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 Rickaby’s Commentary on Romans 1:1-7

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 13, 2010

1. Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, a title not taken at the opening of any of the three previous epistles, but lately much in the Apostle s thoughts, as appears from Gal 6:17. It would be better to read either Paul, servant, or Paul, the servant. The three previous epistles Fr. Rickaby commented on were 1 & 2 Corinthians and Galatians.

Separated unto the gospel of God. Cf. Acts 13:2: The Holy Ghost said to them: Separate me Saul and Barnabas for the work whereunto I have taken them. Cf. also Gal 1:15, 16. The apostleship is of a nature to absorb all a man’s energy, life, and love.

2. Which he had promised before, by his prophets, in the holy Scriptures.

Promised by his prophets. The prophets were the apostles (men sent by God, Isaias vi. 8) of the Old Testament, as the Apostles were the prophets (God’s spokesmen, Luke x. 16) of the New. The faithful are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Eph 2:20).

3. Concerning his Son, who was made to him of the seed of David according to the flesh.

Made to him. The to him is not in the Greek. Made, or born, γενομενου.

Of the seed of David. The genealogy in St. Luke 4:23 31, is probably that of Mary; Joseph, who was of Heli, meaning son-in-law of Heli, otherwise called Heliachim, or Joachim. The difficulty arising from Luke 1:5, 36; Ex 2:1; 4:14, joined with Num 36; Tob 6:11, 12, is surmounted by supposing the prohibition of intermarriage between the tribes to have been confined to the case of females who were left heiresses by the failure of male issue. Thus Elizabeth on the mother s side may well have been of the tribe of Juda, and so related to Mary.

According to the flesh, that is, in His human nature, as Man: cf. Rom 9:3, 5. The phrase bears another sense in Rom 8 passim; 1 Cor 1:26; 2 Cor 1:17; 10:2, 3; 11:18; Gal 4:23, 29; John 8:15,  cf. Jn 1:13. It occurs remarkably in 2 Cor 5:16, where see notes.

4. Who was predestinated the Son of God in power, according to the spirit of sanctification, by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead.

Who was predestinated the Son of God. The Vulgate prædestinatus points to a Greek reading, προωρισεν (the word occurs in Acts 4:28; Rom 8:29, 30; 1 Cor 2:7; Eph 1:5, 11), which is not found in any Greek MS., but appears in St. Epiphanius (Hær. 54, 6). All the Greek MSS. read ορισθεντος (marked out), without the preposition. St. Hilary (De Trin. 7, 24) has destinatus, and Tertullian (Adv. Prax. 28) definitus. The Greek is the more received and likely reading. The Greek Fathers explain it to mean shown forth and manifested. Such is the sense required by the words that follow, as will be evident. If we keep the reading predestinated, we must understand it to mean predestinated to be shown forth, i.e. marked out beforehand from eternity to be shown forth in time as the Son of God.

In power according to the spirit of sanctification means exactly what we read in Rom 15:19, in (i.e. by) the power of the Holy Ghost. So the justice which is by faith, literally, justice according to faith (Heb 11:7), is equivalent to the justice of faith (Rom 4:13).

By the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. We have here a double mistranslation. A literal rendering of what St. Paul wrote would run thus: Who was marked out Son of God in power according to the Spirit of sanctification by resurrection of dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. The words Jesus Christ our Lord are in apposition with Son of God: they are not the genitive after resurrection. True, they are genitive in the Greek, but so is Son of God, του ορισθεντος υιου θεου. The Latin translator has put this participle as a relative clause, changing υιου into filius, and has failed to change what was in apposition with υιου into the nominative also. This is one error–of no dogmatic consequence, but a loss of forcibleness and grammatical accuracy.

The second error is peculiar to our English translators, who have translated ex resurrectione mortuorum, εξ αναστασεως νεκρων, by the resurrection from the dead, instead of by resurrection of dead. The phrase εξ νεκρων, or  των νεκρων, occurs eleven times in Scripture (Matt 22:31; Acts 17:32; 23:6; 24:21; 26:23; 1 Cor 15:12, 13, 21, 42; Heb 6:2, and here); and it invariably means the same as the eleventh article of the Creed, the resurrection of the body, that is, of all dead bodies at the day of judgment. On the other hand, resurrection from the dead is εξαναστασιν των νεκρων, resurrectio ex mortuis (Phil 3:11; Luke 20:35; 1 Pet 1:3, &c.)

The literal then is the right rendering, εξ αναστασεως νεκρων, ex resurrectione mortuorum, by rising of the dead. The preposition εξ, ex, is rightly rendered by, as appears from James 2:18; Rev 8:11, showing the source of the demonstration.

But how can the Divine Sonship of Jesus Christ be marked out and manifest by the resurrection of the dead, an event which has not yet taken place? The answer is that it has taken place already, in promise and potency, by the resurrection of Christ Himself. So St. Paul says: But now Christ is risen from the dead, the first-fruits of them that sleep: for by a man came death, and by a man the resurrection of the dead (αναστασις νεκρων): and as in Adam all die, so also in Chnst all shall be made alive (1 Cor 15:20-22). Nor is the phrase irrespective of our resurrection in baptism (Rom 6:4, 5, 11).

5. By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith in all nations for his name.

By whom we have received, that is, ‘of whom I have received.’  It refers to the special call to the apostleship that St. Paul had from Jesus Christ Himself. See on Gal 1:1 Cf. also 1 Tim 1:12; and for the use of the preposition (δι ου) to denote the chief agent, 1 Cor 1:9; 1 Pet 2:14.

Grace and apostleship, i.e. a gratuitous gift of apostleship: freely have you received (Matt 10:8).

For obedience to the faith, to win men’s obedience to the faith, that is, to the gospel. Cf. Acts 6:7, obeyed the faith, meaning exactly obey the gospel (Rom 6:16). For another possible explanation see on Gal 3:2.

For his name, on his behalf, Acts 5:41; 9:16.

6. Among whom are you also the called of Jesus Christ:

The called of Jesus Christ. Cf. John 5:25, the dead there spoken of being those dead in sin, as the Ephesians (Eph 2:1) and Romans were before their conversion. Called in the New Testament (e.g. Matt. xxii. 14) means always those who have been called and have come to the faith and fold of Christ. Thus it means called by Jesus Christ, through the Apostles speaking in His name.

7. To all that are at Rome, the beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord  Jesus Christ.

In the New Testament generally, as here, the Father is called God, the Son Lord: in which phraseology the names are given, not “essentially,” but “notionally,” as theologians speak. That is to say, the Father is God, the fountain of divinity, as He is the First Person of the Holy Trinity: the Son is Lord by the title of redemption. But if therefore the Son is not God, neither is the Father Lord.

3 Responses to “Father Rickaby’s Commentary on Romans 1:1-7”

  1. […] Father Rickaby on Romans 1:1-7 for the 4th Sunday of Advent. Available 12:20 AM EST. This commentary is a bit technical. […]

  2. […] Father Rickaby’s Commentary on Romans 1:1-7. […]

  3. […] Father Rickaby’s Commentary on Romans 1:1-7. […]

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