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 December, 2011

Father McIntyre’s Commentary on John 1:29-34

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 31, 2011

Joh 1:29  The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him; and he saith: Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who taketh away the sin of the world.

The next day. Our Lord had gone, as the Evangelist supposes his readers to know, immediately after His baptism into the desert for forty days; and now, on the day after that on which John had given testimony, He returns. John saw Him, and pointing Him out to the multitude, said: Behold (ιδε) the lamb of God. The word ιδε is used in the singular, even by classical writers, as an interjection.

The Lamb  (ο αμνος) The article “ο” (“The”) denotes some well-known, some appointed and expected lamb. We are thus referred to the well-known passage of Isaias (Isaiah) in which the Messiah is described as a lamb before His shearers, and bearing the sins of many (Isa 53; comp. Matt 8:17; Luke 22:37; Acts 8:32; Rev 5:6, 12, 13; 14:1-4; 22:1-3). He is the lamb of God (genitive of possession), i.e., God’s own lamb, and appointed by God: “The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:6).

Who taketh away (ο αιρων) the sin of the world. αιρων might mean “who taketh on Himself,” or “who taketh away.” The latter meaning seems to be that determined by the evangelist himself (1 John 3:5). “The sin,” i.e., all the sins, as a collective whole, of all mankind. According to St. Paul, “almost all things, according to the law, are cleansed with blood: and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb 9:22). The reference, therefore, is to our Lord’s offering of Himself to death for all mankind.

Joh 1:30  This is he of whom I said: After me there cometh a man, who is preferred before me: because he was before me.

This is he of whom I said, &c. The Baptist refers to testimony already given. This testimony is that of ver. 15.

Joh 1:31  And I knew him not: but that he may be made manifest in Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.

And I knew him not (see introductory remarks of previous 1), i.e., His features were unknown to me. This prepares the way for what follows. I hope to soon post here what Fr. McIntyre wrote concerning this in the introduction.

But that he may, &c. The past tense is preferable: That He should be made manifest in Israel (or, to Israel) I came baptizing with water. John’s baptism was a manifestation of Christ, (1) for the reason given in ver. 25; (2) because the Father had designed to give testimony to Christ on occasion of His baptism by John (Matt 3:13-17).

Joh 1:32  And John gave testimony, saying: I saw the Spirit coming down, as a dove from heaven; and he remained upon him.

And John gave testimony. These words mark either the continuation of the preceding testimony, or the beginning of a distinct act of testimony. John testifies to what he had witnessed at Christ’ baptism the descent of the Holy Ghost upon Christ (Luke 3:22). The Holy Ghost “remained upon him”; not by a continuation of the bodily shape (dove), but by manifesting His presence in our Lord’s public life. St. Luke expresses it thus: “Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the desert” (Lk 4:1).

Joh 1:33  And I knew him not: but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me: He upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining upon him, he it is that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

He upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending. This descent of the Holy Ghost had been promised to John as a sign whereby he might recognise the Son of God (see ver. 31).

Joh 1:34  And I saw: and I gave testimony that this is the Son of God

And I saw; and I gave testimony, that this is the Son of God. In this verse the verbs are in the perfect tense. St, John repeats the words which he had heard from heaven: “Thou art (this is) my beloved Son” (Matt 3:17; Mark 1:11). By those words the Father pointed out Christ as the Eternal Son, the promised Messiah-King foretold in Psalm 2 Whether John’s audience understood the full import of these words may be doubted; but that John himself understood, there can be no doubt. The purpose of the evangelist in quoting John’s testimony is a decisive proof of this. Now John has testified to three things concerning Christ: (1) that He is the lamb of God, who taketh away all sin; (2) that He baptizes in the Holy Ghost, i.e., gives life and light to all; (3) that He is the Son of God.

 

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Father McIntyre’s Commentary on John 1:19-28

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 31, 2011

Joh 1:19  And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to him, to ask him: Who art thou?
Joh 1:20  And he confessed and did not deny: and he confessed: I am not the Christ.

And this is the testimony. These words look back to ver. 15 (“John beareth witness”). “And now this is what John testified”.

The Jews. St. John uses this term more than sixty times, and generally in the spirit of one who now looks upon them as an alien race, and who is writing for those to whom the Jews are strangers both in faith and in blood. As the deputation consisted of priests and levites, it came probably from the Sanhedrin or Great Council. The Sanhedrin, which was the supreme tribunal of the Jews, consisted of 71 members (some passages of the Mishna mention 72). These members belonged to three orders. The leading order was that of the  the Chief Priests (αρχιερεις) past and present, with whom were joined the chief of the twenty- four priestly families. The next order was that of the scribe (γραμματεων): professional lawyers and theologians. The third order was that of the Elders (πρεσβυτερων), leading men, either priests or laymen, whose qualifications marked them out for public duties (see Matt 27:41; Mark 11:27, 14:53; Luke 23:13, 24:20). To this supreme court it belonged to pass judgment on false prophets and false teachers. But the deputation may not have been a formal one from the whole tribunal. John belonged to a priestly family; and those who came were priests and levites those who perhaps felt a special interest in the Baptist, and had therefore arranged with the rulers for a deputation to interrogate him. The levites, who accompanied the priests, were official teachers of the people (2 Chron 35:3; Neh 8:7-9). Whether, then, the deputation was formal or no, its coming was a solemn and important event. It was a means for making John s testimony to Jesus more widely known. Even before the baptism of our Lord the people had begun to think that John was perhaps the Christ the Anointed and Promised One (Luke 3:15). Hence, when asked “Who art thou?” his first thought turned to the common suspicion, and he at once replied, “I am not the Christ” (v. 20). From the order or the words the emphasis falls on the pronoun “I,” as though John said, You are now seeking the Christ; but I am not He: thus implying that he knew of another who was the Christ. John, however, had made too deep an impression on the conscience of the nation for men to be satisfied with a bare denial of what he was not. The priests, therefore, continue, not without anger with the following questions-

Joh 1:21  And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou the prophet? And he answered: No.

What then? Art thou Elias? The scribes taught that Elias (Elijah) would usher in the Messianic kingdom (see Matt 17:10; Mark 9:10). But this opinion arose from a false interpretation of Malachias 4:5 (i.e., Malachi), in which passage the prophet speaks of the Second Advent (due to difference in numbering in some translations the reference is sometimes given as Malachi 3:23). The question runs thus: “You say you are not the Christ: what, then, is the meaning of your conduct? Are you Elias?”  They were thinking of the literal Elias; and St. John could answer, I am not; though in a figurative sense he was Elias (Matt 11:14, 17:12; Luke 1:17).

Art thou the prophet?  The article marks some well-known but unnamed prophet. This can only be the unnamed prophet who was promised by Moses (Deut 18:15), and who was really identical with the Messiah (John 1:45, 6:14; Acts 3:22). After these denials, which haye been growing in abruptness, the priests demand a positive answer.

Joh 1:22  They said therefore unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself?
Joh 1:23  He said: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaias.

Who art thou? St. John, quoting the words of Isaias (40:3), in which reference is made to the coming of the Redeemer (words, too, which are applied to John by the first three evangelists), says that he is only a herald who runs before the King to announce His coming. “I am a voice,” &c.

Joh 1:24  And they that were sent were of the Pharisees.

And they that were sent were of the Pharisees. St. John had clearly testified that he was the forerunner of the Christ. His questioners, however, could not, or would not, understand; but being “of the Pharisees” they proceeded to put to him a further question characteristically Pharisaic. The words “and they that were sent, were of the Pharisees”, point forward, and explain why the question which follows was put. The Greek should more properly read And some Pharisees had also been sent. See this footnote to 1:24 in the NAB.

Joh 1:25  And they asked him and said to him: Why then dost thou baptize, if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet?

Why then dost thou baptize, if thou be not Christ; nor Elias, nor the prophet? The Jewish custom of baptizing proselytes seems not to have arisen till after the destruction of Jerusalem. John s innovation, therefore, accompanied as it was by the preaching of repentance and by the confession of sins (Matt 3:2, 5, 6), appeared to the Pharisees an unwarranted step of gravest moment. It was, indeed, of gravest moment; but not unwarranted. According to the prophets, repentance was the preparation for the Messianic kingdom (Ezek 16:61-63; Micah 7:9), and in the days of the Messiah there was to be a true baptism (Ezek 36:25; Zech 13:1), of which John’s baptism was the preparation. Hence it was by command of God Himself that John baptized (ver 33). His baptism, therefore, had a Messianic import; and to this John refers in his reply.

Joh 1:26  John answered them, saying: I baptize with water: but there hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not.

I baptize with water (εν υδατι), i.e., my baptism is only a baptism of water, a symbolic action pointing to a greater reality (see ver. 33 and Matt 3:11 ).

But there hath stood ( εστηκεν = “standeth,” R.V.) one in the midst of you, whom you know not. There is a double emphasis; the one on I, and the other on water. Christ is the antithesis.

Joh 1:27  The same is he that shall come after me, who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose.

[The same is] he that shall come after me (ερχομενος: as in ver. 15) [who is preferred before me]. The words in brackets are omitted in the oldest MSS. They have probably slipped in from ver. 15.

The latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose. This, then, is the sense: My baptism is only a preparation for the true baptism of Him who is already in your midst of Him who cometh after me; whose slave I am not worthy to be.

Joh 1:28  These things were done in Bethania, beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

These things were done in Bethania (Bethany) beyond the Jordan. Testimony so important as that given by John to the deputation demanded a definite statement of the place where it had been given. The evangelist therefore tells us that it was given in “Bethania beyond the Jordan,” i.e., to the east of the river, in Perrea. There was another Bethania near Jerusalem (Jn 11:18). Many ancient authorities read Bethabarah or Betharabah. Currency was given to this mistake by Origen, who thought that the Bethabarah of his day marked the site of Bethania. The site, however, has not yet been identified; and the derivation of the name is altogether doubtful.

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Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 John 3:11-21

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 31, 2011

1Jn 3:11  For this is the declaration which you have heard from the beginning, that you should love one another.

For this is the declaration, ever to be announced by us the Apostles of Christ. It is the message of good tidings, which Christ brought from heaven. He might have exacted from us many hard and painful sufferings. But He is satisfied if we love each other. And what is more joyous, pleasant, and easy than this? For as God ordered us to love our brethren, He orders our brethren to love us in return—love in this way eliciting and demanding love. See John 15:12. On which S. Augustine remarks that charity is here distinguished from mere human love. We should love men, not merely as men, but as we love ourselves as the children of the Most Highest.

1Jn 3:12  Not as Cain, who was of the wicked one and killed his brother. And wherefore did he kill him? Because his own works were wicked: and his brother’s just.

Not as Cain. For he loved himself only, and hated his brother because he saw that his offering was acceptable to God. As God says to Cain (according to LXX), “Hast thou not sinned, if thou offerest rightly, but dividest not rightly?” “For Cain did this,” says S. Augustine (de Civ. xv. 7), “giving to God something which was His, but gratifying himself. Which,” says he, “all who do not follow the will of God, but their own will, and in their perversity of heart make Him an offering with which they think He can be bought off, and this too even to gratify their depraved desires.” And accordingly Eusebius (de Præp. xi. 4) says that he was appositely called Cain from the Hebrew word kana to envy. See S. Gregory, Mor. x. 6;  S. Chrysostom, in Matt. 18., where he speaks of nine degrees of love; and S. Augustine (de Doct. Christ, i. 22), who says, “The rule of love is laid down by God. And in saying ‘the whole heart,’ &c., He left no portion of our life unemployed, and left no room for the enjoyment of ought beside. So that whatever else comes into our minds as an object of love, it should be swept away into the full current of our complete love for Him. He then who loves his neighbours aright, should at the same time love God with all his heart and mind. And thus loving his neighbour as himself, he should refer all his love of himself and his neighbour to that love of God, who suffers not a single drop to be withdrawn from Him, so as to diminish our love for Him.”

Who was of the wicked one. Cain was not of God, but of the devil, by imitating him, and listening to his suggestions. For when the devil could not injure God Himself, he sought to injure man who was His image; the malignity of Cain, and of the devil also, consists in hatred and envy. Such too is the life of tyrants, who like fishes prey upon those who are weaker than themselves. A fish was a type of envy. (See S. Clement, Strom. lib, v.)

And wherefore did he kill him? Because his own works were wicked. Because he took little account of God, and offered Him the poorer victims, reserving the better ones for himself, and, moreover, envied Abel, who by the more excellent offerings he made was the more acceptable to God. From this envy sprang hatred and ultimately murder. S. Cyprian dwells on this at great length in his treatise “de zelo et livore.”

And his brother’s (works were) just. Innocent, righteous, and holy. For he esteemed God above himself, and therefore presented the best offerings he could. There were three special grounds for praising him, his virgin life, his priesthood, and his martyrdom. (As the writer of the Quastiones ad Orosun says); and S. Cyprian (de Bono Patiant.) calls him the Protomartyr. So also Rupert in Isa. lix.;  S. Jerome iv. 42.;  S. Augustine (contr. Faust, xii. 9 and 10), and others.  S. Augustine commences his “City of God” from Abel, and the city of the devil from Cain. See Book xv. 8.

1Jn 3:13  Wonder not, brethren, if the world hate you.

This is an inference from the previous antithesis of the children of God, and the children of the devil. Our Lord alludes to the hatred of wicked men against Christ in S. John 15:18. Everything is opposed to and hates its contrary, as black is opposed to white, cold to heat, sweetness to bitterness, &c. The world hates the faithful—1st Because their ways of going on are so different. See Wisdom 2:15. And S. Leo (Serm. ix. de Quadrig.), “Wickedness never is at peace with righteousness. Drunkenness ever hates temperance, &c.; and so obstinate is this opposition, that when there is peace without there is war within, so that it never ceases to disquiet the hearts of the righteous; and it is true that they who wish to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution, and that our whole life is a temptation.” And he gives as another reason the craft and malice of the devil, who when he cannot overpower our virtue would undermine our faith.

2d. There is further the envy which worldlings feel when they see that the righteous are not ensnared by their evil desires, but are stedfastly going on towards heaven, while they themselves are sinking down and down to hell.

3d. They hate the righteous, because they withdraw themselves from their company. See Matt 15:18; Wisdom 2:16.

4th. Because their conduct is a tacit reproof to the worldly. See Wisdom 2:12; and John 15:8.

5th. Worldlings are full of self-love, but Saints are full of the love of God, for which reason they hate them.

S. James (James 4:4) agrees with S. John, and so does S. Paul, Gal 1:10. Tertullian and others read here, “Be not afraid,” for some not only marvelled, but were afraid of the hatred they would incur in becoming Christians. S. John therefore exhorts them not to be surprised or afraid, for those whom the world hates God loves. “It would be a greater wonder,” says Didymus, “if wicked men did love those who were godly.” We must not therefore in the least regard the hatred of such persons, but rather persevere in holiness and love of God, and make it our endeavour to make them our friends when they hear that we surpass them in charity.

As S. Peter says, 1Pe_4:12. And Sencea (de Prov. cap. i.) says, “God brings not up a good man in delicate ways; He makes trial of him, He hardens him, and thus prepares him for Himself, while the man himself considers all misfortunes as means of training, and as teaching him how much his patience can bear.” And S. Basil (adm. ad filii spirit) says that “Patience is the highest virtue of the mind, enabling us most speedily to attain the height of perfection.”  S. Augustine gives the reason, that God, through the hatred of the world, may draw us on to love Himself. “Oh the unhappiness of mankind! The world is bitter, and yet is loved. But how much more would it be loved, if it were sweet! How gladly wouldest thou gather its flowers, since thou withdrawest not this hand even from its thorns.”

1Jn 3:14  We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not abideth in death.

We know that we have passed from death to life. Not because we believe that we are predestinated, but as a moral certainty, by the testimony of a good conscience, by the innocency of our life, and the consolation of the Holy Spirit.  S. John says this for their consolation and to keep them from dreading the hatred of the world. Be comforted by the thought, that by faith ye have been translated from the death of sin to a state of grace in this world, and in the world to come to glory, which will raise us above all hatred. And the clear proof of this is that we love the brethren. For this love is an undoubted sign and effect of sanctifying grace, and of the Holy Spirit Himself, from whom, as from an uncreated source, all love proceeds.  S. Basil truly says, “When can a man be fully persuaded that God has remitted his sins? When he finds that his feelings are like his who said, ‘I have hated and abominated iniquity’ (Ps 119:163).”

He gives here three signs of indwelling grace and righteousness. (1.) Hatred of sin; (2.) mortifying the flesh, and all evil desires; and (3.) zeal for the salvation of others, like S. Paul (2 Cor 11:29). And S. Gregory (Dial. i. 1), “The mind which is filled with the Divine Spirit, furnishes its own proofs, viz., virtuous actions and humility. And if those perfectly co-exist in the same mind, it is clear that they witness to the presence of the Holy Spirit.” And S. Leo (Serm. de Epiph. viii.) gives these three signs of grace and sanctity, humility, forgiveness of injuries, and doing as we would be done by. And “let every one who is such, doubt not that God rules and dwells within him.”

He who loveth not (when he ought, or he who hates) abideth in death, with the stain of habitual sin, which abides after the act of sin is over; and from this he cannot escape, except by the grace of Christ, says Thomas Anglicus. But how the soul though immortal can yet die through sin, S. Augustine explains (de Civ. iii. 1), “The death of the soul takes place when God forsakes it, just as, the body dies when the soul leaves it. It is then the entire death of a man, when the soul which has been forsaken of God, leaves the body, for in this case it does not itself live by God, nor does the body live through it.” And in like manner S. Cyril Alex. says, “Death, properly speaking, is not that which separates body and soul, but that which separates the soul from God. God is life, and he who is cut off from Him, perishes.”

Nay more, this death of the soul is absolutely termed death in our deeper teaching, for that death of the body which we dread so much is but a shadow and image of that true death, and not to be compared with it. See S. Gregory (Mor. iv. 17). And S. Augustine (de Civ. vi. cap. ult.), “If the soul lives in everlasting punishment, it should rather be called everlasting death, and not life.” And S. Basil (Hom. v. on the Martyr Julitta) says, “Sin is the death of the soul, which would else be immortal. It deserves to be lamented with inconsolable grief,” &c, And S. Jerome, on Isa. xiv. (Lib. vi.), terms a sinner “the devil’s carcase, for no one can doubt that sin is a most fœtid thing, when the sinner himself says, ‘My wounds stink and are corrupt.'”

1Jn 3:15  Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer. And you know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in himself.

Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer. As he said before, “He that loveth not abideth in death.”  S. John counts ‘not loving’ and ‘hating’ as the same thing, by miosis, when little is said, but more is meant, and also because want of love is counted as constructive hatred. Moreover, he who hates his brother is in will and desire a murderer. See S. Jerome (Epist. xxxvi. ad Castorin.) and S. Matt 5:28, and hatred moreover disposes to murder, as desire disposes to adultery.

Mystically: He who hates his brother murders his own soul. As S. Ambrose says, “He who hates murders himself in the first place, slaying himself with his own sword.” And S. Gregory (Hom. x. 11) says the same thing more at length. Again, ” he who hates his brother, ofttimes destroys his soul, by provoking him to anger and contention.”

[Pseudo]-Alexander says, “He who calumniates his brother is a murderer, and no murderer hath any part in the kingdom of God.” For, as Dionysius says, there are three kinds of murder, Bodily, Detraction, and Hatred.

No murderer hath eternal life abiding in himself. Hath not grace abiding in him, nor doth he abide in that grace whereby eternal life is obtained. It is a metonymy, say Cajetan and others. Or else he will not have eternal life; he cannot have it, the present being taken for the future tense. Which comes to this, He who hateth, hath no hope of eternal life, but abideth in the death of sin. As S. Augustine says (Præf. in Ps. xxxi.), “As an evil conscience is full of despair, so is a good conscience full of hope; as Cain said, ‘From Thy face shall I be hid, and shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth,'” &c.; as S. Jerome says, “Whosoever finds me out, from the trembling of my body and the agitation of my mind, will know that I deserve to die.” Just as Orestes for the murder of his mother was continually harassed by the Furies.

1Jn 3:16  In this we have known the charity of God, because he hath laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

S. John here goes back to the law and living pattern of perfect charity, even Christ, who by laying down His life for us, taught us in like manner to lay down our lives for the brethren. For in Him there shone forth that boundless love which far exceeds the love of all parents and kinsfolk. For He, the Infinite God, laid down His life for us unworthy and ungrateful sinners, with great suffering and shame to Himself, and thus tacitly gave us a pattern for us to imitate, by laying down our lives for the brethren.

But yet we must not risk our own salvation in order to save the souls of others, though we are bound to risk our life for their salvation, which is of more value than our own earthly life, which we must undoubtedly sacrifice for the eternal good of others, as S. Paul did and the other martyrs.

But you will ask, are we bound to risk our own lives for the sake of the lives of others? In ordinary cases, No, but in extraordinary cases, Yes. As when bound by oath or promise, or in defence of our country. But a friend is not bound to risk his own life for that of his friend, since that would be to love his neighbour even more than himself, which, S. Augustine says (de Mend. cap. 10), goes beyond the rule laid down. But yet to do so would be laudable, for a man would risk his life for the sake of honour, and for the virtue of friendship. And this is a spiritual good, higher than life itself. So S. Augustine teaches (de Amic. cap. 10); and S. Jerome on Micah vii. says, “When a man was asked, What is a friend? he replied, ‘A second self.’ And accordingly two Pythagoreans gave themselves up to the tyrant as mutual pledges for each other.” (See S. Ambrose, Off. lib. iii.; Fr. Victoria, Relect. de Homicid.;  Soto, de Just. i. 6;  and S. Thomas, 2. 2, q. 26, art. 4, ad 2). And Valentia adds this case, “Ought a man to suffer himself to be killed rather than kill his assailant?” And he rules that he ought rather to be killed himself, than kill another who would die in the very act of sin. We should also risk our life to preserve another’s chastity. As the soldier who saved Theodora by changing clothes with her in prison, and who in the end suffered with her. And Paulinus, who became a slave in the place of a widow’s son (slavery being a kind of civil death), and who was highly praised for his act by S. Augustine and other fathers.

Instances are also given from heathen authors of those who gave up their lives for their friends, which is the highest proof of love. See John 15:13.

1Jn 3:17  He that hath the substance of this world and shall see his brother in need and shall shut up his bowels from him: how doth the charity of God abide in him?

He deduces this as a consequence from the former verse. It is an argument from the less to the greater. If the love of Christ obliges us to lay down our lives for the brethren (which is most difficult), much more does it oblige us to give alms to the needy, which is most easy. And again, our laying down our lives for the brethren is a case which seldom happens, the duty of relieving the needy frequently occurs. So Œcumenius and S. Augustine.

Many doctors argue from this passage that the precept of alms-giving is binding not only in extreme but even in grave cases of necessity, so that a rich man is obliged to give up, not only superfluities, but even things necessary for his station, if he can avert in this way a grave loss to his neighbour. (See Gregory, de Valent. Tom. iii. Disput. iii.; and Bellarmine, de bonis Oper. lib. iii.  See Eccles. iv. 1,  S. Ambrose, de 0ff. iii 31;  S. Gregory Nazianzen, de cura pauper;  and S. Chrysostom, de Eleemos.)

And shall shut up his bowels from him. The bowels being the seat of compassion and pity. See Lam 2:11;  Col 3:12. They are the symbols of paternal as well as of maternal love. See Philemon 7, and Jer 58:7 (this is an obvious typographical error since the passage doesn’t exist). This teaches that alms should be given with much kindness and affection. As S. Gregory says (Moral xx. 16), “Let the hard and merciless hear the thundering words of the wise man.” Prov 21:13

Salvian, lib. iv., exhorts the faithful to put on these bowels of mercy, when teaching that Christ, in the persons of the poor, is a mendicant and in need of everything, and that they are cruel who squander their goods on their relations who are in no need, and suffer Christ in the person of the poor to be in want. . . . He shows that they have no faith, and that they do not believe in Christ, who promised abundant rewards to His almoners. . . . And next he shows that they greatly sin, not only because they do not relieve the poor, but also bestow those goods which they have laboriously acquired, on those who misapply them for purposes of display, gluttony, and luxury. “If thou wishest to have eternal life” (he continues), “and to see good days, leave thy substance to the saints that are in want, to the lame, the blind, the sick; let thy means be sustenance to the wretched, thy wealth the life of the poor, and may the refreshment thou givest them be thy own reward, that their refreshment may thus refresh thee.” He concludes by severely inveighing against them, and more especially against ecclesiastics, who are particularly bound to relieve the poor, and not to enrich their kinsfolk out of the funds of the Church, which Prosper calls the patrimony of the poor. See S. Bernard (Epist. xxiv.), who says that a bishop must not indulge in luxuries, but merely live on the funds of the Church: everything more which thou takest out of them is robbery and sacrilege. See, too, S. Basil on Luke 12:18. The Stoics thought, on the contrary, that pity was no virtue, but rather the mark of a weak mind. See Seneca (de Clem. ii. 5) and Plautus, as quoted by Lactantius, xi. 11, who condemns any giving of alms as being a waste, and an injury to the recipient. Valerius (Max. iv. 8), on the other hand, records with approval the bountifulness of a certain Silicus.

1Jn 3:18  My little children, let us not love in word nor in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

He condemns here all false charity, which exhibits itself in words only, as S. James (James 2:15) does also.  S. Gregory (Moral. xxi. 14) says that our charity must ever be exhibited in reverent words, &c., and in ministering bountifully. And S. Bernard (in Song 2:4) explaining the words, “He ordered charity in me” (see. Vulg.) says, “He requires not the craft of the lying tongue, nor the taste of affected wisdom. Let us love in deed and in truth, being moved to good deeds by the impulse of living charity rather than by any affected love. Give me a man who loves God with all his heart, himself and his neighbours, and everything else relating to God with well-ordered love, and I boldly pronounce him to be a wise man, to whose taste all things seem to be just as they really are, and who can in truth safely say, Because He hath ordered love in me. But who is he?”

But observe here, that if any one cannot succour in deed and act (as, e g., being too poor), yet he can do so in words and kind feelings. And again, he who gives relief should not give it grudgingly, or with words of reproof, but cheerfully and kindly. See Rom 12:8; Sirach 18:15.

S. Gregory (Hom. iii. in Evang.) says well, “Let not any one credit himself with anything which his mind suggests, unless his acts bear witness to it. For in loving God, our tongue, our thoughts, and our life are all required. Love towards Him is never idle. It worketh great things if it really exist, but if it refuses to do so, it is not love.” And S. Chrysostom (Hom. liii. et lxviii. ad pop.) says, “The more thou givest to God, the more does He love thee, and to those He loves more, He gives more grace; when He sees any one to whom He owes nothing, He flies from him, and avoids him; but when He sees any one to whom He owes something, He runs up to him at once. Thou shouldest therefore do everything to make God thy debtor.” And then he explains how this can be done, viz., by showing mercy to the poor. “Give largely, that thou mayest be rich, scatter abroad, that thou mayest gather in, imitate a sower. Sow in blessings, that thou mayest reap in blessings.” And S. Leo (Serm. vi. de Jejun. x. Mensis) says, “Persevere, 0 Christian, in thy bounty, give that which thou wilt receive back again, sow what thou wilt reap, scatter that which thou wilt gather up. Fear not the cost, be not anxious or doubtful about the result. Thy substance, when well laid out, is increased, and to wish for rightful profit for thy piety, is to traffic for the gain of an eternal reward. He who rewardeth thee wishes thee to be munificent, and He who gives that thou hast, orders thee to give it away, saying, ‘Give, and it shall be given,’ and so on.” S. Chrysostom accordingly said rightly, “that almsgiving was of all things the most gainful.”

1Jn 3:19  In this we know that we are of the truth and in his sight shall persuade our hearts.

In this we know that we are of the truth, that we have true love, that we are the sons of truth, of true and genuine charity.

Secondly, we are of God, who is the chief and highest truth, and true charity. See John 14:6, 18:37. And accordingly S. Augustine rightly concludes (de Moribus Eccl. cap. xxxiii.), “Let our meals, our words, our dress, our appearance be blended with charity, and be united and joined together in one charity; to violate this is counted as sinning against God . . . if only this be wanting, everything else is vain and empty; where it exists is perfect fulness.”

And in his sight shall persuade our hearts. (1.) Hugo, Lyranus, and Dionysius explain, We shall induce our hearts to please God daily more and more. (2.) Ferus explains it, We shall gain confidence to ask anything of God. (3.) We shall have our hearts at peace, for we shall persuade them that we are striving after true charity, when we love, not in word, but in deed and in truth. (4.) The sense most clearly is this, We, shall approve our hearts to God in manifesting the fruits of love. We can lie to men by pretending love in our hearts, but we cannot lie to God, who sees the heart. They then who love their neighbour in deed and in truth fear not the eye and judgment of God, but would boldly appear in His sight, lay their hearts before Him, and show that they were resting on real charity. So Œcumenius; and see Gal 1:10, “Do I wish to persuade men or God?” That is, I strive to prove my cause to God. So S. Chrysostom.  S. Augustine reads in this passage, “I wish to make myself approved to God, and not to men.” As S. Augustine (contra Secundi, num. i. 1) says, “Think as you please about Augustine, provided only my conscience accuses me not in the sight of God.”

Morally: S. John here teaches us to examine all our deeds by the rule of God’s judgment. For frequently we are deceived into thinking that we are acting purely from the love of God, when in fact we are acting from the impure motive of self-love. Before beginning anything conform thyself to this rule, act as in the sight of God, who sees, and will call thee to account. Do it as though it were thy very last act. And in any doubt, adopt that course which thou wouldest wish thou hadst adopted when thou comest to die. So did the Psalmist (Ps 16:8); Elisha ( 2 Kings 3:14); and S. Paul (2 Cor 1:12).

And S. Francis Xavier, “Wherever I am, I would remember that I am on the stage of the world.” And Campion, when about to suffer martyrdom, said, “We are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men” (1 Cor 4:9). Let us imitate these, and thus “shall we persuade our hearts in His sight.”

1Jn 3:20  For if our heart reprehend us, God is greater than our heart and knoweth all things.

If we cannot conceal our hypocrisy from our own hearts, much less can we conceal it from God, who is greater and deeper even than our own heart, who is more intimately acquainted with it, and is nearer to it than we are ourselves. If thy conscience condemns thee, how much more will God, who rules over and judges thy conscience? “If we cannot hide anything from our conscience,” says Œcumenius, “how can we hide it from God who is ever present?” “Thou hidest thy conscience from man,” says S. Augustine, “hide it from God if thou canst. Let thy conscience bear thee witness, for it is of God. And if it is of God, do not boast of it before men, because the praises of men exalt thee not, nor do their reproofs bring thee down. Let Him see thee who crowneth thee: let Him, by whose judgment thou wilt be crowned.” Diadochus says (de perf. Spirit. cap. c.), “The judgment of God is far above that of our conscience.” See 1 Cor 4:1 and Ps 63 (Vulg. 7). “Man will go down to his deep heart, and God will be exalted,” that is, man will think many evils in the depth of his heart, but God will be deeper than it. But Lyra, Aquila, and Theodotion read iorem, will shoot at it. See A. V.

Thomas Anglicus merely applies the passage thus, If the sin of the heart is great, greater is God’s compassion in forgiving. And God too is greater than our heart, because He alone satisfies the desires of our heart, and even overflows and surpasses them.

1Jn 3:21  Dearly beloved, if our heart do not reprehend us, we have confidence towards God.

We have confidence, viz., that we shall obtain from Him all that we ask. See Ps 119:6. The contrary is the case with the wicked. See Prov 28:9, as S. Gregory says (Mor. x. 15, or 17), “He who remembers that he still refuses to listen to the command of God, doubts whether he will obtain what he wishes for. And our heart blames us when we pray, when it calls to mind that he opposes the will of Him whom he is addressing. ‘As oil makes the light to shine, so do good deeds give confidence to the soul.'”

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Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 John 3:7-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 31, 2011

I posted this yesterday and incorrectly identified it in the title as 1 John 2:7-10. In fact, it is on 3:7-10.

1Jn 3:7  Little children, let no man deceive you. He that doth justice is just, even as he is just.

Little children, let no man deceive you. Neither Simon nor the Gnostics, who teach that a man is justified by faith only, and that good works are not required in order to his justification, and that if a man retains faith he can love as he pleases.  S. Peter, James, and John, all of them opposed this heresy.

He that doth justice is just. Not merely some works of righteousness, but perfect and entire righteousness. For no one can completely fulfil the law of God, unless by grace and love, which the righteous alone has. See James 2:10.

(2.) S. John here contrasts the children of God, and the children of the devil. See above 2:29. He here speaks of righteousness, in a general sense, as the aggregate of all virtues.

(3.) He that doth justice is just because his acts, which flow from a habit of righteousness, prove him to be righteous; and they also gain for him an increase of righteousness. And also because he should ever exercise himself in works of righteousness, if he wishes to preserve it. The Apostle speaks not of the infusion, but of the exercise of righteousness, says Thomas Anglicus.

Morally: S. John teaches us that the righteous man should ever be advancing in righteousness, like the Bride in Song 6:10, and Prov 4:15.  S. Augustine says, “That the whole life of a good Christian is a holy longing.” See Philipp 3:14;  Ezek 1:12, of the four living creatures; S. Gregory, Hom. iii.;  S. Bernard, Ep. ccliv.;  S. Basil, Hexaem. Hom. xi.; and S. Jerome, ad Celantium.

Even as he is just. See Ps 15:10, Ps 111:7, Ps 145:13.

The word ‘as’ does not signify equality, but resemblance. No creature can equal the righteousness and holiness of the Creator, but he can imitate it. Just “as a mirror represents the image of a man, not the man himself,” says Bede. Hear S. Augustine. “He is pure from eternity, we from faith. We are righteous, even as He is righteous. But He is so in His perpetual unchangeableness, we are righteous by believing in Him we see not, in order that we may see Him hereafter. But not even when our righteousness is perfected, and when we become equal to the angels, shall we become equal to Him. How far then is our righteousness from His now, when even then it will not be equal to His?”

1Jn 3:8  He that committeth sin is of the devil: for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God appeared, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

He that committeth sin is of the devil, because he follows his practices and suggestions. To be of the devil is to imitate the devil. For, as S. Augustine says, “The devil made no man, begat no man, but whoever imitates the devil, is born of him, by imitating him, and not actually by being born of him.” He then who sinneth is of the devil as his follower and imitator, and not, as the Manichees dreamed, as being descended from him. There is a similar phrase, Ezek 16:3, respecting wicked Jews.

For the devil sinneth from the beginning, not from the first moment of his creation, but shortly after it. And this was the beginning of sin. As S. Augustine says (in loc.) and S. Cyril (Catech. ii.), the devil is the beginning of sin, and the father of the wicked. To which Didymus adds, “He infuses the first suggestions of sin, and lastly he perseveres in his sin,” as the Ps. [74. ult.] says, “The price of them that hate Thee ever rises up.”

S. John alludes to his own Gospel, John 8:44; on which Isidorus (De Summo. Bono, i. 3) remarks, “He abode not in the truth, because he fell as soon as he was made. He was created in the truth, but by not standing therein he fell from the truth.” To which Bede adds, “He never ceased to sin, unrestrained either by his enormous sufferings, nor by the dread of sufferings to come. And he, therefore, who neglects to keep himself from sin is rightly said to be from him.” He explains further that his sin was pride, and rebellion against God.

For this purpose the Son of God appeared, that he might destroy the works of the devil. To loose, that is, for sins are the cords which the devil twines, to entangle and ensnare the sinner. See Prov 5:22; Isa 5:10. And Christ gave His Apostles power to burst those bonds asunder.

It is clear from this that Christ would not have been incarnate if Adam had not sinned, though some of the Schoolmen think otherwise. But both Scripture and the Fathers give no other reason for His Incarnation than our redemption from sin. See Nicene Creed. And the Church sings at the blessing of the Paschal candle (using the words of S. Gregory), 0 most necessary sin of Adam, which was blotted out by the death of Christ. 0 blessed sin which required so great a Redeemer. So S. Ambrose, S. Augustine, S. Leo, and others.

1Jn 3:9  Whosoever is born of God committeth not sin: for his seed abideth in him. And he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

And he cannot sin, because he is born of God. Hence Jovinian, Luther, and Calvin taught that a man could not fall away, but was sure of his salvation. But S. John says, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.” Consequently they could sin, faithful though they were. And it is contrary to daily experience, for we find daily the faithful becoming heretics and falling into sin. And the Council of Trent (vi. 23) rules otherwise. What then is S. John’s meaning that he who is born of God cannot sin, that is mortally and gravely?  1. We must take the word collectively—and then it will mean, So long as he preserves the seed of grace, he cannot sin. So Œcumenius, Thomas Anglicus, Cajetan, and S. Hierom, lib. 11 extra Jovin. And accordingly theologians say that he who has effectual grace cannot sin, because effectual grace in its very conception includes its result. For that grace is called ‘effectual’ which (as is foreseen) will produce its effect, which is to lead our free will to co-operate in a good work. But, speaking abstractedly, he who has effectual grace can resist it, and commit sin. (See Conc. Trid. sess. vi. can. 4.)
2. He who is born of God cannot (in a formal sense) commit sin, that is as far as relates to his heavenly new birth. For if this be allowed to act, and is not withstood by our free will, it is fully able to keep out all sin. (See S. Augustine, de grat. Christi, cap. xxi.) Thus Adam is said in his state of innocence to have been immortal, because he could not die, as long as he remained therein. But as he could fall, so also could he die. Thus we say that this medicine, e.g., is so powerful that any one who takes it could not die of the plague. But a man refuses to take the medicine and then dies; so can he who has the grace of God refuse to use it, and thus fall into sin.  S. John here distinguishes between the supernatural action of Divine grace, and the exercise of moral virtues, the first of these preventing every sin, while the others do not. But the habit of temperance is not lost by one act of intemperance, even as temperance is not acquired by a single act of temperance. Again, the grace of Christ is distinguished from the grace given to Adam, which gave the power but not the will, whereas the grace of Christ gives both the will and the power. See S. Augustine (de corrupt. et gratia), “It is so provided (to meet the weakness of the human will), that Divine grace never fails, is never overpowered by any difficulty, so as ever to resolutely will that which is good, and obstinately refuse to abandon it.” And it is thus that he explains the words of S. John, “Every one that is born of God sinneth not.”

3. He cannot sin. He sins with difficulty. He has no wish to sin, says Œcumenius. Others explain the words, He has power not to sin, this power being given him by God.

4. Rightfully and properly he cannot sin, though he may in fact sin against all that is right and proper.

5. Gagneius says, “He cannot sin, i.e., by unbelief, which S. John calls a sin unto death.”

6. Some take these words as referring to those who are predestinated and absolutely elected to eternal life. But this must be understood, not of antecedent, but consequent impossibility, which consists with our liberty of will, as including and presupposing it.

The first and second of these explanations seem to be the best.

Anagogically: S. Augustine (de peccat. et merit. ii. 7) says that the righteous man cannot sin, by reason of his hope of eternal life.  In like manner he says (de nupt, et concup. i. 23, and de Spirit. et lit. cap. ult.), “We cannot observe perfectly in this life the two commandments, ‘Thou shalt not covet,’ and ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,’ &c. But we are exhorted to attain to that place where we shall perfectly fulfil them. It is impossible not to feel concupiscence in this world, but we are directed not to yield to it. And the same with the other commandment, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.’ See Rom 7:7.”

Morally: S. John here teaches us an easy and certain way of avoiding sin, namely, by carefully attending to those holy inspirations which God suggests, and thus shut out from our minds all the evil suggestions of the devil. For he who sins must needs give way to evil thoughts, for we cannot desire or wish anything unless the mind suggests it to us as a good to be desired. And accordingly the Blessed cannot sin, because they behold God as their chief and boundless good, and are swallowed up in Him as the very abyss of all good.  S. Francis Xavier used for this very reason to occupy himself in good thoughts, in ruminating on some holy sentence of Scripture, or the doings or virtues of some saint. For the mind in this way drives out all other thoughts which lead to sin. And so with regard to our will. For he who fixes his mind on holy affections and desires cannot give his mind to evil lusts, and consequently cannot sin. He says with Joseph, “How can I do this wickedness and sin against God?” See Gen 39:9. As S. Leo says (Serm. viii de Epiphany), “He who wishes to learn whether God dwells within him, should honestly examine the secrets of his heart, and carefully ascertain with what humility he resists pride, with what good will he strive against envy, how he is not charmed with flattering tongues, and how pleased he is at another’s happiness. Whether he does not render evil for evil, and would rather pass over injuries than mar in himself the image of Him who sends His rain upon the just and unjust, and makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good. And not to enter on a more minute enquiry, let him see whether he find within him such love of God and his neighbour, as to wish to render even to his enemies that which he desires to be rendered to himself.”

 For his seed abideth in him. Œcumenius by the ‘seed’ understands Christ. See Gal 3:29.   (2.) S. Augustine and others understand by it the word of God. See Luke 8:11;  James 1:18;  1 Pet1:23.  (3.) Lyra, Hugo, Cajetan, and Thomas Anglicus most fitly understand by it the grace of God. For, 1. All other virtues spring from it. 2. Because it is the seed of glory. (See D. Thorn. par. i. quæst. 62, art. 3.) 3. Because as a seed must die in order to bear fruit, so does grace suffer death and martyrdom, from whence all good, both public and private, proceeds. See John 12:24.

1Jn 3:10  In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil. Whosoever is not just is not of God, or he that loveth not his brother.

In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil. The two tests are, the doing righteousness, and loving his brother. Righteousness and charity are of God, unrighteousness and hatred are of the devil. Righteousness is here taken in its widest sense, as including all virtues. But St. John here states that among all kinds of righteousness none shows more that we are the sons of God, than charity and the love of our neighbour, as the contrary vices show us to be the children of the devil. And hence S. John, the beloved disciple, breathes forth love only. Hear S. Augustine (in loc.): “Love alone distinguishes between the children of God and the children of the devil. Let all sign themselves with the sign of the cross, let all answer Amen, let all sing Alleluia, let all be baptized, let all go to church, let all build churches. Yet the sons of God are distinguished from the children of the devil only by charity. They who have charity are born of God, they who have it not are not born of God. Have what thou wilt; if this alone thou have not, it profiteth thee nothing. If thou hast not anything else, have this: thou hast fulfilled the law.” But by charity God is loved for His own sake, and our neighbour for the sake of God. Whence charity is “the fulfilling of the law.” Rom_13:10. And S. Augustine (de Nat. et. Grat. cap. xlii.). “Charity is the most true, complete, and perfect righteousness.” S. Clement Alex. calls it “The highest duty of a Christian man.” S. Cyprian (de Bono Patient.) terms it “The foundation of peace, the firm bond of unity, surpassing even the deeds of martyrdom.”  S.Basil, “The root of the commandments.”  S. Gregory Nazianzen (Epist. xx.), “The head of all our teaching.”  S. Jerome (Epist. ad Theophylact), “The parent of all virtues.”  S. Ephraim (de Humil.), “The support of all virtues.”  S. Augustine, “The stronghold of all virtues.” (Serm. liii. de temp.). Prosper (de Vita Contempl. iii. 13), “The most powerful of all our affections, the sum of good works, the protector of virtue, the end of heavenly precepts, the death of sins, the life of virtues.” “Firmness in every virtue” (S. Cyril). “The mother and guardian of all good” (S. Gregory). “The mother of men and angels, bringing peace, not only to all things in earth, but even in heaven” (S. Bernard, Epist. ii.).

Lastly, S. Basil says, “Where charity fails, hatred comes in its room. But if God (as S. John says) is love, the devil must undoubtedly be hatred. And as he who has love has God, so he who has hatred, fosters a devil within him.”

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Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 John 2:29-3:6

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 31, 2011

1Jn 2:29  If you know that he is just, know ye, that every one also who doth justice is born of him.

He shows the way and means by which we can have confidence before Christ as our Judge: that is, by performing righteous and holy deeds, to offer to Him as our just Judge. Let not any one suppose that orthodox belief alone suffices, works of righteousness are also required. For Christ, not only as God, but as the holiest of men, loves those who are righteous; and will pass on them a righteous sentence of acquittal. It is the part of a just judge to judge of every one’s works, and to assign their rewards and punishments accordingly. He then that doeth righteousness, will in the day of judgment not be confounded before Him, but will have every confidence. Because he is like his judge, nay more, His son and heir, and thus he will be sure of his inheritance (Rom 8:17). For all our righteousness flows from the righteousness, holiness, and grace of Christ. Righteousness is here to be understood in a general sense, as including all the virtues through which we are called righteous before God (see John 1:12). Moreover, there is no surer argument that we are born of God than showing Him forth in our deeds and life. Didymus observes that the Apostle uses the present tense (doeth), not the past or future. Because a good root brings forth good fruit. As born again of God by righteousness and grace, and being made partakers of the Divine Nature (2 Pet 1:4), (for we really partake of the Substance of God by supernatural grace), we ought ever to manifest this our birth and our divine life by loving works of righteousness. For as a man is not alive who does not perform the functions of a living man, so in like manner he is not righteous, not regenerate or living to God, who does not perform righteous acts, especially since it is the part of a child to imitate his father. And since the righteous God ever does righteousness, we, as His children, should ever do the same.

2. Salmeron observes that this divine generation resembles, in a measure, our natural birth. For Christ, as man, brought us forth with the greatest suffering, and as God He works in us that grace and righteousness whereby we are born again as children of God.

3. Œcumenius remarks that as like begets like so are the righteous born of God. And Didymus says, “that virtue manifests our righteousness in act. No one therefore is righteous, before he does righteous acts, nor yet after he ceases to do them.”

Lastly, S. Augustine says, that righteousness is perfect in the angels, but only beginning in men. “In the holy angels, who turn aside by no lapse, who fall not away through pride, but remain ever in the contemplation of the Word, and count nothing else sweet, save Him who created them in them is perfect righteousness, whereas in us it has only begun to be through the Spirit.” And
again, “The beginning of our righteousness is the confession of our sins. Thou hast begun not to defend thy sin: thou hast begun thy righteousness. But it will be perfected in thee, when nothing else shall delight thee to do; when death will be swallowed up in victory, when no lust shall excite thee, when there will be no struggling with flesh and blood, when there shall be the crown of victory, the triumph over the enemy; then there will be perfect righteousness. But now we are still righting, we are still in the lists, we smite and are smitten. We have still to wait, to see who is conqueror. But he is the conqueror, who in striking a blow relies not on his own strength, but on God, who cheers and encourages him on.”

The righteous therefore emulate the righteousness of the angels, so that keeping their minds from all earthly defilements, and tearing away their love from created objects, they may fix it on their Creator alone, and love Him, worship Him, and give Him thanks both in prosperity and adversity, making their words and life together with His Cross and Passion a continuous and constant praise to God. Such is the life of angels. See Job 37:7.

Christians, moreover, as new born in Christ, should emulate Christ, should speak as oracles, should live as gods, for Christ thus spake and thus lived. And in this way will they smite even the hearts of sinners, convert and beget them for Christ, as was said of S. Basil (S. Gregory Nazianzen, Orat. ftineb.), “His word was as thunder, for his life was as lightning!

1Jn 3:1  Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called and should be the sons of God. Therefore the world knoweth not us, because it knew not him.

Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us (unworthy, enemies and sinners as we are), that we should be called and should be the sons of God.  Love, actively, His wondrous love to us, and passively, as communicated and infused into us. “How much He loved us,” says Vatablus, “in giving us that love whereby we are called the sons of God. For our created love flows out of His uncreated love, as a ray from the sun,” &c. For those whom God loves with His uncreated love, He makes to love Him in return with that created love which He infuses. For love is friendship or mutual affection between God and a righteous man. And just as we His creatures owe Him, as our Creator, all honour, worship, and service, so do we as His servants owe Him, as our Lord, fear, reverence, and obedience, and as the Father of all do we owe Him our highest love, our whole, heart, our whole will and affections.

S. John had before stated that he that doeth righteousness is born of God. He here teaches the excellence of that Divine sonship, its fruit and its reward, in order to excite the faithful to those works of righteousness, which show that they are His thankful and worthy children, and to lead them to preserve this their sonship, till it attain the reward of eternal life. Each of S. John’s words has great weight, and inspires fresh inducements to love. By the Father we understand the whole Trinity, but especially the Person of the Father, because it is the Father’s work to beget children like to His Only Begotten Son, and because our calling, our election, our predestination are the proper work of the Father, and the effect of all these is our justification and adoption as sons. As S. Augustine says (de Nat. grat. cap. ult.), “Inchoate love is inchoate righteousness, advanced love is advanced righteousness, perfect love is perfect righteousness.” And S. Dion (Eccl. Hier. 1. 2) says, “The first motion of the mind to heavenly things, and its aiming after God, is love. And the first step of holy love towards fulfilling the commands of God, is an unspeakable operation, because we have it from above. For if this heavenly state has a divine origin and birth, he who hath not received it will neither know nor do those things which are taught by God.” And hence S. Cyril (Is 54. and Tesaur. xii. 3) calls love the stamp of the Divine Essence, the sanctification, refashioning, the beauty and splendour of the soul.

That we should be called and should be the sons of God (by adoption, as Christ is by nature). Many are named that which they are not. But we are so named, in order that we may be such. For as S. Augustine says (in loc.), “If any are called sons and are not, what doth the name profit, where the thing is not? How many are called physicians, who know not how to heal, or watchers, who sleep all the night through? And in like manner many are called Christians, and are not found to be really such, because they are not that which they are called, in life, in faith, in hope, in charity.” But what are the words here? “That we should be called and should be the sons of God.” As S. Paul says, Gal 4:6. Let the innovators note this who say that we are called righteous only by Christ’s imputed righteousness, that the words ‘and should be”‘ are wanting in many MSS. But then the meaning is included in the words ‘are called.’ For those who are called anything by God are made to be that which they are called. As a king by calling any one by a title, confers that title upon him, much more does God do so, by infusing real gifts of grace in those whom He calls His sons, thus making them worthy of the name, which a king cannot do. For as God in begetting His Son communicated to Him His very nature and divinity, so does He by regenerating us make us partakers of His Godhead, as S. Peter says and the Psalmist also (Ps 82:6). As God is holy in His essence, so does the righteous man who is born of God partake of His sanctity, and all His other attributes, being Almighty, unchangeable, heavenly, impeccable, full of goodness. He is omniscient, as being taught of God; imperturbable, as living above the world; liberal, and envying no man, but promoting every one’s interest, as though it were his own. He glows with charity, rendering his enemies good for evil, and thus making them his friends. He is upright, patient, constant, even-minded, prudent, bold, sincere. See James 1:18; Hos 1:10.

Hence it follows that we are by justification the sons of God in a threefold respect—(1.) In the past by our spiritual generation. See 2 Pet 1:4;  John 1:12;  and above, 1 John 4:4 and 1 John 4:6, and 1 John 5:18. (2.) By His fatherly care over us. (See Ps 55:23; above Ps 5:18; Luke 12:7.) “Why fearest thou,” says S. Augustine, “since thou art in the bosom of God, who is both thy father and thy mother?” (3.) He is our Father, by the heavenly inheritance which He will give us, making us heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. See Ps 16:6. The Gentiles used falsely to boast of their descent from the gods. But the Christian’s boast is a true one. And the truer it is, the more should it stimulate us to godlike deeds. As S. Cyprian says (de Spetaculis): “No one will admire the works of men, who knows that he is the son of God. He, who can admire anything after God, casts himself down from his high estate. When the flesh solicits thee, say, ‘I am a son of God, I am born to greater things than to be the slave of appetite;’ when the world tempts, reply, ‘I am a son of God, and destined for heavenly treasures, and it is beneath me to seek for a morsel of white or red earth.’ And when Satan offers me honour and pomps, I say, ‘Get thee behind me, for as being a son and heir of God, and born for a heavenly kingdom, I trample all worldly honours under my feet.’ Devote then the rest of thy life (it may be short indeed) to such noble, arduous, and divine works as Christ and the Saints have performed. Art thou called to a state of perfection, to devote thy life to the salvation of souls?—art thou called to heathen lands, to the cross and martyrdom?—surrender thyself to the call, as becomes the son of so great a father.” Alvarez (as De Ponte relates in his life) used to apply this stimulus to himself. “Do not fall away from the lofty purposes of God’s children.”

Therefore the world knoweth not us, because it knew not him. It knows Him not practically, because worldly men do not love or worship Him. “They know not that we are citizens of heaven (says S. Chrysostom), and associates of the Cherubim. But they shall know in the day of judgment.” (See Wisdom 5:3 seq.)

1Jn 3:2  Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God: and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know that when he shall appear we shall be like to him: because we shall see him as he is.

We shall be like him, not in nature but in quality, in happiness, in eternal glory. The world—which knows us not now, because it beholds not our inward beauty—will then know us as like Christ, perfectly holy, just, pure, loving God. And as God enjoys the vision of Himself, so will our mind behold Him as He is, will be blessed in the sight, and our sonship and adoption be thus perfected, when we attain as the sons of God our glorious and happy inheritance.

Observe: We are in three ways like God.—1. As having a rational and intelligent nature. 2. By grace, as S. Bernard says, “consisting in virtues, and the soul strives by the greatness of its virtues to imitate the greatness of the supreme God, and by its constant perseverance in good to imitate His unchangeableness and eternity.” 3. The highest and most perfect resemblance to God will be by the beatific glory in heaven, when, as S. Bernard says, “man becomes one spirit with God, not merely by unity of will, but more expressly by not being able to will anything beside, through union with His power.” This third resemblance then consists in the Vision of the Triune God. As S. John says, “We shall see Him as He is.” Accordingly, Œcumenius places this resemblance in the love and glory of adoption. See Ps 16:11, Ps 47:9, Ps 26:4, Ps 35:10;  1 Cor 13:12. The Schoolmen thence teach that the Blessed see the very Essence of God, Its three Persons and all Its attributes. For they behold Him in a vision, and draw Him as it were into themselves, and thus derive every good. Accordingly [Pseudo]-S. Augustine says (de cognit veræ vitæ ad fin.), “This vision and this glory is called the kingdom of heaven because it is only the heavens, that is the just, who enjoy this vision, for theirs is the highest and chiefest Good in whom they have the fulness of joy from the fulness of all goods.”

Again, in seeing God they form his image in their minds, which thus represents Him to them. As S. Augustine says (Euchind. cap. iii.), “When the mind is imbued with the beginning of faith which worketh by love, it strives by holy living to reach that sight wherein is that ineffable beauty, which holy souls know, and in the full vision of which is supreme happiness.” And again, they will be like Him, as partaking of His everlasting blessedness. See S. Gregory, Hom. ii. in Ezek.

Then follows on this another resemblance, viz., in will, in the perfect love of God beheld and possessed. As S. Fulgentius says, “We shall be like Him, in imitating His righteousness.” And this love will make a man love God with all his heart and soul, so as to have no wish or desire to love anything else than God. As S. Augustine says (Confessions), “When I cleave to Thee with my whole heart, I shall have no pain or labour. My life will be full of Thee, but now, when I am not full of Thee, I am a burden to myself.”

Moreover, this love will last for ever, and will ever enkindle the blessed to praise God. (See S. Augustine, Serm. cxviii. de Divers. cap. 5.) “When we are like to Him, never shall we fall away, or turn aside. Let us be sure then, the praise of God will never cloy. If thou failest in love, thou wilt cease to praise, but if thy love be never-ending, never be afraid of being unable to praise Him, whom thou wilt ever be able to love.” And from this glorious vision there will follow all the endowments of the glorified soul and body of Christ, for there will be entire peace, concord, and harmony in all our powers of action. Our bodies will be impassible, bright, subtle. See 1 Cor 15:42. Just as the sun shining through a cloud makes mock suns one or more, so will it be with the Godhead as it shines through the bodies and souls of the blessed. And what a happy and glorious sight will this be! See Col 3:3;  1 Cor 15:45;  Philipp 3:21;  2 Cor 3:18;  Rom 6:5, Rom 8:29.

Because we shall see him as he is. God in His own essence, as the Schoolmen teach.

Again, we shall see Christ as man, clothed as man with a glorious Body (see Bellarmine, de Beat. Sanct. i. 3; Gregory, de Valent., &c.)  And this too, not in a glass and in a figure, but face to face. For in this life we do not see God as He is, but as He became clothed with flesh for our sakes. (See S. Augustine (in loc.); Origen, Hom. vi. in Gen., and S. Gregory, Hom. ii. in Ezek.)

1Jn 3:3  And every one that hath this hope in him sanctifieth himself, as he also is holy.

The Apostle next shows us the way to attain this likeness to Christ. We must put our whole trust in Him. To be like Him in glory, we must strive to be like Him in holiness, in suffering, and in passion. For no one will be like Christ in heaven, who is unlike Him on earth. For it is His to give us grace to lead us to accomplish so arduous a work. “The mercy of God is the ground for hoping” to strive after sanctity. It is not enough to place our hope in God unless we put our hand to the work, and labour together with Him. See Rom 8:17; Heb 12:14; Matt 5:8. [Pseudo]-Augustine admirably says (de cognit veræ vitæ, in fin.): “To this highest good the righteous are drawn by one link after another. First faith, then hope, then love, perfected in action, action led on by its intention to the highest good, this again issues in perseverance, which will bring us even to God Himself, the fountain of all good.”

Sanctifieth himself, for sanctity “is freedom from every kind of pollution, the most uncontaminated and most perfect purity.” (Dionysius, de div. nom. cap. xii.)

The true sanctity of men consists in purification from sins, and rooting out of vices, as S. Paul says, 2 Tim 2:21.

Moreover, this cleansing from vices is effected by the implanting and exercise of the contrary virtues, as the rooting out of pride by humility, &c. Sanctity then includes all the virtues with which the soul is sanctified and devoted to God. For that is the meaning of ‘sanctus.’ Some then explain the word in this sense. Just as Priests and ‘Religious’ dedicate themselves. And indeed all the faithful in a more imperfect way who are by baptism consecrated to God. See 1 Pet 2:9. And Christ said (John 17:19), “I sanctify Myself (I offer myself as a holy victim), that the also may be sanctified in the truth.”

S. Gregory Nazianzen says, “What is sanctity? To hold converse with God.” And S. Bernard (de Consid. v. 14) says, “Holy affection, which is of two kinds, the fear of God, and holy love, makes a man holy. For a soul which is completely affected by these motives, embraces Him with both its arms, and says, I hold Him and will not let Him go.” And he says also (Serm. xxv. inter parvos), “There are three things which make a man holy,—simple living, holy deeds, a pious intention,” &c. (this is pursued at great length).

As He is also holy. See Lev. 26. and Lev 27:28. St. John enforces great sanctity, like the sanctity of God Himself, and continued and daily progress therein, that we may be more and more like Him. See Matt 5:48.

If thou wishest to be holy, set before thee the pattern of sanctity, the life and passion of the Lord. As St. Ambrose says (de Isaac), “Let every one strip off the filthy wrappings of His soul, and prove it, when cleansed from its filth, as gold in the fire. But the beauty of a soul, when thus cleansed, consists in a truer knowledge of heavenly things, and the sight of that supreme Good from which all things depend, being Itself from nothing.” And S. Gregory Nazianzen, “Let us restore to His image its beauty, let us recognise our dignity, follow our pattern, learn the power of the mystery, and for what purpose Christ died. Let us be as Christ, since He became as one of us. Let us be gods for His sake, as He became man for ours.” And speaking of God he says, “He holds nothing so precious as purity or cleansing.” (Orat. vi.)

1Jn 3:4  Whosoever committeth sin committeth also iniquity. And sin is iniquity.

“For whosoever sins,” says Bede, “acts contrary to the equity of the Divine Law.” The faithful ought to sanctify themselves in order to be like Christ, and on the contrary sin is α̉νομία, a breaking of the Divine Law, and makes us utterly unlike God, and hateful to Him. He means “deadly sin.”  S. Augustine (contr. Faust. xxii. 7) says, that “sin is anything we say, do, or desire, against the Divine Law.” And S. Ambrose (de.Parad. cap. 8), “Sin is disobedience to the Divine commands.” In like manner iniquity is a departure from the equity which the law prescribes, and injustice is contrary to justice, and α̉νομία is what is contrary to law. Sin and iniquity mean, in S. John, the same thing, though in popular speech iniquity has a worse meaning than sin. See S. Gregory, Mor. xi. 21.  S. Ambrose (Apol. Dav. cap. 13) says the exact contrary, regarding sin as the worse of the two.

But every sin, even against human or ecclesiastical law, is contrary to God, as being contrary to His eternal law, which is the source of all law. As S. Thomas says (1. 2, quæst. 91), “Law is the highest reason existing in the Divine mind, according to which He directs the actions of all creatures to their own proper ends. For as there is in God the reason for His creating things, so also is the law by which they are to be governed. And as the one is the conception in the Divine mind, which decided how they were to be made, so is the other that eternal law, by which every creature should discharge its own functions, together with the will which obliges them, or at least impresses on them an inclination, to follow it.

1Jn 3:5  And you know that he appeared to take away our sins: and in him there is no sin.

And you know that he appeared to take away our sins. That is Christ. “And He takes away our sins,” says Bede, “by forgiving the sins which have been done, by keeping us from doing, and by leading us to that life where they cannot be committed.” The word αίζνιν and the Syriac nasa, both of them signify to bear, and take away. Both meanings are suitable here. See Isa 53:4-6, and Isa 53:11;  John 1:9;  1 Pet 2:24;  Rom 3:25.

Morally: Here learn what a grave evil sin is, for Christ to come down from heaven, to suffer and be crucified in order to take it away. And to teach us that we should endure every kind of suffering to take away sin and to convert sinners. “No room,” says Œcumenius, “is left for sin, for since Christ came to destroy it, being Himself entirely free from sin, you who have been born again, and confirmed in the faith, have no right to sin.” Each one of the faithful should then make it his work to crush sin in himself and others, just as they would destroy serpents’ eggs or young wolves.

And in him there is no sin. For He was all-powerful to destroy sin, being in His own nature sinless by reason of the hypostatical union. For by this union the Divine Person of the Word so guided His manhood in all its actions, that it could not sin even in the slightest degree, for otherwise the sin and offence would have affected the Person of the Word, which is an impossible thing, for its actions would have been the actions of that very Person who was bound to keep from sinning that nature which It had assumed.

Lastly, “the will of Christ was so deified, as undoubtedly not to oppose the will of God,” as S. Gregory Nazianzen says (Orat. xxxvi.) And S. Cyril (de recta fide) says, “That the Word had as thoroughly imbued the soul of Christ with His own holiness, as a fleece takes in the colour in which it has been dipped.”  S. John here quotes Isa. liii 9. See also Heb. vii. 26.  S. Augustine here says, “Because there was no sin in Him, He came to take away sin. For had there been sin in Him, it would have had to be taken from Him, and He would not have taken it away.”

1Jn 3:6  Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: and whosoever sinneth hath not seen him nor known him.

Whosoever abideth in Him, sinneth not. As long as He abides in Christ. For grace and sin are as contrary to each other, as heat and cold, black and white, and because the grace of Christ strengthens a man to overcome all sin. “And he,” says Œcumenius, “abides in Christ who constantly exercises his powers, and never ceases from exercising them.”

Whosoever sinneth hath not seen him nor known him. “Hath not seen Him in His manhood: not known Him in His Godhead by faith,” says the Gloss. But this is too subtle a distinction. The two words mean the same thing. For he who sins knows not Christ, because he considers not His boundless love, our Redemption by Him, and the reward promised to the righteous, and the punishments prepared for sinners. For did he carefully consider them, he would assuredly not sin. Whence S. Basil says (Reg. lxxx. in fin.), “What is the characteristic of a Christian? To set God always before him.”

Again, he who sins knows not Christ, with that savour of knowledge and affection which is conjoined with love and charity. He knows not that loves not Christ, does not strive to please, or be acceptable to Him. For did he truly love Christ, he would, under any temptation, say with Paul, “Who shall separate us,” &c., Rom 8:35; or with the Bride, Song 8:7, “Many waters shall not quench love,” &c. S. John everywhere in this epistle speaks of ‘knowing’ in the sense of loving or esteeming.

Bede says, “Every one that sinneth hath not seen Him or known Him, for had he tasted and seen how sweet the Lord is, he would not by sin have cut himself off from seeing His glory,” &c. And Didymus, “Every one who sins is estranged from Christ: has no part in Him, or knowledge of Him,” &c.

 

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Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 John 2:22-28

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 31, 2011

1Jn 2:22  Who is a liar, but he who denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is Antichrist, who denieth the Father and the Son.

Who is a liar, but he who denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He here explains what kind of lie he means, the heresy of denying that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, as Simon Magus, Ebion, Cerinthus, and other Judaisers, against whom S. John wrote, both ancient and modern. For, as Bede says, “Compared with this all other lies are little or nothing.”  Indeed, what more pernicious lie could be uttered or invented than this, cutting off as it does all faith and hope of salvation? He then that maintains it, is pre-eminently a liar, because he is heretical, sacrilegious, an atheist, an antichrist. The word is commonly used of those who mean one thing and say another. And this is the case with these very persons, for they knew or ought to know that Jesus was the Christ. So writes Tertullian (de Prescript. Heret. cap. xxxiii.) : “John in his Epistle specially calls those persons antichrist, who said that Jesus had not come in the flesh, as Marcion and Ebion maintained.” And as CEcumenius tells us, “Simon stated that Jesus and Christ were different persons. Jesus who was born of Mary, Christ who had come down from heaven.”  S. Cyril (Catech. vi.) says that Simon Magus was the author of all these heresies, and then enlarges on them and his impostures.

This is the Antichrist, who denieth the Father and the Son. Because by saying that Christ is not the Son of God, they say that God is not His Father. For the terms Father and Son are correlative, and accordingly if one of them is done away with, so is the other also. CEcumenius supposes that Valentinus is here aimed at, who said that there was another Father, beside Him who was called the Father of Christ. And these self-same heretics (he says) deny the Son, by affirming that He is a mere man, and not God by nature. So too Basilides. (See Irenasus, i. 23 ; Tertullian, de Prescript.; Epiphanius, Hcer. xxiv., and others.)

1Jn 2:23  Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father. He that confesseth the Son hath the Father also.

Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father. In Whom to abide (as Cajetan says), “nor as abiding in Him, for he believes not His eternal generation” (see Dionysius).

He hath Him not in his mind, and consequently does not confess Him with his life. He seems to refer to John 5:37, and as he says above, chapter 1, “His word is not in us.”  And in this chapter, vers. 5 and 24. For it is by faith, hope, and charity that God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit abide in us, and we consequently have them in us, just as a Church has the Eucharist within it, for a holy soul is in truth the temple of God who dwells within it. He here aims at the Judaising heretics, who deny the doctrine of the Trinity, and say that there is but one Person in the Godhead, and consequently deny that Christ is God, and the Son of God. Christ in this very Gospel maintains against them that He is the Only Begotten Son of God ,the Father. See Jn 3:35, 5:18 seq, 36 seq., 6:58. For, as CEcumenius says, “Had they known the Father, they would without any doubt have known Him to be the Father of the Only Begotten Son.” And more especially because he who knows not the Trinity knows not the nature of the Godhead to be so full and prolific as to require a plurality of Persons, and demands that it should be communicated to all the Three, so that in taking away One Person you in fact do away with the Godhead altogether. And this is what S. John means here. In like manner, Christ said to Philip, “He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father. . . . Believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in Me?” (John 14:9-10). Whereby is signified plurality of Persons and identity of Essence, and the intimate and complete indwelling of one Person in another. Damascene (de Fide, i. 2) terms this (? the text is illegible), and the Schoolmen (after him) circumincessio. See S. Augustine, de Trinit. vi. ; S. Hilary, de Trinit. Lib. iv. ; and Ambroseaster, in 2 Cor. 13. S. Augustine says, “Each is in each, and all in each, and each in all, and all in all, and all are One.”

S. Cyprian (Exhort. Martyr, cap. 5) and S. Hilary (de Trin. lib. vi.) here read, He that hath the Son, hath both the Father and the Son, i.e., wishing him well, and favouring him. S. Augustine has the same reading, but explains it of worship and veneration: “He who worships the Son worships the Father, for he cannot worship the Father who worships not the Son, as it is said John 5:23.”

1Jn 2:24  As for you, let that which you have heard from the beginning abide in you. If that abide in you, which you have heard from the beginning, you also shall abide in the Son and in the Father.

As for you, let that which you have heard from the beginning abide in you. Be stedfast in the faith, doctrine, and Christian life, which ye received at first, for thus will true faith abide in you, and ye will abide in the true faith and sonship of God. See Gal 1:9; Heb 13:9. As S. Cyprian strikingly says (Ep. xl.): “I exhort and advise you not to believe rashly pernicious words, or readily yield consent to words of falsehood, not to put darkness for light, night for day, hunger for food, poison for a remedy, death for life.”

If that abide in you, which you have heard from the beginning (as I have just explained it), you also shall abide in the Son and in the Father. We must consider that the Holy Spirit is also included in the expression, the Father and the Son. For the Father and the Son are the Breathers forth of the Holy Spirit, and in their Essence, as understood in its full meaning, they include the power of breathing forth the Holy Spirit, yea, its actual exercise. But at this time no question had arisen respecting the Holy Spirit, but merely respecting the Son, and consequently respecting the Father. The Son is here put before the Father, for the special reason that “no man cometh to the Father but through the Son.” John 14.  “For no one will behold the greatness of the Divine Glory, except he be born again by the sacraments of that Manhood, which the Son assumed.” So Bede.

But further, if ye abide in the Son and in the Father, the Father and the Son will in their turn abide in you. As (Ecumenius says, “Ye will have union and communion with Him, as Christ promised” (John 14:23). As S. Augustine remarks on this passage, “The Holy Spirit also dwells in the Saints together with the Father and the Son: just as God in His temple. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit come to us when we come to them they come to us by their aid, we by our obedience they come by their enlightening, we by gazing on them they come by filling us, we by admitting them within so that we behold them by no outward, but by inward vision, and they abide in us, not transitorily, but for
ever.”

1Jn 2:25  And this is the promise which he hath promised us, life everlasting.

 

Gagneius refers thus to the promise made by our Lord, John 17:20. “For (he says) the promise He has made us is indeed eternal life, since it is eternal life to abide in God, and to enjoy Him here in grace, and hereafter in glory.”(Ecumenius makes the word and equivalent to because: “Ye will abide in the Father and the Son because He promised you this in promising eternal life.” But the first meaning is the best. This is a powerful motive for constancy in the faith. “Let the memory of the promised reward,” says Bede, “make thee persevere in thy work.”  “Let us see” (says S. Augustine) what He hath promised? Silver, or possessions, or pleasant lands ? No indeed, this is not the reward for which He exhorts us to endure. It is eternal life.” And he adds, “God
combines threats with His promises, even eternal death, if we disobey Him.” “A powerful man threatens us with imprisonment, with fire, with torments, with wild beasts. But does he threaten us with eternal fire? Dread that which the Almighty threatens, love that which He promised, and then the whole world is a worthless thing, whether in its promises or its threats.”

1Jn 2:26  These things have I written to you concerning them that seduce you.
1Jn 2:27  And as for you, let the unction, which you have received from him abide in you. And you have no need that any man teach you: but as his unction teacheth you of all things and is truth and is no lie. And as it hath taught you, abide in him.

And as for you, let the unction, which you have received from him abide in you.  By the anointing he means the gift of wisdom and understanding given in baptism and augmented in confirmation. See above, ver. 20.

And you have no need that any man teach you: but as his unction teacheth you of all things, understand abide in it as S. John adds shortly afterwards. Some MSS. add so do ye? It means, ye need not go to false apostles and heretics to teach you the truth, for ye have already learned it from the Apostles themselves, and that which they taught outwardly, the Holy Spirit must needs teach you within. (See Isa 54:13; John 6:45; Ps 94:10.) Be stedfast then in that which ye have thus been taught. See Bellarmine, de Verbo Dei, iii. 3, who says, “Ye have no need for a Lutheran or Calvinist to teach you Christian doctrine, because ye have been fully taught it by the teaching of the Church, and the aid of the Holy Spirit. See 1 Pet 5:12; Col 1:6. And S. Augustine (in loc.) thus writes: “I for my part have spoken to all. But they to whom that unction speaketh not within, they whom the Holy Spirit teacheth not, go away untaught. The outward teachings of a master are a kind of aid and warning, but He who teacheth the heart hath His seat in heaven. . . . One is your master, even Christ. Let Him speak to you within, when no one is present. For though some one is at thy side, yet there is no one in thy heart. Let there be no one in thy heart, let Christ be in thy heart, let His unction be in thy heart, lest thy heart be athirst in the desert, and have no fountains to water it. The Master who teacheth is within, Christ teacheth, His inspiration teacheth. But where His inspiration and His unction are not, words echo in vain from without.” And so too S. Gregory, expounding these very words, says, “Unless the same spirit be in the heart of the hearer the words of the teacher are useless;” and he adds, “Do not ascribe to the teacher that which ye hear from his lips, for unless He who really teaches you be within, the tongue of the teacher labours outwardly in vain.” But when he says, “His unction will teach you of all things,” &c., he means, of all that ye have heard, all that the faithful are bound to know, as having been so taught by their earliest instruction and catechising (so even Beza argues), lest any one should infer from this passage that private judgment should be the interpreter of scripture, and the judge of controversies.” See Ezek. xiii. 3.

His anointing. Some refer to Christ, the Anointed One, the abstract for the concrete.

And is truth and is no lie. This is a double assertion, confirming the first statement by a denial of its contrary (see John 1:20).

And as it hath taught you. “And” here stands for therefore.

1Jn 2:28  And now, little children, abide in him, that when he shall appear we may have confidence and not be confounded by him at his coming.

And now, little children, abide in him. and inn the orthodox faith which ye have been taught, amid all the fair words of heretics, and persevere therein.

That when he shall appear we may have confidence. That is, boldness of speech. See Wisdom 5:1; Col 3:4. S. Basil says (Hom. xi. Hex. i), “Abraham also will fear in the judgment, and be in agony.” This is an exaggeration. But it signifies the severity of the judgment in itself (1 Pet 4:18). But if we look at the grace and mercy of God, on the other hand, it will assure all saints of their salvation, and will place them as His friends and His elect on His right hand, and separate them from the reprobate, before the judgment begins.

And not be confounded by him at his coming. Let us not shame one another by your falling from the faith shame, i.e. yourselves, and us your apostles and teachers for net keeping you therein. For the goodness of the scholar is the praise and glory of the teacher. S. Basil (on the words of Ps 34), “I will teach you the fear of the Lord,” says that the shame and confusion of the lost will be their bitterest punishment. See Rev 7:17. And the ground of their shame will be this, that Christ will proclaim, before the whole world, all their shameful and horrible sins, however secret, and committed in thought only; that they will see the saints, whom they despised in this world, raised up above them to glory, to judge and to condemn them, because they foolishly neglected to expiate their sins by penitence and the shame of confession. See Isa 64:24; Dan 12:2. S. Cyril (Catech. iii.) says that the faithful are at their confirmation anointed on their foreheads, as being the seat of shame, in order that they might not be ashamed to confess the name of Christ, and that they might not commit any shameful act, and thus be confounded at the day of judgment. S. Augustine (in loc.) strikingly observes, “Faithful is He that promiseth. He deceiveth not. Only do thou faint not, but wait for the promise. The truth cannot deceive. Be not thou false, professing one thing and doing another. Keep thou the faith, and He will keep His promise. But if thou keep not the faith, thou hast defrauded thyself, He has not broken faith with thee.” And CEcumenius: “What can be more glorious or more admirable than to act boldly in His sight, to whom we shall give an account of our labours, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming?”

At His coming, in glory to judge the world. “We now see through a glass darkly, but then we shall see face to face” (1 Cor 13:12).

 

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Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 John 2:18-21

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 28, 2011

1Jn 2:18  Little children, it is the last hour: and as you have heard that Antichrist cometh, even now there are become many Antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last hour.

Little children, it is the last hour.  The time is now at hand for the coming of Antichrist, as ye have often heard. Many antichrists have already come, which is a sign that the world is waxing old, and that your life in it cannot be long. Tear your mind away from the world, its vain and perishing pleasures, fix it entirely on heavenly and eternal things, and on God Himself (see Rom 13:11). And be also on your strict guard against all heretics and impostors. For this, says Œcumenius and Didymus very properly, leads every one to think about his own end as if his own last hour were at hand, and thus sobriety and purity of living prevail among Christians. See 1 Pet 3:14.

By the last hour is meant the last age of the world. See S. Augustine, Ep. lxxx. to Hesychius. It is the last age in regard to the duration of the world and its division into the three parts of the law of Nature, the law of Moses, and the law of grace, after which no other law or state is to be looked for, as the Jews still expect their Messiah. Œcumenius (after S. Chrysostom) adds it may mean the ‘worst’ age, as we say of a sick man that he is in extremis. And so too Ribera (in Heb. ix. num. cxiii. seq.) says, that it is the time of impostors and heretics. This exposition is most fitting and appropriate. So says the Gloss, Cajetan, Dionysius, and others.

But the word must be taken in a very wide sense. Some wrongly conjecture that as the first, under the law of nature, lasted for 2000 years, and so also the second period under the law, that it will be the same under the Gospel. The early Christians considered that Nero was Antichrist, and S. Cyprian thought that the end of the world was near in his time. See Epist. lib. iv. 6; and so too S. Jerome, de Monog.;  S. Gregory, Epist. iv. 38; and Lactantius, lib. vii. cap. 25. See notes on Rev. 20

The word ‘hour’ is used indefinitely. The phrase was familiar to S. John, who called the period an ‘hour,’ because it was very short. But in classic authors it signifies a period of time of any length, a season, e.g., as well as the hour of the day. See Isa 38:8.
Morally: Hence learn the shortness of life. For if this age of the world is only an hour, what a very small part of it is the life of any one! We are all creatures of an hour. The old have but a part of an hour to live; the young hope for a whole hour, but yet are cut off in its very beginning. As S. Jerome says, “A youth may die soon, an old man cannot live very long.”

This word then warns us to be very diligent in employing the time which is allotted us. Suppose a physician or a judge were to tell you to prepare to die—”you will certainly die an hour hence,” how anxiously would you clear your conscience, what acts of contrition and charity would you exercise, how would you expend all your goods in good works. Do the same now, for your life is but an hour. Or again, you are afflicted, are sick, are calumniated. Wait a while. It is but for an hour, and after that you pass to a blessed eternity. See 1 Cor. i. 29. Melania, a very wealthy noble lady, persuaded her people, by this text of S. John, to sell all they had, and to go to the Holy Land. For she used frequently to say (as indeed she thought) that the world was about to perish. She went to Jerusalem, and died forty days after, and the Barbarians laid waste the city. This took place under Alaric, A.D. 410.

S. Basil (in Moral. Reg. lxxx cap. 21) says, “It is the duty of a Christian to watch every day and hour, and to be thus ready for that perfection by which he can please God, as knowing that the Lord will come at an hour he expects not.”

Antichrist cometh. See on this the notes on 2 Thess 2:7.

Even now there are become many Antichrists. Those who are against Christ and true forerunners of Antichrist, because they impugn equally with the faith, the Church, the sacraments of Christ, nay His very nature and person. As Ebion, Cerinthus, &c., and their followers, of whom S. Paul says “the mystery of iniquity is already worketh” (2 Thess 2:7). See note on passage. Rabanus (apud S. Augustine) [vol. vi. append.] says, “Antichrist has many ministers of his malignity. For every one, layman or canon or monk, who lives not righteously, and violates the authority of his order, and speaks against that which is good, is an antichrist, a minister of Satan.” Heretics are antichrists, as S. Hilary called Constantius. See note on 1 Pet 3:14.

Whereby we know that it is the last hour.  For we see the heretics who are his forerunners, just as when we see a king’s outrider, we know that he is near, or that the dawn shows that the sun is about to rise. “Many antichrists,” as Œcumenius says, “go before the one Antichrist, and prepare for him the way.”

1Jn 2:19  They went out from us but they were not of us. For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have remained with us: but that they may be manifest, that they are not all of us.

They went out from us but they were not of us, (either real or pretended) Catholics; and a heretic is one who apostatises from the faith of Christ which he once embraced, and lapses into heresy. See S. Cyprian, Epist. i. 8, and de Unit. Eccl.: “Bitterness cannot co-exist with sweetness, darkness with light, rain with clear weather, strife with peace, barrenness with fertility, drought with gushing water, storm with calm. Let none imagine that good men can forsake the Church; the wind does not sweep away the wheat, nor does the storm throw down a tree which is firmly rooted—the chaff is blown away with the storm, and trees weakly rooted are cast down by the violence of a whirlwind,” &c. And S. Jerome says [Lib. i. in Jerem.], “They go out in order that they may openly worship that which they used to venerate in secret.” And S. Augustine (in loc.) “Ye will understand, from the Apostle’s own exposition, that none can go away but antichrists, but that they who are not contrary to Christ can in no wise go out. For he who is not contrary to Christ abideth in His Body, and is counted a member of it.” “They are (he adds afterwards) as evil humours, and just as the body is relieved when they are removed, so is the Church relieved when they go forth, and when the body casts them forth it says, They were not of me, they only weighed on my chest when they were within me.”

For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have remained with us. They were not genuine Christians. They had not Christian virtue and constancy boldly to resist all temptations, so that when persecution came on them, they gave up the faith and became apostates, as grass is dried up by the heat of the sun. As was said of Joseph and Azarias (1 Macc. 5:62), that “they were not of the seed of those by whom deliverance was wrought in Israel.” As the Romans said of traitors that they were not Romans, or as Saul reviled Jonathan
(1 Sam 20:30). As S. Augustine says here, “Temptation proves that they are not of us, for when it comes they fly away as not being sound grain.” As he says of Judas (Tract. 1. on John), “He did not at that particular time become wicked when he betrayed the Lord. He was a thief even when he followed the Lord, for he followed Him with the body only, and not in heart.” And again (in. loc.), “Every one is of his own will either an antichrist, or in Christ; either one of His members, or among the evil humours. He that changeth himself for the better is a member of the Body, but he that abideth in his wickedness is an evil humour, and when he is gone out, they who were oppressed will be relieved.

2. Many explain these words, ‘they were not of us,’ as referring to the free knowledge and predestination of God. They were not thus predestinated and elected, because it was foreseen that they would fall, for everything future is foreseen by God. This does not refer to election to eternal blessedness.  S. John did not wish to touch on this mystery, especially because so many who have fallen from the faith have in the end returned to it. And on the other hand there are many reprobates who are still in the Church who are not predestined to glory. But S. Augustine (de bono persever. cap. viii.) understands it of those who are predestined to glory, and of those who (it is foreseen) will perish. Now almost all heresiarchs (excepting only Berengarius), when they have once left the Church, never return to it again, and are consequently foreknown to be reprobates. But we must avoid the error of those who infer from this that the reprobation of God is the cause of their leaving the Church, and subsequent condemnation: a charge which the Semipelagians falsely urged against S. Augustine. He defends himself thus, “They went out voluntarily, they fell voluntarily, and because it was foreseen they would fall, they were not predestinated; but they would have been predestinated, if so be they were to return, and abide in holiness. And in this way predestination is to many a cause of their remaining stedfast, to none is it a cause of their falling.” (Art. xii. in art. sibi falso impositis).

3. Some explain the words thus, “They were not of us,” because, before they openly withdrew from the Church they had secretly withdrawn from it. Heresy is the very height of impiety, and is reached but gradually. See S. Cyprian, Epist. i. 8, and de Unit. Eccl.; and S. Cyril, Catech. vi.

Catherinus and Melchior Canus take the word ‘us’ to mean the Apostles. But this is too narrow a meaning. & John speaks of Christians in general. S. John here warns his disciples not to be alarmed if they saw even bishops become apostate (see Acts 20:3O). Salmeron thinks that of the hundred and twenty who received the Holy Ghost at the day of Pentecost fourteen became heresiarchs. See, too, S. Vincent of Lerius and Tertullian, de Præscript. ch. i. And at the same time he warns them to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. See also Rom 11:20.

But that they may be manifest, that they are not all of us. God allowed this to show their inconsistency and want of faith, and to teach the faithful to avoid them. See 1 Cor 11:19.

Beza has no ground for inferring from this that the faithful could never fall away. It means only that their falling away was a sign that they were not firmly rooted in the faith. S. Augustine says their apostacy was a sign that they were not of the number of the predestinate and elect.

1Jn 2:20  But you have the unction from the Holy One and know all things.

But you have the unction from the Holy One, and know all things, so that it is not necessary to speak at greater length to these antichrists. By the word ‘unction’ he refers to Antichrist, and also to Christ (the anointed One). See also what Christ Himself says, John 16:13.

But what is this ‘unction‘? (1.) Œcumenius and S. Jerome on Habakkuk 3. and S. Cyril Alex. say ‘baptism,’ when we are anointed on our head. (2.)  S. Cyril of Jerus. says, ‘the sacrament of confirmation,’ when we are anointed on our forehead. (3.) Em. Sa. says, ‘the profession of Christianity;’ others the Christian faith, grace, the gift of wisdom and understanding; others the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. But they all come to the same point, for in these various ways you will learn all the duties and doctrines of Christianity, and to discern and avoid heretics as opposed to Christ. The word unction stands for the ointment or oil, not for the mere transient act of anointing. In the Greek it is χζίσμα. It has reference to the name of Christ, and the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, which used to be given immediately after baptism as its complement and perfection.  S. Cyril accordingly understands it to refer to confirmation, so also does Turrianus, and Bellarmine, de Confim. lib. ii. capp. 5 et 8. For by anointing is here to be understood, not so much sanctifying grace, as the gift of wisdom and understanding. (See S. Gregory, Mor. v. 19 (al. 20), S. Irenæus iv. 43). For this gift was bestowed at first on baptized persons. Acts 2:6, Acts 10:46, Acts 19:6; 1 Cor 14. And it is even now given in baptism (Isa 11:1), though not so abundantly. The word also relates to the royal priesthood, which S. Peter (1 Peter2:9) ascribes to all Christians. For as in old time prophets, priests, and kings were anointed to their office, so do Christians when anointed in baptism and confirmation receive grace, to rule themselves as kings; to foresee future good and evil, as prophets; and to present, as priests, the offerings of good works. So that this gift of the, Holy Spirit, conferred by the outward anointing, will teach Christians everything which concerns Christian life and conduct. For these reasons S. John rejoices in the word ‘unction,’ as representing Christ and His ‘love,’ of which it is said (Son 1:2), “Thy name is like ointment poured forth;” and S. John was, in consequence of his constant preaching of Christ, thrown about this time into a caldron of boiling oil, but escaped unhurt as having been strengthened by the anointing of Christ. See also Psa 45:8; Isa 61:1; Acts 10:38. S. Athanasius (Epist. ad Serap.) says that this ointment is the Holy Spirit with all His gifts and graces. For in justification is infused not only grace and charity, but the Holy Spirit Himself. See Rom 5:5; Conc. Trid. Sess. vi. cap. 7. And S. Augustine (in loc.) says, This spiritual anointing is the Holy Spirit Himself, and the outward anointing is the sacrament thereof. So, too, in the “Veni Creator,” we read of the ‘Anointing Spirit.’ The Holy Spirit then, inhabiting, enlightening, and directing the soul, teaches it at the fitting time all things befitting its salvation. S. Clement (Const. Apost.

1Jn 2:21  I have not written to you as to them that know not the truth, but as to them that know it: and that no lie is of the truth.

Lapide offers no comment on this verse.

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St John Chrysostom: A Homily for the New Year (On the Kalends of January)

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 28, 2011

[Translated by Seumas Macdonald]

1. Just as a chorus seeks the chorus leader, and a crew of sailors the helmsman, so also the assembly of these priests today seeks the high-priest and common-father. But in the case of the chorus and the ship frequently the absence of those in charge wrenches them away from good-order and stability; but it is not so in this case. For even if he[1] is not present in the flesh, he is present rather in the spirit, and now is with us, though sitting at home, just as we also are with him there, though standing here. For such is the power of love, it is accustomed to bring together and bind those who are divided by a great distance. At any rate if we love someone who is spending time in a foreign place and separated from us by vast seas, we imagine them each day, so then when we are ill-disposed to someone, neither do we think it good to often see him near at hand. Thus when there is love, there is no harm from the division of place, but when love is absent, there is no gain from the nearness of place. Lately, when we were praising the blessed Paul, you so were prancing about, as if seeing him present; though his body lies in regal Rome, but his soul in the hands of God: For the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and torment will never touch them.[2] Nonetheless the power of love placed him before your eyes. And I was planning to enter into the same subject again today, but the message moves us to other things pressing upon us, the sins committed today by the entire city. For they ought first to have been emulators of Paul’s virtue, and worthy of such a lecture, those who are listening to the praises of Paul. Since then the father[3] is not present to us, come – let us cleave to his teaching, relying on his prayers. For even Moses, not being present in the body with the combatants, contributed to that battle, not less than those fighting, but more by far even, urging on the actions of his men by the outstretching of his hands, and making them dreadful to their opponents.[4] For just as the power of love is not separated by a division of place, so neither is the efficacy of prayer, but just as the former binds those removed from one another, so also the latter is able to greatly benefit those far off.

Having confidence therefore let us proceed. For the war is begun for us, not with the coming of the Amelikites, as then, nor with some other overrunning Barbarians, but with demons leading a procession in the forum. For the diabolical night-festivities that occur today, the jests, the abuse, and the nocturnal dances, and this comedy, absurd and worse than every enemy, took our city captive; and it is necessary to be restrained[5] in these matters, to mourn, to be overcome with shame, both those having sinned and those not having sinned, those for whom they sinned, and those for whom they saw [their] brothers doing shameful things[6]; and our city has become exceedingly glad and joyful, and crowned, as a woman fond of adornment and extravagant, so the forum lavishly decked itself out today, putting on gold, and extravagant clothing, and sandals, and other such things, as of those in workplaces, each by the display of  his own works surpassing his fellow worker in rivalry.[7] But this is ambition, even if childish of thought, and imagining nothing great or lofty in mind, but nevertheless it does not attract such harm, but is a certain thoughtless eagerness, pouring down laughter on those eager for such things. For if one wishes to adorn oneself: [let it be] not the workshop, but his own soul; not the forum, but the intellect; so that the angels marvel, and the archangels approve the thing, and the Master of the Angels repay you with gifts from himself; as the example itself, now the event, brings both laughter and jealousy, laughter from the understanding of the loftier, jealousy and much envy from those suffering the same things.

2. But, as I said, ambition itself is not worthy of such accusations; those who happen today to game in the taverns, these cause especial pain, and are full of much profligacy and impiety; [full] of impiety, because those doing these things observe days[8], consult auguries, and think that if one celebrates the new moon of this month with pleasure and happiness, then the whole length of the year will hold the same; of profligacy, because men and women having filled bowls and cups drink unmixed wine until dawn. These things are unworthy of our philosophy[9], whether you do them, or you permit others to do them, whether servants, or friends, or neighbours. Have you not heard Paul saying, “You keep days and months and seasons and years; I fear lest I have laboured in vain for you”?[10] Otherwise it is of the most extreme folly that from one day, if it be fortunate[11], to expect this from the whole year; but it is not of folly alone, rather this is the judgment of diabolical activity, not to entrust the things of our life to our own haste and eagerness, but to cycles of the days. The whole year will be fortunate for you, not if you are drunk on the new-moon, but if both on the new-moon, and each day, you do those things approved by God. For days come wicked and good, not from their own nature; for a day differs nothing from another day, but from our zeal and sluggishness. If you perform righteousness, then the day becomes good to you; if you perform sin, then it will be evil and full of retribution. If you contemplate these things, and are so disposed, you will consider the whole year favourable, performing prayers and charity every day; but if you are careless of virtue for yourself, and you entrust the contentment of your soul to beginnings of months and numbers of days, you will be desolate of everything good unto yourself.

Which then the Devil perceiving, and hastening to make an end of our labours in virtue, and to extinguish our willingness of mind, taught success and failures to be inscribed on the days. For the one persuading himself that a day is evil and good, will neither have a care for good deeds on the evil day, as if performing all things in vain, and benefiting nothing on account of the necessity of the day; nor again on the good day will he do this, as if from his own idleness causing no harm, again on account of the good fortune of the day; and thus from each he promotes his own wellbeing[12]; and sometimes doing profitless things, sometimes superfluous things, he will pass his life in leisure and wickedness. Knowing which, he must flee from the wiles of the devil, and cast out this influence of thought, and observe not the days, neither to hate one nor to love one. For that wicked demon does contrive these things, not only in order to cast us into idleness, but also to revile the works of God, wishing to draw down our souls both into impiety and idleness at the same time.

But we are obliged to resist, and to know clearly, that nothing is evil but sin alone, and nothing good but virtue alone, and to please God always. Strong drink does not produce delight, but spiritual prayer; not wine, but a learned word; Wine effects a storm, but the Word effects calm; the former transports in an uproar, the latter expels disturbance; the former darkens the understanding, the latter lightens the darkened; the former imports despondencies that are non-existent, the latter drives away those there were[13]. For nothing is so accustomed to produce contentment and delight, as the teachings of [our] philosophy, [which is] to despise  present affairs, to yearn for the things to come, to consider nothing of human affairs to be secure, and if you behold some rich man not to be bitten with envy, and if you fall into poverty not to be downcast by that poverty. Thus you are always able to celebrate festivals. For the Christian ought to hold feasts not for months, nor new moons, nor Lord’s days, but continually through life to conduct a feast befitting him. What is the feast that befits him? Let us listen to Paul speaking, “Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not in the old leaven, nor by leaven of evil and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”[14] If then you have a clean conscience, you hold a feast continually, nourished with good hopes, and revelling in the delight of the good things to come; then just as if you conducted yourself lacking boldness, and you were liable from many sins, and if there be ten thousand feasts and holy-days, you would be in no better state than those grieving. For what is the benefit to me of bright days, if my soul is darkened in its conscience? If then one wishes to gain some benefit from the new moon, do this. When you see the year ending, thank the Lord, because he had led you into this cycle of years. Stab the heart[15], reckon up the time of your life, say to oneself: “The days run and pass by, the years fill-up, we have progressed much of the way; What good is there for us to do? Will we not depart from here, empty and deserted of all righteousness, the judgment at the doors, the rest of life leads us to our old age.”

3. These things, from the new moon, contemplate, these from the circuit of the years, recollect: let us reckon the future day, no longer something spoken to us that, which was said to the Jews by the prophet, “Their days slipped away in vanity, and their years with haste”[16] This is the feast which I mentioned, the continual one, and the one not delayed by the passage of years, not limited by days, both the rich and the poor will be able to celebrate in the same manner: For here there is no want of wealth, nor provision, but only of virtue. Do you not have wealth? But you have the fear of God, a treasure more fruitful than all wealth, not consumed, not changed, not spent-up. Look to heaven, and to the heaven of heavens, the earth, the sea, the air, the kinds of the animals, the manifold plants, the whole nature of human-beings; consider the angels, archangels, the powers above; recall that these are all creations of your Master. It is thus not poverty to be the slave of the providential Master, if you have him as your propitious Lord. The observation of days is not of Christian philosophy, but of Hellenic error. Into the city above you are enrolled[17], into the polity[18] there you are reckoned, you will mingle with the angels; where light does not give way to darkness, nor day fulfilled to night, but is always day, always light. To these therefore let us look continually. “For seek”, he says, “the things above, where Christ is seated at God’s right hand.”[19] You have nothing in common with the earth, where the courses of the sun are, and circuits, and days; but if you live rightly, the night will be day for you; just as then for those living in licentiousness and drunkenness and intemperance, their day is turned into the darkness of night, not with the sun’s extinction, but the darkening of their mind by inebriation. To be passionately excited towards these days, and to receive greater pleasure in them, and to kindle lights in the forum, and to weave wreaths, is of childish folly. But you have been freed from this weakness, and come into adulthood, and been enrolled in the polity of the heavens. Do not therefore kindle sensate fire in the forum, but kindle spiritual light in your mind. “For let”, he said, “your light shine before men, so they may see your good works, and they will glorify our Father in the heavens.”[20] This light brings you much recompense. Do not crown the door of the house, but display such a way of life[21], so that you will receive the crown of righteousness on your head from the hand of Christ. Let nothing be done rashly, nor simply; thus Paul enjoins that all things be done for the glory of God. “For whether you eat,” he said, “or drink, or do whatever, do all for the glory of God”[22] And what is it, he says, to eat and drink for God’s glory? Call the poor man, make Christ a participant of the table, and you eat and drink for God’s glory. But not this alone does he enjoin us to do for God’s glory, but all the rest as well, as to go into the forum, and to remain at home; let these both be done for God’s sake[23]. And how are these both to be done for God’s sake? Whenever you come into church, whenever you partake of prayer, whenever of spiritual teaching, the advance has occurred for God’s glory. Again, it is to remain at home for God’s sake. And how this?[24] Whenever you hear disturbances, disorderly and diabolical processions, the forum filled with wicked and undisciplined men, remain at home, free from this disorder, and you remain for God’s glory. Just as spending time at home and going-out is able to be done for God’s sake, thus also of praise and censure. And what is it to praise something for God’s glory, he says, and to accuse? You sit frequently in workplaces, you see evil and wicked men passing by, raising the eyebrows[25], puffed up, trailing many parasites and flatterers, wearing expensive clothes, surrounded with some mystique, seizing all things, avaricious. If you hear someone saying, “Is he not enviable, is he not blessed?” Rebuke, accuse, silence, pity, weep; this is what it means to censure for God’s sake.

Censure is teaching of philosophy to those meeting together and is so strong of virtue[26], so as to no longer long[27] for the things of everyday life. Say to the one saying these things: Why is this man blessed? Because he has a marvellous horse and a golden bridle, and possesses many servants, and wears bright clothing, and bursts[28] each day in drunkenness and luxury? But for this reason he would be wretched and cursed, and worthy of a thousand tears. I see then that you are able to praise nothing of him, but all things external to him, the horse, the bridle, the clothing, of which nothing is his. What then, tell me, is more pitiable than this, when his horse, and the horse’s bridle, and the beauty of his clothes, and the bodily vigour of his servants are marvelled, but he passes by unpraised? Who then could be poorer than this man, having nothing good of his own, nor anything which he is able to carry away from here, but is adorned entirely by external things? For adornment and riches are properly our own, not servants and clothing and horses, but virtue of soul, and wealth of good deeds, and confidence towards God.

4. Again, you see another man, a pauper, rejected, despised and passing his life in poverty and virtue, considered unhappy by his companions: commend this man, and the praise of this man as he passes by is exhortation and counsel of a useful and good way of life[29]. If they say, “He is wretched and miserable,” say that this one is the most blessed of all, having God as his friend, passing life in virtue, possessing a wealth never failing, having a pure conscience. For what harm is there to him from the lack of possessions, when he is going to inherit heaven and the good things in heaven? And if you yourself philosophise in this manner, and instruct others, you will receive a great reward from both censure and from praises, doing both for God’s glory. And that I do not allure you vainly saying these things, but that a certain great recompense exists with the God of all things for those whose intellect is thus disposed, and that the thing has been considered a certain virtue, [that is] the resolving to do such things, hear what the prophet says concerning those so living, and how he places things in an order of perfections, the despising of those doing wickedness, and the glorifying of those fearing God. For after recounting the other virtue of the one who will be honoured by God, also he says, of what sort one must be to dwell in the holy tabernacle, that is blameless, and performing righteousness, and wicked-less, and this he adds: For saying, “Who did not deceive with his tongue, and did no harm to his neighbour”[30] he adds, “The one doing evil is set at nought before him, but those fearing the Lord he glorifies”[31] showing that this is one of those perfections, that is to despise the wicked, and to praise and bless the good. And again elsewhere this same thing he makes plain, saying, “Your friends were exceedingly honourable to me, God, their beginnings[32] became very strong.”[33] Whom God praises, do not censure: he praises the one living in righteousness, even if he be poor; whom God turns away, do not praise: he turns away the one living in wickedness, even if he be surrounded by much wealth. But if you praise, and if you censure, do both as God wishes. For there is even accusing unto the glory of God. How? Frequently we are vexed with our servants. How then is there accusing for God’s sake? If you see someone drunk, or stealing, whether servant, or friend, or some other of those related to you, whether running into the theatre, or having no concern for their soul, or swearing[34], or perjuring[35], or lying: be angry[36], punish, turn them back, correct; and you did all these things for God’s sake. And if you see someone sinning against you, and omitting something of their service toward you, pardon them, and you are forgiven for God’s sake. But now many do the opposite, both to their friends, and to their servants. For when they sin against them, they become bitter and unforgiving judges; but when they insult God, and ruin their own souls, they produce no rationale. Again, is it necessary to make friends? Make them, for God’s sake. Is it necessary to make enemies? Make them, for God’s sake. And by what means does one make friends and enemies for God’s sake? If we do not attract those friends, whence money is taken, whence sharing of a table, whence obtaining of human patronage, but pursue and make those friends, those able always to order our soul, counsel necessities, rebuke sinners, expose trespassers, restore those fallen, and aiding by counsel and prayers to lead to God. Again, it is permitted to make enemies for God’s sake. If you see someone undisciplined, abominable, full of wickedness, replete with unclean teachings, tripping you up and harming you, stand apart and turn away, just as also Christ commanded, saying, “If your right eye trips you up, pluck it out and cast it from you”[37] commanding those friends, those being desirable in the rank of eyes[38], and necessary in the things of everyday life, to cut off, and to cast out, if they harm you with regard to the salvation of the soul. If you share in their meetings, and you prolong your speech, do even this for God’s sake, and if you keep silent, keep silent for God’s sake.

And what is it to participate in the meeting for God’s sake? If you are seated with someone, converse nothing concerning daily affairs, nor of simple things even vainly and nothing of those related to you, but concerning our philosophy, concerning Hell, concerning the Kingdom of the Heavens, but not superfluities and unprofitable things, such as, “Who entered authority?[39] Who lost power? For what reason was so-and-so injured[40]? Whence did so-and-so profit and become better off? What did so-and-so dying leave behind to such-and-such? How did so-and-so miss out, expecting to be listed among the foremost of the heirs?” And many other such things. Let us not then discuss such things, nor bear others discussing [them]; but let us consider what-doing or what-saying is to please God. Again, it is to keep silent for God’s sake, being maltreated, abused, suffering a thousand evils, if you bear them nobly, and emit no blasphemous word against the one doing these things to you. Not to praise and to censure alone, nor to remain indoors and to go out, not to utter and to keep silent, but also to weep and mourn, and to enjoy and delight is to God’s glory.

For when you see either a brother sinning, or yourself falling into a transgression, [if] then you groan and mourn[41], then you gain from the grief a salvation without regret, just as Paul says, “For grief according to God produces a salvation without regret”[42] If you see another person being highly esteemed, then do not disparage him, but as for one’s own goods give thanks to God, to the one making your brother illustrious, and you receive a great reward from this joy.

5. What then, tell me, is more pitiable than the envious, when it is permitted both to rejoice and to profit through joy, and they prefer rather to grieve upon the advantages of others, and with the grief to yet also attract a punishment from God, an unendurable retribution. And what need is there to speak of praise, and of blame, and of pain, and of joy, when indeed even from the least of these things and from the meanest[43] events the greatest things are to be profited, if we do them for God’s sake?

For what is more lowly than to be shorn? But even this is to be done for God’s sake. For when you do not arrange your hair, nor adorn you appearance, nor decorate yourself for an enticement and beguilement of onlookers, but simply and as it happens and as much as necessity alone demands, you do this for God’s sake, you will in all ways have your reward, because you have checked evil desire, and beaten into shape inopportune ambition. For if one giving only a cup of water for God’s sake will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, let the one doing all things for God’s sake consider how great the recompense he will enjoy. There is also to walk for God’s sake, and to look for God’s sake. What is it to look for God’s sake, and to walk? When you do not run towards wickedness, when you do not busy yourself with other’s beauty, when seeing a woman by chance[44], you curb your eye, you fortify the visage with the fear of God, then you have done this for God’s sake; when clothes not extravagant and making you soft, but able to cover you, let us wear these alone. And it is even up to the shoes that this law leads. For many have slipped to this point of slackness and wastefulness, as to adorn even their shoes, and to embellish them from every side, not less than others their faces: which is of an unclean and corrupted soul. For if even this seems to be small, but it is an evidence and proof of great ruination, both in men and women. Therefore it is lawful even to use shoes for God’s sake, when we seek their use everywhere, and we make this the measure of their employment. And that both through walking and through clothing [we] are to glorify God, hear what a certain wise man says, “clothing of a man, and laughter of teeth, and step of foot, declare things concerning him.”[45] For when we appear, clothed and august, and full of reverence, and exhibiting much chastity on all sides: from the bare occurrence, the unbeliever, and the licentious, and the tumultuous, seeing this kind of thing will be amazed, even if he be unaware of everything. And if we marry a woman, let us do this for God’s sake, so that we may be chaste, not so that we might acquire[46] a more resourceful property[47], [but] so that we might seek nobility of soul, not abundance of possessions, nor distinction of ancestors, but excellence and reasonableness of customs. Let us take a companion for life, not a business associate.

And why is it necessary to recount all things in detail? For it is permissible finally for you, from the things spoken, to methodically work through each of the things that occurs or is done, and to do for God’s sake. And just as the merchants sailing the sea, and bringing to safe anchorage in cities, do not first depart the shore, nor go up into the marketplace, until they learn that there is some profit from the things laid up there. Thus also you nothing, neither do, nor say, unless it hold some profit regarding God. And do not say to me that it is not possible to do all things for God’s sake. For when putting on your shoes, and [hair], and dressing of garments, and travelling, and appearance, and words, and meetings, both enterings and exitings, both gibes and praises, both censures and approvals, both friendships and enmities are able to happen for God’s sake, what is left which is not able to happen for God’s sake, if we desire it?

What is worse than a jailer? Does not [that] life seem altogether to be the worst? But it is permitted to the one wishing to profit even from there, when he spares the enchained, when he cares for those unjustly incarcerated, when he does not make business from others’ misfortunes, when he sets before all prisoners a common threshold. Thus was the jailer, in Paul’s case, saved[48]: Whence it is clear that in all things, if we wish it, we are able to be profitable.

6. What is worse than murder, tell me? But this shameless-deed was one able to birth righteousness for the one who did it: so great is doing something for God’s sake whatever one does. And how was murder able to produce righteousness? The Midianites were once wishing to provoke God to war with the Jews, and by this expecting to be [superior] to them, if they might deprive them of the Lord’s goodwill, beautifying girls and standing them before the camp, they enticed them and lead them into fornication, then from there into impiety. Phinehas, seeing this, having taken in hand a sword, and seizing two [people] fornicating, pierced them both in their sin, and checked the anger of God from his judgment. And the thing that happened was murder, but the outcome of that was the salvation of all who were being destroyed, whence also it brought righteousness to the one who did it.[49]

And not only did it not defile his hands, but that murder made them even more pure, and very rightly so: for not hating those he killed, but sparing the rest, he did this: he killed the two, and saves unlimited myriads. For just as doctors do, cutting off the putrefied parts of the members, they save the body whole and sound; thus also did he do. On this account the Psalmist says, “Phinehas stood and propitiated, and the slaughter abated, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness unto generation and generation, until eternity.”[50] Immortal then remains the memory of deed rightly done.

Again, another prayed, and offended God: so great a thing is it not to do something for God’s sake: I mention the Pharisee[51]. But just as Phinehas committing murder was approved [by God], thus also this man, not from his prayer, but from his disposition with which he prayed, fell into offence. Thus when something is done not for God’s sake, even if the matter be spiritual, it causes great harm; just as then when something is done for God’s sake, even if it be carnal[52], it benefits greatly the one doing it with a God-loving disposition. For what is worse and harsher than murder? But nevertheless it made righteous him who dared it.

What sort of defence will we have, saying that it is not possible to profit in everything, and to do all things for God’s sake, when some profit was found even from murder? If we wish to pay attention, we will traffic in this spiritual profit, through all of life, whether buying something, or needing to sell; such as, when we do not ask for more than the customary price, when we do not observe the times of difficulty, and then give a share to those in need.[53] “The one raising the price of grain is cursed by the people”, he says.[54] And what need is there to review each, to gather the whole from one example is needed? For just as builders, whenever they are about to raise a wall, stretching a small cord from corner to corner, thus construct the edifice, so that its appearance be not uneven; thus also we, in place of a small cord, stretching this word that was spoken, “Whether you eat, whether you drink, whether you do some other thing, do all for the glory of God.”[55] If we pray, if we fast, if we accuse, if we pardon, if we praise, if we censure, if we enter, if we exit, if we sell, if we buy, if we are silent, if we converse, if we do any thing else whatsoever, let us do all for the glory of God, and if something be not for the glory of God, neither let it be done, nor be spoken by us; but in place of a great staff, in place of arms and safeguard, in place of unspeakable treasures, wherever we might be, let us carry around this word with us, having inscribed it upon our understanding, so that doing and speaking and trafficking all things for the glory of God, we shall obtain the glory that is from him both in this world and after  the journey here[56]. “For those that glorified me”, he says, “I will glorify”[57]. Not therefore with words, but also through deeds let us glorify him continually with Christ our God, because all glory befits him, honour and worship, now and always unto the ages of ages. Amen.


[1] The referent is Bishop Flavianus, and so throughout the opening section

[2] Sirach 3:1

[3] i.e., Flavianus

[4] cf. Exodus 17

[5] probably with a parallel sense, ‘to be saddened’.

[6] τοὺς μὲν ὑπὲρ ὧν ἐπλημμέλησαν, τοὺς δὲ ὑπὲρ ὧν τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς εἶδον ἀσχημονήσαντας.

[7] The Greek is difficult. Perhaps some social background will help: cf. Hom ad pop. Ant 16. (P.G. xlix. 173) ἐργαστήριον ἕν οἱκοῦντες ἄνθρωπο διαφόρως μεν ἐμπορεύονται, πάντα δὲ εἰς τὸ κοινὸν ἀποτίθενται. As found in Liebeschuetz Antioch, p55; Liebescheutz suggests that a scene of men working in the same worskshop, but as their own individual worker, but contributing to a common till; a kind of un-specialised factory situation.

[8] i.e. they observe certain days as special or sacral, especially according to the pagan calendars.

[9] philosophy, both here and throughout Chrysostom, refers to Christianity as both a distinct set of beliefs, and a set of practices or way of life. It highlights the rivalry between the Christian philosophy, and the philosophical schools of the Hellenism.

[10] Galatians 4.10-11

[11] i.e., auspicious, superstitiously-favourable

[12] alt. ‘salvation’.

[13] i.e. the former brings new depondencies that previously were not there, but the latter drives away those that were present beforehand.

[14] 1 Cor 5:8

[15] ‘Prick the heart’ may be a better English idiom.

[16] Ps 78:33 (Ps 77:33 LXX)

[17] i.e. as a citizen.

[18] politeia, like philosophy, is a key concept-work for Chrysostom. It refers variously to the body of Christians both on earth and in heaven, their way of life as citizens, and their ordered existence in the church. It is also a rival politeia to that of Plato’s Republic and the like.

[19] Col 3:1b

[20] Mt 5:16; Chrysostom has ‘our Father’ for ‘your Father’.

[21] ‘way of life’ here correponds to citizenship above.

[22] 1 Cor 10:31. This verse provides the theme for the rest of the sermon.

[23] διὰ τὸν Θεὸν and so throughout.

[24] i.e. How will one glorify God in this action of staying at home?

[25] A sign of haughtiness and importance

[26] This first half of the sentence is as confusing in the Greek as in the English.

[27] More literally, ‘gape’.

[28] Migne’s Latin has solvitur which we might render ‘dissolves’, thus picking up the idea of moral dissolution in a wanton life. The Greek διαῤῥήγνυται is difficult to construe.

[29] politeia

[30] Ps 15:3 (Ps 14:3 LXX)

[31] Ps 15:4 (Ps 14:4 LXX)

[32] poss. authorities

[33] Ps 138:17 LXX. Ps 139:17 MT differs radically from this reading.

[34] i.e. swearing oaths

[35] i.e. to swear falsely

[36] ἀγᾰνακτέω, the same verb used for ‘vexed’ above.

[37] Mt 5:29

[38] Chrysostom’s meaning seems to be ‘those friends whom we hold as dear as our own eyes’, which Migne’s Latin also implies.

[39] N elected officials would enter office on the Kalends, which presumably explains the kind of political conversation Chrysostom has in view.

[40] Possibly with a technical or financial sense: fined, punished

[41] These two verbs continue the protasis of the conditional

[42] 2 Cor 7:10

[43] ‘Mean’ in the sense of cheap, frugal, vulgar.

[44] i.e. that you encounter when walking around

[45] Sirach 19:30 (LXX; KJV), 19:27 (VUL). The sense of the phrase is that they ‘declare concerning him’. The Vulgate gets at it more clearly (though Migne’s Latin does not match the Clementine Vulgate)

[46] Lit. ‘work’

[47] A difficult phrase to translate: τὴν οὐσίαν εὐπορωτέραν ἐργαζώμεθα

[48] Acts 16:25-40

[49] Numbers 25

[50] Psalm 106:30-31, (Ps 105:30-1 LXX) both the MT and Migne have ‘from generation to generation’, whereas LXX, Chrys, and Vul have ‘unto generation and generation.’

[51] Migne references Luke 18, by which he must mean Luke 18:9-14, concerning the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.

[52] βιωτικὸν earthly, of this world, not-spiritual

[53] Chrysostom’s drift seems to be equity in mercantile dealings, especially in light of scarcity. Not driving up prices in times of need or to those in need is, in effect, a gracious sharing with them of what would otherwise be exploitive profit.

[54] Pr 11:26a. There is significant variation in this verse, as the following shows.

LXX: ὁ συνέχων σῖτον ὑπολίποιτο αὐτὸν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν;

Vul: Qui abscondit frumenta maledicetur in populis ;

Mig: Maledictus enim, ille, qui frumenti caritatem auget;

Chr: Ὁ γὰρ τιμιουλκῶν σῖτον δημοκατάρατος

[55] 1 Cor 10:31. Chrysostom omits οὖν from his citation, presumably since the inferential conjunction would be out of place in his own discourse.

[56] i.e. after this life.

[57] 1 Sam 2:30; (1 Reg 2.30 LXX)

Source.

Posted in Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, liturgy, Quotes, SERMONS, St John Chrysostom | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

(COMPLETE) Sunday, January 1st, 2012: Resources for Sunday Mass (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms)

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 27, 2011

Although I’ve designated this post as COMPLETE I have yet to post my notes on Numbers 6:22-27. I hope to have those posted soon.

This post contains resources (mostly biblical and homiletic) for both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite. Please note that this Sunday, the second reading in the Ordinary Form is nearly identical to that used as the first reading in the Extraordinary Form. The links related to this reading will therefore be found listed under both forms.

THE OCTAVE DAY O F THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD
THE SOLEMNITY OF MARY, THE HOLY MOTHER OF GOD

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Pending. My Notes on the First Reading (Numbers 6:22-27).

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 67.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 67.

A Lectio Divina Commentary on Psalm 67.

St John Chrysostom on Galatians 4:4-7. Actually, the post is on verses 1-7, the reading used in the Extraordinary Form.

Aquinas’ Lectures on Galatians 4:1-7.  Links below. Not lite reading.

Bernardin De Piconio’s Commentary on Galatians 4:4-7Actually, the post is on verses 1-7, the reading used in the Extraordinary Form.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Galatians 4:4-7Actually, the post is on verses 1-7, the reading used in the Extraordinary Form.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 2:16-21.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Luke 2:16-21. This post actually begins with verse 15.

(1) A Brief Homily on Today’s Readings by Pope Benedict XVI.

(2) Another Brief Homily on Today’s Readings by Pope Benedict XVI.

(3) A Slightly longer Homily on Today’s Readings by Pope Benedict XVI.

Sermon by Pope John Paul II.

Haydock’s Commentary on Today’s Readings. The text of the Douay-Rheims Challoner translation followed by notes on the readings from the old Haydock Commentary. Previously posted.

UPDATE: What is the Name of God? A post on the readings by Catholic Biblical Scholar Dr. John Bergsma. This was posted just today which is why I’m now adding it to my list.

Catholic Mom: Children’s resources:

Dr. Scott Hahn’s Podcast. Brief audio (text available). Does good job of highlighting the major theme(s) of the readings.

Father Robert Barron’s Podcast Homily. A noted author, speaker and theologian.

Word Sunday:

Gospel Reading with Meditation.

Daily Gospel:

Thoughts From the Early Church. Excerpt from a homily attributed to St John Chrysostom.

Catholic Matters. The readings followed by brief explanations.

St Charles Borromeo’s Parish Bible Study. Notes used in a bible study class.

Lector Notes. Brief historical and theological background. Can be printed out, copied and used for bulletin insert.

The Bible Workshop. Relevant articles, reading, guide, review of readings, suggestions for instruction.

The Office and Dignity of the Mother of GodBy Bishop Ullathorne.

Mary: Mother of GodApologetical Essay from Catholic Answers.

The Mother of GodBy Mark Miravalle.

EXTRAORDINARY FORM
SUNDAY IN THE OCTAVE OF CHRISTMAS

Many of the links below are to specific pages of online books. You may increase the text size of these books by using the sites zoom feature.

Devout Instruction On The Epistle And Gospel Contains the prayers and readings of the day, along with instructions based on these.  Followed by Instruction on Blessing.

Aquinas’ Lectures on Galatians 4:1-7Links below. Not lite reading.

St John Chrysostom on Galatians 4:1-7.

Bernardin De Piconio’s Commentary on Galatians 4:1-7.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Galatians 4:1-7.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 2:33-40.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Luke 2:33-40.

Homily on the EpistlePrefaced by the Epistle Reading (Gal 4:1-7).

Homily on the GospelPrefaced by Gospel Reading (Lk, 2:33-40). Scroll down page to find (“Homily X”).

St Bede The Venerable’s Homily on the GospelPrefaced by Gospel reading.

We Must Live As Children Of God.

Note: some of the sermons which follow are based upon other readings than those used in the Mass for today.  They deal with the subject of time, a themes suggested by today’s Epistle reading “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son…”

On The Shortness Of TimeBased on 1 Cor 7:31.

On The Uncertainty Of TimeBased on Heb. 1:12.

On The Value Of TimeBased on Eph. 5:15.

On EternityBased on Eccles. 12:5.

On The Persecution Of The ChurchBased on Lk 2:34.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Father Callan’s Commentary on Galatians 4:1-7

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 27, 2011

This post includes Father Callan’s brief summary of Galatians 4:1-7, followed by his notes on those verses. Text in red are my addtions .

UNDER THE LAW THE JEWS WERE, LIKE MINORS, IN AN INFERIOR POSITION; BUT CHRIST’S COMING HAS MADE THEM ADOPTED SONS OF GOD WITH FULL RIGHTS TO THE INHERITANCE

A Summary of Galatians 4:1-7~St. Paul here returns to the discussion broken off at 3:25, namely, the opposition between the promise and the Law. Already he has likened the former to a testament and the latter to a pedagogue; and now he asks what was the condition of mankind during the period that intervened between the giving of the promise and its realization. The answer is that, until the coming of Christ, the Jews, although in reality sons and heirs to the inheritance, were like minors, under guardians and stewards, enslaved by the elementary rules that pertained to things merely external. And if such was the inferior state of the Jews, how much worse was that of the Gentiles! All, therefore, Jews and Gentiles, were, like children who had lost their father, waiting for the expiration of the time of their minority and the entrance upon the possession of their inheritance. And when the fulness of the time fixed by the Father arrived, God sent His Son, that He might redeem those in bondage, making through His grace all believers to become His adopted sons and thus heirs of the promised inheritance.

1. Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;

As long as the Jews were under the tutelage of the Law they were like young children, minors, who were heirs indeed to the inheritance bequeathed them by their Father, but, so far as regarded the free use and disposition of their inheritance, differing nothing from servants who have no right to the property.

The figure supposes the father to be dead, but St. Paul is making only a comparison, and every comparison is imperfect. The figure need not suppose this, though it can be taken in this way. Note that in his comment on the word “tutors” in the next verse Fr. Callan defines them as guardians, adding the caveat “if the father is supposed to be dead.”

2. But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed by the father:

Tutors, i.e., guardians, if the father is supposed to be dead.

Governors (οικονομους) , i.e., administrators, as of property, whether material or spiritual; here, perhaps, the term simply means attendants. The plural, tutors and governors, is used to signify the various guardians and attendants appointed by the father at the same time, or, more probably, in succession.

Until the time, etc. In Roman Law ordinarily a minor was under a tutor till fourteen, and under a curator till twenty-five (cf. Ramsay, Gal., p. 392). See Lagrange, h. 1.

3. So we also, when we were children, were serving under the elements of the world.

Application of the foregoing comparison is now made. See on verse 1.

We, i.e., St. Paul and the Jewish Christians only (St. Chrys., Theod., St. Thomas, Cornely, etc.). Others say there is question here of Gentile, as well as Jewish converts, (a) because, instead of speaking of the Law, St. Paul here uses terms that apply to both Jews and Gentiles (“elements of the world”), and (b) because, according to the Apostle’s uniform teaching, carnal descent from Abraham gave no right to the inheritance which was promised to those who would have faith like Abraham (Lagr., Light., Bousset, etc.).

When . . . children, i.e., before the coming of Christ and the Gospel, when mankind were all in a state of infancy and helplessness described above.

Elements of the world. The meaning is the same as in Col 2:8, 20, namely, the elementary principles of natural conduct, such as the religious laws and rites of the Jews, and the various ceremonies of the heathen, all of which inspired fear and servitude, rather than love and a sense of freedom which have come with the Gospel (St. Jerome, Lagr., Light., etc.). The phrase does not mean (a) the four material elements of the ancients: water, fire, earth and air (against Zahn, Toussaint); nor (b) the celestial bodies (against Bousset, Lipsius); nor (c) spiritual beings, such as angels, directing heavenly bodies and physical elements (against Loisy).

4. But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent his Son, made of a woman, made under the law:

With the coming of Christ all was changed regarding our relations with God.

The fulness of time, i.e., the time fixed from eternity by the Eternal Father when the servitude and fear of the Law should give way to the liberty and love of the Gospel. There is no hint here of what brought about this fulness of time.

God sent his son (εξαπεστειλεν) . The compound of the verb in Greek indicates close union between the Father and the Son, and consequently the eternal preexistence of the latter, one in nature with the Father (John 1:1 ff.; 10:30). The word “son” also implies the eternal procession of the Second Person from the Father (John 3:16; 8:42).

Made of a woman, i.e., born of a woman with our human nature, and under the Mosaic Law, like other Jews. St. Paul wishes to show here the abasement of the Son of God who took upon Himself our human nature and subjected Himself to the Law. There does not seem to be any proof in the present passage of our Lord’s virginal conception (Lagr.).

The reading “made of woman” is that of all the best MSS., (εκ γυναικος γενομενον).

5. That he might redeem them who were under the law: that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Here we have stated the purpose of the Son’s supernatural mission in this world: He was born under the Law that he might redeem them, i.e., the Jews, who were under the law; He was born of a woman that, by assuming our nature, He might become our brother, and thus elevate us all to the dignity of adopted sons of God.

We refers to all believers, Jews and Gentiles.

Might receive (απολαβωμεν) , as a right conferred by God Himself.

6. And because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying: Abba, Father.

Because you are, etc., i.e., as a proof that you Galatians, pagans as well as Jews, are now adopted sons of the Father God hath sent, etc. The connective on is probably demonstrative rather than causal.

The Spirit, etc., i.e., the Holy Ghost, who, as sent by the Father, is distinct from Him, and as the Spirit of the Son, is distinct also from the Son. This text affords a proof that the Holy Ghost proceeds alike from the Father and the Son.

Your hearts should be “our hearts,” as in the Greek.

Crying is attributed to the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the faithful.

Abba, Father is expressive of deepest feeling. This was perhaps a consecrated formula handed down from our Lord’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemani (Mark 14:36). The Jews were a bilingual people in the time of Christ, and this would explain why our Lord should use the two synonymous terms (Abba,  ο πατηρ) in

His prayer. However, see on Rom 8:15. Here is what Fr. Callan wrote in Rom 8:15~Abba is an Aramaic word which the Apostle here tells us means Father, ο πατηρ (cf. Mark 14:36; Gal 4:6). Some think the term pertained to an official prayer, but more probably it was only an expression of tenderness toward God, the Father.

The vestra of the Vulgate should be nostra, in conformity with the Greek.

7. Therefore now he is not a servant, but a son. And if a son, an heir also through God.

The conclusion is now drawn that if, as has been proved above, the Galatians are adopted sons of God, they have the rights of sons, and so are heirs to the inheritance through God’s goodness and mercy.

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