The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Archive for the ‘Notes on Romans’ Category

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 14:7-9

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 7, 2014

7. For none of us lives to himself, and none dies to himself.
8. For if we live, we live to the Lord: and if we die, we die to the Lord. Whether we live, therefore, or die, we belong to the Lord.
9. For in this Christ died and rose again, that he may be Lord of dead and living.
10. And thou, why judgest thou thy brother? or thou, why despisest thy brother? For we shall all stand before the tribunal of Christ.
11. For it is written: I live, saith the Lord, because to me every knee shall bow: and every tongue confess to God.
12. Therefore every one of us will give account of himself to God

7-9. Christ died and rose again. The Greek text and the Syriac add: and lived again. Christ was Lord of all from the first moment of his conception, but he entered upon the exercise of this dominion and authority by his death and resurrection (See Rom 1:4). One recalls Matt 28:18~”All power is given to me.” He died and rose, to be Lord of all men, dead and living. Servants do not belong to themselves but to their Lord, and our life and death are not our own but his.

10. Why judgest thou thy brother? Why do you, the Jew, condemn the Gentile for his liberty? Why do uou, the Gentile, despise the Jew who eats not, from scruple of conscience, and, because he does not, as yet, fully understand the freedom which Christ has given to you both? You are anticipating the sentence of the Judge before whom we must all one day stand.

11-12. As it is written: Is 45:23, 24. I have sworn by myself. The word of justice shall go forth from my mouth, and shall not return. Because to me every knee shall bend, and every tongue shall swear. Every man shall give account to God for himself : but not for another. Whether he has rendered what he has received, and glorified God in proportion to the degree of knowledge permitted him.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 11:33-36

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 16, 2014


A Summary of Romans 11:33-36~These verses conclude the Dogmatic Part of the Epistle, but they are suited in a special manner to terminate chapters 9-11. In these chapters something has been said of the purposes and ways of God in dealing with humanity. Enough has been shown to confirm our faith and hope in God, the veil has been drawn aside sufficiently to give us dim glimpses of the great realities that lie behind; but with and around it all, as the Apostle now says, deep clouds of mystery hang: the infinite knowledge and wisdom of God, His inscrutable judgments and far-off deep counsels are not only but faintly reached, but are of their very nature so far beyond our utmost human capacities of comprehension that we can only bow our heads in faith and humble obedience, ever trusting, in the dire problems and experiences of life, to God’s infinite goodness, wisdom and mercy for the solution of all our difficulties.

33. O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How  incomprehensible are his judgments, and how unsearchable his ways

O the depth. All the Greek MSS. and the Fathers read: “O depth of riches and of wisdom and of knowledge of God.” “Depth” may signify height, as well as profundity; here it means the immensity of God’s riches, wisdom, etc.

Riches represents the treasures of God’s goodness and mercy (Rom 10:12; Eph 3:8, etc.).

Wisdom indicates the divine prudence with which God governs all creatures and leads them to their ends which have been ordained from all eternity.

Knowledge means the science with which God penetrates all things, knowing and choosing the means most fitted to their ends. The end here in question is the salvation of souls, to which God has ordered faith in Christ as a means.

How incomprehensible, etc. The reasons which underlie God’s judgments in showing mercy to some rather than to others are altogether inscrutable to the mind of man.

How unsearchable, etc. The ways which God takes and the means He employs in executing the decrees of His infinite knowledge are beyond the power of any creature to trace.

In the Vulgate et should precede sapientiae.

34. For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor?
35. Or who hath first given to him, and recompense shall be made him?

St. Paul confirms the profundity of God’s divine attributes by three citations from the Old Testament, the first two of which are almost literally from the LXX of Isaiah 40:13, 14, and the third from the Hebrew text of Job 41:3. God reveals to some extent, but His mind is open to no one, because none can penetrate the divine thoughts; He draws His counsels from no one, for He has no need of counselors; to none is He indebted, since He is the source and ruler and end of all.

36. For of him, and by him, and in him, are all things : to him be glory for ever. Amen.

We can neither penetrate the knowledge of God, nor aid Him with our counsels, nor help Him with our resources, because all things are of him, i.e., they depend upon Him as upon their cause and creator; all things are by him, i.e., they are sustained by Him; all things are in him, or unto him (εις αυτον), i.e., they tend to Him as to their last end (Comely, Lagr., Zahn). Origen, St. Aug. and others have seen an allusion to the Trinity in the three expressions of him, by him, and in him; but there is no good reason for this opinion (Cornely, Lagr.).

To him be glory, etc. Thus, by calling on all creatures to give glory to God, does the Apostle terminate the Dogmatic Portion of this great Epistle.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 11:13-15, 25-36

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 14, 2014

This post contains comments on Romans 11:13-15 and 25-36. It also contains brief summaries of 11:11-24, 11:25-32, and 11:33-36.


A Summary of Romans 11:11-24~The rejection of the majority of the Jews is a source of great mystery and profound sorrow. And yet there is reason for consolation, because, in the first place, a few have been saved already, and then, the rejection of the nation as a whole is only a temporary evil which, in the designs of God, is made to serve for the conversion of the Gentiles.

13. For I say to you, Gentiles : as long indeed as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I will honour my ministry,
14. If, by any means, I may provoke to emulation them who are my flesh, and may save some of them.

I say to you, Gentiles. Continuing the theme of verses 11, 12 St. Paul openly speaks to the Gentiles, showing that the community to which he was writing was chiefly composed of them. He tells them that as long as, i.e., inasmuch as (εφ οσον not followed by χρóνον) he is the apostle of the Gentiles he honors his ministry, by consecrating himself entirely to it, with the ulterior purpose of exciting the jealousy of his fellow-Jews and moving them to emulate the faithful Gentiles, thus saving some of them now, and all in the end (verse 25). In St. Paul’s mind there is question of the design of God which cannot be fully accomplished, even to the profit of the Gentiles, if the ultimate salvation of the Jews is not first assured. His zeal for the one would work also the profit of the other, and the profit of the latter would in turn add to and complete that of the former (Lagrange).

I will honour should be “I do honour” (δοξαζω) my ministry, by devoting myself entirely to the services of the Gentiles, but not for their profit alone, as explained above.

In the Vulgate quamdiu would better be quatenus, and honorificabo should be honorifico, to agree with the Greek.

15. For if the loss of them be the reconciliation of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

The thought of verse 12 is taken up here and developed more vividly. If the loss, etc., i.e., if the rejection of the Jews from the Messianic kingdom be the reconciliation, etc., i.e., be the occasion of bringing the Gentiles into the Church of Christ, what great joy and spiritual benefits will result to Christ’s kingdom from the receiving of them in mass into the Church.

But life from the dead, ει μη ζωη εκ νεκρων. These words have been variously interpreted. Some say they refer to the final consummation before the Second Coming of Christ, and consequently to the general resurrection of the dead, of which the conversion in mass of the Jews will be the signal (Origen, St. Chrysostom, St. Thomas, Lagrange, etc.). But as the terms here used are not very precise, one cannot well conjecture what relation of time there will be between the final conversion of the Jews and the general resurrection of the dead (Lagrange). Others think there is reference in the above words to an increase of spiritual life, among the Christians already converted, that will come from the final conversion of the Jews (MacEvilly). Cornely rejects this last explanation. He disapproves of the first one also, because
he says that St. Paul, when speaking of the general resurrection uses a different phrase, η αναστασις or εκ νεκρων. He therefore believes the Apostle is speaking indeterminately here, as in verse 12, of some wonderful benefit and happiness that are to result from the final and total conversion of the Jews; or that this final restoration of the Jews will be a good so great, as to be comparable to the resurrection of the dead.


A Summary of Romans 11:25-32~God’s final purpose is to save both Gentiles and Jews. They both have sinned and have been made to feel the wrath of God (1:18-2:29), but infinite mercy outstretches man’s wickedness and in the end will triumph over all; God’s designs do not change, nor does His will go unfulfilled. The salvation of all Israel is closely connected with the conversion of the Gentiles, as was foretold by the Prophets. It is according to the divine plan that Israel and the pagans should mutually help each other, and that both in the end should be objects of the divine mercy.

25. For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of this mystery (lest you should be wise in your own conceits), that blindness in part has happened in Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles should come in.

I would not have you ignorant, brethren. This is a favorite phrase of St. Paul’s when he wishes to speak confidentially and announce some matter of great importance (Rom 1:13; 1 Cor 10:1; 12:1; 2 Cor 1:8; 1 Thess 4:13). He is speaking to the Gentile Christians, and he wishes to remind them of doctrines already familiar to the Church in general, namely, that the Jews were to be hardened (Matt 12:38-48; 13:11-16; 23:29-36), that the failure of Israel would bring in the Gentiles (Matt 20:1-16; 24:14), and that the Jews themselves would at last turn to Christ (Matt 23:39; Luke 13:35).

This mystery, i.e., the final conversion of Israel to Christianity, which will take place after the conversion of the Gentiles, but before the end of the world. St. Paul calls this great truth a mystery, because it could not be known short of revelation, and was in fact revealed to him by God along with the other truths of the Gospel of Christ (Gal 1:12, 16; Eph 2:11-22; 3:1-13).

Lest you be wise, etc. The quotation is from Prov 3:7. The Apostle is admonishing the Gentiles to guard against self-conceit, as if they had merited their call to the faith, and also against despising the rejected Jews.

Blindness in part, etc. While the Jews as a people had failed to accept the Gospel, a number of them had been converted. And the blindness or obduracy of the majority is not to last forever; but until the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in, i.e., until the other nations of the world have accepted the Gospel and entered the Church of Christ. It is to be noted that this fulness of the Gentiles relates to peoples, not to individuals: all the nations or peoples of the earth will be converted to Christ before the end of the world, but not all the individuals of each nation (St. Thomas, Cornely, Lagrange, etc.).

God, therefore, in His all-wise designs has called a few of the Jews to the faith already. He has made the incredulity of the majority the occasion of the conversion of the Gentiles, and this latter He will make in turn the occasion for the final call to the faith of all the Jews. We have no sign, however, that this general conversion of the world will be soon. Here it may be useful to recall what Origen said on this subject: “God only knows, and His Only-begotten Son, and any friends that may be privy to His secrets, what is all Israel that is to be saved, and what is the fulness of the Gentiles that is to come in.”

26. And so all Israel should be saved, as it is written: There shall come out of Sion, he that shall deliver, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.

All Israel does not mean the predestined (St. Augustine), nor all the Jews taken individually (St. Thomas), but the mass of the people, as opposed to individuals who are converted during the time that intervenes before the last days come. Israel then as a nation, like the other nations of the world, will finally embrace the faith; but it will not be until after all those others have been gathered in that she shall enter the fold of Christ. What fate has overtaken or awaits those Jews who have been hardened meanwhile, St. Paul does not anywhere tell us.

As it is written. The Apostle has been speaking of a mystery which he has learned through revelation, and he confirms the truth of it by showing that it was already more or less clearly foretold in the Old Test. (Isa 59:20). The citation is fairly literal from the LXX, which faithfully follows the Hebrew with the exception that where the latter has “out of Sion,” the LXX has “for Sion’s sake.” In the best MSS. the quotation is read as follows: “There shall come out of Sion the deliverer: he shall turn away impieties from Jacob.” St. Paul seems to make the citation refer in a general way to the Second Coming of Christ, although the conversion of the Jews will just precede that Second Coming, and will be a consequence of the first advent of the Saviour.

27. And this is to them my covenant: when I shall take away their sins.

The first part of this verse is from chapter 59:21, and the second from chapter 27:9 of the Prophet Isaias. God promises to make a new alliance with the people of Israel, when He will take away their sins and confer upon them forever His spirit and His doctrine.

In verses 25-27 we have the following unfulfilled prophecies: (a) Before the end of the world all Gentile nations shall be converted to Christianity, that is, the greater part of all nations, not all the individuals of each nation (St. Thomas); (b) after the conversion of the Gentiles, but before the end of the world, the Jews as a people will embrace Christianity. The fulfillment of these prophecies, and therefore the end of all things seem yet far off.

28. As concerning the gospel, indeed, they are enemies for your sake: but as touching the election, they are most dear for the sake of the fathers.

The present incredulity of the Jews will not hinder the final realization of God’s promises to them. God still loves them in their faithful ancestors.

As concerning the gospel, i.e., inasmuch as they have wilfully rejected the Gospel, the only means of salvation, they are enemies (εχθροι, odiosi), i.e., hateful to God (St. Thomas, Lagrange, etc.), and so have been excluded by God from their Messianic inheritance. This has happened to them, in the designs of God, for your sake, i.e., for the benefit of you Gentiles, because their unfaithfulness has been the occasion of your call to the Gospel (verses 11, 12, 15).

But as touching the election, i.e., as regards their election from among all other peoples, by which they were made God’s chosen people and the depositories and custodians of God’s special revelation and divine promises, they are most dear to God for the sake of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob— God’s special friends and faithful servants.

29. For the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance.

God will not forsake His people forever, because His special gifts and calling are without repentance, and are consequently not subject to change (cf. 2 Cor 7:10). The Apostle is not speaking here of an invariable rule of Providence as regards creatures, but only of the great designs of God, such as respected the gifts and privileges of Israel and the latter’s call to be the adopted people of the Most High. As regards these privileges God will never change, or repent of having conceded them, because He pledged them to the Patriarchs with an oath (Deut 7:6-11). Despite, therefore, the unfaithfulness of the Jews, God will be true to His promises and will one day convert them as a whole to the faith. The call still holds if Israel will hear.

We read in 1 Kings 15:11 that God repented that He had chosen Saul; but the rejection of this king was only an episode, comparable to the temporary hardening of the Jews (Lagrange).

30. For as you also in times past did not believe God, but now have obtained mercy, through their unbelief;
31. So these also now have not believed, for your mercy, that they also may obtain mercy.

As mercy has found the Gentiles and led them to the faith, so at last it will seek out the Jews and bring them to Christianity.

As you Gentiles in times past were rebellious to the call of God and thus became an object of mercy, thanks to the obstinacy of the Jews, which has facilitated your conversion; so the Jews, now hardened, will become obedient to the Gospel on account of the mercy which you have experienced (Cornely, Lipsius, Julicher, etc.). In this interpretation the mercy shown to the Gentiles will be the occasion of showing mercy to the Jews, because it will excite the latter to jealous emulation. But since St. Paul has insisted on this thought several times before, and since it does not so well fit in with verse 32, it would seem that the Apostle is here rather drawing out a general idea, namely, that it is the purpose of God to permit all to fall into disobedience, so as to give play to the exercise of mercy. The ancient disobedience of the Gentiles has been followed by mercy, and likewise the disobedience of the Jews will finally issue in a display of mercy (Lagr., Kuhl, S. H., etc.).

Modern interpreters generally suppose ηπειθησαν to signify to be disobedient, and απειθειαν to mean disobedience.

32. For God hath concluded all in unbelief, that he may have mercy on all.

Hath concluded (συνεκλεισεν) , has enslaved.

All (τους παντας) refers not to the hardened Jews only, nor to individuals among the Gentiles and Jews, but to all classes, as explained above.

In unbelief (απειθειαν), i.e., in disobedience. All, therefore,—Jews and Gentiles, have sinned and need justification, which only the mercy of God can procure; the sinful Gentiles have already been touched by God’s mercy, and the wayward Jews shall later yield to the same merciful Providence.

The omnia of the Vulgate should be omnes here, to agree with the Greek. In incredulitate should be in inobedientiam.


A Summary of Romans 11:33-36~These verses conclude the Dogmatic Part of the Epistle, but they are suited in a special manner to terminate chapters 9-11. In these chapters something has been said of the purposes and ways of God in dealing with humanity. Enough has been shown to confirm our faith and hope in God, the veil has been drawn aside sufficiently to give us dim glimpses of the great realities that lie behind; but with and around it all, as the Apostle now says, deep clouds of mystery hang: the infinite knowledge and wisdom of God, His inscrutable judgments and far-off deep counsels are not only but faintly reached, but are of their very nature so far beyond our utmost human capacities of comprehension that we can only bow our heads in faith and humble obedience, ever trusting, in the dire problems and experiences of life, to God’s infinite goodness, wisdom and mercy for the solution of all our difficulties.

33. O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How  incomprehensible are his judgments, and how unsearchable his ways

O the depth. All the Greek MSS. and the Fathers read: “O depth of riches and of wisdom and of knowledge of God.” “Depth” may signify height, as well as profundity; here it means the immensity of God’s riches, wisdom, etc.

Riches represents the treasures of God’s goodness and mercy (Rom 10:12; Eph 3:8, etc.).

Wisdom indicates the divine prudence with which God governs all creatures and leads them to their ends which have been ordained from all eternity.

Knowledge means the science with which God penetrates all things, knowing and choosing the means most fitted to their ends. The end here in question is the salvation of souls, to which God has ordered faith in Christ as a means.

How incomprehensible, etc. The reasons which underlie God’s judgments in showing mercy to some rather than to others are altogether inscrutable to the mind of man.

How unsearchable, etc. The ways which God takes and the means He employs in executing the decrees of His infinite knowledge are beyond the power of any creature to trace.

In the Vulgate et should precede sapientiae.

34. For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor?
35. Or who hath first given to him, and recompense shall be made him?

St. Paul confirms the profundity of God’s divine attributes by three citations from the Old Testament, the first two of which are almost literally from the LXX of Isaiah 40:13, 14, and the third from the Hebrew text of Job 41:3. God reveals to some extent, but His mind is open to no one, because none can penetrate the divine thoughts; He draws His counsels from no one, for He has no need of counselors; to none is He indebted, since He is the source and ruler and end of all.

36. For of him, and by him, and in him, are all things : to him be glory for ever. Amen.

We can neither penetrate the knowledge of God, nor aid Him with our counsels, nor help Him with our resources, because all things are of him, i.e., they depend upon Him as upon their cause and creator; all things are by him, i.e., they are sustained by Him; all things are in him, or unto him (εις αυτον), i.e., they tend to Him as to their last end (Comely, Lagr., Zahn). Origen, St. Aug. and others have seen an allusion to the Trinity in the three expressions of him, by him, and in him; but there is no good reason for this opinion (Cornely, Lagr.).

To him be glory, etc. Thus, by calling on all creatures to give glory to God, does the Apostle terminate the Dogmatic Portion of this great Epistle.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans 11:13-15, 29-32

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 12, 2014

13 For I say to you, Gentiles: As long indeed as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I will honour my ministry,
14 If, by any means, I may provoke to emulation them who are my flesh and may save some of them.

And, so far as my own views and convictions on the subject are concerned, I have no difficulty in declaring to you, Gentile converts, that in honouring the ministry to which I am specially called among you,
I have in view to provoke to holy emulation my relations according to the flesh, and to place some of them in the way of salvation, by embracing the faith.

The Apostle draws a third argument of the reparability of their fall from his own designs towards them, even while he was preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, whose Apostle he was in a special manner, and while he was honouring his ministry by his zeal, miracles, and sanctity of life and conversation. The Greek word for, “as long as,” εφʼ ὅσον, might be rendered, inasmuch as. “I will honour,” in Greek, δοξαζω, I honour. The change of tense, however, does not affect the meaning. Some persons place these two verses in a parenthesis, on account of the close connexion in sense which verse 15 has with verse 12. There is no necessity for this, if we adopt the connexion already given, and make these verses convey an additional reason of the reparability of the Jews, derived from the Apostle’s own designs in their regard. “Them who are my flesh,” refers to the Jews—his countrymen—to whose race he belonged. “And save some of them,” i.e., place some of them in the way of salvation, by inducing them to embrace the faith. From these words it is plain that the Apostle, in the preceding part of his Epistle, is treating of vocation to, and rejection from grace, since if he regarded the Jews as rejected from glory, all his efforts for their salvation would be quite useless and abortive.

15 For if the loss of them be the reconciliation of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

For, if their rejection on account of unbelief has been the occasion of reconciling the world with God, what else shall their conversion be, but the total spiritual resuscitation of the entire earth?

“But life from the dead.” In the Paraphrase is adopted the interpretation which makes these words to mean, that the conversion of the Jews will be nothing else than the total resuscitation from spiritual death of the entire earth, which, till then, shall be partly involved in the death of sin and infidelity. In this interpretation, there is allusion to the spiritual resurrection, which it is not unusual with the Apostle to regard as the final complement of spiritual death to sin, or as the perfection of the grace of justification. Others attach a different meaning to the passage. According to them the words express the highest degree of happiness and joy, such as the resuscitation of a dear friend from the grave is calculated to engender.

29 For the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance.

For, the absolute and unconditional gifts and promises of God (such is the promise in question regarding the future call of the Jews), are unalterable, and shall surely be carried into effect.

The absolute and unconditional promises of God are irrevocable: such is the promise made by God to the patriarchs that he would not cast off their seed for ever. Such promises proceeding from election shall not be frustrated in their effect by the sins of men. Numquid incredulitas illorum fidem Dei evacuabit?—(chap. 3 verse 3).

30 For as you also in times past did not believe God, but now have obtained mercy, through their unbelief:

For, as you, O Gentiles! were at one time incredulous, but now, by occasion of the incredulity of the Jews, have been brought by the divine mercy to the gratuitous gift of God;

He shows from the economy of God towards the Gentiles, how the same is to be exercised towards the Jews. The Gentiles “obtained mercy,” i.e., faith; which, on account of its perfect gratuitousness, is called “mercy.” “Through their unbelief,” i.e., through the occasion of the obstinacy of the Jews in rejecting the Gospel.

31 So these also now have not believed, for your mercy, that they also may obtain mercy.

So are we also to judge, that the same economy has been carried out respecting the Jews, viz., that they are for a time permitted to fall into incredulity respecting the gospel and its extension to you, that they, too, may experience the mercy of God and acknowledge it, after being immersed in spiritual misery

In like manner, we are warranted in supposing, that God exercised the same economy towards the Jews, permitting them to fall into incredulity regarding the Gospel and its extension to the Gentiles, in order that they, too, having had experience of their own misery and degradation, would find mercy with God, which they will more freely acknowledge, after seeing the misery wherein they were involved.

32 For God hath concluded all in unbelief, that he may have mercy on all.

Thus, therefore, by a wonderful and mysterious order of Providence, God has suffered all classes of men, both Jews and Gentiles successively, to fall into infidelity, and left them shut up in the common prison of error, in order that he might show his mercy on them, and make them conscious from a sense of their miseries, that they owed all to his grace.

“Hath concluded,” i.e., permitted them to be shut up in the common prison of infidelity, into which, without his grace, they would infallibly fall; and out of which his grace alone could rescue them; hence, he is said “to conclude,” or shut them up, and this he did, in order that his great mercy would be made more evident by the greatness of their wants. “All in unbelief,” τους παντας, all men, Jews and Gentiles, εις απειθειαν, unto unbelief, in incredulitatem, like the phrase, conclusit in carcerem. Here the Apostle closes the dogmatic part of this Epistle as he began it, by pointing out the sinful state of Jew and Gentile left to themselves without God’s grace, neither of whom, therefore, had any good works which would establish a claim to the grace of justification: and what he says in the beginning of the Epistle regarding the many enormous crimes of the Pagan philosophers, &c., is here exemplified by the sin of infidelity, of which all, both Jew and Gentile, were guilty. At the beginning of the world, all lived in the true religion. The Gentiles first fell into idolatry. God made a covenant with the Jews through Abraham and Moses, and they worshipped the true God: they afterwards rejected Christ. The Gentiles were called to the Gospel and the Jews rejected. The Gentiles, at the end of the world, shall fall away (2 Thess. chap. 2), and the Jews shall be converted. Who, in considering these things, should not fear and tremble for his salvation?

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans 8:28-30

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 20, 2014

This post opens with an Analysis of Romans chapter 8 followed by the notes on verses 28-30. Text in purple indicates a paraphrasing of the biblical text being commented on. Text in red, if any, are my additions.

In this chapter, after inferring from the foregoing that the baptized have nothing deserving of damnation, except so far as they consent to the motions of concupiscence (Rom 8: 1), the Apostle tells us that we are rescued from the dominion of concupiscence by the grace of the Gospel (Rom 8:2-4.) He shows the different motions and effects of the flesh and of the spirit (Rom 8:4–9). He exhorts us to live according to the spirit, and points out the spiritual and eternal life of both soul and body, resulting from such a course (Rom 8:9–11). He next exhorts us to follow the dictates of the spirit, and to mortify the deeds of the flesh, in order to escape death and obtain life (Rom 8:12-13)—to act up to our calling as sons of God, and to conform to the spirit of charity and love, which we received, unlike to that of the Jews of old, and by thus acting as sons of God, to secure the Heavenly inheritance, which we shall certainly obtain, on condition, however, of suffering (Rom 8:13–17). Lest this condition should dishearten them, he points out the greatness of God’s inheritance,—so great indeed is it, that he personifies inanimate creatures, and represents them as groaning for this glorious consummation. The very Christians themselves, although in the infancy of the Church, they received the sweet pledge of future glory in the choice gifts of the Holy Ghost, were sighing for it (Rom 8:17–24). The Holy Ghost, besides the assurance he gave them of being sons of God, was also relieving their necessities and prompting them to pray with ineffable ardour of spirit (Rom 8:26-27). The Apostle encourages them to patient suffering by pointing out to them that they were predestined for these sufferings as the means of their sanctification and future glorification (Rom 8:28–30), and, finally, he excites them to confidence in God (Rom 8:31–38).

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

 But although out infirmity be so great as not to know what to pray for, or how to pray as we ought; still we should not be disheartened under crosses and sufferings. For, we know that by the disposition of an all-wise Providence, all things work together unto the good of those who love God; of those, I say, who have been, by his gratuitous decree, called by him to the profession and practice of sanctity, and obey his call.

“To such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints.” The word “saints” is not in the Greek: “called,” as appears from the Greek, τοῖς κατὰ πρόθεσιν κλητοῖς οὖσιν, is not a participle, but a noun.

This passage is intended by the Apostle to stimulate the Romans to the patient endurance of the crosses of this life; for we know that all things, whether prosperity or adversity, nay, even their very sins (as is added by some of the Commentators), which serve the purpose of humiliation, work together unto the good of those who love God. And to show that this love regarded the faithful among the Romans, the Apostle explains it, by saying, “such as according to his purpose,” πρόθεσιν, i.e., his gratuitous decree, “are called to be saints.”

Commentators are greatly divided as to the object of this “purpose” or decree in question. Some assert that it regards the decree of giving glory; and even these are divided on this subject; one class of them says, that the decree of giving glory is prior to, and quite independent of, the good works of man. Those hold predestination to glory to be, ante prævisa merita (see note below). On the other hand, a second class maintain that the prevision of man’s future merits is prior, in the divine mind, to the decree of giving glory. These are the advocates of Predestination to glory, post prævisa merita (see note below). Others assert, that this decree in question regards not glory directly, but grace and sanctity (Father MacEvilly will treat of this position in the next paragraph, following my note). The advocates of the former opinion ground their interpretation: 1st, On the words “all things work together,” &c. Now, it is only of those called to glory, this could be true. 2ndly, They say, the word “purpose,” in Greek, πρόθεσιν, signifies a decree or infallible efficacy. 3rdly, The words, “called according to his purpose,” (for the words “to be saints,” are not in the Greek), are restrictive of the preceding. 4thly, The word “glorifies,” (verse 30), shows glory to be the term of the decree. Those who think the decree refers to grace and sanctity have a response to these four points. This response is given in the second paragraph below my note.

NOTE: The two Latin phrases, ante prævisa merita, and post prævisa merita, relate to the question “whether God’s eternal resolve of Predestination has been taken with (post) or without (ante) consideration (praevisa) of the merits (merita) of the man” [Ott, L. (1957). Fundamentals of Catholic dogma. St. Louis: B. Herder Book Company.Text within parentheses are my additions].

The advocates of the interpretation, which makes the decree refer to grace and sanctity, ground it: 1st, On the words, “called to be saints,” which is the term of the decree, and the words mean, called to state and profession of sanctity—the meaning in which the same words are taken in the different introductory salutations in the Epistle of St. Paul, 2ndly, The very object of the Apostle introducing the concurrence of all things towards their good, as a motive to induce them to bear patiently the crosses of this life, would prove the same; since all whom he addresses were called to grace and sanctity, but they could not all regard themselves as called to glory. Finally, the general objects of the Apostle in this Epistle, which regards the gratuitous call to grace of the Romans (for it was regarding this alone there was any controversy), makes it probable that here, too, he refers to the same.

In reply to the arguments of the preceding interpretation (that the decree concerns glory), they say: 1st, That “all things,” may be restricted by the subject matter to mean, all sufferings; and that the words, “work together,” do not necessarily imply actual working together, but only that these sufferings are intended, according to the antecedent will of God, for their sanctification. And even though all sufferings may not work together for the good of such as fall away from justice; still the Apostle, in the fervour of his charity, abstracts from the possible chance of their not persevering, and to draw a line of distinction between those called to glory and those rejected from it, would only injure the object he has in view, by throwing some into despondency. 2ndly, They say the word “purpose,” does not involve absolute infallible efficacy (v.g. Acts, 11:23); and morever, even though it did, no inconvenience would result; because, the grace and sanctity, which, in their opinion, it regards, are infallibly conferred. 3rdly. These words are explanatory, not restrictive. 4thly, Glory is only the reward of justice, and are we to wonder if the great charity of the Apostle made him abstract from the possibility of their not persevering, who were called, and represent all those whom God predestined to sanctity, as receiving the crown of glory which is decreed only for those who persevere? The latter opinion seems far the more probable. Hence, we have nothing to do here with the relative probability or improbability of the opinions regarding the decrees of glory, ante prævisa merita, or post prævisa merita. No doubt, the latter opinion appears far more in accordance with the doctrine of the Apostles, asserting that “God wishes all men to be saved,” and “none to perish;” more in accordance with our ideas of the goodnesss of God manifested in the death of Christ for all, and his tears and labours for the conversion of sinners during his mortal life. It is still free for any Theologian to hold either opinion. It is, however, to be observed, that although we can hold, that in predestinating men to glory, God is actuated by the prevision of the good works of those whom he predestines—post prævisa merita—and this is even, as has been just stated, the more probable opinion; still, no one could hold, without falling into the semi-Pelagian heresy, that in predestining men to grace, God is actuated by the prevision of their correspondence with this grace, as the motive of his conferring it. And although we may hold, negative reprobation, or, the non-predestinating, and selecting men out of the mass of perdition, to be, ante prævisa demerita—no doubt a very improbable opinion—still, no one, without falling into the shocking heresy of Calvin, could hold positive reprobation, or the decree of devoting anyone to eternal punishment, to be, ante prævisa demerita. The reason is, that Predestination ante prævisa merita, being a free gratuitous act of goodness of the part of God, he could exercise it as he pleased; but it would be unjust to inflict a punishment without some fault. Hence, God would be cruel and unjust in marking out men for punishment without some fault, i.e., in reprobating them positively, ante prævisa demerita. Of all the errors of Calvin, this is, perhaps, the most shocking and blasphemous. Concerning the subject matter dealt with in the preceding paragraphs see here.

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

Because these are they whom he foreknew, nay, even predestined to a conformity in patience with the model presented by his Son in patient suffering; in order that he who, in his Divine nature, is the only begotten Son of God, would, as Man, be the first begotten among many adopted brethren.

In this verse, the Apostle explains why all things work together unto the good of those “called according to the purpose,” or gratuitous decree of God. The construction of the verse, adopted by the generality of Commentators, is this, “for whom he foreknew (those) he also predestinated.” Such of them as make the passage refer to predestination to glory, by “foreknew,” understand “those whom he foreknew by a knowledge of love and predilection,” i.e., whom he loved from eternity, those he predestined. The others say the words mean, “those whom he foreknew would be conformable to the image of his Son, he predestined to be such.” A’Lapide, whose interpretation has been adopted in the Paraphrase, says that the Apostle in this verse enters on an explanation of the nature of predestination referred to here, and then resumes the word “predestinated,” in next verse (Rom 8:30) in which the sentence suspended is completed. This construction perfectly accords with the style of the Apostle, who, carried away by some idea that occurs to him, sometimes, defers, for a long time, the completion of a sentence (v.g. Rom 5:12; chap. 3. Epistle to the Ephesians). According to this construction, the words of our English version: “For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated,” should be rendered from the Vulgate, quos præscivit et prædestinavit, “whom he foreknew and predestinated;” and, then, a marked difference is clearly perceptible in the text, between the mode in which the words, “he foreknew,” and “predestinated,” in this verse are connected, and the connexion which exists between any of the verbs in next verse. He says here, “whom he foreknew and predestinated.” In the next verse, “whom he predestinated, them he also called—whom he called, them he also justified,” &c. And this interpretation of A’Lapide requires the introduction of no other word in the sentence. Hence, his interpretation is adopted in the Paraphrase, in preference to any other. He connects Rom 8:29 with Rom 8:28, thus: “all things work together, &c.” (verse 28). Because these are they whom God foreknew, and predestinated to be conformable to the image of his Son, or to the model which his Son presents (v. 29). This conformity is to exist in suffering and justice; no doubt, it will extend to glory also. According to A’Lapide, “also” or “and” has the meaning of “because,” “nay even,” as if to say, “he foreknew, because he predestined them to be conformable to the image of his Son,” in justice and suffering. “That he might be the first-born,” &c. This predestination redounds to the glory of Christ, who, as God, is the only begotten, and as Man, is the natural Son of God, and first-born among the others who are only his adopted sons.

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

Those (I say), whom he predestined to a conformity in suffering with his Son, he called to these sufferings; and whom he called, he has justified by these sufferings; and whom he justified, he has glorified.

“And whom he predestinated.” Resuming the sentence suspended last verse, he says, “those (I say) whom he predestinated” to a conformity with the Son in suffering, he called to the same; “whom he called, he justified” by these sufferings, “and whom he justified, he glorified” by the same. The Apostle uses the past tense, though some of the events are future in regard to many, to show the certainty of the future events marked out in God’s decrees. We are not to suppose each of the terms which express the order in which the decrees of God are executed to be equally extensive, so that all are glorified, who are called. The words only mean, that out of the “called” are the “justified,” and out of the “justified” the “glorified.”

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Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans 5:12-19

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 7, 2014

This post opens with the bishop’s brief analysis of Romans 5, followed by his commentary on verses 12-19. Text in purple indicates the bishop’s paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on.


The Apostle, having proved in the preceding chapters, that our justification comes from faith and not from the works performed by the sole aid of cither the natural law or the law of Moses, now points out the excellence if this justification from its effects and the fruits which it produces. The first effect is, peace and tranquillity of conscience (verse 1). The second is the adoption of us, as sons of God (2). The third is joy in our afflictions, which subserve as means to bring us to the enjoyment of our eternal inheritance (3, 4, 5). We have two most consoling and certain grounds for this hope, viz., the diffusion of the Holy Ghost in our hearts, and the death if Christ, than which God could not furnish a greater proof of his boundless love (6–10). The fourth effect of our justification is our glorying in God, as our Father, and in Jesus Christ, as our Mediator (11). In order to show the absolute necessity of this reconciliation on the part of Christ, the Apostle traces matters to the very root of all evil, viz., original sin, of which subject he treats in the remainder of the chapter.

12 Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world and by sin death: and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.

(Through Christ alone have we been reconciled to God, and we needed him to reconcile us). For, as by one man (Adam) sin entered into this world, and by sin death, thus death has passed into all men, since all sinned in Adam, as the principal and head of the human race. (So also through one man Christ—the principal and head of all who are spiritually regenerated—has justice entered into the world, and through justice, eternal life).

The Apostle, in order to show the necessity of reconciliation through Christ, traces matters back to the root of all evil, and propounds the mysterious doctrine of original sin. What it is that constitutes this sin, and what the particular mode is of contracting it, which we have inherited from Adam, and which has been transmitted to all who have been, by the natural course of generation, descended from him (the glorious Mother of God, alone, excepted, who, according to the doctrine of faith, “by a singular privilege and grace of Almighty God, has been preserved free from all stain of original sin in the first instant of Her conception, in view of the merits of Christ Jesus, the Saviour of the human race”), no way concerns us to inquire. This much we know and believe as an article of Catholic faith, that this sin has been transmitted to all men, not by imitation, but by carnal generation. “Hoc Adæ peccatum … propagatione non imitatione transfusum omnibus, inest unicuique proprium.”—(Concil. Trid. SS. 5. de Peccato Orig.) And this doctrine has been proved from this passage by several Councils against the Pelagians.

“Wherefore,” δια τουτο, may mean, for, with the connexion in Paraphrase, or it may be thus connected: “Since, then, Christ is the meritorious cause of our salvation, it is meet that we should, therefore, institute the following comparison. “As by one man,” i.e., Adam, who was by God constituted the head and representative of the whole mass of mankind, “sin entered into this world,” i.e., infected the whole human race, which thereby contracted the necessity of dying. By “sin,” is meant the guilt of original sin, and not its effects, death and bodily suffering, as defined by the Council of Trent—(SS. 5, Can. 2). It is opposed to justification, and moreover, if it referred to the effects of sin, it would be identified with “death.” “And so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.” “In whom,” regards the “one man,” δἰ ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπου, or Adam, as is clear from the Greek, ἐφʼ ᾧ. This is the interpretation of St. Augustine and St. Chrysostom. In this construction, the words intervening between “one man,” and “in whom.” are included in a parenthesis, “wherefore, as by one man (…) in whom all have sinned.” Others understand the words, ἐφʼ ῳ, causatively to mean inasmuch as, or because, and this is preferred by many (see Beelen). Some Commentators say the sense is suspended as far as verse 18—“therefore as by the offence,” &c.—others finish the sense as in Paraphrase. And this is the more probable; for in verse 18, it is a conclusion that is expressed, “therefore,” &c. Others, with Beelen, say the second member of the comparison which should correspond with the words, “as by one man,” &c., and should complete the sentence, is expressed, if not in words, at least in reality, wherein is conveyed the contrast between the first and second Adam, in verse 14, “who is a figure,” &c.

13 For until the law sin was in the world: but sin was not imputed, when the law was not.
14 But death reigned from Adam unto Moses, even over them also who have not sinned, after the similitude of the transgression of Adam, who is a figure of him who was to come.

And that this sin existed in the world at all times, even before the written law was given to Moses, although before the law, it was not so much attended to by mankind, following the bent of their corrupt passions, and having no positive law to point out the enormity and fix the special punishment of their crimes, is evident from the fact, that death, its consequence, reigned from Adam to Moses even over those (v.g., infants and mentally/intellectually impaired) who were incapable, by actual transgression, of sinning after the manner of Adam, who, as the head of a sinful race, was, by contraries, a type of the second Adam, Christ, through whom, as the head of a ransomed race, justice and life were to be introduced into this world.

In this verse (13), the Apostle anticipates and solves an objection which might be made against the universality of the preceding doctrine, namely, as sin is the violation of some law, how could there be any violation of a law before it was given? The Apostle says, that even before the law was given to Moses, this sin of Adam, as well in itself as in its effects, viz., actual sins, existed in this world; but these sins were not “imputed,” or attended to by mankind following their corrupt passions; because there was no particular positive enactment clearly to point out their enormity—so that “sin” in this verse embraces not only original but actual sins, of which the corruption we have inherited from Adam is the source and principle. “But sin,” under which are included original sin, and the actual sins flowing from it, superadded by our own wills—“was not imputed.” Some say was not imputed unto punishment, or as a transgression. The interpretation adopted in the Paraphrase is preferable; for, it is very hard to reconcile the other interpretation with the heavy chastisements always visited upon sin, even before the time of Moses; for, even then, death reigned as well as afterwards.

But as a proof that this sin existed, even during the interval that elapsed between Adam and Moses, the Apostle adduces the fact that death (verse 14), the consequence and punishment of sin, reigned over those who could not deserve any such punishment by actual positive guilt of their own. Such, for instance, were infants and idiots, who, unlike Adam, were incapable of actual sin.

“Who is a figure of him who was to come.” Adam was, by contraries, a type of the future or second Adam, Christ, who is the principle of spiritual life, as the first Adam was the principle of spiritual death. Some Commentators, and among them Beelen, are of opinion that the second member of the antithesis between Adam and Christ is insinuated here, although not clearly expressed, as has been done in Paraphrase of verse 12.

This passage had been adduced by St. Augustine and the early Fathers, to establish against the Pelagians the doctrine of original sin. The Apostle says, “all have sinned,” verse 12, and that this is not to be understood of actual sin, he shows in verse 14, since death, the consequence and punishment of sin, had been inflicted upon all, not even excepting those who were incapable of committing actual sin, viz., infants and idiots. Hence, it must be inflicted as a punishment of that sin, which by generation was transmitted to them from Adam, whom, in his infinite wisdom, God had constituted the head of all his descendants; so that his sin would be imputable to them, as would his fidelity have been accounted in their favour, had he persevered in justice.

15 But not as the offence, so also the gift. For if by the offence of one, many died: much more the grace of God and the gift, by the grace of one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

We are not, however, to imagine, that the sin of the first Adam has been so detrimental in its effects, as the gift of the second Adam, by which these effects were removed, has been useful. For, if by the sin of the first Adam his many descendants were deprived of spiritual life and rendered subject to eternal death, far more numerous and precious were the gratuitous gifts of God, through the grace of one man Jesus Christ, conferred on the many (for, besides restoring spiritual life, he has bestowed many gifts of the Holy Ghost and immortality itself).

In the preceding verse, the Apostle had asserted, that Adam was a type or figure of him, “who is to come,” i.e., of Christ, who is often in SS. Scripture styled, the last Adam.—(1 Cor. 15:45). He was a figure by contraries, because, as the first Adam was the principle of death and sin, so the last was the principle of justice and of life, in all who were to be spiritually regenerated and born of him. This resemblance was not, in every respect, perfect. “Many died,” in Greek, οἱ πολλοὶ, “the many.” The first point of dissimilitude, even on contrary sides, was that the guilt of the one had only inflicted temporal and eternal death; whereas, “the grace of God and the gift,” i.e., the gratuitous gift of God furnished by the grace and merits of the man-God, Jesus Christ, “hath much more abounded,” not in point of extensive application, but in the comprehensive excellence and abundance of the benefits which it conferred; since it was not merely confined to the removal of the evil effects of the sin of Adam, but it also bestowed the gifts of the Holy Ghost and perseverance in grace, of which the sin of Adam did not deprive us; for, Adam had not these gifts in Paradise.

“Unto many,” or, as in the Greek, εἰς τους πολλους, “unto the many.” Of course, “the many” in this latter member of the sentence is not as extensive as in the former member, “by the offence of one many died;” for, the many in the former are called “all men,” verse 12; while in this latter part, there is question only of the many who are spiritually born or begotten of Christ, in the same way as treating of the descendants of Adam there is question of those carnally descended from him. It is not in the extent of their actual application that the Apostle compares “the gift” and “the sin,” but in their comprehensive or intrinsic effects where they are applied.

16 And not as it was by one sin, so also is the gift. For judgment indeed was by one unto condemnation: but grace is of many offences unto justification.

There is another point of difference besides; for, it was only for the one sin of Adam, that all have been subject to the sentence of condemnation; whereas, the gratuitous gift effected the justification of all, not only from that sin, but from all others, and so it rescued us from more evils than the sin of Adam had introduced.

There is another point of dissimilitude. For, the gift of the last Adam did more than remove the evil effects of which the transgression of the first was productive. For, by the transgression of Adam, all had been subject to the sentence of condemnation for only one sin; whereas, the gratuitous gift of Christ not only justified us from that one general sin, but from all our own actual sins, superadded by depraved and corrupt nature. “And not as it was by one sin,” the Greek is, καὶ ουχ ὡς δἰ ἑνος ἁμαρτησαντος, “and not as by one who sinned.” The Vulgate reading is, however, found in some of the principal Greek manuscripts, and in the Arabic version.

17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned through one; much more they who receive abundance of grace and of the gift and of justice shall reign in life through one, Jesus Christ.

For, if through the sin of one man (Adam), and as the consequence of his sin, death reigned over the entire human race; with far greater reason should we believe, that those who receive the abundance of divine grace, of justice, and of all supernatural favours, shall reign for endless ages, through the merits of the one man, Jesus Christ, which are boundless and infinite.

The Apostle repeats, with greater emphasis in this verse, the points of similitude and dissimilitude between Christ and Adam, as opposite principles of life and death. He represents life and death introduced by both, as reigning over the human race. Adam introduced the reign of death and sin; Christ, the reign of justice and life. He does not say, as In the preceding member, that “life shall reign,” but “they shall reign in life,” to point out the dignity of the sons of God, to whom the form, “they shall reign in life,” is more honourable than “life shall reign over them,” as is said of death in the preceding; “much more”—i.e., it is much more natural, considering the infinite power and boundless merits of the one man, Jesus Christ, the principle of spiritual and eternal life, to expect that his children shall reign for ever; the word “reign” expresses the height of happiness, together with the exalted honour they shall enjoy. “Abundance of grace” may mean the abundant, transcendant grace; “and of the gift, and of justice,” (in the common Greek, καὶ της δωρεας της δικαιοσυνης, “and of the gift of justice.”). In the Vatican MS. the word “gift” is wanting.

18 Therefore, as by the offence of one, unto all men to condemnation: so also by the justice of one, unto all men to justification of life.

Therefore, as by the sin of one man, Adam, the entire mass of mankind incurred the guilt through which they were subject to condemnation; so also, by the justice of one man, Christ, have all men born of him, obtained that justice which makes them sharers of eternal life.

In this verse, according to the interpretation adopted by many, the Apostle reverts to the preceding, for the purpose of completing the sense, and of filling up the comparison left incomplete at verse 12. The intervening verses are, according to this connexion, to be read as within a parenthesis, in which the sacred writer is hurried off from the main subject to note some points of similitude or dissimilitude that occurred to him in reference to the subject in question—a thing not at all unusual in the style of the Apostle. Against this connexion, however, it may be fairly objected, that in this verse the Apostle only draws a conclusion from the foregoing, in which the comparison is supposed to have been already instituted, and indeed, according to many (vide Beelen), the points of comparison are carried out in the words of verse 14, “who is a figure of him who was to come;” “Therefore,” i.e., so then, “as by the offence of one unto all men to condemnation,” the word judgment is understood (judgment passed), “unto all men to condemnation,” as in verse 16; “so also by the justice of one,” (grace or justice passed) “unto all men to justification of life;” “all men,” in this latter clause, regarding justification, are to be understood of all spiritually born of Christ, as in the preceding, reference is made to all carnally descended from the principle of death and condemnation—viz., Adam.

19 For as by the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners: so also by the obedience of one, many shall be made just.

For, as by the disobedience of one man, Adam, the many descended from him are made sinners; so also, by the obedience of Christ, shall the many, spiritually born of him, be constituted just.

On account of the great importance of the doctrine, the Apostle repeats in this verse the same thing conveyed in the preceding, “as by the disobedience of the one”—viz., Adam eating the forbidden fruit, “the many,” i.e., all his descendants, who are many (he calls them “all men,” verse 18), “are made sinners;” “so also by the obedience of the one, the many (descended of him) shall be,” &c.; “the many,” in this latter member is not co-extensive with “the many” in the preceding, according to the interpretation now given; or, if we take “the many” who shall be “made just,” to refer to the entire human race, then the words “made just” will not imply that they are actually justified, but only that the grace of justification is intended for all, and it is their own fault if they fail to obtain it; and that all who are rendered just, are made so by the grace of Christ. From this and the preceding verse is derived a convincing argument of the Catholic doctrine of inherent justice, as Beelen well observes. For, according to the teaching of the Apostle, we are constituted just, and even obtain the gift of justice, through the obedience of Christ, as we are constituted sinners through the disobedience of Adam. Now, in the latter case, we were really sinners, “by nature, children of wrath,” (Eph. 2:3) by the guilt of sin inherent in each of us, transmitted by carnal generation from him. Therefore, by the obedience of Christ, all who are spiritually born of him are constituted really just by justice really inherent in them, and not by the imputation of the justice of Christ, as it was not by the imputation of the sin of Adam that all are sinners. For, the spiritual regeneration in Christ corresponds with the carnal descent from Adam, in which guilt is not imputed but really contracted.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 9

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 20, 2014


With this chapter begins the third section of the Dogmatic Part of this Epistle. In the preceding chapter the Apostle exposed his conception of the Christian life—the life of faith, animated by the Holy Ghost and destined for unfading glory in heaven. The Gospel is the power of God to everyone that believes, to the Jew first, and then to the Greek (Rom 1:16). But how is it, then, it may rightly be asked, that the great majority of the Jews have failed to embrace the Gospel and enter the Church of Christ? This is the problem which engages the Apostle’s attention in the present and in the two following chapters. The Jews were, indeed, the chosen people of God who gave the Redeemer to the world (Rom 9:1-5), and although they have, notwithstanding, been in the main excluded from a part in the Messiah’s redemption, still the divine promises have not failed in their regard (Rom 9:6-29); their rejection is due to their own culpableness, blindness and disobedience (Rom 9:30-x. 21); and even in this the mercy of God has been manifest, for a remnant has been saved already; the Gentiles have profited by Israel’s loss, and all the Jews will find mercy at the end (Rom 11:1-32). These profound reflections are a reason for praising the wisdom and knowledge of God’s inscrutable providence (Rom 11:33-36).


A Summary of Romans 9:1-5~Following upon the exposition of a new system of justification by faith, the glorious life and outcome of which inspired the hymn of triumph that closed the preceding chapter, comes now an expression of sorrow the most profound. St. Paul explains to his Roman readers why his own people have been rejected by God, in spite of all their privileges, and incidentally why he himself turned from them to the Gentile world, in spite of his natural ardent love for them.

1. I speak the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost:

I speak the truthI lie not. These are strong ways, one positive and the other negative, of assuring his readers of the truth of what he is about to say. The Apostle avows that he is acting in union with Christ, conformably to his own conscience, of which the Holy Ghost is the interior principle. Cf. 1 Tim 2:7; 2 Cor 11:31; 2Cor 7:14; 2 Cor 12:6; Gal 1:20.

The before “truth” is not in the Greek.

2. That I have great sadness, and continual sorrow in my heart.

The fact of Israel’s having cut herself off from the Messianic blessings was a continual source of sorrow to St. Paul. Some of the Jews (Acts 21:21) considered the Apostle to be an enemy of their nation, but here he shows the truth and sincerity of his feelings toward them. Sadness expresses mental pain; sorrow is grief in general.

I wished, etc. Better, I could wish (ηυχομην, optarem), if it were possible. The Apostle knew this was not a serious hypothesis, and was expressing himself in the language of sentiment rather than according to cold reasoning (Lagrange); he was giving expression to an impracticable wish.

Anathema from Christ, i.e., to be separated from Christ so as to be deprived of Christianity and of the Messianic benefits. “Anathema” literally means a thing set up to be destroyed; it comes from two Greek words signifying to place apart. To the Jews it meant a person or thing cursed, and therefore fit for destruction (Lev 27:28-29; Deut 7:26; Josh 6:17). With St. Paul it meant cursed of God (Gal 1:89; 1 Cor 12:3; 1 Cor 16:22). According to Cornely, therefore, St. Paul meant to say that, for the sake of his brethren, the Jews, he was willing to be externally separated from Christ forever, and to be condemned to eternal torments, without ceasing, however, to be united to Christ through grace. But as there seems to be nothing in the context to suggest this distinction, and as there is not question of future time, but of the present (ειναι), we think it better to accept for this passage the explanation of Lagrange given above.

Optabam of the Vulgate would better be optarem.

4. Who are Israelites, to whom belongeth the adoption as of children, and the glory, and the testament, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises:

Here the Apostle enumerates the principal prerogatives of the Jews.

Israelites—a title of honor, comprehending all the privileges of the Jews, and given to them because they were descendants of Jacob, to whom God gave the name Israel (Gen 22:29).

The adoption, etc., by which the Israelites had been selected from among all others, to be the people of God (Exodus 4:22; Exodus 19:5; Deut 14:1),—which adoption, however, being only political, was merely a figure of, and therefore far inferior to that which the Christian enjoys through the grace of Christ.

The glory, i.e., the Shechinah, or sensible manifestation of the presence of God in the Tabernacle and in the Temple (Exodus 40:34; 1 Kings 8:10; Ezek 10:11; 2 Macc 1:18, etc.).

The testament. In Greek the plural is used, “the testaments,” i.e., the covenants ( αι διαθηκαι) that were made with Abraham ( Gen 15:18; Gen 17:2, etc.), with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Exodus 2:24), and with Moses and the whole people (Exodus 24:7 ff.).

The giving of the law, i.e., the Mosaic Law, which regulated the service; i.e., the worship of the true God in antiquity (cf. 2 Macc 6:23).

The promises made to Abraham, and especially those concerning the Messiah, which were contained in the numerous prophecies relative to the Redeemer (cf. Rom 4:13; Gal 3:16).

In the Vulgate testamentum should be plural, testamenta.

5. Whose are the fathers, and of whom is Christ, according to the flesh, who is over all things, God blessed for ever. Amen.

The dignity of the Jews because of their origin is now shown. Their ancestors were the fathers, i.e., the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—men beloved of God above all others (Exodus 3:6; Deut 4:37; Acts 7:32).

Of whom is Christ. The greatest of all the dignities of the Jews consisted in the fact that Christ was to come from them, that they were to give the Messiah to the world.

According to the flesh, i.e., as regards the flesh (το κατα σαρκα, quantum attinet ad carnem), namely, according to His human nature.

Who is . . . God, i.e., this Christ, who was of Jewish origin according to His human nature, was also God, the Creator and Ruler over all things, and had, therefore, a divine nature, and hence is blessed for ever.

St. Thomas observes that in this verse four heresies are destroyed: (a) that of the Manicheans, who said that Christ had not a true, but only an apparent body; against which the Apostle here says that Christ was descended from the Jews according to the flesh; (b) that of Valentine who taught that the body of Jesus was not from the common mass of the human race, but had come from heaven; whereas St. Paul here says that according to the flesh Christ was from the Jews; (c) that of Nestorius who held that the son of man was one person, the son of God another person in Christ; against which the Apostle asserts that the same person who was from the Jews according to the flesh was God, the Ruler of all things; (d) that of Arius, who said that Christ was less than the Father and created out of nothing; against which the Apostle insists that Christ was God over all things and that He is blessed forever: only God could be blessed forever.

Certain Rationalists (Julicher, Lipsius, Lochmann, etc.), in order to weaken this clear testimony of the Apostle regarding the Divinity of Christ, have said that a period should be placed after secundum carnem or after omnia, and that the remainder of the verse should be considered as a doxology in praise of God. This opinion, however, cannot be sustained,—(a) because it is opposed to the traditional reading, found in the vast majority of MSS. and in almost all versions; and (b) because it is opposed to the authority of the oldest Fathers, who made use of this very text to prove the Divinity of Christ. Cf. Cornely, h. 1.; Lagrange, h. 1. ; Revue Bib., 1903, pp. 550-57O.


A Summary of Romans 9:6-13~Up to these verses in the present chapter the condition of Israel has been only indirectly stated in Paul’s wish that he might be anathema from Christ for his fellow-Jews, if that was possible. Strange as it may seem, in spite of all their privileges, in spite of the promise made to them, in spite of the fact that Christ took His human nature from among them, it is they who are anathema from Christ. And yet the designs of God cannot be frustrated, neither have they been; for, on the one hand, the designs of God are not restricted to a carnal descent, and on the other hand, some of the Jews have accepted the Gospel. If all the Jews have not embraced the faith, it is because they did not all receive an efficacious call. God, who even in the beginning of Jewish history, drew distinctions within the seed of Abraham, as in the case of Isaac’s children, Jacob and Esau, was not obliged to call all the Jews to the faith, nor of those called, to treat all in the same manner. God chooses men in accordance with His purposes, and this is the first explanation of Israel’s condition.

6. Not as though the word of God hath miscarried. For all are not Israelites that are of Israel:

While St. Paul found no difficulty in that the Law had been abrogated, he could in nowise admit that the word of God to Israel, i.e., the unconditional promise that Israel should be saved by the Messiah, could fail of its fulfillment. In this promise the veracity and fidelity of God were involved. Those who think the incredulity of the Jews has rendered vain the promise of God make the mistake, says the Apostle, of thinking that that promise was made to the carnal descendants of Abraham; they fail to distinguish between those who are Israelites according to the flesh (1 Cor 10:18) and those who are Israelites according to the spirit, the spiritual children of Abraham (Gal 6:16).

Israel, in place of Israelitae of the Vulgate, is more in conformity with the Greek. Hence also, “Israelites” would better be “Israel” in English.

7. Neither are all they that are the seed of Abraham, children; but in Isaac shall thy seed be called:

The thought of the preceding verse is more clearly developed. The Apostle says that not all who are carnally descended from Abraham shall be the inheritors of the promise, but only those who are descendants through Isaac, as Gen 21:12 clearly testifies.

Seed (σπερμα = sperma) in the first part of this verse means carnal descendants; in the second part it indicates the descendants that inherit the blessings of the promise. Ishmael was a type of the first; Isaac of the second.

Children (τεκνα = tekna), an endearing term, are those descendants of Abraham who are recognized by God as the legitimate heirs of the promises made to the Patriarchs.

8. That is to say, not they that are the children of the flesh, are the children of God; but they, that are the children of the promise, are accounted for the seed.

The preceding verse (7) is explained here.

Not . . . the children of the flesh, etc., i.e., they are not the children of God, and the consequent heirs of the promise, that are descended carnally from Abraham, as Ishmael was; but those are the heirs that, like Isaac, are the children of the promise; those, namely, who, being united to Christ through faith, have imitated the virtues of Abraham, and have thereby become his true descendants and the heirs of the promise (Gal 3:26). People do not become the children of God because of their natural origin, but only by God’s free choice in advance, as in the case of the election of Isaac. Isaac was called the child of promise (Gal 4:23, 29), because he was born of Abraham and Sara in their old age by virtue of the promise God made to them.

It is to be noted that the words of Genesis regarding Isaac in the preceding verse, as well as the quotations about Jacob and Esau in the verses that follow, have direct reference to temporal blessings; but the Apostle is here making use of them in their typical meaning. He wishes to say that just as God, of His own free choice, bestowed temporal blessings on Isaac in consequence of Isaac’s being the child of promise, rather than on Ishmael, who was descended from Abraham only in a carnal and natural way; so will He likewise bestow His spiritual blessings of grace and justification on those who are the children of Abraham by reason of their faith, rather than by reason of mere carnal descent. Faith, and not carnal descent, establishes the true relationship between Abraham and his children.

9. For this is the word of promise : According to this time will I come; and Sara shall have a son.

This verse explains how Isaac was the child of promise. When Abraham and Sara were old and could not naturally expect to have a child, God promised them through His angel (Gen 18:10-14) that in about a year’s time they would have a son. Isaac was therefore the result of a miracle, rather than a child of the flesh.

According to this time, i.e., in about one year.

10. And not only she. But when Rebecca also had conceived at once, of Isaac our father.

The Apostle gives a second example (Rom 9:10-13) which proves still more clearly the liberty of God’s elections, since there is question now of the same mother and her twins by the same father. She is not in the Greek, which reads: “Not only (this), but also Rebecca,” etc. The Apostle wishes to point out from the case of Rebecca (Gen 25:23) that God, in giving privileges and blessings to men, has no regard either for the conditions of their birth or for their personal merits. Thus we see that, of two sons, twins, conceived at once, i.e., at the same time by the same father and of the same mother, one was chosen, the other rejected by God before they saw the light of day (Rom 9:11). Hence it follows that the promise of God was not made to all the carnal descendants of Abraham, and so it is not to be wondered at that many Jews remain in their incredulity and do not have part in the promised blessings.

The ilia of the Vulgate should be omitted, according to the Greek.

11. For when the children were not yet born, nor had done any good or evil (that the purpose of God, according to election, might stand),
12. Not of works, but of him that calleth, it was said to her: The elder shall serve the younger.

In these verses the Apostle shows that God, guided solely by His gratuitous election, freely chooses people to do His will; and that, consequently, just as, irrespective of the personal merits of Jacob and Esau, He chose the former on whom to bestow all kinds of temporal blessings, and rejected the latter; so has He gratuitously decreed to bestow on the Gentiles, typified by Jacob, the spiritual blessings of justification and of the Gospel, and exclude the Jews, as a race, typified by Esau, from a participation in those blessings.

When the children were not yet born (11). The subject of γεννηθεντων (gennethenton) is evidently Jacob and Esau in the womb of their mother.

Nor had done any good, etc., i.e., before any chance of merit or demerit on their part, God preferred Jacob and made him the object of future blessings, in spite of the fact that Esau was the first-born, and as such would seem to enjoy some special rights to those blessings. But Esau, as a matter of fact, as if in fulfillment of the divine decree, sold his rights as firstborn to Jacob, and this latter obtained the blessing of his father Isaac and was made heir in place of his brother. The Edomites, the descendants of Esau, were consequently made subject to and were dominated by the Israelites, who were descended from Jacob (2 Sam 8:13). These words of the Apostle are a refutation of the Pelagian heresy which said that grace is given by God in view of antecedent merits.

That the purpose, etc., i.e., the eternal decree of God to reject Esau and call Jacob to the inheritance of temporal blessings.

According to election. This eternal decree of God has its reason not in the present or future merits of those who are called, but only in the free and gratuitous choice of God.

Not of works, etc., i.e., not out of regard for anyone’s works or merits, but solely of him that calleth, i.e., through the grace of God who calls.

The elder shall serve (12), etc. This reference is to Gen 25:23. When Rebecca felt the infants struggling in her womb, she sought an explanation of the incident from the Lord, and she was told that she “had two nations in her womb,” and that the elder, i.e., the descendants of the elder (the Edomites) would be subject to those of the younger, namely, the Israelites. This divine prediction was literally verified in the time of David (2 Sam 8:13). The mystical application of these words by St. Paul is evident.

Nearly all modern exegetes omit the parentheses of verse 11.

13. As it is written: Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.

Jacob I have loved, etc. Here St. Paul cites the Prophet Malach1:2 to show the reason why God chose Jacob rather than Esau. He freely loved the former and hated the latter, and this is the sole reason why He forechose and predestined the one for future blessings, and rejected the other. The words of Malachi, like those of Gen 25:23, refer both to the persons of Jacob and Esau and to the peoples that descended from them, i.e., to the Israelites who descended from Jacob, and to the Edomites who descended from Esau; and by quoting the Prophet’s words St. Paul shows that the actual course of history verified the statement made to Rebecca. Therefore, concludes the Apostle, just as the choice of Jacob was due solely to the love and freedom of God, so also is the call to the faith a free gift of God’s love, not dependent on conditions of birth or personal merits. This same freedom on the part of God explains why many of the Jews, although descendants of Jacob, are excluded from a participation in the blessings of the Messianic Kingdom. God chooses whom He will to carry out His purposes, and His plans do not fail because of the failure of individuals.

Esau I have hated. God loves all things that He makes, and consequently He loves all human beings, inasmuch as He confers on all some benefits of nature and of grace, but not in the sense that He confers on all the same measure of blessings. Accordingly God, in His eternal wisdom and justice, does not give to all the efficacious call to the faith and the reward of eternal life; He is thus said to hate those whom He excludes from the prize of eternal life, and to love in a special manner those on whom He confers it. These latter God predestines to glory, the former He reprobates. There is this vast difference, however, between predestination and reprobation that, while both are eternal and unchangeable in God, predestination implies on God’s part the preparation of merits in virtue of which glory is afterwards conferred; whereas reprobation does not suppose that God prearranged sins on account of which one is condemned to eternal punishment. Hence it follows that God’s foreknowledge of merits cannot be the cause of predestination, since merits are rather the consequence of predestination. But positive reprobation, on the contrary, which implies not only exclusion from glory, but the infliction of eternal pain, does not take place until after the permission and prevision of sins. God will punish the wicked for the sins which they themselves commit, in which He has no part; and He will reward the just on account of the merits which they possess, not alone of themselves, but through the help of His grace: “Destruction is thy own, O Israel: thy help is only in me” (Hosea 13:9) (Sales, Martini).

God, therefore, far from regulating His choice by the dispositions of persons, is guided rather by His own hidden purposes, and by His consequent personal sentiments of love or of hate; before the birth of the twins, He loved one and hated the other of His own free choice. This hatred of God, anterior to all foreseen demerits, has something awful about it, which Cornely feels forced to mitigate by softening the sense of εμισησα (emisesa “hated”) so as to mean “to love less” or “to neglect.” But whatever may be said of the texts cited (Gen 29:30-31; Luke 14:26; Deut. 21:15-17; Judges 14:16; Prov 14:20), the text of Malachi says plainly that God detested Esau, representing the Edomites, as His subsequent conduct toward that people proved. It would be necessary, therefore, in Cornely’s view, to suppose that St. Paul set aside the sense of the text of Malachi, either by eliminating all allusion to the history of the peoples represented by Esau and Jacob, or by distinguishing between the sentiments which God entertained toward these peoples, on the one hand, and their unborn ancestors, on the other—suppositions which cannot be sustained (cf. Lagrange, h. 1.).

Whichever view we take of εμισησα (emisesa “hated”) here, whether we say that God really hated Esau before he was born, or only that He neglected him, or loved him less than Jacob, we must remember that St. Paul is quoting Old Testament language,—language natural and familiar to the Jews, but essentially severe in its tone, and oftentimes shocking to ears attuned to the mildness and mercy of Christian words. Furthermore, in trying to understand the mysteries of divine election and reprobation it makes little difference in fact whether we say that God hates, or merely neglects or loves less the reprobate, since the final outcome is the same, whatever be the words used to unfold the mystery to our human and limited intelligences. In negative reprobation God simply does not choose the person or persons in question, and this for His own hidden reasons, although in time He gives them graces and means sufficient for their salvation.


A Summary of Romans 9:14-24~In this section the Apostle discusses the justice of God in giving His grace to one rather than to another, without regard for their merits. It has already been proved against the Jews that God was not unfaithful to His promises, because these were made not to the carnal, but to the spiritual posterity of Abraham. But since the Jews were God’s chosen people, favored with the Law and many special heavenly blessings, they might consider it unjust on the part of God to prefer the Gentiles to them. Forestalling this objection the Apostle proposes it himself, only to reject it as a blasphemy. If the Jews do not embrace Christianity, it is because they have not received God’s efficacious call; but in this there is no injustice with God, since Scripture proves that God gives His favors to whom He pleases, while He hardens others (verses 15-18). But if men are thus the instruments of God, how can God blame them (verse 19)? In reply the Apostle maintains that God has a right to do as He will with His creature (verses 20, 21). He then explains the designs of God, who, while patient with the wicked, has determined to show forth His anger as well as His goodness (verses 22-24).

If we do not understand all of God’s mysterious dealings with the human race the reason is: (a) because He is infinite and we are finite, and just because He is infinite there must be in all His actions and outward manifestations much of mystery which we can never fathom; (b) God has not and cannot make known to us in this life, when we must live and walk by faith, all the reasons and purposes of His actions.

14. What shall we say then? Is there injustice with God? God forbid.

To the objection here raised Paul at present gives no other answer than a plain and vigorous rejection. There is no injustice (αδικια = adikia) in God, he says. God is free to give His favors to whom He will, and hence if He chooses to give the blessings of grace and justification to the Gentiles rather than to the Jews, who can accuse Him of injustice?

15. For he saith to Moses: I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy; and I will shew mercy to whom I will shew mercy.

St. Paul now appeals to the authority of God speaking to Moses, to prove that God is the free and independent dispenser of His gifts. The citation (Exodus 33:19) is according to the Septuagint. The Hebrew of this passage would be rendered by the present tense, and the first clause would be indicative of favor, the second of mercy or pity: “I show favor to whom I show favor, and I show mercy to whom I show mercy.” As God was here speaking to Moses, as contrasted with Pharaoh, it is more likely that Moses in this instance is to be considered as a private person, rather than in his capacity as lawgiver to whom God was revealing His plan (Lagrange). God, therefore, like a rich man dispensing his gifts, is under no obligation to give to anyone, or to one rather than to another; and if He freely chooses to bestow His riches on some and deny them to others, there is no injustice done whatever; God is simply manifesting His own will in bestowing or withholding His gifts, and His will is essentially and necessarily righteous. If we do not understand this, or find difficulty in God’s ways of acting, it is only because we are sinful finite creatures; and as such we should not expect to comprehend the actions of the infinite and allholy God. God, therefore, is perfectly free to call the Gentiles to the faith rather than the Jews, and to call some of the Jews and reject others. Cf. St. Thomas, h. 1.

16. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

The conclusion to what has been said is now drawn. It, i.e., the showing of mercy, the election of man to the faith and to eternal life, in nowise depends on the dispositions or efforts of man, but on God who manifests His goodness.

Not of him that willeth, i.e., no internal strong desires, nor of him that runneth, i.e., no external strenuous efforts on man’s part can make any claim to justification, or to the election to eternal life. That which follows election and the call to the faith is not in question here; neither is there question in this verse of the relation between grace and free will, but only of God’s entire freedom to favor whom He chooses.

17. For the scripture saith to Pharao: To this purpose have I raised thee, that I may shew my power in thee, and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.

Having proved that God is perfectly free to show the goodness of His mercy to whom He will, St. Paul now goes on to indicate by a second example that God is not less free and just in refusing to call, and thereby reprobating others. Moses was an object of God’s mercy and favor, Pharaoh was a type of those who resist God and refuse to obey God’s laws.

The Scripture, i.e., God through the Scripture (Exodus 9:16), saith to Pharao. St. Paul cites the Scripture as the Word of God. The citation is according to the LXX, but is not literal. The LXX has “thou hast been preserved”; but St. Paul says, ( εξηγειρα = exegeira)  which is very similar to the Hebrew, (עמד =‛âmad pronounced aw-mad’) “I have raised thee up,” as actors are called to the stage of life to play a role in human history. The sense is practically the same in either reading. We cannot say, however, that God, in making use of Pharaoh as a means of manifesting His power and glorifying His name throughout the world, excited him to sin and moved him to evil. God’s primary intention in raising Pharaoh to the throne of Egypt was that the monarch might justly and rightly govern his people, and thus promote his own and their salvation; but this primary intention failing, God called into play His secondary object, which was to make of Pharaoh an instrument whereby to manifest the divine power and glorify the divine name.

In the case of Pharaoh, as in similar instances, God simply permitted man, a finite and defectible creature, to misuse his own free will by turning to evil his office, his power, his works and other things which were intended by God to lead their possessor to good. Pharaoh, as king, had his authority from God, and God permitted him freely to abuse it in oppressing and persecuting the Israelites. God, therefore, was not the cause of the wickedness of Pharaoh, but in His infinite wisdom, which knows how to draw good out of evil, He made use of the malice of the wicked king to set forth His own power and justice by at length visiting his impiety and cruelty with many and dire chastisements (Sales). Cf. Ex 14:14-15; Josh 2:9; Josh 9:9; 1 Sam 4:8, etc.

18. Therefore he hath mercy on whom he will; and whom he will, he hardeneth.

The conclusion which follows from verses 15-17 is that God is perfectly free, and therefore just, in giving His favors to one rather than another, in showing mercy to some and in hardening others. God does not, however, harden man’s heart directly, by making him obstinate in sin; but indirectly He does, by justly withholding His more abundant grace, thus permitting man to continue in sin and to offend ever more and more grievously. To all God gives grace sufficient for salvation, but many, abusing the graces they receive, become unworthy of that further efficacious grace without which final perseverance and the attainment of heaven are impossible.

St. Paul does not attempt to reconcile the action of God in hardening a sinner with man’s free will. That God has the power to harden man’s heart the Apostle here affirms, and this is done, not by moving man to sin, but by withholding grace from him. It is maintained in this verse only that God has the right to show mercy to whom He will and to harden whom He will, without saying that all are hardened to whom mercy is not shown, or that this hardening is lasting or merely for a time (Lagrange).

19. Thou wilt say therefore to me: Why doth he then find fault? for who resisteth his will?

From the foregoing doctrine one might object that there is no room for faultfinding on the part of God, if some are not converted, because no one resists His will. Those who freely obey His law are the objects of His love and mercy, while those who refuse obedience to Him fall under His justice; hence they who think they are resisting the divine will are only obeying it in another way: there is no complete resisting the will of God.

Who resisteth, etc., i.e., who has ever succeeded in resisting God’s will, since, if we do not obey it in one way, we do in another? The meaning is not: Who would be able to resist His will? (Cornely).

The dicis of the Vulgate should be dices. Both words can be translated as “say,” but dices is a bit more forceful, often having legal or disputative force, and, therefore, is more in keeping with argumentative, debate-like  of the presentation (see following comment on verse 20).

20. O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the things formed say to him that formed it: why hast thou made me thus?
21. Or hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

Who art thou that repliest (20), etc. The Apostle supposes there was something insolent in the above objection, as ανταποκρινομενος (antapokrinomenos = “that repliest against”) would imply. Has ignorant, miserable, sinful man any right to enter into a discussion with the all-wise Creator regarding the conditions of his creation and life?

St. Paul then asks in this and in the following verse two questions which are calculated to remind the objector of what he really is with regard to God. The comparison which follows in these questions is after the manner of a parable or illustration, and was often made use of in the Old Testament (Isa 29:16; Isa 45:8-10; lxiv. Isa 64:8; Jer 18:6; Wis 15:7, etc.), where God was compared to a potter, and man to a vessel of clay, most likely in view of the account of Gen 2:7. This manner of speech was, therefore, very familiar to the Jews, and had, in consequence, a special force for them.

The question of verse 21 is really an answer to that of verse 20: just as the clay has no right to object to the action of the potter, so neither has man any right to say to his Creator, “why have you made me thus?” And again, just as the potter has the right to make of the same lump some vessels for honorable, others for dishonorable uses, so has God the right and the liberty to show mercy to some men, and to use others for His own hidden purposes. There is no injustice done to man if God chooses not to use him for high and noble purposes, because man has no right to these things. Without doubt St. Paul is here indirectly treating of election to glory and of reprobation. His words have immediate reference to God’s call to, or rejection from, the faith; but they apply equally to election to glory or to reprobation. The principle is the same in either case.

There is nothing, however, in these verses to justify the fatalism of Calvin, who taught that God is the cause of evil as well as good, and that He makes some people good and others bad, in order to lead the former to glory and the latter to perdition. As said above, the Apostle is making use, at present, of an illustration only, and all points between the things compared must not, therefore, be insisted upon. Hence, from the passivity of the clay in the hands of the potter we can no more argue to the exclusion of human liberty, than we can exclude the existence of a rational soul in man, on the ground that these things are not in the clay. The object of the Apostle in employing the comparison is merely to show that man has no more reason to complain of rejection from grace, than the clay would have of its destination for dishonorable purposes. From man’s complete rejection from grace his rejection from glory would also follow; but the decree of positive reprobation from glory is always grounded on man’s demerits (MacEvilly).

22. What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction,

After having energetically replied to the insolent objection of verse 19, St. Paul returns to the situation of verses 15-18, and sets forth certain reasons why God shows mercy to some and hardens others. If God has called the Gentiles and rejected the Jews, He is only manifesting His infinite mercy and justice, as He has a right to do; and St. Paul sees in the case of the Jews, as in that of Pharaoh, a historic incident which but serves God’s infinite designs.

What if (ει δε = ei de), i.e., according to Lagrange, “now, if.” No apodosis follows, the period is left incompleted. The required apodosis would be something like this: What should we say? What objection could we make?

Willing (θελων = thelon), i.e., although willing, or while willing, according to Cornely. This would give θελων (= thelon) a concessive meaning,—God could have wished to show His anger, but He has not. Such an explanation, however, seems contrary to Rom 1:18-3:20, where St. Paul shows that God has not only wished to show His anger, but has actually done so (Lagrange, Kuhl, etc.). Still, it can be argued that the wrath of God, which, to some extent has already been visited upon both Jews and Gentiles, is restrained and will be manifested in a special manner on all those who are eternally condemned for their personal sins.

And to make his power known, as He did in a measure, in saving His people in spite of Pharaoh, and in bearing mercifully with the Jews, whose treatment of Christ and the Apostles merited a speedy punishment.

Endured with much patience. Better, “Hath borne with much patience,” i.e., according to Cornely, God bore with vessels of wrath in order to give them time to do penance and be saved. Fr. Lagrange does not exclude this interpretation, but thinks the Apostle meant here simply to say that God bore with vessels of wrath in order to manifest His wrath and power towards some, who willfully harden themselves, and His goodness and mercy towards others, who make use of the graces offered them (verse 23).

Vessels of wrath, i.e., sinners, those who, like those who rejected the Gospel, resist the will of God and become deserving of vengeance and punishment.

Fitted for destruction, i.e., prepared and ready, by their own choice and actions, for the wrath that has been visited upon them in their lives, and for the eternal perdition they deserve hereafter. Who, therefore, can take issue with God, if He has rejected and reprobated the Jews for the sins they have freely chosen to commit? God’s long-suffering is salvation to those who wish to be converted (2 Pet 3:9, 15), but it is damnation aggravated to those who harden themselves in sin (Rickaby).

23. That he might shew the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he hath prepared unto glory?

That he might, etc. In the great majority of MSS  ινα γνωριση (hina gnorise)  is preceded by και (kai, pronounced, kahee), which makes it especially clear that this verse follows upon the thought of the first part of verse 18. Not only has God manifested His wrath upon vessels of wrath, but He has also shown mercy to those whom He has withdrawn from sin and justified in preparation for eternal glory.

The riches of his glory, i.e., the riches of His goodness (Rom 2:4), by which sinners are led from evil ways to faith and justification, and finally to eternal glory in heaven.

On the vessels of mercy, i.e., on those who become objects of His grace and mercy.

Which he hath prepared, etc. God does not prepare the vessels of wrath for damnation. Of their own perversity they choose to abide in sin, and so God withdraws from them His special aid, and permits them to become hardened and to die in their sins. The vessels of mercy, on the contrary, God prepares for glory by calling them efficaciously to the faith, by sanctifying them, and by helping them to persevere to the end. Man corrupted by original sin needs only to be left to himself, to his own perverse will and tendencies, to be lost; but to be saved, he needs to be helped and disposed in a special manner by the grace of God.

24. Even us, whom also he hath called, not only of the Jews, but also of the Gentiles.

This verse ought really to be joined to the preceding, according to sense. It proves that the intervention of God has actually commenced already, as stated in the verses above.

Even us, i.e., the vessels of mercy, St. Paul and the Roman Christians. Speaking of the called the Apostle puts the Jews in the first place to remind them of their prerogatives; but by including the Gentiles he shows the entire freedom of God’s choice, which has brought more Gentiles than Jews to Christianity.


A Summary of Romans 9:25-29~Having proved from the history of the Patriarchs that the Messianic promises did not pertain to each and all the Jews (verses 6-13), and having shown from Scripture that God is perfectly free and just in the distribution of His gifts, the Apostle now shows that the call of the Gentiles to the faith and the rejection of the Jews as a body God had already foretold in Hosea and in Isaiah. The reference is to the Jews of St Paul’s day. See the commentary on verse 29.

25. As in Hosea he saith: I will call that which was not my people, my people; and her that was not beloved, beloved; and her that had not obtained mercy, one that hath obtained mercy.

In the present verse the Apostle freely cites the Prophet Hosea 2:23-24 according to the LXX. The words not my people and not beloved, literally refer to the ten schismatical tribes of Israel who had fallen into idolatry and into all the vices of paganism, but to whom God had promised mercy and restoration to the ancient privileges of His people, provided they would be converted from their evil ways. In a spiritual sense the words “not my people,” and “not beloved,” refer to the Gentiles, of whom the ten schismatical tribes were a figure (1 Pet. 2:10). As God could bring back the unfaithful and disowned, so could He bring in those who had not been called before.

The words, and her that had not obtained mercy, etc., are omitted by all the Greek MSS. and the Fathers. The second clause, and her that was not beloved, etc., is also omitted by St. Jerome and a few MSS.

26. And it shall be, in the place where it was said unto them, You are not my people; there they shall be called the sons of the living God.

The Apostle again cites Hosea 1:10 according to the Septuagint, thus making once more the schismatical tribes of Israel a type of the pagans. As God punished the unfaithful ten tribes with exile, and afterwards reunited the remnants of Israel so as to be again His people; so can He call the Gentiles, before far from Him, and make them His people and His sons.

27. And Isaiah crieth out concerning Israel: If the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved.

Isaiah 10:22 is now cited to show that a remnant of the Jews shall recognize the Messiah and be saved. The LXX is followed with slight alteration. Literally the Prophet’s words had reference to the few Israelites who, through trust in God, should escape the devastations of the Assyrians under Sennacherib; and these the Apostle makes a type of the small number of Jews that should believe in Christ and attain to salvation.

The pro of the Vulgate should be super, to agree with the Greek υπερ (=huper).

28. For he shall finish his word, and cut it short in justice; because a short word shall the Lord make upon the earth.

The citation of Isaia 10:22-23 is continued according to the LXX. Quoting the LXX from memory St. Paul has given a substantial rendering of the passage, omitting the words ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ from Isa 10:22, and  ὅτι λόγον συντετμημένον, from verse 23, and changing the last words, ἐν τῇ οἰκουμένῃ ὅλῃ  for the similar and more usual επι της γης. The Hebrew of this passage is somewhat different: “Destruction is decreed, bringing justice; for destruction and a firm decree the Lord God of hosts will execute in the midst of all the land.” However, the two renderings of this text, the Hebrew and the Greek, differ only in minor details; the sense is essentially the same. In both instances there is question of a divine decree which is a just chastisement for sin.

For he shall finish, etc., i.e., the Lord shall completely and briefly effect an accomplishment of His work on earth, regarding the deliverance of the Jews from the destructive sword of the Assyrian, by reducing to a few the number of the Israelites that are to be saved. This He shall do in justice, i.e., by justly punishing the greater number, and giving to the few the abundance of His favors.

Because a short word, etc. This clause is not found in the best Greek MSS., and is but a repetition of the foregoing one, as indeed this whole verse is but an emphasizing of the preceding verse. The words of Isaiah, which literally referred to the deliverance of the Jews from Assyrian destruction, St. Paul is typically using to show that the greater number of Jews will be rejected from grace, and only a few admitted to the blessings of faith.

29. And as Isaiah foretold: Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been made as Sodom, and we had been like unto Gomorrha.

The LXX of Isaiah 1:9 is cited to prove once more that a small number of the Jews will embrace the faith of Christ. The Prophet’s words, as before, literally relate to those who survived the Assyrian captivity, and these the Apostle is making a type of the few Jews that will recognize and follow Christ. As comparatively few Jews escaped the Assyrian sword in the time of Isaias, so few comparatively, in the time of St. Paul, entered the fold of Christ; and as in the former instance, so in the latter, these few were as a seed for a future growth and a harvest which shall be garnered before the end of the world.

It would be wrong to argue from these passages that the majority of Christians or of mankind are lost eternally.


A Summary of Romans 9:30-33~The Jews are responsible for their rejection by failing to believe in Christ. They were scandalized at the very object of their salvation.

Having shown, therefore, that God is not unfaithful to His promises, and having considered God’s part in the rejection of the Jews, the Apostle passes on now (Rom 9:30-10:21) to a consideration of the responsibility and culpability of the Jews relative to their own rejection. In the remaining verses of the present chapter he points out the fundamental mistake of the Jews, which was to misunderstand the divine plan, and consequently to stumble at Christ and seek salvation where God had not ordained it to be found.

30. What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who followed not after justice, have attained to justice, even the justice that is of faith.

What then, etc. (τι ουν). This is at once a conclusion to the preceding section, that the Jews as a whole have been rejected, and an introduction to a new aspect of the question, namely, the responsibility of Israel (Lagrange). Having shown that God has been faithful and just in His dealings with Israel, what shall we say about the rejection of the Jews and the call of the Gentiles, the Apostle asks.

That (οτι) introduces the answer to the question proposed; hence the meaning is: We say “that Gentiles” who did not exert themselves to seek after good, have attained to justice, i.e., to justification through faith, a gratuitous gift of God (Rom 3:28; 6:4).

Gentiles should be read without the article (εθνη, not τα εθνη), because (a) some of the pagans did seek after virtue (Rom 2:14), and (b) there were many who never attained to justification through faith; only some Gentiles are therefore meant.

31. But Israel, by following after the law of justice, is not come unto the law of justice.

This verse, according to the best MSS., should read as follows: “But Israel, seeking after the law, is not come to the law of justice.” The word δικαιοσυνης, of justice, in the first clause, was perhaps added by a copyist; but, with or without this term, the sense of this passage is that Israel, for the most part, living under a law which led to justice, or pointed the way to it, failed to attain to the rule of veritable justice (St. Thomas, Cornely). Israel as a whole pursued the justice which it was obliged to follow, but erred in the manner of seeking it (verse 32).

The law means the Law of Moses. The law of justice means sanctifying grace, that internal observance of the Law which, through faith in Christ to come, produced internal sanctity of soul and real supernatural justice. The Jews sought true justice in the external observance of the precepts of the Law and were content with an external holiness, instead of seeking the internal sanctity of the heart.

In the Vulgate the first justitiae should be omitted, and sectans is preferable to sectando.

32. Why so? because they sought it not by faith, but as it were of works. For they stumbled at the stumbling stone.

Why so? i.e., what is the reason why the Jews, while seeking after justice, have not, for the most part, attained to the justification of Christ? Because, as has been shown in the first part of the Epistle, true justice is obtained only through faith, and the Jews have sought it, or pretended (ως) to seek it, through works, mere natural works, performed without faith and the help of grace (iv. 4-6). Thus, by rejecting faith, the Jews have failed to attain that which the Gentiles through faith have acquired.

They stumbled, i.e., they were scandalized at the lowly, suffering life of Christ (1 Cor. 1:23), who, as Messiah, did not conform to their erroneous ideas. Jesus was, therefore, a “stumbling-block” to the Jews (Luke 2:34).

For (Vulg., enim) is not authentic.

33. As it is written: Behold I lay in Sion a stumbling stone and a rock of scandal; and whosoever believeth in him shall not be confounded.

That the Jews were scandalized and stumbled at the suffering and crucified Christ ought not to cause surprise, because it was foretold by the Prophet Isaias that they would commit this appalling error. The Apostle has blended two texts of Isaiah 8:14 and Isaiah 28:16; the latter according to the Septuagint, the former according to the Hebrew. It is certain that there is question of the Messiah in the second text; and while the first one speaks of Jehovah, it must also be understood of the Messiah, as we are assured by St. Paul here, by St. Peter (1 Pet 2:6-8), and by the context of Isaiah, which is treating of the Emmanuel to come.

Whosoever should be “he that,” and omnis of the Vulgate ought to be omitted.

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Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans 1:8-17

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 17, 2014

Rom 1:8  First, I give thanks to my God, through Jesus Christ, for you all: because your faith is spoken of in the whole world.

And indeed, in the first place, I give thanks, on your account, to my God, through Jesus Christ, the source of all spiritual blessings, because your faith is a subject of universal celebrity throughout all parts of the known world.

 In this verse, the Apostle commences the exordium, in which he displays consummate prudence, admirably calculated to gain the good-will of the Romans, in order to render them afterwards docile and attentive to his instructions. Masters of eloquence would call this “captatio benevolentiæ(to capture or gain goodwill) “I give thanks to my God;” thanksgiving for past favours is a homage due to God for his benefits, and is the most efficacious means of insuring their continuance; “through Jesus Christ,” through him all graces have to come to us; hence, he is the fittest and most acceptable channel to convey back thanksgiving for these graces; “because your faith is spoken of,” i.e., is celebrated and rendered famous “in the whole world,” i.e., throughout the known parts of the entire world, then included in the Roman Empire.

Rom 1:9  For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make a commemoration of you:
Rom 1:10  Always in my prayers making request, if by any means now at length I may have a prosperous journey, by the will of God, to come unto you.

(9) For, I call God to witness, whom I worship and serve with all the ardour and energies of my mind in the cause of the Gospel of his Son, that I make continual commemoration of you (10) in my prayers, always entreating him, that by some means I may possibly obtain the fulfilment of my anxious wishes of paying you a visit, should God will it so.

“For God is my witness.” This is a form of oath, which the Apostle finds it necessary to resort to at present, in order to remove any prejudices the Romans might conceive against his addressing them. “Whom I serve,” λατρευω (latreuo), i.e., minister to; “with my spirit,” is understood by some to mean spiritually and interiorly, in opposition to the carnal and merely external service of the Jews; “in the gospel of his Son,” in preaching the Gospel, and not in teaching the legal ceremonies; “that without ceasing I make a commemoration of you,” he shows in next verse how this commemoration is made.

“Always in my prayers,” not that he was continually engaged in prayer, but that as often as he prayed—and that was frequently—he remembered them, and the object of his unceasing prayer was to be permitted to see them. The crowding together of particles, “that,” “by any means,” “at length,” shows the ardent desire the Apostle had of seeing them but this was always in conformity and strict submission to the will of God, “by the will of God.”

Rom 1:11  For I long to see you that I may impart unto you some spiritual grace, to strengthen you:

For I eagerly long to visit you, not from worldly or selfish motives, but in order to impart to you some spiritual gift which will serve to confirm you in the faith you have already received.

 His motive for wishing to see them was not the result of curiosity or avarice, it was solely for the purpose of imparting to them, by his ministry, some spiritual gift, in addition to those they had already received, and thus to confirm their faith which had been imparted to them by St. Peter. By “spiritual grace” is more probably understood some external grace, such as tongues, prophecies, &c., given for the benefit of others, to which he refers, 1 Cor. 14, and chap. 12 of this Epistle. The Greek for “grace” χαρισμα (charisma), admits of this interpretation.

Rom 1:12  That is to say, that I may be comforted together in you by that which is common to us both, your faith and mine.

Or, to speak more correctly, in order to derive together with you, consolation from the mutual communication of our common faith.

Lest the preceding words might savour of arrogance, and might convey a depreciation of their faith and of the gifts already received, the Apostle now, in the depth of his humility, and to render them well affected toward him, says, that the advantages of his visit would be as much his own as theirs in the consolation he would receive as well as they, from the mutual communication of their common faith; mutual edification and consolation would be the result.

Rom 1:13  And I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that I have often purposed to come unto you (and have been hindered hitherto) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.

For, I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that I have often purposed visiting you (but certain obstacles intervened up to the present moment), in order to reap some fruit among you also, as I have done among other nations.

 St. Paul now vindicates his right as Apostle of nations. He desired to visit them in order to reap some fruit of faith and edification among them, as he had already among the other nations—(“and I have been hindered hitherto.”) What this impediment was is mentioned (chap. 15), viz., his being occupied too much elsewhere.

Rom 1:14  To the Greeks and to the barbarians, to the wise and to the unwise, I am a debtor.

 To the civilized and uncivilized nations, to the learned and unlearned, I am, in virtue of my office as Apostle, bound to preach the Gospel.

 “Barbarians.” The Greeks regarded all nations not using the Greek language, barbarians. Even the Romans were not excepted from this class until they became masters of Greece. Hence, the words “Greeks” and “Barbarians,” here designate civilized and uncivilized nations; “the wise” refer to the philosophers reputed wise and learned; and “unwise,” to the ignorant and untutored; “a debtor,” i.e., in virtue of his office, as Apostle of nations, bound to preach the Gospel.

Rom 1:15  So (as much as is in me) I am ready to preach the gospel to you also that are at Rome.

And hence (as far as in me lies, and in the absence of contrary obstacles), I am willing and ready to discharge this debt towards you at Rome, by announcing to you also the glad tidings of Redemption.

“So,” i.e., therefore, because bound to preach to all without distinction, he is ready to preach the Gospel at Rome also, in the absence of contrary obstacles.

Rom 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel. For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth: to the Jew first and to the Greek.

For, although the preaching of the Gospel of a crucified God be to the Jew a scandal, and to the Gentile folly; still, I am not ashamed to announce it even in the mighty city of Rome, for, it is the powerful instrument whereby is conferred salvation on every one who embraces it, by believing its doctrine, on the Jew first and on the Gentile.

 In some Greek copies, the words “of Christ” are added to the word “gospel,” but it is omitted in the chief MSS. and versions generally. He is ready and not ashamed to preach the scandal and folly of the cross even at Rome, where learning and science were united with the greatest dissoluteness of morals; where honours and riches alone were held in estimation; and where, consequently, the mysterious and humbling truths of the Gospel, as well as its precepts of self-denial, must prove particularly foolish and distasteful. “For it is the power of God, &c.,” it is the powerful instrument by which God confers salvation, of justice here, and glory hereafter, on all who believe it (for, to those who reject it, it becomes the source of greater damnation,), and observe the precepts which faith points out. The preaching of the Gospel, through the hearing of which alone faith comes, contains under it, the grace of the Holy Ghost, so necessary for faith. “To the Jew first,” the Jews were the first in the order of time to whom Christ directed the Gospel to be preached, “and to the Greek,” i.e., the Gentile; the Greek language was the most extensively used among the Gentiles; hence, the Apostle calls the Gentiles, “Greeks.” Moreover, the Hebrews divided the world into Jews and Gentiles.

Rom 1:17  For the justice of God is revealed therein, from faith unto faith, as it is written: The just man liveth by faith.

For it stimulates men to seek true justice by revealing to us the source from which real justification is derived; and that source is,—neither the law of Moses nor the law of Nature, but—faith as the root, faith as the abiding, conservative principle of this justice. And this is no new doctrine, but a doctrine revealed to us of old by the prophet Habacuc (chap. 2) who tells us, the just man liveth by faith.

He proves that the preaching of the Gospel is the powerful instrument, &c., “for the justice of God,” i.e., his justice bestowed on us, whereby we are rendered truly just before Him, it is called “the justice of God,” because it comes from Him alone. This justice is revealed in the Gospel to come “from faith,” (and not from the law of Moses, as the Jews supposed, nor from the strength of nature, as the Gentiles vainly imagined). “From faith to faith,” means, that faith is the beginning, the root, by which justice is acquired; faith increasing and supported by good works is the principle by which justice once obtained, is upheld and preserved. “As it is written;” this doctrine of justification by faith, is no new doctrine; the prophet Habacuc (chap. 2) says, “the just man liveth,” &c. For “liveth,” the Greek is, ζησεται (zesetai), shall live. The spiritual life of the just man consists in faith. Of course he includes good works; for, the words of the prophet, “the just man shall live by faith” (chap. 2) literally refer to the just Jew, under the Babylonish capativity, expecting the deliverer Cyrus, promised him by God, and in this faith and consequent expectation, patiently enduring the evils of his state and performing the works of justice. They are quoted by the Apostle in their mystical sense (the sense principally intended by the Holy Ghost), and refer to the persevering faith of the Christian, which, like that of the faithful Jew, must be supported in its progress by good works and patience; and in that sense, will constitute his spiritual life, will serve to obtain first, and uphold second justification. In this verse, the Apostle lays down the great proposition of the Epistle, viz., that justice comes from a source quite different from that which the Jews and Gentiles imagined, that is, from faith.

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Father Rickaby’s Commentary on Romans 13:11-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 16, 2013

Text in red are my additions.

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

Punctuate: And that, knowing the season, that it is now the hour, &c.

And that. Cf. note on Rom 6:6, And that, knowing. Also 1Cor. 6:6, 8; Heb. 11:12 (και τουτο = kahee houtos). In his comments on Romans 6:6 to which he here refers, Father Rickaby notes that the pronoun (“that”) in the idiomatic construction και τουτο, is intended to connect to what has preceded it. In the current context, what Paul is about to say about the nearness of  salvation should be seen in close connection with what he has just said concerning love (verses 8-10). What is said in verses 11-14 is to be understood as giving additional circumstances for the exhortation to love one another. But one should also note that we are being taken all the way back to Romans 12:1-2 where we are told to present out bodies as living sacrifices and bidden not to be conformed to this age. We are not to be conformed to “this age” because we know “the season” and “the hour.” Because we are called upon to offer our bodies as sacrifices we must not make “provisions for the flesh and its concupiscences” (verse 14, below). Everything that is said between the exhortations Rom 12:1-2 and Rom 13:11-14 should be seen in relation to them.

The season, or as we should say now, the situation. The Greek word καιρον (kairon) refers to an occasion, a set or appropriate time.

Now our salvation (our final deliverance in soul and body) is nearer than when we believed (επιστευσαμεν = episteusamen the inceptive aorist, like ébasileusen, reigned, i.e. came to the throne, 1 Kings 11:43; 14:20, 31, &c.: here it means, than when we first came to the faith). Our final deliverance in soul is when we die and are admitted into heaven: in body, at the day of the resurrection. Both events are nearer now than on the day when we were baptized the former much nearer, relatively to the time yet to be run; the latter perhaps not much nearer. Of St. Paul’s ignorance of the time of the Second Coming (he knew no more of that than we do, Mark 13:32), of his and conjectures thereupon, see notes on 1 Cor. 15:50,
seq.; 7:29-31; 2 Cor. v. 1-4. He must have reflected at times that the conversions which announced to take place before that last consummation of all things (Rom 11:25, 26), must needs take years, perhaps centuries, to effect. The Apostles were inspired to utter their anticipations on this head, while warning their hearers that they were not certainties and definitions: so 2 Pet. 3. Our Lord would have us live in constant looking for the day of judgment (Matt. 24:36 47). As for St. Paul’s prophecy just referred to (see note on Rom 11:27 see below), which seems to give the present world a long lease to run, it is, like other prophecies, not without its obscurities. Origen writes: “God only knows, and His only-begotten Son, and any friends that may be privy to His secrets, what is all Israel that is to be saved, and what is the fulness of the gentiles that is to come in.”

Father Rickaby’s Note on Rom 11:27~And this is to them my covenant (from Isaiah 59:21): when I shall take away their sins (from Isaiah 27:9, where we read in the Septuagint: And this is his -Jacob’s- blessing, when I shall take away his sin).

In these verses, 25-27, we have three unfulfilled prophecies, two of them of the highest interest:-

(a) That before the end of the world, all nations of the Gentiles shall be converted to Christianity, that is to say, such a large portion of every nation, that will be morally true to say that the nation has been converted.

The fulness of the gentiles,” says St. Thomas, “is not some individuals from the Gentiles, as converts were being made then, but it stands for the whole or the greater part of all nations.”

(b) That before the end of the world, the Jews, as a people, shall become Christian. This does not mean that each and every Jew will be converted, any more than it is meant that there will be no outstanding pagans among the Gentiles.

(c) That the general conversion of the Gentiles will happen before the general conversion of the Jews. The Jews will be the last to be converted; and the conversion of the rest of the world will provoke them to emulation
(παραζηλωσαι = parazelosai, see above, Rom 11:11, 14, and Rom 10:19).

These prophecies should be pondered by all who feel tempted to announce the immediate advent of the Day of Judgment. See however note on Rom 13:11.

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

The night is past, προεκοψεν = proekopsen, say, the night is far advanced. Some of the old Latin versions read processit, a correct rendering of the Greek, as above. Processit has got altered into præcessit, an error. If a train had passed you all but the guard’s carriage, you might say, processit, it is well on its way: not præcessit, it is past. St. Paul’s idea is of rising just before daybreak.

The day is the day of the Lord (On the day of the Lord see 2 Thess. 2:2: the brightness of his coming (επιφανεια = epiphaneia, appearance, 2 Thess 2:8), the Sun of Justice appearing in judgment. Hence all the time before the judgment day is comparatively night. Now however that our Lord has come for the first time as Saviour, we may say that the night is well on (προεκοψεν = proekopsen,), that its darkest hours are past, and that the day of full salvation is at hand.

In John 9:4, the metaphor is inverted. The working time of this life is the day; and the night cometh, when we die and do no more work of merit or demerit.

The works of darkness. Cf. Eph. 5:11-12: For the things that are done by them in secret (the unfruitful works of darkness0, it is a shame even to speak of. Works of darkness are then in the first place works of indecency and shame, referred to in verse 13. Secondly, they are works of ignorance, often culpable ignorance, of God, and the blindness of the sensual man to the things of the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14). Thirdly, they are eminently unchristian works, works that our Lord came into this world to scatter and expel (John 1:9 13; 3:19; Luke 1:79; 11:33, 36). One of the early names of baptism is illumination: cf. Eph. 5:14, probably a quotation from an early Christian hymn.

Put on the armour of light, Eph. 6:13 17. A man puts on his clothes, or his armour, it he is a soldier in the field at rising. It is called the armour of light, because it suits the coming light, and prepares one to go abroad without shame. A man would not walk in the light of day in a night-dress.

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

Let us walk honestly, ευσχημονως = euschemonos, decently, no reference to commercial dealings. Such too is the meaning of the Latin honeste: cf. 1 Cor. 7:35; 12:24.

Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, the text that converted St. Augustine, as he relates in his Confessions, 1. viii. c. 12.

Rioting, the κωμοις = komois, the last stage of a Greek drinking-bout, when they went out singing in the streets: cf. Gal. 5:21.

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

Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, like baptized persons, Gal. 3:27: cf. also Gal. 2:20, and above, Rom 6:4, 12, with notes.

Here is Father Rickaby’s notes on Rom 6:4~We are buried together with him. Baptism in the Apostolic age was commonly by immersion; and the Church still insists that the water shall flow over the head of the child. St. Chrysostom explains the rite: “When our head is plunged into the water, as into a tomb, the old man is buried and entirely submerged: then, as we emerge, the new man rises.” Thus, alike by the external rite and by the inward spiritual change wrought by that rite, on the principle that “sacraments effect what they signify,” baptism represents in us the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It is a resurrection, and therefore a regeneration, or new birth (John 3:5; Titus 3:5).

Here is what he wrote on Rom 6:12~Let not sin reign, i.e. concupiscence, the effect of sin. A king reigns by the consent of his people. Concupiscence may attempt to tyrannize, but reign it cannot without the man’s consent.

In your mortal body, because being mortal, the body is obnoxious to concupiscence, from which Adam s body, while it was deathless, was free.

In its concupiscences: εις επιθυμιας = eis epithumias, unto lusts.

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

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 2, 2013

This post opens with Father Callan’s brief summary of Romans 15:14-33 and is followed by his notes on verses 14-21. Text in red are my addtions.


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.

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 (alterutrum).

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

20. And I have so preached this gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation.
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.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, Devotional Resources, Notes on Romans, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »


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