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.


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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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Hebrews 3:7-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 16, 2019

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

Heb 3:7 Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith: To-day if you shall hear his voice,
Wherefore, since in order to profit ultimately by your present privileges in belonging to the family of God, you must persevere in the faith; let me address you in the moving words, addressed by the Holy Ghost through the mouth of David, to your fathers: “To-day if you shall hear his voice,” either through the preaching of the prophets, or by interior inspiration.
Heb 3:8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the desert,
Render not your hearts hard, insensible, and callous to the impressions of divine grace, as happened your fathers in the place called “provocation or contradiction,” on the day of temptation in the desert; therefore, called, temptation.

Some Commentators suspend the sense from, “wherefore,” to “take heed” (verse 12), enclosing the prophetic oracle within a parenthesis. The connexion in the Paraphrase seems more simple and natural. “To-day, if you hear his voice,” &c.; these words are taken from Psalm 95 and are the words of David (see Heb 4:7). This Psalm was composed by David, in all likelihood, on the occasion of some great festival in Jerusalem; it was recited during divine worship, and written for all times; hence, it is employed in the canonical hours at the commencement of the divine office, as an Invitatory, calling on us to adore God and sing his praises with greater fervour of soul. “If you shall hear his voice,” through what medium soever, be it internal, by inspiration, or external, by preaching, “harden not,” &c. “As in the provocation,” &c. These words are commonly supposed to refer to the occasion recorded (Exodus 17), when the people at Raphidim murmured against Moses for want of water, the place was, therefore, called “Meriba,” i.e., contention or contradiction, and “Massa,” “temptation,” two words, which are repeated in the Hebrew of this Psalm. Others say, there is reference to the 14th chapter of Exodus, when, on the return of the spies, the people having rebelled against Moses, God swore the oath referred to in the Psalm.

Heb 3:9 Where your fathers tempted me, proved and saw my works,

In which desert, says the Lord, they tempted me, proved and saw my wonderful works.

Where,” (in Greek, οὖ, when), viz., in the desert, “tempted me.” The Psalmist adds greater force to his words by abruptly introducing God as speaking. One tempts God, when he unlawfully wishes for an extraordinary manifestation of his attributes, either in the order of nature or grace (v.g.), when he expects God to perform a miracle, in the order of nature or grace, to save him corporally or spiritually from the imminent peril to soul or body, to which he voluntarily and unnecessarily exposes himself. “Proved” (me, is added in the Greek). Some understand this word to mean the same as “tempted” so as merely to express a more minute degree of tempting God;—others refer it to the following, thus: they tempted me, although, after examining my stupendous miracles, (“proved”) they “saw,” that no exception could be taken to them.

Heb 3:10 Forty years: for which cause I was offended with this generation, and I said: They always err in heart. And they have not known my ways.

Wherefore, in consequence of these and other similar instances of incredulity and distrust, I was for the space of forty years offended with this generation, and I said within myself, these are always erring in heart, madly following the bent of their passions, and blind in intellect, not knowing or attending to the ways of my commandments, or of my miracles:

Some connect “forty years” with the preceding, “they saw my works forty years.” “For which cause I was angry,” &c. It is better, however, connect it with the following (as in Paraphrase), because at the time of this oath on the part of God, they were not forty years out of Egypt. Moreover, in the 17th verse St. Paul joins it with “offended.” “For which cause,” i.e., therefore, “forty years I was offended.” For “offended” we read in the Roman Psaltery, “I was very near to,” but it will come to the same with the preceding; he “was very near to them,” to be an eye-witness of their infidelities and to punish them for the same. The Greek word, προσωχθισα, may be rendered in both ways; it literally means, to loathe, to be weary of. There is a difference between the Vulgate and the Roman Psaltery, which arose from this: the Council of Trent left the correction of the Missal and Breviary to the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff; and when the correction of the Breviary took place under Pius V., it was deemed right to retain the reading of the old Roman Psaltery in this Psalm, which was regarded as a hymn of Matins. This correction of the Breviary took place before the corrected edition of the Vulgate by Clement VIII.; therefore, no change was made in the words of the Breviary.

Heb 3:11 As I have sworn in my wrath: If they shall enter into my rest.

And, on this account, I have sworn in my wrath that they shall never enter the land in which I promised them rest.

As I have sworn,” &c. Some readings have, “to whom I swore;” both readings are good; the Hebrew word “asher” means “as” and “to whom”—“if they shall enter,” “if” in such cases has often the meaning of “not,” as in the oath of the people to save Jonathan, “if a hair of his head shall fall,” i.e., a hair, &c., shall not fall. And this, it would seem, was a familiar form of oath among the Jews: should, if, however, retain its ordinary meaning, then the imprecation, “may I not be God, may I be a liar,” or the like, is understood, and not expressed, through reverence for the person of God. The Apostle applies this Psalm to the faithful of his day; and in his reasoning, it regards the whole term of this life. These words of David are not confined to his own day. The man who at any time hardens his heart and becomes incredulous, will never enter into God’s rest. In the Psalm “my rest” immediately referred to the land of Chanaan.

Heb 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest perhaps there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, to depart from the living God.

Do you, therefore, brethren, take care, lest the heart of any of you be infected with the dreadful evil of infidelity, by which you would renounce, through apostacy, the living God.

“Take heed, brethren,” &c. From this salutary warning, it appears, that many among the Hebrews, yielding to the force of persecution and the errors of false teachers, were on the point of apostatizing from the faith. “The living God,” designates the true God, opposed to false gods, who have no life or existence.

Heb 3:13 But exhort one another every day, whilst it is called to day, that none of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

But rather exhort and encourage one another to perseverance every day, whilst the term of time expressed by “to-day,” lasts, i.e., during this life (in which alone you can work); so that none of you become obdurate, owing to the false allurements of sin.

“The deceitfulness,” i.e., the false allurements of sin, which, by withdrawing you from the true and substantial goods, and promising blessings and pleasures never to be realized, deceive you, and cause you to harden your hearts against the calls and impressions of divine grace. Hence, hardness and insensibility of heart are, oftentimes, the punishment of continuance in sin.

Heb 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ: yet so, if we hold the beginning of his substance firm unto the end.

For, although we have been, by our incorporation with Christ in baptism, made partakers of his grace, and rightful heirs of his glory, having become a part of the mystical body of which he is head, we must still bear in mind, that all these privileges will avail us finally, only on condition of our perseverance to the end in the steady profession of faith, which is the basis and foundation of our new spiritual existence.

Let us encourage each other to perseverance, for our present advantages, our incorporation with Christ, will avail us only on condition of our perseverance. By “the beginning of his substance,” or (as the Greek word, υποστασεως, means) of his subsistence, is meant, faith; which is the root and foundation of all justification—Council of Trent—and the source from which we acquire a new spiritual existence, as it were, a new subsistence and personality, having become “a new creature.”—(Gal. 6:15).


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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 7

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 12, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this chapter, the Apostle exhorts the Corinthians to lead a life of sanctity, as a necessary means of securing the promises referred to at the close of the preceding chapter (2 Cor 7:1). Returning to the subject of his apology, he entreats than to give him a place in their affections and, passing over the immense services which he rendered them, he merely says that he gave them no cause for offence, by acts of fraud or corruption: thereby insinuating, that the false teachers, to whom some of them transferred their affections, were guilty of these mal-practices (2 Cor 7:2). By way of apology for the freedom with which he addresses them, he assures them of his unbounded affection for them; of his great confidence in them; and of the great joy which they afford him in the midst of tribulation (2 Cor 7:3-4). He describes the tribulation he endured (2 Cor 7:5). But, still greater was the joy which he derived from the arrival of Titus from Corinth, and from the consolation which Titus himself felt among them, which he imparted to the Apostle, when describing their repentance (2 Cor 7:6-7). Hence, the Apostle felt consolation surpassing his sorrow at having contristated them, when he learned the happy fruits of the wholesome correction which he administered, and the nature of the heavenly sorrow which they now feel (2 Cor 7:8-9). He describes the effects of true penitential sorrow; and points to their own use, as an exemplification of the same (2 Cor 7:10-11). Hence, the consolation of the Apostle, whose object in writing to them was to manifest his pastoral solicitude in their regard, on seeing the real proofs of true penance and conversion exhibited by them; this his consolation is heightened by the consolation with which they inspired Titus also (2 Cor 7:12-13). He describes the tender affection of Titus for them, and his own joy at finding that his expectations were not frustrated, and that he could place reliance on them in future.

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

2 Cor 7:1. Since, then, such glorious promises have been made to us, dearly beloved brethren, let us, in order to secure them, cleanse ourselves from all defilement of both carnal and spiritual sins, consummating the sanctity received in baptism by good works performed from the filial fear of God.

“These promises.” The promises referred to in the preceding chapter—viz., that they would be temples of God, and his adopted sons and daughters, &c.

“Of the flesh,” i.e., carnal sins; such as gluttony, impurity, &c. “And of the spirit.” Spiritual sins—viz., pride, envy, &c. “Perfecting sanctification.” &c. Perfecting the sanctity communicated to us in baptism, by good works, which were to be performed from the filial fear of God. Hence, every Christian should not only avoid all sorts of sin; but, he should also endeavour to advance more and more in sanctity, by the performance of good works from the motive of virtue, the fear and love of God.

2 Cor 7:2. Give us a place in your heart and affections. We have injured no man. We have corrupted no man, either by false doctrines or bad example. We have fraudulently taken away the property of no man. (Hence we are not less deserving of your affection than are the false teachers, who are guilty of such crimes).

“Receive us,” are generally understood to mean, dilate your hearts, and give us in ample place in your affections. “We have injured no one,” &c. He omits referring to the immense services which he rendered to them, and which gave him a most indisputable claim to their affections. He merely mentions the faults he had avoided; with these, he indirecly taxes the false teachers, and leaves it to be inferred, that if men guilty of these crimes—a charge which he repels far from himself—had a place in their affections, surely, he who was innocent of them, could not be less deserving of their esteem.

2 Cor 7:3. I have not spoken thus from any feelings of bitterness, or with the view of condemning you. For, as we have already told you, you are in our hearts, and we love you in such a way, as to be ready to live, or die with you, or for you.

From a fear of irritating them, he says, that in the foregoing he had no idea whatever of conveying reproach or censure: since, they are the objects of his most intense love and affection.

2 Cor 7:4. I speak thus freely, because of the great confidence I have in you. I frequently make your affection for me the subject of much glorying. I am filled with consolation on account of you. I so abound, and superabound with joy in all the tribulations which befall me, that the excess of my joy extinguishes every feeling of pain arising from sorrow or tribulation.

“Great is my confidence,” &c. This he adds, to excuse the freedom with which he had spoken. And by the open expression of his feelings for them, he wishes to dilate their hearts, and secure a return of love. In all this he has in view their sanctification only. He expresses his “great confidence” in them, in order to secure a return of the same; and he makes their affection for him a subject of “glorying,” in order that they may make him in turn the subject of glorying against the false teachers. He is “filled with comfort,” owing to their reformation, and his joy in consequence so superabounds, as to extinguish all feelings of sorrow under tribulation. What an example of charity is here proposed to all superiors! They should convince those under their charge of the regard and esteem in which they hold them—of the joy they feel at their advancement in virtue, and show, that these feelings are the fruits, not or hypocrisy or dissimulation, but of true and unfeigned charity. By imitating the Apostle, they shall secure the confidence and love of those placed under them. They shall rule them in peace and sanctify them in charity.

2 Cor 7:5. (Not without cause do I allude to tribulations). For, when we were come into Macedonia, no relaxation from labour was permitted our body, but we were rather subjected to afflictions of every kind. From without, we had to endure open persecution from the infidels. From within, in the recesses of our own hearts, we were under constant apprehension of new evils and misfortunes.

Having alluded to his tribulation in the foregoing verse, he now shows how great it was, in order that they might judge of the magnitude of the joy which superabounded. After the afflictions which had befallen him in Asia (chap. 1), when he came to Macedonia, he had no respite there either; his body had no relaxation, although his mind was refreshed with hopes of future rewards. “But we suffered all tribulation.” The Greek of which, εν παντι θλιβομενοι, literally is, we were afflicted in all things “Combats,” i.e., open persecution “without,” from the unbelieving enemies of the gospel. “Fears within.” Interiorily tormented with the fear and dread of still greater afflictions. This journey to Macedonia is recorded by St. Luke (Acts, chap. 20). But he makes no mention of tribulation. Hence, all the sufferings of St. Paul are not recorded by St. Luke.

2 Cor 7:6. But God, the consoler of the afflicted, and particularly of the humble, has comforted us by the coming of Titus, whom we so long expected.

“By the coming of Titus.” The Apostle despatched Titus to Corinth, to ascertain the effects produced by his former Epistle. On this account, he came to Troas (2 Cor 2:13), to meet him, and not meeting him there, he passed over to Macedonia, not wishing to go to Corinth, until he first learned the condition of their Church. The return of Titus was to him a source of consolation, particularly when he conveyed the glad tidings of their thorough reformation.

2 Cor 7:7. And not only has he consoled us by the arrival of Titus,’ but he has consoled us by the joy and consolation which Titus himself received from you, and, infused into us—relating to us, your desire of amendment—your mourning for your sins, your affection for us, and your zeal in defending us against our maligners; so that the joy, which I felt, exceeded my sorrow for having saddened you.

The accounts which Titus gave him regarding them, and the very consolation which Titus himself derived from their change and amendment, were to the Apostle a source of still more abundant joy. “So that I rejoice the more.” These words may also mean—so that the joy I conceived at his return was increased by the cheering account he gave of you, and by his own joy. The meaning adopted in the Paraphrase accords better, however, with what follows.

2 Cor 7:8. For, notwithstanding the sorrow which I caused you by my Epistle, I do not now repent of it, seeing the fruits of this sorrow; and although I did repent of it, seeing that my Epistle caused you sorrow, even though it was to continue for a very short time:

The Apostle here excuses himself for the severity of his former Epistle, and shows the happy fruits of the sorrow which he caused them. Knowing the advantages of this sorrow, he does not regret having caused it—although, before the return of Titus, he might have felt regret at having saddened them even for the shortest time. As to the Epistle itself, as it had been inspired by the Holy Ghost, he could not regret having written it, he only regretted its saddening effect. In the Vulgate, the words, “seeing that the same Epistle,” &c., are immediately joined to the foregoing, and contain a reason for the sorrow he felt before the arrival of Titus—viz., because his Epistle should have saddened them even for a short time—etsi pæniteret, videns, quod Epistola illa (etsi ad horam) vos contristavit. But, according to the Greek, the sentence concludes at the words, “and if I did repent; “and a new sentence commences with the words, “seeing that the same Epistle,” &c., ει δε και μετεμελομην· βλεπω ὅτι ἡ επιστολη εκεινη, ει και προς ὥραν ελυπήσεν υμας. A reading, according to which, these latter words are assigned as a reason why he did not repent. “I did not repent.” Because, although his Epistle saddened them for a short time, it was still a source of permanent joy of conscience. Hence, if the Greek reading be followed, some addition must be made, thus:—“For I see that this Epistle, although it has constristated you for a time,” (has still caused you permanent joy). The words in the parenthesis are added to the text by A’Lapide. The Vulgate reading, however, seems preferable. The Apostle is rejoiced, not at their sorrow, but at its result—viz., their penance and reformation.

2 Cor 7:9. Now, I am rejoiced, not only on account of your sorrow, but also because by that sorrow you were brought to penance, unto the performance of penitential works (verse 11). For you were made sorrowful on account of the offence offered to God; so that far from receiving any detriment from our correction, you, on the contrary, have derived great profit from it.

“That you might suffer damage by us in nothing.” There is a meiosis here. The words convey more than they express; they imply not only the absence of all detriment, but even positive gain and spiritual advantage.

2 Cor 7:10. For, the sorrow, which is conceived from motives of the love and fear of God, and which is pleasing to him, begets penance, which is the cause of salvation, that is to last for ever; which penance, therefore, is never to be repented of; but the sorrow arising from the love of the world, begets eternal death.

“Steadfast.” It is not easy to see from the Greek with what words this is to be joined. The Greek is, αμεταμελητον, which is not to be repented of, and may refer it to either “salvation,” σωτηριαν, or “penance,” μετανοιαν. According to the Vulgate, it is more properly joined to “salvation,” thus:—“Working penance causing salvation which will never end.” But, according to the Greek, it is referred by many to “penance,” thus:—Worketh penance which causes salvation, and is, therefore, not to be repented of. Both meanings are united in the Paraphrase.

2 Cor 7:11. For, behold in your own case a proof of this. Your own sorrow, according to God, what effects has it not produced in you? What solicitude to appease God and remove scandals; and not only that, but it has stimulated you to enter upon an apologetic defence of your own conduct before Titus in regard to the incestuous man; still more, it has created in you a just indignation against this sinful man; and not only that, but a fear lest such crimes be again repeated; not only that, but a desire of offering satisfaction to God; not only that, but zeal against scandals; not only that, but the proper infliction of punishment on this, and other such offenders. In a word you have proved yourselves to be pure and innocent in everything connected with the shameful crime referred to.

As a proof that sorrow, according to God, worketh salutary penance, he instances its effects on themselves. He points out the seven effects which it caused in them:—“Defence” (in the Greek, apology), refers to their clearing themselves before Titus of any participation in the guilt of the incestuous man. “Desire,” may likewise mean, a desire of seeing us. “Zeal,” may also refer to their defence of himself against his enemies, the false teachers. “In the matter,” viz., the incest, he forbears mentioning it, to mark his horror of it.

This passage furnishes the clearest refutation of the erroneous notions formed by heretics with respect to penance, which, according to them, consists in mere feelings of sorrow, and a mere change of heart. For, the Apostle draws a distinction between the sorrow of heart and penance, as between cause and effect. “The sorrow according to God, worketh penance” (verse 10). Therefore, penance does not consist in mere sorrow. He also feels rejoiced, not because they were “made sorrowful” but because they were made sorrowful unto penance (verse 9). For salutary penance, therefore, more than sorrow of heart is required. Penitential works, such as the Apostle here states to be its fruits, in the Corinthians (verse 11), are necessary as its complement. Mere sorrow, unaccompanied by penitential works, ordinarily speaking, is worth nothing.

2 Cor 7:12. Therefore, although I addressed to you this letter of reproof, I did so, neither on account of him who sinned, nor of his father, the injured party, but principally to manifest the pastoral solicitude which I feel for you all before God, and to guard you against vicious contagion.

“Who suffered the wrong,” viz., the father. From this it is generally inferred, that the father of the incestuous man was still alive.

2 Cor 7:13. Having, therefore, known the success of our admonition, we have been consoled, and this consolation has been increased by the joy which Titus felt; for, his soul was refreshed by you all.

“Therefore we were comforted.” Which runs thus in the Greek: on this account we have been consoled in your consolation. The meaning does not differ from that expressed in the Vulgate, by taking the words, “your consolation,” actively, to signify the consolation you caused us. There will, then, be no difference; as the words will only convey a repitition of what he asserted before—viz., that he was consoled by the accounts which he received regarding the Corinthians, and, he adds, that the joy which Titus felt at their reformation, added to his consolation.

2 Cor 7:14. And, it added to my consolation, that if I made you in any way a subject of my boasting, I was not ashamed of it afterwards; but as all things that we spoke to you were found to be true, so have all which we spoke to Titus regarding you, been fully verified.

“As we have spoken all things to you in truth.” These words are generally-understood of the things preached to them by the Apostle, whose words were neither changeable nor inconstant (chap. 1). Others understand them as referring to the character which St. Paul gave of Titus to the Corinthians; and as they have found that the Apostle’s character of Titus was fully verified, so has Titus found the character given of them by the Apostle equally well grounded.

2 Cor 7:15. Hence, the tenderness and magnitude of his affection for you, when he calls to mind the promptness with which all of you obeyed my injunctions, and the reverential fear and respect with which he was received by you.

“His bowels.” referring to his tender affection.

2 Cor 7:16. I rejoice that I can repose confidence in your fidelity to comply with all my wishes and injunctions.

“In all things I have confidence in you.” So that I can exhort, rebuke, instruct, and propose advice on any subject. This serves as a preparation for the subject of alms-deeds, which he proposes, in the next chapter.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 6

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 12, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this chapter, the Apostle, as ambassador of Christ, exhorts the Corinthians to correspond with the graces bestowed on them through the Apostolic ministry; and, in order to stimulate them the more, he tells them that the present is the acceptable time referred to by the Prophet Isaias (2 Cor 6:1-2). In the next place, he recounts the virtues which distinguish both himself and his fellow-labourers, while, at the same time, he tacitly reproaches the false teachers with the total absence of these necessary virtues, so befitting every minister of the Gospel (2 Cor 6:3–11). He then apologizes for the freedom with which he thus addresses the Corinthians, by assuring them of his intense affection for them, from which alone this unreserved freedom of speech proceeded (2 Cor 6:12). He mildly reproaches them with a want of correspondence, by making a return of affection for himself (2 Cor 6:12-13). As ambassador of Christ, he exhorts them to avoid all intercourse in religion with the Pagans, and assigns several reasons of propriety and congruity for this (2 Cor 6:14–16). He finally concludes with a quotation from the Old Testament, wherein God tells his people to have nothing to do with the unclean, and, in case of compliance, holds out the promise of the highest rewards.

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

2 Cor 6:1. As co-operating, therefore, with Christ in the work of your redemption, we exhort you not to receive in vain—that is, not to render unavailing—the great grace of redemption, applied to you through our ministry.

“Helping.” The Greek word, συνεργουντες, means, co-operating in the great work of redemption and reconciliation with God. “Grace of God,” viz., the great benefit of redemption and reconciliation through Christ, applied to mankind by the ministry of the Apostles. Under it are included the particular graces necessary to attain the great end of redemption. “In vain”; rendering it useless and of no avail to you for want of due correspondence.

2 Cor 6:2. For, God has promised, through his Prophet Isaiah (Isa 49:8), that in an accepted time, he would hear his Son praying for the salvation of the world; and, that in the day of salvation he would assist him, while labouring in the same cause. Behold, now is the acceptable time referred to by the Prophet; now is the day of salvation, of which you should avail yourselves.

For the purpose of conveying a stronger inducement to the Corinthians to correspond the more faithfully with divine grace, and to attend to their salvation, he says that the present is the time of grace and salvation referred to by the Prophet, Isaiah (Isa 49:8). These words of the Prophet are generally understood to have been spoken by the Eternal Father to his Son, promising that at a future day, at a time acceptable to all, and to be desired by them, when he was to call the Gentiles to the faith, he would listen to his prayers in their behalf, and assist him in the work of salvation. The prophetic quotation is read in the past tense, although it has a future signification, a thing not unusual in prophetic writings. “Behold now is the acceptable time referred to by the prophet,” “now is the day,” &c. The fulfilment of this promise has been reserved for the time of the New Law, which may be justly termed, the law of grace.

2 Cor 6:3. While co-operating with God in the work of your redemption (verse 1); we take care to give no cause whatever for offence to any person, lest our ministry should be brought into disrepute or censure of any kind.

“Giving no offence,” &c. (In Greek, μὴδεμίαν ἐν μηδενὶ διδόντες προσκοπήν, giving no offence in anything). This verse is to be immediately connected with verse 1; and verse 2 is to be read in a parenthesis. “We co-operating,” &c., verse 1 (…), and “giving no offence to any one,” lest by any irregularity of life, or any conduct unbecoming our state, our ministry should be brought into disrepute and rendered useless, “exhort you,” verse 1. The first duty which every minister of religion owes himself and the gospel is, to avoid scandal of every kind; otherwise, his preaching will be as contemptible, as his life. “That our ministry.” In Greek, ἡ διακονία, that the ministry.

2 Cor 6:4. But rather, in all things, we commend and exhibit ourselves to men as becomes the ministers of Christ, in the exercise of much patience, in enduring daily and ordinary wants, in grievous necessities, in anguish and trials of the most distressing nature.

In the next place, he must not only be irreprehensible, but, a pattern of all virtues. “Let us exhibit.” In Greek, συνιστανοντες, exhibiting ourselves, i.e., commending ourselves in everything as becomes the ministers of Christ. “In much patience.” He particularizes the instance in which patience is to be practised, viz., “in tribulation,” i.e., ordinary wants.—(See Paraphrase). These three instances, in which patience is to be exercised, increase in intensity. “Distresses” are more severe than “necessities,” and the latter more severe than “tribulations.”

2 Cor 6:5. In enduring stripes, in chains and imprisonment, in tumults of the people stirred up everywhere against us, in sustaining labours for the preaching of the gospel, in want of rest and sleep, in fasting, whether voluntarily undertaken, or resulting from want and necessity.

Under “stripes” is included stoning. “Seditions” refer to tumults of the people driving the Apostles from place to place.

2 Cor 6:6. We exhibit ourselves, as becomes the ministers of Christ, in purity of mind and body, in the knowledge of the truths of faith, and in the power of explaining them by human examples—in the exercise of lenity towards those who offend us—in an accommodating sweetness of temper and of manners—in a line of conduct which will manifest and display the gifts of the Holy Ghost—in unfeigned and efficient love of our neighbour.

“In “chastity.” i.e., purity of mind and body. This is the precious ornament of the Christian priesthood. By many divines it is assigned as a mark of the true Church, inasmuch as it is never practised among heretics, nor can it; because the persevering practice and preservation of this amiable virtue is most difficult, and requires the continual aids of divine grace, which grace is principally imparted through the sacrament of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, of which those outside the Church are totally bereft.

“In knowledge.” This word bears the same signification here as in 1 Cor 12, viz., the faculty of explaining the truths of faith by examples derived from human things. A knowledge of the sacred sciences, viz., Scripture—Theology, Dogmatic, Moral, and Ascetic—should ornament the Christian minister. “The lips of the priest should guard knowledge.” “If he repel knowledge, God will repel him.”

“Sweetness.” That urbanity of manners which accommodates itself to the wants and dispositions of all. “In the Holy Ghost,” i.e., in the manifestation of all the gifts of the Holy Ghost. “In charity,” &c. In sincere charity and love of our neighbour, manifesting itself not only in word, but in work and in truth.

2 Cor 6:7. In preaching the pure, unadulterated word and holy truths of God, which derive their efficacy from the divine power; by being girt with the armour of justice both on the right and on the left, i.e., in making prosperity and adversity the instruments of virtue.

“In the word of truth.” The words, exhibiting ourselves, &c. (verse 4), are here continued. We exhibit ourselves in preaching God’s word unadulterated and unalloyed. “In the power of God.” These words are generally connected with “the word of truth,” thus—which word derives its efficacy from the power of God, who alone can impart and increase. Some commentators understand “virtue,” or “power of God,” to refer to the gift of miracles.

“Armour of justice on the right hand and on the left.” By “right and left,” are generally understood prosperity and adversity, which the Apostles made the arms or instruments of justice. Prosperity, the season for exercising humility and moderation; adversity, the season for patience and fortitude. “Justice” denotes, in a general manner, the practice of the different Christian virtues.

2 Cor 6:8. We pursue a course of virtue, as well when despised, as when honour is rendered to us, when men speak ill, as when they speak well of us. We are regarded by many as impostors, teaching errors; but unjustly, since we are faithful heralds of God’s truth. By many we are regarded as contemptible and obscure, but still, we are known and prized by God, who values our ministry.

We exhibit ourselves as ministers of God (verse 4). (These words are understood in the different members of these sentences). “By honour and dishonour,” by practising the several virtues suggested and dictated by each kind of treatment. These are the arms of justice, on the right and on the left.

2 Cor 6:9. Our death is regarded as always inevitable, owing to the risks we run, and still, through God’s interposition, we live. We are publicly chastised, and still, we are not put to death.

“Dying;” owing to continual exposure to the most imminent risks. “Chastised,” by being whipped with scourges. Still, they are “not killed,” because God interposes to save them.

2 Cor 6:10. In consequence of the many evils we endure, we are regarded as sorrowful; still, we interiorly rejoice in the Lord. We are considered to be poor and needy; and still, we enrich many. We appear like men destitute of everything; and still, we possess all things in Christ.

“Needy;” owing to their renunciation of all temporal possessions. “Enriching many,” with spiritual blessings, and also with alms collected for them among the faithful. “As having nothing”; no dominion over property. “Possessing all things”; all they wish for are the necessaries of life, with which God supplies them. They possess all things, as to use, just as much as if they were their real owners. Moreover, they possess all things in God, in whom every good is eminently contained. It is deserving of remark, that in recounting the several virtues practised both by himself and his colleagues, the Apostle marks out a line of conduct which all future ministers of the gospel should pursue, after his own example. He, at the same time, indirectly strikes at the false teachers, by insinuating that their lives were distingnished by none of those apostolic virtues.

2 Cor 6:11. We enter on this recital of our virtues and sufferings, solely from motives of the purest friendship and affection; for, O Corinthians! our mouth is opened to communicate to you freely and unreservedly our thoughts. Our heart is dilated from the vehemence of our affection for you.

He excuses himself for having enumerated the several virtues practised by himself and his colleagues in the ministry, and says, he did so from no motive of self-praise, but from pure affection—from a wish to communicate to them freely his thoughts and the overflowing feelings of his heart, as friends are wont to treat with friends. He also, in expressing his affection for them, wishes that they would take in good part the reproach which he is about addressing to them (verse 14), for holding intercourse with the Pagans.

2 Cor 6:12. You are not straitened, you rather hold a spacious place, in our heart and affections, but you do not fully correspond with our feelings, as your bowels are contracted in your affection for us.

While his bowels are enlarged and his heart dilated to give them all a spacious place in his affections, they, on their part, are wanting in a return of the like generosity towards him. It is likely, that the insinuations of the false teachers, as well as his own stern rebukes, and his denunciations of their prevalent vices, had estranged many of the Corinthians from the Apostle.

2 Cor 6:13. But in order to make a return of mutual love for us—I speak to you as to my beloved children—become enlarged in your affection for us, as we feel towards you.

In this verse, he exhorts them to enlarge the bowels of their affection for him, as he had done for them. “Having the same recompense.” The Greek is, την δε αυτην αντιμισθίαν, according to the same recompense—κατα, is understood—by making a return of the same love and affection which I have for you.

2 Cor 6:14. Bear not the same yoke with unbelievers. For, what agreement can there be between justice and injustice? What fellowship or commerce can exist between light and darkness?

The Apostle, as ambassador of Christ, cautions the Corinthians against a practice dangerous alike to their faith and morals—viz., that of contracting very intimate engagements with infidels. It would appear that he alludes particularly to inter-marriages with the Pagans. He cautions the faithful against contracting new marriages with them. As to the marriages already contracted, he disposed of that question (1 Cor 7:13); and the diriment impediment, disparitas cultus, was not instituted for six centuries after this period. The yoke, then, which he dissuades them from bearing with the infidels—a yoke of disparity, as the Greek word, ετεροζυγουντες, implies—is the contracting any close engagements with them, such as would endanger their faith or morals, particularly, the most lasting of all engagements, that of marriage. This prohibition he grounds on the inequality that exists between both parties, and the incompatibility of their union. On the one side, are Christ, justice, light, faithful, temple of God; on the other, Belial, iniquity, darkness, unbeliever, idols—things in themselves perfectly opposed and incompatible.

2 Cor 6:15. What concord can there exist between Christ and Belial? Or what communion can there be between a believer and an unbeliever?

No commentary is offered in this verse.

2 Cor 6:16. Or what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For, you are the temple of the living God, as God himself testifies in the Holy Scriptures:—“I shall dwell in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they, in turn, shall be the people specially consecrated to me.”

In this verse he undertakes to prove, from the 26th chapter of Leviticus, that the Christians are the temples of God. The passage quoted here, literally regarded the tabernacle or portable temple of the Jews: of it, God says—“I will place my tabernacle in the midst of you, and my soul shall not cast you off. I will be to your God,” &c.—(Lev 24:11-12). The Apostle quotes the passage with a change of the second person into the third. “I will dwell in them, their God: they, my people.” The words express the special protection which God meant to extend to the Jewish people, and, in a more particular way, to the spiritual Israel of the New Law. In their mystical, or allegorical sense, they refer to the soul of the just man, which is a kind of movable temple of God.

2 Cor 6:17. Wherefore, go out from the midst of the profane and separate yourselves from all intercourse with them, and be not polluted by their uncleanness.

He grounds the prohibition, secondly, on the precept given to the Israelites, to fly the impurities of the Babylonians.—(Isa 52:2). For, if it were imperatively enjoined on the Jews to fly any intimate association with the Pagans of Babylon, much more obligatory is it on the Christians of Corinth, called to a higher state of sanctity, to shun all dangerous communications with Pagans, of still more corrupt and dissolute morals.

2 Cor 6:18. And should you do so, I will not leave you desolate or devoid of all comfort. I shall be to you a father, and you shall hold the place of sons and daughters with me, saith the Lord Almighty.

It is not well ascertained from what part of Scripture the words of this verse are quoted. They are generally referred to chapter 30 of Jeremiah. Others refer them to chapter 43 of Isaiah. From whatever place taken, they certainly refer to the adoption of the children of the New Testament, and both sexes are referred to, “sons and daughters,” because, both sexes are concerned in the intermarriages with the Pagans, the abuse particularly referred to by the Apostle in this passage.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 5

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 12, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheeims translation

In the first part of this chapter, the Apostle proceeds to account for his own cheerful intrepidity, as well as that of his colleagues, in the midst of dangers and persecutions. It proceeds from the consideration of their future glory, from their firm belief in the future glorification of their bodies (2 Cor 5:1), which glory they are anxious to have imparted to them without bodily dissolution, as nature recoils so strongly from death (2 Cor 5:2-4). But bearing in mind, that it is God who fits them for future glory, of which he has given them a sure earnest, they have great courage and confidence in undergoing all hardships for the Gospel with the hope of arriving at this supreme felicity (2 Cor 5:5–9), to attain which they endeavour, under all circumstances to please God; and keeping before their eyes his tremendous judgement, they so act as to prove to men their sincerity, lest they should be a stumbling-block or a scandal to anyone (2 Cor 5:10-11). He guards against the misconstruction which the false teachers might put upon the circumstance of his praising himself, by an assurance that whether he praises or speaks humbly of his own exploits—he has, in both cases, the glory of God and his neighbour’s good in view (2 Cor 5:12-13). He is moved to pursue this disinterested line of conduct by the example of Christ, whose purchased slaves we are all become by Redemption, who has, therefore, a right to all our services (2 Cor 5:14-15). Hence, the Apostles, dead to themselves and living only to Christ, regard no one, not even the Redeemer himself, from human considerations; but they regard all from the highest spiritual motives (2 Cor 5:16). This should not be peculiar to the Apostles, as every Christian, after having entered on his new spiritual existence, should do the same (2 Cor 5:17). He refers the merit of all these blessings resulting from our new spiritual existence, to their true source, viz., God, who made us sharers in them by having reconciled us with himself (2 Cor 5:18). He explains the mode in which this reconciliation was effected (2 Cor 5:19). He points out the exalted dignity of the ministers of religion (2 Cor 5:20); and, lastly, assigns a new reason for confidently expecting reconciliation with God, founded on the death of Christ.

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

2 Cor 5:1. For, we assuredly know by faith, that when this body of earth, in which the soul dwells for a time, as in a temporary abode or tabernacle, is dissolved by death, we shall have a lasting dwelling from God, viz., a spiritual body given us in the resurrection, unlike the works of art made to last but for a time, this body is not made by human hands, but by the power of God himself.

“For,” connects the following with the foregoing. The Apostle assigns a reason why he and his colleagues undervalue temporal things, and regard not passing and momentary tribulations. He wishes to point out the future glory that awaits us, both as regards body and soul.

“Of this habitation.” In Greek, τοῦ σκηνους, of this tabernacle, implying that as a tabernacle is only a temporary abode, so the body, in its mortal state, is to be the tenement of the soul only for a time. “A building of God,” in Greek, εκ θεοῦ, Vulgate, ex Deo, “from God,” by which is commonly understood, the body in its glorified state after the resurrection; for it is by the hopes of the glory of the resurrection, the Apostles were encouraged to labour manfully in the work of the gospel, and to it he refers (verse 14) of preceding chapter. This interpretation derives great probability from (verse 3), where the same idea is more fully developed.

2 Cor 5:2. For, on account of the necessity of this dissolution from which nature recoils, we groan, anxiously longing for this heavenly habitation; desiring to be clothed with the glorious qualities of a heavenly glorified body, as with a garment, without being subjected to the pains of dissolution.

“In this,” that is, on this account, viz., on account of the necessity of the dissolution of our bodies—from which we naturally recoil—before they can be clothed with the qualities of a glorious immortality; others understand the words, “in this,” to mean, in this body or earthly domicile, we sigh after immortality, wishing to be invested with it, as with a garment. There are two metaphors involved in this passage—one derived from a house, another, from a garment.

2 Cor 5:3. We shall receive the properties of glorified bodies in this way, provided, at the coming of our Lord, we are found vested with our bodies and not separated from them.

“Yet so,” &c., i.e., we shall be invested with a glorious immortality in this way, without dissolution, if we be among those who shall be found alive on the day of judgment; because, as the death of such persons will last for only a very short time, they may be said to be vested with a glorious immortality without dissolution, and the Apostle in all his Epistles treats of the day of judgment as near, because it virtually takes place for all at death. Others understand this verse, thus; if clothed with grace, we are not found devoid of charity and good works.

2 Cor 5:4. For while we are in this tabernacle of clay, oppressed with its weight, we groan for our state of incorruptibility, not that we wish to arrive at this state, through the dissolution of this moral body, but to be clothed and invested with it in such a way as that the mortality of this present body would be absorbed by immortal life, that from being mortal, the same would become immortal.

He repeats, in different words, the idea conveyed in the preceding verses. While in this tabernacle, we sigh for a glorious immortality, being oppressed with the weight of our present body—not that we wish for it at the expense of dissolution, but only in such a way as to be invested with it, without the intervention of death, so that the mortal be absorbed by immortal life.

2 Cor 5:5. But it is God, who fits us for this heavenly domicile, and who has given us the abundant gifts of his Holy Spirit, as a sure earnest of a happy and glorious immortality.

He ascribes to the grace of God all the merit of the ministry by which he is fitted for immortality, and God has increased our hope by the pledge of future glory which he has given us. “That maketh.” (In Greek, κατεργασαμενος; that hath made).

2 Cor 5:6. Having, therefore, this firm faith, and sure earnest of future glory, we cheerfully undergo all sufferings in the cause of the gospel, knowing that as long as we are in the body, we are sojourners from the Lord.

In consequence of the sure earnest of God’s spirit in our hearts, we always act with courage and cheerfulness under crosses and afflictions—the most secure road of safely arriving at our end—knowing that while we are in this body, we are sojourners from the Lord; we, therefore, hasten towards that country of which we are enrolled as citizens, and in which is our everlasting inheritance.

2 Cor 5:7. (For, in this life we are tending towards our heavenly country, guided by the obscure and glimmering light of faith; but we have not yet arrived at the enjoyment of the clear and intuitive vision of God).

This verse is to be included in a parenthesis—(see Paraphrase).

2 Cor 5:8. We have, I say, courage cheerfully to undergo all sufferings for the gospel, and we regard it as a blessing to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord to enjoy his vision.

He continues the subject digressed from in the preceding verse: We have courage, I say, under adversity, and we even prefer to be freed from the body to remaining in it, and thus to enjoy God’s beatific vision.

2 Cor 5:9. And therefore, we exert our utmost might, whether absent or present in the body, to be pleasing and acceptable to him.

If while here “present” in the body, we merit heavenly bliss, and please God, we shall please Him hereafter, when “absent” from the body; we shall be objects always pleasing in His sight, and we shall merit that this happiness be not taken from us for eternity.

2 Cor 5:10. For we must all, without exception, stand before the judgment seat of Christ, the Supreme Judge of all, and have our deeds then publicly manifested and exposed, so that each one may receive either the reward or punishment due to him, conformably to the life which he led in the body, according as that life was good or wicked.

In this verse is given a reason why we should always endeavour to please God; because we must all stand and be examined before the judgment seat of Christ, to whom the Father has transferred all judgment, and whom he has constituted Judge of the living and of the dead. In this judgment, five circumstances are here noticed by the Apostle:—First, it is to be universal—“we all.” Second, inevitable—“we must.” Third, clear and evident, exposing both interior actions and intentions; and hence a source of shame and confusion—“be manifested.” Fourth, irrevocable, as occurring before a supreme Judge, Christ—“before the judgment seat of Christ.” Fifth, most just; being grounded on all the actions, thoughts, &c., of our entire life, “according as he hath done.” What a subject of most serious reflection!

“The proper things of the body.” In Greek, τα δια τοῦ σώματος, the things by the body. The Vulgate interpreters read, ιδια τοῦ σώματος, propria corporis, the reading of Origen.

2 Cor 5:11. Keeping, therefore, always before our eyes this fearful judgment of the Lord, we endeavour to convince men of the sincerity of our ministry and profession, lest we should be a scandal or an impediment to any one; and as to God, our sincerity is perfectly known to him, and I trust, that to your consciences too, it will be perfectly manifest, notwith standing the malicious insinuations of the false teachers.

“Fear of the Lord”—“fear”; the effect is put for the judgment which causes it. “We use persuasion to men,” to avoid scandalizing the weakness, or obstructing in any way the progress of the Gospel; for, as to God, the searcher of hearts, to him the fulness of our sincerity is already clear and evident.

2 Cor 5:12. We do not speak thus, with the view of again commending ourselves to you, and of gaining your good will (as had been charged upon us), but with the view of affording you an opportunity of glorying in us, and of furnishing you with some answer against those who feel elated from external accomplishments, without any real interior virtue wherein to glory.

The Apostle here takes precaution against a repetition of the charge made against him by the false teachers (see 2 Cor 3:1), and removes all grounds for the misconstruction of his words. His motive in referring to his past good works is, to afford the Corinthians a subject for glorifying in him, as their true Apostle, and a means of reply against the false teachers, who were in the habit of boasting of mere external advantages, such as learning, riches, worldly connections, &c.; but, were prevented by their private deeds of shame (2 Cor 4:2) from boasting of acts of virtue, or of purity of heart and conscience.

2 Cor 5:13. We do nothing on our own account merely; for whether by speaking in praise of ourselves, and of our actions, we appear to be insanely transported in mind, it is for the glory of God we do so; or whether by speaking in terms of lowliness of ourselves, we act like men in their sober senses, it is for your sakes, to give you an example of modesty and humility.

Whether he praises himself at one time, or speaks in terms of modesty and humility of his actions at another, he does neither on his own account; on each occasion, he has the glory of God, or the edification of his neighbour in view. “Transported in mind,” when praising himself; for it is the mark of a madman or of a fool, to be speaking commendably of himself. “It is to God;” it is to glorify God who is the author of every good gift in us. “Be sober,” like men in their senses, who speak modestly of themselves; “it is for you,” to give them an example of modesty and humility.

2 Cor 5:14. The gratuitous and excessive love of Christ for us, urges us to pursue such a disinterested line of conduct, considering this, that if one man has died to save all from eternal death; therefore, all were spiritually dead (and his death for all shows the extent of the benefit conferred).

The gratuitous, disinterested love of Christ, who did nothing to please himself, non sibi placuit (Rom 15:3), constrains the Apostles to follow the same disinterested course, having God’s glory and the neighbour’s salvation always in view. “Judging this,” &c. He adds this to show the magnitude of the benefit of Redemption; and to point out the excess of the love of Christ, which “pressed” the Apostle. What a strong exhortation to labour unceasingly for the salvation of our brethren! If Christ died for all, why should not we give our lives for our brethren?

2 Cor 5:15. And also bearing in mind, that Christ has died for all; so that those who now live, are bound to his service in such a way, as to live no longer for themselves, but for him who has died and has risen for their sakes. (Hence, we should live solely for the service of our Redeemer, whose ransomed slaves we are).

“And Christ died for all.” We have not the word “Christ” in the Greek; it is, however, understood. “That they who live,” &c. Besides the motive of Redemption and ransom, Christ in his death also wished to teach us, that we should devote our life to his service; since, as ransomed slaves, we owe all our actions to the master and Lord who purchased us.

2 Cor 5:16. Wherefore, since we, Apostles, have become Christians, and dying to ourselves have begun to live to Christ, we have regarded in no man earthly or carnal considerations; and if at anytime we have known and loved Christ from human motives, we do so no longer, but from purer and more exalted spiritual motives, we adore and serve him.

“Henceforth,” that is, since we, Apostles, began to live a new life imparted to us in Christianity. “According to the flesh,” i.e., regarding in them merely human considerations (v.g.), because Jews or Gentiles, learned or unlearned, kinsmen or strangers. “And if we have known Christ,” &c., that is, if from the beginning of our conversion, we regarded in Christ the human consideration of being a fellow-countryman, or of being of Jewish extraction. “But now,” &c., we have been no longer guided by such consideration, we have begun to love and adore him from higher and more spiritual motives. Some understand this of the other Apostles, while living with Christ here on earth; for St. Paul was not a follower of His until after the Ascension. It may refer to St. Paul himself at the commencement of his conversion, for he had not wholly divested himself of human feelings, or of an over zeal for everything Jewish, at once.

2 Cor 5:17. This is not peculiar to us, Apostles, but if any person has been regenerated with us in Christ, let him know that he is a new creature, he has received a new existence; for him the old have passed away, behold all things are made new for him (hence, he should lead a new life, conformably to the new spiritual existence which he has received).

“If then any be in Christ a new creature.” The Greek, ει τις εν Χριστῳ καινη κτισις, might be translated, if any be in Christ, he is a new creature. It is not peculiar to the Apostles to enter on a new life in accordance with the object of Christ’s death and resurrection (verse 15), but every Christian, every man who has been baptized, has received a new spiritual existence, to which his actions should conform, by living solely for him who died and rose again for him. “Old things are passed away,” i.e., the passions, inordinate affections of the old, unregenerate man should no longer domineer over him. They are dead to the things of the flesh. “Behold all things are made new.” These words are, according to St. Thomas and Cajetan, mystically allusive to, Isa 43:18-19. They are illustrative of the “new creature,” and express, the newness of faith, justice and sanctity, as opposed to unbelief, sin, and immorality. They also convey an allusion to the total renovation of redeemed human nature, both as to soul and body, and to the new heavens and the new earth, the destined abode of the Saints, in which justice is to dwell.

2 Cor 5:18. But all this renewed spiritual existence, with its accompanying gifts, are from God, the author of all good gifts, who has admitted us, his enemies, by sin into his friendship, through the merits of Christ, and has constituted us the ministers of his reconciliation with others.

“To himself by Christ.” (In the common Greek, by Christ Jesus; “Jesus” is not in the Codex Vaticanus). All these spiritual blessings resulting from our new existence should be referred to God, as their real author. This new existence is the result of our reconciliation with God, and God himself is the author of this reconciliation or his enemies with him, which, through the merits of Christ, and through the ministry of reconciliation, he has perpetuated in his Apostles and the pastors of his Church to the end of time.

2 Cor 5:19. For God has reconciled a sinful world to himself through Christ, gratuitously remitting their sins, and to us he has intrusted the preaching’ of this reconciliation with others.

In this verse, is explained and developed more fully the idea expressed in the preceding. He reconciled the world through Christ, by gratuitously remitting their sins in consideration of the ransom which he paid for them, and by bestowing on them his sanctifying grace which he gratuitously, merited for them. This passage furnishes no argument in favour of the heretical doctrine of imputative justice. For, the Apostle only considers one circumstance of our reconciliation, namely—the remission of our sins on the part of God. But from other sources we know that this remission is effected by the infusion of sanctifying grace. By this grace sin is really remitted; otherwise, how could God, who hates iniquity, regard with complacency, or repute as just the man who really remains in the mire and filth of sin? He has constituted the Apostles ministers of announcing this great blessing of reconciliation.

2 Cor 5:20. We, Apostles, are, therefore, in the place of Christ, the ambassadors of God with man. Our exhortations and entreaties, to you to return to penance, should be regarded by you, as emanating from God himself. In the name of Christ, therefore, and in his person, we beseech you to become reconciled to God, mindful of his infinite mercy.

We, Apostles, are ambassadors, of Christ; hence, when we exhort or encourage you, it is the same as if this were done by Christ himself; because Christ speaks through us. “For Christ,” i.e., in the name and person of Christ, “we beseech you,” &c. The ministers of the gospel are, then, the ambassadors of Christ. With what reverence and respect are they not, therefore, to be treated, when acting in this capacity. The respect or contempt shown them is shown to Christ himself, by whom they are sent, and in whose name and authority they act. Whosoever touches them might as well touch the apple of his eye. On the other hand, with what circumspection should not the ministers of religion walk, and how cautious should they not be to avoid the least offence, that might mar or obstruct the interests of him by whom they were sent. What sanctity of life should they not practise, both in the presence of God and before men, in order to be fit representatives, before men, of their heavenly Master.

2 Cor 5:21. A reason for seeking and confidently hoping for reconciliation with God, is grounded on his infinite benignity and mercy in making his Son, who had as little commerce with sin, as if he were utterly ignorant of its nature, a victim of sin for us, that through him we might receive real and inherent justice, being made sharers in God’s justice by the infusion of sanctifying grace.

In this verse is assigned a motive to inspire us with confidence in seeking and hoping for reconciliation with God, viz., because he made his Son, who had no experimental knowledge of sin, or who had no more knowledge of it than if he knew not what it was. “Sin,” i.e., a victim of sin, according to the Scripture usage, which often uses the word “sin” to express the victim for sin, (v.g.) Hos 4:8; Lev 4:24. “That we might be made,” &c., i.e., that we might be made really and internally just, by a justice like the justice of God, of which we are rendered, by sanctifying grace, sharers through his merits.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 4

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 12, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

Having established, in the preceding chapter, the superior excellence of the Apostolit ministry, the Apostle employs this chapter in defending himself and his colleagues against the charges of the false teachers; his apology is contrived in such a way as, by implication, to insinuate against his accusers the very charges which they preferred against himself. He says, that in discharging his exalted ministry, he has avoided everything, even in private, that might damage its efficacy (2 Cor 4:1-2). If to any persons this Gospel publicly preached is unknown, it is through their own fault (2 Cor 4:3-4). In preaching, he seeks only God’s glory and his neighbour’s utility, in order to correspond with the designs of God in imparting his ministry (2 Cor 4:5-6). But the treasure of celestial knowledge communicated to others, is carried in frail vessels in order to consult for the glory of God alone, whose power appears clearly in preserving the Apostles in the midst of sufferings. (2 Cor 4:7-9). They suffer thus, in the hope that by representing Christ’s death, they may share hereafter in the glory of his resurrection (2 Cor 4:10-12). But, notwithstanding their constant exposure to death, the Apostles intrepidly preach the Gospel and profess their faith, as did David in the like circumstances (2 Cor 4:13). Being firmly convinced, that God will, one day, resuscitate them with Jesus, and give a share in the glory of his heavenly kingdom to them as well as to their faithful converts, for whose advantage all the Apostolic ministrations are intended (2 Cor 4:14-15). Hence, in the midst of trials, their souls are become more and more vigorous, while constantly making the inexpressible and never ending glory of the life to come, the subject of their continual meditation (2 Cor 4:16-18).

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

2 Cor 4:1. Having, therefore, been called by the mercy of God to a ministry of such superior excellency, we are not cast down by the difficulties in which the faithful discharge of its arduous functions may involve us.

“Therefore.” As this ministry which has been confided to us by the purely gratuitous mercy of God, without any merits on our part, has been so excellent and exalted, as appears from the preceding chapter, “we faint not,” which may mean we are not idle or slothful in the discharge of its duties; or, rather, we are not cast down by adversity, but willingly sacrifice our lives for our flocks. In this, the Apostle indirectly censures the false teachers who, like mercenary hirelings, when they see the wolf approach and danger nigh, fly and abandon the flock.

2 Cor 4:2. Even in private we do nothing unbecoming so exalted a ministry; we altogether abhor and eschew these private deeds of turpitude which carry with them shame and disgrace, not leading a life of hypocrisy and dissimulation, nor corrupting the word of God, either by the admixture of false tenets, or by preaching it from selfish, interested motives, but by the open and undisguised manifestation of truth, as well in the sanctity of our lives, as in the purity of our doctrine rendering ourselves worthy of commendation with all men who follow the convictions of conscience, and in the presence of God, who sees all things as they are.

“But we renounce,” i.e., execrate, shun, and abhor private deeds of shame and turpitude, unlike the false teachers who wear exteriorly the garb of sanctity, but whose conduct in private is shameful to be mentioned, as is expressed (Eph 5:12). “Not walking in craftness,” i.e., in hypocrisy and deceit, like the false teachers, saying one thing and thinking another, or saying one thing in public and acting in a contrary way in private. “Adulterating the word of God.” The Greek for “adulterating” δολουντες, is different from that used in 2 Cor 2:17, but the meaning in both places is the same, viz., not preaching the word of God in its unalloyed purity as it emanated from God, but mixing with it foreign doctrines, or preaching it from corrupt, selfish motives. In this also, the false teachers are censured. “Manifestation of the truth,” both in purity of doctrine and sancity of life; “the truth” probably includes both. “Commending ourselves to every man’s conscience,” i.e., rendering ourselves deserving of praise with every man who wishes to speak according to the convictions of his conscience, be he a believer or unbeliever, and even in the presence of an omniscient God. Oh! what a lesson to the minister of the gospel. He should pursue the even tenor of his onward course, neither elated by prosperity nor cast down by adversity, doing nothing, even in private, unworthy of his exalted calling, walking always “in God’s sight,” and sanctifying his actions by the consideration that the eye of God is always upon him, having God’s glory alone in view, and acting in such a way before men, as to merit the just commendation both of God and man.

2 Cor 4:3. But if, after this public and open preaching of the gospel, its truths are veiled for some, and concealed from them, it must be said, that this occurs only to the unbelieving reprobates, who refuse to believe, and who voluntarily place the veil of spiritual blindness on their own hearts.

In this verse, he meets a question which might be put, viz., if the gospel be preached thus openly, why be veiled for so many? The answer to which is, that this veil is not on the truths themselves, as was the case in the Mosaic law, but it was superinduced by the mental obstinancy of men themselves and by their resistance to the truth.

2 Cor 4:4. Whose minds the devil, who rules over the children of this world of unbelief, has blinded, lest the bright glory of the gospel should shine unto them, by which gospel are made known and manifested the glorious mysteries of Christ, who is the perfect image of God, light of light.

These men who voluntarily superinduce this veil, are the reprobates and unbelievers whose minds are blinded by “the god of this world,” which is commonly understood of the devil, who is called also by St. John (Jn 14:30), “the prince of this world,” since he exercises dominion over those who prefer earthly to heavenly things. Moreover, this class of men practically worship the devil, as a God. Even among Christians one would imagine that in baptism, instead of promising to renounce the devil, they promised him eternal allegiance, if their lives were taken as the standard of their profession. If they promised to be his servants, they could not more faithfully adhere to their promise, than they do at present. Others understand the words to refer to Almighty God, who blinds the wicked, not positively, by imparting malice, but negatively, by withholding mercy. Non obcecat impertiendo malitiam sed non impertiendo misericordiam.—St. Augustine. In this interpretation, the words “of this world” would, however, have no meaning, unless we join them with the word “unbelievers,” which would be without meaning also, and would besides, be a very forced and unnatural construction. The construction then runs thus:—It is concealed from those who perish (verse 3), I mean those unbelievers whose minds or spiritual senses the devil blinds, &c. (verse 4). “The gospel of the glory of Christ;” it is called such, either because in it are manifested the mysteries of Christ’s glory and divinity; or, because it is preached for his glory. “Image,” i.e., God’s uncreated image, begotten of him by an eternal generation, light of light. “The figure of his substance, and the splendour of his glory.”—(Hebrews 1). Hence, our Redeemer says in the gospel:—“He who sees me, sees the Father also.”—(John 14:9).

2 Cor 4:5. I said (verse 2), we rendered ourselves worthy of commendation with all men and in the presence of God; and with truth I have said so; for, in preaching we seek not our own glory or emolument, but the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we seek your advantage, and not our own; for, we profess ourselves your servants, devoted to you for Christ’s sake.

This is to be connected with the second verse, the intermediate verses being taken up in answering the question which presented itself. He says that by the manifestation of the truth (verse 2), they commended themselves to God and man, because they had in view only the glory of God and the utility of their neighbour, to whose service they devoted themselves. “We preach Jesus Christ and (profess) ourselves your servants.” The word, profess, must be understood. In order to show that their ministry does not involve anything like abject servitude, he says it is “through Jesus,” or for the sake of Jesus. The Greek particle, δια, corresponding with “through,” has frequently the meaning of, on account of.

2 Cor 4:6. And in seeking God’s glory and your advantage, we only correspond with the designs of God in conferring this grace of apostleship; for, it is the same Lord who, by the word of his might, commanded of old light to shine forth from the dark abyss, that by his spirit has shone in our hitherto darksome hearts, in order that we might enlighten others by the science and the knowledge of the glory of God, shining resplendent in the face of Christ, God’s most perfect image.

In the Greek the construction runs thus, as in Paraphrase: ὅτι ὁ θεος ὁ εἰπὼν· ἐκ σκότους φῶς λὰμψει, ὅς ἔλαμψεν ἐν ταις καρδίαις ἡμῶν, for the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness (it is) who hath shone in our hearts, &c. It is the same God who at the beginning of creation said: “Let there be light, and there was light” (Genesis 1) that hath by his spirit shone in our hearts. The Apostle in these words indicates the allegorical reference contained in the words of Genesis. “To give the light of the knowledge,” &c., shows the purpose God had in view in shining in our hearts; it was, in order that we should be so many lights, illuminating the spiritual darkness of this world, by the knowledge of the bright glory of God, reflected in the face of Christ, his most perfect image. Others understand the words, “in the face of Christ,” to refer to the person of Christ, as if to imply that by illuminating the world, the ministers of the gospel acted in the person, or as the representatives, of Christ. In the Vulgate reading, in facie Christi Jesu, there would seem to be an allusion to the veiled face of Moses, with which the face of Christ is contrasted. The comparison has however, been instituted throughout, not between Moses and Christ, but between Moses and the Apostles. Hence, the Vulgate translation, in facie Christi Jesu, is supposed by some not to be the best version of the words; these prefer the reading which makes it “in the person of Christ Jesus” which reading the Greek, ἐν προσώπῳ Χριστου, admits, and which is also found in the Syriac version. “Jesus,” although in the common Greek text, is not in the Codex Vaticanus. What a lesson of instruction for all the ministers of the gospel. They should commend themselves by their zeal for God’s glory, preaching Christ and not themselves; instead of domineering over any, they should be the servants of all. They should make the brightness of God’s glory and sanctity shine forth in their own lives, as so many shining and burning lamps, enlightening others.

2 Cor 4:7. But this treasure of the heavenly knowledge of the truths of God for the enlightenment of others, we carry in ourselves who are frail and contemptible, like earthen vessels, that the excellence which is in us, and the fruit resulting from our ministry may redound to the glory of God, and not to our own.

The Lord wished to confide this treasure of the ministry of heavenly illumination to poor, ignorant, frail, and contemptible men, in order that all its glory and excellence should be attributed to himself. By the “earthen vessels,” some understand the mortal bodies of the Apostles formed from the earth. Others, more probably, understand them of the persons of the Apostles, who were weak, frail, and despicable in the eyes of men.

2 Cor 4:8. And in the preservation of such frail beings in the midst of the most imminent perils, the divine power is clearly displayed; for, although we are pressed on all sides by adversity; still we are not utterly ruined; and although we are destitute of corporal aid and human counsel in our perplexities, we are not altogether left without resource, God in his mercy suggesting a means of evading our perplexities and embarrassments.

In the following verses, is shown how the power of God was exerted in favour of his ministers, although placed in the most imminent perils. It may not be necessary to give a distinct meaning to each word of the two following verses, the whole passage being nothing more than a mere rhetorical amplification conveying the same idea in different words, which increase in intensity. “Distressed,” στενοχωρούμενοι, is interpreted by many, we are seized with excessive mental anxiety. The version of Erasmus gives the same meaning to the corresponding Greek word. The purpose of the Apostle, however, would appear to be, to show that, although as brittle as earthen vessels, they are still preserved from bodily destruction in the midst of the greatest dangers.

“Straitened but not destitute.” The Greek, απορουμενοι ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἐξαπορουμενοι, literally translated, is, aporiati, sed non exaporiati; the former means destitute of human counsel in perplexity, without knowing what to do; the latter, that they are not oppressed in this perplexity, from which they knew not how to extricate themselves, because God suggests to them a means of effecting an escape.

2 Cor 4:9. We suffer persecution on account of the exercise of our ministry, but we are not forsaken by God who rescues us in our perils; we are cast down to the earth in our struggles with our opponents; but still, we are not despatched (because God interposes to save and raise us up).

“We are cast down,” &c., conveys the idea of most imminent danger of life, just as if a man in single combat were thrown to the earth by his adversary, and ready to be despatched, unless some one interpose to raise him up and enable him to avoid the fatal stab. God interposed to rescue the Apostles placed in the like danger. The words may also convey the idea, in allusion to earthen vessels, that although flung down upon the earth, God still interposed to save them from being utterly destroyed.

2 Cor 4:10. By our daily exposure to dangers and death, we always carry about, and by certain resemblance express in our bodies, the death of our Lord Jesus, in order that the life of glory which he now enjoys, may at a future day be revealed in us, when this mortal shall put on immortality.

“The mortification.” The Greek word, νεκρωσιν, denotes a dying state without actual death. “of Christ.” (In the common Greek, of the Lord Jesus). The word “Lord” is wanting in the chief MSS. which support the Vulgate. “That the life also of Jesus,” &c., are understood by some as referring, not to the future glory of the children of God (as in Paraphrase), but to the proof of Christ’s Resurrection, in consequence of rescuing so miraculously out of the very jaws of death, those who were thus exposed for his sake, so that the life of Jesus now risen may be clearly manifested and seen in our bodies rescued by him from death; for, had He not lived, He could not have rescued them. Others understand these words as referring to a typifying of His Resurrection; for, as our constant exposure to death was a type of His passion and death, so was our deliverance from these imminent perils of death a type of His Resurrection. “In our bodies.” In Greek, ἐν τῶ σηματι ἡμῶν, in our body.

2 Cor 4:11. For, although living, we are constantly given over to death on account of the preaching of Jesus, in order that the glorious and immortal life of Jesus may, at a future day, be revealed in this mortal flesh.

This verse is illustrative of the preceding. “That the life of Jesus,” &c., may also mean, that the life of Jesus risen from the dead may be made manifest by His having saved those perishable bodies amidst such deadly perils; and hence, our preservation furnishes a confirmatory proof of the Resurrection of Jesus.

2 Cor 4:12. Therefore, by the preaching of the gospel, death is caused in us; but, by this means, your spiritual life is advanced.

The conclusion drawn by the Apostle is, that by these sufferings, death is exercised in himself and his colleagues, by which means their spiritual life is advanced. Others, with St. Chrysostom, understand the words of this verse to convey a reproach to the Corinthians, who were living in ease and abundance, while the Apostles were exposed to danger and want of all sorts. The former interpretation is the more probable. In all this, the Apostle indirectly and obliquely reproaches the false teachers as having encountered no such dangers or privations for the faith, and as having no such testimony of divine deliverance and interposition in their favour.

2 Cor 4:13. But having, in the midst of dangers and death, the same faith proceeding from the Holy Ghost, that David had of old, when, as it is written of him, he said in the midst of trials and dangers: I have believed, and still believe firmly in the divine promises, and therefore, in consequence of this unhesitating faith in God’s promises, I have proclaimed, and still proclaim it aloud; so we also Apostles firmly believe in the promises, and, therefore, openly proclaim and profess this our faith.

He assigns a reason why the Apostles, in the midst of dangers, preach intrepidly it is because they really and firmly believe, unlike the false teachers, who, in dangerous circumstances, are become like “dumb dogs not able to bark.”—(Isa 56:10), “Having the same spirit of faith,” which David had, proceeding from the Holy Ghost, when in Psalm 116 he says, in the midst of the dangers which menaced his life: “I believed” (the perfect tense is put, by a Hebrew idiom, for the present, “I believe:” or, it may mean, I have believed and still continue to believe, in the promises of God made to me by Samuel, that one day I should ascend the throne; for, it is to this he refers in the 116th Psalm), and, therefore, on account of the firmness of this faith, “I have spoken” I have proclaimed, and do proclaim it aloud, knowing that God will preserve me. Some interpreters understand the word thus: having the same faith, with you, emanating from the Holy Ghost, we too believe, and, therefore, as did he of whom it was written, “I believed,” &c. It is better, however, to understand it of the same faith, with David. Hence, the faith of the saints of old is the same with ours. The mode of believing may be different; for they believed implicitly, what we believe explicitly; but “the same spirit” was the author of their faith and ours. Those, therefore, who believe firmly in their hearts, shall not be afraid or ashamed to profess this interior faith openly, when its external profession becomes a matter of duty.

2 Cor 4:14. Firmly impressed with the belief, that he who raised Jesus from the dead, will so raise us, and bestow on us a like glory with Jesus, and give us a place with you in his heavenly kingdom.

“Raised up Jesus.” In the common Greek, raised up the Lord Jesus. (The Codex Vaticanus has not the word Lord). “With Jesus.” (In the common Greek, δια Ιησου, through Jesus). The Codex Vaticanus has, συν ιησου, the Vulgate reading retained by St. Jerome. This firm belief in their future resurrection animates the Apostles to proclaim it aloud and preach the gospel intrepidly amid the most appalling dangers. “And place us with you.” He uses this form rather than place you with us, to show the great value he attaches to them, so as to prefer them to himself in glory, since he is only to come in for a share of glory of which they will be in possession.

2 Cor 4:15. I said, give us a place with you, for all our ministrations are ordained for your salvation, that the grace of the gospel, being diffused amongst many, whilst many are returning thanks for it, may redound to the glory of God.

It is not without cause that he placed them first; for they, or rather their salvation, is the end for which all his labours are designed. From making them sharers in his own glory this good shall result, viz., that the benefits of the gospel being more widely diffused and more extensively communicated, may redound to the glory of God, whilst the many on whom they are conferred will join in returning God thanks for them. Acts of thanksgiving, therefore, contribute much to God’s glory. The Greek, την ευχαριστιαν περισευσση εἰς την δοξαν τοῦ θεοῦ, admits the construction of Erasmus, viz., that the grace abounding through many may abound with thanksgiving unto the glory of God, in which the verb “abound” has a transitive signification, as in 2 Cor 11:8.

2 Cor 4:16. Propped up by this hope of future glory (verse 14), we faint not in adversity. For, although our bodies, the exterior portion of our persons, be attenuated by the sufferings we undergo for Christ, and tending to dissolution; still, our interior part, the soul, is daily becoming more and more vigorous and renovated.

It is the hope of future glory in heaven that animates the just in the midst of sufferings and persecutions. By the “outward man,” is meant the outward and sensible portion of man, viz., his frail and corruptible body. This is attenuated and worn by sufferings. But the “inward man,” the invisible soul, from these same sufferings receives vigour, and is renovated from the oldness of sin to the newness of truth and justice.

2 Cor 4:17. For the fleeting and light afflictions of the body, which we endure at present, shall beget and insure for us hereafter an eternal weight of glory, which ineffably and incomparably exceeds the light and passing afflictions of the present life.

The Greek reading runs thus:—τὸ γὰρ παραυτικα ελαφρὸν τῆς θλιψεως καθʼ ὑπερβολην εἰς ὑπερβολην κατεργαζεται, for the present lightness of affliction from excess to excess worketh, &c. From excess to excess, or, as we have it, “above measure exceedingly,” means that this weight of eternal glory, which our present light and passing afflictions merit for us, is also ineffable, superlatively immense. This form of expression is common with the Hebrews to express what is ineffably great in its kind; or, the words may mean, that this glory inexpressibly exceeds the sufferings undergone here to gain it. The lightness of our sufferings, and their momentary continuance, are contrasted with the weight and eternal duration of the glory, that shall one day be exchanged for them. “O! our tribulation:” “our” is not in the Codex Vaticanus, as in the above quotation.

2 Cor 4:18. Whilst we keep steadily in view, not the goods of the present life, viz., honours, riches, &c., which fill beneath the senses—but the good of the life to come, which are not seen, but only believed. For, the things of this life, which are seen, are fleeting and temporary, while the invisible things of the life to come are eternal and never-ending.

“While we look not at the things which are seen.” The Greek word for “look,” σκοπουντων means keeping steadily in view. Oh! were we, with the eyes of the understanding, and in the light of faith, to consider the nothingness of earthly enjoyments and pleasures, in duration exceedingly brief, and even this very brief enjoyment alloyed with bitterness and remorse and disappointments of all sorts; and on the other hand, were we to contemplate the things of the invisible world, their never-ending duration, their intensity exceeding all human comprehension; were we but to “consider in the heart,” on the awful import of these words, “ever,” “never;” ever to continue, never to end; what a stimulus to walk in the way of virtue, and keeping God always in view, to look to the remuneration he has in store for us; what a consolation under the crosses and afflictions with which this loving Father may visit us, in order to chasten us with the rod of discipline, and wean us from the nothingness of earthly pleasures. O God! increase in us a spirit of lively faith, so as to view temporal and eternal things, the fleeting affairs of this visible world, and the never-ending concerns of the invisible world, as they are; ever to bear in mind that there are two worlds, the visible and invisible—the one to pass away, as regards us, very soon, nay, sooner than we may imagine; the other never to end, to continue as long as God shall be God—and be influenced in our conduct, with reference to them, according to their relative importance.

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Father MacRory’s Commentary on John 1:1-18

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 5, 2019

Jn 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word Was God.

in principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum.

In the beginning.  these words most probably mean here, as in Gen 1:1, at the beginning of all created things; in other words, when time began.  Their meaning must always be determined by the context.  Thus we know from the context in Acts 11:15, that St Peter there uses them in reference to the beginning of the Gospel.  Similarly, the context here determines the reference to be to the beginning of creation; for He who is here said to have been in the beginning, is declared in verse 3 to be the creator of all things, and must therefore have already been in existence at their beginning.

Others, however, have interpreted the words differently.  Many of the fathers understood them to mean: in the Father, and took this first clause of vs 1 as a declaration that the w=Word was in the Father.  But, though it is quite true to say that the Word was and is in the Father (10:38), both being consubstantial, still such does not seem to be the sense of the phrase before us.  Had St John meant to state this, surely he would have written: In God, or in the Father, was the Word.  He names God in the next two clauses: And the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  Why then should he at the risk of being misunderstood, refer to Him in this first clause under another name?  Besides, if this first clause state the Word’s consubstantiality with the Father, the third clause: And the Word was God, would then be tautological.

Many of the commentators also urge against this view, that if the first clause meant in God (or, in the Father) was the Word, the second clause would be merely a repetition.  But we cannot assent to this, since we shall see, the second clause would add the important statement of the Word’s distinct personality.  However, the view seems to us improbable for the other reasons already stated.

Other take “beginning” here to mean eternity, so that we should have in this first clause a direct statement of the Word’s eternity.  But against this is the fact that arche (beginning) nowhere else bears this meaning, and can be satisfactorily explained in a different sense here.  Hence, as already explained, “in the beginning” means: when time began.

was.  (Greek: en) I.e., was already in existence.  Had St John meant to declare that at the dawn of creation the Word began to exist, he would have used engeneto as he does in verse 3 regarding the beginning of the world, and again in verse 6 regarding the coming of the Baptist.  This cannot fail to be clear to anyone who contrasts Jn 1:1, 2, 3, and Jn 1:9 of this chapter with verses Jn 1:3, 6, 14.  In the former en is used throughout in reference to the eternal existence of the Word; in the latter egeneto, when there is a question of the beginning of created things (Jn 1:3), or of the coming of the Baptist (Jn 1:6), or of the asumption by the Word of human nature at the incarnation (Jn 1:14).  At the beginning of creation, then, the Word was already in existence; and hence it follows that He must be uncreated, and therefore eternal.  St John’s statement here that the Word was already in existence in the beginning, is accordingly, equivalent to our Lord’s claim to have existed before the world was (Jn 1:17:5), and in both instances the Word’s eternity, though not directly stated, follows immediately.  Hence we find that the Council of Nice and the fathers generally inferred, against the Arians, the eternity of the Son of God from this first clause of verse 1.  “If He was in the beginning,” says St Basil, “when was He not?”

The Word.  (ho logos).  St John here, as well as in 1 Jn 1:1, and in the Apocalypse (Rev 19:13), designates by this term the Second Divine Person.  That he speaks of no mere abstraction, or attribute of God, but of a Being who is a distinct Divine Person, is clear.  For this “Word was with God, was God, was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us,” and in the person of Jesus Christ was witnessed to by the Baptist (Jn 1:1, 14, 15, 29, 30).  Outside the writings of St John there is no clear instance in either the Old or New Testaments of this use of the term logos.  Throughout the rest of the Scriptures its usual meaning is speech or word.

What, then, we may ask, led our Evangelist, in the beginning of his Gospel, to apply this term rather than Son, or Son of God, to the Second Divine Person?  Why did he not say: In the beginning was the Son?

Apart from inspiration, which, of course, may have extended to the suggestion of an important word like the present, apart also from the appropriateness of the term, of which we shall speak in a moment, it seems very probable that St John was impelled to use the term logos because it had been already used by the heretics of the time in the expression of their errors.  Endowed, too, as St John was, like the other Apostles, with a special understanding of the Sacred Scriptures (Lk 24:46), and privileged as he had been on many occasions to listen to the commentaries of Christ Himself on the Old Testament, he may have been able, where we are not, to see clearly in the Old Testament instances in which logos refers to the Son of God; e.g., Ps 32:6.

One thing, at all events, is quite plain, that, whatever may be said regarding his reason for the application of this term to the Son of God, St John did not borrow his doctrine regarding the logos from Plato or Philo or the Alexandrian School.  For though the term is frequently met with in the writings of both Plato and Philo, yet Plato never speaks of it as a person, but only as an attribute of God; and Philo, though in our opinion, he held the distinct personality of the Word, yet denied that he was God, or the creator of amtter, which latter Philo held to be eternal.  As to the Alexandrian School, to which Philo belonged, and of whose doctrines he is the earliest witness, there is not a shadow of foundation for saying that any of its doctors held the same doctrine as St John regarding the Divine Word.

From the teaching of Christ, then, or by inspiration, or in both ways, our Evangelist received the sublime doctrine regarding the logos with which his Gospel opens.

Having now inquired into the origin of the term logos as applied to the Son of God, and having learned the source whence St John derived his doctrine regarding this Divine Word, let us try to understand how it is that the Son of God could be appropriately referred to as the Word (ho logos).  Many answers have been given, but we will confine ourselves to the one that seems to us most satisfactory.

We believe, and profess in the Athanasian Creed (Filius a Patre solo est non factus, nec creatus, sed genitus), that the Son is begotten by the Father; and it is the common teaching that He is begotten through the Divine intellect.  Now, this mysterious procession of the Son from the Father through the intellect, is implied here in His being called the Word.  For, as our word follows, without passion or carnal feeling, from our thought, as it is the reflex of our thought, from which it detracts nothing, and which it faithfully represents; so, only in an infinitely more perfect way, the Son of God proceeded, without passion or any carnal imperfection, through the intellect of the Father, detracting nothing from Him who begot Him, being   the image of the Father, “the figure of His substance” (Heb 1:3). “‘Augustine says (De Trin. vi, 11): “By Word we understand the Son alone.’  Word,” said of God in its proper sense, is used personally, and is the proper name of the person of the Son. For it signifies an emanation of the intellect: and the person Who proceeds in God, by way of emanation of the intellect, is called the Son; and this procession is called generation, as we have shown above (Question 27, Article 2). Hence it follows that the Son alone is properly called Word in God. (ST 1.34, art. 2)

And the Word was with God (pros ton Theon).  pros here signifies not motion towards, but a living union with, God.  God refers not to the Divine Nature, but to the Divine Person of the Father (see 1 Jn 1:2); otherwise the Word would be unnecessarily and absurdly said here to be with Himself, since He is the Divine Nature terminated in the Second Person.  Many commentators are of the opinion that  the use of pros (with), and not en (in) proves that the Word is not a mere attribute of the Father, but s distinct Person.  So St John Chrysostom, St Cyril, Theophylact, Cornelius a Lapide, Patrizi, M’Evilly.

And the Word was God.  As our English version indicates, Word is the subject of this clause, God the predicate, for in the Greek logos has the article, Theos (God) wants it; and besides, as appears from the whole context, St John is declaring what the Word is, not what God is.  A desire to begin this clause with the last word of the preceding clause-a favorite construction with St John (see Jn 1:4-5)-may have led to the inversion of the original.  Or the inversion may have been intended  to throw the Divinity of the Word into greater prominence by placing the predicate before the verb.

Some, like Corluy, refer God, in this third clause, to the Divine Nature, which is common to the three Divine Persons; others, as Patrizi, to the Divine Nature as terminated in the Second Divine Person.  We prefer the latter view, but in either interpretation we have in this clause a declaration of the Divinity of the Word, a proof that cannot be gainsaid of His essential unity with the Father.  Nor does the absence of the Greek article before “God” in this third clause, when taken in conjunction with its presence in the second, imply, as the Arians held, that the Word is inferior to the Father.  For our Evangelist certainly refers sometimes to the Supreme Deity without the article (Jn 1:6, 12, 18); and the absence of the article is sufficiently accounted for in the present case by the fact that Theos (God) is a predicate standing before the copula.

Jn 1:2  The same was in the beginning with God.
Hoc erat in principio apud Deum.

To emphasize the three great truths contained in verse 1: namely, the Word’s eternity, His distinct personality, and essential unity with the Father, they are repeated in verse 2.  The same, that is, this Word who is God, was in the beginning, and was with God.

Various attempts have been made by the Unitarians to escape the invincible argument for a Second Divine Person which these opening verses of our Gospel contain.  Thus, they put a full stop after the last “erat” of verse 1; and taking the words in the order in which they occur in the Greek and Latin, make the sense of the third clause: And God was.  Then they join “verbum,” the last word of verse 1, with verse 2: This Word was in the beginning with God.  But even if we granted to the Unitarians this punctuation of the verses, the sense of the third clause would still be that the Word was God, and not that God existed.  For “Deus” (Greek: Theos=God, without the article), in the beginning of the third clause ought still to be regarded as the predicate, with “verbum” (Word) of the preceding clauses as the subject.  This follows not merely from the absence of the Greek article already alluded to, but also from the absurdity of the Unitarian view, which supposes that St John thought it necessary, after telling us that the Word was with God, to tell us that God exists!

Others have tried to explain away the text thus: At the beginning of the Christian dispensation the Word existed, and the Word was most intimately united to God by love.  But, (1) they have still to explain how this Word is declared Creator in Jn 1:3 and Jn 1:10; (2) The statement in verse 14: “And the Word was made flesh,” implies transition of the Word to a state different from that in which He existed “in the beginning;” but the time of the transition is just the commencement of the Christian dispensation, which cannot, therefore, be the time referred to in verse 1 as “the beginning.”

1:3  All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made.

Omnia per ipsum facta sunt: et sine ipso factum est nihil, quod factum est,

St John passes on to the relations of the Word with creatures.  all things (παντα= τα παντα in 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:16).  The passages indicated, as well as verse 10 of this chapter: the world was made by Him, make it clear that the Son of God created all things.  Nor could this doctrine be more plainly stated than in the words before us: All things were made by Him, &c. How absurd, then, is the Socinian view, according to which St John merely tells us here that all Christian virtues were introduced, and the whole moral world established by Christ!

Were made γίνομαι (ginomai), i.e., got their whole being from Him, and not merely were fashioned by Him from pre-existing matter.  The Cerinthian theory, that the world was made by an inferior being, is here rejected.  By Him δι αυτου (dia autos).  We are not to suppose that the Word was an instrument in the hands of the Father, or inferior to the Father, as the Arians held.  The preposition dia (Lat.: per; Eng.: by) is often used in reference to a principal efficient cause.  Thus, St Paul says of the Father: “God is faithful, by whom you are called unto the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord” (1 Cor 1:9.  See also 1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1; Gal 4:27; Heb 2:10).  And since our Evangelist has just declared in verse 1 the Word’s divinity, and knew Him to be one with the Father (10:30), it cannot be implied here that the Word is inferior to the Father.  Some commentators hold that there is no special significance in the use here of the preposition dia, while others see in ti an allusion to the fact that the Son proceeds from the Father, and derives from Him His creative power, together with His essence, from the Father, and is not, therefore, like the Father, “Principium sine principio.”

Others think that since all things were created according to the Divine idea, i.e., according to the Divine and eternal wisdom, and since the Word is that wisdom, therefore all things are rightly said to have been created through the Word.  So St Thomas on this verse:-“Sic ergo Deus nihil facit nisi per conceptum sui intellectus, qui est sapientia ab aeterno concepta, scilicet Dei Verbum, et Dei Filius; et ideo impossible est quod alquid faciat nisi per Filium.”  In this view, which seems to us the most probable, though like all the Divine works that are “ad extra,” i.e., do not terminate in God Himself, creation is common to the three Divine Persons, yet, for the reason indicated, it is rightly said to be through the Son.

And without him was made nothing (εν  ουδε = not anything.  Emphatic for ονδεν = nothing) that was made (Gr.: hath been made).  By a Hebrew parallelism the same truth is repeated negatively: all things were made by Him, and nothing was made without Him.  To this negative statement, however, there is added, according to the method of pointing the passage common at present, an additional clause which gives us the meaning: nothing was made without Him, of all the things that have been made.  This restrictive clause may then be understood to imply that, together with the Word, there was something else uncreated, that is to say (besides the Father, whose uncreated existence would be admitted by all) the Holy Ghost also.

In this way, after the Macedonian heresy arose in the middle of the fourth century, and blasphemously held that the Word had made the Holy Ghost, because without Him was made nothing, many of the Fathers replied : Nothing
was made without the Word, of the things that were made; but the Holy Ghost was not made at all, and is therefore not included among the things made by the Word. However, this restriction is not necessary to defend the Divinity of the Holy Ghost. Even though we understand it to be stated absolutely that nothing was made without the Son, no difficulty can follow; for the Holy Ghost was not made (egeneto), but was (en) from all eternity, as is clearly implied elsewhere. John xvi. 13, 14.

On dogmatic grounds, therefore, there is no necessity for connecting: Quod factum, est in the end of verse 3, with the preceding. And, as a matter of fact, all the writers of the first three centuries seem to have connected these words with Jn 1:4,* and it appears to us very likely, that it was because of the Macedonian heresy they began to be connected with verse 3. St. Chrysostom certainly is very strong in connecting them with verse 3, but the reason is because the heretics of the time were abusing the other connection to support their errors.  “neither will we,”; he says, “put a full stop after that nothing, as the heretics” (Chrysostom on John, Horn. v). We must not, however, conclude, from this remark of St. Chrysostom that it was the heretics alone who did so ; for, as we have said already, such was the ordinary way of connecting the clauses during the first three centuries ; and it is supported not only by the Fathers, but by the oldest Latin MSS., and by some of the oldest Greek MSS. And that the usage of his time was against him, and that it waseven after the Macedonian heretics had abused this passage to blaspheme the Holy Ghost, the old pointing, or to speak more correctly the old method of connecting the clauses, remained the more common.! Not only did Cyril of Alexandria, and Augustine, and Venerable Bede, and St. Thomas, and a host of others read in this way, but Maldonatus, who himself prefers the connection in our English version: “Without Him was made nothing that was made”, admits then the practice to put a full stop after “nothing”: “Without Him was made nothing.”

Nor can the Sixtine or Clementine edition of the Vulgate be appealed to in favour of our present pointing. As a matter of fact, the Sixtine edition rejected it, printing thus : “Et sine ipso factum est nihil: quod factum est in ipso vita erat;” while the Clementine Bible left the matter undecided by printing thus: “Et sine ipso factum est nihil, quod factum est, in ipso vita erat,” &c. We cannot, therefore, understand to what Roman Bibles A Lapide refers when he says that the Bibles corrected at Rome connect thus: “And without Him was made nothing that was made.”

We think it extremely probable, then, that the words: Quod factum est (that was made, or, as we shall render in our interpretation; what was made), standing at present in the end of verse 3, are to be connected with verse 4 Some may be inclined to blame us for departing from what is at present the received connection of the words in such a well-known passage as this. Let us therefore, sum up briefly the evidence that has forced us, we may say reluctantly, to connect the words with verse 4.  Verse 4 reads: In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

i. Though Maldonatus tries to throw doubt upon the fact, this is the connection adopted by practically all, if not all, the Fathers and other writers of the first three centuries, and by the majority of writers afterwards down to the sixteenth century.

ii. It is supported by the oldest MSS. of the Vulgate, and, what is more remarkable, by some of the oldest Greek MSS., notwithstanding the fact that St. Chrysostom was against it.

iii. The parallelism in the verse is better brought out: All things were made by Him, and without Him was made nothing.

iv. If Quod factum est were intended to be connected with the preceding, the clause would be certainlyunnecessary, and apparently useless, because it is plain without it that the Evangelist is speaking of what was made, and not including any uncreated Being, like the Father or the Holy Ghost.

We prefer, then, to connect: Quod factum est, with what follows. But it still remains for us to inquire in what way precisely the connection is to be made, for various views have been held upon the subject.

A. Some connect thus: What was made in (i.e. by) Him, was life, and the life was the light of men. B. Others thus : What was made was life in Him, and the life was the light of men. C. Others again, adopting the same punctuation as in the preceding-, but understanding differently: What was made , in it was the Life, and the Life was the Light of men.

The last seems to us the correct view. For A is improbable, inasmuch as it either declares all things to have life, or implies that though what was made by the Word had life, yet there were other things wanting life, which proceeded, as the Manichaeans held, from the evil principle.

Nor can we accept B, even as explained by St. Augustine in the sense that all created things are in the mind of God, as the house before building is in the mind of the architect; and that being in the mind of God they are God Himself,
and “life in Him.”  For though this is in a certain sense true, yet it seems to us unnatural to suppose that St. John here, in this sublime exordium, thinks it necessary or useful to tell us that the archetypes of created things lived in the Divine Mind.

C then appears to us to be the more probable view regarding the passage: “What was made, in it was the Life ;” or, more plainly: “In that which was made was the Life;” forhere,as elsewhere, St. John begins with the relative (see i. 45, i John i. i); so that, in this view, the Evangelist after telling us the relations of the Word to all things at their beginning: “All things were made by Him, and without Him was made nothing,” now goes on to point out His relations to them after their creation: first, His relations with things generally: “In that which was made was the Life,” then his relations with man in the supernatural order: “And the Life was the Light of men.”

1:4  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

in ipso vita erat, et vita erat lux hominum:

Adopting this view as to the connection between verses 3 and 4, St. Cyril of Alexandria thus explains: “The Life, that is to say, the Only-begotten Son of God, was in all things that were made. For He, being by nature life itself, imparts being, and life, and motion to the things that are … In all things that were made was the Life, that is, the Word which was in the beginning. The Word, being essential life, was mingling Himself by participation with all existing things.”

If it be objected to this interpretation that the first zoe (life) of verse 4, not having the article, cannot mean the Eternal Life, i.e. the Divine Word, we reply that St. Cyril, one of the greatest of the Greek Fathers, thought differently; and moreover, that very many of the commentators who are against us in the interpretation of this passage, are yet with us in referring zoe here to the uncreated life of the Divine Word.

But if we follow what is at present the common punctuation, and read: “In Him was life,” this is commonly interpreted to mean thatthe Word is the source of supernatural life  toman. (Thus S.Amb., S.Ath., Tol.,Maid., A Lap., Patr., Beel).

But this view is not without difficulty. For, first, if it be merely meant that life comes to man through the Word, we might rather expect that the preposition dia of the preceding verse would have been retained. Secondly, if there be question here of the Word as the life of man, how is it that it is only in the next clause that man is first mentioned? Surely, if the opinion we are considering were correct, we should rather expect St. John to have written: “In Him was the life of man, and the life was the light.” For these reasons, and because of what we have stated already in favour of connecting Quod factum est” with what follows, we prefer to understand this passage, with St. Cyril, as a statement that the Word, the Essential Life, was present in all things, conserving them in existence.

And the Life was the Light of men. In our view the meaning is that the Word, the Life, who conserved all things in existence, was, more over, in the case of men, their Light the source and author of their faith. Hence, we suppose St. John, after referring to the creation of all things, in verse 3, and the conservation of all things, in the beginning of verse 4, to pass on now in the end of verse 4 to speak of that new creation that is effected in man by means of a spiritual illumination: “All things were made by (or through) Him, and without Him was made nothing.  In that which was made was the Life, and the Life was the Light of men.”

Those who interpret the beginning of the verse to mean that the spiritual life of man comes through the Word, take the present clause as explaining how that was so, how the Word was the Life ; namely, inasmuch as He was the Light.  He was the source of our life of grace here and glory hereafter, inasmuch as He was the source of our light, that is to say, our faith.   And some of them, as Patrizi, hold that the order of the terms in this clause is inverted, and that we should read: “the light of men was the life,” “light of men” being the subject.

Maldonatus tells us that almost all writers before his time understood “light of men” in reference to the light of reason. However, this view is now generally abandoned, and rightly, for that man owed his reason to the Word has been already implied in verse 3: “All things were made by Him.”  Besides, the “light” of this fourth verse is doubtless the same as that of verse 5, which men did not receive, and of verse 7, to which the Baptist was to bear witness.  But in neither of the latter verses can there be question of the light of reason; hence, neither is there in verse 4. The meaning, then, is that He who was the preserver of all things was moreover the source of the spiritual light of men.

1:5. And the light shineth.  The meaning is, that the Word, as the source and author of faith, was always, as far as in Him lay, enlightening men. Shineth-the present tense is used, though the latter part of the verse shows that the past also is meant: “The light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”  Probably the Evangelist avoids using the past tense, lest it might be inferred that the Word had ceased to shine.  Besides, the present is more appropriate, seeing that, in the sense explained, the Word shines throughout all time.  From the beginning the Word shone, as far as in Him lay.  If men generally were not enlightened, it was their own fault. But all who were saved from the beginning, were saved through faith, and no one ever received the gift of faith except in view of the merits of the Word Incarnate.  “Nulli unquam contigit vita nisi per lucem fidei, nulli lux fidei nisi intuitu Christi” (St. August.)
The darkness is man shrouded in unbelief. See Luke i. 79, Eph. v, 8.

And the darkness did not comprehend it.  As we have just said, the meaning is, that unbelieving men refused to be enlightened. Ordinarily, indeed, light cannot shine in darkness without dispelling it; but in this case the darkness was man, a free agent, capable of rejecting the light of faith through which the Eternal Word was shining. In telling us that men refused to be enlightened, the Evangelist is stating what was the general rule, to which at all times there were noble exceptions.

Jn 1:6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
Fuit homo missus a Deo, cui nomen erat Johannes.

The correct reading is: There came () a man, sent by God, whose name was John.  This reference to the Baptist in the middle of this sublime exordium is surprisng, and has ben variously accounted for.  Some think that our Evangelist, after having treated of the Divinity of the Word, merely wishes, before going on to speak of the incarnation, to refer to the precursor.  But it seems most probable that the Evangelist wished to remove at once the error of those who, impressed by the austerity and sanctity of the Baptist’s life, had looked upon him as the Messiah.  If any of them still remained at the time when St John wrote, or should arise afterward, they are here told that the Baptist, though having his mission from Heaven, was only a man intended to bear witness to Christ.  Thus the superior excellence of Christ is thrown into relief from the fact that a great saint like the Baptist was specially sent by Heaven to be His herald.  The reference in this verse to the Baptist’s coming into the world, at his concenption, rather than to the beginning of his preaching, for at the moment of his conception, he came, sent by God to be the herald of Christ (see Lk 1:13-17).

John is the same as jochanan, which is itself a shortened form of Jehochanan = “God hath had mercy.”  This name was appointed for the Baptist, before his conception, by the Archangel Gabriel (Lk 1:13).

Jn 1:7  This man came fof a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him.
Hic venit in testimonium, ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine, ut omnes crederent per illum:

This man came for witness, namely, in order that he might bear witness of the light, that is to say, the Incarnate Word, to the end that through him all might believe in the Word.

Jn 1:8  He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light.
Non erat ille lux, sed ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine.

He was not the light (του φωτος = ho photos = the light), that is, he was not the great uncreated light which enlighteneth all men; though, in his own way, the Baptist too was a light, nay, as Christ Himself testified “the lamp that burneth and shineth” (5:35). ινα (hina) depends on (ἔρχομαι =erchmai=he came), which is to be understood from the preceding verse.

Jn 1:9  That was the true light, which enlightenes every man that cometh into this world.
Erat lux vera, quae illuminat omnem hominem venientem in hunc mundum.

“That was the true light” (or, there was the true light), “whhich enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world.”  The Greek of this verse may be construed and translated in three different ways:-1. By connecting εἰμί (ἦν = was) with ἔρχομαι (erchomai =coming): “The true light, which enlighteneth every man, was coming into the world.  2. By taking ἔρχομαι (erchomai =coming) as a nominative agreeing with φῶς  (phos=light): There was the true light which at its coming into the world enlighteneth every man (see Jn 3:19).  3. By connecting ἔρχομαι (erchomai =coming), as in the Vulgate and our English version.  This is far the most probable view.  In favor of it we have all the Latin Fathers, all the Greek Fathers except one, and all ancient versions.  Besides erchomai is thus connected with the nearest substantive with which it agrees in form.  Add to this that the second opinion, the more probable of the other two, would seem to signify that the Word was not a light to all men before His coming, but only at His coming; and this, as we have explained above on verse 5, is false.  The meaning then is that the Word was the true, i.e., the perfect light, and as far as in Him lies, enlighteneth at all times every man that cometh into this world, be he Jew or Gentile.

That cometh into this world, is in our view a Hebrew form of expression equivalent to: that is born.  It is used only here in the New Testament, but “to be born” was commonly expressed by the Jewis Rabbins ****(to come into the world).  Note: I am unable to reproduce the Hebrew letters, hence the ****.

Jn 1:10  he was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
In mundo erat et mundus per ipsum factus est, et mundus eum non cognovit.

The Word, not the light, is the subject here, as is proved by the masculine pronoun autos towards the end of the verse.  It is disputed to what presence of the Word in the world there is reference here.  Almost all the Fathers understood the reference to be to the presence of the Word in the world before the incarnation.  According to this view, which is held also by Lapide, the Word was in the world, in the universe, conserving what He had created, “sustaining all things by the word of His power” (Heb 1:3).  God is everywhere present by His essence, by His knowledge, and by His power; but it is of the latter presence, which could be known, that the view we are considering understands the clause.

Maldonatus, though he admits the Fathers are against him, holds that the reference is to the mortal life of the Word Incarnate.  He argues from the fact that the world is blamed, in the next clause, for not having known the Word; bu knowledge of the Word was impossible before the Incarnation.  It was possible indeed to know there was a God, but impossible to know the Second Divine Person, the Word.  Whatever may be thought of the probability of this second view, the arguments ordinarily adduced against it, from the use of the imperfect erat (Latin, en in Greek), and from the alleged fact that all the preceding verses refer to the Word before His Incarnation, have no weight.  For the imperfect may be used not in reference to Christ’s existence before His incarnation, but to show that He not merely appeared among men, but continued to dwell for a time among them; and the statement that everything before this verse refers to the Word before His incarnation, cannot be sustained.  For the “Light” to which the Baptist came to bear witness (vs 7) was not the Word before His incarnation, but the Word Incarnate, as is evident.  According to this second opinion, verse 11 “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not,” merely emphasizes the ingratitude of the world towards the incarnate Word by declaring that He was rejected even by His own chosen people.

And the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.  Those who interpret the first clause of this verse of the existence of the Word in the world before the incarnation, understand the world to be blamed, in the remainder of the verse, for its ignorance of its Creator.  The world is not blamed, they say, for not knowing the Word as the Second Divine Person, for such knowledge it could not have gathered from the works of creation, but for not knowing God (Rom 1:20), who is one in nature with the Word.

Those who interpret the first part of the verse of the presence of Christ on earth during His mortal life, hold that in the remainder the world is blamed for not recognizing the Word Incarnate as the Son of God, and the Second Divine Person.  The meaning of the whole verse then, in this view, is: That though the Son of God, who created the world, deigned to live among men, yet they refused to recognize Him as God.

Jn 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
In propria venit, et sui eum non receperunt.

It is clear from what we have said on the preceding verse, that some take this to be the first reference to the presence on earth of the Word Incarnate; while others regard it as merely repeating the idea of the preceding verse, with the additional circumstance that even His own refused to recognize Christ.  Some few have held that the reference here is to the transient coming of the Word in the apparitions of the Old Testament.  But all the Fathers understood the verse of the coming of the Word as man, and the verses that follow prove their view to be correct.  His own is understood by many of His own world, which He had created; but we prefer to take it as referring to His own chosen people, the Jews.

And his own received him not.  That is to say, believed not in Him, but rejected Him.  This was the general rule, to which, of course, there were exceptions, as the following verse shows.  These words together with the two following verses, we take to be a parenthetic reflexion on the reception of Christ met with, and the happy consequences to some.

Jn 1:12. But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name.
Quotquot autem receperunt eum, dedit eis potestatem filios Dei fieri, his qui credunt in nomine eius.

There were some, how ever, who believed in Him, or, according to the Hebraism, in His name, and to these, whether Jews or Gentiles, He gave power to become adopted children of God.  That is to say, after they had co-operated with His grace and believed, He mercifully gave them further grace whereby they could be justified, and thus be God s adopted children.  The last words of this verse: To them that believe in His name, explain what is meant in the beginning of the verse by receiving Him.

Jn 1:13. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Qui non ex sanguinibus, neque ex voluntate carnis, neque ex voluntate viri, sed ex Deo nati sunt.

Some commentators have found great difficulty in this verse, because they supposed that those who in the preceding verse are said to have got the power to become children of God are here said to have been already born of God.  But the difficulty vanishes, it seems to us, if verse 13 be taken as explaining not what those who believed were before they became sons of God, but the nature of the filiation, to which those who believed got power to raise themselves.  It is not faith that makes them sons of God, but through faith (not as a meritorious cause, but as a condition) they attained to charity, which made them children of God. This too is all that is meant in 1 Jn 5:1.  It is not meant that by believing they are eo ipso, through faith alone, sons of God.  Faith, as the Council of Trent lays down, is the root of justification, but it is not the formal nor even the meritorious cause of justification; it is a condition “sine qua non.”  And just as St. Paul attributes justification to faith without meaning that it is of itself sufficient, so St. John (1 Jn 5:1) attributes to faith Divine sonship without meaning that it comes from faith alone. See Decrees of the Council of Trent, Sess. VI. Chaps, VI. and VIII. The meaning of the two verses, according to this view, is, that as many as received Christ by believing in Him, got power to become children of God, children who were born, not of bloods nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  Thus verse 13 explains that these sons of God were born not in a carnal but in a spiritual manner.  Tria hie de generatione humana sic exponit St Thomas: ex sanguinibus, ut ex causa materiali; ex voluntate Garnish ut ex causa efficiente quantum ad concupiscentiam (in qua est voluntas sensitiva) ; ex voluntate viri, ut ex causa efHciente intellectuali (libere actum conjugalem perficiente).”
To be “born of God,” implies that we are transferred into a new life wherein we become in some sense partakers of the Divine nature (2 Pet. i. 4).  Some early authorities make Christ the subject of this verse; so commonly in the second

Jn 1:14  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.
Et Verbum caro fctum est, et habitavit in nobis: et vidimus gloriam eius, gloriam quasi Unigeniti a Patre, plenum gratiae et veritatis.

After the reflexion in verses 12 and 13 on the way Christ was received by men, the Evangelist now states the manner in which He came; namely, by taking human nature. According to some, the first “and” is equivalent to “for.”  “After He had said that those who received Him are born of God and sons of God, He adds the cause of this unspeakable honour, namely, that the Word was made flesh” (St John Chrysostom).  Others, however, think that “and” has merely its ordinary conjunctive force.  Note that ho logos (the Word), not mentioned since verse 1, is again named, for emphasis, and to put it beyond doubt or cavil that it is the same Eternal God of verse 1 who is declared in verse 14 to have become man.  Flesh is a Hebraism for rnan. See also Gen 6:12; Isa 40:5; Ps 55:5; John 17:2. Probably it is used here specially against the Docetae, heretics who denied that Christ had really taken flesh, which they contended was essentially polluted and corrupt.

And dwelt. Many think, with St Chrysostom and St Cyril, that the Greek verb used is employed specially to indicate that the Word did not cease to be God when He became man, but dwelt in His humanity as in a tent among men.

And we saw. The Greek verb signifies to behold with attention.  St John here claims to have been an eyewitness of Christ s glory (doxa, the solemn scriptural term for the glorious majesty of God), to have beheld it, not in mental vision, but literally and historically. θεάομαι (Theoamai = beheld) is not used in the New Testament of mental vision.  It is used only of bodily vision.

The glory as it were
(Greek: ὡς; Latin: quasi =”as it were”) of the only begotten; i.e., glory such as was becoming the only-begotten, &c.  Beware of taking the meaning to be: a glory like that of the Son of God, but not His.  As St Chrys. points out, the ὡς here expresses not similitude, but the most real identity: “As if he said: We have seen His glory such as it was becoming and right that the only begotten and true Son of God should have.”  Of the Father should be from the Father, and may be joined either with “glory” or with “only begotten”.

Full of grace and truth
.  ( πλήρης = Latin: Plenum = “full”,  in the nominative, is the correct reading).   This is to be connected closely with the beginning of the verse: “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth,” and the other clause, And we saw His glory, &c. , is parenthetic, thrown in to prove the preceding statement.

Christ is said to have been full of grace and truth, not merely in Himself, but also, as the following verses prove, in reference to men with whom He freely shared them.  Kuinoel, followed by Patrizi, understands by “grace and truth” true grace or true benefits. But it is more natural to take grace and truth as two distinct things, seeing that they are again mentioned separately (η χαρις και η αληθεια) in verse 17.  Grace may be understood in its widest sense; for not only had Christ the “gratia unionis,” as it is called, wherebynHis humanity was hypostatically united to the Divinity; but, moreover, His human soul was replenished to its utmost capacity with created grace, which not only sanctified Him, but was also through Him a source of sanctification to us.  See St Thomas, p. 2, sec. 7, 8.  Christ is said to be “full of truth,” not only because “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him” (Col 2:3), but also because, as verse 17 states, He gave us the knowledge of the true faith and true way of salvation.

Jn 1:15  John beareth witness of him, and crieth out, saying: This was he of whom I spoke: He that shall come after me, is preferred before me : because, he was before me.
loannes testimonium perhibet de ipso, et clamat, dicens: Hie erat quem dixi: Qui post me venturus est, ante me factus est:quia prior me erat.

John. The Baptist (for it is he who is meant:comp. with John 1:27; Mark 1:4, 7; Luke 3:2, 16) is now referred to parenthetically, as confirming what our Evangelist has said, namely, that the eternal Word dwelt among men.

Crieth out. (The Greek construction implies the giving of solemn, public testimony).

This was he of whom I spoke (rather, said). Some, like Patrizi, think that the testimony of the Baptist here referred to is a distinct testimony not mentioned elsewhere.  Others, and with more probability, hold that the Evangelist mentions here by anticipation the same testimony whose circumstances he describes in verses 29 and 30.

He that shall come after me, in His public ministry, is preferred before me, because he was before me. Some commentators, as Kuinoel and Patrizi, understand “before” in both cases of “time”: is before Me, because He is eternal; others, as St Chrysostom and Toletus, in both cases of dignity: is preferred before Me, because really preferable; and others, as our English version, with St Augustine, St Thomas, Beelen, Alford, in the former case of dignity in the latter of time is preferred before Me, because He is eternal. The last seems the correct interpretation, and in it the past tense “is preferred” (ante me factus est) is used prophetically for the future, or may be explained as a past: has been preferred in the designs of God.

Jn 1:16 And of his fulness we all have received, and grace for grace.
Et de plenitudine eius nos omnes accepimus, et gratiam pro gratia.

After the parenthetic clause contained in verse 15, the Evangelist, not the Baptist, continues regarding the Word.

And of his fulness (see verse 14) we have all received, and grace for grace. The second “and” is explanatory.

Grace for grace; i.e. (1) the grace of eternal life following on the grace of justification here; or (2) abundant grace, according as the grace given to Christ was abundant: gratia nobis pro gratia Christi (Rom 5:155); or (3) the more perfect grace of the New Law, instead of that given under the Old Law (Chrysostom, Cyril, Patrizi); or (4), and best, by a Hebraism, abundant grace.  “αντι dicitur de successione, gratiam unam post aliam (gratiam cumulatam).”(Beel., Gr. Gram., 5 1A.) So also Kuinoel.

Jn 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Quia lex per Moysen data est, gratia et veritas per lesum Christum facta est.

The Evangelist confirms what is stated in verse 16, and at the same time takes occasion to prefer Christ to Moses, as he has already preferred Him to the Baptist. Moses, was but the medium of communicating to the Jews the Mosaic Law, which only pointed out man s duty, without enabling him to fulfil it (Rom 7:7, 8); but Christ was the source and author of grace and truth to us; of all the graces whereby we are to merit heaven, and of the perfect knowledge of the true faith. This is, doubtless, directed against some of the Judaizers, who held that sanctification through the Mosaic Law was at all times possible, even after the Christian religion was established.

Jn 1:18  No man hath seen God at any time: the only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
Deum nemo vidit unquam : unigenitus Filius, qui est in sinu Patris, ipse enarravit.

There is considerable difference of opinion as to the drift or bearing of this verse. Some think that a reason is given why only Christ could give the truth, because only He saw God in His essence.  Others, that a reason is given why the gifts of Christ mentioned in the preceding verse, are superior to the Law given by Moses, namely, because Moses never saw God in His essence. Others, that the evangelist explains how he and his fellow Apostles received of Christ s fulness, not only through what Christ did (17), but through what He taught (18); and the necessity for such a Divine teacher is shown by the fact that no one but He ever saw God.   So St. Thomas.

Others as Maldonatus and Patrizi, hold that the Evangelist is here adding to his own testimony, and that of the Baptist, the testimony of our Lord Himself, in favor of all that he has said regarding our Lord in this sublime prologue; the meaning being: What I have said regarding the eternity, personality, and Divinity of the Word, regarding His power as creator and regenerator, and regarding His incarnation, I have neither seen with my own eyes, nor learned from anyone who saw, for “no man hath seen God at any time,” but Jesus Christ Himself explained these things to me.

No man hath seen God at any time. If understood of the vision of comprehension this is universally true of every creature, man or angel; if of seeing God in His essence without comprehending Him, it is true of all while they are here below.  The latter is the sense here, for the Evangelist wishes to signify that he could not have learned from any mere mortal the foregoing doctrine.  The saints in heaven see God in His essence, for as our Evangelist tells us in his First Epistle: “We shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2. See also John 17:3).

The only- begotten Son
.  Instead of: “The only-be gotten Son,” the reading: “God only-begotten” is found in very many ancient authorities, and is almost equally probable.  Were it certain, it would be an additional proof of Christ s Divinity.  Christ is the only-begotten Son of God, because while He is the natural Son of God, all others are but adopted sons.

Who is in the bosom of the Father (εις τον κολπον του πατρο). This means that the Son is consubstantial with the Father: “In illo ergo sinu, id est in occultissimo paternae naturae et essentiae, quae excedit omnem virtutem creaturae,est unigenitus Filius, et ideo consubstantialis est Patri” (St Thomas).

He hath declared him.  “Him” is not represented in the original; and if our view of the verse is the correct one, the object of the verb “hath declared” is not so much the Word as the doctrine contained in this prologue concerning Him.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 3

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 5, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

Among the charges preferred by the false teachers against the Apostle, was that of indulging in self-praise. He defends himself against this charge, for which he might have given some grounds in the seventeenth verse of the preceding chapter, as well as in chapter 9 of his first Epistle, by retorting upon his adversaries, and showing that he did not, like them, require any recommendation with the Corinthians. For, having been converted by his ministry, they were his letters patent, or, more properly speaking, the Epistle of Christ himself who, by the ministry of the Apostle, engraved on their hearts, with the grace of the Holy Ghost, the characters of true sanctity (2 Cor 3:1–3). The glory of all this he refers to God, through whose grace alone, man can elicit even as much as a single good or supernatural thought, conducive to salvation (2 Cor 3:4-5). And to God he acknowledges his obligation for his call to the exalted function of the Apostolic ministry. He contrasts this ministry with that of Moses, and he shows the superior excellence of the former (2 Cor 3:6). He shows that the glory attached to his own ministry, so incomparably surpasses that attached to the ministry of Moses, that the glory of the latter might, comparatively speaking, be termed no glory at all (2 Cor 3:7-10). His ministry, and the new covenant, excelled the Mosaic on another ground also—viz., on the ground of perpetuity (2 Cor 3:11). His practical conclusion from the hope of the glory attached to his ministry is, to preach the gospel openly, and with much boldness of speech (2 Cor 3:12), and not act, as did Moses, who placed a veil upon his face, when speaking to the people (13). He explains the mystical signification of this veil, which signified the spiritual blindness of the Jews, who see not Christ represented in the beaming effulgence of the face of Moses (2 Cor 3:14-15). It is only by believing in Christ, that this veil will be taken away (2 Cor 3:16). He says that the Lord is the spirit to whom he has been referring, as distinguishing the Covenant of grace from that of Moses; he it is that removes the veil of darkness and obstinacy (2 Cor 3:17). The Apostle concludes the second number of the antithesis, instituted at verse 13, and shows how clearly the revelation of God has been made by the Holy Spirit to the ministers of the gospel beyond that of Moses, so that they can, like so many suns, enlighten others (2 Cor 3:18).

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

2 Cor 3:1. Is it to be inferred from the foregoing (2 Cor 2:17), that we are again anxious to praise ourselves and be commended to your favour? Or, do we require commendatory letters to you or from you (as is the case with some others)?

“Again,” has reference to chapter 9 of the First Epistle, where he is forced, in his own defence, as well as here, to refer to his labours and privations. “Epistles of commendation,” were propably letters of introduction, or, the tesseræ hospitalitatis common among the Greeks, Romans, and Jews, and in frequent use in the primitive Church. (“As some do,”) viz., the false teachers, who made this a charge against the Apostle, of which they themselves alone were guilty.

2 Cor 3:2. We require no such recommendation; you yourselves, converted to the faith through our labours and ministry, are a sufficient recommendation of us, and a proof of our true apostleship, written on our hearts (owing to our anxiety for you). You are our letters patent, known to all men, since the several nations of the earth, with which you hold relations of commerce, know us, to be your Apostle.

“Written on our hearts.” Owing to our anxiety and affection for you. “Which is known and read,” &c., may also mean, it is known and read by all that you are engraven on our hearts, in consequence of our constant mention and remembrance of you in every place.

2 Cor 3:3. It should rather have been said, that, by your faith and good works, it is made manifest regarding you, that you are the Epistle of Christ himself, on whom, as on a chart, are inscribed his sacred laws and precepts written by our ministry; not with ink, but with the grace of the Holy Ghost, which has impressed, on you the characters of true sanctity; not on tables of stone, but on the softer and more pliant tablets of the heart.

He corrects his assertion, to the effect that they were his Epistle; they were rather “the Epistle of Christ,” whose law is written on their hearts. “The Epistle of Christ” may also mean the Epistle written by Christ, and of which Christ is the principal author. The former, which is adopted in the Paraphrase, is the interpretation of the Greeks. The latter interpretation, wherein it is insinuated that the Corinthians, or, rather the fruits of their conversion to the faith, are the work of Christ, better suits the following words:—“Ministered by us,” i.e., written by our ministry as a subordinate agent. “Not with ink,” with which human instruments are ordinarily written, “but with the spirit,” &c., i.e., the grace of the Holy Ghost. “Not in tables of stone,” like the Law of Moses, to which these words are evidently allusive, “but in the fleshy tablets,” &c. The word “fleshy,” is opposed to hard, stony, impenetrable; but not to spiritual. The Apostle is most probably alluding to the difference between both testaments referred to, chapter 31, of Jeremiah, and quoted in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb 8:8). How many are there, alas! whose hearts, harder than adamant, always resist the inspirations of the Holy Ghost. How fervently should we pray, not to be delivered over to an impenitent heart—to a spirit of obduracy and insensibility in the ways of God!

2 Cor 3:4. And this confidence and matter for glorying in you as our converts before God, we have not from any merits of our own, but from the merits of Christ.

The Apostle boasts before God for having been made the instrument in the conversion of the Corinthians, not through any merits of his own, but through the merits of Christ. He claims no merit for himself, notwithstanding his immense labours and boundless success in the propagation of the gospel and conversion of the world. “Dens, qui universum mundum B. Pauli Apostoli prædicatione docuisti,” is the language of the Church (January 25). What a lesson is here conveyed to such as wish that their most trifling efforts in the cause of religion should be bruited abroad, and that a twofold glory should redound to themselves!—“receperunt mercedem suam.”

2 Cor 3:5. We glory in our ministry and its successful issue with you, not that we are sufficient of ourselves, from our own natural strength to elicit even a good thought of the supernatural order—a thought conducive to salvation—much less perform a good work of the same kind, since all our sufficiency, in that respect, must come from the grace of God.

This passage has been adduced by St. Augustine and the Council of Orange to refute the errors of the Pelagians and semi-Pelagians, and to show the necessity of divine grace for performing a good action or for eliciting a good thought conducive to salvation. It is of supernatural actions the Apostle here speaks; for he is treating of works appertaining to the Apostolic ministry of preaching the gospel. “Of ourselves as of ourselves;” i.e., of our own natural strength, and independent of any other assistance.

2 Cor 3:6. Who, among the other gifts bestowed upon us, has also rendered us fit ministers of the new testament, not of the written law given by Moses, but of the spiritual covenant of grace, which grace is given to be abundantly dealt out to others. For, the law of Moses, written on tables of stone, is of itself the occasion of death in its infraction, and by stimulating concupiscence; but the spiritual covenant vivifies, by the charity and grace which it communicates to our hearts.

“Who also,” i.e., who, among the other blessings bestowed on us, “hath made us fit ministers of the new testament.” This has reference to the sixteenth verse of the preceding chapter, “and for these things who is so fit?” “Not in the letter” (the Greek is, οὐ γράμματος ἀλλὰ πνευματος, not of the letter, but of the spirit), i.e., not ministers to announce the mere letter of the Law of Moses, viewed in itself, and without grace; but to announce a spiritual covenant, which administers abundant grace. “For the letter killeth.” The Apostle here views the letter without the spirit, as he views science without charity—(1 Cor 7), and in this sense “the letter kills,” because it gives no grace of itself to fulfil the precepts which it imposes. Again, “it kills,” by becoming the occasional cause of spiritual death, inasmuch as it stimulates, by the very prohibition, to its transgression, and excites concupiscence, as the Apostle expressly declares in his Epistle to the Romans.

In this passage the Apostle undertakes to show the superiority of the Christian law and ministry over the Mosaic. This is directed against the false teachers, who wished to unite the Mosaic with the Christian law.

2 Cor 3:7. For, if the ministry of announcing a law which served as the occasional cause of death, a law engraven in letters with the finger of God on tables of stone, were glorious in its effects, so much so that the children of Israel could not look on the face of Moses on account of the bright effulgence beaming from his countenance, an effulgence which has passed away with Moses himself:

“Glorious,” is understood by some of the frightful appearances, the thunder, lightnings, &c., which were manifested on Sinai. It is more probable, however, that it refers to the effect produced on the countenance of Moses by his converse with God (as in Paraphrase). The Greek of this verse runs thus:—εν γραμματι ευτετυπωμενη λιθοις εγεννηθη ἐν δοξῃ, engraven on letters on stones, be in glory, &c. The meaning, according to which, might be, if the ministry of announcing a law which, in letters, or taken literally, is the occasion of death, and engraven on stone, &c. “Which is done away,” refers to “the glory of his countenance,” as is evident from the Greek, δοξαν καταργουμενην. This effulgence on the face of Moses has passed away with himself.

2 Cor 3:8. How much greater shall not the glory be, that is reserved in the life to come, for those employed in announcing the covenant of grace, which imparts the abundant gifts of the Spirit?

The Apostle refers to the future glory, in a special manner reserved for the ministers of the gospel before all the other elect—the glory of the children of God. What encouragement and consolation are held out here to the labourers in the cause of the gospel, amidst all the perils and arduous toils of their ministry!

2 Cor 3:9. But if, I say, the ministration of the law which was the occasion of damnation, was glorious, how much more glorious shall be the office of announcing the law which confers true justice and sanctity (in the fulness of that bliss after which inanimate nature itself sighs, the glory of the adoption of the sons of God)?—Rom. 8:19.

In this verse is conveyed, in different language, the idea expressed in the two preceding verses. The “glory” to which he refers, is that reserved for us, in the life to come, and after which manimate creation itself sighs.—(Romans 15:17).

2 Cor 3:10. For, indeed, should we institute a comparison, we might truly say that the glory attached to the ministry of Moses was no glory at all, compared with that of the Apostolic ministry, or the new covenant, on account of the supereminent glory of the latter.

“In this part,” that is, in respect of comparison. The glory and ministry of Moses, compared with that attached to the new covenant, was no glory at all.

2 Cor 3:11. Another respect in which appears the superiority of the new ministry and covenant over the old—viz., its perpetuity. For if the old covenant and its ministry, although transitory, were glorious, much more glorious shall be the covenant and its ministry, which are to last to the end of time.

He institutes a comparison between both covenants and their respective ministries under another head—viz., that of permanency or perpetuity. The new ministry and covenant are to last to the end of time, while those of Moses are transient, being a mere introduction to a covenant and ministry of better hope.

2 Cor 3:12. Animated, then, with the hope of such glory, arising from preaching the gospel, the practical resolve which we Apostles come to is, to preach it openly and undisguisedly, with much freedom and boldness of speech.

Having shown the superior excellence of the gospel ministry, he proceeds to point out the proper mode of exercising that ministry, a subject on which he treats as far as chapter 7. The first distinguishing trait of the evangelical ministry is intrepidity; and the practical lesson which it ought to inspire should be to teach us to preach the gospel openly, with freedom of speech. This is the meaning of the Greek word corresponding with “confidence,” παῤῥησία.

2 Cor 3:13. Nor do we in preaching, act as Moses did, who put a veil on his face when he spoke to the people, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look on his countenance effulgent with the rays of glory, which glory is now destroyed.

“That the children of Israel could not look steadfastly on the face of that which is made void; for which the Greek reading is, εἰς τὸ τὲλος τοὖ καταργουμένου, so that the children … on the end of that which is made void. The meaning of which is, that the children of Israel, on account of the veiled and mysterious manner in which Moses spoke (which was signified by the veil covering his face, to conceal the glory beaming from his countenance), did not see Christ, who is “the end of the law” (Romans 10:5), in whom all its figures are accomplished, and by whose grace all its recepts are fulfilled. Others, by “the end,” understand the extremities of the face of Moses, which would appear to be the meaning attached to it by the Vulgate translation. “On the face of that which is made void.” The word “which” is also referred by the Vulgate, quod evacuatur, to the veil which covered the face of Moses, as if it were meant, that the veil of Jewish darkness was destroyed, and totally removed by the gospel and the clear revelation of Christ. The interpretation in the Paraphrase is, however, more in accordance with verse 11, which refers it to the brilliancy emanating from the face of Moses.

2 Cor 3:14. This veil on the face of Moses mystically signified the blindness of the Jewish people, and the dulness of perception under which they labour; for, unto the present day, this same veil, of which the veil of Moses was a type, is unremoved, while they are reading the Old Testament, because it can be removed only by Christ, in whom they refuse to believe.

The Apostle, in this verse and the following, points out the mystical signification of the veil which Moses wore on his face after having conversed with the Lord on Mount Sinai. It was a type of the blindness of heart of the Jewish people. And he says, that the same blindness and obduracy, typified by the veil of Moses, is, to the present day, placed on the hearts of the Jews, whilst reading the SS. Scriptures in their synagogues on each successive Sabbath; because this spiritual blindness and obduracy of heart is to be removed by Christ only, in whom they refuse to believe. “The self-same veil,” i.e., the antitype of the veil of Moses—viz., blindness of heart.

2 Cor 3:15. But even to the present day, while Moses is read in their synagogues, this veil of spiritual blindness is placed on their hearts.

In this verse there is a repetition, in plainer terms, of the idea conveyed in the preceding.

2 Cor 3:16. But when they shall be converted to the Lord, this veil shall be removed.

Some commentators, among whom is Estius, understands the words, “converted to the Lord,” not of the Jewish people (as in Paraphrase), but of Moses representing and prefiguring the Christian people, and they understand the words thus:—But when he (Moses) converted himself to the Lord, he took off the veil. This construction is admitted by the Greek reading, επιστεψη προς κύριον. According to them, then, the meaning is:—“As Moses turning from the Lord to the people, and wearing a veil, was a type of the Jews of old, that is, of the incredulous Israel, so the same Moses, taking off his veil when conversing with the Lord, was a type of spiritual Israel, the Christian people, who clearly contemplate the mysteries of faith.”

2 Cor 3:17. Now, the Lord is the spirit to whom we have been referring throughout, as distinguishing the new covenant from the old (and hence, the conversion of Israel to the Lord signifies the adoption of the spiritual covenant, which is the inheritance of the sons of promise in the New Testament). And where the spirit of the Lord is, there is to be found exemption from blindness of intellect, from obstinacy of will, and obduracy of heart (and hence, it is only by becoming Christians, that the veil of darkness and mental obstinacy shall be removed from the Jews).

“The Lord is a spirit.” In Greek, το πνευμα, the spirit, i.e., the spirit which distinguishes the new from the old covenant. The consequence deducible from this is shown in the Paraphrase. “Liberty,” i.e., exemption from blindness of intellect and obduracy of heart, such as that (signified by the veil of Moses) under which the Jews laboured.

2 Cor 3:18. But we Apostles and ministers of the gospel, unlike Moses (2 Cor 3:13), receiving in ourselves as in a mirror, with face uncovered, i.e., openly and undisguisedly, the glorious revelation of God, are transformed into the same likeness which we saw in the mirror; from the brightness of his glory reflected on us to the brightness which we also reflect on others; we are thus transformed, like so many suns, enlightening others, in a manner becoming the spirit of the Lord, which is the spirit of liberty, freeing us from mental darkness and obstinacy (2 Cor 3:17).

“But we all.” In the Paraphrase this is made to refer to the ministers of the gospel, whom the Apostle has been throughout comparing with Moses, and whose ministry he has been exalting above the Mosaic. The word “beholding” is interpreted in the Paraphrase to mean, receiving as in a mirror; a signification warranted by the Greek, κατοπτριζομενοι, which is taken passively, and accords better with the rest of the interpretation in the Paraphrase, which confines the words, “we all,” to the ministers of the Gospel. Others make the words, “we all,” extend to all Christians—all the children of the new testament. And “beholding” will mean seeing as in a mirror—a signification admitted by the Greek word, which may be taken in either a passive or a middle signification. Then the words will mean:—But we all, Christians, beholding the glorious mysteries and revealed truths of God in a mirror “with open face,” i.e., openly and undisguisedly—unlike the children of Israel, who saw the resplendent face of Moses covered with a veil—are transformed in a manner becoming the spirit of God to the same likeness which he saw in the mirror, as the face of Moses partook of the brilliancy of the angel which he saw. “From glory to glory,” so as to advance more and more in brightness and resemblance to the image pictured or reflected in the mirror of God’s revelation; for all Christians are bound to aspire to perfection resembling that of God. The words, “from glory to glory,” may also mean from the brightness of Christian revelation here (for although obscure, it is bright compared with the revelation made to the Jews); to the brightness of heavenly vision hereafter. In the Paraphrase they have been interpreted, from the brightness of his glory reflected on us (Apostles) to the brightness which we also reflect on others. “As by the spirit of the Lord.” The word “as,” καθώσπερ, means a way becoming the spirit of the Lord, who removes all mental obscurity and obstinacy; for, “where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (verse 17). The words “by the spirit of the Lord,” may be also translated from the Greek, ἀπὸ κυρίου πνεύματος, by the Lord, who is the sprit, to whom reference has been made in the foregoing.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 2

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 5, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this chapter, the Apostle more fully explains the cause of his delay in visiting the Corinthians: he deferred his visit lest he might render them sorrowful, and he himself, contristated in turn (2 Cor 2:1-2). He states, that it was in order to effect their amendment, and thus be spared the pain of punishing those, in whose sorrow and joy he participated, he wrote his former Epistle in a style of severity (2 Cor 2:3). Moreover, when penning that Epistle, he participated by anticipation in the sorrow which he foresaw it would cause them, and he wrote it to give a proof of his solicitude for them (2 Cor 2:4). Passing to the principal cause of his own sorrow and theirs, viz., the guilt of the incestuous man—he mildly instructs them, by way of request, to admit this man to the society of the faithful, and remit to him in the form of indulgence, any further canonical penance that may be due by him (2 Cor 2:5–8). This he commands them to do (2 Cor 2:9-10); lest by excessive severity, they might drive him to despair, and thus they would fall into the snare laid for them by the enemy (2 Cor 2:11).

For the purpose of expressing his anxiety for them, he informs them that not finding at Troas, Titus, whom he hath sent to Corinth, he hastened to meet him in Macedonia, in order to learn from him the state of their Church (2 Cor 2:12-13). He gives God thanks for his triumph over his persecutors in Macedonia; and for making the apostles the means of diffusing the sweet odour of the Gospel (2 Cor 2:15). From the circumstance of having diffused this sacred odour, he takes occasion to contrast the unalloyed purity of his own teaching with the corrupt doctrines and selfish motives of the false teachers (2 Cor 2:17).

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

2 Cor 2:1. I came to the fixed resolve, that my second visit to you should not be a visit of sorrow; and, hence, I postponed the fulfilment of my promise, until I first heard of your amendment.

“Come again to you in sorrow.” Some interpreters connect the word “again” with “sorrow;” as if he meant, I was determined, that my promised visit to you should not be in sorrow, as was my preceding visit. It does not, however, appear that the first visit of the Apostle to Corinth was a sorrowful one; and hence, others, with St. Chry sostom, understand the second sorrow to have reference, not to the sorrow which he might have caused in his first visit, but to that caused by his first Epistle, which contained passages couched in terms of great severity. It is better, however, and more in accordance with the Greek construction, to connect it with the word “come,” as in Paraphrase, so as to mean a second visit.

2 Cor 2:2. For, if on my arrival, I were to make you sorrowful by the infliction of the penalties and censures due to your irregularities; who, I ask, would there be to gladden me, but the very persons contristated by me?—that is to say, no one; since those who are in sorrow themselves are unfit to gladden or console others.

“Who is he then that can make me glad?” The answer, Nobody, is implied. “But the same who is made sorrowful by me,” which means, “but they who are made sorrowful”—the singular is put for the plural. The whole congregation would, by sympathy, share in the grief of the censured man. Some interpreters understand the words, “but he who is made sorrowful,” of the incestuous Corinthian, to whom reference is made in the following part of this chapter. These, also, understand the words, “it I make you sorrowful,” of the sorrow caused by his former Epistle; according to them, the words have a past signification; “if I have made you sorrowful,” &c. “Who is he then?” &c. In Greek it is και τις ὁ ευφραινων με, “and who is he. &c.” The and, is redundant; or it may mean, “who is he, I ask?”

2 Cor 2:3. It was from the like feeling, that in my former Epistle I called upon you to repent, lest, should I find you unreformed on my arrival, I would suffer excessive grief from those who ought to be the subject of my joy; and this I did from a firm conviction regarding you all, that my joy would be fully shared in by you all. (You should, therefore, remove every cause of sorrow to me, by reforming your lives and banishing all irregularities).

He says it was from a conviction, that their sorrow would be a source of sorrow to himself, as his joy would, in turn, gladden them, that he wrote his Epistle to them, with a view to their amendment, in order to cause him joy, in which they themselves would also participate. The words, “upon sorrow,” are not in the Greek. They are, however, found in some of the best manuscripts.

2 Cor 2:4. And should I appear too severe in my former Epistle, I have only to say, that I wrote that Epistle with great affliction and anxiety of heart, and with many tears; not for the purpose of contristating you, but that you might learn from my anxiety for your reformation, the excess of my sincere affliction for you.

Lest the severity of his former Epistle might appear to accord but little with the solicitude which he expresses for their joy and happiness, he says, that while writing it, he suffered great anxiety and sorrow of mind, sharing, by anticipation, in their sorrow, and that he wrote it, not with a view of saddening them, but, in order to testify his great love for them. How admirable is this charity of the Apostle! What a model to such an authority as are charged with the correction of abuses! How cautious ought they not be, in consulting for the feelings of their delinquent children!

2 Cor 2:5. And if any person has given cause for this grief, he has contristated not only me, but he has also contristated you all, in a certain sense, or a great portion of you all, so that I, by no means, intend to reproach you all as accomplices or approvers of his guilt.

He now passes to the principal cause of his own sorrow and theirs. All are agreed that he alludes to the incestuous man, whom he instructed them to excommunicate (1 Cor 5). He now omits all mention of his name, nor does he even mention his crime. He treats of it as a merely hypothetical matter, and as if the recollection of it had passed away, on account of his penance and the reparation which he made. “But in part,” may be also interpreted thus: such a person has grieved me, only in part, only for a short time, and with a temporary grief, which he has removed by his repentance; or thus—he has grieved you all partly, or in some degree; I say, partly, that I may not press too heavily on him, by saying simply and unqualifiedly, that he contristated the whole Church. This latter construction is preferred by Estius.

2 Cor 2:6. This man, whose name I forbear mentioning, has been sufficiently punished by his public separation from the Chinch, and by the reproach which he suffered from you, assembled together.

In the following verses, the Apostle recommends the Corinthians to admit the incestuous man to the communion of the faithful, as the public reproach, which he suffered in his expulsion from the Church, was a sufficient punishment for him, now that he bad made reparation and given signs of repentance.

2 Cor 2:7. So that you should now, on the other hand, treat him with lenity rather than with severity, by remitting the penalty which may be still required for full satisfaction, and console him by receiving him into the communion of the Church, lest, perhaps, overwhelmed by excessive grief, he may in despair seek consolation in the indulgence of his passions.

He wishes then to remit any further canonical penance that may be due by him, and to console him by admitting him to the communion of the faithful. “Pardon.” In Greek, χαρισασθαι, to bestow a grace.

2 Cor 2:8. Wherefore, I entreat you to confirm, in an authoritative decree, the charity of the faithful towards him, by admitting him to the peace of the Church.

“Confirm” The Greek word, κυρωσαι, implies that they would restore him to the charity of the faithful by an authoritative decree; and this, probably, in a public assembly, as he was expelled by a like process.—(1 Cor 5:5-6). The Apostle “beseeches” them to restore him, although he might have commanded them to do so, as he commanded them to excommunicate him; but, the other course would the more effectually secure a cheerful compliance.

2 Cor 2:9. For I have written to you this Epistle, for the purpose of having an experimental knowledge of your obedience to me in all things, as well when there is question of reconciliation, as of inflicting punishment.

In this verse, he gives them to understand that this request was a mild way of conveying a mandate; since, in writing, he wished to test their obedience.

2 Cor 2:10. But to whom you extend indulgence and remit punishment, to him I shall join you in extending the same; and if I have exercised the power of remitting any punishment, this I have done for your sakes, in order to give you an example of lenity, in virtue of the authority of Christ, whom I represent.

“To whom you have pardoned anything, I also.” The Greek for which is ᾧ δὲ χαρίσεσθε, κᾀγὼ: to whom you forgive anything, I also (forgive). In these words, is contained an allusion to the mode in which the Apostle instructed them to excommunicate the incestuous man, the Apostle was “present in mind in the assembly of them and his spirit” (1 Cor 5), when he excommunicated him. He, therefore, extends indulgence to him in the same way that he inflicted punishment, and this he does “in the person of Christ,” εν προσώπω Χριστοῦ, i.e., in the name and by the authority of Christ, whose person he represents amongst them. The same authority is required in restoring the incestuous man to favour, that had been exercised in inflicting punishment, “for your sakes,” i.e., for the purpose of giving you an example of lenity, as well as of severity, or, at your request.

2 Cor 2:11. We should act this indulgent part towards repentant sinners, lest, by excessive severity, we be over-reached by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his crafty wiles and designs regarding us.
They would be circumvented by the wiles of Satan, if, while they were intending good by a course of severity, this would be turned by the enemy to the ruin of the sinful man, whom he would drive to despair, “turning their remedy into his own triumph,” as St. Ambrose expresses it. His devices and deceitful snares are planned with such cunning dexterity, that he endeavours to render every course of treatment resorted to against sinners, particularly that of severity, subservient to their ruin.

From this passage is derived an argument in favour of the Catholic doctrine and practice regarding indulgences. All that the Council of Trent has defined to be of faith on this subject is; first, that the Church has the power of granting indulgences; and, secondly, that these indulgences are salutary and useful.—“Sacrosancta Synodas eos anathemate damnat qui aut inutiles esse asserunt aut eas (indulgentias) concedendi in Ecclesia potestatcm esse negant.”—(SS. 25 Doct. de Indul.) These are the only points defined of faith respecting indulgences. The divine warrant for this power, is conveyed in the unlimited commission given by Christ to his Apostles—“Whatever you shall lose on earth, shall be loosed also in heaven.” The Church, at all times, exercised this power of according indulgences, that is to say, of remitting either entirely or in part, the temporal debt or penalty, which, according to the teaching of Catholic faith sometimes remains to be expiated after the guilt of sin, and the eternal punishment due to it, are remitted. This remission is given to the living, by way of absolution and to the dead by way of suffrage. The treasure out of which the supreme authority in the Church dispenses this remission, is composed of the infinite satisfaction and merits of Christ, as well as of the superabundant satisfaction and merits of the glorious Virgin Mary and the Saints. It is disputed among Divines, whether the merits of Christ alone do not constitute this treasure. It is, however, the common opinion, that the good works of the Saints, being satisfactory, as well as meritorious, are also included. The Apostle, in union with the heads of the Corinthian Church, manifestly remits here this temporal debt. He does it “in the person,” i.e., as the vicar and representative “of Christ,” who, therefore, ratifies his act; and he really remits this punishment; since, if he were merely remitting the term of canonical penance, without remitting the debt due, he would be only reserving the incestuous man, for heavier punishment in the life to come; and hence, he could be hardly said to “pardon him,” or confer any grace or favour on him, as the Greek word, corresponding with “pardon,” κεχαρισμαι, implies. Nor could the remission referred to here, be understood of any other remission, except that by way of indulgence—not, of absolution from sin, because the object of it was absent—nor from excommunication, since such remission could not be termed “pardoning,” but absolving. Besides he is exempting the incestuous man from the full and perfect discharge of that debt, for which he had already partly satisfied, and this for his advantage, which would not hold with regard to excommunication, by any means; nor external canonical penance; since this would be of no advantage, as it would be only reserving him for heavier punishment, in the life to come.

2 Cor 2:12. But when (after leaving Ephesus) I came to Troas for the purpose of preaching the gospel, although a great opportunity of advancing the glory of the Lord in the work of the gospel presented itself;

The Apostle adds this, to show his anxiety and concern for them. He sent Titus to Corinth, and not finding him at Troas, he hastened to meet him in Macedonia, others account for his uneasiness at not meeting Titus, on the ground that Titus was his interpreter. The reason assigned, viz., that his uneasiness proceeded from his desire to learn from Titus the state of the Church of Corinth, is, however, by far the more probable.

2 Cor 2:13. Still, I could find no rest for my soul, in consequence of not meeting our brother and co-operator, Titus (from whom I expected to hear some account of you, as he was sent to you); but bidding them farewell, after having made all the necessary arrangements among them, I went to Macedonia, in the hope of meeting Titus and of hearing from you.

The Greek word for “bidding farewell,” ἀποταξάμενος, simply means, arranging and putting things in order; arranging all things connected with the government of their Church, appointing teachers and ordaining ministers of the Gospel, and the like.

2 Cor 2:14. (In Macedonia I suffered much), but thanks be to God, who gives us victory on all occasions, through Christ Jesus, and diffuses everywhere, through us, the sweet odour of his Divine knowledge.

He says nothing here about his sufferings in Macedonia; he does, however, in chapter 7 verse 5, of this Epistle; he thanks God for not only rescuing him from these perils, but also for giving him a splendid triumph over them; and that, through the merits of Christ, through whose aid we triumph, “in Christ Jesus.” In Greek it simply is, ἐν τῷ Χριστῳ, in Christ. This may also refer to the favourable account, which he received from Titus, regarding the Corinthian Church.

2 Cor 2:15. For, we are the means of diffusing the saving and odoriferous knowledge of Christ unto the glory of God, both among those who are saved by believing, and those who are lost through unbelief.

The Apostles were commissioned to preach the Gospel, as well among believers as unbelievers—“prædicate Evangelism omni creaturæ.”—(Mark, 16:15).

2 Cor 2:16. To some, indeed, the fragrance of the gospel becomes a deadly savour, causing spiritual, and ending in eternal death, in consequence of their unbelief and resistance to the gospel; to others, it is a vivifying odour, ending in life eternal. And who are so competent to discharge these exalted duties, as the divinely commissioned Apostles of Christ?

“And for these things who sufficient?” The word “so,” is not in the Greek reading, πρὸς ταῦτα τίς ἱκανός, according to which the meaning is—Who is qualified to discharge these duties as he should? The implied answer being, but very few are, so qualified. In the Paraphrase the Vulgate reading, quis tam idoneus? which, independently of the authority of the Vulgate, derives probability from the following verse is followed.

2 Cor 2:17. For, we are not like many others (among whom are self-commissioned false teachers), who corrupt the word of God, by the admixture of false tenets, and dispense it, for selfish emolument; but we announce it in its unalloyed purity, as it emanated from God himself, keeping God always before our eyes, in the name, and acting as the legates, of Christ.

“Adulterating the word of God.” The Greek for “adulterating,” καπηλευοντες, conveys the idea of mixing up with the word of God foreign doctrines, as in the case of low traders, who destroy and corrupt wines and other saleable commodities by the admixture of foreign ingredients. In these words, he alludes to the false teachers who corrupted God’s holy word by the introduction of other doctrines. It may be also implied in the idea, that these teachers imitate merchants, or rather private retailers, in seeking their own emoluments, while dispensing God’s holy word. But the true Apostles propound God’s holy word, “with sincerity, as from God,” i.e., in the pure, unadulterated form, in which it emanated from God himself. “Before God,” keeping God always before your eyes. “We speak in Christ,” acting as the legates and vicegerents of Christ himself.

What a lesson of instruction is conveyed in the latter part of this chapter to the ministers of the Gospel! They should spread the fragrance, the sweet odour of the Gospel everywhere around them, both by the sanctity of their lives, and the unalloyed purity of their teaching. They should not act as mercenary retailers of God’s holy word, in search of every novelty that may gratify the prejudices or passions of their hearers; nor should they seek their own private gain or emolument; but, propounding the eternal truths of God in all their native simplicity, and in language suited to the capacity of their hearers, they should act like men who have God always before their eyes, seeking him alone, and solicitous only for his interests, and the extension of his glory—that is to say, of his love and knowledge amongst men, thus acting as his legates and vicegerents. They should strictly adhere to the instructions of the holy Council of Trent (SS. v. chap. ii. de Ref.): “Plebes sibi commissas pro sua et earum capacitate pascant salutaribus verbis, annuntiando eis, cum brevitate et facilitate sermonis, vitia quæ declinare, et virtutes, quas sectari oporteat,” &c. If they act differently, they shall forfeit the abundant remuneration in store for the zealous preachers of the Divine word, “who after instructing many unto justice, shall shine, as stars, unto all eternity.”—(Dan. 12:3). Those who neglect this duty altogether (thank God, they are but few), should attend to the precept, “pascant salutaribus verbis.” Pastors of souls, who neglect the duty of instruction for one month continuously, without necessity, or three months discontinuously, in the course of the year, are commonly held, as laid down by St. Liguori, to be guilty of mortal sin.

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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Titus 3:8-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 5, 2019

TITUS 3:8-15

“These things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law, for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject. Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”

Having spoken of the love of God to man, of His ineffable regard for us, of what we were and what He has done for us, he has added, “These things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works”; that is, Discourse of these things, and from a consideration of them exhort to almsgiving. For what has been said will not only apply to humility, to the not being puffed up, and not reviling others, but to every other virtue. So also in arguing with the Corinthians, he says, “Ye know that our Lord being rich became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9.) Having considered the care and exceeding love of God for man, he thence exhorts them to almsgiving, and that not in a common and slight manner, but “that they may be careful,” he says, “to maintain good works,” that is, both to succor the injured, not only by money, but by patronage and protection, and to defend the widows and orphans, and to afford a refuge to all that are afflicted. For this is to maintain good works. For these things, he says, are good and profitable unto men. “But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law, for they are unprofitable and vain.” What do these “genealogies” mean? For in his Epistle to Timothy he mentions “fables and endless genealogies.” (1 Tim. 1:4.) [Perhaps both here and there glancing at the Jews, who, priding themselves on having Abraham for their forefather, neglected their own part. On this account he calls them both “foolish and unprofitable”; for it is the part of folly to confide in things unprofitable.3] “Contentions,” he means, with heretics, in which he would not have us labor to no purpose, where nothing is to be gained, for they end in nothing. For when a man is perverted and predetermined not to change his mind, whatever may happen, why shouldest thou labor in vain, sowing upon a rock, when thou shouldest spend thy honorable toil upon thy own people, in discoursing with them upon almsgiving and every other virtue? How then does he elsewhere say, “If God peradventure will give them repentance” (2 Tim. 2:25); but here, “A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject, knowing that he that is such is subverted and sinneth, being condemned of himself”? In the former passage he speaks of the correction of those of whom he had hope, and who had simply made opposition. But when he is known and manifest to all, why dost thou contend1 in vain? why dost thou beat the air? What means, “being condemned of himself”? Because he cannot say that no one has told him, no one admonished him; since therefore after admonition he continues the same, he is self-condemned.

Ver. 12. “When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus; be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis.” What sayest thou? After having appointed him to preside over Crete, dost thou again summon him to thyself? It was not to withdraw him from that occupation,2 but to discipline him the more for it. For that he does not call him to attend upon him, as if he took him everywhere with him as his follower, appears from what he adds:

“For I have determined there to winter.”

Now Nicopolis3 is a city of Thrace.

Ver. 14. “Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them.”

These were not of the number to whom Churches had been intrusted, but of the number of his companions. But Apollos was the more vehement, being “an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures.” (Acts 18:24.) But if Zenas was a lawyer, you say, he ought not to have been supported by others. But by a lawyer here is meant one versed in the laws of the Jews. And he seems to say, supply their wants abundantly, that nothing may be lacking to them.

Ver. 14, 15. “And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful. All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith.”

That is, either those that love Paul himself,4 or those men that are faithful.

“Grace be with you all. Amen.”

How then dost thou command him to stop the mouths of gainsayers, if he must pass them by when they are doing everything to their own destruction?5 He means that he should not do it principally for their advantage, for being once perverted in their minds, they would not profit by it. But if they injured others, it behooved him to withstand and contend with them; and manfully await6 them, but if thou art reduced to necessity, seeing them destroying others, be not silent, but stop their mouths, from regard to those whom they would destroy. It is not indeed possible for a zealous man of upright life to abstain from contention, but so do as I have said. For the evil arises from idleness and a vain philosophy, that one should be occupied about words only. For it is a great injury to be uttering a superfluity of words, when one ought to be teaching, or praying, or giving thanks. For it is not right to be sparing of our money but not sparing of our words; we ought rather to spare words than our money, and not to give ourselves up to all sorts of persons.

What means, “that they be careful to maintain good works”? That they wait not for those who are in want to come to them, but that they seek out those who need their assistance. Thus the considerate man shows his concern, and with great zeal will he perform this duty. For in doing good actions, it is not those who receive the kindness that are benefited, so much as those who do it that make gain and profit, for it gives them confidence towards God. But in the other case, there is no end of contention: therefore he calls the heretic incorrigible. For as to neglect those for whom there is a hope of conversion is the part of slothfulness, so to bestow pains upon those who are diseased past remedy is the extreme of folly and madness; for we render them more bold.

“And let ours,” he says, “learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.” You observe that he is more anxious for them than for those who are to receive their kindnesses. For they might probably have been brought on their way by many others, but I am concerned, he says, for our own friends. For what advantage would it be to them, if others should dig up treasures,7 and maintain their teachers? This would be no benefit to them, for they remained unfruitful. Could not Christ then, Who with five loaves fed five thousand men, and with seven loaves fed four thousand, could not He have supported Himself and His disciples?

Moral. For what reason then was He maintained by women? For women, it is said, followed Him, and ministered unto Him. (Mark 15:41.) It was to teach us from the first that He is concerned for those who do good. Could not Paul, who supported others by his own hands, have maintained himself without assistance from others? But you see him receiving and requesting aid. And hear the reason for it. “Not because I desire a gift,” he says, “but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.” (Phil. 4:17.) And at the beginning too, when men sold all their possessions and laid them at the Apostles’ feet, the Apostles, seest thou, were more concerned for them than for those who received their alms. For if their concern had only been that the poor might by any means be relieved, they would not have judged so severely of the sin of Ananias and Sapphira, when they kept back their money. Nor would Paul have charged men to give “not grudgingly nor of necessity.” (2 Cor. 9:7.) What sayest thou, Paul? dost thou discourage giving to the poor? No, he answers; but I consider not their advantage only, but the good of those who give. Dost thou see, that when the prophet gave that excellent counsel to Nebuchadnezzar, he did not merely consider the poor. For he does not content himself with saying, Give to the poor; but what? “Break off thy sins by almsdeeds,1 and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor.” (Dan. 4:27.) Part with thy wealth, not that others may be fed, but that thou mayest escape punishment. And Christ again says, “Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor … and come and follow Me.” (Matt. 19:21.) Dost thou see that the commandment was given that he might be induced to follow Him? For as riches are an impediment, therefore he commands them to be given to the poor, instructing the soul to be pitiful and merciful, to despise wealth, and to flee from covetousness. For he who has learnt to give to him that needs, will in time learn not to receive from those who have to give. This makes men like God. Yet virginity, and fasting, and lying on the ground, are more difficult than this, but nothing is so strong and powerful to extinguish the fire of our sins as almsgiving. It is greater than all other virtues. It places the lovers of it by the side of the King Himself, and justly. For the effect of virginity, of fasting, of lying on the ground, is confined to those who practice them, and no other is saved thereby. But almsgiving extends to all, and embraces the members of Christ, and actions that extend their effects to many are far greater than those which are confined to one.

For almsgiving is the mother of love, of that love, which is the characteristic of Christianity, which is greater than all miracles, by which the disciples of Christ are manifested. It is the medicine of our sins, the cleansing of the filth of our souls, the ladder fixed to heaven; it binds together the body of Christ. Would you learn how excellent a thing it is? In the time of the Apostles, men selling their possessions brought them to them, and they were distributed. For it is said, “Distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.” (Acts 4:35.) For tell me how, setting aside the future, and not now considering the kingdom that is to come, let us see who in the present life are the gainers, those who received, or those who gave. The former murmured and quarreled with each other. The latter had one soul. “They were of one heart, and of one soul,” it is said, “and grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:32.) And they lived in great simplicity.2 Dost thou see that they were gainers even by thus giving? Tell me now, with whom would you wish to be numbered, with those who gave away their possessions, and had nothing, or with those who received even the goods of others?

See the fruit of almsgiving, the separations and hindrances were removed, and immediately their souls were knit together. “They were all of one heart and of one soul.” So that even setting aside almsgiving, the parting with riches is attended with gain. And these things I have said, that those who have not succeeded to an inheritance from their forefathers may not be cast down, as if they had less than those who are wealthy. For if they please they have more. For they will more readily incline to almsgiving, like the widow, and they will have no occasion for enmity towards their neighbor, and they will enjoy freedom in every respect. Such an one cannot be threatened with the confiscation of his goods, and he is superior to all wrongs. As those who fly unincumbered with clothes are not easily caught, but they who are incumbered with many garments and a long train are soon overtaken, so it is with the rich man and the poor. The one, though he be taken, will easily make his escape, whilst the other, though he be not detained, is incumbered by cords of his own, by numberless cares, distresses, passions, provocations, all which overwhelm the soul, and not these alone, but many other things which riches draw after them. It is much more difficult for a rich man to be moderate and to live frugally, than for the poor, more difficult for him to be free from passion. Then he, you say, will have the greater reward.—By no means.—What, not if he overcomes greater difficulties?—But these difficulties were of his own seeking. For we are not commanded to become rich, but the reverse. But he prepares for himself so many stumbling-blocks and impediments.

Others not only divest themselves of riches, but macerate their bodies, as travelers in the narrow way. Instead of doing this, thou heatest more intensely the furnace of thy passions, and gettest more about thee.3 Go therefore into the broad way, for it is that which receives such as thee. But the narrow way is for those who are afflicted and straitened, who bear along with them nothing but those burdens, which they can carry through it, as almsgiving, love for mankind, goodness, and meekness. These if thou bearest, thou wilt easily find entrance, but if thou takest with thee arrogance, a soul inflamed with passions, and that load of thorns, wealth, there is need of wide room for thee to pass, nor wilt thou well be able to enter into the crowd without striking others, and coming down upon them on thy way. In this case a wide distance from others is required. But he who carries gold and silver, I mean the achievements of virtue, does not cause his neighbors to flee from him, but brings men nearer to him, even to link themselves with him.1 But if riches in themselves are thorns, what must covetousness be? Why dost thou take that away with thee? Is it to make the flame greater by adding fuel to that fire? Is not the fire of hell sufficient? Consider how the Three Children overcame the furnace. Imagine that to be hell. With tribulation were they plunged into it, bound and fettered; but within they found large room; not so they that stood around without.

Something of this kind even now will be experienced, if we will manfully resist the trials that encompass us. If we have hope in God, we shall be in security, and have ample room, and those who bring us into these straits shall perish. For it is written, “Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein.” (Ecclus. 26:27.) Though they bind our hands and our feet, the affliction will have power to set us loose. For observe this miracle. Those whom men had bound, the fire set free. As if certain persons were delivered up to the servants of their friends, and the servants, from regard to the friendship of their master, instead of injuring them, should treat them with much respect; so the fire, when as it knew that the Three Children were the friends of its Lord, burst their fetters, set them free, and let them go, and became to them as a pavement, and was trodden under their feet. And justly, since they had been cast into it for the glory of God. Let us, as many of us as are afflicted, hold fast these examples.

But behold, they were delivered from their affliction, you say, and we are not. True, they were delivered, and justly; since they did not enter into that furnace expecting deliverance, but as if to die outright. For hear what they say: “There is a God in Heaven, Who will deliver us. But if not, be it known unto thee, O King, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” (Dan. 3:17, 18.) But we, as if bargaining on the chastisements of the Lord, even fix a time, saying, “If He does not show mercy till this time.” Therefore it is that we are not delivered. Surely Abraham did not leave his home expecting again to receive his son, but as prepared to sacrifice him; and it was contrary to his expectation that he received him again safe. And thou, when thou fallest into tribulation, be not in haste to be delivered,2 prepare thy mind for all endurance, and speedily thou shalt be delivered from thy affliction. For God brings it upon thee for this end, that He may chasten thee. When therefore from the first we learn to bear it patiently, and do not sink into despair, He presently relieves us, as having effected the whole matter.

I should like to tell you an instructive story, which has much of profit in it. What then is it? Once, when a persecution arose, and a severe war was raging against the Church, two men were apprehended. The one was ready to suffer anything whatever; the other was prepared to submit with firmness to be beheaded, but with fear and trembling shrunk from other tortures. Observe then the dispensation towards these men. When the judge was seated, he ordered the one who was ready to endure anything, to be beheaded. The other he caused to be hung up and tortured, and that not once or twice, but from city to city. Now why was this permitted? That he might recover through torments that quality of mind which he had neglected, that he might shake off all cowardice, and be no longer afraid to endure anything. Joseph too, when he was urgent to escape from prison, was left to remain there. For hear him saying, “Indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews; but do thou make mention of me to the king.” (Gen. 40:14, 15.) And for this he was suffered to remain, that he might learn not to place hope or confidence in men, but to cast all upon God. Knowing these things therefore let us give thanks to God, and let us do all things that are expedient for us, that we may obtain the good things to come, through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom to the Father be glory, with the Holy Ghost, now and ever, and world without end. Amen

Posted in Bible, Catholic, fathers of the church, Notes on Titus, Scripture, SERMONS, St John Chrysostom | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Titus 2:11-3:7

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 5, 2019

TITUS 2:11-3:7

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men, Teaching them that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

Having demanded from servants so great virtue, for it is great virtue to adorn the doctrine of our God and Saviour in all things, and charged them to give no occasion of offense to their masters, even in common matters, he adds the just cause, why servants should be such: “For the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared.” Those who have God for their Teacher,1 may well be such as I have described, seeing their numberless sins have been forgiven to them. For you know that in addition to other considerations, this in no common degree awes and humbles the soul, that when it had innumerable sins to answer for, it received not punishment, but obtained pardon, and infinite favors. For if one, whose servant had committed many offenses, instead of scourging him with thongs, should grant him a pardon for all those, but should require an account of his future conduct, and bid him beware of falling into the same faults again, and should bestow high favors upon him, who do you think would not be overcome at hearing of such kindness? But do not think that grace stops at the pardon of former sins—it secures us against them in future, for this also is of grace. Since if He were never to punish those who still do amiss, this would not be so much grace, as encouragement to evil and wickedness.

“For the grace of God,” he says, “hath appeared, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world; looking for the blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” See, how together with the rewards he places the virtue. And this is of grace, to deliver us from worldly things, and to lead us to Heaven. He speaks here of two appearings; for there are two; the first of grace, the second of retribution and justice.

“That denying ungodliness,” he says, “and worldly lusts.”

See here the foundation of all virtue. He has not said “avoiding,” but “denying.” Denying implies the greatest distance, the greatest hatred and aversion. With as much resolution and zeal as they turned from idols, with so much let them turn from vice itself, and worldly lusts. For these too are idols, that is, worldly lusts,1 and covetousness, and this he names idolatry. Whatever things are useful for the present life are worldly lusts, whatever things perish with the present life are worldly lusts. Let us then have nothing to do with these. Christ came, “that we should deny ungodliness.”2 Ungodliness relates to doctrines, worldly lusts to a wicked life.

“And should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world.”

Dost thou see, what I always affirm, that it is not sobriety only to abstain from fornication, but that we must be free from other passions. So then he who loves wealth is not sober. For as the fornicator loves women, so the other loves money, and even more inordinately, for he is not impelled by so strong a passion. And he is certainly a more powerless3 charioteer who cannot manage a gentle horse, than he who cannot restrain a wild and unruly one. What then? says he, is the love of wealth weaker than the love of women? This is manifest from many reasons. In the first place, lust springs from the necessity of nature, and what arises from this necessity must be difficult to restrain, since it is implanted in our nature. Secondly, because the ancients had no regard for wealth, but for women they had great regard, in respect of their chastity. And no one blamed him who cohabited with his wife according to law, even to old age, but all blamed him who hoarded money. And many of the Heathen philosophers despised money, but none of them were indifferent to women, so that this passion is more imperious than the other. But since we are addressing the Church, let us not take our examples from the Heathens, but from the Scriptures. This then the blessed Paul places almost in the rank of a command. “Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content.”4 (1 Tim. 6:8.) But concerning women he says, “Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent”—and “come together again.” (1 Cor. 7:5.) And you see him often laying down rules for a lawful intercourse, and he permits the enjoyment of this desire, and allows of a second marriage, and bestows much consideration upon the matter, and never punishes on account of it. But he everywhere condemns him that is fond of money. Concerning wealth also Christ often commanded that we should avoid the corruption of it, but He says nothing about abstaining from a wife. For hear what He says concerning money; “Whosoever forsaketh not all that he hath” (Luke 14:33); but he nowhere says, “Whosoever forsaketh not his wife”; for he knew how imperious that passion is. And the blessed Paul says, “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled” (Heb. 13:4); but he has nowhere said that the care of riches is honorable, but the reverse. Thus he says to Timothy, “They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts.” (1 Tim. 6:9.) He says not, they that will be covetous, but, they that will be rich.

And that you may learn from the common, notions the true state of this matter, it must be set before you generally. If a man were once for all deprived of money, he would no longer be tormented with the desire of it, for nothing so much causes the desire of wealth, as the possession of it. But it is not so with respect to lust, but many who have been made eunuchs have not been freed from the flame that burned within them, for the desire resides in other organs, being seated inwardly in our nature. To what purpose then is this said? Because the covetous is more intemperate than the fornicator, inasmuch as the former gives way to a weaker passion. Indeed it proceeds less from passion than from baseness of mind. But lust is natural, so that if a man does not approach a woman, nature performs her part and operation. But there is nothing of this sort in the case of avarice.

“That we should live godly in this present world.”

And what is this hope? what the reward of our labors?

“Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing.”

For nothing is more blessed and more desirable than that appearing. Words are not able to represent it, the blessings thereof surpass our understanding.

“Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour.”1

Where are those who say that the Son is inferior to the Father?

“Our great God and Saviour.” He who saved us when we were enemies. What will He not do then when He has us approved?2

“The great God.” When he says great with respect to God, he says it not comparatively but absolutely,3 after Whom no one is great, since it is relative. For if it is relative, He is great by comparison, not great by nature. But now He is incomparably great.

Ver. 14. “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people.”

“Peculiar”: that is, selected from the rest, and having nothing in common with them.

“Zealous of good works.”

Dost thou see that our part is necessary, not merely works, but “zealous”; we should with all alacrity, with a becoming earnestness, go forward in virtue. For when we were weighed down with evils, and incurably diseased, it was of His lovingkindness that we were delivered. But what follows after this is our part as well as His.

Ver. 15. “These things speak and exhort, and rebuke with all authority.”

“These things speak and exhort.” Do you see how he charges Timothy? “Reprove, rebuke, exhort.” But here, “Rebuke with all authority.” For the manners of this people were more stubborn, wherefore he orders them to be rebuked more roughly, and with all authority. For there are some sins, which ought to be prevented by command. We may with persuasion advise men to despise riches, to be meek, and the like. But the adulterer, the fornicator, the defrauder, ought to be brought to a better course by command. And those who are addicted to augury and divination, and the like, should be corrected “with all authority.” Observe how he would have him insist on these things with independence, and with entire freedom.4

“Let no man despise thee.” But

Chap. 3:1. “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers.”

What then? even when men do evil, may we nor revile them? nay, but “to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man.” Hear the exhortation, “To speak evil of no man.” Our lips should be pure from reviling. For if our reproaches are true, it is not for us to utter them, but for the Judge to enquire into the matter. “For why,” he says, “dost thou judge thy brother?” (Rom. 14:10.) But if they are not true, how great the fire.5 Hear what the thief says to his fellow-thief. “For we are also in the same condemnation.” (Luke 23:40.) We are running the same hazard.6 If thou revilest others, thou wilt soon fall into the same sins. Therefore the blessed Paul admonishes us: “Let him that standeth, take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor. 10:12.)

“To be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.”

Unto Greeks and Jews, to the wicked and the evil. For when he says, “Let him that standeth take heed lest he fall,” he wakens their fears from the future; but here, on the contrary, he exhorts them from the consideration of the past, and the same in what follows;

Ver. 3. “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish.”

Thus also he does in his Epistle to the Galatians, where he says, “Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.” (Gal. 4:4.) Therefore he says, Revile no one, for such also thou wast thyself.

“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.”

Therefore we ought to be thus to all, to be gently disposed. For he who was formerly in such a state, and has been delivered from it, ought not to reproach others, but to pray, to be thankful to Him who has granted both to him and them deliverance from such evils. Let no one boast; for all have sinned. If then, doing well thyself, thou art inclined to revile others, consider thy own former life, and the uncertainty of the future, and restrain thy anger.7 For if thou hast lived virtuously from thy earliest youth, yet nevertheless thou mayest have many sins; and if thou hast not, as thou thinkest, consider that this is not the effect of thy virtue, but of the grace of God. For if He had not called thy forefathers, thou wouldest have been disobedient. See here how he mentions every sort of wickedness. How many things has not God dispensed by the Prophets and all other means? have we heard?

“For we,” he says, “were once deceived”

Ver. 4. “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared.” How? “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

Strange! How were we drowned1 in wickedness, so that we could not be purified, but needed a new birth? For this is implied by “Regeneration.” For as when a house is in a ruinous state no one places props under it, nor makes any addition to the old building, but pulls it down to its foundations, and rebuilds it anew; so in our case, God has not repaired us, but has made us anew. For this is “the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” He has made us new men. How? “By His Spirit”; and to show this further, he adds,

Ver. 6. “Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.”

Thus we need the Spirit abundantly.

“That being justified by His grace”—again by grace and not by debt—“we may be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

At the same time there is an incitement to humility, and a hope for the future. For if when we were so abandoned, as to require to be born again, to be saved by grace, to have no good in us, if then He saved us, much more will He save us in the world to come.

For nothing was worse than the brutality of mankind before the coming of Christ. They were all affected towards each other as if enemies and at war. Fathers slew their own sons, and mothers were mad against their children. There was no order settled, no natural, no written law; everything was subverted. There were adulteries continually, and murders, and things if possible worse than murders, and thefts; indeed we are told by one of the heathen, that this practice was esteemed a point of virtue. And naturally, since they worshiped a god2 of such character. Their oracles frequently required them to put such and such men to death. Let me tell you one of the stories of that time. One Androgeus, the son of Minos, coming to Athens, obtained a victory in wrestling, for which he was punished and put to death. Apollo therefore, remedying one evil by another, ordered twice seven youths to be executed on his account. What could be more savage than this tyrannical command? And it was executed too. A man undertook to atone the mad rage of the demon, and slew these young men, because the deceit of the oracle prevailed with them. But afterwards, when the young men resisted and stood upon their defense, it was no longer done. If now it had been just, it ought not to have been prevented, but if unjust, as undoubtedly it was, it ought not to have been commanded at all. Then they worshiped boxers and wrestlers. They waged constant wars in perpetual succession, city by city, village by village, house by house. They were addicted to the love of boys, and one of their wise men made a law that Pædrasty, as well as anointing for wrestling,3 should not be allowed to slaves, as if it was an honorable thing; and they had houses for this purpose, in which it was openly practiced. And if all that was done among them was related, it would be seen that they openly outraged nature, and there was none to restrain them. Then their dramas were replete with adultery, lewdness, and corruption of every sort. In their indecent nocturnal assemblies, women were admitted to the spectacle. There was seen the abomination of a virgin sitting in the theater during the night, amidst a drunken multitude of young men madly reveling. The very festival was the darkness, and the abominable deeds practiced by them. On this account he says, “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures.” One man loved his stepmother,4 a woman her step-son, and in consequence hung herself. For as to their passion for boys, whom they called their “Pædica,” it is not fit to be named. And would you see a son married to his mother? This too happened among them, and what is horrible, though it was done in ignorance, the god whom they worshiped did not prevent it, but permitted this outrage to nature to be committed, and that though she was a person of distinction. And if those, who, if for no other reason, yet for the sake of their reputation with the multitude, might have been expected to adhere to virtue; if they rushed thus headlong into vice, what is it likely was the conduct of the greater part, who lived in obscurity? What is more diversified than this pleasure? The wife of a certain one fell in love with another man, and with the help of her adulterer, slew her husband upon his return. The greater part of you probably know the story. The son of the murdered man killed the adulterer, and after him his mother, then he himself became mad, and was haunted by furies. After this the madman himself slew another man, and took his wife. What can be worse than such calamities as these? But I mention these instances taken from the Heathens,1 with this view, that I may convince the Gentiles, what evils then prevailed in the world. But we may show the same from our own writings. For it is said, “They sacrificed their sons and daughters unto devils.” (Ps. 106:37.) Again, the Sodomites were destroyed for no other cause than their unnatural appetites. Soon after the coming of Christ, did not a king’s daughter dance at a banquet in the presence of drunken men, and did she not ask as the reward of her dancing the murder and the head of a Prophet? “Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord?” (Ps. 6:2.)

“Hateful,” he says, “and hating one another.” For it must necessarily happen, when we let loose every pleasure on the soul, that there should be much hatred. For where love is, with virtue, no man overreacheth another in any matter. Mark also what Paul says, “Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you.” (1 Cor. 6:9, 10.) Dost thou see how every species of wickedness prevailed? It was a state of gross darkness, and the corruption of all that was right. For if those who had the advantage of prophecies, and who saw so many evils inflicted upon their enemies, and even upon themselves, nevertheless did not restrain themselves, but committed numberless foolish crimes, what would be the case with others? One of their lawgivers ordered that virgins should wrestle naked in the presence of men. Many blessings on you! that ye cannot endure the mention of it; but their philosophers were not ashamed of the actual practice. Another, the chief of their philosophers, approves of their going out to the war, and of their being common,2 as if he were a pimp and pander to their lusts.

“Living in malice and envy.”

For if those who professed philosophy among them made such laws, what shall we say of those who were not philosophers? If such were the maxims of those who word a long beard, and assumed the grave cloak,3 what can be said of others? Woman was not made for this, O man, to be prostituted as common. O ye subverters of all decency, who use men, as if they were women, and lead out women to war, as if they were men! This is the work of the devil, to subvert and confound all things, to overleap the boundaries that have been appointed from the beginning, and remove those which God has set to nature. For God assigned to woman the care of the house only, to man the conduct of public affairs. But you reduce the head to the feet, and raise the feet to the head. You suffer women to bear arms, and are not ashamed. But why do I mention these things? They introduce on the stage a woman that murders her own children, nor are they ashamed to stuff the ears of men with such abominable stories.

Ver. 4. “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, that being justified by His grace we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

What means, “according to the hope”? That, as we have hoped, so we shall enjoy eternal life, or because ye are even already heirs.

“This is a faithful saying.”

Because he had been speaking of things future and not of the present, therefore he adds, that it is worthy of credit. These things are true, he says, and this is manifest from what has gone before. For He who has delivered us from such a state of iniquity, and from so many evils, will assuredly impart to us the good things to come, if we abide in grace. For all proceeds from the same kind concern.

Moral. Let us then give thanks to God, and not revile them; nor accuse them, but rather let us beseech them, pray for them, counsel and advise them, though they should insult and spurn us. For such is the nature of those who are diseased.4 But those who are concerned for the health of such persons do all things and bear all things, though it may not avail, that they may not have themselves to accuse of negligence. Know ye not that often, when a physician despairs of a sick man, some relative standing by addresses him, “Bestow further attendance, leave nothing undone, that I may not have to accuse myself, that I may incur no blame,5 no self-reproach.” Do you not see the great care that near kinsmen take of their relations, how much they do for them, both entreating the physicians to cure them, and sitting perseveringly beside them? Let us at least imitate them. And yet there is no comparison between the objects of our concern. For if any one had a son diseased in his body, he could not refuse to take a long journey to free him from his disease. But when the soul is in a bad state, no one concerns himself about it, but we all are indolent, all careless, all negligent, and overlook our wives, our children, and ourselves, when attacked1 by this dangerous disease. But when it is too late, we become sensible of it. Consider how disgraceful and absurd it is to say afterwards, “we never looked for it, we never expected that this would be the event.” And it is no less dangerous than disgraceful. For if in the present life it is the part of foolish men to make no provision for the future, much more must it be so with respect to the next life, when we hear many counseling us, and informing us what is to be done, and what not to be done. Let us then hold fast that hope.2 Let us be careful of our salvation, let us in all things call upon God, that He may stretch forth His hand to us. How long will you be slothful? How long negligent? How long shall we be careless of ourselves and of our fellow-servants? He hath shed richly upon us the grace of His Spirit. Let us therefore consider how great is the grace he has bestowed upon us, and let us show as great earnestness ourselves, or, since this is not possible, some, although it be less. For if after this grace we are insensible, the heavier will be our punishment. “For if I,” He says, “had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin, but now they have no cloak for their sin.” (John 15:22.) But God forbid that this should be said of us, and grant that we may all be thought worthy of the blessings promised to those who have loved Him, in Jesus Christ our Lord, &c.

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