The Divine Lamp

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Archive for June 3rd, 2011

Fathers Nolan’s and Brown’s Commentary on John 17:11b-19

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 3, 2011

This post includes commentary on all of verse 11. Text in red are my additions.

Joh 17:11  And now I am not in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name whom thou hast given me: that they may be one, as we also are.

A third reason why they ought now to receive the Father’s special care was
thine, and thine are mine: and I am glorified in them. And now I am not in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to thee.

Keep them in thy name, whom thou hast given me. The sense of this reading is sufficiently evident. The best supported Greek reading, how ever, is ὦ  (not ους), ὦ  being attracted into the dative case of the preceding noun, and standing for ó. The most probable meaning of this Greek reading is: keep them in the confession of Thy name, in the knowledge of Thee, which Thou hast given to Me, and which I in turn have given to them; that they may be one by a union of faith and charity resembling, though in an imperfect way, the union between the Persons of the Blessed Trinity.

Joh 17:12  While I was with them, I kept them in thy name. Those whom thou gavest me have I kept: and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition: that the scripture may be fulfilled.

I kept them. In the original, the imperfect tense (ετηρουν) brings out more
clearly Christ’s continuous care.

In this verse, too, there is a difference of opinion as to whether ους or ὦ  is the
correct reading, but the Vulgate reading is more strongly supported here than in verse 11.

And none of them is lost, but the son of perdition. Son of perdition is a
Hebraism, signifying one devoted to destruction, as Judas was, through his own fault.

None of them was lost in either soul or body except Judas, who was already lost as to his soul, though not irreparably; and who was soon to be irreparably lost
both as to soul and body. But this loss of Judas was not to be ascribed to Christ, but took place in order that (see above on John 12:37-40) the Scripture (Ps 41:10) might be fulfilled. The Holy Ghost had predicted the ruin of Judas, because it was foreseen that this would certainly come about through the wretched Apostle’s own fault. In the words: none of them is lost, we think there is question of both the bodies and souls of the Apostles; for while it is generally admitted that Christ here claims to have guarded the souls of the Apostles from
spiritual ruin, John 18:8, 9, seems to prove, as we shall there show, that in the words before us Christ speaks of having guarded from harm their bodies also.

Joh 17:13  And now I come to thee: and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy filled in themselves.

These things we refer to what Christ had already spoken in the hearing of the Apostles in this prayer to the Father; namely, that He should give them life eternal (verse 2); that He should be glorified with the Father (verse 5); and that in His absence the Father would watch over them, and keep them in His name (verse 11).

That they may have my joy filled (made full) in themselves. My joy might mean the joy they had received from Christ, or the joy they felt because of Christ; but we think the most probable and most natural meaning is: “that they may have the joy which I feel in going to the Father, made full in themselves. Before this time He had said to them: If you loved Me, you would indeed be glad, because I go to the Father” (xiv. 28); and now He has spoken in this prayer of the glory which awaited Him, and of the care of the Father for the Apostles, in order that they may be reconciled to, and fully rejoice in, His departure to the Father.

Joh 17:14  I have given them thy word, and the world hath hated them: because they are not of the world, as I also am not of the world.

I have given them thy word, and the world hath hated them. I (εγω)
is emphatic; I, Thy Son. This is a fourth reason why the Father ought to watch over and guard the Apostles the world hated them, and this because they had received the words of Christ, which are the words of the Father.

Though in the world, the Apostles were not 0f the world, not imbued with its spirit, nor pandering to its tastes.

Joh 17:15  I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from evil.

From evil ( εκ του πονηρου). This may refer to the evil ofthe wicked world which is sin, or to the devil, the evil one. The parallel passage in 1 John 5:18, 19 favours the latter view. These words, to which the Apostles were listening, gave them to know that they must not despair, and wish to quit the world when trials should come; but rather, remaining in the world, keep themselves unspotted frorr its defilements.

Joh 17:16  They are not of the world, as I also am not of the world.

The last clause of verse 14 is repeated as the ground of another petition, namely, that the Father may sanctify them.

In order to emphasize the point in their hearing, and also as a motive why God ought to hear the petition that follows, the fact that the Apostles are not men of the world is repeated and insisted upon by Christ.

Joh 17:17  Sanctify them in truth. Thy word is truth.

In the truth, is the correct reading; not in thy truth, nor in truth. The word in which they are to be sanctified is probably the word of God, which Christ had
preached, and which is referred to in the end of the verse: Thy word is truth;  and not, as Maldonado, holds, the real sanctification of the New Law as opposed to the typical and merely external sanctification by which the priests of the Old Law were set apart for their functions.

In the Gospel, then, and for the preaching of the Gospel Christ prays that the Apostles may be sanctified. But what does the word sanctify here mean? Sometimes the word  αγιασον signifies to make holy, or to make more holy, or to keep more holy (1 Cor 7:11; 1 Thess 5:23); at other times, it means to set apart or destine for an office; and in this sense it is generally used through out the Old Testament. Both senses are probably combined in the word here, for it was by
making and keeping them holy that the Apostles were to be efficaciously set apart by the Father for the sacred mission to which Christ had already called them.

Joh 17:18  As thou hast sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

This verse shows that the sanctification is prayed for especially with a view to their mission as Apostles. Have sent (Greek did send) is used proleptically, for the Apostles had not yet received their mission to the Gentile world. See John 20:21; Matthew 18:18, 19; Mark 16:15.

Joh 17:19  And for them do I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

And for them do I sanctify myself. St. Aug. understands of the sanctification wherewith the Son of God sanctified the humanity He assumed. (English translation will follow the Latin)” Quando Verbum caro factum est, tune sanctificavit se in se, id est hominem se in Verbo se, quia unus Christus Verbum et homo: propter sua vero membra dicit: et pro eis ego sanctifico meipsum, hoc est, ipsos in me, quoniam in me etiam ipsi sunt et ego. Ut sint et ipsi sanctificati in veritate. Quid est et ipsi nisi quemadmodum ego.” (St. Aug. in loc.)

EnglishTranslation~He thereby meant that He would sanctify them in Himself, He immediately added, “That they also may be sanctified in the truth.” And what else is this but in me, in accordance with the fact that the truth is that Word in the beginning which is God? In whom also the Son of man was Himself sanctified from the beginning of His creation, when the Word was made flesh, for the Word and the man became one person. Then accordingly He sanctified Himself in Himself, that is, Himself the man in Himself the Word; for the Word and the man is one Christ, who sanctifies the manhood in the Word. But in behalf of His members He says, “And for their sakes I,”-that is, that the benefit may be also theirs, for they too are [included in the] I, just as it benefited me in myself, because I am man apart from them-“ I sanctify myself,” that is, I sanctify them as if it were my own self in me, since in me they also are I.

But the common opinion is that Christ speaks of the sacrifice of Himself which He was about to offer a few hours after wards. In this viewthe meaning is: and for them do I set Myself apart, do I consecrate Myself as a victim, that they may be truly and efficaciously set apart and consecrated for the preaching of the Gospel. Thus while the word sanctify has in both clauses the same gen eric meaning of setting apart, there is yet a difference. Christ sets Himself apart, devotes Himself to death, that they may be consecrated in the fulness of grace for the work of the Apostleship. Christ sets Him self apart, but the Apostles are evidently to be set apart by the Father; that is to say, effectually fitted by the Father for the work to which Christ had already called them.

In truth. (εν αληθεια). The absence of the Greek article distinguishes this clause from that in verse 17. There the question is of the truth, the word of God; here in truth, seems to be equivalent to truly, really that they also may be truly sanctified. Compare 2 John 1; 3 John 1.

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St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 17:11b-19

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 3, 2011

This post includes commentary on all of verse 19

11 Holy Father, keep them in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as We are.

He still preserves the blending of two things into one: the human element, I mean, which, so far as we are concerned, imparts humiliation, and the Divine element, which is pregnant with the most exalted majesty. For His speech is combined of both; and, just as we stated in our interpretation of the foregoing passage, the Divine element is not perfectly exalted to the height, nor yet is it wholly sundered from the limitations of humanity, holding as it were a middle place by an unspeakable and ineffable fusion of the two, so as not to pass outside the limits of true Godhead, nor yet altogether to leave behind those of humanity. For His ineffable descent from God the Father exalts Him, inasmuch as He is the Word and Only-begotten, into a Divine Nature and the majesty which naturally accompanies it, while His humiliation brings Him down in some sort to our level, not as though it availed perforce to overpower the kingship over the universe which He shares with the Father, for the Only-begotten could never submit to violence against His Will. Rather was His humiliation self-chosen, accepted and maintained from love towards us. For He humbled Himself, that is, of His own Will and not by any compulsion. For He would be proved to have undergone the Incarnation against His Will, if there were any one at all |512 able to prevail over Him, and who bade Him unwillingly take this upon Him. He humbled Himself therefore willingly for our sakes, for we should never have been called His sons and God’s, if the Only-begotten had not undergone humiliation for us and on our account; to Whose Likeness we are conformed by participation in the Spirit, and so become children of God, and God’s. Whenever, therefore, in His sayings, He blends together in some way the human with the Divine, do not be therefore offended, nor lightly relinquish the admiration you ought to feel at the incomparable art displayed in His sayings, skilfully preserving for us in divers ways their twofold character, so that we can see at the same time the God and the Man speaking truly in His Nature, marvellously combining the humiliation of His Humanity with the glory of His ineffable Divinity; preserving wholly blameless and irreproachable the harmonious fusion of the two.

And how is it that, when we say this, we do not affirm that the Nature of the Word is degraded from its original majesty? To think this would indeed display the greatest ignorance; for that which is Divine is altogether and wholly changeless, and endureth no shadow of turning but rather ever remaineth on one stay. We rather make such a statement because the manner of His voluntary degradation, as by necessary inference investing Him with the form of humiliation, causes the Only-begotten, Who is coequal with, and in the Likeness of, the Father, and in Him and proceeding from Him, to be apparently in an inferior position to Him. Be not astonished at hearing this, if the Son appear to fall short of the Father’s majesty because of His Humanity, when for this very reason Paul declared that He was thus inferior even to the angels, in the following words: Him Who hath been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour, though the holy angels were bidden to worship Him, |513 for when, He says, He bringeth in the Firstborn into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him, as well as also the Holy Seraphim, who stood around and fulfilled the office of servants when He appeared unto the prophet sitting on a high and lofty throne. Then, so far as His being begotten and proceeding from God the Father is concerned, His Humanity is not proper to the Son; but it is proper to Him in so far as He is Incarnate Man, and remaineth ever what He was and is, and will be such for evermore, and debaseth Himself to what He was not of old for our sakes.

He saith, then: Holy Father, keep them in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me; that they may be one, even as We are. He desires His disciples to be kept by the power and might of the Ineffable Divine Nature, well and suitably attributing the power of saving whomsoever He will, yea, and with ease, to the true and living God; and thereby, again, He glorifies no other nature than His own, as in the Person of the Father, from Whom He proceeded as God. Therefore He saith, Father, keep them in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me; that is, the Name of God. He says again, that the Name of God was not given unto Him as though He had not been God by Nature, and were now called from without to the dignity of Godhead. For then would He be created, and possess a spurious and elective glory and an adulterate nature, which it were impious for us to imagine. For thereby He would be mulcted of His inherent character of Sonship. But since, as the inspired writings prophesy, the Word became flesh, that is, man, He says that He received Divine attributes by gift; for clearly the title and actuality of Divine glory could not naturally attach to man. But consider, and attentively reflect, how He showed Himself the living and inherent Power of God the Father, whereby He doeth all things. For when, addressing His Father, He says, Keep them, He did not indeed suffice for |514 them alone, but suitably brought in Himself as working for their preservation and being for that purpose also the power and instrument of His Father; for He says: Keep them in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me. Note how guarded the saying is. For allotting and attributing as suitable only to the Nature of God providential care over us, He declares at once that to Himself has been given the glory of Godhead, because of the form of manhood, saying that what was His by natural right was given to Him; that is, the Name which is above every name. Therefore also we say that this Name belongs to the Son by nature, as proceeding from the Father; but, so far as He is Man, those things are His by gift which He receives as Man, using herein the form of speech applicable to ourselves; for man is not God by nature, but Christ is God by nature, even though He be conceived of as Human because He was amongst us.

He wishes indeed the disciples to be kept in unity of mind and purpose, being blended, as it were, with one another in soul and spirit and the bond of brotherly love; and to be linked together in an unbroken chain of affection, so that their unity may be so far perfected as that their elective affinity may resemble the natural unity which exists between the Father and the Son; and, remaining undebased and invincible, may not be distorted by anything whatever that exists in the world, or by the lusts of the flesh, into dissimilarity of purpose; but rather preserving in the unity of true piety and holiness the power of love intact, which also came to pass. For, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and soul, in the unity that is of the Spirit. And this is what Paul himself also meant, when he said: One body and one Spirit; for we who are many are one body in Christ, for we all partake of the one bread, and we have all received the unction of one Spirit, that is, the Spirit of Christ. As, then, they were to be one body, and |515 to partake of one and the selfsame Spirit, He desires His disciples to be preserved in a unity of spirit which nothing could disturb, and in unbroken singleness of mind. And if any man suppose that after this manner the disciples are united even as the Father and the Son are One, not merely in Substance, but also in purpose (for the holy Nature of God has one Will, and one and the selfsame purpose altogether), let him so think. For He will not stray wide of the mark, since we can see identity of purpose among true Christians, though we have not consubstantiality as the Father and the Word That proceeded from Him, and is in Him.

12, 13 While I was with them, I kept them in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me: and I guarded them, and not one of them perished, but the son of perdition; that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to Thee.

Our Saviour’s speech soon proceeds to illustrate His meaning more plainly; and while at the first dark hints were given, it is now proclaimed and revealed like a storm breaking into sunshine. For the disciples thought that our Saviour’s abandonment of them,—-I mean in the flesh,—-would inflict on them great loss; for nothing could prevent His being with them as God. But they expected that no one could then save them after Christ’s Ascension into heaven, but that they would fall a prey to those who wished to injure them, and that there would be nothing to restrain the hand of their powerful adversaries, but rather that any one so disposed might work his will on them without hindrance, and involve them in any peril. But wise as they were and fathers in the faith, and bearers of light to the world, we need not shrink from saying that they ought not merely to have regarded the Incarnate Presence of our Saviour Christ, but to have known that even though He were to deprive them of converse with Him in the flesh, and they saw Him not with the eye of the body, yet that it was their duty at any rate to think of Him as present with them for |516 evermore in the power of His Godhead. For will God ever lose the attributes of His Person? Or what power can resist an Omnipotent Nature, or is able perforce to hinder it in the performance of its functions? And it is the power and actuality of God’s Being to be present everywhere, and unspeakably to fill the heavens and also the earth, and to contain all things, but to be contained of none. For God is not bounded by place, nor separated by distance within any sphere, however great; for such like things cannot avail to affect that Nature which has nothing to do with the dimensions of space. Then, since Christ was at the same time God and Man, the disciples ought to have been aware that, though He were absent in the body, yet He would not wholly forsake them, but would be ever with them by reason of God’s unspeakable might. And for this reason also our Saviour Himself said, in the foregoing passage: Holy Father, keep them in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me; and here again: While I was with them, I kept them in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me; almost pointing out this fact to His disciples, that the ability to save them suited rather the working of His power as God than His Presence in the flesh: for this very flesh was not sanctified of itself; but when, by His Incarnation, the Word was made one with it, it was in some sort transformed into His inherent power, and is now become the channel of salvation and sanctification to those who partake thereof. We must not then attribute the whole of the Divine activities of Christ to the flesh by itself, but we shall be rather right if we ascribe them to the Divine power of the Word. For does not “keeping the disciples in the Name of the Father” mean this, and nothing else? For they are kept by the glory of God. He removes, then, from His disciples’ minds, the fear which they felt because they thought themselves forsaken; often following the same course of thought, He assures them that they will be in perfect safety, not through living with their Master in the body, but rather |517 because He is by Nature God. Evidently the universal dominion and might which are His have no end; for He can suffer no change or alteration from that state in which He dwells eternally, but will keep them safe with ease for evermore, and rescue them from every peril that may assail them. Consider also the forethought wrapped up in the saying, to our profit and edification. For when He asks that they—-I mean His holy disciples —-should be kept by God the Father, He declares that He Himself had done this, showing Himself like in power and works to His Father, or rather, His inherent might. For surely He Who is seen to have the same power as God, He Who is acknowledged the true God, must be thought to be wholly inherent in Him, and to possess equality of power and identity of Nature with Him. And how can He Who kept them as God in the Name of God, and as a God crowned them with the glory that proceeded from righteous actions befitting the title, be foreign to God, or of different nature? Is He not in very deed shown to be that which He is, namely, God? For nothing that exists can do those works which are peculiar to God, without being in its own nature that which we imagine God to be. He still preserves in the passage the twofold conception of His character owing to His Incarnation. For He takes away, as it were, from His Nature, as a created Being, the power of saving and preserving all to whom this is due for their piety towards God. and ascribes it to the Name of the Father, attributing to the Divine Nature alone the things which are of God. And for this reason, again, though He says that He kept the disciples, He did not give the honour of taking up the work to His Humanity, but rather says that it was fulfilled in the Name of God; excluding Himself, in a manner, from its accomplishment, so far as He is flesh and is so conceived of, but not excluding Himself from the power of keeping them, and of accomplishing the works of a God, insomuch as He is God, and from God, the all-working power of the |518 Father—-a Divine force which even when at rest displays by its very attributes the Nature from which it ineffably proceeded 2. And if here too, again, He says that the Name of God has been given unto Him, although He is in fact God by Nature, as the Only-begotten Who proceeded from Him, He is not thereby in truth degraded, nor would He thereby exclude Himself from the honour and glory which is His due. Far from it. For to receive is appropriate to His Humanity, and can be fittingly ascribed thereto; for, of itself, humanity possesses nothing.

He says that He so kept His disciples, and had such care for them, that none of them was lost save one, whom He called the son of perdition; as though he were doomed to destruction of his own choice, or rather his own wickedness and impiety. For it is inconceivable that the traitor disciple was by a Divine and irresistible decree entangled, as it were, in the snare of the fowler, and brought within the devil’s noose; for then would he surely have been guiltless when he succumbed to the verdict of heaven. For who shall oppose the decree of God? And now he is condemned and accursed, and it would have been better for him if he had never been born. And why? Surely the wretched man met his doom as a consequence of his own volitions, and is not convicted by destiny. He that was so enamoured of destruction may well be called a son of perdition, inasmuch as he merited ruin and corruption, and ever awaits the day of perdition as fraught with anguish and lamentation 3.

And as Christ added to the words He used concerning him, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, we have given an explanation which may be useful to readers of this passage. For it was not because of any prophecy in Scripture that the traitor was lost, and became so vile as to barter for a few coins the precious Blood of Christ, |519 but rather, as through his own innate wickedness he betrayed his Lord, and was infallibly destined to destruction on that account, the Scripture, which cannot lie, foretold that so it would be. For the Scripture is the Word of God, Who knows all things, and carries in His own consciousness the character and life of each one of us, and his conversation from the beginning to the end. Moreover, the Psalmist, attributing to Him knowledge of all things, of the past as well as of the future, thus addresses Him: Thou understandest all my thoughts afar off; Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. The Divine Word, then, Which had complete foreknowledge, and saw the future as though it were already present, besides all the rest which It told us about Christ, revealed unto us that he that was ranked a disciple would also die the death of a traitor. Still, the foreknowledge and foretelling of the future indicated not the pleasure and commandment of God; nor yet was the prophecy directed to compel the actual fulfilment of the evil that was foreshadowed and the conspiracy against the Saviour, but rather to avert it. For when Judas had this knowledge he might, at any rate, if he had so chosen, have shunned and avoided the result, as he was free to determine his inclinations in any direction.

Put perhaps you will say, “How, then, can Christ be said to have kept His disciples, if merely in pursuance of the inclinations and volitions of their own wills the rest escaped the devil’s net while Judas alone was taken, ill-fated beyond the others? How, then, can the safekeeping here spoken of be said to have been of profit?

Nay, my good friend, we answer, soberness is indeed a good thing, and the keeping guard over our minds profiteth much, together with an earnest endeavour towards the doing of good works and stablishing ourselves in virtue, for so shall we work out our own salvation; but this alone will not avail to save the soul of man. For it stands in urgent need of assistance and |520 grace from above, to make what is difficult of achievement easy to it, and to render the steep and thorny path of righteousness smooth. And to prove to you that we are not able to do anything at all of ourselves without the aid of Divine grace, hearken to the voice of the Psalmist: If the Lord build not the house, their labour is in vain that build it: and if the Lord keep not the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

I say, then, that it is our bounden duty to foster and practise a home-bred self-denial and a religious frame of mind; but in so doing also to ask help of God, and, receiving the aid that comes from above as a panoply proof against every assault, to acquit ourselves like men. When God has once for all vouchsafed to grant our prayer, and it is therefore in our power to subdue the might of our adversaries, and conquer the power of the devil, if we do not choose to follow him when he allures us to pleasure or any other kind of sin; then, I say, if we let our wills comply with him, and, yielding to our wicked inclinations, are entangled in his noose, how can we any more with justice accuse any one else, or fail to attribute our doom to our own folly? For is not this what Solomon said long ago: The foolishness of man perverteth his way, and his heart fretteth against the Lord? And this is unquestionably the case. If, however, the traitor was unable to enjoy the succour of the Saviour as much as the other disciples, let any man only prove this, and we submit; but if, while he was, in common with the rest, encompassed by the Divine grace, of his own will he relapsed into the abyss of perdition, how can Christ be said not to have kept him, when He vouchsafed him the riches of His mercy, and increased, so far as it was possible in any man’s case, his chance of safety, if he had not chosen his doom of his own will? His grace, moreover, was conspicuous in the rest, continually keeping in safety those who made their own free-will, as it were, co-operate therewith. For this is the manner in which the salvation of each one of us is achieved. |521

13 And these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.

Keep in mind once more what we were just now saying, and you will easily understand the drift of the passage. For He on all occasions preserved the juxtaposition of the two aspects of His character, at the same time displaying the Divine majesty for which He was pre-eminent, and not discarding the proper limitations of the Human Nature which He assumed at His Incarnation. For there would be something absurd in the supposition that He wished to disown what He had willingly taken upon Himself. For being Himself in lack of nothing, but the all-perfect Son of a perfect Father, He emptied Himself of His glory, not to do Himself any service, but rather to convey to us the blessing which would result from His humiliation. Showing Himself, then, to them as at the same time both God and Man, He, as it were, induces His disciples to reflect that absent, as well as present, He would work the things which made for their salvation in God; and that, as He had them in His keeping while He was yet with them on the earth in the form of Man, so also would He keep them while absent from them as God, through the excellency of His Substance. For that which is Divine is not bounded by space, and is not far from anything that exists, but fills and pervades the universe, and though present in all things is contained of none. When, addressing His own Father, He says: Holy Father, keep them, He at once refers, by right of its existence, to the universal working of the power of the Father; and at the same time shows that He standeth not apart from His Nature, but, being in it and proceeding from it, is indivisibly united with it, though He be conceived of as independently existing. Keep them, He says, in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me; and again: While I was with them, I kept them in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me. We are bound, therefore, to think that, if He had kept them hitherto in the |522 Name given Him by the Father, that is, in the glory of Godhead, for He gave unto Him the Name which is above every name; and if He wishes the Father Himself also to keep them in the Name given unto Him, He will not be excluded from acting in the work; for the Father will keep those who are knit to Him by faith through the agency of the Only-begotten, Who is His power and might. For He will not exercise His power in any way save through Him. Then, if even in the flesh He kept them, by the power and glory of His Godhead, how can we think that He will fail to think His disciples worthy of the mercy which they need; and how can they ever lose His sure support while the Divine power of the Only-begotten abideth evermore, and the power which is His by Nature is for ever firmly established? For that which is Divine admits of no variance at all, or of any change into any evil agency, but shines forth for ever in those attributes which belong to it eternally.

I have spoken then, He says, these things in the world, that My disciples might have My joy fulfilled in them. What kind of joy is meant we will proceed to show, putting away from us fear of dispute, because of the obscurity of the expression. The blessed disciples, then, thought indeed that while Christ was present with them in their daily lives, I mean, of course, in the flesh, they could easily rid themselves of every calamity and readily escape danger from the Jews, and that they would remain proof against every assault of their foes; but that when He was separated from them, and had gone up to heaven, they would fall an easy prey to perils of every sort, and would have to bear the attack of the king of terrors himself, as there was no one any more with them who was strong to save, and who could scare away the temptations that assailed them. For this cause, then, our Lord Jesus Christ neither disavowed the Manhood He had once for all taken upon Himself, nor yet showed Himself deficient in Divine power; speaking plainly to this intent, and |523 saying that the Name of God had been given to Him as Man, but that through Him, and in Him, the Father c showed mercy to those who worshipped Him, and had them in safe keeping. What, then, was the wise object that He here had in view”? It was that the blessed disciples might understand and know well, if they only slightly considered this saying, that even when He was in the flesh, it was not through the flesh that He was working for their salvation, but in the omnipotent glory and might of His Godhead. My absence in the flesh then, He says, will do My disciples no harm, while the Divine power of the Only-begotten can easily keep them safe, even though He be not visibly present in the body.

We give this explanation, not as making of no account the holy Body of Christ—-God forbid; but because it were more fitting that the accomplishment of His Word should be ascribed to the glory of the Godhead. For even the Body Itself of Christ was sanctified by the power of the Word made one with it. and it is thus endowed with living force in the blessed Eucharist, so that it is able to implant in us its sanctifying grace. Therefore also our Saviour Christ Himself, once conversing with the Jews, and speaking many things concerning His own Body, calling it the true Bread of Life, said: The bread which I will give you is My Flesh,; which I will give for the life of the world. And when they were sore amazed and perplexed to know how the nature of earthly flesh could be to them the channel of eternal life, He answered and said: It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I spake unto you are spirit, and are life. For here, too, He says that the flesh can profit nothing, that is, to sanctify and quicken those who receive it, so far, that is, as it is mere human flesh; but when it is understood and believed to be the temple of the Word, then surely it will be a channel of sanctification and life, but not altogether of itself, but through God, Who has been |524 made one with it, Who is holy and Life. Ascribing everything, then, to the power of His Godhead, He says that His disciples will suffer no loss from His departure in the body, with reference, at any rate, to their seeking to be in His keeping. For the Saviour, though He be vanished into heaven, will yet not be far from those who love Him, but will be with them by the power of His Godhead.

In order, then, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves, He says, I have spoken these things in the world. What, then, is this joy which is fulfilled and perfect? It is the knowledge and belief that Christ was not a mere Man as we are, but that, besides being as we are, yet without sin, He is also the true God. It is clear, then, and beyond dispute, that He will always have the power to save those who worship Him at any time He will, even though He be not present in the body. For this knowledge will involve the perfect fulfilment of our own joy, inasmuch as we have an ally ever near us, Who is strong enough to rescue us from every evil.

14, 15 I have given them Thy Word; and the world hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that Thou shouldest take them from the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil one.

He points out to us the most needful increase of favour from above and from the Father, which, He says, is almost owed by Him to those who incur danger for His sake, as a just and well-deserved return. For the world hateth on God’s account those who worship Him, and who are obedient to the laws that He has laid down, and who lightly esteem worldly pleasure, and who also, as is most right, will receive succour and grace from Him, and continuance in well-being. For surely they who after a manner rely upon Him, and are of good courage and engage in warfare on His account, |525 will receive a recompense in harmony with the aim they have in view. Therefore the Saviour says: I have given them Thy Word; and the world hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. For they received with great gladness, He says, Thy Word given unto them by Me, that is, the Gospel message, which easily extricates from a worldly life and thoughts of earth, those who welcome it. Therefore also are they hated of the world, that is, of those who choose to have at heart the things of this world, and who love this pleasure-loving and most impure life. For the conversation of Saints is displeasing to worldlings; ever making light as it does of the hardships of this life, and pointing out how abominable is a worldly career, and accusing its vileness, and assailing with bitter rebukes those who think that pleasure consists in succumbing to temptation, and in having continual intercourse with the evil of this world, and triumphing over all selfish desire, and contemning ambition, and teaching men to abhor covetousness the mother of all evils, and to cast it far from them, and furthermore bidding those who are ensnared in the net of the devil to escape from old deceits, and to betake themselves to the God of the universe.

For this cause, therefore, O Father, He says, are they hated. For they are in ill odour with the world, not because they have been convicted of any crime or impiety, but because I have given unto them Thy Word, so that they are also out of the world even as I am. For the life and conduct that is in Christ is wholly dissevered from earthly thoughts and worldly conversation; that life, by following after which we shall ourselves also, so far as possible, escape being reckoned among the men of this world. Therefore the inspired Paul enjoins us to follow His steps; and we shall then best follow Him, when we love only the things that are not of this world, and, lifting our minds above fleshly thoughts, gaze only on heavenly things. He ranks Himself, too, with |526 His disciples because of His Manhood, by imitating which, in the conception of Him as Man, we attain every kind of virtue, as we just now said; passing unscathed through all the wickedness of the world, and showing ourselves strangers and aliens to its wickedness. Just so, then, the Divine Paul indeed himself exhorts us; and, with reference to himself and Christ, through Which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world, bids us, speaking in another place, Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ. Paul did not indeed imitate Christ in so far as our Lord is Creator of the world; for he did not establish a new firmament, nor did he ever reveal to us new seas, or a new earth. How, then, did he imitate Him? Surely it was by moulding in his own character and conduct an admirable pattern of the life of which Christ was Himself the exemplar, so far at least as Paul could attain to it; for who can be equal to Christ?

Putting Himself, then, on a level with us, because of His Human Nature, or, to speak more accurately, as first presenting us with the blessing of taking ourselves out of the world by the life which transcends worldly things, for the life and teaching of the Gospel is above the world, He says that He Himself is not of the world, and that we are even as He is, since His Divine Word has taken up its abode in our hearts. Furthermore, He declares that as the world hated Him so will it also hate them. The world indeed hateth Christ, because it is in conflict with His words, and accepts not His teaching, men’s minds being wholly yielded up to base desires; and even as the world hates our Saviour Christ, it hath hated also the disciples who carry through Him His message, as Paul also did, who said: We are ambassadors, therefore, on behalf of Christ, as though God were intreating by us: we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God.

What, then, is His prayer, after that He has shown that the disciples are hated by those who are fast bound by the evil things of the world? I pray not, He saith, that |527 Thou shouldest take them from the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil one. For Christ doesnot wish them to be quit of human affairs, or to be rid of life in the body, when they have not yet finished the course of their apostleship, or distinguished themselves by the virtues of a godly life; but he wishes them, after they have lived their lives in the company of men in the world, and have guided the footsteps of those who are His to a state of life well pleasing to God, then at last, with the glory they have achieved, to be carried into the heavenly city, and to dwell with the company of the holy angels. We find, moreover, one of the Saints approaching the God Who loves virtue with the cry: Take me not away in the midst of my days; for pious souls cannot, without a pang, put off the garment of the flesh before they have perfected their life in holiness above their fellows. Therefore also the Law of Moses, teaching us that sinners are visited as in wrath, and by way of penalty, with premature death, often reiterates the warning to stand aloof from evil, that thou diest not before thy time. Besides, if the Saints chose to keep themselves apart from our daily life, it would infer no small loss to those who are unstable in the faith; nay, they could in nowise be guided in the way of righteousness, without the aid of those who are able to lead them therein. Paul knew this when he said, To depart and be with Christ is far better for me, yet to abide in the flesh is more needful for your sake. Christ, therefore, in His care for the salvation of the uninstructed, says that those who are in the world ought not to be left desolate without the Saints, who are men of light, and the salt of the earth; but prays rather for the safe keeping of His holy ones, and that they may be ever untouched by the malice of the evil one, shunning the assault of temptations by the power of His Omnipotent Father.

We must also remark that He calls the Word, which is His, and came forth from Him—-I mean the Gospel—–the Word of God the Father, showing that He is not |528 separate from the Father, but Consubstantial with Him. For we shall find in the writings of the Evangelists that the people of the Jews were amazed at Him, because He taught them as one having authority, and not as their Scribes. For these latter were seen to apply the teaching of the Law in every case in their discourses to them; while our Lord Jesus Christ did not at all follow slavishly the types shadowed forth in those writings, but, illumining His own Word by Divine power, exclaimed: It was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, Thou shalt not covet; though the Law expressly says, with reference to the statutes of God, that none should add thereto or take away therefrom: but Christ took away from, and also added unto them, changing the type into truth. Therefore He cannot be reckoned among those under the Law, that is, among creatures; for on whomsoever Nature has put the brand of slavery, on him is imposed the necessity of being under the Law. Christ, then, represented His own Word as the Word of the Father. For He is the Word That is in the Father and proceedeth from Him, and That enunciates the Will of the Godhead—-I mean the only true Godhead Which is in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

16, 17 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Holy Father, keep them in truth: Thy Word is truth.

By these words He indicates once more, and makes clear to us, the reason why He requires to ascend to God the Father, and why so to do becomes Him, while He is still our Mediator, and High Priest, and Advocate, according to the Holy Scripture; and shows us that it is in order that, if at any time we encounter failure, or miss the straight path in thought or action, or are assailed by unexpected perils or buffeted by the tempest of the devil’s malice, He may approach His Father on our behalf in His appropriate character as Mediator; and |529 join with Him in granting good gifts to those who are worthy. For it would well become Him so to do, as He is God by Nature. Those then, He says, who have received Thy Word, O Father, through Me, show forth My Likeness in themselves and are conformed to the pattern of Thine own Son, who, like Him, pass unscathed through the ocean of the world’s wickedness, and have shown themselves foreigners and strangers to the love of pleasure in this life, and every kind of vice. Therefore keep them in Thy truth, for exceeding purity is inherent in Christ. For He is truly God, and cannot be subject to sin nor endure it, but is rather the fountain of all goodness, and the beauty of holiness. For the Divine Nature, that ruleth over all, can do nothing but what is in truth suitable and belongeth thereto. And the holy disciples, I mean all who believe on Him, cannot otherwise exhibit purity unspotted by the wickedness of this world than by means of forgiveness and grace from above, which putteth away the defilement of previous offences and the accusing sins of their past lives; and, further, conferring on them the glory of a life of sanctification, though their continuance therein be not free from conflict, as Paul wisely teaches us, saying: Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. For our life is cast upon the deep, and we are tossed by divers storms, as the devil tempts without ceasing, and continually assails and strives to defile if he can, by the insidious inventions of malice, even those who have been already made pure. For his meat is well chosen, as the prophet says. Having then borne witness to His disciples that their life was out of the world, and that they were conformed to the likeness of His own essential purity, He proceeds to pray to His Father to keep them. It is almost as though He said: O Holy Father, if they were in the world—-that is, if they lived the life that has honour in this world—-if, sowing the seed of earthly and temporary pleasure in their hearts, they imprinted on themselves the foul image of the evil one, |530 would not have attacked them with temptation, nor have armed himself against his own children, for he would have in them the likeness of his own inherent wickedness. But since they, following after Me, laugh to scorn the deceitfulness of this world, and are out of the world, and, moreover, in their conduct show most clearly the impress of My incomparable holiness, and on that account have Satan, who is ever murmuring against the Saints, for their bitter foe, ever lying in wait for them; therefore of necessity I desire them to be in Thy safe keeping. And to be in Thy safe keeping is not to be far from Thy truth, that is, from Me. For I am by Nature Thy truth, O Father, the Essential, True, and Living Word.

We must suppose that this is what He thinks right to say. See how, in all His sayings, so to speak, He insinuates His own Person into the action of the Father, whatever that action has reference to, and puts Himself altogether side by side with Him, wishing probably to show how true the statement is: All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made. In the previous passage, indeed, He briefly besought His Father to keep the disciples in the Name which had been given unto Himself. In this, however, He desires His prayer on their behalf to be fulfilled in the truth of the Father. What, then, does this mean; or what does the change in the language signify? Is it meant to show that the working of the Father, shown through Him in mercy to the Saints, is not uniform? For in the first passage, when He says that His disciples ought to be kept in the Name of the Father, that is to say, in the glory and power of His Godhead, so that they should be out of the power of the enemy, He declares that aid is vouchsafed to the Saints in whatever happens unto them, after the secret fashion that Christ at the proper season revealed to His disciples when He said: Simon, Simon, behold, Satan asked to have you, that he might sift you as wheat: but I made supplication for thee, that thy |531 fail not. For many of God’s dealings concerning us are in secret, Christ taking thought for the life of each of us, and covering us as with a shield. But here, when He says Keep them in the truth, He signifies clearly their being led by revelation of the truth to apprehend it. For no man can attain to the knowledge of truth without the light of the Spirit, nor can he at all, humanly speaking, work out for himself an accurate comprehension of the Divine doctrines. For the mysteries of Holy Writ exceed our understanding, and glorious is the blessing of having even a moderate knowledge concerning Christ.

The blessed Peter, moreover, when he confessed that the Lord was in truth the Son of the living God, heard the words: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father Which is in heaven. For He reveals to the Saints His Son, Who is truth, and does not allow Satan to lead the mind of His believers astray to false knowledge; relying on whom, in their season, Hymenaeus and Alexander have made shipwreck concerning the faith, rejecting the true doctrine of the faith. Of great avail, then, towards a right continuance in the straight path of thought and action, is our safe keeping by the Father in the Name of God and in truth; that we may not fail in making our light shine forth in action, nor, by turning aside to folly, stray far away from the doctrines of true holiness. And this may easily be our lot, if we are seen to be out of the world while not disavowing our birth in the world; for of the dust of the earth are we all framed, as the Scripture saith, but by the quality of our deeds we rid ourselves of life in the world. For while they walk upon earth, those who love conformity with Christ are citizens of heaven.

We must also remark that He very appropriately here calls the Father holy, almost, as it were, reminding Him that, as He is holy, He takes pleasure in those that are holy. And all men are holy, whosoever are seen to be |532 unspotted by the world, and whosoever are by nature in Christ, in the Father’s likeness adopted, and chosen to be His disciples by the sanctification according to grace, and the light and goodness of their lives. For a man may thus be conformed to the Image of God, Which transcends the world. |533

18, 19 As Thou didst send Me into the world, even so sent I them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.

After giving the Father here especially the name of Holy, and praying that the disciples might be kept in the truth, that is, in His Spirit (for the Spirit is the truth, as John says, as He is also the Spirit of truth, that is, of the Only-begotten Himself), He declares that He sent them into the world after the fashion of His own mission; for Jesus is the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, as Paul says, in the appropriate character of His Manhood, and by the way of His humiliation. He says, then, that the disciples, after having been once for all thereto prepared, stand wholly in need of sanctification by the Holy Father, Who implanteth in them the Holy Spirit through the Son. For in truth the disciples of the Saviour would never have become so illustrious as to be the torchbearers of the whole world, nor would they have withstood the brunt of the temptations of their enemies, nor the terrible assaults of the devil, had they not had their minds fortified by communion with the Spirit; and had they not been continually thereby enabled to accomplish a bidding unheard of before and passing mere human power; and had they not been ever led by the light of the Spirit, without effort, to a perfect knowledge of the inspired writings and the holy |534 doctrines of the Church. Furthermore, the Saviour, being assembled together with them after His resurrection from the dead, as is recorded, and bidding them preach grace through faith throughout the whole world, charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which they had heard of Him as well as by the mouth of the holy prophets. For it shall come to pass in those days, saith the Lord, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh. And the Saviour Himself plainly declared that His Holy Spirit would be shed forth upon them, in the words: I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He shall guide you into all truth; and again: I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter. For the Spirit belongeth unto God the Father, and none the less also unto the Son Himself, not as distinct Entities, or as though He was inherent or existed in Either divisibly; but, inasmuch as the Son by Nature proceeds from the Father and is in Him (being the true Offspring of His Essence), the Spirit—-Which is the Father’s by Nature—-is brought down to men; shed forth indeed from the Father, but through the Son Himself conveyed to the creature; not merely ministerially or in the manner of a servant, but, as I said just now, proceeding from the Substance Itself of God the Father; and shed forth on those worthy to receive Him through the Word, Which is Consubstantial with and proceeded from Him, and so proceeded as to have a self-dependent being, and ever abideth in Him, at the same time in unity, and also, as it were, with an individual existence. For we maintain that the Son has an independent existence, but still inheres in His Father, and has in Himself Him that begat Him; and that the Spirit of the Father is indeed the Spirit of the Son; and that, when the Father sends or promises to distribute the Spirit to the Saints, the Son also vouchsafes the Spirit to them as His own, because of His identity in Substance with the Father. And that the Father works in every respect |535 through Him He has Himself very clearly pointed out to us in the words: It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away the Comforter cannot come unto you; but when I depart I will send Him unto you. And again: I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter. Plainly here He promises to send us the Comforter.

Since, then, the disciples, who respect My sayings, have been sent forth on their mission in the world, even as I myself, keep them, Holy Father, in Thy truth; that is, in Thy Word, in Which, and through Which, the Spirit Which sanctifies is and proceeds. And what is the Saviour’s aim in saying this? He besought the Father for that sanctification which is in and through the Spirit to be given to ourselves; and He desires that which was in us at the first age of the world, and at the beginning of creation by gift of God, to be quickened anew into life. This we say, because the Only-begotten is our Mediator, and fulfils the part of Advocate for us before our Father Which is in heaven. But that we may free our explanation from all obscurity, and make the meaning of what is said clear to our hearers, let us say a few words about the creation of the first man.

The inspired Moses said concerning him, that God took dust from the earth and formed man of it. He then goes on to tell the manner in which, after the body was perfectly joined together, life was given to it. He breathed, he says, into his nostrils the breath of life; signifying that not without sanctification by the Spirit was life given to man, nor yet was it wholly devoid or barren of the Divine Nature. For never could anything, which had so base an origin, have been seen to be created in the Image of the Most High, had it not taken and received, through the Spirit moulding it, so to speak, a fair mask, by the Will of God. For as His Spirit is a perfect Likeness of the Substance of the Only-begotten, according to the saying |536 of Paul: For whom He foreknew, He also fore-ordained to be conformed to the Image of His Son, He maketh those in whom He abides to be conformed to the Image of the Father, that is, the Son; and thus all thoughts are uplifted through the Son to the Father, from Whom He proceeds by the Spirit. He desires, therefore, the nature of man to be renewed, and moulded anew, as it were, into its original likeness, by communion with the Spirit; in order that, putting on that pristine grace, and being shaped anew into conformity with Him, we may be found able to prevail over the sin that reigns in this world, and may simply cling to the love of God, striving with all our might after whatsoever things be good, and, lifting our minds above fleshly lusts, may keep the beauty of His Image implanted in ourselves unspoiled. For this is spiritual life, and this is the meaning of worship in the Spirit.

And if we may sum up in brief the whole matter, Christ called down upon us the ancient gift of humanity, that is, sanctification through the Spirit and communion with the Divine Nature, His disciples being the first to receive it; for the saying is true, that the husbandman that laboureth must be the first to partake of the fruits. But that He might herein also indeed have the preeminence (for it was meet that He, being, as it were, one of many brethren, and still Man even as we are men, should, through being in our likeness, be seen to be and in fact be the Beginning, and the Gate, and the Way, of every good thing for us), He is impelled to add what follows, namely, the words: For their sakes I sanctify Myself.

And, indeed, the saying is hard to explain and difficult to understand. Still, the Word Which maketh all things clear, and discovereth deep things out of darkness, will reveal to us even this mystery. That which is brought by any one to God by way of an offering or gift, as sacred to Him, is said to be sanctified according to the custom of the Law; as, for example, every firstborn child |537 that opens the womb among the children of Israel. For sanctify unto Me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb, God said to the good Moses; that is, offer and dedicate and set down as holy. We do not indeed assert, nor would we listen to any one’s suggestion, that God bade Moses impose on any the sanctification of the Spirit, for the stature of created beings attains not unto ability to perform any such act, but it is adapted and can be ascribed to God only. Moreover, when He wished to appoint to office the elders together with Him, He did not bid Moses himself impose sanctification upon those who were selected; but, instead, plainly said that He would take of the Spirit That was upon him and would put It upon each of those who were called. For the power of sanctifying by communion with the Spirit belongs only to the Nature of the Ruler of the Universe; and what the meaning of sanctification is, I mean so far as the customs of the Law are concerned, the saying of Solomon will make quite clear to us: It is a snare to a man hastily to sanctify anything that is his, for after he has made his vow repentance cometh.

Since, then, this is what sanctification is, so far as the custom of offering and setting apart is concerned, we say that the Son sanctified Himself for us in this sense. For He brought Himself as a Victim and holy Sacrifice to God the Father, reconciling the world unto Himself, and bringing into kinship with Him that which had fallen away therefrom, that is, the race of man. For He is our Peace, according to the Scripture. And, indeed, our reconciliation to God could no otherwise have been accomplished through Christ that saveth us than by communion in the Spirit and sanctification. For that which knits us together, and, as it were, unites us with God, is the Holy Spirit; Which if we receive, we are proved sharers and partakers in the Divine Nature, and we admit the Father Himself into our hearts, through the Son and in the Son. Further, the wise John writes for us concerning Him: Hereby know |538 we that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And what does Paul also say? And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father, as, if we had chanced to remain without partaking of the Spirit, we could never at all have known that God was in us; and, if we had not been enriched with the Spirit that puts us into the rank of sons, we should never have been at all the sons of God. How, then, should we have had added to us, or how should we have been shown to be partakers in, Divine Nature, if God had not been in us, nor we been joined to Him through having been called to communion with the Spirit? But now are we both partakers and sharers in the Substance That transcends the universe, and are become temples of God. For the Only-begotten sanctified Himself for our sins; that is, offered Himself up, and brought Himself as a holy Sacrifice for a sweet-smelling savour to God the Father; that, while He as God came between and hedged off and built a wall of partition between human nature and sin, nothing might hinder our being able to have access to God, and have close fellowship with Him, through communion, that is, with the Holy Spirit, moulding us anew to righteousness and sanctification and the original likeness of man. For if sin sunders and dissevers man from God, surely righteousness will be a bond of union, and will somehow set us by the side of God Himself, with nothing to part us. We have been justified through faith in Christ, Who was delivered up for our trespasses, according to the Scripture, and was raised for our justification. For in Him, as in the first-fruits of the race, the nature of man was wholly reformed into newness of life, and ascending, as it were, to its own first beginning, was moulded anew into sanctification. Sanctify them, He says, O Father, in Thy truth; that is, in Me, for Thy Word is truth; that is, I once more. For I sanctified Myself for them; that is, brought Myself as an offering, One dying for many, that I might reform |539 them into newness of life, and that they might be sanctified in truth, that is. in Me.

Now that the foregoing speech has been explained, and understood in the sense we have just given out, we shall not be slack to enter on another investigation. For to be very zealous in searching out the meaning of difficult passages in Scripture, must, I think, reflect much honour both on those who have this desire, and also on those who listen to them attentively. Our Lord Jesus Christ, then, said that He sanctified Himself for our sakes, that we also may be sanctified in truth. In what sense He is sanctified, being Himself by Nature holy, in order that we may be sanctified also, let us then, adhering to the doctrines of the Church, and not starting aside from the right rule of faith, so far as we can, carefully consider. We say, then, that the Only-begotten, being by Nature God, and in the form of God the Father, and in equality with Him, emptied Himself according to the Scripture, and became Man born of a woman, receiving all the properties of man’s nature, sin only excepted, and in an unspeakable way uniting Himself to our nature by His own free will, in order that He might in Himself first, and through Himself, regenerate it into that glory which it had at the beginning; and that He, having proved Himself the second Adam, that is, a heavenly Man, and being found first of all, and the firstfruits of those who are built up into newness of life, in incorruption that is, and in righteousness and the sanctification which is through the Spirit, He might henceforth through Himself send good gifts to the whole race. For this cause, though He is Life by Nature, He became as one dead; that, having destroyed the power of death in us, He might mould us anew into His own life; and being Himself the righteousness of God the Father, He became sin for us. For, according to the saying of the Prophet, He Himself beareth our sins, and He was counted together with us among transgressors, that He might justify us through Himself, rending the bond that was |540 against us, and nailing it to His cross, according to the Scripture. Being also Himself by Nature holy as God, and granting to the whole creation participation in the Holy Spirit, to their continuance and stablishing and sanctification, He is sanctified on our account in the Holy-Spirit; no one else sanctifying Him, but rather He Himself working for Himself to the sanctification of His own Flesh. For He receiveth His own Spirit, and partakes of It in so far as He was Man; yea, and giveth it unto Himself as God. And He did this for our sakes, not for His own, that, originating in Him first, the grace of sanctification might henceforth reach even unto all mankind. Just as by Adam’s transgression and disobedience, as in the founder of the race, human nature was doomed to die by the fault of one man, the first of men hearing the sentence, Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return; in the same way, I think, through the obedience and righteousness of Christ, in so far as He became under the Law, though as God He was Himself the Lawgiver, the Eucharist and the quickening power of the Spirit might be extended unto men universally. For the Spirit reforms into incorruption that which was by sin corrupted, and fashions into newness of life that which was obsolete through apathy, and verging to decay.

But perhaps you will ask, How, then, was He That is holy by Nature sanctified, and that through participation? And in what sense does He Who granteth His own Spirit to all who are worthy to receive it, both those, I mean, in heaven and those on earth, do Himself this service? Such things are indeed hard to fathom or comprehend, and difficult to explain, when you consider the Word That proceeded from God as still devoid of, or as only partially endued with, the humanity so sanctified; but when you think with wonder on His incomprehensible Incarnation and union with the flesh, and have present before your minds the true God now become Man, even as we are men, you will no longer be |541 surprised; but, putting off all perplexity of mind, and having before your thoughts the Son Who is at the same time God and Man, you will not think that the proper attributes of humanity ought to be cast aside, even though they be merged in the Person of One Who is the Son by Nature, I mean Christ. For do we not think, for example, that death is foreign to the Nature of the all-quickening Word?

Still, you will say, He endured death in the flesh; for the body is mortal, and therefore is said to die, for His own Body died.

You are quite right in your idea, and say well; for of a truth in His scheme for our redemption, He did give up His Body to die, and again infused His own life into it, and did not, that is, rescue Himself from the bonds of death, by the power He actually has as God. For He came among us and became Man, not for His own sake, but rather He prepared the way, through Himself and in Himself, for human nature to escape from death and to return to its original incorruption. Let us, then, by an analogous train of reasoning, find out the manner of His sanctification. Can we then at all maintain that the body, which is of earth, is holy by the law of its own nature, even if it receive not sanctification from God, Who is by Nature holy? How could this be? For what difference could there then be any longer between earth-born flesh and that Substance Which is holy and pure? And if it be true to say that all rational creatures, and in general everything that has been called into being and ranks among created things, do not enjoy sanctification as the fruit of their own nature, but, as it were, borrow grace from That Which is by Nature holy, would it not be the height of absurdity to think that the flesh had no need of God, Who is able to sanctify all things? Since, then, the flesh is not of itself holy, it was therefore sanctified, even in the case of Christ—-the Word That dwelt therein sanctifying His own Temple through the Holy Spirit, and changing it into a living instrument of |542 His own Nature. For the Body of Christ is for this cause holy and pure; as being, in accordance with what I said just now, in a corporeal sense, as Paul says, the Temple of the Word united with it. Therefore the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, descends upon Him from heaven; and the wise John bore testimony to this, that we might also know that on Christ first, as on the first-fruits of the renewed nature of man, the Spirit came down, in so far as He was Man, and so capable of sanctification. We do not indeed affirm that Christ then became holy as to His Flesh, when the Baptist saw the Spirit descending upon Him; for He was holy when He was still unborn and in the womb. Yea, and it was said unto the Blessed Virgin, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. Rather was the sight given as a sign to the Baptist. We are of opinion, nevertheless, that Christ’s Flesh was sanctified by the Spirit; the Word, Which ia by Nature holy, and proceedeth from the Father, anointing His own Temple that is in Him, like all else that is created. And the Psalmist, knowing this, exclaimed, while he gazed upon the human Person of the Only-begotten: Therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows. For when the Son anoints the Temple of His Body, the Father is said so to do. For He only works through the Son. For whatsoever the Son doeth is referred to the Father from Whom He springs, as the Father is, as it were, the Root and Source of His Offspring.

And no marvel if He declares that even He Himself is sanctified, though by Nature He is holy, when the Scripture calls God His Father, though He is Himself by Nature God. But I think one may well and justly attribute such expressions, without fear of error, to the requirements of human reason, and to analogy with human relationships. Just as, then, He died in the flesh for our sakes as Man, though being by Nature God; and just as, ranking Himself among creatures, and |543 under subjection on account of His Manhood, He calls God His Father, though He was Lord of all; so He affirms that He sanctifies Himself for our sakes: that, when the influence thereof reaches even to us, as through the firstfruits of regenerate human nature in Him, we also may be sanctified in truth, that is, in the Holy Spirit. For the Spirit is the truth, as John says; for the Spirit is not separate from the Son, in Substance at any rate, inasmuch as He exists in Him and proceeds through Him.

He says that He was sent into the world, though He was in it before His Incarnation. For He was in the world, though the world knew Him not, according to the Scripture; signifying that the manner in which His mission was given Him was by the unction of the Holy Spirit, in so far as He was Man, and was the Angel of great counsel, after the analogy of the prophetic office. And when He says that His disciples have been prepared, as He was Himself, and sent from Him to announce to the world the message of the Gospel from heaven, He declares that they stand in great need of being sanctified in truth, that they may be enabled well and strenuously to run the course of their apostleship to the end. |544  (source)

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 20:28-38

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 3, 2011

Text in red are my additions.

28. Take heed to yourselves, and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

St. Paul admonishes the pastors present to imitate him by first sanctifying themselves, and then the flock which the Holy Ghost has committed to them. He explicitly mentions the bishops, i.e., the ” overseers,” ” superintendents,” who have the special duty of guiding and directing the flock of Christ. He speaks of the
Church as having been purchased with God’s own blood. Since,then, the Church was de facto purchased with the blood of Christ, it follows that Christ is God. Cf. Matt 26:28; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor 6:20; 1 Peter 1:19.

29. I know that, after my departure, ravening wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

Ravening wolves, such as the Judaisers and Gnostics, who caused so much trouble and sorrow in the early Church. Cf. 2 Cor 11:13-15; Gal 1:7 ff. ; 1 Tim 1:19; Rom 16:18-20.

30. And of your own selves shall arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

Of your own selves. Perhaps the reference here is to Hymeneus and Alexander (1 Tim 1:20; 2 Tim 2:17-18; 4:14).

31. Therefore watch, keeping in memory, that for three years I ceased not, with tears to admonish every one of you night and day.

For three years, in round numbers. St. Paul taught in the synagogue at Ephesus for three months (Acts 19:8), and in the school of Tyrannus for two years (Acts 19:10).

32. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, who is able to build up and to give an inheritance among all the sanctified.

The word of his grace means the Gospel. To build up means to bring to perfection their own sanctification and that of their flocks by increasing in faith and all other virtues, so that they may become partakers of the rewards of God’s saints in heaven.

33. I have not coveted any man’s silver, gold, or apparel, as
34. You yourselves know: for such things as were needful for me and them that are with me, these hands have furnished.

St. Paul knew that those who preach the Gospel and serve the altar are deserving of the support from the faithful necessary to carry on their work; but in order not to give his enemies a chance to accuse him of seeking material profit from spiritual labors, he earned his own living and supported his companions with his own hands. See 1 Cor 4:12; 1 Thess 2:9; 2 Thess 3:8.

35. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring you ought to support the weak, and to remember the word of the Lord Jesus, how he said: It is a more blessed thing to give, rather than to receive.

The weak, in view of the two preceding verses, probably refers to the spiritually infirm; i.e., to those who would be scandalized to see spiritual labors turned to material gain. Some, however, understand “the weak” to refer to the poor and needy, and this opinion is made very probable by the second half of the verse. The sentence, it is more blessed to give, etc., is not in any of the Gospels, but was handed down, like many other teachings of our Lord, by tradition.

36. And when he had said these things, kneeling down, he prayed with them all.

The words kneeling down recall the Lord’s action in the garden (Lk 22:41) following his final discourse to the disciples (Lk 22:24-38).

37. And there was much weeping among them all; and falling on the neck of Paul, they kissed him,
38. Being grieved most of all for the word which he had said, that they should see his face no more. And they brought him on his way to the ship.

St John Chrysostom: “And they fell on his neck,” it says, “and wept.” (v. 37). Luke  shows their affection also by saying, “Upon his neck,” as taking a last embrace, such was the love they conceived from his discourse, such the spell of love that bound them. For if we groan when simply parting from each other, although we know that we shall receive one another back again, what a tearing away of themselves it must have been to them! Methinks Paul also wept.To show the strength of the emotion St Luke begins chapter 21 by describing their parting as a tearing away: “Having torn ourselves away from them,’ otherwise they could never have got to sea.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 20:17-27

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 3, 2011

17. And sending from Miletus to Ephesus, he called the ancients -of the church.

The ancients. It is disputed whether these were the Bishops of the districts about Ephesus, or only the priests of some of the principal churches. More probably the term ” ancients ” here refers both to the Bishops and the priests of the neighboring cities. That there were Bishops included in the term “ancients” seems clear from verse 28.

18. And when they were come to him, and were together, he said to them: You know from the first day that I came into Asia, in what manner I have been with you, for all the time,
19. Serving the Lord with all humility, and with tears, and temptations which befell me by the conspiracies of the Jews;
20. How I have kept back nothing that was profitable to you, but have
preached it to you, and taught you publicly, and from house to house.
21. Testifying both to Jews and Gentiles penance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

In these verses St. Paul opens his discourse by recalling to the minds of the Bishops and priests gathered together, his ministry at Ephesus. He dwells on his labors and trials in their midst, and on his tender solicitude for all his spiritual children. This he did, not from pride, but out of regard for those whom he was about to leave, in order that they might remain faithful and be true to the doctrine he had preached to them.

22. And now, behold, being bound in the spirit, I go to Jerusalem: not
knowing the things which shall befall me there:
23. Save that the Holy Ghost in every city witnesseth to me, saying: That bands and afflictions wait for me at Jerusalem.
24. But I fear none of these things, neither do I count my life more
precious than myself, so that I may consummate my course and the ministry of the word which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

In this, the second part of his discourse, St. Paul says he is going to Jerusalem, and that he is ready and willing to suffer for the sake of the Gospel anything that God may send him to bear. Bound in the spirit (verse 22) may mean under the impulse of the Holy Ghost, or, by his own determination. The Holy Ghost, either by direct revelation, or through the prophets of the Church (Acts 21:11) in every city, testified to St. Paul that great afflictions were in store for him; but the Apostle was undaunted, preferring to fulfil his ministry than to save his own life.

25. And now behold, I know that all you, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.
26. Wherefore I take you to witness this day, that I am clear from the
blood of all men;
27. For I have not spared to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

Taking leave of them for what he considers to be the last time, St. Paul calls his audience to witness that he has done his duty by them, and that if any of them are lost, it will not be his fault; he has spared no labors, no sufferings to make known to them the things necessary for salvation.

A Summary of Acts 20:25-35~In these verses, which conclude his discourse, the Apostle gives his hearers some final admonitions and instructions. He warns them of the dangers ahead and exhorts them to fidelity. He seemed to feel that he should not see them again, but we know that he did very probably again visit the churches of Asia Minor after his imprisonment in Rome (1 Tim 1:33; 2 Tim 1:15, 18; 4:13). From the Holy Ghost he knew that many sufferings awaited him at Jerusalem, but what their final issue should be he did not know.

Since St. Paul seemed convinced that he would never again return to Asia Minor, it is difficult to explain the actual visit which later he most probably did make to the churches there. Patrizzi says that on this occasion the Apostle spoke, “Non divino afflatu, sed prout futurum esse putabat

Father Callan is presupposing that the Roman imprisonment narrated at the end of Acts was not the one that ended in St Paul’s Martyrdom. See the article on St Paul in the Catholic Encyclopedia, scroll down and read what is under the heading CAPTIVITY (ACTS 21:27-28:31).

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Father’s Nolan and Brown’s Commentary on John 16:29-33

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 3, 2011

Joh 16:29  His disciples say to him: Behold, now thou speakest plainly and speakest no proverb.

In saying that He was about to leave the world and go to the Father, He spoke plainly, and explained their doubts, see Jn 16:17.

Joh 16:30  Now we know that thou knowest all things and thou needest not that any man should ask thee. By this we believe that thou camest forth from God.

Seeing that He had read their thoughts (Jn 16:19), and anticipated their inquiries, even for this reason they declare their faith in Him as the Messias and Son of God to be confirmed and made perfect.

Joh 16:31  Jesus answered them: Do you now believe?

Christ s reply does not deny that they believe; yet insinuates, if we take it interrogatively with the Vulgate,  that He had reason to doubt the firmness of the faith they boasted, as indeed He goes on to declare plainly in the following verses.

Joh 16:32  Behold, the hour cometh, and it is now come, that you shall be scattered every man to his own and shall leave me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.

Hour is again a Hebraism for time. This same prediction, or a similar one, is recorded by St. Matt 26:31, and St. Mark 14:27, and according to both it was made after Christ and the Apostles had left the supper room to go towards the Mount of Olives. As we observed above on Jn 14:31, we think it highly improbable that this long discourse after the Last Supper was spoken in the crowded streets of Jerusalem; and if the words of SS. Matthew or Mark obliged us to hold that the prediction, recorded by those Evangelists was spoken whilst Christ and the Apostles passed along the streets, we would hold that this prediction, recorded bySt. John, is a different one, and that Christ referred twice on this night to the desertion of His Apostles. In reality, however, SS. Matthew and Mark can be satisfactorily explained on the supposition that the prediction which they record was spoken outside the house where Christ and the Apostles had supped, or at some quiet spot on the way to Mount Olivet.

Joh 16:33  These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you shall have distress. But have confidence. I have overcome the world.

These last discourses He had spoken to confirm their faith and afford them consolation, that so they might have peace of heart, despite the hatred of the world. Then He closes this beautiful discourse with the consoling and encouraging assurance that He was just about to conquer the world (by prolepsis He speaks of His victory as already gained). The context shows that this assurance implied that they too, through Him, should triumph over the world. For it is because His victory implied theirs that He tells them to have confidence. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory which overcometh the world, our faith (1 John 5:4).

Thus in His last words to His Apostles before His passion, at the very moment when He knew that His enemies were approaching (Jn 15:30), Christ confidently claims the glory of a conqueror.

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 68

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 3, 2011

Note: This post contains notes on verses 1-7, encompassing all of st today’s Responsorial Psalm. St Augustine’s notes on this rather lengthy Psalm can be read in full here.

Of this Psalm, the title seemeth not to need operose discussion: for simple and easy it appeareth. For thus it standeth: “For the end, for David himself a Psalm of a Song.” But in many Psalms already we have reminded you what is “at the end: for the end of the Law is Christ for righteousness to every man believing:”(Rom 10:4) He is the end which maketh perfect, not that which consumeth or destroyeth. Nevertheless, if any one endeavoureth to inquire, what meaneth, “a Psalm of a Song:” why not either “Psalm” or “Song,” but both; or what is the difference between Psalm of Song, and Song of Psalm, because even thus of some Psalms the titles are inscribed: he will find perchance something which we leave for men more acute and more at leisure than ourselves. …

“Let God rise up, and let His enemies be scattered” (verse 1). Already this hath come to pass, Christ hath risen up, “who is over all things, God blessed for ever,”(Rom 9:5)) and His enemies have been dispersed through all nations, to wit, the Jews; in that very place, where they practised their enmities, being overthrown in war, and thence through all places dispersed: and now they hate, but fear, and in that very fear they do that which followeth, “And let them that hate Him flee from His face.” The flight indeed of the mind is fear. For in carnal flight, whither flee they from the face of Him who everywhere showeth the efficacy of His presence? “Whither shall I depart,” saith he, “from Thy Spirit, and from Thy face whither shall I flee?”(Ps 139:6) With mind, therefore, not with body, they flee; to wit, by being afraid, not by being hidden; and not from that face which they see not, but from that which they are compelled to see. For the face of Him hath His presence in His Church been called. …

“As smoke faileth, let them fail” (verse 2). For they lifted up themselves from the fires of their hatred unto the vapouring of pride, and against Heaven setting their mouth, and shouting,” Crucify, Crucify,”(Jn 19:6) Him taken captive they derided, Him hanging they mocked: and being soon conquered by that very Person against whom they swelled victorious, they vanished away. “As wax melteth from the face of fire, so let sinners perish from the face of God.” Though perchance in this passage he hath referred to those men, whose hard-heartedness in tears of penitence is dissolved: yet this also may be understood, that he threateneth future judgment; because though in this world like smoke, in lifting up themselves, that is, in priding themselves, they have melted away, there will come to them at the last final damnation, so that from His face they will perish for everlasting, when in His own glory He shall have appeared, like fire, for the punishment of the ungodly, and the light of the righteous.

“Lastly, there followeth, “And let just men be joyous, and exult in the sight of God, let them delight in gladness” (verse 3). For then shall they hear,” Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive ye the kingdom.”(Matt 24:34) “Let them be joyous,” therefore, that have toiled, “and exult in the sight of God.” For there will not be in this exultation, as though it were before men, any empty boasting; but (it will be) in the sight of Him who unerringly looketh into that which He hath granted. “Let them delight in gladness:” no longer exulting with trembling(Ps 2:11) as in this world, so long as “human life is a trial upon earth.”(Job 7:1, LXX) Secondly, he turneth himself to those very persons to whom he hath given so great hope, and to them while here living he speaketh and exhorteth: “Sing ye to God, psalm ye to His name” (verse 4). Already on this subject in the exposition of the Title we have before spoken that which seemed meet. He singeth to God, that liveth to God: He psalmeth to His name, that worketh unto His Glory. In singing thus, in psalming thus, that is, by so living, by so working, “a way make ye to Him,” he saith, “that hath ascended above the setting.” A way make ye to Christ: so that through the beautiful feet of men telling good tidings,(Isa 52:7) the hearts of men believing many have a way opened to Him. For the Same is He that hath ascended above the “setting:” either because the new life of one turned to Him receiveth Him not, except the old life shall have set by his renouncing this world, or because He ascended above the setting, when by rising again He conquered the downfall of the body. “For The Lord is His name.” Which if they had known, the Lord of glory they never would have crucified.(1 Cor 2:8)

“Exult ye in the sight of Him,” O ye to whom hath been said, “Sing ye to God, psalm ye to the name of Him, a way make ye to Him that hath ascended above the setting,” also “exult in the sight of Him:” as if “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.”(2 Cor 6:10) For while ye make a way to Him, while ye prepare a way whereby He may come and possess the nations, ye are to suffer in the sight of men many sorrowful things. But not only faint not, but even exult, not in the sight of men, but in the sight of God. “In hope rejoicing, in tribulation enduring:”(Rom 12:12) “exult ye in the sight of Him.” For they that in the sight of men trouble you, “shall be troubled by the face of Him, the Father of orphans and Judge of widows” (verse 5). For desolate they suppose them to be, from whom ofttimes by the sword of the Word of God(Matt 10:34) both parents from sons, and husbands from wives, are severed: but persons destitute and widowed have the consolation “of the Father of orphans and Judge of widows:” they have the consolation of Him that say to Him,” For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord hath taken up me:”(Ps 27:10) and they that have hoped in the Lord, continuing in prayers by night and by day:( 1 Tim 5:5) by whose face those men shall be troubled when they shall have seen themselves prevail nothing, for that the whole world hath gone away after Him.(Jn 12:19) For out of those orphans and widows, that is, persons destitute of partnership in this world’s hope, the Lord for Himself doth build a Temple: whereof in continuation he saith, “The Lord is in His holy place.”

For what is His place he hath disclosed, when he saith, “God that maketh to dwell men of one mood in a house” (verse 6): men of one mind, of one sentiment: this is the holy place of the Lord. For when he had said, “The Lord is in His holy place:” as though we were inquiring in what place, since He is everywhere wholly, and no place of corporal space containeth Him; forthwith he hath subjoined somewhat, that we should not seek Him apart from ourselves, but rather being of one mood dwelling in a house, we should deserve that He also Himself deign to dwell among us. This is the holy place of the Lord, the thing that most men seek to have, a place where in prayer they may be hearkened unto. … For as in a great house of a man, the Lord thereof doth not abide in every place whatsoever, but in some place doubtless more private and honourable: so God dwelleth not in all men that are in His house (for He dwelleth not in the vessels of dishonour), but His holy place are they whom “He maketh to dwell of one mood,” or “of one manner, in a house.” For what are called tropoi in Greek, by both modi and mores (moods and manners), in Latin may be interpreted. Nor hath the Greek writer, “Who maketh to dwell,” but only “maketh to dwell.” “The Lord,” then, “is in His holy place.” …

But to prove that by His Grace He buildeth to Himself this place, not for the sake of the merits preceding of those persons out of whom He buildeth it, see what followeth: “Who leadeth forth men fettered, in strength.” For He looseth the heavy bonds of sins, wherewith they were fettered so that they could not walk in the way of the commandments: but He leadeth them forth “in strength,” which before His Grace they had not. “Likewise men provoking that dwell in the tombs:” that is, every way dead, taken up with dead works. For these men provoke Him to anger by withstanding justice: for those fettered men perchance would walk, and are not able, and are praying of God that they may be able, and are saying to Him, “From my necessities lead me forth.”(Ps 25:17) By whom being heard, they give thanks, saying, “Thou hast broken asunder my bonds.”(Ps 116:16) But these provoking men that dwell in the tombs, are of that kind, which in another passage the Scripture pointeth out, saying, “From a dead man, as from one that is not, confession perisheth.”(Sir 17:28) Whence there is this saying, “When a sinner shall have come into the depth of evil things, he despiseth.”(Prov 18:3) For it is one thing to long for, another thing to fight against righteousness: one thing from evil to desire to be delivered, another thing one’s evil doings to defend rather than to confess: both kinds nevertheless the Grace of Christ leadeth forth in strength. With what strength, but that wherewith against sin even unto blood they are to strive? For out of each kind are made meet persons, whereof to construct His holy place; those being loosened, these being raised to life. For even of the woman, whom Satan had bound for eighteen years, by His command He loosed the bonds;(Lk 13:16) and Lazarus’ death by His voice He overcame.(Jn 11:43) He that hath done these things in bodies, is able to do more marvellous things in characters, and to make men of one mood to dwell in a house: “leading forth men fettered in strength, likewise men provoking that dwell in the tombs.”(Ps 68:6)

“O God, when Thou wentest forth before Thy people” (verse 7). His going forth is perceived, when He appeareth in His works. But He appeareth not to all men, but to them that know how to spy out His works. For I do not now speak of those works which are conspicuous to all men, Heaven and earth and sea and all things that in them are; but the works whereby He leadeth forth men fettered in strength, likewise men provoking that dwell in the tombs, and maketh them of one manner to dwell in a house. Thus He goeth forth before His people, that is, before those that do perceive this His Grace. Lastly, there followeth, “When Thou wentest by in the desert, the earth was moved” (verse 8). A desert were the nations, which knew not God: a desert they were, where by God Himself no law had been given, where no Prophet had dwelled, and foretold the Lord to come. “When,” then, “Thou wentest by in the desert,” when Thou wast preached in the nations; “the earth was moved,” to the faith earthly men were stirred up. But whence was it moved? “For the heavens dropped from the face of God.” Perchance here some one calleth to mind that time, when in the desert God was going over before His people, before the sons of Israel, by day in the pillar of cloud, by night in the brightness of fire;(Ex 13:21) and determineth that thus it is that “the heavens dropped from the face of God,” for manna He rained upon His people:(Ex 16:15) that the same thing also is that which followeth, “Mount Sina from the face of the God of Israel,”(Ps 68:8) “with voluntary rain severing God to Thine inheritance” (verse 9), namely, the God that on Mount Sina spake to Moses, when He gave the Law, so that the manna is the voluntary rain, which God severed for His inheritance, that is, for His people; because them alone He so fed, not the other nations also: so that what next he saith, “and it was weakened,” is understood of the inheritance being itself weakened; for they murmuring, fastidiously loathed the manna, longing for victuals of flesh, and those things on which they had been accustomed to live in Egypt.(Num 11:5-6) … Lastly, all those men in the desert were stricken down, nor were any of them except two found worthy to go into the land of promise.(Num 14:23-24) Although even if in the sons of them that inheritance be said to have been perfected, we ought more readily to hold to a spiritual sense. For all those things in a figure did happen to them; (1 Cor 10:11) until the day should break, and the shadows should be removed.(Song of Songs 2:17)

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Monday, June 6: Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (Acts 19:1-8)

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 3, 2011

Notes in red are my additions.

1. And it came to pass, while Apollo was at Corinth, that Paul having passed through the upper coasts, came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples.

The upper coasts; i.e., the mountainous parts of Galatia and Phrygia (Acts 18:23). Certain disciples, who, like Apollo, had been insufficiently instructed by John the Baptist, or some one of his  disciples, and who, consequently, knew that Jesus was the Messiah, but little more than that. See map here.

Apollo(Apollos). “This name is probably an abbreviation of Apollonius or Apollodorus. Although this is a pagan name, he was a fervent Jew from Alexandria, Egypt. Luke, in his book, the Acts of the Apostles, describes him as “an eloquent man, well versed in the Scriptures… fervent in spirit” (Acts 18:24-25).

“Apollos’ entry on the scene of the first evangelization took place in the city of Ephesus. He had gone there to preach and had the good fortune to come across the Christian couple, Priscilla and Aquila, who introduced him to a fuller knowledge of the “way of God” (cf. Acts 18:26).

“From Ephesus he went to Achaia and reached the city of Corinth: where he arrived with a letter of recommendation from the Christians of Ephesus, in which they charged the Corinthians to give him a good welcome (cf. Acts 18:27). In Corinth, as Luke wrote: “he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully confuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus” (Acts 18:27-28), the Messiah.

His success in that city, however had a problematic sequence since there were certain members of that Church who, fascinated by his way of speaking, opposed the others in his name (cf. 1 Cor 1:12; 3:4-6; 4:6).

“In his First Letter to the Corinthians, Paul expressed his appreciation of Apollos’ work, but reprimanded the Corinthians for wounding the Body of Christ by splitting it into opposing factions. From this whole affair he drew an important teaching: Be it I or Apollos, he says, we are none other than diakonoi, that is, simple ministers, through whom you have come to the faith (cf. 1 Cor 3:5).

“Everyone has a different task in the field of the Lord: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth…. we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Cor 3:6-9).

“After returning to Ephesus, Apollos resisted Paul’s invitation to return to Corinth immediately, postponing the journey to a later date of which we know nothing (cf. 1 Cor 16:12). We have no further information about him, even though some scholars believe he is a possible author of the Letter to the Hebrews which Tertullian believed Barnabas had written” (Pope Benedict XVI)

2. And he said to them: Have you received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?But they said to him: We have not so much as heard whether there be a Holy Ghost.

We have not . . . heard whether, etc. This cannot mean that John’s disciples were ignorant of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity of whom John himself had spoken (John 1:33), and of whom the Old Testament often spoke (Gen 1:2; Isa 32:15; 11:2, 3; 2 Sam 23:2, etc.); but only that they had not yet received the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation, or did not know that it was possible so to receive Him. This interpretation is strengthened by the fact that these disciples of John’s were most probably Jews, familiar with the Old Testament, and not pagans, as some have thought; we have no trace of any disciples belonging to John among the pagans. Luke Timothy Johnson, in his commentary on Acts, is probably right when he notes that the statement of ignorance concerning the Spirit is probably applicable only to the Spirit’s reception in baptism, and not to a complete ignorance of the Spirit’s existence.

3. And he said: In what then were you baptized? Who said: In John’s baptism.
4. Then Paul said: John baptized the people with the baptism of penance, saying: that they should believe in him who was to come after him, that is to say, in Jesus.

Since it was customary to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation immediately after Baptism, and since the disciples seemed to know nothing about Confirmation, St. Paul was moved to ask what baptism they had received. The baptism of John was only a preparation for the Baptism of Christ.

5. Having heard these things, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

They were baptized; i.e., they received the Sacrament of Baptism.

6. And when Paul had imposed his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

Imposed his hands; i.e., administered the Sacrament of Confirmation.

They spoke with tongues, etc. See on Acts 2:17; 8:16; 10:46; 13:1.

7. And all the men were about twelve.

About twelve. It is typical of Luke to give estimates rather than exact figures (Acts 2:4; 4:4; 5:7 etc).  The number and the effects of the Spirit recall Acts 1:15-2:13.

8. And entering into the synagogue, he spoke boldly for the space of three months, disputing and exhorting concerning the kingdom of God.

He spoke boldly. A characteristic of the apostolic preaching in this book (see Acts 2:29; 4:13, 29, 31; 9:27-28; 13:46, etc).  For disputing and exhorting see Acts 17:2, 4, 17; 18:4.

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My Contextual Notes on 1 Corinthians 1:1-3

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 3, 2011

This post is currently incomplete and unedited.

1Co 1:1  Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes a brother,
1Co 1:2  To the church of God that is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that invoke the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place of theirs and ours.
1Co 1:3  Grace to you and peace, from God our father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

The word called (κλητος) is used again (3 times) in different forms in verse 2~To the church (εκκλησια) of God that is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called (κλητοις) to be saints, with all that invoke (επικαλουμενοις) the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place of theirs and ours.

St Paul has been called (appointed) to be sent as an apostle (αποστολος = one who is sent bearing the authority of the sender), to preach (1 Cor 1:17). This call to apostleship is rooted in the saving will (θεληματος) of God (1 Cor 1:21).

The purpose of Paul’s call is so that God can gather his church (εκκλησια = community called together for worship) through the preaching of the Gospel (CCC 751 and 752, Rom 10:12-15).This call into the church is a call (better, “appointment”) to be saints.

Christians are saints in virtue of this call. The word saints (αγιοις) and its cognates, in its most common biblical usage, refer to the act of setting apart for holy usage, it thus implies a separation from all that is profane (Profanum=  “outside or cut off from  the temple,” all that is opposed to the right worship of God). For St Paul the Church is God’s building (1 Cor 3:9), that is, a temple (Eph 2:20-21, CCC 756).  The body of the one called is also a temple (1 Cor 6:19-20), thus there is an intimate connection in St Paul between right worship and personal holiness and commitment to God. The former cannot exist without the latter (Isa 1:11-17; Micah 6:6-8; Matt 5:21-26; James 3:13-18).

This call into the Church which is a call to be a saint, sanctified, set apart from the profane, is a call to invoke (literally, call upon) the name of the Lord.

Father Brendan Byrne, in his commentary on Romans, suggest that the early Christians were known as “those who call upon the name of the Lord.” The phrase is used by St Peter on Pentecost in Acts 2:21, part of a prophecy from Joel 2:32 (3:5 in some translations). In Acts 2:39 St Peter highlights it universal application~For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, whomsoever the Lord our God shall call.

In the Old Testament, those who call upon the name of the Lord are associated with the descendants of Seth (Gen 4:26), son of Adam (Gen 4:25), ancestor of Noah (see Gen 5), and Abraham (Gen 12:8; 13:4; 21:33; ) .  In other words, those who call upon the name of the Lord are, in the Old Testament, bearers of the salvific promises of God.  The connection of this phrase with these individuals implies that it was to have a universal application.

In Seth’s day men called upon the name of the Lord and thus showed themselves to be sons of God. Unfortunately, the “the sons of God” (i.e., the sons of Seth) had relations with the daughters of men” (the profane, who did not bear the promises) and thus brought upon the earth the anger of God, manifested in the flood (see Gen 6). God, however, saved Noah and his family, descendants of Seth, thus maintaining the lineage (genealogy of promise) of Seth.


The connection with Seth has universal overtones,

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