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

Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 15:4-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 29, 2010

Note: I’ve included Father Callan’s brief summary of verses 1-13 in order to help provide the immediate context and theme for today’s reading. His commentary on verses 2-9 follows. Text in red represent my additions.


A summary of Rom 15:1-13. Not only should the strong Christian avoid scandalizing the weak, but all should try to bear with one another, and by
positive acts help to bear one another’s burdens. This must be done to the end that God may be glorified; for all are one in Christ, whose example we must imitate.

4. For what things soever were written, were written for our learning: that through patience and the comfort of the scriptures, we might have hope.

The reason for the above citation of Scripture is now given. What things soever were written, i.e., in the Old Testament, were intended for our instruction as Christians ( 1 Cor 10:11; 2 Tim 3:16). And the purpose God had in giving us the Scriptures, with their sublime examples of patience and all other virtues, their manifestations of God’s goodness and promises of reward, was to inspire us with hope for our future rewards.

We might have hope. Better, “We may have hope.” In the Vulgate per should precede consolationem, to agree with the Greek.

5. Now the God of patience and of comfort grant you to be of one mind one towards another, according to Jesus Christ.

5. St. Paul now passes from Scripture to its Author, God, who enables us to endure, and who encourages us by the Scriptures; and he expresses the wish that God, by His grace, will enable the Christians all to avoid discord and cultivate unity of peace, having the same thoughts and sentiments according to Jesus Christ (or, “Christ Jesus,” as in the best Greek), i.e., according to the will of Christ (Cornely); or in the spirit and according to the example of Christ (Lagr., S. H., etc.).

6. That with one mind, and with one mouth, you may glorify God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The purpose of the desired unity is that, by oneness in faith and charity, the Christians may praise and glorify God with one heart and one mind.

God and the Father. Better, “the God and Father,” etc., as in the Greek. God is the God of Christ’s human nature, and the Father of His divine nature (2 Cor 1:3; xi. 31; Eph 1:3; Col 1:3).

7. Wherefore receive one another, as Christ also hath received you unto the honour of God.

This verse is a restatement of verses 5 and 6. Each and all the Christians are asked to do for one another what above the strong were requested to do for the weak, and this in imitation of Christ who has brought all to Himself, in spite of their differences and sins, to the end that God may be glorified.

8. For I say that Christ Jesus was minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.

The great and fundamental argument in favor of the unity St. Paul is urging for the Roman Christians is to be found in the fact that all, both Jewss and Gentiles, have been received by Christ with the view to form one people for the glory of God. The Apostle begins here to speak of what God has done for the Jews.

Jesus is not in the Greek.

Minister of the circumcision, i.e., minister of the Jews, whom our Lord served by His preaching (Cornely). The Saviour came to minister to all men (Matt 20:28); but He was in a special manner the servant of the Jews, to whom His personal mission directly pertained (Matt 15:24), to whom He gave His heavenly teaching, and whose Law He observed. This service Christ rendered the Jews for the truth of God, i.e., in the interest of God’s truthfulness, to confirm, by fulfilling, the faithfulness and veracity of God’s promises, which were primarily made to the Patriarchs and their descendants.

9. But that the Gentiles are to glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: Therefore will I confess to thee, O Lord, among the Gentiles, and will sing to thy name.

But that the Gentiles are to glorify God, etc. A better rendering would be: “But the Gentiles to honor God,” etc. The infinitive “to glorify” (δοξασαι) of this verse, like to confirm (βεβαιωσαι) , of the preceding verse, being dependent upon εις το, marks a further result of Christ’s ministry to the Jews. Note: “The Gentiles are to glorify God” is a statement of fact, but St Paul wishes to emphasize this fact’s connection with Christ, i.e., as a further result of his ministry to the Jews, which was “to confirm the promises made unto the fathers” (vs 8. see nest paragraph).

Christ was minister of the circumcision, etc., for a twofold purpose: (a) in order to confirm, by fulfilling, the promises made to the Patriarchs; and (b) in order that the Gentiles should glorify God for His mercy in calling them to the faith, independently of any merits on their part. St. Paul is admonishing the Gentile converts not to despise their Jewish brethren on account of any obsolete and scrupulous practices of the latter, (see Rom 14:13-23), because, as he says, Christ preached only to the Jews in fulfillment of the promises made to their ancestors, but with the further intention that the Gentiles should later be objects of God’s mercy and, through faith, become heirs of the promises originally made to the Jews. Thus has Christ embraced all, both Jews and Gentiles, for the glory of God. What an incentive to unity and charity among the Christians themselves. (Here you may wish to read what St Paul has to say in 9:1-11:36).

As it is written. The Apostle now (verses 9b-i2) cites several texts of the Old Testament to prove that the praise which the Gentiles render to God was foretold of old.

Therefore will I confess, etc. The quotation is from Ps 17:50 (i.e., 18:50 in most modern translations) and 2 Kings 22:50, almost literally according to the LXX. The Psalmist is singing the praises of God who has helped him to triumph over his enemies and establish his throne, so as to glorify the name of Yahweh among the heathen. David was a type of Christ, and hence St. Paul, understanding the words of the royal Psalmist in their typical sense, puts them on the lips of the Saviour and makes Him say: I will confess, etc.,
i.e., I will praise the mercy of God among the Gentiles who, through the Apostles, shall be converted to the faith and render thanks to God for the mercy He has shown them.

10. And again he saith: Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.

This second quotation is from Deut 32:43, from the Song of Moses, according to the Septuagint. Moses calls upon all the pagan peoples to unite with the people of Israel in praising God for His mercies to all.

11. And again: Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and magnify him, all ye people.

Psalm 117:1 is now cited according to the LXX. The Psalmist invites the Gentiles directly to praise the Lord for His mercies and faithfulness, which one day they will experience in their call to the faith.

12. And again Isaias saith: There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise up to rule the Gentiles, in him the Gentiles shall hope.

This fourth citation is from Isaiah 11:10, freely according to the LXX. The Hebrew of this passage reads: “In that day there shall be the root of Jesse, who shall be raised as an ensign for the people; him the Gentiles shall beseech.” The root of Jesse is the Messiah who would be an ensign or standard around which the Gentiles would rally, and whose authority they would obey. The Gentiles shall hope in Christ, because they shall know His designs of mercy to save them, although they are outside His chosen people.

13. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing; that you may abound in hope, and in the power of the Holy Ghost.

The Apostle terminates the Moral Part of his Epistle with the ardent wish that the Christians may ever possess that joy and peace which are the consequences of the hope that God has given them. The idea of hope was suggested by the end of the preceding verse.

The God of hope, i.e., the God who is the source of all our hope.

Fill you with all joy, which comes from hope in God’s infinite mercy and goodness that have reconciled you with Him and given you that peace which springs from the true faith.

May abound, etc., i.e., may ever increase in hope of eternal life.

In the power, i.e., through the power or charity of the Holy Ghost, who is the cause of this desired increase in hope.

2 Responses to “Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 15:4-13”

  1. […] Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 15:4-9 for Sunday Mass, Dec 5. Available 12:05 AM EST. […]

  2. […] the Ordinary Form of the Rite. The Epistle Reading is the same, and commentary on it can be found here and […]

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