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

Bernardin de Piconio on Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6 for the Solemnity of the Epiphany (Jan 2)

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 28, 2010

Note: this post includes commentary on 3:1-6.

1. For this thing’s sake I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles.

For this thing’s sake, because you are, and in order that you may remain, fellow-citizens of the Saints, and the household and temple of God (Eph 2:19-22).  I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ. The article is prefixed to prisoner in the Greek. The prisoner of whom you have so often heard,
for the captivity of the Apostle was a great political event, well known throughout the Roman empire. I Paul, who have been chosen by Jesus Christ to carry his name before nations and kings. Act 9:15. It was the indignation
and anger of the Jews at his assiduous and successful accomplishment of this mission, which occasioned his imprisomnent, as appears from the narrative in the Acts of the Apostles, 20-28, and accordingly he describes himself as the prisoner, literally the bound, of Jesus Christ, for you Gentiles. It will be observed that St. Paul is not at all ashamed of his imprisonment, or of its cause, but glories in both as a high honour and distinction. This imprisonment was either that of two years at Rome, described Acts 28:30, which is most probable; or that which took place two years later, and ended in the martyrdom of the Apostle, June 29, A.D. 67.

2. If indeed you have heard the dispensation of the grace of God, which was given me towards you.

You will recognize that I am a prisoner on your account, if, which is most probable, you have heard of the Apostolic mission which God has entrusted to me, towards the Gentiles.  St. Paul had resided and taught three years
at Ephesus, but the Saints never, unless absolutely compelled, speak of God’s graces shown to themselves, and it was possible that some of the Ephesians, who had been converted since the visit of the Apostle to their city, might not be sufficiently aware of his claims on their attention. He calls his apostolate the dispensation, or economy, of the grace of God. Economy means the
prudent management of domestic affairs, or sometimes of the administration of the government of a state. Here it is God’s prudent provision for the extension of the Gospel and the welfare of the Church. Every apostolate, prelacy, or charge of preaching is a grace of God, given gratuitously for the welfare and advantage of others. It should therefore not be sought for personal reasons, or from the favour of man, or for repose or pleasure; but only for labour.

3. That by revelation the mystery was made known to me, as I have briefly written above.

You have heard that the mystery was made known to me by divine revelation. The Vulgate here uses the word sacramentum, and in the next verse mysterium, for the Greek term, which is the word last named. What the
mystery is, he explains in the following verses. Here he states that God had directly revealed it to him, as is briefly recorded in the former chapters of this Epistle, especially in Eph 1:9.

4. So that you are able, when }ou read, to understand my wisdom in the mystery of Christ.

When you read what I have already said, and what I am about to say, you will at once perceive the source from which my information is drawn. The Greek has my intelligence, Theophylact, my knowledge. St. Paul does not always meticulously distinguish between prudence, wisdom, intelligence, and science.

5. Which in other generations was not known to the sons of men, as now it is revealed to his holy Apostles and Prophets in the Spirit.

The secret was absolutely unknown, in former generations, to the greater part of the nations of the earth. Neither was it known to any one of those nations, or even to their Prophets, with the same clearness and certainty with which it has now been revealed by the Holy Spirit to the holy Apostles and Prophets of the new law. The vocation of the Gentiles is, indeed, mentioned not obscurely by Isaias and other Prophets, but still there was silence as to many circumstances not then fully revealed, as, for instance, that the Gentiles were to be admitted without becoming; Jewish proselytes, without circumcision and obedience to the precepts of Moses. And to many nations the writings of these Prophets were wholly unknown. The truth was only revealed in its fulness to the Apostles and Prophets of the Christian Church. Of these Prophets there were many in the Apostolic age, as is evident from the writings of St. Paul, and particularly his first Epistle to the Corinthians.

6. That the nations are coheirs, and united in one body, and fellow participators of his promise, in Christ Jesus, through the Gospel.

The Gentiles, without becoming Jewish proselytes, are heirs with the Jews of God’s heavenly kingdom, members of the holy Catholic Church, which is the mystical body of Christ, and partakers of the promised benediction of all nations, which was announced of old to the patriarch Abraham. Or else, of the Holy Spirit, which God had promised to pour forth upon mankind. And this inheritance, with all its glorious privileges in the present, and anticipations in the future, they obtain by faith in the Gospel of Christ. Those who listen to the teaching of the Apostles, have, therefore, a deeper insight into the mysteries of God, than was communicated even to the Prophets of the Old Testament.

2 Responses to “Bernardin de Piconio on Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6 for the Solemnity of the Epiphany (Jan 2)”

  1. […] Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6. […]

  2. […] Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6. […]

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