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Father Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Galatians Chapter 1

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 31, 2019

Chapter 1. In this chapter the Apostle emphatically declares, in opposition to his unworthy antagonists in Galatia, that his Apostolical mission was derived directly from Jesus Christ : and pronounces an anathema against those who endeavoured to pervert the truth of Christ’s Gospel.

Gal 1:1. Paul, Apostle not from men, nor through man ; but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.

Apostle, not from men, nor through man. Saint Paul’s commission as a divine teacher was not derived from human authority, like that of his opponents, who could advance no other claim than their own appointment of themselves ; but derived originally from God. 2. It did not come to him through any human agency whatever, as did the appointment of St. Matthias, who was chosen to a place in the Apostolic College by the other Apostles, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost ; and as is the case with all the prelates and pastors of the Church who have exercised their office since. It was derived from God the Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord, not in his mortal life, but after his resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven, seated at God’s right hand and reigning in glory and the exercise of divine omnipotence. The commission of the pastors of the Church now is divine as to its origin, but human as regards the means of its communication. This was not the case with Saint Paul, or the other Apostles.

Gal 1:2. And all the brethren who are with me, to the Churches of Galatia :

And all the brethren with me. The whole Church of Rome, assuming this Epistle to have been written there. Saint Chrysostom notes that whereas in other Epistles Saint Paul gives his own name only, or with one or two others, he here joins with him all the Christians who were with him, the dangerous tendency of the errors he had to oppose, and the peril of the salvation of the Galatians, requiring a more formal demonstration than usual. He addresses all the Churches of Galatia collectively, because they were all infected with these errors. And he omits the usual designation, beloved or holy ; his object being to warn them that they were in danger of losing, if they had not already lost, their faith.

Gal 1:3. Grace to you and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace to you, the source of spiritual good ; and peace, either the repose of the mind in faith, or as St. Augustine thinks, reconciliation with God. The Father is the originating, the Son the meritorious, cause of grace and of peace.

Gal 1:4. Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from the present wicked world, according to the will of our God and Father,

Christ became the meritorious cause of grace and peace to us, by becoming the victim of our sins. This statement has an important bearing on the argument which follows, which goes to show that divine grace and the peace of the soul with God are not attainable by •compliance with the law of Moses, nor can such compliance in any way aid in effecting it. . Grace and peace are from our Lord Jesus Christ, because he gave himself for our sins.

Saint John tells us that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the power of the devil (1 Jn 5:19). But the world is not evil in itself, or by any fault of its Creator ; the evil that is in it comes from the sins of men. Our deliverance from this present wicked world is the effects of Christ’s death, but it may be effected without the necessity of withdrawing us from God’s visible creation, by taking away sin. This Christ did freely and voluntarily, but in accordance with the will of God, his Father by nature, ours by grace.

Gal 1:5. To whom is glory for ever and ever. Amen.

To whom be the glory for ever. There is no verb in this sentence in the Greek, and the article is prefixed to the word glory. The Vulgate reads Cui est gloria.

Gal 1:6. I wonder that thus so quickly you are removing from him who called you into the grace of Christ, into another Gospel.

The Apostle, without further preface, plunges at once into his subject, expressing his horror and surprise at the
change which had come, in so short a time, over the faith of the Galatians. The word thus is not in the Greek, and
Erasmus says the phrase is absurd, but he acknowledges that it is so read by Tertullian and Saint Augustine, as it is also by Ambrose. I wonder : I cannot conceive how it has happened. That thus, after you have received God’s grace, done such good works, suffered so much for Christ : and so quickly, you are removing. Not removed. The use of the present tense is very noticeable, indicating that the apostasy he feared had not actually taken place, or at least was not general, though there was imminent danger of it. From the faith and service of Almighty God, who has called you into the grace of Christ, the communion of the Catholic Church, justification, sanctification, salvation, you are turning to another Gospel. Thus their perversion was nothing less than apostasy from God and Christ.

Gal 1:7. Which is not another ; unless there are some, who trouble you, and wish to change the Gospel of Christ.

Which is not a Gospel at all, for there is but one. Those who trouble you are trying to subvert, overthrow, and destroy the Gospel of Christ. This is in reality their design and enterprise, though they disguise and conceal it by calling what they teach, the faith of Christ. The false teachers of heresy then, as false teachers of heresy always do, called the mixture of Judaism and Christianity which they had invented, and were endeavouring to get the Galatians to accept, by the name of the Christian religion. This, says Saint Chrysostom, was their craft and deceit. The nature and characteristic of the Christian faith is salvation by faith in Christ. To teach the necessity of circumcision and obedience to the Mosaic institutions, is wholly to change its nature, and subvert and overthrow the Gospel of Christ. It was not another Gospel, but it was a new religion.

Gal 1:8. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a Gospel to you beyond that (præter)  which we have preached to you ; let him be anathema.
Gal 1:9. As we have already said, I now also say again ; if any shall have preached a Gospel to you beside that (præterquam)you received ; let him be anathema.

The heretics falsely cited the names of St. Peter, St. John, and St. James, as supporting their error. St. Paul does not name these Apostles, but by saying an angel from heaven, as St. Chrysostom observes, he includes all authority and knowledge of celestial things, while by including himself in the anathema, in case he changed his opinions, he also includes every earthly friendship, influence, and relation. The Gospel he taught them was true, and all the Angels, Apostles, and political leaders in God’s universe, could not shake its truth. Lest he should be thought to have made this statement, which certainly is a startling one, hastily and without consideration, he deliberately repeats it in the same words. The Greek παρʼ ὃ is rendered in the Vulgate by præter and præterquam, but its meaning is different from, or inconsistent with. Further and completer instruction on the lines already laid down is not a subject of anathema, and as St. Augustine observes, the Apostle himself expressed a wish to visit the Thessalonians to supply what was wanting to their faith (1 Thess. 2:17, 3:1-2). Heretics have distorted what Saint Paul says to the Galatians, as if it conveyed an anathema against the decrees of Popes and Councils, as being an addition to the faith taught by the Apostles. But the decrees of Popes and Councils, while they explain the faith, do not cross its borders ; and while
they teach explicitly what Scripture teaches implicitly, they contain nothing opposed to it. If the Catholic Faith in St. Paul’s days was so certain that he does not hesitate to anathematize the whole College of the Apostles, and the Angels of heaven, if they taught anything contrary to it ; it is even more certain now, confirmed by the tradition of so many centuries, the innumerable miracles wrought by God in support of it, and the general consent and agreement of mankind.

Gal 1:10. For am I now trying to persuade men, or God? Or am I seeking to please men? If I still pleased men
I should not be Christ’s servant.

St. Paul is sensible that the anathema he has just pronounced will give great offence in Galatia. But he does not shrink. What I have said, is said because it is God’s truth : I am quite indifferent what men may think of it. If my object in life was to please men, I should be at this moment the leader of the Jews ; perhaps their king. A servant of Christ, I should never have become. St. Chrysostom says : I am not bidding for a leader’s place, nor seeking disciples, nor ambitious of your praise. I seek to please God, not men ; and if I sought to please men, I should still be a persecutor of the Church of God. There is undoubtedly here a reflection on his opponents, whose judaizing tendency was adopted in the hope of conciliating the favour and support of Jews, still politically powerful in Western Asia. The Jewish religion was at that time tolerated and fostered by the Roman laws, whereas there were many indications and threatenings of the coming persecution of the Christian Church, which broke out a few years later ; and the Judaizers sought to obtain in advance the protection and support of Jews. They endeavoured to persuade the Jews to countenance them ; to please them by advocating the ceremonies of their law. Saint Paul sought to please God, by courageous adherence to his truth.

It is impossible to serve God and man. The bride cannot have two husbands, nor the servant two laws. God made the soul of man for himself, and admits no rival. Unum uni, una uni, was the exclamation of the ecstatic brother Aegidius, the companion of St. Francis. One heart for God, one bride for Christ. At the same time, while to please man for man’s sake is sin, to please man for God’s sake is charity. Let every one please his neighbour, Rom. 15:2. I please all, in all things, 1 Cor. 10:33. Man, says St. Augustine, does not please to any good purpose, unless it is for God’s sake, and that he may be pleased and glorified, in hope that his grace may be accorded by human ministry and agency. For in this case it is not man, but God, that pleases.

Gal 1:11. For I make it known to you brethren, of the Gospel which was preached by me, that it is not according to man.
Gal 1:12. For neither did I receive it from man, nor learned it : but through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

The remainder of this chapter is addressed to the slander of his opponents, that he was not really an Apostle of Christ. I tell you, and wish all to know, that my Gospel is neither human in its origin, nor taught to me by men, but by direct revelation from Jesus Christ our Lord, in person. This revelation was begun at Saint Paul’s conversion, and carried out in further detail in visions during his prolonged retirement in Arabia or at Tarsus.

Gal 1:13. For you have heard of my conversation at one time in Judaism ; that above measure I persecuted the Church of God, and fought against her;
Gal 1:14. And made progress in Judaism above many my contemporaries in age, in my nation, being more abundantly jealous of the traditions of my fathers.

I am no novice or tyro in the religion of the Jews, and am better acquainted with it, more thoroughly understand
its bearings, its teaching, its inner significance, than those who are now persuading you to embrace it. The outline of my career and history cannot be unknown to you. And he goes on to remind them how, with the whole energy of his fiery nature, and acute intellect, and pure and ardent love of all that is spiritual and true, he studied the Jewish law, under its most accomplished teachers, until he was thirty years old, and was urged, by his profound conviction of its divinity and truth, to seek to root out and overthrow the faith of Jesus Christ, as being in opposition, as he conceived to the will of God ; which he doubtless believed to be, the restitution of the kingdom of Juda, and its deliverance from the Roman power. And both in zeal against Christ, who had advocated submission to the Roman power, and in intimate acquaintance with the institutions and religious belief of his own nation, he confessedly distanced all competitors of his age and generation.

Gal 1:15. But when it pleased him who set me apart from the womb of my mother, and called me by his grace:

In spite of this inauspicious commencement of his career, God had nevertheless separated and set him apart, even when he was in his mother’s womb, and appointed him his herald, minister, and servant, like the Prophet Jeremias, Jer. 1:5. In due time God was pleased to accomplish what he had thus fore-ordained, and called me by his grace, revealing his Son to him, that he might in turn reveal Him to the nations. St. Jerome thinks the revelation here referred to took place on the road to Damascus. St. Thomas thinks it was made, at least partly, during the following three days ; others consider that it was subsequent to the visit of Ananias and baptism of St. Thomas.

Gal 1:16. To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the nations : at once I did not rest in flesh and blood.
Gal 1:17. Nor did I go to Jerusalem to the Apostles who were appointed before me : but I went away into Arabia ; and again returned to Damascus :

I rested not in flesh and blood. The Greek, I consulted not with flesh and blood. The Syriac : I made it not known to flesh and blood. The Arabic has the same meaning. I began to preach Christ at once, without asking permission of any one. Act. 9:20. By flesh and blood, says St. Chrysostom, he means the Apostles ; or if any one prefers to think he means all mankind, I shall not contradict. I did not go to Jerusalem to consult with Peter, John, and James, who were there at that time.

Damascus was at that period the capital of the kingdom of Arabia Petræ, and the Apostle, when he says he went into Arabia, doubtless means that he preached Christ in the neighbouring country, for three years. This is not mentioned by St. Luke in the Acts, possibly because it was not attended by any remarkable occurrence. St. Luke only says that after many days, that is three years, St. Paul left the country and proceeded to Jerusalem.

Gal 1:18. Then after three years I came to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days.

I came to Jerusalem to see Peter. The Greek word is ἱστορῆσαι, to seek or make his acquaintance ; not to learn from him, says St. Jerome, but to pay honour to the first of the Apostles. Saint Chrysostom says the same. Ambrose observes that it was reasonable he should wish to see Peter, not to be taught by him, because he had been taught already by the same authority who instructed Peter, but from respect to his Apostolic office, and to inform him of the wonderful gifts and extraordinary mission he had received. He adds that he remained with Peter fifteen days, which is a proof that he could not have learned from him the religion of Christ, the time being insufficient.

Gal 1:19. But I saw no other of the Apostles, except James, the brother of the Lord.

I saw no other of the Apostles, none of whom, possibly, were at that time at Jerusalem : except Saint James, the Bishop of Jerusalem, the brother of our Lord, that is, his cousin, being the son of Mary, the wife of Cleophas, sister of the Blessed Virgin. Saint Luke’s account of this visit to Jerusalem, in the Acts of the Apostles, is very circumstantial, and is given Act. 9:26—30. His life being in danger, he was, by the intervention of the Christians of Jerusalem, shipped off to Tarsus, his native place, where he remained for some years, with his family and friends.

Gal 1:20. And what I write to you, behold before God, that I do not lie.
Gal 1:21. Then I came into the parts of Syria and Cilicia.
Gal 1:22. And I was unknown by face to the Churches of Judea which were in Christ.
Gal 1:23. But this much they had heard, that he who formerly persecuted us, now preaches the faith which once he fought against.
Gal 1:24. And in me they glorified God.

Before God, I lie not. So many false statements regarding the Apostle’s life and history had been maliciously circulated among the Galatians, that he evidently considers they would have some difficulty in believing him, and accordingly thinks it necessary to confirm his own statement with an oath.

(21) Tarsus was in Cilicia, and parts of Syria were in its immediate neighbourhood. If the conversion of St. Paul took place a.d. 31, the earliest convenient date, he must have remained nine years in this comparative retirement. He could not have met there any of the Apostles, from whom he might have received instruction ; (22) neither did he receive it from the Christians of Judea, by whom the heretics declared he must have been taught the necessity of circumcision and of the observance of the law, for he only remained a few days in their country, and they were not even personally acquainted with him. (23) But they knew him only too well by reputation, as the most violent and dangerous adversary they ever had, and his marvellous conversion from a persecutor into a preacher of the faith he once assailed, filled them with astonishment and gratitude to God (24).

COROLLARY OF PIETY

I wonder, the Apostle says, that you are changing so soon from the grace of God to another Gospel. The same phenomenon encounters us every day, and is just as wonderful, extraordinary, and unaccountable as ever. In early youth, in the flower of their age, with all the teaching of the Church, to which they listened in childhood, fresh in their memory, all the impressions of love to God, the aspirations after heaven, of which they were once conscious, not yet faded from their heart, how many turn aside from the communion of the Catholic Church of Christ, to follow another Gospel—the pleasures, the vanities, the ambitions of the world, the cavils of unbelievers, the sophistries of heretics, the sneer of the ungodly, the snares of Satan, which they renounced in their baptism ! This is worse than the apostasy of the Galatians ; for the Galatians wandered into Judaism, but at any rate they had never renounced it. We renounce the Gospel of the devil, and return to it as soon as we are old enough to act for ourselves. It is a double treason, for we abandon Jesus, to whose service we were solemnly devoted ; and we return to the standard of the
devil, whose service we have solemnly abjured. Truly we may wonder: for what are the hopes this new Gospel sets before us ? A few years of pleasure, of amusement, of success, perhaps renown, and these chequered by disappointment, saddened by sorrow, poisoned by remorse. Then the bitter dregs of the cup, of which the sweetness
is all gone ; the dreary retrospect of a wasted life ; the gloomy prospect of a future that is endless, and without
hope. This is no Gospel; and the only Messenger who ever brought good news from heaven to this earth of ours, since it became the prison house of sin, was He who brought us the glad tidings of God’s forgiveness, and his
grace, for this mortal life, and joy eternal in his presence in the life to come.

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Father Bernardin de Piconio’s Preface to His Commentary on Galatians

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 31, 2019

Galatia is a province of Asia Minor, bounded on the east by Cappadocia, on the west by Bithynia, on the south by Pamphylia, and on the north by the Euxine Sea. It was at one time called Gallo-Graecia, and subsequently Galatia, the dominant race among the inhabitants being Gauls of the tribe of the Senones, who crossed the Hellespont under the guidance of Brennus, after the invasion of Rome, conquered the Troas B. C. 278, were checked by King Attains in a battle about B. C. 241, and then occupied the territory called from them Gallo-Graecia or Galatia. This is the statement of Suidas ; there are other accounts of the circumstances attending this invasion, but there is no doubt the people were of Gallic origin. Galatia was conquered and incorporated into the Roman Empire in B.C. 25, on the death of King Amyntas.

The Galatians were converted to the faith of Christ by the preaching of Saint Paul. They received the faith with extraordinary zeal and devotion, wrought many miracles, and endured persecution for the cause of Christ. But after the Apostle’s departure, they were led astray by false teachers, whose ostensible zeal for Judaism was possibly a mask for still more dangerous errors, and who were, as Saint Chrysostom says, intoxicated with empty glory. These men endeavoured to persuade them to adopt circumcision and other ceremonies of the Mosaic law ; and with a view to obtaining acceptance for their doctrine, began by attacking the authority of Saint Paul. They declared that he was no Apostle of Christ, but only a disciple of the Apostles, and not even a consistent and faithful one; for James at Jerusalem carried on the observance of the Jewish law ; and Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, had lately at Antioch, avoided association with Gentile converts who had not received circumcision. They accused Saint Paul of inconsistency in this respect, alleging that he conformed to Jewish custom in one place and not in another, and taught different doctrines at different times according to circumstances. The Galatians, too easily listening to these false statements, were persuaded to accept circumcision and adopt the observance of days and months, seasons and years, according to the Jewish calendar, Gal 4:10. The Apostle, perceiving the dangerous consequences to which this error might lead, and the hindrance it was likely to place in the way of the conversion of the Gentiles, the task which God had specially committed to his hands, denounces it as nothing less than apostasy from Christ and the destruction of his Gospel, Gal 3:7. With just indignation and profound sorrow, Saint Chrysostom says, and with burning zeal, he addressed to the Galatians an Epistle full of vehemence, as is plainly evident to every reader, from its opening onwards. He rather chides than teaches, says Saint Jerome, but chides to recal them from the errors by which they had been led astray. The false apostles had denied his Apostolate, for which reason, in the very first words, he declares that he received it from Christ our Lord, as the other Apostles did, but with this special prerogative, that he received it from Christ reigning in glory in heaven. Then he shows that his doctrine was in complete agreement with that of St. Peter, St. John, and St. James. He gives the true history of the occurrence at Antioch, which had been perverted to his prejudice by the false teachers. Then he shows by many arguments from Scripture and the reason of the case, that the ceremonies of the old Law are insufficient and useless for salvation, and that man is justified by faith in Christ. Finally, he exhorts the Galatians to hold these truths in purity of faith and a holy life.

The argument of this Epistle is, therefore, as will be seen, not dissimilar to that of the Epistle to the Romans, and it is sometimes regarded as a compendium or epitome of that treatise, having in common with it many sentiments,
arguments, conclusions, and even phrases. But there is this difference, that while in the Epistle to the Romans the Apostle proves the insufficiency, both of legal obedience, and Gentile philosophy, to effect the regeneration of mankind, in this he deals with the Jewish question only, proving the efficacy of faith and the works which follow it.

It is not quite certain whether the Epistle to the Galatians was written before or after that to the Romans. Cornelius a Lapide considers that there is greater uncertainty as to its date, than in the case of any other of St. Paul’s writings. The Greek copies, and the Syriac and Arabic versions, assert that it was written at Rome. This is also affirmed by St. Athanasius, in the Synopsis, St. Jerome, Theodoret in the Preface to St. Paul’s Epistles, and by other writers. In this case it was, of course, composed at a later period than the Epistle to the Romans, and probably in the year 60. And this view is supported by the words of the Apostle, Rom. 15:26, Macedonia and Achaia have resolved to make a collection of money for the poor, which money he intended to convey to Jerusalem, and he adds,  Rom 15:28 : when I have done this, I shall come through Rome to Spain. And in Gal. 2:10 he shows that this pious errand had been discharged.

Nevertheless St. Chrysostom, Theophylact, in the argument of the Epistle to the Romans, and Baronius, tom. 1.,
maintain that Saint Paul cannot have written this Epistle at Rome, because he makes no allusion to his imprisonment,
as he does in all the others written at that period ; and they consider that it was written before the Epistle to the Romans, at Ephesus, Philippi, or some place in Greece, in the year of Christ 58. Some modern writers place it before the Epistles to the Corinthians, in 55 or 56. M. de Tillemont is inclined to this view, though not positively. Mem. note 42 sur St. Paul. And the same opinion is expressed, though with some hesitation, by the author of the Analysis (Argument). The question must, therefore, be left undecided.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 10

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 31, 2019

ANALYSIS OF 2 CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 10
Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this and the two following chapters, the Apostle puts forward his defence of himself against the charges preferred by the false teachers and their deluded followers. The Apostolic freedom, with which he corrected the abuses referred to in his first Epistle, gave offence to many. This was artfully seized hold of by the false teachers, and made a subject of accusation against the Apostle. He was accordingly charged with a despotic and tyrannical exercise of authority, so much at variance with the example of meekness and clemency set us by Christ; and so little in character with his own personal appearance, and the tone of his speech when amongst them, which were represented as mean and contemptible. This difference between his language when present, and the lofty style of his Epistles when absent, they ascribed to human, worldly policy. The Apostle commences the vindication of his Apostolic authority with an earnest entreaty to the Corinthians, through the meekness and clemency of Christ, not to force him to exercise his authority amongst them (2 Cor 10:1-2). He shows how unfounded is the calumny of his enemies, in charging him with following the wiles of human policy, by describing the nature of the struggle in which he is engaged, and the weapons he is to employ in the spiritual warfare against error. He shows that, when necessary, he is prepared for the vigorous exercise of authority (2 Cor 10:3–6). He submits to the Corinthians themselves the decision of his cause as between him and the false teachers, and shows how much he is superior to them, looking even to the external evidence of facts. He abstains from referring to certain actions well known to them, lest by so doing he might give colour to the charge preferred against him of attempting to terrify them by the display of authority (2 Cor 10:7–11). He repels the charge of being menacing in his Epistles and mean in his discourses when present, by asserting that whether absent or present, he is always consistent (2 Cor 10:11). In a strain of bitter irony, to which he has recourse in self-defence, he taxes the vanity and unmeaning boasting of the false teachers, with whom he would not presume to compare himself (2 Cor 10:12). He shall not, like them, indulge in extravagant and false boasting, but he shall merely boast of the labours he had actually undergone—labours which, unlike the attempts of the false teachers, had been arranged by Divine Providence (2 Cor 10:14-15). Nor shall he, like them, boast of the labours of others, but shall content himself with the glory arising from the faith of the Corinthians, and such other nations as he may have preached the gospel to (2 Cor 10:16). He shows the object of all lawful boasting, and the proper end of all glory.—viz., God (2 Cor 10:17-18).

COMMENTARY ON 2 CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 10
Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on

2 Cor 10:1. Now I Paul myself, who am your Apostle, be seech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, which I am accused of not imitating, and, not alone this, but with observing in your presence a different line of conduct from that which I follow in your absence. When amongst you, I am said to demean myself in an humble, submissive manner, and when absent, to display a domineering, haughty exercise of authority.

“Mildness of Christ.” From the menacing tone of his Epistles, the Apostle was charged with a want of that spirit of meekness of which Christ has given us the example, and which he proposed to us for imitation:—“Learn or me, because I am meek and humble of heart.”

“Modesty,” regards the merciful clemency manifested by Christ towards sinners, and which the Apostle was charged with discarding in his severe treatment of the incestuous man (1 Cor 5). It is remarked, that the Apostle, in the preceding chapters, speaks of himself in the plural number: because in them he was defending his colleagues, and the gospel ministry in general: while here, he employs the singular; because he is engaged in a defence of himself personally, against the Jewish teachers, who wished to unite the law of Moses with the gospel (11:22).

2 Cor 10:2. I entreat you, not to oblige me, when I shall have come amongst you, to have recourse to the stern exercise of authority, which I am supposed to employ against some of you, who, seduced by the false teachers, regard us as men who live according to human and carnal affections.

“As if we walked.” &c. The false teachers asserted that the difference of tone observable in his Epistles and conversation, was owing to worldly policy—as if, when present, he sought popularity, and when absent, he wished to inspire them with terror and awe of himself.

2 Cor 10:3. (In this, however, they are mistaken), for, although, like other men, we live in this body of flesh; still, in our spiritual warfare with sin and unbelief, we do not follow the rules of human feelings or wisdom.

This calumny he refutes as being opposed to the glory of his ministry—showing also that the charge of adopting carnal or human means made against him was false.—For, though like other men, he lives in a mortal body; still, in his war with sin, he does not follow, etc., (vide Paraphrase).

2 Cor 10:4. For the arms which we employ in this spiritual warfare are not carnal, but spiritual; and these derive their efficacy from the power of God, for the destruction of the fortifications of our enemies, and for destroying the reasonings of those who oppose the faith.

The arms of apostolic warfare are not “carnal;” such as wealth, eloquence, glory, strength, craftiness, &c., which political men employ for their own purposes—“but mighty to God;” such are, the word of God, patience, meekness, prayer. These are, of themselves, powerless; but, they are rendered “mighty” by the power of God, by the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and by miracles. “Unto the pulling down of fortifications,” by means of which the enemies of God and of the faith endeavour to protect their errors. He explains what these “fortifications” are. They are nothing else than “the counsels,” or, the acute reasonings of unbelieving philosophy.

2 Cor 10:5. And of every altitude both in human knowledge and language, that opposes itself to the knowledge of God, contained in his gospel, and by which we lead captive every intellect, no matter how exalted or cultivated, to render obedience to Christ, by voluntarily submitting to faith.

He continues his metaphorical allusions to fortifications; some of which are unassailable from their artful construction. To these he has already alluded. Others are unassailable from their altitude. To these he alludes here—“and every height, &c.” “Height” has reference to all false teaching opposed to faith, whether coming from Pagan philosophers, Jewish doctors, or heretics. “That exalteth itself against the knowledge of God,” i.e., every thing sublime and profound in secular learning and human science, whereby attempts are made to subvert the true knowledge of God, contained in his gospel. “And bringing into captivity every understanding.” The Greek is, και αιχηαλωτιζοντες παν νοημα, and leading captive every thought (or intellectual reasoning), unto the obedience of Christ, by believing in his gospel. Hence, the will has a share in the assent of faith; from it, faith derives its merit. This obedience is exercised by assenting to truths in themselves not evident; for, faith is “the evidence of things that appear not.”—(Heb. 11).

2 Cor 10:6. And we have the same arms in readiness to punish every disobedience; and this power we shall exercise against such as may contumaciously persevere in their disobedience, after the number of those among you brought back to obedience shall have been filled up.

“When your obedience,” &c. To such among them as were seduced into disobedience by the false teachers, or were persevering in sin, notwithstanding his admonitions, he gives time to be reformed; but if they persevere in their evil course, he shall punish them, as they are not to be accounted among those from whom obedience was to be expected.

2 Cor 10:7. In the meantime, see how things are, if we look to the very evidence of facts. (In this point of view am I inferior to the false teachers?) If any of them boasts in being the minister of Christ, let him again and again reflect within himself, that if he be a minister of Christ, so are we also (and hence, in this respect, not inferior to him).

“See things,” &c. A different reading is given in the Greek, which runs thus:—τα κατα προσωπον βλεπειτε; do you look on things according to outward appearances? According to which, the Apostle conveys a reproach to them for judging of things merely by their exterior. According to our reading, the Apostle invites them to judge of his cause as compared with that of the false teachers, even according to external appearances and the evidence of facts. “So are we also.” The Apostle, too, is a minister of Christ, as appears from his life and actions.

2 Cor 10:8. I say not inferior to him—for, although I were even to boast still more of the power which the Lord gave us to advance your salvation, and not to injure it, I might not be ashamed of it (as being a fact, and a fact, too, which I proclaim for God’s glory and your salvation).

“Unto edification, not for destruction.” The false teachers, by the dissemination of erroneous teachings, regarding the necessity of uniting the legal ceremonies with the gospel, and by their pernicious example, were destroying the spiritual edifice of sanctity among the Corinthians. The Apostle preached up the abrogation of the Jewish ceremonies, which they endeavoured to retain in full force. “Which the Lord hath given.” The ecclesiastical power is given by God; hence, it should be submitted to with respect and reverence. But it is to be exercised “unto edification”; hence, the ecclesiastical superior should never, in the exercise of power, injure the spiritual interests of his people.

2 Cor 10:9. But I shall refrain from so doing, lest I might appear to be only making a display of authority, and endeavouring to inspire you with fear by my Epistles.

The greater number of the Greek copies connect this verse with the foregoing (as in Paraphrase); or, it may be connected thus:—I have made mention of the power which God gave me for your edification, and not for your destruction; and that, lest I might appear to be terrifying you, &c. Others connect it with verse 11, and include verse 10, in a parenthesis, thus:—“But lest I might be thought to be terrifying you by my Epistles, as I have been charged with doing” (verse 9). (“For his Epistles, indeed,” &c., verse 10). Let the persons who thus charge me, know, &c. (verse 11).

2 Cor 10:10. (“For indeed It is Epistles,” say these my maligners, “thunder forth menances and are full of authority, but his personal appearance is mean, and His language contemptible.”)

“His Epistles are weighty,” i.e., menacing; “and strong,” i.e., full of authority, or Powerful in style and replete with argument, as opposed to his personal appearance and conversation. “But his bodily presence (or appearance) is weak,” &c. We are told by Nicephorus, that the Apostle was very small in stature.—(Lib. 2, chap. 37). Hence. St. Chrysostom (Homil. de Principe Apost.), terms him “tricubitalis.” His conversation was also divested of the strength and authority which he displays in his Epistles.

2 Cor 10:11. Whosoever he be, that speak thus, let him know and rest firmly persuaded, that such as we appear to be, when absent, in the language transmitted through our Epistles, the same we shall be in reality and in point of fact, when present.

He says, in defence of his own character, that whether absent or present, he will always be the same, always consistent.

2 Cor 10:12. For, we cannot presume to measure ourselves, or enter into competition with certain persons who commend themselves, and despise us; but we measure ourselves by ourselves—that is, by that measure which suits us, and compare ourselves according to that measure, and none other.

In terms of bitter irony, he says, he could not presume to compare himself with “some,” i.e., the false teachers, who are always praising and commending themselves; but he will measure himself with the measure that best suits him and is most befitting for him—viz., his own self, and thus prefer himself to no one else. In the Greek, the latter part of this verse is read differently from our Vulgate; instead of, “but we measure ourselves by ourselves,” &c., the Greek reading is, ἀλλὰ αὐτοὶ ὲν ἐαυτοις ἑαυτοὺς μετροῦντες, καὶ συνκρείνοντες ἑαυτους ἑαυτοῖς, ου συνιᾶσιν, but they measuring themselves with themselves, and comparing themselves with themselves, do not understand. That is measuring themselves according to their foolish imaginations, without following any fixed rule founded on truth, and following their own judgment, they err, supposing themselves to be greater than they really are.

2 Cor 10:13. We will not, like others, glory beyond the limits of our evangelical labours; but we will confine ourselves to the measure of the rule which God has measured to us; or, to the limits which God has assigned to us, according to which rule, our apostleship has reached even to you.

He will not imitate the false teachers—whom he here taxes—by indulging in undue boasting. They boasted, as we are told by St. Chrysostom and Theophylact, that they had preached the gospel throughout the earth. But the Apostle confines his boasting to what he really did, to having preached in the places assigned to him in the distribution, which the Apostle made of the different parts of the earth, for the more effectual propagation of the gospel. “A measure to reach even to you.” In this distribution, which was inspired by God himself (“which God measured to us”), Achaia fell to the lot of St. Paul. Hence, he might glory in having preached among them, and that by the ordination of God himself, unlike the false teachers, who boasted of what they never did, while, what they did, was without a divine commission.

2 Cor 10:14. For, in this matter, we do not boast beyond what we ought, which would be the case, if we had not come to you. For, in truth, we have come as far as you, the first to preach the gospel among you.

“For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure,” i.e., in this matter we boast not more than we ought. The words are the same as those of the preceding verse—“we will not glory beyond our measure.” “As if we reached not unto you,” That is, we would have gloried beyond what we ought, if we gloried, as we have done, in coming to you, and had not come. “For, we are come as far as you in the Gospel of Christ;” and hence, we have not boasted unduly of having preached to you, and of having “begotten you in Jesus Christ through the Gospel” (1 Cor. chap. 4), and in saying, “are you not our work in the Lord?”—(1 Cor. chap. 9).

2 Cor 10:15. We will not, like the false teachers, make the labours of other men the subject of our immoderate and undue boasting. But we hope that by the increase and progress of your faith, our glory in you will be increased, according to the measure of our labour in bringing you to perfection.

He says, he will not, like the false teachers, whom he indirectly charges throughout this Epistle with doing the things, against which he defends his own character, make the happy results of other men’s labours, the subject of his boasting. “Of your increasing faith.” These words are, in the Greek, a genitive absolute, αυξανομενης τῆς πιστεως ὑμῶν, and mean, while your faith is increasing, we have hope to be magnified in you, i.e., that our glory in you shall be increased. The Codex Vaticanus has, ἡμὼν, our faith. “According to our rule,” i.e., according to the extent of our labours. “Abundantly,” i.e., bringing you to perfection. The Greek word for “abundantly,” is, as εις περισσειαν, unto abundance, which may be construed with magnified, thus:—We have hopes to be abundantly magnified in you, i.e., we have hopes that, according as your faith increases, so shall our glory in you be more and more increased. Following the former construction, which is adopted in the Paraphrase, the word “abundantly,” may mean—We have hopes that our glory in you shall be increased; for, the teacher derives glory from the proficiency of his pupils. “According to our rule abundantly.” According as the measure of our labours is increased and extended, inasmuch as they shall not be confined to you, but shall be extended to other regions.

2 Cor 10:16. We also hope to proceed to other provinces beyond you, in preaching the Gospel, without intruding on those marked out for others, and without glorying in the labours of others, i.e., not making the fruits resulting from the culture and preparation made by them, the subject of our boasting.

His rule or measure, being extended, he expects to preach the Gospel in places far beyond them; not, however, in the districts assigned for the apostolical labours of others, nor with a wish to make the fruits, of which the seeds had been laboriously prepared and planted by others, the subject of his boasting. This is, indirectly, levelled at the false teachers, who wished to claim the merit of other men’s labours.

2 Cor 10:17. But, whosoever glories, let him glory in the Lord only (from whom all things are derived, and to whom the glory of all things should be referred).

He points out the object to which all praise should be directed—viz., God, the source of all blessings and good gifts, and the end, therefore, to which the glory of all things should be directed.

2 Cor 10:18. For, it is not the man who commends or praises himself, that is deserving of commendation; but the man whom God shows to be deserving of praise, by the works which he enables him to perform.

“Is approved;” i.e., it is not our self-praise, or self-commendation, that renders us really acceptable and deserving of praise; but, it is the testimony which God renders to us, by the works which he enables us to perform, and the gifts which he bestows upon us, that shows us to be really deserving of it. Hence, the self-praise of the false teachers should be regarded as suspicious, unless confirmed by the testimony of good works.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 9

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 31, 2019

ANALYSIS OF 2 CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 9
Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

After having commended the persons sent by him to receive their contributions, the Apostle now resumes the subject of alms-deeds. He says, it is superfluous to stimulate them to this holy work, as lie is well aware of their prompt and ready willingness in the matter. He confines himself to three qualities which should characterise their alms-deeds—viz., promptitude, generosity, and cheerfulness. He stimulates them to promptitude, by the consideration of his former boasting regarding them, and of the consequent cause of shame it would be, both to himself and them, if they were not prepared when he should arrive accompanied by some of the Macedonians (2 Cor 9:2–4). He employs the beautiful illustration of the sower who reaps according to the abundance of the seed which he sows, to stimulate their generosity (2 Cor 9:5-6). He recommends the quality of cheerfulness in their almsgiving (2 Cor 9:7). Having recounted the conditions of alms-deeds, he meets a difficulty which the timorous fears of some might suggest—viz., that by the exercise of generous charity, they might themselves be reduced to want, and he shows the groundless nature of such fears Firstly, because God is able to supply their necessary wants, and also to furnish means of further charity (2 Cor 9:8). Secondly, because such is the ordinary dispensation of God’s Providence (2 Cor 9:9). And he illustrates this by the example of the master, who furnishes the husbandman with seed (2 Cor 9:10). Thirdly, by recounting the several advantages of alms-deeds (2 Cor 9:11-15).

COMMENTARY ON 2 CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 9
Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly;s paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on

2 Cor 9:1. (I then commend to your charge these tried men whom I have sent to you), for, as to the eleemosynary contribution itself, which is to be administered by them for the relief of the afflicted poor of Jerusalem, I deem, it superfluous to say a single word to stimulate you.

The connection of this verse with the preceding is given in the Paraphrase. He says, it is superfluous to stimulate them to undertake the good work itself, as he is aware of their disposition, having themselves commenced the matter last year. Hence, in this chapter, he dwells particularly on the conditions of their alms-deeds, viz.: promptitude, generosity, and cheerfulness. He treats, first, of promptitude.

2 Cor 9:2. For, I am well aware of the prompt readiness of your will to contribute, and this promptitude of yours. I have made the subject of my boasting with the Macedonians, telling them that all Achaia (of which your city is the capital), has been ready for the last year to contribute, and the good example of ready willingness which you gave, had the effect of provoking many to imitate you.

The spiritual and heavenly wisdom of the Apostle is here remarkably exhibited. He stimulates the Corinthians to generosity by the example of the Macedonians; and the latter he stimulated to promptitude, by the example of the Corinthians.

2 Cor 9:3. But I have sent Titus and the two brethren before me, in order that my boasting concerning you in, this matter of alms-deeds may not be proved to have been vain and foolish, and that you may be prepared when I come to you, as I told the Macedonians you would.

“I have sent the brethren,” i.e., Titus and his two associates.

“In this behalf,” i.e., in this affair of aims-deeds. He is not in the least afraid of them in other respects.

2 Cor 9:4. Lest, should any of the Macedonians accompany me to Corinth, and find you unprepared, we should be ashamed on this matter of boasting; as if we were uttering falsehoods (to say nothing of the shame it would cause you to be found negligent in the cause of the poor).

“Least, when the Macedonians shall come.” In the common Greek it is, μὴ πως, ε͂ὰν ἔλθωσι—lest if the Macedonians should come, &c.; εαν, if, is wanting in the chief MSS. It frequently happened that the Apostles were honourably escorted, by members of the churches in which they were after preaching, to the place of their destination. “In this matter.” For which the common Greek is εν τη ὑποστασει ταυτη της καυχησεως, in this confidence of boasting; της καυχησεως, is wanting in the chief MSS., and rejected by critics generally.

“Not to say,” i.e., not to speak of the shame it would be to you, to be found negligent in the cause of relieving the poor.

2 Cor 9:5. Therefore it was, that I thought proper to request of the brethren to go before us, and prepare this offering of generous liberality, so that it may be ready when we arrive, and may be truly a generous, cheerful offering, and not the reluctant, parsimonious tribute wrung from avarice.

“So as a blessing,” i.e., a generous, cheerful offering. He now recommends abundance and cheerfulness in their offerings.

2 Cor 9:6. What I mean to convey is this: the man who dispenses charity sparingly, shall meet a recompense in the same proportion, and the man who dispenses it liberally and generously, shall also reap a proportionate, i.e., a liberal, recompense from God.

He says that the man who gives alms—which is meant by “sowing”—“sparingly,” “will reap,” i.e., will receive but a small reward, not trifling or small in itself, but in comparison with that which shall be received by him, who shall sow or dispense “in blessings,” i.e., plentifully and abundantly. Such a person will obtain an abundant reward.

2 Cor 9:7. Let each person, however, contribute just according to his will and inclination; but let him do so cheerfully, and not as a man acting from reluctance or constraint, because God loves and remunerates a cheerful giver.

He now recommends this quality of cheerfulness in the giving of alms. With God, who sees the heart, no alms deeds are acceptable, unless given from a cheerful heart. Hence, St. Augustine says—if you give away your bread with sadness, you lose both your bread and its reward.

2 Cor 9:8. (Let no groundless fears of personal want, resulting from the exercise of charity to the poor, deter you); for God is able to bestow upon you such an abundance of good gifts, that, having in all things, and at all times, an ample sufficiency, you may be fully equal to every good work of charity.

Having explained the conditions of alms-deeds, he now meets a difficulty, which the timid fears of some might suggest, viz., that if they were to contribute generously, they themselves might perhaps be reduced to want. He tells them to banish such groundless apprehensions; for, that God, who is generous to those who are themselves liberal, can make their substance prosper, so as to enable them to exercise without difficulty the works of charity.

2 Cor 9:9. As we find it written in Psalm 112 regarding the just man:—Like a sower, he hath scattered his wealth, he liberally distributed it to the poor, his alms deeds remain in their effects, both for time and eternity.

He employs the authority of Sacred Scripture in banishing all such groundless fears. The same thing shall happen them, that is recorded of the just man (Psalm 112), of whom it is said, “he hath dispersed,” &c.—(See Paraphrase). “His justice,” by which is meant alms-deeds, to which the designation of “justice,” is applied in the Gospel (v.g.): “See, you do not your justice before men.”—(Matt. chap. 6.) “Remaineth for ever;” it remains in time, in the temporal benedictions and graces which it merits, and in eternity, in the glory with which it shall be abundantly rewarded.

2 Cor 9:10. Therefore, banish all groundless fears, because God, who supplies you with the means of dispensing your charities, will also furnish you with the necessaries of life, and will even multiply your temporal substance which you dispense to the poor, and increase the spiritual fruits of your justice and sanctification.

He dispels their fears by recounting the rewards attached to almsgiving. God, who supplies them with temporal means (“the seed”), wherewith to relieve their distressed brethren, like the master who supplies the husbandman with seed to sow in his field, will supply them with food and the other necessaries of life; he will even multiply their “seed,” i.e., their temporal substance, and reward them in this life with graces, which are the seed of glory in the life to come. The ordinary course of God’s providence is to reward aims-deeds with temporal benedictions in this life, and whenever he departs from this course, as he sometimes does, it is for the trial and good of his elect, and for his own greater glory. The words “will multiply,” &c., are read optatively in the common Greek, χορηγησαι και πληθυναι, &c., may he, who … give and multiply, &c. According to this reading, the Apostle begs a blessing for them. The Vulgate reading in the future, χορηγησει, και πληθυνεῖ, &c., is, however, generally preferred by critics, on the authority of the chief MSS.

2 Cor 9:11. So that having become enriched in all kinds of blessings, you may be enabled to exercise the works of charity with cheerful generosity, which, on your part, affords us matter for returning thanks to God.

“You may abound unto all simplicity,” that is, be able to exercise heartfelt generosity from pure motives. The Apostle, in the preceding passage, in order the more effectually to dispel all feelings of diffidence from the minds of the Corinthians, promises them these two things which he had shown (verse 8) to be possible with God, and (verse 9) to be ordinarily given to the just, viz., sufficiency for support, and abundance for the purposes of charity; and this he illustrates by the example of the master who furnishes the husbandman with seed. For, as the master supplies seed to the tiller of the ground, and furnishes him with the necessaries of life, and, moreover, at harvest time, assigns to him a share in the harvest, by the multiplication of which he can sow more extensively at the coming spring; so, God who supplies the almsgiver with the seed, or means or dispensing charity, which he is to dispense to his own poor, will also supply him with the necessaries of life, and will multiply more and more his resources and means for the further sowing or dispensing of charity.

2 Cor 9:12. Because the administration of these alms not only supplies the saints with the necessary means of subsistence; but it also causes manifold thanks to be rendered, on this account, by many to the Lord.

“The administration of this office.” The Greek is ἡ διακονία τῆς λειτουργιας ταυτης, the ministry of this liturgy, or sacred service. The Apostle insinuates that alms-deeds is a sort of a sacrifice, as being a kind of oblation acceptable to God, and there is some sacrifice of temporal goods involved in it. “By many thanksgivings in the Lord.” In the common Greek, by many thanksgivings to God. The Codex Vaticanus has, “by many thanksgivings to Christ.”

2 Cor 9:13. Who having had a proof or experiment of your charity administered by us, give glory to God on account of your obedience to the precepts of the gospel, to which you are bound in virtue of your Christian profession, and for the generous and cheerful liberality by which you make them and all others sharers in your temporal substance.

“By the proof of this ministry,” i.e., having experienced your charity through our ministry, they render glory to God for the works of his grace, for having enabled you to obey the Gospel in which you believe, and whose precepts you have bound yourselves to observe. Among the precepts of the Gospel is, that of giving alms-deeds to relieve the indigent. Glory should be rendered to God, “for the simplicity of your communicating, &c.,” i.e., for having endowed you with this generous, pure-minded liberality, of which they and all who need it are made partakers.

2 Cor 9:14. They also give glory to God in the prayers they pour forth for you, whom they are desirous to see on account of the singular gifts of grace bestowed upon you, and of which your liberality is a sure indication.

They also glorify God in their prayers for you, whom they are anxious to see on account of the peculiar grace of charity, and the other heavenly gifts which your generosity shows to have been bestowed on you by God.

2 Cor 9:15. Thanks be to God for having conferred on you the gifts of generous charity, the fruits of which are ineffable.

He returns God thanks for the “gift” of generous charity conferred on them, which may be justly styled “ineffable,” owing to the good resulting to men, and the glory redounding to God, from its exercise.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 8

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 31, 2019

ANALYSIS OF 2 CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 8
Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this chapter, the Apostle exhorts the Corinthians to contribute, after the example of the Churches of Macedonia, with generous liberality towards the fund, that was being collected throughout the Churches for the afflicted poor of Jerusalem. He extols the Macedonians for their spontaneous, cheerful, and liberal offerings, going beyond their means, and devoting themselves and their personal services to God and his ministers (2 Cor 8:1–5). Influenced by this generous example, lie entreated Titus to return to Corinth and forward this good work of charity, which should be the more abundant with the Corinthians, according as their wealth was greater than that of the Macedonians (2 Cor 8:5–7). In this matter, he refrains from enjoying anything by way of precept; he merely proposes a counsel, and exhorts them, by the example set them by the Macedonians, by the example of Christ our Lord, and by a reference to their own former good desires and purposes on this subject, to come forward and contribute liberally according to their abilities, as they had resolved on, the year before (2 Cor 8:7–11). He does not wish that their contribution should exceed their ability, or that they should be carried to the extent of enriching others, and impoverishing themselves, but only that there should be a certain measure of equality between them and their poor brethren, both in temporal and spiritual matters (2 Cor 8:11–15). He highly commends both Titus and the others who were sent to solicit their charitable contributions (2 Cor 8:16–20). His motive for sending such tried men to be the receivers of their bounty was, to remove all grounds for sinister suspicions regarding their honesty and integrity (2 Cor 8:20–21). From a feeling of consideration for the distinguished men whom he sent, he renews his earnest solicitation, that the Corinthians would contribute in a manner worthy of their own distinguished charity, and of the repeated boasting which the Apostle made regarding them.

COMMENTARY ON 2 CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 8
Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on

2 Cor 8:1. I wish to make known to you, brethren, the singular grace of God, which has been plenteously bestowed on the churches of Macedonia.

Having already described the persecutions which he suffered in Macedonia (2 Cor 7:5), the Apostle now wishes to inform them of the grace conferred on these churches which were afflicted with him.

“Grace,” i.e., the holy dispositions, both of patience and liberality, which God conferred on these churches. Every good gift coming from God may, in a general sense, be termed “a grace,” in which general acceptation the word is employed here.

2 Cor 8:2. In the first place, having been tried by many tribulations, they were not only patient, but their joy was very great and abounding; and although their poverty was excessive in the extreme, still they behaved most generously—with a sincere and cheerful heart, abundantly and liberally contributing towards the wants of the poor.

“They have had abundance of joy.” In Greek, ἡ περισσεια τῆς χαρᾶς αυτων, και ἡ πτωχεια αυτων επερισσευσεν, the abundance of their joy and their poverty hath abounded &c. Such was the perfection of the grace of patience with which they were favoured that they not only endured affliction without murmuring, but with alacrity and much joy. The persecutions which the Macedonians suffered are referred to (2 Cor 7:5); for, it is likely that they were sharers in the tribulations which he himself underwent (see also 1 Th 1:6, 2:14). Such was their liberality, that notwithstanding their extreme poverty and depressed condition, they abundantly and with a sincere and cheerful heart, contributed to the wants of the poor. “Simplicity,” means a cheerful, sincere wish to contribute.

2 Cor 8:3. For, from personal knowledge, I can bear testimony to the fact that they, spontaneously and without solicitation, have come forward to contribute according to their ability, nay, beyond it.

He shows how “their poverty abounded unto the riches,” &c., for they went beyond their means in contributing, and that, unsolicited and unasked.

2 Cor 8:4. With great earnestness, entreating us to receive their voluntary donations, thus to enable them to have a share in contributing to the relief of their poor distressed brethren of the faith.

“Begging of us the grace.” In Greek, begging of us (to receive) the grace, &c. The word, receive, is, however, rejected by some Protestant Commentators, it is wanting in the chief MSS., and the Vulgate conveys the meaning expressed by the Greek. They besought the Apostle to receive their gratuitous offerings, and to enable them to contribute something for the “saints,” i.e., their afflicted brethren in Judea, for whose relief these collections were originated by the Apostle.

2 Cor 8:5. And not only did they come up to our expectations in contributing, but they exceeded them, by offering themselves and their personal services to the Lord, in the first place; and in the next place, to us his ministers, to perform the will of the Lord, according as we might make it known to them.

“And not as we hoped,” that is, they even exceeded our expectations. Others understand the words thus: And by contributing thus generously, they acted differently from what we might be led to expect. Considering their great poverty, and the plunder to which they were subjected, we should rather expect that they would beg to be excused from contributing at all. The Paraphrase is, however, preferable. They went farther than we expected in the generosity of their contributions, by offering themselves, &c. (see Paraphrase). It is likely, some among the Macedonians offered their services to the Apostle, to be employed in collecting these alms in whatever manner he might judge most pleasing to God.

2 Cor 8:6. So much were we influenced by their generosity, that we entreated Titus, after his return to us, to go back, and bring to a happy close, as he had begun it, this work of generosity also, as well as other good works among you.

Having thus far, by way of preface, lauded the generosity of the Macedonians, the Apostle now comes to the object which he had in view, of stimulating the Corinthians to follow the laudable example set them, in the liberality of their contributions. Influenced by the generous example set by the Macedonians, he begged of Titus to return to Corinth, to finish what he had commenced, and gives the faithful of that city an opportunity of adding this “grace,” or virtue of liberality, “also,” to their other virtues.

2 Cor 8:7. So that, as you already abound in all other good gifts, as you excel in the gifts of faith, of tongues, of knowledge, of diligence in every duty, or in employing all possible means for the salvation of your brethren and in your charity and affection for us, you would also excel and abound in this gift of liberality towards the afflicted poor.

From the 1st Epistle, chap. 1, it appears that the Corinthians were specially favoured with the abundant gifts of the Holy Ghost, and the Apostle now, by way of exhortation, expresses a desire, that they would abound in generosity, “also,” as they did in other gifts. “In word,” in the gift of tongues, or the faculty of communicating divine knowledge (as in 1 Cor 1), “in knowledge” of heavenly things.—(See 1 Cor 1:5).

2 Cor 8:8. I do not speak thus by way of precept; but I wish, by proposing to you the exemplary diligence of others, to elicit, and exhibit to them, a proof of the real and genuine sincerity of your charity.

As their Apostle, he might command them. But, convinced of their good dispositions, he contents himself with a mere counsel, which would effectually stimulate them to the good work. He thought it unnecessary to superadd a precept of his own to the divine precept, which binds, under pain of damnation, to give alms.

2 Cor 8:9. For, you know the gratuitous and generous charity of our Lord Jesus Christ, who enjoying, as God, boundless riches, became poor for us, in the nature which he assumed, in order that you might be spiritually enriched in his want.

He stimulates them by the heavenly example of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was “rich.” To him, as God, belonged the earth and its fulness, while, as man, he lived in the utmost poverty from his birth to his death, in order that he might enrich us spiritually; and if he, though God, has thus become poor, in his assumed nature, to enrich us, why should not we part with some of our temporal substance to relieve the wants of our afflicted brethren?

2 Cor 8:10. And in this matter I give you counsel only, but no command, and I counsel you to do what is useful to you, and what you yourselves not only began in the preceding year, but what you actually wished for (and so, in wish and act, you anticipated the Macedonians, whose example is now proposed for your imitation).

He gives a counsel which, if followed, shall be useful to them, since the alms now given shall be meritorious of eternal life, and shall increase the treasure of merit in heaven. This is a powerful incentive to generosity. He next stimulates them by reminding them of their own spontaneous promptitude during the previous year, in wishing this contribution to be set on foot, and in actually joining in it.

2 Cor 8:11. Now, therefore, perform in deed, by actually contributing, what you then commenced and wished for, so that as you were prompt in willing it, you may be prompt in executing it, each one according to his ability.

As, then, they were prompt in wishing for this collection of alms, they should be equally prompt in carrying it out, according to their means.

2 Cor 8:12. For, if there be promptitude of will to contribute, it will be acceptable to God according as one may contribute in proportion to his ability, be it great or small, so that it is not required of any one to contribute beyond what he actually possesses.

They are called on to contribute only according to their means, or in proportion to their abilities. If there be prompt cheerfulness and readiness of will, this good will is acceptable to God, provided it be accompanied with contributions according to their ability, but it is not required, in contributing, that they should exceed their abilities. God principally looks to the will, but if there be a sincere will, and not a mere inoperative velleity, it must be followed by corresponding acts. “According to that which it hath,” &c. This he probably adds lest they should imagine that he expected them to exceed their means, as had been done by the Macedonians (verse 3). “It hath”; the common Greek has, τις ἔχῇ, “a person, or one, hath,” but, τις is wanting in the chief MSS., and rejected by critics generally.

2 Cor 8:13. For, I am far from proposing that your charity should be carried so far, as that the others whom you relieve should live in ease and abundance, and that you yourselves should be reduced to straitened circumstances; but only that there should be a certain equality among you.

In this verse, he more fully explains why he did not wish them to contribute beyond their ability; he did not wish that the poor, in whose behalf their alms were solicited, should enjoy abundance, while they should feel the pressure of contracted means. He only wished a certain equality to be effected between them. This is explained next verse.

2 Cor 8:14. In the present life your abundance of temporal wealth should so supply and relieve their wants, as that their abundance of spiritual treasures would also supply for your spiritual want in the life to come; and thus there would be a sort of equality among you, inasmuch as neither of you would be in want as regards either temporals or spirituals.

“Supply their want.” “Supply” is not in the Greek, which literally runs thus—“let your abundance be for their want.” It is, however, understood. The Vulgate fills up the meaning. The equality which he wishes to see established between the Corinthians and their poorer brethren in Judea, consists in this, that neither should feel want in either temporal or spiritual matters; that the Corinthians should dispense the superfluities of their superabundant temporal riches, to relieve the corporal wants of others, while these latter in turn, by a certain communion of merits, would impart to their benefactors, a share of the spiritual treasures in which they abound. “When they should fail, they would be received into their eternal tabernacles, after having made for themselves friends out of the mammon of iniquity.”—(St. Luke 16)

2 Cor 8:15. Of this equality, which should exist amongst you, that which happened the Jews in the collection of the manna, is a most express figure; of them it is written (Exodus 16:18): that the man who collected a larger quantity than the measure prescribed (a gomor) had not more, nor had the man who collected a smaller quantity less than a gomor. This equality (charity should cause among you).

This equality was prefigured by that which the power of God had established, among the Jews in the collection of the manna. If any person collected more than the measure marked out for him (a gomor), he found himself possessed of no more; and if less, he found still that he had a gomor full.—(Exodus 16:18). The Apostle wishes the Corinthians to correspond with the lesson intended by God in this ordination of his Providence, and to effect by charity among themselves, what the divine power effected among the Jews, in the instance referred to.

2 Cor 8:16. But I thank God for inspiring Titus with the same solicitude for you which I have felt.

He now praises the persons whom he had sent to receive their alms, in order to procure for them the full confidence of the Corinthians, and to render their ministry more efficient.

2 Cor 8:17. For he at once complied with our exhortation to visit you. Nor did he indeed need to be stimulated thereto; for, being greatly concerned for you, he set out cheerfully and of his own accord.

Titus at once complied with the Apostle’s desire, that he would go to the Corinthians (verse 6), nay, such was his concern and affection for them, that he needed no exhortation, as he would have done spontaneously what the Apostle counselled him.

2 Cor 8:18. With him we have also sent the brother who is celebrated and praised throughout the Church for preaching the gospel.

“The brother.” It is a matter of dispute who this brother is. Some, among whom is Estius, understand the word to refer to Silas; others, to Barnabas. The latter, however, had left St. Paul before this period.—(Acts 15:39). It is more probable, that there is reference made to St. Luke, whose gospel, some say, was written at this time. At all events, he might be praised and celebrated throughout the Church for his zeal in preaching the faith. St. Jerome holds this latter opinion, and St. Ignatius, in his Epistle to the Ephesians, applies this to St. Luke.—Ut testatur Lucas, “cujus laus est in Evangelio.”

2 Cor 8:19. And not only that, but who has also been ordained, in accordance with the public suffrages of the Churches, as the companion of our travels, both for the purpose of preaching and of procuring this eleemosynary aid for the poor, which office of charity is administered by us for the glory of God, and for the purpose of manifesting the promptitude of our anxious concern for the poor.

He was also ordained, by the imposition of hands (as, the Greek word, χειροτονηθεις, has it), in accordance with the suffrages of the Churches, not only to preach, but also to be the companion of St. Paul’s travels, in order to procure this eleemosynary aid, “which is administered by us,” of which aid the Apostles were the ministers, for the purpose of advancing the glory of God, who is fed in his poor members, “and of manifesting their prompt and active solicitude in the cause of the poor.” “And our determined will,” in the common Greek, your determined will, the meaning of which is, in order to have an opportunity of making known to the world the promptitude and generosity of the Corinthians in affording charitable aid to the poor. The Vulgate reading “our,” is sustained by the best authority.

2 Cor 8:20. And we have sent men of this stamp, avoiding the least grounds for reproach, lest any person should charge us with embezzling, or applying to our private purposes, any part of these abundant charities which pass through our hands.

How exemplary is the apostolic prudence of St. Paul! He would not be himself the sole depositary of their bounty. He wishes them to entrust it to men of tried integrity, and to no single individual, lest any person should have the remotest grounds for suspecting him of appropriating to himself any portion of the alms received for the benefit of the afflicted poor.

2 Cor 8:21. For, we are anxiously careful to do good works not only before God, the searcher of hearts, but also before men, who might otherwise be scandalized.

He studiously, and with deliberate forethought, performs everything with a view of giving edification, and of avoiding scandal, in order that men, seeing his good works, may glorify the heavenly Father. On no one is the duty of giving edification more imperative than on the preacher of the gospel.—Verba suadent, exempla trahunt.

2 Cor 8:22. And with these two tried men we have also sent another brother, whom we have found, on many former occasions, careful and attentive, and from whom we expect still greater attention in the present matter, owing to his great confidence in you, and to the regard he entertains for you.

With these two he associates a third, who having been tried on many former occasions, was found diligent and exact, and from whom the Apostle expects more than ordinary solicitude and interest in the present matter, owing to the great esteem in which he holds the Corinthians. Some interpreters join the words, “much confidence,” with the word, “sent,” thus: “I have sent, with much confidence in you,” i.e., on account of the great esteem in which I hold you, another brother also, whom I have, on many occasions, found to be faithful and diligent. The former construction, which is adopted in the Paraphrase, is much preferable.

2 Cor 8:23. Whether, therefore, you consider Titus, who is my colleague and the partner of the toils which I undergo on your account, or whether you consider our two brethren whom we have sent with him, who are also sent by the Churches, and are employed in procuring the glory of Christ.

He sums up the claims to good and respectful treatment possessed by those whom he sends. Titus was his “companion and fellow-labourer,” a sharer in the labours he underwent “towards you,” on their account. The “brethren,” who accompanied Titus, were “the Apostles,” sent by the several “churches,” and persons employed in advancing “the glory of Christ.” The grammatical construction in the original is after the Hebrew style. “Titus” and “our brethren,” are in quite different cases. The sense is, however, that given in the Paraphrase.

2 Cor 8:24. Give them such a proof of your generosity as may be worthy of your great charity, and of the boasting of which we so often made you the subjects, and this proof you will exhibit in the presence of the Churches, by whom they are sent to solicit your alms.

He wishes them to give an example of generosity, such as would be worthy of their charity, and would not cause himself to blush for having so often made them the subject of his boasting—an example worthy to be exhibited for imitation, in all the churches.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Philippians Chapter 4

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 27, 2019

Text in red are my additions.

EXHORTATION TO VARIOUS VIRTUES AND HOLY THOUGHTS

A Summary of Philippians 4:1-9~After all the Apostle has said in the last part of the preceding Chapter, his exceeding love for the Philippians manifests itself in endearing terms, asserting that they will be his garland of victory and joy in the day of Christ’s coming to judge the world. He exhorts them to steadfastness; he entreats Evodia and Syntyche, especially, to have no dissension, asking his loyal comrade to assist these latter, since they, like Clement and his other fellow-workers, have been so faithful to him in labors for the Gospel. Then to all he recommends joy in the Lord, forbearance towards all men, freedom from anxiety, prayerfulness and thankfulness; and he assures them that, if they practise these virtues, the peace of God will take up its abode in their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:1-7). Finally, recapitulating, he begs them to feed their minds on all that is true and good, wherever it may be found, asking them in practice to obey his precepts and imitate his example as a sure way to heavenly peace (Phil 4:8-9).

Phil 4:1. Therefore, my beloved brethren, and my desired; my joy and my crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.

Therefore. This verse concludes what the Apostle has been saying in the preceding Chapter, most probably in verses 17-21.

My beloved . . . my desired. The corresponding words in the Vulgate here should be in the positive, instead of the superlative degree, to harmonize with the Greek. The Apostle is exhorting the Philippians to steadfastness in Christian life and conduct as inculcated by him and his companions, for he wishes to present them to Christ as his achievement in the final judgment.

Phil 4:2. I beg of Evodia, and I beseech Syntyche, to be of one mind in the Lord.

This verse seems to show that the two ladies mentioned occupied a prominent place in the work of the Philippian Church, and that some dissension had arisen between them. They are not mentioned elsewhere.

Phil 4:3. And I entreat thee also, my sincere companion, help those women who have labored with me in the gospel, with Clement and the rest of my fellow laborers, whose names are in the book of life.

Companion. Literally, “yoke-fellow,” i.e., fellow-worker. It is unknown who he was. Perhaps he was Epaphroditus; or possibly the Greek word here (σύζυγε⸃, = syzge) is a proper name, and should be rendered “Syzygus.”

Those women. Literally, “them” (αὐταῖς, = autais), i.e., the two ladies spoken of in the preceding verse.

Clement, perhaps a resident of Philippi, though he is identified with Clement of Rome by many of the Fathers.

The book of life, i.e., God’s eternal register in heaven (Rev 13:8, 20:12); it is God’s certain knowledge of those who are predestined (St. Thomas). The metaphor is taken from the custom in antiquity of keeping in a register the names of all the people of a country or town (cf. Ex 32:32; Isa. 4:3; Dan. 12:1).

Phil 4:4. Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice.

Speaking to all, the Apostle repeats his exhortation of Philippians 3:1, bidding his readers “rejoice in the Lord always,” on account of the many spiritual blessings they now enjoy and that are promised them both here and hereafter by the Saviour who has redeemed them; there is never wanting to them a motive of spiritual joy.

Phil 4:5. Let your modesty be known to all men. The Lord is nigh.

As an effect of their spiritual joy, they are to manifest their “modesty” (i.e., their gentleness and sweetness of character) “to all men,” even to those whom he had before called enemies of the cross of Christ (St. Chrysostom, and see Phil 3:18); with all they are to deal in a kindly manner, thus showing the value and loveliness of the religion they profess.

The Lord is nigh. This assigns the great cause of their joy; “a man rejoices at the coming of a friend” (St. Thomas). Hence this phrase is to be connected with what precedes, and the Greeks understood it of the General Judgment. Others think it refers to the ever-present grace and help of God (so St. Thomas). The former opinion is more probable: Christ is coming to judge and crown us for our patience and spirit of sweet endurance; the Apostle often speaks of the final judgment as if it were close at hand, in order that his readers might keep it ever in their minds (a Lapide, Knabenbauer, etc.).

Phil 4:6. Be nothing solicitous; but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God.

Anxious solicitude is an impediment to joy, and hence the Apostle now admonishes, “be nothing solicitous” (i.e., have no anxieties) either as regards goods you lack or evils you bear, but in every work and condition have recourse to God “by prayer and supplication” (i.e., with fervor and perseverance), not forgetting prayers of “thanksgiving,” for God is ever ready to hear your worthy “petitions,” and will always grant what you ask, or something better. God never fails to answer in some way prayers that are properly made, though He will not give us what is not for our good; and gratitude for favors received disposes God to grant more favors.

Phil 4:7. And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

The effect of prayer that is properly made is peace of mind and soul.

The peace of God, i.e., the peace whose author and giver is God.

Which surpasseth all understanding, i.e., which is supernatural, and therefore cannot be produced by human means or understood by those who have not experienced it.

Will keep. Literally, “will guard,” like a sentinel at a gate, “your hearts and minds” (i.e., your feelings and thoughts) “in Christ Jesus,” our spiritual citadel. St. Paul is speaking in military terms.

Phil 4:8. For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good report, if there be any virtue, if any praise—think on these things.

Coming now to the end of the body of his letter, St. Paul summarizes the things he wishes his readers seriously to consider and meditate on. The subjects indicated are quite general, pertaining to pagan morality as well as Christian virtues.

True, i.e., genuine, sincere.

Modest, i.e., becoming, seemly.

Just, i.e., according to the norms of right dealing.

Holy, i.e., pure, elevated, free from debasing elements.

Lovely, i.e., lovable, gracious.

Of good report, i.e., winning the esteem and approval of men, in the sense of 1 Tim 3:7: “He must have a good testimony of them that are without”; and of 2 Cor 8:21: “We forecast what may be good not only before God, but also before men.”

Virtue, a very general term summing up the first four qualities just named, and found only here in St. Paul. It embraces all that is virtuous in any way.

Praise, also a very general term summing up the last two qualities named above, and meaning, worthy of approbation, praiseworthy. The last two qualities are paraphrased as follows by Lightfoot: “Whatever value may reside in your old heathen conception of virtue, whatever consideration is due to the praise of men.”

The disciplinæ of the Vulgate is not according to the best Greek MSS.

Phil 4:9. The things which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, these do ye, and the God of peace shall be with you.

St. Paul has just given his readers ample food for meditation; and, before telling them to put these lofty thoughts into practice, he calls attention to his own example, to what they have seen in him and heard about him from others, in order to malce it plain that he is not asking them to do what is too hard or impossible. If they will follow his advice, “the God of peace” will be with them, to help them and to enable them to relish the possession of true tranquillity of soul.

THE CONCLUSION TO PHILIPPIANS

A Summary of Philippians 4:10-23~Having closed the didactic part of his letter, St. Paul now turns to personal matters. He thanks the Philippians for the gifts they sent him, recalling the privilege they have had in sharing, through their charity, in his labors and afflictions ever since they first had the Gospel preached to them, assuring them that he needs nothing further and that God will repay them in glory. Offering greetings from himself and his companions, he then imparts his blessing.

Phil 4:10. Now I rejoice in the Lord exceedingly, that now at length your thought for me hath flourished again, as you did also think; but you were busied.

The Apostle rejoices with a holy joy at the gifts the Philipplans have sent by Epaphroditus, not so much because they have succored him, but because by their charity they have profited spiritually.

That now at length, etc. Some see in these words a slight rebuke, as if the faithful at Philippi had been guilty of neglect in the Apostle’s regard; but the real meaning is that a change for the better in their temporal circumstances or opportunities had enabled them to assist the Apostle once more as they had done in the past; they had the will to help all along, but they had been impeded.

As you did also think, etc., i.e., they did continue to care for him, they wanted to come to his assistance, but opportunity was lacking.

Phil 4:11. I speak not as it were for want. For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, to be content therewith.
Phil 4:12. I know both how to be brought low, and I know how to abound: everywhere, and in all things I am instructed both to be full, and to b hungry; both to abound, and to suffer need.
Phil 4:13. I can do all things in him who strengtheneth me.

In these verses the Apostle tells the Philippians that the gladness he experienced over their gifts was not due to his want or to the relief they gave him; for he has learned in the school of Christ to be content wherever he is, or with whatever he has, be it little or much, be he in need or in affluence. He has arrived at this state of spiritual peace and equanimity, not by his own efforts, but by reason of his union with Jesus Christ and the supernatural power given him by his Master: all his strength is from Christ.

I am instructed (verse 12). Better, “I have been initiated,” a phrase often used with reference to pagan mystery cults, initiation into which was a slow and difficult process. It means here that St. Paul through faith, and perhaps by divine revelation, had learned the secret of the peace and contentment of mind which he describes in these verses. The Apostle was well aware of the great truth that it is what a man is that he carries into the future life, and that he leaves behind what he has here.

Phil 4:14. Nevertheless you have done well in communicating to my tribulation.

Nevertheless. From what the Apostle had just said the Philippians might conclude that he was not pleased with their gifts, and hence he now praises their liberality.

In communicating, etc., i.e., in taking a share in his affliction; because they thus made themselves worthy to have a share also in his rewards.

Phil 4:15. And you also know, Philippians, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but you only: Phil 4:16. For unto Thessalonica also you sent once and again for my use.

He recalls their liberality of the past, which began with the first preaching of the Gospel at Philippi. And this singular honor belongs to the Philippians alone of all the Churches evangelized by St. Paul.

(Verse 15) No church communicated with me, etc. The Apostle is here using commercial language, and his meaning is that no other Church gave him material aid in exchange for his spiritual benefits (cf. 1 Cor 9:11).

(Verse 16) For unto Thessalonica, etc. Scarcely had the Apostle left the Philippians on his way to Greece than they sent him gifts, and that several times, while he was yet in Macedonia (Acts 17:1-5). From no other Church, however, did he ever accept aid, as he tells us himself (2 Cor 11:7-9).

Phil 4:17. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.

While praising the prompt liberality of the faithful of Philippi, St. Paul here, as in verse 11, is careful to remind them that he is not seeking help for himself, but rather the spiritual benefit of the Philippians; he rejoices at the merits they are gaining by their kind charity.

Phil 4:18. But I have all, and abound: I am filled, having received from Epaphroditus the things you sent, an odor of sweetness, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.

Again he forestalls a possible misunderstanding. In saying that he seeks in the gifts of the Philippians abundant spiritual fruit for them, it might seem to be implied that he wanted them to send him more. Therefore he here assures them that he has all that he needs, and more than he needs.

An odor of sweetness. The alms of the Philippians were not only acceptable to the Apostle, but were also pleasing to God, like a sweet-smelling sacrifice (cf. Gen 8:21 ; Exod 29:18; Ezech 20:41).

Phil 4:19. And my God will supply all your want, according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

The Apostle now assures the PhiUppians that, in return for their material gifts to him, God will repay them with spiritual treasures; and this, not according to their merits, but “according to his riches,” which He will lavish on them “in glory,” i.e., in their heavenly home above. “His riches in glory” are the fruit of “the riches of his grace” (Eph 1:7).

In Christ Jesus, i.e., by reason of their union with Christ.

The impleat of the Vulgate should be implebit, to agree with the Greek.

Phil 4:20. Now to God and our Father be glory world without end. Amen.

The words just spoken about the rewards of the Philippians cause the Apostle to break into a doxology in gratitude to the Giver of all good things, who is also “our Father.”

Glory. Better, “the glory,” as in the Greek, meaning the glory which belongs to God.

World without end is a Hebraism, meaning for all eternity. Amen, so be it.

Phil 4:21. Salute ye every saint in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:22. The brethren who are with me, salute you. All the saints salute you; especially, they that are of Caesar’s household.

St. Paul sends first his personal salutations to each Christian of the Church at Philippi; then subjoins those of his immediate circle; and finally, those of all the Roman Christians, especially those of “Caesar’s household,” who were “probably slaves and freed men attached to the palace” (Lightfoot). The mention of these last personages shows how widespread and powerful was the influence of the Gospel, which had penetrated even into the royal palace.

Phil 4:23. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

The Apostle concludes his Epistle with his accustomed blessing, which was very likely an autograph.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Philippians Chapter 3

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 27, 2019

Text in red are my additions.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TRUE AND A FALSE GOSPEL 

A Summary of Philippians 3:1-16~Before bringing his letter to a close St. Paul wishes once more to remind his readers of the dangers of the Judaizers, Those self-appointed seducers go about with their insolent ways, evil practices, and false doctrines, boasting of their fleshly, hereditary privileges, while lacking all true spirituality. If it were a question, he says, of trusting in the flesh, he could surpass them all; but he has renounced those perishable privileges, along with every other impediment, in order that he might gain Christ and know Him, that he might attain to that justness which is through faith in Christ, and that, by imitating the life of His master here below, he might be crowned with Him hereafter. He says he has not yet attained to that desired perfection, but he is pressing on towards it; and he exhorts those of his readers who are likewise minded to do the same, keeping faithful to the standard they have attained.

Phil 3:1. As to the rest, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not wearisome, but to you is necessary.

As to the rest. This is a formula which St. Paul often uses to bring his letters to a close, or to introduce a new topic or the last topic of a series. Very likely he was about to terminate this Epistle, bidding his readers “rejoice in the Lord,” the fountain of all true joy, when he remembered the Judaizers, who were disturbing the peace of the Church at Philippi and becoming more audacious because he was in prison. Therefore, he takes pains to warn the faithful against them, repeating the “same things” (i.e., the same admonitions) which he had given before, very probably in other letters he had written them that have not come down to us.

Necessary. Better, “advantageous,” “useful.”

Phil 3:2. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the circumcision.

Beware of dogs. More literally, “Look at the dogs,” i.e., Look out for them. With great emphasis and indignation the Apostle now turns to denounce the Judaizers, describing them as “dogs,” to indicate their insolent, barking, and unclean character; as “evil workers,” whose conduct would destroy the work of Christ; as those “of the concision,” ironically alluding to their false notion of circumcision which consisted in mere physical mutilation devoid of spiritual significance. It is more probable that we have here three distinct descriptions of one class of persons than an indication of three different classes, representing respectively Gentiles, self-seeking Christian teachers, and unbelieving Jews.

Phil 3:3. For we are the circumcision, who in spirit serve God; and glory in Christ Jesus, not having confidence in the flesh,

In contrast to these boasters of mere physical mutilation, the Apostle says “we are the circumcision,” i.e., the truly circumcised, having the circumcision of the heart (Rom 2:28-29), of which he proceeds to give the three characteristics.

Who in spirit serve God. Better, “who worship by the Spirit of God,” i.e., who, moved by God’s own Spirit, render to God a service that is worthy of Him.

And glory in Christ Jesus, the source of all justification and the sole author of salvation.

Not having confidence in the flesh, i.e., in carnal rites and observances which were given only for a time, until Christ should come.

Phil 3:4. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other thinketh he may have confidence in the flesh, I more;
Phil 3:5. Being circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; according to the Law, a Pharisee;
Phil 3:6. According to zeal, persecuting the church; according to the justice that is in the law, conversing without blame.

In verses 4-11 the Apostle will show the Judaizers that he opposes their carnal privileges, not because he himself did not possess them, and indeed in the highest degree, but because they were unable to effect justification—a state of soul which could be obtained only through Jesus Christ.

verse 4. If any other, etc. He means to say that, if it were of any use, he has more reason to put his trust in hereditary privileges than any of those false teachers, as the following will show. He was “circumcised” in infancy, as the Law required (verse 5); he was “of the stock of Israel,” the true covenant race; “of the tribe of Benjamin,” i.e., a descendant of that beloved son of Jacob whose tribe gave Israel her first king and remained faithful to Juda at the disruption of the kingdom; he was a “Hebrew of Hebrews,” having always retained the language and customs of his race, whereas the Hellenists spoke Greek and largely adopted the customs of the Gentiles; he was by choice “a Pharisee,” and therefore a zealous and rigorous observer of the Law of Moses (verse 6); he went so far in his zeal for Judaism that he actually persecuted “the church of God”; he gave such scrupulous attention to the observance of the Law that his life was “without blame” in so far as the Law could make it so.

Phil 3:7. But the things that were gain to me, the same I have counted loss for Christ.

But all those Jewish prerogatives, which meant so much to him among the Jews, he has come to regard as “loss,” i.e., as useless, and even a hindrance to the possession of Christ, in whom alone justification and salvation are to be found.

Phil 3:8. Furthermore I count all things to be but loss for the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord; for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them but as dung, that I may gain Christ.

The Apostle augments his statement. Not only those Jewish privileges, but also all similar things of the flesh, he has considered as useless and damaging in comparison with the surpassing spiritual benefits that have come to him through knowing his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, for whose sake he “suffered the loss of all things,” at the time of his conversion, counting them all as “dung” (better, as “refuse,” i.e., as of no value) in order that he might “gain Christ,” the secret and source of all graces and benefits. The present tense, “may gain,” is used only because the past experience is projected into the present.

Phil 3:9. And may be found in him, not having my justice, which is of the law, but that which is of the faith of Christ, which of God, justice in faith:

The same truth is stated in another way.

May be found. Again the past experience is spoken of as present, so vividly is it realized.

Not having my justice, etc., i.e., a justice which is acquired from the works of the Law and by one’s natural powers; “but that which is of the faith, etc.,” i.e., that justice which God gives on account of the faith one has in Jesus Christ; faith is the foundation of this justice or justness, and God is its author and giver.

The Jesu of the Vulgate here is not according to the best Greek.

Phil 3:10. That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death,

Returning to the thought of verse 8, the Apostle further explains the reasons and advantages of his rejection of Judaism with all its privileges.

Here in verse 10 he assigns a threefold end or purpose he had in seeking to “gain Christ” and to “be found in him,” having that justice which is through faith in Christ: (a) “that I may “know him,” i.e., that he might have an intimate, practical knowledge of Christ, God and man, the source of all knowledge and the model of all virtues; (b) that he might know “the power of his resurrection,” i.e., the power of the risen, glorified, immortal Christ, by whom we have been reconciled with God (Rom. 4:24-25), who is the earnest of our own resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20; 1 Thess. 4:14), and who has sent us the Holy Spirit with his manifold graces, thus uniting us intimately to Himself (John 7:9, 10:22; Acts 2:33); (c) that he might have “the fellowship of his sufferings, etc.,” i.e., that he might bear his own afflictions and sufferings for the sake of Christ, and with the help of Christ’s Holy Spirit, as his Master had borne His cross for him, and this he desires as a means of entering into a full, practical and fruitful knowledge here on earth of the risen, glorified Christ. The way to the living Christ is that marked out by Christ Himself: “H we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him” (Rom. 8:17); “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so to enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:26).

Sufferings, patiently borne for Christ and in union with Christ, are the royal way that leads to Christ now reigning in glory after His triumph over sufferings and death through the power of His resurrection; and it is by thus entering upon and continuing in this way of suffering that one’s life becomes “conformable” to the death of the Master: “Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies” (2 Cor. 4:10).

Phil 3:11. If by any means I may attain to the resurrection which is from the dead.

The end and purpose of this fellowship with Christ’s sufferings and conformity to the Master’s death, and indeed of all that the Apostle has related from verse 7 to now, was that he might, by all his sacrifices and sufferings, attain to the glorious “resurrection which is from the dead,” by which in body and soul he would be made like to his glorified Redeemer and thereafter forever associated with Him.

The resurrection here in question is the General Resurrection of all the just at the end of time, of which Christ’s resurrection was the pledge. St. Paul’s hypothetical manner of speaking in this verse, “if by any means, etc.,” indicates the great difficulty of attaining to that blessed state and the consequent uncertainty connected with it, apart from the help of God.

Phil 3:12. Not as though I had already attained, or were already perfect: but I follow after, if I may by any means apprehend, wherein I am also apprehended by Christ.

In Phil 3:12-17 the Apostle cites his own example as an exhortation to his readers that they should increase their efforts to attain Christian perfection. It might be concluded from all he has said (Phil 3:7-1 1) about his sacrifices in order to acquire justice before God, and about his sufferings in union with Christ in order to reach the supreme goal of life, that he had reached a state of perfection in which further effort is unnecessary. Hence he hastens to observe in this present verse that he has not yet attained to this perfection, that much remains to be done, that, far from resting on his merits, he is bending every effort, like the runners in the Greek stadium, to win his prize, which is fully and perfectly to possess Christ, who took strong and lasting possession of him at the time of his conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3 ff.).

I follow after. Better, “I press on.”

The Jesu of the Vulgate is not in the best MSS.

Phil 3:13. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended. But one thing I do: forgetting the things that are behind, and stretching forth myself to those that are before,
Phil 3:14. I press towards the mark, to the prize of the supernal vocation of God in Christ Jesus.

The thought of the preceding verse is amplified, again under the figure of the runners in the stadium. The Apostle tells the Philippians that, instead of considering himself perfect or to have reached his goal, he is using every energy, like an athlete in a contest, to press on to the mark and to win the prize, which for him is eternal life with Christ in heaven.

Forgetting the things, etc., i.e., not stopping to think of his labors, his virtues, his merits ; and “stretching forth, etc.,” i.e., ever seeking new opportunities for growth in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). The Greek word for “prize” is found only here and in 1 Cor. 9:24, in the New Testament; and it means eternal glory in both places. The “vocation” or call to this “supernal” or heavenly prize is from God the Father “in Christ,” i.e., through the merits of Christ.

Phil 3:15. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded; and if in anything you be otherwise minded, this also God will reveal to you.

From the two preceding verses it may be inferred that there were some at Philippi who thought they had arrived at perfection, and that consequently they had nothing further to do in spiritual ways. If this was the case, we can see a touch of irony in the term “perfect” here; and the Apostle wishes to say: “Let those who think themselves perfect remember that religious perfection consists in a holy dissatisfaction with one’s present state, combined with a constant effort to press on.”

And if in anything you be otherwise minded, etc. He means to say that, if there were those who sincerely disagreed with him in this matter, God would yet enlighten them, either directly through the Holy Ghost, or through the teaching of their spiritual leaders.

Phil 3:16. Nevertheless whereunto we are come, that we be of the same mind, let us also continue in the same rule.

Nevertheless, etc., i.e., as to what we have already attained about divine things (Estius), or as to the standard of life we have so far reached, let us continue according to it, and press on. There is a slight difference between the Vulgate and the best Greek reading of this verse. According to the latter, the sense is: “While some of you may be in need of further light on certain points, I recommend that you order your lives in accordance with the truth you have so far attained, avoiding dissensions of any kind.” Of course, the Apostle uses the first person plural to soften his words.

Ut idem sapiamus of the Vulgate, while according to some less important Greek MSS., may be regarded as a gloss. Likewise the word regula. Our ordinary English version follows the Vulgate.

A WARNING AGAINST BAD EXAMPLE

A Summary of Philippains 3:17-21~St. Paul feels obliged to place before his readers as a standard of life and conduct his own example and that of his companions. He has warned them before with sorrow of those whose worldly excesses are a contradiction of their profession, who are enemies of the cross of Christ, and whose end is destruction. As a safeguard against such debasing influences, he reminds the Philippians of their high destiny as to their bodies as well as their souls; for their home is in heaven, whence in due time their Saviour will come to transform by His almighty power their present fleshy tabernacles into spiritual and imperishable bodies like His own.

Phil 3:17. Be ye united followers of me, brethren, and observe them who so walk even as you have our model.

And observe them who so walk, etc., i.e., take note of those Christians who live according to the model we have given them. The Apostle is referring to the example he and his companions and associates have given.

In the Vulgate imitatores should be co-imitatores, to agree with the Greek.

Phil 3:18. For many walk, of whom I have told you often (and now tell you weeping), that they are enemies of the cross of Christ;
Phil 3:19. Whose end is destruction; whose God is their belly; and whose glory is in their shame; who mind earthly things
.

For many walk, etc. It Is disputed whether the “many” here means Judaizers or bad Christians, but most probably the latter are in question. Both indeed would be “enemies of the cross of Christ”—the former, by insisting on legal observances, for if justice is from the Law then Christ died in vain (Gal. 2:21), and the latter, by their moral excesses, for those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its vices and evil desires (Gal. 5:24). But it is much more natural to understand St. Paul to be moved to tears over those who had once been good Christians and had degenerated, than over those like the Judaizers who had never been true to Christ.

I have told you often, when at Philippi.

Whose end is destruction, i.e., for whom final and eternal ruin and loss is reserved. “Destruction” or perdition (ἀπώλεια = apōleia) here is the same as in Phil. 1:28. It means the utter loss of blessedness, the very antithesis of salvation; and as blessedness or salvation is eternal, so must be this “destruction” or perdition of the damned: “And these shall go into everlasting punishment; but the just, into life everlasting” (Matt. 25:46). See on 2 Thess. 1:9.

Whose glory is in their shame, i.e., who glory in the very things of which they ought to be ashamed. Those who think the Judaizers are meant here take “shame” to be circumcision (St. Augustine); St. Chrysostom thinks “shame” refers to sins of uncleanness.

Phil 3:20. But our conversation is in heaven: from whence also we look for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ,

Having mentioned the characteristics of bad Christians, the Apostle will now give the marks of those who are faithful.

But. The Greek has γάρ (= gar)  here; but since St. Paul is contrasting the lives of good and bad Christians, the sense requires a particle of contrast, like “but” or “whereas”; the thought of this verse goes back to verse 17. The Greek, gar, is used primarily to assign a reason for something and is usually translated into English as  for, therefore, because, etc.

Our conversation, literally means “our manner of living,” but the Apostle means “our home,” “our country”; the true Christian walks the earth, but his thoughts, aims, hopes, and desires are in heaven and in things that lead thereto.

We look for. Better, “we eagerly expect,” as with “outstretched neck and upturned eyes” (Rickaby).

Phil 3:21. Who will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of his glory, according to the operation whereby also he is able to subdue all things unto himself.

The true Christian looks forward to the glorious time of his complete deliverance, both of body and of soul; when Christ will come at the end of the world and transform our present miserable, suffering bodies into glorious, immortal temples like His own glorified body (1 Cor. 15:40-49); when the risen Saviour will exercise that power in our regard by which, as God, He will rule and dominate all things (1 Cor. 15:25-27).

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Colossians Chapter 4

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 27, 2019

Comments on 4:1 were given in the context of chapter 3. Text in red are my additions. Text in purple indicates quotations from Fr. Callan’s other commentaries.

GENERAL PRECEPTS ADDRESSED TO ALL CHRISTIANS

A Summary of Col 4:2-6~In these concluding words of the Moral Part of the Epistle to the Colossians St. Paul first counsels prayer and thanksgiving in general for all, and in particular for himself, that he may be able to make the best of his opportunities (Col 4:2-4). He then advises tactfulness in dealing with pagans, zeal in the use of time, and graciousness in speech (Col 4:5-6).

Col 4:2. Be instant in prayer, watching in it with thanksgiving:

Be instant in prayer, i.e., let your prayers be continual, for prayer is the very breath of the soul.

With thanksgiving. He does not deserve new benefits who is not grateful for those received, says St. Thomas.

Col 4:3. Praying at the same time for us also, that God may open unto us a door of speech to speak the mystery of Christ (for which also I am bound);

The Apostle asks the faithful to pray for him that he may have opportunity to preach the Gospel.

A door of speech. Better, “a door for the word,” i.e., the opportunity of preaching the Gospel.

The mystery of Christ, which was that the Gospel was to be announced to the Gentiles.

I am bound, i.e., imprisoned, chained to a Roman sentinel; and all because he had preached the Gospel. See the commentary on Eph. 3:3-9.

Col 4:4. That I may make it manifest as I ought to speak.

The Apostle asks for help that he may discharge his obligation of preaching the Gospel as he is required by his divine commission: “Woe is unto me if I preach not the Gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16).

Col 4:5. Walk with wisdom towards them that are without, redeeming the time.
Discretion in dealing with non-Christians was of the greatest importance, lest obstacles to preaching the Gospel should arise.

Redeeming the time, i.e., letting no opportunity pass of doing good.

Col 4:6. Let your speech be always in grace seasoned with salt: that you may know how you ought to answer every man.

The faithful should cultivate grace and tact in speaking with pagans, so as to give edification and be able to answer questions that may be put to them about the faith.

CONCLUSION OF THE EPISTLE

A Summary of Col 4:7-18~Tychicus will bear this letter to the Colossians, accompanied by Onesimus, their fellow-townsman; and both will tell the faithful at Colossae all the news about the Apostle and his companions in Rome (Col 4:7-9). Those who are with Paul in the Eternal City join him in sending greetings to the Colossians and he asks that his greetings be extended to the faithful at Laodicea, to Nymphas, and to the church that is in his house (Col 4:10-15). This letter should be read at Laodicea, and the one sent to the Laodiceans should be read at Colossae. Archippus should be reminded of his duty. Paul pens the final words and his blessing with his own hand (Col 4:16-18).

Col 4:7. All the things that concern me, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow-servant in the Lord, will make known to you;
Col 4:8. Whom I have sent to you for this same purpose, that he may know the things that concern you, and comfort your hearts,

See on Eph. 6:21-22. Tychicus was the Apostle’s trusted messenger (Tit. 3:12; 2 Tim. 4:12). Here is what Fr. Callan wrote concerning this individual: Tychicus was a native of Asia Minor, perhaps of Ephesus (Acts 20:4; 2 Tim. 4:12). His name is found in inscriptions of Asia Minor and Rome, on coins of Magnesia, thirteen miles from Ephesus, and of Magnesia by Mt. Sipylus, where the Bishop of Ephesus now resides, thirty-eight miles from his titular see (see Hitchcock, Ephesians, p. 506; Lightfoot, Colossians, p. 234).

That he may know the things that concern you. A better reading of this passage is: “That ye may know our condition.”

Col 4:9. With Onesimus, a beloved and faithful brother, who is one of you. All things that are done here, they shall make known to you.

Onesimus, a slave of Philemon at Colossse, who deserted his master and fled to Rome, virhere he was converted by St. Paul. See Introduction to Philemon.

Brother, i.e., a fellow-Christian.

Who is one of you, i.e., a Colossian. Not all the Colossian Christians, however, were or had been slaves; many of them were freeborn.

Col 4:10. Aristarchus, my fellow-prisoner, saluteth you, and Mark, the cousin german of Barnabas, touching whom you have received commandments; if he come unto you, receive him:

Paul now includes the salutations of those companions who were with him in Rome (Col 4:10-14). The first three—Aristarchus, Mark, and Justus—were of Jewish origin; the other three were Gentile helpers, that is, converts from paganism—Epaphras, Luke, and Demas. Aristarchus was a Thessalonian, who had been with Paul at Ephesus, and had accompanied him to Jerusalem, and afterwards to Rome (Acts 19:29, 20:4, 27:2).

My fellow-prisoner perhaps means here only that Aristarchus was closely associated with Paul in the latter’s imprisonment in Rome (Phlm. 24).

Mark, or John Mark, the companion of Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey, the cousin of Barnabas, and the author of the Second Gospel (Acts 4:36, 12:12, 15:37, 39).

Touching whom, etc. Perhaps this means that Mark was unknown to the Colossians, or that his former estrangement from St. Paul had left him under some suspicion with the faithful.

Col 4:11. And Jesus, that is called Justus: who are of the circumcision; these only are my helpers in the kingdom of God ; who have been a comfort to me.

And Jesus, etc. He is not otherwise known to us. The Hebrew form of his name was Jehoshua, or Joshua,

Who are of the circumcision, i.e., converts to Christianity from Judaism. Some think Aristarchus was of Gentile origin, on account of Acts 20:4.

These only are my helpers, etc. Probably he means the leaders among the Jewish Christians, or those only of his own nationality who gave him special help.

Col 4:12. Epaphras saluteth you, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, who is always solicitous for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect, and full in all the will of God.
Col 4:13. For I bear him testimony that he hath much labor for you, and for them that are at Laodicea, and them at Hierapolis.

Epaphras was the Apostle of the Colossian Church, and perhaps the founder of the other two Churches of the Lycus Valley also.

And full. Another and better reading here gives “fully assured,” i.e., with a conscience that is entirely and certainly illuminated regarding the will of God.

Laodicea . . . Hierapolis. See Introduction to this Epistle, No. I.

Col 4:14. Luke, the beloved physician, saluteth you; and Demas.

Luke, the writer of the Third Gospel.

Demas was probably a Thessalonian. He is mentioned here without affection, and later forsook St. Paul for love of the world (Phlm. 24; 2 Tim, 4:10).

Col 4:15. Salute the brethren who are at Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church that is in his house.

Nymphas was a Laodicean, who was doubtless well-to-do, and had a large house where the faithful were accustomed to gather for worship. His name is probably an abbreviation of Nymphodorus.

His house. Another good reading has “their house,” referring to Nymphas and his family.

Col 4:16. And when this epistle shall have been read with you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans : and that you read that which is of the Laodiceans.

See Introduction to Ephesians, No. IV.

Col 4:17. And say to Archippus: Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it.

Archippus was probably the son of Philemon (Phlm. 2), and likely assistant to Epaphras in the Church at Colossae. He must have been in sacred orders, as St. Paul speaks of “the ministry” he had “received in the Lord.” The Apostle’s word of admonition to him seems to indicate either that he was just beginning, or that he was not sufficiently attentive to his duties, Cf. 2 Tim. 4:5.

Col 4:18. The salutation of Paul with my own hand. Be mindful of my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen,

The Apostle affectionately closes the letter with his own hand. He asks the Colossians to remember the imprisonment he is suffering for having preached the Gospels to the Gentile world. His blessing is short, as in 1 and 2 Tim. Perhaps the “Amen” should be omitted.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Colossians Chapter 3

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 27, 2019

This post opens with Fr. Callan’s brief summary of the moral part of the epistle (Col 3:1-4:6)., followed by commentary on 3:1-4:1. Text in purple indicate quotations from Fr. Callan’s other commentaries.

MORAL PART OF THE EPISTLE

A Summary of Colossians 3:1-4:6~In the Moral Part of the Epistle to the Colossians St. Paul, arguing from the principles he has laid down in the Dogmatic Part, takes up the duties of the Christian life in general, showing what life in union with the Risen Lord demands, first in a negative and then in a positive way (Col 3:1-17). Next he treats of relative duties, pertinent to particular states (Col 3:18—4:1), concluding with some precepts addressed to all Christians (Col 4:2-6). See Introduction, No. IV, C.

CHRISTIANS MUST EXHIBIT NEWNESS OF LIFE 

A Summary of Colossians 3:1-17~After having directly attacked the errors of the pseudodoctors and shown their baneful and futile consequences (Col 2:8-23), the Apostle now returns to the positive teaching of Col 2:6-7, pointing out that Christians share in the risen life of their Lord, and that consequently new and higher motives should dominate their activities. Being dead to the lower things, they are now centred in Christ, and will appear with Him hereafter in glory (Col 3:1-4). This new life requires in a negative way a breaking with all the sins of their pagan past (Col 3:5-9), and on its positive and practical side an ever fuller growing into the likeness of Christ, and into a state where Christ is supreme for all mankind (Col 3:10-11). Moreover, this new life involves a practice of those virtues which Christ’s example has taught, especially charity, which is the bond of perfection, and unity, which couples the members of the Christian society with their divine Head. May the message of Christ be fruitful in them, making itself vibrant in their hearts and vocal in their music! All their undertakings must be performed in their Master’s name, and thus they will be rendering continual thanks to God the Father who has conferred all blessings on us through Christ (Col 3:12-17).

Col 3:1. Therefore, if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above; where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God: Col 3:2. Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth.

As an antidote to the doctrines of the false teachers who were imposing material things as a means of spiritual progress, St. Paul here tells his readers to lift their thoughts above where Christ their Head is seated, as a king on his throne, ready to dispense His gifts and graces to His subjects.

If. See above, on Col 2:20. Here is what Fr. Callan wrote there: The connective “if” here, as later in Col 3:1, does not express doubt or conjecture, but rather assumption...

Be risen, etc. See on Col 2:12. Fr. Callan there wrote: The Apostle explains when and how the Colossians received the circumcision of Christ. It took place at the time of their Baptism, when their immersion in the water signified their death and burial to sin, and their coming out of it represented their resurrection to a new life of grace. See commentary on Rom 6:4 ff.

At the right hand, etc., i.e., the place of power and authority.

Col 3:3. For you are dead; and your hfe is hid with Christ in God.
Col 3:4. When Christ shall appear, who is our life, then you also shall appear with him in glory.

The Apostle now gives the reason why all the thoughts and desires of the faithful should be above. In Baptism they died to the world and things of earth, and their supernatural life, like the life of their Risen Saviour, is hidden from the sight of men; but at the end of time when Christ appears in glory to judge the world, then their hidden life shall also be made manifest.

In verse 4 of the Vulgate we should have vita nostra, instead of vita vestra, according to the best Greek.

Col 3:5. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, unclcanness, lust, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is the service of idols.

The faithful must master and hold at bay those evil tendencies of their nature which would destroy their hidden life and lead them away from Christ. The Apostle mentions here, as in Eph 5:3-5, some of the sins and vices to which they were most inclined, and which therefore they must especially guard against. See on Eph 5:3-5. Father Callan writes concerning these sins in his comments on Eph 5:3-5~Impurity and grasping self-assertion were central sins of paganism, and they are condemned by the Apostle in all their forms; not only are they not to be practised, they are not even to be named among Christians, who by their profession are consecrated to the God of holiness, purity, and justice. He also writes the following concerning fornication, uncleanness, and covetousness which are also mentioned in the present verse:

Fornicator (fornication), as here used, means also adultery and every illicit sexual union.

Unclean (uncleanness) refers to private impurity.

Covetous person (covetousness), i.e., inordinate lover of material wealth, a person who makes a god of his money. (see further note on covetousness below).Which is a serving of idols. Covetousness is a kind of real idolatry.

Your members which are upon the earth most likely refers to the vices which he proceeds to enumerate, and which are all in the accusative or objective case following “mortify” (Knabenbauer, h. l.).

Covetousness . . . the service of idols. Lightfoot says that “covetousness” here is to be taken in its ordinary sense, as greed for material gain, and that the Greek word of itself never denotes sensual lust. But that the word lends itself to a connection with sensual ideas appears from a comparison of this passage with Eph 4:19, Eph 5:3-5; 1 Thess 4:6; 1 Cor 5:11. “Service of idols” would then refer back to all the sins just enumerated. Cf. Moule, h. l.

Col 3:6. For which things the wrath of God cometh upon the children of unbelief,

The Apostle warns his readers of the punishment that is in store for the vices just spoken of.

Upon the children of unbelief is not in the best Greek, but is probably to be retained on good documentary evidence. See on Eph 5:6. The text of Ephesians states that “because of these things” (i.e., the sins mentioned above) “cometh the anger of God upon the children of unbelief.” Fr. Callan writes: The Apostle warns his readers not to be deceived and led into error by any “vain” (i.e., empty and false) words or talk, regarding the sins he has just condemned; for because of those very sins the punishment of God “cometh,” i.e., visits now and will continue to visit in the future those rebellious ones who disobey and disregard His teachings as contained in the Gospel. Cf, Col 3:6.

Col 3:7. In which you also walked some time, when you lived in them.

In which can refer to the “children of unbelief” of the preceding verse (in which case we should translate “among whom”), or to the vices mentioned in verse 5; more probably the latter.

When you lived, etc., refers to the time before their conversion.

Col 3:8. But now put you also all away anger, indignation, malice, blasphemy, filthy speech out of your mouth.

See on Eph 4:29, Eph 4:31. Anger and indignation can sometimes be justifiable (“be angry, but sin not”, Eph 4:6), but quite often these passions degenerate into sin, often manifesting themselves in malice, blasphemy, filthy speech, etc. Concerning anger Fr. Callan writes the following in his commentary on Eph 4:31: Anger is a transient outburst of passion, whereas indignation, or wrath, is a settled or chronic condition including the purpose of revenge.   On blasphemy he writes: Blasphemy is taken literally from the Greek, but it would be better to translate it in this passage by “reviling,” since there is question now of evil speech, not against God but against man. Concerning malice he writes: Malice, i.e., malevolence or the desire to injure, is the root of the sins just mentioned. Compare the parallel passage in Col 3:8.

Col 3:9. Lie not one to another: stripping yourselves of the old man with his deeds,

The old man, etc. See on Eph 4:22; Eph 4:24-25. Eph 4:22 reads: “put off, according to former conversation, the old man, who is corrupted according to the desire of error.” Father Callan comments: They have been taught—or rather, they were taught at the time of their conversion—to put off the old sinful man inherited from Adam, whose principles and mode of life were theirs as pagans, and living according to which they became ever more and more plunged into sin and error.

Commenting on Eph 4:24-25 he writes: (24) And put on the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of the truth.

It is not sufficient to put off the old man of sin which you have inherited from Adam, but you must also “put on the new man, etc.,” i.e., the man who has been regenerated by the grace of the Holy Ghost, and who having been created “according to God, etc.” (i.e., having been created in the beginning in the image and likeness of God), imitates God in his new life of grace by keeping the commandments which reflect the divine will and therefore God Himself. This new man, or creation of grace, “is created in justice and holiness,” i.e., he lives a life faithful to the obligations he owes to his neighbor (justice) and to the duties he owes to God (holiness)—that is, a life which is in entire conformity with “the truth” of the Gospel, as revealed in the Gospel.

(25) Wherefore putting away lying, speak ye the truth every man with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

Wherefore, i.e., since you have put off the old man and put on the new man who is characterized by justice and holiness, you must be on your guard against falling back into the sins of your former life; and first of all, you must put “away lying,” because this is so injurious to the neighbor, whom we are bound not to injure but to assist, as being all members of the one mystical body of Christ. Lying injures not only the neighbor, but oneself also, because we are all members of the same body, and that which injures one part of the body is felt in all the parts; the injury of the part reacts on the whole.

Col 3:10. And putting on the new, him who is renewed unto knowledge, according to the image of him that created him.

The Apostle has just been enumerating sins which Christians must avoid. But it is not enough to weed out vices; virtues must be planted in.

The new. i.e., the new man, the new self. See on Eph 4:24. Father Callan comments on that verse as follows: It is not sufficient to put off the old man of sin which you have inherited from Adam, but you must also “put on the new man, etc.,” i.e., the man who has been regenerated by the grace of the Holy Ghost, and who having been created “according to God, etc.” (i.e., having been created in the beginning in the image and likeness of God), imitates God in his new life of grace by keeping the commandments which reflect the divine will and therefore God Himself. This new man, or creation of grace, “is created in justice and holiness,” i.e., he lives a life faithful to the obligations he owes to his neighbor (justice) and to the duties he owes to God (holiness)—that is, a life which is in entire conformity with “the truth” of the Gospel, as revealed in the Gospel.

Who is renewed, etc. The regenerate life is one of progress, growling into ever fuller knowledge and more perfect love of God, of Christ, and of our duties as Christians (2 Cor 4:16).

According to the image, etc. As man in the natural order was made in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26-28), so in his regeneration does he come to express that image, but in a far more perfect manner (Gal 6:15).

Col 3:11. Where there is neither Gentile nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all, and in all.

In this new state of regenerated humanity the old distinctions of races and conditions of men are wiped out, and all are united in one mystical body of which Christ is the head and the faithful the members.

Barbarian was a contemptuous term, applied in pre-Augustan times to all who did not speak Greek; later it signified all who were devoid of Roman and Greek culture.

Scythian meant the worst of barbarians. The Scythians were much like the modern Turks, and the Greeks and Jews regarded them “as the wildest of wild tribes” (Moule).

Col 3:12. Put ye on therefore, as the elect of God, holy, and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience:
Col 3:13. Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another : even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so do you also.
Col 3:14. But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection:

St. Paul has given just above a short list of sins illustrative of those to which the Christian has died; and now (Col 3:12-17) he will mention some of the typical virtues which should characterize the life of grace. Since Christians are the chosen people of God and the recipients of His special graces and favors, they ought to manifest in their lives those virtues which are in keeping with their privileged state.

Bowels of mercy (verse 12), a Hebrew expression, means tenderness of heart, sentiments of compassion.

Charity (verse 14) is the queen of virtues, the silver cord which binds all the others together, and without which every other virtue is imperfect. See on Eph 4:2, 32 ; 1 Cor 13.

The habete of the Vulgate before “charity” is not expressed in the Greek (of verse 14), but some verb, like have or put on, is understood.

Col 3:15. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body: and be ye thankful.

See on Eph 2:11-22, 4:1-6. Father Callan’s commentary on Eph 2:11-22 can be found here. His commentary on Eph 4:1-6 is here.

Rule in your hearts. The Greek for “rule” here means a moderator, or an umpire in an athletic game.

In place of exultet, the Vulgate should have regnet.And be ye thankful, for the many divine benefits and graces of your vocation. Perhaps “grateful” would be a better word than “thankful” here.

Col 3:16. Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God.

Word of Christ, i.e., the message of the Gospel. The more the teachings of Christ penetrate the heart, the more will charity, peace, and gratitude abound among the faithful. The phrase “in all wisdom” more probably goes with what follows, and hence there should be no comma after sapientia in the Vulgate.

Admonishing, etc. See on Eph 5:19. Commenting on that verse Fr. Callan writes: If the Holy Spirit fills the souls of the faithful, it will be natural that the sacred exhilaration within them should burst forth “in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual canticles,” i.e., in instrumental and vocal music, arising not only from their lips, but also from their “hearts to the Lord.” This musical expression of fervor among the assembled early Christians is spoken of in Acts 4:24, 31, 16:25, and was referred to by Pliny in his letter to the Emperor Trajan, written between 108 and 114 a.d., when he said: “They [the Christians] are accustomed to meet before dawn on a stated day, and to chant to Christ, as to a God, alternately together” (Epist. x. 97). Of course, St. Paul here seems to be speaking of social gatherings rather than of liturgical services.

Col 3:17. All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by him.

Christians by their Baptism and consecration to God have become the property of their divine Master, they are one with Him; and consequently, all they do and say should be in conformity with this holy relationship. This is the way to render continual thanks to God the Father.

ADMONITIONS FOR DOMESTIC LIFE 

A Summary of Col 3:18-4:1~St. Paul speaks here of the mutual duties of wives and husbands, children and parents, slaves and masters. Though briefer, his treatment is practically identical with what he has in Eph. 5:22-6:9, on which see commentary for an explanation of the present passage. For this reason the text of Col 3:18-4:1 follows without comment.

Col 3:18. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as it behooveth in the Lord.
Col 3:19. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter towards them.
Col 3:20. Children, obey your parents in all things ; for this is well pleasing to the Lord.
Col 3:21. Fathers, provoke not your children to indignation, lest they be discouraged.
Col 3:22. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not serving to the eye, as pleasing men, but in simplicity of heart, fearing God.
Col 3:23. Whatsoever you do, do it from the heart, as to the Lord, and not to men:
Col 3:24. Knowing that you shall receive of the Lord the reward of inheritance. Serve ye the Lord Christ.
Col 3:25. For he that doth wrong, shall receive for that which he hath done wrongfully: and there is no respect of persons with God.

Col 4:1 Masters, do to your servants that which is just and equal: knowing that you also have a master in heaven..

As already indicated above, Fr. Callan sends us to his commentary on Eph 5:22-6:9 for St Paul’s teaching on these matters. He dealt with this in two parts which can be read here: Part 1 on Eph 5:22-33; Part 2 on Eph 6:1-9.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Colossians Chapter 2

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 27, 2019

WHY ST PAUL WRITES TO UNKNOWN CHURCHES 

A Summary of Colossians 2:1-7~St. Paul writes to the Colossians and their neighbors of Laodicea, though he has never seen them, in order that they may be united in charity and have a full understanding of that divine secret of which he has been speaking. The secret is to know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent (John 17:3). The Apostle is anxious about his unknown readers, because of the specious errors that are abroad among them. Though absent in body, he is spiritually present with them, and he rejoices at the solid battle front their faith is presenting to the enemy. They have learned the truth about Christ, and may they show it in their lives, and ever abound in thanksgiving!

Col 2:1. For I would have you know, what manner of care I have for you and for them that are at Laodicea, and whosoever have not seen my face in the flesh:

The first three verses of this Chapter are intimately connected with the end of the preceding Chapter, and they explain St. Paul’s “labor” and “striving” in behalf of the Colossians and their neighbors whom he had not seen. The Apostle’s zeal and solicitude went out to all Christian communities, and especially those of Gentile origin (2 Cor 11:28).

Care means rather “struggle,” according to the Greek.

Laodicea. See Introduction to this Epistle, No. II.

Col 2:2. That their hearts may be comforted, being instructed in charity, and unto all riches of fullness of understanding, unto the knowledge of the mystery of God the Father and of Christ:

The Apostle here tells the purpose of his solicitude and prayers for his unknown correspondents, namely, “that their hearts may be comforted,” i.e., that they may be admonished and strengthened in faith, as there is question of doctrine and of guarding against errors; that “being instructed in charity,” or rather, “being bound together in charity” (i.e., in Christian love), they may attain to a full understanding of the mystery which God the Father has revealed to us in Christ. The phrases “unto all riches, etc.” and “unto the knowledge of the mystery, etc.” are parallel, one to the other, and explain each other.

The last words of this verse, “of God the Father, etc.,” are variously read in the MSS., versions, and Fathers; but the sense is clear in any reading. Perhaps the best reading is that of the Vatican MS. and St. Hilary: του θεου χριστου.

Christ is in apposition with “mystery.”

Col 2:3. In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

The Mystery of God which St. Paul would have his readers grasp is none other than Christ, in whom are contained all the riches of divine and human wisdom and knowledge. As God, Christ possessed infinite wisdom and knowledge, and as man His knowledge was superior to that of men and angels. The faithful, therefore, need not go to other teachers or masters, nor give heed to the doctrines preached by the false teachers in the name of angels; let them hear and follow in all things Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life. “Jesus Christ is a great Book. He who can indeed study Him in the word of God will know all he ought to know. Humility opens this Divine Book, faith reads in it, love learns from it” (Quesnel, quoted by Moule, h. l.).

Col 2:4. Now this I say, that no man may deceive you by loftiness of words.

The Apostle comes now to the case of the Colossians, showing that what he has been saying was intended to put them on their guard against the false teachers, who have been trying to deceive them by plausible arguments.

Now this I say, doubtless refers to what he has said in the verses just preceding about the mystery and wealth of knowledge which are in Christ.

In place of in sublimitate, other good MSS. of the Vulgate have in subtilitate; the Greek has, “in persuasiveness of speech.”

Col 2:5. For though I be absent in body, yet in spirit I am with you; rejoicing and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith which is in Christ.

St. Paul knows the state of things at Colossse, and, though absent in body, he is present wiith the faithful in mind and heart; and he rejoices at the resistance they are offering to the false teachers.

Order . . . steadfastness. Better, “orderly array . . . solid front.” These are military terms, perhaps suggested by the soldiers of the Praetorian Guard by whom in their turn the Apostle was surrounded at this time.

Col 2:6. As therefore you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk ye in him,

As therefore, referring to what he has just said about their firm faith. In this and the following verse the Apostle is stressing the need of continuing united to Christ, or persevering in the faith which the Colossians received from Epaphras, their apostle and master, and of shaping their lives according to its teachings.

The Lord. This expression shows that the historic Jesus was also the Christ, the Messiah, and the sovereign and universal Master. See on Eph 3:11; Phil 2:11.

Col 2:7. Rooted and built up in him, and confirmed in the faith, as also you have learned, abounding in it in thanksgiving.

Rooted . . . built, two metaphors—one taken from a tree firmly fixed in the ground and the other from a house strongly constructed—to enforce again the necessity of adhering to Christ, the sole principle of the supernatural life; and the means of this union is the faith, as they “have learned” it from Epaphras. See on commentary on Eph 3:17, and the commentary on Eph 2:22.

In it, i.e., in faith, producing the full fruit of faith.

The Vulgate in illo should be in ea, to agree with the Greek, though some MSS. have simply, “abounding in thanksgiving,” It was entirely becoming that the faithful should be abundantly grateful for the gift of faith and for the rich blessings it brought them.

THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE FALSE TEACHERS IS OPPOSED TO CHRIST 

A Summary of Colossians 2:8-23. St. Paul now directly considers the so-called philosophy of the false teachers among the Colossians, and he finds it is in opposition to Christian principles in doctrine and in practice. It is based on human traditions and worldly elements, instead of following Christ, in whom dwells the fullness of the Godhead, in whom the Colossians will find all they need for salvation, and who is superior to all powers. In Christ they have received the true circumcision, which is of the heart, having been buried with Him in Baptism and risen with Him through faith to a new life. Yes, when they were dead in their sins, God gave them new life in Christ, pardoning them their offences and liberating them from the burdens of the Law. It was the victory of the cross that cast off the principalities and powers, and led them away in triumphal defeat (Col 2:8-15). Therefore, the Colossians must not be judged by regulations and observances which were only shadows of the reality which is Christ. Nor let them be cheated of their prize by a wrong asceticism and worship of angels which would lead away from Christ, the head of all; for it is through Christ alone that the Church attains that full growth which is of God. Since, then, the Colossians have died to the elements of the world, they should pay no need to those things which perish in the using. These precepts and doctrines of men have an outward appearance of value, but they are really impotent against sensual indulgences (Col 2:16-23).

Col 2:8. Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy, and vain deceit: according to the traditions of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ:

Cheat you. Better, “make you his spoil,” or “spoil you.”

Philosophy here is to be understood in a wide sense, as embracing a system of teaching in religious matters. Thus it was often used in antiquity, as when Philo speaks of the Jewish religion and the Law of Moses as a philosophy (Leg. ad Caium, 23, 33); and Josephus applies the same name to the doctrines of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes (Ant., xviii. i, 2). There is no thought in this passage of belittling true philosophy, which is the fruit of correct reasoning from sound principles.

Vain deceit. The false teachers pretended to have a superior wisdom to communicate, but which in reality was empty and far removed from truth. Instead of coming from God, or divine revelation, or the use of right reason, their so-called philosophy was based on “the traditions of men” (i.e., mere human opinions) and “the elements of the world” (i.e., certain Jewish rites and institutions, which were regulated by the Jewish calendar, such as new moons, sabbaths, and other recurring festivals). See below, on Col 2:16. Other authorities think the term “elements” here is used in a technical sense “for spiritual beings supposed to animate and preside over the elements of the physical universe, and generally conceived as resident in the heavenly bodies” (so Dodd, in Abingdon Bible, h. l.). It seems best to say with Fr. Rickaby that “it was not the mere observance of Jewish festivals, but beyond that the positive cultus of the heavenly bodies or of angels as controllers of those bodies, that displeased St. Paul” (Further Notes on St. Paul, h. l.).

Col 2:9. For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead corporally;

The faithful must not seek spiritual knowledge and help outside of Christ, for in Him dwells the “fullness of the Godhead,” i.e., the totality of deity.

Corporally, i.e., corporally, totally, entirely. See on Col 1:19 above. Others explain “corporally” to mean, not figuratively, but substantially and personally; or with a bodily manifestation (Lightfoot).

Col 2:10. And you are filled in him, who is the head of all principality and power:

As the fullness of deity is in Christ, making Him all-perfect, the faithful can find in Him all they need for their salvation and religious perfection; they need not seek elsewhere. Christ is the “head of all principality, etc.,” i.e., all angels are subject to Him and inferior to Him.

Col 2:11. In whom also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the despoiling of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ:

The false teachers were advocating circumcision of the body as a means to spiritual perfection; but St. Paul reminds the Colossians that in virtue of their union with Christ they have already received the real, interior, spiritual circumcision, which is of the heart, and which alone counts before God. This spiritual circumcision consists “in the despoiling, etc.,” better, “in the stripping off of the fleshy body,” i.e., in the cutting away of the lower instincts and appetites in man, in the putting ofif of the old man of sin (Rom 6:6).

The word sed in the Vulgate should be omitted.

Col 2:12. Buried with him in baptism, in whom also you are risen again by faith in the operation of God, who raised him up from the dead.

The Apostle explains when and how the Colossians received the circumcision of Christ. It took place at the time of their Baptism, when their immersion in the water signified their death and burial to sin, and their coming out of it represented their resurrection to a new life of grace. See on Rom 6:4 flf.

By faith, etc. In order that Baptism may confer spiritual life, faith in the power of God who raised Jesus to life is required in adults who have the use of reason (Rom 1:17).

Who raised him, etc. The Apostle mentions the resurrection of Jesus, because this mystery is fundamental to Christianity.

Col 2:13. And you, when you were dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he quickened together with him, forgiving us all offences:

Such is the circumcision of Christ, which is conferred through Baptism; and now the Apostle will apply to the Colossians what he has been saying on this subject, recalling first to their minds their former miserable condition of soul as pagans.

The uncircumcision of your flesh means their unregenerate state, in which they obeyed the promptings of the flesh (Eph 2:3).

He quickened, etc., i.e., God the Father raised you to new, spiritual life, “with him” (i.e., with Christ), when by faith you became united to Christ in Baptism.

According to the best Greek MSS., the Vulg. should read donans nobis; the forgiveness of sins was something common to all converts, Jewish and Gentile.

Col 2:14. Blotting out the handwriting of the decree that was against us, which was contrary to us. And he hath taken the same out of the way, fastening it to the cross

Blotting out, etc., is parallel to the preceding phrase, “forgiving us all offences” (ver. 13), and means that God had cancelled the indebtedness which our sins had caused to be registered against us.

Handwriting of the decree. Better, as in R. V., “the bond written in ordinances,” i.e., the signature of obligation to observance, whether expressed in the “ordinances,” or “orders,” or “decrees” of the Mosaic Law for the Jews (Deut 27:15-26); or in the dictates of the natural law and conscience for the pagans (Rom 2:12-15).

The reference then is primarily to indebtedness incurred by the Jews in violating the decrees and prescriptions of the Law of Moses, but secondarily also to that incurred by the Gentiles in violating the law written on their own hearts. Therefore, when the Apostle says, “which was contrary to us,” all are included, all were under the curse of law, Gentiles as well as Jews. See on Eph 2:15. Now God, through Christ, has destroyed this account that stood against us, taking it “out of the way,” in which it stood between us and God; and this He did by “fastening it to the cross” of Christ, on which our Lord suffered and atoned for all our sins and transgressions.

The Vulgate chirographum decreti should be made to agree with the Greek, which has τοις δογμασιν  (dative); hence we should read decretis, and understand a chirographum which was expressed in or based on “decrees,” or “orders,” or “ordinances.”

Col 2:15. And despoiling the principalities and powers, he hath exposed them confidently in open shew, triumphing over them in him.

As God through Christ has quickened us, forgiving our offences and blotting out the handwriting that was against us (ver. 13-14), so has He spoiled, exposed to contempt and derision, and triumphed over the hostile powers that had held man captive. It was through the Law that those principalities and powers were able to enslave man (Gal 3:19, Gal 4:9-10); and hence those agencies met their defeat when our Lord by His death on the cross abolished the Law, bringing it to an end.

Principalities and powers. These two terms are used above (Col 1:16, Col 2:10) in a favorable sense for good angels, but here they are taken in an evil sense for demons, as in Eph 6:12.

Exposed them confidently. Better, “made a show of them with outspokenness,” i.e., exposed them publicly to ridicule and contempt, leading them as captives in triumphal procession (θριαμβευσας αυτους).

The Latin confidenter and palam are a rendering of the Greek  εν παρρησια (“confidently in open show”); and in semetipso should be in eo (εν αυτω), i.e., in Christ, or In the cross. It is not certain whether the subjects of the verbs in verses 13-15 should be understood to be God or Christ, but it seems better, in the light of the context, to take God as the subject. God triumphed over the enemies of man through Jesus Christ by means of the cross of Christ.

Col 2:16. Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of a festival day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath,
Col 2:17. Which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ.

So far, in verses 8-15, St. Paul has been opposing the erroneous speculations of the false teachers, and now, in verses 16-23, he will attack their false asceticism. He warns his readers not to be disturbed about their neglect of outworn Mosaic observances regarding food and drink, the Jewish festivals, such as the New Moon, the Sabbath, and the like, the importance of which the false teachers were stressing and magnifying. All these things were good in their day, under the Old Law, as foreshadowing the reality to come, which was Christ; but now that Christ has come, these things are done away; they are a hindrance to be avoided.

The Vulgate sabbatorum is according to the Greek, but σαββατων, though plural in form, is singular in meaning (Matt 12:1; Mark 1:21, Mark 3:2; Luke 4:16, etc.).

Col 2:18. Let no man seduce you, willing in humility and religion of angels, walking in the things he hath seen, in vain puffed up by the sense of his flesh,
Col 2:19. And not holding the head, from which the whole body, by joints and bands, being supplied with nourishment and compacted, groweth unto the increase of God.

18-19. Here the Apostle admonishes the Colossians to beware of the pretentious humility and superstitious cult of angels advocated by the false teachers.

Let no man seduce, etc. Better, “let no one rob you of your prize,” i.e., of eternal life (see Phil. 3:14), by tempting you to forsake Christ.

Willing in humility, etc., i.e., delighting in an artificial, voluntary self-abasement and an obsequious service of angels. Those “heretics” taught that man was so miserable and far removed from God that intermediaries between him and God were necessary; and consequently to these intervening beings, whom they called angels, they attributed a part in the work of man’s creation and redemption which was as absurd as it was untrue.

Walking in the things, etc. More literally, “taking his stand on things he has seen,” i.e., preferring his alleged visions and revelations to the Apostolic Gospel. Such is the best reading of this passage, though other good authorities think a “not” has dropped out of the text before “seen,” and that we should read, “taking his stand on things he has not seen,” i.e., pretending to a knowledge of angels and of the spirit world which has no real basis. This is the reading followed by the Vulgate.

In vain puffed up, etc. Better, “foolishly puffed up with his fleshly mind.” The false teachers were full of pride, and, while alleging superior knowledge about spiritual things, their thoughts in reality were low and carnal, mere earthly dreams.

And not holding the head, etc., i.e., not keeping intimately united to Christ, the head of the Church, from whom the members derive their organic unity, power and growth.

From whom the whole body, etc. Better, “from whom the whole body, being supplied and knit together through the joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is of God.” The meaning is that all vital unity and spiritual growth among the members of the Church must come from Christ, who is the head of the Church and the only source of spiritual supply. See commentary on Eph. 4:16.

Col 2:20. If then thou be dead with Christ from the elements of this world, why are you under decrees as though living in the world?
Col 2:21. Touch not, taste not, handle not;
Col 2:22. Which are all unto destruction by the very use, according to the precepts and doctrines of men.

In verses 20-23 the Apostle shows the futility of the ascetical practices preached by the “heretics” at Colossse.

If then you are dead, etc. The connective “if” here, as later in Col 3:1, does not express doubt or conjecture, but rather assumption; it assumes the death in question to be a fact. Since the faithful in Baptism have mystically died with Christ and so have been freed “from the elements of this world” (see above, onC ol 2:8), why should they still continue to live as if subject to these ancient rites and ceremonies, which enjoined that they should “touch not, taste not, etc.” (Lev. 11:4 ff., 15:1 ff.)? These prohibitions, which the false teachers were endeavoring to enforce, did not affect permanent moral principles, but rather things material that perished with the using; and now that the Law of Moses has been abrogated, they have no divine authority or sanction, but are “according to the precepts and doctrines of men,” i.e., according to human opinions and human traditions.

Which are all unto destruction by the very use. This sentence is best treated as a parenthesis.

The quid decernitis of the Vulgate (ver. 20) is passive in Greek; hence we have rendered, “why are you under decrees?” The precepts of verse 21, ne tetigeritis, etc., are singular in Greek, which better expresses the ridiculousness of the practices for each individual.

Col 2:23. Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in superstition and humility, and not sparing the body; not in any honor to the filling of the flesh.

Which things, etc. These precepts and doctrines of the false teachers had an external appearance of wisdom by reason of the worship of angels, humility, and bodily rigor, which they superstitiously and pretentiously implied; but they were of no value with God, and rather tended to serve than to curb the full gratification of the passions of man, since they were only external and separated from the true source of all genuine spirituality, which is Christ.

Not in any honor, etc. Far better in the R. V., which reads: “Not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh.” Such seems to be the meaning of a difficult verse, the text of which has probably been corrupted in transmission. See Knabenbauer, h. I.; also Sales, Moule, and Crafer in A New Com. on Holy Script., h. I.

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