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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 February, 2018

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 25

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 17, 2018

 

To thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul.

Having found no rest in creatures, but on the contrary, “briers and thorns” everywhere; disgusted with my former mode of life, and having torn my soul from the affections that tied it down to the earth, “I lifted it up” to thee. Through constant reflection, and love inspired by you, to you I began to cling, hoping for help from you in my temptations; and since “I put my trust in you, let me not be ashamed;” that is, I will not go from you in confusion, without having obtained the help I need, and thus be made “to blush” before my enemies.

2 In thee, O my God, I put my trust; let me not be ashamed (blush before my enemies).
3 Neither let my enemies laugh at me: for none of them that wait on thee shall be confounded.

Verse 3 provides an explanation of the words, “To blush before my enemies,” in the preceding verse, for he should blush if his “enemies were to laugh at him” for having vainly trusted in God. By “my enemies,” may be understood, both the wicked in this world, and the evil spirits, whose rejoicing and scoffing would produce intolerable confusion, were we seriously to reflect on it. He then gives a reason for his hope “of not being confounded,” because “none of them that wait on thee shall be confounded;” that means, because we have learned by long experience, from the examples of our ancestors, and from your own promises, that those who put their trust in you, and patiently expect your help, were never disappointed in their “waiting on you.” To “wait on the Lord” is a very common expression in the Scriptures, and means to expect him in the certain hope of assistance.

4 Let all them be confounded that act unjust things without cause. Shew, O Lord, thy ways to me, and teach me thy paths.

This verse may be interpreted in two ways; first, to signify that those who sin without cause, meaning those who sin through malice, and not through infirmity or ignorance, “would he confounded.” Such persons think neither of doing penance, nor of abandoning sin, and if they hope for anything from God, their hope is presumption. Another more literal meaning may be offered, viz., that both the visible and invisible enemies of the just would be confounded, for their persecutions of the just will be all in vain, because they will not accomplish the end they propose to themselves, the ruin of the just, and the bringing them to hell; whereas, on the contrary, such persecution becomes only an occasion to the just of exercising their virtue, and a source of everlasting merit. The prophet then throws back the confusion on his enemies, saying, Lord, do not allow me to be confounded, as I will, if my enemies laugh at me, and exult in my ruin; but, on the contrary, let them be confounded, when they see they have been persecuting me, and provoking me to impatience, without effecting their object, and in vain.

“Show, O Lord, thy ways to me, and teach me thy paths.” By “thy ways,” we understand his law, which is really the way to God. “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments;” and the prophet having asked the Lord’s help against temptations, explains what help he specially wishes for, and says, “Show, O Lord, thy ways to me,” make me tread in the way of your commandments—“and teach me thy paths;” that is, show me that most narrow road of thy most just law, for thus will I escape the mocking of all my enemies, and instead of being confounded, all they who, by their temptations, sought to harass me, will be confounded. He asks to be taught the paths of the Lord, not speculatively, but practically; that is to say, he asks for such grace as may move his will to observe the commandments cheerfully.

5 Direct me in thy truth, and teach me; for thou art God my Saviour; and on thee have I waited all the day long.

A repetition of the foregoing, and a reason assigned for it. “Direct me in thy truth.” If left to myself, I will at once turn aside to the right or to the left, deserting the path of your commandments, on account of the prosperity or the adversity of this world: do you, therefore, take me by the hand, and direct me by the help of thy grace in the right path, “in thy truth;” namely, in thy law, which is the truest of all paths. “For all thy commands are truth,” Psalm 118.—“For thou art God my Savior;” of thee I ask this help, because you alone, being God, can save my soul; for there is no other physician that understands the diseases of the soul; and, therefore, there is no one able to cure them but God alone, much less is there one able to restore them to perfect health; and I specially ask this favor, which I hope, too, to obtain, because “On thee have I waited all the day long;” that is, with perseverance and patience I have waited for thy medicine, and look for relief from nobody else. It is a source of great merit with God never to give up the hope of his help in temptations, or to look to human consolation.

6 Remember, O Lord, thy bowels of compassion; and thy mercies that are from the beginning of the world.

When God allows the soul to be harassed by temptation, or to wallow in sin, he seems to have forgotten his mercy; and thus the just man, after a long struggle with temptation, and seeing that, however he may desire it, he cannot guard against relapsing into sin, cries out to God to remember his former compassion and mercies. Between compassion and mercy there is this difference only, that the former seems to be the actual exercise or practice of mercy, the latter the habit of the virtue in the mind; and the same difference is observable in the Hebrew, though the words are much more dissimilar. The meaning then is—Remember, O Lord, that you were compassionate “from eternity,” and not only compassionate, but in the habit of showing mercy, and the most paternal tenderness to thy children; and, therefore, mercy is thy distinguishing, as well as thy natural, tendency.

7 The sins of my youth and my ignorances do not remember. According to thy mercy remember thou me: for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord.

He places forgetfulness in beautiful opposition to remembrance. Remember thy mercy, but forget my sins; for one is the cause of the other, for God then remembers his mercy when he does not wish to remember our sins any longer, but so remits and blots them out, as if they were consigned to eternal oblivion. He remembers, however, the sins and ignorance of youth; that is, the sins committed through human infirmity and ignorance, because to those more than any others does his mercy lend itself, according to the apostle, 1 Tim. 1, “But l obtained the mercy of God, because I did it ignorantly;” and, perhaps, David had no other sins to account for; and this certainly is the prayer of a just man, who seems to have had to contend with such sins only; and with that, sins committed through malice are not forgiven through prayer alone, but need “Fruits worthy of penance.” “According to thy mercy, remember thou me.” He declares what he said in the words, Remember thy bowels of compassion;” and forget my sins; for all this takes place when “God remembers the sinner according to his mercy.”

8 The Lord is sweet and righteous: therefore he will give a law to sinners in the way.

He assures himself of the certainty of obtaining the object of his hope, by reason of God’s goodness and justice; and thus, that he is wont to correct delinquents freely, because thereby he exercises his mercy towards man, and his justice towards sin; and the meaning is, “The Lord is sweet and righteous;” and, therefore, loves man, and hates sin; and, therefore, “gives a law;” that is, declares and points it out “to sinners in the way,” to persuade them to abandon the old path, and, from being bad and wicked, to become good and just.

9 He will guide the mild in judgment: he will teach the meek his ways.

A qualification of the expression in the last verse, “He will give a law to sinners;” which he says here does not apply to all sinners, but only to the mild and the meek, who do not resist God’s teachings, but rather covet instruction. “We will guide the mild in judgment;” that means, he will lead the humble and the mild through the straight path of his law, (for law and judgment appear to be synonymous, as we explained in Psalm 18,) which he then explains in other words, “He will teach the meek his ways,” that is, to the meek he will give the grace of knowing and loving, and thus fulfilling his law. Observe that the proud are not altogether excluded from the grace of God, but have their place assigned them. The proud, to be sure, are incapable of perfection, of which this Psalm principally treats, until, from the influence of fear, they do penance, and then, having shaken off the fear, become mild and humble. The grace of God, then, first softens and subdues the proud and the obstinate, and when thus humbled and contrite, “It guides them in judgment,” and “teaches them his ways.”

10 All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth, to them that seek after his covenant and his testimonies.

 Having stated that not only were the meek guided by God, but that all God’s dealings with such souls were acts of mercy and justice, justice meaning the honor and truth that oblige men to perform their promises. “The ways of the Lord,” mean here his works, they being, in some respect, the “way” in which he comes to us; unless we prefer to understand the expression as meaning the Lord’s rules or customs, and, as it were, the law he uses. Thus, the “Ways of the Lord;” the law he gives us, by means of which, as by a straight road, we ascend direct to God, is sometimes intended by the expression; at other times, it signifies the law he uses himself, when, through his works, he descends to us. And as David had previously spoken at great length on the former, he now speaks of the latter, that is, of the law he made for himself, and which he observes towards us; and he, therefore, lays down, “All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth;” that is, his law, his custom, his mode of dealing with us, are all in mercy and truth; so that whatever he promises in his mercy, he invariably carries out in his truth. Who doth God so deal with? “With those that seek after his covenant and his testimonies.” He gives the name of testament, or “covenant,” to that bargain he made with man, when he gave him the law, that they should be his people, and he should be their God; which bargain is called a testament in the Scripture, because it contains a promise of inheritance, and require to be confirmed by the death of the testator, as it really was by the death of Christ, as a sign of which Moses sprinkled the whole people with blood, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you,” Exod. 24, and Heb. 9. He calls the law that God gave us “His testimonies,” because, as we have already stated, through the law God testifies his will to us. With those, then, who seek for the compact entered into by God with man to observe it, and, in like manner, seek for the law of God to carry it out, that is, with men of good will, fearing and loving God, he deals with such in the law of mercy and truth.

11 For thy name’s sake, O Lord, thou wilt pardon my sin: for it is great.

From the general law in which God deals with those that fear him, the prophet infers that he has a fair hope of his sins being forgiven. “For thy name’s sake, O Lord,” to make known thy mercy and thy truth, “Thou wilt pardon my sin, for it is great.” The word great may signify numerous, as a great people, in which sense St. James uses it, when he says, “We all offend in many things:” or, on account of the magnitude and the grievousness of the sins, for holy souls look upon trifles as grievous, which trifles are really grievous, if we consider the greatness of the person offended.

12 Who is the man that feareth the Lord? He hath appointed him a law in the way he hath chosen.

The prophet is now like one in love, now sighing for what he loves, now praising it, again sighing and longing for it. The just man was in love with the grace of God, ardently longed for the forgiveness of his sins, for the grace of living well, and pleasing God, and, therefore, now asks God’s grace thereto; at one time he praises the grace, and declares the happiness of those that fear God, that is, of those who have got such a grace; and again he returns to desire and to ask for it. Thus, in this verse and the two following, he declares the advantages those who fear God enjoy. “Who is the man that feareth the Lord?” Let such a man come forward and learn from me what a fortunate man he is. The next sentence, “He hath appointed him a law in the way he hath chosen.” Many think this a part of the happiness hereinbefore alluded to; that is to say, that man, fearing the Lord, will, in the first place, have the privilege of being instructed by God “in the way he hath chosen;” that is, in the state of life he may select. Not a bad interpretation, but I prefer another. The prophets are very much in the habit of repeating the same idea twice in the same verse, sometimes for explanation; and I imagine the meaning of the passage, “Who is the man that feareth the Lord?” to be, who, I say, is the man that God has instructed in his law, in the way that man has selected; that is, in the direct path of living a holy life, and moving to God, which he has already chosen of his free will. One part of the verse thus explains the other, for that is he who fears God, who, by his grace, chooses the road to him, which road is none other than the observance of the commandments.

13 His soul shall dwell in good things: and his seed shall inherit the land.

The happiness of the man fearing God consists in this, that “his soul,” the man fearing the Lord, “shall dwell in good things,” shall enjoy those good things, not for a while, or in a transitory way, but forever, permanently. Nothing can be more true, for “To them that love God, all things work together unto good,” as the apostle, in his Epistle to the Romans, has it. Therefore, he that fears God must be always happy. In prosperity he will know how to enjoy it; in adversity, patience and the hope of a great reward in the kingdom of heaven will come to his help. Thus, he will always be glad, and rejoice. And himself will not only dwell in good things, but even his children; “His seed shall inherit the land;” inheritance and possession signifying the same thing, as we have already explained in Psalm 15. The children of those who fear God will possess the land, because they will live in peace therein, without any one to injure them, in the sense we have alluded to; because to the good “All things work together unto good;” and their very tribulations become a source of joy and merit.

14 The Lord is a firmament to them that fear him: and his covenant shall be made manifest to them.

The reason why those who fear God shall always “Dwell in good things,” is, because they do not depend on perishable and transitory things, but God himself is “their firmament;” that is, their hope is based on the friendship and help of God. Firmament means foundation, on which they rest, that foundation being God himself; and their reason for depending on him is, because “his covenant” makes it “manifest to them.” They who fear God know right well, and often call to mind, the treaty he entered into with man, to be their God, and to be a most loving parent to them, on the condition of their observing his laws; and they can, therefore, understand how, by reason of this compact, they can depend upon God, as upon a most solid foundation.

15 My eyes are ever towards the Lord: for he shall pluck my feet out of the snare.

Having enlarged for a while on the happiness of those that fear the Lord, he now returns to wish and to pray for it: “My eyes are ever towards the Lord.” My mind’s eye has God ever before it, as being entirely dependent on him. The most effectual mode of prayer is, for one to place themselves in a most abject position, before the one from whom help is expected, and to propitiate the benignity of the great, rather by modestly, silently, and quietly pointing to our poverty, than by stunning them with our clamor. As we have in Psalm 122, “As the eyes of the handmaid are on the hands of her mistress; so are our eyes unto the Lord our God until he have mercy on us.” “For he shall pluck thy feet out of the snare.” I have my eyes so intently fixed on God, because he will, as I trust, deliver me from all danger of temptations, which, like snares, beset us on all sides while here below. The expression may also mean, that I always keep up the intention of pleasing God, and of doing nothing opposed to his will. It may also mean the contemplation of the divine beauty, which is always before the mind’s eye of those that seriously love God; but, I consider the first explanation the most literal.

16 Look thou upon me, and have mercy on me; for I am alone and poor.

As he is always looking to God, he justly asks to be looked upon by him. Such was his silent prayer when he had his “eyes ever toward the Lord,” hoping he may regard with mercy his loneliness and his poverty. He says he is “alone,” lonely and desolate, or (which is better) because he had in spirit detached himself from the whole world, and attached himself to God alone. He calls himself “poor,” because in his humility he looked upon himself as destitute of all virtues and merits.

17 The troubles of my heart are multiplied: deliver me from my necessities.

I am more inclined to think the temptations of sin are referred to here, rather than temporal troubles. David was one of those who, with the apostle, Rom. 7, groaned and said, “But I see another law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind, and captivating me in the law of sin, that is in my members. Unhappy man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death.” “The necessities,” from which he seeks to be delivered, seem to be those most troublesome motions of concupiscence, which, in spite of us, will sometimes torment us, and even lead us to sin.

18 See my abjection and my labour; and forgive me all my sins.

He follows up the prayer, and asks forgiveness for the sins into which he may have fallen by the force of temptation. For, though a soul fearing God may be grievously afflicted, and take great pains in resisting concupiscence, still the just man falls seven times; and yet, from his fall, he may be proved to be just; because, at once, by his tears, his prayers, and his contrition, he quickly wipes away the filth and dirt into which he had incautiously fallen. By “abjection,” we are not to understand the virtue of humility; but his abjection, properly speaking, his meanness. For the just man, when he means to become quite perfect, looks down thoroughly on himself, and still does not escape sin. Instead of “Forgive me my sins,” the Hebrew has “bear my sins,” expressive of the trouble of the true child of God, for fear God may be displeased by the great number of them; and he, therefore, exclaims, “bear them.” Do not be fatigued in carrying them, and supporting my weakness.

19 Consider my enemies for they are multiplied, and have hated me with an unjust hatred.

He argues now from the number and the cruelty of his enemies. Lord, says he, you have seen “My abjection and my labor;” behold, now, the multitude, the cruelty, and the iniquity of my spiritual enemies. The enemies who seek to draw us to sin, and incessantly inflame our concupiscence with red hot weapons, are the demons whom St. Paul calls “The spirits of wickedness;” that they are innumerable is well known; and that they burn with the worst sort of hatred, with “An unjust hatred” against us, is equally well known. Hatred is said to be unjust, or most unjust, when one hates another without cause, without any provocation. The hatred may also be said to be unjust, when one seeks to harm another; not for any lucre or benefit, to be derived therefrom, but, from the mere spirit of mischief. Such is the hatred of the devil towards the human race, especially towards the elect; for mankind never did any harm to the devil, but he, blinded by envy, was the ruin of man. “By the envy of the devil, death came into the world,” Wisd. 2. The same evil one now harasses the faithful by temptations, not for the purpose of deriving any benefit therefrom, but to gratify his delight in the ruin of the just.

20 Deep thou my soul, and deliver me: I shall not be ashamed, for I have hoped in thee.

Surrounded as I am by so many enemies, especially invisible ones, to resist whom I feel my own strength unequal, I have, therefore, recourse to you “to keep my soul,” and by your care of it, to free and deliver me from them. For freeing and delivering from the enemy does not suppose that a capture has been made, it equally applies when a capture is prevented. “Thou hast delivered my soul out of the lower hell,” Psalm 85, which means, as it does here, you have prevented my falling into it. The meaning may be also, Keep my soul in the prison of this body, in which I am detained a captive, “For the law of my members holds me a captive in the law of sin,” and afterwards, in the fitting time, deliver me.

21 The innocent and the upright have adhered to me: because I have waited on thee.

Having said, in the preceding verse, that “I shall not be ashamed, for I have hoped in thee,” he gives a reason why he would fear to be ashamed at being deserted by God, and the reason is, that “many innocent and upright,” through the force of his example, especially from seeing him hope in God alone, “adhered to thee,” who certainly would cause him to blush and to be confounded were they to see him disappointed. “I shall not be ashamed,” then, has quite a different meaning in the end of the Psalm from what it had in the beginning of it. In the beginning the meaning was, “I will not be ashamed” before my enemies in their insolence; here it is, “I will not be ashamed” before my friends in their kind condolence.

22 Deliver Israel, O God, from all his tribulations.

David, being not only one of God’s people, but also the prince and head of others, having prayed at sufficient length for himself, he now adds a prayer for his people; a general one, as being unable to enter into the peculiar wants and difficulties of each individual.

 

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:12-18

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 17, 2018

2 Cor 3:12-18 THE SUPERIORITY OF THE GOSPEL DISPENSATION GIVES ITS MINISTERS RIGHT TO SPEAK WITH BOLDNESS AND AUTHORITY

The hope of greater glory which belongs to the New Testament ministry, and which, though already come, is to continue and develop, gives the Apostles confidence and assurance in announcing the Gospel clearly and openly. To explain and enforce this St. Paul contrasts the Jews who, not recognizing Christ, do not grasp the meaning of their own Old Testament, with the Christians who plainly understand Christ and are trans formed into His glorious image.

2 Cor 3:12. Having therefore such hope, we use much confidence:

Such hope of one day enjoying the fulness of the glory which belongs to the New Testament ministry. “Christianity was young and undeveloped when this was written: we have seen its maturity and the fulfillment of the Apostle’s hope” (Rick.).

Confidence. Better, “Boldness of speech” (παρρησίᾳ = parresia from πᾶς [pas] and ῥέω [rheo]). “We preach everywhere, hiding nothing, but speaking plainly, nor are we afraid of wounding your eyes, as Moses dazzled the eyes of the Jews” (St. Chrys.). The Apostle is hinting at the comparative silences of the Old Testament, e.g., as to the resurrection and eternal life (Plum.).

2 Cor 3:13. And not as Moses put a veil upon his face, that the children of Israel might not steadfastly look on the face of that which is made void.

 And not as Moses put a veil, etc. The meaning is that the Apostles do not cover their faces as Moses did. From the Hebrew and the Septuagint of Ex 34:29 ff. it appears that Moses when communicating with God had no covering on his face, and that when he came forth and spoke to the people his face was likewise unveiled until he had finished speaking to them; then he again covered his face so that the Israelites might not see the fading of the brightness from his countenance. The passing of the splendor from the face of Moses was a symbol of the transitory nature of the Old Covenant (Ex 34:33), and God did not wish to reveal this feature of the Law to the Jews of the time. “There was an excuse, then, for their not seeing that the Old Covenant was transient; it was different now after God had revealed the fact through the Prophets and declared it openly through the Apostles” (MacR.).

Look on the face should be “look on the end,” namely, the fading away of the brightness of Moses’ face. All the Greek MSS., except A, and all the Greek and Latin Fathers read “end” (τέλος = telos) here in place of “face.”

Of that which is made void, i.e., the fading away of the brightness from Moses’ face, which was a symbol of the transient character of the Old Testament.

The in faciem of the Vulgate should be in finem.

2 Cor 3:14. But their senses were made dull. For, until this present day, the selfsame veil, in the reading of the old testament, remaineth not taken away (because in Christ it is made void).

Although the Apostles wear no veil, but speak openly and plainly of Christ, the Jews do not understand, because their senses, i.e., their minds, are blinded through their own fault. Little by little, through the Prophets, God lifted the veil which hung over the face of the Law, so that the Jews could have perceived the nature of the Old Dispensation, which was intended to lead them to Christ (Gal. 3:24); but, influenced by the devil (2 Cor 4:4), they willingly closed their eyes and their hearts to the light and warmth of the Gospel (Isa. 6:8 ff.; Acts 28:25 ff.).

Until this present day the Old Testament continues to be a veiled book to the Jews, because just as they could not perceive the vanishing glory of the face of Moses, so now, of their own choice, are they unable to understand the transitory nature of the Scriptures which they read.

The selfsame veil means that the symbolism of the veil is the same, namely, the inability to see that which was passing. The Jews read their Scriptures, but the veil hangs over what they read because they will not believe in Christ through whom alone their darkness can be lifted: in Christ it (the veil) is made void, i.e., is done away with.

2 Cor 3:15. But even until this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.

 When Moses is read. The meaning is that even when St. Paul wrote this letter a veil hung over the hearts of the Jews, as a people, while they heard read every Sabbath in their synagogues the Old Testament Scriptures. The Jews remained insensible to the truth, because they kept their powers of perceiving truth covered.

Moses here stands for the entire Old Testament, because the Prophets were read every Sabbath, as well as the Law.

2 Cor 3:16. But when they shall be converted to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.

But when they shall be converted, etc. According to the Greek MSS. and Fathers, and the older Latin editions this verse should read: “But when he turneth to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” The Apostle is alluding to Ex 34:34, where it is said that Moses removed his veil, when he turned to converse with the Lord. The action of Moses is allegorically applied to the Jews who shall be enlightened, when they shall have turned to the Lord.

The auferetur of the Vulgate should be aufertur.

2 Cor 3:17. Now the Lord is a Spirit. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

The first clause here reads as follows in Greek : “Now the Lord is the Spirit,” i.e., the Holy Ghost is the Lord, a Divine Person (St. Chrys., Theod., etc.); or Christ (verse 16), to whom the Jews, typified by Moses, are to turn, is the Spirit, i.e., is the Holy Ghost mentioned above, in verses 6, 8, the life and principle of the New Law, inasmuch as the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Christ, or, inasmuch as Christ and the Holy Ghost have the same divine nature (Bisping, Maier, etc.); or the Lord here does not mean Christ, but God, the quickening Spirit of the New Covenant (verse 6), in contradistinction to the letter of the Old (Comely). But it is difficult to see how Κύριος (= Kyrios = Lord) here can mean Yahweh, to whom the Jews as a people had always turned. There seems rather to be question of Christ to whom they refused to turn. When, therefore, the Jews shall have turned from the letter of the Law which killeth to the Spirit of the Gospel which quickeneth, the blindness of their minds shall disappear, and they shall be freed from the servitude which now enslaves them.

There is liberty, i.e., from the bondage of the Law, from its ceremonial precepts. The Spirit makes us children of God (Rom. 8:14 ff.) and free “by the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free” (Gal. 4:31).

This verse is a proof of the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, as all the Greek Fathers argue.

2 Cor 3:18. But we all beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.

We are beholding, etc., i.e., unlike the Jews whose faces are veiled, all we Christians through our faith reflect, with uncovered countenance as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord resplendent in Holy Scripture, and especially in the Gospel, and are continually being transformed into the divine image we behold, because through faith and charity we receive a new form which renders us sons of God and brothers of Christ, and therefore conformable to the image of the Son of God (Rom. 8:29).

From glory to glory, i.e., the process of transformation is gradual, from one stage to another, from lesser to greater glory (cf. Rom. 1:17).

As by the Spirit of the Lord. The Greek here may be rendered in many ways. Perhaps one of the best is: “As by the Spirit who is the Lord”; and the meaning is that by the influence of the Spirit, the Holy Ghost, Christians are step by step made similar to the glorified image of Christ, and consequently of God (2 Cor 4:4).

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:7-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 17, 2018

2 Cor 3:7-11. THE MINISTRY OF THE APOSTLES IS SUPERIOR TO THAT OF MOSES

Greater glory is due to the ministry of the New Covenant than to that of the Old, because of the superior excellence of the former as compared with the latter. The Old Law consisted of letters written on stones and led to spiritual death, while the New Testament gave the Holy Ghost and spiritual life; the Old Law was unto condemnation, the New unto justification; the former was transitory, the latter is eternal in its duration.

2 Cor 3:7. Now if the ministration of death, engraven with letters upon stones, was glorious; so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance, which is made void:
2 Cor 3:8. How shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather in glory?

If the ministration of death, etc., i.e., if the ministry performed by Moses in giving the Israelites the Law, which was written on tables of stone and led to death (verse 6) was glorious, i.e., was accompanied by a glorious manifestation which so shone in the face of Moses that the recipients of that Law could not steadfastly look upon his countenance (Exod. 34:29-35), how much more glorious is the ministry of the Apostles through whom is given to us the Holy Ghost and the supernatural gifts of grace and glory?

 

Which is made void. However dazzling the glory that accompanied the giving of the Law of Moses, it was only temporary; whereas the glory of the New Testament ministry is permanent and shall never fade. The glory on the face of Moses was only transitory, symbolical of the transitory character of his ministry and of the Law he gave.
 
2 Cor 3:9. For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more the ministration of justice aboundeth in glory.

The Old Testament ministry is called one of condemnation, because the Old Law was an occasion of sin, and thus provoked the anger and condemnation of God. See on Rom. 7:8-1 1. The New Law, on the contrary, is a ministration of justice, i.e., of justification, because through it are given the Holy Ghost, sanctifying grace and glory. See on Rom. 1:17; 3:23; Gal. 3:13.

Be (Vulg., est) should be was (fuit), as the sense requires. The Vulgate in gloria would better be gloria, to agree withδόξῃ (with B א A C).
2 Cor 3:10. For even that which was glorious in this part was not glorified, by reason of the glory that excelleth.
So superior is the glory attaching to the New Testament ministry over that of the Old Covenant that by comparison the latter was not glorious at all; the glory of the one entirely obscures the glory of the other.

 

That which was glorious, i.e., the Old Law, its ministers, and ministrations.

 

In this part. The meaning seems to be that the Old Covenant has been deprived of its glory in this respect, that something more glorious has appeared.
2 Cor 3:11. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is in glory.
Although glorious in its giving, the Old Dispensation and its ministry have come to naught, because they had only a transitory purpose, namely, to lead to Christ (Gal. 3:24). If, therefore, glory accompanied such a ministry, in spite of its passing character, how much more glorious is the ministry of the New Law which is enduring.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 17, 2018

2 Cor 3:1-6. TO THE ACCUSATION OF ARROGANCE ST. PAUL OPPOSES THE MINISTRY COMMITTED TO HIM

Often the Apostle had felt it necessary to speak to the Corinthians about himself and his authority. His enemies had made use of this to accuse him of boasting and arrogance, and thus tried to lead away the neophytes from one who, as they said, had to praise himself to get a following. Having, therefore, in the closing verses of the preceding chapter again spoken of himself and his ministry he is reminded of the sneer of his adversaries, and he consequently now, before going on with his general apology, takes occasion to tell his readers that he is in no need of self-recommendation, since the faithful themselves are his testimonial. If he speaks with assurance and authority it is because he has been divinely constituted a minister of the New Testament.

2 Cor 3:1. Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need (as some do) epistles of commendation to you, or from you?

Do we begin again, etc. This implies that the Apostle had already been accused of self-recommendation. Perhaps the reference is to such passages as I Cor. 2:16; 3:10; 4:9-16; 91-5, 15-22, etc., which might lead to such accusations. If chapters 10-13 are a part, or contains portions of the lost letter between 1 and 2 Cor. the “again” here is easily understood; for in those chapters the Apostle felt constrained to indulge considerably in what his enemies called boasting.

 

Or do we need, etc., i.e., are St. Paul and his companions who founded the Corinthian Church in need of recommendation to, or by the faithful there? Does a father need recommendation to his own children? If a preacher who has not founded, or taken part in founding, a Christian community comes to them, letters of recommendation are indeed necessary (Acts 15:25-27; 18:27; 1 Cor. 16:10, 11); but it is not so with the founder and spiritual father.

 

2 Cor 3:2. You are our epistle, written in our hearts, which is known and read by all men:

The Corinthians themselves were to St. Paul and Timothy something far better than an ordinary letter of recommendation; they were the Apostle’s letter, written not with ink on perishable papyrus, but in lasting characters of love and affection on immortal souls.

 

Read by all men, i.e., all men could see the ties of affection that existed between St. Paul and the Corinthian faithful. This statement is rendered more literally true by the civil and social prominence of Corinth.

 

2 Cor 3:3. Being manifested, that you are the epistle of Christ, ministered by us, and written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in the fleshy tables of the heart.

Being manifested, etc., i.e., it is widely known that the Corinthian faithful were converted by Christ, through the grace of the Holy Ghost and the ministry of St. Paul and his companions. Christ, therefore, is the principal author of the Apostle’s letter of commendation, because it was His word and the grace of His Holy Spirit that brought the Corinthians to the faith.

 

With the spirit, etc. Christ, by the Spirit of the living and life-giving God, wrote on the hearts of the Corinthians through the preaching of the Apostles, a knowledge of the truths of faith which has been so fruitful in virtue and sanctity of life that it is entirely evident that the human agents of that divine message were true and genuine Apostles.

 

Tables of stone is a reference to the Ten Commandments which were written in the desert, on two stone tables (Ex 31:18; 32:15, 16).

 

In the fleshy tables of the heart. Better, “On tables (that are) hearts of flesh.” The Vulgate cordis should be cordibus, according to the best Greek.

 

2 Cor 3:4. And such confidence we have, through Christ, towards God.

 

And such confidence, etc. The Apostle means to say that his confidence that the faith of the Corinthians is a sure testimony of the validity of his Apostleship is felt even when he puts himself in the presence of God. His assurance did not come from his own merits or personal ability, but through the grace of Christ.

 

2 Cor 3:5. Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is from God.

The preceding verse is now better explained. St. Paul means to say that solely of our natural strength and ability it is not possible that we should be able even to think, much less to wish or to do, anything supernaturally good and meritorious of life eternal. For the beginning, as well as the completion, of each and every salutary act we need the grace of God ; and such is the doctrine of the Church against the Pelagians, who denied all need of grace, and against the Semi-pelagians, who denied the necessity of grace for the beginning of a salutary act (cf. St. Aug., De dono persev. 13; De praedest. sanct. 2; cont. duos epis. Pel. 8, etc.; St. Thomas, h. 1. ; Counc. of Orange, can. 7).

 

The words of ourselves, as of ourselves are to be connected with not that we are sufficient. Our whole sufficiency in super natural things is from God, as from its primary and principal cause.

 

We are sufficient (Vulg., sufficientes simus) should be “we were sufficient,” sufficientes essemus, according to the best MSS.

 

2 Cor 3:6. Who also hath made us fit ministers of the new testament, not in the letter, but in the spirit. For the letter killeth, but the spirit quickeneth.

The Apostle and his companions have not only received all their supernatural sufficiency from God, but by Him also have they been enriched with the gifts necessary to be fit, i.e., competent, ministers of the New Covenant of grace established between God and man by Jesus Christ (Jer. 31:31 ff. ; Heb. 8:8; 9:15).

 

Not in the letter, etc. “He has been urging the superiority of his own claims on their affection and obedience to those of his Judaizing opponents. He now points to the boundless superiority of the dispensation of which he is the minister to that which the Judaizers represent” (Plummer). The latter represent the Old Covenant, which was founded on the written law, indicating, indeed, the good to be done and the evil to be avoided, but without giving the necessary grace to fulfil its mandates. The New Covenant, on the contrary, which is the law of the Spirit, gives all the help required to observe its precepts. See on Rom. 4:15; 5:20; 7:7; 8:2-3.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2:12-17

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 17, 2018

2 Cor 2:12-17. ST. PAUL THANKS GOD BY WHOM HE IS APPROVED AS A SINCERE APOSTLE AND MINISTER OF CHRIST

Speaking in verse 4 of his great sorrow and anguish of heart the Apostle was led to digress (verses 5-11) into speaking about the cause of his pain; but now he returns to the thought of the first part of the chapter. It was his great charity for the Corinthians that caused him to defer his visit and change his plan to go to them. After writing to them he sent Titus to Corinth, hoping to meet him later at Troas and receive his report of Corinthian conditions. Titus finally returned and the two met in Macedonia. St. Paul was delighted at the good news, and thanked God, who throughout his ministry had been so faithful to him, giving his labors everywhere divine assistance and approval.

 
2 Cor 2:12. And when I was come to Troas for the gospel of Christ, and a door was opened unto me in the Lord,
2 Cor 2:13. I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother; but bidding them farewell, I went into Macedonia
.


To Troas. Troas was the name of a district and of a town on the northwest coast of Asia Minor. The town is referred to here. St. Paul had arranged to meet Titus returning from Corinth at Troas, but having been himself obliged to leave Ephesus earlier than was expected (Acts xix. 23), he arrived at Troas before the appointed time and did not find his ambassador there. So anxious was the Apostle about the effect of his letter and the mission of Titus to Corinth that, though he found an excellent opening for preaching the Gospel at Troas, he pressed on across the Aegean Sea into Macedonia, in order to meet Titus sooner.

For the gospel of Christ, i.e., for preaching the Gospel. On a previous occasion St. Paul had preached at Troas (Acts 16:8).

No rest in my spirit. Better, “No relief for my spirit.” The Apostle’s mind was in a state of extreme anxiety and tension, and so he could not tarry at Troas. The opportunity here was not so pressing as the crisis at Corinth. There was danger in delay.

My brother, i.e., my fellow-worker in preaching the Gospel. Titus was afterwards made Bishop of Crete (Titus 1:5), and St. Paul addressed one of his last Epistles to him.

2 Cor 2:14. Now thanks be to God, who always maketh us to triumph in Christ Jesus, and manifesteth the odour of his knowledge by us in every place.

Now thanks be to God, etc. The Greek is much stronger and marks the transition more emphatically; Τῷ δὲ Θεῷ χάρις (to de Theo charis). So relieved and exhilarated was St. Paul by the news learned through Titus that he burst out into thanksgiving for God’s great mercies to him in preaching the Gospel, which have caused his labors and those of his companions to issue in triumph everywhere.

 

Maketh us to triumph. This is the sense commonly given to θριαμβεύοντι (thriambeuonti) here, but in the only other passage of the New Testament where it occurs (Col. 2:15) and in classical Greek it means “to lead in triumph.”

In Christ Jesus, i.e., by means of Christ’s help.

Jesus is not in the Greek.

The odour of his knowledge, i.e., the knowledge of God in Christ, diffused by the Apostles and their followers in every part of the world. God is revealed in Christ, and this revelation was preached everywhere by the Apostles. The preaching of the Apostles and their co-workers is represented as a sweet perfume ascending from earth to heaven.

In the Vulgate Jesu should be omitted.

2 Cor 2:15. For we are the good odour of Christ unto God, in them that are saved, and in them that perish.

We are the good odour, etc., i.e., the Apostles were the sweet fragrance of Christ unto God at all times. They were this also to those among men who were ready to welcome the revelation of Christ, namely, to those that are saved, i.e., to those that are in the way of salvation (Luke 13:23; Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 1:18) ; and to them that perish, i.e., to those who are in the way of perdition (2 Cor 4:3; 1 Cor. 1:18; 2 Thess. 2:10).

2 Cor 2:16. To the one indeed the odour of death unto death : but to the others the odour of life unto life. And for these things who is so sufficient?

 


Of death … of life. The best MSS. Read: The preaching of the Apostles is a source of spiritual life to those who are willing to receive it and put it into practice; but to those who refuse it, or fail to conform their lives to its requirements, it occasions spiritual ruin. The true preachers of the Gospel are, like their divine Master, “set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel” (Luke 2:34).


Who is so sufficient? “So” should be omitted. If the preaching of the Apostles is so tremendous, being an occasion of life to some and of death to others, who of himself and with his own strength is capable of undertaking it. St. Paul is emphasizing the responsibility of the Apostolate preparatory to an inquiry into his own Apostolic office and a vindication of his own conduct.

The tam of the Vulgate should be omitted.

 

2 Cor 2:17. For we are not as many, adulterating the word of God; but with sincerity, but as from God, before God, in Christ we speak.

Unlike certain teachers, as in Corinth, who mixed false doctrines with the Gospel teaching, or degraded that teaching by seeking money through it, St. Paul and his companions preached with sincerity, as sent and inspired by God, and as laboring in God’s presence and with His approval through the grace given them as members and ministers of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 5:17; Rom. 16:10).

Many cannot mean the majority here, at least as regards the Church at large. The reference is doubtless to the ludaizers who were scattered about in Corinth and other places.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2:5-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 17, 2018

2 Cor 2:5-11. ST. PAUL DEFENDS HIS TREATMENT OF THE GRIEVOUS OFFENDER

According to the traditional opinion, followed by Comely, MacRory and most Catholic exegetes, St. Paul is speaking in this section of the incestuous man of 1 Cor. 5:1-8. But Le Camus, Lemonnyer and many other recent interpreters believe that the present passage and 2 Cor 7:8-12 refer to some other offender of whom we know nothing outside this letter, and who in some way gave particular offence to St. Paul. In favor of this latter opinion it is argued (a) that the language of the present passage is too mild to refer to a crime so heinous as incest; (b) that if the incestuous man is meant here, his crime was even greater than represented in 1 Cor. 5:1;; for, since 2 Cor 7:12 and this passage are the same, it would follow that the incestuous man married his father’s wife while his father was still living—a crime which we can hardly imagine the Corinthians would have tolerated for a moment; (c) in 1 Cor. 5:1 ff. the Apostle is resenting a stain on the whole Church, whereas here the offence seems to be rather an individual affair. These arguments, however, are not entirely convincing. At any rate, St. Paul is now urging charity toward a repentant sinner. The obedience of the faithful has been manifest before in punishing crime, and now it will not be wanting in granting pardon. The Apostle, therefore, promises to ratify their decision.
 
2 Cor 2:5. And if any one have caused grief, he hath not grieved me; but in part, that I may not burden you all.

The sense is that the offender referred to has not only grieved St. Paul, but in a measure all the faithful. The conditional form, if any one, etc., is used to spare the feelings of the repentant sinner.

But in part, etc. Better, “But in measure (not to be too severe with him) all of you.” The offender has grieved the whole Church, although ἀπὸ μέρους (= apo merous) may imply that some of the Christians were not pained. This could apply to the incestuous man, or to the other offender.

2 Cor 2:6. To him who is such a one, this rebuke is sufficient, which is given by many:

To him who is, etc. The meaning is: The punishment he has received from many is sufficient for one who has committed such a crime. St. Paul had ordered the excommunication of the incestuous man (1 Cor. 5:1, 13), and if the reference here is to him, the faithful are now told that they may resume friendly relations with him.

By many. This may imply that many were present when the sentence was pronounced, or that a minority of the Christians were not satisfied with the penalty. Did they think it insufficient or too severe? Since the context implies that this minority were devoted to St. Paul, it would seem that they regarded the penalty as inadequate. This interpretation is made very probable by what follows.

2 Cor 2:7. So that on the contrary, you should rather forgive him and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.

On the contrary, etc., i.e., instead of continuing the punishment of the repentant sinner, or wishing that he had received a severer penalty, the faithful ought now to forgive him and comfort him, lest a continuation of severity do more harm than good.

2 Cor 2:8. Wherefore, I beseech you, that you would confirm your charity towards
him.

Confirm your charity, etc. “Your” should be omitted. The sense is given by Theodoret: “Unite the member to the body, add the sheep to the fold, show him warm affection.” How the faithful are to do this is not stated. Although a legal term, κυρῶσαι (= kyrosai), to ratify, perhaps does not mean that a formal decree is suggested.
 
2 Cor 2:9. For to this end also did I write, that I may know the experiment of you, whether you be obedient in all things.
 
Did I write. As in verse 3, the reference here seems to be to the lost letter which was written between 1 and 2 Cor., rather than to our First Corinthians. In that former letter St. Paul put to test the obedience of the Corinthians by requesting that they punish the sinner, and now he again tries them by asking that they receive back their repentant brother. He wants to see if the faithful are obedient in all things.
 
2 Cor 2:10. And to whom you have pardoned anything, I also. For, what I have pardoned, if I have pardoned anything, for your sakes have I done it in the person of Christ.

The Apostle tells the Corinthians not to hesitate to forgive the sinner, because he will ratify their action. Have pardoned should be present, “pardon” (χαρίζεσθε = charizesthe).

What I have pardoned. Very probably the Apostle means here that he has already forgiven the sinner in question, and that the Corinthians need not hesitate, therefore, in forgiving him also. It is possible that some other pardon is referred to, such as the remission of the punishment he had intended to inflict by handing the guilty man over to the power of Satan (1 Cor. 5:3-5).

If I have pardoned, etc. The conditional form here, as in verse 5, is merely a mild way of stating the fact; no doubt is implied.

In the person of Christ, i.e., with the authority of Christ (Estius), or in the presence and with the approval of Christ (Cornely). In forgiving the offender St. Paul did not act merely to please the faithful.

The donastis of the Vulgate should be donatis.
 
2 Cor 2:11. That we be not overreached by Satan. For we are not ignorant of his devices.

The purpose St. Paul had in pardoning the sinner was to defeat the machinations of Satan who might make use of severe punishment to tempt the offender to despair.

We, i.e., St. Paul and the Corinthian Christians, must not allow our efforts for good to be turned to evil by the low devices of the wicked one.

We are not ignorant, etc. St. Paul and the faithful knew from Scripture that Satan could draw evil out of good, as of old he had tempted Eve to sin under the guise of good (Gen. 3:4-5)

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2:1-4

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 17, 2018

2 Cor 2:1-4. ST. PAUL CONTINUES TO VINDICATE HIS ACTIONS AGAINST THE CHARGE OF LIGHTNESS

The vindication begun in 2 Cor 2:15 is continued here. The reason the Apostle did not pay the Corinthians the visit which he had intended and which they desired was because their disorders were such that another visit from him would be to their sorrow, and not to their joy. Hence he preferred to write to them.

 2 Cor 2:1. But I determined this with myself, not to come to you again in sorrow.

Not to come to you again, etc. Better, “Not again in sorrow to come to you” (B א A C D F G), i.e., he would not pay them a second sorrowful visit. This implies that he had already come to them in sorrow, which certainly could not refer to the first time he visited Corinth and founded the Church with great success and reason for joy (Acts 18:1 ff.). That the Apostle here refers to a second visit to Corinth, which must have occurred after writing 1 Cor., is further confirmed by 2 Cor 12:14; 13:1, where he speaks of his coming visit as the third.

 2 Cor 2:2. For if I make you sorrowful, who is he then that can make me glad, but the same who is made sorrowful by me?

Here the Apostle tenderly observes that if he comes to Corinth bringing pain to the faithful, there will be no one else there who can give joy to him ; if his visit must cause them sorrow, they will not be in a condition to contribute to his joy, and they alone can give him joy. The singular ὁ λυπούμενος (= ho lympoumenos)  sums up the Corinthian Church as one individual (Plum.).

 2 Cor 2:3. And I wrote this same to you ; that I may not, when I come, have sorrow upon sorrow, from them of whom I ought to rejoice: having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.

 I wrote this, etc. Comparing this passage with vii. 8 we see that there must be a reference here to some Epistle previous to the present one.

This can refer back to the determination of verse 1, or, more probably, to the severe rebuke which he had been obliged to send before, and to which allusion is made in verse 4. Now since the language of this and the following verse cannot well be applied to 1 Cor., we must conclude that the Apostle is referring to what he said in the lost letter written between 1 and 2 Cor. He wrote that severe Epistle that the Corinthians might correct their disorders before he should arrive, and thus make his visit one of joy.

To you (Vulg., vobis after scripsi) should be omitted according to the best authorities.

2 Cor 2:4. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart, I wrote to you with many tears : not that you should be made sorrowful : but that you might know the charity I have more abundantly towards you.

Here again the reference seems plainly to be to a letter more severe than our First Corinthians.

I wrote to you, etc., i.e., in the lost letter between 1 and 2 Cor. The Apostle’s purpose in writing was not to cause sorrow, but to show the greatness of his charity for the faithful, whose disorders he would not be so cruel as to condone, but whose feelings he would spare by writing rather than by appearing before them in person. He wanted to correct them, but with as little pain as possible.

The in vobis of the Vulgate should be in vos, or erga vos.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 1:12-23

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 17, 2018

THE REASON FOR THE APOSTLE’S CONFIDENCE OF BEING HELPED IN
FUTURE BY THE PRAYERS OF THE CORINTHIANS
A Summary of 2 Corinthians 1:12-14

 There has been a mutual sharing of benefits between St. Paul and the Corinthians: the good things which he experienced, like the evils that he suffered, have both turned to the welfare of the faithful; while he, in turn, has been assisted by their prayers in rising above his afflictions. And he is confident that they will continue to help in the future as in the past. This confidence is grounded on the testimony of his conscience that when with them he always acted with the utmost sincerity and candor, and he firmly trusts they will find that same spirit of sincerity in this letter, and that they will continue to acknowledge that they have reason to glory in him and his helpers as their Apostles, while he and his co-workers will rejoice in them as in their spiritual children when Christ comes in judgment.

This section leads up to the first part of the body of the Epistle in which the Apostle gives a general defense of his Apostolic life. The Judaizers at Corinth as in other places sought by defaming the Apostle, to destroy his Apostolic authority, and thus remove the great obstacle to the spread of their errors. They said he was a weak and inconstant man who was always changing his mind and plans, that he was proud and full of conceit, that he forced people to accept his doctrines by constant threats, and so on. Such reports as these naturally made some, if not many, of the faithful suspicious of St. Paul. But when the Apostle learned of conditions at Corinth he lost no time in refuting these calumnies of his adversaries, so that when he would later arrive there the situation might not demand severity. Therefore in the first part of the present Epistle (2 Cor 1:12-7:16) he is chiefly at pains to disprove accusations of fickleness and inconstancy (2 Cor 1:15-2:17); to show that he was not guilty of pride and arrogance (iii. i-iv. 6) ; and finally, by laying bare his motives in preaching and by explaining the reasons that impelled him in the exercise of his ministry, to foil all the efforts of his enemies (2 Cor 4: 7-6:10). The Apostle terminates this part of his letter with an affectionate exhortation to the faithful to entertain towards him the same tender love which he has always cherished for them (2 Cor 6:11-7:16).

2 Cor 1:12. For our glory is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity if heart and sincerity of God, and not in carnal wisdom, but in the grace of God, we have conversed in this world : and more abundantly towards you.

For our glory is this, etc., i.e., the reason for glorying in the future help of the prayers of the Corinthians is founded on the testimony of his conscience that, while he and his companions were doing the work of God among them, they were at all times moved by candor and sincerity.

In simplicity. This is according to D F L, the Vulgate, Old Latin, and Syriac versions; but the best Greek MSS. read: “In holiness”, and this reading has been adopted by all modern critics.

Sincerity of God, i.e., the sincerity that comes from God, God given sincerity.

Carnal wisdom is here set over against “simplicity” (holiness) and sincerity, and means the product of hypocrisy and duplicity; it is not to be confounded with the “wisdom of this world” (1 Cor. 2:5-6).

In the grace of God, i.e., moved by the grace of God.

We have conversed, etc., i.e., St. Paul and his co-workers have everywhere in their preaching been moved in simplicity and candor by God’s grace, but more especially so at Corinth, where they refused even the support to which they were entitled (2 Cor 11:7-9; 1 Cor. 9:1-15).

Of heart (Vulg., cordis) should be omitted.

 2 Cor 1:13. For we write no other things to you, than what you have read and known. And I hope that you shall know unto the end:
2 Cor 1:14. As also you have known us in part, that we are your glory, as you also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

You have read and known. Better, “You read and even acknowledge.” The meaning is that he is not writing anything in this Epistle which the Corinthians do not already know from his life and conduct when among them, and from the other letters he has sent them and which they have.

And I hope, etc. This clause should be separated from what follows in verse 14 by a comma only. The Apostle is not quite certain, but he hopes the Corinthians will continue to the end of their lives, even to the end of the world, to acknowledge, as in part, i.e., as some of them have already done, that he and his companions, as Apostles, are their glory, while they are his glory, as his spiritual children, in the day of judgment.

ST. PAUL REFUTES THE CALUMNY OF HIS ADVERSARIES THAT HE IS FICKLE AND INCONSISTENT
A Summary of 2 Corinthians 1:15-22

The Judaizers who sought to destroy the Apostle’s authority and work at Corinth charged him, among other things, with fickleness and instability, and they gave as an instance his change of plan regarding his visit to Corinth from Ephesus. Against these calumniators he now asserts the consistency of his teaching, which is based on the truthfulness of God Himself, and upon the special character as Apostles with which God has consecrated him and his companions for their ministerial labors and duties.

2 Cor 1:15. And in this confidence I had a mind to come to you before, that you might have a second grace:
2 Cor 1:16. And to pass by you into Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come to you, and by you to be brought on my way towards Judea
.

In this confidence, etc., i.e., in view of the Apostle’s firm belief in the mutual reasons for glorying which existed between the Corinthians and himself, he had at first planned to go directly from Ephesus to Corinth, then to Macedonia, and finally back to Corinth again; and it seems he had made known this plan, or a part of it, to the faithful at Corinth, perhaps through the letter, now lost, which he first sent them (1 Cor. 5:9). When, therefore, he told them in 1 Cor. 16:5 ff. that he had made other arrangements and would go first to Macedonia and then come to Corinth, his enemies seized upon this change to accuse him cf lightmindedness and inconsistency.

A second grace, i.e., a second joy and a spiritual favor. The first joy would be on his way to Macedonia, the second on his return from there. Some, with Estius, hold that the first “grace” was when St. Paul first preached the Gospel at Corinth, and that consequently the “second grace” here would have been his second visit there. But this view would be against the very probable opinion that the Apostle paid a hurried visit to Corinth between the writing of our First and Second Corinthians (see Introduction, 1).

Towards Judea, whither he was to carry the collection for the poor Christians of Palestine.

2 Cor 1:17. Whereas then I was thus minded, did I use lightness? Or, the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that there should be with me, It is and It is not.

Did I use lightness? i.e., did I change my mind out of mere fickleness? That he did not is shown by the fact that his resolutions are not made according to human considerations and passions, but according to the illumination and direction of the Holy Ghost. If he did not go directly from Ephesus to Corinth, it was because the Spirit restrained him, as had happened before, when he and Silas attempted to go into Bithynia (Acts 16:7).

That I purpose. The change here from the past to the present tense draws attention to the Apostle’s general conduct.

That there should be, etc. Better, “So that with me it is now ‘Yea, yea,’ and now ‘Nay, nay.’ ” i.e., that he should resolve to do a thing while at the same time having the intention not to do it.

Both in the English and in the Vulgate here the affirmation and the negation should be repeated twice to agree with the Greek.

2 Cor 1:18. But God is faithful, for our preaching which was to you, was not, It is, and It is not.

Digressing for a moment from the question of his visit to Corinth St. Paul insists upon the consistency of his teaching in general.

God is faithful. This may mean that he calls God, as by an oath, to witness the truth of what he is saying (cf. 2 Cor 11:10; Rom. 14:11) ; or, more likely, that “God is faithful to His promises; He had promised to send you preachers of truth, and therefore since I am sent to you, our preaching is not ‘Yes and No/ i.e., there is no falsity in it” (St. Thomas).

Our preaching . . . was not. Better, “Our preaching . . . is not” (B K A C D F G P), i.e., all the promises and preaching of the Apostle and his companions are reliable and consistent.

The Vulgate qui fuit and in illo are not represented in the Greek.

2 Cor 1:19. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, by me, and Sylvanus, and Timothy, was not, It is and It is not, but, It is, was in him.

In this and the three following verses St. Paul is proving the faithfulness and consistency of his promises and of his preaching at all times. His argument is: “Just as the Son of God whom we preached to you was faithful to God’s promises (verse 19), since through Him were fulfilled all the promises of God (verse 20), so we ministers of that faithful Christ, having been confirmed and anointed by God (verse 21) and sealed with the pledge of His Spirit (verse 22), are also faithful to our promises and consistent in our preaching.”

The Son of God, etc., whom we preached to you, and who, as God, is truth and immutability itself, was not fickle and unfaithful, but, on the contrary, was the fulfillment of all God’s promises to men.

Silvanus was doubtless the same as Silas (Acts 15:40; 16:1 ff.), who, together with Paul and Timothy, had labored in the foundation of the Church in Corinth (Acts 18:5).

2 Cor 1:20. For all the promises of God are in him. It is; therefore also by him, amen to God, unto our glory.

The last words of the preceding verse are now explained.

For all the promises, etc. Better, “For how many soever are the promises,” etc., i.e., all the Messianic promises made by God to the Patriarchs and Prophets (2 Cor 7:1; Rom. 9:4; Gal. 3:16-21; Heb. 6:12; 7:6; 11:13, etc.) are verified and fulfilled in Christ.

Therefore also by him. Better, “Wherefore also through him.” The meaning is that since through Christ have been fulfilled all the Messianic promises, through Him also is made possible the Amen by which the fulfill ment of those promises is acknowledged. The Apostle is alluding to the practice on the part of the faithful of saying Amen in response to the prayers of the priest in the public religious assemblies (1 Cor. 14:16).

To God, unto our glory. Better, “To God’s glory through us.” The sense is that the acknowledgment of the fulfillment of God’s promises, as preached by Paul and his companions (which is expressed by the word Amen), redounds to the glory of God.

The nostram of the Vulgate should be per nos.

2 Cor 1:21. Now he that confirmeth us with you in Christ, and that hath anointed us, is God:

As Christ, whom the Apostles have announced, is unchangeable, so is their preaching of Him, and this by a special spiritual anointing which they have received from God.

Confirmeth us, i.e., renders us Apostles firm and unchangeable in teaching the doctrines of revelation to the faithful. The words with you imply that the faithful also received from God the firmness and stability with which they retained the doctrines preached to them.

Hath anointed us, i.e., has especially called us to preach the Gospel, and has given us the graces necessary to discharge this high office. The word χρίω (= chriō) from which the name Christ is derived, is used only four times in the New Testament, and in each instance of our Saviour (Luke 4:18; Acts 4:27; 10:38; Heb. 1:9). Therefore the anointing here spoken of must mean that Paul and his companions were especially called to preach the Gospel and perform their ministry. The reference is not to the Sacrament of Confirmation, nor to Baptism, which is received by all the faithful, but more properly to ordination, since God was the anointer and the purpose of the anointing was to enable the Apostles to discharge the spiritual duties of their ministry. In the Old Testament kings, priests, and prophets were anointed before undertaking their offices (1 Sam 9:16; Ex 40:13).

2 Cor 1:22. Who also hath sealed us, and given the pledge of the Spirit in our hearts.

Hath sealed us. Not only did God anoint and consecrate Paul and his companions for the work of preaching the Gospel, but He also stamped upon them, as it were, the seal of His divine authority and sanction by giving them the power of miracles, and by enriching them with the various gifts of the Holy Ghost These gifts were a pledge and an earnest of the still more precious endowments reserved for them in the life to come.

The pledge of the Spirit. The sense is that the Holy Ghost dwelling in the hearts of the Apostles was an earnest of the still greater gifts awaiting them hereafter.

THE REASON WHY ST. PAUL CHANGED HIS PLAN
A Summary of 2 Corinthians 1:23

2 Cor 1:23. But I call God to witness upon my soul, that to spare you, I came not any more to Corinth: not because we exercise dominion over your faith : but we are helpers of your joy: for in faith you stand.

After having proved the firmness and consistency of his promises and preaching the Apostle now returns to the subject of verse 17, and explains why he did not go directly from Ephesus to Corinth as he had planned.

Upon my soul, etc. He calls God to witness against his soul, meaning that God should destroy it, if he is not telling the truth when he says that the reason why he did not come to Corinth as first planned was in order to spare the Corinthians. The condition of the Church there was so bad that the Apostle could not at the time have gone thither without using great severity, and hence he preferred to remain away till later. But even in this he was not acting “according to the flesh”: he was acting under the guidance of the Spirit, as in Acts 16:7 (St. Chrys.).

I came not any more. The Apostle here seems to be repeating the complaint of the Corinthians, who regretted that he “came not any more to Corinth.” He means to say that he did not pay the visit alluded to in verse 15 above. This statement does not interfere with the very probable opinion which holds that St. Paul paid a short and painful visit to Corinth after writing 1 Cor. (2 Cor. 12:14, 21; 13:1), because that painful visit was not of the nature, duration or extent of the one alluded to in verse 15 above, and promised very likely in the lost letter to the Corinthians of which there is question in 1 Cor. 5:9.

Not because we exercise, etc. Better, “Not that we exercise,” etc. Having just spoken of sparing the Corinthians the Apostle now explains his meaning. He does not want the faithful to think that he and his companions desire to tyrannize over their faith, using despotic methods with them: rather he wishes to promote their joy in believing; and since, on account of their factions and disorders he could not do this, he preferred to remain away. As regards their faith they were not in need of correction, but they were at fault in other matters (Theod.).

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 1:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 17, 2018

As is always the case, text in red are my additions.

 

2 Cor 1:1-2 THE APOSTOLIC GREETING

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 1:1-2~As in the previous letter so here, St. Paul begins by an assertion of his Apostolic authority and divine commission. Timothy, his faithful companion and fellow-laborer in preaching the Gospel (1 Cor 16:10; Rom 16:21), is associated in the writing of this Epistle because, since the Apostle is going to speak much of himself and defend his life and actions against his adversaries, he could have no better witness than Timothy, and no one who was more highly esteemed by the Corinthians. Here too, all the faithful, not only of Corinth, but of the whole Roman Province of Achaia, are addressed.

2 Cor 1:1. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother: to the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints that are in all Achaia:

Paul, an apostle, etc. See on Rom 1:1Here is what Fr. Callan wrote in his comments on Rom 1:1~Paul. The Apostle probably assumed this name for the first time in Cyprus when he converted the Proconsul Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:7-12), perhaps, as St. Jerome says (in Philem.), in honor of his victory in making so great a convert. St. Thomas and others, however, think he was called both Paul and Saul from his infancy; the latter being his Jewish, and the former his Latin name. As Tarsus, the Apostle’s birth place, was under the Roman Empire, it seems not improbable that he should have been given a Latin, as well as a Jewish name, from the beginning. It seems unlikely (pace St Jerome) that St Paul would have been so ostentatious as to “honor his victory in making so great a convert” as to adopt the name Paulus from the Proconsul Sergius Paulus Gallio.

Of Jesus Christ (Vulg., Jesu Christi) is according toA D G K; whereas B M P read, “Of Christ Jesus.”

Our brother. Literally, “The brother,” i.e., not only a fellow-Christian, but a co-laborer in preaching the Gospel. In five other Epistles (Philip., Col., 1 and 2 Thess. and Philem.) Timothy is similarly associated with St. Paul.

With all the saints, etc., i.e., this letter is addressed to Corinth, and also to all the other Christian communities of Achaia. Unlike Galatians, however, this was not a circular Epistle. It embraced the outlying Churches of Achaia only so far as they shared the disorders and opinions of the central Church at Corinth.

Achaia was a distinct Roman Province including the Peloponnesus and north Greece as far as Macedonia. Corinth was its capital.

2 Cor 1:2. Grace unto you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

See on Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3. Concerning grace and peace Fr. Callan wrote this on Rom 1:7~Grace . . . peace, etc. This form of well-wishing, which occurs in nearly all the Epistles of St. Paul, is found nowhere before the Apostle, and therefore seems to have been his own creation (Lagrange). Grace, in its proper sense, is a special gift of God by which one is made holy and agreeable in God’s sight, and is rendered a participant of the divine nature, a brother of Christ, and heir to the glory of the Father in heaven. Peace with God insures interior tranquility of mind and soul, and is one of the most precious effects of grace. St. Paul here speaks of these eminent gifts as coming from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ, thus placing the latter on a level with the former, but not identifying the two as persons.

 At 1 Cor 1:3 he wrote~Cf. 1 Thess 1:1 and 3:11, where the Father and the Son stand together as subjects of a verb in the singular, showing the perfect unity of their nature.

2 Cor 1:3-11 THANKSGIVING FOR RECENT BENEFITS

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 1:3-11~The Apostle has lately passed through dire perils, for deliverance from which he now thanks God, especially since his trials and his safe escape from them have been ordained to the ultimate good and comfort of his dear ones in the faith. It was by their prayers that he was assisted in time of danger, and he trusts to their devout cooperation for deliverance from similar circumstances in the future.

2 Cor 1:3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.

The Apostle now thanks God the Father for the mercy and comfort which he, Timothy, and perhaps other fellow-laborers (verse 19) have experienced in their trials and toils.

The God and Father ( ο θεος και πατηρ). The one article for the two names shows that they both refer to the one Divine Person. The Father is called the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, just as the Saviour Himself said: “I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God” (John 20:17).

The Father of mercies, etc., i.e., the merciful Father who is the source of all consolation (Eph 2:4).

2 Cor 1:4. Who comforteth us in all our tribulation; that we also may be able to comfort them who are in all distress, by the exhortation wherewith we also are exhorted by God.

God comforts St. Paul, Timothy and their fellow-workers in the ministry, in order that they in turn may comfort the faithful in their afflictions.

Distress represents the same word in Greek (θλιψει) as tribulation; and likewise comfort and comforteth render the same Greek terms as exhortation and exhorted. The same variation between our version and the Vulgate, on the one hand, and the Greek text, on the other, occurs again in verse 6.

The et . . . et (“also”) of the Vulgate here are not in the Greek.

2 Cor 1:5. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us: so also by Christ doth our comfort abound.

If the sufferings of the Apostles were extraordinary, their consolations were correspondingly great.

The sufferings of Christ, i.e., the sufferings which Christ bore for the diffusion of the Gospel and the salvation of souls, and which are continued in the members of His mystical body (Col 1:24). There is no thought here of Christ now suffering in glory.

2 Cor 1:6. Now whether we be in tribulation, it is for your exhortation and salvation: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation: or whether we be exhorted, it is for your exhortation and salvation, which worketh the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer.

The Apostle wishes to say now that whatever happens to him and his fellow workers for Christ—whether it be joy or sorrow, comfort or affliction, it is all ordained for the good of the faithful. Their afflictions beget patience, and their comfort inspires hope in the goodness of God.

The text of this verse causes much confusion. In the first place the Vulgate clause, sive autem tribulamur pro vestra exhortatione et salute must be omitted as a repetition of the last part of the first clause (a case of scribal dittography). The corresponding words in our version, or whether we beexhorted, it is for your exhortation and salvation must likewise be omitted.

This done, there are two principal readings of the verse: (a) “Now whether we be in tribulation, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is wrought out in the endurance of the same sufferings which we also suffer; or whether we be comforted it is for your consolation, knowing that,” etc. [as in verse 7] (see manuscripts B D F G K L); (b) “Now whether we be in tribulation, it is for your comfort and salvation; or whether we be comforted, it is for your comfort, which worketh in the endurance of the same sufferings that we also suffer” (see manuscripts A C M P). The latter reading is more like the Vulgate and is preferable.

2 Cor 1:7. That our hope for you may be steadfast: knowing that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so shall you be also of the consolation.

The Apostle expresses his unwavering hope that as the Corinthians bear their afflictions courageously they may also experience much comfort and consolation.

That our hope, etc. ( Vulg., Ut spes nostra, etc.) should be “And our hope,” etc. This clause is transferred by the Vatican MS. and many other authorities to the middle of the preceding verse, but such placing is against the best internal and external evidence. It is true that the participle knowing is without an antecedent, but this is not uncommon in St. Paul.

 2 Cor 1:8. For we would not have you ignorant, brethren, of our tribulation, which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure above our strength, so that we were weary even of life.

A particular instance of great suffering endured by St. Paul, and perhaps by Timothy, in Asia is now recalled to the minds of the Corinthians. What was this terrible affliction? Since it seemed to be well known to the Corinthians, it was probably the report of the rebellion in Corinth against the Apostle’s authority. It overwhelmed him with grief. Now this could hardly be said of the uproar caused by Demetrius at Ephesus (Acts 19:23), for Timothy was not there at that time (Acts 19:22). Neither could we easily suppose it to have been some mere private distress caused by sickness, shipwreck or the like.

In Asia, i.e., in the Roman Province of Asia, which consisted of the coastlands of Asia Minor on the Aegean Sea, of which Ephesus was the capital.

That we were pressed, etc., i.e., exceedingly above our strength, so that we were weary, etc., i.e., so that we despaired even of life. The Apostle is saying that his affliction was more than his natural strength could support, but which he was able to bear by the grace of God (1 Cor. 19:13).

2 Cor 1:9. But we had in ourselves the answer of death, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead.

So great was the affliction of St. Paul and Timothy that they felt sure they must die, if left to their own strength. This extremity of suffering was given them that they might learn to trust in God who is able to raise the dead to life, and so, a fortiori, can rescue from death (Rom. 4:17).

But (ἀλλὰ) is not adversative here; it confirms what was said before and should be translated, “Nay.”

The answer of death, i.e., the sentence, the judgment, the expectation of death (St. Chrys.).

2 Cor 1:10. Who hath delivered and doth deliver us out of so great dangers: in whom we trust that he will yet also deliver us.

So great dangers. More literally, “So great a death.” The danger was naturally tantamount to death.

That he will yet also, etc. This shows that the same situation might occur again, which is against the supposition that the affliction in question was caused by the uproar of the silversmiths (Acts 19:23).

And doth deliver (Vulg., et emit with F G K L) would better be “and will deliver,” et eruet (B א C).

2 Cor 1:11. You helping withal in prayer for us: that for this gift obtained for us, by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many in our behalf.

The Apostle is confident that in future the help of God will not be wanting to him, because he trusts in the prayers of all the faithful, and of the Corinthians in particular.

That for this gift, etc. The meaning is: That from many persons (faces) thanks may be given on our behalf for the gift obtained for us through the prayers of many. St. Paul desires many prayers to be offered for him and his companions, so that when the favor is obtained God may be honored by the thanksgiving of many.

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 10, 2018

Practices of the New Kingdom, 6:1–7:12

After describing the character of the citizens of the Messianic Kingdom and their influence on others, after stating the perfection of the Christian law both in general and in particular obligations, our Lord proceeds to develop the practice of the New Testament virtues. This practice concerns first our acts of devotion [6:1–18], secondly, our private life [6:19–34], and thirdly, our relation to our neighbor [7:1–12].

1 Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father who is in heaven.

Take heed that you do not do your justice.] 1. Acts of devotion, 6:1–18. This section considers first, alms-deeds, 1–4; secondly, prayer, 5–15; thirdly, fasting, 16–18. That these works were considered in the Old Testament as belonging to the substance of perfection is plain from Tob. 12:8, 9; besides, there is a number of passages in which the three works are recommended singly: the giving of alms is spoken of Deut. 15:7; Pss. 40:2; 111:5; Prov. 11:25; 19:17; Is. 58:7, 8; prayer was practiced both publicly and privately, Gen. 18:23; 20:17; 1 Sam 1:10; 2:1; 8:6; Deut. 26:3 14; 1 Kings 8:56 ff.; Ps. 54:18; fasting, too, was well known, and at certain times even prescribed, Jud. 20:26; 1 Sam 7:6; 2 Sam 12:16; 1 Kings 21:27; Est. 4:1; Ps. 34:13; Dan. 9:3; Joel 2:13; Lev. 16:29; 23:27; Zach. 7:3, 5; 8:19. It is also to be kept in mind that at the time of the exile, prayer was often recurred to instead of the legal sacrifices; but no certain posture of the body was determined as obligatory. Our Lord therefore does not introduce new practices of devotion in the following discourse, but teaches the proper method of performing the customary ones. He comprises them under the name of “justice” and warns in general that they are not to be performed through vainglory. It is true that Maldonado, etc. regard “justice” as synonymous with the following “alms-deed,” but Tob. 4:10 and Prov. 10:2; 11:4 show that it had also the wider meaning. It is not the mere publicity of the good works that robs them of their merit, but the intention of the doer to gain human praise thereby. Whatever may have been the views of the Jews concerning future retribution, our Lord here speaks of the “reward of your Father who is in heaven.”

2 Therefore when thou dost an alms-deed, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honoured by men. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward.

 Therefore, when thou dost an alms-deed.] a. Alms-deeds. Here Jesus teaches first, what to avoid, then, how to give alms, and thirdly, he adds the motive. a. We must avoid the way of the hypocrites in the synagogues and the streets. In classical language “hypocrites” were those that acted the part of another person, the beginning of their performance being announced by the sound of a trumpet. Owing to this custom, gl. ord. Bruno of Segni, Tostatus, Cajetan, Jansenius [cf. Euthymius, Maldonado Lapide] contend that our Lord warns here literally against having one’s alms-deeds announced by trumpet-sound in streets and synagogues, thus merely acting the part of a friend to the poor. But Lightfoot, Schöttgen, etc. maintain that there is no vestige of any such custom among the ancient Hebrews. Since our Lord must have alluded to an evil that was then well known, Edersheim [i. pp. 196, 539] believes that he borrows his language from the trumpet-shaped collection boxes in which the alms were received in both temple and synagogues; but Thomas Aquinas, Faber Stapulensis, Barradas, Sylveira, Calmet, Arnoldi, Schegg, Schanz, Fillion Knabenbauer, etc. rightly see in the language of our Lord a merely figurative expression, in which he warns against ostentation and external show in our works of mercy [cf. Cicero, ep. ad divers, vi. 21]. The use of trumpets in the temple service was sufficiently well known to render our Lord’s words fully intelligible [cf. Joel 2:15].

3 But when thou dost alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth.
4 That thy alms may be in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee.

But when thou dost alms.] β. How to give alms. We need not notice the view of Paulus and de Wette who think that Jesus warns against first counting the money, or the alms we give, in the left hand; Chrysostom and Augustine, have rejected the explanation that the “left hand” means the wicked and the unbelieving; Augustine qualifies the view that the “left hand” signifies the wife, as absurd and ridiculous, because our Lord cannot be supposed to allude to the parsimoniousness of the wife, and the domestic struggles that would follow, if the wife were to know the generous acts of mercy done by the husband; nor can it be maintained that the “left hand” signifies either pleasure or our lower appetite, because this interpretation does not fit into the context; the view of Maldonado, who considers the language of Jesus as a rhetorical exaggeration, deserves more commendation than any of the foregoing, though the “left hand” may also signify those most closely connected with us [cf. Mt. 5:29, 30]. At any rate, our alms-deeds must be done with as little ostentation as possible.

γ. The motive. The secret charity we thus exercise becomes more precious [cf. Sirach. 29:15], and our reward will be not that of this earth, but that of heaven [cf. Phil. 2:16; 2 Tim. 1:12, 18; 4:8]. But even in this life, we thus spare the feelings of the poor, and have God “who seeth in secret” for the witness of our charity. The foregoing doctrine is of precept, in so far as it teaches that our intention in doing good must always be pure; it is of counsel, in so far as it warns us to avoid all occasion of vanity in which our corrupt human nature might be conquered [Jansenius, Knabenbauer].

5 And when ye pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, that love to stand and pray in the synagogues and corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men: Amen I say to you, they have received their reward.
6 But thou when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret, and thy father who seeth in secret will repay thee.

And when you pray.] b. Prayer. In this section our Lord first warns against the vice of the Pharisees [5, 6], then against the misconception of the heathens [7, 8], and finally he gives a formula of a perfect prayer [9–15]. a. The Old Testament passages referring to prayer have been given above [v. 1]. It may be supposed that public prayer was not only joined with the two daily sacrifices [cf. Ps. 72:20; 136], but also that it took place about the third, the sixth, and the ninth hour [cf. Ps. 54:18]. Acts 3:1; 10:9 seems to confirm the latter supposition. Though a kneeling and prostrate posture was not unknown among the Jews [1 Kings 8:54; 19:18; Dan. 6:10; Lk. 22:41; Acts 9:40; 20:36; 21:5], they commonly stood erect during prayer [1 Kings 1:26; Dan. 9:20; Mk. 11:25; Lk. 18:11, 13; Philo, Vit. contempl. opp. ii. 481; Light. f.], so that “to stand” was almost synonymous with “to pray.” At the stated times of prayer there was naturally a greater concourse on the streets leading to the temple, and especially at the corners where two or three streets crossed each other. The warning of our Lord against standing and praying in the synagogues or at the corners of the streets is therefore a warning against ostentation in our prayer. The retirement in which we ought to pray is described by the chamber and the shut doors [Mt. 24:26; Lk. 12:3; Tob. 7:15]; Jesus does not necessarily speak of the upper chamber, though the prayer was often performed in it [Dan. 6:11; Judith 8:5; Tob. 3:12; Acts 1:13]. Whether the passage be explained literally as a rhetorical exaggeration, or metaphorically, the spiritual lesson contained in it is the same. The manner in which Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Opus Imperfectum, apply the passage to spiritual recollection during time of prayer is rather pious than accurate. That public and common prayer was not prohibited by these words of Jesus is seen from Acts 1:24; 3:1; 4:24; 6:6; 12:12; 1 Tim. 2:8. The precept contained in these words may be complied with in public, and may be transgressed in secret, since it is only the intention, and not the outward circumstances, that Jesus regulates. The counsel contained in the words is again calculated to remove us from all occasion of vainglory.

16 And when you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward.
17 But thou, when thou fastest anoint thy head, and wash thy face;
18 That thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret, will repay thee.

And when you fast.] c. Fasting. The law ordained only one yearly fast-day, the Day of Atonement [Lev. 16:29; 23:27]. Zach. 7:3, 5; 8:19 knows of four national fast-days. About the time of the exile private fasts became quite numerous, so that many fasted every Friday, and the Pharisees every Monday and Thursday. The Essenes and the Therapeutæ especially distinguished themselves by their rigorous fasts [cf. Josephus, Jewish Wars. II. viii. 2–14; Philo, De vit. cont. ii. 471 f.]. The one-day’s fast consisted in the total abstinence from food and drink; its penitential character was emphasized by additional austerities, by rending of the garments, wearing of haircloth, or sprinkling of ashes. Our Lord tells his hearers first, how not to fast, secondly, how to fast.

α. How not to fast. Jesus here returns to the principal theme of this part of his discourse, warning us against all vain ostentation in the performance of our good works. We are not to fast like the hypocrites, who merely act, as it were, the part of devout men; we must not neglect our hair or our face, or put on other signs of mourning, thus betraying our practice of fasting; if we do this, we have received our reward.

β. How to fast. The positive precept of our Lord concerning the manner of fasting tends to make us avoid the notice and praise of men. The anointing of the head may be regarded as a hyperbolical expression based on Oriental manners [cf. Ruth 3:3; 2 Kings 12:20; etc.]; it signifies that when we fast, we must appear outwardly the same as usual. Augustine, Chrysostom, Opus Imperfectum, refer the anointing of the head and the washing of the face to the inner man, so that our Lord, according to these writers, recommended a special care of purity of soul during the days of fasting. If Keil were right in inferring a prohibition of fasting itself from the words of our Lord, one might also infer a general prohibition of alms-deeds and prayer from the warning of Jesus not to perform these actions through vainglory.

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