The Divine Lamp

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

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 8:14-23

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 25, 2018

Text in red are my additions.

14. For whoever are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
15. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear: but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, in which we cry, Abba (Father)
.

14. Those who have the Spirit of God dwelling within then are acted on, guided, led, and directed, by that Spirit. Christ was led by the Spirit into the desert, and the devil asked him if he was the Son of God (Matt 4:1, 3). The Ethiopic version reads: Whoever do those things which belong to the Spirit of God: that is, as in the last verse, mortify the deeds of the flesh . These are truly and really sons of God, having a heavenly nature. On a certain day the sons of God came to stand before the Lord, Job 1:6. We cannot, says Saint Chrysostom, dispose of our own lives, but should give ourselves up, soul and body, to the guidance of the Spirit of God, our helmsman, and our charioteer. But this control and guidance of the Spirit of God is not coercive or forcible. It implies the motion and, in a passive sense, inclination of our will, such as does not exclude freedom of action. To be led by the Spirit of God is to consent to his leading, and give it our voluntary obedience, confident that it must lead us to increase of grace and justice, and to life eternal.

15. You have not received the spirit of bondage again. Again, because the spirit of the law of Moses was a spirit of servitude and fear. Holy men under the old law were sons of God only in an imperfect manner, and in a lesser degree, like slaves, differing in nothing from servants, Gal 4:1. What you have received is the spirit of sonship or adoption, entitling you to say with Christ, and with all confidence, Our Father. As the divine Word gave himself to Christ, the Man, so that the Man named Christ, is the Son of God: so in proportion the Holy Spirit is given us in Baptism in such way as to make us Sons of God. Cornel, a Lap. in loc.

The Apostle contrasts the spirit of bondage not with the spirit of freedom, but the spirit of adoption; not merely free, but free as sons.

He does not say, we say Abba, but we cry; boldly, loudly, confidently, publicly. Instructed by holy precepts, and formed by divine institution, we venture to say, OurFather. Abba is the Hebrew or Syriac word for father, and to it he joins the Greek word with the same meaning, to signify that Jews and Gentiles are together called to the adoption of the sons of God. Saint Augustine, lib. de Spiritu et litcra, 32 de Cons. Evan. 4.

It is also possible that Saint Paul refers to the prayer of our Lord in the garden, Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee; as an encouragement to address him by the same title, with the same confidence in his affection, under similar circumstances of trouble or despondency.

Before the coming of Christ the people of God were undoubtedly entitled in a certain sense to speak of God as their father, but only in a metaphorical sense, and on the ground of creation. “Now, Lord, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou our Maker” (Isa 64:8. In some translations, 64:7). This is clearly applicable to all the race of men. And on the ground of providence: “Thy Providence, Father, governs the world” (Wis 14:3). But not on the ground and by right of adoption, an honour reserved for those who are sons of God in Christ, and which is expressed in the formula of the Apostle, Abba, Father.

16. For the Spirit itself gives testimony to our spirit, that we are sons of God.
17. And if sons, also heirs: heirs indeed of God, and co-heirs with Christ: if we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him
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16. The Spirit himself gives testimony. The cry of our hearts, inasmuch as it proceeds from the Spirit of God, is a testimony of our divine adoption. The giving to us the Spirit, is itself a testimony of this; for he is the Spirit of the Son, and God gives the Spirit of his Son to those only whom he would have for sons. The Apostle may possibly also include a reference in his mind to exterior testimonies, as in miracle or prophecy, more frequent in his days than in ours. Horror of sin, love of God, readiness to obey his commands, and to follow the motions of the Holy Spirit, peace and tranquility of conscience, troubled by no grave and conscious sin, are interior testimonies of the Spirit of God, with our spirit, that we are sons of God. We should not, however, with the heretics, come to regard this interior testimony as certain with the certitude of faith. Such testimony, in so far as it proceeds from the Holy Spirit, is certain and infallible in itself, but as presented to our consciousness it is certain only conjecturally and morally, because we are not sure whether it proceeds from the Holy Spirit, or from an evil spirit, transfiguring himself into an angel of light.

17. If sons, also heirs. God does not die, and his inheritance is not a succession. He is himself the inheritance. Heirs of God. The Lord is the portion of my inheritance, Ps 15:5. To the enjoyment of this inheritance, his adopted sons are admitted, in the Beatific Vision. An inheritance not diminished by the number of the sons, or reduced by division among many claimants, says St. Anselm.

Co-heirs with Christ, if we suffer with him. We are heirs of a living God, co-heirs with a man who died. Sharing his death, on our own cross, we shall be glorified with him in his inheritance. Without participation of the cross, there is no participation of glory; but the expectation of the promised beatitude is sure and certain, where there is participation in the Passion of the Lord. St. Leo, Serm., 9 de Quad.

18. For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not to be compared with the future glory, which shall be revealed in us.
19. For the expectation of creation looks for the revelation of the sons of God.
20. For the creation was subjected to vanity not willingly, but on account of him who has made it subject in hope.
21. Because the creation itself also shall be set free from the servitude of corruption, into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God
.

The consideration just mentioned, of sharing the sufferings of Christ, need not alarm any who would share his glory. All the sufferings of this life are not worthy of comparison for a moment, are a feather in the balance, compared with the immensity of the inheritance of glory, which shall be revealed to us at the last day. Even the irrational, and the inanimate creation longs in expectation for the revelation of the sons of God. This creation is subject to death and decay, corruption and change, not for its own sake, but on account of man, whose needs it subserves; but this is not for ever. At the resurrection it shall be delivered from this condition of perpetual change, corruption, and renewal, and have its part, according to its measure and degree, in the freedom of the glory of the sons of God.

18. Revealed in us. The Greek text has to us. Revealed from heaven, in our sight. But the worthless glory of this world is wholly external, a lightning flash, a breath of fame. The glory of God will be inherent in us, in soul and body, coexistent and superexistent. In us, but not from us, or of us, but of God.

19. By a personification the Apostle figures the inferior creation as longing earnestly for the day of the revelation of the sons of God. The Greek word αποκαραδοκια (apokaradokia)  signifies the attitude of a listener in earnest expectation. This statement must be considered in some degree poetical and figurative, at least as regards the inanimate creation.

It is not now always apparent who are the sons of God. Many appear so, who are not so in reality; others are so, but are not known to be. That day shall be the revelation of the sons of God.

Why should the Christian fear that for which all creation ardently longs?

21. The creature itself also shall be set free. Change, generation, corruption, the movements of the heavenly bodies, will all cease. The elements will be endowed with new qualities and powers. There will be new heavens, a new earth. As the nurse of a young king participate in the regal splendour at the coronation; or as slaves are magnificently arrayed for their master’s glory.
Saint Chrysostom.

22. For we know that all creation groans and labours as in travail until now.
23. And not only these things, but we ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves, looking out for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body
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22. Heaven and earth, all the elements and all the creatures, from the beginning of the world till now, groan and cry, as if in the pains of labour, earnestly longing for the reign of their Creator, and the redemption into freedom of the sons of God, for whose service they were made. And yet we, those very sons of God, love our own slavery, fear the coming of our liberator, tremble at his approach, recoil in terror from the thought of that
kingdom, for the coming of which we daily pray.

Be not lowered below the level of the inferior creation. Do not acquiesce in, and be satisfied with things present:but longing for the kingdom of God, groan for the delay of our departure from this world. Saint Chrysostom.

23. Not the lower creation only, but we also, the Apostles, the first believers, who have received first and most abundantly the gifts of the Holy Spirit, faith, hope, charity, all Christian graces and supernatural gifts, and the miraculous powers then frequent in the early church, yet weighed down by the body of this death, groan within ourselves, panting for the full completion of our adoption, when, by the immortality of the body, we shall be set free from mortality, concupiscence, and all the ills and miseries of life. Not satisfied with what we have received, but rather allured to the desire of a more perfect promise. The gifts given us in this life are first fruits, the beginnings of complete redemption, urging the Saints of God to look forward to the full harvest.

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