The Divine Lamp

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

Archive for April, 2019

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 4:1-12

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 13, 2019

In this chapter is recorded the violence offered the Apostles by the Jewish authorities for preaching to the people (Acts 4:1–3). The conversion of large numbers (Acts 4:4). The questioning of the Apostles by the leading men of the Jewish priesthood (Acts 4:5–8). Peter’s address, his vindication of his conduct, and exposition of doctrine (Acts 4:8–13). Consultation among the assembled authorities as to how the Apostles were to be treated (Acts 4:13–20). The liberation of the Apostles out of fear of the people, and on account of the incontestable evidence of the miracle (Acts 4:21–22). The solemn, united prayer to God on the part of the assembled faithful (Acts 4:24–30). The effect of this solemn prayer fully manifested (Acts 4:31). The edifying manner of life pursued by the first Christians, their charitable disinterestedness (Acts 4:32–37).

Acts 4:1 And as they were speaking to the people the priests and the officer of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them,

“Priests.” These likely belonged to the Sanhedrim. They seemed to possess some authority to prevent the Apostles from preaching in the Temple.

“The officer of the Temple” very likely, denotes the captain of the guard stationed in the Tower, Antonia, for the purpose of preserving order and preventing tumults in the Temple, especially on the occasion of Great Festivities. The assembling of the people round the Apostles, after the miraculous cure of the lame man, might lead to a riot.

“The Sadducees” (See Matthew 3:7, 22:23, Commentary). They were a kind of freethinking malcontents among the Jews. They denied the existence of spirits, and the spirituality, as also the immortality of the soul. They were particularly opposed to the doctrine of the Resurrection. Although generally at variance with the Pharisees and the heads of the Jewish church, they still joined them against our Lord and his Apostles (See Matthew 3:7).

“Came upon them,” by surprise and unexpectedly, while speaking to the people.

Acts 4:2 Being grieved that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead:

“Grieved,” in Greek, means, vexed, annoyed; “taught,” &c, thus causing their own influence and prestige to be lessened.

“The resurrection of the dead,” the general resurrection of all men, of which the Resurrection of Jesus, which they constantly proclaimed, was the model, the exemplary and efficient cause. This was very mortifying to the Sadducees, who saw that the preaching of the Apostles on this point, so opposed to their cherished tenets, was making head among the people. They, therefore, united with the priests in endeavouring to arrest the progress of the Gospel.

Acts 4:3 And they laid hands upon them and put them in hold till the next day: for it was now evening.

Forcibly seizing on them, they put them in safe keeping, either in prison or in charge of some guard “till next day,” when they were to be brought before the Council. It was now too late in the day to convene a Council.

Acts 4:4 But many of them who had heard the word believed: and the number of the men was made five thousand.

The effect of this persecution was to increase the number of believers among the Jews. “Was made five thousand.” This form of expression would seem to signify, not that this number were just now converted and assembled in Solomon’s porch; but, that by the accession of the “many” now converted, to the number of converts already existing, the entire Church now amounted to this number, which shows the wonderful power of God’s grace in so short a time after Pentecost. The interval, though not stated, must be very short.

Acts 4:5 And it came to pass on the morrow, that their princes and ancients and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem.

The assembly of the Sanhedrim, or great council of the nation, which wielded such authority, probably, the first time, since they condemned our Lord, shows the alarm caused the heads of the Jewish Church by the successes of the Apostles. Hence, they leave nothing undone to stop them. For a full account of the Synedrium, or, as the Talmudists termed it, the Sanhedrin (See Matthew 26:57, Commentary). Seventy-one (72) judges constituted the Sanhedrim, the High Priest being always President. It was composed of the High Priests, that is, such as enjoyed the dignity of High Priests, together with the heads of the twenty-four (24) classes into which the Priests were divided—“the ancients or elders, the chiefs of the Tribes and heads of families; the Scribes” (See Matthew 26:3). There is no mention of the High Priests here. Hence, the description of the Sanhedrim here is incomplete, though, of course, the High Priests formed no inconsiderable portion of the assembly. It was before these same men our Blessed Lord was arraigned; it was they handed him over to Pilate (Matthew 26:50). It was before the same that Peter denied our Lord (Matthew 26:70. &c.).

“In Jerusalem”—in Greek, “into Jerusalem,” conveying that such members of the Sanhedrim as were not actually at the time in Jerusalem, repaired thither for the trial of the Apostles.

Acts 4:6 And Annas the high priest and Caiphas and John and Alexander: and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest.

Having referred, in a general way, to the Sanhedrim, he now mentions some of its most prominent members, “Annas, Caiphas,” &c (See Luke 3). “John and Alexander,” men clearly of eminence among the body, “and as many,” &c., may denote members of the family of Annas and Caiphas, or those nearly related to them.

Acts 4:7 And setting them in the midst, they asked: By what power or by what name, have you done this?

“And setting,” &c., assigning them as culprits a place where all the judges or assembled members of the Sanhedrim might easily see them.

“What power,” from God, or any other source? “Name.” What name did you invoke in order to perform this work? Although they knew it was by the power and invocation of the name of Jesus, still they hoped the Apostles might say it was by the Divine power, without specially referring to the name of Jesus; and thus, some confusion as to the distinct name of Jesus might arise (St. Chrysostom, Hom. x. in Acts).

“You,” is derisive. You, who are of no consideration.

“This” cure. They would not express what it was.

Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said to them: Ye princes of the people and ancients, hear.

“Filled with the Holy Ghost” denotes a particular actual grace given him on this occasion, strongly influencing him; different or distinct from the habitual graces given him on Pentecost Sunday. Ordinary and habitual grace would not suffice for heroic deeds. A new actual grace is required. Thus, it is said of Sampson, on occasion of his wonderful displays of strength, “the spirit of the Lord came strongly upon him” (Judges 15:14).

How different is Peter’s conduct from what it had been on a former occasion. Then, trembling at the empty chidings of a silly maid, he denied his Lord. Now, as head of the Apostolic College, boldly confronting the united authority of the Jews, he makes reparation for his former crime by loudly proclaiming his Divine Messiahship, preaching the glorious Resurrection of the Crucified, whose power they were after witnessing in the miraculous cure of the lame man. Showing the deference due to their office, he respectfully addresses them as representatives of the supreme authority among the Jews, “Princes of the people,” &c. Before the same Council, the same men, in the same place and city, he repaires the scandal he gave in denying his Divine Master.

Acts 4:9 If we this day are examined concerning the good deed done to the infirm man, by what means he hath been made whole:

“If we this day,” &c. If notwithstanding the evidence of the fact, we are to be treated as criminals, brought to trial and subjected to judicial examination for the good deed of having bestowed the blessing of a perfect cure on the infirm man—which should be rather a subject of praise—and called to render an account of how “he has been made whole.” “If” conveys surprise at such an extraordinary proceeding, a matter scarcely credible.

Acts 4:10 Be it known to you all and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God hath raised from the dead, even by him, this man standeth here before you, whole.

As you ask by what name we did this, be it known to you and all the world, it was by invoking the name and exercising the power “of our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth.” The term of Nazareth was the epithet by which our Lord was known and scornfully referred to by the Jews. “Crucified,” “raised from the dead.” The contrast is so striking. They put him to death. God raised him up from the dead. The accusers now become the accused. With singular intrepidity and courage, St. Peter heretofore so timid, charges them with the greatest crime that could be perpetrated, the murder of their own long-expected Messiah and deliverer, putting to death the author of life.

“Standeth here,” &c. It may be that the cured man was imprisoned or guarded with the Apostles, and, very likely, brought forward at the trial to confront them.

Acts 4:11 This is the stone which was rejected by you the builders, which is become the head of the corner.

He shows that the ignominious death and Resurrection of our Lord was predicted by the Prophets. He thus strengthens his argument, especially with the Jews, who valued so much the oracles of their inspired Prophets. The first part of Psalm 118, from which the quotation is taken, literally refers to David himself. The second part, also quoted, could refer to our Lord only, in its literal sense, and is quoted by our Lord as applying to Himself (Matthew 21:42). Here is a metaphorical allusion to architecture; skilful architects place in the corners of a building the largest and most binding stone, in order to unite and sustain the two walls of the building. It thus gets the most important place. St. Peter applies this prediction to our Lord, who was scornfully rejected by the Jewish rulers, the Priests, and Scribes, the builders of the Synagogue, who should labour for the construction of God’s spiritual house, and should, therefore, be the first to receive our Lord. But while they rejected Him, God placed Him as the head “corner stone,” sustaining, upholding, and fusing into one the two peoples, Jews and Gentiles, who were to form the Church. He united the old and new dispensations. In Him all the elect of old were justified, no less than the children of the New Law. To this our Lord alludes (Matthew 21:42. See Commentary on).

Isaias had predicted it (Isa 28:16). See also 1 Peter 2–4.

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.

Having assured them in figurative terms, that Christ was the Messiah, St. Peter now, in language devoid of all figure, adds, as a consequence, that in him only can man find eternal Salvation.

Name” often signifies person or being. No one else can save us from the consequences of sin, viz., hell and damnation; and bestow on us eternal joy and peace in Heaven—the chief object of our Lord’s Mission. The Apostle avails himself of this corporal cure to place before the assembled Sanhedrim the greater cure and salvation from Hell which our Lord came to bring about.

Our Lord is frequently marked out, “given” as the source of this greater and universal Salvation. (John 3:16), (1 Cor. 3:5), (1 Tim. 2:6), &c.

“Must be saved” in the present order of Divine Providence, whereby our Lord is constituted the only source of eternal life and salvation.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 16

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 4, 2019

ANALYSIS OF ROMANS CHAPTR 16
Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this chapter, the Apostle commends to the Romans, Phœbe, the Deaconess of the Church of Cenchreæ, the bearer of this Epistle, and a benefactress to himself and several others (Rom 16:1-2).

He salutes many of the saints of Rome, and mentions their names with much praise. He exhorts them to note the authors of scandal and dissension, and to shun them; for, such persons are solely actuated by motives of selfishness, only serving themselves and not Jesus Christ. By shunning these, they will preserve their faith without any admixture of error. He prays for them and promises them the divine assistance against such impostors (Rom 16:20). He mentions the names of those who send their salutations to the Romans (Rom 16:21-23), and finally, after blessing them, he closes the Epistle with a doxology, in which he extols the attributes of God (Rom 16:24-27.

COMMENTARY ON ROMANS CHAPTER 16
Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

Rom 16:1. But I commend to you Phœbe, our sister in the Lord, who discharges the functions of deaconess in the Church of Cenchreæ (and who is the bearer of this Epistle).

Our sister,” in the Christian faith and religion, “who is in the ministry of the Church,” &c. The Greek, ουσαν και διακονον της εκκλησιας, is literally rendered, who is also a Deaconess of the Church, &c.; also, is found in the Codex Vaticanus, but wanting in the common Greek copies. These Deaconesses were an order of devout females, who, from the very days of the Apostles, were deputed to perform certain functions in the Church. They were generally selected from among the ecclesiastical widows, of whom mention is made (1 Tim 5). Hence, St. Epiphanius (Heresi, 79), and the Council of Laodicea (Can. 11), call them, elderly widows. Persons also who lived in perpetual virginity sometimes discharged the office of Deaconesses, as is stated by St. Ignatius (ad Smyrnenses), St. Epiph. (Expos. Fid. Num. 21), and others. It is clear from this passage, that they existed from the time of the Apostles; the junior Pliny (Epist. 96, Lib. x. to Trajan), speaks of having put two Deaconesses to the torture: “Qui magis, inquit, necessarium credidi ex duabus ancillis, quæ ministræ dicebantur, quid esset veri et per tormenta exquirere.” Their age, at the time of the Apostle, should be sixty (1 Tim 5). But, in course of time, this rule was departed from, and it was fixed in the Council of Chalcedon, held under Pope Leo, that they might be admitted at the age of forty; the same was sanctioned in the Council of Quinisextum.—(Canon 14). Their duties were—firstly, to assist at the baptism of females, which was then given by immersion, and thus consult for modesty; secondly, to instruct at their houses the female catechumens, in the Christian doctrine; to carry aid and assistance to the martyrs and confessors detained in prison, when the Deacons were not allowed access to them; and also to attend at the entrance to the church on the side in which the females entered.—(St. Clement, lib. 3, Constit. chap. 15 and 16; St. Epiph. Heresi, 79; St. Ignatius, Ep. 12, ad Antiochenos). The common opinion is, that they were admitted to the rank of Deaconesses by the imposition of hands, which, of course, did not confer on them any holy order or sacrament, but was merely an ecclesiastical cermony. The 19th Canon of the Council of Nice would appear to be opposed to this; but, if examined closely, it is not in reality opposed to it, since the Canon of Nice prevents the cermony of the imposition of hands, only in reference to such as were converted from the heresy of the Paulinianists. The office of Deaconess gradually fell into disuse and was abolished in the Church.—(Vide Devoti, lib. 1, Titulo ix. et Cabassutius, Notitia Ecclesiastica, sec. 2da, Dissertatio 2da.)

“That is in Cenchreæ.” Cenchreæ was one of the ports of Corinth, on the Asiatic side, where St. Paul had written this Epistle, of which Phebe is generally supposed to have been the bearer to the Romans.

Rom 16:2. I beseech you then to receive her in the name of the Lord, in such a way as a holy woman should he received and treated by saints, and to assist her in whatever matters she may require your assistance. She is eminently entitled to this attention from you, for having herself frequently assisted and extended relief to many of the saints, to myself among the rest.

“In the Lord,” i.e., in the name and on account of Christ, “as becometh saints,” in such a way as Christians should receive each other. “For she also hath assisted,” (in Greek, προστασις ἐγενηθν, has been a protectress to) “many” of the saints, or such Christians as required her aid, and to myself among the rest.

Rom 16:3. Salute Prisca, and her husband Aquila, my coadjutors in promulgating the gospel of Christ.

These were of Jewish extraction, well instructed in the faith, and tent makers by trade. They had returned to Rome after the death of the Emperor Claudius, by whose edict all Jews were banished from Rome. “My helpers,” &c. They assisted and co-operated with the Apostle in the work of the gospel.

Rom 16:4. They also were sharers in my dangers; for, they exposed and perilled their lives in defence of mine; to them, therefore, not only I, but all the churches of the Gentiles, whose Apostle they have saved, and in whose conversion they have co-operated, return thanks.

“Who had exposed their necks for my life.” This must have happened either in the tumult raised at Corinth (Acts 18:12), or in the one at Ephesus (Acts 19:24).

Rom 16:5. Salute also their entire Christian family. Salute also Epenetus, who was the first to embrace the faith when I preached in Asia, and is, therefore, my firstborn in Christ from that country.

“The church which is in their house,” i.e., their entire Christian family, which was as orderly and as well regulated as a church; it was also distinguished for piety. It may be that the word “church,” applied to their house, has reference to the constant celebration of the praises of God and divine offices there, before the faithful could have obtained public places of worship.—(See Philemon 3; Col. 4.; 1 Cor. 16.) “The first-fruits of Asia.” Some versions have, “the first-fruits of Achaia,” but erroneously, since Stephanas was the first-fruits of Achaia (1 Cor. 16:15). The most learned among critics prefer the reading in our Vulgate, “Asia,” to the one in which Achaia is found: της Ασιας is the reading of the chief MSS.

Rom 16:6. Salute Mary who has laboured much for you.

“Among you,” in the common Greek, εἰς ἡμᾶς, unto us, or for us. The Codex Vaticanus εἰς ὑμᾶς, onto you. Who she was, cannot be determined with certainty.

Rom 16:7. Salute Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen, sharers in my sufferings and incarceration for Christ, who are distinguished among the preachers of the gospel, and have this advantage over me, that they believed in Christ before I received that grace.

“My kinsmen,” probably of the same tribe of Benjamin; for there were a great many at Rome of Jewish extraction, who would be equally his kinsmen, if the words merely regarded their being of Jewish origin. “Junias,” is more probably supposed, from the following words, “of note among the Apostles,” i.e., preachers of the gospel, to have been a man, and not the wife of Andronicus, as some imagine. “Fellow-prisoners.” It is not well determined when or where they were in prison with him. They were called to the faith before the Apostle.

Rom 16:8. Salute Ampliatus, most dear to me for his piety.

“Most beloved in the Lord,” expressed his Christian affection for him.

Rom 16:9. Salute Urbanus, our co-operator in the work of the gospel, and Stachys, very much beloved by me.

Rom 16:10. Salute Apelles, who has been tried and proved in the profession of his faith; or, found by experience to be a sincere Christian.

“Approved in Christ.” The Greek word for “approved,” δοκιμον, means found, by trial and experience, to be a true and sincere Christian.

Rom 16:11. Salute the family of Aristobulus. Salute Herodian, my kinsman. Salute the Christian domestics of Narcissus.

“Those that are of Aristobulus’s household,” and of course, Aristobulus himself in the first place. “Herodian my kinsman,” i.e., of the same tribe of Benjamin with me. “Of Narcissus’s household who are in the Lord;” hence, it is probable that some of his household were unbelievers.

Rom 16:12. Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who co-operate, in their way, in the propagation of the gospel. Salute Persis, most dear to me, who has laboured much in the cause of the Lord.

These three females laboured, in their own way, towards the propagation of the gospel, by extending hospitality and kindness to its preachers.

Rom 16:13. Salute Rufus, distinguished for his piety, and his mother, whom I also love and venerate as a parent.

“Elect in the Lord,” i.e., distinguished among the Christians, and his mother, for whom I entertain the feelings and veneration of a son.

Rom 16:14. Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Patrobas, Hermes, and the other brethren, who are connected and associated with them.

“Hermas,” is supposed by Origen to have been the author of the book called Pastor, which was a work of great authority among the ancients. It was publicly read in some churches of the Greeks, as St Jerome, Eusebius, and Origen testify, but it is not to be reckoned as part of inspired Scripture, as Pope Gelasius has asserted in his decree concerning the Canonical Scriptures and Apocryphal books.

Rom 16:15. Salute Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympias; and all the Christians who live with them.

It is doubted whether Julia was a man or a woman. Origen says that Julia was the wife or Philologus. “Olympias,” in Greek, “Olympas,” Estius thinks, was a man.

Rom 16:16. Salute one another with a holy kiss, which is the sign of mutual and holy Christian love. I am so well assured of the charitable feelings of all Christian Churches towards you, that I send you their salutations.

“With a holy kiss,” the symbol of charity and concord. It was customary with the Christians to salute one another with the words, pax tecum, after the taking of the Holy Eucharist. The men saluted men only; and females those of their own sex, on these occasions. This usage has been long since discontinued in the Church; a vestige of it, however, remains in the kiss of peace given at solemn mass. “All the Churches of Christ salute you.” (“All” is not in the Greek, which simply is, αι εκκλησίαι, the Churches). He knows the charitable feelings of all Churches towards them, and therefore sends their salutation.

From the omission on the part of St. Paul to send his salutations to St. Peter, Protestestants attempt to derive an argument in proof of their unfounded assertion—viz., that St. Peter never was at Rome. But the fact of his having been at Rome, and his having been put to death with St. Paul, under Nero, is so well attested by undoubted historical evidence, that it is needless to dwell on the subject. Why, then, did not St. Paul salute him? Simply because St. Paul knew that he was not at Rome at the time. He was engaged in preaching the gospel in Britain or Spain, or Africa, as we are assured by Innocent, &c., quoted by Baronius and Bellarmine; for he had not returned thither since the time of his expulsion, together with the other Jews, by the edict of Claudius. And if St. Peter were at Rome at this time, would he not have settled the disputes which elicited this Epistle from St. Paul?

Rom 16:17. But I entreat of you, brethren, to mark well those men who beget dissensions and cause scandals amongst you, teaching false opinions, opposed to the true doctrine, which you have been taught; mark these and shun them.

He alludes to some false teachers, who preached up the necessity of the Jewish ceremonial observances. The language here employed is very like that used in reference to the same.—(Philippians 3:9).

Rom 16:18. For, such persons care not about serving Christ our Lord, or about promoting the cause of the gospel; they are only concerned about their own temporal profits, and the indulgence in luxurious living; and, by their bland plausible words—by their hollow, adulatory professions of friendship and regard—seduce the hearts of the artless and unsuspecting.

The first reason for avoiding them is derived from the perverse morals and deceitful, lying conduct of such persons.

Rom 16:19. Moreover, your perfect obedience to Christ in promptly embracing and complying with the gospel, has become known in every place; I, therefore, rejoice on your account; but, at the same time, in order to secure the purity of your faith against being tarnished, I wish you to be prudent and circumspect in embracing what is good, so as not to be deceived by the designing; and to be simple and innocent in regard to evil, so as not to injure or deceive any one.

The second reason is derived from the celebrity of the faith of the Romans which is announced throughout the whole earth (chapter 1), and which they should preserve inviolate, by shunning all intercourse with the false teachers. “In every place.” The Greek is, εἰς παντας, unto all men. “I rejoice, therefore, in you,” in Greek, ἐφʼ ὑμιν ουν χαιρω, I rejoice, therefore, on your behalf.

Rom 16:20. But, may God, the author and lover of peace, quickly crush under your feet Satan, by whom these men are instigated. For this end, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and assist you.

He begs of God who is the lover, of peace, and who hates dissensions, to give them grace perfectly to overcome Satan, by whom these men are instigated, and whose instruments, in perpetuating such dissensions, they are.

Rom 16:21. Timothy, my fellow-labourer in the gospel, and Lucius and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.

Rom 16:22. I, Tertius, who, at the dictation of Paul, have penned this Epistle, salute you in the Lord.

“Tertius” was the amanuensis whom Saint Paul employed in writing this Epistle: and, hence, while writing, he speaks of himself in the first person: “I, Tertius, salute,” &c.

Rom 16:23. Caius, my host, and the host of all Christians, from what quarter soever they come, salutes you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city of Corinth, salutes you; and so does Quartus, a brother.

“Caius, my host, and the whole Church, saluteth you.” According to the Greek, it is “Caius, my host, και ὅλης τῆς ἐκκλησίας, and (the host) of the entire Church.” i.e., of all Christians from whatever quarter they come, which is a great commendation of his hospitality. “Erastus, the treasurer of the city.” (The Greek for “Treasurer” is οικονομος,). He had charge of the public treasury of Corinth, where this Epistle is generally supposed to have been written.

Rom 16:24. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Rom 16:25. Eternal glory be given to Almighty God, who is able to strengthen you and confirm you in the doctrine of the gospel, which I, everywhere preach; and which Jesus Christ himself also preached; so as to reveal that great mystery (of the Incarnation and Redemption of mankind through Jesus Christ) which was hidden from the world during all past ages.

This and the two following verses are, in some Greek copies, read at the close of chapter 14, and they are explained in the same place by St. Chrysostom and others. However, the most ancient of manuscripts (the Alexandrian and Vatican), and all Latin interpreters, place them as they are here, and make them the final conclusion of the Epistle; and this arrangement is clearly preferable, since as chap 15 is a continuation of the matter treated of in chap. 14, it is not likely that the Apostle would interrupt, and break the connexion of his subject by the intermediate insertion of these verses in that place. In these words, then, the Apostle bursts forth into the praises of God, for the great benefit of man’s salvation and justification, the nature and mysterious economy of which he had been explaining throughout the entire Epistle, which is thus brought to a suitable close.

“Now to him that is able to establish you,” i.e., to God, “be honour and glory,” (verse 27); for, the sense of the entire passage is suspended until we come to verse 27. “According to my gospel” which I everywhere preach. “And the preaching of Jesus Christ.” Some interpret these words as a mere explanation of the preceding, thus: “according to my gospel and the preaching concerning Jesus Christ.” The interpretation of Piconio has been adopted in the Paraphrase. “According to the revelation of the mystery,” i.e., by the preaching of which gospel is brought about the revelation of the great mystery or secret truth. He refers to the redemption of man through Christ, and the adorable system of supernatural Providence, the great foundation of which was Christ’s incarnation. “Kept secret from eternity.” The Greek words for “eternity” are, χρονοις αιωνιοις, “during the worldly times,” or all preceding ages. The words are used to express eternity.

Rom 16:26. But which mystery now, under the law of grace, has been manifested by the Scriptures of the Prophets, who wrote beforehand concerning Christ and his gospel, and has been made known among all the nations, by the express command of God, commissioning and delegating his Apostles to preach to them, so as to bring all unto the obedience of faith.

“Which,” i.e., mystery (as appears from the Greek, φανερωθεντος, “manifested,” referring to μυστηριου, which preceded, with which also “kept secret,” σεσιγημενου, verse 25, and “known,” γνωρισθεντος, verse 26, agree), “has been made manifest by the scriptures of the prophets,” who wrote and predicted concerning the mysteries of our Saviour’s life and gospel: “According to the command of the eternal God.” These words are to be connected with the last words of the verse, “known among all nations.” This mystery, and all the gospel economy founded on it, were by God’s command proclaimed by the Apostles, and made known among all the nations of the earth, “for the obedience of the faith,” so as to induce them to embrace the faith.

Rom 16:27. To the Omnipotent and only Wise God, (I say), be rendered honour and glory, through Jesus Christ for ever and ever. Amen.

“To God the only Wise,” i.e., alone Wise by his nature and essence. Here the sentence, commenced at verse 25, is completed. The words “to whom” are redundant; they are used by the Apostle, according to a Hebrew idiom. In these last verses, the Apostle closes the Epistle as he had begun it, by asserting that the gospel which he preached contained nothing false or novel; that it was perfectly in accordance with the oracles and predictions of the ancient prophets. The words “made manifest by the scriptures of the prophets,” verse 26; and “which he hath promised by his prophets in the holy scriptures,” (Rom 1:2), are almost identical.

I cannot forbear quoting the beautiful paraphrase of these three verses, as given by A’Lapide: “O King of ages! O Revealer of the mystery concealed during the ages of eternity! O eternal God, immortal and invisible! O thou, who dwellest in the lofty mountains of eternity; who, from thy elevated eminence, dost behold the narrow span of our life, and of all times, gliding beneath thee; to thee be honour, to thee be glory, for ever and ever! Thou, by thy triumph over death, hast thrown open to us the portals of a happy eternity. Grant us to live always mindful of it—justly, soberly, and piously—so as to be one day partakers of it. Grant us to pass this fleeting moment of life in such a way, by the exercise of heroism and sanctity, as to merit admission to thy enjoyment for ever; to praise thee, to celebrate thee, in the company of all thy angels and saints. O true charity! O beloved eternity! My God and my all.” Amen.

O sweet and amiable Mary, Mother of Jesus, powerful Virgin! pray for us.

The ordinary Greek copies have the following subscription:—“Written to the Romans from Corinth by Phœbe, Deaconess of the Church at Cenchreæ.” This, although correct, is not to be regarded as belonging to the Sacred Text. It was most likely, added by some Greek author to point out the bearer of the Epistle, and the place where it was written. It was wanting, either altogether, or in part, in the ancient MSS. In the Codex Vaticanus we simply have: “Written to the Romans from Corinth.”

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 15

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 1, 2019

ANALYSIS OF ROMANS CHAPTER 15
Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this chapter, the Apostle, addressing the better instructed among the Christians at Rome, exhorts them to bear patiently with the infirmities and unmeaning scruples of their weaker brethren, and to seek to promote their interests, even at the sacrifice of personal gratification and the abandonment of personal opinion (Rom 15:1-2); and for this purpose he proposes the example of Christ (Rom 15:3-4). He next prays God to grant them the grace and blessing of perfect concord, and encourages them to its practice, by the example of what Christ did for both Jew and Gentile. The Gentile should bear in mind that our Redeemer was himself a Jew, and sent to the Jews, in the first place, in order to fulfil God’s promise; and the Jews should be reconciled to the Gentiles, by the consideration, that the Prophets had foretold the gratuitous and merciful call of the Gentiles to be members of the same fold with themselves (Rom 15:5–12). He begs for them the blessing of God’s grace (Rom 15:13).

He, then, with a modesty and prudence truly Apostolic, apologises for whatever in his admonitions might be calculated to give them offence; and says, it was only in the exercise of his Apostolic ministry, he wrote to them at all (Rom 15:14-15). After stating the nature of his ministry, the cause he had for glorying in it, owing to the wonders God wrought through him (Rom 15:16-19), and the vast districts he traversed (Rom 15:20-23), he expresses his purpose of visiting them after his return from Jerusalem (Rom 15:25–30), He recommends himself to their prayers, and prays, in turn, for them (Rom 15:31-33).

COMMENTARY ON ROMANS CHAPTER 15
Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

Rom 15:1. Now, we who are more advanced in knowledge and in Christian virtue, should not only avoid scandalizing our weaker brethren, but we should, as a matter of duty, charitably bear with their ignorance and infirmities, and not seek our own pleasure or advantage, regardless of the interests of others.

“To bear.” The Greek word, βασταζειν, contains an allusion to strong persons, who help their weak fellow-travellers, by occasionally carrying their burdens. It here regards the duty of charitable forbearance and condescension towards our weaker brethren. “Infirmities;” ασθενηματα, the ignorance and scruples, no matter how unfounded. “And not to please ourselves,” may also mean, and not to feel complacency in ourselves, on account of our superior knowledge and virtue, which would make us disregard the good of others. As in the natural body, the stronger members support and bear up the weaker; so also should it be in the body of the Church; the stronger ought to support the weak, by communicating to them their knowledge and their strength; and instead of feeling complacency in their own superior attainments, they should employ them for the advantage and salvation of their neighbour.

Rom 15:2. Let each one of us make it his duty to gratify and serve his neighbour in things that tend to his advantage and spiritual advancement—viz., in matters appertaining to faith and eternal salvation.

“Let every one.” In some Greek copies we have, “for let every one.” For, is wanting in the chief MSS. and rejected by critics. “Of you,” (in Greek, of us); “please his neighbour,” i.e., endeavour to gratify him; not, however, in acceding to his wishes and feelings when they lead to evil; but, “unto good, to edification,” by leading him to good, and by promoting his spiritual welfare. In this, worldly cupidity differs from charity; that the former seeks to gratify our neighbour, even in evil, to his perdition; the latter wishes to please, only to secure his salvation.

Rom 15:3. For our heavenly model, Christ, did not seek his own pleasure and advantage, regardless of the good of others; on the contrary, he sought our advantage at the sacrifice of great personal sufferings; as he says of himself, when addressing his Father (Psalm 69:13), the reproaches and insults offered you by men, so affected me, that I took upon me to expiate them, and thus secure man’s salvation.

Although everything that Christ did was most pleasing, still, he did not seek his own ease, nor his own will, to the exclusion of the interests of others, which is the meaning of the word “please” in this passage. “But as it is written:” “but” he sought to advance the glory of his Father, and our salvation, “as it is written.” “The reproaches,” &c., may refer to his anxiety for his Father’s glory, which was so great, that the reproaches and the insults which his Heavenly Father received, affected him as much as if they were heaped upon himself. This is the meaning intended in Psalm 69. But the meaning given in the paraphrase, which makes the words “fell upon me,” referred to his having endured death to expiate the crimes of man, and thereby to save him at the sacrifice of his own life, is the one directly intended here by the Apostle, and the one best accommodated to his purpose, which is to show that we should undergo some sacrifice for our neighbour, as Christ as done for us.

Rom 15:4. Now, although this directly regards Christ, it still, in a certain sense, regards us also, and was intended for our instruction; for, all the SS. Scriptures were written for our instruction, that by the exercise of patience, to which they stimulate us, and by the consolation which the examples and promises they contain carry with them, we might have hope of eternal happiness, in the midst of suffering and adversity here below.

He now assigns his reason for quoting, for our instruction, a text, which directly and immediately had reference to Christ; because the entire scriptures “were written” (the common Greek text has “written before,” προεγραφη, in both places), and intended for our instruction, that, deriving courage from the exercise of patience, which they strongly commend, and supported by the consolation which the examples and promises they contain hold out to us in adversity, we might look forward with stronger and firmer hope to the blessings promised us in the life to come. “And the comfort,” &c. The chief MSS. have “and through the comfort,” &c. We see here the fruits we are to expect and to derive from the reading of the Holy Scriptures—“patience, comfort, and hope.” They are intended to enlighten our faith, strengthen our hope, and increase our charity. How many, nevertheless, read them from mere curiosity? How many read them without the proper dispositions, without due humility of heart, without proper feelings of docility to the Catholic Church, which God has appointed as the infallible interpreter of those obscure oracles, wrested by many to their own destruction, as the history of modern sectaries too clearly testifies? “We nourish ourselves,” says an ancient Father reproachfully, “by the rind of the book, and not by the bread of the word.”

Rom 15:5. Now, I pray God—the source of patience and of consolation—to grant you perfect concord and unanimity; such concord, as becomes Christians, or, such as the life and example of Christ inculcates.

God is the author and giver of the patience, of the comfort, and of the hope which he wished us to seek for in the SS. Scriptures, “to be of one mind, one towards another,” i.e., to have the same judgments—the same feelings. “According to Jesus Christ,” may mean, according to the example left us by Christ, who sought our good at so much sacrifice.

Rom 15:6. That with one heart and soul, and one expression of the same thoughts and feelings, you may, laying aside all dissensions, glorify God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

By unanimity of heart and soul, and indentity of confession and expression, they would give God the greatest amount of glory, and show the world that they obeyed his commandments, and were truly his disciples. “God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” may mean, “the God and the Father of our Lord,” &c. This is the meaning of the Greek, τὸν θεὸν και πατέρα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμων, the article is not repeated, and so the words, “of our Lord,” must depend on “God” as well as on “Father.”

Rom 15:7. Wherefore, mutually receive and charitably sustain and cherish one another, as Christ has received and associated us all to himself, to make us partakers with him of God’s glorious inheritance of salvation.
Rom 15:8. Christ received us all, both Jew and Gentile, and associated us to himself. For, I say, that, in the first place, Jesus Christ became himself the minister, the preacher of salvation to the Jews, to prove that God is veracious in fulfilling to the children the promises made to their fathers.

“Receive one another,” cherish and prop up one another; the strong him that is weak: the learned, him that is ignorant. Let the Gentile cherish the Jew, and the Jew, the Gentile; “as Christ has received us”—has taken care of the salvation of us all. “Unto the honour of God,” is connected by some Commentators with the words, “receive one another, unto the honour of God:” for thus God’s honour and glory shall be promoted, and his religion cleared from calumny. Nothing so much attracted the Gentiles in the infancy of the Church, as the love of the first Christians for one another; hence, they would exclaim in admiration: “see how they love one another.”—(Tertullian). Others connect it, as in the Paraphrase, with the words immediately preceding.

The Apostle in this and in the following verses, shows how Christ received all, both Jews and Gentiles; the Jews, in order to redeem the promise made to their fathers; the Gentiles, through pure mercy, without any promise being pledged them to that effect; their call was, however, predicted by the prophets. In this he also assigns reasons for the most perfect concord of both. The Gentile should not despise the Jew, to whom Christ himself in person announces the tidings of redemption: nor ought the Jews feel indignant that the Gentile should be sharers in the blessings which their own prophets had predicted for them.

“Jesus Christ was minister of the circumcision,” i.e., of the Jews; to them alone did he announce his gospel: “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Christ received us all, both Jew and Gentile, and associated us to himself. For, I say, that, in the first place, Jesus Christ became himself the minister, the preacher of salvation to the Jews, to prove that God is veracious in fulfilling to the children the promises made to their fathers.

Rom 15:9. And I say that the Gentiles, who have been admitted through the pure mercy of God to the blessings of salvation, should glorify him for this great favour, to which they had no claim, even on the grounds of a promise made their fathers, as in the case of the Jews, but which was still predicted by the prophets (v.g.), in Psalm 18. Therefore, will I celebrate thy glory amongst the Gentiles, admitted by faith into thy Church; and I will sing a canticle of praise to thy name.

“But that the Gentiles,” &c. Some word is understood to fill up the sense. “But (I say) that the Gentiles should glorify God for his mercy,” i.e., for calling them to his faith out of pure mercy, without the interposition of a previous promise, as in the case of the Jews, although this did not make it cease to be a great mercy, even with respect to the Jews themselves; since, the promise itself proceeded from mercy; “as it is written.” He proves from the Old Testament that this great blessing was to be extended to the Gentiles. “Therefore I will confess to thee, O Lord! among the Gentiles.” “Therefore” has reference to the promise contained in the preceding part of the Psalm respecting the subjection of the nations to him, &c.—Psalm 18. “I will confess” regards the confession of divine praise; it means, I will celebrate thy divine praises “among the Gentiles” associated to thy Church. “And I will sing to thy name;” these words are spoken in the person of Christ addressing his heavenly Father. The words, “O Lord!” are not found here in the Greek. Hence, they must have been taken in the Vulgate from Psalm 18, where they are found.

Rom 15:10. And again, in the canticle of Deuteronomy, the Scripture says: “Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people,” of whom you form a part.

“Rejoice ye Gentiles,” &c. These words are taken from the Canticle of Moses (Deut. 32:43), according to the Septuagint version. In our Vulgate, they have been translated by St. Jerome from the Hebrew, “praise, ye nations, his people.”

Rom 15:11. And again (Psalm 117): “Praise the Lord all ye Gentiles, and magnify him all ye people,” for his mercy to you through Christ.

“Praise,” &c. (Psalm 117). In both the Hebrew and Greek it is, “praise the Lord all ye nations, and praise him all ye people.” In these words, all the nations and peoples of the earth are called upon by the Jews to praise God, which is a proof that they were to be partakers of salvation, and to be mercifully called to the faith. This, then, is a clear prophecy of the gratuitous call of the Gentiles, “the Gentiles are to glorify God for his mercy.”—(Verse 9).

Rom 15:12. And again, Isaias says (Isa 11:10): There shall come forth a descendant of the race of Jesse (viz., Christ descended of David, the son of Jesse); and he shall stand forth as a leader to rule the Gentiles, who shall flock to his standard; and in him all the Gentiles shall hope.

This quotation is taken from Isaias, 11:10, according to the Septuagint. According to the Vulgate it is, “in that day the root of Jesse, who standeth for an ensign of people, him the Gentiles shall beseech.” In which words there is an allusion to the banner or ensign of his cross, around which the Gentiles shall flock. The sense of both the Vulgate or Septuagint has been given in the Paraphrase. “A root of Jesse,” i.e., an offshoot from the root of Jesse; or, “root” most probably means a descendant from Jesse, the father of David. He alludes to Christ, “he shall rise tip to rule the Gentiles,” who shall form a part of his people; “in him the Gentiles shall hope” as their Saviour. These multiplied quotations from the Old Testament are adduced to convince the Jews, whom it was most difficult to persuade, that the Gentiles were to be called; and hence, they should cordially unite with them, as forming a part of the same people of God.

Rom 15:13. But I pray God, the author of peace, to grant you the abundance of spiritual joy and concord in the belief and profession of the same faith; so that, having laid aside all dissensions, your hope may increase; and be strengthened more and more through the grace and powerful gifts of the Holy Ghost, which serve as an earnest of future glory.

The prayer contained in this verse is a sort of connecting link between the foregoing admonitions and the following apology, “that you may abound in hope and in the power,” &c.; “and” is not in the Greek which runs thus, “in hope, in the power of the Holy Ghost;” according to which reading, the meaning is, that the power of the Holy Ghost, his grace and gifts, which are an earnest of future glory, would increase their hope in this glory, of which they have received the earnest. In our reading, the words, “and in the power,” &c., may refer to charity, which is infused by the power of the Holy Ghost; and hence, according to it, he prays for them, faith, hope, and charity.

Rom 15:14. (But in asking these blessings for you, and thus admonishing you, I have not the remotest idea of depreciating your virtues); for, I am fully assured, regarding you, that you are gifted with charity and benignity; and that you are furnished with all necessary knowledge, of yourselves, without any admonition from me, to admonish each other.

The Apostle, with truly apostolic prudence and modesty, apologises for anything in the preceding admonitions that might give them offence. In his admonitions he did not wish to imply that they needed his instructions, since they fully possessed the two qualities necessary for admonishing each other—viz., the science, which fits us for this duty, and the charity or benignity, which urges us to it. “That you are also full of love,” of yourselves, without any instruction from me.

Rom 15:15. But I have written to you, indeed perhaps a little too freely, not so much with a view of removing ignorance, under which you did not labour, as of recalling to your minds what you before knew; and this I did in the discharge of a function which has been gratuitously conferred on me by God.

He excuses himself for any excess of freedom or boldness which may appear in his admonitions, “because of the grace,” i.e., the function of Apostle.

Rom 15:16. The function confided to me is that of being the sacred minister of Jesus Christ unto the Gentiles, sacrificing, not mute animals, but spiritually immolating men converted to the faith, so that the Gentiles thus spiritually immolated may become an oblation acceptable to God, and sanctified by the fire of the Holy Ghost.

He explains the nature, and at the same time extols, the dignity of his minister by a metaphor or allegory derived from the priestly functions of offering sacrifice. “The minister,” the Greek, λειτούργος, means a sacred or priestly minister; and according to ecclesiastical usage, it means one employed in offering sacrifice. “Sanctifying the Gospel of God;” in Greek, ἱερουργοῦντα, “consecrating or sacrificing the gospel of God,” i.e., preaching it, as a priest of the new covenant. “That the oblation of the Gentiles,” i.e., that the Gentiles thus spiritually offered up as living victims (chapter 12) may be an “acceptable” oblation to God, and “sanctified,” not by mere external rites, but by the influences of the Holy Ghost. In the words, “sanctified in the Holy Ghost,” there is an allusion to a rite of the Jewish sacrifices, whereby the victims were prepared to be an acceptable sacrifice by some external purification. The Apostle here exhibits the conversion of the Gentiles as a metaphorical sacrifice, in which St. Paul is the priest; the Gentiles the victim; the preaching of the gospel, the consecration of the victim; and the Holy Ghost, the fire by which the victim is consumed.

The fact of the Apostle here calling the conversion and faith of the Gentiles a sacrifice, in a metaphorical sense, is no argument against the existence of a true sacrifice and priesthood in the Church; since it is clear that he speaks in a figurative sense; the use of such a figure supposes the existence of the reality from which the figure was borrowed. From this passage, those who are engaged in the exalted ministry of preaching, may derive a wholesome lesson regarding the great purity and zeal with which they should acquit themselves of this sacred function.

Rom 15:17. I have, then, in this capacity, matter for glorying before God, not in myself, but in Jesus Christ, whose place I hold, and by whose power I am sustained.

“Glory,” καυχησιν, matter for glorying.

Rom 15:18. For, I have not the presumption, like others, to mention things which were never wrought through my ministry. It is sufficient for me to mention the great things he made me instrumental in performing towards the conversion of the Gentiles, both by the word of preaching and the operation of miracles.

Some Expositors understand these words to mean, “I cannot bring myself to mention all that Christ has done through me,” i.e., how much he has done through me. It is more probable, however, that he disclaims every idea of arrogating to himself what he was never made instrumental in performing, in which he censures some false teachers, who scrupled not to do so, and leaves us to infer, on the contrary, that all he lays claim to was real, and that this was sufficient matter for him to glory in. “For the obedience,” i.e., conversion to the faith, which requires obedience of the intellect and will.

Rom 15:19. Through the power of working strange and stupendous wonders, and through the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which were abundantly shed on them; so that from Jerusalem, in a circuitous route, to Illyricum, I diffused the Gospel far and wide, and propagated it through the adjacent countries.

“By the virtue of signs,” &c. “Christ worketh by me,” (verse 18), by the virtue of signs, i.e., the power of working wonders and prodigies (v.g.) casting out devils, curing diseases, raising the dead, &c. “In the power of the Holy Ghost.” “In the ordinary Greek, πνευματος θεον, of the Spirit of God,” i.e., in communicating the gifts of the Holy Ghost (v.g.) tongues, prophecies, &c. The Codex Vaticanus has simply, πνευματος θεον, of the Spirit. “So that from Jerusalem,” not in a direct line, but “round about,” in a circuitous route, “to Illyricum”—(a Roman Province, which lay between the Save, the Drave, and the Adriatic)—including, therefore, the provinces of Asia Minor, Achaia, and Epirus. Its extent and boundaries were different at different periods. “I have replenished the Gospel of God.” In Greek, ware ὡστε με πεπλερωκεναι, so that I have filled the Gospel of God; the meaning of which, most probably, is to preach fully, to extend and announce the Gospel.

Rom 15:20. But I have taken special care to preach this gospel in places where the name of Christ was not previously announced, and where the glad tidings of salvation had not already reached; lest, as Apostle, I should be building on the foundation already cast by others.

“And I have so preached.” The Greek, φιλυτιμοῦμαι εναγγελιζεσθαι, means, “I have anxiously exerted myself to preach,” like the anxiety of a man ambitiously striving for honours. “Lest I should build on another man’s foundation.” He regards the foundation of faith laid by the preaching and labours of others. The Apostle did sometimes preach where Christ was before heard of, as at Damascus, and, in the present instance, to the Romans; but he acted not as an Apostle, whose chief duty it is to preach to infidels, he only confirmed and comforted them.

Rom 15:21. But, by preaching in places where he was not before heard of, I fulfilled the prophecy of Isaias. The Gentiles, to whom no announcement was made regarding him, shall see him by the eyes of faith through the preaching of the Apostles; and they who heard nothing regarding him, shall know him through the same faith.

These words are taken from Isaiah 52:15, according to the Septuagint, and are referred by the Jews themselves to the Messiah.

Rom 15:22. On which account, I was oftentimes prevented from carrying out my desire of going to see you; and I am still impeded by the multiplied cares and occupations of my ministry.

“For which cause,” i.e., on account of my constant occupation in carrying the gospel to places where it had not been heretofore announced. The words, “and have been kept away till now,” are not in the Greek, and only explain the preceding words.

Rom 15:23. But now, since there is no longer any place in these regions in which the gospel has not been announced, and since, moreover, for many years past, I ardently desired to visit you:

“No more place,” not before favoured with the gospel; or, “place” may mean, no more occasion for my ministry here.

Rom 15:24. When I shall proceed on my journey into Spain, I hope to see you on my way, and to be brought thither by you, after having first been partly refreshed and cheered by your presence and conversation.

He intends passing from Greece through Italy into Spain. After the words, “my journey into Spain,” are found, in some copies, I will come to you, but they are wanting in the chief MSS., and rejected by critics generally. “If first, in part, I shall have enjoyed you.” He says “in part,” to show the greatness of his desire to see them, which he does not expect fully to satisfy, but in part only.

That St. Paul did not immediately, after executing his commission to Jerusalem, set out on his intended journey to Spain, is clear from Acts, chap. 21, where it is stated, that after having been apprehended at Jerusalem, he was sent a prisoner to Rome, and detained there for two years: whether, after his liberation from prison, he set out for Spain, is disputed.—(Vide Baronium, lib. 1, Annal, a.d. 61).

Rom 15:25. But, at present, I am about setting out for Jerusalem on a message which has for object the relief of the temporal wants of the poor and afflicted Christians there.

He adds this to show that they are not to expect him very soon. He was to be the bearer of the alms, which the Christians of the Churches of Achaia and Macedonia (the names of the wo Roman provinces into which northern and southren Greece was divided) had contributed in support of the poor Christians at Jerusalem, of whom some had voluntarily laid all their property at the feet of the Apostles, and others were plundered of their goods.—Heb. 10. “To minister,” διακονῶν, giving relief.

Rom 15:26. For it pleased and seemed fit to the Churches of Macedonia and Achaia to make some contribution out of their means, towards the relief of the poor distressed Christians of Jerusalem.
Rom 15:27. It seemed good to them to do so, and deservedly, since they are the debtors to these Christians of Jerusalem; for, if the Gentiles have shared in the spiritual riches of the Jews, from whom the Apostles came forth to preach the gospel, it is but just that they should, in turn, minister to the poor of Jerusalem, and make them sharers in their temporal wealth.

He says, this was justly determined on by the Macedonians and Achians, since they were only discharging a debt which they owed the Jews; for, if the Gentiles were made sharers in the spiritual riches of the Jews from among whom the Apostles came forth to preach, &c., the Gentiles should, in turn, minister to their corporal wants out of their temporal substance.

The Greek word for “minister,” λειτουργησαι, means to sacrifice; it shows the great excellence of alms-deeds, which is a sort of acceptable sacrifice offered to God. How much must the Apostle not value the ministry of attending to the relief of the poor, since for it he relinquished the great ministry of preaching to the Gentiles! Who, then, can deny that among the first duties of the pastoral is to be reckoned “the paternal care of the poor and of other miserable persons?”—(Cone. Trid. ss. xxiii. de Ref. c. i.)

Rom 15:28. As soon, therefore, as I shall have discharged this duty of charity, and shall have safely and securely deposited in the hands of the afflicted poor, this fruit of holy benevolence, I shall pass into Spain, making my way by you.

“And consigned to them.” The Greek word for “consigned” σφραγισάμενος, means, to deliver up sealed. Hence, it would appear, that the Apostle wished that this money should be sealed, to avoid the remotest imputation of appropriating any of it to himself—a wise precaution, which should never be forgotten by those who are entrusted with the charities of the poor. “This Fruit,” i.e., alms, which were the fruit of his own teaching, of the piety of the faithful, of the tears and sighs of the poor themselves.

Rom 15:29. But I know that my visit to you shall be marked by the plentiful effusion of the blessings and graces of the gospel of Christ.

St. Chrysostom explains the words thus: “I know that at my coming I shall find you replenished with all spiritual gifts; so that, instead of imparting, I shall profit by receiving spiritual graces from you”—a meaning which accords well with the Apostle’s modesty, and with his words, verse 14. In the interpretation adopted in the Paraphrase, he expresses his conviction, that his visit shall be productive of abundant spiritual blessings, and a more abundant knowledge of the mysteries of faith, of greater charity, and spiritual consolation among them. “Of the blessings of the gospel of Christ.” The word “gospel” is wanting in the chief MSS., which are read thus: of the blessing of Christ.

Rom 15:30. In the meantime; I beg of you, brethren, through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, through the charity infused into our hearts by the Holy Ghost, to assist me in my struggles by your fervent prayers to God in my behalf.

By the charity of the Holy Ghost.” In Greek, “by the charity of the Spirit.” “Holy” is not in the text. The Apostle foresaw that he had a great conflict before him (Acts 20:22); and hence, he begs the assistance of their prayers. If, then, the Apostle did not derogate from the honour due to God and the supreme mediation of Christ, in begging the prayers of the faithful on earth, as well here, as Eph. 6.; Col. 4.; 1 Thes. 5.; 2 Thes. 3.; Heb. 12.; surely, it cannot derogate from the same to beg the assistance of St. Paul in turn, and of the other saints now in heaven to intercede for us; and if he placed such reliance in the efficacy of the intercession of the saints on earth, as to beg it in the most solemn language of obtestation; surely the intercession, of God’s friends now reigning with him in glory cannot be less efficacious.—(See 1 John 2:1-2). “That you may help me.” The Greek words συναγωνισασθαι μοι, mean, to strive earnestly together with me, which shows the value of mutual intercession.—(Kenrick.)

Rom 15:31. Implore first for me, that after I shall have come into Judea, I may be delivered from the unbelieving Jews; and, secondly, that my ministry of carrying and distributing the alms may be acceptable and grateful to the holy poor of Jerusalem;

The unconverted Jews bore St. Paul a deadly hatred, and sought his life; and even with the converted Jews he was an object of suspicion, as the enemy of the law and the patron of the Gentiles; hence, his doubts whether his ministry would be accepted by them, i.e., whether they would receive the alms conveyed by him or not. “That the oblation of my service.” In the common Greek it is ἵνα ἡ δισκονια μου “that my deaconship or ministry.” In the Vatican and other MSS. it is ἡ δωροφορια μου, “my ministry of carrying presents.” This latter is the reading followed by the Vulgate.

Rom 15:32. And, thirdly, that after having been successful in my ministry, I may come to you with joy, and may be for some time refreshed with the pleasure of your society.

“With joy.” After having succeded in his ministry of carrying alms to the distressed brethren of Jerusalem, it would be a source of grief to him, if they declined receiving the alms from him. “And may be refreshed with you.” The ordinary Greek is, “and I may rest with you.” There is no word in the Codex Vaticanus for either rest or refresh; hence, they are rejected by critics.

Rom 15:33. But I pray that God, the author and preserver of peace and concord, may always remain with you and assist you. Amen.

After soliciting their prayers, he, in turn, begs for them the priceless blessings of concord and peace.

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