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 for Weekdays (Years I and II) and Sundays (Years A, B and C) and Solemnities

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 22, 2018

NOTE: Solemnities and feasts are listed at the end of this post. This part is not yet complete. If you are looking for commentaries on the Sunday readings in the Extraordinary Form go here.


First Week of Advent.
Second Week of Advent.
Third Week of Advent.
Fourth Week of Advent.

Note: Traditionally Epiphany is celebrated on January 6. In the USA it is celebrated on the Sunday following January 6.

Dec. 25. Vigil Mass for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Dec 24).
Dec. 25. Mass During the Night: The Nativity of the Lord (Midnight Mass).
Dec. 25. Mass at Dawn: The Nativity of the Lord.
Dec. 25. Mass During the Day: The Nativity of the Lord.

Sunday Within the Octave of Christmas (Feast of the Holy Family). If a Sunday does not fall between Dec. 26 and Dec 31 then the Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on Dec. 30.

Dec. 26. The Feast of St Stephen, the Church’s First Martyr.
Dec. 27. The Feast of St John, Apostle and Evangelist.
Dec 28. Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs.
Dec. 29. Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas.
Dec. 30. Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas. See next note.
!!! Dec 30. Feast of the Holy Family (Non-Sunday). If a Sunday does not fall between Dec 26-31 then the Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on this date.
Jan 1. Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.
Jan. 2. Memorial of St Basil the Great and St Gregory Nanzianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church.
Jan. 3. Christmas Weekday.
Jan . 4. Memorial St Elizabeth Ann Seton, Religious.
Jan. 5. Memorial of St John Nuemann, Bishop.
Jan. 6. Christmas Weekday. Traditionally this is Epiphany. In the USA the Epiphany is celebrated on the first Sunday after Jan 6. For commentary on the Epiphany readings see below, following Jan 8.
Jan. 7. Christmas Weekday. NOTE: in 2018 this date falls on the Sunday after Jan 6. IN the USA this Sunday is celebrated as the Epiphany. See the link for the Epiphany below, following Jan 8.
Jan 8.

!!! The Epiphany of the Lord.
Epiphany to the Baptism of the Lord.

Each week contains the beginning and ending Sundays (e.g., the 4th week contains Sundays 4 and 5). We are currently in daily cycle 1 and Sunday cycle C. The new Sunday cycle always begins on the First Sunday of Advent; and the daily cycle on the next day.

1st WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
2nd WEEK: Year 1Year 2.
3rd WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
4th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
5th WEEK: Year 1Year 2.
6th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
7th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
8th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
9th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
10th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
11th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
12th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
13th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
14th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
15th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
16th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
17th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
18th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
19th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
20th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
21st WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
22nd WEEK:  Year1Year 2.
23rd WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
24th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
25th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
26th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
27th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
28th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
29th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
30th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
31st WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
32nd WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
33rd WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
34th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.


Ash Wednesday Through Second Sunday of Lent.
Second Week of Lent.
Third Week of Lent.
Fourth Week of Lent.
Fifth Week of Lent.
!!! Holy Week.


Easter Sunday to Divine Mercy Sunday (Second Sunday of Easter).
Second Week of Easter.
Third Week of Easter.
Fourth Week of Easter.
Fifth Week of Easter.
Sixth Week of Easter. Includes Ascension Thursday.
Seventh Week of Easter. Includes Pentecost.

Some of these are also listed above (e.g., during the Christmas season).

December 8. Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Dec 12. Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Dec 24-25. Christmas: Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. 4 Masses below.

Dec 26. Feast of St Stephen the Proto-Martyr.

Dec 27. Feast of St John the Evangelist.

Dec 28. Feast of the Holy Innocents.

Jan 1. Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, The Mother of God (Octave of Christmas).

Jan 6. Solemnity of the Epiphany.

Jan 25. Feast of the Conversion of St Paul.

Feb 2. Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.

Feb 22. Feast of the Chair of St Peter.

Mar 19. Feast of St Joseph, Husband of Mary.

Mar 25. Feast of the Annunciation.

Apr. 25. Feast of St Mark the Evangelist.

May 1. Feast of St Joseph the Worker.

May 3. Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles.

May 14. Feast of St Matthias, Apostle.

May 31. Feast of the Visitation.

Second Friday After Pentecost: Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Year A.  Year B.  Year C.

Jun 24. Vigil and Mass of the Day. Feast of the Birth of St John the Baptist.

Jun 29. Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles.

Jul 3. Feast of St Thomas the Apostle.

Jul 22. Feast of St Mary Magdalene.

Jul 25. Feast of St James the Elder, Apostle.

Aug 6. Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, Year A.

Aug 10. Feast of St Lawrence the Deacon.

Aug 15. Vigil and Mass of the Day. Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Aug 24. Feast of St Bartholomew, Apostle.

Sept 8. Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Sept 14. Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Sept 21. Feast of St Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist.

Sept 29. Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels.

Oct 18. Feast of St Luke the Evangelist.

Oct 28. Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles.

Nov 1. Solemnity of All Saints.

Nov 2. The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed.

Nov 9. Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica.

Nov 30. The Feast of St Andrew, Apostle.

Last Sunday of the Year: Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Always falls on last Sunday of the Year.

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The Last or General Judgment

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 5, 2019

We have seen that though “God wills all men to be saved,” and though Christ died for all, yet as a fact some will be saved and some will be lost. The decision of their eternal fate is given when their course is run: in the case of the individual, at his death; in the case of the human race as a whole, at the end of time. This latter, which is called the Last, or General, Judgment, is the one which concerns us here.

I. Mankind in the sight of God is not simply a number of individuals, but a great whole: one great family, having the same origin, involved in the same ruin, rescued by the same Redeemer. Although the Creator wills and promotes the good of every single creature, yet each is subservient to the good of the whole. Moreover, every man’s action is not isolated, but influences and is influenced by that of his fellow-men, whether past, present, or future. God “reacheth from end to end mightily, and ordereth all things sweetly;” nevertheless, to us who cannot contemplate the whole, “His ways are unsearchable” (Rom. 11:33). A day, however, will come, “the day of the Lord” (Joel 2:31), when all will be made clear, and His ways will be justified in the sight of all mankind (St. Thomas. 3, q. 59, a. 5).

1. In the Old Testament the Prophets speak of a great judgment which is to take place in the last days (Isa. 66:15 sqq.; Joel 2:29 sqq.; Joel3:2 sqq.; Mal. 4:1; Zeph. 1:14 sqq.). From them the Jews gathered their notion of a glorious and mighty Messias; and hence they rejected our Lord, Who came to them in poverty and in weakness. But He, referring to these very prophecies, foretold His Second Coming in great power and majesty to judge the living and dead (Matt. 13:41; 19:28; 24:27 sqq.; Matt 25:31 sqq.; Mark 13:24 sqq.; Luke 21:25 sqq.). The Apostles repeatedly preach this coming of Christ as an exhortation to a holy life, and as a consolation in the midst of sorrows and trials: e.g. St. Peter at the conversion of Cornelius (Acts 10:42); St. Paul at Athens (ibid. 17:31), and in his Epistles (Rom. 2:5 sqq.; Rom 14:10; 1 Cor. 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Tim. 4:1; 2 Thess. 1:5 sqq.); and St. James 5:7 sqq.

2. In all the early creeds belief in the General Judgment is professed, usually in connection with our Lord’s second coming. “Sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead” (Apostles’ Creed). “And He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead” (Nicene Creed). “He sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. At Whose coming all men shall rise again (resurgere habent) with their bodies, and shall give an account of their works” (Athanasian Creed).

II. Having thus established the fact of a future General Judgment, we turn now to the various circumstances and details connected with it.

1. The time of Christ’s second coming has not been made known to us: “Of that day or hour no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven nor the Son, but the Father” (Mark 13:32). Hence our Lord continually warns us to be on the watch, so as not to be taken unawares: He will come like a thief in the night (Matt. 24:42); “in a day that [man] hopeth not, and at an hour he knoweth not” (ibid. 50). “Take heed to yourselves lest … that day come upon you suddenly; for as a snare shall it come” (Luke 21:34, 35); “Watch ye therefore (for you know not when the Lord of the house cometh; at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning): lest coming on a sudden He find you sleeping; and what I say to you I say to all: Watch” (Mark 13:35–37). The Apostles seem to have expected their Master’s return almost immediately: “The end of all is at hand; be prudent, therefore, and watch in prayers” (1 Pet. 4:7); “The coming of the Lord is at hand (ἡ παρουσία τοῦ Κυρίου ἤγγικεν); … behold, the Judge standeth at the door” (James 5:8, 9); “Little children, it is the last hour (ἐσχάτη ὥρα)” (1 John 2:18). On the other hand, St. Paul begs the Thessalonians not to be alarmed by those who speak “as if the day of the Lord were at hand (ὡς ὁτι ἐνέστηκεν ἡ ἡμέρα τοῦ Κυρίου)” (2 Thess. 2:2; cf. 2 Pet. 3:8 sqq.). Nor is the uncertainty removed by the various signs which are to announce the approach of the Last Day. “Wars, and rumours of wars,” “pestilences, and famines, and earthquakes in places” (Matt. 24:6, 7) are unhappily common enough; “the signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars” (Luke 21:24), are the accompaniments rather than the forerunners of the coming; the universal spreading of the Gospel (Matt. 24:14) and the conversion of the Jews (Rom. 11:26) are not sufficiently definite; while the coming of Antichrist and the return of Henoch and Elias are themselves full of mystery. Hence, even some of the Fathers (e.g. St. Gregory the Great, Hom. i., in Evang.) and other Saints (e.g. St. Vincent Ferrer) have mistaken the date of the Last Day.

2. The place in which the Judgment will be held is here on earth; for all the various texts and creeds speak of a coming or return to where our Lord was before. We must not, however, take this to mean simply the solid earth on which we stand: “They shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matt. 24:39); “We who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with Christ into the air” (1 Thess. 4:16). The valley of Josaphat has been mentioned by some as the exact spot, by reason of the prophecy, “I will gather together all the nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Josaphat” (Joel 3:2); but these words can have only a remote reference to the Last Judgment. The neighbourhood of Jerusalem, however, where our Lord suffered, and whence He ascended into heaven, would seem to be a fitting place for His return and His final triumph.

3. The Judge will be our Lord Jesus Christ in His human nature, as the Son of Man. “Neither doth the Father judge any man; but hath given all judgment to the Son … and He hath given Him power to do judgment because He is the Son of Man” (John 5:22, 27; Matt. 24:30; 25:31; Luke 21:27). His second coming will be the completion of the work of the Incarnation. Then it is that the prophecies which speak of His power and glory and triumph will be fulfilled. At His first coming “He humbled Himself, taking the form of a servant;” His Divinity was hidden; He came to be judged, to suffer, and to die; but at His return He will come with great power and majesty; His Divinity will shine forth in His humanity; He will come to judge the living and dead, to triumph over His enemies, and bestow eternal reward on the faithful. “This Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen Him going into heaven (οὕτως ἐλεύσεται ὃν τρόπον ἐθεάσασθε αὐτὸν πορευόμενον εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν)” (Acts 1:11).

This office of Judge, which properly belongs to our Lord, He will to some extent communicate to the Apostles and other Saints (Matt. 19:28; 1 Cor. 6:2 sqq.).

4. All mankind, both good and bad; those who shall be alive at the Last Day, as well as those who shall have died, will be judged: “We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ” (Rom. 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Thess. 3:14 sqq.); “The hour cometh wherein all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that have done good things shall come forth unto the resurrection of life; but they that have done evil unto the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28, 29). When it is said, “Judge not, that ye may not be judged” (Matt. 7:7), judgment here and in similar passages (John 3:18) is clearly meant in the sense of condemnation (cf. John 16:11). St. Paul says that “we shall judge angels” (1 Cor. 6:3); and of the fallen angels it is said that “God delivered them drawn down by infernal ropes to the lower hell to be reserved unto judgment” (2 Pet. 2:4); or, as St. Jude says (6), “unto the judgment of the great day.” We may believe that the Angels, good and bad, will be judged either on account of their relations with mankind, or because they are subject to Him to Whom “all power is given in heaven and on earth,” Whom all the angels of God are to adore (Heb. 1:6), in Whose Name “every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth” (Phil. 2:10).

5. Christ will judge men according as they have believed in Him, and have kept His commandments. “Whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting” (John 3:16); “He who heareth My word, and believeth Him that sent Me, hath life everlasting” (ibid. v. 24); “The Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then will He render to every one according to his works” (Matt. 16:27; cf. 25:31–46; 2 Cor. 5:10) Every deed, “every idle word that men shall speak” (Matt. 12:36), will be revealed before the eyes of all: “The Lord will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts” (1 Cor. 4:5). This manifestation is described by St. John in the words of the Apocalypse: “I saw the dead, great and small, standing in the presence of the throne, and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged, every one according to their works” (20:12). And not only the works of men, but the works of God also, will be manifested on that day: the acts of His infinite mercy; the hidden workings of His justice; the unsearchable ways of His providence, so that He may be justified in the sight of all. “What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter” (John 13:7).

6. When “all the nations shall be gathered together before Him, the Son of Man shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats; and He shall set the sheep on His right hand, and the goats on His left” (Matt. 25:32, 33; cf. 13:24–43, 48). Then will follow the final sentence of reward or condemnation:

“Come,”…..“Depart from Me,”

“Ye blessed of My Father,”….“Ye cursed,”

“Possess you the kingdom”…“Into everlasting fire”

“Prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”…“Prepared for the devil and his angels.”

“And these shall go into everlasting punishment, but the just into life everlasting” (Matt. 25:34, 41, 46).

See St. Thomas, 3, q. 59, and Suppl., qq. 89, 90, and the commentators thereon; Freiburg Kirchenlexikon, art. GÖTTLICHES GERICHT.

Excerpted from A Manual of Catholic Theology. [WILHELM, J. – SCANNELL, T. B., A Manual of Catholic Theology: Based on Scheeben’s “Dogmatik”, II, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co. Ltd., London 1908Third Edition, Revised.]

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Signs That Will Accompany the End of the Present World

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 27, 2019

Public Domain Source: Pohle, Joseph, and Arthur Preuss. Eschatology, or The Catholic Doctrine of the Last Things: A Dogmatic Treatise. Dogmatic Theology. St. Louis, MO: B. Herder, 1920.


Revelation tells us that the General Judgment will be preceded by certain definite signs (Matt 24:37 sqq.; 2 Pet. 3:3 sqq.). Hence we may conclude that the world will not come to an end before these signs appear. On the other hand, no one can foretell the exact day of the Last Judgment from these signs. It is only when they all concur that a reasonable conjecture will become possible, and even then there will still be danger of self-deception. Cfr. 2 Thess. 2:1 sq.: “We beseech you, brethren, touching the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together unto Him, that you be not readily shaken out of your right mind nor kept in alarm,—whether by spirit-utterance or by discourse or by a letter purporting to be from us,—as though the day of the Lord were upon us.” As the precise time of the Last Judgment is known only to God, it were idle for us to speculate about it.

The principal signs or events usually enumerated by theologians as preceding the Last Judgment are:

(1) The General Preaching of the Christian Religion all over the earth;

(2) The Conversion of the Jews;
(3) The Return of Henoch and Elias;
(4) A Great Apostasy and the Reign of Antichrist;
(5) Extraordinary Disturbances of Nature;
(6) A Universal Conflagration.

1. GENERAL PREACHING OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION.—The first of the predicted signs was announced by our Divine Saviour Himself, Matth. 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world, for a testimony to all nations, and then shall the consummation come.”

It must not be concluded from this prophecy that all men will ultimately embrace the Christian religion. Our Lord says that the Gospel will be preached to all nations; not that all men will be converted (St Aug., Ep. 199). The words “and then” (καὶ τότε) are probably not meant to indicate an immediate sequence of events, but merely to mark the beginning (terminus a quo) of the period which will end with the General Judgment. “What does the phrase ‘then it will come’ mean,” says St. Augustine, “except that it will not come before that time? How long after that time it will come, we do not know. The only thing we know for certain is that it will not come sooner.” (St Aug., Ep. 197

2. THE CONVERSION OF THE JEWS.—St. Paul says: “I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of this mysery, … that blindness in part has happened in Israel, until the fulness of the gentiles should come in. And so all Israel should be saved, as it is written: (Is 59:20) ‘There shall come out of Sion he that shall deliver, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.’ … For as you also in times past did not believe God, but now have obtained mercy through their unbelief, so these also now have not believed, for your mercy, that they also may obtain mercy.” Rom 11:25

From this text it may with reasonable certainty be concluded:

(a) That the majority of nations, or at least the majority of the people of all nations (plenitudo gentium), will embrace Christianity before the end of the world;

(b) That, after the general conversion of the “gentiles,” the Jews, too, will accept the Gospel.

Though these propositions by no means embody articles of faith, it requires more than such antisemitic scolding as was indulged in by Luther to disprove them. The Apostle expressly speaks of a “mystery,” and ascribes the final conversion of the Jews, not to the physical or mental characteristics of the Semitic race, but to a special dispensation of God’s “mercy.” Luther overlooked both these factors when he wrote: “A Jew, or a Jewish heart, is as hard as wood, stone, or iron, as hard in fact as the devil himself, and hence cannot be moved by any means.… They are young imps condemned to Hell.… Those who conclude from the eleventh chapter of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans that the Jews will all be converted towards the end of the world, are foolish and their opinion is groundless.” (Sämtl. Werke, Jena ed., Vol. VIII, p. 109)

On the other hand, however, there is no reason to assume that the Jews will all be converted, or that the Hebrew race will embrace the true faith in a body. Like the “gentiles,” the Jews will probably flock to the Church in great numbers. “When the multitude of nations will come in,” says St. Jerome, “then this fig-tree, too, will bear fruit, and all Israel will be saved.” (In Habac., III, 17)

The parable of the sheepfold (John 10:16) is sometimes applied to the end of the world, though, we believe, ineptly. In saying, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold, them also must I bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd,” our Lord simply meant that His Church was to embrace all nations.

3. RETURN OF HENOCH AND ELIAS.—The belief that Elias (Elijah) and Henoch (Enoch) will return to herald the second coming of our Lord and to convert the Jews, was held by many Fathers.

a) So far as it regards Elias, this belief is based on the prophecy of Malachias (Malachi): “Behold I will send you Elias the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers: lest I come and strike the earth with anathema.” (Mal 4:5 sq) “Elias the prophet” cannot be identical with John the Baptist, as some have thought, because the Septuagint expressly calls him “the Thesbite” (Tishbite). Moreover, our Lord Himself clearly distinguishes between the two, and ascribes to Elias precisely the rôle that was attributed to him by His contemporaries. Matth 17:11 sq.: “But he answering, said to them: Elias indeed shall come, and restore all things; but I say to you that Elias is already come.… Then the disciples understood that he had spoken to them of John the Baptist.” St. Augustine explains this text as follows: “As there are two advents of the Judge, so there are two precursors.… He sent before Him the first precursor and called him Elias, because Elias was to take the same part in the second coming that John had in the first.” (Tract. in Ioa., VII, 5)

From what we have said it further appears that the phrase “dies Domini” does not mean the first coming of Christ as the Messias, but His second coming as the Universal Judge. The day of His Incarnation was a day of mercy and blessing; the day of the Last Judgment will be a “day of terror.”

b) Concerning Henoch the argument is less convincing.

Some theologians substitute Moses or Jeremias for Henoch, but this procedure is rejected by the majority (Cfr. Suarez, De Myst. Vitae Christi, disp. 55, sect. 3.). The Bible says that “Henoch pleased God, and was translated into paradise, that he may give [preach] repentance to the nations’ (Sir 44:16). The Septuagint is less definite. It says: καὶ μετετέθη (εἰς παράδεισον is missing) παράδειγμα μετανοίας ταῖς γενεαῖς,—which might mean that Henoch was set up as an example of repentance for his contemporaries. St. Paul says: “By faith Henoch was translated, that he should not see death” (Heb 11:5). In view of this passage and of the “two witnesses” who according to the Apocalypse (Rev 11:3 sqq.) will appear as precursors of our Lord when He returns for the Last Judgment, there has existed in the Church since the earliest times a popular belief that Elias and Henoch will come back to preach penance before the end of the world. However, this is not a dogmatically certain truth, as claimed by Bellarmine. (De Romano Pontifice, III, 6)

4. THE GREAT APOSTASY AND ANTICHRIST.—The “great apostasy,” i. e. a tremendous defection among the faithful, is described partly as the cause and partly as an effect of the appearance of Antichrist. Both events may be reckoned among the signs that are to precede the Last Judgment, because it is certain that either before or after the conversion of nations and of the Jewish race there will be a great revolt, led by Antichrist, which will reduce the number of the faithful.

a) That a great apostasy will occur before the end of the world we know from St. Paul’s Second Epistle to the Thessalonians.

The congregation at Thessalonica had taken alarm at a spurious letter purporting to come from the Apostle, “as though the day of the Lord were near.” To prove the genuineness of the present epistle, and as a precaution against forgery, St. Paul inserts the following words in his own handwriting: “I, Paul, [send you] this greeting with my own hand. That is the sign in every letter; thus I write” (2 Th 3:17). His references to the end of the world appear rather obscure to us because he adverts to certain things which he had told the Thessalonians by word of mouth and of which we have no knowledge: “Do you not remember that while I was still with you I used to tell you these things?” (2 Th 2:5). On one point, however, he is quite clear, viz.: that the “day of the Lord” (ἡ ἡμέρα τοῦ κυρίου) will not come “unless the apostasy first befall, and the man of lawlessness be revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Th 2:3). “Apostasy” (ἡ ἀποστασία, discessio) in this connection can scarcely mean a political revolution, for the whole movement is described as “a mystery of iniquity” (μυστήριον τῆς ἀνομίας), a satanic “seduction to evil for them that are perishing, because they have not entertained the love of the truth (τὴν ἀγάπην τῆς ἀληθείας) unto their salvation. And therefore God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe that lie (τῷ ψεύδει), in order that all may be judged that have believed the truth (τῇ ἀληθείᾳ), but have acquiesced in unrighteousness” (τῆ ἀδικίᾳ. 2 Thess. 2:9–11).

It is true that some older exegetes understood this text as foreshadowing, at least secondarily, a great political upheaval, in particular the fall of the Roman Empire. But neither this catastrophe, nor the Protestant Reformation (1517), nor the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire (1806), have proved to be the discessio predicted by the Apostle.

b) In the passage quoted above St. Paul mentions another sign among those preceding the day of the Lord, viz.: the revelation of the “man of sin,” the “son of perdition,” who is usually called Antichrist.

α) The name Antichrist is not found in the Epistles of St. Paul, but in 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7 St. John speaks of “antichrists” in the plural number, but there can be no doubt that he believed in a personal Antichrist. Cfr. 1 John 2:18: “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist cometh, even now there are become many antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last hour.”27 This personal Antichrist is to be preceded by messengers who will prepare the way for him and inaugurate his reign. Cfr. 1 John 4:3: “And every spirit that dissolveth Jesus, is not of God: and this is antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh, and he is now already in the world.” The Greek text is more definite: καὶ τοῦτό ἐστι τὸ τοῦ ἀντιχρίστου [the work of Antichrist], ὃ [not ὅς] ἀκηκόατε ὅτι ἔρχεται, καὶ νῦν ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἐστὶν ἤδη. Evidently the Antichrist predicted by St. John is not merely a pretender, but the incarnate antithesis of our Divine Saviour, and therefore His deadly enemy. Whether “Antichrist” is merely a collective name for certain persons and tendencies, or whether it designates one particular person, a human individual of flesh and blood, cannot be concluded with certainty from the Johannine text. St. Paul, however, is positive on this point. He speaks of Antichrist as “the man of lawlessness” (ὁ ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἁμαρτίας), “the son of perdition” (ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας), who “shall oppose and exalt himself against all that is called God” and “seat himself in God’s sanctuary, giving himself out as God” (2 Thess. 2:3 sqq.). “And then shall the lawless one (ὁ ἄνομος) be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth and bring to nought by the manifestation of his coming. But that other’s coming is through Satan’s working [attended] by every [kind of] feat and sign and lying wonder, and by every seduction to evil for them that are perishing” (2 Th 2:8-10) This graphic description cannot be applied to a mere personification, but points to a concrete individual, and hence we may safely reject the figurative interpretation of “Antichrist,” though it is not necessarily contrary to Catholic teaching.

β) It is difficult to say what St. meant meant when he wrote in the same Epistle: “And now you know what keepeth him back (τὸ κατέχον), to the end that he may be revealed in his own season. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only let him who now restraineth (ὁ κατέχων) be taken out of the way, and then shall the lawless one be revealed” (2 Th 2:6-7). This obscure text has been variously interpreted. Most exegetes see in it a reference to some contemporaneous event. SS. Chrysostom and Jerome regarded the Roman Empire as the restraining influence (τὸ κατέχον, ὁ κατέχων). Others held that “the lawless one” is kept in check by the fact that the Gospel has not yet been preached to all nations and the Jewish people remain unconverted. Dr. Döllinger identified “the man of lawlessness” with the Emperor Nero, the κατέχων with Claudius, the “mystery of lawlessness” with Nero’s intrigues to usurp the throne, and the “sitting in the temple” (Cfr. Dan. 9:27) with the profanation and destruction of the Jewish temple under Titus and Vespasian (Döllinger, Christentum und Kirche, pp. 277 sqq). Such historical parallels may be ingenious and entertaining, but in appraising them at their true value we must not overlook the fact that St. John speaks of the second coming of Christ, and that “he who restrains” this coming is most likely the devil, who is reserving his forces for the end of the world, when he will make his last and most formidable assault upon the human race through Antichrist.

Some conceive Antichrist to be an incarnate devil or a man possessed by Satan (Cfr. St. Jerome, In Dan., VII, 8: “Unus de hominibus, in quo satanas inhabitaturus sit corporaliter.”). The rôle assigned to him, however, would seem to require an independent person. Such appellations as “the man of lawlessness” and “the son of perdition” sufficiently indicate that he will be a man, not an incarnate devil or an energumen.

The belief that Antichrist will be the son of a Jewish mother overshadowed by Satan is pure conjecture (Cfr. Lactantius, Instit., VI, 17). That he will be born in Syria or Babylonia, rule the world for three years from Jerusalem or Rome, and be deposed at the second coming of our Lord, are more or less probable surmises that have nothing to do with the dogmatic teaching of the Church (Cfr. Roncaglia, Lezioni Sacre intorno alla Venuta, Costumi e Monarchia dell’ Anticristo, Rome 1718; A. J. Maas, S.J., art. “Antichrist,” in Vol. I of the Catholic Encyclopedia; J. H. Newman, “The Patristic Idea of Antichrist” (Discussions and Arguments on Various Subjects, pp. 44–108, new impression, London 1907).).

5. EXTRAORDINARY DISTURBANCES OF NATURE.—The second coming of Christ will be sudden and terrifying. Matth. 24:27: “As the lightning cometh out of the east, and appeareth even into the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Luke 17:24: “As the lightning that lighteneth from under heaven, shineth unto the parts that are under heaven, so shall the Son of man be in his day.” Scripture clearly indicates that this event will be preceded by tremendous disturbances.

a) It is not easy to separate the eschatological part of our Lord’s teaching from his references to the destruction of Jerusalem. However, there can hardly be a doubt that the following passage refers entirely to the end of the world: “And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shall be moved: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all tribes of the earth mourn: and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty” (Mt 24:29-30). The tribulations here described are partly material (extraordinary perturbations of nature) and partly spiritual (mental anguish suffered by men). It will not do to interpret the passage figuratively. The Fathers and theologians accept our Lord’s prophecy in its literal sense. Quite naturally, He employed the language of the people to whom He spoke, not the terminology of science. We know that the (fixed) stars cannot “fall from heaven.” Hence the expression “powers of heaven” must apply to the atmospheric belt that surrounds the earth. We are forced to conclude that the words of the Bible refer to the earth alone and not to the planets and other astral bodies by which it is surrounded. True St. Paul says: “Every creature groaneth and travaileth in pain, even till now, and not only it, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit” (Rom 8:22-23). But nature, i. e. the material universe, expects redemption and consummation only in so far as it groans under the curse which deprived it of the blessings of Paradise. In matter of fact God cursed the earth, not its planets, nor the sun, nor the stars. Cfr. Gen. 3:17 sq.: “Cursed is the earth in thy work; … thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee.”

This simple and rational explanation is confirmed by what may be regarded as the most important of all Scriptural texts dealing with the consummation of the world, viz., 2 Pet. 3:10: “But the day of the Lord shall come as a thief, in which the heavens shall pass away with great violence, and the elements shall be melted with heat, and the earth and the works which are in it shall be burnt up.” As the context shows, “heavens” here means the atmosphere surrounding the earth, for the conflagration described by St. Peter is related to the deluge, “whereby the world that then was, being over-flowed with water, perished;” whereas “the heavens and the earth, which now, by the same word are kept in store, [are] reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Pt 3:6-7). A comparison of the two sentences shows that the “heaven” which will be destroyed by fire is the same that helped to bring on the deluge. Hence it must be the atmosphere of our earth, of which alone, furthermore, it can be said that it “shall pass away with great violence” (2 Pet 3:10: “caeli magno impetu transient.”—On the interpretation of 2 Pet. 3:6–10 see St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei, XX, 24.).

b) How are we to conceive “the new heavens” which Scripture predicts in connection with the “new earth” that is to be after the Last Judgment? (Cfr. Is. 65:17; 66:22; Rev 21:1 sq.; 2 Pet. 3:13.). We shall hardly go astray if we picture this transformation as a restoration of the telluric atmosphere. The earth and its surrounding atmosphere will not be totally destroyed, but transformed into a paradise. It is hazardous to deduce more than this from the cryptic intimations found in various parts of the Bible. The analogy of faith as well as the geocentric conception of the universe known to have been held by the sacred writers favor the assumption that there is to be a re-created “heaven” (i. e. atmosphere) as well as a restored earth. In what manner the planets and stars are to be led to perfection,—we can hardly assume that they will continue their revolutions forever,—Revelation does not tell. The views held by the Fathers and medieval Scholastics were based on an erroneous notion of the universe and cannot be regarded as an authentic exposition of the Catholic faith.

6. THE UNIVERSAL CONFLAGRATION.—The “end of the world” will be brought about by a great conflagration, which will destroy our planet and its atmosphere.

a) It is uncertain whether this catastrophe will take place before or after the General Judgment. The former view is based on the assumption that the advent of the Great Judge in the clouds of heaven (Matt 24:29; 2 Pet. 3:10) must coincide with the universal conflagration, and that this conflagration will not only cause the death of those who are still alive, but likewise supply for them the place of Purgatory. But this theory is open to many objections. In the first place it is improbable that the Last Judgment will be delayed until after the destruction and subsequent restoration of the earth, for how, in this hypothesis, would it be possible for the living to “hasten unto the coming of the Lord”? Moreover, it seems proper that the great conflagration should follow the Last Judgment and thus actually mark the end of the world.

b) By what means God will bring about this terrible conflagration we know not. It is neither probable nor necessary to assume that the phenomenon will be strictly miraculous. Even infidel scientists admit that there are a number of purely natural causes which may at any moment bring about the end of the world. If, for instance, the earth were to collide with a comet accompanied by a swarm of meteorites, or with some solar system other than our own, or if one of the so-called fixed stars were to enter our planetary circle, the result would be destruction. Curiously enough the signs predicted by our Lord and by St. Peter as preceding or accompanying the end of the world coincide with the perturbations which present-day scientists say would probably ensue if the earth were hit by a comet. A well-known astronomer, Father Charles Braun, S. J., has called attention to the existence of comets which are ten thousand times larger than the earth. If such a ponderous body were to strike the earth at a speed of, say, six geographical miles per second, he says, “the result would be the same as if a compact mass of equal weight, shooting through space with the velocity of a cannon ball, would collide with the earth. No human being could live through such a catastrophe.… Millions of luminous meteorites and meteors, which, as is well known, always accompany comets, would penetrate the atmosphere, and, by condensing, produce such enormous masses of cosmic dust that the sun would lose its splendor and glow with a reddish hue. Presently the head of the comet would arrive and either strike the earth and, by destroying its crust, cause the kernel of liquid fire to burst forth, or, leaving behind a large part of its coma, enter our atmosphere in the form of a frightful hurricane and start a general conflagration, which even the minerals could hardly resist, and which, within a few hours, would convert all organic structure into ashes” (Chs. Braun, S.J., Ueber Kosmogonie vom Standpunkt christlicher Wissenschaft, 3rd ed., pp. 383, 385, Münster 1905.—On other possibilities see Epping, “Die Meteorite und ihr kosmischer Ursprung,” in the Stimmen aus Maria-Laach, 1886, I, 290 sqq.; J. Pohle, Die Sternenwelten und ihre Bewohner, 6th ed., pp. 243 sqq., Cologne 1910.).

c) Will this universal conflagration annihilate the earth with all its inhabitants or will some organic beings survive? This question is inspired by curiosity rather than dogmatic considerations. The Scholastics generally held that no corruptible substances (corpora mixta = animals and plants) shall find a place on the “new earth.” In point of fact we have no positive knowledge concerning this matter. The Schoolmen claimed no greater weight for their theories than that due to the arguments which they adduced. Their arguments in the present case are anything but conclusive. Why should not God in His omnipotence endow mixed bodies with the same indestructibility or incorruptibility which is possessed by simple bodies (corpora simplicia), or recreate the animals and plants for the benefit of the race of transfigured men that is to inhabit the new earth? St. Anselm seems to have had some such idea in mind when he wrote: “The earth which once harbored in its bosom the body of our Lord, like a great garden which, having been watered by the blood of saints, will wear an imperishable garland of sweet-smelling flowers” (Cfr. Suarez, Comment. in S. Theol., III, qu. 59, art. 6, sect 3). This view has found favor with some modern theologians (Bautz and Einig), but though it is quite fascinating, we do not adopt it because it cannot be proved.

“Science,” says Father Joseph Rickaby, “has sometimes dreamt of a final condition of things in which the machinery of the universe shall be completely run down, the energies of nature so dislocated as no longer to furnish any potentiality of organic life, a uniform temperature established everywhere, suns cooled, planetary revolutions stopped,—the realization in fact of the ὁμοῦ πάντα χρήματα, or universal deadlock, which was the Greek notion of a mindless chaos. Things may come to this final impasse, or they may not, science cannot tell. But there remains God’s promise to re-establish (ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι, gather up under a new head) all things in Christ (Eph 1:10). ‘Hence it is said,’ quotes St. Thomas: they are the last words of his book The Summa Contra Gentiles: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21:1): I will create new heavens and a new earth; and the things that were before shall not be in memory, neither shall they rise into thought; but ye shall be glad and rejoice forever” (Is 65:17). ‘So be it,’ says Aquinas.”

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Podcast Study of the Book of Revelation

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 5, 2019

First Class:


Second Class:


Third Class:


Fourth Class:


Fifth Class:


Sixth Class:


Seventh Class:


Eighth Class:


Ninth Class:


Tenth Class:


Eleventh Class:


Twelfth Class:


Thirteenth Class:


Fourteenth Class:


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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 4:1-12

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 13, 2019

In this chapter is recorded the violence offered the Apostles by the Jewish authorities for preaching to the people (Acts 4:1–3). The conversion of large numbers (Acts 4:4). The questioning of the Apostles by the leading men of the Jewish priesthood (Acts 4:5–8). Peter’s address, his vindication of his conduct, and exposition of doctrine (Acts 4:8–13). Consultation among the assembled authorities as to how the Apostles were to be treated (Acts 4:13–20). The liberation of the Apostles out of fear of the people, and on account of the incontestable evidence of the miracle (Acts 4:21–22). The solemn, united prayer to God on the part of the assembled faithful (Acts 4:24–30). The effect of this solemn prayer fully manifested (Acts 4:31). The edifying manner of life pursued by the first Christians, their charitable disinterestedness (Acts 4:32–37).

Acts 4:1 And as they were speaking to the people the priests and the officer of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them,

“Priests.” These likely belonged to the Sanhedrim. They seemed to possess some authority to prevent the Apostles from preaching in the Temple.

“The officer of the Temple” very likely, denotes the captain of the guard stationed in the Tower, Antonia, for the purpose of preserving order and preventing tumults in the Temple, especially on the occasion of Great Festivities. The assembling of the people round the Apostles, after the miraculous cure of the lame man, might lead to a riot.

“The Sadducees” (See Matthew 3:7, 22:23, Commentary). They were a kind of freethinking malcontents among the Jews. They denied the existence of spirits, and the spirituality, as also the immortality of the soul. They were particularly opposed to the doctrine of the Resurrection. Although generally at variance with the Pharisees and the heads of the Jewish church, they still joined them against our Lord and his Apostles (See Matthew 3:7).

“Came upon them,” by surprise and unexpectedly, while speaking to the people.

Acts 4:2 Being grieved that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead:

“Grieved,” in Greek, means, vexed, annoyed; “taught,” &c, thus causing their own influence and prestige to be lessened.

“The resurrection of the dead,” the general resurrection of all men, of which the Resurrection of Jesus, which they constantly proclaimed, was the model, the exemplary and efficient cause. This was very mortifying to the Sadducees, who saw that the preaching of the Apostles on this point, so opposed to their cherished tenets, was making head among the people. They, therefore, united with the priests in endeavouring to arrest the progress of the Gospel.

Acts 4:3 And they laid hands upon them and put them in hold till the next day: for it was now evening.

Forcibly seizing on them, they put them in safe keeping, either in prison or in charge of some guard “till next day,” when they were to be brought before the Council. It was now too late in the day to convene a Council.

Acts 4:4 But many of them who had heard the word believed: and the number of the men was made five thousand.

The effect of this persecution was to increase the number of believers among the Jews. “Was made five thousand.” This form of expression would seem to signify, not that this number were just now converted and assembled in Solomon’s porch; but, that by the accession of the “many” now converted, to the number of converts already existing, the entire Church now amounted to this number, which shows the wonderful power of God’s grace in so short a time after Pentecost. The interval, though not stated, must be very short.

Acts 4:5 And it came to pass on the morrow, that their princes and ancients and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem.

The assembly of the Sanhedrim, or great council of the nation, which wielded such authority, probably, the first time, since they condemned our Lord, shows the alarm caused the heads of the Jewish Church by the successes of the Apostles. Hence, they leave nothing undone to stop them. For a full account of the Synedrium, or, as the Talmudists termed it, the Sanhedrin (See Matthew 26:57, Commentary). Seventy-one (72) judges constituted the Sanhedrim, the High Priest being always President. It was composed of the High Priests, that is, such as enjoyed the dignity of High Priests, together with the heads of the twenty-four (24) classes into which the Priests were divided—“the ancients or elders, the chiefs of the Tribes and heads of families; the Scribes” (See Matthew 26:3). There is no mention of the High Priests here. Hence, the description of the Sanhedrim here is incomplete, though, of course, the High Priests formed no inconsiderable portion of the assembly. It was before these same men our Blessed Lord was arraigned; it was they handed him over to Pilate (Matthew 26:50). It was before the same that Peter denied our Lord (Matthew 26:70. &c.).

“In Jerusalem”—in Greek, “into Jerusalem,” conveying that such members of the Sanhedrim as were not actually at the time in Jerusalem, repaired thither for the trial of the Apostles.

Acts 4:6 And Annas the high priest and Caiphas and John and Alexander: and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest.

Having referred, in a general way, to the Sanhedrim, he now mentions some of its most prominent members, “Annas, Caiphas,” &c (See Luke 3). “John and Alexander,” men clearly of eminence among the body, “and as many,” &c., may denote members of the family of Annas and Caiphas, or those nearly related to them.

Acts 4:7 And setting them in the midst, they asked: By what power or by what name, have you done this?

“And setting,” &c., assigning them as culprits a place where all the judges or assembled members of the Sanhedrim might easily see them.

“What power,” from God, or any other source? “Name.” What name did you invoke in order to perform this work? Although they knew it was by the power and invocation of the name of Jesus, still they hoped the Apostles might say it was by the Divine power, without specially referring to the name of Jesus; and thus, some confusion as to the distinct name of Jesus might arise (St. Chrysostom, Hom. x. in Acts).

“You,” is derisive. You, who are of no consideration.

“This” cure. They would not express what it was.

Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said to them: Ye princes of the people and ancients, hear.

“Filled with the Holy Ghost” denotes a particular actual grace given him on this occasion, strongly influencing him; different or distinct from the habitual graces given him on Pentecost Sunday. Ordinary and habitual grace would not suffice for heroic deeds. A new actual grace is required. Thus, it is said of Sampson, on occasion of his wonderful displays of strength, “the spirit of the Lord came strongly upon him” (Judges 15:14).

How different is Peter’s conduct from what it had been on a former occasion. Then, trembling at the empty chidings of a silly maid, he denied his Lord. Now, as head of the Apostolic College, boldly confronting the united authority of the Jews, he makes reparation for his former crime by loudly proclaiming his Divine Messiahship, preaching the glorious Resurrection of the Crucified, whose power they were after witnessing in the miraculous cure of the lame man. Showing the deference due to their office, he respectfully addresses them as representatives of the supreme authority among the Jews, “Princes of the people,” &c. Before the same Council, the same men, in the same place and city, he repaires the scandal he gave in denying his Divine Master.

Acts 4:9 If we this day are examined concerning the good deed done to the infirm man, by what means he hath been made whole:

“If we this day,” &c. If notwithstanding the evidence of the fact, we are to be treated as criminals, brought to trial and subjected to judicial examination for the good deed of having bestowed the blessing of a perfect cure on the infirm man—which should be rather a subject of praise—and called to render an account of how “he has been made whole.” “If” conveys surprise at such an extraordinary proceeding, a matter scarcely credible.

Acts 4:10 Be it known to you all and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God hath raised from the dead, even by him, this man standeth here before you, whole.

As you ask by what name we did this, be it known to you and all the world, it was by invoking the name and exercising the power “of our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth.” The term of Nazareth was the epithet by which our Lord was known and scornfully referred to by the Jews. “Crucified,” “raised from the dead.” The contrast is so striking. They put him to death. God raised him up from the dead. The accusers now become the accused. With singular intrepidity and courage, St. Peter heretofore so timid, charges them with the greatest crime that could be perpetrated, the murder of their own long-expected Messiah and deliverer, putting to death the author of life.

“Standeth here,” &c. It may be that the cured man was imprisoned or guarded with the Apostles, and, very likely, brought forward at the trial to confront them.

Acts 4:11 This is the stone which was rejected by you the builders, which is become the head of the corner.

He shows that the ignominious death and Resurrection of our Lord was predicted by the Prophets. He thus strengthens his argument, especially with the Jews, who valued so much the oracles of their inspired Prophets. The first part of Psalm 118, from which the quotation is taken, literally refers to David himself. The second part, also quoted, could refer to our Lord only, in its literal sense, and is quoted by our Lord as applying to Himself (Matthew 21:42). Here is a metaphorical allusion to architecture; skilful architects place in the corners of a building the largest and most binding stone, in order to unite and sustain the two walls of the building. It thus gets the most important place. St. Peter applies this prediction to our Lord, who was scornfully rejected by the Jewish rulers, the Priests, and Scribes, the builders of the Synagogue, who should labour for the construction of God’s spiritual house, and should, therefore, be the first to receive our Lord. But while they rejected Him, God placed Him as the head “corner stone,” sustaining, upholding, and fusing into one the two peoples, Jews and Gentiles, who were to form the Church. He united the old and new dispensations. In Him all the elect of old were justified, no less than the children of the New Law. To this our Lord alludes (Matthew 21:42. See Commentary on).

Isaias had predicted it (Isa 28:16). See also 1 Peter 2–4.

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.

Having assured them in figurative terms, that Christ was the Messiah, St. Peter now, in language devoid of all figure, adds, as a consequence, that in him only can man find eternal Salvation.

Name” often signifies person or being. No one else can save us from the consequences of sin, viz., hell and damnation; and bestow on us eternal joy and peace in Heaven—the chief object of our Lord’s Mission. The Apostle avails himself of this corporal cure to place before the assembled Sanhedrim the greater cure and salvation from Hell which our Lord came to bring about.

Our Lord is frequently marked out, “given” as the source of this greater and universal Salvation. (John 3:16), (1 Cor. 3:5), (1 Tim. 2:6), &c.

“Must be saved” in the present order of Divine Providence, whereby our Lord is constituted the only source of eternal life and salvation.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 16

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 4, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this chapter, the Apostle commends to the Romans, Phœbe, the Deaconess of the Church of Cenchreæ, the bearer of this Epistle, and a benefactress to himself and several others (Rom 16:1-2).

He salutes many of the saints of Rome, and mentions their names with much praise. He exhorts them to note the authors of scandal and dissension, and to shun them; for, such persons are solely actuated by motives of selfishness, only serving themselves and not Jesus Christ. By shunning these, they will preserve their faith without any admixture of error. He prays for them and promises them the divine assistance against such impostors (Rom 16:20). He mentions the names of those who send their salutations to the Romans (Rom 16:21-23), and finally, after blessing them, he closes the Epistle with a doxology, in which he extols the attributes of God (Rom 16:24-27.

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

Rom 16:1. But I commend to you Phœbe, our sister in the Lord, who discharges the functions of deaconess in the Church of Cenchreæ (and who is the bearer of this Epistle).

Our sister,” in the Christian faith and religion, “who is in the ministry of the Church,” &c. The Greek, ουσαν και διακονον της εκκλησιας, is literally rendered, who is also a Deaconess of the Church, &c.; also, is found in the Codex Vaticanus, but wanting in the common Greek copies. These Deaconesses were an order of devout females, who, from the very days of the Apostles, were deputed to perform certain functions in the Church. They were generally selected from among the ecclesiastical widows, of whom mention is made (1 Tim 5). Hence, St. Epiphanius (Heresi, 79), and the Council of Laodicea (Can. 11), call them, elderly widows. Persons also who lived in perpetual virginity sometimes discharged the office of Deaconesses, as is stated by St. Ignatius (ad Smyrnenses), St. Epiph. (Expos. Fid. Num. 21), and others. It is clear from this passage, that they existed from the time of the Apostles; the junior Pliny (Epist. 96, Lib. x. to Trajan), speaks of having put two Deaconesses to the torture: “Qui magis, inquit, necessarium credidi ex duabus ancillis, quæ ministræ dicebantur, quid esset veri et per tormenta exquirere.” Their age, at the time of the Apostle, should be sixty (1 Tim 5). But, in course of time, this rule was departed from, and it was fixed in the Council of Chalcedon, held under Pope Leo, that they might be admitted at the age of forty; the same was sanctioned in the Council of Quinisextum.—(Canon 14). Their duties were—firstly, to assist at the baptism of females, which was then given by immersion, and thus consult for modesty; secondly, to instruct at their houses the female catechumens, in the Christian doctrine; to carry aid and assistance to the martyrs and confessors detained in prison, when the Deacons were not allowed access to them; and also to attend at the entrance to the church on the side in which the females entered.—(St. Clement, lib. 3, Constit. chap. 15 and 16; St. Epiph. Heresi, 79; St. Ignatius, Ep. 12, ad Antiochenos). The common opinion is, that they were admitted to the rank of Deaconesses by the imposition of hands, which, of course, did not confer on them any holy order or sacrament, but was merely an ecclesiastical cermony. The 19th Canon of the Council of Nice would appear to be opposed to this; but, if examined closely, it is not in reality opposed to it, since the Canon of Nice prevents the cermony of the imposition of hands, only in reference to such as were converted from the heresy of the Paulinianists. The office of Deaconess gradually fell into disuse and was abolished in the Church.—(Vide Devoti, lib. 1, Titulo ix. et Cabassutius, Notitia Ecclesiastica, sec. 2da, Dissertatio 2da.)

“That is in Cenchreæ.” Cenchreæ was one of the ports of Corinth, on the Asiatic side, where St. Paul had written this Epistle, of which Phebe is generally supposed to have been the bearer to the Romans.

Rom 16:2. I beseech you then to receive her in the name of the Lord, in such a way as a holy woman should he received and treated by saints, and to assist her in whatever matters she may require your assistance. She is eminently entitled to this attention from you, for having herself frequently assisted and extended relief to many of the saints, to myself among the rest.

“In the Lord,” i.e., in the name and on account of Christ, “as becometh saints,” in such a way as Christians should receive each other. “For she also hath assisted,” (in Greek, προστασις ἐγενηθν, has been a protectress to) “many” of the saints, or such Christians as required her aid, and to myself among the rest.

Rom 16:3. Salute Prisca, and her husband Aquila, my coadjutors in promulgating the gospel of Christ.

These were of Jewish extraction, well instructed in the faith, and tent makers by trade. They had returned to Rome after the death of the Emperor Claudius, by whose edict all Jews were banished from Rome. “My helpers,” &c. They assisted and co-operated with the Apostle in the work of the gospel.

Rom 16:4. They also were sharers in my dangers; for, they exposed and perilled their lives in defence of mine; to them, therefore, not only I, but all the churches of the Gentiles, whose Apostle they have saved, and in whose conversion they have co-operated, return thanks.

“Who had exposed their necks for my life.” This must have happened either in the tumult raised at Corinth (Acts 18:12), or in the one at Ephesus (Acts 19:24).

Rom 16:5. Salute also their entire Christian family. Salute also Epenetus, who was the first to embrace the faith when I preached in Asia, and is, therefore, my firstborn in Christ from that country.

“The church which is in their house,” i.e., their entire Christian family, which was as orderly and as well regulated as a church; it was also distinguished for piety. It may be that the word “church,” applied to their house, has reference to the constant celebration of the praises of God and divine offices there, before the faithful could have obtained public places of worship.—(See Philemon 3; Col. 4.; 1 Cor. 16.) “The first-fruits of Asia.” Some versions have, “the first-fruits of Achaia,” but erroneously, since Stephanas was the first-fruits of Achaia (1 Cor. 16:15). The most learned among critics prefer the reading in our Vulgate, “Asia,” to the one in which Achaia is found: της Ασιας is the reading of the chief MSS.

Rom 16:6. Salute Mary who has laboured much for you.

“Among you,” in the common Greek, εἰς ἡμᾶς, unto us, or for us. The Codex Vaticanus εἰς ὑμᾶς, onto you. Who she was, cannot be determined with certainty.

Rom 16:7. Salute Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen, sharers in my sufferings and incarceration for Christ, who are distinguished among the preachers of the gospel, and have this advantage over me, that they believed in Christ before I received that grace.

“My kinsmen,” probably of the same tribe of Benjamin; for there were a great many at Rome of Jewish extraction, who would be equally his kinsmen, if the words merely regarded their being of Jewish origin. “Junias,” is more probably supposed, from the following words, “of note among the Apostles,” i.e., preachers of the gospel, to have been a man, and not the wife of Andronicus, as some imagine. “Fellow-prisoners.” It is not well determined when or where they were in prison with him. They were called to the faith before the Apostle.

Rom 16:8. Salute Ampliatus, most dear to me for his piety.

“Most beloved in the Lord,” expressed his Christian affection for him.

Rom 16:9. Salute Urbanus, our co-operator in the work of the gospel, and Stachys, very much beloved by me.

Rom 16:10. Salute Apelles, who has been tried and proved in the profession of his faith; or, found by experience to be a sincere Christian.

“Approved in Christ.” The Greek word for “approved,” δοκιμον, means found, by trial and experience, to be a true and sincere Christian.

Rom 16:11. Salute the family of Aristobulus. Salute Herodian, my kinsman. Salute the Christian domestics of Narcissus.

“Those that are of Aristobulus’s household,” and of course, Aristobulus himself in the first place. “Herodian my kinsman,” i.e., of the same tribe of Benjamin with me. “Of Narcissus’s household who are in the Lord;” hence, it is probable that some of his household were unbelievers.

Rom 16:12. Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who co-operate, in their way, in the propagation of the gospel. Salute Persis, most dear to me, who has laboured much in the cause of the Lord.

These three females laboured, in their own way, towards the propagation of the gospel, by extending hospitality and kindness to its preachers.

Rom 16:13. Salute Rufus, distinguished for his piety, and his mother, whom I also love and venerate as a parent.

“Elect in the Lord,” i.e., distinguished among the Christians, and his mother, for whom I entertain the feelings and veneration of a son.

Rom 16:14. Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Patrobas, Hermes, and the other brethren, who are connected and associated with them.

“Hermas,” is supposed by Origen to have been the author of the book called Pastor, which was a work of great authority among the ancients. It was publicly read in some churches of the Greeks, as St Jerome, Eusebius, and Origen testify, but it is not to be reckoned as part of inspired Scripture, as Pope Gelasius has asserted in his decree concerning the Canonical Scriptures and Apocryphal books.

Rom 16:15. Salute Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympias; and all the Christians who live with them.

It is doubted whether Julia was a man or a woman. Origen says that Julia was the wife or Philologus. “Olympias,” in Greek, “Olympas,” Estius thinks, was a man.

Rom 16:16. Salute one another with a holy kiss, which is the sign of mutual and holy Christian love. I am so well assured of the charitable feelings of all Christian Churches towards you, that I send you their salutations.

“With a holy kiss,” the symbol of charity and concord. It was customary with the Christians to salute one another with the words, pax tecum, after the taking of the Holy Eucharist. The men saluted men only; and females those of their own sex, on these occasions. This usage has been long since discontinued in the Church; a vestige of it, however, remains in the kiss of peace given at solemn mass. “All the Churches of Christ salute you.” (“All” is not in the Greek, which simply is, αι εκκλησίαι, the Churches). He knows the charitable feelings of all Churches towards them, and therefore sends their salutation.

From the omission on the part of St. Paul to send his salutations to St. Peter, Protestestants attempt to derive an argument in proof of their unfounded assertion—viz., that St. Peter never was at Rome. But the fact of his having been at Rome, and his having been put to death with St. Paul, under Nero, is so well attested by undoubted historical evidence, that it is needless to dwell on the subject. Why, then, did not St. Paul salute him? Simply because St. Paul knew that he was not at Rome at the time. He was engaged in preaching the gospel in Britain or Spain, or Africa, as we are assured by Innocent, &c., quoted by Baronius and Bellarmine; for he had not returned thither since the time of his expulsion, together with the other Jews, by the edict of Claudius. And if St. Peter were at Rome at this time, would he not have settled the disputes which elicited this Epistle from St. Paul?

Rom 16:17. But I entreat of you, brethren, to mark well those men who beget dissensions and cause scandals amongst you, teaching false opinions, opposed to the true doctrine, which you have been taught; mark these and shun them.

He alludes to some false teachers, who preached up the necessity of the Jewish ceremonial observances. The language here employed is very like that used in reference to the same.—(Philippians 3:9).

Rom 16:18. For, such persons care not about serving Christ our Lord, or about promoting the cause of the gospel; they are only concerned about their own temporal profits, and the indulgence in luxurious living; and, by their bland plausible words—by their hollow, adulatory professions of friendship and regard—seduce the hearts of the artless and unsuspecting.

The first reason for avoiding them is derived from the perverse morals and deceitful, lying conduct of such persons.

Rom 16:19. Moreover, your perfect obedience to Christ in promptly embracing and complying with the gospel, has become known in every place; I, therefore, rejoice on your account; but, at the same time, in order to secure the purity of your faith against being tarnished, I wish you to be prudent and circumspect in embracing what is good, so as not to be deceived by the designing; and to be simple and innocent in regard to evil, so as not to injure or deceive any one.

The second reason is derived from the celebrity of the faith of the Romans which is announced throughout the whole earth (chapter 1), and which they should preserve inviolate, by shunning all intercourse with the false teachers. “In every place.” The Greek is, εἰς παντας, unto all men. “I rejoice, therefore, in you,” in Greek, ἐφʼ ὑμιν ουν χαιρω, I rejoice, therefore, on your behalf.

Rom 16:20. But, may God, the author and lover of peace, quickly crush under your feet Satan, by whom these men are instigated. For this end, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and assist you.

He begs of God who is the lover, of peace, and who hates dissensions, to give them grace perfectly to overcome Satan, by whom these men are instigated, and whose instruments, in perpetuating such dissensions, they are.

Rom 16:21. Timothy, my fellow-labourer in the gospel, and Lucius and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.

Rom 16:22. I, Tertius, who, at the dictation of Paul, have penned this Epistle, salute you in the Lord.

“Tertius” was the amanuensis whom Saint Paul employed in writing this Epistle: and, hence, while writing, he speaks of himself in the first person: “I, Tertius, salute,” &c.

Rom 16:23. Caius, my host, and the host of all Christians, from what quarter soever they come, salutes you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city of Corinth, salutes you; and so does Quartus, a brother.

“Caius, my host, and the whole Church, saluteth you.” According to the Greek, it is “Caius, my host, και ὅλης τῆς ἐκκλησίας, and (the host) of the entire Church.” i.e., of all Christians from whatever quarter they come, which is a great commendation of his hospitality. “Erastus, the treasurer of the city.” (The Greek for “Treasurer” is οικονομος,). He had charge of the public treasury of Corinth, where this Epistle is generally supposed to have been written.

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

Rom 16:25. Eternal glory be given to Almighty God, who is able to strengthen you and confirm you in the doctrine of the gospel, which I, everywhere preach; and which Jesus Christ himself also preached; so as to reveal that great mystery (of the Incarnation and Redemption of mankind through Jesus Christ) which was hidden from the world during all past ages.

This and the two following verses are, in some Greek copies, read at the close of chapter 14, and they are explained in the same place by St. Chrysostom and others. However, the most ancient of manuscripts (the Alexandrian and Vatican), and all Latin interpreters, place them as they are here, and make them the final conclusion of the Epistle; and this arrangement is clearly preferable, since as chap 15 is a continuation of the matter treated of in chap. 14, it is not likely that the Apostle would interrupt, and break the connexion of his subject by the intermediate insertion of these verses in that place. In these words, then, the Apostle bursts forth into the praises of God, for the great benefit of man’s salvation and justification, the nature and mysterious economy of which he had been explaining throughout the entire Epistle, which is thus brought to a suitable close.

“Now to him that is able to establish you,” i.e., to God, “be honour and glory,” (verse 27); for, the sense of the entire passage is suspended until we come to verse 27. “According to my gospel” which I everywhere preach. “And the preaching of Jesus Christ.” Some interpret these words as a mere explanation of the preceding, thus: “according to my gospel and the preaching concerning Jesus Christ.” The interpretation of Piconio has been adopted in the Paraphrase. “According to the revelation of the mystery,” i.e., by the preaching of which gospel is brought about the revelation of the great mystery or secret truth. He refers to the redemption of man through Christ, and the adorable system of supernatural Providence, the great foundation of which was Christ’s incarnation. “Kept secret from eternity.” The Greek words for “eternity” are, χρονοις αιωνιοις, “during the worldly times,” or all preceding ages. The words are used to express eternity.

Rom 16:26. But which mystery now, under the law of grace, has been manifested by the Scriptures of the Prophets, who wrote beforehand concerning Christ and his gospel, and has been made known among all the nations, by the express command of God, commissioning and delegating his Apostles to preach to them, so as to bring all unto the obedience of faith.

“Which,” i.e., mystery (as appears from the Greek, φανερωθεντος, “manifested,” referring to μυστηριου, which preceded, with which also “kept secret,” σεσιγημενου, verse 25, and “known,” γνωρισθεντος, verse 26, agree), “has been made manifest by the scriptures of the prophets,” who wrote and predicted concerning the mysteries of our Saviour’s life and gospel: “According to the command of the eternal God.” These words are to be connected with the last words of the verse, “known among all nations.” This mystery, and all the gospel economy founded on it, were by God’s command proclaimed by the Apostles, and made known among all the nations of the earth, “for the obedience of the faith,” so as to induce them to embrace the faith.

Rom 16:27. To the Omnipotent and only Wise God, (I say), be rendered honour and glory, through Jesus Christ for ever and ever. Amen.

“To God the only Wise,” i.e., alone Wise by his nature and essence. Here the sentence, commenced at verse 25, is completed. The words “to whom” are redundant; they are used by the Apostle, according to a Hebrew idiom. In these last verses, the Apostle closes the Epistle as he had begun it, by asserting that the gospel which he preached contained nothing false or novel; that it was perfectly in accordance with the oracles and predictions of the ancient prophets. The words “made manifest by the scriptures of the prophets,” verse 26; and “which he hath promised by his prophets in the holy scriptures,” (Rom 1:2), are almost identical.

I cannot forbear quoting the beautiful paraphrase of these three verses, as given by A’Lapide: “O King of ages! O Revealer of the mystery concealed during the ages of eternity! O eternal God, immortal and invisible! O thou, who dwellest in the lofty mountains of eternity; who, from thy elevated eminence, dost behold the narrow span of our life, and of all times, gliding beneath thee; to thee be honour, to thee be glory, for ever and ever! Thou, by thy triumph over death, hast thrown open to us the portals of a happy eternity. Grant us to live always mindful of it—justly, soberly, and piously—so as to be one day partakers of it. Grant us to pass this fleeting moment of life in such a way, by the exercise of heroism and sanctity, as to merit admission to thy enjoyment for ever; to praise thee, to celebrate thee, in the company of all thy angels and saints. O true charity! O beloved eternity! My God and my all.” Amen.

O sweet and amiable Mary, Mother of Jesus, powerful Virgin! pray for us.

The ordinary Greek copies have the following subscription:—“Written to the Romans from Corinth by Phœbe, Deaconess of the Church at Cenchreæ.” This, although correct, is not to be regarded as belonging to the Sacred Text. It was most likely, added by some Greek author to point out the bearer of the Epistle, and the place where it was written. It was wanting, either altogether, or in part, in the ancient MSS. In the Codex Vaticanus we simply have: “Written to the Romans from Corinth.”

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 15

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 1, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this chapter, the Apostle, addressing the better instructed among the Christians at Rome, exhorts them to bear patiently with the infirmities and unmeaning scruples of their weaker brethren, and to seek to promote their interests, even at the sacrifice of personal gratification and the abandonment of personal opinion (Rom 15:1-2); and for this purpose he proposes the example of Christ (Rom 15:3-4). He next prays God to grant them the grace and blessing of perfect concord, and encourages them to its practice, by the example of what Christ did for both Jew and Gentile. The Gentile should bear in mind that our Redeemer was himself a Jew, and sent to the Jews, in the first place, in order to fulfil God’s promise; and the Jews should be reconciled to the Gentiles, by the consideration, that the Prophets had foretold the gratuitous and merciful call of the Gentiles to be members of the same fold with themselves (Rom 15:5–12). He begs for them the blessing of God’s grace (Rom 15:13).

He, then, with a modesty and prudence truly Apostolic, apologises for whatever in his admonitions might be calculated to give them offence; and says, it was only in the exercise of his Apostolic ministry, he wrote to them at all (Rom 15:14-15). After stating the nature of his ministry, the cause he had for glorying in it, owing to the wonders God wrought through him (Rom 15:16-19), and the vast districts he traversed (Rom 15:20-23), he expresses his purpose of visiting them after his return from Jerusalem (Rom 15:25–30), He recommends himself to their prayers, and prays, in turn, for them (Rom 15:31-33).

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

Rom 15:1. Now, we who are more advanced in knowledge and in Christian virtue, should not only avoid scandalizing our weaker brethren, but we should, as a matter of duty, charitably bear with their ignorance and infirmities, and not seek our own pleasure or advantage, regardless of the interests of others.

“To bear.” The Greek word, βασταζειν, contains an allusion to strong persons, who help their weak fellow-travellers, by occasionally carrying their burdens. It here regards the duty of charitable forbearance and condescension towards our weaker brethren. “Infirmities;” ασθενηματα, the ignorance and scruples, no matter how unfounded. “And not to please ourselves,” may also mean, and not to feel complacency in ourselves, on account of our superior knowledge and virtue, which would make us disregard the good of others. As in the natural body, the stronger members support and bear up the weaker; so also should it be in the body of the Church; the stronger ought to support the weak, by communicating to them their knowledge and their strength; and instead of feeling complacency in their own superior attainments, they should employ them for the advantage and salvation of their neighbour.

Rom 15:2. Let each one of us make it his duty to gratify and serve his neighbour in things that tend to his advantage and spiritual advancement—viz., in matters appertaining to faith and eternal salvation.

“Let every one.” In some Greek copies we have, “for let every one.” For, is wanting in the chief MSS. and rejected by critics. “Of you,” (in Greek, of us); “please his neighbour,” i.e., endeavour to gratify him; not, however, in acceding to his wishes and feelings when they lead to evil; but, “unto good, to edification,” by leading him to good, and by promoting his spiritual welfare. In this, worldly cupidity differs from charity; that the former seeks to gratify our neighbour, even in evil, to his perdition; the latter wishes to please, only to secure his salvation.

Rom 15:3. For our heavenly model, Christ, did not seek his own pleasure and advantage, regardless of the good of others; on the contrary, he sought our advantage at the sacrifice of great personal sufferings; as he says of himself, when addressing his Father (Psalm 69:13), the reproaches and insults offered you by men, so affected me, that I took upon me to expiate them, and thus secure man’s salvation.

Although everything that Christ did was most pleasing, still, he did not seek his own ease, nor his own will, to the exclusion of the interests of others, which is the meaning of the word “please” in this passage. “But as it is written:” “but” he sought to advance the glory of his Father, and our salvation, “as it is written.” “The reproaches,” &c., may refer to his anxiety for his Father’s glory, which was so great, that the reproaches and the insults which his Heavenly Father received, affected him as much as if they were heaped upon himself. This is the meaning intended in Psalm 69. But the meaning given in the paraphrase, which makes the words “fell upon me,” referred to his having endured death to expiate the crimes of man, and thereby to save him at the sacrifice of his own life, is the one directly intended here by the Apostle, and the one best accommodated to his purpose, which is to show that we should undergo some sacrifice for our neighbour, as Christ as done for us.

Rom 15:4. Now, although this directly regards Christ, it still, in a certain sense, regards us also, and was intended for our instruction; for, all the SS. Scriptures were written for our instruction, that by the exercise of patience, to which they stimulate us, and by the consolation which the examples and promises they contain carry with them, we might have hope of eternal happiness, in the midst of suffering and adversity here below.

He now assigns his reason for quoting, for our instruction, a text, which directly and immediately had reference to Christ; because the entire scriptures “were written” (the common Greek text has “written before,” προεγραφη, in both places), and intended for our instruction, that, deriving courage from the exercise of patience, which they strongly commend, and supported by the consolation which the examples and promises they contain hold out to us in adversity, we might look forward with stronger and firmer hope to the blessings promised us in the life to come. “And the comfort,” &c. The chief MSS. have “and through the comfort,” &c. We see here the fruits we are to expect and to derive from the reading of the Holy Scriptures—“patience, comfort, and hope.” They are intended to enlighten our faith, strengthen our hope, and increase our charity. How many, nevertheless, read them from mere curiosity? How many read them without the proper dispositions, without due humility of heart, without proper feelings of docility to the Catholic Church, which God has appointed as the infallible interpreter of those obscure oracles, wrested by many to their own destruction, as the history of modern sectaries too clearly testifies? “We nourish ourselves,” says an ancient Father reproachfully, “by the rind of the book, and not by the bread of the word.”

Rom 15:5. Now, I pray God—the source of patience and of consolation—to grant you perfect concord and unanimity; such concord, as becomes Christians, or, such as the life and example of Christ inculcates.

God is the author and giver of the patience, of the comfort, and of the hope which he wished us to seek for in the SS. Scriptures, “to be of one mind, one towards another,” i.e., to have the same judgments—the same feelings. “According to Jesus Christ,” may mean, according to the example left us by Christ, who sought our good at so much sacrifice.

Rom 15:6. That with one heart and soul, and one expression of the same thoughts and feelings, you may, laying aside all dissensions, glorify God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

By unanimity of heart and soul, and indentity of confession and expression, they would give God the greatest amount of glory, and show the world that they obeyed his commandments, and were truly his disciples. “God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” may mean, “the God and the Father of our Lord,” &c. This is the meaning of the Greek, τὸν θεὸν και πατέρα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμων, the article is not repeated, and so the words, “of our Lord,” must depend on “God” as well as on “Father.”

Rom 15:7. Wherefore, mutually receive and charitably sustain and cherish one another, as Christ has received and associated us all to himself, to make us partakers with him of God’s glorious inheritance of salvation.
Rom 15:8. Christ received us all, both Jew and Gentile, and associated us to himself. For, I say, that, in the first place, Jesus Christ became himself the minister, the preacher of salvation to the Jews, to prove that God is veracious in fulfilling to the children the promises made to their fathers.

“Receive one another,” cherish and prop up one another; the strong him that is weak: the learned, him that is ignorant. Let the Gentile cherish the Jew, and the Jew, the Gentile; “as Christ has received us”—has taken care of the salvation of us all. “Unto the honour of God,” is connected by some Commentators with the words, “receive one another, unto the honour of God:” for thus God’s honour and glory shall be promoted, and his religion cleared from calumny. Nothing so much attracted the Gentiles in the infancy of the Church, as the love of the first Christians for one another; hence, they would exclaim in admiration: “see how they love one another.”—(Tertullian). Others connect it, as in the Paraphrase, with the words immediately preceding.

The Apostle in this and in the following verses, shows how Christ received all, both Jews and Gentiles; the Jews, in order to redeem the promise made to their fathers; the Gentiles, through pure mercy, without any promise being pledged them to that effect; their call was, however, predicted by the prophets. In this he also assigns reasons for the most perfect concord of both. The Gentile should not despise the Jew, to whom Christ himself in person announces the tidings of redemption: nor ought the Jews feel indignant that the Gentile should be sharers in the blessings which their own prophets had predicted for them.

“Jesus Christ was minister of the circumcision,” i.e., of the Jews; to them alone did he announce his gospel: “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Christ received us all, both Jew and Gentile, and associated us to himself. For, I say, that, in the first place, Jesus Christ became himself the minister, the preacher of salvation to the Jews, to prove that God is veracious in fulfilling to the children the promises made to their fathers.

Rom 15:9. And I say that the Gentiles, who have been admitted through the pure mercy of God to the blessings of salvation, should glorify him for this great favour, to which they had no claim, even on the grounds of a promise made their fathers, as in the case of the Jews, but which was still predicted by the prophets (v.g.), in Psalm 18. Therefore, will I celebrate thy glory amongst the Gentiles, admitted by faith into thy Church; and I will sing a canticle of praise to thy name.

“But that the Gentiles,” &c. Some word is understood to fill up the sense. “But (I say) that the Gentiles should glorify God for his mercy,” i.e., for calling them to his faith out of pure mercy, without the interposition of a previous promise, as in the case of the Jews, although this did not make it cease to be a great mercy, even with respect to the Jews themselves; since, the promise itself proceeded from mercy; “as it is written.” He proves from the Old Testament that this great blessing was to be extended to the Gentiles. “Therefore I will confess to thee, O Lord! among the Gentiles.” “Therefore” has reference to the promise contained in the preceding part of the Psalm respecting the subjection of the nations to him, &c.—Psalm 18. “I will confess” regards the confession of divine praise; it means, I will celebrate thy divine praises “among the Gentiles” associated to thy Church. “And I will sing to thy name;” these words are spoken in the person of Christ addressing his heavenly Father. The words, “O Lord!” are not found here in the Greek. Hence, they must have been taken in the Vulgate from Psalm 18, where they are found.

Rom 15:10. And again, in the canticle of Deuteronomy, the Scripture says: “Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people,” of whom you form a part.

“Rejoice ye Gentiles,” &c. These words are taken from the Canticle of Moses (Deut. 32:43), according to the Septuagint version. In our Vulgate, they have been translated by St. Jerome from the Hebrew, “praise, ye nations, his people.”

Rom 15:11. And again (Psalm 117): “Praise the Lord all ye Gentiles, and magnify him all ye people,” for his mercy to you through Christ.

“Praise,” &c. (Psalm 117). In both the Hebrew and Greek it is, “praise the Lord all ye nations, and praise him all ye people.” In these words, all the nations and peoples of the earth are called upon by the Jews to praise God, which is a proof that they were to be partakers of salvation, and to be mercifully called to the faith. This, then, is a clear prophecy of the gratuitous call of the Gentiles, “the Gentiles are to glorify God for his mercy.”—(Verse 9).

Rom 15:12. And again, Isaias says (Isa 11:10): There shall come forth a descendant of the race of Jesse (viz., Christ descended of David, the son of Jesse); and he shall stand forth as a leader to rule the Gentiles, who shall flock to his standard; and in him all the Gentiles shall hope.

This quotation is taken from Isaias, 11:10, according to the Septuagint. According to the Vulgate it is, “in that day the root of Jesse, who standeth for an ensign of people, him the Gentiles shall beseech.” In which words there is an allusion to the banner or ensign of his cross, around which the Gentiles shall flock. The sense of both the Vulgate or Septuagint has been given in the Paraphrase. “A root of Jesse,” i.e., an offshoot from the root of Jesse; or, “root” most probably means a descendant from Jesse, the father of David. He alludes to Christ, “he shall rise tip to rule the Gentiles,” who shall form a part of his people; “in him the Gentiles shall hope” as their Saviour. These multiplied quotations from the Old Testament are adduced to convince the Jews, whom it was most difficult to persuade, that the Gentiles were to be called; and hence, they should cordially unite with them, as forming a part of the same people of God.

Rom 15:13. But I pray God, the author of peace, to grant you the abundance of spiritual joy and concord in the belief and profession of the same faith; so that, having laid aside all dissensions, your hope may increase; and be strengthened more and more through the grace and powerful gifts of the Holy Ghost, which serve as an earnest of future glory.

The prayer contained in this verse is a sort of connecting link between the foregoing admonitions and the following apology, “that you may abound in hope and in the power,” &c.; “and” is not in the Greek which runs thus, “in hope, in the power of the Holy Ghost;” according to which reading, the meaning is, that the power of the Holy Ghost, his grace and gifts, which are an earnest of future glory, would increase their hope in this glory, of which they have received the earnest. In our reading, the words, “and in the power,” &c., may refer to charity, which is infused by the power of the Holy Ghost; and hence, according to it, he prays for them, faith, hope, and charity.

Rom 15:14. (But in asking these blessings for you, and thus admonishing you, I have not the remotest idea of depreciating your virtues); for, I am fully assured, regarding you, that you are gifted with charity and benignity; and that you are furnished with all necessary knowledge, of yourselves, without any admonition from me, to admonish each other.

The Apostle, with truly apostolic prudence and modesty, apologises for anything in the preceding admonitions that might give them offence. In his admonitions he did not wish to imply that they needed his instructions, since they fully possessed the two qualities necessary for admonishing each other—viz., the science, which fits us for this duty, and the charity or benignity, which urges us to it. “That you are also full of love,” of yourselves, without any instruction from me.

Rom 15:15. But I have written to you, indeed perhaps a little too freely, not so much with a view of removing ignorance, under which you did not labour, as of recalling to your minds what you before knew; and this I did in the discharge of a function which has been gratuitously conferred on me by God.

He excuses himself for any excess of freedom or boldness which may appear in his admonitions, “because of the grace,” i.e., the function of Apostle.

Rom 15:16. The function confided to me is that of being the sacred minister of Jesus Christ unto the Gentiles, sacrificing, not mute animals, but spiritually immolating men converted to the faith, so that the Gentiles thus spiritually immolated may become an oblation acceptable to God, and sanctified by the fire of the Holy Ghost.

He explains the nature, and at the same time extols, the dignity of his minister by a metaphor or allegory derived from the priestly functions of offering sacrifice. “The minister,” the Greek, λειτούργος, means a sacred or priestly minister; and according to ecclesiastical usage, it means one employed in offering sacrifice. “Sanctifying the Gospel of God;” in Greek, ἱερουργοῦντα, “consecrating or sacrificing the gospel of God,” i.e., preaching it, as a priest of the new covenant. “That the oblation of the Gentiles,” i.e., that the Gentiles thus spiritually offered up as living victims (chapter 12) may be an “acceptable” oblation to God, and “sanctified,” not by mere external rites, but by the influences of the Holy Ghost. In the words, “sanctified in the Holy Ghost,” there is an allusion to a rite of the Jewish sacrifices, whereby the victims were prepared to be an acceptable sacrifice by some external purification. The Apostle here exhibits the conversion of the Gentiles as a metaphorical sacrifice, in which St. Paul is the priest; the Gentiles the victim; the preaching of the gospel, the consecration of the victim; and the Holy Ghost, the fire by which the victim is consumed.

The fact of the Apostle here calling the conversion and faith of the Gentiles a sacrifice, in a metaphorical sense, is no argument against the existence of a true sacrifice and priesthood in the Church; since it is clear that he speaks in a figurative sense; the use of such a figure supposes the existence of the reality from which the figure was borrowed. From this passage, those who are engaged in the exalted ministry of preaching, may derive a wholesome lesson regarding the great purity and zeal with which they should acquit themselves of this sacred function.

Rom 15:17. I have, then, in this capacity, matter for glorying before God, not in myself, but in Jesus Christ, whose place I hold, and by whose power I am sustained.

“Glory,” καυχησιν, matter for glorying.

Rom 15:18. For, I have not the presumption, like others, to mention things which were never wrought through my ministry. It is sufficient for me to mention the great things he made me instrumental in performing towards the conversion of the Gentiles, both by the word of preaching and the operation of miracles.

Some Expositors understand these words to mean, “I cannot bring myself to mention all that Christ has done through me,” i.e., how much he has done through me. It is more probable, however, that he disclaims every idea of arrogating to himself what he was never made instrumental in performing, in which he censures some false teachers, who scrupled not to do so, and leaves us to infer, on the contrary, that all he lays claim to was real, and that this was sufficient matter for him to glory in. “For the obedience,” i.e., conversion to the faith, which requires obedience of the intellect and will.

Rom 15:19. Through the power of working strange and stupendous wonders, and through the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which were abundantly shed on them; so that from Jerusalem, in a circuitous route, to Illyricum, I diffused the Gospel far and wide, and propagated it through the adjacent countries.

“By the virtue of signs,” &c. “Christ worketh by me,” (verse 18), by the virtue of signs, i.e., the power of working wonders and prodigies (v.g.) casting out devils, curing diseases, raising the dead, &c. “In the power of the Holy Ghost.” “In the ordinary Greek, πνευματος θεον, of the Spirit of God,” i.e., in communicating the gifts of the Holy Ghost (v.g.) tongues, prophecies, &c. The Codex Vaticanus has simply, πνευματος θεον, of the Spirit. “So that from Jerusalem,” not in a direct line, but “round about,” in a circuitous route, “to Illyricum”—(a Roman Province, which lay between the Save, the Drave, and the Adriatic)—including, therefore, the provinces of Asia Minor, Achaia, and Epirus. Its extent and boundaries were different at different periods. “I have replenished the Gospel of God.” In Greek, ware ὡστε με πεπλερωκεναι, so that I have filled the Gospel of God; the meaning of which, most probably, is to preach fully, to extend and announce the Gospel.

Rom 15:20. But I have taken special care to preach this gospel in places where the name of Christ was not previously announced, and where the glad tidings of salvation had not already reached; lest, as Apostle, I should be building on the foundation already cast by others.

“And I have so preached.” The Greek, φιλυτιμοῦμαι εναγγελιζεσθαι, means, “I have anxiously exerted myself to preach,” like the anxiety of a man ambitiously striving for honours. “Lest I should build on another man’s foundation.” He regards the foundation of faith laid by the preaching and labours of others. The Apostle did sometimes preach where Christ was before heard of, as at Damascus, and, in the present instance, to the Romans; but he acted not as an Apostle, whose chief duty it is to preach to infidels, he only confirmed and comforted them.

Rom 15:21. But, by preaching in places where he was not before heard of, I fulfilled the prophecy of Isaias. The Gentiles, to whom no announcement was made regarding him, shall see him by the eyes of faith through the preaching of the Apostles; and they who heard nothing regarding him, shall know him through the same faith.

These words are taken from Isaiah 52:15, according to the Septuagint, and are referred by the Jews themselves to the Messiah.

Rom 15:22. On which account, I was oftentimes prevented from carrying out my desire of going to see you; and I am still impeded by the multiplied cares and occupations of my ministry.

“For which cause,” i.e., on account of my constant occupation in carrying the gospel to places where it had not been heretofore announced. The words, “and have been kept away till now,” are not in the Greek, and only explain the preceding words.

Rom 15:23. But now, since there is no longer any place in these regions in which the gospel has not been announced, and since, moreover, for many years past, I ardently desired to visit you:

“No more place,” not before favoured with the gospel; or, “place” may mean, no more occasion for my ministry here.

Rom 15:24. When I shall proceed on my journey into Spain, I hope to see you on my way, and to be brought thither by you, after having first been partly refreshed and cheered by your presence and conversation.

He intends passing from Greece through Italy into Spain. After the words, “my journey into Spain,” are found, in some copies, I will come to you, but they are wanting in the chief MSS., and rejected by critics generally. “If first, in part, I shall have enjoyed you.” He says “in part,” to show the greatness of his desire to see them, which he does not expect fully to satisfy, but in part only.

That St. Paul did not immediately, after executing his commission to Jerusalem, set out on his intended journey to Spain, is clear from Acts, chap. 21, where it is stated, that after having been apprehended at Jerusalem, he was sent a prisoner to Rome, and detained there for two years: whether, after his liberation from prison, he set out for Spain, is disputed.—(Vide Baronium, lib. 1, Annal, a.d. 61).

Rom 15:25. But, at present, I am about setting out for Jerusalem on a message which has for object the relief of the temporal wants of the poor and afflicted Christians there.

He adds this to show that they are not to expect him very soon. He was to be the bearer of the alms, which the Christians of the Churches of Achaia and Macedonia (the names of the wo Roman provinces into which northern and southren Greece was divided) had contributed in support of the poor Christians at Jerusalem, of whom some had voluntarily laid all their property at the feet of the Apostles, and others were plundered of their goods.—Heb. 10. “To minister,” διακονῶν, giving relief.

Rom 15:26. For it pleased and seemed fit to the Churches of Macedonia and Achaia to make some contribution out of their means, towards the relief of the poor distressed Christians of Jerusalem.
Rom 15:27. It seemed good to them to do so, and deservedly, since they are the debtors to these Christians of Jerusalem; for, if the Gentiles have shared in the spiritual riches of the Jews, from whom the Apostles came forth to preach the gospel, it is but just that they should, in turn, minister to the poor of Jerusalem, and make them sharers in their temporal wealth.

He says, this was justly determined on by the Macedonians and Achians, since they were only discharging a debt which they owed the Jews; for, if the Gentiles were made sharers in the spiritual riches of the Jews from among whom the Apostles came forth to preach, &c., the Gentiles should, in turn, minister to their corporal wants out of their temporal substance.

The Greek word for “minister,” λειτουργησαι, means to sacrifice; it shows the great excellence of alms-deeds, which is a sort of acceptable sacrifice offered to God. How much must the Apostle not value the ministry of attending to the relief of the poor, since for it he relinquished the great ministry of preaching to the Gentiles! Who, then, can deny that among the first duties of the pastoral is to be reckoned “the paternal care of the poor and of other miserable persons?”—(Cone. Trid. ss. xxiii. de Ref. c. i.)

Rom 15:28. As soon, therefore, as I shall have discharged this duty of charity, and shall have safely and securely deposited in the hands of the afflicted poor, this fruit of holy benevolence, I shall pass into Spain, making my way by you.

“And consigned to them.” The Greek word for “consigned” σφραγισάμενος, means, to deliver up sealed. Hence, it would appear, that the Apostle wished that this money should be sealed, to avoid the remotest imputation of appropriating any of it to himself—a wise precaution, which should never be forgotten by those who are entrusted with the charities of the poor. “This Fruit,” i.e., alms, which were the fruit of his own teaching, of the piety of the faithful, of the tears and sighs of the poor themselves.

Rom 15:29. But I know that my visit to you shall be marked by the plentiful effusion of the blessings and graces of the gospel of Christ.

St. Chrysostom explains the words thus: “I know that at my coming I shall find you replenished with all spiritual gifts; so that, instead of imparting, I shall profit by receiving spiritual graces from you”—a meaning which accords well with the Apostle’s modesty, and with his words, verse 14. In the interpretation adopted in the Paraphrase, he expresses his conviction, that his visit shall be productive of abundant spiritual blessings, and a more abundant knowledge of the mysteries of faith, of greater charity, and spiritual consolation among them. “Of the blessings of the gospel of Christ.” The word “gospel” is wanting in the chief MSS., which are read thus: of the blessing of Christ.

Rom 15:30. In the meantime; I beg of you, brethren, through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, through the charity infused into our hearts by the Holy Ghost, to assist me in my struggles by your fervent prayers to God in my behalf.

By the charity of the Holy Ghost.” In Greek, “by the charity of the Spirit.” “Holy” is not in the text. The Apostle foresaw that he had a great conflict before him (Acts 20:22); and hence, he begs the assistance of their prayers. If, then, the Apostle did not derogate from the honour due to God and the supreme mediation of Christ, in begging the prayers of the faithful on earth, as well here, as Eph. 6.; Col. 4.; 1 Thes. 5.; 2 Thes. 3.; Heb. 12.; surely, it cannot derogate from the same to beg the assistance of St. Paul in turn, and of the other saints now in heaven to intercede for us; and if he placed such reliance in the efficacy of the intercession of the saints on earth, as to beg it in the most solemn language of obtestation; surely the intercession, of God’s friends now reigning with him in glory cannot be less efficacious.—(See 1 John 2:1-2). “That you may help me.” The Greek words συναγωνισασθαι μοι, mean, to strive earnestly together with me, which shows the value of mutual intercession.—(Kenrick.)

Rom 15:31. Implore first for me, that after I shall have come into Judea, I may be delivered from the unbelieving Jews; and, secondly, that my ministry of carrying and distributing the alms may be acceptable and grateful to the holy poor of Jerusalem;

The unconverted Jews bore St. Paul a deadly hatred, and sought his life; and even with the converted Jews he was an object of suspicion, as the enemy of the law and the patron of the Gentiles; hence, his doubts whether his ministry would be accepted by them, i.e., whether they would receive the alms conveyed by him or not. “That the oblation of my service.” In the common Greek it is ἵνα ἡ δισκονια μου “that my deaconship or ministry.” In the Vatican and other MSS. it is ἡ δωροφορια μου, “my ministry of carrying presents.” This latter is the reading followed by the Vulgate.

Rom 15:32. And, thirdly, that after having been successful in my ministry, I may come to you with joy, and may be for some time refreshed with the pleasure of your society.

“With joy.” After having succeded in his ministry of carrying alms to the distressed brethren of Jerusalem, it would be a source of grief to him, if they declined receiving the alms from him. “And may be refreshed with you.” The ordinary Greek is, “and I may rest with you.” There is no word in the Codex Vaticanus for either rest or refresh; hence, they are rejected by critics.

Rom 15:33. But I pray that God, the author and preserver of peace and concord, may always remain with you and assist you. Amen.

After soliciting their prayers, he, in turn, begs for them the priceless blessings of concord and peace.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 14

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 30, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

The Apostle devotes this chapter to the removal of a practical cause of some differences that existed between the Jewish and Gentile converts. Many among the former; not fully instructed in the faith, were inordinately attached to certain portions of the ceremonial law of Moses: and among the rest, they could not be brought to give up the distinction which the law made between clean and unclean meats, and thus abstained from partaking of the latter description of food. These observances were tolerated in the converted Jews, until such time as they should be more fully instructed, in accommodation to their weakness, and for the purpose of “burying the Synagogue with honour.”—(St Augustine). The same indulgence was never extended to the converts from Paganism (as is seen, Epistle to Galatians). The tolerated observance of these ceremonial ordinances was made the occasion of differences among the early converts. The Gentile despised the Jew for so doing, and had no regard to his weak conscience; while the Jew censured the other party as violating the law. In order to effect a reconciliation, the Apostle first recommends the Gentiles to instruct the Jews (verse 1); and, after stating the cause of difference (Rom 14:2), he recommends them to abstain from despising or condemning one another (Rom 14:3); to leave such judgments to God (Rom 14:4). And after giving another example of a cause of difference (Rom 14:5), he shows, that both may follow whatever opinion they please on the subject; that neither should be judged, since both intend the glory of God, as well in this point (Rom 14:6-7), as in all the other actions of their lives (Rom 14:8-9); and that all judgment belongs to Christ, to whom, therefore, it should be left (Rom 14:10-13). Having, in the preceding part of the chapter, cautioned the weak against unjust judgments, he now cautions the better instructed against giving scandal; he tells them to respect the consciences of their weaker brethren, and not induce them to commit sin, and violate conscience, by their example (Rom 14:13–22). He, finally, exhorts the weak not to act contrary to conscience, but in all their actions to have an undoubted conviction of the lawfulness of what they were about doing (Rom 14:23).

Text in pruple indiocates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

Rom 14:1. Among the other duties of fraternal charity, you who are better instructed in the doctrines of faith, should take into friendly intercourse, with the view of charitably instructing them, such of your brethren as are still weak, and not yet fully instructed in the faith; and you should forbear contending in argument and acrimonious reasonings.

“Weak in faith,” i.e., not fully instructed in faith or with respect to the abrogation of the ceremonial law. “Take unto you,” i.e., admit to free and friendly intercourse, in order charitably to instruct him. “Not in disputes about thoughts,” μη εἰς διακρίσεις διαλογισμων, i.e., forbear disputing with him, and perplexing him by your untimely reasonings, lest you might increase his doubts, and drive him to apostacy.

Rom 14:2. As an example of the subject of weak faith, to which I refer, take the following case: One man fully instructed in the faith is firmly persuaded that it is perfectly lawful for him to partake of all kinds of meats; while another, not so well instructed, partakes of herbs, lest he might eat of anything prohibited by the law of Moses.

“But he that is weak, let him eat herbs.” In Greek, we have the indicative mood, εσθιει, “eats herbs;” and this reading is the more probable; for, in this verse the Apostle is only adducing an instance of the cause of disputes, and of the matter of weakness in faith, in regard to which, he points out, in the next verse, the duties of each party. “Eat herbs;” those among the Jews who were not sufficiently grounded in the Christian faith, in order the more securely to avoid the violation of the law respecting the distinction of clean and unclean meats, contented themselves with partaking of herbs, in which no distinction was made by the law.

Rom 14:3. Now, the man who, in the enjoyment of his Christian liberty, partakes of everything set before him, should not despise his weaker brother, who abstaining from meats, owing to the weakness of his faith, feeds on herbs; and, on the other hand, the man who abstains should not judge him that partakes of all kinds of meats; for, the Lord has accepted him, and made him partake of his holy religion.

The Apostle, after stating the case in dispute, endeavours to reconcile both parties, by telling those who, from a full knowledge of the Christian faith, and of the exemption from all ceremonial ordinances which it conferred, partook of all kinds of meats, not to despise their less instructed brethren who abstained from certain meats, from an impression that these ceremonial ordinances were to be continued; on the other hand, he tells such as abstained, to forbear from judging of the others as violators of the law. From the words of this verse Estius infers, that the question in dispute was not between the Jews and Gentiles—for, how could the Jews for an instant, suppose that the converted Gentiles were sinning in not observing a law (the Law of Moses) which they never received?—but between the well-instructed, and the imperfectly instructed, or weak-minded among the Jewish converts themselves. The common opinion of commentators, however, is, that it was between the converts from among the Jews and Gentiles these disputes had existed; and that it is the converted Jews on one side, and the converted Gentiles on the other, the Apostle addresses; no doubt, the same reasons adduced with reference to the converted Gentiles, will apply to the well-instructed among the Jews also, who did not sufficiently respect the consciences of their weaker brethren. The reason adduced by Estius would only prove, that those who were “weak in faith,” were very imperfectly instructed in the Christian religion; and owing to this, it is not to be wondered at, if regarding the Mosaic ceremonies as a part of Christianity, they should erroneously suppose all converts from whatever quarter, to be bound by them. “For God hath taken him to him,” i.e., has taken him as his servant and worshipper, and has made him a sharer in the blessings of his religion. He is, therefore, God’s, and it belongs to God alone to judge him.

Rom 14:4. But who art thou to assume the right of passing sentence of condemnation on the servant of another? He shall stand or fall by the sentence of his own master; but he shall stand, i.e., he shall be acquitted and succeed in judgment; because God, who is his master, has power and clemency to absolve him.

He urges the reason referred to in the preceding words, “God has taken him;” he is God’s servant. What right, therefore, hast thou to sit in judgment on another’s servant? You have no authority whatsover for this. He has his own master to judge him; to him “he standeth,” i.e., he shall be acquitted by him, and shall come off victorious in the cause; or, “falleth,” be worsted and condemned in the cause. “But he shall stand,” i.e., he shall be acquitted and come off victorious; “for God is able,” &c.: under the word “able” is included not only ability or power, but clemency, and a will to acquit him. Why, therefore, should any one presume to condemn the servant whom God acquits and absolves?

It has been already remarked that the Jewish converts were permitted to retain the use of the Mosaic ceremonies; but, no such indulgence was ever allowed the converts from Paganism.

Rom 14:5. The distinction of days affords another example of the matter to which I refer; for, the man of weak and imperfect faith makes a distinction between one day and another, for religious purposes; while another, better instructed, judges all days to be alike for such purposes. This should not weaken concord amongst you. Let each one follow the full persuasion of his own judgment in this matter.

Another example of the legal observances which was the occasion of dissensions, is the distinction of festival days, as in use among the Jews, such as Sabbath days, New Moons, Passover, Pentecost. To these the Apostle refers in his Epistle to the Galatians 4:10, as forming part of the first elements of Jewish infancy. Some Commentators, and among the rest, A’Lapide, say, that by “days” here are meant not festival days, as above, but days of fasting and abstinence. So that here there is only a more diffuse explanation of the foregoing example of Jewish ceremonial ordinances. In the former example, he refers to perpetual abstinence from certain meats; in this, to abstinence from certain kinds of food, on particular days (v.g.), from leavened bread during the octave of the Pasch. “For one,” the Greek reading in the Codex Vaticanus is έις μεν, “indeed one,” and this is the more probable reading, as the Apostle is here only stating another case in dispute. “Let every man abound in his own sense.” The Greek word for “abound,” πληροφορεισθω, means, to have a fulness, which must be determined from the subject matter to which in each particular case it refers; here, it refers to the fulness of conviction and firm persuasion of the lawfulness of his line of conduct. It means, “let each person follow in this matter the full conviction of his own judgment.” I said, in this matter, because the Apostle is treating of feasts and abstinences, instituted by the Mosaic law, and abrogated by Christ, but still permitted to be observed on the part of the Jewish converts for a time. It is only in reference to this matter that the words, “let each one abound,” &c., are used by the Apostle. But in reference to fasts or festivals instituted by the Christian Church, the Apostle would never have left it optional with the faithful to attend to them or not: he would have commanded them strictly to observe them, as he did in reference to the decrees of the Apostles.—(Acts 16:4). The same is clearly deducible from the doctrine laid down by him in the preceding chapter, when treating of the obligations of such as are subject to others.

Rom 14:6. The man who distinguishes one day from another, does so for the glory of God (and the man who observes all days alike, has the same object in view); and the man who partakes of all means promiscuously, does so for the glory of the Lord, for he gives thanks to God for the food of which he partakes; and the man who abstains, does so from religious motives, for the glory of the Lord; and he in like manner, gives God thanks for the food which he regards as permitted to him, or for the gift of abstinence.

“He that regardeth the day,” i.e., distinguishes one day from another for the purpose of religious worship, “regardeth it unto the Lord,” i.e., does so with reference to the will of the Lord. In the common Greek we have these words added, and he who regardeth not the day, regardeth it not unto the Lord, the meaning of which is quite clear from the opposite clause. The words are wanting in the chief MSS. Beelen thinks them genuine, and fully warranted by the negative placed after the affirmative form of expression in reference “to eating,” in the following part. “And he that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth thanks to God” for the food he receives, and the Christian liberty which exempts him from the yoke of Jewish ceremonies. In the words, “giveth thanks there” is an allusion to the practice among the Jews of giving thanks before and after meals, a custom sanctioned by the example of our Divine Redeemer (Matt. 15:26; Mark 8:14; Luke 22; John 6), and universally and at all times observed in the Church.—(1 Tim. 4). “And he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not,” i.e., he is to be presumed to have the glory of God in view, “and giveth thanks to God,” for this gift of abstinence, or, for the food of another description which he receives; and it is to this latter meaning that the words are restricted by Estius, who remarks that the Apostle does not say, as in the preceding “for he giveth,” &c., but, “and he giveth thanks,” as if to say, he refers this act of abstinence to the glory of God, who looks not only to our actions but also to our intentions; “and he gives God thanks,” for the other food permitted to him. From this passage we are to infer, that unless in matters clearly and manifestly sinful, no one is to be condemned by us, but rather excused on the grounds of good intention.

Rom 14:7. Both of them bless God and give him thanks; or, none of us, after our call to Christianity, is to live or die for his own advantage or glory, but for the glory of the Lord, whose servants we are become.

The Apostle proves that they both refer their actions, in each case, to God; no wonder, he says, that particular actions should have reference to God, when our entire life, and death itself, are subservient to his glory, and should be referred to this end by all Christians, who, by their very profession, are become the servants of God,

Rom 14:8. For, whether we live, we live for the glory of the Lord, or whether we die, we die for the glory of the Lord, and in obedience to his will. Whether, therefore, we are living or dead, we are the Lord’s who ransomed us by the effusion of his most precious blood.

We live and die unto the Lord, who made us his own, and to whom, therefore, we should consecrate our life, death, and all that we have. “Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s,” who paid the heavy price of his own most precious blood for us. As slaves, therefore, have nothing of their own—all they possess belongs to their master—so we, the servants, and purchased slaves of God, have nothing of our own; our life, death, and entire being, all belong to Christ.

Rom 14:9. For, unto this end, has Christ died, and thus paid the price of our ransom, and risen from the dead to lead a glorious and immortal life, that he should exercise dominion over the living and the dead.

He assigns a reason, why we should live and die unto Christ, and refer our all to his glory. “For, unto this end Christ died, and rose again.” In the Greek it is, “Christ died, and rose again,” and has lived again. In some readings, as in the one from which our Vulgate is taken, this latter clause is omitted. In others (v.g.), in the Codex Vaticanus, the middle member of the sentence, “and rose again,” is omitted: it runs thus, και απεθανεν και εζησεν, died and lived. The sense is, however, fully expressed in ours. “That he might be Lord both of the living and of the dead.” Christ, from the instant of his incarnation, had this dominion. To him “was given all power in heaven and on earth,” i.e., over the whole Church, militant and triumphant; but, it was only after his death and resurrection, that he was to exercise his dominion, “that he might be Lord of the dead and the living,” i.e., of us, while in this world and in the next. The Apostle places “the living” after “the dead” to show that this perfect dominion is to regard such as live a life of glory in the future world; for, it is in the elect, that his reign of glory will be conspicuous.

Rom 14:10. Since, then, we are all the purchased servants of Christ, why shouldst thou, who abstainest, judge thy brother, as guilty of violating the law, when in the exercise of his Christian liberty he partakes of every kind of meat? and, on the other hand, why shouldst thou, who exerciseth this Christian liberty, despise as ignorant and weak-minded, thy brother, who, from weakness of faith, abstains from certain meats? You have no authority for doing so; you are only usurping the function of Christ, before whose tribunal we shall be placed for judgment.

No one should judge his neighbour. This is the peculiar province of Christ, and no one should despise his brother, since we know not what judgment an infinitely just and righteous judge may pass on him; perhaps, the very matter for which we despise him, may be the subject matter of his reward. Let us recollect the tremendous judgment of God, and it will be the best check on our rash judgments.

Rom 14:11. For, it is of Christ, as supreme judge of all, we are to understand the words of the Prophet Isaiah 45:23: I swear by my life (saith the Lord) that every knee shall be bent before me as Supreme Lord and Sovereign Judge, and every tongue shall confess me to be their God by whom alone they shall swear.

These words are taken from Isaiah 45:23. There is some slight variation from the Hebrew and Septuagint, but very little difference in the sense. In place of, “I live,” it is in the Septuagint, “I swear by myself.” However, the former expression is equivalent in sense to the latter; for, as it was an ordinary kind of oath among the Jews to swear, “the Lord liveth;” so, is God often introduced in SS. Scripture, swearing by himself in the words, “I live,” Num 14; Isa, 49; Ezek 14, &c. (“saith the Lord”), are added by the Apostle himself. “Every knee;” after these words, in some Greek copies, are added, of things in heaven, on earth, or under the earth, but they are rejected by critics. “Every tongue shall confess to God.” In Isaias it is, “and every tongue shall swear by God;” or, as in the Hebrew, “shall swear,” which is a homage to his sovereign truth. This power Christ possessed over the good and bad at his first coming; but it shall be fully exercised and perfected only at his second coming. The prophet speaks in the name of the supreme Jehovah; St. Paul, by applying these words to Christ declares his divinity.

Rom 14:12. Each one, therefore, shall be presented before the judgment seat of a most just and righteous Sovereign Judge, to give an account for himself and not for others, over whom he has no charge.

“For himself” (in Greek, περι ἑαυτοῦ, “of himself,”) not to any other, but “to God,” the supreme and sovereign Judge. In the preceding verse, there is a forcible proof of the divinity of Christ. Since it is to prove that Christ is sovereign Judge, before whom all shall appear (verse 10), that he adduces this testimony from Isaias, which shows that adoration shall be paid him; moreover, he calls him “God” in this verse.

Rom 14:13. We should not, therefore, form unfavourable judgments regarding each other; but you should rather resolve on this, not to place an obstacle or stumbling-block in the way of your neighbour’s salvation.

As, then, each one is to render an account of himself, let us forbear from judging or condemning each other. “But judge this rather,” i.e., determine and resolve upon this, “not to put a stumbling-block or a scandal in your brother’s way.” The words “stumbling-block “and “scandal” refer to the same thing, viz., whatever may be the occasion, whether it be word, deed, or omission, of the spiritual fall and ruin of our neighbour. In the Codex Vaticanus, the word “stumbling-block,” προσκομμα, is omitted. In the preceding part of the chapter, the Apostle principally addresses himself to the weak; he addresses himself in the remaining portion to the well-instructed, whether converted Jews or Gentiles, and cautions them against giving an occasion of scandal to their weaker brethren, whose infirm consciences he bids them to respect.

Rom 14:14. So far as I am myself concerned, I know for certain, and I am most firmly persuaded from the doctrine of the Lord Jesus, that no food is unclean of its own nature. But still it happens accidentally that food is unclean, for him who, through ignorance, thinks it to be such; see, then, the great caution with which we should use our gospel liberty in presence of the weak or ignorant.

“In the Lord Jesus,” i.e., by the teaching of Jesus Christ himself, “that nothing is unclean of itself, δἰ αὑτοῦ; in the Codex Vaticanus δἰ ἑαυτοῦ; in some readings it is, “that nothing is unclean by him,” δἰ αὐτου, without the aspirate, and this is the reading followed by the Vulgate, per ipsum, i.e., by his religion, in which all distinctions of this kind are abolished. The former reading, which is the more common, has reference to the false opinions entertained by certain Jews, who, not fully acquainted with the nature of the prohibition of the law, thought that the law forbade the use of certain meats as being of their own nature unclean; both readings are true. “But to him that esteemeth,” i.e., to the man who, from an erroneous conscience, believes “anything to be unclean, it is unclean,” and prohibited; hence, the others should take care not to provoke him by their example to commit an act which, from ignorance, he believes to be sinful; for by performing it, he sins.

Rom 14:15. But if your weaker brother, thinking certain kinds of food to be unclean, sees you partake of them, and is, therefore, troubled with either rash judgment regarding you, or with remorse of conscience for having partaken of such food, after your example, with a conviction of its sinfulness, you no longer observe fraternal charity. Do not so far undervalue your brother, for whom Christ died, as to give occasion to his spiritual ruin on account of your food.

If in consequence of seeing you eat meat, your brother “is grieved,” i.e., is impelled to rash judgment, or is induced to act against conscience by your example, and so to incur remorse; or, perhaps, in consequence of being perplexed with doubts, to relapse into Judaism; “thou walkest not,” &c., i.e., thou sinnest against fraternal charity. “Destroy not him with thy meat,” i.e., by taking meats under circumstances, in which it shall be to him an occasion of sin, “for whom Christ died,” i.e., whom Christ valued so highly, as to die for him. Hence, Christ died for more than the elect.

Rom 14:16. Let not, then, our holy religion be subjected to the blasphemies and reproaches of those who are without, on account of your contentions and divisions about eating or abstaining from certain meats.

“Our good,” in Greek, ὑμῶν τὸ ἀγαθον, “your good.” The meaning is the same. By “our good “some understand the advantage and blessing of Christian liberty which we enjoy. “Be evil spoken of,” βλασφημεισθω, by the weak and infirm brethren, who, seeing us avail ourselves of this liberty, in certain circumstances, judge us as violating the law; others understand by it the Christian religion (as in Paraphrase).

Rom 14:17. For, true religion, by which God reigns in our hearts, and on account of which he prepares for us a kingdom in heaven, does not consist in the choice of meat and drink; but in innocency of morals resulting from the observance of God’s Law; in cultivating peace with our neighbour; and in spiritual joy which always accompanies a good conscience.

The Christian religion, by which God reigns in our hearts, &c., does not consist in the exercise of one’s right to partake of all kinds of meat, &c., or in the choice and selection of meat and drink, but in “justice,” whereby the law of God is observed. “Peace,” has reference to our neighbour; “and joy in the Holy Ghost,” i.e., true spiritual joy, resulting from the observance of God’s law, and from the cultivation of peace with our neighbour, a joy which the Holy Ghost pours into the hearts of the truly peaceful and devout.

There is not the slightest ground for objection here against the merit of abstinence prescribed by the Catholic Church. 1st. The Apostle does not depreciate the merit of abstinence at all; it is of the use of meat and drink he speaks, and not of abstinence from them, 2ndly. The Apostle in the entire chapter, is only referring to the abstinence prescribed by the ceremonial law of the Jews. 3rdly. Although the use of food be not of itself sinful, nor abstinence from it of itself meritorious; still, the Apostle would not hold that when this abstinence is commanded by legitimate and competent authority, it would not be so, as is clear from the case of Adam. And that the Church has power to command abstinence in certain cases, is clear from the conduct of the Apostles, in the First Council of Jerusalem, prohibiting the use of Idolothytes—a matter in itself indifferent—to the inhabitants of Antioch and of the adjoining countries.

Rom 14:18. For, whosoever, serves Christ in the cultivation of these virtues, pleases God, and receives the approbation of good men.

“He that in this.” The common Greek has, in these, i.e., in the cultivation of these virtues of true piety towards God, peace towards our neighbour, spiritual joy, wherewith to console our neighbour, instead of irritating him by contentions. The chief MSS. support the Vulgate, and have ἐν τούτω: such a person “pleaseth God,” &c.

Rom 14:19. Let us, therefore, diligently cultivate what things soever tend to promote peace; and let us carefully attend to such things as serve to advance mutual edification.

“And keep the things that are of edification one towards another.” The word “keep” is not in the Greek. We only have in it, “Let us follow after the things that are of peace, and the things that are of edification,” &c. The word “edification” is a metaphorical expression, well adapted to convey the benefits of good example given to our neighbour; for, Christians are the temples of the Holy Ghost; every act or word, therefore, that promotes their spiritual advancement, builds up and conserves this edifice of sanctity, founded by the Holy Ghost. Two things in particular promote this, viz., teaching and example.—(See 1 Cor. 8:1).

Rom 14:20. Beware, then, of destroying, on account of food, the spiritual edifice of God; that is to say, your infirm brother, in whom God dwells by his grace. I admit that, both of their own nature and by the law, all kinds of food are clean; still the man who partakes of this food, in circumstances where his doing so is an obstacle, and a source of scandal to his weak brethren, commits sin by the act.

“Destroy not the work of God,” i.e., do not spiritually ruin by inducing him to commit sin, your infirm brother, in whom God resides as in his temple, and whom he prepared for this by his grace. “Destroy him not for meat,” i.e., by availing yourself of your perfect right to partake of food in circumstances where he may be induced to follow your example in violation of his conscience, which, although erroneous, it would be sinful for him to violate. “But it is evil,” i.e., it is a sinful act on his part “who eateth with offence,” i.e., he commits a sin, who without necessity, performs an act otherwise licit, in circumstances where another is led to violate conscience, and thus to commit sin, after his example.

Rom 14:21. It is a matter of duty, or, it is far better to abstain from eating meat, and from drinking wine, and from doing anything else, which may prove the occasion of stumbling or falling to your brother, and which may serve to make him more perplexed, and weaker in faith.

“It is good,” may mean, it is a matter of strict duty to abstain from meat and wine, or “anything else,” i.e., from doing anything else “whereby thy brother is offended.” Some versions have “offends.” i.e., impinges or stumbles against some obstacle; the Greek, προσκοπτει, admits of this latter construction. “Or scandalized,” means the same as the preceding term, in perhaps a more aggravated form, so as to fall, by either rash judgments, or by imitating, in eating meats, the better instructed; or doing anything else in itself lawful, which they may still, from ignorance, repute unlawful. In such a case they sin, since it is always sinful to act against conscience, even when erroneous; the only remedy is, to correct such a conscience. “Or made weak,” perplexed in faith, and tempted to abandon it altogether by apostacy. In such a case the well instructed are bound by the law of charity to respect the consciences of their weaker brethren, when the advantage they obtain is not necessary for them, and not to be compared with the loss it entails on their neighbour.

Rom 14:22. You may tell me that from the teaching of your religion, you have a firm and undoubted conviction, that all meats are clean, and that you may lawfully partake of them indiscriminately. Keep this conviction within yourself, and in the presence of God; and do not proclaim it aloud to the spiritual detriment of your neighbour. Happy is the man who does not condemn himself interiorly, in that which he approves of, and adopts in his conduct exteriorly (by violating his conscience, either from the force of bad example, or from any other motive whatsoever).

“Hast thou faith?” Some read these words declaratively, “thou hast faith.” There is no difference in sense. The Apostle addresses the well instructed, who knew from the principles of his faith, that all things were clean; and who, therefore, might say, he had a right to act upon this faith. By “faith” is not meant so much a belief in revealed truths, as a firm conviction of the lawfulness of a certain course, although in the present instance, the former followed from the latter; the firm conviction that all things were clean, flowed from the firmness of Christian faith. “Have it to thyself,” &c. There are times when it is a matter of duty to proclaim our Christian faith; but when we are not interrogated by competent authority, and no good, but, on the contrary, evil would result from declaring it—for instance, if there were a probable danger of our denying it, in case of torture, or, should contempt and blasphemies follow—then it would be unlawful to “profess it,” as St. Cyprian assures us.—(Epist. 83).

“Blesseth is he that condemneth not,” &c. These words are addressed to the weak brother, who violates his conscience, and does exteriorly what he thinks to be unlawful; in such a case, he commits sin by acting against his conscience.

Rom 14:23. But he who doubts (whether it be lawful for him to eat or not), if he eat in such a state of conscience, is guilty of sin, and is exposed to condemnation nay, condemned in his own judgment; because his act is not in accordance with the certain dictates of his conscience; or, because he does not act with a firm persuasion, that he is acting well. But, whatever is done against the dictates of conscience, or without a firm conviction that it is lawful, is a sin.

“He that decerneth.” (In Greek, διακρινομενος, doubts or fluctuates), “because not of faith,’ his act does not proceed from a firm conviction and full persuasion that it is lawful, so long as he is in this state of doubt. By “faith” here, and verse 22, is meant, not divine faith; but a practical faith or firm persuasion regarding the lawfulness of an action. “For all that is not faith is sin.” Whoever, therefore, acts with a dubious conscience commits sin. Before a man performs any act, he should resolve his doubts into a certainty, by some reflex judgment, as is always done by the advocates of Probabilism. They never allow one to act on a proximately probable or dubious conscience. By a reflex principle (v.g.), that the obligation of law is doubtful, and, therefore, not binding at all, Lex dubia non obligat, &c., they render the conscience, which was remotely probable and dubious, unhesitating, and practically certain, before performing the action; and hence, they act in every case from “faith,” in the sense required here by the Apostle.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 13

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 30, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

The Apostle employs the first seven verses of this chapter in inculcating the duty of obedience to temporal authority, or, it should be rather said, in enforcing the natural duty of obedience to legitimate authority, by the sanction of Christianity: his reason for so doing shall be explained in the Commentary. He grounds the duty of obedience—first, on the source of all authority, God (Rom 13:1-2); secondly, on the end and object of the institution of supreme and governing authority (Rom 13:3-4); thirdly, on the fact, that supreme rulers are appointed as ministers of God in securing the general welfare, by protecting the good and punishing the wicked. Hence, their claims to obedience on religious grounds; hence, their claims to tribute, on the same grounds (Rom 13:5-6). In verse 7, he draws a general conclusion regarding the payment of their respective dues to all men in authority. In Rom 13:8-10 he again reverts to the duty of charity due to all men, of which he treated more at large in chapter 12; and, finally, he exhorts all to enter on a life of greater fervour, to lay aside the works of darkness, and put on Jesus Christ (Rom 13:11-14).

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

Rom 13:1. Let every man, placed in subjection, be obedient to all who are set in high authority over him: for, God is the source of all supreme and public authority, and the order and distinct arrangements of existing authorities are made by him.

“Let every soul,” i.e., every human being, without exception, who is placed in subjection, and not himself the occupant of power; for, a man could hardly be called upon to be subject to himself, in the sense here contemplated. “Be subject to higher powers.” By “higher powers,” are meant persons vested with political power for governing and ruling others, whether kings, princes, magistrates, &c. (Rom 13:4–7). Of course, this obedience has its limits. The duty of submission on the part of the subject, has for limit the matter to which the jurisdiction of the superior extends. If there be question of men, who have usurped, or have unjustifiably possessed themselves of authority, there is no more obedience due to them than to robbers; the exhibition of resistance is a matter of prudence. If there be question of a superior lawfully possessed of power, but who outsteps the bounds of his authority, obedience is not necessarily to be tendered to him; should he command what is good or indifferent, he may be obeyed; should he command what is evil, he must be resisted. In this latter case, “we ought to obey God rather than men.”—(Acts 5:29). Obedience, therefore, has its limits. The zeal displayed by the Apostle in inculcating so strictly, both in this and in his Epistle to Titus, &c., the duty of obedience to temporal authority, was, in a certain degree, owing to the spirit of disaffection with which the Jewish converts, as we learn from Josephus (Antiq. xviii. 1, De Bello Jud. ii. 8), and Suetonius (Claud, xxv.), were imbued towards the Roman emperors. Owing to the high and exalted notions they entertained of themselves, as the chosen people of God—as the descendants of Abraham, to whom were made such magnificent promises, they considered it degrading to them to obey or pay tribute to foreigners and unbelievers. This was the cause of disastrous tumults and rebellions, the most remarkable of which was, that headed by Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:37). Our Redeemer and his Apostles were Galileans, and the change of religion of which they were the authors, might give grounds for classing them with the followers of this Judas. This charge would serve as the greatest obstacle to the spread of Christianity; hence, the care with which our Redeemer (Matt. 17:26) and his Apostles removed every ground for so false and calumnious an imputation.

“For there is no power but from God,” i.e., God is the original source of all power. Whatever may be the immediate source of power, whether derived immediately from the popular will, or from hereditary succession, or from conquest, &c., its original source is God, who, having created man for society, and having made the social his natural state of existence, gives to rulers the authority necessary for upholding social order. It appears a very probable opinion, that secular power comes immediately from God; that it has been immediately vested by Him in the collection or community, by whom it has been placed as a deposit, in the hands of those who actually exercise it, be the form of government established by them what it may—whether kingly, republican, &c. In truth, we have no formal or explicit revelation awarding supreme authority to this or to that individual; and the instances to the contrary mentioned in SS. Scriptures, regarding Saul, David, &c., are only exceptions, which serve to confirm the opposite rule. By others it is maintained, as a very probable opinion, that God makes the election of the people merely as a necessary condition for immediately conferring power, Himself, on the object of the people’s choice. “There is no power,” &c. The Apostle is, of course, referring to legitimate power. In the foregoing, or rather in this whole passage, there is question only of secular power. For, as regards spiritual authority, which resides in the church, it is of faith, which no one can question without the guilt of heresy, that it comes immediately from God.

“And those that are,” &c. (In Greek, and the powers that be, &c. The Chief MSS. omit the word “powers” and support the Vulgate.) That is to say, God is not only the source of supreme civil power in general, which exists with his sanction and by his ordinance; but the different gradations and species, and distributions of governing authority are arranged so by him. In what sense they are arranged by him can be easily inferred from the foregoing. It is remarked by St. Chrysostom, that the Apostle says, “there is no power but from God,” meaning all legitimate power. But he does not say, there is no ruler but God.

Rom 13:2. Whosoever, therefore, arrays himself in resisting legitimate authority, legitimately exercising its functions, resists the ordinance of God, and, by such resistance purchases and deserves for himself eternal damnation.

There is an inference from the foregoing, “resisteth” (in Greek αντιτασσομενος, is arrayed against), “the power resisteth the ordinance of God;” the Apostle speaks of power legitimately possessed and legitimately exercised, neither pushed beyond its proper limits, nor prescribing anything evil. Usurped or abused authority is not the authority referred to; nor are unjust enactments, strictly speaking, laws which demand obedience as a duty. “Purchase damnation.” (In Greek, λῃμψονται ἑαυτοις κριμα, shall receive to themselves damnation), i.e., temporal punishment here for resisting civil “power,” and eternal damnation hereafter, for resisting the “ordinance of God.”

As, then, power is “from God,” obedience is due to its possessor, as the vicar of God; voluntary, hearty, and interior obedience, out of respect for God, whom he represents.

As the distinction and order of power is from Him, we must not only obey supreme power, but subordinate occupants of power, duly exercising it.

Princes and superiors, legitimately created such, are, therefore, to be obeyed, although wicked and impious; for, they derive their power from God. Nero was the reigning prince, at this time. They are not, however, to be obeyed when commanding evil.

Rom 13:3. Another reason for tendering obedience to those set in high authoeity is, the end of the institution of such supreme authority, which is to favour and protect those who do good, and to restrain evil doers by the fear of punishment. But if you wish to have no dread of supreme power, do good; and instead of punishment, you shall receive a reward.

The second argument to prove the duty of obedience derived from the end, &c., (see Paraphrase), which is to deter the wicked from the commission of crime, to protect, favour, and reward the good. “To the good work,” (in the common Greek, good works). The chief MSS. have the singular, τῷ αγαθῷ ἔργω, i.e., to him that performs a good work. The Apostle shows first, that they are placed to protect and favour the good. “Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise from the same.”

Rom 13:4. For, the possessor of supreme power is appointed by God as his minister to promote the public good as well as that of individuals; but if you do evil, you have reason to fear; for, it is not in vain that he carries the sword, the emblem of his power of life and death; for he is the minister of God, to take vengeance and inflict punishment for the crimes of those who do evil.

And he gives us proof of this, “for he is God’s minister to thee for good,” i.e., to promote the good of the community and of individuals. This is the end of the institution of Supreme Authority—an end which, doubtless, many placed in authority fail to advance. “But, if thou do evil, fear.” He now proves that the occupant of power is placed to punish the wicked. “The sword,” is carried by him, as an emblem of his authority and power to punish. It is put for all instruments whereby punishment might be inflicted, such as chains, fires, gibbets, &c. The Apostle refers to the custom prevalent in his own time, of having a sword carried before the governors and others vested with authority.

As power is given “for good,” it is a question, whether, in the case where it is exercised for evil and not for edification, and its end, consequently, perverted, its occupant might not be divested of it, at the call of the people from whom it emanated. Many hold, that the people and chiefs of a state have a right to release themselves from a state of injustice, to which they might have been unjustifiably reduced; which can, in some cases, be done only by deposition; and they could lawfully carry on a just war against a tyrant, who would abuse power, to the injury of the community. But as no private individual has power of life or death over his fellow-men, individual resistance is, therefore, never allowed; since it is a practical assertion of the power of life and death.

Rom 13:5. Is is not, therefore, a matter of option, it is a duty of strict preceptive necessity to be obedient to them, legitimately exercising authority; and this, not merely from motives of fear, or, in order to escape punishment, but, also from motives of conscience, so as to avoid incurring the guilt of sin before God, whose ministers they are.

In this verse is introduced the third argument for proving the duty of obedience. “Wherefore be subject of necessity,” (in Greek, ἀναγκη ὐποτασσεσθαι, it is a necessity to be subject), “not only for wrath,” i.e., from fear of punishment, which the violation of the law entails, “but also for conscience sake,” i.e., from religious motives; for God makes civil obedience a matter of religious duty. By “conscience,” the Greek interpreters understand the consciousness of benefits resulting from their administration. The interpretation in the Paraphrase is by far the more probable.

Rom 13:6. It is from the same motive of conscience you pay them tribute, as you are bound to do, because they are the ministers of God, in protecting the good and punishing the wicked, laboriously and perseveringly devoting themselves to this duty.

“Therefore also you pay tribute.” “Therefore,” i.e., on account of the conscientious obligation you contract, of obeying them, you are in the habit of paying tribute. These words are a further explanation of the words in preceding verse, “for conscience-sake,” and they have reference to the following words, “for they are the ministers of God,” &c. In one word, it is because of the conscientious obligation, which the relations they hold, of being ministers of God, who wishes to uphold social order, and to provide the necessary means thereto, impose on you, that you pay them tribute. “Serving unto this purpose,” i.e., unto the purpose of advancing the cause in which they are ministers of God, viz., the purpose of advancing the public interest, by punishing the wicked and protecting and rewarding the good.

Rom 13:7. Render, therefore, unto all men what is due to them. To the man to whom tribute is due, pay tribute; to whom custom is due, custom; to whomsoever reverence and honour are due, render honour and reverence suited to their rank and condition.

“Tribute,” is a tax on land, and on persons, such as a capitation tax. “Custom,” a tax on exports and imports; by “fear” is meant reverential fear, due to such as are placed over us.

Rom 13:8. Finally, discharge all your debts of what kind soever, so as to owe nobody any debt, save the debt of charity and love, which is of such a nature as to be always paid and yet still due. By this exhibition of mutual charity, you shall fulfil the law.

All other debts once paid, cease to be any longer due, but the debt of charity is of such a nature that though always paid, it remains always due; for our neighbour is always to be loved by us—“He that loveth his neighbour hath fulfilled the law.” By the “law,” both in this and verse 10, some understand the entire law, as regards God and our neighbour; since the love of God is included in the love of our neighbour, as a cause in its effect; for, the supernatural love of our neighbour and the love of God, have the same motive, the same formal object, viz., God loved for his infinite good in se. By loving our neighbour, we wish him the enjoyment of sovereign happiness, which is to enjoy God; and by loving God, we wish him to be enjoyed, known and loved by all his creatures. Others say the word “law” only refers to the second table, which regards our neighbour, for it is of the precepts which regard our neighbour he speaks in the next verse.

Rom 13:9. For the precepts of the law, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour, Thou shalt not covet, and every other precept of the law whatsoever, regarding our neighbour, are briefly recapitulated and summed up in this short precept of charity, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

For, all the precepts of the law regarding our neighbour, viz., “Thou shalt not commit adultery;” “Thou shalt not kill,” &c. (“Thou shalt not bear false witness” is wanting in the Greek copies), “and if there be any other commandment,” i.e., every other commandment regarding our neighbour, are “comprised” i.e., recapitulated, or “summed up in this word,” i.e., in this general precept: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” The word “as” does not imply love in an equal degree, but love of the same kind, as is expressed by our Redeemer: “whatsoever you would that man should do to you, do you also to them.”—(Matthew 7:12). The Apostle omits quoting the only positive precept contained in the second table of the Decalogue, “honour thy father and thy mother;” because, it was sufficiently expressed in verse 7, “to whom honour, honour.”

Rom 13:10. The love of our neighbour in the prescribed degree neither prompts nor even allows us to inflict injury on him (it, on the contrary, procures for him every possible good). Love, therefore, is the perfect fulfilment of the law.

“The love of our neighbour worketh no evil.” There is here, a Meiosis. The Apostle intends more than he expresses. He wishes to convey that it prompts not only not to work evil, but also to procure for him all possible amount of good. And hence, by loving our neighbour, we fulfil the entire law which regards him, both as to abstaining from inflicting any injury on him, and doing him a service. “The fulfilling of the law,” may regard the entire law, which has reference to God and our neighbour, as in verse 8.

Rom 13:11. And with this duty of loving our neighbour, we should the more faithfully comply, as we know the time is urgent; because the hour for us to awake from the drowsiness and sleep of sin has arrived. For now our salvation is nearer than when first we embraced the gospel.

“And that,” refers to our paying all our debts, and loving our neighbour. “Knowing the season,” i.e., knowing the urgency of the time, and the short period we have to work. “Season may also be interpreted to mean the favourable opportunity, which in Christianity is afforded us for doing so. The former meaning is rendered more probable by the following words, “for it is now the hour,” &c. The day of judgment is fast approaching; and hence, we should be prepared for it, “for now our salvation,” i.e., the day when we are to receive eternal glory as the recompense of our labours. “Than when we believed,” i.e., when we first embraced the faith. St. Chrysostom remarks, that the Apostle says this to remind them of their great fervour at the time of their embracing the faith, from which they were falling off, according as they receded from that period; and that now he wishes to rouse them to fervour and redoubled piety as their eternal salvation, which commences for the just at the hour of death, when they shall enter on the life of glory is much nearer. “Cast off the works of darkness,” i.e., bad works which are suited only to darkness; for he who does evil, “hates the light.”—(St. John 3:20). “And put on the armour of light,” i.e., the shining armour of good works; or, there may be reference to the spiritual panoply mentioned (Ephes. chap. 6) viz., the shield of faith, the breastplate of justice, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which enable us to resist the enemy and to do good.

Rom 13:12. The term of our existence in this world of sin and darkness is fast passing away, and the bright day of eternal and unchangeable happiness is fast approaching. Let us, therefore, cast aside and abandon for ever our wicked works, which cannot bear the light, and are only suited for darkness; and let us put on the armour of light, by becoming clad with good works, which shall serve as a secure panoply to protect us against our enemies.

Some Commentators, and among the rest, A’Lapide, understand the word “night,” of the night of darkness and infidelity in which men were enveloped, before the coming of Christ; and “day,” of the period of the Gospel revelation, when the full light of faith and justice has brightly dawned upon us. According to him, the words, “when we believed,” (verse 11), regard the Jews, who also believed in God; “and the night is past,” the Gentiles. The interpretation given in Paraphrase is preferable; for, it is quite a common thing with the Apostle to stimulate men to fervour and fidelity in their Christian duties, by the consideration of future rewards.

Rom 13:13. Since, therefore, the day for disclosing our actions is soon to shine upon us, let us conduct ourselves with propriety, and appear in the decent garb suited to such as come forth at day time, not indulging in banquetings or drunkenness, not in lasciviousness or impurities, not in altercation or envious contentions.

“Let us walk honestly as in the day,” i.e., conduct ourselves decorously as persons do who appear in the full blaze of day; “as in the day,” would render the interpretation of A’Lapide very probable. The words, however, can be explained and accommodated to our interpretation (as in Paraphrase). “Not in rioting,” i.e., feastings, instituted for the purpose of gluttony and debauchery; and “drunkenness,” i.e., excessive drinking, even though it were not carried to the extent of causing a deprivation of reason; “in chambering,” designates all acts of impurity. “Contention and envy,” the result of ambition.

Rom 13:14. But so express and manifest in your morals, our Lord Jesus Christ, who by his grace dwells in your hearts, that you may appear to be clothed with his sobriety, chastity and charity—the opposite virtues of the vices referred to—and thus you will not carry the reasonable care, which each one should take of his body, to the guilty extent of indulging its vices and corrupt passions.

“Put on our Lord Jesus Christ,” so that his sobriety, chastity and charity—so opposed to the vices enumerated—would alone appear in you, as the clothes appear on the man vested with them. This metaphor of putting on Christ is employed by St. Paul in several places:—(Eph 4:24; Col. 3:10; 1 Thess 5:8; Gal. 3:17). “And make not provision,” &c. He does not prevent proper care of our bodies; “for no one hates his own flesh,” &c. (Eph 5), but only the indulgence of its vices and concupiscences.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 12

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 30, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

After devoting the preceding eleven chapters to doctrinal matters, the Apostle now enters on the moral part of this Epistle. In this chapter, he shows how we should testify our gratitude to God for his inestimable mercies and blessings: first, by making an offering of our bodies as living, spotless victims—an offering, however, to be made in a spiritual way (verse 1); secondly, by renovating our souls in grace and fervour, and by endeavouring to know and accomplish the holy will of God (2); and, thirdly, by the prudent, zealous, and orderly exercise of the gifts conferred on us, so as to render them subservient to God’s glory and our own, and our neighbour’s greater utility (Rom 12:3–8). From Rom 12:9-12 the Apostle shows, of what kind ought to be our love for our neighbour; and then shows, what are the acts of virtue by which this charity may be stimulated and strengthened (Rom 12:2–16). Finally, he encourages to patience and forgiveness of injuries, and the return of good for evil (Rom 12:17-21).

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

Rom 12:1. (Since, therefore, God has been thus merciful towards you) I conjure you, brethren, by these unspeakable mercies shown you, to present your bodies a living, holy, and spotless sacrifice, as the offering of your spiritual and reasonable worship.

“Therefore,” since God has in his exceeding great mercy and goodness bestowed on you the blessings of grace and faith referred to in the preceding chapters. “By the mercy.” The Greek word, οικτιρμων, mercies, expresses the excessive, the visceral mercy of God. “That you present,” the Greek, παραστησαι, conveys the sacrificial idea of presenting the victim. “A living sacrifice.” The word “living” is employed by way of contrast to the sacrifices of dead animals offered among the Jews. By it, is meant to show, that it is not the killing of ourselves the Apostle requires; but the sacrifice of our bodies still living and animated by the vivifying works of a new spiritual life, viz., faith, hope, charity, &c. It is most likely that the words of this verse regard, in a special manner, the works of mortification and corporal austerities, whereby our bodies are become dead to the corrupt passions, and “living” to carry into effect the desires of the Spirit. “Holy, pleasing to God,” by being free from all impurities and defilement. How, asks St. Chrysostom, shall our bodies become a sacrifice? Let the eyes refrain from sinful looks, and it is a sacrifice; the tongue, from evil speaking, and it is a sacrifice; the hand from wicked actions, and it is a holocaust. We must also do good; let the hand extend charity and alms; the mouth bless our enemies; the ears listen to divine discourse, &c.

“Your reasonable service.” The Greek word for “reasonable,” λογικην, bears also the construction of, spiritual, the sense in which it is commonly understood. It is opposed to the sacrifices of the Old Law, consisting in dead bodies and external rites. Both meanings, reasonable and spiritual, are probably conveyed by it. The words, “reasonable service,” are, in construction, put in opposition to the preceding; the word, being, is understood thus: this being “your reasonable service.” The Greek word for “service,” λατρεια, means, worship.

Rom 12:2. And conform not yourselves to the corrupt maxims and vices of the present transitory and ever-shifting world; but, by the crucifixion arid mortification of your corrupt desires, become perfectly transformed and renewed in your mind and affections, that being thus interiorly renovated, you may be enabled to prove what is the will of God, and to distinguish what is good, what is more agreeable, and what is most agreeable and perfect in his eyes, and practically carry it out in your conduct.

“Conformed.” The corresponding Greek word, συσχηματιζεσθε, conveys the idea of something fleeting and transitory, while the word “reformed,” which in Greek means, metamorphosed, conveys the idea of a fixed and permanent form, so that in this, verse, the converted Romans are admonished by the Apostle to assume a new spiritual form, wherein they should persevere.

“That you may prove,” &c., i.e., judge and discern in your new spiritual form and state of soul, “what is the will of God,” viz., the will whereby he issues his commands to us, the voluntas signi, as it is called. “The good, the acceptable,” &c. These words refer to the precepts emanating from God’s will, and convey the different degrees of excellence contained in these several precepts.

Rom 12:3. I, then, in virtue of the apostolical ministry which has been gratuitously conferred on me, announce to all of you, what this will of God is, viz., that no one should think more of himself or of the gifts conferred on him than he ought, but that he should think on the subject, according to the dictates of prudence and sobriety, and that each one confine himself, to the exercise of such spiritual gifts, as God may have been pleased to mete out to him.

The Apostle now explains “the will of God,” that immediately concerned them, or rather applies the general principle to their case. This he does “by the grace that is given him,” which is understood by some to refer to the grace and gift of inspiration, which authorizes him to admonish them. It more probably refers to his office as Apostle, and this he calls “a grace,” because conferred on him gratuitously, without any merit on his part. He uses these words to show that he did not instruct them in any authoritative way, “dico enim,” without having a right to do so. “Not to be more wise than it behoveth.” i.e., not to set an undue value on their gifts and acquirements, nor to value themselves, or presume too much on account of them, “but to be wise unto sobriety,” φρονειν εις το σωφρονεῖν; but in judging of these acquirements and of themselves in consequence, and of the line of conduct to be pursued in reference to them, to follow the rules of prudence and sobriety, “and according as God,” &c., each one, without interfering with the exercise of his neighbour’s spiritual gifts, should confine himself to that which God may have been pleased to measure out to him. “The measure of faith,” refers to the spiritual gifts which, together with faith, were frequently bestowed, in the infancy of the Church, to some, in a greater, to others, in a lesser degree, to be exercised for the good of the faithful. In these latter words, the Apostle cautions the faithful against the disorderly exercise of these gifts, and also against presuming in a spirit of pride, beyond what God had been pleased to accord to each. It is probable, that the admonition conveyed in this verse was occasioned by the disputes, which arose at Rome between the Jewish and Gentile converts, in which both transgressed the proper bounds of moderation, and, perhaps, boasted inordinately of the gifts bestowed on them. Hence, the Apostle, in virtue of his apostolical ministry, commands all, Jew and Gentile, not to trangress the limits of moderation.

Rom 12:4. For, as in one and the same body, we have many distinct members, but all the members of our body have not the same, but a different function:

He illustrates the different functions of the members of Christ’s mystical body, by the different and distinct functions of the several members of the human body. The several members of the natural body exercise, each, their own proper functions, without interfering with one another, and that, for the good of the entire body.

Rom 12:5. So, we the faithful and the ministers of Christ, with different functions, constitute one mystical body of Christ (members of the same body), and fellow-members of each other,

So it is also in the mystical body of Christ, towards which we all stand in the relation of members, and of co-members of each other; and hence, we should perform, in an orderly manner, our functions, and no one should be puffed up on account of the gifts he may have received, since it is for the good of the entire body he has received them; “and every one,” ὁ δε καθʼ εις, is put for ὁ εἱς καθʼ ἑνα. The chief MSS. have ὁ δε καθʼ εἱς.

Rom 12:6. Having different gifts, according as God has thought proper through his gratuitous goodness and grace to distribute them to each of us; whether the gift of prophecy, consisting either in foretelling future events, or in explaining the sacred Scriptures—which should be always soberly exercised, according to the rule and analogy of divine faith:

Commentators are divided regarding the dependence and construction of the words “and having,” In the Paraphrase a preference is given to the construction of Estius, which connects this verse with the preceding words, “we are (verse 5) one body,” &c., “having different gifts,” &c. Others make “having” the same as, we have different gifts, &c., and then they say, after each gift should be expressed the great object of the Apostle, which is, to show that in the exercise of each talent and gift, no one should interfere with his neighbor, but that each one should observe order and modesty. The same addition is made even in the construction of Estius. “Either prophecy.” He now mentions the gift, “prophecy,” (see 1 Cor. 12) the gift of explaining the SS. Scriptures, “according to the rule (in Greek αναλογιαν, analogy) of faith,” i.e., it should be exercised conformably to the principles and doctrines of faith. Others understand by “rule of faith” the measure or quantity of knowledge divinely accorded to him. The Apostle enjoins him not to exceed this measure by following any lights of his own. Ita, Beelen, who rejects the other interpretation as incorrect. It is clear, the words, should be exercised, or some such, are required to complete the sense, the sentence being manifestly elliptical.

Rom 12:7. Or, whether it be any ministry or ecclesiastical degree in the Church, which should be exercised with zeal and proper regard for order; or, whether it be the gift of teaching the truths of faith, which should be exercised with moderation and zeal;

“Or ministry in ministering;” i.e., (“having) ministry,” ειτε διακονιαν, εν τῃ διακονια. The former refers to the office, the latter, to its exercise. In this verse and the following, the general admonition of the Apostle (verse 3) regarding sobriety, as well in our judgments concerning ourselves, as in the exercise of the several gifts, is implied. “Or he that teacheth,” &c., he that teacheth should exercise this duty zealously and soberly “in doctrine.”

Rom 12:8. Whosoever exercises the gift of stimulating others to deeds of virtue, should acquit himself of this function with zeal and in an orderly manner. Whosoever is charged with the distribution of alms, should do so in an impartial way, having no respect to persons. Whosoever is appointed to govern and direct others, should do so with solicitude, vigilance, and assiduity. Whosoever is charged with the care of the sick and wretched, should always acquit himself of this duty, with cheerfulness of countenance and alacrity of spirit.

“Exhorteth,” regards the precepts of morals. This duty also should be exercised with sobriety. “He that giveth,” &c.; this, and the two following, most probably refer to offices in the Church, exercised by persons appointed for that purpose, although, no doubt, the manner of performing them marked out by the Apostle is applicable to the same actions performed even in secret and in a private capacity. There should be always “simplicity,” i.e., impartiality, irrespective of persons, observed in giving alms. “He that ruleth,” should always do so “with carefulness,” knowing that he is responsible to a higher ruler and judge; and in “shewing mercy,” we should always do so “with cheerfulness,” for cheerfulness on the part of a man who gives relief removes embarrassment and shame from him who receives it; it banishes dejection and makes the gift more valuable; moreover, if there be question of recreating the sick and infirm, cheerfulness on the part of him who exercises this charity is the most efficacious means of imparting consolation to the sufferers.

Rom 12:9. Let your love for your neighbour be sincere and cordial, free from all hypocrisy or dissimulation; a love, however, of such a nature as that you may abhor his vices and fondly cherish his virtues.

In the foregoing, the Apostle shows what the will of God is in reference to the public offices in the Church, and the gifts bestowed for the good of the body of the faithful; and he describes the manner in which they should be employed, in such a way as that all the members of the Church are instructed how to act even in a private capacity. He now points out the will of God in the exercise of virtues common to all members of the Church. The first and chiefest of virtues is charity for our neighbour, which should be “without dissimulation.” In Greek, ἀνυποκριτος, without hypocrisy, i.e., sincere, not merely consisting “in word or tongue, but in work and truth,” (St. John.) “Hating that which is evil.” This love should be a pure love, not carried to the extent of loving our neighbour’s vices. Diligite homines, interficite errores (St. Augustine). The words of the Apostle in this verse may be taken in a general sense, without any reference to the love of our neighbour, to signify, that all Christians should love good and abhor evil.

Rom 12:10. Let your love for one another be not only sincere but also fraternal, loving one another mutually as brethren and children of the same heavenly Father, anticipating each other in the mutual exhibition of honour and respect.

This love should be fraternal, and the best means of preserving it is, to “prevent,” or, anticipate one another in showing respect and honour.

Rom 12:11. Not slothful, but diligent and prompt in the manifestation of regard for our neighbour, or, in the discharge of our own duties. Fervent in spirit, since we are serving the Lord of lords, whose eyes are always upon us.

“In carefulness not slothful.” This may regard the carefulness to be manifested with regard to our neighbour, or, with regard to our own duties; “in spirit fervent,” acting with great fervour of mind, or acting with the fervour of men under the exciting impulse of God’s holy Spirit. “Serving the Lord.” The common Greek reading has, καιρω. “Serving the time,” i.e., making good use of the present opportunity afforded us for doing good. The Greek reading adopted by our Vulgate is the better founded, both on intrinsic and extrinsic reasons. The Codex Vaticanus has, κυριω, the Lord.

Rom 12:12. Rejoice in the hope and anticipated enjoyment of future goods; having a view to those, bear patiently the tribulations which may befall you. Persevere in imploring the divine aid by prayer.

“Rejoicing in hope,” i.e., on account of the hope and anticipated enjoyment of heavenly goods; “patient in tribulation,” on account of the same hope, “instant in prayer,” because this would sustain them in their present afflictions and keep their hearts fixed on heaven.

Rom 12:13. Become sharers in the necessities of distressed Christians, so that they would become sharers in your wealth; studiously cultivate hospitality towards distressed and houseless strangers.

Their charity towards their distressed fellow-Christians should be such, that the indigence of the poor would be shared in by them, so that the poor should reciprocally share in their riches; the word “communicating,” κοινωνουντες, shows there is a return of benediction and spiritual reward for their beneficence to the poor. “Pursuing hospitality;” the word “pursuing,” instructs them not to wait for the poor, but to go in search of them, as did Lot, Abraham, &c., and bring them to their homes. The exercise of this virtue was, in the early ages of the Church, most meritorious, both on account of the want of accommodation at inns, and the danger to which the faithful would be exposed by lodging with infidels.

Rom 12:14. Far from hating those who persecute you, on the contrary, you should bless them and pray for them: bless them, wishing them all happiness, and not curse them, nor invoke maledictions on their heads.

He now proceeds to inculcate the exalted virtues of patience and forgiveness of injuries; “bless,” i.e., pray for their welfare.

Rom 12:15. Exult with such as are in joy, and sympathize and weep with those who are in tears.

Charity renders all things common, both prosperity and adversity.

Rom 12:16. Be of the same mind, of the same feelings and judgment. Beware, therefore, of entertaining too high an opinion of yourselves, but exercise kind condescension and hold kindly intercourse with the lowliest and humblest of persons; be not too conceited in your own eyes on account of the supposed superiority of your own talents, as if you needed not counsel from others.

“Of one mind,” i.e., cultivate perfect concord, by not only entertaining the same feelings in common, but by having in common also the same judgments and wishes. This is the best guardian of charity. “Not minding high things.” i.e., not entertaining too high an opinion of themselves, which is the greatest obstacle to charity. These words may refer to ambition, not anxiously looking to elevated stations, “but consenting to the humble,” i.e., condescending to the most lowly, which is the firmest link of concord. “Be not wise,” &c., i.e., entertain not too high an idea of your own judgments and opinions, as if you needed not counsel from others—a grave obstacle to concord.

Rom 12:17. Do not retaliate on any one by returning evil for evil. Take care to do good, not only in presence of God who sees the heart, but also in such a way as may edify all men.

“Not only in the sight of God.” These words are not found in the Greek; “providing good things in the sight of all men,” is the only reading we have in the Greek. It is most likely that the former words were introduced by some copyist into this passage from 2 Cor 8:21, where the words, “not only before God,” are found. The Apostle in both passages appears to have in view, Prov 3:4: “Provide good things in the sight of God and man.”

Rom 12:18. If it can be done consistently with justice and truth, so far as you are concerned, cultivate peace, not only with your brethren, but with all men whomsoever.

“If it be possible … as much as is in you.” He adds these two conditions; because, we are not to cultivate a peace which may be inconsistent with justice and truth; and, because it is impossible to have peace with some men. The cause of difference or disruption, however, should not proceed from us.

Rom 12:19. Avenge not yourselves, dearly beloved, but make way for the man of anger and leave him to the judgment of God; for, it is written, “revenge is mine and I shall repay it, saith the Lord.”

“Give place to wrath,” may mean give way to the wrath of the angry man, and retire from him, as did Jacob in reference to Esau; or give way to, and do not anticipate, the wrath of God, which interpretation is rendered probable by the following quotation (Deut 32:15), “revenge to me, and I will repay.” The Apostle in this quotation follows neither the Hebrew nor Septuagint, which seems to be founded on both. The words were originally referred to the punishment with which God was to visit his enemies, the idolatrous Gentiles.

Rom 12:20. Therefore, retaliate not, nor return evil for evil, but on the contrary, good for evil: if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him to drink; for thus you will heap upon his head burning coals of charity and love, by which, being encompassed from head to foot, he will be melted into feelings of love and gratitude.

Not only should we abstain from taking vengeance for the injuries offered us, we should even return good for evil. “But if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat.” For “but if,” the common Greek has εαν ουν if therefore, but the chief MSS. support the Vulgate, αλλα εαν. The words for “give him to eat,” in Greek, express that kind attention which is shown by a nurse in cutting up the morsels of food for her youthful charge ψωμιζε. “Heap coals of fire on his head.” Many among the ancients understand the words to mean, thou shalt provoke greater chastisements and punishment from God; and this would appear to be the meaning of the words (Prov. 15) which are quoted in this verse. In Proverbs we have “give him water to drink.” Others, among whom are St. Jerome and St. Augustine, understand the words to mean, these benefits and kind acts on your part shall be like burning coals heaped upon his head, by which he shall be warmed from head to foot and melted into kindness, love, and gratitude. This meaning, besides being the more Christian interpretation, is also rendered more probable by the words in the following verse.

Rom 12:21. Permit not yourselves to be overcome by the evil inflicted on you, by seeking vengeance; but overcome the evil inflicted on you by acts of kindness, and thus you shall gain a complete victory.

This is the only vengeance which a Christian, a son of that Father who is charity itself, and rains from heaven “upon the just and unjust,” is permitted to take, the vengeance of returning good for evil. He obtains a greater victory, who conquers himself, than does he who overcomes cities. “Better is he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh cities.”—(Prov. 16:32).

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 11

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 30, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

The Apostle, having pointed out, in the two preceding chapters, the rejection of the Jews, and the vocation of the Gentiles to the faith, employs this chapter in offering consolation to the Jews, and in repressing the arrogance and boasting of the Gentile converts. He consoles the Jews by showing, that all the Jewish people are not rejected from the faith (Rom 11:1–5). But although some are saved, he does not conceal from them the painful fact, that these are only the remnant, while the great bulk of them are reprobated, according to the predictions of the prophets (Rom 11:6–10). At verse 11, the Apostle proposes a second question similar to that proposed (1), where the question regarded the number of the Jews rejected. Here the question regards the duration or period of the rejection of the greater portion; and, he answers, by saying, that this rejection shall not always continue. He adduces several reasons to show, that, at a future day, the great bulk of the Jews will be again called to the faith, and admitted to the divine favour. The first reason is grounded on the designs of God in calling the Gentiles, in order to provoke the Jews to emulation. The next reason is grounded on the advantages this conversion of the Jews would bring to the entire world (Rom 11:12). Again, he derives a reason from the designs of the Apostle himself in their regard (Rom 11:13-15). Again, he argues from the extrinsic moral consecration of the Jews in the patriarchs, from whom they sprang, and in the Apostles and first faithful who are of the same race with them (16); and after adducing several reasons why the Gentiles should not boast against the Jews, both on the grounds of benefits received from them (Rom 11:18), and of holy fear (Rom 11:19–22), he finally announces as a certain fact, that all the Jews will be converted, at some future day (Rom 11:25–29), and that the same economy of Providence will be observed towards them, that had been observed in regard to the Gentiles (Rom 11:30-31). Unable to fathom this mysterious Providence, he bursts forth into the exclamation, “O the depth!” &c.—(Rom 11:33-36).

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

Rom 11:1. (I have already said that God has rejected the Jews), but now, I ask, is the rejection, of which I have spoken, to be understood of the entire Jewish people? By no means. This is clear in my own person, who am an Israelite, carnally descended from Abraham, and of the tribe of Benjamin (yet still, I am a Christian and an Apostle of Christ).

As is clear from the Apostle’s own person, God has not altogether cast off and rejected his people; for he himself, although a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, is an Apostle of Christ.

Rom 11:2. God has not rejected such of his people as he has loved by an eternal predilection; or, such of his people as he foresaw would embrace his faith. You are not ignorant of what the Scripture records in the history of Elijah (2 Kings 19), when addressing the Lord against Israel, he accuses them all of having fallen away from the worship of the true God.

“Which he foreknew,” admits of two interpretations (as in Pharaphrase). “Know you not,” &c. What happened in the days of Elijah, addressing the Lord against Israel, when, under the impious Jezebel, the true adorers were persecuted, is a perfect exemplification of the present state of things. “Even so then, at this time,” &c., Rom 11:5. “Know you not … saith of Elijah?” In Greek, ἐν Ἠλείᾳ, “in Elijah,” which means in the history of Elijah.

Rom 11:3. Lord, they have slain thy prophets, they have dug down thy altars; I am the only true worshipper left, and they seek my life.

“They have dug down thy altars,” in contempt of thee. These are the altars which were constructed in the high places of the ten tribes of Israel, at the time they were not allowed to go to the temple, on which occasion the law prohibiting them (Deut 16:2), probably was relaxed. Their subversion by Achab and Jezabel was impious, because the act was done in hatred and contempt of God and the divine worship, although their subversion by Ezechias and Josias, from an opposite motive, on the grounds that they were forbidden (Deut 16), was an act of piety. “And I am left alone.” “Alone” refers to the true worshippers, as if he said, “I am the only true adorer left,” rather than to the Prophets, as is clear from the answer, next verse, “seven thousand” true worshippers. However, by connecting it with the preceding, it may refer to the Prophets.—(Beelen).

Rom 11:4. But what answer did the divine oracle make to those complaints of Elijah? You are not the only worshipper left me; through my all powerful grace I have still reserved for myself seven (i.e., many) thousand true adorers, who have neither been seduced nor intimidated to pay divine honours to the idol of Baal.

“The divine answer.” The Greek for these words, χρηματισμος, means, “the oracle.” “I have left me.” These words show the power of divine grace. “Seven thousand men,” not to speak of women and children. “Seven” in scriptural usage, means a great number; hence, “seven thousand” means a great many thousands, “that have not bowed their knees,” i.e., paid divine honours and rendered adoration, of which “bending the knee,” is a sign. “To Baal;” in the Greek, “Baal” has the feminine article prefixed, τῆ Βααλ, although, to the word “Baal” the masculine article is everywhere prefixed by the Septuagint: and in the Hebrew, it has the masculine plural, Belahim. Baal was the God of the Tyrians and Sidonians. Hence, it is probable that the feminine article here affects some word understood: “the statue or idol (εικονι) of Baal.”

Objection.—Does it not clearly follow from this passage, that the true Church can sometimes become invisible?

Resp.—All that would follow at most is, that the Jewish Church could cease to be visible. Nor does even this follow; for, at the very time that Elias uttered these complaints, regarding the separated ten tribes of Israel, the Jewish Church was in a most flourishing condition under Ezechias, in the kingdom of Juda.

Rom 11:5. Now, what the Scripture records of Elijah on the occasion referred to, is a perfect representation of the state of the Jewish people at the present day, of whom the remnant, consisting of a great many, are saved, according to the gratuitous election of God calling them to grace.

Here the Apostle applies the quotation from Elias to the present state of the Jewish people. In like manner, although the great bulk of the Jewish people are now rejected, the remnant, consisting of a great many, are saved. “According to the (gratuitous) election of grace.” Our election to the grace of first justification is, on the part of God, quite gratuitous, and quite independent of our actions. “There is a remnant saved;” “saved” is not in the Greek, which simply is, λεμμα γεγονεν, “there is a remnant.”

Rom 11:6. If, then, this election and call be from grace, and quite gratuitous, it is not from works establishing a strict claim, independent of grace; otherwise, grace would cease to be grace, i.e., quite gratuitous.

If, then, “it is by grace” that our election is effected, “it is not now by works,” i.e., by works in which grace has no share, such as the works performed by the sole aid of nature or the law of Moses. To this verse are added, in some Greek copies, the words, “but if it be of works, then it is no more grace, otherwise work is no more work.” In the Vatican MSS. it is “otherwise work is no more grace.” These words are wanting in some of the chief MSS. acde.

Queritur.—In the work of our justification, are not acts of faith, hope, repentance &c., which are elicited under the influence of divine grace, indispensable on our part according to Catholic doctrine? And does not the Apostle exclude these also?

Resp.—If these works precede first justification, as it is termed, or the infusion of that sanctifying grace which, from a state of sin, transfers man to a state of justice, they establish no right or claim whatsoever to justification; because, even after their performance, the infusion of sanctifying grace is quite gratuitous on the part of God; these acts are mere necessary dispositions, establishing no claim to justification. If these works follow first justification, they establish a claim to, and merit, second justification, or an increase of sanctifying grace, owing to God’s liberal and gratuitous promise. But, still, they do not exclude gratuitousness; for, besides their requiring, in order to be meritorious, that they should be performed by a man in the state of sanctifying grace, and acting under the influence of actual grace, it was quite gratuitous on the part of God, to bind himself by the promise of giving them a reward, to which they would not be otherwise strictly entitled.

Rom 11:7. What, then, do I teach? It is this: that the great bulk of the Jewish people, owing to their adoption of erroneous means, and owing to their relying too confidently on the works of the law as giving a claim to justification, thereby excluding the gratuitous election of God, have not obtained the justice for which they sought; whereas, the portion of them that were elected, in consequence of having placed no positive obstacle to God’s gratuitous election, have obtained it; the rest are blinded and hardened.

“But the election,” i.e., the portion of them elected. The abstract is used for the concrete. “The rest have been blinded” (in Greek, επωρωθησαν, hardened), or have hardened themselves by their incredulity and impenitence.

Rom 11:8. This is in accordance with the prediction of the prophet (Isa 29:10), wherein it is said of those who obstinately rebel against Christ: God hath permitted them to fall into a state of spiritual torpor and insensibility; so that, having eyes they see not, and having ears they hear not; and this very spirit of insensibility and stupefaction has seized upon them, in regard to Christ, unto the present day.

“As it is written,” i.e., agreeably to what is written. “God hath given them the spirit of insensibility.” In the Vulgate version of Isa 29:10, for, “the spirit of insensibility,” we have “the spirit of a deep sleep;” in Greek, κατανυξεως, and this is the meaning of the corresponding Hebrew word, thardemah. In several passages of SS. Scripture (v.g.), in Genesis, 2, it denotes the deep sleep of Adam; and also in Genesis 15, 1 Sam 26:6, it means the state of insensibility into which are cast those who are immersed in heavy sleep; whose senses are so perfectly numbed as to be incapable of seeing or hearing. The Vulgate expression, compunctionis, denotes the state of a man whose eyes and ears are transpierced, so as to be rendered incapable of seeing or hearing. The words, “hath given them,” according to the common opinion of Commentators, only imply sufferance on the part of God; the spiritual effect would most infallibly result from the subtraction of God’s lights and graces. “Until this present day.” These words are not found in Isaias. Hence it is, some say that the words are quoted from Deut 29:4. It may be, that the words are not strictly a quotation at all, but merely contain an allusion to several passages of Scripture. This passage furnishes no argument against the theological opinion—viz., that the obdurati and obcæcati all receive, proximately or remotely, sufficient graces; since obduracy will result from the withdrawal of efficacious graces, even though a man thus hardened should still have sufficient graces.

Rom 11:9. And David predicted a like judgment regarding them, when, in conformity with the will of God executing it, he prays (Psalm 69:23), Let their table, i.e., what was to serve for the spiritual aliment of their souls, be converted into a snare and a trap, whereby they may be caught; and into a stumbling-block of offence; and let that happen them, in punishment of their obstinacy and abuse of divine grace.

He adduces the testimony of David also to prove that the blindness of the Jews was predicted. “Let their table,” &c. These words are generally understood to be spoken by David, in the person of Christ, to the mysteries of whose life, and death, and resurrection, the entire Psalm 69, in its mystical sense, refers. The words may be regarded as a prophecy, which, in conformity with God’s will, the Psalmist wishes to be accomplished, or as a prophetical sentence of punishment, which the Redeemer, in whose person David speaks, pronounces as God, against his persecutors. By “their talk,” are generally understood the SS. Scriptures, which were spread out before the Jews, as a spiritual aliment, to nourish their souls. These Scriptures, given to the Jews for their instruction, were converted by them into sources of error, by wilfully misinterpreting the passage relating to the Messiah, and accommodating them to their own carnal conceptions and earthly expectations.

Rom 11:10. By the subtraction of divine grace, let the eyes of their intellect be darkened, and let them groan under the grievous burden of spiritual servitude, having their heart and will always bent on earth, without aspiring after heavenly things.

This, as well as the preceding verse, refers to the punishment of blindness of intellect, and obduracy of heart, with which the obstinate Jews were visited, owing to the subtraction of God’s efficacious graces. “And bow down their back always.” These words express the insatiable desire for earthly riches, which is a distinguishing characteristic of the Jews in every quarter of the globe, and which makes them indifferent to heavenly and everlasting goods, in the anticipated enjoyment and hopes of which, Christians, on the other hand, have their “conversation in heaven,” and their longing desires directed thither.

Rom 11:11. But I ask, although all the Jewish people are not rejected from the faith, is not the fall and rejection of the greater portion irretrievable, so as to leave no hope of the nation at large being called at some future day? By no means God has made their transgression and incredulity the occasion of the vocation of the Gentiles; and this call of the Gentiles is designed for bringing the Jews to the faith by exciting in them a spiritual emulation towards the converted Gentiles.

The Apostle takes occasion from the foregoing verses, wherein he proves that the judgment of spiritual blindness and hardness of heart, predicted by the prophet, had been fully inflicted on the greater part of the Jewish people, to ask another question similar to that proposed (verse 1). Although all the Jewish people are not rejected, are not, at least, the greater number rejected, so as to leave no hope that the great majority of the nation shall ever again, at any future period, be called? The Apostle answers, “God forbid,” or, by no means. And he assigns for reason—1st, that in the designs of God, the call of the Gentiles, to which the “offence,” or incredulous obstinacy of the Jews gave occasion, was intended to bring the Jews back again, by exciting them to spiritual emulation towards the converted Gentiles, to whom they would see their own birthright transferred; and thus, they would embrace the faith in order that they too might participate in the Divine promises. “That they may be emulous of them.” In this English construction, the words, “that they may be emulous,” refer to the Jews, whereas, the construction should more probably be, that they (the Gentiles) may provoke them (the Jews) to emulation. Of course, there is no difference of meaning between both constructions, but the latter is more in accordance with the Greek, εἰς τὸ παραζηλῶσαι αὐτούς.

Rom 11:12. Another reason which warrants us in hoping for their future restoration, is this: that if the fall of the Jews has become the occasion of the spiritual enrichment of the world, and the rejection of the unbelieving Jews the occasion of enriching the Gentiles, how much more shall the full conversion of the great mass of the Jewish nation enrich the world and the Gentiles?

The second reason, why we are not to look on the Jews as irretrievably lost, but on the contrary, should hope for the conversion of the great bulk of the nation at a future day, is, that from their full conversion we should expect the results, which it is directly calculated to produce, and that have already, as a matter of accident, sprung from their rejection, viz., the spiritual enrichment of the Gentiles, and of the entire world. The word “riches” means enrichment, of which the reprobation of the Jews was only the accidental cause, in regard to the Gentiles; whereas, their conversion is directly calculated to produce that effect.

Rom 11:13. And, so far as my own views and convictions on the subject are concerned, I have no difficulty in declaring to you, Gentile converts, that in honouring the ministry to which I am specially called among you,
Rom 11:14. I have in view to provoke to holy emulation my relations according to the flesh, and to place some of them in the way of salvation, by embracing the faith.

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

Rom 11:15. For, if their rejection on account of unbelief has been the occasion of reconciling the world with God, what else shall their conversion be, but the total spiritual resuscitation of the entire earth?

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

Rom 11:16. Another reason for expecting their conversion is, that they have already a sort of extrinsic sanctity imparted to them by the holy patriarchs from whom they have sprung, and by the Apostles the first fruits, who first embraced the faith, just as the mass from which the first fruits are taken is, therefore, in some measure, consecrated, and as the branches partake of the qualities of their root; and hence, we ought naturally to expect, that this external consecration of the Jews in their first fruits, and in the root from which they sprang, shall be completed by the internal sanctity which flows from grace and faith.

The Jews are, in an external way, a holy race, by being descended from the patriarchs, and by being of the same stock with the Apostles, &c.; nay, it is to them we are indebted for our Divine Redeemer, quia salus ex Judæis est (John 4:22), and hence, we are naturally to expect that this external sanctity shall be completed by internal grace. The consecration of the first fruits imparts a sort of moral external sanctity to the entire mass, rendering it fit for human uses, and the root imparts its qualities to the branches; so is it with the Jews; and hence, we should hope for their perfect sanctification in future.

Rom 11:17. And although some of the natural branches are broken off from the parent trunk, and thou, O Gentile! being merely a wild olive branch, art ingrafted among, the remaining branches of that tree whose root is holy, and art thus made to partake of the fat of the root of the olive.

“And if some,” &c. The sense is suspended until we come to the words, next verse, “boast not against the branches.” The Apostle wishes to repress the boasting of the Gentiles by reminding them of their natural condition; they were only the branches of the “wild olive;” they were like a wild and unfruitful olive, sprung from an infidel and idolatrous root, from which they could derive no sap of divine grace; and it was only by being inserted among the branches of the garden olive, that they were made partakers of the rich juice, which the root of the olive imparts to its branches; in other words, the Gentiles, by being received into the body of the Church through faith, were made partakers along with Jews of the spirit of faith and grace which the patriarchs possessed.

Rom 11:18. You should not, on that account, boast against, nor despise, the natural branches that have been rejected. But should you still continue to boast, you must bear in mind, that it is from the Jewish root you derive support and nourishment; from it you have derived the spirit of faith: it supports you, and not you it.

“Boast not against the branches.” These words conclude the sense suspended throughout the preceding verse. “But if thou boast,” i.e., if, notwithstanding the consideration of thy natural state, of which thou hast been reminded in the preceding verse, thou still dost continue to boast, see what matter you have for boasting, when you call to mind, that it is not thou that imparts juice and nutriment to the Jewish root; but, on the contrary, it is it that supports and nourishes thee; you owe the Jews everything; they owe you nothing. The Church of God is the fruitful olive—the roots of which are the patriarchs and apostles, the richness and juice of it is the abundance of the grace of the Holy Ghost, which the apostles enjoyed beyond all others; each believing Jew was a branch. Some were broken off on account of their incredulity, and we, Gentiles, ingrafted in their stead, were made partakers of the grace of the Holy Ghost, associated with the prophets, patriarchs, and apostles.

Rom 11:19. But perhaps you will say, and make this the matter for boasting: the natural branches have been broken off in order that I, the Gentile, may be ingrafted in their place.

But, perhaps, you may be still inclined to glory against and insult the Jews, on the ground that God rejected them, and received you in preference.

Rom 11:20. Well, be it so; but remember, that they were broken off in consequence of their obstinate unbelief. And thou hast been ingrafted into the olive, and art firmly united to it by faith, and shouldst not, therefore, be proud, but rather fear, lest, like them, thou shouldst be broken off in punishment of having fallen away from the faith.

“Well,” i.e., admitting this to be the case, you should still bear in mind that the same thing that happened to them may much more easily happen to you; for, as it was owing to their unbelief they were rejected, and as it is owing to thy faith thou dost continue in the divine favour to which thou hast been admitted, and remainest firmly united to the true olive, thou shouldst not make this the occasion of pride, but rather fear, lest, losing this gift of faith, thou too mayest be cast off. Hence, faith is admissible, as is evidently implied here by the Apostle.

Rom 11:21. For, if God hath not spared the natural branches, but has cast them off, take care, lest he may not spare thee either, shouldst thou fall away from the faith.

For, if God rejected the Jews, the natural descendants of the patriarchs, on account of their unbelief, thou shouldst take care, lest, falling from the faith, thou too mayest meet with the like treatment. We are here reminded of the absolute necessity of Christian humility as the guardian of faith; although God may have favoured one man beyond another, he should not, on that account, boast or entertain feelings of pride, but with all humility and fear give God thanks; and he should tremble, lest, in punishment of sin, God may desert him also, and abandon him to the dominion of his passions and his natural blindness of heart.

Rom 11:22. In order, therefore, that laying aside all feelings of pride, thou shouldst with all humility, give God thanks, consider, on the one side, the severity of God towards the unbelieving, whom he cast off, and on the other, his goodness towards thee who believest; but see that thou persevere in the state in which the goodness of God has placed thee, and correspond with it by faith and good works; otherwise thou also shalt be cut of and rejected.

In order to express all feelings of pride on the part of the Gentile converts, and induce them to give God thanks with humility and fear, he calls upon them to consider “the severity of God” towards the Jews whom he has rejected, and “his goodness” towards themselves, whom he has called. “If thou abide in goodness,” i.e., if thou continue in that state in which the goodness of God has placed thee, and correspond by faith and good works with this goodness; it is only on this condition his goodness will permanently avail thee, otherwise thou, too, like the Jews, shalt be cut off and cast away. Perseverance, as is clear from this text, is the surest sign of predestination; but of it no one can be certain, as appears also from this passage. Of course, it is not here implied that the entire Church would be “cut off,” the indefectibility of the Church being clearly promised in SS. Scripture; but each one in particular may fall off; and, hence, all in general should fear that which may happen to each individual.

Rom 11:23. But the Jews also, should they not persevere in unbelief, shall again be ingrafted on the olive of the Church; for, God, is not only able, but also desirous to do so. The resistance of their stubborn will is an obstacle to his so doing at present.

They, by receding from their unbelief, and by not opposing their stubborn wills to the operation of divine grace, shall be inserted on the true olive of the Church; for, God is not only able, but willing to do so, the obstacle of their opposing wills being removed. The word “able,” implies more than bare power—it implies a desire also on the part of God. By the very fact of receding from incredulity and embracing the faith, the Jews would be ingrafted on the true olive; nor does the Apostle suppose that one would really precede the other, but he employs a mode of speaking which would apparently imply this, for the purpose of showing the co-operation of man’s free will, as well in embracing the faith, as in rejecting it, by positive unbelief.

Rom 11:24. For, if thou, O Gentile! were cut out of the wild and unfruitful olive, and hast been, contrary to, and losing the nature of thine origin, ingrafted on the garden olive, whose nature and qualities thou hast assumed, how much more easily may not the Jews, the natural branches, be ingrafted again on the parent olive to which they belonged.

The words, “contrary to nature,” mean, as in Paraphrase, that the wild olive branch has lost its own nature by being grafted on the garden olive, and acquired a new nature—viz., that of the true olive, on which it was ingrafted; or, the words may mean, that the natural order observed by husbandmen in the process of ingrafting young shoots, which is to graft good twigs on barren, useless trunks, is here inverted by their being ingrafted on good fruitful trunks, which is a proof of the excessive love of God for the Gentiles. The former interpretation seems preferable as being more in accordance with the antithesis which, in the Greek, is clearly observable between the branches that “are contrary to nature,” and “according to nature.”

Rom 11:25. For, I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of a secret truth (and my object in revealing it to you is, to prevent your boasting of your faith, and insolently glorying against the Jews). The secret truth which I wish to disclose to you is this, that blindness and hardness of heart happened to the greater part of Israel, and shall continue, until the full number of the Gentiles, who are to believe, shall have entered the Church.

The Apostle now adds, to the preceding reasons, which would afford probable grounds to hope for the future conversion of the Jews, the sure and unerring words of prophecy. He now says, it is not merely a thing that may possibly or probably take place, but he announces it as a certain truth: and this he calls a “mystery,” i.e., a hidden truth hitherto secret and concealed. “That blindness in part has happened in Israel.” The Greek word for “blindness” means “hardness;” however, the meaning is the same, when referred to the mind, “in part,” refers to the Jews; and of them to even the greater portion, although the Apostle omits saying so expressly, “until the fulness of the Gentiles,” i.e., all the Gentiles that are to be converted, shall enter the fold of the Church.

Rom 11:26. And after that, not the remnant, as now, but the great mass of the Jewish people shall be converted and saved, according to the prediction of the prophet (Isa 59): There shall come out of Sion, he that shall deliver and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.

“And so,” i.e., and then, or after that, “all Israel,” and not the remnant as now, but the great bulk of the nation, “the fulness” (verse 12), which refers to the great or moral mass of them, for, no doubt, some will continue in their incredulity. The words “all Israel,” are understood by some Commentators to refer to spiritual Israel, consisting of converted Jews and Gentiles; the number shall be completed after the plenitude of the Gentiles, the last called, shall have entered the Church. The opinion, however, which understands the words of carnal Israel, or the Jewish people, is far more probable from the entire context of this chapter (verses 12, 15, 23, 24), in which it is implied throughout, that the great mass of the Jews would be converted, but the matter is placed beyond all doubt, in verse 25, in which there is question of carnal Israel, as well as in the foregoing verses. In truth, in this and the preceding chapters, there is question of carnal Israel alone.

“There shall come out of Sion,” &c., i.e., from the tribe of Juda which dwells in Sion, shall come forth, Christ, who “shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob,” i.e., from all the tribes in Israel. This testimony is taken from Isa 59:20, according to the Septuagint version, with this slight difference, that for “out of Sion,” the Septuagint has ἐνεκα Σιων, “on account of,” or, “for Sion.” However, this change might be caused by the negligence of transcribers; or, St. Paul may have in view, in quoting this passage, the other passages, wherein it was said that the Redeemer was to come “from Sion.” The argument drawn by the Apostle from Isaias is this: whereas at the first coming of Christ this prophecy was not fulfilled (for, then, the mere remnant was saved); it must, therefore, refer to his second coming, when all the Jews shall be saved.

Rom 11:27. And this my covenant, which I have established with them, and which I will fulfil in taking away their sins.

“And this is to them my covenant.” These words are taken from the same passage of Isaias, verse 21, although the passage is left incomplete, and to be supplied by the reader—a thing not unusual with Jewish writers. “When I shall take away their sins.” These words are added by the Apostle as explanatory of the convenant; it consisted in “taking away their sins,” which is nearly a repetition of the words, “he shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” From this passage, and from Malachi 4:5-6, is firmly established the tradition of the Church, regarding the conversion of the Jewish people at the end of the world; all the Jews shall be converted, except the tribe of Dan, which is not mentioned in the numbers of those signed of the tribes of Israel.—(Rev 7). From the same tribe, as is generally supposed, shall spring Antichrist, whom, it is thought, the Danites will follow to the rejection of the true preachers of the Gospel.

Rom 11:28. Looking to the gospel to which they have given such violent and obstinate opposition, the Jews are enemies of God, and hated by him; and this obstinacy on their part turns to your good, since it is the occasion of the preaching of the gospel among you; but, looking to the election of God, in selecting the Jews as his chosen people, and determining to call them at the end of the world; in that respect, they are beloved by God, on account of the love he bore their fathers.

Although hated by God in one respect, as obstinately opposing the Gospel—and this was of advantage to the Gentiles, because it served as the occasion for having the Gospel preached to them—still, in another respect, i.e., in respect of their election, as the posterity of a people chosen by God to be peculiarly his own, they are beloved.

Rom 11:29. For, the absolute and unconditional gifts and promises of God (such is the promise in question regarding the future call of the Jews), are unalterable, and shall surely be carried into effect.

The absolute and unconditional promises of God are irrevocable: such is the promise made by God to the patriarchs that he would not cast off their seed for ever. Such promises proceeding from election shall not be frustrated in their effect by the sins of men. Numquid incredulitas illorum fidem Dei evacuabit? (Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?)—(Rom 3:3).

Rom 11:30. For, as you, O Gentiles! were at one time incredulous, but now, by occasion of the incredulity of the Jews, have been brought by the divine mercy to the gratuitous gift of God;

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

Rom 11:31. So are we also to judge, that the same economy has been carried out respecting the Jews, viz., that they are for a time permitted to fall into incredulity respecting the gospel and its extension to you, that they, too, may experience the mercy of God and acknowledge it, after being immersed in spiritual misery.

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

Rom 11:32. Thus, therefore, by a wonderful and mysterious order of Providence, God has suffered all classes of men, both Jews and Gentiles successively, to fall into infidelity, and left them shut up in the common prison of error, in order that he might show his mercy on them, and make them conscious from a sense of their miseries, that they owed all to his grace.

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

Rom 11:33. As we cannot fathom or penetrate this mysterious economy of Providence, we can only exclaim in amazement: O the profound abyss of the mercy, and of the wisdom, and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments and decrees, and how unsearchable are his ways in carrying his decrees into execution.

The Apostle, unable to fathom this mysterious Providence of God in the rejection and vocation of both Jews and Gentiles, and wishing to teach us to submit our judgment to the decrees of Providence, be they ever so incomprehensible, recoils with sacred horror from further examination of the matter, and oppressed with the majesty of glory, bursts into the exclamation: “O the depths, of the riches!” i.e., of his mercy displayed in the vocation of Jew and Gentile, though both had sinned, and had no claim on him. “The wisdom” in drawing good out of evil, making the obstinate incredulity of the Jew the occasion of calling the Gentile, and the envy of the Jew at the call of the Gentile, the occasion of his conversion. “And of the science” displayed in the knowledge of all things future. In the Paraphrase, the Greek construction has been adopted: “O the depth of the riches and of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God!” is the reading of ail Greek copies; but in our Vulgate, the word “riches” is not separated from “wisdom” and “science;” and the words appear to mean, “the riches of the wisdom,” and “the riches of the science,” i.e., the exceedingly rich wisdom and science. However, the three distinct questions in verses 34, 35, would appear to-correspond with the three qualities expressed in the Greek.

Rom 11:34. For who ever has known the mind of the Lord?—or who is it that has shared in his counsels?

“Who hath known,” &c., refers to his “knowledge,” or, “who hath been his counsellor,” to his “wisdom.”

Rom 11:35. Or who gave God anything first, so that God would be bound to make a return?

“Or who hath first given to him,” &c., refers to the “riches” of his mercy, which in all the affairs of creatures He can exercise, subject to no claim, since God owes his sinful creatures no exercise of mercy.

Rom 11:36. Since from God, as Creator and first source, all things have emanated; by him as Preserver, or, by his Providence, all things subsist and are preserved in existence; and to him, as their Final End, all things tend; or, in him, all things exist and are contained. To him alone, therefore, are due honour, praise, and glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

“For of him,” as Creator and first source, and “by him,” as preserving by his Providence, “and in him,” as the end for which he created all things, universa propter semetipsum operatus est Dominus (Prov. 16); or, as in the Greek, εις αυτον, “unto him,” as their last end, all things tend. Some Expositors apply each of them, by appropriation, to the three distinct Persons of the adorable Trinity: “of him,” to the Father; “by him,” to the Son; and “in him” to the Holy Ghost. “To him be glory.” Many Commentators assert that the sacred doxology, “Glory be to the Father,” &c., took its rise in the Church from the example of St. Paul here, and the common institution of the Apostles; and that in the Council of Nice, a.d. 325, was added: “As it was in the beginning is now, and ever more shall be, world without end, Amen,” in order to refute the impiety of the Arians, who asserted, erat, quando non erat, i.e., there was a time, when the Son existed not.

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