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

Commentaries on the Daily and Sunday Readings (Ash Wednesday–Pentecost Sunday)

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 19, 2017

Commentaries for Ash Wednesday Through the Second Sunday of Lent.

Commentaries for the Second Week of Lent.

Commentaries for the Third Week of Lent.

Commentaries for the Fourth Week of Lent.

Commentaries for the Fifth Week of Lent.

Commentaries for Holy Week. Includes Easter.

Commentaries for Easter Sunday Through Divine Mercy Sunday.

Commentaries for the Second Week of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday–3rd Sunday of Easter).

Commentaries for the Third Week of Easter.

Commentaries for the Fourth Week of Easter.

Commentaries for the Fifth Week of Easter.

Commentaries for the Sixth Week of Easter. Includes Ascension.

Commentaries for the Seventh Week of Easter.

PENTECOST SUNDAY:

Extended Vigil Mass.
Mass During the Day.

 

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Commentaries for the Pentecost Readings: Mass During the Day

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 21, 2017

Please Note: In years past the Lectionary allowed for alternate 2nd and Gospel readings. In 2017 the USCCB website does not list any alternates. Whether this is an oversite on their part or represents a change is unknown to me.

READINGS AND OFFICE: Please Note: the Lectionary for today allows for an alternate second reading and an alternate Gospel reading. I’ve supplied commentary for all.

Today’s Mass Readings (NABRE). Translation used in the USA.

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

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: Acts 2:1-11.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 2:1-11.

Navvare Bible Commentary on Acts 2:1-11.

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Acts 2:1-11.

Homilist’s Catechism on Acts 2:1-11.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 2:1-11.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL PSALM: Ps 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 104.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 104: 1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34.

Lection Divina Notes on Psalm 104.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13.

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Commentary on 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13. Read all three lectures. English translation in the right column.

Homilist’s Catechism on 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13.

ALTERNATE SECOND READING: Romans 8:8-17.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans 8:8-17.

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Romans 8:8-17.

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 8:8-17. On 1-17

Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 8:8-17.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Romans 8:8-17.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL: John 20:19-23.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 20:19-23.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 20:19-23.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 20:19-23.

Father MacIntyre’s Commentary on John 20:19-23.

Navarre Bible Commentary on John 20:19-23.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Commentary on John 20:19-23. Scroll down and read lecture 4.

Homilist’s Catechism on John 20:19-23.

ALTERNATE GOSPEL READING: John 15:26-27; 16:12-15.

Fathers Nolan’s and Brown’s Commentary on John 15:26-27, 26:12-15.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 15:26-27, 16:12-15.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 15:26-27, 16:12-15.

Navarre Bible Commentary on John 15:26-27, 16:12-15.

PODCAST AND VIDEOS:

Pentecost and the Holy Spirit: The Lectionary Readings Explained. Catholic biblical Scholar Dr. Brant Pitre comments on the readings.

St Irenaeus Ministries Study of 1 Corinthians 12.

St Irenaeus Ministries Study of Romans 8.

St Irenaeus Ministries Study of John 20.

St Irenaeus Ministries Study of John 14. On 13-14.

HOMILIES ON THE FIRST READING: Acts 2:1-11.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Homily for Pentecost. A gem. Few of his homilies have survived.

A Homily on Acts 2:1-11. Pdf document. By Father Johann Evangelist Zollner, a famed preacher of his day.

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Father Rickaby’s Commentary on Romans 8:22-27

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 19, 2017

Text in red are my additions.

Rom 8:22  For we know that every creature groaneth and travaileth in pain, even till now.

Every creature groaneth and is in labour. It needs no commentator to point out how true these words are of every creature, πασα η κτισις, in the sense of all mankind, from the first dawn of history till now.

Rom 8:23  And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit: even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body.

It might have been thought that this heart-ache of humanity, this αποκαραδοκια, or eager looking out for absent good (v. 19); this groaning and travailing (v. 22), would have been cured by conversion to Christianity. The Apostle shows that the Gospel is not a cure, only a mitigation, and an earnest of perfect cure to come. Even to the Christian this life remains a period of groaning and waiting, but waiting for a definite and assured good,

Rom 8:24  For we are saved by hope. But hope that is seen is not hope. For what a man seeth, why doth he hope for?

We are saved by hope, i.e. our salvation is in hope, not yet consummated, spe, non re (hope, not reality), as St. Augustine often says.

What a man seeth, why doth he hope for? is hardly English. Render: What doth a man hope for, that he seeth? A better reading however is the reading of the Vatican manuscript: ο γαρ βλεπει τις ελπιζει; who hopeth for what he seeth?

Rom 8:25  But if we hope for that which we see not, we wait for it with patience.

Father Rickaby offers no comment on this verse.

Rom 8:26  Likewise, the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. For, we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings,

As we ought, as the context shows, refers not to the manner but to the matter of our prayer. Only in general do we know what is good for us: in particular we are often mistaken in our petitions, as was St. Paul himself on a notable occasion, 2 Cor. 12:8-9.

The Spirit himself (i.e. of Himself, preventing us with His gratuitous grace) asketh for us with unspeakable groanings. What is asketh for us but maketh us ask? To ask with groanings is a sure sign of need, but it is impious
to suppose the Holy Spirit to be in need of anything. But the word asketh means that He makes us ask, and breathes upon us the impulse of asking and groaning, according to the text (Matt. 10:20): “It is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you” (St. Augustine).

Unspeakable (or unuttered) groanings. A parent, himself an uneducated man, brings his boy to school, and says to the schoolmaster: I want you to make this boy a scholar : prepare him for the University. Thus the end is laid down in genera: but of the particular course of studies to be pursued, the parent knows nothing: all these details he leaves to the schoolmaster. Such details are by him unuttered, and even unutterable and unspeakable, because of his ignorance. So, moved strongly by the Holy Ghost, we desire and groan for salvation: but the detail of means that will lead to our individual salvation is, on many points, beyond our knowledge. Our groanings then, in respect of these particular means, are unuttered and unspeakable, because of our ignorance of detail.

Rom 8:27  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what the Spirit desireth: because he asketh for the saints according to God.

He that searcheth hearts (God, Psalm 7:10; Rev 2:23), knoweth what the Spirit desireth, i.e. under stands the full meaning of the petitions which the Holy Ghost prompts us to make, though we understand our own requests only in the vague, or even positively misunderstand them. One may think of a loyal-hearted man, who hates Catholics, praying that he may find the true way to salvation, or of a child praying to be a priest.

He asketh for the saints, i.e. moves the saints to ask for themselves. Saints here (as in 1 Cor. 1:2, &c.) means all true followers of Christ.

According to God, things which lie within God’s purpose to grant us in order to our salvation. Such things the Holy Spirit moves us to pray for; and such prayers are always heard (Matt. 7:7-8 ; John 14:13-14; 1 John 5:14-15). When we pray for those things, we pray as we ought (v. 26). See St. Thomas, 2a 2ae, q. 83, art. 15, ad 2 (Aquinas Ethicus, vol. ii. p. 128).

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Father Boylan’s Commentary on Romans 8:22-27

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 19, 2017

Some may find the following commentary rather difficult because Fr. Boylan was writing for those with a working knowledge of Greek. I have translated and defined the Greek words in an attempt to aid the reader. Text in red or are my additions. I’ve employed text in green to help the reader identify Greek prefixes here these are important for Fr. Boylan’s comments.

Rom 8:22  For we know that every creature groaneth and travaileth in pain, even till now.

οιδαμεν γαρ (“for we know”) etc. : All Christians would know the doctrine, of the Fall and what it implied: they would also know how the disorder induced by the Fall was ultimately to be overcome (Acts 3:21; 2 Pet 3:12 f .). What the faithful knew from Christian teaching they can observe with their own senses. Nature sighs and groans because of the slavery of corruption. Even up to the present moment all nature joins in a chorus of groaning. All nature writhes in pain (συνωδινει = groaneth) in pain like the pangs of childbirth.  The συν in συστεναζει (“groaneth”) and συνωδινει (“travaileth in pain”) emphasises the universality of the sorrows which nature endures: all nature groans and suffers pangs together.

The groaning and suffering of all nature continue, αχρι του νυν (“even till now”) even into the Christian period: with the Parousia the complete renewal of nature will begin. Parousia, literally, “presence.” The word is used for the return of Christ, the second coming. See 1 Thess 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess 2:1, 8.

Rom 8:23  And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit: even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body.

Paul now passes on to another reason for the certainty of our future glory.

Not merely irrational creatures, but we men also, look with painfully eager longing for the full glory of the sons of God. We groan also in the depths of our spirits ( εν εαυτοις) even we (read, και αυτοι [“even we”], or και ημεις αυτοι [“even we ourselves”]) though (or, because) we possess the Holy Spirit, as the first fruits (απαρχην) of the divine Sonship. We possess the first fruits which are the Holy Spirit (appositional Genitive): that is, the grace which we possess through Baptism is a prelude to, and a pledge of, glory. The “first-fruits ” are not thought of as a first installment of a glory to be more fully received; but the Holy Spirit is a pledge and guarantee of glory. Cf. the αρραβωνα του πνευματο (“pledge of the spirit”) in 2 Cor 1:22; 2 Cor 5:5; Eph 1:14.

The και αυτοι (“even we”) are not the Apostles merely, but all the regenerate, as distinguished from the κτίσις (“creatures,” “creation”) of vv. 19-22.

εχοντες (translated above as “who have”) can be rendered “although we possess” (concessive), or “because we possess”: the causal rendering would put emphasis on απεκδεχομενοι (“waiting for”). Most recent interpreters prefer the causal rendering because of the context (e.g., verses 15-17). Also, the causal rendering fits better with the description of the Spirit as a “pledge” (or downpayment)” in 2 Cor 1:22; 5:5; Eph 1:14. Finally there is the link between the Spirit and the coming hope of the end time blessings (Gal 5:5; 1 Cor 2:9-10).

The υιοθεσιαν (“adoption of the sons”) which is looked for, is the full and secure possession of divine Sonship. The faithful will attain to this when they rise from the dead, and their bodies are glorified. This is implied in “redemption of our body.” Aquinas says: Incohata est hujusmodi adoptio per Spiritum Sanctum justificantem animam . . . consummabitur autem per ipsius corporis glorificationem. . . . Ut sicut spiritus noster redemptus est a peccato, ita corpus nostrum redimatur a corruptione et morte (From Aquinas fifth lecture on Romans 8. The passage reads fully: “This adoption was begun by the Holy Spirit Justifying the soul: you have received the spirit of adoption of sons [Rom 8:15]. And it will be brought to fulfillment when the body is glorified: We glory in the hope of the glory of the sons of God [Rom 5:2]. And this is why Paul adds the redemption of our body here. For as our spirit has been redeemed from sin, so too our bodies will be redeemed from decay and death). (Cf. Phil 3:21; 1 Cor 15:51; 2 Cor 5:2 ff.). The πολυτρωσιν του σωματος (“redemption of our bodies”), not mean “redemption from the body” as if the body were something essentially evil. Such an idea is definitely out of harmony with Pauline teaching. At present the Spirit is life, and the body is dead, but when the uiodeaicc is perfect, the body also will be released from mutability: it also will be glorified. Hence we, looking forward to this glorification of our bodies, join in the chorus of nature’s sighing.

Rom 8:24  For we are saved by hope. But hope that is seen is not hope. For what a man seeth, why doth he hope for?
Rom 8:25  But if we hope for that which we see not, we wait for it with patience.

τη γαρ ελπιδι εσωθημεν, etc.  (for we are saved by hope): The  τη ελπιδι may mean, (a) for hope (dative of advantage), (b) through hope (instrumental dative), (c) as to hope i.e. (dativus modi], in hoping fashion.

Gut. accepts (a) and explains “for this hope” i.e., the glorification of our bodies is a “hope” in the sense of an object of hope; and for this object of hope, or unto the attainment of this object of hope, we have become participant in salvation through faith and baptism. As, according to Paul, we are saved by faith, not by hope, (b) is not in the spirit of Pauline teaching. Bard, and Lagrange accept (c): we are already redeemed and justified and, in so far, saved; but we still hope for redemption, since the body still looks for redemption. The sense is then, that we are saved in a hoping fashion but not yet fully in reality.

A thing that is hoped for must still be absent and invisible. If a thing is present and fully visible, it cannot be an object of hope: a “visible object of hope” is not a genuine object of hope!

The reading of the clause ο γαρ βλεπει τις ελπιζει (For what a man seeth, why doth he hope for) is uncertain.  At this point, Father Boylan gives several variant readings in the Greek manuscripts, but these need not detain us here since The sense of all the readings is substantially the same. What need has a man still to expect what he directly beholds? Spes est expeclatio futuri (“Hope is the expectation of something future,” Aquinas), and that which is immediately present and visible, is not futurum.

But the Christian does not behold the glory which is prepared for him. It is in the future. Hope, steadfast and patient, is an essential feature of the Christian life. The confident, patient hope of final glory is itself a guarantee of attaining that glory; and nothing, therefore, should be permitted to lessen the dogged steadfastness of our Christian hope.

Rom 8:26  Likewise, the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. For, we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings,

ωσαυτως (likewise), etc.: As we sigh together with irrational nature, so does the indwelling Holy Spirit help our weakness by helping us in our prayers, and sighing with us for the glory which is to come.

In the patient hopeful waiting, and longing of the Christ an life the Holy Spirit, Whom we have received as “firstfruits,” or “pledge” of salvation, graciously comes to the help of our weakness. Often in times of trouble we do not rightly know what God would have us ask for in prayer, or how He would have us to pray. As Aquinas says: In
generali quidem possumus scire quid convenienter oremus, sed in speciali hoc non possumus scire (we can know in a general way what it is suitable to pray for, but we cannot know this in particular). In this uncertainty as to how or what precisely we ought to pray, the Holy Spirit Himself (αυτο το πνευμα), Who dwells in us, comes to our help, and prays with us, and through us, by inspiring us with unutterable sighings. In nobis gemit (Spiritus Sanctus)
quia nos gemere facit (in us He [the Holy Spirit] groans because He makes us to groan. Augustine). Every due and suitable prayer that we utter in the abnormal seasons referred to, is produced in us by the Holy Spirit. Paul is obviously not speaking here of ordinary prayer, but of extraordinary and unusual prayer of mystic prayer, apparently, of which it can be said (as of the name written on the stone in Rev 2:17) ο ουδεις εγνω ει μη ο λαμβανων (no man knoweth but he that receiveth it). With this gift of mystic or ecstatic prayer should be compared the charism
of tongues.

The υπερ (on behalf of, for the sake of) in the word υπερεντυγχανει (asketh for us) implies that the Holy Spirit prays in our stead.  The sighings which He evokes in us are “unspeakable” because we cannot put them into clear words. But they are, nevertheless, in effect, prayers pleasing to God.

Rom 8:27  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what the Spirit desireth: because he asketh for the saints according to God. 

The “unspeakable groans” are fully understood by God because He is the “Searcher of hearts” (Ps 7:10; Jer 18:1; etc.) The Searcher of hearts knows (with approval) what the Holy Spirit has in view the φρονημα του πνευματος (the intentions of the Spirit, translated above as “what the Spirit desires”). Men’s hearts are often unintelligible to the men themselves, but not to God; He sees them through and through, for παντα δε γυμνα και τετραχηλισμενα τοις οφθαλμοις αυτου (all things are naked and open to his eyes, Heb. 4:13).

God and the Holy Spirit are one in nature, and hence God must know the purpose of the Holy Spirit when He prays in and through us. Furthermore, it is clear that the Holy Spirit can only pray “for the Saints” according to God’s designs and wishes (κατα θεον = “according to the will of God”).

The “Saints” are those who are in sanctifying grace, and who, therefore, enjoy the indwelling of the Spirit. The object of the sighing which the Holy Spirit evokes is “redemption of the body” (v. 23), heavenly glory (cf. 2 Cor. 5:2 ff.), union with Christ (Phil. 1:23).

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans 8:18-27

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 19, 2017

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s analysis of Romans chapter 8, followed by his comments on verses 18-25. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the scripture passage he is commenting on. Text in red, if any, are my additions.

ANALYSIS OF ROMANS CHAPTER 8

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

Rom 8:22  For we know that every creature groaneth and travaileth in pain, even till now.

22. He expresses, in the strongest form, the desire of inanimate nature to be rescued from corruption, by comparing it with the anxious desire, for a happy delivery, of a woman enduring the painful throes of childbirth.

He expresses, in the strongest form, the desire of inanimate nature to be rescued from corruption, by comparing it with the anxious desire, for a happy delivery, of a woman enduring the painful throes of childbirth.

Rom 8:23  And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit: even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body.

23. “But ourselves also,” is referred by some to the Apostle. It more probably, however, has reference to all Christians in the days of the Apostle. “Who have the first fruits of the spirit,” i.e., who have received the gifts of the Holy Ghost, sanctifying grace, faith, hope, &c., and the other gifts which were abundantly conferred in the primitive Church, and which were so many pledges of future glory. “Waiting for the adoption of the sons of God,” i.e., their perfect, consummate adoption, by receiving the glorious inheritance. We have already received the imperfect, incomplete adoption by grace. “The redemption of our body.” This is the perfect state of our adoption in our resurrection and glorification. “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”—(chap. 7 verse 24).

“But ourselves also,” is referred by some to the Apostle. It more probably, however, has reference to all Christians in the days of the Apostle. “Who have the first fruits of the spirit,” i.e., who have received the gifts of the Holy Ghost, sanctifying grace, faith, hope, &c., and the other gifts which were abundantly conferred in the primitive Church, and which were so many pledges of future glory. “Waiting for the adoption of the sons of God,” i.e., their perfect, consummate adoption, by receiving the glorious inheritance. We have already received the imperfect, incomplete adoption by grace. “The redemption of our body.” This is the perfect state of our adoption in our resurrection and glorification. “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”—(Rom 7:24).

Rom 8:24  For we are saved by hope. But hope that is seen is not hope. For what a man seeth, why doth he hope for?

We are only in a state of expectancy; for, we have here only obtained the salvation of hope. Now, hope is incompatible with actual fruition; it must cease to be hope when we enter on the fruition of the object hoped for; since, who ever made the things which he enjoys the object of his hope.

The Apostle, in the preceding verse, said, that we are anxiously expecting the glory of the blessed, the liberation of our body from the slavery of corruption. The connexion of this verse with it is, “I said we were expecting,” &c., for, that we are yet only expecting is clear from the fact, that it is only the initial salvation by hope we enjoy here below. Now, hope and fruition are perfectly incompatible; for, hope has reference to future, but not to present good or actual possession. “Hope that is seen,” means hope, the object of which is obtained.

Rom 8:25  But if we hope for that which we see not, we wait for it with patience.

If, then, we have not the things we are anxiously hoping for, we are only to wait and expect them by patiently enduring the evils of this life.

If hope excludes actual possession of the thing hoped for, we ought to wait with patience for the object which must be at a distance. “Patience,” in the Greek, ῦπομονῆς, means, the patient suffering of evils; it has reference to the words, verse 17, “yet so if we suffer with him.” As we have not yet attained the objects of hope, viz., the inheritance of the sons of God, we must wait to receive them through the patient suffering of the crosses and evils of this life.

Rom 8:26  Likewise, the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. For, we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings,

And not only have we received from the Holy Ghost the many favours referred to, particularly the testimony, that we are sons of God; but the same Spirit helps in sustaining our many infirmities, which are so great, that far from being able to perform good works, we even know not what to pray for, or how to pray, as we ought, and He Himself inspires us to pray with groans, that is to say, with a degree of spiritual fervour and strength, that cannot be fully expressed, or, with a fervour to ourselves inexplicable.

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth.” This is more probably connected with verse 16, as in Paraphrase. The Holy Ghost “helpeth,” the Greek word, συναντιλαμβανεται, means to lay hold of a weight, on the opposite side, so as to help in carrying it. It implies the free concurrence of man with the aid of the Holy Ghost. “Our infirmity.” (in the common Greek, ἀσθενείαις ἡμῶν, our infirmities. The Vulgate, ἀσθενείᾳ, is supported by the chief MSS.) “For, we know not what we should pray for,” &c. So great is our weakness, that we know not how to pray as we ought, or what to pray for, much less to perform actions, the aid for which must be derived from prayer. The Apostle instances our inability to pray, as one out of the many cases of infirmity under which we labour. “But the Spirit himself,” which evidently refers to the Holy Ghost, “asketh for us, with unspeakable groanings;” “he asketh” by inspiring and making us to ask; and hence he is said “to ask,” because his grace is the principal agent, assisted by our free will, in making us pray “with ineffable groanings,” i.e., with a fervour of spirit which cannot be fully expressed, or, which is even to ourselves unaccountable. The Holy Ghost, then, asks along with us, and through us, by enlightening us, by exciting us as his members, to pray with an ardour and vehemence which we can neither fully express nor account for; hence it is said elsewhere, “non vos estis qui loquimini sed spiritus patris vestri,” &c.—(Matt. 10:20.) “Misit spiritum … clamantem, abba pater.”—(Gal. 4:6).

Rom 8:27  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what the Spirit desireth: because he asketh for the saints according to God.

But although these groans which we send forth under the influence of God’s Spirit, be to us inexplicable, still God, the searcher of hearts, attends to them, and approves of them, because the Holy Ghost asks things, and asks them in a manner conformable to the will of God, when supplying the defect in the prayers of his saints.

But though these groans be to us inexplicable, still, God knows and fully approves of them, because they proceed from his Spirit, whose prayers for us, i.e., to supply our deficiency, are always according to God’s will, “because he asketh for the saints,” i.e., in order to supply the deficiency in the prayers of the saints. Others connect the words thus: The Spirit also, as well as the hope of future bliss, sustains us in all our distresses and weakness.

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Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 27

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 19, 2017

Title. A Psalm of David. In the LXX.: A Psalm of David before he was anointed.1

ARGUMENT

Arg. Thomas. That Christ is the illumination, protection, and safety of His servants that put their trust in Him. To those who for the first time enter into the Lord’s house. Concerning the love of the Law. The voice of them that are baptized. To them that first enter into the faith of the Lord. To be read with the lection of Isaiah the Prophet, “Behold, they that love Thee shall eat good things.” The voice of the Prophet crying to God.

Ven. Bede. David was thrice anointed: once at Bethlehem, in the house of his father, by Samuel; secondly, in Hebron, by the Tribe of Judah, after the death of Saul; thirdly, in the same place, by all Israel, after that the son of Saul was slain. But since we read not that he composed any Psalm before his first unction, it follows that the second is that to which this title refers; before which, while he was yet an exile because of the snares of Saul, he is recorded to have written a Psalm. Note, that before he was anointed is not found in the Hebrew.

Since frequently before he ascended the throne David was troubled by his bitter enemies, the Prophet speaks (with reference to these his escapes) through the whole Psalm. In the opening he declareth himself to fear the Lord, and to tremble at none else: he testifieth that, in the adversities of the world, one refuge remains to him,—that, though he be tempest-tossed by corporeal dangers, he dwelleth in the house of the Lord by the unchangeable devotion of his soul: The Lord is my Light and my Salvation. Next, delivered from manifold destruction in divers manners, he returneth thanks; and in the spirit of prophecy promiseth to himself the reward of future beatitude, Hear my voice, O Lord.

Syriac Psalter. David, on account of the sickness which had fallen on him.

S. Athanasius. A Psalm of boasting in the Lord.

(It is manifest, on careful consideration, that this Psalm consists, properly speaking, of two: the first, a hymn of triumph, ends at the seventh verse; the other, a penitential ode, is clearly in a different metre, as well as on a different subject.)

1 The Lord is my light, and my salvation; whom then shall I fear: the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?

The anointings of David were three:* in Bethlehem, in Hebron over Judah, and again in Hebron over all Israel. So were those of Christ: in His Mother’s womb, in His Baptism, and after His Resurrection, when all power was given unto Him in heaven and in earth. Cardinal Hugo1 sees the same triple unction in us: (1) in free grace, in our first vocation; (2) in sanctifying grace, after which we have to fight,* as David with his enemies, and our Lord with the devil in the wilderness; (3) in heaven, for a blessed immortality.

My Light. (L.) And as Baptism is illumination, and so spoken of both in Scripture and the Primitive Church, my Light is well put before all other titles of the Lord. Then comes the salvation in all those battles to which we are, as it were, girded in Baptism. Notice the paronomasia between או̇רִי my light, and אִירָא shall I be afraid? And, as in the first clause, at the word light, we have the Sacrament of Baptism, so in the second, at the phrase, the Strength of my life, we have that of Confirmation.

Or,* again, you may take it as S. Albertus does: The Lord is my Light against the curse of ignorance, (A.) and my Salvation against the impotence of infirmity. Well says S. Augustine: “The Emperor is protected by his guards, and is safe; mortal is shielded by mortal, and feels secure; the Immortal defends a mortal, and do you dare to tremble?” The Lord is my Light.* And how so? Pseudo-Dionysius explains it well. First, as being the Source of all physical light and brightness; secondly, because all spiritual light and illumination, whether in angels or men, comes from Him, Who is the Father of lights. Thirdly, (Cd.) because He is the Comforter of them that are in mists and darkness; as it is written, “Unto the godly there ariseth up light in the darkness; He is merciful, loving, and righteous.”* Fourthly, because He is the Source, the one only Fountain of that Light of Glory, (G.) which forms the Beatific Vision. Or again: The Lord is my Light and my Salvation. The Law was a light, showing what must be done, and what must be avoided; but in no sense a salvation, for it gave no power to do that which it enjoined, or to keep from that which it forbade. “The Law made nothing perfect; but the coming in of a better hope did.”* And we may boldly put the verse into our Lord’s own mouth; for, speaking according to His Manhood, (D. C.) it was from God that He increased, as S. Luke testifies, in wisdom; of God, that He was enlightened and upheld in the darkness and struggles of His thirty-three years’ life on earth. And now, O Lord Jesu, Thou art our Light! If Thou be our guard, who can harm us? If Thou be our illumination, what can darken us? So lead us on through the dim twilight of this world by the light of Thy grace, that hereafter we may attain, in heaven, to the unclouded light of Thy glory!

2 When the wicked, even mine enemies, and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh: they stumbled and fell.

In the first and most natural sense, our Lord would tell us of that night, when His enemies, as soon as He had said, “I am He,”* went backward and fell to the ground. Gerhohus not inelegantly refers to the speech of S. Laurence on the gridiron, when it was indeed as though his enemies would eat up his flesh: “Assatus sum; jam versa, et manduca.” They stumbled: (G.) or, as it is in the Vulgate, they became weak:* and so we are reminded of that long war between the House of Saul and the House of David, which must be carried on during the whole course of every individual Christian life; and, in a still higher sense, between the Church of the Living God and the legions of Satan, until the consummation of all things. But we must see a far deeper mystery in the verse. “When the wicked.”—thus speaks the Immaculate Lamb, Whose Flesh is meat indeed, and Whose Blood is drink indeed—“came to eat up My Flesh at the altar, came unworthily, came profanely, they stumbled and fell: this was the key-stone of their iniquities, this put the finishing stroke to their punishment.” The story is well known of the younger infidel, during the epoch of Voltaire, inquiring of his more hardened and older friend, how to get rid of the prickings of conscience by which he was even still sometimes annoyed. “Take the Sacrament,” replied the hoary sinner. The advice was followed, and God’s Spirit strove no more with that man: he stumbled and fell.* Others understand my flesh of the fleshly failings and infirmities of every true servant of God; and the complaint to be of the joy and eagerness with which the Lord’s enemies hunt them out: just as Job speaks, “If the men of my tabernacle said not, Oh that we had of his flesh! we cannot be satisfied.”* (D. C.) Or we may take they stumbled and fell in a good sense. “Whoever shall fall on that stone, shall be broken.”* While they came, as Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter, they fell to the earth at the voice of the Lord Himself; while they came, as another Saul, to destroy David at Naioth in Ramah,* the Spirit descends upon them, and they lie down and prophesy.

3 Though an host of men were laid against me, yet shall not my heart be afraid: and though there rose up war against me, yet will I put my trust in him.

So the Jewish King fulfils the commandment of the Jewish Lawgiver. (L.) “When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies,* and seest horses and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them; for the Lord thy God is with thee.”* These are the words that, together with the first verse of this same Psalm, have been in the mouths of many a martyr:* and S. Cyprian, in that heart-thrilling exhortation, adduces them nobly. They say that, when S. Antony, after one of those strange physical assaults of the Enemy by which the Divine love permitted him to be exercised, remained victor, but through very exhaustion prostrate on the ground, he chanted lustily,* Though there rose up war against me, yet will I put my trust in Him. “He,” says S. Augustine, “will give victory to the contester Who inspired boldness for the contest.* Let us not fear then the multitude of the enemy, nor the shining armour, nor that mighty and terrible Goliath. One David shall prostrate him with one stone; one youth shall put to flight the whole army of the aliens.” And the confidence of the King and of the Apostle was the same; for what is this verse but, in other words, that saying of S. Paul? “I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers,”*—and the rest of that catalogue so trying to faith,—“shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” But let us rather put the words into our dear Lord’s mouth,* in the same night in which He was betrayed, or rather offered Himself for the life of the world, and when the band of men and officers, under the command of Judas, were already drawing nigh to take Him. An host of men indeed: Jews and Romans,—Pharisees, puffed up in their boasted holiness; soldiers, the very outcasts of humanity: the fickle multitude that, at the beginning of that same week, proclaimed Him King of the Jews, and now are about to say, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Then there rose up war, (G.) such as never had been since the foundation of the world, such as never can be till the consummation of all things,—a war, the prize whereof was the whole human race,—a contest, where, on the arms of the Cross, as on scales, hung the eternal joy or misery of all generations. Yet shall not my heart be afraid. Yea, and though it were for an hour,—“If it be possible, let this cup pass;” that hour went by, and then it was “the day of His joy, and the day of the gladness of His heart:”* it was “the Baptism that He had to be baptized with, and how was He straitened till it was accomplished!”*—it was the season when He was reigning “in Mount Sion and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously!”* In this will I be confident. They dispute to what the word1 this refers; but let us take it in its fullest and most glorious sense; for never was there, never can there be, such a this as Calvary. A this, for Him That endured it; in this mortal agony, in this putting forth of all the powers of all infernal spirits, in this accomplishment of all prophecies, in this fulfilment of all types, in this the ark of a shipwrecked world,* in this the True and Eternal Tree of Life, in this will I, the God of confidence, be confident Myself. And clinging to this, O Lord Jesus, crucified to this together with Thee, grasping this as the anchor of our souls, dying if it must be so at the foot of this, this “the place where valiant men are,”* this the dying bed of the martyrs, the strength of the confessors, in this will I be confident!

4 One thing have I desired of the Lord, which I will require: even that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the fair beauty of the Lord, and to visit his temple.

However we may apply the words in a lower sense, (L.) their own real meaning can rest satisfied with nothing short of that “house not made with hands,* eternal in the heavens;” (A.) and of this the principal among the Latin Fathers understand the petition. This is indeed the one thing needful; this is indeed the joy to be required, ay, and to be taken by violence. Have I desired: by prayer. I will require, not by prayer only, but by self-denial, fasting, almsgiving, everything which may cause God to bow down His ear to my petition. Gerhohus puts the sentence into the mouth of our Lord, (G.) and paraphrases it with even more than his ordinary beauty: “I, in that night in which I was to be betrayed to death, to the end that I might overcome death, desired one thing of the Lord; which I will require, I, the True Unity, by interceding for the unity of them that are Mine even till the consummation of all things. And this was My prayer: ‘Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me.’* Thus I then asked that one thing from the Lord, when I was about to die for that people; and not for that people only, but that I might gather together in one the sons of God that were scattered abroad. This one thing I then once asked, namely, in My death; but I will daily require it in the Sacrament which I have commanded My Priests to offer for My holy Church continually. By My own mouth I desired it once; by the lips of My Priests I still require it continually, as long as My death shall be set forth in the Sacrament of the Altar, until I shall come at the end of the world, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord in peace: all war at an end, all My members completely united to their Head, all the stones banded together in the everlasting building, by the grace of Me, Corner and Top stone, Author and Finisher of Faith.”

O how many a soul, now set free from carnal struggles, now liberated from earthly darkness, desired that one thing in the days of her pilgrimage here! in the time of that life which is not life,* that they might stand all the days of their true life in the House of the Lord! “O blessed region of Paradise!” cries one; “O blessed region of delights, to* which I yearn from the valley of ignorance, from the valley of tears, where is wisdom without ignorance, where is memory without oblivion, where is intellect without error, where is reason without obscurity! Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house; they will be alway praising Thee! The kingdom of God is bestowed, promised, manifested, received; bestowed in predestination, promised in vocation, manifested in heaven.”—We may also, if we will, take the verse in a lower sense,—lower only comparatively with the highest,—of the religious, as contrasted with the secular, life. In this signification, over and over again have the great masters of spiritual life preached from it to their followers; in this signification S. Bernard impressed it on his Cistercians, Peter the Venerable on his Cluniacs, S. Francis de Sales on his Sisters of the Visitation. Or,* again, as most of the Greek Fathers,* we may understand it of the visible and material House of God,* the symbol and foretaste of that eternal dwelling. That I may see the fair beauty of the Lord. The Vulgate has it voluptatem;1 (G.) but Gerhohus, following the Italic, reads voluntatem, and shows how fully our Lord’s prayer in this respect was fulfilled. And they may well take occasion, hence to dwell on the two wills of the Lord,—as Perfect God and Perfect Man. Never let it be conceived that Monothelism was an abstract heresy, which has no relation to the inward Christian life. It is everything for us, whether our dear Lord, as man, had to utter this prayer, “that I may see the will of the Lord,”—whether He suffered, and therefore can sympathise with, that bitter struggle against our own wills; or whether, by the so-called Theandric operation, that struggle was in name only, not in reality. Well did S. Sophronius labour and suffer for this, the engrafting in the Catholic Creed that precious doctrine of our Lord’s Sympathy. Let the Scriptural Albert explain the verse to us:* “That I may dwell. Here is what he seeks and requires; that celestial habitation which is the House of God. O Israel, how great is the House of God,* and how large is the place of His possession. And this all the days of my life! As if he said, I will never cease. And in these words we are taught that there should be unity in our prayers; that we should not ask for many things, but for one. ‘When ye pray, use not vain repetitions.’* There must be diuturnity,—have I desired; and continually,—which I will require all the days of my life. ‘Be not thou hindered to pray continually.’* ‘Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.’* It must be spiritual, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord: all the days of our present life, laboriously, in the Church Militant: and after that, for ever and ever, gloriously, in the Church Triumphant. First, of the first: ‘Neither death nor life.… shall separate us.’* Of the second: ‘Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out.’* That I may see the will of the Lord. According to that glorious petition, ‘Thy will be done.’ And to visit the Temple. Christ the Man, the Temple of the Divinity. ‘The Lord God Almighty,* and the Lamb, are the Temple of it.’ ”1 Thus far S. Albert.

5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his tabernacle: yea, in the secret place of his dwelling shall he hide me, and set me up upon a rock of stone.

Or,* as the Vulgate gives it, He hath hid me. That tabernacle, of which Isaiah says, “Come, My people, enter thou into thy chamber, and shut the doors about thee:”* the Rock which is to be the hiding-place for the persecuted and feeble conies: that safe cleft, opened by the spear in the day of Calvary, and since then, and to the end of all things, affording a refuge for all troubled souls until the indignation be overpast. His tabernacle, won for us when with His own Right Hand and with His Holy Arm He gat Himself the victory: but yet “our chamber” also, because belonging to each of us as much as if none other had a right to that hiding-place.

Here let my Lord hang up His conquering lance,*

And bloody armour, with late slaughter warm;

And looking down on His weak militants,

Behold His Saints, amidst their hot alarm,

Hang all their golden hopes upon His arm:

And, in this lower field dispacing wide,

Through windy thoughts that would their sails misguide,

Anchor their fleshly ships fast in His wounded Side!

Venerable Bede,* connecting this with the preceding verse, says very well that, it is as though some one, amazed at the boldness of David’s desire “to visit the Temple,” had asked: Do you, spotted with sin, do you, from the sole of whose foot to the crown of whose head there is no soundness, venture on such a request? Yes: for in the time of trouble He hath already hid me in His tabernacle; in the time of glory, therefore, (D. C.) He may well give me a place in His mansion. In the secret place of His dwelling. “The Lord said, that He would dwell in the thick darkness.”* And, no doubt, here we have a reference to the Incarnation; our only defence in the time of trouble,* our only hiding-place from the just wrath against sin. Upon a Rock. “What is there of good,” cries S. Bernard, “that is not to be found in the Rock? On the Rock I am exalted; on the Rock I am secure; on the Rock I stand firmly. Secure from the enemy; brave, as regards accident: and this because lifted up from the earth; for changeable and perishable is everything earthly.” And no doubt there is a reference in this to that magnificent vision in Exodus: “Behold, there is a place by Me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock;* and it shall come to pass, while My glory passeth by,* that I will put thee in a cleft of the Rock, and will cover thee with My hand while I pass by.”* And thus is God’s glory seen in the Incarnation. They take it, again, of the religious life; those holy men who, in the midst of those tempests of iniquity, those frightful storms of violence and ungodliness, had experienced this strong Tower; where they, in the deep secret place of the Tabernacle, communed with their Lord, leaving their converse with Him as the teaching and the delight of all ages. O happy and holy tabernacles—ἀθάναται κάλυβαι—of Citeaux,* Prémontré, Cluny, Monte Casino, Fontevraud, S. Gall, how, while studying the Psalms which so gloriously echoed among you, how do we still feel the influence, how do we still drink into the learning, how may we still taste of the holiness, of those night-watches, of those fasts, of those vigils, which made your Saints that which they were, and you the nursing mothers of religion in the midst of floods of ungodliness!

6a (6) And now shall he lift up mine head: above mine enemies round about me.

S. Bernard names three ways in which our heads are lifted up:* by disenchaining our hearts from earthly affections; by conferring on us Divine knowledge; by kindling in us the love of heavenly things. But let us rather take our Head in the sense of Him Who is our only and our True Head, Jesus Christ. Now, whatever happens to me, (G.) my Head, shall be exalted; now, whatever sufferings are appointed for me, my Head shall be honoured. “Now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death.”* Lifted up. But how? He was lifted up on the Cross, as well as to the Throne: and in that sense also may we take it,—that when we are suffering from our enemies round about, our Head makes those sufferings His own. If we are crucified, (A.) He shares our cross; “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” If Stephen is stoned on earth, Jesus is standing in heaven. He hath exalted my Head is the reading of the Vulgate; and well does S. Augustine remind us that, our Head being already there, we, His members, ought to be with Him now in thought and desire, as hereafter in joyful reality.

Sic nobis cum cœlestibus

Commune manens gaudium,*

Illis, quod se præsentavit,

Nobis, quod se non abstulit.

6b (7) Therefore will I offer in his dwelling an oblation with great gladness: I will sing, and speak praises unto the Lord.

Or as it is in the Vulgate, I have gone round, (G.) and offered the sacrifice of vociferation. And this going round, if fancifully, is at least beautifully applied to the Litanies of the Church; which, beginning from the Blessed Trinity itself, the Source of all being, go round or through the economy of the Christian dispensation, commencing at the Incarnation, continuing through the Life and Passion, culminating in the Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord, and the sending down of the Paraclete; and then again returning to that glorious Trinity whence the office began. And the sacrifice of vociferation gloriously describes the one and completed oblation of the Cross, that most precious Blood, which cried aloud for better things than that of Abel. Or the going round may be the going through the world with the glad tidings of salvation: “So that from Jerusalem,* and round about unto Illyricum, (L.) I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ.”* Ambrosius Ansbertus refers us to the going round Jericho,* the devoted city: and thence gathers that it is when the sins and temptations of our corrupt nature are devoted to God,* then a true sacrifice of peace is offered. Albertus reminds us here, when we go round this lower world, and all its beauty and glory, we shall find it nothing but a book full of the praise of God;* and “marvellous is it,” cries Gregory, “that man is not always praising, since everything amidst which he dwells is continually inviting praise.” Or, finally, we may take it,* with others, of a soldier diligently going his rounds, keeping a diligent look-out on the enemy, and fulfilling the last command, delivered to the multitudes, of the Captain of his salvation: “And what I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch.”* I will sing and speak praises. But how is this? to begin with singing, and to descend to speaking? Yes; for as he that was not rich enough to bring the bullock or the goat, was allowed to offer the pair of turtle doves, or the two young pigeons, so here the meanest, as well as the highest praise, is not rejected from the service of God.

[There is yet another offering, when he whose “life is hid with Christ in God,”* offers the oblation of self-denial and holiness, according to those words of a Saint:

Nec Christi exemplo suavior exit odor

Quam cum homo castorum profert libamina morum,*

Et de virtutum munere sacra litat.]

7 (8) Hearken unto my voice, O Lord, when I cry unto thee: have mercy upon me, and hear me.

My Voice: that Voice which the precious Blood of Calvary utters from the ground. Remark, (G.) he saith not, words; for this is a mute voice, not articulated into phrases, but none the less mighty, yea rather, none the less Almighty, to bring down God’s pardon. The Voice of that Blood, whether on the Cross or in the chalice: “one thing have I desired of the Lord,” the pardon of man. It has been well observed, that this verse contains nine necessaries to prayer. It must be,1 for a worthy matter;* vocal; rational; proper; devout; right; humble; necessary; continuous. S. Gregory well says,* with a turn that can best be given in its original idiom: “Æternam etenim vitam si ore petimus, non tamen ore desideramus, clamantes tacemus. Si vero desideramus deramus ex corde cum etiam ore conticescimus, tacentes clamamus.”

I said, in the introduction to this Psalm, that this eighth verse manifestly began a new composition; the triumphal thanksgiving of the former having been succeeded by penitential deprecation. The two Psalms, however, seem to have been joined into one long before any historical evidence.

8 (9) My heart hath talked of thee, Seek ye my face: thy face, Lord, will I seek.

Or, as it is in the Vulgate, To Thee my heart hath spoken: Thee my face sought out: Thy face, O Lord, will I seek. “This,” says Vieyra,* “is the discreet energy wherewith David repeats to God that which he had already said to Him, To Thee my heart spake. He saith not, ‘To Thee, O Lord, I spoke;’ because to God the heart alone speaks, and with God the heart alone holds converse. And as the heart is the instrument and the tongue which speaks to God; thus, as men understand only that which the tongue says, and comprehend not that which the heart speaks, so God hears only that which the heart speaks, and pays no attention to that which the tongue says. Hence it follows that, if the heart speak not, though the man may say the same thing a hundred and fifty times, yet, so far as God is concerned, he speaks not one word, and is dumb. Voce sonant, corde muti sunt.”

The Hebrew in itself presents considerable difficulty; and hence the very different reading of the Prayer Book and of the Bible version, which, amplifying that of Tremellius and Jerome, gives, When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face. But this is clear: that whatever the Psalmist had done in past times, (L.) that he now stirs himself up to do manifold times more.* Thy face, Lord, will I seek. As Moses did in the Mount, when he partly, but not fully, obtained that which he desired; and as the same Moses, nearly fifteen hundred years after, did on the holy hill of Tabor. “The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, for the soul that seeketh Him,”* says Jeremiah. “And if good,” asks S. Bernard,* “to them that seek Him, what to them that find Him?” Or, as the Saint says in that most precious rhythm:

“Quam pius te quærentibus!

Sed quid invenientibus?”

S. Gregory complains that,* after his elevation to the Pontifical dignity, he had so much less opportunity for this most sweet search after God than had been possible to him before. Others, again, take the word face in the same sense in which S. Paul speaks of the brightness of the Father’s glory,* and the express image of His Person, namely, of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here,* it has been well said, in seeking for the glory and manifest vision of God, he asks, in fact, for two things: 1, for the end itself, in this verse; 2, for the means requisite to that end, in the next. And he prayed as the mother of his master did: “Now Hannah, she spoke in her heart.”* Notice that there are some who in their prayers speak, (Ay.) not to God, but to man; who seek not God’s face, but man’s: and these are the hypocrites. And then, the bold, fearless declaration, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. It is needful, indeed, that he who makes it should have that perfect confidence in God, of which we before read, “Though an host of men were laid against me, yet shall not my heart be afraid;” for let but once this calm, unflinching resolution be expressed, and their name will be legion who attack us.

9a (10) O hide not thou thy face from me: nor cast thy servant away in displeasure.

Three times is that expression, (L.) the face of God,* repeated; whence they gather the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. But God’s face may be hid for other causes besides that of displeasure; (G.) whence the second clause of this verse. It may be in pure love; it may be for our own preservation, as was the case with Moses in the rock; it may be only that we may seek more earnestly, and find more gloriously. And this whole verse shows how God worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. He had said in the verse above, (C.) “Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” But of himself he could never find; therefore the second petition, I seek: O hide not Thou. S. Augustine breaks out into a fervour of rapture in his second exposition: “O hide not Thou Thy face from me. Magnificent! nothing can be more divinely spoken! This is the feeling of those that truly love. Another man would be blessed and immortal in the pleasures of those earthly lusts which he loves, and peradventure for this reason would worship God, and pray, that he may long live here in his delights, and that nothing should fail him, which earthly desire has in possession, neither gold, nor silver, nor any estate that charms his eyes; that his friends, his children, his wife, his dependents, should not die: in these delights would he live for ever. But since he cannot for ever, for he knows that he is mortal, for this haply does he worship God, and for this pray to God, and for this sigh to God, that all these things may last even to old age. And if God should say to him, Lo, I make thee immortal in these things, he would accept it as a great boon, and in the exultation of his joy and congratulation would be unable to contain himself. Not so doth the man act, who hath made one petition of the Lord.”

9b (11) Thou hast been my succour: leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

My succour: and what does that prove save that the petitioner is at work for himself? One may move a stock or a stone, (A.) that do nothing for themselves; one cannot be said to succour, unless the thing succoured try with its own strength. And not less true is the remark of S. Jerome:* He that remembers so gratefully, shall certainly be assisted most hopefully. Leave me not: and so he attributes all his past good actions to God; for, unless the Lord had been with him before, He could not be asked not to forsake him now.* Leave me not, neither forsake me. And thence they draw an argument for the difference between mortal and venial sins. Leave Me not: not even for one moment; not even so that I may commit one folly, may be guilty of the least and most trivial fault.* Neither forsake me. For, if Thou shouldest leave me to myself for any time, there is no depth of guilt into which I may not fall. It is no merit of mine, but simply Thine own watchfulness, which has hitherto preserved me. And remember, says one earnestly, (Ay.) that though none ought to despair while yet in the Way, because till the very end the grace of God stands open, yet none can feel secure, because, till the very end, the devices of Satan will not be concluded. If, on the one hand, He is able to save unto the uttermost; on the other, “he that is dead”—and therefore none but he that is dead—“hath ceased from sin.”1 Or, if we put the verse into our Lord’s mouth, we must understand it: “Be Thou My helper, O Lord, (D. C.) My Father, co-operating with Me in all things: leave Me not in the hand of the wicked, on the Cross: leave Me not to the guardianship of the soldier, in the sepulchre: nor forsake Me, that is, My mystical Body, for which I lived, for which I suffered, for which I died, for which I rose again from the dead: leave Me not, neither forsake Me, O God of My salvation.”

“One of the things,” says Vieyra,* “which I have much noted in David, is the great frequency with which he beseeches God not to leave him; and the many and divers ways in which he repeats and urges this same petition: ‘O go not from me, for trouble is at hand;’* ‘Leave me not, neither forsake me;’ ‘Go not from me, O Lord;’ ‘Cast me not away from Thy Presence;’ ‘Go not far from me, O God;’ ‘O let me not go wrong;’ and five times2 in the same words, ‘Forsake me not.’ If God for a sin of David’s left him once, and afterwards restored His Grace with so much certainty and efficacy, why does he so often, and in such different ways, beseech God not to leave him? Certain it is that the Prophet would not discover so many ways of supplicating, unless God had as many ways of leaving. And why? The reason depends equally on His mercy, and on our misery. God never leaves man, unless man first leaves Him; and because we have so many ways of leaving God, therefore God has so many ways of leaving us. Thus wrote God in an express law: ‘This people will forsake Me.… and I will forsake them;’* and in another place drew a consequence from it: ‘Because ye have forsaken the Lord, He hath also forsaken you.’* So that to leave and to be left is, between God and man, a reciprocal condition. If God were to be the first to leave, never should we be left; but because we are the first to leave, therefore it is that so often, and in so many different ways, we are forsaken by God.”

10 (12) When my father and my mother forsake me: the Lord taketh me up.

Look for a moment at King David, (L.) when he gave his father and his mother to the care of the King of Moab;* and thus, in the midst of his dangers and wanderings, was forsaken by them. And then consider the Son of David, forsaken and rejected by His own relations,—“for neither did His brethren believe in Him,”—and yet taken up by that Father, of Whom He said, “I knew that Thou hearest Me always.” But mystically, (G.) human nature was forsaken by its general father1 and mother at the very beginning: when, forgetful of the misery and destruction they thus entailed on their race, they ate of the forbidden fruit; and God took it up, by the promise given as soon as the sentence was pronounced, that “the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.” It is a singular explanation of S. Augustine, (A.) that by the father, the devil, by the mother, corrupt human nature, is signified; both of whom forsake us when we earnestly and with purpose of heart turn to God. Others, again, see in this verse the complaint of our Lord of His rejection by His father, the Jewish nation, and by His mother, the synagogue,—that mother who platted for Him so cruel a diadem in the day of His Passion. And notice: (D. C.) when David complains that his father and mother had forsaken him,—(and compare the text, “Thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittitc,”*)—in the person of Adam and Eve, it was his Son, as well as his Lord, Who, taking him up, was to repair his loss: “Instead of thy fathers, thou shalt have children.” There is a Hebrew tradition, to which the verse may refer, that God had bound Himself by oath to be the Father and Mother of the orphan, (Cd.) who with all his heart and soul had resort to Him.

11 (13) Teach me thy way, O Lord: and lead me in the right way, because of mine enemies.

And it may still be the Son of David Who, according to the flesh, (G.) speaks. For He knew the malice and bitterness of His enemies: He saw how they “watched Him;” He knew how they would entangle Him in His talk. And what, in so far as He was Man, He in the days of His flesh prayed for Himself, that He still prays for those that, being His, are Himself: “Why persecutest thou Me?” And this verse well connects itself with that which precedes: (L.) for, if the Lord has taken us up as our Father, then it is His to lay down the laws by which we are to be governed and guided. And David had good occasion to offer this prayer: he, of whom, on account of one unhappy deed, it is written, “Thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.”* Teach me Thy way. And who is the way, save He That said,* (A.) “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life?” Him we have to learn as the Way;* Him we have to strive after, as the end. Teach me: or, as others have rendered it, Enlighten me: in Him and by Him Who is the Light as well as the Way. Or take it as the voice of Christ Himself: Lead Me in the right way, namely, from darkness to light, (Lu.) from the sepulchre to the palace, from the darkness of Joseph’s cave to the ineffable light of heaven. And this because of Mine enemies: for they have set the seal, and appointed the guard, lest “the last error should be worse than the first.”

12 (14) Deliver me not over to the will of mine adversaries: for there are false witnesses risen up against me, and such as speak wrong.

Of David, no need to show how he was persecuted by the false witnesses who chased him from city to city, (L.) from wilderness to wilderness: how Doeg, how the Ziphites, how the men of Keilah rose up against him with their falsehoods: and how, but by God’s perpetual love, this “morning hind” must have been taken in the toils. And so of the Son of David: “There arose certain, and bare false witness against Him, saying, We heard Him say, I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.”* Well says Vieyra:* “If we read the Gospel of S. John, we shall find that Christ had of a truth said the aforesaid words. If, then, Christ in reality had said that He would rebuild the temple in three days, and this is the very thing that the witnesses deposed to, how can the Evangelist call them false witnesses?.… They were false, because Christ spake in one sense, and they reported in another; and to report the words of God in a different sense from that in which they were spoken, is to bear false witness against God. Ah, Lord, how many bear false witness against Thee now! how many times do preachers make Thee say that which Thou never saidst! how many times I hear, not Thy words, but the preacher’s imaginations!” The latter part of the verse thus runs in the Vulgate, and it has probably been as often quoted as any clause of the Psalms: “and iniquity hath lied to itself.” It is confessedly one of the most difficult verses in the Psalms; whether one ends the meaning with the conclusion of the clause, or, with Tremellius, carries it on into the next verse, “and they that breathe out violence would have carried me off, unless I had believed to see,”* &c. And iniquity hath lied to itself since the beginning of the world; but never so as when that old Leviathan swallowed the bait of the Lord’s Humanity, and perished by the hook of His Divinity. Let the Eastern Church tell us so in her own glorious language:* διὰ θανάτου τὸ θνητὸν, διὰ ταφῆς τὸ φθαρτὸν, μεταβάλλεις• ἀφθαρτίζεις γὰρ θεοπρεπέστατα, ἀπαθανατίζων τὸ πρόσλημμα• ἡ γὰρ σάρξ σου διαφθορὰν οὐκ εἶδε, Δεσπότα, οὐδὲ ἡ ψυχή σου εἰς ᾅδου ξενοπρεπῶς ἐγκαταλέλειπται. Iniquity lied to itself, (A.) when the Jews were pursuing the Spotless Lamb with their “Crucify Him! crucify Him!” but Satan (now too late discovering his mistake) had stirred up Procla to send the message, “Have thou nothing to do with that Just man.” It has been imagined, but surely without sufficient cause,* that this verse was corrupted by the Jews, in order to obscure the reference to the false witnesses against our Lord.

13 (15) I should utterly have fainted: but that I believe verily to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Oh,* happy verse, comfort and support of so many travellers in the vale of Baca! Oh, blessed words, the last that have been pronounced by so many Christian lips before they were hushed by death! Fainted! Yes: who would not? Fainted utterly! Yes, and that a thousand times, but for that very belief, the Land of the Living! O my land! true Land of the Living,* true Land of Life! life, blessedly eternal, eternally blessed; where there is certain security, secure tranquillity, tranquil jucundity, happy eternity, eternal felicity; where perfect love, nevermore fear, everlasting day, agile motion,* one spirit in all! O Land of the Living, though the eye hath not seen thee, yet the heart can long for thee, can groan for thee, can yearn after thee, can aspire to thee. Yes; if for a time we give way to the faintheartedness of Hezekiah, “I said, I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord in the Land of the Living,”* that I believe verily of David comes in to be our comfort and our strength. In the Land of the Living. It is but little we see of Him here, in the land of the dying, (G.) in the land of types and symbols, in the land of figures and enigmas, in the land where “the days of darkness shall be many;”* and “few and evil are the days of the years of”* every “pilgrimage.” (L.) Of this Land of the Living S. Jerome collects and explains many and many a happy passage of Scripture:* the earth that the “meek shall inherit;”* the “delightsome land;”* the “place of broad rivers and of streams;”* the city, whose “foundation is upon the high hills;” the earth that is “visited and blessed by God,” that is “made very plenteous;”* the land “that floweth with the true milk and honey.” Yes: however, in a low and unreal sense, we may apply this verse to our life in this world,—however much, beholding the multitude of life that goes on, and is supported and kept up here, this globe may be called the land of the living,*—yet the united testimony of the Saints calls by that name the kingdom of heaven, and that kingdom only. Hear S. Albert, as always, Scriptural: “The Land of the Dead is Hades; ‘a land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness.’* The Land of the Dying is this world; ‘For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.’* The Land of the Living is Paradise; ‘Ye shall come unto a people secure, and to a large land: … a place where there is no want of anything that is in the earth.’ ”* Even the Pythagoreans had their ἀντίχθονα,—their Land of the Living;* and God forbid that a Christian soul should use the word in a lower signification than they did!

O qui sidereas habitas,* Rex maxime, sedes,

Quam tua præ terris invidiosa domus!

Exulat æthereis longe nox horrida terris,

Et nitet excelso lumine clara dies.

Clara dies, æterna dies, septemplice Phœbi

Fulmineum nostro lampada, luce premens!

[Note, too, how the Western Church, by taking the latter clause of this verse as the Antiphon to the Psalm both for Easter Eve and the Office for the Dead, leads us from the thought of Christ’s victory over the grave to ours in Him.

Fear’st thou the death that comes to all,*

And knows no interceder?—

O glorious struggle, thou wilt fall,

The soldier by the Leader!

Christ went with death to grapple first,

And vanquished him before thee:

His darts, then, let him do his worst,

Can win no triumph o’er thee!]

14 (16) O tarry thou the Lord’s leisure: be strong, and he shall comfort thine heart; and put thou thy trust in the Lord.

O blessed words, that have comforted so many a mourner’s heart,—that have braced so many a trembling spirit,—that have gone to the prison or to the place of torture with the Church’s heroes! Yes,* it matters not in what sense we take the words—whether as said by David to himself,* or by David to another, or by God to David. Tarry thou the Lord’s leisure. But how long? The people whom the Lord fed in the wilderness tarried His leisure three days; the inhabitants of Bethulia five days, and their heroine said, “And now who are ye that have tempted God this day? For if He will not help us within these five days, He hath power to defend us when He will: … do not bind the counsels of the Lord our God.”* It is written, indeed,—and blessed be God for that promise,—“Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” “But he,”* says S. Peter Chrysologus, “who, when he hath once knocked, is angry, because he is not forthwith heard, is not a humble petitioner, but an imperious exactor. However long He may cause thee to wait, do thou patiently tarry the Lord’s leisure. If He suffer thee to be imperilled on the sea until the fourth watch of the night, (L.) He doth it to teach thee trust in Him, and patience in time of adversity.” Be strong: viriliter age it is in the Latin,—a fair translation of the LXX.’s ἀνδρίζου,—but the Hebrew word חֲזַק has no reference to man. And rightly,* they say: some women have so often stirred up men in faith and love. So Deborah,—so the wife of Manoah,—so Judith,—so the holy women who returned from the Tomb while the Apostles doubted, (C.)—so S. Blandina and S. Ponticus in the amphitheatre of Lyons,—so S. Faith and S. Caprais in the fire at Agen. A saying of Gerhohus, though not so intended, will make an admirable proverb for the daily use of a Christian:

“Non putes negatum,

Quod sentis dilatum.”

And the Lord will undoubtedly say to every faithful waiter, (G.) what He said to the multitudes of old, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now waited on Me three days:”* the three days that remind of the threefold promise, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock,* and it shall be opened unto you.” “In this verse,” says S. Albert, “he touches on four difficulties which suffer us not to enter into eternal life. The first, the dilation of God’s answer; against the which he saith, Tarry. The second, the difficulty of doing well; against the which he saith, Be strong. The third, the danger of pusillanimity; against the which he saith, He shall comfort your heart. The fourth, the bitterness of trouble; against the which he addeth, and put your trust in the Lord.”

And therefore:

Glory be to the Father, in Whose house we desire to dwell all the days of our life; and to the Son, the right Way in which we are led: and to the Holy Ghost, in Whose tabernacle we are hid.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

COLLECTS

O God, Which art the Helper of all,* defend us from the camps and the battles of the enemy; so that we, dwelling in the eternity of Thy House, may merit to behold Thy Face by spiritual contemplation. Through (1.)

Deliver not,* O Lord, Thy Church into the bloody hands of her enemies: grant that, when false witnesses rise up against her, they may be put to confusion as soon as the banner of the Cross is set up in her. Amen. Through Thy mercy (11.)

O God,* our Light and Defence, remove from us the night of sorrow and ignorance; give us the light of truth and knowledge, that all our hope may remain fixed on Thee, and that all the assembly of them that would seek to hurt us may be brought to nought. Grant that we may be set on the rock, that, being made strong in Christ, in Him we may be lifted up in charity, by Whom we are edified in faith. Amen. Through Thy (11.)

[Almighty God, Helper and Strength of our life, defend us from the snares of our enemies, (D. C.) and from all perils of soul and body, that, by the gift of Thy lovingkindness, we, steadfastly persevering in works pleasing to Thee, may be found worthy to behold Thy goodness in the land of the living. Through (1.)]

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Ephesians 6:21-24

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 17, 2017

THE MISSION OF TYCHICUS

These verses (Eph 6:21-22) occur almost verbatim in Col, 4:7-8.

Eph 6:21. But that you also may know the things that concern me, and what I am doing, Tychicus, my dearest brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make known to you all things:
Eph 6:22. Whom I have sent to you for this same purpose, that you may know
the things concerning us, and that he may comfort your hearts.

You also. This phrase is understood to imply that Tychicus had visited others before delivering this letter to its readers, namely, the Colossians, and consequently it is concluded that the letter to the Colossians was written before this one.

Tychicus was a native of Asia Minor, perhaps of Ephesus (Acts 20:4; 2 Tim. 4:12). His name is found in inscriptions of Asia Minor and Rome, on coins of Magnesia, thirteen miles from Ephesus, and of Magnesia by Mt. Sipylus, where the Bishop of Ephesus now resides, thirty-eight miles from his titular see (see Hitchcock, Ephesians, p. 506; Lightfoot, Colossians, p. 234).

Whom I have sent, an epistolary aorist.

Concerning us, i.e., Paul and his companions in Rome.

That he may comfort your hearts, distressed by my imprisonment, and perhaps impending death.

BLESSING

Eph 6:23. Peace be to the brethren and charity with faith, from God the Father,
and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Eph 6:24. Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruption.
Amen.

Contrary to his custom St. Paul gives his benediction to third persons, “brethren,” instead of second persons, “you.”

With faith goes back to “charity,” by which it is informed, and to “peace,” which is its fruit, as a gift from the Holy Ghost. The single preposition before “God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” shows that both constitute the common source of supernatural peace and charity.

With all them that love is a circumlocution for “saints,” and it occurs only here.

In incorruption. Literally, “in incorruptness,” i.e., with an enduring, immortal love; the expression refers back to “love.” The weight of evidence seems to be against the retention of “Amen” here, though it makes a fitting close to so glorious an Epistle.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Ephesians 4:25-32

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 17, 2017

THE VIRTUES CHRISTIANS MUST PRACTISE AND THE VICES THEY
MUST AVOID

A Summary of Ephesians 4:25-6:9~The Apostle is now going to show In a practical way just what it means for Christians to have put on the new man; that is, he is going to apply more in detail to Christian life and conduct the principles he has laid down. He will treat first of precepts that are pertinent to all Christians, to Christian society in
general (Eph 4:25—5:21), and then of precepts that regard particular members of the Christian family, that regulate the Christian home (Eph 5:22—6:9). In the remaining verses of the present Chapter he speaks of some of the principal vices which the mutual charity of Christians forbids, and of some of the virtues which that same charity enjoins upon the members of the Church.

Eph 4:25. Wherefore putting away lying, speak ye the truth every man with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

Wherefore, i.e., since you have put off the old man and put on the new man who is characterized by justice and holiness, you must be on your guard against falling back into the sins of your former life; and first of all, you must put “away lying,” because this is so injurious to the neighbor, whom we are bound not to injure but to assist, as being all members of the one mystical body of Christ. Lying injures not only the neighbor, but oneself also, because we are all members of the same body, and that which injures one part of the body is felt in all the parts; the injury of the part reacts on the whole.

Eph 4:26. Be angry, and sin not. Let not the sun go down upon your anger;
Eph 4:27. Give not place to the devil.

Another sin to be avoided is unreasonable anger, that is, anger which springs from wounded personal feelings rather than from repugnance at something objectively wrong, or which is out of proportion to the objective harm done.

Be angry, and sin not. These words are from Ps. 4:5, cited according to the LXX. The meaning is: “If you have occasion to be angry, be careful that your anger does not become sinful.”

Let not the sun, etc. This is a proverbial expression, and it refers not to the anger but to that which caused the anger in question. The meaning is that the cause of anger should be removed and the offence given should be repaired as soon as possible. The Jewish day closed with the sunset.

Give no place to the devil. Excessive and prolonged anger affords an opportunity for the devil to act, and to excite in the soul feelings of hatred, revenge, and the like. To agree with the Greek, there should be no full stop at the end of verse 26, and verse 27 should read: “Neither give place, etc.”

Eph 4:28. He that stole, let him now steal no more; but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have something to give to him that suffereth need.

The next prohibition is not to steal; on the contrary, let those who through idleness or laziness were accustomed to steal as pagans, or are now stealing as Christians, do some good manual work as a remedy against this vice and as a means of earning something to be given to those in need, in reparation for goods ill-gotten in the past.

Stole is present tense in Greek, as if to imply that some among the Christians had not yet given up their pagan habit of stealing.

Eph 4:29. Let no evil speech proceed from your mouth; but that which is good, to the edification of faith, that it may administer grace to the hearers.

The Apostle now turns to the conversation of Christians, prohibiting foul speech of every kind, and enjoining “that which is good, etc.” (i.e., that which is calculated to edify the neighbor), so “that it may administer, etc.” (i.e., that it may be an occasion of grace to those who hear it).

Evil. Literally, “rotten,” which fitly described much of the talk that was common in heathen society.

To the edification of faith. Better, according to the authority of the best MSS., “to the building of the need,” i.e., as necessity requires, according to the demands of place, time, and person (St„ Jerome).

Grace here is understood by Theodoret to refer to that talk which is agreeable and acceptable to the hearers; but it is better to understand it in the ordinary Pauline sense of supernatural grace, which will also include the other meaning.

Eph 4:30. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God: whereby you were sealed unto the day of redemption.

Another reason for avoiding foul speech is that the Holy Ghost may not be grieved, “whereby” (i.e., in whom and by whom) both the speaker and the hearer of polluting speech “were sealed” at the time of their conversion, when they received the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, both of which were usually conferred together in the early Church.

Unto the day of redemption, i.e., until the general resurrection, when we shall take full possession of our redemption. See on Eph 1:14.

Eph 4:31. Let all bitterness, and anger, and indignation, and clamor, and blasphemy, be put away from you, with all malice.

In this final prohibition St. Paul strikes at the root of the different vices he has been enumerating: this root is “malice,” of which those other sins were the manifestations.

Bitterness is an aversion arising from prolonged anger; it is akin to sulkiness.

Anger is a transient outburst of passion, whereas indignation, or wrath, is a settled or chronic condition including the purpose of revenge.

Clamor, as here meant, is a violent and angry assertion of one’s real or supposed rights and wrongs.

Blasphemy is taken literally from the Greek, but it would be better to translate it in this passage by “reviling,” since there is question now of evil speech, not against God but against man.

Malice, i.e., malevolence or the desire to injure, is the root of the sins just mentioned. Compare the parallel passage in Col. 3:8.

Eph 4:32. And be ye kind one to another; merciful, forgiving one another, even as God hath forgiven you in Christ,

The Apostle has just given some of the sins by which charity is wounded; so now he will mention some of the opposite virtues by which charity is preserved and exercised, adding the motive for the practice of these virtues. He would have his readers be “kind” (i.e., sweet and courteous to one another), “merciful” (i.e., tenderhearted), “forgiving” (i.e., ready to pardon one another’s oflFences), and all this because “God hath forgiven” (or better, “did forgive”) them at the time of their conversion, “in Christ” (i.e., through the merits of Christ). See parallel passage in Col. 3:12-13.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Ephesians 3:1-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 16, 2017

THE REVELATION OF THE MYSTERY THROUGH THE PREACHING OF ST. PAUL

A Summary of Ephesians 3:1-13~Having spoken in the first Chapter of this Epistle of God’s eternal purpose to unite Jewish and non-Jewish peoples in the one Church of Christ, and having shown in the second Chapter how this purpose has been realized in the present period of grace with its prospect of glorious consummation in the Church Triumphant hereafter, the Apostle, according to his custom after such meditations on the wondrous ways of God, begins a prayer of thanksgiving on behalf of the “Ephesians”; but he has only begun (ver. 1a) when he is somehow reminded of his chains and what has made him a prisoner for Christ, and this causes him to digress (ver. 1b-13) to consider the part he has played in the realization of God’s eternal purpose to unite all the nations of the world in the one spiritual fold of Christ, and to unfold again the unsearchable wisdom of God hidden in the purpose of that divine mystery and age-old secret. For a parallel parenthesis see Rom 5:13-18.

Eph 3:1. For this cause, I Paul the prisoner of Jesus Christ, for you Gentiles;

For this cause, a phrase repeated again in Eph 3:14, where Paul resumes his prayer; it refers back to what he has been saying in Eph 2:11-22.

I Paul is a characteristic way of introducing himself when he is about to treat matters of grave importance or defend his authority (cf. 2 Cor. 10:1; Gal. 5:2; Col. 1:23; 1 Thess. 2:18; Phlm. 9, 19). St. Chrysostom would insert “am” here after Paul, so as to read: “I Paul am the prisoner, etc.” But if this were the meaning, the article before “prisoner” in Greek should be omitted. Hence, it is better with Theodoret, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and all modern interpreters to recognize the break in the sentence here and its resumption at Eph 3:14.

The prisoner, etc., i.e., a prisoner according to the will of his Master, and for the cause of his Master (Phlm. 1, 9; 2 Tim. 1:8).

For you Gentiles, i.e., on behalf of you Gentiles, for preaching to you the Messianic salvation and admitting you on a level with the Jews in the Church of Christ (cf. Acts 21:21 ff.).

Eph 3:2. If at least you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me towards you

If at least you have heard. Abbott and many others hold that these words prove that St. Paul was addressing readers personally unknown to him. Westcott thinks there is nothing in the words to sustain such a conclusion. Moule believes we have here “a phrase of almost irony, an illusion to well- known fact under the disguise of hypothesis.” Alexander says the words are expressive of gentle assurance. As a compromise, Robinson holds they mean that some, at least, of the readers were personally unknown to the Apostle. Hitchcock explains that St. Paul first had the intention of writing to the Ephesians, as he had written to the Colossians, but that his outlook changed as he wrote, embracing the Churches of the Lycus Valley and other Gentiles. Voste would translate: “Since indeed you have heard, etc.” If we explain the words as conditional, as in Eph 4:21, we still may hold that they are rhetorical,
not implying any real doubt. A few number of ancient manuscripts and some church fathers witness to the fact that this letter may not have been addressed specifically to the Ephesians since the manuscripts in question had no addressee. Some scholars believe that “Ephesians” was actually written as a circular letter, intended to be delivered and read to a number of different churches and, therefore, originally lacked a specific addressee. Some phrasing in the letter (such as the current verse and 1:15) can be taken as indicating that St Paul was not directly acquainted with the people he is writing to, but Paul was intimately acquainted with the Ephesians.

The dispensation of the grace, etc., better, “the stewardship of the grace, etc.” The Messianic Kingdom is a reign of grace, and St. Paul was designated by Christ to be His steward in dispensing the Messianic grace to the Gentiles. Cf. 1 Cor 9:17; Col 1:24-25.

Eph 3:3. How that, according to revelation, the mystery has been made known to me, as I have written above in a few words;

The Apostle now begins to explain how the mystery of grace was made known to him, that is, his apostleship among the Gentiles, as he has explained above in Eph 2:11 ff.

How. The Vulg. quoniam should be quomodo, used to indicate the object of St. Paul’s ministry, namely, that the Gentiles were to be fellow-heirs, etc. (ver. 6).

According to revelation, made to Paul directly on the road to Damascus at the time of hisv conversion, and elsewhere later on (Acts 9:4 ff.; Gal 1:12, 2:2; 2 Cor 12:1, 7, etc).

The mystery, i.e., the purpose of God to save Gentiles as well as Jews through Christ (ver. 5, 6).

As I have written, etc., in this letter (Eph 1:4-14, 2:4-9, 11-22).

Eph 3:4. Whereby, as you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ,

Whereby, as you read, etc. The meaning is that, as they read what he has already written in the first two Chapters of this letter, they will perceive his deep insight into God’s world-purpose as revealed in the Incarnation of His Son, namely, the salvation of the world by means of the cross and the incorporation of the Gentiles with the Chosen People.

5. Which in other generations was not known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit

Which eternal purpose and deep mystery was never before known to mankind as it is now revealed in the Gospel by means of a special revelation communicated to chosen Apostles and prophets whom the Holy Ghost has inspired and set apart in order that they may make it known to the world.

Was not known, at all to the pagan world, and was only dimly shadowed forth among the Chosen People, the most of whom did not understand it.

Sons of men is a Hebraism meaning all men.

Holy apostles, etc., i.e., men especially selected and consecrated for their supernatural work, but not necessarily sanctified personally. That there is question here only of New Testament prophets is clear from the phrase “now revealed.”

In the Spirit, i.e., in the Holy Ghost, by whom the human mediums were inspired.

6. That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and co-partners of the promise in Christ Jesus, by the gospel

St. Paul now gives a brief definition of the content of the longhidden mystery in so far as it pertained to the Gentiles, namely, that God has made the Gentiles equal to the Jews as regards salvation; they are now “fellow-heirs” with the Jews to heaven, members of the same mystical body, the Church, sharers in the same high destiny “in Christ” (i.e., in vital union with Him), which was long ago promised to Abraham and his offspring (Gen 12:3; Gal 3:8, 4:29; Rom 4:13, 16), and is now made manifest in the preaching of the Gospel.

His promise of the Douai should be “the promise,” according to the best Greek and Latin texts.

Eph 3:7. Of which I am made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God, which is given to me, according to the operation of his power.

The Apostle begins now to speak of the mission that has been entrusted to him, the dispensation spoken of above in Eph 3:2. He has been made a “minister” of the Gospel, not by his own choice or because of his merits, but by a gratuitous gift of divine grace, which made an Apostle out of a persecutor and gave him invincible strength to pursue his vocation. The grace here referred to was a gratia gratis data, a divine gift to be used for the benefit of others.

According to . . . according to. Note the parallelism: divine grace made him a minister of the Gospel, and divine grace sustains him in his work for the Gospel; his vocation was a divine gift, and his labors were the result of a divine operation, of God-given working power. Cf. Col. 1:29; Gal. 2:8.

Eph 3:8. To me, the least of all the saints, is given this grace, to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,

Here and in the following verse St. Paul will speak of the purpose of his preaching.

To me. The thought of the greatness of the mission confided to him by the grace of God reminds the humble Apostle of his personal unworthiness and insignificance.

The least in the Greek is a word probably coined by the Apostle himself, which literally means “leaster,” or “more least.”

Of all the saints, i.e., of all the Christians (cf. 1 Cor. 15:8-9).

St. Paul never forgets his past life as a persecutor, and the more he realizes the greatness of the grace of God bestowed on him, the more clearly his own unworthiness appears.

To preach, etc. Behold the grace and the mission vouchsafed to Paul, to announce to the Gentile world the infinite treasures of divine truth, love and power, which God has provided for mankind through Jesus Christ.

Unsearchable, literally, “untrackable by footprints,” untraceable, a word found only here and in Rom. 11:33 in all the New Testament; it means incomprehensible. So vast are the treasures of grace hidden in the Gospel and confided to the Church that they utterly transcend our powers of understanding.

Eph 3:9. And to enlighten all men that they may see what is the dispensation of the mystery which hath been hidden from eternity in God, who created all things:

To enlighten, etc. Such was the further effect of Paul’s preaching of the Gospel, to make known to all men the divine plan, hidden from eternity, of saving the whole world by means of the human life, labors, sufferings, death, and glorious resurrection of the eternal Son of God made man.

All men. The Greek word is omitted by some ancient MSS. and good authorities, but the weight of authority favors its retention.

Hidden from eternity, etc. Not until the coming of Christ, the Messiah, was the divine economy relative to the salvation of men actually and completely made known; till then it was known in its fullness only to the Godhead.

Who created all things. The Apostle adds this to remind his readers that He who was able to create all things through the Son in the beginning is now able to redeem all through the Son. Some lesser authorities add, “by means of Jesus Christ,” which may be rejected as a gloss, Cf. Col. 1:25-27 for a parallel passage to verses 8 and 9 here.

Eph 3:10. That now the manifold wisdom of God may be made known to the principalities and powers in heavenly places through the church,

As it was the purpose of the preaching of Paul to make known to the nations the revelation of the mystery hidden in God from eternity (ver. 8-9), so in turn was it the purpose of that revelation to make known to the world the unsearchable riches of the Messiah and His stewardship, hidden from the beginning in the Creator (ver. 10-11), that is, “that now” (in contrast to the ages that preceded the coming of the Christ) “the manifold wisdom of God, etc.” (i.e., the many-sided and infinitely varied wisdom of God in providing for the salvation of man through the Incarnation of the Son of God) might be made known through the Church to the world of angelic intelligences, including both the good and the evil angels.

Now (Vulg. nunc), omitted in the Douai, is expressed in the Greek.

Manifold. Literally, “much variegated.” The word is found here only in the New Testament.

Principalities and powers, i.e., good and bad angels, according to St. Chrysostom and the evidence of Eph 6:12 below (cf. also Eph 1:21 above).

In the heavenly places. See on Eph 1:3. Through the church, in which the divided human family has been united, and which contains and dispenses the treasures of grace, thus continuing the work of the Redeemer till the end of time in the sight of men and angels. “It is by no means repugnant that through the work of Christ, which the Church continues and carries out to the end of the present world, the infinite riches of the wisdom and mercy of the Redeemer should be successively manifested to the angels themselves” (St. Thomas, h. 1.).

Eph 3:11. According to the eternal purpose, which he made in Christ Jesus, our Lord:

According to the eternal purpose, etc., literally, “according to the purpose of the ages, etc.” The manifold wisdom of God was hidden in the eternal purpose; and that purpose, running through the whole course of the ages, has now been “made” (i.e., realized) in “Christ Jesus, our Lord,” sacrificed, risen, and enthroned forever as the center and Sovereign of the universe; and with the realization of the purpose the multifarious wisdom of God has been made known in part already, and is continually being unfolded to men and angels down to the end of the world. It is disputed whether the words, “which he made,” refer to the decree which God made from eternity regarding future ages, etc., or to the execution of that decree in time; but the context seems to favor the latter explanation.

Eph 3:12. In whom we have boldness, and access with confidence by the faith of him.

St. Paul has just discussed the purpose of God’s revelation made known through the preaching of that revelation, which was to disclose to heavenly intelligences the manifold wisdom of God, as realized in Christ. Now, in verses 12-13, he will treat of the consequences of that same revelation. The first of these consequences is that in Christ, that is, by reason of our mystical union with Him, “we have boldness, etc.,” i.e., we now enjoy freedom of speech and
communication with the Father, “and access” (i.e., introduction) to Him, not in fear, but in confidence (Rom. 8:38 ff.), and this through the faith we have in Christ.

The faith of him means the faith we have “in Him,” as we know from similar constructions in Mark 11:22; Gal. 2:16, 3:22; Rom. 3:22, 26; Phil. 3:9.

Eph 3:13. Wherefore I pray you not to faint at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

Another consequence of the revelation preached by Paul is the sufferings it brought upon him; but here he prays that his readers may not grow remiss and faint-hearted as a result of the afflictions he has to endure for preaching the Gospel to them; for his sufferings are their glory, inasmuch as they are an evidence of God’s love for them, since God was willing to permit His Apostle to endure so much for their sakes: the privileges they enjoy and the afflictions Paul has undergone that they might have those privileges indicate how dear they are to God.

Wherefore, i.e., in view of your dignity and privileges, resulting from God’s eternal decree realized in Christ.

I pray. This is more probably to be understood of a real prayer to God for the Apostle’s readers, as we gather from the similar use of the verb in Eph. 3:20 and Col. 1:9.

Not to faint should not be interpreted as applying to the Apostle himself, who gloried in his tribulations and declared that nothing could separate him from the love of Christ (Rom. 5:3, 8:38-39; 2 Cor. 12:10; Col. 1:24), but to his readers, to whose glory it was that he had to suffer, and who therefore should not be discouraged.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Ephesians 2:11-22

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 16, 2017

THE GENTILES, TOGETHER WITH THE JEWS, ARE CALLED TO SHARE IN THE BLESSINGS OF CHRIST IN THE ONE CHURCH

A summary of  Eph 2:11-22~St. Paul’s pagan converts will better understand the exalted life to which they have been elevated in the Church of Christ, if they first recall their former miserable condition as Gentiles, then reflect on the benefits they now enjoy, and finally compare their present with their former state.

Eph 2:11. For which cause be mindful that you, being heretofore Gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncircumcision by that which is called circumcision in the flesh, made by hands:

For which cause (i.e., since you have been redeemed without any merit on your part) be mindful, etc. (i.e., remember your former deplorable condition when you were “Gentiles in the flesh,” that is, without even any external sign, like circumcision, of belonging to God), when you were contemptuously called the “uncircumcision” by those who were “called circumcision in the flesh”—that is, by the Jews, who bore on their bodies the external mark of belonging to the commonwealth of God, but in many of whom this physical mark was merely hand-made, and so without spiritual value, since it is the circumcision of the heart alone that counts in the sight of God (Rom. 2:29; Col. 2:11).

Eph 2:12. That you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the conversation of Israel, and strangers to the covenants, having no hope in the promise, and without God in this world.

The Apostle continues the thought broken off after the phrase, “be mindful that you” (verse 11). The Gentiles before their conversion to Christianity were “without Christ” (i.e., apart from Christ), inasmuch as they had not the Scriptures and prophecies which contained the Messianic promises of a coming Redeemer; they were “aliens, etc.,” as being excluded from the theocratic kingdom and from the family of God’s chosen people; they were “strangers to the covenants” (i.e., to the promises of a Messiah made by God to Abraham and renewed to Isaac, Jacob, David, etc.); they were without “hope in the promise” of a Redeemer to come, and hence their best writers and philosophers all expressed the prevalent thoughts and sentiments of sadness and despair, the deep unhappiness at their existing state and the hopeless darkness of the future outlook, holding that the best thing that could happen to man was never to be born, and the next best thing was to die (cf. Mommsen, Hist, of Rome, Eng. trans., vol. IV, p. 586); they were “without God in this world” (i.e., without a correct knowledge of the true God in a dark and sinful world), having obscured by their sins the natural light of reason, and being devoid of the positive divine revelation which the Jews possessed.

Eph 2:13. But now in Christ Jesus, you, who some time were afar off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

The Apostle has just briefly reviewed the sad state of the Gentiles before their conversion to Christianity (ver. 11-12). Now he will speak of their new and glorious condition as Christians, and of the peace they enjoy in the Messianic Kingdom (ver. 13-18).  Formerly they were without Christ, but now they are “in Christ” (i.e., living intimately united to the promised Messiah and in union with “Jesus,” the Saviour of mankind). In their previous condition as pagans, they “were afar off” from the kingdom of God, being outside the citizenship of Israel and the covenants of promise; but now they “are made nigh, etc.” (i.e., they have been incorporated in Christ by membership in His Church, through the merits of the passion and death of Jesus). It was Christ’s blood offered in sacrifice for them, as for the whole world, that merited for these Gentile converts their redemption and the consequent peace they now enjoy in the Church of Christ: “This is my blood of the new covenant, which shall be shed for many unto the remission of sins” (Matt 26:28; Heb 9:12 ff.). The Apostle will now show how this has been done by the pacifying work of Christ.

Eph 2:14. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and breaking down the middle wall of partition, the enmity in his flesh:

For he is our peace. Isaias (9:6) foretold that the Messiah should be the Prince of peace. And Christ is said to be our peace, first because, through the abrogation of the Mosaic Law with its statutes and precepts, He has destroyed the barrier that made enmity between Jew and Gentile (ver. 14-15); and secondly because He has reconciled men with God by forgiving their sins (ver. 16). Thus, He “hath made both one” (i.e., He has made the Jewish and the Gentile sections of the human race one community), not by making Gentiles Jews, but by elevating both to the supernatural order and producing, as it were, a new race called Christians. The “middle wall of partition” refers to the Mosaic Law which kept the Jews separated from the Gentiles and was the cause of the enmity that existed between them. The figure here was likely suggested by the stone wall which separated the Court of the Gentiles from the Temple Court of the Israelites. Any Gentile who dared to trespass beyond this wall incurred the penalty of death.

Enmity. This word is more probably to be taken in apposition to “middle wall of partition,” and it signifies the reality of which that wall was a figure. This enmity and its cause Christ has been broken down and removed “in his flesh” (i.e., by means of His passion and death).

Eph 2:15. Making void the law of commandments contained in decrees; that he might make the two in himself into one new man, making peace;

Some expositors connect “in his flesh” of the preceding verse with what follows here; but this does not affect the sense, since it was by His passion and death that Christ both removed the barrier between Jews and Gentiles and abrogated the Law with its statutes and precepts.

Making void, etc., by abrogating the Mosaic Law which contained numerous commands and ceremonies regarding foods, feasts, etc.„ all of which were calculated to isolate Israel from the rest of the world, and were figures or types of realities to come. With the advent, therefore, of Christ and the Gospel these ancient precepts and ceremonies were abrogated, as the shadow vanishes with the appearance of the light (cf. Col 2:14-20). It must be understood, of course, that the moral precepts of the Mosaic Law did not cease; they were rather perfected and confirmed (Matt 5:17; cf. Rom 3:31; 1 Cor 3:14).

That he might make, etc. (better, “in order to create, etc.”). The purpose was not merely to unite Jew and Gentile, but from the two to create a new human type that should be neither Jew nor Gentile, but Christian. The Apostle uses the masculine plural here (τους δυο), because there is now question of two men, Jew and Gentile, and not of two systems, Judaism and heathendom, as in ver. 14 where the Greek neuter is used. The justification or sanctification of a soul is as much a generation in the supernatural order as the production of the soul and the human organism is in the natural order (cf. 2 Cor 5:17).

In himself. Christ has united Jew and Gentile into one mystical body of which He is the head and life-giving source, thus “making peace” between them.

Eph 2:16. And might reconcile both to God in one body by the cross, killing the enmity in himself.

A further purpose of the propitiatory death of Christ was to reconcile both Jew and Gentile to God by means of the sacrifice of the cross, having destroyed by His own suffering the enmity that existed between them, and having united them both into one new man “in one body,” which is His Church.

In one body. By this phrase some understand the physical body of Christ affixed to the cross ; but others with greater probability take the phrase to refer to the mystical body of Christ, the Church.

In himself should more likely be “in it,” the reference being to the cross (εν εαυτω), rather than to Christ. The Greek, however, can refer to either Christ or the cross (cf. Col 1:19-22).

Eph 2:17. And coming, he preached peace to you that were afar off, and peace to them that were nigh.

And when the Saviour came into this world, He preached first in person to the Jews, and then through His Apostles to the Gentiles, the Gospel of peace among all men and reconciliation to God. The Gentiles were said to be “afar off,” because they were without the Law and the special revelation which the Jews possessed, and in consequence of which the latter were said to be “nigh.” The perfect peace which Christ brought to the world, and of which He spoke at the Last Supper (John 14:27, 16:33), rests on perfect justice; and hence, as St. Thomas says, it is impossible to have peace without justice. This peace of Christ which we enjoy is the fruit of our reconciliation with God, and the cause of it the Apostle will now explain in the following verse.

Eph 2:18. For by him we have access both in one Spirit to the Father.

Christ is our peace, and He has given us peace because through Him we, Jews and Gentiles, have been freed from our sins, animated by the Holy Ghost, reconciled to God, and thus introduced to the Father. Note the mention here of the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. It is more probable that the word “access” here should be given an active transitive sense, and so should be translated “introduction,” because we have not ourselves come into the
presence of the Father, but Christ has introduced us; “we do not come in our own strength, but need an introduction—Christ” (Sanday, on Romans v. 1-2).

Robinson and some others understand “one Spirit” here to refer to oneness of mind and heart among the Christians; but as the unity of the body results from the unity of the head, so the unity and concord of the faithful come from the unity of the Spirit by which they are animated. Thus, this second explanation is included in the first, and presupposes it.

Eph 2:19. Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners; but you are fellow citizens with the saints ; and the domestics of God,

In verses 19-22 St. Paul will show the difference between the present and the former state of the Gentiles and their existing perfect equality with the Jews. He will illustrate this equality of Gentiles with Jews in the Christian commonwealth by several different metaphors—by a city or state, in which they enjoy the rights of naturalized citizens; by a household, in which they are members of God’s family; by a building, of which they and the Jews are the living stones and Christ the chief cornerstone.

Now therefore. The Apostle is going to draw a conclusion from what he has just been saying in the preceding verses.

You are no more strangers, to the covenants of the promise (ver. 12), and foreigners, i.e., aliens, without the rights of citizenship in the spiritual commonwealth of God; but you are fellow citizens, etc., i.e., full members of the mystical body of Christ and of the household of God, together with those of Jewish origin; you are all now inmates of the Father’s house in Christ.

Eph 2:20. Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone:

Built, etc., or better, “having been built upon the apostles and prophets” of the New Testament as a moral foundation, with “Jesus Christ himself” as the chief cornerstone of that foundation, who thus gives coherence and fixity to it and to the whole superstructure erected upon it. Having spoken at the end of ver. 19 of the inmates of the household of God, the Apostle in this verse passes to the building itself. The past tense of the verb here shows that the Gentiles became fellow-citizens in the New Jerusalem and members of God’s family at the time of their conversion (Hitchcock, op. cit., h. I.). It is more probable that the “foundation” here refers to the apostles and prophets themselves, than to the doctrine they preached (1 Cor 3:10), since they are paralleled by “Jesus Christ” which follows. Nor is it likely that we should take Christ as the foundation here, as in 1 Cor 3:11, since just below He is said to be the “chief cornerstone.” We are likewise to understand “apostles and prophets” to refer to the New Testament teachers and ministers of the Word (Acts 11:28, 15:32; 1 Cor 14), rather than to the Prophets of the Old Testament, as we judge from the order of the words here, from the fact that both nouns are preceded by only one article in Greek, from the parallel passages in Eph 3:5 and 4:11, where the reference is certainly to New Testament prophets, etc. On the other hand, it is true that the Old Testament Prophets are frequently regarded in the New Testament as Evangelists before the time (Luke 24:25; Acts 3:18, 21, 24, 10:43; Rom 16:26).

Eph 2:21. In whom the whole building, being fitly framed together, groweth up into a holy sanctuary in the Lord.

In whom (i.e., in which cornerstone, namely, Christ) the whole building (i.e., every part of the Church, becoming more intensely and solidly united, part with part and all the parts with the foundation and head) groweth—i.e., becomes ever more and more extended, as living stones are prepared and laid on living stones (1 pET 2:5), rising to completion and perfection-into a holy sanctuary, worthy of the divine presence that dwells therein (cf. Apoc 21:22), in the Lord (i.e., in Christ, who is the living bond of unity, coherence, growth, and sanctity of the entire Church). We have given what we consider the best and most probable rendering of the passage, “the whole building, being fitly framed together,” the Greek of which is difficult and is variously translated.

“Sanctuary” (Gr., ναον= NAOS), the more sacred part of the Temple, where the divine presence is especially manifested, as distinguished from the courts and outer area (ἱερόν = HIERON).

Eph 2:22. In whom you also are built together into a habitation of God in the Spirit.

In whom. The reference is again to Christ, the cornerstone.

You also, i.e., you Gentile readers of this Epistle.

Are built. Better, “are being builded” together with the rest of the Christians. The present tense is used in Greek, showing that the process is going on but is not yet complete; the Church is becoming more extended without and more united within as it gradually approaches its perfection and its goal as a permanent habitation for the Divine Presence in its glorified state hereafter.

Into a habitation is parallel to “into a holy sanctuary” above, and the thought is that of a building that is being perfected as an abiding dwelling place for God in the world to come, where “God shall be all in all” (1 Cor 15:28).

In the Spirit, i.e., in the Holy Ghost, “who sanctifieth the elect of God.” “In the Spirit” is parallel to “in the Lord” of the preceding verse, and hence it is to be interpreted of the Spirit of God. The Church is built on the Son, by the Holy Ghost, for the Father; and the description here given of it by St. Paul, from the revelation he had received, began with a reference to the Messianic Kingdom of the Old Dispensation (ver. 11-12), then proceeded to a reflection on the peace now enjoyed in the Messianic Kingdom of the New Dispensation (ver. 13-18), and finally terminates (ver. 19-22) with a vision of the Messianic Kingdom of the New Jerusalem, where a manifestation of the glory to come (Rom 8:18), supreme and unimaginable, awaits all those who by perseverance in faith and good works are destined to be heirs of the riches of God in heaven.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Ephesians 2:1-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 16, 2017

THE POWER OF GOD IS MANIFESTED IN THE NEW LIFE GIVEN TO CHRISTIANS

A Summary of Ephesians 2:1-10~The Gentiles were formerly dead in their sins, and the Jews, following after the lusts of the flesh, were no better; but God in His mercy through Christ has raised up both the one and the other, and made them heirs to heavenly thrones, in order that He might manifest to the coming ages His infinite goodness. All this has been gratuitous on His part, for we are saved by grace, and not by our own natural works. Thus, we are new creatures in Christ, that henceforth we may live lives worthy of our high calling.

Eph 2:1. And you, when you were dead in your offences, and sins,

And you. The connection with what precedes is clear; the thought goes back to Eph 1:20, and is as follows: As God gave new life to Christ Jesus, raising Him from the dead, so has He also given new life to you, raising you from the death of sin to a life of grace. The phrases are suspended here, having their subject (“God”) in verse 4 and their verb (“quickened”) in verse 5, This suspended construction is characteristic of St, Paul’s nervous and vehement style.

When you were dead, etc., i.e., spiritually dead, bereft of the principle of supernatural Ufe, which is the Holy Ghost dwelling by grace in the soul.

Eph 2:2. Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that now worketh on the children of unbelief:

Wherein, etc., i.e., in which state of moral death you lived and wrought in your pagan past.

According to the course of this world, i.e., according to the evil principles and customs of this present order of things, which is under the sway and influence of Satan, who is “the prince of the power of the air” (i.e., who is the ruler of the authority of the air, or the evil ruler whose sphere of authority is the air, and who exercises his nefarious influence “on the children, etc.,” on those who refuse to believe, or who reject the Gospel). Among the Jews the air was popularly regarded as the abode of evil spirits, as heaven was God’s abode and the earth the place of man’s sojourn. Moreover, Satan’s legitimate sphere of activity is no longer in heaven (Rev 12:9; Luke 10:18); nor is it on the earth, which has been reclaimed by the Death and Resurrection of Christ. Hence, the Apostle speaks of it figuratively as being between heaven and earth—in the air.

Power is more probably to be taken in an abstract sense for domination, and “spirit,” a genitive in Greek, is governed by “prince,” and means the mind or tendency by which the evil spirit, Satan, is actuated.

Children of unbelief, or better, “sons of disobedience,” is a Hebraism to signify all those who do not accept the Gospel.

Eph 2:3. In which also we all conversed in time past, in the desires of our flesh, fulfilling the will of the flesh and of our thoughts, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest:

In which. This can refer to the “sins” and “offences” of verse 1, or to the “children of unbelief” of verse 2. If taken in the latter connection, we should render “among whom,”

Also we all, i.e., the Jews, as well as the Gentiles.

Conversed, etc., i.e., lived and acted before they embraced Christianity. St. Paul is referring to the general unfaithfulness of the Jews, in spite of their many privileges and graces (Rom. 3:9); he is not, of course, including faithful individual souls like the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph, the Prophets, etc. But the Jews as a class, he says, like the Gentiles, lived according to the evil inclinations of their lower nature and the perverse counsels of the mind of the natural man, disregarding the will of God and the dictates of an enlightened conscience. As a result, they were “by nature children of wrath,” i.e., by reason of the corrupt nature they had inherited from Adam, which inclined them to the actual sins of which they were personally guilty, they had become objects of God’s great displeasure, “even as the rest” (i.e., like the pagans). We are said to incur God’s wrath when by willful transgression we put ourselves in opposition to His will; the change is not in the unchangeable God, but in us.

It is disputed whether “nature” here is to be understood of original sin, or of actual sins of which the Apostle has just been speaking, or of both taken into the one account. St. Augustine took the phrase to mean original sin, and this is the common opinion. But Dr. Voste thinks there is question here only of actual sins, since the Apostle is speaking of sins in which the Gentiles “walked,” and in which the Jews “conversed” in times past—therefore, of sins which both the Gentiles and the Jews had themselves committed. The Jews and the Gentiles are both put in the same class here as regards their sins, but that could not be with regard to original sin, since the former, unlike the latter, were purified from it by circumcision before their conversion to Christianity. Of course, the innate proneness to evil in both classes and in all men is best explained by the doctrine of original sin.

Eph 2:4. But God (who is rich in mercy), for his exceeding charity wherewith he loved us,
Eph 2:5. Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together in Christ (by whose grace you are saved),
Eph 2:6. And hath raised us up together, and hath made us sit together in the heavenly places, through Christ Jesus:

The Apostle now goes on to say that, when both Jews and Gentiles were spiritually dead because of their sins, God, moved by His great love for them, “quickened” them (i.e., brought them back to life), and “raised” them up from the grave of death, and “made” them “sit together in the heavenly places” with the glorified Christ (Eph 1:3). All this has been done by grace, without any merit on their part; and of course what is here said of Jews and Gentiles is also true of all men of all time who are regenerated in Christ.

The compound verbs which appear here in the Latin and Greek of verses 5 and 6, and which can be respectively rendered in English by co-vivified, co-raised, and co-seated, show the intimate union that exists between Christ and the members of His Church, who constitute His mystical body. We are with Christ as His companions, and in Him as members of His mystical body, the Church. St. Paul is speaking of our spiritual restoration and our sanctification by which we are already admitted to a participation in the divine nature and to a foretaste of life eternal; hence the use of the aorist, or definitely past tense. Our glorification is already a fact in germ.

Eph 2:7. That he might shew in the ages to come the abundant riches of his grace, in his bounty towards us in Christ Jesus.

Here we have indicated the purpose of our present transformation by grace into the likeness of Christ, which is that in the life to come beyond the grave the Eternal Father might show to the angels and to the elect in heaven, where only so great a benefit can be perfectly understood, the infinite treasures of grace which of His own goodness He has bestowed on the saved through Jesus Christ, and by reason of their union with Christ. The Apostle neyer tires of repeating that all the graces and benefits we receive are given and shall be given us “in Christ Jesus,” and this is why the Church always prays through Christ.

The phrase “in the ages to come” is understood by some interpreters to refer to the period during which the preaching of the Gospel will go on in the present world, by others to all future periods of development in God’s kingdom ; but it is better to take it as alluding to heaven, where the goodness of God towards us will be perfectly manifested and perfectly understood. We must not think of “the world to come as a monotonous stretch of time. As the life of God is pure activity without any element of inertia or passivity, the life of those who will share in the Divine Nature will be active. To us, wearied with labour, and burdened with care, heaven naturally becomes a symbol of rest. But labour implies a strength unequal to perfect mastery of the work; and the good, opposed to it, is not rest or inactivity, but the play of an artist or a child. So we may picture the life of God as one of play. And the life of the Church in heaven may be imaged as that of God’s kindergarten, the knowledge of Him ever growing deeper, the vision of Him ever growing fuller, and His glory ever growing brighter. We cannot describe that life; but such an expression as ‘the ages’ implies a history of period after period, in which God will more and more exhibit the overflowing wealth of His grace by kindness to those in union with His Incarnate Son” (Hitchcock, The Epistle to the Ephesians, hoc loco).

Eph 2:8. For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God;

In verse 5 St. Paul said we are saved hy grace, and now he goes back to that thought and proves his assertion. Our justification and our salvation are the result of grace, with faith as a necessary condition (cf. Rom. 3:22 ff.); and neither the faith that precedes nor the justification or salvation that follows can be said to be due in any way to our natural works, for the simple reason that there is no proportion between these supernatural gifts and our natural works; they belong to diflFerent orders.

For. This word shows the connection with the preceding verse, where it is said that God’s favors to us are the consequence of His bounty towards us.

You are saved. The Apostle now addresses his Gentile readers, and hence changes to the second person.

Through faith, i.e., by means of faith, as a necessary condition of their salvation.

And that. The pronoun “that” here is neuter in Greek, and it is uncertain to what it may refer. St. Chrysostom, St. Jerome and others referred it to “faith”; but faith is a feminine noun. It seems better, therefore, to make the reference be to the whole preceding sentence, which declares in a positive manner that our salvation is entirely the work of God’s grace. To this general positive teaching the Apostle then adds in a negative way that this salvation is not of ourselves, “for it is the gift of God.” That faith alone is a pure gift of God is also certain (cf. 2 Cor. 4:13; Phil. 1:29), though that is not the main point here. St. Paul is accustomed to use the pronoun “that” (τουτο) in reference to the preceding sentence, and not to the preceding word (as in 1 Cor. 6:8; Phil. 1:28); hence we understand it here as referring to our deliverance by grace through faith.

Eph 2:9. Not of works, that no man may glory.

The conclusion of the preceding verse is further reinforced in a negative way by saying here that our salvation is not the result of “works” (i.e., of any natural works), whether of the Law (Rom. 3:28) or otherwise; so that all the glory of our salvation may be referred to God, and not to any man, “that no man may glory” (i.e., boast that his salvation is due to himself). If anyone will glory in this matter, let him glory in the Lord (1 Cor. 1:31; 2 Cor. 10:17; Gal. 6:14). And the reason for this is immediately given.

Eph 2:10. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath prepared that we should walk in them.

For we are his workmanship, etc., i.e., we as Christians are His making, for He has “created” us, as it were, anew “in Christ Jesus” (i.e., as members of Christ’s mystical body in the supernatural order) “unto good works” (i.e., with a view to good works, as an inseparable condition of our new creation in grace); which good works God from eternity has decreed and prepared for us, not to the exclusion of our free will, but presupposing the right use of free will, for he adds “that we should walk in them” (i.e., God has so prepared those good works for us that we should freely do them in time).

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