor 2:3 And I was among you in infirmity, and fear, and much trembling.
1 Cor 2:4 And my discourse, and my preaching, were not in persuasive words of human wisdom, but in display of the Spirit and of power.

1 Cor 2:3 In infirmity and fear.  We may perhaps gather from these words, that St Paul was in feeble health while he was at Corinth.  It is certain also, from the narrative in Act of the Apostles, chapter 18, that he was subject to great persecutions and annoyance from the jealousy of the Jews, who ultimately raised a formidable outbreak of violence against him, which possibly caused his retirement from the city or hastened it.  (1 Cor 2:4)-His discourse, he declares, was in harmony with his circumstances and surroundings.  He delivered no great orations, but spoke on all occasions simply and plainly, proving the truth of his words by the display of the Holy Spirit and of power, that is by frequent miracles.

1 Cor 2:5 That your faith may not be in man’s wisdom, but in the power of God. 

That your faith may not be in man’s wisdom. May not originate or spring from human eloquence and wisdom.  Or that your conversion to the faith of Christ may not be ascribed to man’s wisdom, but to the power of God, may be a divine, not a human work.  That which you believe and are convinced of, should be, not the wisdom and knowledge of your teacher, but the power of God who commissioned the teacher, and wrought the miracles.
1 Cor 2:6  But we speak a wisdom among the perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, who are being destroyed.
1 Cor 2:7  But we speak the wisdom of God, in mystery, which is hidden, which God predestined before the ages to your glory.
1 Cor 2:8  Which none of the princes of this world knew: for if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory.

There is an inner or esoteric wisdom in the Christian faith, sublime and lofty mysteries of which St Paul here declares he was not ignorant, and of which he had freely spoken among the perfect, those whose fervor in faith enabled them to embrace and understand them.  It is possible that in these words he reflects somewhat upon the method of Apollo, who with the best intentions, may have somewhat rashly enlarged upon the sublimer truths of theology in the hearing of persons scarcely as yet able to understand them.  Modern commentators, and among them Cornelius a’ Lapide, join in mystery in verse 7 with the verb we speak; we speak of these things only in secret.  Theodoret, however, says: The meaning is not, we speak in mystery; but we tell to men the wisdom which is hid in mystery.  This seems more likely, for if the Apostle talked of these subjects only among the perfect, it would be unnecessary for him to add that he did so in mystery.

What is this hidden wisdom?  First, it is not of this world, secular and mundane; nor like the systems of philosophy accepted by the world.  Nor is it of the princes of this world, from the inspiration of demons and fallen spirits, who are so called in Jn 12:31.  Not a dark system of magian philosophy, the practice of divination and the magic art: all whcih were often imposed, in those days, upon the simplicity of the ignorant and credulous, and were even cultivated by the learned and powerful.  This power over the minds of men, founded in trickery and falsehood, it was one of the objects of the Gospel of Christ to overthrow, and its overthro was one of the results of the spread of the true faith.  Thr princes of this world are being destroyed.  If by the princes of this world is understood earthly rulers and great men, then these are continually passing away, as each dies in turn.

This is what the hidden wisdom is not.  It is, the wisdom of God, and therefore true; and it is hidden in the mystery: that is, the mystery of the incarnation; the splendor of God hidden in the flesh.  Christ, therefore, is the wisdom of Go hidden in mystery.  Not that St Paul concealed from any one the great mystery of the incarnation, which was, on the contrary, the center of all his preaching, ad the most important part of the message he had to deliver: but he treated it in a different manner, according to the capacity of his hearers, as he explains below.  The incarnation, death, and passion, and resurrection of Christ, were proclaimed to all men, as the ground of their redemption.  But the full intent, meaning, and end of Christ’s incarnation, the full significance of the adoption of the sons of God; possibly a prophetic view of the victory of the faith in the coming time; these perhaps were among the sublime mysteries of which the apostle spoke among the perfect, but which all could not at first comprehend.  And this further, that God has foreordained this mystery, from the beginning of time, for our glory-our glorification by the gift of the Spirit of God now, and in eternal life hereafter.  That God was hidden, and as it were annihilated, in the flesh, for the glory of that flesh which he assumed, that is for us human beings, was one of those mysteries which none of the princes of this world knew.  The powers of darkness did not comprehend, and would not believe, the depth of humility and charity in the character of God, which rendered this possible.  Had they known it, they would not have crucified him; because it was his cross which was the instrument of his victory, and gave him his irresistible power over the hearts of men.  Rather than this, they would have allowed him to reign in earthly power and glory, in which case he could not have so completely overthrown their empire among men.  It must be admitted, however, that this interpretation of verse 8 is open to some difficulty, since it implies that the Devil was either ignorant of, or would not believe, the Deity of Christ.  It may be more simple to understand by the princes of this world, in this verse, earthly rulers, as in the expression of St Peter, in Acts 3:17: I know that in ignorance you did it, as also your princes.  If Herod and Pontius Pilate had known that Jesus was the creator of the world, it is hardly to be believed that they would have put him to death,  Not that their ignorance of this truth was sufficient to excuse them, after the miracles Christ had wrought, and the evidence they had of his innocence and sanctity.

1 Cor 2:9  But as it is written: That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor has ascended into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love him:
1 Cor 2:10  But to us God has revealed by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.
1 Cor 2:11  For who among men knows what belongs to a man, except the spirit of the man, which is in him?  So also what belongs to God, no one knoweth, but the Spirit of God.
1 Cor 2:12  But we have received not the spirit of this world, but the spirit which is of God; that we may know what is given to us of God:

See Isaiah 64:3 (Isa 64:4 in some translations): “From the beginning of the world they have not heard, nor received with their ears, eye hath not seen, O God, without thee, what thou hast prepared for those who wait for thee.”  That is, the great mystery of the Incarnation, beyond human intelligence and expectation; not to be understood or believed without thee, otherwise than by God’s revelation.  And in the Incarnation is included its result, the salvation and ultimate glory of man.  This the Spirit of God has revealed to us, and no other could reveal.  As none knows the secret of a human heart, other than his own, so only the Spirit of God knows, and he knows fully, all the secrets of God.  And this Spirit we have received, no earthly spirit, but the spirit coessential and consubstantial with God (St Athanasius, Theophylact), under whose teaching we know the full extent of the great gifts which have been given to us of God, his Son to redeem us, his Spirit to sanctify us.  And of these mysteries and gifts of God we speak, not in philosophical language, but in words taught us by the Spirit of God.

1 Cor2:13 Which also we speak, not in words taught by human wisdom; but in the doctrine of the spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 

Comparing spiritual things with spiritual. Conveying things spiritual in spiritual language.  So Saint Chrysostom, and many other writers, ancient and modern.  Theophylact, who is followed by St Thomas, takes the word spiritualibus in the masculine, and comparantes in the sense of the Greek συγκρινοντες (sygkrinontes=distinguishing, also, interpreting, understanding), and understands, reserving high and spiritual doctrine for the hearing of spiritual persons.  This is more literal, and agrees with what the Apostle has said in verse 6, we speak wisdom among the perfect.  The whole of this passage may then be considered an illustration and expansion of what he there asserted.

1 Cor 2:14  But the animal man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for it is folly to him, and he cannot understand; because it is examined spiritually. 

The animal man.  The word animal is used in three senses in Scriptures.  First, in the sense of the English word, that which grows and lives on food, as all animals do, and in this sense it is used 1 Cor 15:45.  Secondly, one who habitually follows animal impulses (Jude 19).  Thirdly, as in this place, those who are guide only by right of natural reason.  Such a person may be instructed in the faith, and give assent to its mysteries, but yet be unable to comprehendnd the higher and sublimer truths which are taught by the Spirit of God.  These truths will appear to him folly, or meaningless, because they are beyond the reach of his capacity, and supernaturally understood.  They should not, therefore, be rashly obtruded upon him, because, as St Thomas says, arguments are not to be given to those who are incapable of receiving them.

1 Cor 2:15  But the spiritual judges all things; and himself is judged of none.
1 Cor 2:16 For who knows the sense of the Lord, to instruct him?  And we have the sense of Christ.

The spiritual judges all things. The spiritual man is also understood in three senses in the holy Scriptures.  1. Who does not require food, as Christ now.  2. Who follows the guidance of the Spirit; in this sense the animal man may be spiritual, though he cannot comprehend the higher mysteries of the faith.  3. The sense in which the word is here used, who is capable of understanding these higher mysteries, by a supernatural illumination.  In this sense the spiritual man is the same with the perfect in 1 Cor 2:6.  He is capable of judging or discussing all things, even the highest; and is not to be judged by his inferior, the animal man.  For if he was, the animal man ought to know the mind, or secret, of God, better than he.  But this mind of God can only be known by natural reason, which is impossible; or by supernatural illumination, which is contrary to the hypothesis.  For who by reason and nature can know, and teach him, the mind of God?  The sense of Christ.  The Syriac reads: the mind; the Arabic: the intellect;  the Ethiopic: the thoughts of Christ.  We, the Apostles, know the mind of Christ by supernatural revelation.  In the whole of this passage the Apostle evidently intends to assert the infinite superiority of the Christian philosophy to the other philosophical systems which it was brought into comparison at Corinth. 

Corollary of Piety:

The highest wisdom the human intellect can attain is the knowledge of Jesus Christ.  he is the eternal wisdom of God, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  Whatever God knows, he knows, for he is God.  The nature and character of God are fully known to him, for he is himself God.  He knows all the causes and motives of the creation of the universe, for he is himself its Creator.  He understands every detail of  its complicated framework, down to the minutest, for his hands framed it.  He understands the mode of dependence of the finite upon the Infinite creating will, for that will is his.  He knows the law of connection between spirit and matter, inscrutable to human research, possibly beyond the reach of any finite intelligence, for he is the Creator equally of the spiritual and the material.  Not only has he all wisdom and knowledge in himself, but it is he who imparts it to man, so far as man is capable of apprehending it, for he is the sun and the illumination of the human intellect.  To penetrate the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden in God the Word, have recourse to him, and take him as thy teacher; for there is no truth known to any finite intelligence, but from his teaching.  Wonder: for this wisdom was for thee hidden, and as it were annihilated, in the mystery of the Incarnation.  Love: for to this humiliation he was predestined from eternity in gloriam nostram, for our advancement to the glory of earth, which is sanctification, here, and the glory of eternity, which is his love, hereafter.

Father de Piconio's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:17-31

1 Cor 1:17  For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to evangelize, not in wisdom of word, that the cross of Christ may not be emptied. 

Christ sent me not to baptize. There was an interval between the profession of faith of the new convert, and his baptism, during which he received instruction in the mysteries of faith, as a catechuman.  This instruction of  catechumens is here included in baptism, and St Paul did not habitually undertake it, leaving it to others, and devoting his whole time to making the Gospel known to the outer world, which was the special function of the Apostolate.  Hence it was that he baptized very few.  Not in wisdom of word, eloquence and display of learning, of which he implies that the Corinthians thought too much.  The cross of Christ, and Christ on the cross, was the one subject he sought to bring before the thoughts of men, and implant in their hearts.  If they were only converted by human eloquence, the Cross was emptied of its power and robbed of its glory. 

1 Cor 1:18. For the word of the cross, to those who perish, is indeed folly; but to those who are being saved, that is to us, it is the power of God. 

The word of the cross is folly to those who perish. What greater folly than to hope for salvation from one who was unable to save himself from a painful and ignominious death? Yet to us who by faith have entered the way of salvation (the particle is in the present tense, in the Greek) the cross is the power of God, because we know that the death of Christ is effecting our salvation. 

1 Cor 1:19. For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and reprobate the prudence of the prudent.

Isa 29:14. Wisdom shall perish frcm the wise, and the understanding of the prudent shall be hid. God 

1 Cor 1:20. Where is the wise? Where the Scribe? where the enquirer of this world? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

Isa 33:18. Where, among the teachers of the Gospel of Christ, do you find pagan philosophers, Jewish scribes, professors of the physical sciences, who search out the secrets of the material world? Truly God has infatuated the wisdom of the world, says Tertullian, since he can make no use of it for the furtherance of his kingdom. The philosophers have never found out truth for themselves, which is evident from the divergence of their views on every conceivable question: much less can they point it out to others. The simple preaching of the cross of Christ has established the true faith of God, and rooted it firmly in the belief of mankind, in spite of schools of philosophy and the strength of earthly power and empire. 

1 Cor 1:21. For because in the wisdom of God the world knew not God through wisdom, it pleased God to save believers through the folly of preaching.

The Greeks, Theophylact says, had the wisdom of God for their teacher; the wisdom displayed in creation, Yet they never knew God. His wisdom intended they should know him in his works; the sin of men prevented the realization of this intention. The mode of salvation is therefore changed; and God now, by the simple preaching of the cross, which to the wisdom of this world appears folly, saves, not speculators, disputants, cavillers, but believers. 

1 Cor 1:22. Because also the Jews seek signs, and the Greeks ask for wisdom.
1 Cor 1:23. But we preach Christ crucified; to the Jews indeed a scandal, and to the nations folly;
1 Cor 1:24. But to those themselves who are called, Jews and Greeks, Christ the virtue of God, and the wisdom of God.
1 Cor 1:25. Because the folly of God is wiser than men: and the weakness of God stronger than men.
1 Cor 1:26. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many powerful, not many noble:
1 Cor 1:27. But the foolish of the world God has chosen to confound the wise: and the weakness of the world God has chosen to confound the strong:
1 Cor 1:28. And the ignoble things of the world, and contemptible, God has chosen, and the things that are not, to destroy the things that are:
1 Cor 1:29. That no flesh may glory in his sight.
1 Cor 1:30. And of him are you in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and justice, and sanctification, and redemption:
1 Cor 1:31. That as it is written: Who glories, in the Lord let him glory.

This is not what the world expected. The Jews ask for miracles, the Greeks require a system of philosophy (1 Cor 1:22). The Cross of Christ, which we preach, is to the Jews a scandal, because they do not understand humility; folly to the Gentiles, who are sensible of no greater evils than suffering and death (1 Cor 1:23). But those whom the grace of God calls to faith (1 Cor 1:24), can perceive that all the power of God, greater than miracles, all the wisdom of God, far transcending the limited view of human philosophy, is centred in the Crucified. The sun itself is darkness to the blind, says Theodoret; but it gives light to those who see. This (1 Cor 1:25), which the Greeks call folly, has done what all their systems of philosophy could never do: it has conquered the minds of men. That which seemed to them feeble and helpless, has subdued the empires of the world. Look at those whom God has selected to be the bearers of this message of salvation to mankind. How few of them are men whom the world regards as wise and eloquent; how few are men of position and influence; how few men of noble or princely birth (1 Cor 1:26)! He does not say absolutely none; there were, for instance, St. Dionysius the Areopagite, Paulus the governor of Cyprus, Nicodemus, Saint Paul himself, and Apollo.

(1 Cor 1:27-28) But these were exceptions. For the most part, the early preachers of the Gospel of Christ, and their converts, were men whom the world, in its pride and ignorance, regarded as foolish, feeble, contemptible, and ignoble, as nothing. Yet in the end they put the old systems of philosophy to shame, subdued empires and governments to the faith of Christ, brought to nothing all that the  world, before their time, most admired, believed, reverenced, trusted in. He, who made all things of nothing, has restored all things by those who were as nothing. The fools have taught the wise men. The feeble have conquered kings and emperors. The humble and lowly have brought to the feet of Christ the excellence and grandeur of the world. Nothing that is of this world can glory before God (1 Cor 1:29); its wisdom, its nobility, it power, are nothing in his sight. We also must learn to despise these things if we would have the regard of God.  (1 Cor 1:30-31) Christ has given us wisdom, deeper than the systems of philosophy can teach; justice, or remission of sin, more complete than either Judaic or pagan sacrifices could confer; sanctity, which philosophers talked of, but could never realize; redemption from the miseries of life, in hope complete, in great degree in present realization also, by virtue of that hope. In this we may glory  (1 Cor 1:31), but in nothing that is of this world. Thus saith the Lord: Let not the wise glory in his wisdom, and let not the strong glory in his strength, and let not the rich glory in his riches. But in this, let him glory, who glorieth, that he knows me, because I am the Lord, who show mercy and judgment and justice in the earth; for these are the things that please me, saith the Lord, Jer 9:23, 24. 

Corollary of Piety~

The humblest Christian is wiser than the wisest of the philosphers of ancient times; familiar with mysteries which baffled the penetration, and eluded the grasp, of the greatest intellects of all time. All the philosophers of all ages have failed to discover the final cause of man’s existence; what our race is made for. But the Catechism of the Church reveals to every Christian child this secret, the foundation of all philosophy, so necessary to know, so marvellously concealed from the unassisted intelligence of man. God made me to know him, love him, serve him, and enjoy him for ever. Not the foundation of philosophy only, but its completion. Had philosophy attained this truth, it would have been content and satisfied, and desired to know no more. He who knows this knows all; he who knows it not, knows nothing. 

The cross, once the emblem of the deepest degradation, the most profound and utter scorn, surmounts the sceptres of kings, is suspended in the courts of judicature, gleams in the decorations of the most renowed orders of chivalry among all the most civilised nations of the world. Christ on the cross, in his most absolute destitution and dereliction, has proved the conqueror of the world. He has done what kings and conquerors could never do: subdued the hearts of men. Few could tell the names of the twelve Cesars; the names of the twelve fishermen of Galilee, who conquered the world, are familiar in every land, and millions of men are called after one or other of them, after eighteen hundred years. No Roman triumphs were ever so brilliant as those which have been achieved by the bearers of Christ’s message of salvation; and the world has no record of conquest which can be compared to his.

What earthly dignity, what far descended genealogy can compete with the nobility of the inheritors of the glory of the sons of God?

Empires pass away, and are not. The Church of Christ, once esteemed as nothmg, stands from generation and generation, triumphs over the empires, and through the ages. God has used the ignorant to put the wise to shame, made the weak victorious over strength, exalted the lowly above the noblest, chosen the things that are not to bring to nothing the things that were.

Father de Piconio's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:10-16

1 Cor 1:10  But I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all say the same thing, and that there may be no schism among you: but that you may be perfect in the same sentiments and the same opinion. 

Through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. It will not have escaped the reader, and it is very remarkable, that this is the tenth time the Apostle introduces this name, in the few lines he has already written.  He evidently never tires of the sound of it.  So far he has given the Corinthian Christians congratulation and praise, speaking to some of them, St Augustine says, as of the whole.  He has now some blame to administer, but introduces it with entreaty.  I beseech you. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, which they slighted by adopting various party names, as if his was not sufficient; praying them, as they are one in the society of Jesus Christ, to be one in the understanding and expression of their faith.  One mind and heart, one meaning and one language. 

1 Cor 1:11  For it has been signified to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 

Of the house of Chloe. Both the Greek text and the Vulgate have those who are of Chloe. The Syriac: the domestics of Chloe. The Arabic: the friends of Chloe, which is also what St Chrysostom understands.  Chloe was no doubt a Christian woman at Corinth in a position of wealth and influence, so that her name was well known to the Christian community. 

1 Cor 1:12  And I say this, that every one of you says: I indeed am of Paul; and I of Apollo; but I of Cephas; and I am of Christ. 

I say, I have no doubt of the truth of what I hear.  Each of you says I am of  Paul, a disciple and follower and spiritual child of Paul.  An I of Apollo. Apollo (Acts 18:24) was a Jew of Alexandria, eloquent and powerful in the Scriptures, who having been converted to the faith of Christ by Aquila and Priscilla, came to Corinth after St Paul’s departure, and gave great help and support, by his eloquence and learning, to the Christians in that city, especially in their controversy with the Jews, to whom he publicly demonstrated that Jesus was the Messiah promised in the ancient Scripture.  Some party feeling seems to have arisen on his account and that of St Paul.  Some of the Corinthians, declining to take part in it, avowed themselves disciples of St Peter, from whom possibly they had received the faith in Rome; while others had in their earlier years heard the words of Christ in Judea or Galilee. 

1 Cor 1:13  Is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you?  Or in the name of Paul were you baptized? 

Is Christ divided? Have you more than one Christ?  Has he any partner or associate in power and dominion, with whom he divides his authority?  Was it Paul, or Peter, or Apollo, who was crucified for you?  Or were you baptized in any of these names?  As we have but one Christ, crucified for us, so have we but one teacher and master, by whose name we should be called.  Every preacher should endeavor to win the souls of his hearers for Christ, not for himself.  And every Christian should reverence the teachers and ministers of the Church as the ministers of Christ, not as Christs themselves.  Is your teacher Christ?  was he crucified for you? 

1 Cor 1:14  I thank God I baptized none of you, except Crispus and Caius:
1 Cor 1:15  Lest any should say that I baptized in my own name.
1 Cor 1:16  I baptized also the house of Stephanus: but I know not if I baptized any other.

(vs 14).  I thank God. By Divine Providence it was ordered that I baptized very few amongst you, lest it should be said I baptized in my own name (vs 15).  Crispus was a chief of the Jewish synagogue at Corinth (Acts 18:8), a colleague of Sosthenes.  Caius (Rom 16:23) is the person there designated as my host.  (vs 16) There is a eulogy to Stephanus in chapter 15 of this Epistle.  St Thomas thinks that the circumstances here referred to gave origin to the Greek form of baptism.  Be (name) the servant of the Lord baptized, in the name of the Father, ect., instead of I baptize you, ect., lest it should give occasion to say, I of Paul, of Cephas, ect.

Introduction to 1 Corinthians

The following is taken from The Confraternity Supplemental Commentary on the New Testament.


Corinth was already an old city some thousand years before Christ.  The embellished Greek city became the leader of opposition against Rome and was destroyed in 146 B.C.  In 46-44 B.C. it was rebuilt as Colonia Julia Corinthus by Julius Caesar who peopled it with Italian freedmen and dispossessed Greeks.  Augustus added his own name to its already complex title and made the city the capital of Achaia.
Corinth  is situated on the narrow isthmus which joins the Peloponnesus with the mainland of Greece and separates the Gulf of Corinth from the Gulf of Saron.  This location made the city a natural trade center.  The population of the city and its ports at the time of St. Paul has been estimated at six hundred thousand of whom two-thirds were slaves.  There were many of the laboring class, but still enough men of leisure to maintain a certain excellence in rhetoric and philosophy.  This city of mixed stock retained much of Greek culture, but it was one of the few in Greece to import the Roman games.  The numerous temples to Greek, Roman, and Oriental gods did little to check the rampant immorality.  Vice formed a part of the popular worship shown to Aphrodite, the Greek Venus.  "To live as a Corinthian" was to live in debauchery.

The Church.  On his second missionary journey Paul was forced by Jewish opposition to leave Thessalonica and Beroea (Acts 17:1-15).  He went by boat to Athens.  After his poor success there with idle speculators (Acts 17:16-34), he passed at once to Corinth (Acts 18:1).  There he was  joined again by Silas and Timothy who had stayed in Macedonia (Acts 17:14; 18:5).  Encouraged by a vision of the Lord who told him "I have many people in this city," Paul labored at Corinth for about two years (Acts 18:9-11, 18).

Authenticity.  There is scarcely any other ancient book the authenticity of which is so firmly established.  About 95 A.D. St. Clement of Rome wrote to the Corinthians, "Take up the Epistle of the Blessed Paul the Apostle . . . he wrote in the Spirit to you concerning himself, and Cephas, and Apollos, because even then you formed factions" (1 Clem. 47; cf. 1 Cor. 1:12).  In the first years of the second century St. Ignatius of Antioch refers so frequently to the contents of this letter without directly quoting it that he seems to know the letter by heart.  St. Polycarp, a disciple of St. John the Apostle, writes, "Or do we not  know that the saints will judge the world as Paul teaches" (Polycarp to the Philippians 11, 2; cf. 1 Cor. 6:2).  St. Irenaeus in Gaul, a disciple of this Polycarp, quotes the Epistle about sixty times, frequently giving Paul's name or his accepted title, "the Apostle."  Also in the second century Clement of Alexandria refers to its contents about 150 times and Tertullian of Carthage about four hundred times, both mentioning Paul expressly as the author on more than one occasion.

Occasion and Purpose.  On his third missionary journey Paul settled down for three years at Ephesus (Acts 20:31).  Excepting from November 10 to March 10 when the Mediterranean was generally considered closed because of stormy weather, commercial relations between Corinth and Ephesus were frequent and passengers were often aboard the ships.  Members of the house of a lady named Chloe brought word to Ephesus of divisions in Corinth (1 Cor 1:11).  Apollos who had continued Paul's preaching at Corinth (Acts 19:1) was now back with Paul at Ephesus (1 Cor 16:12).  Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus (1 Cor 16:17) had recently brought a letter in which the Corinthians submitted some of their problems to Paul (1 Cor 7:1; 8:1).  Paul now writes to correct abuses and to answer questions.

Place and Date.  It is clear that St. Paul writes from Ephesus for in 16, 8 we read, "I shall stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost."  This also shows that it is towards the end of a stay at Ephesus that he is writing.  This would scarcely have been during the brief stay at Ephesus immediately after leaving Corinth (Acts 18:19-21) and therefore must refer to the three years' stay on his third missionary journey (Acts 18:23-19:40; 20:31).  Now Paul left Corinth shortly after Gallio became proconsul of Achaia, which according to profane chronology was probably in the year 51/52 A.D. (Acts 18:12-18).  Allowing about five years for the "some time longer" that Paul continued at Corinth (Acts 18:18), the journey back to Antioch (Acts 18:18-22), the "some time" spent at Antioch (Acts 18:23), the mission through Galatia and Phrygia (Acts 18:23), and the three years at Ephesus, it is about 57 A.D. when Paul now writes.  The same approximate date is reached if one calculates forwards from the time when Festus replaced Felix as procurator at Caesarea, which was between 59 and 60 A.D., after Paul had been captive two years (Acts 24:27).


Introduction 1 Cor 1:1-9

I. Party Spirit 1 Cor 1:10-4:21

II. Moral Disorders 1 Cor 5:1-6, 20

1. The Incestuous Man 1 Cor 5:1-13

2. Lawsuits before Pagans 1 Cor 6:1-11

3. The Evil of Immorality 1 Cor 6:12-20

III. Answers to Questions  1 Cor 7:1-11:1

1. Marriage and Celibacy 7:1-40

2. Idol Offerings 1 Cor 8:1-13

3. Paul's Right as an Apostle 1 Cor 9:1-27

4. Against Overconfidence 1 Cor 10:1-13

5. Discussion of Idol Offerings Resumed 1 Cor 10:14-11:1

IV. Religious Gatherings 1 Cor 11:2-34

1. The Headdress of Women 1 Cor 11:2-16.

2. The Eucharist 1 Cor 11:17-34

V. The Spiritual Gifts 1 Cor 12:1-14:40

1. Their Distribution 1 Cor 12:1-31

2. A Digression on Charity 1 Cor 13:1-13

3. The Gifts of Tongues and Prophecy 1 Cor 14:1-40 

VI. The Resurrection 1 Cor 15:1-58

Conclusion 1 Cor 16:1-24

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Father MacEvilly's Commentary on Galatians 3:1-5

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly's summary of all of chapter 3, followed by his notes on verses 1-5. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the verse he is commenting on. Text in red, if any, are my additions.

A Summary of Galatians Chapter 3.

In this chapter, the Apostle, after having conveyed in feeling terms, a mild, paternal rebuke, to the Galatians (Gal 3:1), proceeds to prove by several arguments, that justification comes from faith and not from the works of the law. His first argument is derived from the experience of the Galatians themselves. The abundant gifts of the Holy Ghost were displayed amongst them, and he asks them, was it from faith these gifts were derived? and he, then, points out their utter folly in having recourse to carnal precepts for the consummation of that sanctification which commenced with faith (Gal 3:2–5). His next argument is derived from the example of Abraham, justified by faith before he received the law, and his justification is the model of ours (Gal 3:6–9). Another argument is derived from the evils entailed by the law, which, far from being the source of a blessing, is the occasion of a curse (Gal 3:10). A further proof, which may be rather termed a fuller development of the preceding, is derived from the difference of the effects flowing from faith and the works of the law (Gal 3:11-12).

He shows how we are freed from the malediction entailed by the law (Gal 3:13-14). His next argument is founded on the nature of the testament which God made with Abraham, and in a strain of reasoning which he elucidates by human examples, he shows this testament to be unchangeable, and not voidable, which would be the result, if justification were to come from the law (Gal 3:15-16). From these arguments he concludes that we are justified by Christ, or rather by faith in him, and not by the law (Gal 3:17-18). He then answers certain objections to which his doctrine and reasoning might give rise, and shows the points in which the Old Law, and the promise made regarding Christ, differed, and the excellency of the latter above the former (Gal 3:19-20). Reverting to the opposition apparently existing between the law and the promise, he shows that there was no opposition between them. They would be really opposed, if the law conferred justice, as the false teachers taught (Gal 3:21). He shows that the law served the promise, by causing men, oppressed with the yoke of sin, to look to the proper source, viz., faith in Christ, for the fruits of the promise (Gal 3:22), and also that it prepared us for the promise, by restraining us from manifest transgressions (Gal 3:23). The law held the same relation to the promise, that the pedagogue does to the preceptor (Gal 3:24). But now its office ceases; hence, abrogated, as being useless (Gal 3:25). The Galatians arrived at once at full grown spiritual existence; and, did not, therefore, require the magisterial discipline of the pedagogue (Gal 3:26). He points out the magnitude of the blessings conferred on them in justification. 

Gal 3:1 O senseless Galatians, who hath bewitched you that you should not obey the truth: before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been set forth, crucified among you?  

O senseless Galatians, slow of understanding, what magic influence could have so far bewitched you, as to give up the true faith, especially after the vivid picture, which I exhibited to you, of the death of Christ, as vivid and as striking as if he were really crucified before your eyes.

“Senseless.” The Greek word, ανοητοι (anoetoi), means stupid, or devoid of mind and understanding. “Who hath bewitched,” &c. The Galatians would appear, he says, to be under the influence of witchcraft, by which their senses were so perverted, that truth appeared as falsehood, and vice versa. “That you should not obey the truth.” These words are wanting in some Greek copies, and omitted by St. Jerome. They are admitted to be authentic by Matthæi, and others. “Jesus Christ hath been set forth,” which is read by others, “Christ hath been proscribed or condemned.” The meaning in the Paraphrase is the one more in accordance with the present Greek reading. “Set forth,” προεγραφη  (proegraphe), præscriptus est; a pictorial term, conveying an allusion to paintings exposed for public inspection. From these words, the Apostle wishes the Galatians to understand, that the vivid picture which he drew for them of Christ’s crucifixion, should have made a lasting impression on their minds, and preserved them from error, as regarded the necessity or sufficiency of the Mosaic ceremonies, whose total abrogation the mystery of Christ’s death so loudly proclaimed..

Gal 3:2 This only would I learn of you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith?  

This one point I only wish to know from you. From what source was derived the spirit of graces and miracles which you received at your justification, and abundantly displayed amongst you? Was it from faith communicated through the hearing of my preaching, or from the works of the law?

He now enters on the subject of this chapter, viz., that justification comes not from the works of the law, but from faith. The first proof of this proposition is derived from the experience of the Galatians themselves. They received “the Spirit,” i.e., the Holy Ghost, at their conversion, and his gifts of miracles, tongues, &c., which were visibly displayed amongst them. These gifts accompanied justification, and although their presence is not always a proof of sanctity in individuals, as is clear from the Gospel—“nonne in nomine tuo prophetavimus, dæmonia cjecimus?” &c. ("Have we not prophesied in thy name, cast out demons, etc." The reference is to Matt. 7:22 ), to whom the answer given is, “Amen, dico vobis, nescio vos;” (an allusion to Mt 7:23~"I profess unto them, I never knew you," etc.,) still, when plenteously conferred on a multitude, it is a proof of the giving of the Holy Ghost in real and internal justification. The answer to his question, which the Apostle knew would be given, is—these gifts came from faith, since the Galatians, as being Gentiles, knew nothing of the works of the Jewish law, before their conversion.

Gal 3:3 Are you so foolish that, whereas you began in the Spirit, you would now be made perfect by the flesh?  

Are you so far advanced in folly, as, contrary to all order, after having commenced your justification by spiritual means, of which faith is the basis, to attempt to perfect this by the carnal observance of a law, which brought nothing to perfection?

From the supposed answer, the Apostle shows the utter folly of the Galatians in inverting all order, by recurring in the first instance, to spiritual means for justification, and then endeavouring to perfect the justification by carnal means, such as the ceremonial law was, which effected carnal purification. Right reason pointed out the contrary order of advancing, viz., from carnal to the adoption of spiritual means.

Gal 3:4 Have you suffered so great things in vain? If it be yet in vain.  

Have you endured so many sufferings and labours in the cause of the faith without any fruit or profit? I hope, however, that by your sincere repentance, you will recover the full fruits of your former good works, which have been lost to you by sin.

They gave a further proof of their folly, in losing the merit of their past sufferings, by falling back to Jewish ceremonies. “If yet in vain.” He corrects his former saying, and expresses a hope, that their past good works and sufferings may revive by penance and prove of avail to them. On the latter words of this verse, Divines ground a probable proof of the reviviscence, by penance, of the merit of former good works performed in a state of grace, but now lost, as to their fruit, or as they are termed, mortified, owing to mortal sin. Others understood them in an exceptive sense, if it be only in vain, as if to say, it might have gone farther, and be the source of their perdition.

Gal 3:5 He therefore who giveth to you the Spirit and worketh miracles among you: doth he do it by the works of the law or by the hearing of the faith?

I now repeat my former question (verse 2): Did God impart to you his Holy Spirit, and did he perform miracles of power amongst you, owing to your observance of the works of the law, or in consequence of the spirit of faith which you received from hearing my preaching? (Of course you will answer, it was owing to faith, since you knew nothing of the works of the law at the time).

 He repeats the question proposed (verse 2), in order to connect it with the following verse. The answer of course is, that given in Paraphrase. This answer is understood, and keeping this in mind, the Apostle proceeds to the following verse 6. “Miracles among you.” In Greek, miracles in you.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Father Callan's Commentary on Romans 16:21-27

A Summary of Romans 16:21-24

This section is a postscript to the letter. Most probably St. Paul had intended to add the doxology immediately after his prayer for grace of verse 20, and thus terminate the Epistle. But remembering that he had not included the greetings of his companions, as was often his custom (1 Cor 16:19 ff. ; Phil 4:21; Col. 4:10 ff.; 2 Tim. 4:21; Tit. 3:15; Philem. 23), he preferred to insert them between his prayer and the doxology rather than omit them altogether (Comely). Perhaps this addition of greetings caused the Apostle to repeat in verse 24 the prayer of verse 20, as some critics hold, so that the doxology might immediately follow the prayer, as he had first intended.

Rom 16:21. Timothy, my fellow labourer, saluteth you, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen.

Timothy was also associated with Paul in the writing of several other Epistles (2 Cor. 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col. 1:1; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1; Philem. 1). It is uncertain whether Timothy was with Paul all during the composition of this Epistle, or whether he joined the Apostle only at the end.

Lucius, although Roman in name, was probably Lucius of Cyrene spoken of in Acts 13:1 among the Christians of Jewish origin.

Jason is perhaps the same person that was St. Paul's host at Thessalonica (Acts 17:5-7, 9), a Jewish Christian.

Sosipater is the same name as Sopater, and doubtless the same person as Sopater of Beraea (Acts 20:4). Lucius, Jason and Sosipater were relatives of St. Paul. The last two, with Timothy (2 Cor. 1:1), had come from Macedonia to Corinth, perhaps to bring their collections for the poor in Jerusalem and to accompany
the Apostle on his way thither. Very likely the others here mentioned had come for the same purpose. Their arrival just as the Epistle to the Romans was being terminated would explain this postscript of greetings.

Rom 16:22. I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.

I Tertius. St. Paul made use of a certain Tertius as secretary in writing the present Epistle. It was usual with the Apostle to dictate his letters (2 Thess. 3:17; Gal. 6:11; 1 Cor. 16:21; Col. 4:18; Philem. 19), but it was not customary for the secretary to include his personal greetings as here. Perhaps Tertius was known to the Romans, and so was told by St. Paul to add his own salutation.

Rom 16:23. Caius, my host, and the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city, saluteth you, and Quartus, a brother.

Caius, also written Gaus. This is very likely the person spoken of in 1 Cor. 1:14, a wealthy Corinthian, baptized by St. Paul during the latter's first visit to Corinth. St. Paul doubtless enjoyed the hospitality of Caius throughout his stay at Corinth.

And the whole church. Better, "And the host of the whole church," i.e., all the faithful of Corinth that were accustomed to assemble in the house of Caius for divine service (Origen, Lipsius, Julicher, etc.); or all the faithful that were freely permitted to come to Caius' house while St. Paul was there (Kuhl); or all those Christians who were wont to seek the hospitality of Caius when passing through Corinth (St. Chrysostom, Cornely, Lagrange, etc.).

Erastus does not seem to be the person by the same name of Acts 19:22, of whom St. Paul probably spoke in 2 Tim. 4:20.

The treasurer, i.e., the officer in charge of finances in the city of Corinth.

Quartus, as his name would indicate, was perhaps a Roman
Christian, and therefore known to the Romans. 

A brother, i.e., a Christian.

The Vulgate universa ecclesia ought to be in the genitive, unvversae ecclesiae, as in the Greek.

Rom 16:24. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

This verse is usually regarded as a mere repetition, due to copyists, of verse 20b. It is wanting in the most ancient MSS. and in many versions.

A Summary of Romans 16:25-27

From verse 22 we gather that the whole Epistle, up to the present section, was dictated by St. Paul to Tertius, his secretary. At this point the Apostle very probably took the pen in his own hand and wrote the doxology by way of solemn conclusion and signature.

The doxology sums up briefly, yet completely, the whole doctrine of the Epistle, reproducing its most significant language, and extolling the omnipotence of God which alone is able to confirm the neophytes in the faith they have received.

Rom 16:25. Now to him that is able to establish you, according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret from eternity,

To him that is able, etc., supposes, as its complement, "glory," as in verse 27. A similar formula of praise the Apostle often made use of in other Epistles (Gal. 1:1; Eph. 3:21; Phil 4:20; 1 Tim. 1:17; Heb. 13:20).

To establish, etc. When he would be in Rome the Apostle hoped to confirm the Romans in the faith they had received (Rom 1:11), and meanwhile he prays that the grace of God, without which nothing can be accomplished, will stabilize and hold them fast in their faith.

According to my gospel, i.e., according to the Gospel which St. Paul preached everywhere (cf. Rom 2:16; 11:28; 2 Tim. 2:8), and which was the doctrine of Jesus Christ as also preached by the other Apostles. Although St. Paul in his preaching laid stress on the universality of salvation for all, Jews and Gentiles, and the gratuitousness of this salvation through faith alone, independently of antecedent personal merits or the works of the Law; and while the scope of his Gospel thus differed naturally to some extent from that of the other Apostles, since he was in particular the Apostle of the Gentiles, he was, nevertheless, like the others, always teaching the one Gospel of Christ, else how could he ask God to confirm the Romans, to whom he had never preached, in his Gospel, if it were something distinct from and contrary to the teaching of those others?

The preaching of Jesus Christ, i.e., the doctrine which Christ had announced to the world and had commanded the Apostle to preach; or, according to others, the doctrine which has for its object Jesus Christ, dead and raised again to life (Cornely, Kuhl, etc.).

According to the revelation. This phrase is to be coordinated with the previous one, "according to my gospel," etc.; and the meaning is that this Gospel, this preaching, is the revelation of a mystery, namely, the universality of salvation for all men, Jews and Gentiles, through faith in Jesus Christ. This great mystery God had decreed from all eternity, but had kept secret, until it was made manifest in the appearance of Christ, in His life and Resurrection and the preaching of the Apostles (Lagrange).

Rom 16:26. (Which now is made manifest by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the precept of the eternal God. for the obedience of faith), known among all nations;

Which now, i.e., by the corporal presence of Christ in this world, is made manifest, better, "hath been made manifest," God's eternal secret in the Person and life of Christ, His Only-begotten Son.

By the scriptures, etc., i.e., by the ancient prophetic writings, through which Christ and the Gospel were foreshadowed and announced, and of which the Apostles made use in their preaching and writing in confirmation of their teaching (Rom 1:2 ; 3:21; 9:25-26; 10:13, 15, 18, 20; 15:9-12; Eph. 3:21; Acts 2:17-21, 25-28; 13:47; 15:16, etc.).

For the obedience, etc., i.e., that the Gospel might be accepted, that men might believe in Jesus Christ—this was the aim and object of the revelation of the great mystery spoken of in the preceding verse, which was for all nations, Gentiles as well as Jews.

Rom 16:27. To God the only wise, through Jesus Christ, to whom be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

By a prayer of praise to the wisdom of God the Apostle terminates his sublime Epistle to the Romans.

The only wise, i.e., whose infinite wisdom alone was able to guard His eternal secret and prepare His revelation for the redemption of man through Jesus Christ, His Only-begotten Son.

Honour (Vulg., honor) is not represented in the Greek. The construction of the verse is made irregular by the relative ω (ho = "to whom") which, however, seems to be undoubtedly authentic, as being found in the best MSS., and, which, by referring back to God rather than to Jesus Christ, serves somewhat to complete the sentence begun in verse 25.

Father Callan's Commentary on Romans 16:17-20

A Summary of Romans 16:17-20

This section causes a somewhat serious difficulty. It is indeed surprising to find placed between St. Paul's personal greetings and those of his companions a section warning against the sowers of discord, the Judaizers. The interruption appears unnatural and strange. It will not do to say that the passage is out of place, since it is uniformly found here in all MSS. Certain critics, like Lipsius and Kuhl, have regarded this warning against agitators as contrary to the tone of the whole Epistle, which everywhere else supposes unusual unity and concord, and they have therefore regarded the passage as unauthentic. The following may be said in reply: (a) St. Paul is not warning against an actual existing situation among the Roman Christians, but is putting them on their guard against a possible future peril. Having just spoken of the greetings of "all the churches" he suddenly recalled to mind the trouble he had encountered almost everywhere with disturbing Judaizers, and he at once inserted this section of warning to the Romans (Cornely, Zahn, etc.); or (b) St. Paul had knowledge that the Judaizers were already beginning their evil work in Rome, although the Christian
community as such was not yet seriously troubled by them, or even aware of the danger among them. While he feels that the Romans will not allow themselves to be deceived, he does not hesitate to lay bare the peril with all his usual vigor. The Apostle has outlined his teaching to the Romans, and now at the end of his Letter, otherwise calm and speculative, he wisely cautions against adversaries who are already seeking to gain the confidence of his readers (Lagrange). (c) This abrupt change of tone and subject here is not more strange than that of 1 Cor. 16:21 ff. (Julicher), and is quite in keeping with the Apostle's vigorous and impulsive spirit.

Rom 16:17. Now I beseech you, brethren, to mark them who make dissensions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them.

Now, etc. It is only natural and in keeping with his practice elsewhere (Phil 3:17 ff.), that St. Paul, after directing who should be greeted in his name, should now point to those against whom the Christians of Rome ought ever to be on their guard, namely, the Judaizers (Gal. 1:6; 5:20; 2 Cor. 10:7 ff.; 11:12 ff., etc.).

To mark, etc., i.e., carefully to watch those Judaizers who had before caused so much trouble, and who were always and everywhere opposing the Gospel preached by St. Paul. From these facts and from the words, the doctrine which you have learned, it is plain that the Gospel of Paul was also that of the Romans.

Rom 16:18. For they that are such, serve not Christ our Lord, but their own belly; and by pleasing speeches and good words, seduce the hearts of the innocent.

Those Judaizers who try to undo the work of St. Paul are naturally not serving Christ, but themselves and their own selfish aims. They prefer the Law to Christ; and while pretending to shoulder all the burdens of the Law, they are guilty of gluttony and self-indulgence (2 Cor. 11:20; Tit. 1:10; Phil 3:2), and make use of pleasing words only to deceive the simple and the guileless.

Rom 16:19. For your obedience is published in every place. I rejoice therefore in you. But I would have you to be wise in good, and simple in evil.

Your obedience, i.e., the docility with which you embraced the faith is everywhere known. This shows that the community in Rome was as yet undisturbed. 

I rejoice therefore, etc., assures the Romans that St. Paul has no doubt of the integrity of their faith ; but he would have them be as wise as serpents and as simple as doves (Matt. 10:16) in dealing with the treacherous Judaizers. 

Wise in good, i.e., not deceived by false appearances and led to doctrines contrary to those already learned. 

Simple in evil, i.e., not knowing or taking part in evil (1 Cor. 14:20).

The Vulgate in bono, in malo should be in bonum, in malum, to agree with the Greek.

Rom 16:20. And the God of peace crush Satan under your feet speedily. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

St. Paul assures the Romans that God, the author of peace and happiness, will crush (συντριψει = syntripsei) under their feet Satan, the author of discord, whose emissaries the Judaizers are. The allusion here is to Gen. 3:15, where the crushing of the serpent's head was announced.

The grace of our Lord, etc. This is the formula by which St. Paul, with some slight variations of detail, is accustomed to terminate his letters (1 Cor. 16:23; 2 Cor. 13:13; Gal. 6:8; Eph. 6:24; Phil 4:23; Col. 4:18; 1 Thess. 5:28; 2 Thess.3:18; Heb. 13:25, etc.). It seems, therefore, somewhat singular to find this formula placed here before the greetings of the Apostle's companions. But since the best MSS. and versions leave no doubt as to its genuineness before verses 21-23, we must conclude that those texts which have omitted it here and placed it at verse 24, or after verse 27, have not the traditional and correct reading; while those texts, like the Vulgate and our English version, that have it both in the present verse and in verse 24 have combined the two readings (Cornely, Lagrange, etc.).

The conterat of the Vulgate here ought to be conteret, in conformity with the Greek.

Father Callan's Commentary on Romans 15:14-21

A Summary of Romans 15:14-33

The Dogmatic and Moral Parts of the Epistle being finished, the Apostle subjoins an epilogue (Rom 15:14-16:27) in which only personal matters are treated. At first (verses 14-21) he apologizes for the freedom with which he has written them and offers a justification. He is the Apostle of the Gentiles and wishes to make known in the Eternal City the contents of his preaching to other Gentiles. Next he says (verses 22-29) that, after visiting Jerusalem, he hopes to realize his long desire to see Rome on his way to evangelize Spain. Meanwhile he ardently implores (verses 30-32) their prayers for protection against his enemies in Jerusalem. Verse 33 is his final salutation.
Rom 15:14. And I myself also, my brethren, am assured of you, that you also are full of love, replenished with all knowledge, so that you are able to admonish one another.

With this verse the Apostle begins to explain why he has written at such length and so openly to the Romans. It was not that he doubted the purity of their faith or the sanctity of their lives; for he is assured (perhaps through letters sent him by Aquila and Priscilla) that they are full of love (αγαθωσυνης = agathosynes) , i.e., of moral goodness and kindliness; and that they are replenished with all knowledge, i.e., with a profound and accurate understanding of the truths of faith, so as to be able to admonish, i.e., to warn, to instruct one another (αλληλους νουθετειν = allelous nouthetein).

In the Vulgate bonitate (goodness) would be more literal than dilectione 
(love); etiam (also) should precede alterutrum (one another). The final clause should read: “so that you are able (etiam) also to admonish one another."

Rom 15:15. But I have written to you, brethren, more boldly in some sort, as it were putting you in mind: because of the grace which is given me from God.

St. Paul wrote to the Roman Church more boldly in some sort, i.e., in terms somewhat bold (τολμηροτερως = tolmeroteron) , at times, not to teach them any new doctrines, but only to put them in mind, i.e., to remind them of things they already knew. This he felt to be his duty because of the grace, i.e., because of the commission, given him as the Apostle of the Gentiles (Rom 1:5; Rom 12:3).

Brethren (Vulg., fratres) supposes the less probable reading αδελφοι (adelphoi).

Rom 15:16. That I should be the minister of Christ Jesus among the Gentiles; sanctifying the gospel of God, that the oblation of the Gentiles may be made acceptable and sanctified in the Holy Ghost.

Here the Apostle describes the nature and purpose of the grace and commission he has received. His Apostolate to the Gentiles was a kind of priesthood which, as Gospel-priest, he exercises under Christ.

The minister (λειτουργον = leitourgon) means here the priest as discharging the sacred ministry. The object of this ministry is the Gentiles. The word is related to liturgy.

Sanctifying the gospel. The word  ιερουργουντα (hierourgounta) implies the act of fulfilling a sacred function, and especially the offering of sacrifice. Thus the preaching of the Gospel among the Gentiles is here represented by the Apostle as a sacrifice. The preacher is the priest (Greek: hiereus), the Gentiles are the victim to be offered (see Rom 12:1), and preaching is the act by which the victim is brought to the altar and prepared for immolation. By preaching the Gospel the Apostle is performing a sacrificial act, the purpose of which is to prepare and dispose the Gentiles to be an oblation acceptable to God. For other sacrificial terminology Paul uses in relation to his ministry see (Rom 11:3; Philippians 2:17).

Sanctified in the Holy Ghost. As in the ancient sacrifices the victim, before being immolated, had to be cleansed and purified so as to be pleasing to God, so the Gentiles, in order to become an oblation acceptable to God, should first be purified from their moral unfitness. This purification of the Gentiles by which they became acceptable to God was finally effected through Baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit.

In the Vulgate sanctificans evangelium (sanctifying the gospel) should rather be operans (in a ritual sense, i.e., ministering) evangelio gospel (Lagrange).  The et (and) before sanctificata (being sanctified) should be omitted; consequently also the and in English.  The end of the verse should read: that the oblation of the Gentiles may be made acceptable, being sanctified in the Holy Ghost; not made acceptable and sanctified.

Rom 15:17. I have therefore glory in Christ Jesus towards God.

Therefore (ουν = oun) shows we have here a deduction from the contents of the preceding verse. Since he is engaged in a work for Christ and acting under Christ’s direction, the Apostle has spoken more boldly than he would have done had he been acting on his own account (Parry).

Glory. The glory and fruit that come from the Apostle’s ministry are due, not to him, but to Christ whose minister and instrument he is.

Towards God, τα προ τον θεον (ho pros ton theon), i.e., for that which regards the work of God, namely, the preaching of the Gospel.

Rom 15:18. For I dare not to speak of any of those things which Christ worketh not by me, for the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed.

The Apostle briefly and modestly alludes to the fruits of his Apostolate. The verse is made awkward and obscure by the double negative (i.e., the dual use of the word “not”), but the sense is: I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ worketh through me, as if they were my own, etc. If St. Paul speaks of what he has done, by word and action, in fulfillment of his commission to preach the Gospel and bring the Gentiles to the obedience of faith, it is only because this redounds to the glory of Christ.

By word and deed, i.e., by his spoken and written words—his preaching of the Gospel, and by his example and miracles.

Rom 15:19. By the virtue of signs and wonders, in the power of the Holy Ghost, so that from Jerusalem round about as far as unto Illyricum, I have replenished the gospel of Christ.

St. Paul now shows the means by which his preaching was confirmed, and indicates the vast area over which the course of his labors extended.

Signs and wonders both mean miracles.

Virtue and power (δυναμει = dynamei) also mean miracles; but here δυναμει means both the power to work miracles and to manifest the Holy Ghost (Lagr.). The words virtue and power in verse 19 translate δυναμει (dynamei). The word indicates a strong power, force, action, etc. Our word dynamite is derived from it.

So that (ωστε = hoste). Through the help of Christ and the power of the Holy Ghost the Gospel has been preached in the whole Orient (the east), beginning from Jerusalem (Acts 9:28 ff.) and its environs on the southeast, and extending to Illyricum on the northwest. Illyricum was the name given to the western districts of the province of Macedonia, bordering on the north-east shore of the Adriatic. We have no record of St. Paul preaching in this district, hence it marked the westernmost boundary of his missionary labors up to the present time. Throughout all this extended region, from Jerusalem and its environs on the east to Illyricum on the west, St. Paul had replenished, i.e., had fully preached the Gospel in all the principal centres. He does not say that he had converted all the pagans, or even the greater number of them; but he had sufficiently promulgated the good news so that all might learn thereof.

Rom 15:20. And I have so preached this gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation. Rom 15:21. But as it is written: They to whom he was not spoken of, shall see, and they that have not heard shall understand.

The Apostle explains the principle which determined the choice of the regions in which he preached. It was not his practice to preach the Gospel where Christ was already known. This is not contrary to his desire to evangelize the Romans (Rom 1:15), because, first of all, he was well aware that the Roman Christians were thoroughly grounded in the knowledge of the faith (Rom 1:8; Rom 15:14), and secondly he had no intention of appearing at Rome as the Apostle of that Church, but only of paying a visit there (verses 22-24).

I have so preached. Literally, “I so make it a principle to preach,” etc. It was the Apostle’s rule not to preach where Christ was known already, because he did not want to build upon another man’s foundation (1 Cor. 3:10; 2 Cor. 10:15, 16). It was his office to lay the foundations of new Churches, and leave to others the continuation of his work (1 Cor. 3:10; 1 Cor 12:28).

As it is written, in Isa 52:15, cited according to the LXX. The Prophet says that the Gentiles who have not heard the Messiah spoken of shall hear of Him and shall understand. St. Paul identifies the Messiah with our Lord, and applies to himself the fulfillment of the Prophet’s words in making Christ known to the pagans who before had not heard of Him.