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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 14

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 30, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

The Apostle devotes this chapter to the removal of a practical cause of some differences that existed between the Jewish and Gentile converts. Many among the former; not fully instructed in the faith, were inordinately attached to certain portions of the ceremonial law of Moses: and among the rest, they could not be brought to give up the distinction which the law made between clean and unclean meats, and thus abstained from partaking of the latter description of food. These observances were tolerated in the converted Jews, until such time as they should be more fully instructed, in accommodation to their weakness, and for the purpose of “burying the Synagogue with honour.”—(St Augustine). The same indulgence was never extended to the converts from Paganism (as is seen, Epistle to Galatians). The tolerated observance of these ceremonial ordinances was made the occasion of differences among the early converts. The Gentile despised the Jew for so doing, and had no regard to his weak conscience; while the Jew censured the other party as violating the law. In order to effect a reconciliation, the Apostle first recommends the Gentiles to instruct the Jews (verse 1); and, after stating the cause of difference (Rom 14:2), he recommends them to abstain from despising or condemning one another (Rom 14:3); to leave such judgments to God (Rom 14:4). And after giving another example of a cause of difference (Rom 14:5), he shows, that both may follow whatever opinion they please on the subject; that neither should be judged, since both intend the glory of God, as well in this point (Rom 14:6-7), as in all the other actions of their lives (Rom 14:8-9); and that all judgment belongs to Christ, to whom, therefore, it should be left (Rom 14:10-13). Having, in the preceding part of the chapter, cautioned the weak against unjust judgments, he now cautions the better instructed against giving scandal; he tells them to respect the consciences of their weaker brethren, and not induce them to commit sin, and violate conscience, by their example (Rom 14:13–22). He, finally, exhorts the weak not to act contrary to conscience, but in all their actions to have an undoubted conviction of the lawfulness of what they were about doing (Rom 14:23).

Text in pruple indiocates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

Rom 14:1. Among the other duties of fraternal charity, you who are better instructed in the doctrines of faith, should take into friendly intercourse, with the view of charitably instructing them, such of your brethren as are still weak, and not yet fully instructed in the faith; and you should forbear contending in argument and acrimonious reasonings.

“Weak in faith,” i.e., not fully instructed in faith or with respect to the abrogation of the ceremonial law. “Take unto you,” i.e., admit to free and friendly intercourse, in order charitably to instruct him. “Not in disputes about thoughts,” μη εἰς διακρίσεις διαλογισμων, i.e., forbear disputing with him, and perplexing him by your untimely reasonings, lest you might increase his doubts, and drive him to apostacy.

Rom 14:2. As an example of the subject of weak faith, to which I refer, take the following case: One man fully instructed in the faith is firmly persuaded that it is perfectly lawful for him to partake of all kinds of meats; while another, not so well instructed, partakes of herbs, lest he might eat of anything prohibited by the law of Moses.

“But he that is weak, let him eat herbs.” In Greek, we have the indicative mood, εσθιει, “eats herbs;” and this reading is the more probable; for, in this verse the Apostle is only adducing an instance of the cause of disputes, and of the matter of weakness in faith, in regard to which, he points out, in the next verse, the duties of each party. “Eat herbs;” those among the Jews who were not sufficiently grounded in the Christian faith, in order the more securely to avoid the violation of the law respecting the distinction of clean and unclean meats, contented themselves with partaking of herbs, in which no distinction was made by the law.

Rom 14:3. Now, the man who, in the enjoyment of his Christian liberty, partakes of everything set before him, should not despise his weaker brother, who abstaining from meats, owing to the weakness of his faith, feeds on herbs; and, on the other hand, the man who abstains should not judge him that partakes of all kinds of meats; for, the Lord has accepted him, and made him partake of his holy religion.

The Apostle, after stating the case in dispute, endeavours to reconcile both parties, by telling those who, from a full knowledge of the Christian faith, and of the exemption from all ceremonial ordinances which it conferred, partook of all kinds of meats, not to despise their less instructed brethren who abstained from certain meats, from an impression that these ceremonial ordinances were to be continued; on the other hand, he tells such as abstained, to forbear from judging of the others as violators of the law. From the words of this verse Estius infers, that the question in dispute was not between the Jews and Gentiles—for, how could the Jews for an instant, suppose that the converted Gentiles were sinning in not observing a law (the Law of Moses) which they never received?—but between the well-instructed, and the imperfectly instructed, or weak-minded among the Jewish converts themselves. The common opinion of commentators, however, is, that it was between the converts from among the Jews and Gentiles these disputes had existed; and that it is the converted Jews on one side, and the converted Gentiles on the other, the Apostle addresses; no doubt, the same reasons adduced with reference to the converted Gentiles, will apply to the well-instructed among the Jews also, who did not sufficiently respect the consciences of their weaker brethren. The reason adduced by Estius would only prove, that those who were “weak in faith,” were very imperfectly instructed in the Christian religion; and owing to this, it is not to be wondered at, if regarding the Mosaic ceremonies as a part of Christianity, they should erroneously suppose all converts from whatever quarter, to be bound by them. “For God hath taken him to him,” i.e., has taken him as his servant and worshipper, and has made him a sharer in the blessings of his religion. He is, therefore, God’s, and it belongs to God alone to judge him.

Rom 14:4. But who art thou to assume the right of passing sentence of condemnation on the servant of another? He shall stand or fall by the sentence of his own master; but he shall stand, i.e., he shall be acquitted and succeed in judgment; because God, who is his master, has power and clemency to absolve him.

He urges the reason referred to in the preceding words, “God has taken him;” he is God’s servant. What right, therefore, hast thou to sit in judgment on another’s servant? You have no authority whatsover for this. He has his own master to judge him; to him “he standeth,” i.e., he shall be acquitted by him, and shall come off victorious in the cause; or, “falleth,” be worsted and condemned in the cause. “But he shall stand,” i.e., he shall be acquitted and come off victorious; “for God is able,” &c.: under the word “able” is included not only ability or power, but clemency, and a will to acquit him. Why, therefore, should any one presume to condemn the servant whom God acquits and absolves?

It has been already remarked that the Jewish converts were permitted to retain the use of the Mosaic ceremonies; but, no such indulgence was ever allowed the converts from Paganism.

Rom 14:5. The distinction of days affords another example of the matter to which I refer; for, the man of weak and imperfect faith makes a distinction between one day and another, for religious purposes; while another, better instructed, judges all days to be alike for such purposes. This should not weaken concord amongst you. Let each one follow the full persuasion of his own judgment in this matter.

Another example of the legal observances which was the occasion of dissensions, is the distinction of festival days, as in use among the Jews, such as Sabbath days, New Moons, Passover, Pentecost. To these the Apostle refers in his Epistle to the Galatians 4:10, as forming part of the first elements of Jewish infancy. Some Commentators, and among the rest, A’Lapide, say, that by “days” here are meant not festival days, as above, but days of fasting and abstinence. So that here there is only a more diffuse explanation of the foregoing example of Jewish ceremonial ordinances. In the former example, he refers to perpetual abstinence from certain meats; in this, to abstinence from certain kinds of food, on particular days (v.g.), from leavened bread during the octave of the Pasch. “For one,” the Greek reading in the Codex Vaticanus is έις μεν, “indeed one,” and this is the more probable reading, as the Apostle is here only stating another case in dispute. “Let every man abound in his own sense.” The Greek word for “abound,” πληροφορεισθω, means, to have a fulness, which must be determined from the subject matter to which in each particular case it refers; here, it refers to the fulness of conviction and firm persuasion of the lawfulness of his line of conduct. It means, “let each person follow in this matter the full conviction of his own judgment.” I said, in this matter, because the Apostle is treating of feasts and abstinences, instituted by the Mosaic law, and abrogated by Christ, but still permitted to be observed on the part of the Jewish converts for a time. It is only in reference to this matter that the words, “let each one abound,” &c., are used by the Apostle. But in reference to fasts or festivals instituted by the Christian Church, the Apostle would never have left it optional with the faithful to attend to them or not: he would have commanded them strictly to observe them, as he did in reference to the decrees of the Apostles.—(Acts 16:4). The same is clearly deducible from the doctrine laid down by him in the preceding chapter, when treating of the obligations of such as are subject to others.

Rom 14:6. The man who distinguishes one day from another, does so for the glory of God (and the man who observes all days alike, has the same object in view); and the man who partakes of all means promiscuously, does so for the glory of the Lord, for he gives thanks to God for the food of which he partakes; and the man who abstains, does so from religious motives, for the glory of the Lord; and he in like manner, gives God thanks for the food which he regards as permitted to him, or for the gift of abstinence.

“He that regardeth the day,” i.e., distinguishes one day from another for the purpose of religious worship, “regardeth it unto the Lord,” i.e., does so with reference to the will of the Lord. In the common Greek we have these words added, and he who regardeth not the day, regardeth it not unto the Lord, the meaning of which is quite clear from the opposite clause. The words are wanting in the chief MSS. Beelen thinks them genuine, and fully warranted by the negative placed after the affirmative form of expression in reference “to eating,” in the following part. “And he that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth thanks to God” for the food he receives, and the Christian liberty which exempts him from the yoke of Jewish ceremonies. In the words, “giveth thanks there” is an allusion to the practice among the Jews of giving thanks before and after meals, a custom sanctioned by the example of our Divine Redeemer (Matt. 15:26; Mark 8:14; Luke 22; John 6), and universally and at all times observed in the Church.—(1 Tim. 4). “And he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not,” i.e., he is to be presumed to have the glory of God in view, “and giveth thanks to God,” for this gift of abstinence, or, for the food of another description which he receives; and it is to this latter meaning that the words are restricted by Estius, who remarks that the Apostle does not say, as in the preceding “for he giveth,” &c., but, “and he giveth thanks,” as if to say, he refers this act of abstinence to the glory of God, who looks not only to our actions but also to our intentions; “and he gives God thanks,” for the other food permitted to him. From this passage we are to infer, that unless in matters clearly and manifestly sinful, no one is to be condemned by us, but rather excused on the grounds of good intention.

Rom 14:7. Both of them bless God and give him thanks; or, none of us, after our call to Christianity, is to live or die for his own advantage or glory, but for the glory of the Lord, whose servants we are become.

The Apostle proves that they both refer their actions, in each case, to God; no wonder, he says, that particular actions should have reference to God, when our entire life, and death itself, are subservient to his glory, and should be referred to this end by all Christians, who, by their very profession, are become the servants of God,

Rom 14:8. For, whether we live, we live for the glory of the Lord, or whether we die, we die for the glory of the Lord, and in obedience to his will. Whether, therefore, we are living or dead, we are the Lord’s who ransomed us by the effusion of his most precious blood.

We live and die unto the Lord, who made us his own, and to whom, therefore, we should consecrate our life, death, and all that we have. “Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s,” who paid the heavy price of his own most precious blood for us. As slaves, therefore, have nothing of their own—all they possess belongs to their master—so we, the servants, and purchased slaves of God, have nothing of our own; our life, death, and entire being, all belong to Christ.

Rom 14:9. For, unto this end, has Christ died, and thus paid the price of our ransom, and risen from the dead to lead a glorious and immortal life, that he should exercise dominion over the living and the dead.

He assigns a reason, why we should live and die unto Christ, and refer our all to his glory. “For, unto this end Christ died, and rose again.” In the Greek it is, “Christ died, and rose again,” and has lived again. In some readings, as in the one from which our Vulgate is taken, this latter clause is omitted. In others (v.g.), in the Codex Vaticanus, the middle member of the sentence, “and rose again,” is omitted: it runs thus, και απεθανεν και εζησεν, died and lived. The sense is, however, fully expressed in ours. “That he might be Lord both of the living and of the dead.” Christ, from the instant of his incarnation, had this dominion. To him “was given all power in heaven and on earth,” i.e., over the whole Church, militant and triumphant; but, it was only after his death and resurrection, that he was to exercise his dominion, “that he might be Lord of the dead and the living,” i.e., of us, while in this world and in the next. The Apostle places “the living” after “the dead” to show that this perfect dominion is to regard such as live a life of glory in the future world; for, it is in the elect, that his reign of glory will be conspicuous.

Rom 14:10. Since, then, we are all the purchased servants of Christ, why shouldst thou, who abstainest, judge thy brother, as guilty of violating the law, when in the exercise of his Christian liberty he partakes of every kind of meat? and, on the other hand, why shouldst thou, who exerciseth this Christian liberty, despise as ignorant and weak-minded, thy brother, who, from weakness of faith, abstains from certain meats? You have no authority for doing so; you are only usurping the function of Christ, before whose tribunal we shall be placed for judgment.

No one should judge his neighbour. This is the peculiar province of Christ, and no one should despise his brother, since we know not what judgment an infinitely just and righteous judge may pass on him; perhaps, the very matter for which we despise him, may be the subject matter of his reward. Let us recollect the tremendous judgment of God, and it will be the best check on our rash judgments.

Rom 14:11. For, it is of Christ, as supreme judge of all, we are to understand the words of the Prophet Isaiah 45:23: I swear by my life (saith the Lord) that every knee shall be bent before me as Supreme Lord and Sovereign Judge, and every tongue shall confess me to be their God by whom alone they shall swear.

These words are taken from Isaiah 45:23. There is some slight variation from the Hebrew and Septuagint, but very little difference in the sense. In place of, “I live,” it is in the Septuagint, “I swear by myself.” However, the former expression is equivalent in sense to the latter; for, as it was an ordinary kind of oath among the Jews to swear, “the Lord liveth;” so, is God often introduced in SS. Scripture, swearing by himself in the words, “I live,” Num 14; Isa, 49; Ezek 14, &c. (“saith the Lord”), are added by the Apostle himself. “Every knee;” after these words, in some Greek copies, are added, of things in heaven, on earth, or under the earth, but they are rejected by critics. “Every tongue shall confess to God.” In Isaias it is, “and every tongue shall swear by God;” or, as in the Hebrew, “shall swear,” which is a homage to his sovereign truth. This power Christ possessed over the good and bad at his first coming; but it shall be fully exercised and perfected only at his second coming. The prophet speaks in the name of the supreme Jehovah; St. Paul, by applying these words to Christ declares his divinity.

Rom 14:12. Each one, therefore, shall be presented before the judgment seat of a most just and righteous Sovereign Judge, to give an account for himself and not for others, over whom he has no charge.

“For himself” (in Greek, περι ἑαυτοῦ, “of himself,”) not to any other, but “to God,” the supreme and sovereign Judge. In the preceding verse, there is a forcible proof of the divinity of Christ. Since it is to prove that Christ is sovereign Judge, before whom all shall appear (verse 10), that he adduces this testimony from Isaias, which shows that adoration shall be paid him; moreover, he calls him “God” in this verse.

Rom 14:13. We should not, therefore, form unfavourable judgments regarding each other; but you should rather resolve on this, not to place an obstacle or stumbling-block in the way of your neighbour’s salvation.

As, then, each one is to render an account of himself, let us forbear from judging or condemning each other. “But judge this rather,” i.e., determine and resolve upon this, “not to put a stumbling-block or a scandal in your brother’s way.” The words “stumbling-block “and “scandal” refer to the same thing, viz., whatever may be the occasion, whether it be word, deed, or omission, of the spiritual fall and ruin of our neighbour. In the Codex Vaticanus, the word “stumbling-block,” προσκομμα, is omitted. In the preceding part of the chapter, the Apostle principally addresses himself to the weak; he addresses himself in the remaining portion to the well-instructed, whether converted Jews or Gentiles, and cautions them against giving an occasion of scandal to their weaker brethren, whose infirm consciences he bids them to respect.

Rom 14:14. So far as I am myself concerned, I know for certain, and I am most firmly persuaded from the doctrine of the Lord Jesus, that no food is unclean of its own nature. But still it happens accidentally that food is unclean, for him who, through ignorance, thinks it to be such; see, then, the great caution with which we should use our gospel liberty in presence of the weak or ignorant.

“In the Lord Jesus,” i.e., by the teaching of Jesus Christ himself, “that nothing is unclean of itself, δἰ αὑτοῦ; in the Codex Vaticanus δἰ ἑαυτοῦ; in some readings it is, “that nothing is unclean by him,” δἰ αὐτου, without the aspirate, and this is the reading followed by the Vulgate, per ipsum, i.e., by his religion, in which all distinctions of this kind are abolished. The former reading, which is the more common, has reference to the false opinions entertained by certain Jews, who, not fully acquainted with the nature of the prohibition of the law, thought that the law forbade the use of certain meats as being of their own nature unclean; both readings are true. “But to him that esteemeth,” i.e., to the man who, from an erroneous conscience, believes “anything to be unclean, it is unclean,” and prohibited; hence, the others should take care not to provoke him by their example to commit an act which, from ignorance, he believes to be sinful; for by performing it, he sins.

Rom 14:15. But if your weaker brother, thinking certain kinds of food to be unclean, sees you partake of them, and is, therefore, troubled with either rash judgment regarding you, or with remorse of conscience for having partaken of such food, after your example, with a conviction of its sinfulness, you no longer observe fraternal charity. Do not so far undervalue your brother, for whom Christ died, as to give occasion to his spiritual ruin on account of your food.

If in consequence of seeing you eat meat, your brother “is grieved,” i.e., is impelled to rash judgment, or is induced to act against conscience by your example, and so to incur remorse; or, perhaps, in consequence of being perplexed with doubts, to relapse into Judaism; “thou walkest not,” &c., i.e., thou sinnest against fraternal charity. “Destroy not him with thy meat,” i.e., by taking meats under circumstances, in which it shall be to him an occasion of sin, “for whom Christ died,” i.e., whom Christ valued so highly, as to die for him. Hence, Christ died for more than the elect.

Rom 14:16. Let not, then, our holy religion be subjected to the blasphemies and reproaches of those who are without, on account of your contentions and divisions about eating or abstaining from certain meats.

“Our good,” in Greek, ὑμῶν τὸ ἀγαθον, “your good.” The meaning is the same. By “our good “some understand the advantage and blessing of Christian liberty which we enjoy. “Be evil spoken of,” βλασφημεισθω, by the weak and infirm brethren, who, seeing us avail ourselves of this liberty, in certain circumstances, judge us as violating the law; others understand by it the Christian religion (as in Paraphrase).

Rom 14:17. For, true religion, by which God reigns in our hearts, and on account of which he prepares for us a kingdom in heaven, does not consist in the choice of meat and drink; but in innocency of morals resulting from the observance of God’s Law; in cultivating peace with our neighbour; and in spiritual joy which always accompanies a good conscience.

The Christian religion, by which God reigns in our hearts, &c., does not consist in the exercise of one’s right to partake of all kinds of meat, &c., or in the choice and selection of meat and drink, but in “justice,” whereby the law of God is observed. “Peace,” has reference to our neighbour; “and joy in the Holy Ghost,” i.e., true spiritual joy, resulting from the observance of God’s law, and from the cultivation of peace with our neighbour, a joy which the Holy Ghost pours into the hearts of the truly peaceful and devout.

There is not the slightest ground for objection here against the merit of abstinence prescribed by the Catholic Church. 1st. The Apostle does not depreciate the merit of abstinence at all; it is of the use of meat and drink he speaks, and not of abstinence from them, 2ndly. The Apostle in the entire chapter, is only referring to the abstinence prescribed by the ceremonial law of the Jews. 3rdly. Although the use of food be not of itself sinful, nor abstinence from it of itself meritorious; still, the Apostle would not hold that when this abstinence is commanded by legitimate and competent authority, it would not be so, as is clear from the case of Adam. And that the Church has power to command abstinence in certain cases, is clear from the conduct of the Apostles, in the First Council of Jerusalem, prohibiting the use of Idolothytes—a matter in itself indifferent—to the inhabitants of Antioch and of the adjoining countries.

Rom 14:18. For, whosoever, serves Christ in the cultivation of these virtues, pleases God, and receives the approbation of good men.

“He that in this.” The common Greek has, in these, i.e., in the cultivation of these virtues of true piety towards God, peace towards our neighbour, spiritual joy, wherewith to console our neighbour, instead of irritating him by contentions. The chief MSS. support the Vulgate, and have ἐν τούτω: such a person “pleaseth God,” &c.

Rom 14:19. Let us, therefore, diligently cultivate what things soever tend to promote peace; and let us carefully attend to such things as serve to advance mutual edification.

“And keep the things that are of edification one towards another.” The word “keep” is not in the Greek. We only have in it, “Let us follow after the things that are of peace, and the things that are of edification,” &c. The word “edification” is a metaphorical expression, well adapted to convey the benefits of good example given to our neighbour; for, Christians are the temples of the Holy Ghost; every act or word, therefore, that promotes their spiritual advancement, builds up and conserves this edifice of sanctity, founded by the Holy Ghost. Two things in particular promote this, viz., teaching and example.—(See 1 Cor. 8:1).

Rom 14:20. Beware, then, of destroying, on account of food, the spiritual edifice of God; that is to say, your infirm brother, in whom God dwells by his grace. I admit that, both of their own nature and by the law, all kinds of food are clean; still the man who partakes of this food, in circumstances where his doing so is an obstacle, and a source of scandal to his weak brethren, commits sin by the act.

“Destroy not the work of God,” i.e., do not spiritually ruin by inducing him to commit sin, your infirm brother, in whom God resides as in his temple, and whom he prepared for this by his grace. “Destroy him not for meat,” i.e., by availing yourself of your perfect right to partake of food in circumstances where he may be induced to follow your example in violation of his conscience, which, although erroneous, it would be sinful for him to violate. “But it is evil,” i.e., it is a sinful act on his part “who eateth with offence,” i.e., he commits a sin, who without necessity, performs an act otherwise licit, in circumstances where another is led to violate conscience, and thus to commit sin, after his example.

Rom 14:21. It is a matter of duty, or, it is far better to abstain from eating meat, and from drinking wine, and from doing anything else, which may prove the occasion of stumbling or falling to your brother, and which may serve to make him more perplexed, and weaker in faith.

“It is good,” may mean, it is a matter of strict duty to abstain from meat and wine, or “anything else,” i.e., from doing anything else “whereby thy brother is offended.” Some versions have “offends.” i.e., impinges or stumbles against some obstacle; the Greek, προσκοπτει, admits of this latter construction. “Or scandalized,” means the same as the preceding term, in perhaps a more aggravated form, so as to fall, by either rash judgments, or by imitating, in eating meats, the better instructed; or doing anything else in itself lawful, which they may still, from ignorance, repute unlawful. In such a case they sin, since it is always sinful to act against conscience, even when erroneous; the only remedy is, to correct such a conscience. “Or made weak,” perplexed in faith, and tempted to abandon it altogether by apostacy. In such a case the well instructed are bound by the law of charity to respect the consciences of their weaker brethren, when the advantage they obtain is not necessary for them, and not to be compared with the loss it entails on their neighbour.

Rom 14:22. You may tell me that from the teaching of your religion, you have a firm and undoubted conviction, that all meats are clean, and that you may lawfully partake of them indiscriminately. Keep this conviction within yourself, and in the presence of God; and do not proclaim it aloud to the spiritual detriment of your neighbour. Happy is the man who does not condemn himself interiorly, in that which he approves of, and adopts in his conduct exteriorly (by violating his conscience, either from the force of bad example, or from any other motive whatsoever).

“Hast thou faith?” Some read these words declaratively, “thou hast faith.” There is no difference in sense. The Apostle addresses the well instructed, who knew from the principles of his faith, that all things were clean; and who, therefore, might say, he had a right to act upon this faith. By “faith” is not meant so much a belief in revealed truths, as a firm conviction of the lawfulness of a certain course, although in the present instance, the former followed from the latter; the firm conviction that all things were clean, flowed from the firmness of Christian faith. “Have it to thyself,” &c. There are times when it is a matter of duty to proclaim our Christian faith; but when we are not interrogated by competent authority, and no good, but, on the contrary, evil would result from declaring it—for instance, if there were a probable danger of our denying it, in case of torture, or, should contempt and blasphemies follow—then it would be unlawful to “profess it,” as St. Cyprian assures us.—(Epist. 83).

“Blesseth is he that condemneth not,” &c. These words are addressed to the weak brother, who violates his conscience, and does exteriorly what he thinks to be unlawful; in such a case, he commits sin by acting against his conscience.

Rom 14:23. But he who doubts (whether it be lawful for him to eat or not), if he eat in such a state of conscience, is guilty of sin, and is exposed to condemnation nay, condemned in his own judgment; because his act is not in accordance with the certain dictates of his conscience; or, because he does not act with a firm persuasion, that he is acting well. But, whatever is done against the dictates of conscience, or without a firm conviction that it is lawful, is a sin.

“He that decerneth.” (In Greek, διακρινομενος, doubts or fluctuates), “because not of faith,’ his act does not proceed from a firm conviction and full persuasion that it is lawful, so long as he is in this state of doubt. By “faith” here, and verse 22, is meant, not divine faith; but a practical faith or firm persuasion regarding the lawfulness of an action. “For all that is not faith is sin.” Whoever, therefore, acts with a dubious conscience commits sin. Before a man performs any act, he should resolve his doubts into a certainty, by some reflex judgment, as is always done by the advocates of Probabilism. They never allow one to act on a proximately probable or dubious conscience. By a reflex principle (v.g.), that the obligation of law is doubtful, and, therefore, not binding at all, Lex dubia non obligat, &c., they render the conscience, which was remotely probable and dubious, unhesitating, and practically certain, before performing the action; and hence, they act in every case from “faith,” in the sense required here by the Apostle.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 13

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 30, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

The Apostle employs the first seven verses of this chapter in inculcating the duty of obedience to temporal authority, or, it should be rather said, in enforcing the natural duty of obedience to legitimate authority, by the sanction of Christianity: his reason for so doing shall be explained in the Commentary. He grounds the duty of obedience—first, on the source of all authority, God (Rom 13:1-2); secondly, on the end and object of the institution of supreme and governing authority (Rom 13:3-4); thirdly, on the fact, that supreme rulers are appointed as ministers of God in securing the general welfare, by protecting the good and punishing the wicked. Hence, their claims to obedience on religious grounds; hence, their claims to tribute, on the same grounds (Rom 13:5-6). In verse 7, he draws a general conclusion regarding the payment of their respective dues to all men in authority. In Rom 13:8-10 he again reverts to the duty of charity due to all men, of which he treated more at large in chapter 12; and, finally, he exhorts all to enter on a life of greater fervour, to lay aside the works of darkness, and put on Jesus Christ (Rom 13:11-14).

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

Rom 13:1. Let every man, placed in subjection, be obedient to all who are set in high authority over him: for, God is the source of all supreme and public authority, and the order and distinct arrangements of existing authorities are made by him.

“Let every soul,” i.e., every human being, without exception, who is placed in subjection, and not himself the occupant of power; for, a man could hardly be called upon to be subject to himself, in the sense here contemplated. “Be subject to higher powers.” By “higher powers,” are meant persons vested with political power for governing and ruling others, whether kings, princes, magistrates, &c. (Rom 13:4–7). Of course, this obedience has its limits. The duty of submission on the part of the subject, has for limit the matter to which the jurisdiction of the superior extends. If there be question of men, who have usurped, or have unjustifiably possessed themselves of authority, there is no more obedience due to them than to robbers; the exhibition of resistance is a matter of prudence. If there be question of a superior lawfully possessed of power, but who outsteps the bounds of his authority, obedience is not necessarily to be tendered to him; should he command what is good or indifferent, he may be obeyed; should he command what is evil, he must be resisted. In this latter case, “we ought to obey God rather than men.”—(Acts 5:29). Obedience, therefore, has its limits. The zeal displayed by the Apostle in inculcating so strictly, both in this and in his Epistle to Titus, &c., the duty of obedience to temporal authority, was, in a certain degree, owing to the spirit of disaffection with which the Jewish converts, as we learn from Josephus (Antiq. xviii. 1, De Bello Jud. ii. 8), and Suetonius (Claud, xxv.), were imbued towards the Roman emperors. Owing to the high and exalted notions they entertained of themselves, as the chosen people of God—as the descendants of Abraham, to whom were made such magnificent promises, they considered it degrading to them to obey or pay tribute to foreigners and unbelievers. This was the cause of disastrous tumults and rebellions, the most remarkable of which was, that headed by Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:37). Our Redeemer and his Apostles were Galileans, and the change of religion of which they were the authors, might give grounds for classing them with the followers of this Judas. This charge would serve as the greatest obstacle to the spread of Christianity; hence, the care with which our Redeemer (Matt. 17:26) and his Apostles removed every ground for so false and calumnious an imputation.

“For there is no power but from God,” i.e., God is the original source of all power. Whatever may be the immediate source of power, whether derived immediately from the popular will, or from hereditary succession, or from conquest, &c., its original source is God, who, having created man for society, and having made the social his natural state of existence, gives to rulers the authority necessary for upholding social order. It appears a very probable opinion, that secular power comes immediately from God; that it has been immediately vested by Him in the collection or community, by whom it has been placed as a deposit, in the hands of those who actually exercise it, be the form of government established by them what it may—whether kingly, republican, &c. In truth, we have no formal or explicit revelation awarding supreme authority to this or to that individual; and the instances to the contrary mentioned in SS. Scriptures, regarding Saul, David, &c., are only exceptions, which serve to confirm the opposite rule. By others it is maintained, as a very probable opinion, that God makes the election of the people merely as a necessary condition for immediately conferring power, Himself, on the object of the people’s choice. “There is no power,” &c. The Apostle is, of course, referring to legitimate power. In the foregoing, or rather in this whole passage, there is question only of secular power. For, as regards spiritual authority, which resides in the church, it is of faith, which no one can question without the guilt of heresy, that it comes immediately from God.

“And those that are,” &c. (In Greek, and the powers that be, &c. The Chief MSS. omit the word “powers” and support the Vulgate.) That is to say, God is not only the source of supreme civil power in general, which exists with his sanction and by his ordinance; but the different gradations and species, and distributions of governing authority are arranged so by him. In what sense they are arranged by him can be easily inferred from the foregoing. It is remarked by St. Chrysostom, that the Apostle says, “there is no power but from God,” meaning all legitimate power. But he does not say, there is no ruler but God.

Rom 13:2. Whosoever, therefore, arrays himself in resisting legitimate authority, legitimately exercising its functions, resists the ordinance of God, and, by such resistance purchases and deserves for himself eternal damnation.

There is an inference from the foregoing, “resisteth” (in Greek αντιτασσομενος, is arrayed against), “the power resisteth the ordinance of God;” the Apostle speaks of power legitimately possessed and legitimately exercised, neither pushed beyond its proper limits, nor prescribing anything evil. Usurped or abused authority is not the authority referred to; nor are unjust enactments, strictly speaking, laws which demand obedience as a duty. “Purchase damnation.” (In Greek, λῃμψονται ἑαυτοις κριμα, shall receive to themselves damnation), i.e., temporal punishment here for resisting civil “power,” and eternal damnation hereafter, for resisting the “ordinance of God.”

As, then, power is “from God,” obedience is due to its possessor, as the vicar of God; voluntary, hearty, and interior obedience, out of respect for God, whom he represents.

As the distinction and order of power is from Him, we must not only obey supreme power, but subordinate occupants of power, duly exercising it.

Princes and superiors, legitimately created such, are, therefore, to be obeyed, although wicked and impious; for, they derive their power from God. Nero was the reigning prince, at this time. They are not, however, to be obeyed when commanding evil.

Rom 13:3. Another reason for tendering obedience to those set in high authoeity is, the end of the institution of such supreme authority, which is to favour and protect those who do good, and to restrain evil doers by the fear of punishment. But if you wish to have no dread of supreme power, do good; and instead of punishment, you shall receive a reward.

The second argument to prove the duty of obedience derived from the end, &c., (see Paraphrase), which is to deter the wicked from the commission of crime, to protect, favour, and reward the good. “To the good work,” (in the common Greek, good works). The chief MSS. have the singular, τῷ αγαθῷ ἔργω, i.e., to him that performs a good work. The Apostle shows first, that they are placed to protect and favour the good. “Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise from the same.”

Rom 13:4. For, the possessor of supreme power is appointed by God as his minister to promote the public good as well as that of individuals; but if you do evil, you have reason to fear; for, it is not in vain that he carries the sword, the emblem of his power of life and death; for he is the minister of God, to take vengeance and inflict punishment for the crimes of those who do evil.

And he gives us proof of this, “for he is God’s minister to thee for good,” i.e., to promote the good of the community and of individuals. This is the end of the institution of Supreme Authority—an end which, doubtless, many placed in authority fail to advance. “But, if thou do evil, fear.” He now proves that the occupant of power is placed to punish the wicked. “The sword,” is carried by him, as an emblem of his authority and power to punish. It is put for all instruments whereby punishment might be inflicted, such as chains, fires, gibbets, &c. The Apostle refers to the custom prevalent in his own time, of having a sword carried before the governors and others vested with authority.

As power is given “for good,” it is a question, whether, in the case where it is exercised for evil and not for edification, and its end, consequently, perverted, its occupant might not be divested of it, at the call of the people from whom it emanated. Many hold, that the people and chiefs of a state have a right to release themselves from a state of injustice, to which they might have been unjustifiably reduced; which can, in some cases, be done only by deposition; and they could lawfully carry on a just war against a tyrant, who would abuse power, to the injury of the community. But as no private individual has power of life or death over his fellow-men, individual resistance is, therefore, never allowed; since it is a practical assertion of the power of life and death.

Rom 13:5. Is is not, therefore, a matter of option, it is a duty of strict preceptive necessity to be obedient to them, legitimately exercising authority; and this, not merely from motives of fear, or, in order to escape punishment, but, also from motives of conscience, so as to avoid incurring the guilt of sin before God, whose ministers they are.

In this verse is introduced the third argument for proving the duty of obedience. “Wherefore be subject of necessity,” (in Greek, ἀναγκη ὐποτασσεσθαι, it is a necessity to be subject), “not only for wrath,” i.e., from fear of punishment, which the violation of the law entails, “but also for conscience sake,” i.e., from religious motives; for God makes civil obedience a matter of religious duty. By “conscience,” the Greek interpreters understand the consciousness of benefits resulting from their administration. The interpretation in the Paraphrase is by far the more probable.

Rom 13:6. It is from the same motive of conscience you pay them tribute, as you are bound to do, because they are the ministers of God, in protecting the good and punishing the wicked, laboriously and perseveringly devoting themselves to this duty.

“Therefore also you pay tribute.” “Therefore,” i.e., on account of the conscientious obligation you contract, of obeying them, you are in the habit of paying tribute. These words are a further explanation of the words in preceding verse, “for conscience-sake,” and they have reference to the following words, “for they are the ministers of God,” &c. In one word, it is because of the conscientious obligation, which the relations they hold, of being ministers of God, who wishes to uphold social order, and to provide the necessary means thereto, impose on you, that you pay them tribute. “Serving unto this purpose,” i.e., unto the purpose of advancing the cause in which they are ministers of God, viz., the purpose of advancing the public interest, by punishing the wicked and protecting and rewarding the good.

Rom 13:7. Render, therefore, unto all men what is due to them. To the man to whom tribute is due, pay tribute; to whom custom is due, custom; to whomsoever reverence and honour are due, render honour and reverence suited to their rank and condition.

“Tribute,” is a tax on land, and on persons, such as a capitation tax. “Custom,” a tax on exports and imports; by “fear” is meant reverential fear, due to such as are placed over us.

Rom 13:8. Finally, discharge all your debts of what kind soever, so as to owe nobody any debt, save the debt of charity and love, which is of such a nature as to be always paid and yet still due. By this exhibition of mutual charity, you shall fulfil the law.

All other debts once paid, cease to be any longer due, but the debt of charity is of such a nature that though always paid, it remains always due; for our neighbour is always to be loved by us—“He that loveth his neighbour hath fulfilled the law.” By the “law,” both in this and verse 10, some understand the entire law, as regards God and our neighbour; since the love of God is included in the love of our neighbour, as a cause in its effect; for, the supernatural love of our neighbour and the love of God, have the same motive, the same formal object, viz., God loved for his infinite good in se. By loving our neighbour, we wish him the enjoyment of sovereign happiness, which is to enjoy God; and by loving God, we wish him to be enjoyed, known and loved by all his creatures. Others say the word “law” only refers to the second table, which regards our neighbour, for it is of the precepts which regard our neighbour he speaks in the next verse.

Rom 13:9. For the precepts of the law, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour, Thou shalt not covet, and every other precept of the law whatsoever, regarding our neighbour, are briefly recapitulated and summed up in this short precept of charity, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

For, all the precepts of the law regarding our neighbour, viz., “Thou shalt not commit adultery;” “Thou shalt not kill,” &c. (“Thou shalt not bear false witness” is wanting in the Greek copies), “and if there be any other commandment,” i.e., every other commandment regarding our neighbour, are “comprised” i.e., recapitulated, or “summed up in this word,” i.e., in this general precept: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” The word “as” does not imply love in an equal degree, but love of the same kind, as is expressed by our Redeemer: “whatsoever you would that man should do to you, do you also to them.”—(Matthew 7:12). The Apostle omits quoting the only positive precept contained in the second table of the Decalogue, “honour thy father and thy mother;” because, it was sufficiently expressed in verse 7, “to whom honour, honour.”

Rom 13:10. The love of our neighbour in the prescribed degree neither prompts nor even allows us to inflict injury on him (it, on the contrary, procures for him every possible good). Love, therefore, is the perfect fulfilment of the law.

“The love of our neighbour worketh no evil.” There is here, a Meiosis. The Apostle intends more than he expresses. He wishes to convey that it prompts not only not to work evil, but also to procure for him all possible amount of good. And hence, by loving our neighbour, we fulfil the entire law which regards him, both as to abstaining from inflicting any injury on him, and doing him a service. “The fulfilling of the law,” may regard the entire law, which has reference to God and our neighbour, as in verse 8.

Rom 13:11. And with this duty of loving our neighbour, we should the more faithfully comply, as we know the time is urgent; because the hour for us to awake from the drowsiness and sleep of sin has arrived. For now our salvation is nearer than when first we embraced the gospel.

“And that,” refers to our paying all our debts, and loving our neighbour. “Knowing the season,” i.e., knowing the urgency of the time, and the short period we have to work. “Season may also be interpreted to mean the favourable opportunity, which in Christianity is afforded us for doing so. The former meaning is rendered more probable by the following words, “for it is now the hour,” &c. The day of judgment is fast approaching; and hence, we should be prepared for it, “for now our salvation,” i.e., the day when we are to receive eternal glory as the recompense of our labours. “Than when we believed,” i.e., when we first embraced the faith. St. Chrysostom remarks, that the Apostle says this to remind them of their great fervour at the time of their embracing the faith, from which they were falling off, according as they receded from that period; and that now he wishes to rouse them to fervour and redoubled piety as their eternal salvation, which commences for the just at the hour of death, when they shall enter on the life of glory is much nearer. “Cast off the works of darkness,” i.e., bad works which are suited only to darkness; for he who does evil, “hates the light.”—(St. John 3:20). “And put on the armour of light,” i.e., the shining armour of good works; or, there may be reference to the spiritual panoply mentioned (Ephes. chap. 6) viz., the shield of faith, the breastplate of justice, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which enable us to resist the enemy and to do good.

Rom 13:12. The term of our existence in this world of sin and darkness is fast passing away, and the bright day of eternal and unchangeable happiness is fast approaching. Let us, therefore, cast aside and abandon for ever our wicked works, which cannot bear the light, and are only suited for darkness; and let us put on the armour of light, by becoming clad with good works, which shall serve as a secure panoply to protect us against our enemies.

Some Commentators, and among the rest, A’Lapide, understand the word “night,” of the night of darkness and infidelity in which men were enveloped, before the coming of Christ; and “day,” of the period of the Gospel revelation, when the full light of faith and justice has brightly dawned upon us. According to him, the words, “when we believed,” (verse 11), regard the Jews, who also believed in God; “and the night is past,” the Gentiles. The interpretation given in Paraphrase is preferable; for, it is quite a common thing with the Apostle to stimulate men to fervour and fidelity in their Christian duties, by the consideration of future rewards.

Rom 13:13. Since, therefore, the day for disclosing our actions is soon to shine upon us, let us conduct ourselves with propriety, and appear in the decent garb suited to such as come forth at day time, not indulging in banquetings or drunkenness, not in lasciviousness or impurities, not in altercation or envious contentions.

“Let us walk honestly as in the day,” i.e., conduct ourselves decorously as persons do who appear in the full blaze of day; “as in the day,” would render the interpretation of A’Lapide very probable. The words, however, can be explained and accommodated to our interpretation (as in Paraphrase). “Not in rioting,” i.e., feastings, instituted for the purpose of gluttony and debauchery; and “drunkenness,” i.e., excessive drinking, even though it were not carried to the extent of causing a deprivation of reason; “in chambering,” designates all acts of impurity. “Contention and envy,” the result of ambition.

Rom 13:14. But so express and manifest in your morals, our Lord Jesus Christ, who by his grace dwells in your hearts, that you may appear to be clothed with his sobriety, chastity and charity—the opposite virtues of the vices referred to—and thus you will not carry the reasonable care, which each one should take of his body, to the guilty extent of indulging its vices and corrupt passions.

“Put on our Lord Jesus Christ,” so that his sobriety, chastity and charity—so opposed to the vices enumerated—would alone appear in you, as the clothes appear on the man vested with them. This metaphor of putting on Christ is employed by St. Paul in several places:—(Eph 4:24; Col. 3:10; 1 Thess 5:8; Gal. 3:17). “And make not provision,” &c. He does not prevent proper care of our bodies; “for no one hates his own flesh,” &c. (Eph 5), but only the indulgence of its vices and concupiscences.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 12

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 30, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

After devoting the preceding eleven chapters to doctrinal matters, the Apostle now enters on the moral part of this Epistle. In this chapter, he shows how we should testify our gratitude to God for his inestimable mercies and blessings: first, by making an offering of our bodies as living, spotless victims—an offering, however, to be made in a spiritual way (verse 1); secondly, by renovating our souls in grace and fervour, and by endeavouring to know and accomplish the holy will of God (2); and, thirdly, by the prudent, zealous, and orderly exercise of the gifts conferred on us, so as to render them subservient to God’s glory and our own, and our neighbour’s greater utility (Rom 12:3–8). From Rom 12:9-12 the Apostle shows, of what kind ought to be our love for our neighbour; and then shows, what are the acts of virtue by which this charity may be stimulated and strengthened (Rom 12:2–16). Finally, he encourages to patience and forgiveness of injuries, and the return of good for evil (Rom 12:17-21).

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

Rom 12:1. (Since, therefore, God has been thus merciful towards you) I conjure you, brethren, by these unspeakable mercies shown you, to present your bodies a living, holy, and spotless sacrifice, as the offering of your spiritual and reasonable worship.

“Therefore,” since God has in his exceeding great mercy and goodness bestowed on you the blessings of grace and faith referred to in the preceding chapters. “By the mercy.” The Greek word, οικτιρμων, mercies, expresses the excessive, the visceral mercy of God. “That you present,” the Greek, παραστησαι, conveys the sacrificial idea of presenting the victim. “A living sacrifice.” The word “living” is employed by way of contrast to the sacrifices of dead animals offered among the Jews. By it, is meant to show, that it is not the killing of ourselves the Apostle requires; but the sacrifice of our bodies still living and animated by the vivifying works of a new spiritual life, viz., faith, hope, charity, &c. It is most likely that the words of this verse regard, in a special manner, the works of mortification and corporal austerities, whereby our bodies are become dead to the corrupt passions, and “living” to carry into effect the desires of the Spirit. “Holy, pleasing to God,” by being free from all impurities and defilement. How, asks St. Chrysostom, shall our bodies become a sacrifice? Let the eyes refrain from sinful looks, and it is a sacrifice; the tongue, from evil speaking, and it is a sacrifice; the hand from wicked actions, and it is a holocaust. We must also do good; let the hand extend charity and alms; the mouth bless our enemies; the ears listen to divine discourse, &c.

“Your reasonable service.” The Greek word for “reasonable,” λογικην, bears also the construction of, spiritual, the sense in which it is commonly understood. It is opposed to the sacrifices of the Old Law, consisting in dead bodies and external rites. Both meanings, reasonable and spiritual, are probably conveyed by it. The words, “reasonable service,” are, in construction, put in opposition to the preceding; the word, being, is understood thus: this being “your reasonable service.” The Greek word for “service,” λατρεια, means, worship.

Rom 12:2. And conform not yourselves to the corrupt maxims and vices of the present transitory and ever-shifting world; but, by the crucifixion arid mortification of your corrupt desires, become perfectly transformed and renewed in your mind and affections, that being thus interiorly renovated, you may be enabled to prove what is the will of God, and to distinguish what is good, what is more agreeable, and what is most agreeable and perfect in his eyes, and practically carry it out in your conduct.

“Conformed.” The corresponding Greek word, συσχηματιζεσθε, conveys the idea of something fleeting and transitory, while the word “reformed,” which in Greek means, metamorphosed, conveys the idea of a fixed and permanent form, so that in this, verse, the converted Romans are admonished by the Apostle to assume a new spiritual form, wherein they should persevere.

“That you may prove,” &c., i.e., judge and discern in your new spiritual form and state of soul, “what is the will of God,” viz., the will whereby he issues his commands to us, the voluntas signi, as it is called. “The good, the acceptable,” &c. These words refer to the precepts emanating from God’s will, and convey the different degrees of excellence contained in these several precepts.

Rom 12:3. I, then, in virtue of the apostolical ministry which has been gratuitously conferred on me, announce to all of you, what this will of God is, viz., that no one should think more of himself or of the gifts conferred on him than he ought, but that he should think on the subject, according to the dictates of prudence and sobriety, and that each one confine himself, to the exercise of such spiritual gifts, as God may have been pleased to mete out to him.

The Apostle now explains “the will of God,” that immediately concerned them, or rather applies the general principle to their case. This he does “by the grace that is given him,” which is understood by some to refer to the grace and gift of inspiration, which authorizes him to admonish them. It more probably refers to his office as Apostle, and this he calls “a grace,” because conferred on him gratuitously, without any merit on his part. He uses these words to show that he did not instruct them in any authoritative way, “dico enim,” without having a right to do so. “Not to be more wise than it behoveth.” i.e., not to set an undue value on their gifts and acquirements, nor to value themselves, or presume too much on account of them, “but to be wise unto sobriety,” φρονειν εις το σωφρονεῖν; but in judging of these acquirements and of themselves in consequence, and of the line of conduct to be pursued in reference to them, to follow the rules of prudence and sobriety, “and according as God,” &c., each one, without interfering with the exercise of his neighbour’s spiritual gifts, should confine himself to that which God may have been pleased to measure out to him. “The measure of faith,” refers to the spiritual gifts which, together with faith, were frequently bestowed, in the infancy of the Church, to some, in a greater, to others, in a lesser degree, to be exercised for the good of the faithful. In these latter words, the Apostle cautions the faithful against the disorderly exercise of these gifts, and also against presuming in a spirit of pride, beyond what God had been pleased to accord to each. It is probable, that the admonition conveyed in this verse was occasioned by the disputes, which arose at Rome between the Jewish and Gentile converts, in which both transgressed the proper bounds of moderation, and, perhaps, boasted inordinately of the gifts bestowed on them. Hence, the Apostle, in virtue of his apostolical ministry, commands all, Jew and Gentile, not to trangress the limits of moderation.

Rom 12:4. For, as in one and the same body, we have many distinct members, but all the members of our body have not the same, but a different function:

He illustrates the different functions of the members of Christ’s mystical body, by the different and distinct functions of the several members of the human body. The several members of the natural body exercise, each, their own proper functions, without interfering with one another, and that, for the good of the entire body.

Rom 12:5. So, we the faithful and the ministers of Christ, with different functions, constitute one mystical body of Christ (members of the same body), and fellow-members of each other,

So it is also in the mystical body of Christ, towards which we all stand in the relation of members, and of co-members of each other; and hence, we should perform, in an orderly manner, our functions, and no one should be puffed up on account of the gifts he may have received, since it is for the good of the entire body he has received them; “and every one,” ὁ δε καθʼ εις, is put for ὁ εἱς καθʼ ἑνα. The chief MSS. have ὁ δε καθʼ εἱς.

Rom 12:6. Having different gifts, according as God has thought proper through his gratuitous goodness and grace to distribute them to each of us; whether the gift of prophecy, consisting either in foretelling future events, or in explaining the sacred Scriptures—which should be always soberly exercised, according to the rule and analogy of divine faith:

Commentators are divided regarding the dependence and construction of the words “and having,” In the Paraphrase a preference is given to the construction of Estius, which connects this verse with the preceding words, “we are (verse 5) one body,” &c., “having different gifts,” &c. Others make “having” the same as, we have different gifts, &c., and then they say, after each gift should be expressed the great object of the Apostle, which is, to show that in the exercise of each talent and gift, no one should interfere with his neighbor, but that each one should observe order and modesty. The same addition is made even in the construction of Estius. “Either prophecy.” He now mentions the gift, “prophecy,” (see 1 Cor. 12) the gift of explaining the SS. Scriptures, “according to the rule (in Greek αναλογιαν, analogy) of faith,” i.e., it should be exercised conformably to the principles and doctrines of faith. Others understand by “rule of faith” the measure or quantity of knowledge divinely accorded to him. The Apostle enjoins him not to exceed this measure by following any lights of his own. Ita, Beelen, who rejects the other interpretation as incorrect. It is clear, the words, should be exercised, or some such, are required to complete the sense, the sentence being manifestly elliptical.

Rom 12:7. Or, whether it be any ministry or ecclesiastical degree in the Church, which should be exercised with zeal and proper regard for order; or, whether it be the gift of teaching the truths of faith, which should be exercised with moderation and zeal;

“Or ministry in ministering;” i.e., (“having) ministry,” ειτε διακονιαν, εν τῃ διακονια. The former refers to the office, the latter, to its exercise. In this verse and the following, the general admonition of the Apostle (verse 3) regarding sobriety, as well in our judgments concerning ourselves, as in the exercise of the several gifts, is implied. “Or he that teacheth,” &c., he that teacheth should exercise this duty zealously and soberly “in doctrine.”

Rom 12:8. Whosoever exercises the gift of stimulating others to deeds of virtue, should acquit himself of this function with zeal and in an orderly manner. Whosoever is charged with the distribution of alms, should do so in an impartial way, having no respect to persons. Whosoever is appointed to govern and direct others, should do so with solicitude, vigilance, and assiduity. Whosoever is charged with the care of the sick and wretched, should always acquit himself of this duty, with cheerfulness of countenance and alacrity of spirit.

“Exhorteth,” regards the precepts of morals. This duty also should be exercised with sobriety. “He that giveth,” &c.; this, and the two following, most probably refer to offices in the Church, exercised by persons appointed for that purpose, although, no doubt, the manner of performing them marked out by the Apostle is applicable to the same actions performed even in secret and in a private capacity. There should be always “simplicity,” i.e., impartiality, irrespective of persons, observed in giving alms. “He that ruleth,” should always do so “with carefulness,” knowing that he is responsible to a higher ruler and judge; and in “shewing mercy,” we should always do so “with cheerfulness,” for cheerfulness on the part of a man who gives relief removes embarrassment and shame from him who receives it; it banishes dejection and makes the gift more valuable; moreover, if there be question of recreating the sick and infirm, cheerfulness on the part of him who exercises this charity is the most efficacious means of imparting consolation to the sufferers.

Rom 12:9. Let your love for your neighbour be sincere and cordial, free from all hypocrisy or dissimulation; a love, however, of such a nature as that you may abhor his vices and fondly cherish his virtues.

In the foregoing, the Apostle shows what the will of God is in reference to the public offices in the Church, and the gifts bestowed for the good of the body of the faithful; and he describes the manner in which they should be employed, in such a way as that all the members of the Church are instructed how to act even in a private capacity. He now points out the will of God in the exercise of virtues common to all members of the Church. The first and chiefest of virtues is charity for our neighbour, which should be “without dissimulation.” In Greek, ἀνυποκριτος, without hypocrisy, i.e., sincere, not merely consisting “in word or tongue, but in work and truth,” (St. John.) “Hating that which is evil.” This love should be a pure love, not carried to the extent of loving our neighbour’s vices. Diligite homines, interficite errores (St. Augustine). The words of the Apostle in this verse may be taken in a general sense, without any reference to the love of our neighbour, to signify, that all Christians should love good and abhor evil.

Rom 12:10. Let your love for one another be not only sincere but also fraternal, loving one another mutually as brethren and children of the same heavenly Father, anticipating each other in the mutual exhibition of honour and respect.

This love should be fraternal, and the best means of preserving it is, to “prevent,” or, anticipate one another in showing respect and honour.

Rom 12:11. Not slothful, but diligent and prompt in the manifestation of regard for our neighbour, or, in the discharge of our own duties. Fervent in spirit, since we are serving the Lord of lords, whose eyes are always upon us.

“In carefulness not slothful.” This may regard the carefulness to be manifested with regard to our neighbour, or, with regard to our own duties; “in spirit fervent,” acting with great fervour of mind, or acting with the fervour of men under the exciting impulse of God’s holy Spirit. “Serving the Lord.” The common Greek reading has, καιρω. “Serving the time,” i.e., making good use of the present opportunity afforded us for doing good. The Greek reading adopted by our Vulgate is the better founded, both on intrinsic and extrinsic reasons. The Codex Vaticanus has, κυριω, the Lord.

Rom 12:12. Rejoice in the hope and anticipated enjoyment of future goods; having a view to those, bear patiently the tribulations which may befall you. Persevere in imploring the divine aid by prayer.

“Rejoicing in hope,” i.e., on account of the hope and anticipated enjoyment of heavenly goods; “patient in tribulation,” on account of the same hope, “instant in prayer,” because this would sustain them in their present afflictions and keep their hearts fixed on heaven.

Rom 12:13. Become sharers in the necessities of distressed Christians, so that they would become sharers in your wealth; studiously cultivate hospitality towards distressed and houseless strangers.

Their charity towards their distressed fellow-Christians should be such, that the indigence of the poor would be shared in by them, so that the poor should reciprocally share in their riches; the word “communicating,” κοινωνουντες, shows there is a return of benediction and spiritual reward for their beneficence to the poor. “Pursuing hospitality;” the word “pursuing,” instructs them not to wait for the poor, but to go in search of them, as did Lot, Abraham, &c., and bring them to their homes. The exercise of this virtue was, in the early ages of the Church, most meritorious, both on account of the want of accommodation at inns, and the danger to which the faithful would be exposed by lodging with infidels.

Rom 12:14. Far from hating those who persecute you, on the contrary, you should bless them and pray for them: bless them, wishing them all happiness, and not curse them, nor invoke maledictions on their heads.

He now proceeds to inculcate the exalted virtues of patience and forgiveness of injuries; “bless,” i.e., pray for their welfare.

Rom 12:15. Exult with such as are in joy, and sympathize and weep with those who are in tears.

Charity renders all things common, both prosperity and adversity.

Rom 12:16. Be of the same mind, of the same feelings and judgment. Beware, therefore, of entertaining too high an opinion of yourselves, but exercise kind condescension and hold kindly intercourse with the lowliest and humblest of persons; be not too conceited in your own eyes on account of the supposed superiority of your own talents, as if you needed not counsel from others.

“Of one mind,” i.e., cultivate perfect concord, by not only entertaining the same feelings in common, but by having in common also the same judgments and wishes. This is the best guardian of charity. “Not minding high things.” i.e., not entertaining too high an opinion of themselves, which is the greatest obstacle to charity. These words may refer to ambition, not anxiously looking to elevated stations, “but consenting to the humble,” i.e., condescending to the most lowly, which is the firmest link of concord. “Be not wise,” &c., i.e., entertain not too high an idea of your own judgments and opinions, as if you needed not counsel from others—a grave obstacle to concord.

Rom 12:17. Do not retaliate on any one by returning evil for evil. Take care to do good, not only in presence of God who sees the heart, but also in such a way as may edify all men.

“Not only in the sight of God.” These words are not found in the Greek; “providing good things in the sight of all men,” is the only reading we have in the Greek. It is most likely that the former words were introduced by some copyist into this passage from 2 Cor 8:21, where the words, “not only before God,” are found. The Apostle in both passages appears to have in view, Prov 3:4: “Provide good things in the sight of God and man.”

Rom 12:18. If it can be done consistently with justice and truth, so far as you are concerned, cultivate peace, not only with your brethren, but with all men whomsoever.

“If it be possible … as much as is in you.” He adds these two conditions; because, we are not to cultivate a peace which may be inconsistent with justice and truth; and, because it is impossible to have peace with some men. The cause of difference or disruption, however, should not proceed from us.

Rom 12:19. Avenge not yourselves, dearly beloved, but make way for the man of anger and leave him to the judgment of God; for, it is written, “revenge is mine and I shall repay it, saith the Lord.”

“Give place to wrath,” may mean give way to the wrath of the angry man, and retire from him, as did Jacob in reference to Esau; or give way to, and do not anticipate, the wrath of God, which interpretation is rendered probable by the following quotation (Deut 32:15), “revenge to me, and I will repay.” The Apostle in this quotation follows neither the Hebrew nor Septuagint, which seems to be founded on both. The words were originally referred to the punishment with which God was to visit his enemies, the idolatrous Gentiles.

Rom 12:20. Therefore, retaliate not, nor return evil for evil, but on the contrary, good for evil: if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him to drink; for thus you will heap upon his head burning coals of charity and love, by which, being encompassed from head to foot, he will be melted into feelings of love and gratitude.

Not only should we abstain from taking vengeance for the injuries offered us, we should even return good for evil. “But if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat.” For “but if,” the common Greek has εαν ουν if therefore, but the chief MSS. support the Vulgate, αλλα εαν. The words for “give him to eat,” in Greek, express that kind attention which is shown by a nurse in cutting up the morsels of food for her youthful charge ψωμιζε. “Heap coals of fire on his head.” Many among the ancients understand the words to mean, thou shalt provoke greater chastisements and punishment from God; and this would appear to be the meaning of the words (Prov. 15) which are quoted in this verse. In Proverbs we have “give him water to drink.” Others, among whom are St. Jerome and St. Augustine, understand the words to mean, these benefits and kind acts on your part shall be like burning coals heaped upon his head, by which he shall be warmed from head to foot and melted into kindness, love, and gratitude. This meaning, besides being the more Christian interpretation, is also rendered more probable by the words in the following verse.

Rom 12:21. Permit not yourselves to be overcome by the evil inflicted on you, by seeking vengeance; but overcome the evil inflicted on you by acts of kindness, and thus you shall gain a complete victory.

This is the only vengeance which a Christian, a son of that Father who is charity itself, and rains from heaven “upon the just and unjust,” is permitted to take, the vengeance of returning good for evil. He obtains a greater victory, who conquers himself, than does he who overcomes cities. “Better is he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh cities.”—(Prov. 16:32).

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 11

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 30, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

The Apostle, having pointed out, in the two preceding chapters, the rejection of the Jews, and the vocation of the Gentiles to the faith, employs this chapter in offering consolation to the Jews, and in repressing the arrogance and boasting of the Gentile converts. He consoles the Jews by showing, that all the Jewish people are not rejected from the faith (Rom 11:1–5). But although some are saved, he does not conceal from them the painful fact, that these are only the remnant, while the great bulk of them are reprobated, according to the predictions of the prophets (Rom 11:6–10). At verse 11, the Apostle proposes a second question similar to that proposed (1), where the question regarded the number of the Jews rejected. Here the question regards the duration or period of the rejection of the greater portion; and, he answers, by saying, that this rejection shall not always continue. He adduces several reasons to show, that, at a future day, the great bulk of the Jews will be again called to the faith, and admitted to the divine favour. The first reason is grounded on the designs of God in calling the Gentiles, in order to provoke the Jews to emulation. The next reason is grounded on the advantages this conversion of the Jews would bring to the entire world (Rom 11:12). Again, he derives a reason from the designs of the Apostle himself in their regard (Rom 11:13-15). Again, he argues from the extrinsic moral consecration of the Jews in the patriarchs, from whom they sprang, and in the Apostles and first faithful who are of the same race with them (16); and after adducing several reasons why the Gentiles should not boast against the Jews, both on the grounds of benefits received from them (Rom 11:18), and of holy fear (Rom 11:19–22), he finally announces as a certain fact, that all the Jews will be converted, at some future day (Rom 11:25–29), and that the same economy of Providence will be observed towards them, that had been observed in regard to the Gentiles (Rom 11:30-31). Unable to fathom this mysterious Providence, he bursts forth into the exclamation, “O the depth!” &c.—(Rom 11:33-36).

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

Rom 11:1. (I have already said that God has rejected the Jews), but now, I ask, is the rejection, of which I have spoken, to be understood of the entire Jewish people? By no means. This is clear in my own person, who am an Israelite, carnally descended from Abraham, and of the tribe of Benjamin (yet still, I am a Christian and an Apostle of Christ).

As is clear from the Apostle’s own person, God has not altogether cast off and rejected his people; for he himself, although a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, is an Apostle of Christ.

Rom 11:2. God has not rejected such of his people as he has loved by an eternal predilection; or, such of his people as he foresaw would embrace his faith. You are not ignorant of what the Scripture records in the history of Elijah (2 Kings 19), when addressing the Lord against Israel, he accuses them all of having fallen away from the worship of the true God.

“Which he foreknew,” admits of two interpretations (as in Pharaphrase). “Know you not,” &c. What happened in the days of Elijah, addressing the Lord against Israel, when, under the impious Jezebel, the true adorers were persecuted, is a perfect exemplification of the present state of things. “Even so then, at this time,” &c., Rom 11:5. “Know you not … saith of Elijah?” In Greek, ἐν Ἠλείᾳ, “in Elijah,” which means in the history of Elijah.

Rom 11:3. Lord, they have slain thy prophets, they have dug down thy altars; I am the only true worshipper left, and they seek my life.

“They have dug down thy altars,” in contempt of thee. These are the altars which were constructed in the high places of the ten tribes of Israel, at the time they were not allowed to go to the temple, on which occasion the law prohibiting them (Deut 16:2), probably was relaxed. Their subversion by Achab and Jezabel was impious, because the act was done in hatred and contempt of God and the divine worship, although their subversion by Ezechias and Josias, from an opposite motive, on the grounds that they were forbidden (Deut 16), was an act of piety. “And I am left alone.” “Alone” refers to the true worshippers, as if he said, “I am the only true adorer left,” rather than to the Prophets, as is clear from the answer, next verse, “seven thousand” true worshippers. However, by connecting it with the preceding, it may refer to the Prophets.—(Beelen).

Rom 11:4. But what answer did the divine oracle make to those complaints of Elijah? You are not the only worshipper left me; through my all powerful grace I have still reserved for myself seven (i.e., many) thousand true adorers, who have neither been seduced nor intimidated to pay divine honours to the idol of Baal.

“The divine answer.” The Greek for these words, χρηματισμος, means, “the oracle.” “I have left me.” These words show the power of divine grace. “Seven thousand men,” not to speak of women and children. “Seven” in scriptural usage, means a great number; hence, “seven thousand” means a great many thousands, “that have not bowed their knees,” i.e., paid divine honours and rendered adoration, of which “bending the knee,” is a sign. “To Baal;” in the Greek, “Baal” has the feminine article prefixed, τῆ Βααλ, although, to the word “Baal” the masculine article is everywhere prefixed by the Septuagint: and in the Hebrew, it has the masculine plural, Belahim. Baal was the God of the Tyrians and Sidonians. Hence, it is probable that the feminine article here affects some word understood: “the statue or idol (εικονι) of Baal.”

Objection.—Does it not clearly follow from this passage, that the true Church can sometimes become invisible?

Resp.—All that would follow at most is, that the Jewish Church could cease to be visible. Nor does even this follow; for, at the very time that Elias uttered these complaints, regarding the separated ten tribes of Israel, the Jewish Church was in a most flourishing condition under Ezechias, in the kingdom of Juda.

Rom 11:5. Now, what the Scripture records of Elijah on the occasion referred to, is a perfect representation of the state of the Jewish people at the present day, of whom the remnant, consisting of a great many, are saved, according to the gratuitous election of God calling them to grace.

Here the Apostle applies the quotation from Elias to the present state of the Jewish people. In like manner, although the great bulk of the Jewish people are now rejected, the remnant, consisting of a great many, are saved. “According to the (gratuitous) election of grace.” Our election to the grace of first justification is, on the part of God, quite gratuitous, and quite independent of our actions. “There is a remnant saved;” “saved” is not in the Greek, which simply is, λεμμα γεγονεν, “there is a remnant.”

Rom 11:6. If, then, this election and call be from grace, and quite gratuitous, it is not from works establishing a strict claim, independent of grace; otherwise, grace would cease to be grace, i.e., quite gratuitous.

If, then, “it is by grace” that our election is effected, “it is not now by works,” i.e., by works in which grace has no share, such as the works performed by the sole aid of nature or the law of Moses. To this verse are added, in some Greek copies, the words, “but if it be of works, then it is no more grace, otherwise work is no more work.” In the Vatican MSS. it is “otherwise work is no more grace.” These words are wanting in some of the chief MSS. acde.

Queritur.—In the work of our justification, are not acts of faith, hope, repentance &c., which are elicited under the influence of divine grace, indispensable on our part according to Catholic doctrine? And does not the Apostle exclude these also?

Resp.—If these works precede first justification, as it is termed, or the infusion of that sanctifying grace which, from a state of sin, transfers man to a state of justice, they establish no right or claim whatsoever to justification; because, even after their performance, the infusion of sanctifying grace is quite gratuitous on the part of God; these acts are mere necessary dispositions, establishing no claim to justification. If these works follow first justification, they establish a claim to, and merit, second justification, or an increase of sanctifying grace, owing to God’s liberal and gratuitous promise. But, still, they do not exclude gratuitousness; for, besides their requiring, in order to be meritorious, that they should be performed by a man in the state of sanctifying grace, and acting under the influence of actual grace, it was quite gratuitous on the part of God, to bind himself by the promise of giving them a reward, to which they would not be otherwise strictly entitled.

Rom 11:7. What, then, do I teach? It is this: that the great bulk of the Jewish people, owing to their adoption of erroneous means, and owing to their relying too confidently on the works of the law as giving a claim to justification, thereby excluding the gratuitous election of God, have not obtained the justice for which they sought; whereas, the portion of them that were elected, in consequence of having placed no positive obstacle to God’s gratuitous election, have obtained it; the rest are blinded and hardened.

“But the election,” i.e., the portion of them elected. The abstract is used for the concrete. “The rest have been blinded” (in Greek, επωρωθησαν, hardened), or have hardened themselves by their incredulity and impenitence.

Rom 11:8. This is in accordance with the prediction of the prophet (Isa 29:10), wherein it is said of those who obstinately rebel against Christ: God hath permitted them to fall into a state of spiritual torpor and insensibility; so that, having eyes they see not, and having ears they hear not; and this very spirit of insensibility and stupefaction has seized upon them, in regard to Christ, unto the present day.

“As it is written,” i.e., agreeably to what is written. “God hath given them the spirit of insensibility.” In the Vulgate version of Isa 29:10, for, “the spirit of insensibility,” we have “the spirit of a deep sleep;” in Greek, κατανυξεως, and this is the meaning of the corresponding Hebrew word, thardemah. In several passages of SS. Scripture (v.g.), in Genesis, 2, it denotes the deep sleep of Adam; and also in Genesis 15, 1 Sam 26:6, it means the state of insensibility into which are cast those who are immersed in heavy sleep; whose senses are so perfectly numbed as to be incapable of seeing or hearing. The Vulgate expression, compunctionis, denotes the state of a man whose eyes and ears are transpierced, so as to be rendered incapable of seeing or hearing. The words, “hath given them,” according to the common opinion of Commentators, only imply sufferance on the part of God; the spiritual effect would most infallibly result from the subtraction of God’s lights and graces. “Until this present day.” These words are not found in Isaias. Hence it is, some say that the words are quoted from Deut 29:4. It may be, that the words are not strictly a quotation at all, but merely contain an allusion to several passages of Scripture. This passage furnishes no argument against the theological opinion—viz., that the obdurati and obcæcati all receive, proximately or remotely, sufficient graces; since obduracy will result from the withdrawal of efficacious graces, even though a man thus hardened should still have sufficient graces.

Rom 11:9. And David predicted a like judgment regarding them, when, in conformity with the will of God executing it, he prays (Psalm 69:23), Let their table, i.e., what was to serve for the spiritual aliment of their souls, be converted into a snare and a trap, whereby they may be caught; and into a stumbling-block of offence; and let that happen them, in punishment of their obstinacy and abuse of divine grace.

He adduces the testimony of David also to prove that the blindness of the Jews was predicted. “Let their table,” &c. These words are generally understood to be spoken by David, in the person of Christ, to the mysteries of whose life, and death, and resurrection, the entire Psalm 69, in its mystical sense, refers. The words may be regarded as a prophecy, which, in conformity with God’s will, the Psalmist wishes to be accomplished, or as a prophetical sentence of punishment, which the Redeemer, in whose person David speaks, pronounces as God, against his persecutors. By “their talk,” are generally understood the SS. Scriptures, which were spread out before the Jews, as a spiritual aliment, to nourish their souls. These Scriptures, given to the Jews for their instruction, were converted by them into sources of error, by wilfully misinterpreting the passage relating to the Messiah, and accommodating them to their own carnal conceptions and earthly expectations.

Rom 11:10. By the subtraction of divine grace, let the eyes of their intellect be darkened, and let them groan under the grievous burden of spiritual servitude, having their heart and will always bent on earth, without aspiring after heavenly things.

This, as well as the preceding verse, refers to the punishment of blindness of intellect, and obduracy of heart, with which the obstinate Jews were visited, owing to the subtraction of God’s efficacious graces. “And bow down their back always.” These words express the insatiable desire for earthly riches, which is a distinguishing characteristic of the Jews in every quarter of the globe, and which makes them indifferent to heavenly and everlasting goods, in the anticipated enjoyment and hopes of which, Christians, on the other hand, have their “conversation in heaven,” and their longing desires directed thither.

Rom 11:11. But I ask, although all the Jewish people are not rejected from the faith, is not the fall and rejection of the greater portion irretrievable, so as to leave no hope of the nation at large being called at some future day? By no means God has made their transgression and incredulity the occasion of the vocation of the Gentiles; and this call of the Gentiles is designed for bringing the Jews to the faith by exciting in them a spiritual emulation towards the converted Gentiles.

The Apostle takes occasion from the foregoing verses, wherein he proves that the judgment of spiritual blindness and hardness of heart, predicted by the prophet, had been fully inflicted on the greater part of the Jewish people, to ask another question similar to that proposed (verse 1). Although all the Jewish people are not rejected, are not, at least, the greater number rejected, so as to leave no hope that the great majority of the nation shall ever again, at any future period, be called? The Apostle answers, “God forbid,” or, by no means. And he assigns for reason—1st, that in the designs of God, the call of the Gentiles, to which the “offence,” or incredulous obstinacy of the Jews gave occasion, was intended to bring the Jews back again, by exciting them to spiritual emulation towards the converted Gentiles, to whom they would see their own birthright transferred; and thus, they would embrace the faith in order that they too might participate in the Divine promises. “That they may be emulous of them.” In this English construction, the words, “that they may be emulous,” refer to the Jews, whereas, the construction should more probably be, that they (the Gentiles) may provoke them (the Jews) to emulation. Of course, there is no difference of meaning between both constructions, but the latter is more in accordance with the Greek, εἰς τὸ παραζηλῶσαι αὐτούς.

Rom 11:12. Another reason which warrants us in hoping for their future restoration, is this: that if the fall of the Jews has become the occasion of the spiritual enrichment of the world, and the rejection of the unbelieving Jews the occasion of enriching the Gentiles, how much more shall the full conversion of the great mass of the Jewish nation enrich the world and the Gentiles?

The second reason, why we are not to look on the Jews as irretrievably lost, but on the contrary, should hope for the conversion of the great bulk of the nation at a future day, is, that from their full conversion we should expect the results, which it is directly calculated to produce, and that have already, as a matter of accident, sprung from their rejection, viz., the spiritual enrichment of the Gentiles, and of the entire world. The word “riches” means enrichment, of which the reprobation of the Jews was only the accidental cause, in regard to the Gentiles; whereas, their conversion is directly calculated to produce that effect.

Rom 11:13. And, so far as my own views and convictions on the subject are concerned, I have no difficulty in declaring to you, Gentile converts, that in honouring the ministry to which I am specially called among you,
Rom 11:14. I have in view to provoke to holy emulation my relations according to the flesh, and to place some of them in the way of salvation, by embracing the faith.

The Apostle draws a third argument of the reparability of their fall from his own designs towards them, even while he was preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, whose Apostle he was in a special manner, and while he was honouring his ministry by his zeal, miracles, and sanctity of life and conversation. The Greek word for, “as long as,” εφʼ ὅσον, might be rendered, inasmuch as. “I will honour,” in Greek, δοξαζω, I honour. The change of tense, however, does not affect the meaning. Some persons place these two verses in a parenthesis, on account of the close connexion in sense which verse 15 has with verse 12. There is no necessity for this, if we adopt the connexion already given, and make these verses convey an additional reason of the reparability of the Jews, derived from the Apostle’s own designs in their regard. “Them who are my flesh,” refers to the Jews—his countrymen—to whose race he belonged. “And save some of them,” i.e., place some of them in the way of salvation, by inducing them to embrace the faith. From these words it is plain that the Apostle, in the preceding part of his Epistle, is treating of vocation to, and rejection from grace, since if he regarded the Jews as rejected from glory, all his efforts for their salvation would be quite useless and abortive.

Rom 11:15. For, if their rejection on account of unbelief has been the occasion of reconciling the world with God, what else shall their conversion be, but the total spiritual resuscitation of the entire earth?

“But life from the dead.” In the Paraphrase is adopted the interpretation which makes these words to mean, that the conversion of the Jews will be nothing else than the total resuscitation from spiritual death of the entire earth, which, till then, shall be partly involved in the death of sin and infidelity. In this interpretation, there is allusion to the spiritual resurrection, which it is not unusual with the Apostle to regard as the final complement of spiritual death to sin, or as the perfection of the grace of justification. Others attach a different meaning to the passage. According to them the words express the highest degree of happiness and joy, such as the resuscitation of a dear friend from the grave is calculated to engender.

Rom 11:16. Another reason for expecting their conversion is, that they have already a sort of extrinsic sanctity imparted to them by the holy patriarchs from whom they have sprung, and by the Apostles the first fruits, who first embraced the faith, just as the mass from which the first fruits are taken is, therefore, in some measure, consecrated, and as the branches partake of the qualities of their root; and hence, we ought naturally to expect, that this external consecration of the Jews in their first fruits, and in the root from which they sprang, shall be completed by the internal sanctity which flows from grace and faith.

The Jews are, in an external way, a holy race, by being descended from the patriarchs, and by being of the same stock with the Apostles, &c.; nay, it is to them we are indebted for our Divine Redeemer, quia salus ex Judæis est (John 4:22), and hence, we are naturally to expect that this external sanctity shall be completed by internal grace. The consecration of the first fruits imparts a sort of moral external sanctity to the entire mass, rendering it fit for human uses, and the root imparts its qualities to the branches; so is it with the Jews; and hence, we should hope for their perfect sanctification in future.

Rom 11:17. And although some of the natural branches are broken off from the parent trunk, and thou, O Gentile! being merely a wild olive branch, art ingrafted among, the remaining branches of that tree whose root is holy, and art thus made to partake of the fat of the root of the olive.

“And if some,” &c. The sense is suspended until we come to the words, next verse, “boast not against the branches.” The Apostle wishes to repress the boasting of the Gentiles by reminding them of their natural condition; they were only the branches of the “wild olive;” they were like a wild and unfruitful olive, sprung from an infidel and idolatrous root, from which they could derive no sap of divine grace; and it was only by being inserted among the branches of the garden olive, that they were made partakers of the rich juice, which the root of the olive imparts to its branches; in other words, the Gentiles, by being received into the body of the Church through faith, were made partakers along with Jews of the spirit of faith and grace which the patriarchs possessed.

Rom 11:18. You should not, on that account, boast against, nor despise, the natural branches that have been rejected. But should you still continue to boast, you must bear in mind, that it is from the Jewish root you derive support and nourishment; from it you have derived the spirit of faith: it supports you, and not you it.

“Boast not against the branches.” These words conclude the sense suspended throughout the preceding verse. “But if thou boast,” i.e., if, notwithstanding the consideration of thy natural state, of which thou hast been reminded in the preceding verse, thou still dost continue to boast, see what matter you have for boasting, when you call to mind, that it is not thou that imparts juice and nutriment to the Jewish root; but, on the contrary, it is it that supports and nourishes thee; you owe the Jews everything; they owe you nothing. The Church of God is the fruitful olive—the roots of which are the patriarchs and apostles, the richness and juice of it is the abundance of the grace of the Holy Ghost, which the apostles enjoyed beyond all others; each believing Jew was a branch. Some were broken off on account of their incredulity, and we, Gentiles, ingrafted in their stead, were made partakers of the grace of the Holy Ghost, associated with the prophets, patriarchs, and apostles.

Rom 11:19. But perhaps you will say, and make this the matter for boasting: the natural branches have been broken off in order that I, the Gentile, may be ingrafted in their place.

But, perhaps, you may be still inclined to glory against and insult the Jews, on the ground that God rejected them, and received you in preference.

Rom 11:20. Well, be it so; but remember, that they were broken off in consequence of their obstinate unbelief. And thou hast been ingrafted into the olive, and art firmly united to it by faith, and shouldst not, therefore, be proud, but rather fear, lest, like them, thou shouldst be broken off in punishment of having fallen away from the faith.

“Well,” i.e., admitting this to be the case, you should still bear in mind that the same thing that happened to them may much more easily happen to you; for, as it was owing to their unbelief they were rejected, and as it is owing to thy faith thou dost continue in the divine favour to which thou hast been admitted, and remainest firmly united to the true olive, thou shouldst not make this the occasion of pride, but rather fear, lest, losing this gift of faith, thou too mayest be cast off. Hence, faith is admissible, as is evidently implied here by the Apostle.

Rom 11:21. For, if God hath not spared the natural branches, but has cast them off, take care, lest he may not spare thee either, shouldst thou fall away from the faith.

For, if God rejected the Jews, the natural descendants of the patriarchs, on account of their unbelief, thou shouldst take care, lest, falling from the faith, thou too mayest meet with the like treatment. We are here reminded of the absolute necessity of Christian humility as the guardian of faith; although God may have favoured one man beyond another, he should not, on that account, boast or entertain feelings of pride, but with all humility and fear give God thanks; and he should tremble, lest, in punishment of sin, God may desert him also, and abandon him to the dominion of his passions and his natural blindness of heart.

Rom 11:22. In order, therefore, that laying aside all feelings of pride, thou shouldst with all humility, give God thanks, consider, on the one side, the severity of God towards the unbelieving, whom he cast off, and on the other, his goodness towards thee who believest; but see that thou persevere in the state in which the goodness of God has placed thee, and correspond with it by faith and good works; otherwise thou also shalt be cut of and rejected.

In order to express all feelings of pride on the part of the Gentile converts, and induce them to give God thanks with humility and fear, he calls upon them to consider “the severity of God” towards the Jews whom he has rejected, and “his goodness” towards themselves, whom he has called. “If thou abide in goodness,” i.e., if thou continue in that state in which the goodness of God has placed thee, and correspond by faith and good works with this goodness; it is only on this condition his goodness will permanently avail thee, otherwise thou, too, like the Jews, shalt be cut off and cast away. Perseverance, as is clear from this text, is the surest sign of predestination; but of it no one can be certain, as appears also from this passage. Of course, it is not here implied that the entire Church would be “cut off,” the indefectibility of the Church being clearly promised in SS. Scripture; but each one in particular may fall off; and, hence, all in general should fear that which may happen to each individual.

Rom 11:23. But the Jews also, should they not persevere in unbelief, shall again be ingrafted on the olive of the Church; for, God, is not only able, but also desirous to do so. The resistance of their stubborn will is an obstacle to his so doing at present.

They, by receding from their unbelief, and by not opposing their stubborn wills to the operation of divine grace, shall be inserted on the true olive of the Church; for, God is not only able, but willing to do so, the obstacle of their opposing wills being removed. The word “able,” implies more than bare power—it implies a desire also on the part of God. By the very fact of receding from incredulity and embracing the faith, the Jews would be ingrafted on the true olive; nor does the Apostle suppose that one would really precede the other, but he employs a mode of speaking which would apparently imply this, for the purpose of showing the co-operation of man’s free will, as well in embracing the faith, as in rejecting it, by positive unbelief.

Rom 11:24. For, if thou, O Gentile! were cut out of the wild and unfruitful olive, and hast been, contrary to, and losing the nature of thine origin, ingrafted on the garden olive, whose nature and qualities thou hast assumed, how much more easily may not the Jews, the natural branches, be ingrafted again on the parent olive to which they belonged.

The words, “contrary to nature,” mean, as in Paraphrase, that the wild olive branch has lost its own nature by being grafted on the garden olive, and acquired a new nature—viz., that of the true olive, on which it was ingrafted; or, the words may mean, that the natural order observed by husbandmen in the process of ingrafting young shoots, which is to graft good twigs on barren, useless trunks, is here inverted by their being ingrafted on good fruitful trunks, which is a proof of the excessive love of God for the Gentiles. The former interpretation seems preferable as being more in accordance with the antithesis which, in the Greek, is clearly observable between the branches that “are contrary to nature,” and “according to nature.”

Rom 11:25. For, I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of a secret truth (and my object in revealing it to you is, to prevent your boasting of your faith, and insolently glorying against the Jews). The secret truth which I wish to disclose to you is this, that blindness and hardness of heart happened to the greater part of Israel, and shall continue, until the full number of the Gentiles, who are to believe, shall have entered the Church.

The Apostle now adds, to the preceding reasons, which would afford probable grounds to hope for the future conversion of the Jews, the sure and unerring words of prophecy. He now says, it is not merely a thing that may possibly or probably take place, but he announces it as a certain truth: and this he calls a “mystery,” i.e., a hidden truth hitherto secret and concealed. “That blindness in part has happened in Israel.” The Greek word for “blindness” means “hardness;” however, the meaning is the same, when referred to the mind, “in part,” refers to the Jews; and of them to even the greater portion, although the Apostle omits saying so expressly, “until the fulness of the Gentiles,” i.e., all the Gentiles that are to be converted, shall enter the fold of the Church.

Rom 11:26. And after that, not the remnant, as now, but the great mass of the Jewish people shall be converted and saved, according to the prediction of the prophet (Isa 59): There shall come out of Sion, he that shall deliver and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.

“And so,” i.e., and then, or after that, “all Israel,” and not the remnant as now, but the great bulk of the nation, “the fulness” (verse 12), which refers to the great or moral mass of them, for, no doubt, some will continue in their incredulity. The words “all Israel,” are understood by some Commentators to refer to spiritual Israel, consisting of converted Jews and Gentiles; the number shall be completed after the plenitude of the Gentiles, the last called, shall have entered the Church. The opinion, however, which understands the words of carnal Israel, or the Jewish people, is far more probable from the entire context of this chapter (verses 12, 15, 23, 24), in which it is implied throughout, that the great mass of the Jews would be converted, but the matter is placed beyond all doubt, in verse 25, in which there is question of carnal Israel, as well as in the foregoing verses. In truth, in this and the preceding chapters, there is question of carnal Israel alone.

“There shall come out of Sion,” &c., i.e., from the tribe of Juda which dwells in Sion, shall come forth, Christ, who “shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob,” i.e., from all the tribes in Israel. This testimony is taken from Isa 59:20, according to the Septuagint version, with this slight difference, that for “out of Sion,” the Septuagint has ἐνεκα Σιων, “on account of,” or, “for Sion.” However, this change might be caused by the negligence of transcribers; or, St. Paul may have in view, in quoting this passage, the other passages, wherein it was said that the Redeemer was to come “from Sion.” The argument drawn by the Apostle from Isaias is this: whereas at the first coming of Christ this prophecy was not fulfilled (for, then, the mere remnant was saved); it must, therefore, refer to his second coming, when all the Jews shall be saved.

Rom 11:27. And this my covenant, which I have established with them, and which I will fulfil in taking away their sins.

“And this is to them my covenant.” These words are taken from the same passage of Isaias, verse 21, although the passage is left incomplete, and to be supplied by the reader—a thing not unusual with Jewish writers. “When I shall take away their sins.” These words are added by the Apostle as explanatory of the convenant; it consisted in “taking away their sins,” which is nearly a repetition of the words, “he shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” From this passage, and from Malachi 4:5-6, is firmly established the tradition of the Church, regarding the conversion of the Jewish people at the end of the world; all the Jews shall be converted, except the tribe of Dan, which is not mentioned in the numbers of those signed of the tribes of Israel.—(Rev 7). From the same tribe, as is generally supposed, shall spring Antichrist, whom, it is thought, the Danites will follow to the rejection of the true preachers of the Gospel.

Rom 11:28. Looking to the gospel to which they have given such violent and obstinate opposition, the Jews are enemies of God, and hated by him; and this obstinacy on their part turns to your good, since it is the occasion of the preaching of the gospel among you; but, looking to the election of God, in selecting the Jews as his chosen people, and determining to call them at the end of the world; in that respect, they are beloved by God, on account of the love he bore their fathers.

Although hated by God in one respect, as obstinately opposing the Gospel—and this was of advantage to the Gentiles, because it served as the occasion for having the Gospel preached to them—still, in another respect, i.e., in respect of their election, as the posterity of a people chosen by God to be peculiarly his own, they are beloved.

Rom 11:29. For, the absolute and unconditional gifts and promises of God (such is the promise in question regarding the future call of the Jews), are unalterable, and shall surely be carried into effect.

The absolute and unconditional promises of God are irrevocable: such is the promise made by God to the patriarchs that he would not cast off their seed for ever. Such promises proceeding from election shall not be frustrated in their effect by the sins of men. Numquid incredulitas illorum fidem Dei evacuabit? (Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?)—(Rom 3:3).

Rom 11:30. For, as you, O Gentiles! were at one time incredulous, but now, by occasion of the incredulity of the Jews, have been brought by the divine mercy to the gratuitous gift of God;

He shows from the economy of God towards the Gentiles, how the same is to be exercised towards the Jews. The Gentiles “obtained mercy,” i.e., faith; which, on account of its perfect gratuitousness, is called “mercy.” “Through their unbelief,” i.e., through the occasion of the obstinacy of the Jews in rejecting the Gospel.

Rom 11:31. So are we also to judge, that the same economy has been carried out respecting the Jews, viz., that they are for a time permitted to fall into incredulity respecting the gospel and its extension to you, that they, too, may experience the mercy of God and acknowledge it, after being immersed in spiritual misery.

In like manner, we are warranted in supposing, that God exercised the same economy towards the Jews, permitting them to fall into incredulity regarding the Gospel and its extension to the Gentiles, in order that they, too, having had experience of their own misery and degradation, would find mercy with God, which they will more freely acknowledge, after seeing the misery wherein they were involved.

Rom 11:32. Thus, therefore, by a wonderful and mysterious order of Providence, God has suffered all classes of men, both Jews and Gentiles successively, to fall into infidelity, and left them shut up in the common prison of error, in order that he might show his mercy on them, and make them conscious from a sense of their miseries, that they owed all to his grace.

“Hath concluded,” i.e., permitted them to be shut up in the common prison of infidelity, into which, without his grace, they would infallibly fall; and out of which his grace alone could rescue them; hence, he is said “to conclude,” or shut them up, and this he did, in order that his great mercy would be made more evident by the greatness of their wants. “All in unbelief,” τους παντας, all men, Jews and Gentiles, εις απειθειαν, unto unbelief, in incredulitatem, like the phrase, conclusit in carcerem. Here the Apostle closes the dogmatic part of this Epistle as he began it, by pointing out the sinful state of Jew and Gentile left to themselves without God’s grace, neither of whom, therefore, had any good works which would establish a claim to the grace of justification: and what he says in the beginning of the Epistle regarding the many enormous crimes of the Pagan philosophers, &c., is here exemplified by the sin of infidelity, of which all, both Jew and Gentile, were guilty. At the beginning of the world, all lived in the true religion. The Gentiles first fell into idolatry. God made a covenant with the Jews through Abraham and Moses, and they worshipped the true God: they afterwards rejected Christ. The Gentiles were called to the Gospel and the Jews rejected. The Gentiles, at the end of the world, shall fall away (2 Thess. chap. 2), and the Jews shall be converted. Who, in considering these things, should not fear and tremble for his salvation?

Rom 11:33. As we cannot fathom or penetrate this mysterious economy of Providence, we can only exclaim in amazement: O the profound abyss of the mercy, and of the wisdom, and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments and decrees, and how unsearchable are his ways in carrying his decrees into execution.

The Apostle, unable to fathom this mysterious Providence of God in the rejection and vocation of both Jews and Gentiles, and wishing to teach us to submit our judgment to the decrees of Providence, be they ever so incomprehensible, recoils with sacred horror from further examination of the matter, and oppressed with the majesty of glory, bursts into the exclamation: “O the depths, of the riches!” i.e., of his mercy displayed in the vocation of Jew and Gentile, though both had sinned, and had no claim on him. “The wisdom” in drawing good out of evil, making the obstinate incredulity of the Jew the occasion of calling the Gentile, and the envy of the Jew at the call of the Gentile, the occasion of his conversion. “And of the science” displayed in the knowledge of all things future. In the Paraphrase, the Greek construction has been adopted: “O the depth of the riches and of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God!” is the reading of ail Greek copies; but in our Vulgate, the word “riches” is not separated from “wisdom” and “science;” and the words appear to mean, “the riches of the wisdom,” and “the riches of the science,” i.e., the exceedingly rich wisdom and science. However, the three distinct questions in verses 34, 35, would appear to-correspond with the three qualities expressed in the Greek.

Rom 11:34. For who ever has known the mind of the Lord?—or who is it that has shared in his counsels?

“Who hath known,” &c., refers to his “knowledge,” or, “who hath been his counsellor,” to his “wisdom.”

Rom 11:35. Or who gave God anything first, so that God would be bound to make a return?

“Or who hath first given to him,” &c., refers to the “riches” of his mercy, which in all the affairs of creatures He can exercise, subject to no claim, since God owes his sinful creatures no exercise of mercy.

Rom 11:36. Since from God, as Creator and first source, all things have emanated; by him as Preserver, or, by his Providence, all things subsist and are preserved in existence; and to him, as their Final End, all things tend; or, in him, all things exist and are contained. To him alone, therefore, are due honour, praise, and glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

“For of him,” as Creator and first source, and “by him,” as preserving by his Providence, “and in him,” as the end for which he created all things, universa propter semetipsum operatus est Dominus (Prov. 16); or, as in the Greek, εις αυτον, “unto him,” as their last end, all things tend. Some Expositors apply each of them, by appropriation, to the three distinct Persons of the adorable Trinity: “of him,” to the Father; “by him,” to the Son; and “in him” to the Holy Ghost. “To him be glory.” Many Commentators assert that the sacred doxology, “Glory be to the Father,” &c., took its rise in the Church from the example of St. Paul here, and the common institution of the Apostles; and that in the Council of Nice, a.d. 325, was added: “As it was in the beginning is now, and ever more shall be, world without end, Amen,” in order to refute the impiety of the Arians, who asserted, erat, quando non erat, i.e., there was a time, when the Son existed not.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 10

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 23, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this chapter, the Apostle continues the subject of the rejection of the Jews, and dilates on the cause of this rejection, as assigned, verse 30, of the preceding; but in order to remove the harshness involved in the announcement of the rejection of the Jews, he expresses his affectionate feelings towards them, and his anxious desire for their salvation (verse 1). He bears testimony to their zeal—a zeal, however, which missed its true object, Christ (Rom 10:1–4). Having referred (verse 3), to the system of justice at variance with the true justice of God, which the Jews vainly endeavoured to establish, he proves from Moses the superiority of the justice by faith (Rom 10:5–8), and he reduces the duties of a Christian life to two heads, faith in the heart and its external profession, both of which, of course, accompanied with the other conditions which faith prescribes, confer justice on all men, without distinction of Jew or Gentile (Rom 10:8–13).

He takes occasion to justify his mission of preaching among the Gentiles, since otherwise they would not become partakers of the blessings which God had designed for them as well as for the Jews (Rom 10:14–16). He shows, from Moses and Isaias, that God had determined to call the Gentiles, and to reject the Jews, on account of their obstinacy and resistance to his gracious calls and invitations (Rom 10:17–21).

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on

Rom 10:1. Brethren (these matters I mention not from feelings of dislike, but rather of commiseration), since I entertain for them, i.e., the Israelites, the most heartfelt benevolence, and an ardent desire for their salvation, and in consequence, I continually pray to God for them.

The Apostle here expresses his affection and solicitude for the salvation of his Jewish brethren. “Is for them unto salvation,” in the ordinary Greek it is, ὑπὲρ του Ἰσραὴλ, “for Israel unto salvation.” There is no difference in the sense, since it is clear from the context, that “for them,” refers to the Israelites. Moreover, the chief MSS. have ὑπὲρ αυτῶν. The word “is” is wanting in the chief MSS. From the prayers of the Apostle for the conversion of the Jews is derived a probable argument to prove that in these chapters there is question, not of predestination to, or reprobation from, glory, but only of the grace of justification. In the prayers of St. Paul for the conversion of his Jewish brethren, the pastor of souls is furnished with the most affecting example of praying earnestly for the spiritual welfare of his people.

Rom 10:2. For (without excusing their incredulity) I bear witness to their great zeal for God’s honour, a zeal, however, not regulated by the proper knowledge, but rather directed to a wrong end, and to a false object.

Without excusing their obstinate incredulity, which, considering the evidences of our Redeemer’s mission, was inexcusable, “now they have no excuse for their sin,” (John 15:22), he commends their good qualities; “but not according to knowledge.” Their zeal was not regulated by the proper knowledge; it was directed to a wrong object; its end was the Mosaic law, or justification through the works performed by the sole aid of the Mosaic law, which was a mistaken application of their zeal. How necessary prudence, as a quality of zeal, is, in order that our labours in the cause of God should prove beneficial. There is nothing more ruinous in its consequences, than the indiscreet exercise of intemperate, ill-regulated zeal. The proper exercise of charitable zeal never deals perversely.—(1 Cor. 13).

Rom 10:3. For, not knowing the true justice which God bestows on us gratuitously through faith, and vainly endeavouring to establish a justifying system of their own, at variance with the system of justification established by God, far from submitting to, they reject, this true justice of God given through faith in Christ.

This verse serves as a clear elucidation of the meaning of Rom 9:31, “Seeking to establish their own,” to which is added, in the common Greek, “justice,” but it is not found in the chief MSS., which support the Vulgate.

Rom 10:4. They seem ignorant that the scope to which the law tends, the ultimate end to which it conducts us, is Christ, who alone confers real and internal justice, which is derived from faith in him by every believer.

That they were ignorant of the justice of God, is clear from the fact of their rejecting Christ, who is “the end of the law,” τελος νομου, i.e., the scope to which it tends. The law was never intended to be the ultimate resting-place, in which men were to find true justice; the term, or, “the end,” to which it was to bring us, “is Christ;” similar is the idea (Gal. 3:24), “the law was our pedagogue in Christ.” Others, by “the end of the law,” understood the fulfilment of the law; and then, Christ is the end of the law, because it is only by his grace that the law can be fulfilled; and this grace for fulfilling the entire law, comes through faith, since faith was at all times, even under the Old Law, necessary for justification. Others understand by it the termination of the law which was accomplished in Christ, and ceased at his coming.

Rom 10:5. Now, Moses pointed out the clearest difference and opposition between the justice of the law and that of faith, and gives a decided preference to the latter. Of the justice resulting from the external observance of the law, he says: “the man that shall do it,” (thereby implying difficulty and work to be done), “shall live by it,” i.e., shall not forfeit his temporal life, the forfeiture of which was the punishment annexed to the violation of the law, thereby assigning it for reward, temporal life.

Some Interpreters understand, by “the justice which is of the law,” mere external justice before men, and connect this verse with verse 3, thus: they are ignorant of the true justice of God, and establish a justice of their own; now, Moses pointed out a clear difference, &c.—(Vide Paraphrase). In this interpretation, “the justice which is of the law,” does not necessarily extend to all the precepts of the law, but to its more prominent precepts, to the external violation of which death is annexed, and by the observance of which, man shall escape the punishment of death, “he shall live in it,” though he might, in thought and will, violate them and incur the guilt of their violation before God. This opinion is rendered very probable by the evident contrast which the Apostle draws between this justice and that from faith.

Others make this “justice which is of the law,” refer to true justice arising from the observance of the law, factores legis justificabuntur—(Rom 2:13). These connect this verse with verse 4, thus: the end of the law is Christ, since without him it could not be observed, and to its observance Moses attributes eternal life (verse 5), while in regard to the justice of faith, he merely treats of it as easy of attainment (verses 6-7). If the antithesis clearly instituted by the Apostle between the justice or the law and that of faith could be borne out in this latter interpretation, it would seem preferable to the former, inasmuch as we never find the Apostle ascribing any reward to the justice said to arise from works performed by the sole aid of the natural law, or the law of Moses, which would be conveyed in the words, “shall live in it,” according to the former interpretation: but, as this antithesis is excluded, the former interpretation is preferred in the Paraphrase. It might be also said in support of the interpretation adopted in the Paraphrase, that the Apostle is only quoting Moses, and that he even wishes to depreciate the justice of the law, which merely has for recompense temporal life, while he extols true justice on two grounds—1st, on the ground of its facility (verses 6-8), and 2ndly, on account of its eternal reward, “thou shalt be saved,” (verse 9).

Rom 10:6. Whereas, in speaking of the justice coming through faith (to which his words—Deut. 30—in their mystical signification refer), he says, “who shall ascend into heaven,” in order to bring down Christ, the object of our faith?

Whereas, speaking of the justice of faith, Moses says (Deut. 30): “This commandment that I command thee this day is not above thee, nor far off from thee, nor is it in heaven, that thou shouldst say: which of us can go up into heaven,” &c. These words, in their primary and literal signification, refer to the law which Moses was about giving to the Jews. But in their mystical signification, given here by the Apostle, and explained in the words, “that is, to bring Christ down,” they refer to Christian faith, or the justice of faith, which is quite easy and within reach, involving no insurmountable difficulty, such as ascending into heaven to bring down Christ, the object of our faith, or, “crossing the sea to fetch it,” which is the reading in Deut. 30. The reading in Deuteronomy differs not in sense from that of St. Paul here, “descend into the deep,” which, in its literal meaning, refers to fetching the law, but in its mystical meaning is explained by the Apostle to mean, “to bring up Christ again from the dead.” i.e., it is not necessary to descend into the bowels of the earth to know and firmly believe that Christ descended there, who is the object of our faith. These words, as mystically explained by the Apostle, have reference to the leading principal mysteries of Christian faith.

Rom 10:7. Or, who can cross the sea, or “descend into the deep,” which mystically signifies to descend into the bowels of the earth, and bring up Christ, the object of our faith?

No commentary is offered beyond the paraphrase.

Rom 10:8. But let us hear what the Scripture says on the subject; the matter is neither difficult nor remote from thee, it is in thy mouth and in thy heart; by acts of both one and the other, that is, by internal acts of faith, and by the external profession of the same, thou canst attain to this true justice. The whole gospel which we preach is reduced to this narrow compass.

Our faith does not, any more than the law, demand any such impossibilities; of it are also verified these words, which originally were spoken of the law, “What saith the Scripture?” the word “Scripture” is not in the Greek, which simply is, but what saith it? according to this, the nominative to “saith” is, the justice of faith (verse 6), what saith the justice? &c. “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart.” As the law was in the mouths and hearts of the Jews, so is it with our faith. “This is the word of the faith,” &c., i.e., the word of faith which we preach is the same, as the preceding words spoken in reference to the law.

Rom 10:9. If, then, you believe in your heart, and confess with your mouth, that Jesus Christ our Lord is Son of God, and became incarnate and suffered for us, and that God raised him from the dead, you shall obtain the salvation of true justice here, and of eternal glory hereafter.

All you require is, to believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, who descended from heaven, became man, and died for us, and believe in his resurrection, or “that God hath raised him,” &c., and profess the same externally, and you “shall be saved,” i.e., you shall obtain not temporal life—the reward of the law—but life eternal. The raising of Christ from the dead being an act of power, is, by appropriation, ascribed to God the Father. These are the leading articles of our faith. Of course, under them are included the other articles of faith necessary to be believed, together with faith, hope, charity, without which, man, although he have true faith, cannot be saved. The words, “thou shalt be saved,” like the attribute of every affirmative proposition, are understood restrictively. Instead, then, of going up to heaven to bring down Christ, or descending to the abyss, all you require is, to believe in your heart and profess with your mouth, that Christ did come, &c., and “you shall be saved,” the other conditions, the principal of which is the performance of good works, being observed.

Rom 10:10. For, the interior assent and faith of the heart is required to obtain justice, but the external profession of the same faith is necessary to preserve this justice and obtain final salvation.

The external profession of our faith is, sometimes, an imperative duty, under pain of mortal sin, and, therefore, necessary to preserve justice and sanctifying grace.

Rom 10:11. This is clearly proved from Scripture (Isa 38:16), Whosoever believeth in him shall not be confounded, or frustrated in his expectations.

He proves the truth of his assertion (verse 9), viz., that by believing in Christ, whosoever thou art, “thou shalt be saved.” This he shows from the prophet Isaiah 28. Whosoever believeth in him shall not be confounded, i.e., frustrated in his expectation. Hence, he is here treating of faith to which hope is annexed—(See Rom 9:33). The prophecy of Isaias, just quoted, regards the Messiah, since by “him” is meant the Messiah.

Rom 10:12. By saying, “whosoever,” the Scripture removes all distinction, whether of Jew or Gentile, without exception; for God is equally the Supreme Lord of all, and the riches of his bounty are held out to all who sincerely invoke Jesus as the Messiah.

The Apostle assigns a reason, why no distinction should be made between Jew and Gentile; because God is equally the Supreme Lord of all, and “rich,” i.e., bountiful towards all who invoke him, and profess him to be the Son of God.

Rom 10:13. We have in proof of this, the testimony of the prophet Joel 2:32, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord (Jesus) shall be saved.

He proves from the prophet (Joel 2) that God is bountiful to all, without exception, who call on his name, “Whosoever shall call,” etc. We have the authority of St. Peter (Acts 2:17–37), that these words of Joel are to be referred to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rom 10:14. But since we must believe in God before invoking his name, how can men invoke God in whom they have not believed? or, how shall they be able to believe in him, unless they first hear of him? or, how shall they be able to hear of him, unless there be some person to make him known to them by preaching?

The Apostle takes occasion, from the general promises of God regarding Jew and Gentile alike, to justify his own mission and preaching among the Gentiles. He shows the necessity of preaching, in order that they might be partakers in the rich blessings which God has in store for them; he proceeds, step by step, from invocation to faith; from faith to hearing; from hearing to preaching; from preaching to mission; so that, in a certain sense, mission becomes, in this summary recapitulation, the basis of our salvation; since, without this mission on the part of God, imparted to his preachers, the people shall not have true faith, nor the true worship of God. From this the Apostle leaves it to be inferred, that, as God is rich in bounty towards the Gentiles, and since, for the communication of his blessings, preaching the gospel with a legitimate mission is necessary, he himself has preached to the Gentiles by the orders and commission of God himself.

There are many Divines who, from this passage, undertake to prove the necessity of having a doctrine propounded by the true Church, before it can become a point even of divine faith; in other words, they assert that the proposition of a doctrine by the true Church enters the formal object of faith. At all events, we can clearly infer from this passage, that the preaching through a legitimate ministry is the ordinary means of imparting the true faith, and that God will not permanently impart his sanction to a system of faith promulgated by an uncommissioned teacher. In fact, it is clearly inferable that in the ordinary Providence of God, a divine mission and appointment are necessary for the due effect of preaching the Gospel; for, it is on this supposition that the Apostle’s argument in favour of his own mission among the Gentiles is based. God might, undoubtedly, by interior inspirations, teach an infidel the necessary truths of faith. He might also, if he pleased, aid, by the interior enlightenment of grace, the preaching of an heretical minister propounding, in a particular instance, revealed truth, so as to beget faith in the hearers; but, this is not in accordance with his ordinary Providence; nor can we admit for an instant, that he would give permanent stability to any system of faith emanating from such a teacher.

Rom 10:15. But how shall heralds of salvation preach him with permanent success, unless they are his own appointed messengers receiving a commission from him? It is of those preachers only, sent by divine commission, that we are to understand the words of the prophet (Isa 52:7): How joyous the approach of those preachers of the gospel, who announce to us peace, reconciliation with God, and all good things conducive to salvation!

As it is written (Isa 52:7), “How beautiful.” i.e., such a mission from God is necessary, in order that the teachers would be the true heralds of salvation, in whom shall be verified the words of the prophet, “How beautiful,” &c. These words, in their literal and primary signification, refer to the messengers who first brought the news of the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, and in their mystical signification, to the preachers of the Gospel. The Apostle here follows, with the omission of the unimportant words, (upon the mountains), the Hebrew version, which runs thus: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, and that preacheth peace; of him that sheweth forth good,” &c. The quotation differs widely from the Septuagint, which most probably had been corrupted in this passage of Isaias.

Rom 10:16. But, although the advent of the heralds of salvation is thus pleasing; still, all men do not obey the gospel. This, however, is not to be wondered at; since, it was predicted by Isaias, who, in the person of the Apostle, says, “how few have believed and obeyed the words they heard from us.”

“Our report,” in Greek, τῇ ἀκουῇ ἡμῶν, our hearing, or the doctrine heard from our preaching. He answers the objection by showing that this obduracy was predicted by Isaias.

Rom 10:17. From the foregoing (Rom 10:14–16), I conclude that faith comes from hearing, and the hearing, from which faith springs, comes from preaching the word of God.

This is the point which he wished to establish (verse 14), “How shall they believe him, of whom they have not heard? “And hearing by the word of Christ.” In the ordinary Greek, ῤήματος θεου, the word of God. The chief MSS. have, Χριστου, “of Christ.”

Rom 10:18. But I ask, is it from want of hearing of the word of God that men have not embraced it? Certainly not. For, as the heavens, by their silent eloquence, proclaim the attributes and perfections of God throughout the entire extent of creation; so has the voice of the Apostles and of the heralds of divine truth been heard all over the globe.

“Their sound hath gone forth,” &c. These words are quoted by the Apostle from Psalm 18:5 (19:5 modern trans.), according to the Septuagint version of the Psalms. In their primary and literal signification, they refer to the heavenly bodies, and the order and harmony of the visible creation, which so eloquently proclaim the glory and attributes of God: but in their mystical signification, they refer to the preaching of the Apostles. In this sense they are to be regarded as a prophecy in the text of David, which prophecy, St. Paul announces, was about to be accomplished, and shall be gradually fulfilled before the end of the world; and hence, the Apostle, as well as the Psalmist, employs words of the past tense, “hath gone forth,” on account of the certainty of its accomplishment; or it might be said, that the prediction was really accomplished in the days of the Apostle; because the Apostles and the first heralds of salvation had announced the Gospel in the principal places of the world, from which the fame of their preaching had been heard throughout the rest of the globe. It is to be observed, that in this, and the following verse, 19, the Apostle meets a twofold objection, which the Jews might allege in excuse for their incredulity, viz., that they did not hear the Gospel, or were ignorant of its communication to the Gentiles, and so might be excused from embracing it. The first is answered in this verse., and the second, next verse, where Moses, their own favourite legislator, predicts the call of the Gentiles.—(Beelen).

Rom 10:19. And, again I ask, have not the Isarelites known that the Gospel was to be everywhere preached among the Gentiles, in order to bring about their conversion? Certainly, they have witnessed their conversion, but far from imitating, they have envied them on account of it, and persisted in their obstinate incredulity, both of which were predicted by the prophets. First, Moses, speaking in the person of God, displeased with the Jews, says to them, I will incite you to jealousy by a nation whom you contemned, as of no consideration, and I will irritate you and provoke you to wrath by a foolish nation, hitherto sunk in sin and idolatry, but on whom I shall bestow the choicest gifts of my grace and heavenly vocation.

In this is shown how inexcusable the Jews were, who not only heard of it, but even saw the Gentiles converted. This conversion, far from bringing them to the faith, was even the occasion of rage and jealousy. “I will provoke you to jealousy, &c.” (Deut. 32). Moses and Isaias both predict the universal extension of the preaching of the Gospel; and hence, the Jews had no excuse for their incredulity on this head. “Not a nation,” i.e., a contemptible people held by you in no esteem. “I will anger you,” by bestowing on them benefits, which the Jews regarded as exclusively their own birthright.

Rom 10:20. But, again, Isaias, regardless of the anger of the Jews, boldly speaks out and says, in the person of Christ: I am found by those who heretofore had not sought me, I openly appeared, by the preaching of my gospel, to those who consulted not me, but their own foolish oracles.

But Isaias loudly speaks out, for which and similar predictions he was sawn in two, according to tradition. “I was found by them,” &c. (Isa 65:1). From these words the Apostle proves that the Gentiles were to be converted and the Jews to be hardened.

Rom 10:21. But speaking of the rejection and obstinacy of Israel, he says, in the person of Christ During the entire day, i.e., continually, have I stretched out my hands to an incredulous, unbelieving people, to a people contradicting and thwarting my designs of mercy regarding them.

But it is Israel that he regards in the words (Isa 61:2), “all the day long,” i.e., continually, “have I spread my hands,” used every exertion to bring to me “a people that contradieteth me.” Such, we know, was the harsh treatment which our Divine Redeemer received from the Jews, although he incessantly preached, performed miracles of beneficence, and exhibited, on many occasions, manifestations of his Divinity, amongst them. Some Expositors understand the words of the Prophet to regard Christ’s crucifixion, during which his hands were streched out to his cruel executioners.

From this we can see how fearful a thing it is to neglect corresponding with divine grace. How fervently should we not pray against being delivered over to a reprobate sense, to the dreadful judgment of abandonment by God, in punishment of our resistance to his precious calls and inspirations. From a neglect of thy holy inspirations, deliver us, O Lord! O Mary! who hast ever corresponded, in a most perfect degree, with divine grace, pray for us.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 9

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 22, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

The Apostle, having proved in the foregoing chapters, that faith in Christ, as contradistinguished from the works of the Mosaic Law, or the law of nature, was the only means of arriving at justice and salvation, employs this and the two succeeding chapters in showing that the Jews were rejected, because, confiding too much in the external advantages and privileges they enjoyed, they refused to embrace the faith of Christ; while the Gentiles were called to justice, because they embraced this all necessary faith. Before, however, announcing the disagreeable truth regarding the rejection of the Jews, he employs the strongest and most affecting language, and calls God in the most solemn manner, to witness the intensity of his affection for the Jews, whose rejection (and this he by no means expresses, but leaves to he understood) caused him the most intense grief and sorrow of heart (Rom 9:1–5). He then shows, that the rejection and reprobation of the Jews from the justice of the Gospel, was not opposed to the promises of God made to Abraham; since these promises regarded the spiritual sons of Abraham, and not all his carnal descendants. This he shows from the example of Isaac, and of Jacob, the younger son of Isaac (Rom 9:6–14). And although the promises, to which the Apostle refers, primarily regarded temporal benedictions, still, these temporal blessings, which God bestowed on certain sons of Abraham before the others, were types of spiritual benedictions, in the disposal of which God was as free, as he had been in regard to the temporal inheritance. The argument of the Apostle, then, is, that as God had conferred the temporal inheritance of Abraham on Isaac, before all the other sons of Abraham, and on Jacob, before Esau, so is he also free in calling to the spiritual inheritance of Abraham, that is to say, to the grace of the Gospel, the Gentiles, the children of promise, in preference to the Jews, his descendants according to the flesh.

He next solves an objection, to which the preceding doctrine might give rise (Rom 9:14–18). And as his reply to the objection might give rise to a further difficulty regarding the justice of God in punishing sinners, he solves this difficulty also (Rom 9:19–24). He proves, in the next place, that God called to his Church both Jews and Gentiles (Rom 9:24–29); and, finally, he accounts for the vocation of the Gentiles and the rejection of the Jews (Rom 9:30-33).

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

Rom 9:1. I call Christ to witness the truth of what I speak. I have also for this, the testimony of my own conscience directed and strengthened by the Holy Ghost.

Some Expositors interpret this verse in such a way as to make the Apostle swear by three witnesses: viz., Christ, his own conscience, and the Holy Ghost. I call Christ to witness, &c.; I swear by my conscience; and I call the Holy Ghost also to witness, that “I lie not.”

Rom 9:2. I make this most solemn protestation, that I feel great sadness and unceasing excruciating torture of mind (on account of the reprobation and rejection of my brethren).

“Continual sorrow in my heart.” The Greek word for “sorrow,” ὀδυνη, means, “the throes of childbirth.” He forbears from expressing the cause of his sorrow, until he first convinces the Jews of his affection for them. It is clearly inferred from the following chapter, that it regards the reprobation and rejection of the Jews from the grace of the Gospel.

Rom 9:3. For (notwithstanding my ardent and unchangeable love for Christ—Rom 8:35, &c.) I would wish, were it conformable to the divine will, to be eternally separated from the glory of Christ, and thus be devoted as a victim, should it serve for the glory and vocation of my Jewish brethren, who are my kinsmen according to the flesh.

“For, I wished myself,” i.e., I myself, the very same, whom nothing could separate from the love of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:35, &c.), “wished to be anathema,” &c. There is a great variety of opinion among Commentators regarding the object and nature of the wish to which the Apostle here gives expression. Some say (as in Paraphrase) that he wished conditionally to be for ever separated from the glory of Christ, ηυχομεν, I would have wished, provided it were allowed; or provided it were the will of God, and served to secure the vocation and salvation of his brethren. I say, from the glory of Christ, because he could not, for an instant, entertain the wish in any sense, of being separated from the grace and love of Christ. Others understand him to mean, that he wished for this separation by an abstract wish, abstracting from the ordination and decrees of God. Although the wish on the part of St. Paul, so far as his sincerity and self-devotedness were concerned, may be regarded as absolute; still, if we look to the object of separation, it could not be absolute. Indeed, it must be said, that the act of wishing on the part of St. Paul could not be absolute; for, he knew well, that no such thing could take place; and he also knew, that his eternal separation from Christ would never promote the salvation of the Jews.

“To be an anathema.” The word “anathema,” ἀνάθεμα, having the penultimate syllable short (with an ε), as it is written here, means a total separation and destruction of a thing as execrable and abominable, and also the thing itself destroyed and utterly abolished. “Anathema” is the word employed by the Septuagint translators for the Hebrew word, cherem, which always refers to something utterly destroyed, as execrable. In this sense, the word “anathematize” is applied in the Old Testament to the Chanaanite nations destroyed by the Jews (Numbers 21.; Judges 1:4; 1 Maccabees 5). When the penultimate syllable is long, αναθήμα, (with an ή), the word signifies votive offerings, such as shields, vases, &c., offered to the gods. In this sense, the word is employed only once in the New Testament (Luke 21:5). If we cannot comprehend this heroical charity of the Apostle, it is, says St. Chrysostom, because we never experience any such feelings of the love of God or of our neighbour.

Rom 9:4. Who enjoy so many singular and distinguishing prerogatives; who are descended from the Patriarch on whom God himself, as a title of honour, bestowed the name of Israel; to whom belongs the privilege of being adopted, in preference to all other nations, as the sons of God; in whose behalf God exhibited many glorious manifestations of his special providence; with whom he established his covenant; to whom He himself gave his law through Moses; to whom He prescribed the true mode of divine worship; to whom were made the promises, of which the principal were those that regarded the Messiah.

To show his affection for his kindred, and remove from their minds every suspicion of his entertaining the aversion for them, with which he was charged, he dilates on the several prerogatives, wherein the Jews excelled all the other nations of the earth. “Who are Israelites?” Israel was a title of honour given by God himself to Jacob. “The adoption of children.” God had adopted them as his children preferably to all the other nations from whom he segregated them (Exodus 6). He calls them, “My first-born son, Israel,” “And the glory,” the glorious manifestation of God’s special Providence by miracles (v.g.), the passage of the Red Sea, the pillar of fire, the ark, &c.; and by the prophecies which regarded them. “And the testament,” in the common Greek, διαθῆκαι, “testaments,” might have been used in the plural to designate the repetition of the Old Testament or covenant made repeatedly to the Jews; or, in allusion to the two tables on which the words of the covenant were inscribed. The Codex Vaticanus supports the Vulgate, and has διαθήκη. “The service of God” (ἡ λατρεία), refers to the true religion and pure worship of God established amongst them. “And the promises” made at different times, particularly those regarding the Messiah, to be born of them.

Rom 9:5. Whose progenitors were the renowned Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, &c., and (which is the chief prerogative of all) from whom is Christ descended according to the flesh, who is over all things, God, worthy of divine benediction and praise for ever and ever. Amen.

“Whose are the fathers,” i.e., whose ancestors are the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? “And of whom is Christ according to the flesh?” This is their greatest prerogative, viz., to have Christ take human nature, the second nature which he assumed in time, of their race.

“Who is over all things God blessed for ever.” These words contain an undoubted proof of the divinity of Christ. The groundless subterfuges to which the impugners of the divinity of our Blessed Lord have recourse, in order to evade the unanswerable argument furnished in this verse, only serve to show the weakness of their cause. They place a colon after the word “flesh,” so that the following words are a mere doxology, “May God who is over all be blessed,” &c. Such a construction is unsupported by the authority of any manuscripts, ancient or modern. It is, moreover, opposed to the common interpretation of the Fathers, and the doxology would render the passage quite unmeaning. “Besides, when εὐλογητὸς, ‘blessed,’ is used by way of predicate, with an optative mood, expressed or understood, it always precedes the noun, according to Hebrew usage. In the text, θεος, precedes.”—(Kenrick).

Rom 9:6. In thus expressing my intense grief for the rejection of the Jews, I do not wish to express the least apprehension regarding the fulfilment of the divine promises made to Abraham and the patriarchs concerning the multiplication of their seed: for, not all they who are born of Israel are the true Israelites, to whom reference is made in the divine promises.

The Apostle here meets an objection which might spring from the foregoing doctrine, regarding the rejection of the Jews. God made a promise to Abraham and to the patriarchs, that in their seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed; that their descendants would equal, in point of numbers, the stars of heaven and the sand on the sea shore. How, then, could these promises be consistent with the doctrine now advanced regarding the rejection, from God’s inheritance, of the same people? The Apostle says, the rejection of the Jews will, by no means, involve the frustration and non-fulfilment of the promises referred to, since it is not all the carnal descendants of Abraham, nor they alone, that these promises regard; for, all who are descended from Israel, “are not Israelites,” in whom are to be fulfiled the divine promises. It is in the spiritual sons of Abraham these promises are to be fulfilled, whether carnally descended from him or not, as happened Isaac, in the one case, and the Gentiles, in the other.

“Not as though the word of God hath miscarried.” “The word of God” regards the promise God made to Abraham respecting the multiplication of his seed, and the benediction to be conferred, through him, on all the nations. The Apostle is, then, treating in this and the following chapters, of the rejection of the Jews from the grace of justification and of Gospel justice, and the vocation of the Gentiles to the same. It does not fall within his scope to treat of eternal reprobation or predestination to glory. For the great object of the Apostle in this Epistle is, to prove, to both Jews and Gentiles, the gratuitousness of the grace of justification, irrespective of merits actual or foreseen, and thus to refute the false claims which both the converted Jews and Gentiles had put forward to prove that they had a right to be called to the Gospel. These claims the Apostle refutes by showing that the vocation of the Gentiles, and the rejection of the Jews, mystically and allegorically signified, by the selection of Isaac before Ismael, and the preference given, in the temporal blessings and rights of primogeniture, to Jacob before Essau, were wholly attributable to the good will and pleasure of God. In truth, in giving or refusing the grace of justification, God is accountable to no one; his own free will is his sole rule of dispensation in this respect: the grace of justification being a strictly gratuitous gift, to which no one can lay claim, and for the deprivation of which, no one has any just right to complain. That it is of the vocation to the grace of justification and rejection from it, the Apostle is treating here, appears also from this, that such rejection alone was the only tangible, palpable evil, which could form the subject of his excessive grief for the great mass of his Jewish brethren. The interpretation, then according to which the Apostle is treating of vocation to, and rejection from the grace of justification—an interpretation perfectly in accordance with every word in this passage—being once admitted, all the difficulties to which the other interpretations, which understand him to refer to rejection from glory, are liable, deprived both from the justice of God, and the exercise of the free will of man, are at once disposed of; since, in this interpretation, as will be seen in the sequel, there is not the remotest ground for any objection on these heads. “For all are not Israelites,” &c. He says, “all” are not, because some of them, who are carnally descended of Israel, are also sons of promise, imitators of his faith; and hence, as such, heirs of the divine promise. In these words, the Apostle shows that the Jews misunderstood the term “Israelite,” the subject of the divine promises.

Rom 9:7. Nor are all who are carnally descended from Abraham, to be, therefore, regarded as the true sons of promise, who are to inherit the blessings These are confined to his descendants through Isaac, according to the express testimony of Scripture (Gen. 21:12): In Isaac (this son born to thee in virtue of the divine promise) shall thy seed be reckoned.

“Neither are all they that are of the seed of Abraham, children.” The Greek reading is, οὐδʼ ὅτι εἰσιν σπερμα Ἁβρααμ, “neither because they are of the seed of Abraham.” The Vulgate has qui for quia (ὅτι), the reading of all the Greek copies There are some copies of the Vulgate in which quia, because, is found. Some of the seed of Abraham were children, viz., such as were also imitators of his faith; and to these were the divine promises restricted. “But in Isaac,” &c. He adduces the testimony of SS. Scripture from Genesis 21:12, to show, that the blessings promised Abraham were confined to his descendants through Isaac. “In Isaac shall thy seed be called.”

Rom 9:8. That is to say, it is not the children of the flesh as such, or those who are carnally descended from Abraham, that are the sons of God who are to possess the inheritance, but it is only those, who are begot ten in virtue of the promise, that are to be accounted as his seed.

From which testimony, of SS. Scripture, the Apostle deduces this inference, that it is not such of Abraham’s descendants as are merely children of the flesh, but such as are children of the promise, that are to be the inheritors of his blessings; in other words, that it is more in consequence of being children of promise, as was the case with Isaac (with whom, looking to mere carnal descent, Ismael had equal rights), than in consideration of carnal descent from Abraham, they are to inherit the blessings promised him. It is to be borne in mind that the words of Genesis, as well as the quotations regarding Jacob and Esau, in the sequel, have immediate reference to temporal blessings; but the Apostle, while merely alluding to the primary meaning of the words, grounds his principal conclusion on their mystical and allegorical meaning. His conclusion is, that the economy of God, in bestowing the temporal benedictions on Isaac, in consequence of being the child of promise, before Ismael, was intended to teach us that the spiritual blessings—the grace of justification, of which the temporal benedictions were mere types—are also to be conferred on the children of promise—the Gentiles—who, like Isaac, are children of Abraham by grace and faith, rather than on the incredulous Jews, who are, like Ismael, carnally descended from Abraham, begotten of him more by the generative power of man, than in virtue of the grace and power of God.

Rom 9:9. For, that Isaac was a child of promise, begotten rather in virtue of the grace and power of God, than of the generative power of man, is clear from the word of promise in Genesis 18:10, where the angel, on the part of God, promises Abraham, “according to this time,” or, this time twelvemonth, “will I come, and Sara shall have a son,” and this, at a time of life on the part both of Abraham and Sara, when such an event could be brought about by the interposition of the Divine power only.

He shows that the conclusion deduced from the case of Isaac, regarding the preference given to the sons of promise, was not without foundation, so far as Isaac was concerned; for, that Isaac was himself a son of promise is proved from the words of the angel.—(Genesis 18:20).

Rom 9:10. And it is not alone the history of the conception of Sara, and of its circumstances, that furnishes us with a clear proof of the efficacy of the divine promises, and of the superior advantages of spiritual adoption over the claims of mere carnal generation and human arrangements; but of the same, does the conception of Rebecca also, who bore twins, conceived at the same time of our father, Isaac, supply the most striking exemplification.

“And not only she” (“she” is not in the Greek). Lest the Jews might take exception to the reasoning of the Apostle, on the ground that, even humanly speaking, Isaac was the legitimate heir of Abraham’s promise, as being his son by his wife Sara, whereas, the other sons were but children of his servants; the Apostle adduces a case still more in point, in, which the effect of God’s promise, and of divine election, was more unmistakeably perceptible; viz., the case of the election of Jacob, the younger, and the rejection from the temporal inheritance of Isaac, the elder. In this case, God made a distinction not only between the carnal descendants of Abraham, as in the preceding instance, but even between the descendants of the son of promise himself, without having any regard to the merits of either party, as explained next verse. Nay, he set aside the natural claims of the elder, to whom the very circumstance of priority of birth should, it would appear, humanly speaking, give a preference as to the rights attached to primogeniture. There is a slight difference between the Greek and our Vulgate, in the reading of this verse. The Greek runs thus: ου μονον δε. αλλα καὶ ʼΡεβεκκα ἑξ ἕνος κοιτην ἔχουσο, “having conception by one. The Vulgate is, ex uno concubitu habeas. The ancient reading probably was. ex uno concubitum habens, conformably to the Greek.”—(Kenrick). The sense is, however, the same in both. For, “at once,” the Greek is, “by one,” ἑξ ἑνος, referring to conception.

Rom 9:11. For, before the children were born, being still confined in her womb, and consequently before they had done good or evil (in order that the purpose of God, electing the one and rejecting the other, which purpose was influenced solely by his gratuitous election, irrespective of merit of demerit on either side, whether actual or foreseen, might stand firm).

In this verse, the Apostle shows that the election of Jacob, and the rejection of Esau, were wholly independent of their personal merits, and solely attributable to the free and gratuitous decree of God (“that the purpose of God according to election might stand.”) “The purpose of God” regards the eternal decree of rejecting Esau from the temporal inheritance, and of calling Jacob to the same, a purpose “according to election,” i.e., resulting solely from God’s gratuitous election, independently of the personal merits or demerits of the parties, whether actual or foreseen. The principal object which the Apostle has in view, as shall be immediately shown, is the typical or allegorical conclusion regarding the gratuitousness of God’s call to the Gospel, and rejection from it, typified by the rejection of Esau, and the calling of Jacob to the temporal inheritance.

Rom 9:12-13. On consulting the Lord (Genesis 14:23), respecting the nature of the struggle which she felt between the children in her womb, she received an answer, wholly independent of works, and solely the result of the gratuitous call of God to this effect, that she had two nations in her womb, and that the nation descended from the elder, would serve the descendants of the younger. (13)—This prophetic response the Prophet Malachy long after declared to be fulfilled as the result of God’s love and predilection for Jacob on whose posterity he bestowed all kinds of temporal benedictions, leaving to the descendants of Esau, whom he neglected, (“hated,”) for their portion, the barren hills of ldumea, and consigning their inheritance to the dragons of the desert (Mal. 1:13.) (The plain conclusion from all this is, that God is now just as free in rejecting from the spiritual inheritance of justification, and of the Gospel, the Jews—typified by the first born, Esau, and in calling to it the Gentiles—typified by the second-born, Jacob, as he had been in disposing of the temporal inheritance, according to his sole gratuitous choice and election, the one being as perfectly gratuitous a gift, on the part of God, as the other.)

12. “Not of works, but of him that calleth.” Some Expositors enclose these words also within the parenthesis, and connect them with the preceding, verse 11, thus: (“that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth,”) as if these latter words were explanatory of the word “election.” This construction will not differ in meaning from our reading. In the Pharaphrase is adopted the meaning supplied by both constructions. “It was said to her.” The history referred to here is given fully (Genesis 25:23). Rebecca felt the twins struggling in her womb; she consulted the Lord as to what it meant, and received for answer, that “she had two nations in her womb,” &c., “and that the elder should serve the younger.” “The elder shall serve the younger.” It is evident from the quotation already adduced from Genesis, that by the “elder” is meant, the nation descended from the elder brother, and this nation would be subject to the nation descended from the younger. This was literally verified in the time of David. The Idumeans, the descendants of Esau, were subdued by David (2 Sam 8:14), and they served the Israelites, the descendants of Jacob, for about one hundred and fifty years, until the time of Joram, the son of Josaphat.—(2 Kings 8:22).

13 “As it is written: Jacob I have loved” &c. These words were written by the Prophet Malachy (chap. 1) long after the event; and hence, they confirm the prophetic testimony, “the elder shall serve,” &c. “But Esau I have hated.” The word “hate” does not, in the language of SS. Scripture, always imply a positive act of hatred, but in many cases, only an act of neglect, slight, or disregard, such as Jacob had in reference to Lia, whom he is said to have hated or “despised,” simply by preferring Rachel to her.—(Genesis 29:31). And such as our Redeemer recommends, when he tells us “to hate our father and mother,” &c.—(Luke 14:26). It is to be observed, that in the Scriptural quotations, contained in the preceding verses, there is reference, in the literal sense, to temporal benedictions, but the principal aim of the Apostle is the allegorical inference to be derived from this economy of God in the disposal of the temporal inheritance, irrespective of the merits or demerits of the parties called or rejected. His inference is this: that as God has, in the case quoted, set aside the rights of carnal primogeniture, without being influenced by the personal merits or demerits of the parties in question, whether actual or foreseen; so, also, in the disposal of the spiritual inheritance of justification, he is equally free in passing over the Jews—the first begotten of God, Filius meus primogenitus Israel (Exodus 4.)—and in preferring the Gentiles, without any relation to their good works, actual or foreseen, which, faith tells us, can never influence God in conferring the grace of justification; and, thus, he manifests in their case, who were typified by the second-born, Jacob, his purpose of giving justification gratuitously. The call of Jacob, and the rejection of Esau, had been intended by God to shadow forth the designs of his Providence in calling the Gentile, and slighting the Jew, in the work of justification.

The Apostle, then, is treating of election to grace, of the election of an entire people and nation to be the people and Church of God, and of the rejection of an entire people from the same. He is not treating of election to, or reprobation from, glory, at least, immediately. For, Jacob and Esau are spoken of not individually, but as representing entire nations, springing from them; the circumstance of Esau being older than Jacob, would have no relation whatever to the question of eternal life. And, if there were question of election to, or reprobation from, eternal glory, it would follow that Esau was damned—a thing which, to many, appears very unlikely. It is regarded as probable by many, that after having put aside his feelings of fraternal hatred (Genesis 23), he died in the true religion of his parents and obtained salvation. The opinion, therefore, which best accords with the entire scope of the Apostle is, that even in his principal and allegorical conclusion, he is only treating of election to grace and reprobation from the same. And in this opinion we could give the words, “I have hated Esau,” the sense of positive reprobation; since, in positively reprobating men from grace, God acts wholly independently of personal merits, whether actual or foreseen.

Rom 9:14. If, then, God in now preferring the Gentiles to the Jews, in the bestowal of spiritual blessings, as he formerly preferred the descendants of Jacob before those who sprang from Esau, loving one and neglecting the other, has no regard to their works, does he not act an unjust part? Far from us be so impious a thought.

“What then?” This is a formula to which the Apostle usually resorts in removing doubts or calumnies resulting from the false and erroneous conception of his words. “Is there injustice with God?” as his rejection of the Jews, and his vocation of the Gentiles, without any regard to the merits of either party, would seem to imply “God forbid,” a brief formula, in which the Apostle at once rejects every blasphemous construction put upon his words.

Rom 9:15. Whether in calling the Gentiles to the spiritual inheritance of justification, or in rejecting the Jews from the same, there is no injustice on the part of God. First, in calling the Gentiles, there is no injustice: for, in the disposal of his free and gratuitous gifts, in having mercy, as in the present instance, God is answerable to no one; he is the free and absolute dispenser of his favours, as he said to Moses: “I will have mercy on whomsoever I will, and I will be clement to whomsoever I please.”

He proceeds to prove that whether in calling one class of men to the faith, or in rejecting others from it, there is not the shadow of injustice in God. The former he proves here; the latter in verse 17. First, in selecting one class, and calling them to the inheritance of justification, there is no injustice on the part of God; because, the bestowal of this grace is as gratuitous as was the selecting of Jacob before Esau for the temporal inheritance—nay, more gratuitous. It is a pure act of mercy; and God is accountable to no one, and gives no one cause for complaint in the gratuitous exercise of mercy, as he said in a similar case to Moses—a testimony which the Jews must respect as found in their own Scriptures. “I will have mercy,” &c. (Exodus 33:19). These words were addressed by God to Moses after the people had sinned in adoring the golden calf; some of whom he punished; on others he had mercy. They express an epithet by which God wishes to be distinguished, a name by which he wishes to be known—viz., of being supreme and absolute dispenser of his favours, showing mercy as he wills. The call of a man to justification is an act of pure mercy, which God may exercise towards whomsoever he pleases. The words show that the Apostle considers man as infected by sin either original or actual in this decree, since misery is the object of mercy. Hence, the utter falsity of the interpretation given by Estius of this entire passage—an interpretation which, besides being false, is also subject to very great difficulties, derived both from the liberty of man and the attributes of God.

Rom 9:16. Therefore, our call to the grace of justification is not owing to human exertions, either in the way of strong desire or strenuous effort; but it is purely the effect of God’s gratuitous mercy.

In the interpretation adopted in the Paraphrase, there is no ground for objection against the free will of man in the performance of his actions; since, there is not question at all of human actions, but of the decree of God, calling a man to grace, which, faith tells us, is always a pure act of mercy on the part of God, wholly uninfluenced by the merits of man, whether actual or foreseen. Before actually obtaining, however, this grace of justification, certain acts are required on the part of adults, such as faith, hope, &c.; but these are mere dispositions, establishing no claim to justification, which God might not refuse. The actions excluded here by the Apostle are such as, in the minds of the converted Jews and Gentiles, gave them a claim to the grace of the Gospel. “Of him that runneth, nor of him that willeth.” These words, probably, contain an allusion to the eager desires and exertions of Esau to secure his father’s benediction, or, they may in general refer to the inutility of human efforts in this matter.

Rom 9:17. Secondly, in withholding from the incredulous Jews the grace of justification, and in leaving them in their obstinacy, there is no injustice on the part of God. In this respect also he can act perfectly at will, as happened in the case of Pharaoh, whom God left in his obstinacy, and of whom he said: for this purpose have I set thee up and preserved thee thus long as king, that I might display my power through thee, and announce the glory of my name throughout the entire earth.

In this verse, the Apostle shows that in rejecting the Jews, as in the case of Esau and leaving them in their obstinacy, there is no injustice on the part of God, which is the second point he wishes to prove. This he shows from the words of SS. Scriptures, addressed to Pharaoh (Exodus 9:16): “For this purpose have I raised thee up.” In the Septuagint version for “raised thee up,” it is, “I have preserved thee;” so as to mean that God preserved him, and continued his reign amidst the many plagues wherewith he had scourged him. The sense furnished by our reading differs very little from the preceding. It means: For this purpose have I constituted thee king of Egypt, “that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name may be declared throughout, &c.” The primary and principal intention which God had in view in preserving Pharaoh, and raising him to the throne, was, that he might govern his people, according to the laws of justice, and thus promote his own and their salvation; but, this primary object failing, the secondary object was, to make him the instrument whereby to display the divine power, and make his obstinate resistance to the divine commands, the means of rendering God’s name the more illustrious, owing to the signal punishment inflicted on him. Similar is the economy of God’s Providence in reference to all obdurate sinners, whose salvation He intends, in the first place; but, this end failing, He draws good out of evil, and makes their sinfulness the means of displaying the glory of His name, and of manifesting His vindicative justice. There is no injustice in punishing such persons, since they deserve it for their sins.

Rom 9:18. The conclusion, therefore, from the foregoing is, that whether in bestowing mercy, or in leaving men in their obstinacy of heart, God is perfectly free to act as he pleases, without injuring any one, and consequently, without giving any one cause for complaint.

This is the twofold conclusion which he draws from the two preceding examples of mercy in the case of Moses, and of justice in that of Pharaoh: it is a fuller expression of “God forbid,” (verse 14). The words, “he hardeneth,” do not imply a positive act of hardening, or the infusion of hardness of heart, on the part of God. They only imply a negative act, the refusal or withholding of his efficacious graces, leaving man to himself, alter which he will infallibly become as obdurate as it God had positively infused obduracy, “non indurat,” says St. Augustine, “infundendo malitiam, sed non infundendo misericordiam.” “Induratio Dei est, nolle misereri,” says the same Father. And in reference to the obduracy of Pharaoh—the example in question—we find in many parts of SS. Scriptures that, although his heart was softened to let the people go during the continuance of the plagues; yet, still, when the plagues were withdrawn, “he himself hardened his own heart.”—(Exodus 7:13). God, by withdrawing or withholding the efficacious graces, which were indispensable for softening his heart, left him to himself, and by this abandonment, as well as by furnishing him with what proved merely the occasion of sin (v.g.) riches, power, &c., on the part of God, the obduracy of Pharaoh as infallibly took place, as if God himself had hardened him positively. In this sense only God is said to “harden him.”—(Vide Rom 1:24, of this Epistle, and 2 Thess 2:10).

Rom 9:19. But, you may still object and say: if such be the case, why should God complain of sinners, why punish and accuse them, since it would appear that they are such by his will, and who is able to resist his will?

The Apostle now proposes an objection which would appear to flow from the preceding doctrine. If God hardens sinners, why blame sinners for this hardness and obduracy, caused by himself; brought about by his own will, since no one can resist his will.

Rom 9:20. O man (slime of the earth), who art thou that darest to enter into account with God, or dispute his sovereign will? Thinkest thou that the thing formed has any right to call its maker to account for the mode in which it has been formed?

At this haughty and blasphemous remark, the Apostle is seized with holy indignation, and at once turns upon the impious, reminding them of the vileness of their origin, of the high and exalted dominion of God over them, and of his indisputable right to treat them as he pleases. The Apostle reserves the direct answer for verses 22, 23. “O man, who art thou,” &c. The words in the Vulgate are more expressive, and the contrast more striking, “O homo” quasi, ab humo, formed from the dust of the earth. “Who art thou?” How dares a creature, so vile and contemptible, question the ordinances and providence of “God?” The contrast is very strong, “man,” mere dust and “God,” the eternal, self-existent, supreme Creator and Lord of all things, “that repliest,” in a disputatious spirit with God. “Shall the thing formed (or, the creature) say to him that formed it, why hast thou?” &c.

Rom 9:21. As well might the clay, or kneaded dough in the hands of the potter, dispute his rightful power to mould it for whatever purposes he might think proper, whether honourable or dishonourable.

The Apostle here asserts the high dominion and undisputed right which God has to show mercy, or not to show mercy, just as he pleases, without leaving any ground whatever for creatures to act as censors or judges of his dealings towards them. In the example of the clay and the potter, there is allusion to Isaias (Isa 29:16, 45:9), where the same similitude is employed for the like purpose of showing, that men should neither reprehend, nor murmur at the providence of God. “The same lump.” The Greek word, φυραμα, means something kneaded, especially dough. From the entire passage it is clear that the Apostle considers man (“the same lump,” or human nature) as infected and corrupted by sin, since it is in this respect only, he is a fit object for mercy (Rom 9:15), and fit for destruction (Rom 9:22). The parity here, as is observed by St. Chrysostom, should not be urged in every respect. It is a canon or law regulating the application of similitudes, that the things compared are not always to be regarded as similar under every respect, since there are but few things, or none at all, in nature, in every respect strictly similar. The rule, then, for the extent of the comparison, is the scope or object of him who employs it; unless this rule were agreed upon, no writer or speaker could ever attempt to employ comparisons of any kind, From the comparison of man in the hands of God, with clay in the hands of the potter, we are by no means to infer the exclusion of human liberty; for, we might, by urging the parity, as well exclude the existence of a rational soul in man. The object of the Apostle, in employing the comparison, is merely this, viz., that man has no more reason to complain of rejection from grace—a thing perfectly at the free disposal of God—than the clay would have of its destination for dishonourable purposes. From man’s rejection from grace also follows his rejection from glory; but the decree of positive reprobation from glory must be always grounded on the provision of man’s demerits; the contrary is the damnable heresy of Calvin.

Good God! Who, in reading this passage, should not tremble for his salvation! Who can know what is in store for him, whether in the ways of God, he is finally marked out for honourable or dishonourable purposes, for “glory” or perdition! Oh! through the intercession of the Omnipotent and Immaculate Queen of Heaven, grant us the great and crowning gift of final perseverance, which if we obtain, we are saved; if we lose, we are damned. It cannot be merited; but, it may be obtained by prayer—“Suppliciter emereri potest.”—(St. Augustine). We should, therefore, constantly and perseveringly pray for “this great gift of final perseverance unto the end.”—(Concil. Trid. SS. vi. Can. xvi.) “Magnum illud usque in finem perseverantiæ donum.”

Rom 9:22. What grounds for murmuring, or cause for complaint is there, if God, wishing to display his vindicative justice and power, has endured with patience and forbearance these obstinate and unrepenting sinners, whom he renders not such; for, he merely bears with them, after having of themselves become fitted for, and merited eternal destruction.

In this verse, the Apostle gives a direct answer to the objection (Rom 9:19). It is not God that hardens sinners; but it is sinners themselves that do so. They become, of themselves, “fitted for destruction,” (κατηρτισμενα εις απολειαν), and, then, God patiently tolerates them, having had primarily in view their salvation (for, “he wishes all men to be saved,” and “that no one should perish”); but, this end failing, he wishes to manifest his wrath and his power in their punishment, and by this means, to strike others with a salutary fear.

Rom 9:23. And having also in view, by the exhibition of the merited and rigorous punishment of the reprobate, to manifest the greatness of his mercy towards his saints, whom, rescued from sin and its punishment, he made, by his grace, fit subjects for glory.

And, again, he has in view, by the rigour of his punishment inflicted on the reprobate, which they justly merited (having of themselves become “fitted for destruction,”) to display in the contrast with his elect, the magnitude of his favours in their regard, by preparing and fitting them for glory, and, of course, rescuing them from the punishment of the reprobate, in which they, too, would be infallibly involved, had it not been for his rich and abundant grace. From these verses it is clear that the Apostle considers man corrupted in his nature, and infected with sin. This is clearly the state in which the divine decree regards man. “The same lump,” (Rom 9:21), out of which “the vessels of honour and dishonour” are formed, is evidently supposed to be corrupted, it being an act of mercy towards the vessels of mercy, to rescue them; and the vessels of wrath are supposed to be of themselves “fitted for destruction,” and their punishment, owing to the contrast, more clearly manifest the riches of God’s mercy towards the others.

Rom 9:24. By these saints whom he prepared for glory, I understand the Christians, whom he called to the faith, not only from among the Jews, but also from among the Gentiles.

The Apostle adds this to show that the Gentiles are made sharers in the promises of Abraham. The call here referred to is the call to Christianity, and not predestination to glory. How many are called to Christianity that are not predestinated to glory?

Rom 9:25. As to the vocation of the latter, it had been long since foretold by the prophet Hosea (chap. 1, 2), I will call the idolatrous Gentiles, who were not my people, to my faith and true worship; and then, they that were not my people will become my people, and they that were not beloved by me, and obtained not mercy, will now become my well beloved, and receive proofs of my gratuitous mercy.

“And it will come to pass, in the place where it was said unto them, you are not my people,” (v.g.) in Greece, Italy, Gaul, &c., where God permitted them to walk in their own ways, that they shall now, after their conversion, and after being adopted into the true worship of God, “be called the sons of the living God”—(Hos 1:10).

He first proves the latter part of the foregoing proposition, regarding the call of the Gentiles, from the prophecy of Hosea, chapters 1 and 2. The words quoted here by the Apostle are in substance read in Hosea (Hos 1:6–10, conjointly with Hos 2:23). All Greek copies omit the last clause, “And her that hath not obtained mercy, one that hath obtained mercy;” while St. Jerome omits the middle clause, “And he that was not beloved, beloved.” Hence, it appears likely that the Apostle, in quoting from Osee, wrote only one or the other; and, as both referred to the same thing, it is probable that they were inserted here in order to reconcile the omission of either clause in the several copies. The words of the prophet in their literal sense, refer to the deliverance of Israel from the kings of Syria, after having turned aside to the worship of false gods—in this respect, a most expressive type of the idolatrous Gentiles—but in their mystical sense (a sense oftentimes principally intended by the Holy Ghost, as in the present instance), the Apostle adduces them to prove the vocation of the Gentile;, to whom, in this sense, they refer.

Rom 9:26. And in the places where it could be truly said, you are not my people, it shall then be said, you are the sons of the living God.

“And it will come to pass, in the place where it was said unto them, you are not my people,” (v.g.) in Greece, Italy, Gaul, &c., where God permitted them to walk in their own ways, that they shall now, after their conversion, and after being adopted into the true worship of God, “be called the sons of the living God”—(Hos 1:10).

Rom 9:27. But that out of Israel, there shall be some called to the faith (verse 24), Isaias loudly proclaims, although they shall be but very few, when he says: If the number of the children of Israel be ever so great, some shall be saved, but only a remnant of them.

In this verse, the Apostle is proving the first part of Rom 9:24, viz., that out of the Jews, some shall be called. If Osee advocates the cause of the Gentiles, we have Isaias loudly proclaiming the vocation of the Jews, who shall be converted, although in a comparatively very small number; and hence, the promises made to Abraham shall be principally fulfilled in the great mass of the Gentiles. Some Commentators, and among the rest, Estius, are of opinion, that the object of the Apostle, in this and the following quotations from Isaias, is, not so much to prove the vocation of some from among the Jews, (Rom 9: 24) as the rejection of the Jews, of whom only a remnant shall be converted, as the prophet Isaias has it, and, consequently, the greater portion rejected. This interpretation is rendered probable according to them, by the conclusion at which the Apostle arrives (Rom 9:30), and which, they say, is deduced from this passage; while the supporters of the opinion adopted in the Pharaphrase say, the conclusion drawn (Rom 9:30) is not intended by the Apostle to refer to the passage immediately preceding; it is merely (according to them) a general conclusion from all that the Apostle has been saying in these chapters, regarding the rejection of the Jews and the calling of the Gentiles.

Rom 9:28. For, the Lord shall accomplish what he has said regarding the salvation of the Jews, reducing the Israelites, whom he is to save, to a very small number. This he shall do by justly punishing the greater number or by remunerating the good and faithful by the abundant gifts of his grace, for he shall make a short reckoning of the affair on earth.

“For he shall finish his word,” i.e., accomplish his saying regarding, &c. (vide Pharaphrase), “and cut it short in justice” by reducing to very narrow limits the number of Israelites who are to be saved. “In justice,” by justly punishing the greater number; or, by conferring on the few faithful the abundant gifts of his justice. “Because a short word” &c. This second clause is merely a repetition of the first. There is a difference of reading between the words of the Apostle—which are read according to the Septuagint—and the Vulgate of St. Jerome, on Isa 10:22, of Isaias, from which this verse is quoted. The passage of Isaias literally refers to the deliverance of the small number of the faithful Jews in the days of Ezechias, from the destructive sword of Sennacherib. These were a type of the small number of the Jews who would embrace the gospel. It is only in their mystical sense, the words are applied by the Apostle to the rejection of the greater number from grace, and the call of only a few thereto.

Rom 9:29. So that, according to the predictions of the same prophet Isaias, if the Lord of armies had not left us a seed, we would have been utterly destroyed, like Sodom and Gomorrha.

From Isaias is adduced a second testimony (Isa 1:9), wherein the prophet literally speaks of the small number that were to survive the captivity; the Apostle, however, takes the mystical meaning of the words, and shows from it, the small number that were to be called to the faith. The “seed” refers to the Blessed Virgin, to the Apostles, and the others first called in the infancy of the Church from the Jewish nation.

Mauduit has made the three preceding verses the subject of a very learned and elaborate dissertation, purporting to refute the interpretation given by Estius of this passage. He undertakes to show, in the first place, that the quotations from Isaias are intended by the Apostle to prove the second part of Rom 9:24 (vide Paraphrase), that as Osee was quoted in favour of the Gentiles, so is Isaias in favour of the Jews; but in order to prove this latter part, he adopts a line of interpretation quite different from the one commonly received. He insists that the word, “remnant,” (Rom 9:27), far from expressing a small number of the Jews to be converted at the time of Christ’s coming, on the contrary, refers to the great bulk of the Jews who, at the end of the world, having survived the persecution of Antichrist, shall be converted to the Lord. He says that, in the 10th chapter of Isaias, from which the quotation is taken here, there is question of Antichrist under the figure of the king of Babylon, whose defeat shall be so great and general that a child could easily count the survivors (see Isa 10:19). “That the remnant of the house of Israel … shall lean on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.” i.e., “resting on the truth of his promises,” (Isa 10:20); and that “the remnant” or, all that shall remain of the house of Jacob, “shall be converted to the Lord,” (Isa 10:21); and, “that although the people of Israel were as the sand of the sea,” “a remnant of them,” i.e., all that shall remain, or survive the slaughter, “shall be converted; the consumption abridged shall overflow with justice,” (Isa 10:22); i.e., in order to accomplish in a short time their perfection, God shall pour upon them the deluge of his graces and justice. “For the Lord God of hosts shall make a consumption, and an abridgment in the midst of all the land,” (Isa 10:23); i.e., he shall bring about these two wonderful results, consummate virtue, and that, in a very short time. The Jews, then, who shall survive the conquests of Antichrist, may be called a “remnant,” and shall be called so in opposition to the Jews of preceding ages, and of those who died in the reign of Antichrist. Although these survivors should be as numerous as the sand of the sea shore, they shall be converted; and that at once, unlike the Gentiles, to whom the execution of God’s merciful decrees was applied gradually in the course of all preceding ages. Mauduit also explains the second text (Rom 9:29), taken from Isaiah 1:9), in the same sense. The word “seed” is made by him to refer to the carnal descendants of those men referred to by Isaias, which seed have propagated the Jewish race, who are to live at the second coming of the Lord, and then shall be converted. This, he says, is clearly the meaning of the prophet, and the same is the meaning of the Apostle, who, by quoting the words of the prophet in this true meaning, proves most clearly the truth of his assertion (Rom 9:24), that from among the Jews some shall be called to embrace the faith, and these are destined “as vessels of mercy prepared unto glory,” (Rom 9:23).

Rom 9:30. What inference, then, are we to deduce from an that has been already urged? It is this: that the Gentiles, who heretofore sought not justice (who performed no works whatever even establishing the appearance of a claim to justice), found true justice, I say, that justice at which we cannot arrive but by faith.

The Apostle here recapitulates all that he had been treating of in this entire chapter. These things being so, what conclusion are we to arrive at? What other but thus, which is really founded on fact, viz., that the Gentiles, who never did anything, establishing even the appearance of a claim to justification, found it through the purest mercy of God—of which justification “the root and foundation is faith.”—(Council of Trent, SS. vi., c. viii.)

Rom 9:31. While the Jews, who followed after the Mosaic law, which they fancied would confer justice, did not obtain the true justice of sanctifying grace conferred by the Law of Christ.

While the Jews, who sought after and followed the law of Moses, which, in their, opinion, conferred justice, or which really would lead to justice, if properly observed, did not arrive at the justice for which this law would be a preparation. The words, “law of justice” in the words, “following after the law of justice,” refer to the Mosaic law, which prescribed and pointed out justice. In the preposition, “is not come unto the law of justice;” the words “law of justice” mean sanctifying grace, and the law of justification through Christ.

Rom 9:32. And what is the cause of this difference of dispensation, with regard to Jew and Gentile? The cause is this—that the Jews endeavoured to obtain justice through wrong means, viz., through the works of the law without grace or faith, as if such works could confer it, rejecting the proper means, viz., faith in Christ. They placed, owing to their incredulity, an obstacle to the operation of this essential means for obtaining true justice; and thus Christ became in their regard a stumbling-block, and a rock of offence.

Having established the fact of the rejection of the Jews and the vocation of the Gentiles, which is a summary of all that he had already said, the Apostle assigns the reason of this difference of dispensation regarding both. The reason was, because the Gentiles had recourse to the proper means of arriving at true justice, viz., faith; and placed no obstacle to the gratuitous goodness of God, while the Jews had recourse to wrong means, viz., works performed by the aid of the Mosaic law, without grace or faith, “as it were of works,” as if these works could give them justice. Hence, by establishing such a system of justification, they placed a positive obstacle to the operation of divine grace; and thus Christ became to them a stumbling-block.

Rom 9:33. And that Christ would become a stumbling-block in their regard was predicted by the Prophet Isaias (Isa 28:16, and Isa 8:14). Behold I lay in Sion a stumbling-block and rock of scandal; and whosoever believeth in him, shall not be subjected to the confusion and shame of disappointment.

This result was long before foretold by the prophet Isaias. This quotation is in part made up of two different passages of Isaiah (Isa 8:14, and Isa 28:16), but principally derived from the latter; or, we may say, that it merely contains a reference to both, without professing to be a quotation from either. The latter words, “shall not be confounded” (ου καταισχυνθησεται), are taken from the Septuagint; but instead of them, we have in the Hebrew, according to St. Jerome’s version, “let him not hasten,” which differs but little in sense from the other; since these latter words express that hurry and trepidation consequent on confusion or disappointment in one’s expectations.—(See 1 Peter 2:6).

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EWTN Audio: A Study of the Gospel of John

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 19, 2019

Prologue of John & calling Disciples (John 1: 1-59).

Ignaural Signs of Jesus’ Ministry (John 2-3).

The First Passover and Jesus’ Encounter with Nicodemus (Chap. 3 cont.).

Woman at the Well and Healing on the Sabbath (John 4-5).

The Fulfillment of Jewish Liturgy: Jesus (John 5 cont.).

The Bread of Life (John 6).

The Feast of Tabernacles (John 7-8).

Continuing with the Feast of Tabernacles.

The Good Shepherd and the Raising of Lazurus (John 10 – 11).

The Washing of the Feet (John 12-13).

Jesus’ Farewell Discourse and His Passion (John 14-19).

Resurrection (John 20-21).

Continuing with the Resurrection.







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EWTN Audio: A Study of the Epistle to the Ephesians

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 19, 2019

Ephesians 1:1-10.

Ephesians 1:11-23.

Ephesians 1:23-2:10.

Ephesians 2:11-20.

Ephesians 3:1-13.

Ephesians 3:14-21.

Ephesians 4:1-16.

Ephesians 4:17-24.

Ephesians 4:25-5:2.

Ephesians 5:3-14.

Ephesians 5:15-6:4.

Ephesians 6:5-13.

Ephesians 6:13-24.

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EWTN: The Way to Follow Jesus (On the Gospel of St Mark)

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 18, 2019


The Good News of the Gospel.

The Good News of the Kingdom.

Demise of the Demons.

Fear and Faith.

The Problem of Parables.

Miracles of the Bread.

The Blind Shall See.

How Long Will They Not Believe.

I’ve Come to Serve, Not to be Served.

Jesus’ Royal Entry Into Jerusalem.

The Widow’s Offering in the Temple (the widow’s mite).

Discipleship During the Passion and Crucifixion.

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EWTN: In The Footsteps Of St Paul (On 1 Corinthians)

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 18, 2019

Episode 1.

Episode 2.

Episode 3.

Episode 4.

Episode 5.

Episode 6.

Episode 7.

Episode 8.

Episode 9.

Episode 10.

Episode 11.

Episode 12.

Episode 13.


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