The Divine Lamp

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

Archive for June, 2009

Notes on 1 Romans 1:13-16 by Bernard de Picguigny

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 30, 2009

Because I was working on several posts I inadvertently identified this one as 1 Corinthians 1:13-16.  If you’re looking for notes on 1 Corinthians you can find some HERE.

1:13.  But I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that I have often proposed to come to you, though hitherto prevented, that I may have some fruit among you also, as among other nations.
1:14.  I am debtor to Greeks and Barbarians, wise and unwise.
1:15.  Thus I am ready, as far as lies in me, to preach the Gospel to you also, who are in Rome.
1:16.  For I do not blush for the Gospel.  It is the power of God to salvation to every believer, the Jew first, and the Greek.

13.  i have often proposed to come to you. It is not my fault that I have not visited you, for I have often intended it, but have been hindered by other more urgent Apostolic labors, in countries where Christ is not yet known.

14.  I am a debtor to Greeks and Barbarians. The Greeks distinguished the human race into Greeks and Barbarians, including in the name all nations who did not speak Greek.  In this sense the Romans themselves would be Barbarians.  But St Paul doubtless understands here by Greeks the nations who were civilized, as the Romans were by the wisdom of the Greeks, and by Barbarians, those who were uncultivated and savage.  Wise and unwise; clever and stupid; learned and illiterate.  It is impossible not to admire St Paul’s grandeur of soul, which takes in the whole world in its emrace, accepts the entire human race and all nations of the earth, as his disciples, to whom he owes a debt of obligation.  “Generous soul!” exclaims St Chrysostom.  Thou, in thy measure, consider thyself all men’s debtor; instruct all, as thou canst.  The Pastor especially owes himself wholly to his flock, and cannot without guilt neglect a single sheep.

15.  I am not ashamed of the Gospel. To you, in your imperial City, as at Antioch, Ephesus, Athens, Corinth, and elsewhere, I am ready to preach the Gospel, though Christ crucified is to the Jews a scandal, and folly to the Greeks.

16.  It is the power of God to salvation. Teh Incarnation, passion, and death of the Son of God are a powerful and effectual means of conferring eternal salvation on all who believe; who believe fully, and do what this Gospel teaches.

To the Jew first. Because to the Jews the Messiah was promised.  Hence Christ Himself preached to the Jews, and to the Jews first sent the Apostles.

To the Greeks. The Gentiles, because, as observed above, from the time of Alexander the nations commonly spoke Greek.

1:17.  For the justice of God is therein revealed from faith to faith, as it is written: but the just liveth of faith.
1:18  For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven upon all ungodliness and injustice of those who detain the truth of God in injustice.
1:19.  Because what is known of God is manifest in them; for God hath manifested it to them.

The description of the Gospel in verse 16, as the power of God to salvation, to all believers, leads the Apostle, after this introduction, to that which is the principle subject matter of this Epistle; the nature of the justice which this Gospel proclaims, and the condition on which it is granted, namely, Faith.

In the Gospel the justice of God is revealed; proceeding, not from the law, as the Jews suppose; or from the powers of nature, as the Gentiles maintain; but from faith in Christ.  And to faith; for faith grows and increases, and is made perfect by charity, as the Prophet Habacuc says, the just man liveth by faith (2:4).  The Greek has shall live, liveth the life of grace here, shall live the life of glory hereafter, for this also is, in a sense, of faith, because by faith it is won.

The justice of God, in this Epistle, does not signify that by which God is just, but that by which he makes man just.  This justice is the spiritual life of the just.  As the animal man lives of things sensible, and the philosophical man lives of reason, so the Christian lives of justice.  The root of justice is faith, and therefore, as the Council of Trent says ( Sess. 6. 8) Faith is absolutely necessary to justification.  But it does not follow, as the heretics maintain, that faith alone is necessary.  The foundation is necessary to the building, but not all that is required.  The heart is necessary for the animal life, but so are the lungs and the head.  Faith alone is dead; and how can the soul live by what is dead?

18.  The wrath of God is revealed from heaven, because Christ will come from heaven to judgment.  Teh revelation of the wrath of God is intended to bring sinners to salvation, so that here also the Gospel is the power of God to salvation.

Who detain the truth of God in justice.  Who know the truth, but by their evil lives oppress and crush it, like a prisoner in the depth of a gloomy dungeon.

What is known of God, or capable of being known by reason and the light of nature, is perfectly known to the Gentiles, God having revealed it by that intellectual light which he has imparted to all his intelligent creatures.

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Introduction To Romans by Father Augustin Calmet

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 29, 2009

The following was written by Augustin Calmet, a French Benedictine monk who died in 1757.  He authored several influential tomes on Scripture, including A COMMENTARY ON ALL THE BOOKS OF THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT (23 volumes, published between 1707-1716); and  A HISTORICAL AND CRITICAL DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE (4 volumes, 1722-1728).  He was not a biblical scholar of the first order but was recognized as a gifted and judicious compiler with a broad knowledge of the work of his betters.  The works I named were well received.  A group of Anglican scholars produced an abridged and somewhat “Protestantized” version of the work in 1832. His treatment of why Romans appears first among St Paul’s writings was common among Protestant and Catholic scholars of his day, as were his veiws on chapters 15 and 16.  A comparison of this entry on Romans with good modern works (e.g., Father MacKenzie’s Dictionary) will show how more detailed the art of biblical dictionary writing has become.

Romans, Epistle To The- This is placed before the other Epistles of Paul, not because it was first composed in order of time, but because of the dignity of the imperial city, to which it is directed, or of the excellence of its contents; or of the magnificence and sublimity of the mysteries of which it treats.  It passes for the most exalted and the most difficult of all Paul’s Epistles.  Jerome (Epist 151. cap 8) was of the opinion, that not one book only, but many volumes were necessary, for a full explanation of it.  And some have thought, that Peter had chiefly this Epistle in his eye, when he said, (2 Pet 3:15-16) “As our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you.  As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction.”  But others, with good reason, think Peter rather refers to Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews (see Bibl. Repository, vol. 2, pg 412).  Or, perhaps, to what were earlier written, and the countries nearer to those addressed by Peter.  The dates of the Epistles must be considered in this reference.

Paul’s design, in his Epistle to the Romans, is to terminate certain domestic disputes, which then prevailed among the believers at Rome, and divided the converted Jews and Gentiles into two parties.  The Jews insisted on their birthright, and the promises made to their fathers; on account of which they assumed a certain priority or preference over the converted Gentiles, whom they regarded as foreigners and interlopers, out of pure favor admitted into the society of believers, and to the participation of Christian privileges.  The Gentiles, on the other hand, maintained the merit of their sages and philosophers, the prudence of their legislators, the purity of their morality, and their exactness in following the law of nature.  They accused the Jews of infidelity toward God, and violation of his laws.  They aggravated their faults, and those of their fathers, which had excluded the greater part of them from the inheritance of the saints, from the faith, &c. as witnessed by their own Scriptures, &c.

To terminate these contentions, Paul applies himself to restrain the presumption of both parties.  He shows that neither could pretend to merit, or had reason to glory, or boast of their calling; which proceeded from the mere grace and mercy of God.  He proves that even if the Jews had observed the law of Moses, and the Gentiles the law of nature, this could not have merited for either the grace they had received.  That nothing but faith in Jesus Christ, enlivened by charity and good works, can justify us.  he answers objections by arguments taken from these principles, e.g., the gratuitous vocation, or the non-vocation, of Jew and Gentile; the insufficiency of the works of the law without faith; the superiority of the Jews above the Gentiles; and the infallibility of the promises of God.  This introduces a discussion of predestination and reprobation, which makes a principle part of this Epistle, and contains some of the greatest difficulties in it.

In chapters 12-15 the apostle gives excellent rules of morality, concerning mutual harmony, mutual forbearance, and reciprocal condescension to infirmities, for fear of scandalizing or offending one another by indiscreet liberties.  He describes the false apostles, and exhorts believers to avoid them.  Chapter 16 contains salutations and commendations, addressed to particular persons.

This Epistle was written A.D. 58, in Corinth, whence Paul was immediately to depart, to carry to Jerusalem some collections made for the saints.  Phoebe, a deaconess of the church of Cenchrea, near Corinth, was the bearer of it.  No doubt has ever been made of its authenticity; and though it was addressed to the Romans, yet it was written in Greek.  Tertius was Paul’s secretary on this occasion.

The Marcionites made great defalcations in the Epistles of Paul, especially in this to the Romans, of which they suppressed the last two chapters.  There is much probability that Paul designed to finish this Epistle at the end of the fourteenth; but afterwards added the concluding chapters.  At The end of the fifteenth chapter, we find this conclusion: “Now the God of peace be with you all.  Amen;” which seems to show that the letter was then finished.  We see the same conclusion no less than three times in the sixteenth chapter (vss 20, 24, 27) which leads us to imagine that these additions were composed at intervals.  Probably, while waiting for an opportunity of sending it off, whether by Phoebe, or by any other safe hand.

Paul is supposed to have visited Rome twice.  First, A.D. 61 or 63, when he appealed to Caesar; and then A.D. 65, a year before his martyrdom, which happened in A.D. 66.

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Don’t Get Snotty With The Air Force

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 29, 2009

Luke AFB is west of Phoenix and is rapidly being surrounded by civilization that complains about the noise from the base and its planes, forgetting that it was there long before they were.  A certain lieutenant colonel at Luke AFB deserves a big pat on the back. Apparently, an individual who lives somewhere near Luke AFB wrote the local paper complaining about a group of F-16s that disturbed his/her day at the mall.

When that individual read the response from a Luke AFB officer, it must have stung quite a bit.

The complaint:
‘Question of the day for Luke Air Force Base:

Whom do we thank for the morning air show? Last Wednesday, at precisely 9:11 A.M, a tight formation of four F-16 jets made a low pass over Arrowhead Mall, continuing west over Bell Road at approximately 500 feet. Imagine our good fortune!  Do the Tom Cruise-wannabes feel we need this wake-up call, or were they trying to impress the cashiers at Mervyns early bird special?

Any response would be appreciated.

The response:

Regarding ‘A wake-up call from Luke’s jets’ On June 15, at precisely 9:12 a.m . , a perfectly timed four- ship fly by of F-16s from the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base flew over the grave of Capt. Jeremy Fresques. Capt Fresques was an Air Force officer who was previously stationed at Luke Air Force Base and was killed in Iraq on May 30, Memorial Day.

At   9 a.m.  on June 15, his family and friends gathered at   Sunland Memorial Park in    Sun City to mourn the loss of a husband, son and friend. Based on the letter writer’s recount of the fly by, and because of the jet noise, I’m sure you didn’t hear the 21-gun salute, the playing of taps, or my words to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques as I gave them their son’s flag on behalf of the President of the United States and all those veterans and servicemen and women who understand the sacrifices they have endured..

A four-ship fly by is a display of respect the Air Force gives to those who give their lives in defense of freedom. We are professional aviators and take our jobs seriously, and on June 15 what the letter writer witnessed was four officers lining up to pay their ultimate respects.

The letter writer asks, ‘Whom do we thank for the morning airshow? The 56th Fighter Wing will make the call for you, and forward your thanks to the widow and parents of Capt Fresques, and thank them for you, for it was in their honor that my pilots flew the most honorable formation of their lives.

Only 2 defining forces have ever offered to die for you….Jesus Christ and the American Soldier.
One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.

Lt. Col. Grant L. Rosensteel, Jr.


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Excuse me While I Clean and Defrag

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 29, 2009

I’m going to have to enter the strange and anoying world of Geekdom to clean and defragment my hard drive.  I have on my one drive a capacity of 55 GB’s, which is quite a lot, but I only have about 9% space remaining.

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Notes On Romans 1:8-12 By Bernardin de Picguigny

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 29, 2009

I may have posted the brief notes by Picguigny before, I have expanded them slightly with notes from Aquinas’ Commentary on Romans.

Rom 1:8  First, I give thanks to my God, through Jesus Christ, for you all: because your faith is spoken of in the whole world.
Rom 1:9  For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make a commemoration of you:
Rom 1:10  Always in my prayers making request, if by any means now at length I may have a prosperous journey, by the will of God, to come unto you.
Rom 1:11  For I long to see you that I may impart unto you some spiritual grace, to strengthen you:
Rom 1:12  That is to say, that I may be comforted together in you by that which is common to us both, your faith and mine.

8.  First I give thanks.  Most skilfully and considerately the Apostle proceeds to express his deep solicitude and affection for the Roman Christians; to win their confidence; and the desire he had long felt to visit them.  And first he thanks God for their faith, which was spoken of all over the world.  Thanksgiving is an Apostolic devotion, and is frequent and constant in the writings of Saint Paul.  Here he begins with it.

I’m reminded of what St Thomas Aquinas wrote in his famous commentary:  “For it is necessary that in all affairs we begin by giving thanks: ‘Give thanks in all circumstances’ (1 Th 5:18); indeed, a person is not worthy to receive a blessing if he does not express thanks for past blessings: ‘The hope of an ungrateful man will melt like wintry frost’ (Wis 16:29), and ‘to the place where the streams flow, there they return’ (Ec 1:7), because to the source whence blessings come they return, namely, by giving thanks, to flow again by repeated blessings.

But we need God’s blessings in all we seek or do; consequently, before all else thanks should be given” (Lect. 5, #75).

First, I give you thanks.  All religion may be resolved into receiving God’s benefits, and returning them.  We should not less careful in thanking than in asking.

9.  God is my witness, Whom I serve in my spirit, not in the ceremonies of the Hebrew law; in preaching The Gospel of His Son, not the law of Moses

10. If by any means now at length I may have a prosperous journey, by the will of God, to come unto you. This accumulation of adverbs marks the Apostle’s vehement desire to visit the Romans; expressed also by the use of the verb επιποθω in the next verse (επιποθω is translated above in verse 11 as “I long to”.  the verb expresses an intense desire or craving).  He shows three other things: 1. When he calls God to witness, he shows us that an oath rightly taken may be an act of religion (see my note below).  2. Earnest and unwearied prayer for the Church is the duty of the true pastor, and of the true Christian.  3. To pray under the condition he names, by the will of God.  If, when the salvation of such great multitudes was at stake, says Theodoret, the Apostle thus prays, how can we be excused if we leave not all things to the will of God, and depend wholly upon it?

Concerning #1 above, Aquinas writes: “But since, as Augustine says, it is the same to say ‘God is my witness’ and ‘I swear by God’ the Apostle seems to be acting against the Lord’s command: ‘I say to you, do not swear at all’ (Mt 5:34); ‘Aove all, my brethren, do not swear’ (James 5:12).

“However, as Augustine also says, the meaning of Sacred Scripture is gathered from the actions of the saints.  For it is the same Spirit Who inspired the sacred Scriptures: ‘Men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God’ (2 Pt 1:21) and Who moves holy men to act: ‘All who are led by the Spirit are sons of God’ (Rom 8:14).

“Consequently, if Paul is found to swear, it shows that the Lord’s sord and that of the Apostle James are not to be understood as indicating that an oath is absolutely unlawful, but that men should strive as far as possible not to use oaths as though they were something good and desirable of their very nature.  And this on account of the dange involved in frequent swearing, namely, the possibility of perjury due to a slip of the tongue.  Sirach says: ‘Do not accustom your mouth to oaths for many are tripped by them’ (23:9).  Also because it seems contrary to the reverence we owe to God for one to call God as witness without necessity.  For this reason the Apostle neve made an oath except in writing, when a man speaks with greater deliberation and caution” (lect. 5, #80-82)

11.  I long to see you, not for curiosity, or for love of gain, motives which bring so many foreigners to Rome: but to impart to you some spiritual grace.

Aquinas: I long to see you: ‘I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus’ 9Phil 1:8), not for a trifling reason as in worldly friendship, but that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, not as its author but as its minister: ‘One should regard us as stewards of the mysteries of God’ (1 Cor 4:2); and this to strengthen you in the faith you have received: ‘When you have been converted, strengthen your brethren’ (lk 22:32)

Theodoret observes that these two verses, 11 and 12, are full of genuine humility.  He does not say to give you, but to impart to you, communicate to you of that which I have myself received.  To strengthen you, for the great Peter had first presented the great Evangelical doctrine to them.  I wish, not to give you anything new, but to confirm that which has already been offered to you; to water the trees already planted.  And lest even this should be thought to have a ring of arrogance, he hastens to add that the consolation was to be mutual, and that he was to accept from them as well as give.

12. That I may be comforted together in you.  The Prelate may gather from verse 11 the real end and motive of Visitations: To impart unto you some spiritual graceThe visitor is the bearer and distributer of the gifts of God.  His office is to confirm in faith and good works.  This is a source of mutual consolation to the Pastor and the flock.  The sheep are consoled and edified by the Shepherd’s fructifying faith; the shepherd, by the faith of his flock, which he has himself increased and strengthened.  In such visitations there is nothing vain and purposeless, no secular and worldly rejoicing, no curious sight-seeing, no lordly and arrogant display.  All is ordered according to the spirit and the will of God to the spiritual profit and advancements of the subjects.

Aquinas: “For it is a mutual source of consolation to be one in the faith.” (Lect 5, #88).

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Notes On 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, by Cornelius a Lapide

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 29, 2009

1:26.  For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after (i.e., according to) the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called.

The for gives the reason of what has gone before.  This verse contains another proof of what was said in v 21, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For this is proved in two ways: (1) in verse 23, from the object of preaching, viz., the Cross, by which God was pleased to save the world, but which to the world seems foolishness; (2) from the ministers of preaching, viz., the Apostles, whose duty it was to preach salvation through the Cross, and who were men of no account, unpolished, despised, and foolish in the eyes of the world.

Again, the particle for fitly joins this verse to the preceding; verse 25 gives an indefinite and general statement which is true, not only of the cross, but also of the preachers of the Cross, as St Athanasius points out (Ad Antiochum, qu. 129).

This particle, then, declares the likeness of the Apostles to the Cross that they preached.  It is as if St Paul had said: God willed to use the foolishness and weakness of the Cross, and with it to overcome and subdue to Himself the wisdom and the power of all men; and we see this, not only in the Cross itself, and in its victory, but also in the Apostles who preach the Cross: for God has not chosen the wise and powerful of this world, but the Apostles, who are poor, simple, and foolish in the eyes of the world, that they might carry the banner of the Cross on high throughout the whole world, and bring all men into obedience to the faith of the Cross, and that they all might believe and hope for their righteousness and salvation through the Cross of Christ.

It is a reason drawn from likeness or analogy.  For such as the Cross was-worthless, despicable, and foolish before the world-such should be all preachers of the Cross.  For God in His wonderful wisdom has so well adapted everything to the Cross, which is the burden of all preaching, that not only the preachers but believers too should be like the Cross; for the first who were called to faith were men of low birth, of no reputation, unknown, sinners, publicans, and harlots.

Ye see your calling.  The reason and mode of your calling.  Because the Apostles who called you are not wise, according to this world’s wisdom, which knows not that which is spiritual and Divine.  So St Thomas applies the words to the Apostles, who called others.  St Chrysostom, however, applies them and rightly (from verse 2) to those who had been called and converted; for many unlearned had been converted to Christ, but few who were learned and nobly born.  The words then mean: Ye see of what kind are both callers and called.

Some wise and powerful, of course, were called, as e.g., Dionysius the Areopagite, Paulus the Proconsul, Nicodemus, St Paul himself, but they were few.  Moreover, the Apostle is speaking mainly of the Apostles, who were the first called, though they were poor and on no reputation.  And therefore St Ambrose (on St Luke, c. vi. 13), says: See the counsel of God.  he chose not the wise, the rich, the noble, but fishermen and publicans to train, that He might not be thought to have drawn any to His grace by His wisdom, to have redeemed us by His riches, to have won us to Him by the influence of power or birth; and that so, not love of disputation, but truth by its reasonableness might prevail.  St Augustine (vol. x Serm 59) says, “Great is the mercy of our Maker.  He knew that if the Senator were chosen, he would say, ‘I was chosen because of my rank.’  If the rich man were chosen, he would say, ‘I was chosen for my wealth.’  If a king, he would put it down to his power; if an orator, to his eloquence; if a philosopher, to his wisdom.  ‘For the present,’ says the Lord, ‘those proud men must be rejected: they are too haughty.  Give Me first that fisherman.  Come, poor man.  You have nothing, you know nothing; follow Me.  The empty vessel must be brought to the plentiful stream.’  The fisherman let down their nets; he received grace, and became a Divine orator.  Now while the words of the fishermen are read, orators bow their heads in reverence.”  It seems, therefore, that what some fable says about the royal birth and renown of the Apostle Bartholomew is groundless.

1:27.  But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. The words “foolish, weak, base,” form a climax, and are used by St Paul to describe the faithful who had been called to Christ, or rather the Apostles themselves, who had called them.  He contrasts them as uncultivated, poor, base, and hence foolish in the eyes of the world, and the world’s laughing-stock, with the wise, strong, and powerful of the world.

Things which are not.  This is applied to the same persons as being contemptible and reckoned of no account.  In other words, God chose the despised Apostles, who were thought nothing of, that he might destroy, and, as it were, bring to nought things that are, i.e., which are highly esteemed, as e.g., the wise and mighty of the world.

Observe that there are three things which the world is wont to admire, viz., wisdom, power, and birth, were passed over by God when He called men to faith, righteousness, and salvation; and on the other hand that three things opposite to these were chosen by Him, viz., want of wisdom, of power, and of birth.  This was done to show that the work was from God, and that this calling was to be ascribed to the grace of God and not to human excellence.  Thus, in the second century after the Apostles, He chose Agnes, a maiden of thirteen years, who amazed and confounded her judges and all the heathen who saw her by her wonderful fortitude.  Well, therefore, does the Collect for her day run: Almighty and everlasting God, who choosest the weak things of the world to confound the strong, mercifully grant that we who keep the Feast of Thy Virgin and martyr St Agnes, may receive the fruit of her prayers.  Such too were Sts Agatha, Luch, Dorothy, Barbara, and a countless number of others whom God seems to have raised up to show the power of His grace in their weakness.  Therefore in their Collect the Church prays: O God, who, amongst other marvels of Thy power, hast also conferred upon feeble women the victory of martyrdom, mercifully grant that we, who keep the ‘birthday’ of Thy blessed Virgin and Martyr, (Name), may be her example come to Thee.

1:30. But of Him are ye in Christ. By the gift of God Himself, by His grace, were ye called to believe in Christ.  So Anselm.  To be in Christ is to have been incorporated with Him in Baptism, or to be in the Church of Christ, and in Christianity.

Who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. This righteousness, say our modern innovators, is imputed, because it is ours, not substantially and inherently, but is merely the external righteousness of Christ imputed to us; before God we seem righteous.  But I reply: If this be true, then in the same way the active redemption wrought in Christ, which St Paul here joins with righteousness, will be imputed to us,  and consequently we shall be redeemers of ourselves, which is absurd.  In the second place, wisdom is infused into us, and so is faith, and so therefore is righteousness; for the Apostle classes together the righteousness and wisdom of Christ as both alike ours.

I say, then, with Chrysostom,l Theophylact, Anselm, Ambrose, and St Thomas, that the sense of this passage is this: Christ is made unto us the author and cause of real Christian wisdom, redemption, sanctification, and righteousness.

1. By way of satisfaction and meritoriously; and this is what the Apostle specially has in him mind here: because Christ paid man’s debt with the most precious price of His own Blood, and so made satisfaction for man, and merited for us righteousness, wisdom, and satisfaction.  In this way he was made for us righteousness, because the righteousness, i.e., the satisfaction of Christ, is ours, just as much as if we had ourselves made satisfaction to God.  And hence it is that theologians teach that the satisfaction of Christ is applied to us in justification through the Sacraments, as if naturally first, and that then as a natural consequence our sins are forgiven through that satisfaction, and grace is infused.  This condemns the error of Peter Abelard, in which he is followed by the Socinians, who teach that Christ was the teacher of the world, not its redeemer-nay more, that He was sent by the Father to give to man an example of perfect virtue, but not to free him from sin or to redeem him.  St Bernard refutes this in Ep. 190, to Pope Innocent, where he says: Christ is the end of the law to everyone that believeth.  In short, St Paul says that He was made to us righteousness by God the Father.  Is not then that righteousness mine which was made for me?  If my guilt is brought against me, why am I not given the benefit of my righteousness?  And indeed what is given me is safer than what is innate.  For this has whereof it may glory, but not before God.  But the former, since it is effectual to salvation, has no ground of glorying, except in the Lord.  ‘For if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head,’ says Job, lest the answer come, ‘What hast thou that thou didst not receive?  But if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou has not received it?’  This is the righteousness of man in the blood of his Redeemer, which Aelard, that man of perdition, scoffs and sneers at, and so tries to empty of its force, that he holds and argues that all that the Lord God did in emptying Himself…in suffering indignities…is to be reduced to this, that it was all done that He might by His life and teaching give to man a rule of life, and by His suffering and death set up a goal of charity.  Abelard’s argument was fallacious and frivolous: the devil, he said, had no right over man; therefore man needed no liberator.  The premise is doubtless true when understood of lawful right, but not of usurped right, under which man through sin by his own free will has submitted himself to the power of the devil, of sin, of hell.

2.  By way of example; because the righteousness of Christ is the most perfect example, to which all our righteousness ought to be conformed.  In this sense St Paul’s meaning is, Christ is an example and mirror of righteousness.

3.  Efficiently; because Christ effects and produces this righteousness in us through His Sacraments, and because he teaches the Saints true wisdom and understanding; as, e.g., how to live a good and Christian life, by what road to attain to heaven, and how we must strive after bliss.

4.  As our end; because Christ Himself and His glory are the end of our righteousness and sanctification.  St Bernard, in his 22nd Sermon on the Canticles, deals with these four, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption, sumbolically.  In the first place, he adapts them to the four works of Christ.  He says, Christ was made for us wisdom in His preaching, righteousness in the forgiveness of sins, sanctification in the life that He spent with sinners, redemption in the sufferings hat he bore for sinners.  And again further on he says, Christ was made for us by God wisdom by teaching prudence, righteousness by forgiving our trespasses, sanctification by the example He st of temperance and of chaste life, redemption by the example He left of patience and of fortitude in dying.  Where, I ask, is true wisdom, except in the teaching of Christ?  Whence comes true righteousness but from the mercy of Christ?  Where is there true temperance but in the life of Christ?  Where true fortitude save in the Passion of Christ? In the second plce, St Bernard naturally adapts these four to the four cardinal virtues, prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude, which Christ imparts to us.  he goes on to say, Only those, then, who have been imbued with His doctrine are to be called prudent; only those, who by His mercy have obtained forgiveness of their sins, are to be called righteous; only those are to be called  temperate who strive to imitate His life; only those are to be called brave who bravely bear adversity and show patience like His.  In vain surely does any one strive to acquire virtues if he thinks that they are to be obtained from any other source but the Lord of virtues, hose teaching is the school of prudence, whose mercy the working of righteousness, whose life the mirror of temperance, whose death the pattern of fortitude.

1:31.  That according as it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.  He is quoting not the words but the sense of Jeremiah 9:23.  So Ambrose, Theophylact, Anselm, St Thomas.  In Jeremiah the passage runs: Thus saith the Lord, let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in him might, let not the rich man glory in his riches, but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me.  This it is to glory in the Lord.  Jeremiah is speaking of liberation from the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, and from slaughter by the Chaldeans, which were then threatening the Jews.  In other words, then, he says: The Jews glory in the counsels of their wise men, in the strength of their soldiers, in the riches of Jerusalem, as though these would make them secure against the Chaldeans; but they err, for their true glory is to know and understand God, that is, His Providence, ad that it is He alone who worketh mercy, and mercifully sets free whom He will, and not the wisdom, might, or riches of man.  Moreover, He alone inflicts just punishments on whom He will, and no wise, mighty, or rich man can set free from it-even as, O Jews, he will inflict it on you, and will bring it to pass, that death (that is, the Chaldeans, shall bring death upon you) shall climb up into your houses, through your windows, and slay all your little ones.

The Apostle rightly adapts this in this passage to those who were calling others, or who had been called into Christianity, that no one may attribute the grace of Christ to himself, his virtues, or the gifts of nature, but only to Christ, and consequently his tacit exhortation is: “Do not, O Corinthians, glory in yourselves, or in Paul, or in Apollos, your teachers, but in the Lord alone.”  For this is what in the beginning he proposed to prove, and therefore all that is here said must be referred to it.  Anselm says: That man glories in the Lord only who knows that it is not of himself, but of Him, not only that he is, but also that it is well with him.  Again, that man glories in the Lord who, if he has anything which makes him pleasing to God, holds that he has received it, not because of his own wisdom, power, good works, talent, or merits, but merely through the grace of God.  Thirdly, he who in all that he does seeks not his own glory, but that of the Lord.

St Bernard wrote a noteworthy sermon on these words of the Apostle; see also Sermon 25 on Canticles.  he says: Moreover, the whole glorying of the Saints is within and not without, that is, not in the flower of grass, or the mouth of the vulgar, but in the Lord; for God alone is the sole judge of their conscience, Him alone they desire to please, and to please Him is their only real and chief glory.  And Sermon 13 on Canticles: Brethren, let none of you desire to be praised in this life.  For whatever fervour you gain for yourselveshere which you do not refer to Him, you steal from Him.  For whence, thou dust that perishest, whence comes thy glory? And in his sentences: The Apostle knew that glory properly belongs to the Creator, and not to the creature.  But he also knew that the rational creature so seeks after glory that it can scarcely or perhaps never overcome this desire, just because it was made in the image of the Creator. Therefore he gave most wholesome advice when he said: ‘Since you cannot be persuaded not to glory, let him that glorieth glory in the Lord.’ Let us, too, say in company with the Psalmist, Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give the praise, and with the four and twenty elders who cast their crowns efore the throne, Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto Him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever (Rev 5:13).

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Introduction To Romans

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 28, 2009

This introduction was written by Bishop John MacEvilly in his Exposition Of The Letters Of St Paul.  Needless to say it is a bit outdated but does contain some useful information.  Due to fatigue I did not bother changing any of the spelling or convert the Roman Numerals used in the Scripture references (e.g., “utilise” into “utilize”; Rom. vi int Rom 6, ect,)  The work is in the public domain.


1. DATE.

When St. Paul had spent a considerable time at Ephesus on his Third Missionary Tour he ” resolved in the Spirit to go to Jerusalem, traversing Macedonia and Achaia on the way, and he said : ‘ After I have been there I must see Rome ‘ (Acts xix. 21).” This journey to Jerusalem, following on a visit to Macedonia and Achaia, and to be followed by a visit to Rome, is obviously the journey to Jerusalem which Paul is about to undertake as he writes the Letter to the Romans : “At the moment I am setting out for Jerusalem in the service of the Saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have decided to make a collection for the poor who are among the Saints at Jerusalem” (Rom. xv. 25-26).

The work of evangelising the East has been completed : there ” is no place left (Rom. xv. 23) in these districts ” (i.e., the East) where Christ is still unknown. From Jerusalem to Illyricum (Rom. xv. 19) Paul has fully carried out’ the preaching of the Gospel in the Eastern world, and now he is determined, when he has handed over in Jerusalem the monies contributed by the Gentile Churches to the poor of the Mother Church, to seek a new field of preaching in the far off West where he will not have ” to build upon another’s foundation ” (Rom. xv. 20).

The Collection which the Apostle is about to take to Jerusalem is clearly that to which he refers in 1 Cor. xvi. 1-4 : x ” About the Collection for the Saints do ye just as I ordered the Churches of Galatia to do. On the first of every week each one of you is to set aside and store up whatever he gains, so that collections may not have to be- made when I arrive. When I come I will send such persons as you authorise with commendatory letters to Jerusalem. And if it seems worth while that -I should go, they can go with me.”

Later in the same year in which he wrote these words Paul wrote again to the Corinthians urging them to complete the good work of collecting which they had begun. To help them in successfully accomplishing that task he sends them his friend and companion Titus (2 Cor. viii. 9).

There can be no doubt that the situation implied in Rom. xv is the same as that which Acts and the Epistles to the Corinthians assign to the period immediately following Paul’s stay in Ephesus on the Third Missionary Tour. Paul has traversed Macedonia and Achaia and he is about to set out for Jerusalem with offerings of the Gentile Churches large enough to justify his conveying them, personally to the heads of the Mother Church. According to Acts xx. 2-3, Paul spent three months in Achaia on this occasion. These three months were apparently the months December, January and February the months in which travelling by sea was suspended. Some time, then, during these three months the Letter to the Romans was written probably either in January or February. At the Pentecost following Paul was arrested in Jerusalem, so that the Letter to the Romans was, in all probability, written in the first or second month of the year in which Paul’s imprisonment at Csesarea began viz., 58 A.D. The Letter to the Romans was thus the last Letter that Paul was to write before his imprisonment. It was written at the close of a long period of brilliant success in evangelising, when Paul was at the height of his powers, and when he was looking forward eagerly to a new missionary enterprise in the extreme West. The Epistle to the Romans belongs then to the same period (the ” Ephesian period “) as the two Letters to the Corinthians, and is probably comparatively close in date to ” Galatians.”

The three months of Paul’s stay in Achaia (Acts. xx. 2-3) were probably spent mainly at Corinth, the capital, and in Corinth, according to tradition, the Letter to the Romans was written. (Michaelis seeks to show in an article in ZNW (25, 1926) that the Letter was written at Philippi.)

The Corinthian origin of the Epistle is made likely by the commendation of Phoebe (xv. 1), the Deaconess of Cenchrese, for Cenchrese was a port of Corinth. The greetings from Gaius (xvi. 23) whom Paul calls his host and the host of the whole Church, point also to Corinth; for Gaius was one of the few whom Paul had baptised at Corinth when he was founding the Corinthian Church (1 Cor. i. 14). It is not unlikely that the Epistle to the Romans was composed wholly, or in part, in the house of Gaius. Erastus, ” the city-treasurer ” who also sends greetings (xvi. 23), seems to have been, like Gaius, one of the notabilities of the Church at Corinth. In 2 Tim. iv. 20 we hear of an Erastus being left behind at Corinth on Paul’s last journey, 2 and this Erastus may be identical with the ” city-treasurer ” of Rom. xvi. 23. With the composition in Achaia (and, therefore, probably in Corinth) of ” Romans “agrees the circumstance that Timothy and Sosipater join in sending greetings (xvi. 21), for we know from Acts xx. 4 that Timothy and Sopater (= Sosipater) left Achaia along with Paul when he set out with the Collections for Jerusalem.

Most of the old Marcionite Prologues make Corinth the place of origin of ” Romans “a few only perhaps by reason of the Marcionite suppression of Rom. xv-xvi assigning its composition to Athens.


Paul has been eager for a long time to visit Rome (i. 10-15), but his duty of making Christ known everywhere in the East has hitherto made it impossible for him to pay his long planned visit in the West. That obstacle is now removed, and Paul is determined to preach the Gospel in Spain, and to spend some time in Rome on his way thither (i. 15 ; xv. 24, 28). He hopes to enjoy, for a while, the pleasure of social intercourse with the Roman Christians (xv. 24). He hopes also to impart to them some spiritual gift, and to be strengthened in his own faith and works by the example of their faith and piety (i. 11-12). It is to make his coming visit both pleasant and spiritually profitable that he writes to the Romans. Phcebe’s departure for Rome (xvi. 1) supplied the Apostle with a convenient and reliable means of sending the Letter to the Church at Rome.


If Paul had wished merely to tell the Romans that he intended soon to visit them on his way to Spain he could have done this in a short Letter. Many theories have been put forward to explain the great length and the wide theological range of ” Romans.”  (a) Augustine (and Ambrosiaster) thought that the Epistle was written to put an end to disputes between Jewish and Gentile Christians, and to reconcile the Gentile Christian majority with the Jewish Christian minority.

This view of Augustine has been accepted by many critics of all periods. It seems, however, to have little or no support in the text of the Epistle itself.

(B) It has been held that “Romans” was written to furnish the Christians at Rome with a summary of Pauline teaching so as to make the Apostle’s visit to Rome more fruitful. The absence in the Epistle of all express teaching on such vital points as the Lord’s Supper, the Resurrection, the Divinity of Christ, the Church, etc., excludes this view. The Epistle implies the possession by the Romans of the full tradition of Christian doctrine even in regard to abstruse points.  There is no hint that Pauline doctrine involves anything that the Romans do not understand and believe : the Epistle everywhere assumes that the Romans have accurate knowledge on all the great points of Christian teaching.

(C) The Epistle was written to counteract Jewish or Judaising propaganda at Rome.  But against this view stands the absence from the Epistle of the detailed treatment of Christological problems which such a purpose would surely require.

(D) It was written to counteract a tendency of Gentile Christians at Rome towards contempt for Judaism (soFeine). But it might as readily be argued as indeed it has been by many critics (so Aberle, Weber, etc.) that the Epistle was written to curb the excessive arrogance of Jewish Christians at Rome towards their brethren the Gentile Christians.

(E) It was intended to serve as a conciliatory statement of the Pauline Gospel for the Jewish Christians (a minority), who felt their position threatened by the steady growth
of Gentile Christianity (so Pfleiderer, Lipsius, etc.). But it has been stoutly held by other critics (especially Zahn) that the Roman Church addressed by Paul was predominantly Jewish, and that the purpose of “Romans ” is to set forth the doctrine of justification by faith so as to move a self-confident Jewish majority to give a sympathetic hearing to the claims of Gentile Christians.

(F) It was directed against Jewish agitators. A peculiar form of this theory sees in St. Peter the chief opponent against whom the Letter is directed (so Lietzmann). It is, however, difficult to find even the slenderest support for this view either in the Epistle or in tradition. The absence of all direct reference to St. Peter furnishes no basis for any theory as to the purpose of the Epistle.

It may be said in general that the Apostle’s purpose in writing such a profoundly doctrinal Letter, instead of a simple intimation of his intention to visit Rome, can scarcely be expressed in any single formula.

It may be assumed that Paul had considerable knowledge of the condition of the Church in Rome. His friends Aquila and Prisca must have told him much about Rome when he first met them in Corinth (Acts xviii. 2 f.), and since it is probable that Aquila and Prisca maintained their establishment in Rome during their absence at Corinth and Ephesus (Acts xviii. 18, 26 ; 1 Cor. xv. 19), they must have been able to keep Paul well informed on Roman affairs up to the time when they parted with him at Ephesus. It is well known that there was a great deal of travelling between Rome and the Provinces of the Empire during the New Testament period, and information about the general condition of the Church in Rome would have been accessible to Paul in all the great Eastern centres. The existence of a considerable Jewish Colony in Rome, and the close connection of Rome with the Palestinian coast towns, resulting from trade, would also have contributed to make knowledge of Roman Christian affairs available for Paul. His long- standing eagerness to visit Rome would lead him to seek out all possible sources of exact information on the Church at Rome.

Yet, in spite of his knowledge of conditions, at Rome, Paul nowhere suggests in the Epistle that there were serious abuses or grave differences of opinion among the Christians at Rome. He praises much more often than he blames, and his attitude throughout is rather that of a thinker dealing with a doctrinal question of general interest, than that of a worried pastor chiding existing defects, or warning against immediate concrete dangers. Neither does it seem to the unprejudiced reader that Paul puts forward in the Epistle any plan or policy for reconciling interests alleged to be seriously opposed, or for curbing ambitions alleged to be immoderate or disruptive.

Paul evidently does wish to secure a friendly reception at Rome ; and he feels that he is entitled to it as the Apostle of the Gentiles, but his long doctrinal Letter is not written so much to secure a friendly reception, as to set forth with fulness and convincing clearness the results of his meditation and preaching on the great central problem of the Church in the decades 40-60 A.D. the relations of Christianity and Judaism, of the Church and the Synagogue. That problem had been fundamental for Paul since the time when he and Barnabas taught together at Antioch. The problem was solved in principle at the Council of Jerusalem but it continued for nearly a decade afterwards to disturb many of the Pauline Churches.

How difficult the situation might become through the machinations of the Judaisers in a particular Church can be seen from the Epistle to the Galations. It is generally held that that Epistle was written during the early portion of Paul’s mission at Ephesus during the Third Missionary Tour, and it is not unreasonable to suppose that the Apostle was actively occupied, both in meditation and preaching, with the central problems of the Galatian controversy during the greater part of his long stay at Ephesus. “Galatians ” would thus belong to the beginnings of the Ephesian Mission and ” Romans ” would practically mark its close. In the three years of work at Ephesus Paul would pass gradually from the vehemence of expression and rapid movement of thought demanded by the threat of immediate Galatian defection to such comparative serenity of discussion as we find in ” Romans.” This mental process may well have occupied the greater part of Paul’s energies during the Ephesian ministry.

As in the Letters written during the First Imprisonment at Rome, Paul is primarily engrossed with the problem of the precise relations of the Church to Christ, and as in the Pastorals Paul is mainly concerned with the purity of doctrinal tradition, so in the Ephesian period his mind was occupied chiefly with the relations of the Church and the Synagogue. The Letters to the Corinthians which fall within this period reveal comparatively little of Paul’s doctrinal preoccupations, because they deal with definite concrete questions and situations which had been referred to Paul, or forced on his attention. Yet even in the Epistles to Corinth many aspects of the great problem dealt with in ” Romans ” are discussed.

Perhaps in the habit, which Paul shares with the Prophet Isaias, of concentrating for fairly long periods on- a particular question, may be sought the explanation of the long discussion of the relations between Judaism and Christianity in ” Romans.”

There is, of course, no difficulty in admitting that other factorscontributed, in a lesser degree, to transform a simple Letter of self- introduction into a great doctrinal synthesis, so that some of the theories above discussed (A-F) may contain at least a half truth. In any case, the Epistle to the Romans is not a merely abstract doctrinal discussion. The question of the relations between Judaism and Christianity was sure to be of vital interest to the Christians at Rome, and the Epistle supplies a mass of apologetic material which they might, at any time, be able to apply in a very practical fashion. But Paul in his Letter is thinking certainly less of the actual conditions of the Roman Church than of problems which might at a later time arise. Hence the brief warning in 16:17-20 deals with possible, rather than with existing, difficulties.


The Epistle to the Romans seems to be addressed to a Church in which the majority of the faithful are converts from heathenism. Many passages in the Epistle can hardly be explained except on this hypothesis.

It is as Apostle of the Gentiles that Paul writes to the Romans (i. 5, 6). It is, apparently, because the Church at Rome has been recruited from the Gentiles that he desires to have some fruit there  “even as among the other Gentiles ” (i. 13). He longs to visit the Romans because ” to Greeks and Barbarians ” he ” owes a duty.” In xi. 13 f. we have: “But to you Gentiles, I say : Just because I am an Apostle to the Gentiles I do all honour to my office with a view to rousing to jealousy my own people, and thus saving some of them.” Thus it would appear that his chief interest in Rome is based rather on his office of Apostle to the Gentiles, than on his knowledge of Roman conditions and affairs.

Passages such as vi. 17-21 and xii. 1 f. seem definitely to imply that those addressed had lived in heathenism prior to their baptism. In other passages (cf. ix. 3 f. ; x. If.; xi. 23-28, 31) Paul is clearly writing to non-Jews about his own people. Paul’s reference in xv. 18 to what Christ has wrought through him ” unto the submission of the Gentiles ” would surely be out of place in a Letter addressed to Jewish Christians. The same must be said of his request to the Romans in xv. 30 f. :

“I exhort you Brethren by Our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit, to unite in struggle with me by your prayers to God on my behalf that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judeea.”

The long treatment of Jewish incredulity in ix-xi is a necessary section of an argument which aims at proving that the Gospel is ” a power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes, the Jew first and then the Gentile ” (i. 16). If the Jews as a people were to remain permanently impervious to the Faith, it might seem as if the Gospel were as much restricted to non-Jews, as the Law had been to Jews. Jewish incredulity is so treated in ix-xi that it may serve as an instruction and a warning to Gentile Christians. Throughout the section Paul speaks of the Jews as ” my brethren,” ” my fellow-countrymen according to the flesh ” not as ” our brethren,” ” our fellow-countrymen.” To show that all the Jews have not been rejected, he points in xi. 1 to himself. If he were writing to a Church that was mainly Jewish, he could have made a much stronger point by referring to the case of his readers.

The passages quoted by Zahn and others to prove that converts from Judaism formed the majority in the Church at Rome do not, when closely analysed, seem to support that view.

The introduction of Jewish opponents in the course of the argument (cf. ch. ii, etc.) is due primarily to the Apostle’s use of the vivid methods of the Stoic Diatribe. The use of expressions like ” Abraham our father ” (iv. 1) is due also to the methods of the Diatribe. Ch. iii. 9 is to be explained in similar fashion.

There is no difficulty in regarding vii. i : ” For I speak to such as know the Law,” as addressed to Gentile Christians. Paul might well presume that the Roman community contained many one- time Proselytes to Judaism. He could also assume that the Roman Christian Community generally had acquired a good knowledge of the Law from hearing it read at the Christian liturgical assemblies. It might be also argued that, as Paul was aware that the Septuagint was widely circulated in the Mediterranean world, he would be justified in taking for granted a wide knowledge of Jewish history and Jewish hopes among the more cultured Gentile Christians at Rome.

It is to be noted also that the whole tone of the argument in vii. 1-6 bears a striking resemblance to that of Gal. iv. 1-9, and “Galatians ” was certainly addressed to Gentile Christians.

Moreover, as has often been pointed out, the Romans, as such, had a special flair for law, and they would be greatly interested in the problem of Israel’s actual relation to the Mosaic Law. Thus it might be argued that “those who know the Law” of vii. 1, are more likely to be Romans converted from heathenism than. Jewish Christians.

Passages like vii. 4-6 and viii. 15 are no more indicative of Jewish readers than Gal. iii. 13 ; iv. 9.

Zahn takes the appeal for loyalty to the State in ch. xiii as implying that Paul’s readers were of the restless and insubordinate type which was regarded in the Roman Empire as characteristically Jewish. It is, however, not obvious why the warnings in ch. xiii should be less in place for Gentile than for Jewish Christians.

The ” weak ” at Home (ch, xiv) are clearly a minority, and if they are, as many think, converts from Judaism, the argument for the predominantly Gentile character of the Roman Community is thereby strengthened.

It is interesting to note in connection with this problem of the character of the Church at Rome in 58 A.D. that the Gospel of St. Mark, which, according to tradition, was written primarily for the Christians at Rome, was evidently intended for non-Jewish readers.

That the Church at Rome in the decade 50-60 contained more converts from heathenism than from Judaism is made probable not merely by the evidence of ” Romans,” but also by all that we know, independently of ” Romans,” about the early history of that Church. Of those who first brought the Faith to Rome we know as little as we do of the pioneers of Christianity at Damascus and Antioch. It was inevitable that some knowledge of the Faith should reach Rome very early. At the first Christian Pentecost there were present ” Roman ” Jews or Proselytes (Acts ii. 10), so that possibly among the first converts to Christianity at Jerusalem were people of Roman origin who afterwards brought back the Faith with them to Rome. Besides, people were constantly travelling in the New Testament period between Rome and the East, and it is reasonable to suppose that when the Faith began to spread in Jerusalem a small -percentage of such travellers would be Christians. The persecution of which St. Stephen was the first important victim (Acts vii-viii), scattered the Christians of Jerusalem especially the Hellenists and led to the publication of the Faith in the Mediterranean coast-towns. Through the close connection between these towns and Rome, and through the large Jewish Colony that lived at Rome some considerable knowledge
of Christianity must have reached Rome even before the founding of the Church of Antioch.

Early Christian tradition connects the name of St. Peter with the foundation of the Roman Church, and the departure of St.  Peter ” to another place ” (Acts xii. 17) after his miraculous rescue from the hands of Herod Agrippa, has been traditionally explained as a departure for Rome. As the organisation of the Church in Samaria, after the first successful preaching of Philip, had been undertaken by Peter and John (Acts viii. 14-25), and as Barnabas was commissioned by the Apostolic body to investigate affairs at Antioch, and to organise the Antiochian Church (Acts xi. 22), we might expect that the Head of the Apostles would himself undertake the building up of the Church at the centre of the world as soon as the first definite news of Christian beginnings at Rome had reached Jerusalem. The great energy and the splendid condition of the Church at Rome in 58 seem to demand for their explanation the presence and activity in the infant Church of Rome of an outstanding Apostolic personality like that of St. Peter.

That St. Peter worked as an Apostle and died as a Martyr at Rome is fully established by very early and most reliable evidence. In his Letter to the Corinthians, written while St. Peter’s memory was still fresh at Rome, Clement of Rome implies clearly (ch. v-vi) that Peter worked and died at Rome. The same can be gathered from the Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans (iv. 3), written in the days of Trajan. St. Peter’s work in Rome is implied by the greetings which he himself sends (1 Pet. v. 13) from the Church in ” Babylon ” (= Rome).  The testimony of Bishop Dionysius of Corinth (in Eusebius, ii. 25, 7 f.), of Ireneeus (Hceer. iii. 1, 1 : 3, 3), of the Roman Presbyter Gaius (Eusebius ii. 25), of Tertullian (De Prcescriptione 36), and of early inscriptions and Liturgical documents is equally clear in favour of St. Peter’s presence in Rome. The testimonies to Peter’s work in Rome during the first two and a half centuries are thus not merely Roman, but come from all parts of the early Christian world Greece, Asia Minor, Egypt, Africa, South Gaul. Even the Gospel of St. John (xxi 1 8 f . ) seems to imply that the manner and the place of St. Peter’s martyrdom are known to the universal Church before the end of the first century. It is important to note that no Church in the first centuries but Rome claims to possess the tomb of St. Peter.

If, then, St. Paul’s eulogy of the Roman Church implies, as it seems to do, the activity of a powerful Apostolic personality in the building up of that Church, it is evident from what has been here said that the personality in question must have been that of St. Peter. 2

St. Peter’s episcopal rule in Rome from 42 to 67 did not involve his constant presence in the capital. We find him at the Council of Jerusalem in 49 (or 50), and his own First Epistle seems to imply that he carried through a number of missionary tours quite as extensive as those of St. Paul.(c/. 1 Pet. i. 1). The absence of all reference to St. Peter in ” Romans ” is readily intelligible if the Epistle was written during one of the great missionary journeys of the Bishop of Rome.

The history of the Church at Rome from its foundation up to 58 is very little known. From Acts xviii. 2 we learn that Aquila and Prisca were compelled to leave Rome, apparently about the year 50, because of an Edict of Claudius expelling all Jews from Rome. Suetonius in his Vita Claudii (25) seems to have that Edict in view when he says : Judceos impulsore Chresto assidue tumultuantes Roma expulit. Unfortunately, however, he gives no date. Orosius in his Historia contra Paganos vii. 6, 15, says : Anno ejusdem (i.e., of Claudius) nono expulsos per Glaudium urbe Judceos Josephus refert, sed me magis Suetonius movet qui ait hoc modo ; Claudius Judceos impulsore Chresto assidue tumultuantes Roma expulit.

The reference of Orosius to Josephus is not borne out by anything in the extant writings of the Jewish Historian, but the ascription of the Edict to the ninth year (49/50) of Claudius may be due to some other authority whom Orosius confuses with Josephus. The date 49/50 would fit in well with St. Paul’s first arrival in Corinth, and his meeting with Aquila and Prisca.

It has been generally assumed that Suetonius, in the brief notice quoted from his Vita Claudii, has in view disturbances among the Jews at Rome arising out of the growth of Christianity. 1 It is quite legitimate to suppose that Suetonius confused Christus and Chrestus for the two words would be very similar in pronunciation. It is not certain that Aquila and Prisca were already Christians before they were forced to leave Rome but it is likely that they were. If the policy of Claudius led to the departure of a considerable number of Jewish Christians from Rome, 2 the original Jewish majority in the Church at Rome would tend to disappear, and from. 50 to the death of Claudius in 54, recruiting for the Church at Rome would be mainly from among the heathen. With the death of Claudius his Edict seems to have lapsed, but between 54 and 58 the predominance of converts from heathenism in the Roman Church, due to the Claudian anti-Jewish policy, could scarcely disappear, and it is, therefore, quite natural that St. Paul should write to the Roman Christians in the year 58 as if they were mainly converts from among the Gentiles.  (In a footnote the Bishop writes: “Dio Cassius referring (Ix. 6, 6) to the Edict of Claudius, says that the difficulty of expelling great numbers of Jews became so acute that Claudius, in the end, revised his Edict so as to make it merely a prohibition of Jewish assemblies.”


The Epistle’s own testimony to Pauline authorship was accepted without hesitation in the Ancient Church, and has never been questioned by any except the most radical schools of criticism.  The influence of ” Romans ” has been detected by scholars in the First Epistle of St. Peter, and in the Epistle of James, and echoes of the Doxology (xvi. 25-27) have been sought in the Epistle of Jude. The Letter of Clement to the Corinthians, and the Letters of Ignatius and Polycarp show unmistakable traces of the phrasing and thought of ” Romans.”

Definite quotations from Romans appear in Theophilus of Antioch (Ad Autolycum, iii. 14 ; cf. Rom. xiii. 7, 8), and in the Epistle of the Churches of Vienne and Lyons (Eusebius, Ch. Hist., v, 1, 6 ; cf. Rom. v. 18). The early heretics, Valentinus, Herakleon, Basilides, etc., etc., made considerable use of the Epistle, and Marcion ascribed its authorship definitely to St. Paul. Irenseus (Adv. Hcer., iii, 16, 3. 9) speaks clearly of the Epistle as written by Paul. The Muratorian Fragment (line 44 and following), Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, iii, 4, 39), Tertullian (Adversus Praxeam xiii), are all witnesses to Pauline authorship.


In ancient times, as is shown in the Commentary, pages 256-260, Marcion, while admitting that St. Paul wrote the Epistle to the Romans, refused to regard certain sections of the Epistle as authentic. The existence of the so-called ” short recension ” (i-xiv ; xvi. 25-27) is explained below in the Commentary as the result of a Marcionite mutilation of the primitive text. Marcionite influence also procured the omission of ” in Rome ” in i. 7 and i. 15, and it appears that Marcion regarded several other passages of ” Romans,” in addition to chapters xv and xvi, as not Pauline. His methods of excision, however, in regard to these other passages have not greatly affected
textual tradition. (Footnote: “Marcion apparently omitted i. ig-ii. i ; iii. 3i-iv. 25 ; ix. 1-33 ; x. 5-xi. 32. He also omitted other short passages, and altered a number of texts in ” Romans.”  Marcion’s rejection of chapters xv and xvi was imitated by radical critics in Germany at the end of the i8th and the beginning of the igth century.”

Certain recent critics have held that we can distinguish a considerable section which, though Pauline, was not originally composed by Paul as part of a Letter to the Romans. Thus Lake (Earlier Epistles of /St. Paul) regards the Epistle to the Romans as an expanded form of an Epistle intended for all the Churches which was written by Paul about the time he wrote ” Galatians.” Others have supposed that Paul himself produced abridged editions of our ” Romans ” for use in churches outside of Rome, and it has been held that the various ” conclusions ” indicate the close of such abridgements.

Other radical critics have excluded from ” Romans ” the entire section beginning with ch. xii. Others, again, have sought here and there throughout ” Romans ” for the disjecta membra of one or more Pauline Epistles not addressed to Rome. More than a century ago the hypothesis was put forward that ” Romans ” includes fragments of an Epistle to Ephesus, and the delimitation of these ” Ephesian ” fragments has formed from time to time a sort of .amusement of radical critics. Now-a-days the only part of “Romans” regarded by serious critics as addressed to Ephesus is xvi. 1-23.

In support of the view that Rom. xvi. 1-23 was addressed to Ephesus rather than to Rome two chief arguments have been advanced :

(1) It is unlikely that Paul, who had not yet visited Rome, could have known at Rome all the people whom he greets in ch. xvi. It is much more likely that those greeted belonged to Ephesus where Paul spent about three years 011 the Third Missionary Tour. Moreover, some, at least, of the persons greeted seem to have definite connections with Ephesus.

Aquila and Prisca had certainly been with Paul at Ephesus (Cf. 1 Cor. xvi. 19 ; Acts xviii. 18, 26), and just as their house at Ephesus was an assembly-place for Christians (1 Cor. xvi. 19) so their residence, according to Rom. xvi. 5 is still a meeting-place for a ” House- Church.” If we suppose that Rom. xvi. 1-23 was addressed to Rome we must suppose that Aquila and Prisca had returned from Ephesus to Rome and had established a ” House-Church ” at Rome. Yet from 2 Tim. iv. 19, it would appear that Aquila and Prisca were again in Ephesus after Paul had been released from his first Roman imprisonment. It would be much more natural to suppose that they had stayed on at Ephesus. It is difficult to think of them as moving to and fro restlessly between Ephesus and Rome. Further, Epsenetus, ” the first-fruits of Asia,” is surely more in
place in Ephesus, the Capital of Asia, than in Rome ! Besides, if it is alleged that Paul had come to know in the East all those whom he greets in ch. xvi, it will be necessary, the critics argue, to postulate that a miniature exodus a sort of minor Volkerwanderung from East to West had taken place in the interval.

(2) The warnings in xvi. 17-20 are out of place in a Letter addressed to a Church which St. Paul had not yet visited, whereas, they are precisely such warnings as would be suitable for a Church like Ephesus, where false teaching of the type here warned against certainly flourished when Paul wrote his First Epistle to Timothy.

In reply to (1), it may be pointed out that in the Epistle to Colossae a Church which Paul had not founded or visited more individuals are greeted than in Letters written by Paul to Churches which he had founded. Indeed in Letters addressed to his own Churches St. Paul seems to have shrunk from singling out individuals for special greeting lest the others whom he knew just as intimately might feel aggrieved. On the contrary, when writing to a Church which he had not visited, he would naturally be inclined to seek out and utilise every existing link, or point of contact, between himself and the Church in question. Paul, as has been pointed out above, could have learned from Aquila and Prisca and others, a great deal about outstanding personalities and groups in the Church at Rome, and he would not be slow to use the knowledge so gained to secure a friendly reception in Rome. Nor is there any difficulty in supposing that several of Paul’s acquaintances had actually moved from the East to Rome. His visits to important Eastern cities must have brought him into contact with many people about to travel to Rome. It should be remembered that Paul had long been planning a visit to Rome, and, in view of this, he would surely make every effort to get into touch with people
going to Rome, or in any way . connected with Rome.

The destination of ch. xvi cannot be inferred from the mere names of those greeted. Most of the names are such as might be found in any important centre of the Roman Empire at the time of St. Paul. They are all to be found in Roman inscriptions (seeLightfoot, Philippians, 3rd ed., pp. 171-175), and no doubt they could all be paralleled from the inscriptions of St. Paul’s Ephesus.

To describe Epaenetus as ” the first-fruits of Asia ” is as natural in a letter to Rome as in one written to Ephesus. A citizen of the Roman Province of Asia might well move from Ephesus to Rome!

Much use has been made of the difficulty of supposing that Aquila and Prisca had moved within a period of about sixteen years from Rome to Corinth, from Corinth to Ephesus, from Ephesus to Rome, and finally from Rome to Ephesus. But Aquila and Prisca may have been wealthy folk. When they left Rome for Corinth on account of the Edict of Claudius they probably left their property in the hands of a procurator, so that when they returned to Rome after the death of Claudius and the practical repeal of his anti- Jewish Edict, they were able at once to resume control of their Roman belongings. When they went to Ephesus with Paul they probably established there a new centre of their business, and their Ephesian home became a meeting-place for Christians. Just as we suppose that they retained their Roman possessions when they first left Rome for Corinth, so it can be readily assumed that their Ephesian establishment continued to be maintained up to the date of the Second Epistle to Timothy. It is likely that thepersecution of Nero drove them from Rome to Ephesus.

The Roman destination of ch. xvi does not imply such a Volkerwanderung as has been alleged by the supporters of the ” Ephesian ” theory. Paul does not, in fact, claim to know personally all those whom he greets. Besides Aquila and Prisca he seems to have known personally Epsenetus, Andronicus, Junias, Ampliatus, Persis, and probably the mother of Rufus, and Rufus himself. Aquila and Prisca were residents in Rome before Paul knew them, so that the alleged Volkerwanderung would consist of seven people ! The others whom he greets Paul may have known (like some of those whom he greets in ” Colossians “) only by hearsay. When Paul first began to plan his visit to Rome he must have used every available opportunity to make himself acquainted with the condition of things at Rome, and to ascertain the names of such Christians at Rome as would be helpful to him on his arrival there. The list in ch. xvi is conceivably in part, at least, the outcome of the Apostle’s inquiries.

(2) It is not clear why Paul could not have addressed xvi. 17-20 to a Church he had not visited. It would almost seem as if Paul at verses 17-20 suddenly took the pen from the hand of Tertius, the Scribe, to insert a word of solemn warning. In 1 Cor. xvi. 21ff in similar abrupt fashion, after greeting the Corinthians, the Apostle bursts forth unexpectedly into an anathema against those who do not love Jesus Christ.

The warning in w. 17-20 is not really out of harmony with the generally eulogistic lone of the Epistle, for the danger at which it hints need not be regarded as actual. A warning against a merely problematical danger could not have been put in a central part of the Epistle. Lagrange thinks that the real answer to the difficulty of xvi. 17-20 is to admit, on the one hand, that Judaising agitators were already, to Paul’s knowledge, at work in Rome, and, on the other hand, to insist that their subversive activity was still almost negligible, and certainly not such as to call for mention at a central stage of a Letter so profoundly speculative as “Romans.” The warning is really more against possible than actual evils, and to make it more than a sort of post-script would lead to the risk of exaggeration. The comparative vividness with which the agitators are depicted does not necessarily indicate real uneasiness on the part of the Apostle. It should be noted that the agitators are not of the Gnostic type that one might expect to find at Ephesus, but apparently, of the Judaising type which Paul had met everywhere.

It appears, then, that the reasons advanced for the Ephesian destination of xvi. 1-23 cannot be regarded as valid. Moreover, it is practically unthinkable that Paul could have written a Letter consisting almost exclusively of greetings.

If Rom. xvi. 1-23 were a Letter to Ephesus it would have to be explained how it has come to be attached to ” Romans.” Various unconvincing explanations of the connection have been put forward. One of these represents Phoebe,  the bearer of both the ” Ephesian ” and the Roman Letter, as ‘travelling first to Ephesus where she hands over the ” Ephesian ” Letter to the Ephesian Church, and permits the Ephesians to make a copy of the Letter to Rome. In the Ephesian Collection of Pauline Letters the original Letter to Ephesus and the copy of  Romans came to be closely associated, and ultimately to be regarded as one Letter.

The theory has also been advanced that the two Letters came to be united because they were close together in Paul’s own set of copies of the Letters he had written. This view seems to contain the fantastic implication that Paul carried on his  correspondence like a modern business-man. It is now generally held that the first Collections of Pauline Letters were made by individual Churches. The arrangement of the Letters within the local collections had nothing to do with any ” typical ” arrangement in a conjectured set of documents kept by St. Paul himself.

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Latin Mass Resources: 4th Sunday After Pentecost (June 28)

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 27, 2009

The introit is taken from Psalm 26 (27) 1-3.  According to the title of this Psalm it was uttered by David just before he was anointed king; therefore it is fitting that it should open the Mass wherein we read of the call of St Peter and others to ministry.

The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the protector of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?
Psa 27:2  Whilst the wicked draw near against me, to eat my flesh. My enemies that trouble me, have themselves been weakened, and have fallen.
Psa 27:3  If armies in camp should stand together against me, my heart shall not fear. If a battle should rise up against me, in this will I be confident.

St Augustine comments: 1. Christ’s young soldier speaketh, on his coming to the faith. “The Lord is my light, and my salvation: whom shall I fear?” (verse 1). The Lord will give me both knowledge of Himself, and salvation: who shall take me from Him? “The Lord is the Protector of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?” The Lord will repel all the assaults and snares of mine enemy: of no man shall I be afraid.

2. “Whilst the guilty approach unto me to eat up my flesh” (verse 2). Whilst the guilty come near to recognise and insult me, that they may exalt themselves above me in my change for the better; that with their reviling tooth they may consume not me, but rather my fleshly desires. “Mine enemies who trouble me.” Not they only who trouble me, blaming me with a friendly intent, and wishing to recall me from my purpose, but mine enemies also. “They became weak, and fell.”(8) Whilst then they do this with the desire of defending their own opinion, they became weak to believe better things, and began to hate the word of salvation, whereby I do what displeases them.

3. “If camps stand together against me, my heart will not fear.” But if the multitude of gain-sayers conspire to stand together against me, my heart will not fear, so as to go over to their side. “If war rise up against me, in this will I trust” (verse 3). If the persecution of this world arise against me, in this petition, which I am pondering, will I place my hope.

St Peter and those with him in ministry will suffer for their ministry:

Luk 22:27  For which is greater, he that sitteth at table or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at table? But I am in the midst of you, as he that serveth.
Luk 22:28  And you are they who have continued with me in my temptations:
Luk 22:29  And I dispose to you, as my Father hath disposed to me, a kingdom;
Luk 22:30  That you may eat and drink at my table, in my kingdom: and may sit upon thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Luk 22:31  And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.
Luk 22:32  But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren.
Luk 22:33  Who said to him: Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison and to death.
Luk 22:34  And he said: I say to thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, till thou thrice deniest that thou knowest me. And he said to them:
Luk 22:35  When I sent you without purse and scrip and shoes, did you want anything?
Luk 22:36  But they said: Nothing. Then said he unto them: But now he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise a scrip: and he that hath not, let him sell his coat and buy a sword.
Luk 22:37  For I say to you that this that is written must yet be fulfilled in me. And with the wicked was he reckoned. For the things concerning me have an end.

See also Acts 4:1-33; Matt 10:16-39; Matt 16:13-20.

Sermon on the Epistle

Sermon on the Gospel by St Ambrose of Milan

Posted in Bible, Books, Catechetical Resources, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, Latin Mass Notes, Quotes, SERMONS | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Devout Commentary On Ephesians

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 27, 2009

A DEVOUT COMMENTARY ON EPHESIANS is public domain book written by Father Bertrand Wilberforce, O.P.  It is based primarily on the works of St Thomas Aquinas, including his commentary on that Epistle.  In recent weeks I’ve posted a number of excerpts on my blog and this morining I uploaded the commentary portion of the book on Scribd.  In a scant two hours it has been viewed 26 times.

Posted in Bible, Books, Catechetical Resources, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, Notes on Ephesians, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I’m So Worthy!

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 27, 2009

honest-scrap LarryD of Acts of the Apostasy has nominated me for an award, albeit one that comes with 4 strings attached.  (1) I must thank the presenter for making me work for the award so, THANKS A LOT, LarryD!  (2) I must also share ten honest things about myself;  (3) I must present the award to 7 other blogs and (4) notify them of this.

Ten Honest Things About Me:

1.  I’m a pathological self-deceiver and consummate liar ; something you should keep in mind as you read the rest.

2.  I’ve known LarryD for a decade and have been trying to get him off of strong drink for much of that time.

3.  As a one man temperance movement I am a failure.  As proof consider this: LarryD honors me with this award for these reasons-“Because your blog is one of the most intelligent I read, and because you leave great comments at mine.”  He must be on quite a bender.

4.  LarryD is the smartest man I know-at least when he’s sober.

5.  I am the most interesting person I know.  This is why I spend so much time talking to myself.

6.  I think my sister is the worlds best cook.  No one can fricassee a hot dog like she can.

7.  I’m so good looking that when I go out into public I have to beat the ladies of with a stick.  Seriously, you can ignore #1 on this.

8.    I am a gifted writer, I just don’t like using my blog as a forum for showing off.

9.  I love to dance.

10.  Finally, all joking aside, I feel that I should give one honest thing about myself: I find that trashing LarryD is a lot more fun than trashing myself.

Seven blogs I find brilliant in content and/or design, or that have encouraged me in some way:

A.  Argent By The Tiber.  One of the first blogs I ever started reading, and the first I ever linked to when I started blogging.  Sadly, she has cut back on her blogging activities.

B.  The Spirit’s Sword.  I enjoy the posts on literature, the fisks against stupidity, and the posts on war stories.

C.  Singing In The Reign.  The only bad thing I can say about this blog is they don’t post as often as I would like them to.

D.  Odysseus.  Rob gave me some excellent advice and encouragement after my dad died and has always been there with a prayer when I needed one.

E.  Canterbury Tales.  Interesting content.

F.  Trubador.  A Blog about politics and other stuff.  It seems he is currently on a blogging break.

G.  Rantings Of A Civil War Historian.  Though I post very little about the Civil War I am an ardent buff.  I just came across this site today and enjoyed what I saw.  I found the post Confederate Calvary at Gettysburg very interesting.

Notify them of this award:

With my apologies.

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