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Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 4:20-25

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 16, 2011

This post contains Father Callan’s brief summary of Romans 4:17-25, followed by his notes on today’s reading.


A Summary of Romans 4:17-25~Having shown that God wished the promised inheritance to depend on the justice that comes through faith so that
it might be assured to Abraham and to all his spiritual children, whether of Jewish or pagan origin, St. Paul now begins to describe the faith of the Patriarch. This he does for the purpose of making known to all those who would have part in the promised blessings what kind of faith they also must possess. It
must be firm and unwavering in spite of human difficulties and natural objections, resting entirely upon God who is able to fulfil all His promises. Such perfect faith it was that God reckoned sufficient in Abraham unto justification. What the Scriptures record of this admirable faith of the great Patriarch, St. Paul says was written for us, that we, by imitating that same faith, may be justified, believing in the Omnipotent God who has raised from the dead Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer.

20. In the promise also of God he staggered not by distrust; but was
strengthened in faith, giving glory to God:

While the promise made to Abraham was somewhat astonishing to him, still he did not hesitate, but by faith abandoned himself to God, and thus gave glory to God’s fidelity and omnipotence. God, therefore, did not reprove Abraham, as He did Sara for her laugh (Gen 18:10).

In place of the Vulgate’s in repromissione etiam, it is better to read ad promissionem autem (Lagrange).

21. Most fully knowing, that whatsoever he has promised, he is able also to perform.

This is another acknowledgment of God’s omnipotence. Faith in His veracity is also implied, as appears from the preceding verses.

The emphatic quaecunque of the Vulgate should be simply quae.

22. And therefore it was reputed to him unto justice.

Abraham’s full unshaken faith in God’s veracity and power, his complete subjection of his understanding and will to God was imputed to him unto justice, i.e., as the beginning and root of his justification. It was only by his perfect, strengthened faith that Abraham was justified and gave glory to God

23. Now it is not written only for him, that it was reputed to him unto justice,
24. But also for us, to whom it shall be reputed, if we believe in him, that raised up Jesus Christ, our Lord, from the dead,

Since Abraham was constituted by God the spiritual father of all who would imitate his faith, his story was written not only for his sake, to honor him, but also for all of us who believe (τοις πιστευουσιν) , i.e., he was a type and model for all future believers. Just as he was justified on acount of his faith in God’s promise, and not by any precedent merit of his own, so also we shall be gratuitously justified by God if we have proper faith in Jesus Christ. Abraham firmly believed that God would give new vigor to his aged body and to the sterile womb of his wife, so that the child of promise might come to him, and so likewise must we believe in the Resurrection of our Lord from the dead, if we would be justified. The Resurrection was the one great miracle of Christ which gave the seal of divine approbation to all His other miracles, and to all the doctrines He had preached to the world. Faith, therefore, in this miracle implies faith in Christ’s Divinity and in all else that He said and did.

Unto justice (Vulg., ad justitiam) of verse 23 is not represented in the Greek.

25. Who was delivered up for our sins, and rose again for our justification.

Christ was delivered up to death and died to make atonement and to offer satisfaction to divine justice for our sins (2 Cor 5:20; 1 Pet 2:22, 24). The first use of for (δια) in this verse expresses the motive, the reason on account of which Christ died, namely, for our sins (Isa 53:4) ; the second for (δια) expresses purpose, the final cause, for which Christ rose from the dead, namely, for our justification. It is true that by His death our Lord merited for us remission of sins, justification, and glory. But in order that we might profit by these merits, it was necessary that He should rise again; because, according to the plan of divine Providence, it was only after the Resurrection that the Apostles were to go forth into the world and preach the faith through which alone we can be justified. Hence it is said that without faith in the Resurrection of Christ all “our faith is vain” (1 Cor 15:14). Our Lord therefore rose again, or was raised up (ηγερθη), for our justification. After His death Christ was no longer a viator, and so could not merit, properly speaking, by His Resurrection, and yet His Resurrection is truly the exemplary cause or type of the newness of life of the justified Christian.

2 Responses to “Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 4:20-25”

  1. […] UPDATE: Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (Rom 4:20-25). […]

  2. […] Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 4:20-25. […]

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