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Archive for January 3rd, 2012

Pope St Gregory the Great’s Homily on Matt 2:1-12 for the Epiphany of the Lord

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 3, 2012

You have heard from the Gospel lesson, beloved brethren, how, when the King of heaven was born, the king of earth was troubled. The depths of earth are stirred, whilst the heights of heaven are opened. Now, let us consider the question why, when the Redeemer was born, an angel brought the news to the shepherds of Judea, but a star led the wise men of the East to adore Him. It seems as if the Jews, as reasonable creatures, received a revelation from a reasonable being, that is, an angel; whilst the Gentiles without, not listening to their reason, are attracted, not by a voice, but by a sign, that is, a star. Hence, St. Paul says: A sign, not to believers, but to unbelievers ; but prophecies, not to unbelievers, but to believers (1 Cor 14:22). So the prophesying that is, of an angel was given to those who believed, and the sign to them that believed not. We also remark that later on the Redeemer was preached among the Gentiles, not by Himself, but by the Apostles, even as when a little child He is shown to them, not by the voice of angels, but merely by the vision of a star. When He Himself began to speak, He was made known to us by teachers; but when He laid silent in the manger, by the silent testimony in heaven.

However, whether we consider the signs accompanying His birth, or His death, this special thing is wonderful, namely, the hardness of heart of the Jews, who would not believe in Him, in spite of both prophecies and miracles. All things in creation bore witness that its Creator was come. Let us reckon them up after the manner of men. The heavens knew that He was God, and sent a star to shine over where He lay. The sea knew it, and bore Him up when He walked upon it. The earth knew it, and quaked when He died. The sun knew it, and was darkened. The rocks and walls knew it, and broke in pieces at the hour of His death. Hell knew it, and gave up the dead that were therein. And yet, up to this very hour, the hearts of the unbelieving Jews do not acknowledge that He, to Whom all nature did testify, is their God, and, being more hardened than rocks, refuse to be rent by repentance. But that which increases their guilt and punishment lies in the fact that they despise that God Whose birth had been announced to them by the prophets, hundreds of years before, and Whom they had seen after His birth in the stable. They even knew the place of His birth, for they spoke of it to the inquiring Herod, and told him that, according to the testimony of Holy Scripture, Bethlehem was to be renowned as the birthplace of the Messiah. They strengthen, therefore, our faith, whilst their own knowledge condemns them. The Jews are like Isaac, whose eyes were overtaken with the darkness of death, when he blessed, but could not see his son Jacob standing before him. Thus the unhappy nation was struck with blindness, and, knowing what the prophets had said about the Redeemer, would not recognise Him, though He stood in the midst of them.

When Herod heard of the birth of our King, he betook himself to his cunning wiles, and, lest he should be deprived of an earthly kingdom, he desired the wise men to search diligently for the Child, and when they had found Him, to bring him word again. He said, that he also may come and adore Him; but, in reality, if he had found Him, that he might put Him to death. Now, behold, of how little weight is the wickedness of man, when it is tried against the counsel of the Almighty. It is written: There is no wisdom, there is no prudence, there is no counsel against the Lord (Prov 21:30). And the star which the wise men saw in the East still led them on; they found the new-born King, and offered Him gifts; then they were warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod. And so it came to pass, that when Herod sought Jesus, he could not find Him. Even so it is with hypocrites who, whilst they make pretence to seek the Lord, to adore Him, find Him not.

It is well to know that one of the errors of the Priscillianist heretics consists in believing that every man is born under the influence of a star. In order to confirm this notion, they bring forward the instance of the star of Bethlehem that appeared when the Lord was born, and which they call His star, that is, the star ruling His fate and destiny. But, consider the words of the Gospel concerning this star; they say: It went before them until it came and stood over where the Child was. Whence we see that it was not the Child who followed the star, but the star that followed the Child, as if to show that the Child ruled over the star, instead of the star ruling over Him. Let, therefore, the hearts of the faithful be free from the thought that anything rules over their destiny. In this world there is only One Who directs the destiny of man, that is, He WTho made him. Neither was man made for the stars, but the stars for man; and if we say that they rule over his destiny, we set them above him, for whose service they were created. When Jacob came out of his mother’s womb, and his hand took hold of his brother Esau’s heel, the first could not have been perfectly born without the second immediately following. Yet such was not in after-life the position of these two brothers, whom their mother brought forth at one birth.

Should a ridiculous astrologer, according to his principles, pretend that the power of the stars depends on the very moment of the birth to which their whole operation is referred, we answer that the birth of man requires a certain space of time during which the stars continually change their position. These changes would consequently form as many destinies as there are limbs in those who are born during that space of time. There is another fixed rule accepted by the adepts of this pseudo-science, namely, that he who is born under the sign of Aquarius (waterman) will never have any other profession than that of a fisherman. Yet we know from history that the Gatulians never carry on that business. But who will pretend that not one of them was ever born under that special sign of the Zodiac? By the same principle they will say that all those, born under the sign of the Balance, will be bankers or money-lenders. But we know that there are many nations among which these kinds of business are unknown. These so-called learned astrologers must, therefore, confess, either that these nations have not this sign of the Zodiac, or that none of their children are born under this sign. Many nations, as we know, have a law that their rulers must be of royal blood. But are not many poor children in these countries born at the very moment when the one, who is destined to be king, sees the light? Why, then, should there be a difference between those who are born under the same sign, so that some are clothed in purple whilst others are
slaves? We wish, in speaking of the star that appeared to the wise men, to say these few words against the deceptions of astrology.

The wise men brought gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold is a gift suitable for a king, frankincense is offered in sacrifice to God, and with myrrh are embalmed the bodies of the dead. By the gifts, therefore, they presented to Him, the wise men set forth three things concerning Him, to Whom they offered them. The gold signifies that He was King; the frankincense that He was God, and the myrrh that He was mortal. There are some heretics who believe Him to be God, but confess not His Kingly dominion over all things. These offer Him the frankincense, but refuse the gold. There are some others who admit that He is King, but deny that He is God. These present the gold, but withhold the frankincense. Again, there are other heretics who profess that Christ is both God and King, but deny that He took to Himself a mortal nature. These offer Him gold and frankincense, but not myrrh for the burial incident to His mortality. Let us, however, present gold to the new-born Lord, acknowledging His universal Kingship; let us offer Him frankincense, confessing that He Who had been made manifest in time, was still God before time; let us give Him myrrh, believing that He, Who cannot suffer as God, became capable of death by assuming our human, mortal nature. There is also another meaning in this gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold is the type of wisdom, for, as Solomon says, wisdom is a treasure to be desired, and that it is found in the mouth of the wise (Prov 21:20, Septuag.). Frankincense, which is burnt in honour of God, is a figure of prayer; witness the words of the Psalmist: Let my prayer be
directed as incense in Thy sight (Ps 141:2). By myrrh is represented the mortification of the body, as where Holy Church says of her children labouring in their strife after God even unto death: My hands dropped with myrrh (Cant. 5:5). We offer, therefore, gold to this new King when in His sight we reflect the brilliancy of true wisdom. We offer Him frankincense when our pious prayers, like a sweet odour before God, banish all wicked thoughts and inflame good desires. We offer him myrrh, when by fasting and penance we mortify our passions; for through the effects produced by the myrrh, as we have already remarked, the bodies are preserved from corruption. Our flesh is corrupted when we give up this mortal body to luxury, as the prophet says: The beasts have rotted in their dung (Joel 1:17). The image of these beasts indicates those carnal beings who give themselves up to their shameful desires, and hasten towards their own destruction. We bring, therefore, a present of myrrh to God, when by temperance and mortification we preserve our bodies from all impurity.

The wise men teach us also a great lesson in that they went back another way into their country; and what they did, having received an answer in sleep, we ought to do. Our country is heaven, and when we have once known Jesus, we can never reach it by returning to the way, wherein we walked before knowing Him. We have gone far from our country by the way of pride, disobedience, worldliness, and forbidden indulgence; we must seek that heavenly fatherland by subjection, by contempt of the things which are seen, and by curbing the fleshly appetites. Let us, then, depart into our own country by another way. They that have by enjoyment put themselves away from it, must seek it again by sorrow. It behoves us, therefore, beloved brethren, to be ever fearful and watchful, having continually before the eyes of our mind, on the one hand, the guilt of our doings, and, on the other, the judgment at the last day. It behoves us to think how that, awful Judge, Whose judgment is hanging over us, but has not yet fallen, will surely come. The wrath to come is before sinners, but has not yet smitten them; the Judge yet tarries, that when He comes there may perhaps be less to condemn. Let us afflict ourselves for our faults with weeping, and with the psalmist, let us come before His presence with thanksgiving (Ps 95:2). Let us take heed that we be not befooled by the appearance of earthly happiness, or seduced by the vanity of any worldly pleasure; for the Judge is at hand, Who says: Woe to you that now laugh, for you shall mourn and weep (Luke 6:25). Hence, also, Solomon says: Laughter shall be mingled with sorrow, and mourning taketh hold of the end of joy (Prov 14:13). And again: Laughter I counted error, and to mirth I said : Why art thou vainly deceived? (Eccles. ii.2). And yet again: The heart of the wise is where there is mourning, but the heart of fools where there is mirth (7:5). Let us fear lest we do not fulfil the commandments given to us. If we wish to celebrate this feast to His glory, let us offer Him the acceptable sacrifice of our sorrow, for the royal prophet says: A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit ; a contrite and humbled heart, God, Thou wilt not despise (Ps 51:19). Our former faults were remitted by the Sacrament of Baptism, yet we have again offended God; and these sins which the water of baptism cannot cleanse, will be forgiven only when in real and deep sorrow we shed tears of contrition. We have gone away from our real fatherland; we have followed the false gods which allured us; let us, therefore, return by another way, the way of suffering, the bitterness of which we shall endure with the grace of God.

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Mass Resources for the Epiphany of the Lord (Mostly Biblical and Homiletic)

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 3, 2012

Mass Readings.

Notes on Isaiah 60:1-6. See those posts below marked with a dual asterisk **.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 72.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Ephesians 3:1-6.

Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6.

Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6.

Father Wilberforce’s Commentary on Ephesians 3:2-sa, 5-6.

Cornelius a Lapides’ Commentary on Matthew 2:1-12.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 2:1-12.

My Notes on Matthew 2:1-12.

**Word Sunday:

** Bible Study. St Charles Borromeo Parish.

** Haydock Bible Commentary. Previously posted. Readings from the Douay-Rheims Challoner version followed by notes from the old Haydock Commentary.

** Navarre Bible Commentary.

Devout Instruction on the Epistle and GospelScroll down page.  Contains the readings and prayers of the EF, along with brief notes.  Followed by a description of why we use incense.

Catholic Mom. Children’s resource. Printable coloring pages, Mass worksheets, lesson plans, crossword puzzles and word searches based upon the Gospel text.

Lector Notes. Brief historical and theological background, can be printed out and used as a bulletin insert.

Thoughts From the Early Church. Excerpt from a commentary by St Basil.

Sunday Gospel Scripture StudyVideo study. Excellent! Looks at the Gospel in some detail. Approx. 51 minutes.

Father Barron’s Homily Podcast.

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

Franciscan Sister’s Bible Study Podcast. On all of Matthew 2.

** St Martha’s Podcast. Looks at all the reading in some detail.

A Lectio Divina Reading of the Gospel. Meditation, prayer, reflection in the Carmelite tradition.

The Vigil of Epiphany. By Dom Prosper Gueranger.

We Have Come To Adore HimSermon.  The star was to the wise men what grace is to us.

We Have Seen His Star In The EastFollows the above sermon.

Homily Of Pope St Gregory.

Pope St Leo’s 1st Homily on the Epiphany.

Pope St Leo’s 3rd Homily on the Epiphany.

Pope St Leo’s 4th Homily on the Epiphany.

Pope St Leo’s 6th Homily on the Epiphany.

The Method:   From the Sermon: “The feast of Epiphany…gives us a beautiful idea of the method which we must follow in serving our Divine Master, by presenting for our consideration the story of the Magi who came from the East to pay their respects to the Infant Jesus.

Some Thoughts For Epiphany SundayPreviously posted.  Taken from Meditation On The Life Of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis.  Kempis, of course, wrote the famous IMITATION OF CHRIST.

Two Homilies on the Gospel for the Epiphany. From an online book. Use the sites zoom feature (the magnifying glass) to increase text size for easier reading.

Seven Discourses on the Mystery of the Epiphany. Online Book. Seven discourses follow one upon another. Use site’s zoom feature (the magnifying glass) to increase text size.

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Father Wilberforce’s Commentary on Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6 for the Epiphany of the Lord

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 3, 2012

2-3a. If yet (or, for as much as) you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God, which is given me towards you: how that according to revelation, the mystery has been made known to me.

The words translated if yet should not be understood to express doubt. Teh Greek words express none, but are equivalent to “for as much as” you have heard and understood that the grace of being the Apostle of the Gentiles has been given to me. To each one, as the Apostle says later, grace is given according to the measure of the gift of Christ, and to me has been given that I should reap a spiritual harvest among you.

How that according to revelation. St Paul here speaks of the exalted dignity he had received from God, and of the office of an Apostle, which implied the revelation of the mystery of the redemption, and he indicates how clear was the knowledge thus bestowed on his mind. Afterwards, in verse 13 he mentions the counter-balancing trials and tribulations by which his humility was preserved and his constancy tested. To show his apostolic dignity he states two things: first, the clear knowledge vouchsafed to him of various mysteries of God’s Wisdom; secondly, the office of practically dispensing to others the fruit of these mysteries, as we see in verse 7 by the words, of which I am made a minister.

First, then, he declares the fact that when he was called to be an Apostle, God bestowed upon him a superhuman knowledge. This knowledge, coming from God, he implies to have been certain, full, and excellent.

(a) Certain, because it was not derived from any human source, nor dependent on any human mind, but it proceeded from divine revelation, and not from man; not through the teaching of the other Apostles (cf. Gal 1:12).

(b) His knowledge was ful and complete, because the Christian mysteries were fully revealed to him.

(c) This revealed knowledge is excellent, because peculiar to the Apostles.

5. And in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to His holy Apostles and Prophets in the Spirit.

The word Prophets here refers to those of the New Testament (Eph 4:11). Although the prophets of the old law knew a part of the high mysteries of the redemption, and of the calling of the Gentiles to the true faith, still their knowledge was not clear and detailed like that of the Apostles. So the Emphasis should be on the word “as,” for St Paul does not deny that the prophets of old had much light concerning these mysteries; but declares that it was small compared to the knowledge given to the Apostles. Our Lord implies the excellence of the revelation vouchsafed to the Apostles when he said, “To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God” (Luke 8:10; cf. Luke 10:23-24).

This excellence consisted in three things:-

(a) The Apostles had the revelation immediately from the only Begotten Son of God Himself, the Light of the world; for, as St John the Baptist said, “the only Begotten Son Who is in the Bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him” (John 1:18).

(b) The Apostles saw the glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ, not by mere images as the ancient prophets did, and so our Lord exclaimed, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things which you see” (Luke 10:23).

(c) The Apostles were appointed as the dispensers of this mysterious grace to the whole world; and so needed a cleared knowledge themselves, and God always gives men what is necessary to carry out the work and office to which they are appointed.

6. That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body and co-partners of His promise in Christ Jesus by the gospel.

In this verse the Apostle declares what that gracious mystery is of which he has been speaking namely, the calling of the Gentiles into the one Church, and therefore to an equal participation with the Jews in all the divine promises. The three privileges of the Jews which distinguished them from other nations were:-

1. The promise of the inheritance (Rom 4:13; Ps 16:6).

2. Special election as the chosen people (Deut 7:6).

3. The promise of Christ, the Messiah (Gen 12:3).

These three privileges the Gentiles in no way formerly shared, as they were peculiar to the Jews; but now, as members of the one Christian Church, they possess all the graces of Christ and the promise of the eternal inheritance. This St Paul expresses in verse 6, for-

1. As to the first privilege, that of the promised inheritance, they are fellow-heirs with the Jews in the heavenly inheritance (Matt 8:11; Gal 3:28-29).

2. As to the special election as the people of God, the Gentiles are now of the same body, that is, of Christ (John 10:16).

3. As to the promise made to the Israelites as the seed of Abraham, the Gentiles now have been made co-partners of that promise (Rom 15:8-12).

All these benefits have come to the Gentiles, not through Moses, but in Christ Jesus; and again not by the fulfillment of the law and by bearing that yoke which St Peter declared “neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear” (Acts 15:10), but in Christ Jesus by the gospel, through which all can be saved (cf. John 1:17; 2 Pet 1:4; Rom 1:16; 1 Tim 2:4).

In verse 7-9 which follow, St Paul sets forth the ministry with which he had been invested, and shows the help given to him for its duties.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6 for the Epiphany of the Lord

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 3, 2012

This post begins with Father Callan’s brief summary of Ephesians 3:1-13, followed by his notes on the reading.


A Summary of Ephesians 3:1-13~Having spoken in the first Chapter of this Epistle of God’s eternal purpose to unite Jewish and non-Jewish peoples in the one Church of Christ, and having shown in the second Chapter how this purpose has been realized in the present period of grace with its prospect of glorious consummation in the Church Triumphant hereafter, the Apostle, according to his custom after such meditations on the wondrous ways of God, begins a prayer of thanksgiving on behalf of the “Ephesians”; but he has only begun (ver. 1a) when he is somehow reminded of his chains and what has made him a prisoner for Christ, and this causes him to digress (ver. 1b-13) to consider the part he has played in the realization of God’s eternal purpose to unite all the nations of the world in the one spiritual fold of Christ, and to unfold again the unsearchable wisdom of God hidden in the purpose of that divine mystery and age-old secret. For a parallel parenthesis see Rom 5:13-18.

2. If at least you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God
which is given me towards you

If at least you have heard. Abbott and many others hold that these words prove that St. Paul was addressing readers personally unknown to him. Westcott thinks there is nothing in the words to sustain such a conclusion. Moule believes we have here “a phrase of almost irony, an illusion to well- known fact under the disguise of hypothesis.” Alexander says the words are expressive of gentle assurance. As a compromise, Robinson holds they mean that some, at least, of the readers were personally unknown to the
Apostle. Hitchcock explains that St. Paul first had the intention of writing to the Ephesians, as he had written to the Colossians, but that his outlook changed as he wrote, embracing the Churches of the Lycus Valley and other Gentiles. Voste would translate: “Since indeed you have heard, etc.” If we explain the words as conditional, as in Eph 4:21, we still may hold that they are rhetorical,
not implying any real doubt. A few number of ancient manuscripts and some church fathers witness to the fact that this letter may not have been addressed specifically to the Ephesians since the manuscripts in question had no addressee. Some scholars believe that “Ephesians” was actually written as a circular letter, intended to be delivered and read to a number of different churches and, therefore, originally lacked a specific addressee. Some phrasing in the letter (such as the current verse and 1:15) can be taken as indicating that St Paul was not directly acquainted with the people he is writing to, but Paul was intimately acquainted with the Ephesians.

The dispensation of the grace, etc., better, “the stewardship of the grace, etc.” The Messianic Kingdom is a reign of grace, and St. Paul was designated by Christ to be His steward in dispensing the Messianic grace to the Gentiles. Cf. 1 Cor 9:17; Col 1:24-25.

3a. How that, according to revelation, the mystery has been made known to me,

The Apostle now begins to explain how the mystery of grace was made known to him, that is, his apostleship among the Gentiles, as he has explained above in 2:11 ff.

How. The Vulg. quoniam should be quomodo, used to indicate the object of St. Paul’s ministry, namely, that the Gentiles were to be fellow-heirs, etc. (ver. 6).

According to revelation, made to Paul directly on the road to Damascus at the time of hisv conversion, and elsewhere later on (Acts 9:4 ff.; Gal 1:12, 2:2; 2 Cor 12:1, 7, etc).

The mystery, i.e., the purpose of God to save Gentiles as well as Jews through Christ (ver. 5, 6).

5. Which in other generations was not known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit

Which eternal purpose and deep mystery was never before known to mankind as it is now revealed in the Gospel by means of a special revelation communicated to chosen Apostles and prophets whom the Holy Ghost has inspired and set apart in order that they may make it known to the world.

Was not known, at all to the pagan world, and was only dimly shadowed forth among the Chosen People, the most of whom did not understand it.

Sons of men is a Hebraism meaning all men.

Holy apostles, etc., i.e., men especially selected and consecrated for their supernatural work, but not necessarily sanctified personally. That there is question here only of New Testament prophets is clear from the phrase “now revealed.”

In the Spirit, i.e., in the Holy Ghost, by whom the human mediums were inspired.

6. That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and co-partners of the promise in Christ Jesus, by the gospel

St. Paul now gives a brief definition of the content of the longhidden mystery in so far as it pertained to the Gentiles, namely, that God has made the Gentiles equal to the Jews as regards salvation; they are now “fellow-heirs” with the Jews to heaven, members of the same mystical body, the Church, sharers in the same high destiny “in Christ” (i.e., in vital union with Him), which was long ago promised to Abraham and his offspring (Gen 12:3; Gal 3:8, 4:29; Rom 4:13, 16), and is now made manifest in the preaching of the Gospel.

His promise of the Douai should be “the promise,” according to the best Greek and Latin texts.

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Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6 for the Epiphany of the Lord

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 3, 2012

This post begins with the Bishop’s brief analysis of the entire chapter, followed by his notes on the reading for today. These notes include his paraphrasing (in purple) the text he is commenting on.

A Brief Summary of Ephesians 3~The Apostle, after having pointed out in the foregoing chapter, the blessings which the Ephesians were enjoying, refers to his own imprisonment then a matter of celebrity throughout the Church, for having preached to the Gentiles for the purpose of securing for them their present happiness (verse 1). From this he takes occasion to explain more fully the mystery of the vocation of the Gentiles and the divine economy regarding them. He says, that this mystery, regarding their vocation, and their admission to a share of the same blessings with the Jews a secret hidden from the most knowing in past times was made known to himself by revelation (3-7). He states, that he was made a minister of the Gospel, through the pure mercy of God, for the purpose of making known to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and the economy of the mystery, hidden from eternity in God, and not clearly known even to the angels until it was seen fully carried out in the Church (7-11). He points out one of the advantages resulting from this economy on the part of God; it is, that the Gentiles as well as the Jews, are, in consequence, inspired with a filial confidence of approaching God, as children approach a father, and this through the mediation of Jesus (12). He next entreats them, after having been so highly favoured, not to grow faint-hearted or remiss on account of his own chains and afflictions in the cause of the Gospel (13).

He, next, suppliantly implores of God to grant them through his Holy Spirit to be strengthened in grace, and to be enabled to persevere in sanctity. He prays that they may be endowed with a knowledge, even in some degree, of the incomprehensible dimensions of the love of God for us, and that thus they
may be fully replenished with heavenly gifts (14-19).

He concludes by calling upon the Church, favoured with so many blessings, to render eternal glory to their divine Source and Author.

Eph 3:2  If yet you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me towards you:

Since you must have heard from me during my three years sojourn, how, by divine dispensation, the grace of the Apostleship was granted to me to be exercised amongst you.

“If yet.”  The Greek of which, ειγε, may also be rendered since, or, whereas. The words make good sense in our construction, thus: “if yet you have heard (as indeed you must have heard) of the dispensation,” &c. This has the same meaning as the other construction. Dispensation in Greek, οικονομιαν, means the economy exercised in the administration of domestic affairs. Hence the passage signifies, you must have been aware, that the great Father of the human family, who portions out their respective offices among his servants, has confided to me the office of apostleship to be exercised amongst you.

Eph 3:3a  How that, according to revelation, the mystery has been made known to me,

“The mystery” refers to the vocation of the Gentiles, to be “fellow-heirs,” &c.
(verse 6), and also to his own mission to preach the gospel amongst them. The words, “you have heard,” (verse 2), are to be repeated in explaining this verse, thus: “you have heard, how that according to revelation,” &c. “Has been made known to me.” For which the common Greek reading is, εγνωρισεν, he hath made known to me. The Vulgate reading, εγνωρισθη, is, however, better supported by ancient authorities.

Eph 3:5  Which in other generations was not known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit:

A secret or mystery which, in past ages, was not made known to the sons of men, to the extent to which it is now revealed by the Holy Ghost to the holy Apostles and Prophets of the New Law.

The mystery in question is the vocation of the Gentiles and their union with the Jews in the one body of the Church, &c., as in verse, 6. This mystery was not made “known to the sons of men” in past times.

But, did not the prophets of old predict it? Must it not, therefore, have been known to them? Yes; the prophets of old, in consequence of having predicted it, must have known the substance of it; but still, they knew it only in an obscure, general way; and they were ignorant of the several circumstances of time, place, &c., which God revealed to the Apostles by the Holy Ghost. The “prophets” manifestly refer to those of the New Law.

Eph 3:6  That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs and of the same body: and copartners of his promise in Christ Jesus, by the gospel.

This mystery, with which even the most learned among the ancients were not clearly acquainted, is this, viz., that the Gentiles were to be made co-heirs of the same mystical body, i.e., of the same Church, and joint partners with them, of the great promise of redemption which was to be given through Christ, and promulgated by means of the Gospel.

“And co-partners of his promise.” The “promise” referred to is, that made to Abraham. “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed,” in which are comprised all the blessings of the New Law, briefly expressed by the name of blessings of grace and glory. “In Christ Jesus by the gospel;” “Jesus” is omitted in the ordinary Greek. It is, however, read in the Codex Vaticanus.

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