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 ‘Scripture’ Category

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:6-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 1, 2014

6 But these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollo, for your sakes: that in us you may learn that one be not puffed up against the other for another, above that which is written.

But these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself, &c. “Above that which is written” may refer (1.) to ch. 1. 2, 3;  or (2.) with S. Chrysostom it may mean “contrary to that which is written” in Holy Scripture against pride. It is foolish, therefore, for the Protestants to abuse this passage into an argument against tradition.  S. Paul evidently means that what he had said against their idle boasting of the gifts of their teachers, and about not caring for the applause and opinion of men, but only for God’s, had been said of them in the person of himself and Apollos. He had been speaking of others in his own name, so as to avoid offending any of the Corinthian teachers, or their disciples, by mentioning their names. That in us you may learn, therefore, is the expression of his desire, that when he speaks of himself or Apollos, they may apply what he said to the other teachers, who had been the occasion of the schism, of which he and Apollos were guiltless. He urges the Corinthians by his own example of moderation and conciliatory disposition not to be puffed up, or boast of one against another, viz., for this or that catechist or teacher, by saying, “I was baptized by Paul; I was converted by Apollos.” It is, too, an exhortation to the teachers not to be proud and puffed up because they might be wiser or more eloquent than other teachers, or boast of their disciples as being better instructed than those of other teachers, above that which he had just now written. For in what follows he is reproving the teachers rather than disciples; but he does it in a mild way and under another name, the teachers, I mean, who has been the chief cause of the empty contention and divisions among his Corinthian disciples. This will be seen by reference to ch. v. 15, 18, 19, and also ch. iii. 10, as well as to the whole of ch. xi. of the Second Epistle. For the false teachers whom he here speaks of mildly, because they had not yet disclosed their true nature, are the same apparently as those that in 2Cor. 11 he speaks more severely of as imposters, and guilty of Judaising, and teaching false doctrine. Hence, as Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Œcumenius point put, S. Paul first censures the teachers in the words, “that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written,” i.e., that you, teachers, might learn from me and Apollos that you are, as I said before, merely stewards of God. Then he proceeds to rebuke the disciples in the words, “that no one of you be puffed up for one against another,” i.e., that no disciple boast of his teacher as wiser or more eloquent than another.  S. Paul, then, while he seems to continue his address to the Corinthians, is in them and through them reproving their teachers. Just so a tutor endowed with tact and judgment will, when he wishes to chide a king’s sons, chide their servants, as if they were guilty, that so the princes may take it to themselves.

The expression “puffed up,” to describe one that is proud and swollen with arrogance, is a figure borrowed from wine skins. They are said to be puffed out when by being filled with air they resemble in form and size a solid body. Similarly, the proud man who is well satisfied with his knowledge, or eloquence, or some such gift, but within is devoid of all such powers, is just like a wine skin that is swollen out with wind.

7 For who distinguisheth thee? Or what hast thou that thou hast not received, and if thou hast received, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

For who distinguisheth thee?  1. The Greek word denotes as much the act of placing a man above others as separate him and dividing him off from them. So Theophylact paraphrases it, By whose suffrage was it that this separation and pre-eminence was given thee?” It was not of men, but of God. It is God’s to make to differ and to judge, and therefore you ought not to care for man’s judgment. So understood, these words hark back to ver. 4

But it is better to understand them: Who gives you any pre-eminence over the herd of your fellow-Christians, O Corinthian catechumen? No one but yourself, who are puffed up, because you think that you have been baptized and taught by one that is a more holy, eloquent, and wise teacher than others: even so it does not follow that you share in his good qualities. It is this schismatic spirit that the Apostle has before him, as is evident from what has gone before, and as is pointed out by Ambrose, Anselm, and Theodoret.

3. But what, it seems to me, is most within the scope of the Apostle’s aim, who, as I said, is addressing the teachers, is this Who, O teacher, makes you to differ from another, as to be a better teacher and a better Christian, but yourself, who vainly extol your own wisdom and eloquence above that of others, or of your followers whom you have taught, as Psaphon did his birds, to sing your praises? If you say, “It is my labour, my zeal and industry, that mark me off from others,” I answer, “What hast thou that thou didst not receive?” Thy talent for labour, thy abilities, and all the natural gifts of which you boast came to you from God. Much more came from Him thy supernatural gifts; therefore to Him give all the glory.  S. Ephrem (de Pænitentiâ) wisely says: “Offer to God what is not thine own, that he may give thee what is His.” Hence the Council of Arausica (Can. 22) lays down that we have nothing of our own except falsehood and sin. This is the literal sense, and the Apostle’s meaning.

Nevertheless, we must take notice that S. Augustine frequently, Prosper, Fulgentius and the Council of Arausica (Can. 6) transfer these words of the Apostle’s by parity of reasoning from the natural gifts of eloquence and wisdom, primarily referred to here, to the supernatural gifts and good works achieved by natural strength alone, as well as the labour, zeal, and industry of teachers, affect nothing for grace and holiness; and if these gifts to not warrant a man in boasting himself of his natural abilities, much less will they allow him to glory in the sphere of the supernatural, that they have made him holy, or more holy than others. This is the reason why S. Augustine refers these words to grace and predestination, in the sense that no one can separate himself from the mess of sinful human nature and make a beginning of his own salvation, by his own efforts and his own natural strength, as the Pelagians and Semi-pelagians held.

It is, then, not the powers of nature but God that separates the man justified from the man not justified; for God is the great First Cause of all the gifts that the justified has, in such a way that he has nothing to mark him off from the non-justified, save what he has received from God. He is, therefore, debarred from all boasting. This, however, does not remove the fact that all this at the same time depends for its efficacy on the free co-operation if our will. For as S. Augustine lays down, through free-will assisted by grace, he who is converted can separate himself from him that is not. He says (de Spir. et Lit.c. 34): “To yield to the call of God, or to resist it, is an act of my own will. And this not only does not weaken the force of the words, ‘What hast thou that thou didst not receive?’ it even strengthens them. The soul cannot receive and have the gifts spoken of here except by consenting; and through this consent what it has, and what it receives, are of God. For to receive and to have are the acts of one that receives and has.” In other words they are the acts of one that consents freely to the grace of God calling him. S. Bernard (de Grat. et lib. Arbit.) says tersely: “What God gives to our free-will can no more be given without the consent of the receiver than without the grace of the Giver.”

If then it be asked: What makes a man that believes to differ from one that refuses to believe, it being understood that each received from God an equal grace of calling to faith,—I should reply: He that believes does so through free-will, and not through his natural powers, as Pelagius supposed, and through the strength given him by Grace he makes himself to differ from one that believes not. For it was in his own power to assent, or not to assent, to grace, and therefore to believe or not to believe: when, then, he believes, he does so freely: he assents freely to the grace of God; he freely distinguishes himself from him that believes not.

It may be said that he can boast himself, then, of having so distinguished himself from the other. But I answer that boasting is excluded, since he should attribute the chief glory, nay, the whole to God, by whose grace he has so separated himself. The reason is that by the strength of grace alone, not by natural powers, did he perform, or have power to do, or to wish for, the act by which he separated himself. From the same source came his strength for the embracing of grace, which is not distinguishable from assent to it, and for any attempt, or movement, or inclination towards it. For in that act there is not the least ground for saying that it has been effected by the power of free-will alone; for the whole of it, as far as its substance and real modes is concerned, is of grace and all of free-will; just as every work is wholly from God as its first cause, and wholly also from its secondary cause. But from grace it has it that it is supernatural and meritorious, and thence comes all its worth; it has from free-will its freedom only. As, then, the act itself and the co-operation with them, a man can no more boast of his co-operation and election than a beggar who is offered a hundred pieces of gold can boast of his having accepted them. And all that the Apostle means is that no one can so boast himself of anything as though he had nor received it from God. Otherwise, all virtue by itself, and the virtuous man by himself, are worthy of praise and honour; but this praise and virtue must be attributed to God; for whoever converts himself and separates himself from others does so not by his own natural abilities but by the power of the grace of God.

Nor is it to be said that the Apostle’s meaning is otherwise from the fact of his speaking literally, as I said before, of differences in wisdom, eloquence, and other natural gifts, which undeniably a man can acquire, or excel in by his own labours, zeal, and industry, and so make himself to differ from others less learned, and can also therefore give his own labour and zeal the credit, and boast moderately of his advancement. The Apostle is merely excluding that boasting which arises from pride and contempt of others: as if, for instance, you were to arrogantly boast that what you have is your own and came not from God. This is evidently S. Paul’s meaning, from the words he adds: “Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?” If, then, you accommodate this sentence to supernatural things, it only excludes, according to S. Paul’s meaning, that boasting which arises from a pride despising others, attributing all to itself, and not referring everything to God and His grace as the Well-spring of all. But you do not do this if you say that by the power of God’s grace you have freely distinguished and divided yourself from sinners who prefer to remain in their sin; for you then give the praise and glory first and last to God and His Grace. All the same, however, free-will has its own praise and glory, though that praise and glory, be it recollected, was received by the grace of God.

From what has been said it follows that he who is converted is to be distinguished from him who is not, and that he is converted as well by grace as by free-will. For although both have prevenient grace, which is often equally exerted on many, yet the one has as well co-operating grace, which is wanting to the other who has no wish to be converted, and by this he is freely distinguished from the other and converted. Moreover, it was foreseen that his prevenient grace would be effectual in him here and now; and because God foresaw this, He predestinated him to it, knowing that with it he would most surely co-operate and be converted: but such grace He does not give to another man who is nit converted. We are, therefore, in general to think of this as the actual cause of our conversion and salvation. For this effectual grace is peculiar to the predestinate and the elect, if only it remains with them to the end of their life, as S. Augustine says. Hence, it is clear that it id not so much free-will as grace that divides the just from the unjust: for grace effects the conversion and justification of the righteous man who does not hinder the efficacious working of grace, but freely consents to it. But grace does not do this with the unjust, because he places an opposing barrier in the way of grace in refusing to consent to it and co-operate with it, and so grace becomes in him ineffectual and vain. Wherefore S. Ephrem’s advice in c. 10 of the tractate, “Look to thyself,” is wise, “Have charity with all, and abstain from all.” For these two, benevolence and continence, are the principal mark of holiness, which soften the most barbarous of men and bind them to themselves.


8 You are now full: you are now become rich: you reign without us; and I would to God you did reign, that we also might reign with you.

You are now full. This is, as Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Anselm say, ironical. Ye are filled with wisdom and grace, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and so it is your boast that you are not so much Corinthians as teachers, having nothing further to learn of Christianity. You think yourselves perfect as teachers when you are scarcely disciples at all of the true and perfect wisdom. S. Chrysostom says, “To be satisfied with little is the mark of a weak mind: and to think one’s self rich by a small addition of means is the mark of one that is sick and miserable; but true godliness is never satisfied.”

S. Thomas notices that S. Paul here points out four kinds of pride in the Corinthians, or rather in their teachers. First, when one thinks that he has from himself and not from God whatever good he possesses: this is alluded to in the words, “Why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?” In these words also is contained the second, which is, when any one attributes to his own merits whatever good he has. The third is when one boasts that he has what he has not, and this is touched in the words, “Now ye are full; now ye are rich.” The fourth is when one despises others, and wishes to stand in a class by himself: this is pointed at in the words, “Ye have reigned as kings without us.”

You reign without us. Without our help, you think, O Corinthians, that you triumphantly excel over all God’s saints; and especially you, O teachers, as if you had been given a kingdom, claim for yourselves, while excluding us, a supreme dignity.

And I would to God that you did reign, that we also might reign with you. As your followers and rivals, or better as being your fathers: for this as a matter of fact we are. So Theophylact, Chrysostom, and Anselm. He does not decline to have partners in the kingdom of God, i.e., in the government of the Church; he only requires them to rule as they ought, that is, to devote themselves to the salvation of the faithful.

9 For I think that God hath set forth us apostles, the last, as it were men appointed to death. We are made a spectacle to the world and to angels and to men.

For I think that God hath set forth us apostles, the last, as it were men appointed to death. (1.) He contrasts himself and the true Apostles with those vain teachers who sought their own glory and their own advantage. I would, he says, that we Apostles were reigning with you; for so far, I think, are we from reigning triumphantly, that God has exhibited us to the world as the last and most despised of all, as though destined to a well-deserved death. (2.) The simpler meaning is, we are the last to have been sent into the world in these last times. We have been marked out by God for death, as. e.g., by means of wild beasts—not for a kingdom or triumphs, but for death, persecution, and martyrdom. So Tertullian understands it.

Observe that the Apostles are called last, as comperes with those Prophets that went before them, as Isaiah and Jeremiah and others, who were sent by God as Apostles to the Jews and others (Isa. vi. 9). Especially does he call himself last of all, as having been called to his Apostleship by Christ ascended, after the other Apostles had been called by Christ living on the earth.

Moreover, “set forth” denotes (1.) marked out, (2.) made or exhibited, and, as Ephrem terms it, appointed. Cf. Ps 60:3 and Ps 71:20.   (3.) It denotes put forward publicly as an example to others. Hence it follows—

We are made a spectacle to the world and to angels and to men. They were placed, as it were, in a theatre, like those condemned to die by fighting with wild beasts before the eyes of the populace. There seems to be as allusion here to the public games of Rome and other places, where men fought with wild beasts in the arena. The world, he says, delights to regard us as fools, dealers in secret arts, or babblers of novelties, or better still, as men condemned to the beasts.

Observe that “the world” here is a generic name for “angels and men” for they were the only beings to gaze upon the Apostles. Hence, in the Greek, “world” has the article, and the two other terms are without it. We are made, he says, to the good angels an object of compassionate regard, as well as of worthy admiration and honour. But since evil angels and evil men rejoice in our being despised, persecuted, and put to death, we are made a spectacle to evil angels of hatred and rejoicing, as well as of confusion and terror. To good men we are a spectacle and example of fortitude, faith, innocence, patience, meekness, constancy, and holiness of life. So Titelmann.

S. Chrysostom (Hom. 12 in Moral.) applies thus to the theatre of this life, in which we do everything in the presence of God. So, Suetonius says. S. Augustine, when about to die, said to his friends standing round him, “Have I played my part pretty well on this stage and in the theatre?”—”Very well,” his friends replied. Then he rejoined, “Applaud me, therefore, as I take my departure;” and having said this he gave up the ghost. Better and still more appropriate was the use of these words made by Edmund Campian, England’s noble martyr, well named Campianus, a true wrestler and champion of Christ, who, when about to suffer martyrdom, publicly gave out these words as the text of his last sermon. Such a theatrical spectacle was what the Apostles here primarily intends. Cicero says (qu. 2, Tuesul.) that there is no fairer sight than that of a virtuous and conscientious life, and so among Christians there is nothing more beautiful than martyrdom.

The illustrious Paula appositely and piously replied, as S. Jerome says in his eulogy of her, to some caviller who suggested that she might be considered by some insane, because of the fervour of her virtues: “We are made a spectacle unto the world and to angels and to men; we are fools for Christ’s sake; but the foolishness of God is wiser than men. Hence, too, the Saviour said to His Father, ‘Thou knowest My foolishness!’ and again, ‘I was made as it were a monster unto many, but be Thou My strong helper. I became as a beast before Thee, and I am always with Thee'”

Lastly, S. Chrysostom (in Ep. ad Rom. Hom. 17) teaches from this that we ought to fly from eye-service, that is, from serving the eyes of men, that so we turn our eyes towards the eyes of God, and live perpetually in His sight and before Him. There are, he says, two theatres: one most spacious, where sits the King of kings, surrounded by His shining hosts, to view us; the other most insignificant, where stand a few Ethiopians, i.e., men ignorant of what is going on. It is, therefore, the height of madness to pass by this mist spacious theatre of God and of the angels, and to be content with the theatre of a few Ethiopians, and laboriously to strive to please them. When you have a theatre erected for you in the heavens, why do you gather together spectators for yourself on earth?  S. Bernard (Serm. 31 inter parvos) treats these words somewhat differently, though his application of them is the same. He says: “We are made a spectacle unto the world, to angels and to men, good and bad alike. The passion of envy inflames the one, the compassion born of pity makes the others minister to us continually; the one desires to see our fall, the other our upward flight. We are undoubtedly half-way between heaven and hell, between the cloister and the world. Both consider diligently what we do, both say, ‘Would that he would join us!’ Their intention is different, but their wishes, perhaps, not unlike. But if the eyes of all are thus upon us, whither have our friends gone, or why did they alone go from us? . . . Let us, then, before it is too late, brethren, rise, nor receive in vain our souls for which, whether for good or evil, others so zealously watch.”

10 We are fools for Christs sake, but you are wise in Christ: we are weak, but you are strong: you are honourable, but we without honour.

We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. This is a continuation of the irony of ver. 8. We are reckoned fools because of Christ crucified, whom we preach, and for whose sake we seem to expose ourselves rashly to so many dangers. For the Cross is to the Greeks foolishness. But you in your own eyes are wise in the Gospel of Christ, because of the eloquence and philosophy which you mingle with it, and because you take care to so preach Christ that you run no risk for His sake.

We are weak, as bearing without resistance many grievous adversities, such as hunger, thirst, nakedness, toils, injuries, cursings, persecutions, as is said in ver. 11.

But you are strong. For you easily by your worldly eloquence, wisdom, and friendship turn the edge of all evils that attack you.

You are honourable, but we are without honor. You are honoured, we are held in no honour. He teaches modestly, but yet sternly by his own example as a teacher, that the Christian’s boast must not be in renown, wealth, wisdom, eloquence, or the applause of men, but in being despised by others, and in despising glory, and in the Cross of Christ; and especially is this true of the Christian teacher and preacher. So S. Chrysostom. And in this way he endeavours to shame these self-indulgent, vain, and luxurious teachers, and also the Corinthians who preferred to follow such men, rather than the Apostles of Christ, who were giving for them their strength, their substance, and their lives. So Isaiah (Isa_8:18) says, in the name of himself and the other Prophets, as well as of Paul and the Apostles, “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel.” And as the Annales Minorum relate, S. Francis used to say that he was a despised fool of Christ’s in the world, and was for this beloved of Christ Himself.

11 Even unto this hour we both hunger and thirst and are naked and are buffeted and have no fixed abode.

Even unto this hour we . . . have no fixed abode. This remarkable description of the Apostle’s life is very like that contained in the Second Epistle (2 Cor 11:23), which those that are called to the ministry ought to put before them as an example, as the Apostolic men of great zeal do in England, Holland, India, and Japan.

S. Chrysostom (Hom. 52 on Acts of the Apostles) says excellently on the words of xxvi. 29: “Such is the soul that is raised on high by celestial love that it thinks itself a prisoner for Christ because of the greatness of the promised glory. For as one in love has no eyes for any save her he loves, who is to him everything, so he who has been laid hold of by Christ’s fire becomes like one who should be living alone on the earth, caring nothing for glory and shame. For he so utterly despises temptations and scourgings and imprisonment that it is as though another body endured them, or as though he possessed a body made of granite. For he laughs at those things which are pleasant in this life; he does not feel their force as we do; his body is to him as the body of one dead. So far is he from being taken captive by any passion, as gold that has been purified in the fire is from showing any stain. All this is effected by the love of man for God, when it is great.” But we do not attain this height because we are cold, and ignorant of this Divine philosophy. The philosopher Diogenes saw this, though but darkly and afar off, for then he was asked what men were the noblest, he replied, ” They that despise riches and glory and pleasure and life; they that draw their force from the opposite things to these, from poverty, obscurity, hunger, thirst, toil and death.” Diogenes saw this, but could not practise it, for he was himself a slave to vain-glory.

12 And we labour, working with our own hands. We are reviled: and we bless. We are persecuted: and we suffer it.

We are reviled: and we bless. Infidels and Jews mock us, and call down imprecations on us, saying, “Let these new preachers of a crucified God be slain, let then perish and hang on the accursed cross.” We, however, pray for their peace, that God would give them His light, His grace, and salvation.  S. Basil (in Reg. Brevior. 226) points out that to do evil and to do good are connoted by reviling and blessing. He says: “We are bidden to be patient towards all, and to return kindly deeds to those who persecute us unjustly. We are to love fervently, not only those that curse us, but whosoever shows us unkindness in any way whatever, that so we may obey the precept, ‘Be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.'”

13 We are blasphemed: and we entreat. We are made as the refuse of this world, the offscouring of all, even until now.

We are blasphemed: and we entreat. When we are reviled, called evil dealers in evil arts, and railed at. The word “blaspheme” has this meaning also in Tit_3:2. When thus treated we speak the meekness after the manner of suppliants, as the Greek Fathers take it, or else we entreat God for them. But the first is nearer the Greek. S. Basil (Reg.226, quoted above) renders it “comfort,” in the sense of filling their minds with a perception of the truth. Comfort is used in this sense in Rom 1:12.

We are made the refuse of this world. We are made, as Theophylact and Theodoret say, as it were the excrement of the world—not once, but always, down to this present hour. We are made like filth that has been collected from all sides, is the literal force of the Greek. We are reckoned as most contemptible, as wretches unworthy of man’s society, fit only to be driven away and destroyed

S. Paul is here alluding to Lam 3:45: “Thou hast made us as the offscouring and refuse in the midst of the people.” For Jeremiah was imprisoned by the Jews, cast off, and rejected, and so was a type of Paul and the Apostles, imprisoned, rejected, and at length slain by the Jews and Gentiles.

But Gagneius and others translate this word “expiatory victims.” Hence S. Ambrose, too, commenting on Psa_119:8, reads it, “We are made for the world’s purging.” We should notice that the Greek word here used was applied to the wicked men and others doomed to sacrifice by the Gentiles, in order to get rid of famine or tempests of any other public calamity. So, for instance, did the Decii devote themselves for their country, and Curtius, who, to banish a common plague and appease the Deity, leaped in full armour into a gulf in Rome. So, to, Servius, on the line of the Æneid, “O accursed thirst for gold, to what villainy do you not impel the hearts of men?” notes that famine is called accursed or sacred after the manner of the Gauls. For when the citizens of Marseilles were suffering from pestilence, a certain poor man offered himself to the state to be fed for a full year on the best food at the public expense, and then to be led through the city with execration, clothed with evergreens and sacred garments, that on his head might fall all the evils of the state; and then he was either sacrificed or drowned. Hence Budæus, following Suidas and others, says that καθαρμάτα were men dedicated to death, and thrown into the sea, bearing the burden of all the wickedness of the state, and so sacrificed to Neptune, with the words added: “Be thou our expiatory victim.” Such a victim was the goat sent into the wilderness by the Hebrews (Lev_16:21). But the Greek and Latin versions support the first meaning in preference, and that gives the more literal and simple sense. For S. Paul is here treating of the contempt meted put to him and his companions, whereby they were spurned by tongue and foot as the vilest wretches living.

The offscouring of all, even until now. Offscouring is the translation of a word which denoted such things as scabs, nail-pairings, and such worthless things as are cast aside and trodden under foot by all. So Chrysostom, Theophylact, Anselm. Œcumenius understands it to mean a little rag or cloth by which sweat is wiped off the face; others follow Budæus, and take it to mean “expiatory victim,” as I have said. This is supported, too, by the Syriac Version.


14 I write not these things to confound you: but I admonish you as my dearest children.
15 For if you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet not many fathers. For in Christ Jesus, by the gospel, I have begotten you.

I write not these things . . . for in Christ Jesus, by the gospel, I have begotten you. And therefore I alone am your spiritual father. Other teachers are but schoolmasters who educate the child sent them by the father. Paul hints that the Corinthians should be ashamed of themselves for passing by the Apostles, who had converted them to Christ, and who were suffering so much for their sake, and for following after vain-glorious teachers, and for wishing to be called their disciples.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Notes on 1 Corinthians, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:6-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 1, 2014

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief introductory analysis of 1 Corinthians 4 followed by the comments on today’s reading. Text in purple represents Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on.

An Analysis of First Corinthians 4~The Apostle was well aware that both teachers and people at Corinth were to blame for the schism which he has been endeavouring to heal. Hence, in this chapter, in which he closes the subject, he addresses, in turn, people and teachers. He first points out to the people in what light they are to view their teachers, and what degree of respect they should show them (verse 1), and then, he points out the principal duty of the teachers (2). In the next place, he instructs the teachers, by his own example, to despise the judgments of men, and not to seek praise from them (4, 5), and he instructs the people not to judge their teachers but to leave all judgment to the Lord. He gives a reason, why it is, in treating of the Corinthian schism, he speaks of himself and Apollo only, as if they alone gave occasion to this evil, and the reason is made to apply to both teachers and people (6). Addressing himself to the teachers, he tells them that they had no grounds for glorying in their superior accomplishments, inasmuch as everything they possessed was purely the gift of God (7), and addressing them in a strain partly ironical, he shows how exaggerated were the notions which they formed of their own excellence (8). He points out the wretched condition of the true Apostles of Christ (9), and contrasting their condition with the worldly prosperity enjoyed by the Corinthians (10), he gives a glowing picture of the extreme wretchedness, want, and persecution which he himself and his fellow-Apostles were doomed to endure (11–13). He says that in referring to this matter, he only has in view the correction and amendment of his dearest children (14), in whose regard he alone holds the endearing relation of spiritual father; and hence, he calls upon them to follow faithfully the example which he has set them (15, 16); it is in order to do so, that he has sent Timothy to them (17). He threatens some persons among them, that he shall soon come, and inquire into their conduct, and see how far they contribute by their zeal and good works to establish the kingdom of God in the hearts of men (18–20), Upon their reformation shall depend the manner in which the Apostle is to treat the Church of Corinth.

1Co 4:6 But these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollo, for your sakes: that in us you may learn that one be not puffed up against the other for another, above that which is written.

These things (which I have written regarding the authority of teachers and the relation in which they stand) I have proposed in my own person and that of Apollo (from the feeling of delicacy, and through fear of giving offence, I forbear mentioning others); and this, for your instruction, that you may learn from our example, not to indulge, while contending about the relative merits of your several teachers, in empty and foolish boasting, so much at variance with the instructions which you have received.

“But these things,” viz., which he has written regarding their different teachers, and the relation wherein they stand with God in the salvation of souls. “I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollo,” i.e., I have proposed in my own person, and in that of Apollo, as if we were the only persons to whom they apply. This is what he means by “transferring in figure” (μετεσχηματισα = metaschematisa), which literally means, to change form or habit; and figuratively, as here, to transfer by accommodation to one’s self what may apply to another. The Apostle put forward in his own name what was intended to apply to others, whom, from motives of delicacy and charity, he forbears mentioning. The words may also contain an allusion to the different metaphors of architecture, agriculture, &c., by which he illustrated the relations in which the different teachers stood (chap. 3). These words are addressed to the people, but chiefly intended for their teachers, as appears from the following (verse 7). It does not, however, appear that he alludes to the false teachers, whom, in his second Epistle, he denounces as “ministers of Satan.” We have no grounds for thinking that these had appeared at Corinth at this time. Moreover, far from employing conciliatory language towards them, the Apostle would, at once, denounce, as wolves in sheep’s clothing, the disseminators of false doctrine among the children whom he himself had begotten in Christ. He, then, addresses the class of teachers of whom he has been treating from the very commencement of the Epistle, viz., the teachers who propounded sound doctrine, not without an admixture of wood, hay, stubble, &c. “That in us you may learn, that one be not puffed up against the other for another,” &c. In the Greek, the reading runs thus: ἵνα ἐν ἡμιν μαθητε το μη ὑπερ ἅ γεγραπται φρονειν, ἵνα μη εἷς ῦπερ τοῦ ἑνος φυσιουοθε κατα τον ἑτερου: that you may learn in us, not to think beyond what things are written, that ye be not puffed up, one against another, &c. According to this reading, the former member of the sentence, viz., that you may learn not to think beyond what things are written, or, to think more of yourselves than you should, according to what has been written, is addressed to the teachers; and the latter, viz., that ye be not puffed up, &c., is addressed to the people. The words “for another,” are interpreted by some thus: for another gift, such as the gift of prophecy, or the like, with which one teacher may have been favoured preferably to another. According to this interpretation, the meaning would be: Let no teacher, be puffed up on account of a gift which another has not been favoured with. The reason is assigned in the following verse.

1Co 4:7 For who distinguisheth thee? Or what hast thou that thou hast not received, and if thou hast received, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

For, who is it that distinguishes thee from others? What distinguishing quality dost thou possess which is not received from another, viz., from God? And if received, why glory in it, as if it came from thyself.

In this verse, the Apostle addresses the teachers, who either themselves gloried in the superior gifts with which they had been favoured; or, were the occasion of this contentious glorying, and of these unmeaning divisions on the part of the people.

How calculated is not the serious consideration of this passage, to inspire even the most gifted with sentiments of profound humility. All that we possess in the order, whether of nature or of grace, are the pure gratuitous gifts of God. Why, then, glory in the gifts we possess, as if they could ever come from ourselves? It is, however, to be borne in mind, that the boasting here condemned by the Apostle is the boasting on the part of creatures in themselves as the source of all their gifts. To acknowledge God as the great source of all good gifts, and refer all the glory of them to him, is both good and laudable.

This was a favourite passage with St. Augustine against the Pelagians, who maintained that man, of his own natural powers, unaided by divine grace, could attain salvation; as also against the semi-Pelagians, who asserted, that of himself man could have the beginning of faith. Against both, this passage is quite conclusive; for, if of himself man could either attain salvation, or have the beginning of faith, and thus be separated from the mass of the reprobate and unbelieving, his being distinguished would then come from himself, which is contrary to the express words of the Apostle.

1Co 4:8 You are now full: you are now become rich: you reign without us; and I would to God you did reign, that we also might reign with you.

You are already, as you imagine, filled and perfectly replenished with all spiritual knowledge; you are enriched with all spiritual graces: you consider yourselves fully competent to rule, and you actually rule the people without any dependence on us. I wish, however, you had governed and ruled them in God, and for their spiritual profit and advantage, in order that we might come in for a share of the blessings of the peace and security of your rule, to which, as your father in Christ, we have an indisputable claim.

These words are probably addressed to the teachers; not, however, to the false teachers referred to in his second Epistle, and denounced by him “as false Apostles, deceitful workmen, ministers of Satan.”—(2 Cor. chap. 11). For, he would never have wished that this class of men should in any way reign over the people. He is addressing the teachers of sound doctrine, (see verse 6). Hence, the words, although conveying a certain measure of irony, are not altogether ironical; for, although both teachers and people were favoured with spiritual gifts, they still did not receive them to the extent which they themselves imagined. “You reign without us,” i.e., you assume the spiritual government of the people, as perfectly competent to govern them without any advice or instruction from us; and, of course, you enjoy the blessings of peace and security from danger, resulting from this ascendancy which you have gained over them. “And I would to God, you did reign, that we also might reign with you.” In the preceding part of the verse, the Apostle expresses what the teachers in question thought of themselves. They imagined that they were fully competent to assume the spiritual government of the people, and they actually did assume it, without any dependence on him. He now expresses a wish that they would really govern them in Christ, and for their spiritual advantage, in order that he himself might be a sharer in the merit of their true reign, and in the blessings of peace and security resulting therefrom, to which he had an evident claim, as their spiritual father, who had begotten them in Christ. It would appear from the contrast which the Apostle institutes between his own condition and that of the Corinthian teachers, and the evident connexion of this verse with the following, that he refers in the words, “that we might reign with you,” to exemption from the temporal hardships and miseries, to which both he and his colleagues in the apostleship had been subjected.

1Co 4:9 For I think that God hath set forth us apostles, the last, as it were men appointed to death. We are made a spectacle to the world and to angels and to men.

Nor is it without cause that I entertain such a wish, considering how different our lot is from yours, for, I am firmly persuaded that God himself has exhibited us (Apostles) as the most despicable of men, like the victims of public exhibition condemned to the wild beasts; for, we are made a public show to the world, that is to say, to men and angels.

“For I think that God hath set forth us Apostles,” &c. As if he said, it is not without cause that I wish for the blessings of peace and security, resulting from your pious and holy government of the people (he never would wish for the peace resulting from sin and misconduct), considering the wretched condition to which we are reduced. “The last,” i.e., the most contemptible of men. “As if it were men appointed to death,” επιθανατιους (epthanatious). He probably alludes to the bestiarii, i.e., criminals condemned to fight with beasts, or, gladiators, who, after escaping one struggle, were obliged to enter on another, till they were overcome at last. For, “we are made a spectacle,” i.e., we are become like the victims of public exhibition on the Roman theatres, whether condemned to the beasts, or to gladiatorial combats; “to the world, and to men, and to angels;” “to the world and (that is to say) to men, and to angels.” The particle, “and,” has the force of the words, that is; it expresses who it is that are meant by “the world;” they are “men and angels.” By “angels,” some understand good angels, who admire the heroism of the Apostles; others, the bad angels, to whom, as well as to wicked men, the Apostles were subjects of cruel pastime and public derision.

1Co 4:10 We are fools for Christs sake, but you are wise in Christ: we are weak, but you are strong: you are honourable, but we without honour.

We are regarded as fools on account of our plain preaching of Christ, and him crucified; you, on the other hand, have earned for yourselves the character of wisdom, while embellishing the cross of Christ, with human art and eloquence. We are weak, unable to resist injury; you are strong, able to ward it off, by worldly influence and the force of your oratory. We are obscure and unknown, whereas you are distinguished and treated with honour.

He contrasts his own condition, and that of his fellow-Apostles, with the condition of the Corinthian teachers. He describes the condition of both according to the notions which the world entertains on the subject. “We are fools for Christ’s sake,” i.e., on account of preaching Christ crucified in plain, unadorned language; it may also extend to the hardships they were undergoing for the gospel of Christ. “But you are wise in Christ,” i.e., your style of preaching Christ has earned for you the character of wisdom, wherein you foolishly glory. “We are weak,” &c.—(See Paraphrase).

1Co 4:11 Even unto this hour we both hunger and thirst and are naked and are buffeted and have no fixed abode.

Up to this very hour, we are continually exposed to, and actually endure, hunger, thirst, and nakedness; we suffer personal outrage and violence, and are wanderers on earth, tossed about without any fixed place of abode.

In this verse St. Paul minutely details the several privations of the Apostles. From the very beginning of their preaching the gospel to the moment when he wrote, they suffered hunger, thirst, and contumelious treatment of all kinds, even to bufferings; and they are wanderers on earth, without any fixed place of abode, like the great model of all apostolic men, “who had not whereon to lay his head.”—(Matt. 8:20).

1Co 4:12 And we labour, working with our own hands. We are reviled: and we bless. We are persecuted: and we suffer it.

We are forced to procure sustenance by manual labour; misfortunes of every kind are invoked upon our heads, and we make a return of benedictions; we are persecuted, and we patiently submit.

“And we labour,” &c. This St. Luke testifies (Acts, 18), and St. Paul himself (Acts, 20, and 1 Thess. 2). He worked at the trade of a tent-maker, in order to procure the necessary means of support.

1Co 4:13 We are blasphemed: and we entreat. We are made as the refuse of this world, the offscouring of all, even until now.

Doctrines of a blasphemous character are attributed to us, and we defend ourselves in the most suppliant manner—in language of the mildest expostulation. We are become as the very dross of the human race, like the offscourings of impure objects, only fit for the common sewer, up to the present moment.

“We are blasphemed,” i.e., blasphemous doctrines are attributed to us, of which we have an example (Rom. 3:8). The words may also mean, that their actions and words were blasphemously misconstrued. “And we entreat,” i.e., mildly expostulate. “We are made as the refuse of this world.” The Greek word for “refuse,” περικαθαρματα (perikatharmata), means, the dross and filth which adhere to unclean objects; “the offscourings of all.” The word “offscourings” has the same signification with “refuse;” they both mean the filth which is removed in the cleansing and scouring of unclean vessels or places. Hence, they are metaphorically employed by the Apostle to designate the vilest and most contemptible of men—the scum, the very outcasts of human society.

1Co 4:14 I write not these things to confound you: but I admonish you as my dearest children.

It is not for the purpose of causing you shame, or of creating in you feelings of self-reproach, that I thus contrast your treatment of me with that which you have shown your other teachers, but it is for the purpose of admonishing my dearest children, and of effecting their amendment.

This wretched treatment and condition of the Apostle was a source of confusion and shame not only to the teachers, whose condition was far different from that of the Aposles; but also to the people, who permitted their true fathers in Christ to pine away in want, while they treated their subordinate teachers quite differently. Hence, the Apostle, in this passage, addresses the people, and says, that he makes mention of these things solely for the purpose of admonishing them of their duty.

1Co 4:15 For if you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet not many fathers. For in Christ Jesus, by the gospel, I have begotten you.

I say, my children; for, although you had teachers, be they ever so numerous, to instruct you in the Christian religion, they still hold in your regard no other relation than that of pedagogues or tutors. I alone can lay claim to the endearing epithet of father, having begotten you in Christ Jesus, through the gospel, which I was the first to preach to you.

He shows why it is that he terms them his “dearest children,” because he alone had spiritually begotten them in the gospel, and communicated to them the life of faith, the others, be they ever so numerous—(the words “ten thousand” are put to designate a great number)—hold in their regard the relation of “instructors” or pedagogues only, and hence, his affection exceeds the affection of the others for them, as the regard of a father exceeds that of “instructors” or pedagogues. These feelings of affection should be also reciprocated on their part. By the pedagogue was meant, as the etymology of the word conveys, the slave who attended his young master going to and coming from school, and also imparted elementary instruction.—See Adams’ “Roman Antiquities.”

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Notes on 1 Corinthians, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Commentaries for the Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 1, 2014


Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.


Word-Sunday Notes on Ezekiel 33:7-9.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Ezekiel 33:7-9.


Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 95.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 95.

Father Tauton’s Commentary on Psalm 95.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 95.


Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 13:8-10.

Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on Romans 13:8-10.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 13:8-10.


Juan de Maldonado’s Commentary on Matthew 18:15-20.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 18:15-18.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 18:15-20.

Word-Sunday Notes on Matthew 18:15-20.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 18:15-20.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic Sunday Lectionary, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Commentaries for the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time, Year II

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 1, 2014


Pending: Commentaries for the Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A.


Today’s Mass Readings. Note: Today’s first reading allows for an alternate. The Gospel reading allows for a shorter text.

Today’s Divine Office.

Alternate 1: My Background Notes on Micah 5:1-4a.

Alternate 1: Navarre Bible Commentary on Micah 5:1-4a. Note: verse numbering follows the RSV (Mic 5:2-5a).

Alternate 2: Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans 8:28-30.

Alternate 2: Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 8:28-30.

Alternate 2: Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 8:28-30.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 13.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 13.

Longer text: Maldonado’s Commentary on Matthew 1:1-16, 18-23.

Longer text: Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 1:1-16, 18-23.

Shorter text: Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 1:18-23. Includes 24.

Shorter text: Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 1:18-23. Includes 24-25.

Shorter text: Maldonado’s Commentary on Matthew 1:18-23. Includes 24.

Shorter text: Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 1:18-23. Includes 24.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 6:1-11.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 6:1-11.

Navarre Commentary on 1 Corinthians 6:1-11.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 149.

St Albert the Great’s Commentary on Psalm 149.

St Cyril of Alexandria on Luke 6:12-19.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 6:12-19.

Navarre Commentary on Luke 6:12-19.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:25-31.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:25-31.

Pending: Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:25-31

Navarre Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:25-31.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 45.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 45.

St Albert the Great’s Commentary on Psalm 45.

My Notes on Luke 6:20-26.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 6:20-26.

Navarre Commentary on Luke 6:20-26.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 8:1-7, 11-13.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 8:1-7, 11-13.

Navarre Commentary on 1 Corinthians 8:1-7, 11-13.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 139.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 139.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 139.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 6:27-38.

Navarre Commentary on Luke 6:27-38.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22b-27.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22b-27.

Pending: Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22b-27.

Pending: Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22b-27.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 84.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 84.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 6:39-42.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 6:39-42.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 6:39-42.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10:14-22.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10:14-22.

Navarre Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10:14-22. Readings from several translations followed by commentary.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 116.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 116.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 116:10-19. Covers the various verses used today.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 6:43-49.

Pending: Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 6:43-49.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 6:43-49. On 41-49.


Commentaries for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.


Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Daily Lectionary, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 6:41-49

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 1, 2014

The following post consists of two homilies covering Luke 6:41-45 and 6:46-49.

6:41. “And why, saith He, beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” Having previously shewn us that the judging others is utterly wicked and dangerous, and the cause of final condemnation:—-for “Judge not, He said, and ye shall not be judged: and condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned.” He now by conclusive arguments persuades us to avoid the very wish of judging others: and rather to examine our own hearts, and try to free them from the passions that dwell within them, and their frailties, by asking it of God: for He it is Who healeth the broken in heart, and freeth us from the maladies of the soul. For if thou, He says, art thyself sick with maladies more dangerous and severe than those of others, why, neglecting thy own, dost thou find fault with them, and whilst thou hast a beam in thine own eye, commencest a hot accusation against those who have a mote? Tell me by what |117 boldness doest thou this? Deliver thyself first from thy great crimes, and thy rebellious passions, and then thou mayest set him right who is guilty of but trifling faults.

Wouldst thou see the matter clearly and plainly, and that it is a very hateful thing for men to give way to this feeling? Our Lord was once walking on the sabbath day among the cornfields, and the blessed disciples plucked some ears, and rubbing them in their hands, ate the grains. But some Pharisees drew near, and say, “Behold, Thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do on sabbath days!” And yet they themselves in manifold ways were guilty of disregarding the law altogether. For even the prophet Isaiah cried out against them, saying, “How has the faithful city Zion become a harlot! It was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it:—-but now murderers. Your silver is reprobate; thy merchants mix the wine with water; thy princes are contentious, the partners of thieves, loving bribes, pursuing after recompense; they judge not the orphans, and to the widow’s suit they have no regard.” Yet these very men, themselves liable to these most severe reproaches, accused the disciples of breaking the sabbath!

But they met with just rebuke from Christ, Who said unto them; “Woe unto you, scribes and pharisces, hypocrites! who tithe mint and cummin, and have neglected the weighty matters of the law, judgment, and mercy, and faith.” And again, “Ye are they who strain out a gnat, but gulp down a camel.” For while their teaching was of mere trifles, and they condemned the people under them for the most contemptible matters, they had the hardihood, as I said, to treat as of no consequence those weighty crimes. For this reason the Saviour called them “whitened sepulchres, which outside appear indeed to men to be beautiful, but inside are full of the bones of the dead, and of all unclcanness.”—-And such is every hypocrite: and whenever they would cast an imputation upon others, who have yielded to infirmity in any particular, deservedly will they have it said to them, “First cast out the beam from thine own eye, and then thou wilt see to cast out the mote from thy brother’s eye.”

The commandment, therefore, is indispensable for every one |118 who would live piously: but, above all, for those who have been intrusted with the instruction of others. For if they are good and sober-minded, and enamoured of the elect life, and not merely acquainted with, but also practisers of virtuous arts, and setting in their own conduct the pattern of a holy life, they can with open countenance rebuke those who will not do the same, for not having imitated their example, nor imprinted their virtuous manners on themselves: but if they are careless, and quickly snared by pleasures to do evil, how can they blame others when similarly affected? Wisely, therefore, did the blessed disciples write, saying; “Let there not be many teachers among you, my brethren: for ye know that we shall receive greater condemnation.” For as Christ, Who is the Distributor of the crowns, and the Punisher of those who do wrong, Himself says; “He who shall do and teach, shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven: but he who hath not done, but hath taught, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.”

But I can imagine some one saying, How are we to distinguish the man who has a beam in his eye, but finds fault with those who have a mote, and are infirm only in part? But there is nothing difficult in this, He says; for any one who will, may see it easily: “for it is not a good tree that brings forth evil fruit: nor a good tree that brings forth good fruit: for every true is known by its fruit.” Each man’s actual life, therefore, is that which decides what are his morals: for it is not by mere outside adornments, and fictitious virtues that the beauty of the truly honourable life is delineated, but by the deeds a man does: for they are the fruits of a mind that for the love of piety chooses a blameless life. It is by deeds, therefore, and not by outside shew, that we must see who is the man truly approved, and who is not so. Again, Christ somewhere says, “Beware of those who come to you in the likeness of sheep, but within are ravenous wolves.” See |119 again, Christ commands that those who come unto us must be distinguished not by their clothing, but by what they really are. “For by its fruit, He says, the tree is known:” and just as it is ignorance and folly for us to expect to find the choicer kinds of fruits on thorns, grapes for instance, and figs; so it is ridiculous for us to imagine that we can find in hypocrites and the profane ought that is admirable, the nobleness, I mean, of virtue.

Wouldst thou see the truth of this again? Wouldst thou see who the wolves are that clothe themselves in the sheep’s skin? Examine the writings of the holy Apostles: hear what they say of certain men: “For they who are such are false Aposties: deceitful workers, transforming themselves into angels of righteousness: and no wonder, for Satan even transforms himself into an angel of light. It is no great thing, therefore, if his ministers also transform themselves into angels of righteousness.” These one may well call thorns and briars: in such there is no particle of sweetness, but every thing that is bitter and of an evil nature: for the fig grows not on thorns; nor will one find any thing pleasant in them, for grapes are not produced on briars. We must decide, then, the character of the teacher, not by appearances, but by the acts of each one’s life.10

This is also made clear by another declaration of our Lord: “for the good man, He says, as out of a good treasure, poureth forth from the heart 11 good things:” but he who is differently disposed, and whose mind is the prey of fraud and wickedness, necessarily brings forth what is concealed deep within. For the things that are in the mind and heart boil over, and are vomited forth by the outflowing stream of speech. The virtuous man, therefore, speaks such things as become his |120 character, while he who is worthless and wicked vomits forth his secret impurity.

Every thing, therefore, that is to our benefit, Christ teaches us, and requires His disciples to be on their guard against deceit, and vigilant and careful. For this reason He shews them the straight way, and discloses the snares that lead down to wickedness, that thus escaping from offences, and being steadfast in mind beyond risk of sin, they may quickly reach the mansions that are above by Christ’s blessing: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father 12 be praise and dominion with the Holy Ghost for ever and ever, Amen.

6:46-49. But why call ye Me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Every one that cometh unto Me, and heareth My words, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like. He is like a man building a house, who dug and made it deep, and laid a foundation upon the rock: and when there was a flood, the river beat against that house, and could not shake it, because it was well built. But he that hath heard and not done, is like a man who built a house upon the earth without foundation, against which the river beat, and that moment it fell, and the fall of that house was great.

THERE is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” for so the wise Paul writeth. For both the name of lordship, and also the reality, are appropriate solely to that nature Which transcends all, and is supreme; even That Which is divine, and to be worshipped, as possessing and governing all things. For so Paul again somewhere says of Him; “For even, if there be Gods many and Lords many, in heaven or in earth; yet for us there is one God, the Father, from Whom is all, and we by Him: and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by Whom is all, and we by Him.” As therefore we acknowledge God the Word alone, Who reigneth with God the Father, as by nature and verily Lord, we accordingly give this name to Him. “But why, He asks, call ye Me indeed Lord, but do not the things which I say?” For if He possess no real authority, nor glory of lordship, but, on the contrary, it is conferred upon Him from without, and bestowed by favour, do not offer Him thy obedience: refuse His service: consent not to be subject unto Him. But if He be verily, and in its precise meaning Lord, and the whole nature of things created bow beneath His sceptre, and as a thing set under the feet of its Lord, then pay what is due: accept the yoke: and as being due, offer Him thy obedience; that thou mayest not hear Him blaming thee in words spoken by one of the holy prophets to them of old time; |122 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his lord: if I then am a father, where is My honour? and if I am a lord, where is My fear? saith the Lord Almighty.”

For come, and let us see by what takes place among us the blame to which we become liable by disobedience. We are ourselves accustomed to require of our servants 13 obedience mingled with tear: and when they plan rebellion, and throw off the yoke of servitude; we make them humble by bonds and tortures and the scourge. When therefore we, who are of earth, and by nature the brethren of those who are bowed beneath the yoke, cannot tolerate them when rebellious, how will God endure it;—-He Whom principalities, thrones, and lordships worship: in Whose presence the high-exalted Seraphs stand, readily rendering their service? For the divine David somewhere says of them in the Psalms; “Bless the Lord, all ye His angels, who hearken to the voice of His words. Bless the Lord, all ye His hosts: His ministers, who do all of them His pleasure.”

It is dangerous, therefore, and merits final condemnation, to be unwilling to submit to Christ the Almighty: but those who prize His service, shall receive the most excellent blessings. For He has said by one of the holy prophets to those who run away from His yoke, and will not submit to be set under His authority; “Behold, they that serve Me shall eat; but ye shall suffer hunger: behold, they that serve Me shall drink; but ye shall suffer thirst: behold, they that serve |123 Me shall exult; but ye shall mourn: behold, they that obey Me, shall be merry with joy; but ye shall cry out for the grief of your heart, and howl for contrition of your spirit.” Thou seest that the crown of those who bear the yoke of servitude is very beautiful, worthy of being acquired, and precious: while severe and manifold condemnation is decreed against the rest.

And yet again in another place thou mayest see that the true servant is adorned with surpassing honour, while the disobedient and careless is rejected with disgrace, or rather is banished to the outer darkness. For they who received the talents, and doubled for the owner what had been given them, were honoured by him with praises: for he said to each one of them, “O good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will set thee over many things: enter the joy of thy lord.” But him who hid in the ground what had been given him, as not loving service and indolent, he condemned to severe and inevitable punishment.

Elsewhere too He has said, “Who then is that faithful and wise servant, whom his lord 14 shall set over his household to give them meat at its season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord shall come and find so doing. Verily I say unto you, that he will set him over all that he hath.”

Those therefore who keep our Saviour’s will are made glorious, and worthy of emulation, and adorned with praises for their fidelity: yea, moreover, they have a name given them, for He has said again of them in a certain place, “On them that serve Me, there shall be called a new name,15 even That Which is blessed upon earth.”

And there is yet another point which I think must be added to what has been already said, namely, that by being willing |124 to submit to our Saviour’s words and serve Him, we shall gain in return the honour of freedom by His decree. For He said to those that believe in Him, “If ye abide in My Word, ye are truly My disciples, and ye shall acknowledge the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” We gain therefore the glory of freedom by subjection: that is, by servitude under Him. This makes us sons and heirs of God, and fellow heirs with Christ: of which He again shall be thy proof, saying; “that every one that doeth sin is the servant of sin: but the servant abideth not in the house for ever. If therefore the Son make you free, ye are really free.”

The being willing therefore to serve is that which invites us to freedom, and the honour which is the especial prerogative of sons: but disobedience humbles us to a base and ignominious servitude, if it be true, as true certainly it is, that “every one that doeth sin is the servant of sin.”

But yes! says some one, obedience unto Christ’s service is a most excellent thing, and highly to be appreciated; but it is by no means an easy matter: for there is much that stands in the way, and is able to exhaust our zeal. Yes, so say I too:—-for first of all Satan resists whatever is excellent:—-and the flesh, in its fondness for pleasure, strives against the Spirit, “for they are contrary one to the other,” according to the expression of the wise Paul: and the law of sin that is in the members, savagely and very bitterly makes opposition. For I know that Paul, who was instructed in the law, excellently discusses these questions. For he said, “For I rejoice in the law of God in the inner man: but I see another law warring against the law of the mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, that is in my members.” And again; “I therefore in my mind serve indeed the law of God, but in my flesh the law of sin.” And besides this, there is a certain powerful inclination of the mind of man, which makes the will wander after pleasures: and engenders the delights of worldly lusts, and leads it away from the wish to labour in the cause of virtue. Shall we, therefore, on this account, refuse our service? |125 Is He ever seen to command ought that is impossible, and that cannot be done? Does He demand of us anything that exceeds the limits of our nature? And who would venture to say this? For certainly He adapts to our minds whatever is commanded. When, therefore, thou tellest me of the difficulty of obedience,

I  tell thee also: Do those things that are great and excellent come of themselves? or do those who seek to win them succeed without toil? or, on the contrary, are they attained to by earnestness and labours? Who are the men that in the conflicts of the palestra are accustomed to win the crown? Is it those who have entirely devoted themselves to skill in the art of wrestling, and have gone through bitter toils? for “they endure all things,” according to the expression of St. Paul: or, on the contrary, is it the indolent and luxurious, and those entirely unacquainted with what is suitable for athletes? Who of those that till the ground have their threshing-floor full of sheaves? Is it such as neglect ploughing, and will not undertake the severe toil of the mattock: or, on the contrary, is it the diligent and industrious, and such as apply themselves to the labours necessary for ensuring a prolific crop? The answer is known, even if no one speak it; that it is with those who are willing to labour, and not with those whose wont it is to be at ease, that a life of happiness is to be found, and nothing wanting for a tranquil existence. The Psalmist also bears witness, in a passage where he makes mention of the tillers of the ground as an exemplification of something else, “They went out, and that with tears, carrying their seed: but they shall surely come with joy bringing their sheaves.” Joy therefore is the fruit of labour.

Moreover, the Lord Himself somewhere quickens us for the love of exertion in every praiseworthy pursuit, by saying, “Enter at the strait gate: because narrow is the gate, and strait the way that leadeth unto life; but broad and wide is that which leadeth down those that run thereon unto destruction.” Observe therefore that the end of that strait path leadeth unto life, while the easy descent of the broad way sends men to the flame and never-ending torments.

If therefore we call Christ, the Saviour of us all. Lord, let us do the things which He says. For He teaches us Himself what the benefit is of our being willing to do that which is |126 commanded: and what the loss of our refusing to obey: for He says, “Every one that heareth My words and doeth them, is like a man who builds a house, and firmly places its foundations upon the rock:” while he who does not obey, he also is like a man building a house, but who has taken no care for its stability. For he who is obedient and tractable holds a thoroughly firm position in every thing that is honourable and good, by reason of his being not so much a hearer of the law, as a doer of its works: he resembles therefore a house firmly settled, and having a foundation that cannot be shaken, so that, even though temptations press upon him, and the savageness of the passions that dwell within us assail him like some winter torrent, or a waterflood, he will sustain no serious loss. But he who merely inclines his ear to what Christ saith, but stores nothing up in his mind, nor performs anything that is commanded, he, on the other hand, is like a house just ready to fall. For he will be led away at once into things unseemly whenever pleasure allures him, and leads him into the pitfalls of sin.

The service therefore of Christ invites us, as we affirm, unto every blessing: and if we will blamelessly fulfil it, Christ will crown us with His grace; by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, fathers of the church, Notes on Luke's Gospel, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:10-16

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 31, 2014

Text in purple indicates the Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on. Text in red are my additions.

1 Cor 2:10 But to us God hath revealed them by his Spirit. For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

But, although this wisdom be mysterious, and for ages hidden from the world, it has been made known to us by the revelation of God’s spirit, who is intimately acquainted with all the secret counsels of God.

In this verse the Apostle answers an objection which might be made to him, viz.:—If these things be so hidden and mysterious, how came you to know them? He answers, that he has known them from the revelation of God’s spirit, who is intimately acquainted with the secrets of God. “Searcheth all things.” These words express perfect and intimate knowledge, and contain an allusion to the mode in which human knowledge is acquired; for the Holy Ghost sees all things intuitively without requiring to search for them.

1 Cor 2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of a man that is in him? So the things also that are of God, no man knoweth, but the Spirit of God.

(And that the spirit of God, or the Holy Ghost, alone is capable of knowing the secret thoughts and designs of God, may be easily illustrated by a human example); for, who is it that knows the private and hidden thoughts of man, except his own spirit? So it is also with regard to the private thoughts of the divine mind.

He illustrates by a human example, how the Holy Ghost, and He only, is intimately acquainted with the secret designs of God. As no one on earth knows the hidden thoughts of man’s mind, but his own spirit; so no one knows the hidden thoughts of God but “the Spirit of God;” i.e., the Holy Ghost, co-essential with him and possessing the same divine nature. Of course the Son of God is no more excluded here than the Holy Ghost is in another passage, where it is said: “No one knows the Father but the Son,” &c., because when there is a question of the absolute, essential attributes of the Godhead, they alone are excluded, who have a different nature.

1 Cor 2:12 Now, we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God: that we may know the things that are given us from God.

And it is this same spirit, co-essential with God—a spirit opposed to the spirit of this world—that we have received, so that through him we may be enabled to know the general gifts which have been bestowed on the Church by Christ.

“Of this world,” in Greek, τοῦ κοσμοῦ (tou kosmou), “of the world.” “That we may know the things,” &c. These words refer to the general effects of God’s goodness, contained in the wisdom of God, of which he speaks all through this chapter. Hence they furnish no argument in favour of the justifying faith of heretics, which requires a particular knowledge, and has a special object, viz., the justification of the particular individual who has this faith; whereas here, there is a question of general knowledge imparted by God’s spirit.

1 Cor 2:13 Which things also we speak: not in the learned words of human wisdom, but in the doctrine of the Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Of which general gifts and blessings, contained in the wisdom of God, we treat, not in the learned language borrowed from human wisdom, but in the language taught us by the same spirit of God, accommodating spiritual language and subjects to spiritual persons.

“But in the doctrine of the spirit.” (In the common Greek, of the Holy Ghost; the epithet, “Holy,” is wanting in some of the chief MSS. and some versions, and rejected by Griesbach). “Comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” The interpretation of these words, given in the Paraphrase, is the one that accords best with the entire context. The Apostle wishes to convey by them, that his reason for not preaching the sublime truths of religion to the Corinthians was, because they were not “spiritual” persons, to whom alone such spiritual subjects were suited. This interpretation derives probability from the following verse. The words may also be interpreted thus: accommodating spiritual language to spiritual matters or subjects; according to which interpretation these latter words are nothing more than a repetition in a different form of the idea conveyed by the words, “not in the learned words of human wisdom.” It is by no means unusual with writers to repeat the same idea in different words.

1 Cor 2:14 But the sensual man perceiveth not these things that are of the Spirit of God. For it is foolishness to him: and he cannot understand, because it is spiritually examined.

And my reason for not treating of these exalted spiritual subjects indiscriminately before all is, that the sensual or animal man, that is to say, the man who is not practised in the principles of faith, cannot understand the exalted truths of God’s spirit. To such a man they are folly, because they arc to be examined on spiritual principles, with which he is not conversant.

“But the sensual man perceiveth not the things that are of the Spirit of God.” In this verse, the Apostle assigns a reason for not preaching the sublime truths of the Christian economy to the Corinthians. “By the sensual man,” (“animalis homo”) is meant the man who, although he may have received the faith and may be a saint—and this the Apostle supposes; for, in the next chapter (verse 1), he calls the same persons, “little ones in Christ”—still, is not practised in its principles, and cannot, therefore, relish the more sublime truths of religion, “these things that are of the Spirit of God.” “For it is foolishness to him;” such things appear to him quite unmeaning. “Because it is spiritually examined.” The Greek, πνευματικῶς ανακρινεται (pneumatikos anakrinetai), may also be translated, and with more propriety, “because they are spiritually examined.” These things are to be examined on spiritual principles, in which he is not versed; just as the sublime truths of natural philosophy (v.g.), those regarding the revolution of the earth, the magnitude of the sun, &c.—would appear “foolishness” to a child or untutored peasant, who judges from sensation; because, such truths are to be examined on scientific principles, with which these persons are not conversant.

1 Cor 2:15 But the spiritual man judgeth all things: and he himself is judged of no man.

But the spiritual man—the man who is fully conversant with the principles of faith taught us by God’s holy spirit—understands and discerns all spiritual matters, and he himself is judged by no man for this line of conduct, when acting upon the principles of faith.

“But the spiritual man,” i.e., the man who has not only received the faith—in which respect he and the sensual or animal man do not differ—but is also, unlike the sensual man, practised in its principles. “Judgeth all things.” In Greek, ανακρίνει μεν πάντα (anakrinei men panta), discerneth all things. Such a man understands all spiritual matters. “And he himself is judged,” or examined by no man in order to be set right—not surely by the “sensual man,” who is supposed to be incapable of such a judgment, for “he perceiveth not the things that are of the Spirit of God;” nor by the spiritual man, who would himself have acted in the same way. These latter words are added by the Apostle to show how foolish a part the Corinthians acted in censuring his own mode of preaching.

In order to see how utterly unfounded is the objection against church authority derived from the two preceding verses, we have only to examine the meaning of the several words, and also their bearing on the context. “Sensual” or “animal” has, in Sacred Scripture, different significations, according to the different functions of anima (ψυχη = psuchē), from which it is derived; and anima denotes—first, the vegetative soul, or the principle of life; thus it is said of Adam in Genesis, “factus est in animam viventem” (and man became a living soul~Gen 2:7) secondly, it denotes the soul, inasmuch as it is the principle or seat of sensation; thirdly, inasmuch as it is the seat of carnal affections, or the anima concupisciblis. Viewed without reference to the grace of God or faith, it designates the inferior part of the soul as it judges from sensation, rather than from reason, ψυχη, its corresponding Greek word, has the same meaning in the Pythagorean and Platonic philosophy; it designates the animal nature of man, common to him with the beasts. “Spiritual” also has as many significations as the word, spiritus has (in Greek, πνευμα = pneuma), from which it is derived. Abstracting from grace and faith, it denotes the superior part of the soul, as it follows reason. Then, in a natural point of view, anima and spiritus, from which animal or “sensual” and spiritual are derived, designate different states or faculties of the soul: anima, inasmuch as it is directed by sensation; spiritus, as guided more by reason. But considering the operation of divine grace, the words have another signification analogous to their former meaning. And it is in this latter or spiritual point of view, St. Paul here regards them. He considers the soul as imbued with the principles of faith in different ways. “The spiritual” man—the man who has the faith, and is conversant with its principles, a signification analogous to that which the word bears, when, in a natural point of view, it means the man practised in the principles of reason. “Animal” or “sensual.” the man who has received the faith, is versed in its rudiments and necessary points of belief, but unpractised in its principles. The word by no means signifies a man who has not the Holy Ghost, and is not in justice; for, St. Paul calls the same “little ones in Christ” (chap. 3), consequently baptized; and these he always regards as saints. Hence, then, the passage means, that the Apostle refrained from discoursing on the sublime truths of faith, “the wisdom of God in mystery, before the Corinthians. Why? Because, being “sensual” or “animal,” and not conversant with the principles of faith, they were incapable of understanding them, or his explanations regarding them; for “they are examined on spiritual principles,” spiritualiter examinantur; just as it would be downright folly to treat of the sublime truths of natural science before children or rustics, whose ideas are derived from sensation. From a want of acquaintance with the principles of science, the very terms thereof would be to them unintelligible. But “the spiritual man” understands all the truths of faith, because practised in its principles, “and he is judged by no one.”—(See Commentary, verse 15). Hence, the utter folly of the Sectaries who understand by “spiritual man,” the man who has the Holy Ghost; for then “animal” or “sensual,” would mean one who has not the Holy Ghost; and that the Apostle supposes the very reverse, has been already shown. Besides, the answer which the foregoing plain and obvious interpretation of the word “sensual” and “spiritual” contains, in reply to the objection against church authority, founded on this passage, the meaning of the word “judgeth” fully refutes the objection. The word corresponding with “judgeth” in the Greek (ανακρίνει = anakrinei), never means passing a judgment or sentence at all; it is a juridical term, designating the examination of witnesses. Hence, St. Paul by no means here speaks of a definitive, but only a discretionary judgment, or the faculty of understanding the matter in question, in consequence of being versed in its principles. Moreover, can it be supposed for an instant, that St. Paul declined preaching the sublime truths of religion to the “sensual” or “animal” man, because such a person was incapable of passing a definitive judgment on the doctrine which he proposed? In other words, can we suppose that the Apostle would submit to the definitive judgment of any man the truth of that doctrine, which he knew would outlive the heavens and the earth: which he received from the Holy Ghost: which he quoted from the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and confirmed by numerous miracles; and, particularly, when addressing men who received the faith (such as “the sensual” man is supposed here)—men whose very first duty it was, “to reduce their intellect to captivity unto the obedience of Christ”?—(2 Cor. 10:5). The judgment, then, of which St. Paul ascribes the faculty to the spiritual man, regards not disputed truth, but the mere faculty of understanding proved and admitted doctrine. And even supposing the Protestant interpretation, for an instant, to be correct, how will they prove that they have the Holy Ghost, according to their understanding of the passage?

No doubt, the words, “sensual” and “spiritual” have here a moral signification also, and convey to us, what we know from daily experience, that those gross, carnal men, “whose God is their belly,” spending their whole lives in the pursuit of forbidden pleasures, and the gratification of their guilty passions, “cannot understand,” i.e., can have no idea of the spiritual, unmixed joys which the faithful servants of God enjoy even in this life. Talk to these voluptuaries of the mortification of their passions—of faithfully following the model divinely pointed out to them on the Mount—of seeking the things that are above—of the consequent joys and tranquillity of conscience; such language sounds in their ears as no better than folly; they cannot understand it. However, at a future day, when it shall be too late, they shall be forced to see things in a different light. “We fools esteemed their life madness … behold now they are numbered among the children of God … therefore, we have erred from the way of truth,” &c.—(Wisdom, 5:5). Oh! Jesus, crucified for our sakes, preserve us from ever experiencing these unavailing regrets!

1 Cor 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

For who hath known the mind of the Lord, so as to instruct him?—(and to judge the spiritual man, acting as such would be only judging the Lord himself, by whom the spiritual man is instructed). But we, when preaching to you, were instructed by Christ himself.

In this verse, he assigns a reason why the spiritual man, acting as such, can “be judged by no man,” not by the sensual man, who cannot “perceive the things that are of the Spirit of God,” nor by the spiritual man, who, in this judgment of discretion of which there is question here, would apply the same criterion or standard of judgment, which he himself had applied—I say, acting as such, because, should he not judge spiritually, he may err, and, therefore, be corrected as was St. Peter by the Apostle himself (Gal. 2:11)—and in it he also assigns a reason why the Apostle himself should not be judged or undervalued for his mode of preaching the Gospel among the Corinthians. “For who hath known the sense of the Lord?” These words are a quotation from Isaias, 40:13; at least, they express the sense of the prophet. “That he may instruct him.” If the word “him” refer to the “Lord,” then, these words are a part of the prophetic quotation. If it refer to the “spiritual man,” they are the words of the Apostle, and mean, that to attempt the correction of the spiritual man, judging as such, would be only instructing the Lord himself, by whom he is guided in his spiritual judgments. The Greek word tor “instruct,” συμβιβασει (simbibesai), in a physical signification, means to make come together. In a moral sense, as here, it means to put mentally together, to prove, to instruct others.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Notes on 1 Corinthians, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

My Notes on Luke 4:31-37

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 31, 2014

Lk 4:31 And he went down into Capharnaum (Capernuam), a city of Galilee: and there he taught them on the sabbath days.
Lk 4:32 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his speech was with power

We have already seen that the episode in Nazareth, narrated in Lk 4:16-30, was not the first act of Jesus’ Galilean ministry, and that he has previously operated in Capernuam  (Lk 4:23). Whether the four events which follow in Lk 4:31-44 are to be dated as preceding the Nazareth visit, or are subsequent to it cannot be determined from Luke. The markan parallel places these events before the Nazareth visit (Mark 1:21-29; 6:1-6).

There he taught them. Literally, “he was teaching them.” The imperfect tense of “was” indicates continual action, suggesting that whenever He was in that city on a Sabbath he made it a point of teaching. Jesus spent a great deal of time in Capernuam and it seems that it was a sort of missionary base of operations during his early Galilean ministry (see Mk 2:1; Matt 11:23-24; Lk 10:15).

(He taught them) on the Sabbath days. Literally, “on the Sabbaths.” The plural is sometimes used by Luke even when a single Sabbath is in view (Lk 13:10, and Lk 6:2 in one manuscript). As used here the plural may be taken as bolstering the suggestion given above in connection with the imperfect tense of the phrase “he was teaching them,’ i.e., that “whenever He was in that city on a Sabbath he made it a point of teaching.”

And they were astonished at his doctrine, i.e., his teaching. The reason is given in the remainder of the verse: for his speech was with power. The word here translated as power is exousia, and it is better translated as “authority.” The same word is used in the second temptation at Luke 4:6 where Satan promises to give Jesus all the authority and glory of the kingdoms of the world if he will bow down and worship him. But Jesus’ authority transcends what Satan has or can claim to have. His authority is through the power of the Spirit  (Lk 4:14, 18). The response of the people to Jesus was a theme introduced in Lk 4:14-15. There nothing was said specifically about what motivated the spread of Jesus fame among the people and the praise of him which accompanied it, though the implication to the reader-as opposed to those in the account-was that it was the result of the spirit’s power and Jesus’ teaching. Here the crowd begins to understand that something of significance is at work in Jesus. At Nazareth the people were amazed at Jesus’ words because they were seemingly at odds with his nondescript existence as the son of Joseph. The people in Capernuam have advanced a little farther.

Lk 4:33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had an unclean devil: and he cried out with a loud voice,
Lk 4:34 Saying: Let us alone. What have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the holy one of God

Unlike the people of Nazareth and Capernuam, the unclean devil shows that he knows significantly more about who Jesus is. Why he cried out with a loud voice is not indicated here; what he says however suggests that the level of his voice is motivated by hostility.

Let us alone. These words translate a single word in the Greek text: εα (ea). Most translations take the word as an imperative of ἐάω (eao), meaning, “let be.” In reality it is an ejaculatory phrase suggesting displeasure (as here) or surprise.

What have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art.  It should here be noted that the possessed man has lost his individuality, while the demon has kept his. Note how he speaks on behalf of both himself and the man as he attempts to distance both himself and his victim from Jesus: “What have we to do with thee…” Note also how the demon seeks to hide behind the man he possesses by implying that what Jesus might do to him (the demon) will adversely affect the man as well: “Art thou come to destroy us? On the other hand his individuality show through when he talks of recognizing Jesus: “I know thee”…

Lk 4:35 And Jesus rebuked him, saying: Hold thy peace and go out of him. And when the devil had thrown him into the midst, he went out of him and hurt him not at all. 

The demon’s attempt to associate his victim with his own hostility and lack of common cause with Jesus is all for naught. Though the demon attempted to speak on behalf the the man Jesus rebuked him (the demon), saying: hold thy peace and go out of him. Likewise, the demon’s suggestion that whatever Jesus does to him will be done to the victim comes to nothing. It is the demon (not Jesus) who attempts to hurt the man by throwing him, but Jesus’ forced separation of demon and man leads to the man being  hurt not at all by the demon

 Lk 4:36 And there came fear upon all; and they talked among themselves, saying: What word is this, for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they go out? 

Once again we recall that Satan had promised Jesus the authority (exosuia) of all the kingdoms of the world if he had bowed down to his will and worshiped him (Lk 4:6). But here we see in the defeat of Satan’s minion, the unclean demon, that Jesus’ authority is something other than that possessed by the kingdoms of this world.

We were told that after the temptations in the desert that Satan (the Devil) left Jesus “for a time,” implying that he would again attempt to thwart Jesus’ mission. Even a person reading the gospel for the first time might, however, begin here to have a sense that all will not end well for him, whatever his future machinations might be.

Lk 4:37 And the fame of him was published into every place of the country

Recalls Lk 4:14-15 and helps explain the actions of the people in Lk 4:40 and the pressing of the crowd in Lk 5:1.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, Notes on Luke's Gospel, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

My Notes on Luke 4:14-30

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 31, 2014

Lk 4:14  And Jesus returned in the power of the spirit, into Galilee: and the fame of him went out through the whole country.
Lk 4:15  And he taught in their synagogues and was magnified by all

The conjunctive and provides a link with the previous material.  The purpose then of these two verses is to link with what has preceded and  provide an introduction to Jesus’ public ministry in Galilee.

And Jesus returned (υπεστρεψεν = hypestrepsen) in the power of the spirit, into Galilee. This phrasing recalls Lk 4:1~ And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost, returned (υπεστρεψεν = hypestrepsen)  from the Jordan and was led the by the spirit into the desert. Lk 4:1 itself provided a transition from the genealogy of Jesus to the temptation narrative. The mission of Jesus, the Son of Adam and the Son of God, is thus a continuing assault on that being who ultimately instigated the need for it (see Luke 3:23-38, especially v. 38. See also Gen 3:1-19). He who in the power of the Spirit was confronted by Satan in the desert and bested him, will now in turn confront the power of the demonic in His ministry of teaching, healing, exorcising.  The fact that News spread of Him is probably to be understood as a result of His actions in the Spirit. Certainly His teachings in the synagogues should be seen as done by the Spirit’s power.

And was magnified (glorified) by all. As the episode at Galilee-and especially Jesus’ words in Lk 4:24-27-will suggest, much of the fame and acclaim is misguided, but certainly not all of it. The one who was to be glory for Israel (Lk 2:32) was also the one who was set for the fall and the rising of many in Israel, and a sign of contradiction (Lk 2:34). This prophecy of Simeon’s will play out throughout the Gospel, and will continue in Acts where the preaching of the Gospel will bring about the fall and rising of many, and contradictions and opposition. Luke has arranged his presentation of Jesus’ public ministry so as to make the events at Nazareth a sort of paradigm for what will follow in Luke/Acts.

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

The conjunctive and here recalls the introductory verses quoted above with all that they imply. Jesus is here presented as a devout Jew who is loyal to ancestral custom as His parents were (lk 2:42).

He rose to read. According to the synagogue practice of the day any devout, adult,  Jewish male, could be asked to deliver and exhortation on a reading from the Law or prophets (Acts 13:15). Apparently, at least in some synagogues, such a Jewish male could also be asked to read a text before speaking upon it; such seems to be the case in the current passage. The reading was done while standing, it is unclear if sitting down while commenting on the passage was the standard practice. Note that  in verses 20-21 Jesus sits down after the reading and only then begins to speak about it. In Acts 13:16 St Paul rises in order to address his “word of exhortation” to the people. The practice of sitting or standing may have differed from synagogue to synagogue, or from those in the Holy Land to those outside of it. We know very little about the 1st century synagogue practices.

Lk 4:17 And the book of Isaias the prophet was delivered unto him. And as he unfolded the book, he found the place where it was written:
Lk 4:18 The spirit of the Lord is upon me. Wherefore he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the contrite of heart,
Lk 4:19 To preach deliverance to the captives and sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised
(oppressed), to preach the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of reward.
Lk 4:20 And when he had folded the book, he restored it to the minister and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.
Lk 4:21 And he began to say to them: This day is fulfilled this scripture in your ears

And the book of Isaias (Isaiah) the prophet was delivered unto him. Apparently Jesus didn’t chose the book to read from. Did He choose the passage, or was it assigned? We cannot be sure, but the more plausible interpretation of the second part of verse 17 is that He chose the passage.

As he unfolded the book, he found the place where it is written.  “unfolded” reflects the Greek word anoixas. Most scholars prefer those manuscripts that employ the word anaptyxas, meaning “having unrolled.”

The passage Jesus read was taken from Isaiah 61:1-2 and conflated with Isaiah 58:6. None of these verses are quoted in full. Technically, the quotation of the parts of the verses runs as follows: Isaiah 61:1a, b, d; 58:6d; 61:2a. Conflation of texts and partial quotes were common (e.g., Mk 1:2-3), serving to keep the listener’s minds focused on a key theme or themes which the preacher wanted to emphasize. This practice is often maintained in modern Christian lectionaries.

The most notable omission is Isa 61:2b~(to proclaim)….the day of vengeance of our God. The day of vengeance will come, but it is in the future, not part of that sabbath day of fulfillment in Nazareth (21).  See Lk 21:20-24; also Lk 3:7-9, 17.

The quote from Isa 58:6 (to set at liberty those who are bruised/oppressed) is interesting. That passage forms part of prophet’s teaching regarding the point and nature of true fasting and its rewards (Isa 58:1-12). Are we meant to recall Jesus fasting and the first temptation? (Lk 4:1-4). In addition, Isaiah 58:13-14 is concerned with motivating the people to act rightly on the Sabbath, which includes not following their own self-interests; and it is precisely the self-interest of the people of Nazareth which is behind Jesus’ words in Lk 4:23-27. (see comments there).

Lk 4:22 And all gave testimony to him. And they wondered at the words of grace that proceeded from his mouth. And they said: Is not this the son of Joseph?
Lk 4:23 And he said to them: Doubtless you will say to me this similitude: Physician, heal thyself. As great things as we have heard done in Capharnaum, do also here in thy own country.
Lk 4:24 And he said: Amen I say to you that no prophet is accepted in his own country. 

Lk 4:25 In truth I say to You, there were many widows in the days of Elias in Israel, when heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there was a great famine throughout all the earth.
Lk 4:26 And to none of them was Elias sent, but to Sarepta of Sidon, to a widow woman.
Lk 4:27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet: and none of them was cleansed but Naaman the Syrian.
Lk 4:28 And all they in the synagogue, hearing these things, were filled with anger.
Lk 4:29 And they rose up and thrust him out of the city: and they brought him to the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.
Lk 4:30 But he passing through the midst of them, went his way

The people think that Jesus is simply one of them; a native of their town and the son of Joseph. Readers familiar with the preceding chapters know that He is much more. He cannot be confined so narrowly. The words of grace that proceeded from His mouth (22) through His preaching cannot be imprisoned in Nazareth, Capernuam (Lk 4:42-44), or Israel (Lk 2:31-32. Nazareth was, apparently, a town of little prestige (Jn 1:46), and what better way for it to gain respectability than through a hometown boy who has become noteworthy. A physician who cannot heal himself is not much of a doctor (23), and a hometown wonder-worker who wont work wonders in his hometown is not much of an asset; such appears to be their unspoken reasoning which Jesus reveals. Behind the physician proverb is the idea, common in the Near East, that one’s own personal well-being is intimately tied up with the well being of those with whom you are most intimately connected. The idea is that of a very narrow, mutual self-interest.

No prophet is accepted in his own country. The one who proclaimed an acceptable year of the Lord (Lk 4:19) is not accepted. Familiarity can breed contempt and a lack of appreciation (24), especially if the one we are familiar with acts in ways we don’t agree with. But there is something more at work here than just this. God’s people have always had trouble with the prophets sent to them, often because they did not understand the ways of God manifested through the working of the prophets. Elijah and Elisha were active during times when prophecy was little valued by their people. Prophets were silenced, hunted down, killed (1 Kings 19:10; 2 Kings 6:31-33). In these times non-Israelites came to benefit from the prophet. As had been the case in the days of Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 17:9; 2 Kings 5:14), people outside the boundaries of Israel would once again come to benefit from God through Jesus (Lk 7:1-10; 17:11-19), showing greater openness than His own people (Lk 7:9; 17:17-18) as had been the case in the past (Lk 11:29-32).

In confirmation of His statement that no prophet is without honor accept among his own the people of Nazareth are filled with anger, they rose up and thrust Him out of the city in order to cast Him down headlong from the brow of the hill whereon their city was built. In essence, by seeking to put Him to death they treat Him as a false prophet (Deut 13:1-5); as Jeremiah had been treated centuries before (Jer 12:6, 21).

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, Notes on Luke's Gospel, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Commentaries for the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 30, 2014

Sorry, a hectic week made this post very late.


Sunday’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Mass Readings (NJB). Scroll down slightly. The NJB is used in most other English speaking countries.

Today’s Divine Office.

Anglican Use Daily Office. ”Briefly, it is a provision for an “Anglican style” liturgy similar to the Book of Common Prayer as an ecclesiastically approved variant on the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.” More info.


Navarre Bible Commentary on Jeremiah 20:7-9. Readings from several versions followed by the commentary.

Word-Sunday Notes on Jeremiah 20:7-9.

Homilist’s Catechism on Jeremiah 20:7-9.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9.

Father Boylan’s Commentary on Psalm 63. On all of Psalm 63.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 63. On all of Psalm 63.

A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 63. On all of Psalm 63.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 63. On all of Psalm 63.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 63. On all of Psalm 63.


Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 12:1-2. This post is actually on verses 1-8 but, needless to say, today’s verses and commentary can be easily found.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 12:1-2. This post is on verses 1-5.

Father Rickaby’s Commentary on Romans 12:1-2.

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Romans 12:1-2. On 1-5 actually.

Aquinas’ Homily Notes on Romans 12:1-2. On 1-5. Can be used for points of meditation, reflection, further study.

Word-Sunday Notes on Ropmans 12:1-2.

Homilist’s Catechism on Romans 12:1-2.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Romans 12:1-2.


Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 16:21-27.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 16:21-27. This post includes commentary on verses 20-28.

Word-Sunday Notes on Matthew 16:21-27.

Homilist’s Catechism on Matthew 16:21-27.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 16:21-27.

The Cost of Discipleship. Blog post on the readings by Catholic biblical scholar Dr. John Bergsma.

Posted in Bible, Catholic Sunday Lectionary, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 23:27-32

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 26, 2014

Ver 27. “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.28. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”

Origen: As above they are said to be “full of extortion and excess,” so here they are “full of hypocrisy and iniquity,” and are likened to dead men’s bones, and all uncleanness.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Justly are the bodies of the righteous said to be temples, because in the body of the righteous the soul has dominion, as God in His temple; or because God Himself dwells in righteous bodies. But the bodies of sinners are called sepulchres of the dead, because the sinner’s soul is dead in his body; for that cannot be deemed to be alive, which does no spiritual or living act.

Jerome: Sepulchres are whitened with lime without, and decorated with marble painted in gold and various colours, but within are full of dead men’s bones. Thus crooked teachers who teach one thing and do another, affect purity in their dress, and humility in their speech, but within are full of all uncleanness, covetousness, and lust.

Origen: For all feigned righteousness is dead, forasmuch as it is not done for God’s sake; yea, rather it is no righteousness at all, any more than a dead man is a man, or an actor who represents any character is the man whom he represents. There is therefore within them so much of bones and uncleanness as are the good things that they wickedly pretend to. And they seem righteous outwardly, not in the eyes of such as the Scripture calls “Gods,” but of such only as “die like men.” [Psa_82:6]

Greg., Mor., xxvi, 32: But before their strict Judge they cannot have the plea of ignorance, for by assuming in the eyes of men every form of sanctity, they witness against themselves that they are not ignorant how to live well.

Pseudo-Chrys.: But say, hypocrite, if it be good to be wicked, why do you not desire to seem that which you desire to be? For what it is shameful to seem, that it is more shameful to be; and what to seem is fair, that it is fairer to be. Either therefore be what you seem, or seem what you are.

Ver 29. “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,30. And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.31. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.”

Jerome: By a most subtle syllogism He proves them to be the sons of murderers, while to gain good character and reputation with the people, they build the sepulchres of the Prophets whom their fathers put to death.

Origen: Without just cause He seems to utter denunciations against those who build the sepulchres of the Prophets; for so far what they did was praiseworthy; how then do they deserve this “woe”?

Chrys., Hom. lxxiv: He does not blame them for building the sepulchres, but discovers the design with which they built them; which was not to honour the slain, but to erect to themselves a triumphal monument of the murder, as fearing that in process of time the memory of this their audacious wickedness should perish.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, they said within themselves, If we do good to the poor not many see it, and then but for a moment; were it not better to raise buildings which all may see, not only now, but in all time to come; O foolish man, what boots this posthumous memory, if, where you are, you are tortured, and where you are not there you are praised?

While He corrects the Jews, He instructs the Christians; for had these things been spoken to the former only, they would have been spoken, but not written; but now they were spoken on their account, and written on ours. When one, besides other good deeds, raises sacred buildings, it is an addition to his good works; but if without any other good works, it is a passion for worldly renown.

The martyrs joy not to be honoured with money which has caused the poor to weep. The Jews, moreover, have ever been adorers of saints of former times, and contemners, yea persecutors, of the living. Because they could not endure the reproaches of their own Prophets, they persecuted and killed them; but afterwards the succeeding generation perceived the error of their fathers, and thus in grief at the death of innocent Prophets, they built up monuments of them. But they themselves in like manner persecuted and put to death the Prophets of their own time, when they rebuked them for their sins. This is what is meant, And ye say, “If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the Prophets.”

Jerome: Though they speak not this in words, they proclaim it by their actions, in ambitious and magnificent structures to their memory.

Pseudo-Chrys.: What they thought in their hearts, that they spoke by their deeds. Christ lays bare here the natural habit of all wicked men; each readily apprehends the other’s fault, but none his own; for in another’s case each man has an unprejudiced heart, but in his own case it is distorted. Therefore in the cause of others we can all easily be righteous judges. He only is the truly righteous and wise who is able to judge himself.

It follows, “Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that you are the children of them which killed the Prophets.”

Chrys.: What kind of accusation is this, to call one the son of a murderer, who partakes not in his father’s disposition? Clearly there is no guilt in being so; wherefore this must be said in proof of their resemblance in wickedness.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The character of the parents is a witness to the sons; if the father be good and the mother bad, or the reverse, the children may follow sometimes one, sometimes the other. But when both are the same, it very rarely happens that bad sons spring of good parents, or the reverse, though it be so sometimes. This is as a man is sometimes born out of the rule of nature, having six fingers or no eyes.

Origen: And in the prophetic writings, the historical sense is the body, the spiritual meaning is the soul; the sepulchres are the letter and books themselves of Scripture. They then who attend only to the historical meaning, honour the bodies of the Prophets, and set in the letter as in a sepulchre; and are called Pharisees, i.e. ‘cut off’ as it were cutting off the soul of the Prophets from their body.

32. “Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.

Chrys.: He had said against the Scribes and Pharisees, that they were the children of those who killed the Prophets; now therefore He shews that they were like them in wickedness, and that was false that they said, “If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the Prophets.”

Wherefore He now says, “Fill ye up the measure of your fathers.” This is not a command, but a prophecy of what is to be.

Pseudo-Chrys.: He foretels, that as their fathers killed the Prophets, so they also should kill Christ, and the Apostles, and other holy men. As suppose you had a quarrel with some one, you might say to your adversary, Do to me what you are about to do; but you do not therein bid him do it, but shew him that you are aware of his manoeuvres. And in fact they went beyond the measure of their fathers; for they put to death only men, these crucified God.

But because He stooped to death of His own free choice, He does not lay on them the sin of His death, but only the death of the Apostles and other holy men. Whence also He said, “Fill up,” and not “Fill over;” for a just and merciful Judge overlooks his own wrongs, and only punishes those done to others.

Origen: They fill up the measure of their fathers’ sins by their not believing in Christ. And the cause of their unbelief was, that they looked only to the letter and the body, and would understand nothing spiritual in them.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 144 other followers

%d bloggers like this: