Father Macevilly’s Commentary on Romans 5:1-2, 5-8 for the Third Sunday of Lent
Posted by Dim Bulb on March 22, 2011
Note: This post includes the Bishop’s brief analysis of the chapter, the commentary on the Sunday reading follows. One should also notice that the verse numbering in the version the Bishop is using (Douay-Rheims Bible) differs slightly from modern version, for this reason I’ve included the commentary on 9.
Analysis of the entire chapter: The Apostle, having proved in the preceding chapters, that our justification comes from faith and not from the works performed by the sole aid of either the natural law or the law of Moses, now points out the excellence of this justification from its effects and the fruits which it produces. The first effect is, peace and tranquility of conscience (vs. 1). The second is the adoption of us, as sons of God (vs 2). The third is joy in our affliction, which subserve as means to bring us to the enjoyment of our eternal inheritance (vs 3-5). We have two most consoling and certain grounds for this hope, viz., the diffusion of the Holy Ghost in our hearts, and the death of Christ, than which God could not furnish a greater proof of his boundless love (vs 6-10). The fourth effect of our justification is our glorifying in God, as our Father, and in Jesus Christ, as our Mediator (vs 11). In order to show the absolute necessity of this reconciliation on the part of Christ, the Apostle traces matters to the very root of all evil, viz., original sin, of which subject he treats in the remainder of the chapter.
Notes: words in blue are the Bishop’s paraphrase of the biblical text.
5:1. Being justified therefore by faith, let us have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Having, therefore, been justified through faith (in Christ resuscitated from the grave to complete our justification 4:25), let us be at peace with God, by sinning no more; or, by laying aside the terrors of conscience to which we are subject while in the state of sin, having been reconciled through our Lord Jesus Christ.
“By faith,” and not by the cause advanced by the Jews and Gentiles respectively, viz., the works of the moral and Mosaic laws. “Let us have peace.” In the common Greek copies it is we have peace, i.e., we have God propitious and reconciled to us. The Vulgate reading, it that of the Alexandrian and Vatican Manuscripts, and followed by many of the Holy Fathers, Sts. Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine, &c. The meaning of both readings differs but little. Beelen prefers the indicative reading, “we have,” which is the reading of the other verses; “we stand,” vers 3; “we glory,” verse 3, etc.
5:2. By whom also we have access through faith into this grace, wherein we stand, and the glory in the hope of the glory of the sons of God.
Through whose merits we have had access, by means of faith, to this grace of reconciliation, wherein we are firmly established, and wherein we glory, in the hope of enjoying one day the bliss in store for the sons of God.
“By whom also,” i.e., through whose merits, “we have access,” (in the Greek, we had access), i.e., we had been admitted to that happy state of grace in which we firmly persevere-sanctifying grace, as a habit, firmly adheres to us-and of which we boast, since it furnishes us with the most assured hope of one day enjoying the glorious inheritance prepared for the sons of God, of which grace is the seed, and the sure earnest. The Greek word for “access,” literally means approach, and frequently means, permission to approach great men. Here it is used metaphorically to denote introduction to a state of grace. “Sons” is not in the Greek, which runs thus, “in the hope of the glory of God.” “Through faith.” Christ has given us access through faith, as through a door, to sanctifying grace.
5:5. And hope confoundeth not: because the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost who is given to us.
But this hope of future bliss shall never cause the shame of disappointment, since, as a pledge of the fulfillment of this hope, the charity and liberality of God is poured forth into our hearts by the Holy Ghost who has been given to us. (After giving us this pledge of our future inheritance, what can God deny to us?)
“And hope confoundeth not.” The Greek for “confoundeth,” means shameth, by which is expressed the shame of disappointment resulting from grounding our hope on vain, delusive promises; but our hopes in God are most certain and infallible, as is seen from two indubitable proofs which he has given us of the fulfillment of his promises. The first proof is the diffusion of the gift of charity, by which we love him through the Holy Ghost, who is given to us, and permanently resides and inheres in our souls by his gifts. The words, “in our hearts” favor this meaning of “charity of God.” “The charity of god” may also refer to the love of god for us manifested by his pouring forth plenteously into our souls the gifts of his Holy Spirit, which permanently resides and inheres in us; and these gifts of sanctifying grace, and the virtues which are inseparable from it, being the seed of future glory, are the surest earnest god could give us of one day attaining that glory. This latter meaning of “the charity of God,” is rendered probable by verse 8. It may refer to both God’s love for us, and our love for Him. Some Commentators understand the words, “by the Holy Ghost who is given to us,” to refer to a personal union of the Holy Ghost, in a manner peculiar or proper to him, and not common to the Father and Son (see Beelen). From this verse is derived an argument, that sanctifying grace is intrinsic and permanent, as it is “poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given to us,” to reside in us.
Rom 5:6 For why did Christ, when as yet we were weak, according to the time, die for the ungodly?
In the next place, why should Christ die for us at the prescribed time, when we were yet impious and languishing under the infirmity of sin, unless it were to display his charity towards us and confirm our hope?
The second proof of God s love for us, and a further confirmation of our hope is, the death of Christ for us “for why did Christ. ..die for the ungodly?” unless it was by this splendid proof of his love for us to animate and confirm our hope, and give us an assurance, that, one day, God would crown his gifts in us. “Why” is not in the common Greek, which gives the sentence in an affirmative form, ετι γαρ. The ancient MSS. have various readings. The Codex Vaticamts, ει γε. Ireneus and other Fathers support the Vulgate; “weak,” i.e., labouring under the infirmity of infidelity and sin, which is more clearly expressed in the word “ungodly.” The first proof of his great
charity which God has given us, is the diffusion of the gifts of his Holy Spirit in our hearts. The second is the death of Christ for us. “According to the time,” i.e., at the precise period pointed out by the prophets, and fixed on by his heavenly Father.
Rom 5:7 For scarce for a just man will one die: yet perhaps for a good man some one would dare to die.
Now, scarcely will you find among men an instance of one man dying for another: even though that other be a just man. I say scarcely, because, perhaps, for the just man, who may be at the same time a benefactor, one may submit to die.
The Apostle, in order to render the love and charity displayed by God for us in the death of his Son the more conspicuous, contrasts this great act of love on the part of God with similar manifestations on the part of mankind to one another. “Scarcely will you find one” to carry his love for another to such a degree, as to die for him, even though that one be “a just man.” It may, however, possibly happen that this rare instance of love may be shown in behalf of a just man, who may be at the same time beneficent to us. “A good man,” implies, not only that one is just, rendering to every one what is due, but also beneficent to us ; and therefore, having some grounds for demanding a sacrifice from us.
Rom 5:8 But God commendeth his charity towards us: because when as yet we were sinners according to the time.
Rom 5:9 Christ died for us. Much more therefore, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from wrath through him.
But in this does God display in a conspicuous manner his charity and love for us, that Christ has died in the plenitude of time for us, while we were yet his enemies and in the state of sin. Having suffered so much for us while in the state of sin. Having suffered so much for us while in a state of sin, much more shall we be saved and preserved by him from the eternal punishment with which he will in his wrath visit the impious, now that we have been justified at the price of his precious blood.
But the charity of God surpasses anything ever heard of, or anything even supposed to be possible among men, by His dying for us, when we were neither “just” nor “good,” but when we were “sinners” and enemies. The Greek word for “commends,” συνιστησιν, means, to setforth, to display. The words “according to the time,” κατα καιρον, are not in any Greek copies, and were probably introduced from verse 6. The word “God” is omitted in the Codex Vaticanus, according to which “Christ” is the nominative to “commendeth.” What a lively picture is drawn here by the Apostle of the boundless love of God for man the Creator dying for us, his wretched creatures, when we were his enemies. How few correspond with this boundless love. How few make a suitable return. Tam amantem quis non redamet? in quantum possumus, amenus, redamemus culneratum nostrum. (St. Bernard, de Passione). What wonder that the Apostle should invoke the heaviest malediction on the head of him who loves not our Lord Jesus Christ.-(1 Cor 16:29.) “Let us therefore love God, because God first hath loved us.” (1 John 4:19.) How frequently should we not meditate on the different circumstances of God s love for us, as here set forth by the Apostle.