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

Archive for June 1st, 2011

Pope St Gregory the Great: Admonitions

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 1, 2011

This is excerpted from St Gregory the Great’s Pastoral rule. It contains several references to today’s Second Reading.

Differently to be admonished are those who already give compassionately of their own, and those who still would fain seize even what belongs to others. For those who already give compassionately of their own are to be admonished not to lift themselves up in swelling thought above those to whom they impart earthly things; not to esteem themselves better than others because they see others to be supported by them. For the Lord of an earthly household, in distributing the ranks and ministries of his servants, appoints some to rule, but some to be ruled by others. Those he orders to supply to the rest what is necessary, these to take what they receive from others. And yet it is for the most part those that rule who offend, while those that are ruled remain in favour with the good man of the house. Those who are dispensers incur wrath; those who subsist by the dispensation of others continue without offence. Those, then, who already give compassionately of the things which they possess are to be admonished to acknowledge themselves to be placed by the heavenly Lord as dispensers of temporal supplies, and to, impart the same all the more humbly from their understanding that the things which they dispense are not their own. And, when they consider that they are appointed for the service of those to whom they impart what they have received, by no means let vain glory elate their minds, but let fear depress them. Whence also it is needful for them to take anxious thought test they distribute what has been committed to them unworthily; lest they bestow something on those on whom they ought to have spent nothing, or nothing on those on whom they ought to have spent something, or much on those on whom they ought to have spent little, or little on those on whom they ought to have spent much; lest by precipitancy they scatter unprofitably what they give; lest by tardiness they mischievously torment petitioners; lest the thought of receiving a favour in return creep in; lest craving for transitory praise extinguish the light of giving; lest accompanying moroseness beset an offered gift; lest in case of a gift that has been well offered the mind be exhilarated more than is fit; lest, when they have fulfilled all aright, they give something to themselves, and so at once lose all after they have accomplished all.

For, that they may not attribute to themselves the virtue of their liberality, let them hear what is written, If any man administer, let him do it as of the ability which God administereth (1 Pet 4:1). That they may not rejoice immoderately in benefits bestowed, let them hear what is written, When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants, we have done that which was our duty to do (Lk 17:10). That moroseness may not spoil liberality, let them hear what is written, God loveth a cheerful giver (2 Cor9:7). That they may not seek transitory praise for a gift bestowed, let them hear what is written, Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth (Mt 6:3). That is, let not the glory of the present life mix itself with the largesses of piety, nor let desire of favour know anything of the work of rectitude. That they may not require a return for benefits bestowed, let them hear what is written, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours, lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. but, when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed; for they have not whereof to recompense thee (Lk 14:12 seq.). That they may not supply too late what should be supplied at once, let them hear what is written, Say not unto thy friend, go and come again, and to-morrow I will give, when thou mightest give immediately (Prov 3:28). Lest, under pretence of liberality, they should scatter what they possess unprofitably, let them hear what is written, Let thine alms sweat in thine hand. Lest, when much is necessary, little be given, let them hear what is written, (He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly (2 Cor 9:6). Lest, when they ought to give little, they give too much, and afterwards, badly enduring want themselves, break out into impatience, let them hear what is written, Not that other men be eased, and ye burdened, but by an quality, that your abundance may supply their want, and that their abundance may be a supply to your want (2 Cor 8:13-14). For, when the soul of the giver knows not how to endure want, then, in withdrawing much from himself, he seeks out against himself occasion of impatience. For the mind should first be prepared for patience, and then either much or all be bestowed in bounty, lest, the inroad of want being borne with but little equanimity, both the reward of previous bounty be lost, and subsequent murmuring bring worse ruin on the soul. Lest they should give nothing at all to those on whom they ought to bestow something, let them hear what is written, Give to every man that asketh of thee (Lk 6:30). Lest they should give something, however little to those on whom they ought to bestow nothing at all, let them hear what is written). Give to the good man, and receive not a sinner: do well to him that is lowly, and give not to the ungodly (Sir 12:4). And again, Set out thy bread and wine on the burial of the just, but eat and drink not thereof with sinners (Tobit 4:17).

For he gives his bread and wine to sin-nets who gives assistance to the wicked for that they are wicked. For which cause also some of the rich of this world nourish players with profuse bounties, while the poor of Christ are tormented with hunger. He, however, who gives his bread to one that is indigent, though he be a sinner, not because he is a sinner, but because he is a man, does not in truth nourish a sinner, but a poor righteous man, because what he loves in him is not his sin, but his nature. Those who already distribute compassion- ately what they possess are to be admonished also that they study to keep careful guard, lest, when they redeem by alms the sins they have committed, they commit others which will still require redemption; lest they suppose the righteousness of God to be saleable, thinking that if they take care to give money for their sins, they can sin with impunity. For, The soul is more than meat, and the body than raiment (Mt 6:25; Lk 12:23). He, therefore, who bestows meat or raiment on the poor, and yet is polluted by iniquity of soul or body, has offered the lesser thing to righteousness, and the greater thing to sin; for he has given his possessions to God, and himself to the devil.

But, on the other hand, those who still would fain seize what belongs to others are to be admonished to give anxious heed to what the Lord says when He comes to judgment. For He says, I was an hungered, and ye gave Me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me not in: naked, and ye clothed Me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited Me not (Mt 25:42-43). And these he previously addresses saying, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into eternal fire, which is prepared for the devil and his angels (Mt 25:41). Lo, they are in no wise told that they have committed robberies or any other acts of violence, and yet they are given over to the eternal fires of Gehenna. Hence, then, it is to be gathered with how great damnation those will be visited who seize what is not their own, if those who have indiscreetly kept their own are smitten with so great punishment. Let them consider in what guilt the seizing of goods must bind them, if not parting with them subjects to such a penalty. Let them consider what injustice inflicted must deserve, if kindness not bestowed is worthy of so great a chastisement.

When they are intent on seizing what is not their own, let them hear what is written, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! How long doth he heap up against himself thick clay (Hab 2:6)? For, indeed, for a covetous man to heap up against him thick clay is to pile up earthly gains into a load of sin. When they desire to enlarge greatly the spaces of their habitation, let them hear what is written, Woe unto you that join house to house and lay field to field, even till there be no place left. What, will ye dwell alone in the midst of the earth (Isa 5:8)? As if to say plainly, How far do ye stretch yourselves, ye that cannot bear to have comrades in a common world? Those that are joined to you ye keep down, and ever find some against whom ye may have power to stretch yourselves. When they are intent on increasing money, let them hear what is written, The covetous man is not filled with money; and he that loveth riches shall not reap fruit thereof (Sir 5:9). For indeed he would reap fruit of them, were he minded, not loving them, to disperse them well. But whoso in his affection for them retains them, shall surely leave them behind him here without fruit. When they burn to be filled at once with all manner of wealth, let them hear what is written, He that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent (Prov 28:20): for certainly he who goes about to increase wealth is negligent in avoiding sin; and, being caught after the manner of birds, while looking greedily at the bait of earthly things, he is not aware in what a noose of sin he is being strangled, When they desire any gains of the present world, and are ignorant of the losses they will suffer in the world to come, let them hear what is written, An inheritance to which haste is made in the beginning in the last end shall lack blessing (Prov 20:21). For indeed we derive our beginning from this life, that we may come in the end to the lot of blessing. They, therefore, that make haste to an inheritance in the beginning cut off from themselves the lot of blessing in the end; since, while they crave to be increased in goods here through the iniquity of avarice, they become disinherited there of their eternal patrimony. When they either solicit very much, or succeed in obtaining all that they have solicited, let them hear what is written). What is a man profited, if he should gain the whole world, but lose his own soul (Mt 16:26)? As if the Truth said plainly, What is a man profited, though he gather together all that is outside himself, if this very thing only which is himself he damns? But for the most part the covetousness of spoilers is the sooner corrected, if it be shewn by the words of such as admonish them how fleeting is the present life; if mention be made of those who have long endeavoured to grow rich in this world, and yet have been unable to remain long among their acquired riches; from whom hasty death has taken away suddenly and all at once whatever, neither all at once nor suddenly, they have gathered together; who have not only left here what they had seized, but have carried with them to the judgment arraignments for seizure. Let them, therefore, be told of examples of such as these, whom they would, doubtless, even themselves, in words condemn; so that, when after their words they come back to their own heart, they may blush at any rate to imitate those

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Sunday, June 5: Resources for Sunday Mass (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms)

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 1, 2011

This post contains resources (mostly biblical commentaries) on the readings for this Sunday’s Mass and includes the readings for both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite (please note the readings differ in the two forms). As you can see here I have had a busy week of blogging and so this post is at present a bit sparse. I hope to add content on Thursday or Friday. These will be marked UPDATE.


Sunday Mass Readings.

Sunday Divine Office.

Father Callan’s Commentary on the First Reading (Acts 1:12-14).

Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on the First Reading (Acts 1:12-14).

St Thomas Aquinas’ Commentary on Psalm 27.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 27.

Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on the Second Reading (1 Peter 4:13-16).

Pope St Gregory the Great: Admonitions. Includes several appeals to today’s second reading.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on the Gospel Reading (John 17:1-11a).

St Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on the Gospel Reading (John 17:1-11a).

St John Chrysostom’s Exegetical Homily on the Gospel Reading (John 17:1-11a).

UPDATE: Navarre Bible Commentary:

UPDATE: Word Sunday:

UPDATE: Historical Cultural Context. Looks at John 17 in the context of his cultural milieu.

UPDATE: Thoughts From the Early Church. Excerpt from St Cyril of Alexandria, see the full text above.

UPDATE: The Scripture in Depth. A brief summary of the major points of the readings.

UPDATE: Catholic Matters. Text of readings with brief notes.

UPDATE: Dr. Scott Hahn’s Podcast. Brief, highlights major theme(s). Text available.


Roman Missal for the Sunday Within the Octave of the Ascension. Latin and English. Contains the readings for the Extraordinary Form, prayers, etc.

My Notes on 1 Peter 4:7-11.

Father’s Nolan and Brown on John 15:26-16:4. Previously posted for a weekday Mass.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 15:26-16:4. Previously posted for a weekday Mass.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 15:26-16:4. Previously posted for a weekday Mass.

UPDATE: Prudence in Prayer and Love. Homily on the Epistle.

UPDATE: On Distractions in Prayer. Homily on the Epistle.

UPDATE: On the Mission of the Holy Spirit and the Sufferings of the Disciples. Homily on the Gospel.

UPDATE: What the Faith Teaches us Concerning the Holy Spirit. Dogmatic homily on the Gospel.

UPDATE: Preparing for Pentecost. Liturgical homily on the Gospel.

UPDATE: How We Must Give Testimony of Jesus According to the Example of the Apostles. Symbolic homily on the Gospel.

UPDATE: How the Christian of Modern Times May Bear Witness to Jesus Christ. Homily on the Gospel.

UPDATE: Homily on the Epistle and Gospel.

UPDATE: The Vice of Lying. A Moral Homily on the Gospel.

UPDATE: Scandal. A Moral Homily on the Gospel.


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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on John 17:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 1, 2011

Jn 17:1-13″These words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and saith, Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee.”

“He that hath done and taught,” it saith, “the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of heaven.” And with much reason; for to show true wisdom in words, is easy, but the proof which is by works is the part of some noble and great one. Wherefore also Christ, speaking of the endurance of evil, putteth Himself forth, bidding us take example from Him. On this account too, after this admonition, He betaketh Himself to prayer, teaching us in our temptations to leave all things, and flee to God. For because He had said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation,” and had shaken their souls, by the prayer He raiseth them again. As yet they gave heed unto Him as to a man; and for their sake He acteth thus, just as He did in the case of Lazarus, and there telleth the reason; “Because of the people that stand by I said it, that they might believe that Thou hast sent Me.” (Jn 11:42). “Yea,” saith some one, “this took place with good cause in the case of the Jews; but wherefore in that of the disciples?” With good cause in the case of the disciples also. For they who, after all that had been said and done, said, “Now we know that Thou knowest” (Jn 16:30), most of all needed to be established. Besides, the Evangelist doth not even call the action prayer; but what saith he? “He lifted up His eyes to heaven,” and saith rather that it was a discoursing with the Father. And if elsewhere he speaks of prayer, and at one time shows Him kneeling on His knees, at another lifting His eyes to heaven, be not thou troubled; for by these means we are taught the earnestness which should be in our petitions, that standing we should look up, not with the eyes of the flesh only, but of the mind, and that we should bend our knees, bruising our own hearts. For Christ came not merely to manifest Himself, but also about to teach virtue ineffable. But it behooveth the teacher to teach, not by words only, but also by actions.Let us hear then what He saith in this place.

“Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee.”

Again He showeth us, that not unwilling He cometh to the Cross. For how could He be unwilling, who prayed that this might come to pass, and called the action “glory,” not only for Himself the Crucified, but also for the Father? since this was the case, for not the Son only, but the Father also was glorified. For before the Crucifixion, not even the Jews knew Him; “Israel,” it saith, “hath not known Me” (Isa 1:3); but after the Crucifixion, all the world ran to Him. Then He speaketh also of the manner of the glory, and how He will glorify Him.

Jn 17:2. “As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh,” “that nothing which Thou hast given Him should perish.”

For to be always doing good, is glory to God. But what is, “As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh”? He now showeth, that what belongs to the preaching is not confined to the Jews alone, but is extended to all the world, and layeth down beforehand the first invitations to the Gentiles. And since He had said, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles” (Mt 10:5), and after this time is about to say, “Go ye, and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19), He showeth that the Father also willeth this. For this greatly offended the Jews, and the disciples too; nor indeed after this did they easily endure to lay hold on the Gentiles, until they received the teaching of the Spirit; because hence arose no small stumblingblock for the Jews. Therefore, when Peter after such a manifestation of the Spirit came to Jerusalem, he could scarcely, by relating the vision of the sheet, escape the charges brought against him. But what is, “Thou hast given Him power over all flesh”? I will ask the heretics, “When did He receive this power? was it before He formed them, or after?” He himself saith, that it was after that He had been crucified, and had risen again; at least then He said, “All power is given unto Me” (Mt 28:18), and, “Go ye and make disciples of all nations.” What then, had He not authority over His own works? Did He make them, and had He not authority over them after having made them? Yet He is seen doing all in times of old, punishing some as sinners, (for, “Surely I will not hide,” it saith, “from My servant Abraham, that which I am about to do”—, Gn 18:17 LXX.,) and honoring others as righteous. Had He then the power at that time, and now had He lost it, and did He again receive it? What devil could assert this? But if His power was the same both then and now, (for, saith He, “as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will”—Jn 5:21,) what is the meaning of the words? He was about to send them to the Gentiles; in order therefore that they might not think that this was an innovation, because He had said, “I am not sent, save unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt 15:24), He showeth that this seemeth good to the Father also. And if He saith this with great meanness of circumstance, it is not wonderful. For so He edified both those at that time, and those who came afterwards; and as I have before said, He always by the excess of meanness firmly persuaded them that the words were those of condescension.

But what is, “Of all flesh”? For certainly not all believed. Yet, for His part, all believed; and if men gave no heed to His words, the fault was not in the teacher, but in those who received them not.

“That He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him.”

If here also He speaketh in a more human manner, wonder not. For He doth so both on account of the reasons I have given, and to avoid the saying anything great concerning Himself; since this was a stumblingblock to the hearers because as yet they imagined nothing great concerning Him. John, for example, when He speaks in his own person, doth not so, but leadeth up his language to greater sublimity, saying, “All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made” (Jn 1:3-4, 9,11); and that He was “Life”; and that He was “Light”; and that “He came to His own”: he saith not, that He would not have had power, had He not received it, but that He gave to others also “power to become sons of God.” And Paul in like manner calleth Him equal with God. But He Himself asketh in a more human way, saying thus, “That He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him.” (Philippians 2:6).

Jn 17:3. “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.”

“The only true God,” He saith, by way of distinction from those which are not gods; for He was about to send them to the Gentiles. But if they will not allow this, but on account of this word “only” reject the Son from being true God, in this way as they proceed they reject Him from being God at all. For He also saith, “Ye seek not the glory which is from the only God.” (Jn 5:44). Well then; shall not the Son be God? But if the Son be God, and the Son of the Father who is called the Only God, it is clear that He also is true, and the Son of Him who is called the Only true God. Why, when Paul saith, “Or I only and Barnabas” (1 Cor 9:6), doth heexclude Barnabas? Not at all; for the “only”is put by way of distinction from others. And, if He be not true God, how is He “Truth”? for truth fir surpasses what is true. What shall we call the not being a “true” man, tell me? shall we not call it the not being a man at all? so if the Son is not true God, how is He God? And how maketh He us gods and sons, if He is not true? But on these matters we have spoken more particularly in another place; wherefore let us apply ourselves to what follows.

Jn 17:4. “I have glorified Thee on the earth.” Well said He, “on the earth”; for in heaven He had been already glorified, having His own natural glory, and being worshiped by the Angels. Christ then speaketh not of that glory which is bound up with His Essence, (for that glory, though none glorify Him, He ever possesseth in its fullness,) but of that which cometh from the service of men. And so the, “Glorify Me,” is of this kind; and that thou mayest understand that He speaketh of this manner of glory, hear what follows.

“I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me that I should do it.”

And yet the action was still but beginning, or rather was not yet beginning. How then said He, “I have finished”? Either He meaneth, that “I have done all My part”; or He speaketh of the future, as having already come to pass; or, which one may say most of all, that all was already effected, because the root of blessings had been laid, which fruits would certainly and necessarily follow, and from His being present at and assisting in those things which should take place after these. On this account He saith again in a condescending way, “Which Thou gavest Me.” For had He indeed waited to hear and learn, this would have fallen far short of His glory. For that He came to this  of His own will, is clear from many passages. As when Paul saith, that “He so loved us, as to give Himself for us” (Eph 5:2); and, “He emptied Himself, and took upon Him the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:7); and, “As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you.” (Jn 15:9).

Jn 17:5. “And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine Own Self, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.”

Where is that glory? For allowing that He was  with reason unhonored among men, because of the covering  which was put around Him; how seeketh He to be glorified with the Father? What then saith He here? The saying refers to the Dispensation; since His fleshly nature had not yet been glorified, not having as vet enjoyed incorruption, nor shared the kinglythrone. Therefore He said not “on earth,” but “with Thee.”

[3.] This glory we also shall enjoy according to our measure, if we be sober. Wherefore Paul saith, “If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” (Rom 8:17). Ten thousand tears then do they merit, who through sluggishness and sleep plot against themselves when such glory is set before them; and, were there no hell, they would be more wretched than any, who, when it is in their power to reign and to be glorified with the Son of God, deprive themselves of so great blessings. Since if it were necessary to be cut in pieces, if to die ten thousand deaths, if to give up every day ten thousand lives and as many bodies, ought we not to submit to such things  for such glory? But now we do not even despise money, which hereafter, though unwilling, we shall leave: we do not despise money, which brings about us ten thousand mischiefs, which remains here, which is not our own. For we are but stewards of that which is not our own, although we receive it from our fathers. But when there is hell besides, and the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched, and the gnashing of teeth, how, tell me, shall we bear these things? How long will we refuse to see clearly, and spend our all on daily fightings, and contentions, and unprofitable talk, feeding, cultivating earth, fattening the body and neglecting the soul, making no account of necessary things, but much care about things superfluous and unprofitable? And we build splendid tombs, and buy costly houses, and draw about with us herds of all kinds of servants, and devise different stewards, appointing managers of lands, of houses, of money, and managers of those managers; but as to our desolate soul, we care nothing for that. And what will be the limit to this? Is it not one belly that we fill, is it not one body that we clothe? What is this great bustle of business? Why and wherefore do we cut up and tear to pieces the one  soul, which we have had assigned to us, in attending to the service of such things, contriving for ourselves a grievous slavery? For he who needs many things is the slave of many things, although he seem to be their master. Since the lord is the slave even of his domestics, and brings in another and a heavier mode of service; and in another way also he is their slave, not daring without them to enter the agora, nor the bath, nor the field, but they frequently go about in all directions without him. He who seems to be master, dares not, if his slaves be not present, to go forth from home, and if whilst unattended he do but put his head out of his house, he thinks that he is laughed at. Perhaps some laugh at us when we say this, yet on this very account they would be deserving of ten thousand tears. For to show that this is slavery, I would gladly ask you, wouldest thou wish to need some one to put the morsel to thy mouth, and to apply the cup to thy lips? Wouldest thou not deem such a service worthy of tears? What if thou didst require continually supporters to enable thee to walk, wouldest thou not think thyself pitiable, and in this respect more wretched than any? So then thou oughtest to be disposed. now. For it matters nothing whether one is so treated by irrational things, or by men.

Why, tell me, do not the Angels differ from us in this respect, that they do not want so many things as we do? Therefore the less we need, the more we are on our way to them; the more we need, the more we sink dozen to this perishable life. And that thou mayest learn that these things are so, ask those who have grown old which life they deem happiest, that when they were helplessly mastered, or now when they are masters of these things? We have mentioned these persons, because those who are intoxicated with youth, do not even know the excess of theirslavery. For what of those in fever, do they call themselves happy when, thirsting much, they drink much and need more, or when, having recovered their health, they are free from the desire? Seest thou that in every instance the needing much is pitiable, and far apart from true wisdom, and an aggravation of slavery and desire? Why then do we voluntarily increase to ourselves wretchedness? For, tell me, if it were possible to live uninjured without roof or wails, wouldest thou not prefer this; wherefore then dost thou increase the signs of thy weakness? Do we not for this call Adam happy, that he needed nothing, no house, no clothes? “Yes,” saith some one, “but now we are in need of them.” Why then do we make our need greater? If many persons curtail many of the things actually needed, (servants, I mean, and houses, and money,) what excuse can we have if we overstep the need? The more thou puttest about thee, the more slavish dost thou become; for by whatever proportion thou requirest more, in that proportion thou hast trenched upon thy freedom. For absolute freedom is, to want nothing at all; the next is, to want little; and this the Angels and their imitators especially possess. But for men to succeed in this while tarrying in a mortal body, think how great praise this hath. This also Paul said, when writing to the Corinthians, “But I spare you,” and, “lest such should have trouble in the flesh.” (1 Cor 7:28). Riches are called “usables,” that we may “use” them rightly, and not keep and bury them; for this is not to possess them, but to be possessed by them. Since if we are going to make this our aim how to multiply them, not that we may employ them rightly, the order is reversed, and they possess us, not we them. Let us then free ourselves from this grievous bondage,and at last become free. Why do we devise tenthousand different chains for ourselves? Is not the bond of nature enough for thee, and the necessity of life, and the crowd of ten thousand affairs, but dost thou twine also other nets for thyself, and put them about thy feet? And when wilt thou lay hold on heaven, and be able to stand on  that height? For a great thing, a great thing is it, that even having cut asunder all these cords, thou shouldest be able to lay hold on the city which is above. So many other hindrances are there; all which that we may conquer, let us keep to the mean estate  [and having put away superfluities, let us keep to what is necessary.] Thus shall we lay hold on eternal life, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever’ and ever.

Jn 17:6 “I have manifested Thy Name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world; Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me, and they have kept Thy word.”

“‘Messenger’ of great counsel” (Isa 9:6 LXX)., the Son of God is called, because of the other things which He taught, and principally because He announced the Father to men, as also now He saith, “I have manifested Thy Name unto the men.” For after having said, “I have finished Thy work,” He next explaineth it in detail, telling what sort of work. Now the Name indeed was well known. For Esaias said, “Ye shall swear1 by the true God.” (Isa 65:16). But what I have often told you I tell you now, that though it was known, yet it was so only to Jews, and not to all of these: but now He speaketh concerning the Gentiles. Nor doth He declare this merely, but also that they knew Him as the Father. For it is not the same thing to learn that He is Creator, and that He hath a Son. But He “manifested His Name” both by words and actions.

“Whom Thou gavest Me out of the world.”As He saith above, “No man cometh unto Me except it be given him” (Jn 6:65); and, “Except My Father3 draw him” (Jn 6:64); so here too, “Whom thou gavest Me.” (Jn 14:6). Now He calleth Himself “the Way”; whence it is clear that He establisheth two things by what is said here, that He is not opposed to the Father, and that it is the Father’s will to entrust them to the Son.

“Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me.” Here He desireth to teach that He is greatly loved by the Father. For that He needed not to receive them, is clear from this, He made them, He careth for them continually. How then did He receive them? This, as I said before, showeth His unanimity with the Father. Now if a man choose to enquire into the matter in a human manner, and as the words are spoken, they will no longer belong to the Father. For if when the Father had them, the Son had them not, it is evident that when He gave them to the Son, He withdrew from His dominion over them. And again, there is a yet more unseemly conclusion; for they will be found to have been imperfect while they yet were with the Father, but to have become perfect when they came to the Son. But it is mockery even to speak thus. What then doth He declare by this? “That it hath seemed good to the Father also that they should believe on the Son.”

“And they have kept Thy word.”

Jn 17:7. “Now they have known that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are of Thee.”

How did they “keep Thy word”? “By believing in Me, and giving no heed to the Jews. For he that believeth in Him, it saith, ‘hath set to his seal that God is true.’” (Jn 3:33). Some read, “Now I know that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are of Thee.” But this would have no reason; for how would the Son be ignorant of the things of the Father? No the words are spoken of the disciples. “From the time,” He saith, “that I told them these things, they have learnt that all that Thou hast given Me is from Thee; nothing is alien, nothing peculiar to Me, with Thee.” (For whatever is peculiar, puts most things in the condition of being alien. “They therefore have known that all things, whatsoever I teach, are Thy doctrines and teachings.” “And whence have they learnt it?” From My words;9 for so have I taught them. And not only this have I taught them, but also that “I came out from Thee.” For this He was anxious to prove through all the Gospel.

Jn 17:9. “I pray for them.”

“What sayest Thou?” “Dost Thou teach the Father, as though He were ignorant? Dost Thou speak to Him as to a man who knoweth not?” “What then meaneth this distinction?” Seest thou that the prayer is for nothing else than that they may understand the love which He hath towards them? For He who not only giveth what He hath of His own, but also calleth on Another to do the same, showeth greater love. What then is, “I pray for them”? “Not for all the world,” He saith, but “for them whom Thou hast given Me.” He continually putteth the “hast given,” that they might learn that this seemeth good to the Father. Then, because He had said continually, “they are Thine,” and, “Thou gavest them unto Me,” to remove any evil suspicion, and lest any one should think that His authority was recent, and that He had but now received them, what saith He?

Jn 17:10. “All Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them.”

Seest thou the equality of honor? For lest on hearing, “Thou hast given them Me,” thou shouldest deem that they were alienated from the authority of the Father, or before this from that of the Son, He removed both difficulties by speaking as He did. It was as though He said, “Do not when thou hearest that ‘Thou hast given them to Me,’ deem that they are alienated from the Father, for what is Mine is His; nor when thou hearest, ‘Thine they were,’ think that they were aliens from Me, for what is His is Mine.” So that the, “Thou hast given,” is said only for condescension; for what the Father hath is the Son’s, and what the Son hath is the Father’s. But this cannot even be said of a son after the manner of man, but because They are upon a greater Equality of honor.  For that what belongs to the less, belongs to the greater also, is clear to every one, but the reverse not so; but here He converteth these terms, and the conversion declares Equality. And in another place, declaring this, He said, “All things that the Father hath are Mine,” speaking of knowledge. And the “hast given Me,” and the like expressions, are to show that He did not come as an alien and draw them to Him, but received them as His own. Then He putteth the cause and the proof, saying, “And I am glorified in them,” that is, either that “I have power over them,” or, that “they shall glorify Me, believing in Thee and Me, and shall glorify Us alike.” But if He is not glorified equally in them, what is the Father’s is no longer His. For no one is glorified in those over whom he hath no authority. Yet how is He glorified equally? All die for Him equally as for the Father; they preach Him as they do the Father; and as they say that all things are done in His Name, so also in the Name of the Son.

Jn 17:11. “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world.

That is, “Although I appear no longer in the flesh, yet by these am I glorified.” But why doth He say continuously, that, “I am not in the world”; and that, “because I leave them I commit them to Thee”; and that, “when I was in the world I kept them”? for if one should take these words in their simple sense, many absurdities will follow. For how could it be reasonable to say, that He is no longer in the world, and that when He departeth He committeth them to another? since these are the words of a mere man parting from them forever. Seest thou how He speaketh for the most part like a man, and in a way adapted to their state of mind, because they thought that they had a greater degree of safety from His presence? Wherefore He saith, “While I was with them, I kept them.” (Jn 14:28). Yet He telleth them, “I come to you”; and,“I am with you till the end.” (Mt 28:20). How then  saith He these words, as if about to be parted from them? He addresseth Himself, as I said before, to their thoughts, that they may take breath a little when they hear Him speaking thus, and delivering them over to the care of the Father. For since, after hearing many exhortations from Him, they were not persuaded, He then holdeth converse with the Father, manifesting His affection for them. As though He had said, “Since Thou callest Me to Thyself, place these in safety; for I come to Thee.” “What sayest Thou? Art Thou not able to keep them?” “Yea, I am able.” “Wherefore then speakest Thou thus?” “That they may have My joy fulfilled” (Jn 17:13); that is, “may not be confounded, as being imperfect.” And by these words He showed that He had spoken all these things so, to give them rest and joy. For the saying appears to be contradictory. “Now I am no longer in the world, and these are in the world.” This was what they were suspecting. For a while therefore He condescendeth to them, because had He said, “I keep them,” they would not have so well believed; wherefore He saith, “Holy Father, keep them through Thine own Name”; that is, “by thy help.”

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 17:1-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 1, 2011

Ver 1. These words spoke Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify your Son, that your Son also may glorify you:2. As you have given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him.3. And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.4. I have glorified you on the earth: I have finished the work which you gave me to do.5. And now, O Father, glorify you me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was.

CHRYS. After having said, In the world you shall have tribulation, our Lord turns from admonition to prayer; thus teaching us in our tribulations to abandon all other things, and flee to God.

BEDE. These things spoke Jesus, those things that He had said at the supper, partly sitting as far as the words, Arise, let us go hence; and thence standing, up to the end of the hymn which now commences, And lifted up His eyes and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify Your Son.

CHRYS. He lifted up His eyes to heaven to teach us intentness in our prayers: that we should stand with uplifted eyes, not of the body only, but of the mind.

AUG. Our Lord, in the form of a servant, could have prayed in silence had He pleased; but He remembered that He had not only to pray, but to teach. For not only His discourse, but His prayer also, was for His disciples’ edification, yes and for ours who read the same. Father, the hour is come, shows that all time, and every thing that He did or suffered to be done, was at His disposing, Who is not subject to time. Not that we must suppose that this hour came by any fatal necessity, but rather by God’s ordering. Away with the notion, that the stars could doom to death the Creator of the stars.

HILARY. He does not say that the day, or the time, but that the hour is come. An hour contains a portion of a day. What was this hour? He was now to be spit upon, scourged, crucified. But the Father glorifies the Son. The sun failed in his course, and with him all the other elements felt that death. The earth trembled under the weight of our Lord hanging on the Cross, and testified that it had not power to hold within it Him who was dying.

The Centurion proclaimed, Truly this was the Son of God. The event answered the prediction. Our Lord had said, Glorify Your Son, testifying that He was not the Son in name only, but properly the Son. Your Son, He said. Many of us are sons of God; but not such is the Son. For He is the proper, true Son by nature, not by adoption, in truth, not in name, by birth, not by creation. Therefore after His glorifying, to the manifestation of the truth there succeeded confession. The Centurion confesses Him to be the true Son of God, that so none of His believers might doubt what one of His persecutors could not deny.

AUG. But if He was glorified by His Passion, how much more by His Resurrection? For His Passion rather showed His humility than His glory. So we must understand, Father, the hour is come, glorify Your Son, to mean, the hour is come for sowing the seed, humility; defer not the fruit, glory.

HILARY. But perhaps this proves weakness in the Son; His waiting to be glorified by one superior to Himself. And who does not confess that the Father is superior, seeing that He Himself said, The Father is greater than I? But beware lest the honor of the Father impair the glory of the Son. It follows: That Your Son also may glorify You. So then the Son is not weak, inasmuch as He gives back in His turn glory for the glory which He receives. This petition for glory to be given and repaid, shows the same divinity to be in both.

AUG. But it is justly asked, how the Son can glorify the Father, when the eternal glory of the Father never experienced abasement in the form of man, and in respect of its own Divine perfection, does not admit of being added to. But among men this glory was less when God was only known in Judea; and therefore the Son glorified the Father, when the Gospel of Christ spread the knowledge of the Father among the Gentiles. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You; i.e. Raise Me from the dead, that by Me You may be known to the whole world.

Then He unfolds further the manner in which the Son glorifies the Father; As You have given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. All flesh signifies all mankind, the part being put for the whole. And this power which is given to Christ by the Father over all flesh, must be understood with reference to His human nature.

HILARY. For being made flesh Himself, He was about to restore eternal life to frail, corporeal, and mortal man.

HILARY. If Christ be God, not begotten, but unbegotten, then let this receiving be thought weakness. But not if His receiving of power signifies His begetting, in which He received what He is. This gift cannot be counted for weakness. For the Father is such in that He gives the Son remains God in that He has received the power of giving eternal life.

CHRYS. He said, You have given Him power over all flesh, to show that His preaching extended not to the Jews only, but to the whole world. But what is all flesh? For all did not believe? So far as lay with Him, all did. If they did not attend to His words, it was not His fault who spoke, but theirs who did not receive.

AUG. He said, As You have given Him power over all flesh, so the Son may glorify You, i.e. make You known to all flesh which You have given Him; for You have so given it to Him, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.

HILARY. And in what eternal life is, He then shows: And this is life eternal, that they might know You, the only true God. To know the only true God is life, but this alone does not constitute life. What else then is added? And Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

HILARY. The Arians hold, that as the Father is the only true, only just, only wise God, the Son has no communion of these attributes; for that which is proper to one, cannot be partaken of by another. And as these are as they think in the Father alone, and not in the Son, they necessarily consider the Son a false and vain God.

HILARY. But it must be clear to every one that the reality of any thing is evidenced by its power. For that is true wheat, which when rising with grain and fenced with ears, and shaken out by the winnowing machine, and ground into corn, and baked into bread, and taken for food, fulfills the nature and function of bread. I ask then wherein the truth of Divinity is wanting to the Son, Who has the nature and virtue of Divinity. For He so made use of the virtue of His nature, as to cause to be things which were not, and to do every thing which seemed good to Him.

HILARY. Because He says, You the only, does He separate Himself from communion and unity with God? He does separate Himself, but that He adds immediately, And Jesus Christ Whom You have sent. For the Catholic faith confesses Christ to be true God, in that it confesses the Father to be the only true God; for natural birth did not introduce any change of nature into the Only-Begotten God.

AUG. Dismissing then the Arians, let us see if we are forced to confess, that by the words, That they may know You to be the only true God, He means us to understand that the Father only is the true God, in such sense as that only the Three together, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are to be called God? Does our Lord’s testimony authorize us to say that the Father is the only true God, the Son the only true God, and the Holy Ghost the only true God, and at the same time, that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost together, i.e. the Trinity, are not three Gods, but one true God?

AUG. Or is not the order of the words, That they may know You and Jesus Christ, Whom You have sent, to be the only true God? the Holy Spirit being necessarily understood, because the Spirit is only the love of the Father and the Son, consubstantial with both. If then the Son so glorifies You as You have given Him power over all flesh, and You have given Him the power, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him, and, This is life eternal, to know You, it follows that He glorifies You by making You known to all whom You have given Him.

Moreover, if the knowledge of God is life eternal, the more advance we make in this knowledge, the more we make in life eternal. But in life eternal we shall never die. Where then there is no death, there will then be perfect knowledge of God; there will God be most glorified, because His glory will be greatest. Glory was defined among the ancients to be fame accompanied with praise.

But if man is praised in dependence on what is said of him, how will God be praised when He shall be seen? as in the Psalm, Blessed are they who dwell in Your house: they will be always praising You. There will be praise of God without end, where will be full knowledge of God. There then shall be heard the everlasting praise of God, for there will there be full knowledge of God, and therefore full glorifying of Him.

AUG. What He said to His servant Moses, I am that I am; this we shall contemplate in the life eternal.

AUG. For when sight has made our faith truth, then eternity shall take possession of and displace our mortality.

AUG. But God is first glorified here, when He is proclaimed, made known to, and believed in, by men: I have glorified You on the earth.

HILARY. This new glory with which our Lord had glorified the Father, does not imply any advancement in Godhead, but refers to the honor received from those who are converted from ignorance to knowledge.

CHRYS, He says, on the earth; for He had been glorified in heaven, both in respect of the glory of His own nature, and of the adoration of the Angels. The glory therefore here spoken of is not that which belongs to His substance, but that which pertains to the worship of man: wherefore it follows, I have finished the work which You gave Me to do.

AUG. Not You command Me, but, You gave Me, implying evidently grace. For what has human nature, even in the Only-Begotten, what it has not received? But how had He finished the work which had been given Him to do, when there yet remained His passion to undergo? He says He has finished it, i.e. He knows for certain that He will.

CHRYS. Or, I have finished, i.e. He had done all His own part, or had done the chief of it, that standing for the whole; (for the root of good was planted:) or He connects Himself with the future, as if it were already present.

HILARY. After which, that we may understand the reward of His obedience, and the mystery of the whole dispensation, He adds, And now glorify Me with the glory with Your own Self, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

AUG. He had said above, Father, the hour is come: glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You: the order of which words shows that the Son was first to be glorified by the Father, that the Father might be glorified by the Son. But now He says, I have glorified You; and now glorify Me, as if He had first glorified the Father, and then asked to be glorified by Him.

We must understand that the first is the order in which one was to succeed the other, but that He afterwards uses a past tense, to express a thing future; the meaning being, I will glorify You on the earth, by finishing the work you have given Me to do: and now, Father, glorify Me, which is quite the same sentence with the first one, except that He adds here the mode in which He is to be glorified; with the glory which I had before the world was, with You.

The order of the words is, The glory which I had with you before the world was. This has been taken by some to mean, that the human nature which was assumed by the Word, would be changed into the Word, that man would be changed into God, or, to speak more correctly, be lost in God. For no one would say that the Word of God would by that change be doubled, or even made at all greater. But we avoid this error, if we take the glory which He had with the Father before the world was, to be the glory which He predestined for Him on earth: (for if we believe Him to be the Son of man, we need not be afraid to say that He was predestined.)

This predestined time of His being glorified, He now saw was arrived, that He might now receive what had been aforetime predestined, He prayed accordingly: And now, Father, glorify Me, &c. i.e. that glory which I had with you by your predestination, it is now time that I should have at your right hand.

HILARY. Or He prayed that that which was mortal, might receive the glory immortal, that the corruption of the flesh might be transformed and absorbed into the incorruption of the Spirit.

Ver 6. I have manifested your name unto the men which you gave me out of the world: yours they were, and you gave them me; and they have kept your word.7. Now they have known that all things whatsoever you have given me are of you.8. For I have given unto them the words which you gave me: and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from You, and they have believed that you did send me.

CHRYS. Having said, I have finished My work, He shows what kind of work it was, viz. that He should make known the name of God: I have manifested your name unto the men which You gave Me out of the world.

AUG. If He speaks of the disciples only with whom He supped, this has nothing to do with that glorifying of which He spoke above, wherewith the Son glorified the Father; for what glory is it to be known to twelve or eleven men? But if by the men which were given to Him out of the world, He means all those who should believe in Him afterwards, this is without doubt the glory wherewith the Son glorifies the Father; and, I have manifested your name, is the same as what He said before, I have glorified You; the past being put for the future both there and here.

But what follows shows that He is speaking here of those who were already His disciples, not of all who should afterwards believe on Him. At the beginning of His prayer then our Lord is speaking of all believers, all to whom He should make known the Father, thereby glorifying Him: for after saying, that your Son also may glorify You, in strewing how that was to be done, He says, As You have given Him power over all flesh. Now let us hear what He says to the disciples: I have manifested your name to the men which You gave Me out of the world.

Had they not known the name of God then, when they were Jews? We read in the Psalms, In Jewry is God known; His name is great in Israel. I have manifested your name, then must be understood not of the name of God, but of the Father’s name, which name could not be manifested without the manifestation of the Son. For God’s name, as the God of the whole creation, could not have been entirely unknown to any nation. As the Maker then of the world, He was known among all nations even before the spread of the Gospel.

In Jewry He was known as a God, Who was not to be worshipped with the false gods: but as the Father of that Christ, by whom He took away the sins of the world, His name was unknown; which name Christ now manifests to those whom the Father had given Him out of the world. But how did He manifest it, when the hour had not come of which He said above, The hour comes, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs. We must understand the past to be put for the future.

CHRYS. That He was the Son of the Father, Christ had already manifested to them by words and deeds.

AUG. Which you have given Me out of the world: i.e. who were not of the world. But this they wore by regeneration, not by nature. What is meant by, Yours they were, and you gave them Me? Had ever the Father anything without the Son? God forbid. But the Son of God had that sometimes, which He had not as Son of man; for He had the universe with His Father, while He was still in His mother’s womb.

Wherefore by saying, They were Yours, the Son of God does not separate Himself from the Father; but only attributes all His power to Him, from whom he is, and has the same. And you gave them Me, then, means that He had received as man the power to have them; nay, that He Himself had given them to Himself, i.e. Christ as God with the Father, to Christ as man not with the Father. His purpose here is to show His unanimity with the Father, and how that it was the Father’s pleasure that they should believe in Him.

BEDE. And they have kept your word. He calls Himself the Word of the Father, because the Father by Him created all things, and because He contains in Himself all words: as if to say, They have committed Me to memory so well, that they never will forget Me.

Or, They have kept your word, i.e. in that they have believed in Me: as it follows, Now they have known that all things whatsoever You have given Me, are of You. Some read, Now I have known, &c. But this cannot be correct. For how could the Son be ignorant of what was the Father’s? It is the disciples He is speaking of; as if to say, They have learned that there is nothing in Me alien from You, and that whatever I teach comes from You.

AUG. The Father gave Him all things, when having all things He begat Him.

CHRYS. And whence have they learned? From My words, wherein I taught them that I came forth from You. For this was what He has been laboring to show throughout the whole of the Gospel: For I have given unto them the words which you gave me, and they have received them.

AUG. i.e. have understood and remembered them. For then is a word received, when the mind apprehends it; as it follows, And have known surely that I came out from You. And that none might imagine that that knowledge was one of sight, not of faith, He adds, And they have believed (surely, is understood) that you did send Me. What they believed surely, was what they knew surely; for I came out from You, is the same with, You did send Me.

They believed surely, i. e not as He said above they believed, but surely, i.e. as they were about to believe firmly, steadily, unwaveringly: never any more to be scattered to their own, and leave Christ The disciples as yet et were not such as He describes them to be in the past tense, meaning such as they were to be when the, had received the Holy Ghost.

The question how the Father gave those words to the Son, is easier to solve, if we suppose Him to have received them from the Father as Son of man. But if we understand it to be as the Begotten of the Father, let there be no time supposed previous to His having them, as if He once existed without them: for whatever God the Father gave God the Son, He gave in begetting.

Ver 9. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which you have given me; for they are yours.10. And all mine are yours, and yours are mine and I am glorified in them.11. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to you. Holy Father, keep through your own name those whom you have given me, that they may be one, as we are.12. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in your name: those that you gave me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.13. And now come I to you; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

CHRYS. As the disciples were still sad in spite of all our Lord’s consolations, henceforth He addresses Himself to the Father to show the love which He had for them; I pray for them; He not only gives them what He has of His own, but entreats another for them, as a still further proof of His love.

AUG. When He adds, I pray not for the world, by the world He means those who live according to the lust of the world, and have not the lot to be chosen by grace out of the world, as those had for whom He prayed: But for them which you have given Me. It was because the Father had given Him them, that they did not belong to the world. Nor yet had the Father, in giving them to the Son, lost what He had given: For they are Yours.

CHRYS. He often repeats, you have given Me, to impress on them that it was all according to the Father’s will, and that He did not come to rob another, but to take unto Him His own. Then to show them that this power had not been lately received from the Father, He adds, And all Yours, and Yours are Mine: as if to say, Let no one, hearing Me say, Them which You have given Me, suppose that they are separated from the Father; for Mine are His: nor because I said, They are Yours, suppose that they are separate from Me: for whatever is His is Mine.

AUG. It is sufficiently apparent from hence, that all things which the Father has, the Only-Begotten Son has; has in that He is God, born from the Father, and equal with the Father; not in the sense in which the elder son is told, All that I have is yours. For all there means all creatures below the holy rational creature, but here it means the very rational creature itself, which is only subjected to God. Since this is God the Father’s, it could not at the same time be God the Son’s, unless the Son were equal to the Father. For it is impossible that saints, of whom this is said, should be the property of any one, except Him who created and sanctified them. Who He says above in speaking of the Holy Spirit, All things that the Father has are Mine, He means all things which pertain to the divinity of the [Father; for He adds, He (the Holy Ghost) shall receive of Mine; and the Holy Ghost would not receive from a creature which was subject to the Father and the Son.

CHRYS. Then He gives proof of this, I am glorified in them. If they glorify Me, believing in Me and You, it is certain that I have power over them: for no one is glorified by those amongst whom he has no power.

AUG. He speaks of this as already done, meaning that it was as predestined, and sure to be. But is this the glorifying of which He speaks above, And now, O Father, glorify you Me with Your own Self? If then with Yourself, what means here, In them? Perhaps that this very thing, i.e. His glory with the Father, was made known to them, and through them to all that believe.

CHRYS. And now I am no more in the world: i.e. though I no longer appear in the flesh, I am glorified by those who die for Me, as for the Father, and preach Me as the Father.

AUG. At the time at which He was speaking, both were still in the world. Yet we must not understand, I am no more in the world, metaphorically of the heart and life; for could there ever have been a time when hen He loved the things of the world? It remains then that He means that He was not in the world, as He had been before; i.e. that He was soon going away. Do we not say every day, when any one is going to leave us, or going to die, such an one is gone? This is shown to be the sense by what follows; for He adds, And now I come to You. And then He commends to His Father those whom He was about to leave: Holy Father, keep through Your own name those whom you have given Me. As man He prays God for His disciples, whom He received from God. But mark what follows: That they may be one, as We are: He does not say, That they may be one with us, We are one: but, that they may be one: that they may b one in their nature, as We are one in Ours. For, in that He was God and man in one person as man He prayed, as God He was one with Him to Whom He prayed.

AUG. He does not say, That I and they maybe one, though He might have said so in the sense, that He was the head of the Church, and the Church His body; not one thing, but one person: the head and the body being one Christ. But strewing something else, viz. that His divinity is consubstantial With the Father, He prays that His people may in like manner be one; but one in Christ, not only by the same nature, in which mortal man is made equal to the Angels, but also by the same will, agreeing most entirely in the same mind, and melted into one Spirit by the fire of love. This is the meaning of, That they may be one as We are: viz. that as the Father and the Son are one not only by equality of substance, but also in will, so they, between whom and God the Son is Mediator, may be one not only by the union of nature, but by the union of love.

CHRYS. Again He speaks as man: While I was with them in the world, I kept them in your name; i.e. by your help. He speaks in condescension to the minds of His disciples, who thought they were more safe in His presence.

AUG. The Son as man kept His disciples in the Father’s name, being placed among them in human form: the Father again kept them in the Son’s name, in that He heard those who asked in the Son’s name. But we must not take this carnally, as if the Father and Son kept us in turns, for the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost guard us at the same time: but Scripture do does not raise us, except it stoop to us. Let us understand then that when our Lord says this, He is distinguishing the persons, not dividing, the nature, so that when the Son was keeping His disciples by His bodily presence, the Father was waiting to succeed Him on His departure; but both kept them by spiritual power, and when the Son withdrew His bodily presence, he still held with the Father the spiritual keeping . For when the Son as man received them into His keeping , He did not take them from n the Father’s keeping, and when the Father gave them into the Son’s keeping , it was to the Son as man, who at the, same time was God. Those that you gave Me I have kept, and none of them is lost but the Son of perdition: i.e. the betrayer of Christ, predestined to perdition; that the Scripture might be fulfilled, especially the prophecy, in Psalm 108.

CHRYS. He was the only one indeed who perished then, but there were many after. None of them is lost, i.e. as far as I am concerned; as He says above more clearly; I will in no wise cast out. But when they cast themselves out, I will not draw them to Myself by dint of compulsion. It follows: And now I come to you. But some one might ask, Can you not keep them? I can. Then why say you this? That they may have my joy fulfilled in them, i.e. that they may not be alarmed in their as yet imperfect state.

AUG. Or thus: That they might have the joy spoken of above: That they may be one, We are one. This spoken i.e. bestowed by Him, He says, is to be fulfilled in them on which account He spoke thus in the world. This joy is the peace and happiness of the life to come. He says He spoke in the world, though He had just now said, I am no more in the world. For, inasmuch as He had not yet departed, He was still here; and inasmuch as He was going to depart, He was in a certain sense not here.

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St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on John 17:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 1, 2011

John 17:1 These things spake Jesus; and lifting up His eyes to heaven He said, Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may also glorify Thee.

Having given His disciples a sufficiency of things necessary for salvation, and incited them by fitting words and arguments to a more accurate apprehension of His doctrines, and made them best able to battle against temptation, and confirmed the courage of each one, he straightway changes the form of His speech for our profit, and turns it into a kind of prayer, allowing no interval to elapse between His discourse to them and His prayer to God the Father; herein also by His own conduct suggesting to us a type of admirable life. For the man who aims at serving God ought, I think, to bear in mind that he ought at all events either to be fond of discoursing to his brethren of things profitable or necessary for their salvation, or, if he be not so engaged, to hasten to employ the service of the tongue in supplications to God, so as to render it impossible for any random words to slip in between; for in this way the governance of the tongue may be well and suitably ordered. For is it not quite obvious that, in vain conversations, things blameworthy may very readily escape a man? Moreover, a wise man has said: In the |479 multitude of words thou shalt not escape sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.

You may find besides another thing to admire, which is in no small degree profitable for us. The beginning of His prayer has reference to His own glory and that of God the Father, and afterwards, in intimate connexion with this, He introduces His prayer for us. And why is this? The reason is one which convinces the pious man that loves God, and actually disposes the worker of good deeds to prayer. For just as we ought to perform good actions, and do all things, not turning to our own glory our zeal herein, but to the glory of the Father of the Universe, I mean God, for He says: Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Which is in heaven; so also it best befits us, when occasion calls us to prayer, to pray for what redounds to God’s glory before what concerns ourselves, as indeed Christ also Himself enjoins us when He says: After this manner pray ye: Our Father Which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done as in Heaven so on earth. Give us this day our daily bread. What Christ here does, then, ought to be to us the pattern of prayer. For it was necessary that not an elder or messenger, but Christ Himself, should manifest Himself to be our Leader and Guide in all good, and in the way which leadeth to God. For we are called, and are in very truth, as the prophet says, taught of God.

And what He says to His Father it is right that we should consider with the greatest care. For I think we ought in a spirit of the most earnest attention to handle the investigation of His words, and most carefully search after the true intent of His teaching. Father, then, He says, The hour is come; glorify Thy Son that Thy Son may also glorify Thee. So far as the mere form of His language is concerned, one could think that the speaker had some lack of glory; but any one who considers the majesty of the Only-begotten would, I think, quickly |480 shrink from so grievous a conclusion. For it were great folly to think that the Son has any lack of glory, or falls short of the honour which is His due, though He is the Lord of glory, for so the inspired writings call Him. Especially when in another place we observe Him saying to His Father: O Father, glorify Me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was. Then who can any longer doubt, or who is so demented and so far the enemy of all truth as not to know and confess that the Only-begotten is not bereft of Divine glory so far as His own Nature is concerned; but that since being in the form of God, and in perfect equality with Him, He counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God, but nevertheless descended to the humiliation of human nature, and emptied Himself of His glory, wearing this mean body; and from love towards us putting on the likeness of human littleness, now that the fitting time had actually arrived, at which He was destined, after fulfilling the mystery of our redemption, to gird Himself about with His pristine and essential glory; having wrought out the salvation of the whole world, and secured life and the knowledge of God to those that are therein; herein I say He shows that He has God’s Will and favour, and makes this speech to Him, saying that He ought to recover the majesty due unto His Nature.

And how does He ascend into heaven? Surely He That even in the flesh showed Himself able to accomplish the deeds of a God was not in this subject to another’s power, but ascended of Himself, being the Wisdom and Might of God the Father. For we must think that thus in no other way He accomplishes the words of a God with power. For all things are from the Father, but not without the Son. For how could God the Father perform any of His proper functions, if His Wisdom and Might, I mean the Son, were not with Him, and accomplishing with Him those things in which His power is seen in active operation? Therefore also the wise Evangelist who wrote this book at the beginning of |481 His work says: All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made. Since then the doctrine of His Consubstantiality compels us by consequence to think that all things proceed from the Father, but wholly through the Son in the Spirit, and that He, having slain death and corruption and taken away from the devil his kingdom, was about to illumine the whole world with the light of the Spirit, and to show Himself thereby henceforth in very deed the true God by Nature, He is impelled to say, Father, glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may also glorify Thee. And no man of sense would maintain that the Son asks glory from the Father as a man from man, but rather that He also promises to give Him glory, as it were, in return. For it would be very unbecoming, nay rather wholly foolish, to have such an idea about God. The Saviour indeed spake these words to show how very necessary His own glory was to the Father, that He might be known to be Consubstantial with Him. For just as it would entail dishonour on God the Father, that the Son That was begotten of Him should not be such as He That is God by Nature and of God ought to be, so I think, to have His own Son invested with those attributes, which He is conceived of as having, and which are predicated of Him, will confer honour and glory upon Him. The Father therefore is glorified in the glory of His Offspring, as I said just now; giving glory to the Son, by considering throughout His earthly career, both from how great, and of what, a Father the Only-begotten sprang; and in turn receiving glory from the Son by the consideration of how great indeed is the Son, of Whom He is the Father. The honour and glory then, which is Theirs essentially and by Nature, will be reflected from the Son on the Father, and in turn from the Father on the Son.

If any man concede that, owing to the degradation of His Incarnation, our Lord here speaks more humbly than His true Nature warrants, for this was His custom, he will not altogether miss arriving at a proper |482 conclusion, but will not quite attain to the truth in the inquiry. For, if He were seeking only honour from the Father, there would be nothing unlikely in setting down the request to the inferiority of human nature; but, since He promises to glorify the Father in turn, does it not follow of necessity, that we should readily embrace the view we have just given? |483

2 Even as Thou gavest Him authority over all flesh, that whatsoever Thou hast given Him, to them He shall give eternal life.

In these words Christ expounds once more to us the kind of glory whereby God will exalt and glorify His own Son; and He will also Himself be glorified in turn by His own Offspring. And He expands the saying, and makes the point clear to our edification and profit. For what need had God the Father, Who knoweth all things, of learning the kind of request? He invites then the Father’s goodness towards us. For since He is the High Priest of our souls, insomuch as He appeared as Man, though being by Nature God together with the Father, He most fittingly makes His prayer on our behalf; trying to persuade us to believe that He is, even now, the propitiation for our sins, and a righteous Advocate; as John saith. Therefore also Paul, wishing us to be of this mind, thus exhorts us: For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but One that hath been in all points tempted like as we are; yet without sin. Then, since He is an High Priest, insomuch as He is Man, and, at the same time, brought Himself a blameless sacrifice to God the Father, as a ransom for the life of all men, being as it were the firstfruits of mortality, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence, as Paul says; and He reconciles to Him the reprobate race of man upon the earth, purifying them |484 by His own Blood, and shaping them to newness of life through the Holy Spirit; and since, as we have often said, all things are accomplished by the Father through the Son in the Spirit; He moulds the prayer for blessings towards us, as Mediator and High Priest, though He unites with His Father in giving and providing Divine and spiritual graces. For Christ divideth the Spirit, according to His own Will and pleasure, to every man severally, as He will.

So far with reference to this. Now let us examine and declare what is meant by the form of prayer used. Father, then, He saith, glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may also glorify Thee. How then, or in what manner, will what I have said be brought to pass? I will, He says, that as Thou hast given Me power over all flesh, that so also, all that Thou hast given Me may have life eternal. For the Father glorified His own Son, putting the whole world under His rule: and He was glorified Himself also in turn by Him. For the Son was glorified of the Father, being believed of all to be the Offspring and Fruit of Him That is all-powerful, and at His pleasure puts all things under the yoke of His Son’s kingly power; and the Father was glorified in turn, so to speak, by His own Son. For since the Son was known to be able to accomplish all things at His pleasure, the splendour of His reputation has reached to Him That begat Him. As therefore, He says, Thou didst glorify and wast glorified, giving to the Son power and sovereignty over all, after the manner just now stated, so I will that nothing that Thou hast given Me be lost; for this honour will pass from the Father to the Son, and from the Son to the Father. For it was meet that all those who were wholly subject to, and under, the rule of the Word, the all-powerful God, now having been saved once for all, should also abide in blessings without end; so as to be freed from the power of death, and the dominion of corruption and sin, and should no longer lie in subjection to their ancient enemies. |485

And, as the words, Thou gavest Him authority over all flesh, may possibly perplex some simple-minded hearers, let us make a few reflections thereon which may be useful; without scruple, as it is necessary, even though language may be wholly inadequate to such an exposition. For the Lord will say this most suitably in the character He had assumed; I mean His humiliation and His lowly humanity. For listen to the argument: If indeed we feel ashamed, when we hear that He became a slave for our sakes, though Lord of all with the Father; and that He was set up as King upon His holy hill of Zion, though He had the power to reign over the universe by right of His own Nature, and borrowed it not from others; we must needs also feel ashamed, if He says that He receives anything as Man. And, if we marvel at His voluntary subjection, when we bear in mind the dignity that is His by birthright, why are we not also astonied when we hear this saying? For, possessing all things as God, He says that He receives as Man, to whom kingly power comes, not by natural right, but by gift. For What hast thou that thou didst not receive? will suit the limitations of created beings; and Christ is also a creature in so far as He is Man; though by Nature uncreate, in so far as He came from God. For all things are conceived of, as naturally and individually being in God’s hand, and are so in truth; but all good things in us are borrowed and brought down to us by Divine grace. When then, as Man, being appointed to rule over us, He says that the Father has given Him power over all flesh, we must not be offended at it; for we must bear in mind the scheme of our redemption. But, if you choose to listen to His words as having more reference to His Divinity, think on what the Lord said to the Jews: Verily, verily, I say unto you, no man can come to Me except the Father which sent Me draw Him. For whom the Father will quicken, them, as by His own life-giving power, He brings to His Son, and through Him gives them power and wisdom; nay. if He will to bring any into subjection to |486 His own rule, He calls them in no other way, save by the living and all-sufficient Might, whereby He rules over the universe—-I mean His Son. For men, who have of themselves no power to accomplish anything that is above and beyond themselves, borrow from God the power, which can bring all things superhuman into subjection; for through Him, kings have their dominion, according to the Scripture, and monarchs through Him rule over the earth. And the God of the universe, having this power in Himself alone, subjects to Himself the race of man, who are reprobates from His love, and have shaken off the yoke of His kingdom, together with all beside; receiving, as it were, from His own might, the gift of dominion over them, and subjugating thereby whatsoever He will. For God the Father subjects them to His Son, as to His own power; and through Him wholly, and in no other way, all things that exist become His willing subjects, through obedience to His yoke. For as He endows with wisdom, and quickens with life, all things through Him, so also He rules over the universe through Him.

We must observe, however, that it was not to Israel alone any longer, that the favour of the Divine love of mankind was confined, but it was extended to all flesh. For that which is wholly subject to the power of the Saviour, will wholly partake in life and grace from Him. |487

3 And this is life eternal, that they should know Thee the only true God, and Him Whom Thou didst send, even Jesus Christ.

He defines faith as the mother of eternal life, and says that the power of the true knowledge of God will be such as to cause us to remain for ever in a state of incorruption, and blessedness, and sanctification. And we say that that is true knowledge of God, which cannot incur the reproach of turning aside to aught else, or running after things unseemly. For some have worshipped the creature rather than the Creator, and have dared to say to a block of wood: Thou art my Father; and to a stone, Thou hast begotten me. For to such abysmal ignorance did miserable men relapse, that they even gave, in all its fulness, the great Name of God, to senseless blocks of wood; and invested them with the ineffable glory of that Nature, which is over all. He calls God the Father, then, the only true God, by contrast to spurious gods, and with the intention to distinguish the true God, from those who are so named in error; for this is the object of His words. Very appropriately, then, He first speaks of God as being One and One only, and then makes mention of His own glory in the words: And Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent. For a man can in nowise attain to complete knowledge of the Father, unless side by side, and in most intimate connexion with it, he lay hold on the knowledge of His Offspring; that is, the Son. For, if a man know what the |488 Father is, he cannot but know also the Son. When, then, He said that the Father was the true God, He did not exclude Himself. For being in Him, and of Him, by Nature, He will be also Himself the true God and the only God, as He is the only God: for beside Him, there is none other god who is the only true God. For the gods of the heathen are devils. For the creation is enslaved, and I know not how any worship them, or sink into such a slough of unreasoning and sensuous folly. With the many gods, then, in this world, who are erroneously so conceived, and have won this spurious title, the only true God is brought into contrast; and the Son also, Who is by Nature in Him, and of Him, at once in diversity and in identity of Nature, according to a natural Unity. I say in diversity of Nature, because He has in fact an individual Existence; for the Son is the Son, and not the Father. In identity of Nature also, because the Son, Who came forth from Him, is inseparably joined by Nature, with the existence of His Father. For the Father is one with the Son, even though He is the Father; and is so spoken of, because He did in fact beget Him.

This, then, He says, is eternal life, that they should know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent. Then one of those who are never weary of hearkening to the Scripture, and seriously pursue the study of Divine doctrines, will ask: Do we say that knowledge is eternal life; and that to know the one true and living God will suffice to give us complete security of expectation, and nothing else be lacking? Then how is faith apart from works dead? And when we speak of faith, we mean the true knowledge of God, and nothing else; for by faith comes knowledge: and the prophet Isaiah bears us witness, who said to some: If ye do not believe neither shall ye understand. And that the writings of the holy men are referring to the knowledge which consists in barren speculations, a thing wholly profitless, I think you will perceive from what follows. For one of the holy disciples said: Thou believest that |489 God is one; thou doest well: the devils also believe and shudder. What then shall we say to this? How does Christ speak truth, when He says that eternal life is the knowledge of God the Father, the One true God, and (with Him) of the Son? I think, indeed, we must answer that the saying of the Saviour is wholly true. For this knowledge is life, travailing as it were in birth of the whole meaning of the mystery, and vouchsafing unto us participation in the mystery of the Eucharist, whereby we are joined unto the living and life-giving Word. And for this reason, I think, Paul says that the Gentiles are made fellow-members of the body and fellow-partakers of Christ; inasmuch as they partake in His blessed Body and Blood; and our members may in this sense be conceived of, as being members of Christ. This knowledge, then, which also brings to us the Eucharist by the Spirit, is life. For it dwells in our hearts, shaping anew those who receive it into sonship with Him, and moulding them into incorruption and piety towards God, through life according to the Gospel. Our Lord Jesus Christ, then, knowing that the knowledge of the One true God brings unto us, and, so to speak, promotes our union with, the blessings of which we have spoken, says that it is eternal life; insomuch as it is the mother and nurso of eternal life, being in its own power and nature pregnant with those things which cause life, and lead unto it.

And I think we ought attentively to observe in what way Christ says that the knowledge of the One true God is perfected in us in all its fulness. For see how it cannot exist apart from the contemplation of the Son, and it is clear that it cannot exist apart from the Holy Spirit; for such is the nature of the belief in each Person of the Trinity, according to the Scripture. The Jews indeed, following in the steps of Moses’ commandments, rejected the many false gods, and betook themselves to the worship of the One true God, under his guidance. Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, saith the Law, and Him |490 only shalt thou serve. But those who still cling to the worship of the One true God, as not yet having complete knowledge of Him they worship, are called thereto to know not that the Creator of all things is one only, the One true God, but that He is a Father and has begotten a Son; and moreover, and yet more than all this, to gaze attentively on Him in His unchangeable Likeness, that is, the Son. For through the lineaments of that which is modelled, we can readily attain to perfect knowledge of the model. Very necessary then was it, for our Lord Jesus Christ to tell us, that those who have been called through faith to sonship and eternal life, not only ought to learn that the true God is One only, but that He is also a Father; and is the Father of One Who became flesh for our sakes, and Who was sent to restore the corrupted nature of rational beings, that is, of mankind. |491

4, 5 I glorified Thee on the earth: I accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do it. And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own Self, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.

Our Saviour’s speech now intertwines the human element in His Nature with the Divine, and is of composite nature, looking both ways; not merging overmuch the Person of the Speaker in the perfect power and glory of His Divinity, nor allowing it altogether to rest on the lowly level of His Humanity; but mingling the twain into one, which is not foreign to either. For our Lord Jesus Christ thought that He ought to teach His believers, not merely that He is God the Only-begotten, but that He also became Man for us, that He might reconcile us all to God the Father, and mould us into newness of life; purchasing humanity with His own Blood, and venturing His life for the salvation of the world, while, though He was One, He was more precious than all mankind. He says, then, that He glorified the Father upon the earth, for He finished the work which He gave Him to do.

Come now, let us follow out, as it were, two roads, in our investigation of this passage, and say that it has reference both to His Divine and His Human Nature. If then, as Man, He says this, you may take it in this way: Christ is for us a type and origin and pattern of the. Divine life, and shows us plainly how, and in what |492 way, we ought to live our lives; for after this fashion the commentators on the Divine writings give a most subtle exposition of the passage. He instructs us, then, by what He here says, that each one of us, if he fulfils his allotted task, and follows out to the end what is commanded of God, then in truth he glorifies Him by his righteous acts; not indeed as though He had any lack of glory, for the Ineffable Nature of God is complete, but because he causes His praise to be sung by those who see his acts, and are profited thereby. Yea, the Saviour saith: Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Which is in heaven. For when we are made truly manly, and willing to do good works for God’s sake, we are not winning for our own selves the reputation thereof, but are carrying God’s worship into our actions, to the honour and glory of Him That ruleth over all. For just as when, for leading a profligate life displeasing to God, we are rightly called to account, as doing despite unto His unspeakable glory, and make our own souls liable to punishment, as the prophet tells, if we hearken to his voice: My Name through you is continually blasphemed among the Gentiles, on the same grounds I think that when we display pre-eminent virtue, we are then preparing for Him a song of praise. When, therefore, we have accomplished the work that God has given us to do, then and most rightly may we attain to a freedom of speech in His own most seemly words; and claim, as it were, like glory in return from God Who has been glorified by us: For as I live, saith the Lord, them that honour Me will I honour, and he that lightly esteemeth Me shall be lightly esteemed. In order, then, that He might show us, that we might suitably ask for glory in return from the only true God, I mean glory in the world to come, when we have displayed towards Him perfect and blameless obedience, and have shown ourselves keepers of His commandments to the letter, Christ says that He glorified the Father, when He finished the work upon earth that |493 He gave Him. He requests, however, for Himself in return, no foreign or borrowed glory, as we do, but rather that honour and renown which is His own. For we were bound to ask for it, and not He. Observe how in and through His own Person, He first renders possible to our nature this boldness of speech, on two accounts. For in Him first, and through Him, we have been enriched both with the ability to fulfil those things essential to our salvation, which are entrusted to us by God, and also the duty of boldly asking for the honour which is due to those who distinguish themselves in His service. For of old time, through the sin that reigned in us, and the fall that was in Adam, we both failed of ability to accomplish any of those things which make for virtue, and also were very far removed from freedom of speech with God. Yea, God, to that end, out of the abundance of His kindness, spake consolation by the voice of the prophet, saying: Fear not, because Thou hast been ashamed, neither be confounded because thou hast been put to shame. As, then, in all other things that are good our Lord Jesus Christ is the Beginning, and the Gate, and the Way, so also is He here.

But if the Saviour is seeking His own glory that He had before the world began, and we, suiting the meaning of the passage so as to make it apply to our case, maintain that we ourselves ought also with great zeal to do God’s Will, and so boldly ask for glory from above, let no one think that we say this,—-that it becomes a man imitating Christ, to ask for some ancient glory that was before the world began, as due also to himself; but let him rather remember that each ought to speak according to his deserts. For if Christ, like us, had only the human element in His Nature, let Him then speak only as befits the earth-born, and not exceed the limits of humanity. But if the Word, being God, became Flesh, when He says anything as God, it will be suitable to Himself alone, and not to those who are not as He is.

Considering, then, the passage as though He spoke it |494 more as a Man, we shall take it in the sense above given; but if we reflect, on the other hand, on the Divine dignity of Christ, we rightly think it has a meaning above human nature. We say, then, that He glorified His own Father, God, when He fulfilled the work which He received from Him, not being His servant or in any ministerial capacity; and this as of necessity, that the Lord of all might not appear in the lowliness of our nature and that of the creation which is enslaved. For to perform the duties of a servant, and submissively obey the Divine commands, is the part of men and angels. Rather, we say that He, being the Power and Wisdom of His Father, well accomplished the task of our redemption, entrusted as it were to Him; as indeed also said the Divine Psalmist, expounding the meaning of the mystery: O God, command Thy Strength; strengthen, O God, that which Thou hast wrought for us. For in order that he may clearly prove that the Son is the Power of the Father, though not separate from Him so far I mean as His identity of Essence and Nature is concerned, he first says, Command Thy Strength, bringing in a duality of Persons—-I mean Him that commands and Him to Whom the command is given—-he suddenly unites them in their natural unity, attributing to the Ineffable Nature of God in its entirety the result achieved; for he says in his wisdom: “Strengthen, O God, that which Thou hast wrought for us.” The Son, then, receives or has entrusted to Him from the Father, the work of saving the world. But in what manner, or how, God commands His own Strength, we ought to examine and explain, so far as it is possible humanly to interpret things which exceed man’s understanding. Let us take for example, then, some man among us, and imagine him learned in the art of making bronzes. Then let us suppose that he sets himself to mould a statue, or perhaps to repair one that is decayed or mutilated. How, then, will he work, or how will he repair, as he has determined? Clearly he will entrust to the power of his hands and his skill in the art, |495 the fulfilment of what he chooses to do. But if any one thinks his wisdom and power appear distinct in some sense from himself, so far as their conception is concerned, still are they not in fact distinct. For these also are included in the definition of his essence. You must think the case is something like this wise, but must not accept the illustration as exactly similar. For God is above all things, and must be thought superior to any power of illustration. The sun and the fire, taking this by way of illustration, may be thought to occupy a similar relative position. For, just as the sun commands the light which it sheds to illumine the whole world, and allots to the power of its rays as their function, so to say, to cast the power of their heat on all things that receive it, so likewise also the fire commands and enjoins in some sort the peculiar qualities of its nature to fulfil its peculiar duties; but we do not, on this account, say that the ray and the light are in the position of ministers and servants to the sun, or the power of burning to the fire. For each of the two works by means of its own inherent qualities. But if they appear to be in a sense not self-working, yet are they not distinct in nature from their own. Some such idea we must hold about the relation between God the Father and the Word Who is by Nature begotten of Him, whenever He is said to be entrusted with work to do to us-ward.

His Wisdom and Power, therefore, that is Christ, glorified God the Father upon the earth, having finished the work which He gave Him. And, as He brings His work to its fitting termination, He claims the glory which always attaches to Him; and now that occasion calls for the recovery of His ancient glory He seeks it. What work, then, has He fulfilled, whereby He says that He glorified the Father? For while He was the true God He became Man, by the approval and will of the Father, through His desire to save the whole world, and raise up anew the fallen race on the earth to endless life and the true knowledge of God. And this was in very |496 truth accomplished by the Divine power and might of Christ, Who made death powerless, upset the dominion of the devil, destroyed sin, and showed incomparable love towards us, by remitting the charges against us all, and giving light to those astray, who now know the One true God. Christ, then, having accomplished this by His own power, the Father was glorified by all—-I mean all those in the world who knew His wisdom, and power, and the mercy and love towards mankind, which is in Him. For He has shone forth and manifested Himself in the Son, Who is, as it were, the Likeness and Express Image of His Person; and by its fruit the tree is known, according to the Scripture. And when the works were fulfilled, and the wonderful scheme of our redemption brought to its fitting conclusion, He returns to His own glory, and assumes His ancient honour; save only, that being still endued with the human shape, He moulds accordingly the form of His prayer, and asks as though He possessed it not: for man hath all things from God. For though in the fullest sense, as He was God of God the Father, He was invested with Divine glory, still, since at the season of His Incarnation for us He in a sense diminished it, taking upon Him this mean body, He with reason seeks it as though He had it not, speaking the words as Man. The wise Paul also himself had some such idea, when he enjoins us concerning Him: Let this mind be in each of you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the Cross. Wherefore also God highly exalted Him, and gave unto Him the Name which is above every name; that in the Name of Jesus Christ every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the |497 glory of God the Father. For though the Son is high, inasmuch as He proceeded as God and Lord from the Father, none the less is the Father recorded to have exalted man in Him, for on man the degradation of his nature brings the need of exaltation. He prays, then, for the recovery of His own glory, even in the flesh. He is not wholly bereft of His own glory when He so speaks, even though He were to ask without receiving, for the Word, being the true God, was never robbed of His own majesty. He rather refers to the glory which belongs ever to Him, and its appropriate temple in the heavens, and His own return thither in the raiment of the flesh, on which the interval of His humiliation had been consequent. For that He may not appear to be claiming for Himself a strange and unusual glory to which He had not been accustomed in time past, He distinguishes it by the addition of the epithet “before the world was,” and the words “with Thine own Self.” For the Son has never been excluded from the honour of the Father, but ever reigneth with Him, and with Him is adored and worshipped by us and by the holy angels as God, and of God, and in God, and with God. And this is, I think, what the inspired Evangelist John means to teach us, when He says: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. |498

6, 7, 8 I manifested Thy Name unto the men whom Thou hast given Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou hast given them to Me; and they have kept Thy word. Now they know that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are from Thee,: for the words which Thou hast given Me I have given unto them; and they received them and knew of a truth that I came forth from Thee, and they believed that Thou didst send Me.

I have previously stated with reference to the passages I have just examined, not without care, if I may say so, that Christ made His prayer to the Father in the heavens both as Man and also as God. For He carefully moderates His language so as to avoid either extreme, neither keeping it altogether within the limits of humanity, nor yet allowing it to be wholly affected by His Divine glory; and none the less here also may we see the same characteristic observed. For, as being by Nature God, and the express Image of His unspeakable Nature, He says to His Father: I manifested Thy Name unto the men, using the word “Name” instead of “glory;” for this is the usual practice in speech amongst us. Moreover, the wise Solomon wrote: A good name is more to be desired than great riches; that is, “a good reputation and honour” is better than the splendour and eminence which wealth confers. And God Himself says, by the mouth of Isaiah, to those who have made |499 themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake, Let not the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep My commandments, and choose the things that please Me, Even unto them will I give in Mine house and within My walls a place and a name better than of sons and daughters: I will give them an everlasting name. And no man ought to imagine, I think, if he be wise, that the honour with which God will requite them will be paid out in bare names and titles to those who, with noble and virtuous aspirations, have wrestled with worldly pleasure, and have mortified their members which are upon the earth, and regarded only those things which are not displeasing to the Divine law; rather He uses the word name instead of glory, for they who reign with Christ will be enviable and worthy all admiration.

The Saviour therefore plainly declares that He has manifested the Name of God the Father; that is, He has established His glory throughout the whole world. And how? Clearly by the manifestation of Himself, through His exceeding great works. For the Father is glorified in the Son, as in an Image and Type of His own form, for in the lineaments of that which is modelled, the beauty of the model is always clearly seen. The Only-begotten, then, has manifested Himself, being in His Essence Wisdom and Life, Architect and Creator of the universe, superior to death and corruption, holy, blameless, compassionate, sacred, pure. Hereby all men know that He That begat Him is even as He is; for He cannot be different in Nature from His Offspring. He showed Himself, therefore, as in an Image and Type of His own form, in the glory of the Son. Such was indeed the language concerning Him among the men of old time, but now has He manifested Himself to our very sight, and that which we see with our eyes is more convincing than any words.

I think, indeed, that what we have here stated is not irrelevant. We must now, however, tread another path, |500 that is, enter on another line of speculation. For the Son manifested the Father’s Name clearly by bringing us to the knowledge and perfect apprehension, not of the fact that He is God alone (for this message was conveyed to us before His coming by the inspired Scripture), but that, besides being God in truth, He is also Father in no spurious sense; having in Himself, and proceeding from Himself, His own Offspring, Coequal and Coeternal with His own Nature. For He did not beget in time the Creator of the ages. And God’s Name of “Father” is in some sort greater than the Name God itself; for the one is symbolical only of His Majesty, while the other is explanatory of the essential attribute of His Person. For, when a man speaks of God, he indicates the Sovereign of the universe; but, when he utters the Name of Father, he touches on the definition of His individuality, for he manifests the fact that He begat. And Christ Himself gives to God the Name of Father, as in some sense a more appropriate and truer appellation; saying on one occasion, not “I and God” but I and the Father are One; and on another occasion, with reference to Himself, For Him the Father, even God, hath sealed. And also when He bade His disciples baptise all nations, He did not bid them do this in the Name of God, but He expressly enjoined them to do this into the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And the inspired Moses, when he was explaining the origin of the world, did not attribute its creation to a single person, for he wrote, And God said, Let us make man in our Image, after our Likeness: and by the words Let us make, and in our Likeness, the Holy Trinity is signified; for the Father created and called into being the universe, through the Son, in the Spirit. But the men of old found such expressions hard to understand, and the language obscure; for the Father was not individually named, nor was the Person of the Son expressly introduced. Our Lord Jesus Christ, however, without any concealment, and with perfect freedom of speech, called |501 God His Father; and by naming Himself Son, and showing that He was Himself in very truth the Offspring of the Sovereign Nature of the universe, He manifested the Father’s Name, and brought us to perfect knowledge of Him. For the perfect knowledge of God and the Creator of the universe standeth not in believing merely that He is God, but in believing also that He is the Father; and the Father also of a Son, not unaccompanied of course by the Holy Spirit. For the bare belief, that God is God, suits us no better than those under the Law; for it does not exceed the limit of the knowledge the Jews attained. And just as the Law, when it brought in this axiom of instruction, which was insufficient to sustain a life of piety in God’s service, perfected nothing, so also the knowledge which it instilled about God was imperfect; only able to restrain men from love of false gods, and persuade them to worship the One true God: For thou shalt have, it says, no other gods beside Me. Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve. But our Lord Jesus Christ sets better things before those who are under the Law of Moses; and, giving them instruction clearer than the commandment of the Law, vouchsafed them better and clearer knowledge than that of old. For He has made it plain to us, not merely that the Originator and Sovereign of the world is God, but also that He is a Father; and facts prove this; for He has set Himself before us as His Likeness, saying, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father. I and the Father are One.

And this, as we suppose, as being God and of God by Nature, He saith openly 1, in His Divine character, to His Father; but He adds at once, speaking more as Man: Whom Thou hast given Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou hast given them to Me. We must think that our Lord says this, not as though some |502 separate and particular portion had been allotted and belonged to the dominion of the Father, in which the Son Himself had no part, for He is King before the ages began, as the Psalmist says, and eternally shares the Father’s rule. Moreover, the wise Evangelist John, teaching us that all things belong to Him and are put under His sway, wrote: He came unto His own, and they that were His own received Him not; calling those His own who knew Him not, and were rejecting the yoke of His kingdom. He spake this on this occasion, from the wish to make clear to His hearers, that there were some in this world, who did not even so much as receive into their minds the One true God, but served the creature, and devils, and the inventions of devils. Still, though they knew not the Creator of the world, and were astray from the truth, they were God’s; insomuch as He is Lord of all, as their Creator. For all things belong to God, and there is nothing that exists over which the One God is not ruler, though the creature may not know his Maker. For no man can maintain that the fact, that some have gone astray from Him, can avail to deprive the Creator of the world of His universal dominion; but he must rather admit that all things are subjected to His rule, through His having made them and brought them into being. Since, then, this is the truth, even they who were fast bound by the snares of the devil, and entangled in the vanities of the world, belonged in fact to the living God. And how were they given to the Son? For God the Father consented that Emmanuel should reign over them; not as though He then first began His reign—-for He was ever Lord and King as being God by Nature—-but because, having become Man and ventured His life for the salvation of the world, He purchased all men for Himself, and through Himself brought them to God the Father. He then, That of old reigneth from the beginning with His Father, was appointed King as a Man, to Whom like all else the sceptre comes by gift, according to the |503 limitations of human nature. For not in the same sense as that in which man is a rational being, capable of thought and knowledge (these things being included in his natural advantages), is he also a king; for while the former attributes are comprehended in the definition of his essence, the latter is extraneous and additional, and not among those which attach inseparably to his nature; for kingly power is given and taken away from a man, without affecting in any degree at all the definition of his essence. The dignity of kingship, therefore, is thrust upon a man by God as a gift, and from without: For by Me, He says, kings rule, and princes reign over the earth. He then, That ruleth over all with the Father, insomuch as He was, and is, and will be, by Nature God, receives power over the world, according to the form and limits proper to a man.

And therefore He saith: All things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are from Thee. For in a special and peculiar sense all things are God’s, and are given to us His creatures. Universal possession and power are most appropriate to God, but to us it is most fitting to receive. He bore witness, however, before His devout believers, to what was fitting to the servant, and prompted to obedience. For, He saith, the words which Thou hast given Me I have given unto them, and they received them and knew of a truth that I came forth from Thee, and they believed that Thou didst send Me. He expressly here calls His own words the sayings of God the Father, because of Their identity of Substance, and because He is God the Word declaratory of His Father’s Will; just as the word, which proceeds out of our own mouths, and by its utterance assailing the hearing of one who stands by, interprets the hidden mysteries of the heart. Therefore also the saying of the Prophet declared concerning Him: His Name is called Messenger of Great Counsel. For the truly great, wonderful, and mysterious counsel of the Father is conveyed to us by the Word That is in Him, and of Him, through the words He uttered as a |504 Man, when He came among us, and also by the knowledge and light of the Spirit after His ascent into heaven; for He revealeth to His Saints His mysteries, as Paul bears witness, saying: If ye seek a proof of Christ That speaketh in Me.

He testified then to those who love Him, that they received and kept the words given Him by the Father, and were besides satisfied that He came, and was sent, from God; while those who were diseased with the contrary opinion were otherwise minded. For they who neither received His words nor kept their minds open to conviction, were not disposed to believe that He came from God, and was sent by Him. Moreover, the Jews said on one occasion: If this Man were from God, He would not have broken the Sabbath; and on another, We are disciples of Moses: we know that God hath spoken unto Moses, but as for this Man we know not whence He is. You see how they denied His mission; so that they even cried in their shamelessness, they knew not whence He was. And that they did not admit His unspeakably high birth from everlasting, I mean His proceeding from God the Father, diseased as they were by the great perversity of their thoughts, and ready to stone Him with stones merely because of His Incarnation, you may easily satisfy yourself, if you will listen to the words of the Evangelist: For this cause therefore the Jews sought to kill Him, because He not only brake the Sabbath, but also called God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. And what the impious Jews said unto Him is also recorded: For a good work we stone Thee not, but for blasphemy; because that Thou, being a man, makest Thyself God. You will understand then very clearly, that those who truly keep His words have believed and confessed that He manifested Himself from the Father (for this is, I think, what I came forth means), and that He was sent to us to tell us the commandment of the Lord, as is said in the Psalms; while they who laughed to scorn the Word, Who was thus Divine and |505 from the Father, rejected the faith, and plainly denied that He was God and from the Father, and that He came to us for our salvation, and dwelt among us, yet without sin. Justly, then, does He commend to God the Father, those who are good men, and are His own, and have submitted their souls to the hearing of His words, and will ever hold them in remembrance; that what He said may be made clear, beginning from the time of His sojourn amongst us. And what are His words? Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, him will I also confess before My Father Which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father Which is in heaven. This also God the Father Himself long ago declared that He would do, speaking by the mouth of Isaiah: Ye are My witnesses, saith the Lord, and the servant whom I have chosen. Our Saviour then speaks, at the same time, in His character as God, and in His character as Man. For He was at once God and Man, speaking in either character without reproach, suiting each occasion with appropriate words as it required. |506

9, 10, 11 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for those whom Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine: and all things that are Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them. And I am no more in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to Thee.

He once more mediates as Man, the Reconciler and Mediator of God and men; and being our truly great and all-holy High Priest, by His own prayers He appeases the anger of His Father, sacrificing Himself for us. For He is the Sacrifice, and is Himself our Priest, Himself our Mediator, Himself a blameless Victim, the true Lamb Which taketh away the sin of the world. The Mosaic ceremonial was then, as it were, a type and transparent shadowing forth of the mediation of Christ, shown forth in the last times, and the high priest of the Law indicated in his own person that Priest Who is above the Law. For the things of the Law are shadows of the truth. For the inspired Moses, and with him the eminent Aaron, continually intervened between God and the assembly of the people; at one time deprecating God’s anger for the transgressions of the people of Israel, and inviting mercy from above upon them when they were faint; at another, praying and blessing the people, and ordering sacrifices according to the Law and offerings of gifts besides in their appointed order, sometimes for sins, and sometimes thank-offerings for the benefits they felt that they had received from God. But Christ Who manifested |507 Himself in the last times above the types and figures of the Law, at once our High Priest and Mediator, prays for us as Man; and at the same time is ever ready to cooperate with God the Father, Who distributes good gifts to those who are worthy. Paul showed us this most plainly in the words: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. He then prays for us as Man, and also unites in distributing good gifts to us as God. For He, being a holy High Priest, blameless and undefiled, offered Himself not for His own weakness, as was the custom of those to whom was allotted the duty of sacrificing according to the Law, but rather for the salvation of our souls, and that once for all, because of our sin, and is an Advocate for us: And He is the propitiation for our sins, as John saith; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.

But perhaps someone, wishing to controvert what we have said, will exclaim, “Is not what the disciple says quite contrary to the Saviour’s words?” For our Lord Jesus Christ expressly in these words repudiates the necessity of praying to God for the whole world, while the wise John affirmed quite the contrary. For he maintains that the Saviour will be the Advocate and propitiation, not merely for our sins, but also for the sins of the whole world. It is not hard to find the solution to this difficulty, or to say how the disciple may be seen to be in accord with his Master’s saying. For the blessed John, as he was a Jew and of the Jews, that some might not perhaps think that our Lord was merely an Advocate for the Israelites, and not in any sense for the rest of the nations scattered over the whole world, though destined to distinguish themselves by faith on Him and to be shortly called to knowledge of salvation through Christ, is perforce impelled to declare that our Lord will not only be the propitiation for the race of Israel, but also for the whole world; that is, those of every nation and kindred, who shall be called through faith to righteousness and sanctification. Our Lord |508 Christ distinguishes from His own those who are otherwise minded, and who have chosen to insult Him by stubborn disobedience; and, referring to those who are prone to listen to His Divine commands, and who have already submitted, as it were, the necks of the hearts, and well-nigh bound round them the yoke of submission to God, said that for them only it was most fitting for Him to pray. For to those only, whose Mediator and High Priest He is, He thought it meet to bring the blessings of His mediation; to those, I mean, who, He says, were given to Himself, but were the Father’s, as there is no other way of fellowship with God save by the Son. And He will Himself teach you this in the words: No one cometh unto the Father, but by Me. For observe how the Father, when He gave to His Son those of whom He speaks, won them over to Himself. And the Apostle, who was so conversant with the sacred writings, knowing this well, says: God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself. For when Christ acted as Mediator, and received those who come to Him by faith, and brought them aright through Himself to the Father, the world was reconciled to God. Therefore also the Prophet Isaiah taught us, in anticipation, to choose peace with God, in Christ: Let us have peace with Him; let us who are in the way have peace. For if we banish from our hearts whatsoever estrangeth us from the love of Christ, I mean the base lasciviousness which hankers after sinful pleasure and is ever inclined to the delights of the world, and is besides the mother and nurse of all vice, and leads us widely astray, we shall become united in fellowship with Christ, and shall make peace with God, being joined to the Father Himself through the Son, inasmuch as we receive in ourselves the Word That was begotten of Him, and cry out in the Spirit, Abba, Father.

Those then who have been given to Christ are the Father’s, but are not therefore removed from Christ. For God the Father reigneth with Him, and through |509 Him ruleth over His own. For the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity share the same kingdom, and their universal dominion is one and the same; and whatever is the Son’s will be subject to the glory of the Son and the Father; and also, whatever is said to be under the rule of the Father, over that the Son will surely hold sway. And therefore He saith: And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine. For as in Them perfect identity of Nature is visible and evident, the opinion held about Their majesty is not various, and does not attribute anything individually to One apart from the Other, but considers one and the same glory, identical in every respect, to attach to Both. For He That is by right of His Nature the Heir of His Father’s Divine dignities will clearly have all that the Father hath, and will also show that His Father hath all that He Himself hath. For Either naturally reveals the Other in Himself; and the Son is seen in the Father, and the Father also in the Son. This kind of instruction the inspired writings gave us in the mystery. When, then, universal dominion is one of the dignities of the Father, it will belong also to the Son; for He is the express Image of His Person, and can endure no shadow of unlikeness or variance at all. He declares that He has been glorified in them, showing that His prayer for them is, as it were, a recompence well deserved.

What then is His request, and why does He endeavour to obtain God’s favour for His followers? I am no more in the world, He says, and these are in the world, and, I come to Thee. For while He yet lived in converse with His holy Apostles in the flesh upon earth, the consolation of His visible Presence was ever with them in their daily path, as it were to give instant succour to those in peril; and they were therefore sustained in courage. For the mind of man is readier to rely upon the things that are seen than the things that are unseen, for encouragement or pleasure. When we say this, we are far from asserting that the Lord is |510 powerless to save, if He be not visibly present; for any one who thought this would rightly be convicted of folly. For Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, yea, and for ever. But He knew that His disciples were very faint at heart, left desolate as it were on the earth, with the world raging round them like fierce billows, and ever ready to beleaguer with intolerable terrors and imminent and great dangers those who persist in bearing God’s tidings to the uninitiated.

Since then, He says, I come to Thee, for I shall soon ascend to sit on the throne of God the Father, and reign with Him, and these will remain the while in the world, I pray for them, for Thou gavest them Me; and as Thine and Mine now I rightly care for them, and I am glorified in them, for all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are Thine, and Thine are Mine. And the saying is true. For those in the world who have been given to Christ, and are on that account the Father’s, have not therefore disavowed the duty of praising Him through Whom they were united to God the Father, and having been brought to Him, will remain none the less His. For He hath all things in common with the Father, together with His inherent Godhead and power. For there is one God in us, Who is worshipped in the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity; and we all of us belong to the one true God, being subject as servants to the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity. |511 (source)

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Father MacEvilly Commentary on 1 Peter 4:13-16

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 1, 2011

This post contains Fr. MacEvilly’s summary analysis of the entire chapter, followed by his commentary on the reading. Text in purple represents his paraphrase.

A Summary of 1 Peter 4~In this chapter, the Apostle, after having digressed from the subject of the death of Christ (1 Pet 3:18), now returns to point out the lesson of instruction, which they should all derive from It, viz.: that they should no longer live in sin, but that their wole lives should be employed in performifig the will of God ( 1 Pet 4:1, 2). For, they had already devoted too much time to the gratification of the corrupt passions, to which the unconverted Gentiles are prone (1 Pet 4:3), who, on seeing the Christian converts, now refuse to join them in the perpetration of their former crimes, execrate and blaspheme both them and their holy religion, as the enemies of all social and friendly intercourse among men (1 Pet 4:4). For these blasphemies, they shall one day have to render a most strict account to Christ, the judge of the living and the dead (1 Pet 4:5).

Against the Epicurians and other sects, who held, that, at death, man ceases to exist, and hence, no judgment or accountability, he proves from the fact of Christ having preached In the prison of Limbo, to those who had been long since dead, that Christ was to be judge of the dead as well as of the living (1 Pet 4:6). Not only have these been judged; but, in a short time, all things are to come to their final close; and hence, those whom he addresses, as well as all future generations, should be very circumspect and tvaichful duly to discharge the great duty ofprayer (1 Pet 4:7).

He exhorts them to the practice of uninterrupted charity towards one another, and particularly of that branch of it, which consists in affording lodging and support to poor indigent stangers (1 Pet 4:8, 9).

He next prescribes the proper mode of exercising the spiritual gifts with which they might have been endowed for the good of others (1 Pet 4:10). These gifts he reduces to two heads, viz.: the gift of speaking, and the gift of action or administration; and both one and the other, should be exercised so as to promote, as indeed all our actions should, the glory of God through Jesus Christ (1 Pet 4:11).

He then renews his former exhortatlon to patience, on several grounds: because, by suffering they only submit to what all the elect before them had to undergo (1 Pet 4:12).Because, patient sufferings cause us to share in the sufferings of Christ, and lead to unalloyed joy and transport (1 Pet 4:13). Because, these sufferings and reproaches arc the source ofpeculiar blessedness (1 Pet 4:14). From this peculiar blessedness, he excludes sufferings, undergone for the commission of crime (1 Pet 4:15, 16). He exhorts them to patience, because they are thus submitting to the general will of God, in saving his elect (1 Pet 4:17). Finally he encourages them to commit their souls to God (1 Pet 4:19).

1Pe 4:13  But if you partake of the sufferings of Christ, rejoice that, when his glory shall be revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

But since by thus suffering patiently for justice sake, you share and take a part in the sufferings of Christ, you should now rejoice, in order that, at the revelation of his glory hereafter, you may become partakers of unmixed joy and ineffable transport.

This is an additional motive to suffer patiently, because, by so doing, they share in the sufferings of Christ, their sufferings are united with his (2 Cor 1:5), “as the sufferings of Christ abound in us.”—(Heb 13:13, 11:26; 2 Cor 4:10; Rom 8:17; Gal 6:17). Christ is our head—we his members; we are also incorporated with him by baptism. Rejoice, then, as you know that these sufferings are united with those of Christ. “That when his glory shall be revealed,” on the day of judgment, you may also be glad with exceeding joy; and the present joy which you now feel, although embittered by pains and crosses, will then be exchanged for ineffable, unalloyed joy, which will manifest itself in transport and the rapturous joy of your glorified bodies.

1Pe 4:14  If you be reproached for the name of Christ, you shall be blessed: for that which is of the honour, glory and power of God, and that which is his Spirit resteth upon you.

And if you suffer reproach for bearing the name of Christian and professing the doctrine of Christ, you are blessed here in firm hope, and shall be blessed, hereafter, in the enjoyment of never ending happmess; for, far from its being dishonourable; inglorious, or cowardly in you to bear silently such reproaches; on the contrary, you alone are possessed of real honour, glory and fortitude abidingly conferred on you by the power of God and of his Holy Spirit, the only source of good gifts.

And if you be reproached for the name of Christ. The profession of Christianity had been to the first Christians a subject of reproach and disgrace. You shall be blessed. This is a subject of peculiar blessedness rather than of reproach. For that which is of honour, &c., that is, far from its being either dishonourable, or inglorious, or cowardly, to profess Christianity, and to bear such reproaches silently, as probably had been charged upon the faithful by their enemies; on the contrary, they alone were possessed of real honour, and glory, and fortitude, which God only can confer, and which comes from his Holy Spirit, the giver of every good gift. In the Greek we have not ” honour or power;” it runs thus: οτι το της δοξης και το του θεου πνευμα, because what is of glory, and the Spirit of God, rests upon you. But in some Greek copies are added the following words: indeed in them it (the Spirit of God) is blasphemed, but in you it is glorified. These words are not found in any Latin copies, nor in the Syriac version, nor in the chief manuscripts.

1Pe 4:15  But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or a railer or coveter of other men’s things.

But in pointing out the merit of patient suffering, I speak not of suffering in a bad cause, on account of outraging the laws of society; for none of you should draw down upon himself merited punishment, due to a homicide, or a thief, or a slanderer, or to such as curiously pry into other persons affairs, in order to circumvent and rob them.

The Apostle excludes from all merit suffering in a bad cause; for, to suffer the penalties due to human justice, in consequence of outraging the laws of society, far from being honourable, is a disgrace to religion. Or railer; for this the Greek has κακοποιος, an evil doer, one who maliciously injures his neighbour in person or property. Or a coveter of other men’s things. The Greek word for this, αλλοτριεπισκοπος, means, one who pries into the concerns of others. The Vulgate has, however, fairly given the meaning, because the words mean, one who pries into other men’s concerns, for the purpose of circumventing them, and rapaciously depriving them of their property, taking advantage of the knowledge thus unwarrantably acquired.

1Pe 4:16  But, if as a Christian, let him not be ashamed: but let him glorify God in that name.

But if anyone of you suffer for being a Christian, and for practicing Christian virtue, far from feeling ashamed, he should give glory to God on this account.

But if any one among you be subjected to suffering for bearing the name of Christ and for practising the virtues which Christianity prescribes, far from feeling ashamed, he should glory in this name, that is, on this account, or, as in some Greek copies, in this part. The Alexandrian and Vatican MSS. support the Vulgate,  εν τω ονοματι τουτω. Such was the conduct of the Apostles, who ”went rejoicing from the presence of the council, because they were judged worthy to suffer reproach for Christ” (Acts 5:41).

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 1:12-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 1, 2011

12. Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount that is called Olivet, which is nigh Jerusalem, within a sabbath day’s journey.

As it is here stated that the disciples returned from Mt. Olivet, it would appear that the Ascension took place from the highest point on Olivet, as tradition has handed down. This would be just a Sabbath day’s journey, or a little under one mile from Jerusalem. But St. Luke (24:50, 51) says he led them out as far as
Bethania,” etc., and Bethania was at the eastern foot of Mt. Olivet, about two miles from Jerusalem. Answer: Most likely our Lord went first to Bethania, by the lower circuitous road, and thence ascended the mountain from the east; thus the statement of this verse is not opposed to that of the Third Gospel.

13. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James of Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes, and Jude the brother of James.

Into an upper room,—rather “into the upper room” (  το υπερωον). The definite article shows it was a place well known, whither they were accustomed to resort for prayer or business. Most probably it was the Cenacle where our Lord had instituted the Holy Eucharist.

The list of the Apostles given here by St. Luke is different in order from that in his Gospel. Here he seems to enumerate them according to their greater nearness and familiarity with Jesus. Jude of James means Jude the brother of James, so called to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot. See on Matthew 10:1-4.

14. All these were persevering with one mind in prayer with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren,

Persevering … in prayer; i.e., they were most attentive to prayer in the Upper Room, and at the accustomed services seven times a day in the Temple. With the women, etc. These were the pious women from GaHlee who had ministered to our Lord during His Passion and after His burial, among whom were Mary Magdalen, Salome, Mary of Cleophas, and others. It was only natural that the Blessed Virgin should have taken a special part in an occasion of such great importance as the present one. His brethren, i.e.. His relatives. Hebrew was a poor language with but few expressions for a variety of ideas. Hence the term “brethren” was used to express cousins, and relatives in general. In this way James the Less, Bishop of Jerusalem, was called “the brother of the Lord,” although he was only the cousin of our Saviour, his mother being the sister of the Blessed Virgin and his father Cleophas or Alpheus. St. Jerome (contra Helvid. 4) says: “Quatuor modis in Scripturis fratres dicuntur: natura, gente, cognatione, affectu.”

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Father MacEvily’s Commentary on Acts 1:12-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 1, 2011

Act 1:12  Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount that is called Olivet, which is nigh Jerusalem, within a sabbath day’s journey.

They returned to Jerusalem, in obedience to our Lord’s final instructions, commanding them to remain there for some time (Lk 24:49).

Olivet, so called from the olive trees that grew there in great abundance. It would seem it was from this Mount our Lord ascended, at the eastern slope of which lay Bethany, whither, as we learn from St. Luke, our Lord brought His disciples before He ascended. (See St. Luke 24:50, Commentary on.) Likely, it was from this eastern slope He ascended.

Oriental travellers inform us, that our Lord indelibly impressed His foot prints on the spot, which no abrasure could obliterate. St. Helena built a magnificent church there. But no vaulting or covering could stand over the spot; so that it was constantly exposed to view. It was near this place Lazarus and his sisters lived. Near it was the scene of our Lord s bloody sweat and agony. Hence, it was meet that it should be the scene of His final glorious triumph.

A Sabbath Day’s journey– the distance the Jews were allowed to travel on the Sabbath day; something about an English mile. The Law about the Sabbath-day’s journey was not a Mosaic ordinance. It was introduced by the Rabbins. For this they fixed the distance that should intervene between the Ark and the people (Joshua 3:4) or, the distance allowed by law between the centre and farthest boundaries of a Levitical city (Numbers 34:4).

Act 1:13  And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James of Alpheus and Simon Zelotes and Jude the brother of James.

And when they were come in, they went up, &c. The vulgate punctuation, is, and when they were come in to the upper room, they went up, &c. The Greek punctuation followed by our English version is preferred by several able Commentators, Lapide among the rest. This upper room was, likely, in some private  house. Here, probably, our Lord celebrated the Last Suuper. Here, took place two apparitions after the Resurrection (John 20:19, 26). Here, the Holy Ghost descended on the Apostles. It was not in the Temple, as some would infer from St. Luke (24:53 : See Commentary on).

Where abode Peter, &c. Here they spent one portion of their time, communing with God in prayer and with each other in pious conversation. They also devoted another portion of their time to the service of the Temple, attending there regularly and at stated hours (Luke 24:53).

It is deserving of remark, that in the several Catalogues of the Apostles given by the sacred writers (Matthew 10; Luke 6.) Peter always is placed at their head, indicating the Primacy conferred on him by our Lord over the entire Church.

Act 1:14  All these were persevering with one mind in prayer with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

Persevering with one mind in prayer. Unanimity and concord was a great help towards obtaining their requests, as discord or divisions would be a great obstacle (St. Cyprian, Epis. 8).

With the women, most likely refers to these pious and holy women headed by Magdalen, who followed our Lord and ministered to Him out of their temporal substance (Luke 8:2). This shows, the room was not in the Temple, where men and women were kept apart.

With Mary the mother of Jesus.  She is here particularized and specially distinguished, as she had been by the Angel, from all other women. Prayers in which she joins must have infallible efficacy. This is the last notice taken of her in the Sacred Scriptures.

And His brethren, the near relatives of our Lord (Matthew 12:46; 13:55; John 7:5). St. Augustine tells us the relations of the Blessed Virgin were called, the brethren of our Lord. It was the custom of the Scriptures to call near blood relations and kinsmen, brethren (Tract xxxiii. 3, in Joannem). Hence the absurdity of the opinion that holds them to be the offspring of Joseph by a former marriage. If they were such, our Lord would have commended His Blessed Mother to them at His death, rather than to St. John.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 1

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 1, 2011

Text in red, if any, represent my additions.


A Summary of Romans 1:1-15~To begin a letter with a salutation or greeting of the writer to the one written to was an invariable rule in ancient times. Sometimes these inscriptions developed the titles and credentials of the writer; sometimes those of the person or people addressed. St. Paul also observes this custom in his Epistles. The introductory part, however, of the Pauline letters usually consists of two members: the inscription or salutation, and an act of thanksgiving to God for the benefits conferred on the Church to which he is writing. The Introduction to the present Epistle (Rom 1:1-15) is an illustration of this customary

As St. Paul had not been in any sense, either directly or indirectly, the founder of the Church in Rome, and was unknown to the majority of its members, he thought it needful to preface this letter with a most solemn and unusually long inscription (Rom 1:1-7) which would explain to the Roman Christians why he was writing to them, and why he could dare to speak with so much authority. Hence in verse 1 he indicates his Apostolic charge, his duty as a messenger of Christ; in verses 2-4 he directs attention to the dignity and gravity of the Gospel preaching, because of its divine origin and sublime subject-matter; and in verses 5, 6 he refers to the universality of his Apostolate which embraces also the Romans. The inscription is terminated (verse 7) with the usual prayer for grace and peace in behalf of those to whom the Epistle is directed.

The second part of the Introduction (verses 8-15) is an act of thankfulness to God for the -faith of the Romans, which was celebrated in all the world (verse 8). Paul’s good will toward them is manifest from his unceasing prayers in their behalf, and from his long cherished desire to see them (verses 9-13). This desire to visit the Roman Christians, he says, came from his vocation, which made him a debtor to all men, and which, consequently, constrained him to wish to preach the Gospel to the Romans also (verses 14, 15).


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

The first thing necessary in writing to the Romans—a community which he had not founded—was that Paul should make known his credentials. He therefore states at the outset the divine authority that is behind his Apostolate.

Paul. The Apostle probably assumed this name for the first time in Cyprus when he converted the Proconsul Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:7-12), perhaps, as St. Jerome says (in Philem.), in honor of his victory in making so great a convert. St. Thomas and others, however, think he was called both Paul and Saul from his infancy; the latter being his Jewish, and the former his Latin name. As Tarsus, the Apostle’s birth place, was under the Roman Empire, it seems not improbable that he should have been given a Latin, as well as a Jewish name, from the beginning. It seems unlikely (pace St Jerome) that St Paul would have been so ostentatious as to “honor his victory in making so great a convert” as to adopt the name Paulus from the Proconsul Sergius Paulus Gallio.

A servant, i.e., a slave (δοῦλος = doulos) consecrated to the service of Jesus Christ. St. Paul calls himself the servant or slave of Jesus Christ just as the Prophets had styled themselves servants of Yahweh (cf. Amos 3:7; Isa. 42:19; Ezek 32:24, etc.). This is the first time that “servant of Jesus Christ” stands at the head of an Epistle; but it occurs again in Philip1:1 ; James 1:1; Jude 1:2 Peter 1:1.

Called to be an apostle, i.e., called by a special vocation
(κλητός= klētos) to go and preach the Gospel. The term “apostle” means one sent, as a messenger, a commissioned agent. Thus all the Apostles were messengers sent by Christ to announce the kingdom of God, to proclaim the good tidings of redemption and salvation. St. Paul was equal in dignity to the twelve, because like them, he was called and instructed immediately by Christ Himself (Gal 1:1).

To be an Apostle in the strict sense of the word it was necessary: (a) to have seen Christ in person; (b) to have been immediately chosen and instructed by Him; (c) to have universal authority to teach, preach, establish Churches, etc., subject, of course, to the supreme jurisdiction of the chief of the Apostles; (d) to have the power of miracles as a confirmation of one’s preaching and mission.

Separated. The Greek Fathers see in this word an allusion to divine predestination, as in Gal1:15. It is more probable, however, to say with the Latin Fathers that the term here simply means that Paul was set apart, or especially chosen and consecrated by God, when he received his revelation to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. Everywhere in the New Testament, except Gal 1:15, the term αφωρισμενος (asphorismentos; derived from aphorizō) simply means to set apart from other duties and human relations, to reserve for the Apostolate(Acts 13:2). Father Comely understands “separated”here to refer to Paul’s preparation by natural and supernatural gifts. It may be that St Paul is here playing with his former status as a Pharisee. The word aphorismenotos-one set apart-is identical in meaning to the Grecianized Hebrew word  Φαρισαῖος = Pharisaios, (i.e., Pharisee) which is itself derived from the Hebrew פּרשׁ = pârâsh. In Philippians 3:5 St Paul describes himself as Being circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews. According to the law, a Pharisee. Whatever St Paul’s upbringing and former life may have been, after his experience on the Damascus Road this former Pharisee (separated one)came to realize that God had separated me from (his) mother’s womb and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son…(Gal 1:15-16).

The gospel of God, i.e., the good tidings, of which God is the Author and Revealer through His divine Son, and which are destined to lead man to God. Paul’s call and separation were from God for the purpose of preaching and spreading the Gospel of God.

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

Which he had promised, etc. By these words St. Paul intended to show the Romans that he was not teaching something new or false, but merely announcing the fulfillment of what had been foretold throughout the Old Testament. The entire Old Testament was ordained to the New Testament, and consequently to Christ, the principal subject of the latter. The term prophets here means simply those who announce the future, and embraces all the seers, both great and small, of the Old Testament. The Scriptures are called holy (ἅγιος = hagios) because inspired by God.

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

Note: Father Callan deals with these two verses together in summary fashion before commenting on them individually. I will reproduce the verses individually after his summary.

These two verses are of very great importance. They cause much difficulty and have been variously interpreted. In them is summed up the whole content of the Gospel preached by St. Paul and foretold by Almighty God,—the object of which Gospel is the Son of God, who, though eternal with the Father, took human nature from the seed of David, and by His powerful
Resurrection from the dead, was manifested and constituted, in the eyes of men, the powerful Son of God.

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

Concerning his Son. This shows that the object of the Gospel was chiefly Christ, as foretold by the Prophets, but more clearly preached by Paul. The words, περι του υιου αυτου, indicate that the Son of God was a Divine Person existing anterior to all time and personally distinct from His Father; while the
words, of the seed of David, etc., show that this same Divine Person, existing prior to His incarnation, and personally distinct from His Father, took flesh in time from a descendant of David, and thus, according to His human nature, was made or generated, without the intervention of any man, from Mary, His Blessed Mother, who was of the line and family of David. It was a universal belief among the Jews that the Messiah should be “the Son of David” ; this for them was His most characteristic title (cf. Acts 2:29; 13:34 ff. ; 2 Tim 2:8; Rev 3:7). From the present verse, therefore, it is clear that the Son of God is distinct from the Father, that He is one person, and that He has two natures, one divine and one human. Cf. Philipp2:6-9. Concerning his Son suggests that the “Son”was pre-existent and distinct from the Father since His  Son was “made to Him of the seed of David”, i.e., in some sense born into a different relationship with the Father. This different relationship  relates to the Son’s undergoing a human birth.

The words to him (Vulg., ei) of this verse are not represented
in the Greek.

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;

Our Lord’s Resurrection in time from the dead marked Him in the sight of men as a Divine Person, as the true Son of God.

Who, some think, refers to the seed of David, to the human nature of Christ, which from eternity was predestinated to be the Son of God, inasmuch as it would be united in time with the Person of the Word of God (a Lapide, MacEv., etc.) ; others understand the reference to be to the Second Divine Person, who, on account of His spirit of sanctity, was constituted the Son of God with regard to men, in the capacity of Messiah, and who, after His Resurrection was exalted in His humanity. In other words, after His Resurrection this Second Divine Person was distinguished as the powerful Son of God, or the Son of God as exercising His power by raising Himself from the dead, in opposition to His state of humiliation in the flesh (cf. Cornely, Lagrange). Although, as a Divine Person, Christ was always the Son of God, still it was by His Resurrection from the dead in particular that He was manifested and constituted such before men.

Predestinated. The Greek has ορισθεντος, which, according to
the Greek Fathers, means declared, manifested; but which is better and more literally rendered by marked out, distinguished, constituted (Cornely, Lagrange). It seems more natural to unite ορισθεντος with Son of God, than with in power; and thus the meaning would be that the Second Divine Person was manifested, or constituted, marked out, by His Resurrection, as the powerful Son of God.

In power, i.e., by the exercise of divine power, especially in the Resurrection.

The spirit of sanctification. Better, “The holiness of his spirit.” By “sanctification” St. Paul means to indicate the sanctity which was proper to Christ as the Son of God, not necessarily the Holy Spirit- The term αγιωσυνης; means sanctity or holiness; St. Paul uses πνευματι αγιω to express the Holy Ghost. Note that the word “spirit” in not capitalized here by modern translations, indicating that the referent is not the Holy Spirit. The term “spirit can have a number of meanings in the Bible; here it refers to the character(distinguishing feature, attribute) of Jesus.

By the resurrection, etc. Since there is question here of an event already accomplished, the allusion seems to be rather to Christ’s own Resurrection (Lagrange) than to the general resurrection of the dead, embracing also that of Christ (Cornely). The Resurrection was the principal miracle by which
Christ in the eyes of men was manifested or constituted the powerful Son of God, i.e., the Son of God as exercising divine power in His human nature.

Our Lord Jesus Christ. These words are in apposition with Son of God, as is evident from the Greek, του ορισθεντος υιου θεου (Who was predestinated the Son of God). The title Son of God, as applied to our Saviour, occurs 68 times in St. Paul and about 20 times in the rest of the New Testament.

In the Vulgate, praedestinatus ought to be definitus, and Jesu Christi Domini Nostri should be Jesu Christo Domino Nostro, in apposition with de Filio suo.

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

It is through Christ, the Son of God, risen from the dead that St. Paul received from God the grace and authority to preach the Gospel in all nations.

By whom. Better, “Thi-ough whom,” i.e., through Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, who is the agent through whom God dispenses powers to the Apostles.

We have received, etc. Although speaking in the plural, Paul is here referring directly, if not exclusively, to himself, who has been given the special grace and mission to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles (Rom 15:5; Gal 1:15; Eph 3:8).

For obedience, etc. The purpose of the grace and mission conferred on St. Paul was to lead all nations, i.e., all the Gentiles, to embrace and obey the teachings of the faith of Christ.

For his name, i.e., for the glory of Christ, that also the pagans might know and love Him. The phrase His name, The name, in the Old and in the New Testament, stands for the person (cf. Acts 11:15, 16; 21:13).

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

Among whom, etc. Here the Apostle tells the Romans that they, being largely converts to the faith from paganism, are also embraced in his Apostolate to the Gentile world. This is a proof that most of the Roman Christians when St. Paul wrote his letter were of Gentile origin. The called of Jesus Christ, i.e., a part or portion of the faithful of Christ. There is no question here of the Romans having been called by Christ, as St. Paul was, but only of their belonging to the number of the faithful who are Christ’s by faith in the Gospel.

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.

To all, etc. Paul addresses all the Christians at Rome, rich and poor, master and slave, Jew and Gentile. He calls them beloved of God, i.e., objects of God’s favor and love, by which they have been called to the faith of Christ.

Called to be saints, i.e., consecrated in a special manner by their vocation as Christians to the service of God, as belonging to Christ and as participating through grace in His divine life.

Grace . . . peace, etc. This form of well-wishing, which occurs in nearly all the Epistles of St. Paul, is found nowhere before the Apostle, and therefore seems to have been his own creation (Lagrange). Grace, in its proper sense, is a special gift of God by which one is made holy and agreeable in God’s sight, and is rendered a participant of the divine nature, a brother of Christ, and heir to the glory of the Father in heaven. Peace with God insures interior tranquillity of mind and soul, and is one of the most precious effects of grace. St. Paul here speaks of these eminent gifts as coming from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ, thus placing the latter on a level withthe former, but not identifying the two as persons.

8. First I give thanks to my God, through Jesus Christ, for you all, because your faith is spoken of in the whole world.

After his rather lengthy greeting to the Roman Christians, in which the foundations of the Gospel and his own Apostolic authority are indicated, St. Paul first thanks God the Father, the source of all good and blessings, for their splendid faith which is known everywhere. His gratitude is expressed through Jesus Christ, because our Lord is the medium, the channel, the Mediator and great Highpriest through whom all the blessings of the Father are conveyed to us.

For you all shows that the faith of the Roman community as a whole was beyond reproach. Cornely thinks the faith of the Romans was superior to that of all other Churches, and the model of them all; but this can hardly be gathered from St. Paul’s words, which perhaps have reference more to the importance of the Roman Christians as residents of the Capital of the Empire, than to the superior excellence of their faith over that of any or all others.

9. For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make a commemoration of you;
10. Always in my prayers making request, if by any means now at length I may have a prosperous journey, by the will of God, to come unto you.

9, 10. God is my witness. As Paul was generally unknown to the Romans he refers to God as witness of the truth of his words (2 Cor 1:23; Philip 1:8; 1 Thess 2:5, 10).

Whom I serve, i.e., whom I worship, venerate (λατρευω). The service here meant was the preaching of the Gospel.

In my spirit, i.e., not only in exterior corporal service, but especially interiorly according to the spirit (St. Thomas).

In the gospel of his Son, i.e., in preaching the Gospel, of which the object was the Son of God.

That without ceasing, etc., i.e., in his frequent prayers Paul always remembered them and prayed that he might see them. By thus showing his great affection for the Romans and his desire to visit them, St. Paul hopes to gain their good will and confidence as an aid to his future work among them and in the West. When writing these words he little thought that when finally he should arrive in Rome, it would be as a prisoner (Acts 28).

11. For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual grace, to strengthen you:

St. Paul desired to visit the Roman Christians for the sake of the mutual help that would result from his visit, and for the purpose of strengthening them in their faith. This shows he was not going to preach a new Gospel to them.

Some spiritual grace, i.e., some interior grace, such as is spoken of later in Rom 5:15, 16; 6:23. The term χαρισμα here does not mean gratiæ gratis datæ, such as tongues, prophesies and the like, of which there is question in 1 Cor 12 and 14 (Lagrange). The Apostle wishes to communicate some spiritual help to the Romans, and thus assist in confirming them in the faith in which they had already been well instructed by St. Peter.

12. That is to say, that I may be comforted together in you, by that which is common to us both, your faith and mine.

Here St. Paul modestly tells the Romans that his purpose in wishing to visit them is not only to give them some spiritual help and consolation, but also to receive from them some edification and consolation for himself as a result of their mutual faith; the benefit will be reciprocal.

13. And I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that I have often purposed to come unto you, (and have been hindered hitherto), that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.

Hindered, by his many labors. It is not necessary to seek a supernatural cause for this hindrance, as in Acts 16:6, or an intervention by Satan, as in 1 Thess 2:18; 2 Cor 12:7. The Apostle’s visit to Rome had been delayed by his many labors in the East (Rom 15:22).

Some fruit means some further increase in their faith. The words, as among other Gentiles, show that the composition of the Roman Church at this time was mainly Gentile.

In the Vulgate habeam should rather be haberem.

14. To the Greeks and to the barbarians, to the wise and to the unwise, I am a debtor;
15. So (as much as is in me) I am ready to preach the gospel to you also that are at Rome.

14, 15. The Greeks, i.e., those who spoke the Greek language, and who were consequently regarded as people of education and culture. The Romans are here embraced in the term “Greeks,” because at this time Greek was spoken throughout the Empire. All others were considered as barbarians.

The wise and the unwise seems to refer to individuals rather than to nations, because even among the civilized and cultured peoples there were foolish and unlettered persons. To all mankind, therefore, St. Paul, on account of the grace of his Apostolate, felt morally obliged, so far as he could, to preach the Gospel.


A Summary of Romans 1:16-17~In these two verses St. Paul proposes the theme which he intends to develop in this Epistle, namely, that justification comes from faith in Christ, and not from the works of the Law. Being the Apostle of the Gentiles, and a debtor to all by reason of his vocation, he is not ashamed of the Gospel, but ready to announce it also to the Romans; for it is God’s power for producing salvation everywhere. See Introduction,IX. 2.

16. For I am not ashamed of the gospel. For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and to the Greek.

I am not ashamed, etc. Paul assures his readers that, in spite of the learning, riches, power, culture and elegance of Rome, he is not ashamed to preach there the doctrines of the Gospel, which to the pagans were ignorance and foolishness. He will not appeal by the graces of style, but by force of the truths which the Gospel contains. These truths have a divine, compelling force, because they draw their efficacy from God.

The power of God, i.e., the instrument through which God exercises His power to save men, by remitting their sins and giving them grace and eternal life.

To every one that believeth. These words show the universality of the Gospel’s saving force, on condition, of course, that it be accepted and believed, and that its teachings be put into practice. Faith is the foundation and root of all justification, and without it no one can please God and have part in His rewards.

To the Jew first, etc., i.e., the Gospel was first, in order of time, preached to the Jews, who prided themselves on their knowledge of the Scriptures, and then to the Greeks, who boasted of their learning and culture. According to the common interpretation the placing of the Jews first here indicates not only that they heard the Gospel first in order of time, but also that they received it first, in consequence of their privileges and the promises God made to them (cf. Rom 3:1-2; 9:4-5; 11:16-20; Acts 13:46).

The Jews called all Gentiles “Greeks,” and the Greeks considered the Jews, and all who did not speak the Greek tongue, as “barbarians.”

17. For the justice of God is revealed therein, from faith unto faith, as it is written: The just man liveth by faith.

The justice of God, i.e., the justice or justification given by God to man, which has its root and foundation in faith, and renders man holy and pleasing in God’s sight. This justification must be preceded, in the first instance, not by the habit, but by an act of faith.

Is revealed therein, i.e., justification is made manifest through the Gospel, inasmuch as it is a gift of God which before was hidden, but is now made known to the world. Before the Gospel it was not altogether clear just how justification was to be obtained, whether, namely, by faith in the Redeemer to come, or through the observance of the Law of Moses. But now the Gospel has made it entirely plain that justification comes through faith, and is extended to all who believe, be they Jews or Gentiles.

From faith unto faith. These words are variously understood. According to Calmet, Lagrange, etc., they refer to progress in faith. The justice of God is revealed in the Gospel, and takes its beginning in man from faith, as from its root, and increases and develops in faith. Cornely understands the words to refer to the extension of the faith among the believers, in omnes credentes; i.e., the justice of God, manifested through the Gospel, is not restricted to the Jews, but is extended to all those who believe in Christ, of whatever nationality they may be.

It is written, etc., to show that faith, even in the Old Testament, was the source of justification, St. Paul now cites one of the ancient Prophets. The words quoted are from Hab 2:4. Literally they express the manner in which the Jews, under the Chaldeans, should conduct themselves: they should
live by faith in the promise of a deliverer (Cyrus) given them by Almighty God; and thus through patient expectation, accompanied by good works, they would at length be freed. Likewise, says the Apostle, applying the spiritual meaning of the Prophet’s words, he who is just by virtue of the faith revealed in the Gospel will, by good works and patient confidence in God’s promises, live and continually increase in faith and spirituality, unto life everlasting. In the application of these words of the Prophet, St. Paul makes the Babylonian captivity a figure of the state of sin, “and the law of the Israelites a symbol of that of good Christians” (Calmet).

The just man liveth by faith. With the Prophet there was question in these words of life granted in recompense of one’s faith; but with St. Paul there is question of the source of man’s justice: faith is the source, i.e., the foundation, of the spiritual life of the just man. Justice comes from faith, and not from the works of the Law, the Apostle means to say (St. Chrys., Cajetan,
Lagr., etc.).

The citation of Habacuc (Habakkuk) is from the Septuagint, although not literal. The Hebrew reads, “in his faithfulness,” instead of “by faith,” but the meaning is the same.

St. Paul in these verses (16, 17) has stated his thesis, that justification comes not from wisdom or learning, nor from the observance of the Law, but from faith.


A Summary of Romans 1:18-23Having asserted that justification comes only through faith, the Apostle here proceeds to indicate that both Gentiles and Jews have grievously sinned, and are therefore in need of redemption (1:18-3:2020); this redemption can now be obtained through faith in Christ (3:21-4:25).

In the present section St. Paul points out the sinfulness of the pagans. They could have known God, and did know Him, to some extent; but they failed to render Him the homage which was His due, with the result that the notion of Him which they had through human reason became obscured, and they turned in their wickedness to dumb idols.

18. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and injustice of those men that detain the truth of God in injustice:

For (γάρ = gar) indicates the reason why a revelation of the “justice of God” was necessary. Some, however, think that γάρ does not here denote a strict consequence, but rather a mild opposition (Lagr.). The threefold use of γάρ in verses16, 17 and 18 establishes a close connection between the content of those verses. According to Shedd, γάρ “introduces the reason why God has revealed the δικαιοσυνη (= righteousness) spoken of: namely, because he had previously revealed his ὀργή (orgē = wrath). This shows that mercy is meaningless except in relation to justice, and that the attempt, in theology, to retain the doctrine of the divine love, without the doctrine of the divine wrath, is illogical.” (Text in blue my additions to the quote from Shedd).  For some reason that escapes me, the Protestant NIV Bible simply eliminates the word, beginning the verse with The wrath of God.  James Moffatt and C.H. Dodd insist on taking γάρ as an adversative (But the wrath of God); a usage it rarely has. On cannot introduce a dichotomy between God’s Justice and his wrath, they are “two sides of the same coin” (Frank J.Matera).  But if our injustice commend the justice of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust, who executeth wrath?  (I speak according to man.) God forbid! Otherwise how shall God judge this world?  For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie, unto his glory, why am I also yet judged as a sinner?  And not rather (as we are slandered and as some affirm that we say) let us do evil that there may come good? Whose damnation is just (Rom 3:5-8).

The wrath of God is revealed, etc., is understood by older critics to refer to the anger which God will display at the Last Judgment. Cornely and other modern authorities understand it of anger already manifested. Doubtless it is to be understood of anger already displayed, the full and final issue of which, however, will be felt only at the Last Judgment. The Greek word αποκαλυπτεται (is revealed) is a present indicative middle. In other words, it denotes action already in progress (present indicative). the wrath of God is already  being manifested.

Wrath is attributed to God anthropomorphically, and means here nothing more than a manifestation of His justice (2 Sam 19:2; Neh 1:6). Without doubt God will at the Last Judgment manifest His justice towards all sinners in ways
unseen and unrealized here below. St. Paul often speaks of God’s wrath in the eschatological sense (Rom 2:5; 5:9; 1 Thess 1:10, etc.), but it is evident from the present tense of the verb here, αποκαλυπτεται (is revealed), and from the context, that the Apostle is now speaking of wrath which God has already exercised on the Gentiles. Father Callan’s reference to the context is a reference to verses 24, 26 and 28 and the phrase “God gave them up”.

Is revealed from heaven, i.e., God’s judgments on the sins of the Gentiles are sent out, so to say, from the place of His dwelling, from the seat of His presence.

Ungodliness means impiety, as opposed to the virtue of religion, which renders to God His due.

Injustice expresses more openly what is also implied in “ungodliness”; for to fail in piety is likewise to fail in justice to God. Both words refer to the injustice, immorality and other sins of the Gentiles.

The pagans are said to detain (κατεχοντων) the truth of God, etc., inasmuch as their state of injustice and sin excluded possession of the truth, and kept it, as it were, locked up from them. Truth and injustice are opposing forces; and as there is question here  of religious or moral truth, the former (i.e., truth) is said to be excluded, kept away, enslaved (κατεχοντων) by the latter.

Of God is not in the Greek; hence Dei after veritatem of the Vulgate should be omitted.

19. Because that which is known of God is manifest in them. For God hath manifested it unto them.

In this verse St. Paul says that a natural knowledge of God, of His existence and of some of His attributes, to which unimpeded human reason can always attain, was possible to the pagans; and thence it follows that, had they rendered to God, as they could and should have known Him, the homage that was His due, they would have received further help from Him to enable them to lead moral lives and thus attain salvation. The words to το γνωστον (is known) of this verse mean the objective notion or knowledge of God, which man is able to acquire from the visible universe, notitia Dei objective sumpta; γνωστον is always used in this sense in the New Testament.

Is manifest, etc., i.e., is clear to them, made manifest externally among them. The Gentiles had before them that clear knowledge of God which is possible to man through the natural light of reason operating on the visible world around him (St. Thomas).

20. For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity: so that they are inexcusable.

The Apostle wisely addresses to the Gentiles first an argument from the natural order. The nature and attributes of God are called invisible things because they are not naturally perceptible as they are in themselves; but, by reason of things created and naturally visible, human reason has been able from the beginning of the world to rise to a knowledge of the existence of those things which it otherwise could not know, and which are at all times invisible to the senses (Conc. Vot., Sess. III. cap. 2). Ever since there was a created mind capable of reflecting on the visible universe, therefore, it has been possible for man to rise to a knowledge of the existence of a Creator.

Naturally the first attribute of the Creator, which would be suggested to man’s mind, would be that of power; and upon further reflection it would be clear that such power could reside only in divinity. Hence the Gentiles were inexcusable in not knowing the existence of some of the attributes of the one true God, and in not rendering to Him the homage which was His by right.

21. Because that, when they knew God, they have not glorified him as God, or given thanks; but became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Because (διότι = dioti) shows the connection with the preceding verse and introduces a development of the theme therein stated. St. Paul now goes on to explain why the pagans were inexcusable. Not because they had a perfect and explicit knowledge of God, and then refused to pay Him due honor and worship; but because they could have had sufficient notion of His existence and nature not to be guilty of the ignorance with which they are here reproached. Hence St. Thomas says that the first fault of the Gentiles was one of ignorance. Had they made proper use of the first knowledge which they had of God, they would have progressed to further understanding of Him, and would have recognized Him as God; they would have worshipped His supreme majesty, and rendered to Him honor and thanks as the Master and source of all good and blessings. But, having wilfully paralyzed the first help and obscured the first light that was given them, they were plunged into deeper darkness and error, with the result that, instead of thanking God as the cause of benefits, they potius suo ingenio et virtuti suae bona sua adscribebant (St. Thomas).

Heart here represents all of man’s higher faculties, both volitional and intellectual.

22. For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.

This verse does not explain what precedes, but rather indicates the supreme degree of error into which the pagans had fallen. The words are general and embrace not only philosophers, but all the Gentiles, represented by the most cultivated people.

For (Vulgate, enim) is not represented in the Greek.

23. And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of fourfooted beasts, and of creeping things.

So far in their perversity and ignorance did the pagans go that they paid to mere creatures, such as men, birds, beasts, and reptiles,—nay, even to the images and representations of these things, the honor and worship which is due to the eternal God alone. The folly of the Gentiles was in their conception
of the Deity, whom they came to regard as represented by created and material objects; and their false notions begot a false worship.

The likeness of the image, i.e., the image which represented such things as man, birds, beasts and the like. Among the Greeks and Romans idols had the figure of a man, but among the Egyptians they took the form of animals.


A Summary of Romans 1:24-32~Moral disorders follow upon religious error as a chastisement.  They who dishonored God were consequently permitted to dishonor themselves. First they degraded their own bodies by impurities; then they turned to sins against nature; and finally they were given up to a reprobate sense, plunging into every kind of sin, thus meriting the punishment of eternal death.

24. Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness, to dishonour their own bodies among themselves.

God gave them up, etc., i.e., God in just punishment of their perversity withdrew grace from the pagans, and thus permitted them to fall into hateful and disgraceful sins (St. Aug., Serm. LVII. 9). That which was most noble in them, their reason, became the slave of their sensual passions. This judgment
of God, however, was not definitive, because, according to St. Paul himself, the fallen Gentiles could rise again through the grace of Christ; neither does it mean that every individual among the pagans was a reprobate. On the contrary, we know that the grace of Christ’s death reached out beyond the saints of the chosen people and touched some of the Gentiles also, as is recognized by the Apostle in Rom 2:14-16.

25. Who changed the truth of God into a lie; and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Who changed the truth of God, etc. Better, “Seeing that they changed,” etc. This can be understood in two ways, according to St. Thomas: (a) Either that, in their perversity, they changed the true knowledge which they had received from God into false doctrines; or (b) that they attributed the nature of the Divinity, which is truth itself, to an idol, which is a lie, inasmuch as it is not God. The Prophets often spoke of idols as lies (Isa 44:20; Jer 13:25; 16:19). The first meaning is preferred by Toletus, Lipsius, Lagrange, etc.; the second by Cornely, Godet, etc.

26. For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature.
27. And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error.

In these two verses St. Paul speaks of the unnatural sins of the pagans, which were committed by women as well as men. St. Thomas says that every sin is against man’s rational nature, but that sins of impurity which are not directed to the act of generation are also against man’s animal nature.

(vs 27) The recompense, i.e., the reward that was due to their idolatry.

St. Paul’s words are directed, not to the philosophers alone, but to all the pagans. Naturally, however, those were more responsible and culpable who had the intellectual and moraldirection of others. It is surprising that such degrading sins asare here mentioned could have existed in the midst of a culture so high as was the Greco-Roman. These vices, however, did not have their beginning in Greece, but were very widespread among the Semites, even in the higher classes, as we learn from Babylonian inscriptions. Also the ancient Hebrews practiced them in forms the most repugnant and forbidden by the Law (1 Kings 14:24; 22:47; 2 Kings 23:7; Deut 23:18). In Greece art and literature, which glorified unnatural vices, contributed much to corrupt the youth and to spread the immorality which St. Paul is here condemning (cf. Aristotle, Politics, II. 10, 9; Plato, Laws, VII. 836-841).

28. And as they liked not to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient;

Because the Gentiles failed of their own volition to use their natural light of reason to acquire a more correct and accurate knowledge of the one true God, they were permitted to fall into a reprobate sense, which took wrong for right and right for wrong.

The Greek word for sense here is (νοῦς = nous), mind, which embraces not only the speculative judgment, but also the principle of moral actions, or practical judgment. It is this meaning of the word νοῦς that explains sensum, in place of mentem, of the Vulgate (cf. 1 Cor 9:27; 2 Cor 13:5-7).

Things . . . not convenient, i.e., abominable, unnatural vices.

It is to be noted here that this perversity of the pagans, which led them to regard wrong as right and right as wrong, was especially manifested in their aversion for sexuality that was legitimate and natural, and in their affection for and praise of such unnatural vices as pederasty, which, as we learn from Anacreon and Theognis, among the Greeks, and Lucian and Plutarch, among the Romans, was considered not only as lawful, but as the privilege of the higher classes. There seems to be a striking analogy between this perverted judgment of the Gentiles, which St. Paul is here reprobating, and the similar distorted reasoning of many people of our own time, who look upon such unnatural sins as onanism, unnecessary sterilization and race-suicide not only as legitimate, but as marks of a higher civilization and culture. Having forsaken the true religion and teachings of Christ these unfortunate persons have become perverse in their judgments, so that their condition and culpability seem not unlike those of the pagans of old who are condemned by St. Paul.

29. Being filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, avarice, wickedness, full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity, whisperers,

As a consequence of the reprobate sense to which God abandoned the pagans they fell into all kinds of sins against God, their neighbor and themselves.

Cornely observes that the Vulgate, having translated ποιειν (to do those things verse 28) by ut faciant, should have begun this verse with the nominative repleti, filled, instead of the accusative repletos. In Greek the accusative follows naturally αυτους (them), with which it is in apposition as the subject of ποιειν (God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things).  The word fornication, found also in the Vulgate, is omitted from the principal Greek MSS. It seems out of place in the present enumeration, since the vices of impurity had been sufficiently noted in verses 24, 26 and 27.

Malice and wickedness were used promiscuously by both sacred and profane writers, but St. Paul mentions them separately, together with other general sins, to show that the Gentiles were guilty of crimes of all kinds.

Avarice, like impurity, was widespread among the pagans.

Malignity is a vice which accepts and explains all things in the worst light.

Whisperers are those who secretly spread calumnies.

30. Detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

Detractors are those who openly and unjustly reveal the crimes and sins of others.

Hateful to God. The Greek here has θεοστυγεις, which Cornely and others understand to mean haters of God. But since this meaning of the word is never found in profane Greek, Lagrange prefers the Vulgate translation, Deo odibiles. It is perhaps a general term, expressive of the condition of those who were guilty of the crimes mentioned in the present series, especially pride and detraction, which are particularly hateful to God (cf. Sirach 10:7; Prov 6:16).

Haughty. Haughtiness comes from pride and is the fault of those in particular who have power or influence.

Inventors of evil things are those who are always studying new methods and means of sin (cf. 2 Macc 7:31).

31. Foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy.

Foolish, i.e., irreligious, those who have no taste for things religious, or who do not understand the divine Wisdom (cf. Ps 92:7; Wis 1:5; 11:15; Sirach 15:7; Mark 7:22).

Dissolute, i.e., those who are unfaithful to their engagements, those without honor (cf. Jer 3:7, 8, 10, 11).

Without fidelity (Vulg., absque foedere), is not represented in many MSS., and is perhaps a gloss that has crept into the text.

Without mercy, i.e., without pity and humanity toward their needy brethren.

32. Who, having known the justice of God, did not understand that they who do such things, are worthy of death; and not only they that do them, but they also that consent to them that do them.

Who, having known, etc. Better, “For, realizing” (οιτινες), etc. In this verse, which explains how to understand the “reprobate sense” of verse 28, St. Paul says that the Gentiles knew in theory that God is just, but that they did not understand this in practice. There is some difference between the Greek and Vulgate readings here, but the sense is practically the same.

Are worthy of death. Neither in the Mosaic nor in the Gentile law was death promulgated as the punishment for all faults; but St. Paul wishes only to say here that those who give themselves up to vices for which they are fully responsible are deserving of death. The pagans knew the moral law and its sanction, but so far did they go astray that they were not only guilty of committing sins themselves, but approved of others who committed them; in this, certainly, their perversity was extreme. Thus the philosophers, who favored idolatry, although they themselves did not believe it, and the writers who glorified sins against nature were beyond doubt deeply guilty.

As there is question in this verse of the moral conscience of the pagans, St. Paul was doubtless referring principally to their Stoic and Cynic philosophers, who preached virtue and a moral code in some respects more austere than that practiced by the Jews. The Greco-Romans, for example, had no legal polygamy; they did not admit that a master could have relations with his servant; and they considered as an adulterer a husband who, in his conjugal relations, sought only pleasure.

The conclusion of the present chapter is that the wrath of God is upon the Gentiles for their sins, and that therefore they are in need of redemption. Neither their philosophy, nor their culture, nor the natural virtues which some of them preached and practiced were able to keep them from sin or establish in their regard any merited claim to the Gospel. All are in the same condition. St. Paul in this chapter has not enumerated faults peculiar to the philosophers, nor to the Romans in general, but those rather that were common to all the pagan world. Hence, after speaking of the vices of luxury, his enumeration is restricted to sins against justice and charity. If particular attention is given to pride, it is not so much because this was a Roman vice, as that it is a principle or common source of social disorder. In his Epistles to the Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians, etc., the Apostle was moved by the needs and special evils of those to whom he wrote; but not so here. In the present letter his aim is to show the degradation of the pagan world. His words are addressed to all, and they are of special import to the Romans only because Rome, as the capital and centre of the Empire, pretended to maintain and was responsible for the social order and general welfare of all her people. Without charity toward God and the neighbor these benefits could not be secured, and because these virtues were not practiced, St. Paul saw that, in spite of philosophy, reason did not guide the pagans, in spite of the splendid government and laws of Rome, peace and friendship were wanting, in spite of certain natural virtues, the causes of dissolution were many and widespread, and therefore there was need of a radical change and of a new and more potent means of salvation (Lagrange, h. 1.).


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