The Divine Lamp

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

Archive for September 3rd, 2011

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on Luke 6:39-42

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 3, 2011

Luke 6:39-40. And he spake a parable unto them: Can the blind lead the blind? Do they not both fall into the ditch?  The disciple is not above his master: but every one shall be perfect, if he be as his master.  

This parable He added as a most necessary appendage to what had been said. The blessed disciples were about to be the initiators and teachers of the world: it was necessary for them therefore to prove themselves possessed of every thing requisite for piety: they must know the pathway of the evangelic mode of life, and be workmen ready for every good work, and able to bestow upon well-instructed hearers such correct and saving teaching as exactly represents the truth. This they must do, as having already first received their sight, and a mind illuminated with the divine light, lest they should be blind leaders of the blind. For it is not possible for men enveloped in the darkness of ignorance, to guide those who are afflicted in the same way into the knowledge of the truth: for should they attempt it, they will both roll into the ditch of licentiousness.

Next, overthrowing the vaunting passion of boastfulness, to which most men give way, that they may not emulously strive to surpass their teachers in honour, He added; “The disciple is not above his teacher;” and even if some make such progress, as to attain to a virtue that rivals that of their teachers, they will range themselves no higher than their level, and be their imitators. And Paul shall again be our warrant, saying, “Be ye imitators of me, as I also am of Christ.” Since therefore the Teacher as yet judgeth not, why judgeth thou? For He came not to judge the world, but to shew pity. And according to the foregoing explanation, if I, He says, judge not, neither must you the disciple. But if thou art guilty of worse crimes than those for which thou judgest another, how canst thou keep thyself from shame when thou art convicted of it? And this the Lord made plain by another parable.

Luke 6:41. And why, saith He, beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Or how canst thou say to thy brother: Brother, let me pull the mote out of thy eye, when thou thyself seest not the beam in thy own eye? Hypocrite, cast first the beam out of thy own eye: and then shalt thou see clearly to take out the mote from thy brother’s eye. Having previously shewn us that the judging others is utterly wicked and dangerous, and the cause of final condemnation:—-for “Judge not, He said, and ye shall not be judged: and condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned.” He now by conclusive arguments persuades us to avoid the very wish of judging others: and rather to examine our own hearts, and try to free them from the passions that dwell within them, and their frailties, by asking it of God: for He it is Who healeth the broken in heart, and freeth us from the maladies of the soul. For if thou, He says, art thyself sick with maladies more dangerous and severe than those of others, why, neglecting thy own, dost thou find fault with them, and whilst thou hast a beam in thine own eye, commencest a hot accusation against those who have a mote? Tell me by what boldness doest thou this? Deliver thyself first from thy great crimes, and thy rebellious passions, and then thou mayest set him right who is guilty of but trifling faults.

Wouldst thou see the matter clearly and plainly, and that it is a very hateful thing for men to give way to this feeling? Our Lord was once walking on the sabbath day among the cornfields, and the blessed disciples plucked some ears, and rubbing them in their hands, ate the grains. But some Pharisees drew near, and say, “Behold, Thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do on sabbath days!” And yet they themselves in manifold ways were guilty of disregarding the law altogether. For even the prophet Isaiah cried out against them, saying, “How has the faithful city Zion become a harlot! It was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it:—-but now murderers. Your silver is reprobate; thy merchants mix the wine with water; thy princes are contentious, the partners of thieves, loving bribes, pursuing after recompense; they judge not the orphans, and to the widow’s suit they have no regard.” Yet these very men, themselves liable to these most severe reproaches, accused the disciples of breaking the sabbath!

But they met with just rebuke from Christ, Who said unto them; “Woe unto you, scribes and pharisces, hypocrites! who tithe mint and cummin, and have neglected the weighty matters of the law, judgment, and mercy, and faith.” And again, “Ye are they who strain out a gnat, but gulp down a camel.” For while their teaching was of mere trifles, and they condemned the people under them for the most contemptible matters, they had the hardihood, as I said, to treat as of no consequence those weighty crimes. For this reason the Saviour called them “whitened sepulchres, which outside appear indeed to men to be beautiful, but inside are full of the bones of the dead, and of all unclcanness.”—-And such is every hypocrite: and whenever they would cast an imputation upon others, who have yielded to infirmity in any particular, deservedly will they have it said to them, “First cast out the beam from thine own eye, and then thou wilt see to cast out the mote from thy brother’s eye.”

The commandment, therefore, is indispensable for every one who would live piously: but, above all, for those who have been intrusted with the instruction of others. For if they are good and sober-minded, and enamoured of the elect life, and not merely acquainted with, but also practisers of virtuous arts, and setting in their own conduct the pattern of a holy life, they can with open countenance rebuke those who will not do the same, for not having imitated their example, nor imprinted their virtuous manners on themselves: but if they are careless, and quickly snared by pleasures to do evil, how can they blame others when similarly affected? Wisely, therefore, did the blessed disciples write, saying; “Let there not be many teachers among you, my brethren: for ye know that we shall receive greater condemnation.” For as Christ, Who is the Distributor of the crowns, and the Punisher of those who do wrong, Himself says; “He who shall do and teach, shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven: but he who hath not done, but hath taught, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.”

But I can imagine some one saying, How are we to distinguish the man who has a beam in his eye, but finds fault with those who have a mote, and are infirm only in part? But there is nothing difficult in this, He says; for any one who will, may see it easily: “for it is not a good tree that brings forth evil fruit: nor a good tree that brings forth good fruit: for every true is known by its fruit.” Each man’s actual life, therefore, is that which decides what are his morals: for it is not by mere outside adornments, and fictitious virtues that the beauty of the truly honourable life is delineated, but by the deeds a man does: for they are the fruits of a mind that for the love of piety chooses a blameless life. It is by deeds, therefore, and not by outside shew, that we must see who is the man truly approved, and who is not so. Again, Christ somewhere says, “Beware of those who come to you in the likeness of sheep, but within are ravenous wolves.” See again, Christ commands that those who come unto us must be distinguished not by their clothing, but by what they really are. “For by its fruit, He says, the tree is known:” and just as it is ignorance and folly for us to expect to find the choicer kinds of fruits on thorns, grapes for instance, and figs; so it is ridiculous for us to imagine that we can find in hypocrites and the profane ought that is admirable, the nobleness, I mean, of virtue.

Wouldst thou see the truth of this again? Wouldst thou see who the wolves are that clothe themselves in the sheep’s skin? Examine the writings of the holy Apostles: hear what they say of certain men: “For they who are such are false Aposties: deceitful workers, transforming themselves into angels of righteousness: and no wonder, for Satan even transforms himself into an angel of light. It is no great thing, therefore, if his ministers also transform themselves into angels of righteousness.” These one may well call thorns and briars: in such there is no particle of sweetness, but every thing that is bitter and of an evil nature: for the fig grows not on thorns; nor will one find any thing pleasant in them, for grapes are not produced on briars. We must decide, then, the character of the teacher, not by appearances, but by the acts of each one’s life.

This is also made clear by another declaration of our Lord: “for the good man, He says, as out of a good treasure, poureth forth from the heart good things:” but he who is differently disposed, and whose mind is the prey of fraud and wickedness, necessarily brings forth what is concealed deep within. For the things that are in the mind and heart boil over, and are vomited forth by the outflowing stream of speech. The virtuous man, therefore, speaks such things as become his character, while he who is worthless and wicked vomits forth his secret impurity.

Every thing, therefore, that is to our benefit, Christ teaches us, and requires His disciples to be on their guard against deceit, and vigilant and careful. For this reason He shews them the straight way, and discloses the snares that lead down to wickedness, that thus escaping from offences, and being steadfast in mind beyond risk of sin, they may quickly reach the mansions that are above by Christ’s blessing: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father  be praise and dominion with the Holy Ghost for ever and ever, Amen. (Source)

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Wednesday, Sept 7: Aquinas Catena Aurea on Luke 6:20-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 3, 2011

Ver  20. And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be you poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.21. Blessed are you that hunger now: for you shall be filled. Blessed are you that weep now: for you shall laugh.22. Blessed are you, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.23. Rejoice you in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers to the prophets.

CYRIL; After the ordination of the Apostles, the Savior directed His disciples to the newness of the evangelical life.

AMBROSE; But being about to utter His divine oracles, He begins to rise higher; although He stood in a low place, yet as it is said, He lifted up his eyes. What is lifting up the eyes, but to disclose a more hidden light?

THEOPHYL; And although He speaks in a general way to all, yet more especially He lifts up His eyes on His disciples; for it follows, on his disciples, that to those who receive the word listening attentively with the heart, He might reveal more fully the light of its deep meaning.

AMBROSE; Now Luke mentions only four blessings, but Matthew eight; but in those eight are contained these four, and in these four those eight. For the one has embraced as it were the four cardinal virtues, the other has revealed in those eight the mystical number. For as the eighth is the accomplishment of our hope, so is the eighth also the completion of the virtues. But each Evangelist has placed the blessings of poverty first, for it is the first in order, and the purest, as it were, of the virtues; for he who has despised the world shall reap an eternal reward. Now can any one obtain the reward of the heavenly kingdom who, overcome by the desires of the world, has no power of escape from them? Hence it follows, He said, Blessed are the poor.

CYRIL; In the Gospel according to St. Matthew it is said, Blessed are the poor in spirit, that we should understand the poor in spirit to be one of a modest and somewhat depressed mind. Hence our Savior says, Learn from me, for I am meek and lowly of heart. But Luke says, Blessed are the poor, without the addition of spirit, calling those poor who despise riches. For it became those who were to preach the doctrines of the saving Gospel to have no covetousness, but their affections set upon higher things.

BASIL; But not every one oppressed with poverty is blessed, but he who has preferred the commandment of Christ to worldly riches. For many are poor in their possessions, yet most covetous in their disposition; these poverty does not save, but their affections condemn. For nothing involuntary deserves a blessing, because all virtue is characterized by the freedom of the will. Blessed then is the poor man as being the disciple of Christ, Who endured poverty for us. For the Lord Himself has fulfilled every work which leads to happiness, leaving Himself an example for us to follow.

EUSEB. But when the celestial kingdom is considered in the many gradations of its blessings, the first step in the scale belongs to those who by divine instinct embrace poverty. Such did He make those who first became His disciples; therefore He says in their person, For yours is the kingdom of heaven, as pointedly addressing Himself to those present, upon whom also He lifted up His eyes.

CYRIL; After having commanded them to embrace poverty, He then crowns with honor those things which follow from poverty. It is the lot of those who embrace poverty to be in want of the necessaries of life, and scarcely to be able to get food. He does not then permit His disciples to be fainthearted on this account, but says, Blessed are you who hunger now.

THEOPHYL; That is, blessed are you who chasten your body and subject it to bondage, who in hunger and thirst give heed to the word, for then shall you receive the fullness of heavenly joys.

GREG. NAZ. But in a deeper sense, as they who partake of bodily food vary their appetites according to the nature of the things to be eaten; so also in the food of the soul, by some indeed that is desired which depends upon the opinion of men, by others, that which is essentially and of its own nature good. Hence, according to Matthew, men are blessed who account righteousness in the place of food and drink; by righteousness I mean not a particular but an universal virtue, which he who hungers after is said to be blessed.

THEOPHYL; Plainly instructing us, that we ought never to account ourselves sufficiently righteous, but always desire a daily increase in righteousness, to the perfect fullness of which the Psalmist shows us that we can not arrive in this world, but in the world to come. I shall be satisfied when your glory shall be made manifest. Hence it follows, For you shall be filled.

GREG. NYSS. For to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness He promises abundance of the things they desire. For none of the pleasures which are sought in this life can satisfy those who pursue them. But the pursuit of virtue alone is followed by that reward, which implants a joy in the soul that never fails.

CYRIL; But poverty is followed not only by a want of those things which bring delight, but also by a dejected look, because of sorrow. Hence it follows, Blessed are you that weep. He blesses those who weep, not those who merely drop tears from their eyes, (for this is common to the believing and unbelieving, when sorrow befalls them,) but rather He calls those blessed, who shun a careless life, mixed up with sin, and devoted to carnal pleasures, and refuse enjoyments almost weeping from their hatred of all worldly things.

CHRYS. But godly sorrow is a great thing, and it works repentance to salvation. Hence St. Paul when he had no failings of his own to weep for, mourned for those of others. Such grief is the source of gladness, as it follows, For you shall laugh. For if we do no good to those for whom we weep, we do good to ourselves. For he who thus weeps for the sins of others, will not let his own go unwept for; but the rather he will not easily fall into sin. Let us not be ever relaxing ourselves in this short life, lest we sigh in that which is eternal. Let us not seek delights from which flow lamentation, and much sorrow, but let us be saddened with sorrow which brings forth pardon. We often find the Lord sorrowing, never laughing.

BASIL; But He promises laughing to those who weep; not indeed the noise of laughter from the mouth, but a gladness pure and unmixed with aught of sorrow.

THEOPHYL; He then who on account of the riches of the inheritance of Christ, for the bread of eternal life, for the hope of heavenly joys, desires to suffer weeping, hunger, and poverty, is blessed. But much more blessed is he who does not shrink to maintain these virtues in adversity. Hence it follows, Blessed are you when men shall hate you. For although men hate, with their wicked hearts they can not injure the heart that is beloved by Christ, It follows, And when they shall separate you. Let them separate and expel you from the synagogue. Christ finds you out, and strengthens you. It follows; And shall reproach you. Let them reproach the name of the Crucified, He Himself raises together with Him those that have died with Him, and makes them sit in heavenly places. It follows, And cast out your name as evil. Here he means the name of Christian, which by Jews and Gentiles as far as they were able was frequently erased from the memory, and cast out by men, when there was as no cause for hatred, but the Son of man; for in truth they who believed on the name of Christ, wished to be called after His name. Therefore He teaches that they are to be persecuted by men, but are to be blessed beyond men.

As it follows, Rejoice you in that day, and weep for joy, for behold your reward is great in heaven.

CHRYS. Great and little are measured by the dignity of the speaker. Let us inquire then who promised the great reward. If indeed a prophet or an apostle, little had been in his estimation great; but now it is the Lord in whose hands are eternal treasures and riches surpassing man’s conception, who has promised great reward.

BASIL; Again, great has sometimes a positive signification, as the heaven is great, and the earth is great; but sometimes it has relation to something else, as a great ox or great horse, on comparing two things of like nature. I think then that great reward will be laid up for those who suffer reproach for Christ’s sake, not as in comparison with those things in our power, but as being in itself great because given by God.

DAMASC. Those things which may be measured or numbered are used definitely, but that which from a certain excellence surpasses all measure and number we call great and much indefinitely; as when we say that great is the long suffering of God.

EUSEB. He then fortifies His disciples against the attacks of their adversaries, which they were about to suffer as they preached through the whole world; adding, For in like manner did their fathers to the prophets.

AMBROSE; For the Jews persecuted the prophets even to death.

THEOPHYL; They who speak the truth commonly suffer persecution, yet the ancient prophets did not therefore from fear of persecution turn away from preaching the truth.

AMBROSE; In that He says, Blessed are the poor, you have temperance; which abstains from sin, tramples upon the world, seeks not vain delights. In Blessed are they that hunger you have righteousness; for he who hungers suffers together with the hungry, and by suffering together with him gives to him, by giving becomes righteous, and his righteousness abides for ever. In Blessed are they that weep now, you have prudence; which is to weep for the things of time, and to seek those which are eternal. In Blessed are you when men hate you, you have fortitude; not that which deserves hatred for crime, but which suffers persecution for faith. For so you wilt attain to the crown of suffering if you slightest the favor of men, and seek that which is from God.

Temperance therefore brings with it a pure heart; righteousness, mercy; prudence, peace; fortitude, meekness. The virtues are so joined and linked to one another, that he who has one seems to have many; and the Saints have each one especial virtue, but the more abundant virtue has the richer reward. What hospitality in Abraham, what hat humility, but because he excelled in faith, he gained the preeminence above all others. To every one there are many rewards because many incentives to virtue, but that which is most abundant in a good action, has the most exceeding reward.

Ver  24. But woe to you that are rich! for you have received your consolation.25. Woe to you that are full! for you shall hunger. Woe to you that laugh now! for you shall mourn and weep.26. Woe to you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

CYRIL; Having said before that poverty for God’s sake is the cause of every good thing, and that hunger and weeping will not be without the reward of the saints, he goes on to denounce the opposite to these as the source of condemnation and punishment. But woe to you rich, for you have your consolation.

CHRYS. For this expression, woe, is always said in the Scriptures to those who cannot escape from future punishment.

AMBROSE; But although in the abundance of wealth many are the allurements to crime, yet many also are the incitements to virtue. Although virtue requires no support, and the offering of the poor man is more commendable than the liberality of the rich, still it is not those who possess riches, but those who know not how to use them, that are condemned by the authority of the heavenly sentence. For as that poor man is more praiseworthy who gives without grudging, so is the rich man more guilty, who ought to return thanks for what he has received, and not to hide without using it the sum which was given him for the common good. It is not therefore the money, but the heart of the possessor which is in fault. And though there be no heavier punishment than to be preserving with anxious fear what is to serve for the advantage of successors, yet since the covetous desires are fed by a certain pleasure of amassing, they who have had their consolation in the present life, have lost an eternal reward. We may here however understand by the rich man the Jewish people, or the heretics, or at least the Pharisees, who, rejoicing in an abundance of words, and a kind of hereditary pride of eloquence, have overstepped the simplicity of true faith, and gained to themselves useless treasures.

THEOPHYL; Woe to you that are full, for you shall be hungry. That rich man clothed in purple was full, feasting sumptuously every day, but endured in hunger that dreadful “woe,” when from the finger of Lazarus, whom he had despised, he begged a drop of water.

BASIL; Now it is plain that the rule of abstinence is necessary, because the Apostle mentions it among the fruits of the Spirit. For the subjection of the body is by nothing so obtained as by abstinence, whereby, as it were a bridle, it becomes us to keep in check the fervor of youth. Abstinence then is the putting to death of sin, the extirpation of passions, the beginning of the spiritual life, blunting in itself the sting of temptations. But lest there should be any agreement with the enemies of God, we must accept every thing as the occasion requires, to show, that to the pure all things are pure, by coming indeed to the necessaries of life, but abstaining altogether from those which conduce to pleasure. But since it is not possible that all should keep the same hours, or the same manner, or the same proportion, still let there be one purpose, never to wait to be filled, for fullness of stomach makes the body itself also unfit for its proper functions, sleepy, and inclined to what is hurtful.

THEOPHYL; In another way. If those are happy who always hunger after the works of righteousness, they on the other hand are counted to be unhappy, who, pleasing themselves in their own desires, suffer no hunger after the true good. It follows, Woe to you who laugh, &c.

BASIL; Whereas the Lord reproves those who laugh now, it is plain that there will never be a house of laughter to the faithful, especially since there is so great a multitude of those who die in sin for whom we must mourn. Excessive laughter is a sign of want of moderation, and the motion of an unrestrained spirit; but ever to express the feelings of our heart with a pleasantness of countenance is not unseemly.

CHRYS. But tell me, why are you distracting and wasting yourself away with pleasures, who must stand before the awful judgment, and give account of all things done here?

THEOPHYL; But because flattery being the very nurse of sin, like oil to the flames, is wont to minister fuel to those who are on fire with sin, he adds, Woe to you when all men shall speak well of you.

CHRYS. What is said here is not opposed to what our Lord says elsewhere, Let your light shine before men; that is, that we should be eager to do good for the glory of God, not our own. For vain-glory is a baneful thing, and from hence springs iniquity, and despair, and avarice, the mother of evil. But if you seek to turn away from this, ever raise your eyes to God, and be content with that glory which is from Him. For if in all things we must choose the more learned for judges, how do you trust to the many the decision of virtue, and not rather to Him, who before all others know it, and can give and reward it, whose glory therefore if you desire, avoid the praise of men. For no one more excites our admiration than he who rejects glory. And if we do this, much more does the God of all. Be mindful then, that the glory of men quickly fails, seeing in the course of time it is past into oblivion. It follows, For so did their fathers to the false prophets.

THEOPHYL; By the false prophets are meant those, who to gain the favor of the multitude attempt to predict future events. The Lord on the mountain pronounces only the blessings of the good, but on the plain he describes also the “woe” of the wicked, because the yet uninstructed hearers must first be brought by terrors to good works, but the perfect need but be invited by rewards.

AMBROSE; And mark, that Matthew by rewards called the people to virtue and faith, but Luke also frightened them from their sins and iniquities by the denunciation of future punishment.

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St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on Luke 6:12-19

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 3, 2011

6:12. He went out into the mountain to pray.

All that Christ did was for our edification, and for the benefit of those who believe in Him; and by proposing to us His own conduct as a sort of pattern of the spiritual mode of life, He would make us true worshippers. Let us see, therefore, in the pattern and example provided for us by Christ’s acts, the manner in which we ought to make our supplications unto God. We must pray secretly and in concealment, and with no one seeing us: for this is the signification of Jesus going into the mountain alone, and praying, as it were, leisurely. And this He has Himself taught us, saying; “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet.” For we ought to pray, not seeking after glory, but “lifting up holy hands,” while the soul, as it were, mounts aloft to the contemplation of God, withdrawing from all tumult, and quitting worldly anxiety. And this we must do not with fickleness, nor with a listless feebleness; but, on the contrary, with earnestness and zeal, and a patience worthy of admiration: for thou hast heard that Jesus did not merely pray, but that He also passed the night in this duty.

But possibly the enemy of the truth will not endure us when thus speaking: for he  says, ‘He prays and requests from the |95 Father what He hath not: how then do yo still say, that He is both consubstantial and equal to Him in all things, and in no way whatsoever unlike Him? “For without all controversy the less is blessed of the greater:” and decidedly he who gives is greater than he who makes request to receive something.’ Let then those who pervert the right faith teach us first of all, of what they imagine the Son to be in need?And what did He seek to obtain as not as yet possessing it? He is the true light; He is in His own nature life, and the cause of life; He is the Lord also of powers; He is wisdom and righteousness; the Creator and train or of the universe; superior to every thing that has been brought into being; is the King of the universe; the dispenser of heaven and earth; the giver, with God the Father, of every blessing. And this thou wilt learn by what the blessed Paul has somewhere written; “Grace be to you, and peace from God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” He is conspicuous on the throne far above, and is glorified by the whole rational creation. Accordingly He is by substance the heir of all the divine dignities of God the Father: and therefore spake He unto Him, that “all that is Mine is Thine; and Thine Mine: and I am glorified in them.” But He Who has every thing that belongs to God the Father as His very own, of what is He still in need? But if, in fine, He is in need of any thing, and they affirm that this is true, there is nothing to prevent our saying, that there are certain things of which the Father Himself is in need. For if all that the Son has is the Father’s, but there is something of which the Son is in need, therefore must the Father too be similarly circumstanced: for all that the Son hath is the Father’s. But the Father is all perfect, and is deficient of no good whatsoever that is suitable to Deity: therefore is the Son all perfect, as having all that the Father hath, and being His image and the impress of His substance: but in the impress there is displayed entirely the original form, and in the original form there exists entirely the impress. And thus much then as respects them.

And those too who have been caught by the empty declamations of Nestorius, say that it is entirely unbefitting the Son, considered as God by nature, to pray: and rather belongs to the man,  coupled with Him by way of connexion, to him, that is, of the seed of David. He it was therefore who offered up the prayer. What reply, then, shall we make to this? That ye are utterly ignorant of the mystery of the incarnation of the Only-begotten. Remember the blessed Evangelist John, who says; “And the Word was made flesh.” And of this the all-wise Paul has given us a plain proof by saying concerning Him: “For He taketh not hold at all of the angels, but taketh hold of the seed of Abraham: whence it became Him to be made like unto His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining unto God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” On what account therefore does Nestorius eject from the measure of human nature Him Who, though divinely begotten as the Word by God the Father, yet humbled Himself unto emptying, even to becoming our brother, by being made like unto us, and similar in all things to the inhabitants of the earth, sin only excepted? For having become like unto us from His exceeding gentleness and love to mankind, He disdains not human things: but sets before us His conduct as a type of goodness unto the end, that as I said we may be earnest in following His footsteps.

6:13-16. And when it was day, He called His disciples, and of them having chosen twelve. Simon, whom he surnamed Peter, and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon who is called Zelotes,  And Jude the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, who was the traitor. 

Our Lord Jesus Christ, having spent the night in prayer, and having conversed with His Father and God in heaven in a way ineffable and beyond our powers of understanding, and such as is known solely to Himself,—-even therein making Himself an example unto us of that which is necessary for salvation; for He taught us in what way we too may rightly and blamelessly offer our prayers:—-comes down from the mountain, and appoints those who were to be the world’s teachers, according to the words He spake, “Ye are the light of the world.” And of this appointment of the holy Apostles, the blessed David also makes mention, addressing himself, as it were, to Christ: “Thou shalt make them rulers over all the earth; they shall make mention of Thy name in every successive generation.” For verily, while they were in the body, they made mention of the glory of Christ, telling His mystery both in cities and villages: and now that they have been called to the mansions that are above, none the less do they still even thus converse with us about Him, by the most wise history which they have written concerning Him. And those, indeed, who were appointed priests according to the law of Moses, even Aaron and his company, were made beautiful to the senses by vestments suitable to their priestly dignity; but the divine disciples, being adorned with spiritual gifts, had entrusted to them the ministry of the Gospel oracles. For it was said unto them, “Heal the sick: cast out daemons: cleanse lepers: raise the dead.” And being thus invested with Christ’s power, they have filled the whole world with astonishment. But mark the extreme moderation of the Evangelist: for he does not simply say that the holy Apostles were appointed, but rather, by introducing the record of these chief ones each by name, takes care that no one should venture to enrol himself in the company of those that were chosen. For as Paul saith, “No man taketh this honour upon himself, but he that is called by God.” And though the holy Apostles were called by name to this great and splendid dignity, yet from time to time some men have gone to such a pitch of madness and audacity, as even to name themselves Apostles of Christ, and to usurp an honour not granted unto them. Of these the divine disciples have made mention; for they say, “Such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into angels of righteousness. And no wonder: for Satan even transforms himself into an angel of light. It is no great thing, therefore, if his ministers also transform themselves into angels of righteousness.” But we neither acknowledge nor will receive any one, except those only so named in the Evangelic writings, and him who was appointed after them, the most wise Paul: to whom also the Saviour Himself bore witness, saying, that |98 he is a vessel of election for Me, to carry My name before all the heathen.”

The law indeed pointed them out before in type, and the prophets also proclaimed them. As, for instance, it is written in the Mosaic record, “And ye shall take fine flour, and make it into twelve loaves: and he shall put them in two rows upon the pure table before the Lord. And ye shall put upon the row frankincense and salt: and they shall be for loaves, sot before the Lord for a memorial.” For the bread that came down from heaven, and giveth life to the world, Who else can it be but Christ the Saviour of the universe?And in imitation too of Him, the blessed disciples also are named loaves: for having been made partakers of Him Who nourishes us unto life eternal, they also nourish by their own writings those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. And as the Saviour Who is the true light called the disciples also light:—-“for ye are the light of the world:”—-so also being Himself the broad of life, He has bestowed upon His disciples to be ranked as loaves.” And observe, I pray, the marvellous art of the law: for ye shall put, it says, upon the loaves frank-incense and salt.” Now the frankincense is the symbol of a sweet odour; and the salt that of understanding and good sense: both of which existed in the highest degree in the holy Apostles. For their life was one of a sweet savour, as they also said, that “we are a sweet savour of Christ unto God:” and they were moreover also full of understanding, so that I hear the prophet David even singing of them in the Psalms: “There is Benjamin in entrancement: the princes of Judah are their leaders: the princes of Zebulon, the princes of Nephthalim.” For the blessed disciples were chosen out of almost every tribe of Israel, and were the bearers of light to the world, “holding up the word of life.” And the wonder indeed is this, that the sages of the Greeks possess a splendid copiousness of speech, and an admirable beauty of language: but the disciples of our Saviour were mere artificers, and boatmen, and fishers, having no boast of words, no fluency of picked phrases, and in expression indeed were simple men, but rich in knowledge: yet is the literature of the Greeks, with its sonorous phrases, silent; while the power of the Evangelic preaching has possession of the world. God also makes mention of them by the voice of Jeremiah, saying of the enemy of all, even Satan; “Woe to him, who multiplieth for himself that which is not his, and maketh his collar thick and heavy: for suddenly shall they arise that shall bite him, and thy adversaries shall wake up, and thou shalt be their prey.” For Satan had gathered unto him all the inhabitants of the earth, though they were not his, and had caused them to be his worshippers, making his collar heavy: but those who were to plunder his goods woke up: for the net of the apostolic teaching caught all those that were in error, and brought back unto God the whole world.

6:17. He stood upon level ground, and a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of the people.

But observe, I pray, the manner of the election. For the most wise Evangelist says that it was not done in a corner and secretly, but rather when many disciples were gathered together, and a vast crowd from all the country of the Jews, and from the sea-coast of Tyre and Sidon. These latter were idolaters, lame in the hollow of both knees, in part observingthe customs of the Jews, but yet not altogether abandoning their idolatrous practices. The election, therefore, was held in the presence of all these spectators, and teachers appointed for all beneath the heaven: and this duty they also fulfilled, summoning the Jews from their legal worship, and those who served demons, from Grecian  error to the acknowledgment of the truth.

Luk 6:18-19  Who were come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And they that were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the multitude sought to touch him: for virtue went out from him and healed all.

And when He had appointed the holy Apostles, He performed very many wonderful miracles, rebuking demons, delivering from incurable diseases whosoever drew near unto Him, and displaying His own most godlike power: that both the Jews, who had run together unto Him, and those from the country of the Greeks, might know, that Christ, by Whom they were honoured with the dignity of the Apostolate, was not some ordinary man of those in our degree, but, on the contrary, God, as being the Word That was made man, but retained, nevertheless, His own glory. For “power went forth from Him, and healed all.” For Christ did not borrow strength from some other person, but being Himself God by nature, even though He had become flesh, He healed them all, by the putting forth of power over the sick.

If further you wish to learn the interpretation of the Apostles’ names, know that Peter is explained as meaning “loosing,” or “knowing:”Andrew as “comely strength,” or “answering:” James as “one who takes labour by the heel:” John, “the grace of the Lord:” Matthew, “given:” Philip, “the opening of the hands,” or “the mouth of a lamp:” Bartholomew, “the son suspending water:” Thomas, an “abyss,” or “a twin:” James, the son of Alphaeus, “the supplanting “of the passage of life:” Judas, “thanksgiving:” and Simon, “obedience.”


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Monday, Sept 5: St Cyril of Alexandria on Luke 6:6-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 3, 2011

6:6-9. And He was teaching: and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and Pharisees watched if he would heal on the sabbath: that they might find an accusation against him.  But he knew their thoughts and said to the man who had the withered hand: Arise and stand forth in the midst. And rising he stood forth. Then Jesus said to them: I ask you, if it be lawful on the sabbath days to do good or to do evil? To save life or to destroy? 

But His teaching was ever of things too high for reason, and such as made plain to His hearers the pathway of salvation opened through Him: and immediately after His teaching He displayed His godlike power, having first by words smoothed, as it were, the road to belief. For the miracle sometimes converts unto faith those who had disbelieved the word. But the Pharisees watched Him, to see if He would heal on the sabbath: for such is the nature of an envious man, that he makes the praises of others food for his own disease, and wickedly is maddened by their reputation. And what once more said He to this, Who knoweth all things, Who searcheth the hearts, and understandeth whatever is therein? “For with Him is the light,” as Scripture declares. “He spake to him that had the withered hand, Stand forth into the midst.” And why did He do this? It might perhaps be to move the cruel and unpitying Pharisee to compassion: the man’s malady perhaps might shame them, and persuade them to allay the flames of envy.

6:9-10. I will ask you something: Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? And looking round about on them all, he said to the man: Stretch forth thy hand. And he stretched it forth. And his hand was restored.  

Most wise in very deed is this question, and a statement most suitable to meet their folly. For if it be lawful to do good on the sabbath, and nothing prevents the sick being pitied by God, cease thus picking up opportunities for faultfinding against Christ, and bringing down on thy own head the sentence which the Father has decreed against those who dishonour the Son: for thou hast heard Him where He says of Him by the voice of David, “And I will cut off His enemies from before His face, and put to flight those that hate Him.” But if it be not lawful to do good on the sabbath, and the law forbids the saving of life, thou hast made thyself an accuser of the law, thou hast slandered the commandment, for which the ministry of Moses is regarded with admiration. No, he replies, the God of all did not enact the law of the sabbath for Himself, but for us rather, whose neck is bowed to it. Thou sayest well; I assent to thy words; therefore that which is divine is free from the compulsion of the law. Why, then, dost thou blame Christ for wishing also to shew mercy on the sabbath, and benefit a living soul? And were it our wish to examine closely the law enacted for the sabbath, we should find it ordained by God for purposes of mercy. For He commanded to do no work on the sabbath, and entirely to abstain from labour, and even to give rest at the same time to the irrational animals. For He said, that its purpose was, “that thy manservant may rest, and thy maidservant, thy ox, and thy beast of burden, and all thy cattle.” But He Who has mercy on the ox and other animals, how would not He pity on the sabbath day a man who was attacked by a severe and irremediable malady?

6:11. And they ware filled with madness.

Is not the miracle enough to produce faith? Thou seest Him working with godlike dignity, and with supreme power healing the sick, and travaillest thou with murder, bred of envy and malice? ((Source).)

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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Colossians 1:24-2:3

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 3, 2011

Excerpt From Homily 4:The entire homily on Col 1:21-25 can be read here.

Colossians 1:24. “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His Body’s sake, which is the Church.”

And what is the connection of this (with the previous verses)? It seems indeed not to be connected, but it is even closely so. The Apostle has just referred to himself as a “minister,” (vs 23) that is, bringing in nothing from myself, but announcing what is from another. I so believe, that I suffer even for His sake, and not suffer only, but even rejoice in suffering, looking unto the hope which is to come, and I suffer not for myself, but for you. “And fill up,” he saith, “that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh.” It seems indeed to be a great thing he has said; but it is not of arrogancy, far be it, but even of much tender love towards Christ; for he will not have the sufferings to be his own, but His, through desire of conciliating these persons to Him. And what things I suffer, I suffer, he saith, on His account: not to me, therefore, express your gratitude, but to him, for it is He Himself who suffers. Just as if one, when sent to a person, should make request to another, saying, I beseech thee, go for me to this person, then the other should say, “it is on his account I am doing it.” So that He is not ashamed to call these sufferings also his own. For He did not only die for us, but even after His death He is ready to be afflicted for your sakes. He is eagerly and vehemently set upon showing that He is even now exposed to peril in His own Body for the Church’s sake, and he aims at this point, namely, ye are not brought unto God by us, but by Him, even though. we do these things, for we have not undertaken a work of our own, but His. And it is the same as if there were a band which had its allotted leader to protect it, and it should stand in battle, and then when he was gone, his lieutenant should succeed to his wounds until the battle were brought to a close.

Next, that for His sake also he doeth these things, hearken: “For His Body’s sake,” he saith, assuredly meaning to say this: “I pleasure not you, but Christ: for what things He should have suffered, I suffer instead of Him.” See how many things he establishes. Great, he shows, is the claim upon their love. As in his second Epistle to the Corinthians, he wrote, saying, “he committed unto us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:20); and again, “We are ambassadors on behalf of Christ; as though God were entreating by us.” So also here he saith, “For his sake I suffer,” that he may the more draw them to Him. That is, though He who is your debtor is gone away, yet I repay. For, on this account he also said, “that which is lacking,” to show that not even yet does he consider Him to have suffered all. “For your sake,” he saith, and even after His death He suffers; seeing that still there remains a deficiency. The same thing he doeth in another way in the Epistle to the Romans, saying, “Who also maketh intercession for us” (Rom 8:34), showing that He was not satisfied with His death alone, but even afterwards He doeth countless things.

(He does not then say this to exalt himself, but through a desire to show that Christ is even yet caring for them. And he shows what he says to be credible, by adding, “for His Body’s sake.” For that so it is, and that there is no unlikelihood in it, is plain from these things being done for His body’s sake. Look how He hath knitted us unto Himself. Why then introduce Angels between? “Whereof I was made,” he saith, “a minister.” Why introduce Angels besides? “I am a minister.” Then he shows that he had himself done nothing, albeit he is a minister. “Of which I was made,” saith he, “a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given me to youward, to fulfill the word of God.” “The dispensation.” Either he means, He so willed that after His own departure we should succeed to the dispensation, in order that ye might not feel as deserted, (for it is Himself that suffers, Himself that is ambassador;) or he means this, namely, me who was more than all a persecutor, for this end He permitted to persecute, that in my preaching I might gain belief; or by “dispensation” he means, that He required not deeds, nor actions, nor good works, but faith and baptism. For ye would not otherwise have received the word. “For you,” he saith, “to fulfill the word of God.” He speaks of the Gentiles, showing that they were yet wavering, by the expression, “fulfill.” For that the cast-away Gentiles should have been able to receive such lofty doctrines was not of Paul, but of the dispensation of God; “for I never could have had the power,” he saith. Having shown that which is greater, that his sufferings are Christ’s, he next subjoins what is more evident, that this also is of God, “to fulfill His word in you.” And he shows here covertly, that this too is of dispensation, that it is spoken to you now, when ye are able to hear it, and cometh not of neglect, but to the end ye may receive it. For God doeth not all things on a sudden, but useth condescension because of His plenteous love toward man. And this is the reason why Christ came at this time, and not of old. And He shows in the Gospel, that for this reason He sent the servants first, that they might not proceed to kill the Son. For if they did not reverence the Son, even when He came after the servants, much less would they had He come sooner; if they gave no heed to the lesser commandments, how would they to the greater? What then, doth one object? Are there not Jews even now, and Greeks who are in a very imperfect condition? This, however, is an excess of listlessness. For after so long a time, after such great instructions, still to continue imperfect, is a proof of great stupidity.

When then the Greeks say, why did Christ come at this time? let us not allow them so to speak, but let us ask them, whether He did not succeed? For as, if He had come at the very first, and had not succeeded, the time would not have been for us a sufficient excusation, so, seeing He hath succeeded, we cannot with justice be brought to account on the score of “the time.” For neither does any one demand of a physician, who has removed the disease, and restored one to health, to give an account of his treatment, nor yet does any examine closely a general who has gained a victory, why at this time, and why in this place. For these things it were in place to ask, had he not been successful; but when he has been successful, they must even be taken for granted. For, tell me, whether is more worthy of credit, thy reasoning and calumny, or the perfection of the thing? Conquered He, or conquered He not? show this. Prevailed He, or prevailed He not? Accomplished He what He said, or no? These are the articles of enquiry. Tell me, I pray. Thou fully grantest that God is, even though not Christ? I ask thee then; Is God without beginning? Thou wilt say, Certainly. Tell me then, why made He not men myriads of years before? For they would have lived through a longer time. They were now losers by that time during which they were not. Nay, they were not losers; but how, He who made them alone knows. Again, I ask thee, why did He not make all men at once? But his soul, whoever was first made, hath so many years of existence, of which that one is deprived which is not yet created. Wherefore made He the one to be brought first into this world, and the other afterwards?

Although these things are really fit subjects for enquiry: yet not for a meddling curiosity: for this is not for enquiry at all. For I will tell you the reason I spoke of. For suppose human nature as being some one continued life, and that in the first times our race was in the position of boyhood; in those that succeeded, of manhood; and in these that are near extreme age, of an old man. Now when the soul is at its perfection, when the limbs of the body are unstrung, and our war is over, we are then brought to philosophy. On the contrary, one may say, we teach boys whilst young. Yes, but not the great doctrines, but rhetoric, and expertness with language; and the other when they are come to ripeness of age. See God also doing the same with the Jews. For just as though the Jews had been little children, he placed Moses over them as a schoolmaster, and like little children he managed these things for them through shadowy representations, as we teach letters. “For the law had a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things.” (Heb 10:1) As we both buy cakes for children and give them pieces of money, requiring of them one thing only, that for the present they would go to school; so also God at that time gave them both wealth and luxury, purchasing from them by this His great indulgence one only thing, that they would listen to Moses. Therefore He delivered them over to a schoolmaster, that they might not despise Himself as a tender, loving Father. See then that they feared him only; for they said not, Where is God? but, Where is Moses? and his very presence was fearful. So when they did amiss, observe how he punished them. For God indeed was desirous of casting them off; but he would not permit Him. Or rather the whole was of God; just as when a Father threatens whilst a schoolmaster entreats Him, and says, “Forgive them, I pray, on my account, and henceforward I undertake for them.” In this way was the wilderness a school. And as children who have been a long while at school are desirous of quitting it, so also were they at that time continually desiring Egypt, and weeping, saying, “We are lost, we are wholly consumed, we are utterly undone.” (Ex 16:3). And Moses broke their tablet, having written for them, as it were, certain words (Ex 32:19).; just as a schoolmaster would do, who having taken up the writing tablet, and found it badly written, throws away the tablet itself, desiring to show great anger; and if he have broken it, the father is not angry. For he indeed was busy writing, but they not attending to him, but turning themselves other ways, were committing disorder. And as in school, they strike each other, so also, on that occasion, he bade them strike and slay each other. And again, having given them as it were lessons to learn, then asking for them, and finding they had not learnt them, he would punish them. For instance. What writings were those that denoted the power of God? The events in Egypt? Yes, saith one, but these writings represented the plagues, that He punishes His enemies. And to them it was a school. For what else was the punishment of your enemies but your benefit? And in other respects too, He benefited you. And it was the same as if one should say he knew his letters, but when asked up and down, should be at fault, and be beaten. So they also said indeed that they knew the power of God, but when asked their knowledge up and down, they could not give it, and therefore were beaten. Hast thou seen water? Thou oughtest to be reminded of the water in Egypt. For He that of water made blood, will be also of power to do this. As we also say often to the children, “when in a book thou seest the letter A, remember that thou hadst it in thy tablet.” Hast thou seen famine? Remember that it was He that destroyed the crops! Hast thou seen wars? Remember the drowning! Hast thou seen that they are mighty who inhabit the land? But not mightier than the Egyptians. He who took thee out of the midst of them, will He not much more save thee when out? But they knew not how to answer their letters out of order, and therefore they were beaten. “They ate,” and drank, “and kicked.” (Deut 32:15) When fed with their manna they ought not to have asked for luxury, seeing they had known the evils which proceed from it. And they acted precisely as if a free child, when sent to school, should ask to be reckoned with the slaves, and to wait on them,—so did these also in seeking Egypt—and when receiving all needful sustenance, and such as becomes a free person, and sitting at his father’s table, should have a longing for the ill-savored and noisy one of the servants. And they said to Moses, “Yea, Lord, all that thou hast spoken will we do, and be obedient.” (Ex 24:7). And as it happens in the case of desperately bad children, that when the father would put them to death the schoolmaster perseveringly entreats for them, the same was the case at that time also.

Why have we said these things? Because we differ in nothing from children. Wilt thou hear their doctrines also, that they are those of children? “Eye for eye,” it is said, “and tooth for tooth.” (Lev 24:20). For nothing is so eager to revenge as a childish mind. For seeing it is a passion of irrationality, and there is much irrationality, and great lack of consideration in that age, no wonder the child is tyrannized over by anger; and so great is the tyranny, that ofttimes after stumbling and getting up again, they will smite their knee for passion, or overturn the footstool, and so will allay their pain, and quench their rage. In some such way as this did God also deal with them, when He allowed them to strike out “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth,” and destroyed the Egyptians and the Amalekites that had grieved them. And He promised such things; as if to one who said, “Father, such and such an one has beaten me,” the father should then reply, “Such and such an one is a bad man, and let us hate him.” So also doth God say, “I will be their enemy that are thine enemies, and I will hate them that hate thee.” (Ex 23:22). And again, when Balaam prayed, the condescension which was used towards them was childish. For as with children, when having been frightened at anything not frightful, such as either a lock of wool, or any other thing of like sort, they are suddenly alarmed; that their fear may not continue in them, we bring the thing up to their hands, and make their nurses show it them: so also did God; seeing that the Prophet was a terror to them, he turned the terror of him into confidence. And as children who are under weaning have all manner of things in little baskets, so also did He give them everything, and dainties in abundance. Still the child longs for the breast; so did these also for Egypt and the flesh that was there.

(So that one would not be wrong in calling Moses both a teacher, and a nursing-father, and a conductor (Ex 16:3 Num 11:4-5); the man’s wisdom was great. Howbeit it is not the same thing to guide men who are already philosophers, and to rule unreasoning children. And, if you are inclined to hear yet another particular; as the nurse says to the child, When thou easest thyself, take up thy garments, and for as long as thou sittest, so also did Moses. (Deut 23:13) For all the passions are tyrannous in children (for as yet they have not that which is to bridle them), vainglory, desire, irrationality, anger, envy; just as in children, so they prevailed; they spat upon, they beat, Moses. And as a child takes up a stone, and we all exclaim, O do not throw it; so did they also take up stones against their father; and he fled from them. And as, if a father have any ornament, the child, being fond of ornament, asks him for it, in like manner, truly, did the party of Dathan and Abiram act, when they rebelled for the priesthood. (Num 16). And besides, they were of all people the most envious, and little-minded, and in all respects imperfect.

Ought then Christ, tell me, to have appeared at that time, at that time to have given them these teachings of true wisdom, when they were raging with lust, when they were as horses mad for the mare, when they were the slaves of money, of the belly? Nay, He would but have wasted his lessons of wisdom in discoursing with those of no understanding; and they would have neither learnt one thing nor the other. And as he who teaches to read before he has taught the alphabet, will never teach even so much as the alphabet; so indeed would it then have been also. But not so now, for by the grace of God much forbearance, much virtue, hath been planted everywhere. Let us give thanks then for all things, and not be over curious. For it is not we that know the due time, but He, The Maker of the time, and The Creator of the ages.

In everything then yield we to Him: for this is to glorify God, not to demand of Him an account of what He doeth. In this way too did Abraham give glory to God; “And being fully persuade,” we read, “that what He had promised, He was able to perform.” (Rom 4:21) He did not ask about the future even; but we scrutinize the account even of the past. See how great folly, how great ingratitude, is here. But let us for the future have done, for no gain comes of it, but much harm even; and let our minds be gratefully disposed towards our Master, and let us send up glory to God, that making for all things an offering of thanksgiving, we may be counted worthy of His lovingkindness, through the grace and love toward man of His Only-begotten, with whom, &c.

Excerpt From Homily 5 The entire homily on Colossians 1:26-2:5 can be read here.

Col 1:26-28. Even the mystery which has been hidden from all ages and generations: but now hath it been manifested to His saints, to whom God was pleased to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: whom we proclaim, admonishing every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ.

Having said what we have come to, and showed the lovingkindness of God and the honor, by the greatness of the things given, he introduces yet another consideration that heightens them, namely, that neither before us did any one know Him. As he doth also in the Epistle to the Ephesians, saying, neither Angels, nor principalities, nor any other created power, but only the Son of God knew. (Ephesians 3:5 Ephesians 3:9-10). And he said, not simply hid, but “quite hid,” and that even if it hath but now come to pass, yet it is of old, and from the beginning God willed these things, and they were so planned out; but why, he saith not yet. “From the ages,” from the beginning, as one might say. And with reason he calleth that a mystery, which none knew, save God. And where hid? In Christ; as he saith in the Epistle to the Ephesians (Ephesians 3:9), or as when the Prophet saith, “From everlasting even to everlasting Thou art.” (Ps 90:2) But now hath been manifested, he saith, “to His saints.” So that it is altogether of the dispensation of God. “But now hath been manifested,” he saith. He saith not, “is come to pass,” but, “hath been manifested to His saints.” So that it is even now still hid, since it hath been manifested to His saints alone).

Let not others therefore deceive you, for they know not. Why to them alone? “To whom He was pleased,” he saith. See how everywhere He stops the mouth of their questions. “To whom God was pleased to make known,” he saith. Yet His will is not without reason. By way of making them accountable for grace, rather than allowing them to have high thoughts, as though it were of their own achieving, he said, “To whom he was pleased to make known.” “What is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles.” He hath spoken loftily, and accumulated emphasis, seeking, out of his great earnestness, for amplification upon amplification. For this also is an amplification, the saying indefinitely, “The riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles.” For it is most of all apparent among the Gentiles, as he also says elsewhere, “And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.” (Rom 15:9). For the great glory of this mystery is apparent among others also, but much more among these. For, on a sudden, to have brought men more senseless than stones to the dignity of Angels, simply through bare words, and faith alone, without any laboriousness, is indeed glory and riches of mystery: just as if one were to take a dog, quite consumed with hunger and the mange, foul, and loathsome to see, and not so much as able to move, but lying cast out, and make him all at once into a man, and to display him upon the royal throne. They were wont to worship stones and the earth; but they learned that themselves are better both than the heaven and the sun, and that the whole world serveth them; they were captives and prisoners of the devil: on a sudden they are placed above his head, and lay commands on him and scourge him: from being captives and slaves to demons, they are become the body of The Master of the Angels and the Archangels; from not knowing even what God is, they are become all at once sharers even in God’s throne. Wouldest thou see the countless steps they overleaped? First, they had to learn that stones are not gods; secondly, that they not only are not gods, but inferior even to men; thirdly, to brutes even; fourthly, to plants even; fifthly, they brought together the extremes: that not only stones but not earth even, nor animals, nor plants, nor man, nor heaven; or, to begin again, that not stones, not animals, not plants, not elements, pot things above, not things below, not man, not demons, not Angels, not Archangels, not any of those Powers above, ought to be worshiped by the nature of man. Being drawn up, as it were, from some deep, they had to learn that the Lord of all, He is God, that Him alone is it right to worship; that the virtuous life is a good thing; that this present death is not death, nor this life, life; that the body is raised, that it becomes incorruptible, that it will ascend into heaven, that it obtains even immortality, that it standeth with Angels, that it is removed thither. But Him who was there below, having cleared at a bound all these steps, He has placed on high upon the throne, having made Him that was lower than the stones, higher in dominion than the Angels, and the Archangels, and the thrones, and the dominions. Truly “What is the riches of the glory of this mystery?” Just as if one should show a fool to be all at once made a philosopher; yea rather, whatsoever one should say, it would be as nothing: for even the words of Paul are undefined. “What is the riches,” he saith, “of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you?” Again, they had to learn that He who is above, and who ruleth Angels and dominions, and all the other Powers, came down below, and was made Man, and suffered countless things, and rose again, and was received up.

All these things were of the mystery; and he sets them down together with lofty praise, saying, “Which is Christ in you?” But if He be in you, why seek ye Angels? “Of this mystery.” For there are other mysteries besides. But this is really a mystery, which no one knew, which is marvelous, which is beside the common expectation, which was hid. “Which is Christ in you,” he saith, “the hope of glory, whom we proclaim,” bringing Him from above. “Whom we,” not Angels: “teaching” and “admonishing”: not imperiously nor using constraint, for this too is of God’s lovingkindness to men, not to bring them to Him after the manner of a tyrant. Seeing it was a great thing he had said, “teaching,” he added, “admonishing,” which is rather like a father than an instructor. “Whom,” saith he, “we proclaim, admonishing every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom.” So that all wisdom is needed. That is, saying all things in wisdom. For the ability to learn such things exists not in every one. “That we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” What sayest thou, “every man”? Yea; this is what we are earnestly desirous of doing, he saith. For what, if this do not come to pass? the blessed Paul endeavored. “Perfect.” This then is perfection, the other is imperfect: so that if one have not even the whole of wisdom, he is imperfect. “Perfect in Christ Jesus,” not in the Law, nor in Angels, for that is not perfection. fection “In Christ,” that is, in the knowledge of Christ. For he that knows what Christ has done, will have higher thoughts than to be satisfied with Angels.

Col 1,29. “Whereunto I labor also, striving.” And he said not, “I am desirous” merely, nor in any indifferent way, but “I labor, striving,” with great earnestness, with much watching. If I, for your good, thus watch, much more ought ye. Then again, showing that it is of God, he saith, “according to His working which worketh in me mightily.” He shows that this is the work of God. He,now, that makes me strong for this, evidently wills it. Wherefore also when beginning he saith, “Through the will of God.”

Col 2:1. “For I would have you know how greatly I strive for you, and for them at Laodicea.” Then lest this should seem owing to their peculiar weakness, he joined others also with them, and as yet condemned them not. But why does he say, “And as many as have not seen my face in the flesh”? He shows here after a divine manner, that they saw him constantly in the Spirit. And he bears witness to their great love.

Col 2:2-3. “That their hearts may be comforted, they being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, that they may know the mystery of God the Father, and of Christ: in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden.”

Now henceforward he is hastening and in pangs to enter upon the doctrine, neither accusing them, nor clearing them of accusation. “I strive,” he saith. To what end? That they may be knit together. What he means is something like this; that they may stand firm in the faith. He doth not however so express himself; but extenuates the matter of accusation. That is, that they may be united with love, not with necessity nor with force. For as I have said, he always avoids offending, by leaving it to themselves; and therefore “striving,” because I wish it to be with love, and willingly. For I do not wish it to be with the lips merely, nor merely that they shall be brought together, but “that their hearts may be comforted.”

“Being knit together in love unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding.” That is, that they may doubt about nothing, that they may be fully assured in all things. But I meant full assurance which is by faith, for there is a full assurance which cometh by arguments, but that is worthy of no consideration. I know, he saith, that ye believe, but I would have you fully assured: not “unto riches” only, but “unto all riches”; that your full assurance may be intense, as well as in all things. And observe the wisdom of this blessed one. He said not, “Ye do ill that ye are not fully assured,” nor accused them; but, ye know not how desirous I am that ye may be fully assured, and not merely so, but with understanding. For seeing he spoke of faith; suppose not, he saith, that I meant barely and unprofitably, but with understanding and love. “That they may know the mystery of God the Father and of Christ.” So that this is the mystery of God, the being brought unto Him by the Son. “And of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” But if they are in Him, then wisely also no doubt He came at this time. Wherefore then do some foolish persons object to Him, “See how He discourseth with the simpler sort.” “In whom are all the treasures.” He himself knows all things. “Hid,” for think not in truth that ye already have all; they are hidden also even from Angels, not, from you only; so that you ought to ask all things from Him. He himself giveth wisdom and knowledge. Now by saying, “treasures,” he shows their largeness, by “All,” that He is ignorant of nothing, by “hid,” that He alone knoweth.

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Saturday, Sept 10: My Notes on 1 Timothy 1:15-17

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 3, 2011

15 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the foremost of sinners;
16 but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. The word order in Greek is more emphatic, placing sure and worthy at the beginning and end: “Sure is the saying, and of full acceptance worthy.” The saying consists of these words: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  Again, the word order in Greek is more emphatic, placing the word save at the end. As already noted, St Paul was proof of the surety of the saying, for although he was the foremost of sinners, he nonetheless received mercy. Note the repetition of foremost (1 Tim 1:15-16) to keep us focused on the former sinner Paul as the recipient of mercy. Not also that the reception of mercy is sandwiched between this twofold usage of foremost. The purpose of this mercy was so that Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

St John Chrysostom: Let us not then despair, but even though thou be a reviler, or covetous, or whatsoever thou art, consider that Paul was (1Tim 1:13 and 1Tim 1:16) “a blasphemer, and persecutor, and injurious, and the chief of sinners,” and suddenly rose to the very summit of virtue, and his former life proved no hindrance to him. And yet none with so great frenzy clings to vice as he did to the war against the Church. For at that time he put his very life into it; and because he had not ten thousand hands that he might stone Stephen with all of them, he was vexed. Notwithstanding, even thus he found how he might stone him with more hands, to wit, those of the false witnesses whose clothes he kept. And again, when he entered into houses like a wild beast and no otherwise did he rush in, haling, tearing men and women, filling all things with tumult and confusion and innumerable conflicts. For instance, so terrible was he that the Apostles, (Acts 9:26) even after his most glorious change, did not yet venture to join themselves to him. Nevertheless, after all those things he became such as he was:for I need not say more. (Hom. 22 on 2 Cor)

God indeed says that He called him on account of his excellent capacity, as He said to Ananias, ‘for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings,’ (Acts 9:15). that is to say, capable of service, and the accomplishment of great deeds. God gives this as the reason for his call. But he himself everywhere ascribes it to grace, and to God’s inexpressible mercy, as in the words, ‘Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy,’ not that I was sufficient or even serviceable, but ‘that in me as chief might Jesus Christ show forth all His long-suffering, for an ensample of them which should hereafter believe on Him unto eternal life.’ (1Tim 1:16). Behold his overflowing humility; I obtained mercy, says he, that no one might despair, when the worst of men had shared His bounty. For this is the force of the words, ‘that He might show forth all His long-suffering for an ensample of them which should hereafter believe on Him.’(Hom. 1 on Galatians)

17 To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

St Paul concludes this thanksgiving-which is also a testament to the Divine mercy, patience, and salvation-with a doxology.  Other  doxologies can be found in Gal 1:5; Rom 9:5; Eph 3:21; Philip 4:20.

The King of ages.  See Jer 10:10; Tobit 13:6; Sirach 36:17. As the King of ages he is the source of the eternal life mentioned in 1 Tim 1:16.

Immortal.  The Greek is “incorruptible”.  The word is not found in the Greek OT, it is a Greco-Roman religious category adopted by Hellenistic Judaism (e.g., Philo). Even the pagans recognize that God is incorruptible (Rom 1:23). This incorruptible God will bestow on the faithful an incorruptible crown (1 Cor 9:25) and an incorruptible body (1 Cor 15:50-57).

Invisible. See John 1:18; Rom 1:20; Col 1:15-16.

The only God. See John 5:44; Rom 16:27.

Be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. The various attributes just mentioned are reason for giving honor and glory to God for ever and ever. Notice how the doxology began with a reference to God as King of ages and ends with the words for ever and ever.

This prayer of thanksgiving and its ending doxology are preparing for the subject matter treated in chapter 2: prayers and thanksgiving for kings and all in authority; the one God who is savior, Christ the one mediator; the appointment of St Paul, etc.

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My Notes on 1 Tim 1-2, 12-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 3, 2011

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Read 1 Tim 1:1-2

Paul: That St Paul actually wrote the “Pastoral Epistles,” consisting of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus is a hotly debated topic. See the introduction to FIRST AND SECOND TIMOTHY, TITUS, by Father George T. Montague.

An apostle of Jesus Christ: Of course, Paul did not need to insist on his authority with Timothy, however, the nature of the situation facing Timothy (false teachers, 1 Tim 1:3-7, 1 Tim 4:1-5; establishing church ministers, 1 Tim 3:1-13; establishing right order 1 Tim 5:1-6:2) called for the insistence on authority, and what authority Timothy had he received through the apostle (2 Tim 1:6), from the triune God (1 Tim 4:1-2). See also 1 Tim 1:3-5, 1 Tim 3:18; 1 Tim 4:11-16.

By command of God our savior: St Paul often speaks of his apostolic authority mediated to him by our Lord (Gal 1:11-12) as being “by the will of God” (1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1; Eph 1:1; Col 1:1; Here, however, he speaks of it as rooted in the divine command. This is no doubt done in view of the situation in the church at Ephesus. This reference to a divine command being behind Paul’s ministry serves to further highlight his authority, and, by extension, Timothy’s. On this point, the opening greeting helps prepare for what is said in 1 Tim 1:3-5

Savior: Surprisingly, the word is used only 24 times in the NT, with ten of those uses being found in the Pastoral Epistles (hereafter, PE). The title of savior is often applied to God in the OT, especially in the Psalms (Ps 24:5; Ps 25:5; Ps 27:9; ect.). In the NT the title is applied to both God the Father and to Christ (Father: Luke 1:47; Jude 25; 1 Tim 2:3; 1 Tim 4:10; Titus 1:3; Titus 2:10; Titus 3:4. Christ: Phil 3:20; 2 Tim 1:10; Titus 1:4; Titus 2:13; Titus 3:6; 2 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 2:20; 2 Pet 3:2; ect.).

Interesting to note that the title savior, when applied to God in the PE, always appears in the context of the Church’s mission; no doubt because that mission is salvific (see 1 Tim 4:11-16; esp. 16).

Christ Jesus our hope: Hope (Gr. Elpis) basically refers to a strong desire for something with an anticipation of gaining it. In its theological sense: “Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” “The Holy Spirit . . . he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.” (CCC 1817)

The word hope is used only here in 1 Tim; however, it is used also in Titus 1:2; Titus 2:13; Titus 3:7. In these passages the word clearly has an eschatological (end-time) nuance relating to salvation/eternal life. In 1 Tim various counsels and admonitions given to Timothy focus on salvation/eternal life without explicitly mentioning hope (see 1 Tim 4:6-16; 1 Tim 6:11-16), Perhaps St Paul refers to our Lord as “our hope” to encourage St Timothy in his ministry (see catechism quote below). It appears that St Timothy was prone to timidity, which allowed people to look upon him with disdain because of his youth (see 1 Cor 16:10-11; 1 Tim 4:12). This may have led him to slack off in his ministry (2 Tim 1:6-8).

CCC1818: The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men’s activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity

To Timothy, my legitimate child in the faith: In 1 Cor 4:14-17 St Paul calls the Corinthians his children and portrays himself as their spiritual father because he converted them to the faith: “I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.” In this same context he refers to St Timothy as his “beloved and faithful son.” This has led many to the conclusion that St Paul was responsible for the conversion of Timothy. They thus interpret 1 Tim 1:2 accordingly. However, the Corinthian passage, along with others where St Timothy is called St Paul’s son/child term him such in relation to his ministry. The most notable passage is in Philippians 2: I hope, in the Lord Jesus, to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may be heartened by hearing news of you. For I have no one comparable to him for genuine interest in whatever concerns you. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know his worth, how as a child with his father he served along with me in the cause of the gospel. (Philippians 2:19-22).

This raises the possibility that St Timothy is St Paul’s son, not because he was converted by Paul, but because he was empowered to ministry through him (see 1 Tim 1:18; 2 Tim 1:2; 2 Tim 2:1).

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord: St Paul sees his ministry as the product of grace (God strengthened him and appointed him to ministry 1 Tim 1:12-14). This was motivated by God’s mercy (1 Tim 1:13, 1 Tim 1:16). It was meant to produce peace (1 Tim 2:1-7). Timothy’s mission was the result of grace which strengthens him 2 Tim 1:6-8). He is to pursue peace (2 Tim 2:14, 2 Tim 2:22).

12 I thank him who has given me strength for this, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful by appointing me to his service,

St Paul expresses his thanks to Christ Jesus, something he rarely does, thanks usually being rendered to the Father. Paul’s thanksgivings usually focus upon what the Father has done for his (St Paul’s) readers, but here it is for what the Lord Jesus has done for him.

I thank him who has given me strength for this, Christ Jesus our Lord. “For this” provides a link to the previous section. Timothy had been urged to charge/command certain people not to teach false doctrines and speculations based upon the Law which they did not really understand (1 Tim 1:3-7). Saints Paul and Timothy  know the real purpose of the law “we know that the law is good, PROVIDED THAT one uses it as a law” (vs 8, NAB. In the RSV the Greek conditional particle, ἐάν, which it translates as “if,” doesn’t do justice to the force it has). This knowledge concerning the Law is for St Paul, “in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted” (1 Tim 1:11), and it is for this that he here gives thanks.

Paul has been given strength (better, “enabled”) by Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful by appointing me to his service. The word translated as judged is ἡγέομαι (hēgeomai), and no English translation can communicate the full force of the meaning as it is used here. The word has the sense of “to lead on with authority, as a commander.” I would suggest the following interpretive paraphrase: “Because he, our commander who is endowed with effective power, has made me faithful, and appointed me a lieutenant in his service.”  I’ve chosen martial language here because hēgeomai can have military overtones, as can charge and command, words used several times in this chapter of 1 Timothy; and also because St Paul is about to commit a charge to St Timothy, that he “wage the good warfare” (1 Tim 1:18).

Appointing me to his service. See 2:7 and 2 Tim 1:11. The word appointing is passive, no one can take the apostolic ministry upon himself. This contrasts nicely with those actively “desiring to be teachers of the law” (1 Tim 1:7).

This appointment to service came to St Paul, he tells us (verse 13)~though I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and insulted him; but I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief.

Paul was once an evil talker who once did not understand the purpose of the Law, like those who desire to be teachers of the Law (1 Tim 1:7); and like Hymanaeus and Alexander who were blasphemers (1 Tim 1:20). St Paul received mercy because, like the teachers of the Law who were without understanding concerning what they were saying or the things about which they made assertions (vs 7), he too acted ignorantly in unbelief.  See Acts 8:1-3; Acts 9:1-13; 1 Cor 15:1-11; Gal 1:11-17; Phil 3:6.

Blasphemed. It was popularly believed that blasphemers could not repent, but St Paul’s experience witnesses against this fact, at least for those who do such things in ignorance. It should be pointed out however, that Hymanaeus and Alexander, who had rejected faith and good conscience, could still learn not to blaspheme, implying that they could be converted even though their blasphemy was not done in ignorance (1 Tim 1:19-20).

14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Grace, faith, and love belong to us because of our union with the Lord (“in Christ Jesus”).  Grace, along with faith and love are said to overflow for St Paul.  This abundance was so that St Paul could be a sign and example for others. He is a living witness to the sure saying in 1 Tim 1:15, and is thus proof of divine mercy (1 Tim 1:16).

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Colossians 3:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 3, 2011

To help provide context this post contains both a summary of the moral part of the epistle (Col 3:1-4:6), and of Col 3:1-17. Text in red are my additions to the original commentary. These additions are (mostly) quotes from Fr. Callan’s Commentary on Ephesians.

MORAL PART OF THE EPISTLE

A Summary of Colossians 3:1-4:6~In the Moral Part of the Epistle to the Colossians St. Paul, arguing from the principles he has laid down in the Dogmatic Part, takes up the duties of the Christian life in general, showing what life in union with the Risen Lord demands, first in a negative and then in a positive way (Col 3:1-17). Next he treats of relative duties, pertinent to particular states (Col 3:18—4:1), concluding with some precepts addressed to all Christians (Col 4:2-6). See Introduction, No. IV, C. (Not yet posted)

CHRISTIANS MUST EXHIBIT NEWNESS OF LIFE

A Summary of Colossians 3:1-17~After having directly attacked the errors of the pseudodoctors and shown their baneful and futile consequences (Col 2:8-23), the Apostle now returns to the positive teaching of Col 2:6-7, pointing out that Christians share in the risen life of their Lord, and that consequently new and higher motives should dominate their activities. Being dead to the lower things, they are now centred in Christ, and will appear with Him hereafter in glory (Col 3:1-4). This new life requires in a negative way a breaking with all the sins of their pagan past (Col 3:5-9), and on its positive and practical side an ever fuller growing into the likeness of Christ, and into a state where Christ is supreme for all mankind (Col 3:10-11). Moreover, this new life involves a practice of those virtues which Christ’s example has taught, especially charity, which is the bond of perfection, and unity, which couples the members of the Christian society with their divine Head. May the message of Christ be fruitful in them, making itself vibrant in their hearts and vocal in their music! All their undertakings must be performed in their Master’s name, and thus they will be rendering continual thanks to God the Father who has conferred all blessings on us through Christ (Col 3:12-17).

1. Therefore, if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above; where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God:
2. Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth.

As an antidote to the doctrines of the false teachers who were imposing material things as a means of spiritual progress, St. Paul here tells his readers to lift their thoughts above where Christ their Head is seated, as a king on his throne, ready to dispense His gifts and graces to His subjects.

If. See above, on Col 2:20. Here is what Fr. Callan wrote there: The connective “if” here, as later in Col 3:1, does not express doubt or conjecture, but rather assumption...

Be risen, etc. See on Col 2:12. Fr. Callan there wrote: The Apostle explains when and how the Colossians received the circumcision of Christ. It took place at the time of their Baptism, when their immersion in the water signified their death and burial to sin, and their coming out of it represented their resurrection to a new life of grace. See on Rom 6:4 ff.

At the right hand, etc., i.e., the place of power and authority.

3. For you are dead; and your hfe is hid with Christ in God.
4. When Christ shall appear, who is our life, then you also shall appear with him in glory.

The Apostle now gives the reason why all the thoughts and desires of the faithful should be above. In Baptism they died to the world and things of earth, and their supernatural life, like the life of their Risen Saviour, is hidden from the sight of men; but at the end of time when Christ appears in glory to judge the world, then their hidden life shall also be made manifest.

In verse 4 of the Vulgate we should have vita nostra, instead of vita vestra, according to the best Greek.

5. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, unclcanness, lust, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is the service of idols.

The faithful must master and hold at bay those evil tendencies of their nature which would destroy their hidden life and lead them away from Christ. The Apostle mentions here, as in Eph 5:3-5, some of the sins and vices to which they were most inclined, and which therefore they must especially guard against. See on Eph 5:3-5. Father Callan writes concerning these sins in his comments on Eph 5:3-5~Impurity and grasping self-assertion were central sins of paganism, and they are condemned by the Apostle in all their forms; not only are they not to be practised, they are not even to be named among Christians, who by their profession are consecrated to the God of holiness, purity, and justice.  He also writes the following concerning fornication, uncleanness, and covetousness which are also mentioned in the present verse:

Fornicator (fornication), as here used, means also adultery and every illicit sexual union.

Unclean (uncleanness) refers to private impurity.

Covetous person (covetousness), i.e., inordinate lover of material wealth, a person who makes a god of his money. (see further note on covetousness below).

Which is a serving of idols. Covetousness is a kind of real idolatry.

Your members which are upon the earth most likely refers to the vices which he proceeds to enumerate, and which are all in the accusative or objective case following “mortify” (Knabenbauer, h. l.).

Covetousness . . . the service of idols. Lightfoot says that “covetousness” here is to be taken in its ordinary sense, as greed for material gain, and that the Greek word of itself never denotes sensual lust. But that the word lends itself to a connection with sensual ideas appears from a comparison of this passage with Eph 4:19, Eph 5:3-5; 1 Thess 4:6; 1 Cor 5:11. “Service of idols” would then refer back to all the sins just enumerated. Cf. Moule, h. l.

6. For which things the wrath of God cometh upon the children of unbelief,

The Apostle warns his readers of the punishment that is in store for the vices just spoken of.

Upon the children of unbelief is not in the best Greek, but is probably to be retained on good documentary evidence. See on Eph 5:6. The text of Ephesians states that “because of these things” (i.e., the sins mentioned above) “cometh the anger of God upon the children of unbelief.” Fr. Callan writes: The Apostle warns his readers not to be deceived and led into error by any “vain” (i.e., empty and false) words or talk, regarding the sins he has just condemned; for because of those very sins the punishment of God “cometh,” i.e., visits now and will continue to visit in the future those rebellious ones who disobey and disregard His teachings as contained in the Gospel. Cf, Col 3:6.

7. In which you also walked some time, when you lived in them.

In which can refer to the “children of unbelief” of the preceding verse (in which case we should translate “among whom”), or to the vices mentioned in verse 5; more probably the latter.

When you lived, etc., refers to the time before their conversion.

8. But now put you also all away anger, indignation, malice, blasphemy, filthy speech out of your mouth.

See on Eph 4:29, Eph 4:31. Anger and indignation can sometimes be justifiable (“be angry, but sin not”, Eph 4:6), but quite often these passions degenerate into sin, often manifesting themselves in malice, blasphemy, filthy speech, etc. Concerning anger Fr. Callan writes the following in his commentary on Eph 4:31: Anger is a transient outburst of passion, whereas indignation,
or wrath, is a settled or chronic condition including the purpose of
revenge.   On blasphemy he writes: Blasphemy is taken literally from the Greek, but it would be better to translate it in this passage by “reviling,” since there is question now of evil speech, not against God but against man. Concerning malice he writes: Malice, i.e., malevolence or the desire to injure, is the root of
the sins just mentioned. Compare the parallel passage in Col 3:8.

9. Lie not one to another: stripping yourselves of the old man with his deeds,

The old man, etc. See on Eph 4:22; Eph 4:24-25. Ephe 4:22 reads: “put off, according to former conversation, the old man, who is corrupted according to the desire of error.” Father Callan comments: They have been taught—or rather, they were taught at the time of their conversion—to put off the old sinful man inherited from Adam, whose principles and mode of life were theirs as pagans, and living according to which they became ever more and more plunged into sin and error.

10. And putting on the new, him who is renewed unto knowledge, according to the image of him that created him.

The Apostle has just been enumerating sins which Christians must avoid. But it is not enough to weed out vices; virtues must be planted in.

The new. i.e., the new man, the new self. See on Eph 4:24. Father Callan comments on that verse as follows: It is not sufficient to put off the old man of sin which you have inherited from Adam, but you must also “put on the new man, etc.,” i.e., the man who has been regenerated by the grace of the Holy Ghost, and who having been created “according to God, etc.” (i.e., having been created in the beginning in the image and likeness of God), imitates God in his new life of grace by keeping the commandments which reflect the divine will and therefore God Himself. This new man, or creation of grace, “is created in justice and holiness,” i.e., he lives a life faithful to the obligations he owes to his neighbor (justice) and to the duties he owes to God (holiness)—that is, a life which is in entire conformity with “the truth” of the Gospel, as revealed in the Gospel.

Who is renewed, etc. The regenerate life is one of progress, growling into ever fuller knowledge and more perfect love of God, of Christ, and of our duties as Christians (2 Cor 4:16).

According to the image, etc. As man in the natural order was made in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26-28), so in his regeneration does he come to express that image, but in a far more perfect manner (Gal 6:15).

11. Where there is neither Gentile nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all, and in all.

In this new state of regenerated humanity the old distinctions of races and conditions of men are wiped out, and all are united in one mystical body of which Christ is the head and the faithful the members.

Barbarian was a contemptuous term, applied in pre-Augustan times to all who did not speak Greek; later it signified all who were devoid of Roman and Greek culture.

Scythian meant the worst of barbarians. The Scythians were much like the modern Turks, and the Greeks and Jews regarded them “as the wildest of wild tribes” (Moule).

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Tuesday, Sept 6: Father Callan’s Commentary on Colossians 2:6-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 3, 2011

To help provide context this post contains Father Callan’s summaries of Col 2:1-7 (also posted yesterday) and Col 2:8-23.

WHY ST PAUL WRITES TO UNKNOWN CHURCHES

A Summary of Colossians 2:1-7~St. Paul writes to the Colossians and their neighbors of Laodicea, though he has never seen them, in order that they may be united in charity and have a full understanding of that divine secret of which he has been speaking. The secret is to know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent (John 17:3). The Apostle is anxious about his unknown readers, because of the specious errors that are abroad among them. Though absent in body, he is spiritually present with them, and he rejoices at the solid battle front their faith is presenting to the enemy. They have learned the truth about Christ, and may they show it in their lives, and ever abound in thanksgiving!

6. As therefore you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk ye in him,

As therefore, referring to what he has just said about their firm faith. In this and the following verse the Apostle is stressing the need of continuing united to Christ, or persevering in the faith which the Colossians received from Epaphras, their apostle and master, and of shaping their lives according to its teachings.

The Lord. This expression shows that the historic Jesus was also the Christ, the Messiah, and the sovereign and universal Master. See on Eph 3:11; Phil 2:11.

7. Rooted and built up in him, and confirmed in the faith, as also you have learned, abounding in it in thanksgiving.

Rooted . . . built, two metaphors—one taken from a tree firmly fixed in the ground and the other from a house strongly constructed—to enforce again the necessity of adhering to Christ, the sole principle of the supernatural life; and the means of this union is the faith, as they “have learned” it from Epaphras. See
on Eph 3:17, Eph 2:22.

In it, i.e., in faith, producing the full fruit of faith.

The Vulgate in illo should be in ea, to agree with the Greek, though some MSS. have simply, “abounding in thanksgiving,” It was entirely becoming that the faithful should be abundantly grateful for the gift of faith and for the rich blessings it brought them.

THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE FALSE TEACHERS IS OPPOSED TO CHRIST

A Summary of Colossians 2:8-23. St. Paul now directly considers the so-called philosophy of the false teachers among the Colossians, and he finds it is in opposition to Christian principles in doctrine and in practice. It is based on human traditions and worldly elements, instead of following Christ, in whom dwells the fullness of the Godhead, in whom the Colossians will find all they need for salvation, and who is superior to all powers. In Christ they have received the true circumcision, which is of the heart, having been buried with Him in Baptism and risen with Him through faith to a new life. Yes, when they were dead in their sins, God gave them new life in Christ, pardoning them their offences and liberating them from the burdens of the Law. It was the victory of the cross that cast off the principalities and powers, and led them away in triumphal defeat (Col 2:8-15). Therefore, the Colossians must not be judged by regulations and observances which were only shadows of the reality which is Christ. Nor let them be cheated of their prize by a wrong asceticism and worship of angels which would lead away from Christ, the head of all; for it is through Christ alone that the Church attains that full growth which is of God. Since, then, the Colossians have died to the elements of the world, they should pay no need to those things which perish in the using. These precepts and doctrines of men have an outward appearance of value, but they are really impotent against sensual indulgences (Col 2:16-23).

8. Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy, and vain deceit: according to the traditions of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ:

Cheat you. Better, “make you his spoil,” or “spoil you.”

Philosophy here is to be understood in a wide sense, as embracing a system of teaching in religious matters. Thus it was often used in antiquity, as when Philo speaks of the Jewish religion and the Law of Moses as a philosophy (Leg. ad Caium, 23, 33); and Josephus applies the same name to the doctrines of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes (Ant., xviii. i, 2). There is no thought in this passage of belittling true philosophy, which is the fruit of correct reasoning from sound principles.

Vain deceit. The false teachers pretended to have a superior wisdom to communicate, but which in reality was empty and far removed from truth. Instead of coming from God, or divine revelation, or the use of right reason, their so-called philosophy was based on “the traditions of men” (i.e., mere human opinions) and “the elements of the world” (i.e., certain Jewish rites and institutions, which were regulated by the Jewish calendar, such as new moons, sabbaths, and other recurring festivals). See below, on Col 2:16. Other authorities think the term “elements” here is used in a technical sense “for spiritual beings supposed to animate and preside over the elements of the physical universe, and generally conceived as resident in the heavenly bodies” (so Dodd, in Abingdon Bible, h. l.). It seems best to say with Fr. Rickaby that “it was not the mere observance of Jewish festivals, but beyond that the positive cultus of the heavenly bodies or of angels as controllers of those bodies, that displeased St. Paul” (Further Notes on St. Paul, h. l.).

9. For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead corporally;

The faithful must not seek spiritual knowledge and help outside of Christ, for in Him dwells the “fullness of the Godhead,” i.e., the totality of deity.

Corporally, i.e., corporally, totally, entirely. See on Col 1:19 above. Others explain “corporally” to mean, not figuratively, but substantially and personally; or with a bodily manifestation (Lightfoot).

10. And you are filled in him, who is the head of all principality and power:

As the fullness of deity is in Christ, making Him all-perfect, the faithful can find in Him all they need for their salvation and religious perfection; they need not seek elsewhere. Christ is the “head of all principality, etc.,” i.e., all angels are subject to Him and inferior to Him.

11. In whom also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the despoiling of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ:

The false teachers were advocating circumcision of the body as a means to spiritual perfection; but St. Paul reminds the Colossians that in virtue of their union with Christ they have already received the real, interior, spiritual circumcision, which is of the heart, and which alone counts before God. This spiritual circumcision consists “in the despoiling, etc.,” better, “in the stripping off of the fleshy body,” i.e., in the cutting away of the lower instincts and appetites in man, in the putting ofif of the old man of sin (Rom 6:6).

The word sed in the Vulgate should be omitted.

12. Buried with him in baptism, in whom also you are risen again by faith in the operation of God, who raised him up from the dead.

The Apostle explains when and how the Colossians received the circumcision of Christ. It took place at the time of their Baptism, when their immersion in the water signified their death and burial to sin, and their coming out of it represented their resurrection to a new life of grace. See on Rom 6:4 flf.

By faith, etc. In order that Baptism may confer spiritual life, faith in the power of God who raised Jesus to life is required in adults who have the use of reason (Rom 1:17).

Who raised him, etc. The Apostle mentions the resurrection of Jesus, because this mystery is fundamental to Christianity.

13. And you, when you were dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he quickened together with him, forgiving us all offences:

Such is the circumcision of Christ, which is conferred through Baptism; and now the Apostle will apply to the Colossians what he has been saying on this subject, recalling first to their minds their former miserable condition of soul as pagans.

The uncircumcision of your flesh means their unregenerate state, in which they obeyed the promptings of the flesh (Eph 2:3).

He quickened, etc., i.e., God the Father raised you to new, spiritual life, “with him” (i.e., with Christ), when by faith you became united to Christ in Baptism. According to the best Greek MSS., the Vulg. should read donans nobis; the forgiveness of sins was something common to all converts, Jewish and Gentile.

14. Blotting out the handwriting of the decree that was against us, which was contrary to us. And he hath taken the same out of the way, fastening it to the cross

Blotting out, etc., is parallel to the preceding phrase, “forgiving us all offences” (ver. 13), and means that God had cancelled the indebtedness which our sins had caused to be registered against us.

Handwriting of the decree. Better, as in R. V., “the bond written in ordinances,” i.e., the signature of obligation to observance, whether expressed in the “ordinances,” or “orders,” or “decrees” of the Mosaic Law for the Jews (Deut 27:15-26); or in the dictates of the natural law and conscience for the pagans (Rom 2:12-15).

The reference then is primarily to indebtedness incurred by the Jews in violating the decrees and prescriptions of the Law of Moses, but secondarily also to that incurred by the Gentiles in violating the law written on their own hearts. Therefore, when the Apostle says, “which was contrary to us,” all are included, all were under the curse of law, Gentiles as well as Jews. See on Eph 2:15. Now God, through Christ, has destroyed this account that stood against us, taking it “out of the way,” in which it stood between us and God; and this He did by “fastening it to the cross” of Christ, on which our Lord suffered and atoned for all our sins and transgressions.

The Vulgate chirographum decreti should be made to agree with the Greek, which has τοις δογμασιν  (dative); hence we should read decretis, and understand a chirographum which was expressed in or based on “decrees,” or “orders,” or “ordinances.”

15. And despoiling the principalities and powers, he hath exposed them confidently in open shew, triumphing over them in him.

As God through Christ has quickened us, forgiving our offences and blotting out the handwriting that was against us (ver. 13-14), so has He spoiled, exposed to contempt and derision, and triumphed over the hostile powers that had held man captive. It was through the Law that those principalities and powers were able to enslave man (Gal 3:19, Gal 4:9-10); and hence those agencies met their defeat when our Lord by His death on the cross abolished the Law, bringing it to an end.

Principalities and powers. These two terms are used above (Col 1:16, Col 2:10) in a favorable sense for good angels, but here they are taken in an evil sense for demons, as in Eph 6:12.

Exposed them confidently. Better, “made a show of them with outspokenness,” i.e., exposed them publicly to ridicule and contempt, leading them as captives in triumphal procession (θριαμβευσας αυτους).

The Latin confidenter and palam are a rendering of the Greek  εν παρρησια (“confidently in open show”); and in semetipso should be in eo (εν αυτω), i.e., in Christ, or In the cross. It is not certain whether the subjects of the verbs in verses 13-15 should be understood to be God or Christ, but it seems better, in the light of the context, to take God as the subject. God triumphed over the enemies of man through Jesus Christ by means of the cross of Christ.

16. Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of a festival day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath,
17. Which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ.

So far, in verses 8-15, St. Paul has been opposing the erroneous speculations of the false teachers, and now, in verses 16-23, he will attack their false asceticism. He warns his readers not to be disturbed about their neglect of outworn Mosaic observances regarding food and drink, the Jewish festivals, such as the New Moon, the Sabbath, and the like, the importance of which the false teachers were stressing and magnifying. All these things were good in their day, under the Old Law, as foreshadowing the reality to come, which was Christ; but now that Christ has come, these things are done away; they are a hindrance to be avoided.

The Vulgate sabbatorum is according to the Greek, but σαββατων, though plural in form, is singular in meaning (Matt 12:1; Mark 1:21, Mark 3:2; Luke 4:16, etc.).

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Colossians 1:24-2:3

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 3, 2011

This post On Col 1:24-2:3 includes Father Callan’s brief summaries of Col 1:24-29 and Col 2:1-7 in order to help provide context for the reader.

THE APOSTLES COMMISSION

A Summary of Colossians 1:24-29~Paul tells the Colossians that he is suffering on their account, but that this is a source of joy to him since his afflictions help the Church to contribute her part toward the sufferings of Christ; for God has commissioned him a servant of the Church for the purpose of making known the long-hidden mystery that Gentiles, as well as Jews, are to be embraced in the one Church of Christ, thus becoming heirs of heavenly glory. This is the universal doctrine St. Paul proclaims, laboring and striving with the help of divine power.

24. Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church.

The qui (“who rejoice”)  of the Vulgate at the beginning of this verse is not supported by the best Greek MSS.  St. Paul will explain in the verses that follow (up to Col 2:3 inclusive), why he is writing to a Church he has not founded, nor ever visited.

Now I rejoice, etc. The Apostle is in prison for preaching to pagans the same Gospel that the Colossians have received, and he rejoices on their behalf, because of the spiritual benefits his afflictions bring to them and to the Church.

Fill up those things, etc. Better, “fill up on my part (ανταναπληρω) those things, etc.” The Apostle does not mean to say that his labors and sufferings on behalf of the Gospel added anything to the efficacy and satisfactory value of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and death on the cross, which, being superabundant and infinite, were more than sufficient for the redemption of all mankind, and of many more worlds than ours (St. Thomas). But by “the sufferings of Christ” he means here the fatigue, labors, persecutions, and the like, endured by our Lord in His public life and ministry, which, as they were the lot of Christ, the head, during His brief mortal existence, must also be the lot of His mystical body, the Church, till the end of time; it is these sufferings of Christ’s mystical body that must be supplied by the Apostles and their true followers throughout the history of the Church. Our Lord labored, preached and suffered for a time for the spread of the Gospel, and His Church must continue through its ministers to labor, to preach and to suffer for all time for the same purpose, thus vicariously supplying to the ministry of Christ what was not possible for our Lord in person to supply. This is the obvious and natural meaning of this great passage. But the Greek Fathers explain it otherwise. Admitting that the passion of our Lord was entirely sufficient to save all mankind, they hold that its fruits are not applied to all except through the sufferings of the saints; and hence what is “wanting of the sufferings of Christ” is their application through the trials and tribulations which the Apostles and the faithful endured and continue to endure for Christ’s sake and in union with Him.

In my flesh, i.e., in St. Paul’s own body. The Apostle endured in his own body and person many grievous sufferings and afflictions for the sake of the Gospel and the Church.

25. Whereof I am made a minister according to the dispensation of God, which is given me towards you, that I may fulfill the word of God,

Whereof, i.e., on behalf of which, namely, the Church, he has been “made a minister,” or servant, “according to the dispensation,” or stewardship, committed to him by God Himself for the benefit of the Colossians, as of all other pagans. The Colossians were embraced by Paul’s ministry, for to him it was given to “fulfill the word of God,” i.e., to spread the teachings of the Gospel, to found Churches etc. everywhere, especially among the Gentiles (Rom 15:19; 1 Cor 14:36; 2 Cor  2:7), that he might “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (ver. 28).

26. The mystery which hath been hidden from ages and generations, but now is manifested to his saints,

The mystery, i.e., the “word of God,” or the teaching of the Gospel, spoken of in the preceding verse. This mystery, or secret, undiscoverable by natural means, was the salvation of all men. Gentiles as well as Jews, through Christ and the revelation made by Him, and the union of all men in the one Church of Christ. See on Eph 3:2-9.

To his saints, i.e., the faithful, both of Jewish and pagan origin.

27. To whom God hath willed to make known the riches of the glory of this ministry among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

To whom God hath willed, etc. These words show that the revelation of the great secret was a free and gratuitous act on the part of God.

The riches of the glory, etc., i.e., the wealth of divine goodness and mercy which has been manifested in the conversion of the Gentiles even more than in that of the Jews, for the latter had a revelation of the Messiah to come and of a future life.

Which is Christ, i.e., this mystery or the riches of this mystery is all in Christ, in whom are contained all the divine counsels regarding human salvation and all the blessings promised to man.

In you, i.e., among you, and in your hearts by faith (Eph 2:12 ff.).

The hope of glory, i.e., Christ is their and our hope of glory and eternal beatitude; He is the author and source of all good for time and eternity.

In the Vulgate there should be no comma after Christus, but one may be placed after vobis.

28. Whom we preach, admonishing every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.

Such is the Christ whom St. Paul and his companions preach, the sole and all- sufficient author and means of salvation here and of future blessedness hereafter, whose hidden mystery has been made known to all men for the salvation of all. The Apostle is criticizing the false teachers at Colossae who were insisting on the necessity of legal prescriptions, on an exaggerated cult of angels, and on an initiation into perfection which was confined to a select few.

Every man. St. Paul repeats these words three times in this verse in order to stress the universality of salvation for all, Gentiles as well as Jews.

In all wisdom may mean, (a) that St. Paul and his helpers corrected faults and explained doctrine with all the knowledge with which they were endowed, or (b) that they disciplined and instructed every man in a perfect knowledge of God, so as to enable each one to live a life worthy of God.

That we may present, etc. The scope of Apostolic discipline and teaching was to make every man perfect in the faith and love of Christ.

29. Wherein also I labor, striving according to his working which he
worketh in me in power.

Here the Apostle tells us that the end and purpose of all his labors and struggles, like those of an athlete in the arena, was to render every man perfect in Christ, and that the secret of his endurance and success was to be found, not in his own strength and merits, but in the grace of Christ which was efficacious in him.

Striving. The Greek of this word contains a reference to the contest of the athletes in the arena. Cf. 2 Tim 2:9; 2 Tim 4:7.

WHY ST PAUL WRITES TO UNKNOWN CHURCHES

A Summary of Colossians 2:1-7~St. Paul writes to the Colossians and their neighbors of Laodicea, though he has never seen them, in order that they may be united in charity and have a full understanding of that divine secret of which he has been speaking. The secret is to know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent (John 17:3). The Apostle is anxious about his unknown readers, because of the specious errors that are abroad among them. Though absent in body, he is spiritually present with them, and he rejoices at the solid battle front their faith is presenting to the enemy. They have learned the truth about Christ, and may they show it in their lives, and ever abound in thanksgiving!

1. For I would have you know, what manner of care I have for you and for them that are at Laodicea, and whosoever have not seen my face in the flesh:

The first three verses of this Chapter are intimately connected with the end of the preceding Chapter, and they explain St. Paul’s “labor” and “striving” in behalf of the Colossians and their neighbors whom he had not seen. The Apostle’s zeal and solicitude went out to all Christian communities, and especially those of Gentile origin (2 Cor 11:28).

Care means rather “struggle,” according to the Greek.

Laodicea. See Introduction to this Epistle, No. II.

2. That their hearts may be comforted, being instructed in charity, and unto all riches of fullness of understanding, unto the knowledge of the mystery of God the Father and of Christ:

The Apostle here tells the purpose of his solicitude and prayers for his unknown correspondents, namely, “that their hearts may be comforted,” i.e., that they may be admonished and strengthened in faith, as there is question of doctrine and of guarding against errors; that “being instructed in charity,” or rather, “being bound together in charity” (i.e., in Christian love), they may attain to a full understanding of the mystery which God the Father has revealed to us in Christ. The phrases “unto all riches, etc.” and “unto the knowledge of the mystery, etc.” are parallel, one to the other, and explain each other.

The last words of this verse, “of God the Father, etc.,” are variously read in the MSS., versions, and Fathers; but the sense is clear in any reading. Perhaps the best reading is that of the Vatican MS. and St. Hilary: του θεου χριστου.

Christ is in apposition with “mystery.”

3. In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

The Mystery of God which St. Paul would have his readers grasp is none other than Christ, in whom are contained all the riches of divine and human wisdom and knowledge. As God, Christ possessed infinite wisdom and knowledge, and as man His knowledge was superior to that of men and angels. The faithful, therefore, need not go to other teachers or masters, nor give heed to the doctrines preached by the false teachers in the name of angels; let them hear and follow in all things Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life. “Jesus Christ is a great Book. He who can indeed study Him in the word of God will know all he ought to know. Humility opens this Divine Book, faith reads in it, love learns from it” (Quesnel, quoted by Moule, h. l.).

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