The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father Rickaby’s Commentary on Romans 8:18-23

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 7, 2011

Text in red are my additions.

Rom 8:18  For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come that shall be revealed in us.

I reckon,  λογιζομαι. St. Paul had some acquaintance with both sides of the reckoning, of sufferings, 2 Cor 11:23-27, and even of the glory to come he had had some foretaste (2 Cor 12:2, 3).

Not worthy to be compared with, ουκ αξια προς, literally, standing not in the balance against. The adjective αξια is from ἄγω in the sense of I weigh. Of sufferings in this comparison our Elizabethan writers would have said that they “kick the beam.”

Revealed in us, because glory is but the revealing and uncovering (αποκαλυφθηναι) of the sanctifying grace that is in us already. Hence sanctifying grace is itself called glory, Rom 3:23.

Rom 8:19  For the expectation of the creature waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God.
Rom 8:20  For the creature was made subject to vanity: not willingly, but by reason of him that made it subject, in hope.

The creature,  η κτισις. It is a great question what is meant by this word in this and the next two verses. Many will have it to mean the whole of the irrational creation, all beings below angels and men. Hence they draw a picture of the renovation of the material world, of the vegetable world, and the lower animals, a renovation that is to have place when there shall be a new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21:1). No man can take upon himself to say that such renovation will not take place: at the same time to assert it on the strength of these three verses, is to build upon an interpretation that is far from certain, perhaps even less probable.

Probably, by creature we should understand simply mankind. The word κτισις  sometimes means creation, i.e. the creative act, as in 2 Pet 3:4. Sometimes it is the creature as distinguished from the Creator, as above, Rom 1:25. In Col 1:15, 16, it means men and angels. In 2 Pet 2:13, we find the expression, human creature, i.e. mankind. Finally in Col 1:23 ; and Mark 16:15, the word creature by itself means mankind only, since men only are the recipients of the gospel: the gospel which you have heard, which is preached among all creatures,  εν παση τη κτισει, under heaven : preach the gospel to every creature (παση τη κτισε).

Expectation, αποκαραδοκια, literally, waiting with neck outstretched.

The revelation of the sons of God in the resurrection. On the word revelation, cf. note on verse 18. Our Lord was shown for what He really was on the day of His resurrection (Acts 13:33) ; and so, when their day comes, shall be shown they that are of Christ (1 Cor 15:23).

Mankind at large expect this revelation, the redemption of our body (verse 23), not definitely and expressly, but vaguely and confusedly, in that mankind are always looking for a better day to dawn for the race, are ever catching at the words of prophets who promise them, the morning cometh (Isaiash 21:12). This expectation, which had grown particularly intense just at the time that the gospel was first preached, was a great pre-disposing cause of the spread of the gospel. It is one of the bulwarks of Christianity to this hour, and ever will be.

To vanity, to an aimless existence, to living for other ends than that for which man was created. This vanity is the whole theme of the book of Ecclesiastes. It took its commencement from the sin of Adam ; and as that sin was not done by the actual will and consent of Adam s posterity, therefore mankind are said to be subject to vanity, not ivillingly, but by reason of him who made it (the creature, mankind) subject, i.e. by reason of Adam and his first disobedience. This understanding of  τον υποταξαντα, him who made it subject, to be Adam, has the authority of St. John Chrysostom.

In hope. No stop should follow these words. They belong to the next verse, in hope that, &c., and should be preceded by a comma.

Rom 8:21  Because the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.

Because, Vulgate quia, and the Sinaitic manuscript has διóτι. But the better authenticated reading is  οτι: so we have-from the end of verse 21 to the beginning of verse 22-επ ελπιδι οτι, in hope that. The same sense however may be obtained from the Vulgate, in hope, because. Thus verses 21-22 should read: For the creature was made subject to vanity: not willingly, but by reason of him that made it subject, in hope that the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.

The servitude of corruption, the bondage and misery of sin, original and actual, described Rom 7:8-25.

Not that all mankind who now are shall be delivered from this bondage in the day of the resurrection: the wicked, who have thrown in their lot with the rebel angels, shall share their doom (Matt 25:41; 2 Pet 2:4; Jude 6): but the mankind who shall then possess the land (Matt 5:4), the race of men who shall inherit the new earth (2 Pet 3:13), they shall be delivered. The reprobate are the refuse and off-scourings of humanity, and are left out of count accordingly. In the chapter on the resurrection (1 Cor 15), they are not so much as alluded to (at least according to what seems to be the true reading 1 Cor 15:51).

The liberty of the glory of the children of God is in its fulness in heaven, and of this the Apostle speaks. It may be observed however that this verse was in large measure fulfilled by the preaching of the gospel, and the deliverance of mankind from the darkness of heathenism and the bondage of Judaism to the liberty and light of Christianity (Gal 4:31; 5:1).

Rom 8:22  For we know that every creature groaneth and travaileth in pain, even till now.

Every creature groaneth and is in labour. It needs no commentator to point out how true these words are of every creature, πασα η κτισι, in the sense of all mankind, from the first dawn of history till now.

Rom 8:23  And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit: even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body.

It might have been thought that this heart-ache of humanity, this αποκαραδοκια, or eager looking out for absent good (verse 19, ranslated above as expectation); this groaning and travailing (verse 22), would have been cured by conversion to Christianity. The Apostle shows that the Gospel is not a cure, only a mitigation, and an earnest of perfect cure to come. Even to the Christian this life remains a period of groaning and waiting, but waiting for a definite and
assured good.

Firstfruits of the Spirit (Eph 1:13, 14; 2 Cor 1:22). As the payment of firstfruits signified that the whole field belonged to God, and was a pledge that the entire crop should be used according to His good pleasure (Deut 26), so is the Holy Ghost given to us in this life as an earnest of the perfect possession of God in heaven.

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3 Responses to “Father Rickaby’s Commentary on Romans 8:18-23”

  1. […] UPDATE: Father ricakby’s Commentary on Rom 8:18-23 for Sunday Mass, July 10. […]

  2. […] July 10: Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Today’s Second Reading (Rom 8:18-23) Sunday, July 10: Father Rickaby’s Commentary on the Second Reading (Romans 8:18-23) […]

  3. […] UPDATE: Father Rickaby’s Commentary on the Second Reading (Rom 8:18-23). […]

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