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Aquinas’ Use of 1 Peter 2:11-19 In The Summa Theologica

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 22, 2010

The Epistle reading for this Sunday’s Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Rite is taken from 1 Peter 2:11-19.  Below you will find the various questions and articles of the ST in which it is used.  More resources for this Sunday’s readings (mostly commentaries) can be found here.

Article 4: Whether a man who is condemned to death may lawfully defend himself if he can?

Objection 1: It would seem that a man who is condemned to death may lawfully defend himself if he can. For it is always lawful to do that to which nature inclines us, as being of natural right, so to speak. Now, to resist corruption is an inclination of nature not only in men and animals but also in things devoid of sense. Therefore if he can do so, the accused, after condemnation, may lawfully resist being put to death.

Objection 2: Further, just as a man, by resistance, escapes the death to which he has been condemned, so does he by flight. Now it is lawful seemingly to escape death by flight, according to Ecclesiasticus 9:18, “Keep thee far from the man that hath power to kill [and not to quicken]” [The words in the brackets are not in the Vulgate]. Therefore it is also lawful for the accused to resist.

Objection 3: Further, it is written (Proverbs 24:11): “Deliver them that are led to death: and those that are drawn to death forbear not to deliver.” Now a man is under greater obligation to himself than to another. Therefore it is lawful for a condemned man to defend himself from being put to death.

On the contrary, The Apostle says (Romans 13:2): “He that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation.” Now a condemned man, by defending himself, resists the power in the point of its being ordained by God “for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of the good” [1 Peter 2:14]. Therefore he sins in defending himself.

I answer that A man may be condemned to death in two ways. First justly, and then it is not lawful for the condemned to defend himself, because it is lawful for the judge to combat his resistance by force, so that on his part the fight is unjust, and consequently without any doubt he sins.
Secondly a man is condemned unjustly: and such a sentence is like the violence of robbers, according to Ezechiel 22:21, “Her princes in the midst of her are like wolves ravening the prey to shed blood.” Wherefore even as it is lawful to resist robbers, so is it lawful, in a like case, to resist wicked princes; except perhaps in order to avoid scandal, whence some grave disturbance might be feared to arise.

Reply to Objection 1: Reason was given to man that he might ensue those things to which his nature inclines, not in all cases, but in accordance with the order of reason. Hence not all self-defense is lawful, but only such as is accomplished with due moderation.

Reply to Objection 2: When a man is condemned to death, he has not to kill himself, but to suffer death: wherefore he is not bound to do anything from which death would result, such as to stay in the place whence he would be led to execution. But he may not resist those who lead him to death, in order that he may not suffer what is just for him to suffer. Even so, if a man were condemned to die of hunger, he does not sin if he partakes of food brought to him secretly, because to refrain from taking it would be to kill himself.

Reply to Objection 3: This saying of the wise man does not direct that one should deliver a man from death in opposition to the order of justice: wherefore neither should a man deliver himself from death by resisting against justice.

Article 2: Whether honor is properly due to those who are above us?

Objection 1: It seems that honor is not properly due to those who are above us. For an angel is above any human wayfarer, according to Matthew 11:11, “He that is lesser in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist.” Yet an angel forbade John when the latter wished to honor him (Apocalypse 22:10). Therefore honor is not due to those who are above us.

Objection 2: Further, honor is due to a person in acknowledgment of his virtue, as stated above (A[1]; Q[63], A[3]). But sometimes those who are above us are not virtuous. Therefore honor is not due to them, as neither is it due to the demons, who nevertheless are above us in the order of nature.

Objection 3: Further, the Apostle says (Romans 12:10): “With honor preventing one another,” and we read (1 Peter 2:17): “Honor all men.” But this would not be so if honor were due to those alone who are above us. Therefore honor is not due properly to those who are above us.

Objection 4: Further, it is written (Tobias 1:16) that Tobias “had ten talents of silver of that which he had been honored by the king”: and we read (Esther 6:11) that Assuerus honored Mardochaeus, and ordered it to be proclaimed in his presence: “This honor is he worthy of whom the king hath a mind to honor.” Therefore honor is paid to those also who are beneath us, and it seems, in consequence, that honor is not due properly to those who are above us.

On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethics i, 12) that “honor is due to the best.”

I answer that As stated above (A[1]), honor is nothing but an acknowledgment of a person’s excelling goodness. Now a person’s excellence may be considered, not only in relation to those who honor him, in the point of his being more excellent than they, but also in itself, or in relation to other persons, and in this way honor is always due to a person, on account of some excellence or superiority.
For the person honored has no need to be more excellent than those who honor him; it may suffice for him to be more excellent than some others, or again he may be more excellent than those who honor him in some respect and not simply.

Reply to Objection 1: The angel forbade John to pay him, not any kind of honor, but the honor of adoration and latria, which is due to God. Or again, he forbade him to pay the honor of dulia, in order to indicate the dignity of John himself, for which Christ equaled him to the angels “according to the hope of glory of the children of God”: wherefore he refused to be honored by him as though he were superior to him.

Reply to Objection 2: A wicked superior is honored for the excellence, not of his virtue but of his dignity, as being God’s minister, and because the honor paid to him is paid to the whole community over which he presides. As for the demons, they are wicked beyond recall, and should be looked upon as enemies, rather than treated with honor.

Reply to Objection 3: In every man is to be found something that makes it possible to deem him better than ourselves, according to Philippians 2:3, “In humility, let each esteem others better than themselves,” and thus, too, we should all be on the alert to do honor to one another.

Reply to Objection 4: Private individuals are sometimes honored by kings, not that they are above them in the order of dignity but on account of some excellence of their virtue: and in this way Tobias and Mardochaeus were honored by kings.

Article 6: Whether Christians are bound to obey the secular powers?

Objection 1: It seems that Christians are not bound to obey the secular power. For a gloss on Matthew 17:25, “Then the children are free,” says: “If in every kingdom the children of the king who holds sway over that kingdom are free, then the children of that King, under Whose sway are all kingdoms, should be free in every kingdom.” Now Christians, by their faith in Christ, are made children of God, according to John 1:12: “He gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in His name.” Therefore they are not bound to obey the secular power.

Objection 2: Further, it is written (Romans 7:4): “You … are become dead to the law by the body of Christ,” and the law mentioned here is the divine law of the Old Testament. Now human law whereby men are subject to the secular power is of less account than the divine law of the Old Testament. Much more, therefore, since they have become members of Christ’s body, are men freed from the law of subjection, whereby they were under the power of secular princes.

Objection 3: Further, men are not bound to obey robbers, who oppress them with violence. Now, Augustine says (De Civitate Dei (“The City of God”) iv): “Without justice, what else is a kingdom but a huge robbery?” Since therefore the authority of secular princes is frequently exercised with injustice, or owes its origin to some unjust usurpation, it seems that Christians ought not to obey secular princes.

On the contrary, It is written (Titus 3:1): “Admonish them to be subject to princes and powers,” and (1 Peter 2:13,14): “Be ye subject … to every human creature for God’s sake: whether it be to the king as excelling, or to governors as sent by him.”

I answer that Faith in Christ is the origin and cause of justice, according to Romans 3:22, “The justice of God by faith of Jesus Christ:” wherefore faith in Christ does not void the order of justice, but strengthens it.” Now the order of justice requires that subjects obey their superiors, else the stability of human affairs would cease. Hence faith in Christ does not excuse the faithful from the obligation of obeying secular princes.

Reply to Objection 1: As stated above (A[5]), subjection whereby one man is bound to another regards the body; not the soul, which retains its liberty. Now, in this state of life we are freed by the grace of Christ from defects of the soul, but not from defects of the body, as the Apostle declares by saying of himself (Romans 7:23) that in his mind he served the law of God, but in his flesh the law of sin. Wherefore those that are made children of God by grace are free from the spiritual bondage of sin, but not from the bodily bondage, whereby they are held bound to earthly masters, as a gloss observes on 1 Timothy 6:1, “Whosoever are servants under the yoke,” etc.

Reply to Objection 2: The Old Law was a figure of the New Testament, and therefore it had to cease on the advent of truth. And the comparison with human law does not stand because thereby one man is subject to another. Yet man is bound by divine law to obey his fellow-man.

Reply to Objection 3: Man is bound to obey secular princes in so far as this is required by order of justice. Wherefore if the prince’s authority is not just but usurped, or if he commands what is unjust, his subjects are not bound to obey him, except perhaps accidentally, in order to avoid scandal or danger.

Article 3: Whether one ought, by humility, to subject oneself to all men?

Objection 1: It would seem that one ought not, by humility, to subject oneself to all men. For, as stated above (A[2], ad 3), humility consists chiefly in man’s subjection to God. Now one ought not to offer to a man that which is due to God, as is the case with all acts of religious worship. Therefore, by humility, one ought not to subject oneself to man.

Objection 2: Further, Augustine says (De Natura et Gratia, Contra Pelagium (“On Nature and Grace, Against the Pelagians”) xxxiv): “Humility should take the part of truth, not of falsehood.” Now some men are of the highest rank, who cannot, without falsehood, subject themselves to their inferiors. Therefore one ought not, by humility, to subject oneself to all men.

Objection 3: Further no one ought to do that which conduces to the detriment of another’s spiritual welfare. But if a man subject himself to another by humility, this is detrimental to the person to whom he subjects himself; for the latter might wax proud, or despise the other. Hence Augustine says in his Rule (Ep. ccxi): “Lest through excessive humility the superior lose his authority.” Therefore a man ought not, by humility, to subject himself to all.

On the contrary, It is written (Philippians 2:3): “In humility, let each esteem others better than themselves.”

I answer that We may consider two things in man, namely that which is God’s, and that which is man’s. Whatever pertains to defect is man’s: but whatever pertains to man’s welfare and perfection is God’s, according to the saying of Osee 13:9, “Destruction is thy own, O Israel; thy help is only in Me.” Now humility, as stated above (A[1], ad 5; A[2], ad 3), properly regards the reverence whereby man is subject to God. Wherefore every man, in respect of that which is his own, ought to subject himself to every neighbor, in respect of that which the latter has of God’s: but humility does not require a man to subject what he has of God’s to that which may seem to be God’s in another. For those who have a share of God’s gifts know that they have them, according to 1 Corinthians 2:12: “That we may know the things that are given us from God.” Wherefore without prejudice to humility they may set the gifts they have received from God above those that others appear to have received from Him; thus the Apostle says (Ephesians 3:5): “(The mystery of Christ) was not known to the sons of men as it is now revealed to His holy apostles.” In like manner. humility does not require a man to subject that which he has of his own to that which his neighbor has of man’s: otherwise each one would have to esteem himself a greater sinner than anyone else: whereas the Apostle says without prejudice to humility (Galatians 2:15): “We by nature are Jews, and not of the Gentiles, sinners.” Nevertheless a man may esteem his neighbor to have some good which he lacks himself, or himself to have some evil which another has not: by reason of which, he may subject himself to him with humility.

Reply to Objection 1: We must not only revere God in Himself, but also that which is His in each one, although not with the same measure of reverence as we revere God. Wherefore we should subject ourselves with humility to all our neighbors for God’s sake, according to 1 Peter 2:13, “Be ye subject … to every human creature for God’s sake”; but to God alone do we owe the worship of latria.

Reply to Objection 2: If we set what our neighbor has of God’s above that which we have of our own, we cannot incur falsehood. Wherefore a gloss [St. Augustine, QQ. lxxxiii, qu. 71] on Philippians 2:3, “Esteem others better than themselves,” says: “We must not esteem by pretending to esteem; but we should in truth think it possible for another person to have something that is hidden to us and whereby he is better than we are, although our own good whereby we are apparently better than he, be not hidden.”

Reply to Objection 3: Humility, like other virtues, resides chiefly inwardly in the soul. Consequently a man, by an inward act of the soul, may subject himself to another, without giving the other man an occasion of detriment to his spiritual welfare. This is what Augustine means in his Rule (Ep. ccxi): “With fear, the superior should prostrate himself at your feet in the sight of God.” On the other hand, due moderation must be observed in the outward acts of humility even as of other virtues, lest they conduce to the detriment of others. If, however, a man does as he ought, and others take therefrom an occasion of sin, this is not imputed to the man who acts with humility; since he does not give scandal, although others take it.
Article 4: Whether humility is a part of modesty or temperance?

Objection 1: It would seem that humility is not a part of modesty or temperance. For humility regards chiefly the reverence whereby one is subject to God, as stated above (A[3]). Now it belongs to a theological virtue to have God for its object. Therefore humility should be reckoned a theological virtue rather than a part of temperance or modesty.

Objection 2: Further, temperance is in the concupiscible, whereas humility would seem to be in the irascible, just as pride which is opposed to it, and whose object is something difficult. Therefore apparently humility is not a part of temperance or modesty.

Objection 3: Further, humility and magnanimity are about the same object, as stated above (A[1], ad 3). But magnanimity is reckoned a part, not of temperance but of fortitude, as stated above (Q[129], A[5]). Therefore it would seem that humility is not a part of temperance or modesty.

On the contrary, Origen says (Hom. viii super Luc.): “If thou wilt hear the name of this virtue, and what it was called by the philosophers, know that humility which God regards is the same as what they called metriotes, i.e. measure or moderation.” Now this evidently pertains to modesty or temperance. Therefore humility is a part of modesty or temperance.

I answer that As stated above (Q[137], A[2], ad 1; Q[157], A[3], ad 2), in assigning parts to a virtue we consider chiefly the likeness that results from the mode of the virtue. Now the mode of temperance, whence it chiefly derives its praise, is the restraint or suppression of the impetuosity of a passion. Hence whatever virtues restrain or suppress, and the actions which moderate the impetuosity of the emotions, are reckoned parts of temperance. Now just as meekness suppresses the movement of anger, so does humility suppress the movement of hope, which is the movement of a spirit aiming at great things. Wherefore, like meekness, humility is accounted a part of temperance. For this reason the Philosopher (Ethics iv, 3) says that a man who aims at small things in proportion to his mode is not magnanimous but “temperate,” and such a man we may call humble. Moreover, for the reason given above (Q[160], A[2]), among the various parts of temperance, the one under which humility is comprised is modesty as understood by Tully (De Invent. Rhetoric ii, 54), inasmuch as humility is nothing else than a moderation of spirit: wherefore it is written (1 Peter 3:4): “In the incorruptibility of a quiet and meek spirit.”

Reply to Objection 1: The theological virtues, whose object is our last end, which is the first principle in matters of appetite, are the causes of all the other virtues. Hence the fact that humility is caused by reverence for God does not prevent it from being a part of modesty or temperance.

Reply to Objection 2: Parts are assigned to a principal virtue by reason of a sameness, not of subject or matter, but of formal mode, as stated above (Q[137], A[2], ad 1; Q[157], A[3], ad 2). Consequently, although humility is in the irascible as its subject, it is assigned as a part of modesty or temperance by reason of its mode.

Reply to Objection 3: Although humility and magnanimity agree as to matter, they differ as to mode, by reason of which magnanimity is reckoned a part of fortitude, and humility a part of temperance.

Article 4: Whether human law binds a man in conscience?

Objection 1: It would seem that human law does not bind man in conscience. For an inferior power has no jurisdiction in a court of higher power. But the power of man, which frames human law, is beneath the Divine power. Therefore human law cannot impose its precept in a Divine court, such as is the court of conscience.

Objection 2: Further, the judgment of conscience depends chiefly on the commandments of God. But sometimes God’s commandments are made void by human laws, according to Matthew 15:6: “You have made void the commandment of God for your tradition.” Therefore human law does not bind a man in conscience.

Objection 3: Further, human laws often bring loss of character and injury on man, according to Isaiah 10:1 et seqq.: “Woe to them that make wicked laws, and when they write, write injustice; to oppress the poor in judgment, and do violence to the cause of the humble of My people.” But it is lawful for anyone to avoid oppression and violence. Therefore human laws do not bind man in conscience.

On the contrary, It is written (1 Peter 2:19): “This is thankworthy, if the conscience … a man endure sorrows, suffering wrongfully.”

I answer that Laws framed by man are either just or unjust. If they be just, they have the power of binding in conscience, from the eternal law whence they are derived, according to Proverbs 8:15: “By Me kings reign, and lawgivers decree just things.” Now laws are said to be just, both from the end, when, to wit, they are ordained to the common good — and from their author, that is to say, when the law that is made does not exceed the power of the lawgiver — and from their form, when, to wit, burdens are laid on the subjects, according to an equality of proportion and with a view to the common good. For, since one man is a part of the community, each man in all that he is and has, belongs to the community; just as a part, in all that it is, belongs to the whole; wherefore nature inflicts a loss on the part, in order to save the whole: so that on this account, such laws as these, which impose proportionate burdens, are just and binding in conscience, and are legal laws.
On the other hand laws may be unjust in two ways: first, by being contrary to human good, through being opposed to the things mentioned above — either in respect of the end, as when an authority imposes on his subjects burdensome laws, conducive, not to the common good, but rather to his own cupidity or vainglory — or in respect of the author, as when a man makes a law that goes beyond the power committed to him — or in respect of the form, as when burdens are imposed unequally on the community, although with a view to the common good. The like are acts of violence rather than laws; because, as Augustine says (De Lib. Arb. i, 5), “a law that is not just, seems to be no law at all.” Wherefore such laws do not bind in conscience, except perhaps in order to avoid scandal or disturbance, for which cause a man should even yield his right, according to Matthew 5:40,41: “If a man … take away thy coat, let go thy cloak also unto him; and whosoever will force thee one mile, go with him other two.”
Secondly, laws may be unjust through being opposed to the Divine good: such are the laws of tyrants inducing to idolatry, or to anything else contrary to the Divine law: and laws of this kind must nowise be observed, because, as stated in Acts 5:29, “we ought to obey God rather than man.”

Reply to Objection 1: As the Apostle says (Romans 13:1,2), all human power is from God … “therefore he that resisteth the power,” in matters that are within its scope, “resisteth the ordinance of God”; so that he becomes guilty according to his conscience.

Reply to Objection 2: This argument is true of laws that are contrary to the commandments of God, which is beyond the scope of (human) power. Wherefore in such matters human law should not be obeyed.

Reply to Objection 3: This argument is true of a law that inflicts unjust hurt on its subjects. The power that man holds from God does not extend to this: wherefore neither in such matters is man bound to obey the law, provided he avoid giving scandal or inflicting a more grievous hurt.

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