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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 7

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 12, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this chapter, the Apostle exhorts the Corinthians to lead a life of sanctity, as a necessary means of securing the promises referred to at the close of the preceding chapter (2 Cor 7:1). Returning to the subject of his apology, he entreats than to give him a place in their affections and, passing over the immense services which he rendered them, he merely says that he gave them no cause for offence, by acts of fraud or corruption: thereby insinuating, that the false teachers, to whom some of them transferred their affections, were guilty of these mal-practices (2 Cor 7:2). By way of apology for the freedom with which he addresses them, he assures them of his unbounded affection for them; of his great confidence in them; and of the great joy which they afford him in the midst of tribulation (2 Cor 7:3-4). He describes the tribulation he endured (2 Cor 7:5). But, still greater was the joy which he derived from the arrival of Titus from Corinth, and from the consolation which Titus himself felt among them, which he imparted to the Apostle, when describing their repentance (2 Cor 7:6-7). Hence, the Apostle felt consolation surpassing his sorrow at having contristated them, when he learned the happy fruits of the wholesome correction which he administered, and the nature of the heavenly sorrow which they now feel (2 Cor 7:8-9). He describes the effects of true penitential sorrow; and points to their own use, as an exemplification of the same (2 Cor 7:10-11). Hence, the consolation of the Apostle, whose object in writing to them was to manifest his pastoral solicitude in their regard, on seeing the real proofs of true penance and conversion exhibited by them; this his consolation is heightened by the consolation with which they inspired Titus also (2 Cor 7:12-13). He describes the tender affection of Titus for them, and his own joy at finding that his expectations were not frustrated, and that he could place reliance on them in future.

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

2 Cor 7:1. Since, then, such glorious promises have been made to us, dearly beloved brethren, let us, in order to secure them, cleanse ourselves from all defilement of both carnal and spiritual sins, consummating the sanctity received in baptism by good works performed from the filial fear of God.

“These promises.” The promises referred to in the preceding chapter—viz., that they would be temples of God, and his adopted sons and daughters, &c.

“Of the flesh,” i.e., carnal sins; such as gluttony, impurity, &c. “And of the spirit.” Spiritual sins—viz., pride, envy, &c. “Perfecting sanctification.” &c. Perfecting the sanctity communicated to us in baptism, by good works, which were to be performed from the filial fear of God. Hence, every Christian should not only avoid all sorts of sin; but, he should also endeavour to advance more and more in sanctity, by the performance of good works from the motive of virtue, the fear and love of God.

2 Cor 7:2. Give us a place in your heart and affections. We have injured no man. We have corrupted no man, either by false doctrines or bad example. We have fraudulently taken away the property of no man. (Hence we are not less deserving of your affection than are the false teachers, who are guilty of such crimes).

“Receive us,” are generally understood to mean, dilate your hearts, and give us in ample place in your affections. “We have injured no one,” &c. He omits referring to the immense services which he rendered to them, and which gave him a most indisputable claim to their affections. He merely mentions the faults he had avoided; with these, he indirecly taxes the false teachers, and leaves it to be inferred, that if men guilty of these crimes—a charge which he repels far from himself—had a place in their affections, surely, he who was innocent of them, could not be less deserving of their esteem.

2 Cor 7:3. I have not spoken thus from any feelings of bitterness, or with the view of condemning you. For, as we have already told you, you are in our hearts, and we love you in such a way, as to be ready to live, or die with you, or for you.

From a fear of irritating them, he says, that in the foregoing he had no idea whatever of conveying reproach or censure: since, they are the objects of his most intense love and affection.

2 Cor 7:4. I speak thus freely, because of the great confidence I have in you. I frequently make your affection for me the subject of much glorying. I am filled with consolation on account of you. I so abound, and superabound with joy in all the tribulations which befall me, that the excess of my joy extinguishes every feeling of pain arising from sorrow or tribulation.

“Great is my confidence,” &c. This he adds, to excuse the freedom with which he had spoken. And by the open expression of his feelings for them, he wishes to dilate their hearts, and secure a return of love. In all this he has in view their sanctification only. He expresses his “great confidence” in them, in order to secure a return of the same; and he makes their affection for him a subject of “glorying,” in order that they may make him in turn the subject of glorying against the false teachers. He is “filled with comfort,” owing to their reformation, and his joy in consequence so superabounds, as to extinguish all feelings of sorrow under tribulation. What an example of charity is here proposed to all superiors! They should convince those under their charge of the regard and esteem in which they hold them—of the joy they feel at their advancement in virtue, and show, that these feelings are the fruits, not or hypocrisy or dissimulation, but of true and unfeigned charity. By imitating the Apostle, they shall secure the confidence and love of those placed under them. They shall rule them in peace and sanctify them in charity.

2 Cor 7:5. (Not without cause do I allude to tribulations). For, when we were come into Macedonia, no relaxation from labour was permitted our body, but we were rather subjected to afflictions of every kind. From without, we had to endure open persecution from the infidels. From within, in the recesses of our own hearts, we were under constant apprehension of new evils and misfortunes.

Having alluded to his tribulation in the foregoing verse, he now shows how great it was, in order that they might judge of the magnitude of the joy which superabounded. After the afflictions which had befallen him in Asia (chap. 1), when he came to Macedonia, he had no respite there either; his body had no relaxation, although his mind was refreshed with hopes of future rewards. “But we suffered all tribulation.” The Greek of which, εν παντι θλιβομενοι, literally is, we were afflicted in all things “Combats,” i.e., open persecution “without,” from the unbelieving enemies of the gospel. “Fears within.” Interiorily tormented with the fear and dread of still greater afflictions. This journey to Macedonia is recorded by St. Luke (Acts, chap. 20). But he makes no mention of tribulation. Hence, all the sufferings of St. Paul are not recorded by St. Luke.

2 Cor 7:6. But God, the consoler of the afflicted, and particularly of the humble, has comforted us by the coming of Titus, whom we so long expected.

“By the coming of Titus.” The Apostle despatched Titus to Corinth, to ascertain the effects produced by his former Epistle. On this account, he came to Troas (2 Cor 2:13), to meet him, and not meeting him there, he passed over to Macedonia, not wishing to go to Corinth, until he first learned the condition of their Church. The return of Titus was to him a source of consolation, particularly when he conveyed the glad tidings of their thorough reformation.

2 Cor 7:7. And not only has he consoled us by the arrival of Titus,’ but he has consoled us by the joy and consolation which Titus himself received from you, and, infused into us—relating to us, your desire of amendment—your mourning for your sins, your affection for us, and your zeal in defending us against our maligners; so that the joy, which I felt, exceeded my sorrow for having saddened you.

The accounts which Titus gave him regarding them, and the very consolation which Titus himself derived from their change and amendment, were to the Apostle a source of still more abundant joy. “So that I rejoice the more.” These words may also mean—so that the joy I conceived at his return was increased by the cheering account he gave of you, and by his own joy. The meaning adopted in the Paraphrase accords better, however, with what follows.

2 Cor 7:8. For, notwithstanding the sorrow which I caused you by my Epistle, I do not now repent of it, seeing the fruits of this sorrow; and although I did repent of it, seeing that my Epistle caused you sorrow, even though it was to continue for a very short time:

The Apostle here excuses himself for the severity of his former Epistle, and shows the happy fruits of the sorrow which he caused them. Knowing the advantages of this sorrow, he does not regret having caused it—although, before the return of Titus, he might have felt regret at having saddened them even for the shortest time. As to the Epistle itself, as it had been inspired by the Holy Ghost, he could not regret having written it, he only regretted its saddening effect. In the Vulgate, the words, “seeing that the same Epistle,” &c., are immediately joined to the foregoing, and contain a reason for the sorrow he felt before the arrival of Titus—viz., because his Epistle should have saddened them even for a short time—etsi pæniteret, videns, quod Epistola illa (etsi ad horam) vos contristavit. But, according to the Greek, the sentence concludes at the words, “and if I did repent; “and a new sentence commences with the words, “seeing that the same Epistle,” &c., ει δε και μετεμελομην· βλεπω ὅτι ἡ επιστολη εκεινη, ει και προς ὥραν ελυπήσεν υμας. A reading, according to which, these latter words are assigned as a reason why he did not repent. “I did not repent.” Because, although his Epistle saddened them for a short time, it was still a source of permanent joy of conscience. Hence, if the Greek reading be followed, some addition must be made, thus:—“For I see that this Epistle, although it has constristated you for a time,” (has still caused you permanent joy). The words in the parenthesis are added to the text by A’Lapide. The Vulgate reading, however, seems preferable. The Apostle is rejoiced, not at their sorrow, but at its result—viz., their penance and reformation.

2 Cor 7:9. Now, I am rejoiced, not only on account of your sorrow, but also because by that sorrow you were brought to penance, unto the performance of penitential works (verse 11). For you were made sorrowful on account of the offence offered to God; so that far from receiving any detriment from our correction, you, on the contrary, have derived great profit from it.

“That you might suffer damage by us in nothing.” There is a meiosis here. The words convey more than they express; they imply not only the absence of all detriment, but even positive gain and spiritual advantage.

2 Cor 7:10. For, the sorrow, which is conceived from motives of the love and fear of God, and which is pleasing to him, begets penance, which is the cause of salvation, that is to last for ever; which penance, therefore, is never to be repented of; but the sorrow arising from the love of the world, begets eternal death.

“Steadfast.” It is not easy to see from the Greek with what words this is to be joined. The Greek is, αμεταμελητον, which is not to be repented of, and may refer it to either “salvation,” σωτηριαν, or “penance,” μετανοιαν. According to the Vulgate, it is more properly joined to “salvation,” thus:—“Working penance causing salvation which will never end.” But, according to the Greek, it is referred by many to “penance,” thus:—Worketh penance which causes salvation, and is, therefore, not to be repented of. Both meanings are united in the Paraphrase.

2 Cor 7:11. For, behold in your own case a proof of this. Your own sorrow, according to God, what effects has it not produced in you? What solicitude to appease God and remove scandals; and not only that, but it has stimulated you to enter upon an apologetic defence of your own conduct before Titus in regard to the incestuous man; still more, it has created in you a just indignation against this sinful man; and not only that, but a fear lest such crimes be again repeated; not only that, but a desire of offering satisfaction to God; not only that, but zeal against scandals; not only that, but the proper infliction of punishment on this, and other such offenders. In a word you have proved yourselves to be pure and innocent in everything connected with the shameful crime referred to.

As a proof that sorrow, according to God, worketh salutary penance, he instances its effects on themselves. He points out the seven effects which it caused in them:—“Defence” (in the Greek, apology), refers to their clearing themselves before Titus of any participation in the guilt of the incestuous man. “Desire,” may likewise mean, a desire of seeing us. “Zeal,” may also refer to their defence of himself against his enemies, the false teachers. “In the matter,” viz., the incest, he forbears mentioning it, to mark his horror of it.

This passage furnishes the clearest refutation of the erroneous notions formed by heretics with respect to penance, which, according to them, consists in mere feelings of sorrow, and a mere change of heart. For, the Apostle draws a distinction between the sorrow of heart and penance, as between cause and effect. “The sorrow according to God, worketh penance” (verse 10). Therefore, penance does not consist in mere sorrow. He also feels rejoiced, not because they were “made sorrowful” but because they were made sorrowful unto penance (verse 9). For salutary penance, therefore, more than sorrow of heart is required. Penitential works, such as the Apostle here states to be its fruits, in the Corinthians (verse 11), are necessary as its complement. Mere sorrow, unaccompanied by penitential works, ordinarily speaking, is worth nothing.

2 Cor 7:12. Therefore, although I addressed to you this letter of reproof, I did so, neither on account of him who sinned, nor of his father, the injured party, but principally to manifest the pastoral solicitude which I feel for you all before God, and to guard you against vicious contagion.

“Who suffered the wrong,” viz., the father. From this it is generally inferred, that the father of the incestuous man was still alive.

2 Cor 7:13. Having, therefore, known the success of our admonition, we have been consoled, and this consolation has been increased by the joy which Titus felt; for, his soul was refreshed by you all.

“Therefore we were comforted.” Which runs thus in the Greek: on this account we have been consoled in your consolation. The meaning does not differ from that expressed in the Vulgate, by taking the words, “your consolation,” actively, to signify the consolation you caused us. There will, then, be no difference; as the words will only convey a repitition of what he asserted before—viz., that he was consoled by the accounts which he received regarding the Corinthians, and, he adds, that the joy which Titus felt at their reformation, added to his consolation.

2 Cor 7:14. And, it added to my consolation, that if I made you in any way a subject of my boasting, I was not ashamed of it afterwards; but as all things that we spoke to you were found to be true, so have all which we spoke to Titus regarding you, been fully verified.

“As we have spoken all things to you in truth.” These words are generally-understood of the things preached to them by the Apostle, whose words were neither changeable nor inconstant (chap. 1). Others understand them as referring to the character which St. Paul gave of Titus to the Corinthians; and as they have found that the Apostle’s character of Titus was fully verified, so has Titus found the character given of them by the Apostle equally well grounded.

2 Cor 7:15. Hence, the tenderness and magnitude of his affection for you, when he calls to mind the promptness with which all of you obeyed my injunctions, and the reverential fear and respect with which he was received by you.

“His bowels.” referring to his tender affection.

2 Cor 7:16. I rejoice that I can repose confidence in your fidelity to comply with all my wishes and injunctions.

“In all things I have confidence in you.” So that I can exhort, rebuke, instruct, and propose advice on any subject. This serves as a preparation for the subject of alms-deeds, which he proposes, in the next chapter.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 6

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 12, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this chapter, the Apostle, as ambassador of Christ, exhorts the Corinthians to correspond with the graces bestowed on them through the Apostolic ministry; and, in order to stimulate them the more, he tells them that the present is the acceptable time referred to by the Prophet Isaias (2 Cor 6:1-2). In the next place, he recounts the virtues which distinguish both himself and his fellow-labourers, while, at the same time, he tacitly reproaches the false teachers with the total absence of these necessary virtues, so befitting every minister of the Gospel (2 Cor 6:3–11). He then apologizes for the freedom with which he thus addresses the Corinthians, by assuring them of his intense affection for them, from which alone this unreserved freedom of speech proceeded (2 Cor 6:12). He mildly reproaches them with a want of correspondence, by making a return of affection for himself (2 Cor 6:12-13). As ambassador of Christ, he exhorts them to avoid all intercourse in religion with the Pagans, and assigns several reasons of propriety and congruity for this (2 Cor 6:14–16). He finally concludes with a quotation from the Old Testament, wherein God tells his people to have nothing to do with the unclean, and, in case of compliance, holds out the promise of the highest rewards.

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

2 Cor 6:1. As co-operating, therefore, with Christ in the work of your redemption, we exhort you not to receive in vain—that is, not to render unavailing—the great grace of redemption, applied to you through our ministry.

“Helping.” The Greek word, συνεργουντες, means, co-operating in the great work of redemption and reconciliation with God. “Grace of God,” viz., the great benefit of redemption and reconciliation through Christ, applied to mankind by the ministry of the Apostles. Under it are included the particular graces necessary to attain the great end of redemption. “In vain”; rendering it useless and of no avail to you for want of due correspondence.

2 Cor 6:2. For, God has promised, through his Prophet Isaiah (Isa 49:8), that in an accepted time, he would hear his Son praying for the salvation of the world; and, that in the day of salvation he would assist him, while labouring in the same cause. Behold, now is the acceptable time referred to by the Prophet; now is the day of salvation, of which you should avail yourselves.

For the purpose of conveying a stronger inducement to the Corinthians to correspond the more faithfully with divine grace, and to attend to their salvation, he says that the present is the time of grace and salvation referred to by the Prophet, Isaiah (Isa 49:8). These words of the Prophet are generally understood to have been spoken by the Eternal Father to his Son, promising that at a future day, at a time acceptable to all, and to be desired by them, when he was to call the Gentiles to the faith, he would listen to his prayers in their behalf, and assist him in the work of salvation. The prophetic quotation is read in the past tense, although it has a future signification, a thing not unusual in prophetic writings. “Behold now is the acceptable time referred to by the prophet,” “now is the day,” &c. The fulfilment of this promise has been reserved for the time of the New Law, which may be justly termed, the law of grace.

2 Cor 6:3. While co-operating with God in the work of your redemption (verse 1); we take care to give no cause whatever for offence to any person, lest our ministry should be brought into disrepute or censure of any kind.

“Giving no offence,” &c. (In Greek, μὴδεμίαν ἐν μηδενὶ διδόντες προσκοπήν, giving no offence in anything). This verse is to be immediately connected with verse 1; and verse 2 is to be read in a parenthesis. “We co-operating,” &c., verse 1 (…), and “giving no offence to any one,” lest by any irregularity of life, or any conduct unbecoming our state, our ministry should be brought into disrepute and rendered useless, “exhort you,” verse 1. The first duty which every minister of religion owes himself and the gospel is, to avoid scandal of every kind; otherwise, his preaching will be as contemptible, as his life. “That our ministry.” In Greek, ἡ διακονία, that the ministry.

2 Cor 6:4. But rather, in all things, we commend and exhibit ourselves to men as becomes the ministers of Christ, in the exercise of much patience, in enduring daily and ordinary wants, in grievous necessities, in anguish and trials of the most distressing nature.

In the next place, he must not only be irreprehensible, but, a pattern of all virtues. “Let us exhibit.” In Greek, συνιστανοντες, exhibiting ourselves, i.e., commending ourselves in everything as becomes the ministers of Christ. “In much patience.” He particularizes the instance in which patience is to be practised, viz., “in tribulation,” i.e., ordinary wants.—(See Paraphrase). These three instances, in which patience is to be exercised, increase in intensity. “Distresses” are more severe than “necessities,” and the latter more severe than “tribulations.”

2 Cor 6:5. In enduring stripes, in chains and imprisonment, in tumults of the people stirred up everywhere against us, in sustaining labours for the preaching of the gospel, in want of rest and sleep, in fasting, whether voluntarily undertaken, or resulting from want and necessity.

Under “stripes” is included stoning. “Seditions” refer to tumults of the people driving the Apostles from place to place.

2 Cor 6:6. We exhibit ourselves, as becomes the ministers of Christ, in purity of mind and body, in the knowledge of the truths of faith, and in the power of explaining them by human examples—in the exercise of lenity towards those who offend us—in an accommodating sweetness of temper and of manners—in a line of conduct which will manifest and display the gifts of the Holy Ghost—in unfeigned and efficient love of our neighbour.

“In “chastity.” i.e., purity of mind and body. This is the precious ornament of the Christian priesthood. By many divines it is assigned as a mark of the true Church, inasmuch as it is never practised among heretics, nor can it; because the persevering practice and preservation of this amiable virtue is most difficult, and requires the continual aids of divine grace, which grace is principally imparted through the sacrament of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, of which those outside the Church are totally bereft.

“In knowledge.” This word bears the same signification here as in 1 Cor 12, viz., the faculty of explaining the truths of faith by examples derived from human things. A knowledge of the sacred sciences, viz., Scripture—Theology, Dogmatic, Moral, and Ascetic—should ornament the Christian minister. “The lips of the priest should guard knowledge.” “If he repel knowledge, God will repel him.”

“Sweetness.” That urbanity of manners which accommodates itself to the wants and dispositions of all. “In the Holy Ghost,” i.e., in the manifestation of all the gifts of the Holy Ghost. “In charity,” &c. In sincere charity and love of our neighbour, manifesting itself not only in word, but in work and in truth.

2 Cor 6:7. In preaching the pure, unadulterated word and holy truths of God, which derive their efficacy from the divine power; by being girt with the armour of justice both on the right and on the left, i.e., in making prosperity and adversity the instruments of virtue.

“In the word of truth.” The words, exhibiting ourselves, &c. (verse 4), are here continued. We exhibit ourselves in preaching God’s word unadulterated and unalloyed. “In the power of God.” These words are generally connected with “the word of truth,” thus—which word derives its efficacy from the power of God, who alone can impart and increase. Some commentators understand “virtue,” or “power of God,” to refer to the gift of miracles.

“Armour of justice on the right hand and on the left.” By “right and left,” are generally understood prosperity and adversity, which the Apostles made the arms or instruments of justice. Prosperity, the season for exercising humility and moderation; adversity, the season for patience and fortitude. “Justice” denotes, in a general manner, the practice of the different Christian virtues.

2 Cor 6:8. We pursue a course of virtue, as well when despised, as when honour is rendered to us, when men speak ill, as when they speak well of us. We are regarded by many as impostors, teaching errors; but unjustly, since we are faithful heralds of God’s truth. By many we are regarded as contemptible and obscure, but still, we are known and prized by God, who values our ministry.

We exhibit ourselves as ministers of God (verse 4). (These words are understood in the different members of these sentences). “By honour and dishonour,” by practising the several virtues suggested and dictated by each kind of treatment. These are the arms of justice, on the right and on the left.

2 Cor 6:9. Our death is regarded as always inevitable, owing to the risks we run, and still, through God’s interposition, we live. We are publicly chastised, and still, we are not put to death.

“Dying;” owing to continual exposure to the most imminent risks. “Chastised,” by being whipped with scourges. Still, they are “not killed,” because God interposes to save them.

2 Cor 6:10. In consequence of the many evils we endure, we are regarded as sorrowful; still, we interiorly rejoice in the Lord. We are considered to be poor and needy; and still, we enrich many. We appear like men destitute of everything; and still, we possess all things in Christ.

“Needy;” owing to their renunciation of all temporal possessions. “Enriching many,” with spiritual blessings, and also with alms collected for them among the faithful. “As having nothing”; no dominion over property. “Possessing all things”; all they wish for are the necessaries of life, with which God supplies them. They possess all things, as to use, just as much as if they were their real owners. Moreover, they possess all things in God, in whom every good is eminently contained. It is deserving of remark, that in recounting the several virtues practised both by himself and his colleagues, the Apostle marks out a line of conduct which all future ministers of the gospel should pursue, after his own example. He, at the same time, indirectly strikes at the false teachers, by insinuating that their lives were distingnished by none of those apostolic virtues.

2 Cor 6:11. We enter on this recital of our virtues and sufferings, solely from motives of the purest friendship and affection; for, O Corinthians! our mouth is opened to communicate to you freely and unreservedly our thoughts. Our heart is dilated from the vehemence of our affection for you.

He excuses himself for having enumerated the several virtues practised by himself and his colleagues in the ministry, and says, he did so from no motive of self-praise, but from pure affection—from a wish to communicate to them freely his thoughts and the overflowing feelings of his heart, as friends are wont to treat with friends. He also, in expressing his affection for them, wishes that they would take in good part the reproach which he is about addressing to them (verse 14), for holding intercourse with the Pagans.

2 Cor 6:12. You are not straitened, you rather hold a spacious place, in our heart and affections, but you do not fully correspond with our feelings, as your bowels are contracted in your affection for us.

While his bowels are enlarged and his heart dilated to give them all a spacious place in his affections, they, on their part, are wanting in a return of the like generosity towards him. It is likely, that the insinuations of the false teachers, as well as his own stern rebukes, and his denunciations of their prevalent vices, had estranged many of the Corinthians from the Apostle.

2 Cor 6:13. But in order to make a return of mutual love for us—I speak to you as to my beloved children—become enlarged in your affection for us, as we feel towards you.

In this verse, he exhorts them to enlarge the bowels of their affection for him, as he had done for them. “Having the same recompense.” The Greek is, την δε αυτην αντιμισθίαν, according to the same recompense—κατα, is understood—by making a return of the same love and affection which I have for you.

2 Cor 6:14. Bear not the same yoke with unbelievers. For, what agreement can there be between justice and injustice? What fellowship or commerce can exist between light and darkness?

The Apostle, as ambassador of Christ, cautions the Corinthians against a practice dangerous alike to their faith and morals—viz., that of contracting very intimate engagements with infidels. It would appear that he alludes particularly to inter-marriages with the Pagans. He cautions the faithful against contracting new marriages with them. As to the marriages already contracted, he disposed of that question (1 Cor 7:13); and the diriment impediment, disparitas cultus, was not instituted for six centuries after this period. The yoke, then, which he dissuades them from bearing with the infidels—a yoke of disparity, as the Greek word, ετεροζυγουντες, implies—is the contracting any close engagements with them, such as would endanger their faith or morals, particularly, the most lasting of all engagements, that of marriage. This prohibition he grounds on the inequality that exists between both parties, and the incompatibility of their union. On the one side, are Christ, justice, light, faithful, temple of God; on the other, Belial, iniquity, darkness, unbeliever, idols—things in themselves perfectly opposed and incompatible.

2 Cor 6:15. What concord can there exist between Christ and Belial? Or what communion can there be between a believer and an unbeliever?

No commentary is offered in this verse.

2 Cor 6:16. Or what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For, you are the temple of the living God, as God himself testifies in the Holy Scriptures:—“I shall dwell in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they, in turn, shall be the people specially consecrated to me.”

In this verse he undertakes to prove, from the 26th chapter of Leviticus, that the Christians are the temples of God. The passage quoted here, literally regarded the tabernacle or portable temple of the Jews: of it, God says—“I will place my tabernacle in the midst of you, and my soul shall not cast you off. I will be to your God,” &c.—(Lev 24:11-12). The Apostle quotes the passage with a change of the second person into the third. “I will dwell in them, their God: they, my people.” The words express the special protection which God meant to extend to the Jewish people, and, in a more particular way, to the spiritual Israel of the New Law. In their mystical, or allegorical sense, they refer to the soul of the just man, which is a kind of movable temple of God.

2 Cor 6:17. Wherefore, go out from the midst of the profane and separate yourselves from all intercourse with them, and be not polluted by their uncleanness.

He grounds the prohibition, secondly, on the precept given to the Israelites, to fly the impurities of the Babylonians.—(Isa 52:2). For, if it were imperatively enjoined on the Jews to fly any intimate association with the Pagans of Babylon, much more obligatory is it on the Christians of Corinth, called to a higher state of sanctity, to shun all dangerous communications with Pagans, of still more corrupt and dissolute morals.

2 Cor 6:18. And should you do so, I will not leave you desolate or devoid of all comfort. I shall be to you a father, and you shall hold the place of sons and daughters with me, saith the Lord Almighty.

It is not well ascertained from what part of Scripture the words of this verse are quoted. They are generally referred to chapter 30 of Jeremiah. Others refer them to chapter 43 of Isaiah. From whatever place taken, they certainly refer to the adoption of the children of the New Testament, and both sexes are referred to, “sons and daughters,” because, both sexes are concerned in the intermarriages with the Pagans, the abuse particularly referred to by the Apostle in this passage.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 5

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 12, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheeims translation

In the first part of this chapter, the Apostle proceeds to account for his own cheerful intrepidity, as well as that of his colleagues, in the midst of dangers and persecutions. It proceeds from the consideration of their future glory, from their firm belief in the future glorification of their bodies (2 Cor 5:1), which glory they are anxious to have imparted to them without bodily dissolution, as nature recoils so strongly from death (2 Cor 5:2-4). But bearing in mind, that it is God who fits them for future glory, of which he has given them a sure earnest, they have great courage and confidence in undergoing all hardships for the Gospel with the hope of arriving at this supreme felicity (2 Cor 5:5–9), to attain which they endeavour, under all circumstances to please God; and keeping before their eyes his tremendous judgement, they so act as to prove to men their sincerity, lest they should be a stumbling-block or a scandal to anyone (2 Cor 5:10-11). He guards against the misconstruction which the false teachers might put upon the circumstance of his praising himself, by an assurance that whether he praises or speaks humbly of his own exploits—he has, in both cases, the glory of God and his neighbour’s good in view (2 Cor 5:12-13). He is moved to pursue this disinterested line of conduct by the example of Christ, whose purchased slaves we are all become by Redemption, who has, therefore, a right to all our services (2 Cor 5:14-15). Hence, the Apostles, dead to themselves and living only to Christ, regard no one, not even the Redeemer himself, from human considerations; but they regard all from the highest spiritual motives (2 Cor 5:16). This should not be peculiar to the Apostles, as every Christian, after having entered on his new spiritual existence, should do the same (2 Cor 5:17). He refers the merit of all these blessings resulting from our new spiritual existence, to their true source, viz., God, who made us sharers in them by having reconciled us with himself (2 Cor 5:18). He explains the mode in which this reconciliation was effected (2 Cor 5:19). He points out the exalted dignity of the ministers of religion (2 Cor 5:20); and, lastly, assigns a new reason for confidently expecting reconciliation with God, founded on the death of Christ.

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

2 Cor 5:1. For, we assuredly know by faith, that when this body of earth, in which the soul dwells for a time, as in a temporary abode or tabernacle, is dissolved by death, we shall have a lasting dwelling from God, viz., a spiritual body given us in the resurrection, unlike the works of art made to last but for a time, this body is not made by human hands, but by the power of God himself.

“For,” connects the following with the foregoing. The Apostle assigns a reason why he and his colleagues undervalue temporal things, and regard not passing and momentary tribulations. He wishes to point out the future glory that awaits us, both as regards body and soul.

“Of this habitation.” In Greek, τοῦ σκηνους, of this tabernacle, implying that as a tabernacle is only a temporary abode, so the body, in its mortal state, is to be the tenement of the soul only for a time. “A building of God,” in Greek, εκ θεοῦ, Vulgate, ex Deo, “from God,” by which is commonly understood, the body in its glorified state after the resurrection; for it is by the hopes of the glory of the resurrection, the Apostles were encouraged to labour manfully in the work of the gospel, and to it he refers (verse 14) of preceding chapter. This interpretation derives great probability from (verse 3), where the same idea is more fully developed.

2 Cor 5:2. For, on account of the necessity of this dissolution from which nature recoils, we groan, anxiously longing for this heavenly habitation; desiring to be clothed with the glorious qualities of a heavenly glorified body, as with a garment, without being subjected to the pains of dissolution.

“In this,” that is, on this account, viz., on account of the necessity of the dissolution of our bodies—from which we naturally recoil—before they can be clothed with the qualities of a glorious immortality; others understand the words, “in this,” to mean, in this body or earthly domicile, we sigh after immortality, wishing to be invested with it, as with a garment. There are two metaphors involved in this passage—one derived from a house, another, from a garment.

2 Cor 5:3. We shall receive the properties of glorified bodies in this way, provided, at the coming of our Lord, we are found vested with our bodies and not separated from them.

“Yet so,” &c., i.e., we shall be invested with a glorious immortality in this way, without dissolution, if we be among those who shall be found alive on the day of judgment; because, as the death of such persons will last for only a very short time, they may be said to be vested with a glorious immortality without dissolution, and the Apostle in all his Epistles treats of the day of judgment as near, because it virtually takes place for all at death. Others understand this verse, thus; if clothed with grace, we are not found devoid of charity and good works.

2 Cor 5:4. For while we are in this tabernacle of clay, oppressed with its weight, we groan for our state of incorruptibility, not that we wish to arrive at this state, through the dissolution of this moral body, but to be clothed and invested with it in such a way as that the mortality of this present body would be absorbed by immortal life, that from being mortal, the same would become immortal.

He repeats, in different words, the idea conveyed in the preceding verses. While in this tabernacle, we sigh for a glorious immortality, being oppressed with the weight of our present body—not that we wish for it at the expense of dissolution, but only in such a way as to be invested with it, without the intervention of death, so that the mortal be absorbed by immortal life.

2 Cor 5:5. But it is God, who fits us for this heavenly domicile, and who has given us the abundant gifts of his Holy Spirit, as a sure earnest of a happy and glorious immortality.

He ascribes to the grace of God all the merit of the ministry by which he is fitted for immortality, and God has increased our hope by the pledge of future glory which he has given us. “That maketh.” (In Greek, κατεργασαμενος; that hath made).

2 Cor 5:6. Having, therefore, this firm faith, and sure earnest of future glory, we cheerfully undergo all sufferings in the cause of the gospel, knowing that as long as we are in the body, we are sojourners from the Lord.

In consequence of the sure earnest of God’s spirit in our hearts, we always act with courage and cheerfulness under crosses and afflictions—the most secure road of safely arriving at our end—knowing that while we are in this body, we are sojourners from the Lord; we, therefore, hasten towards that country of which we are enrolled as citizens, and in which is our everlasting inheritance.

2 Cor 5:7. (For, in this life we are tending towards our heavenly country, guided by the obscure and glimmering light of faith; but we have not yet arrived at the enjoyment of the clear and intuitive vision of God).

This verse is to be included in a parenthesis—(see Paraphrase).

2 Cor 5:8. We have, I say, courage cheerfully to undergo all sufferings for the gospel, and we regard it as a blessing to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord to enjoy his vision.

He continues the subject digressed from in the preceding verse: We have courage, I say, under adversity, and we even prefer to be freed from the body to remaining in it, and thus to enjoy God’s beatific vision.

2 Cor 5:9. And therefore, we exert our utmost might, whether absent or present in the body, to be pleasing and acceptable to him.

If while here “present” in the body, we merit heavenly bliss, and please God, we shall please Him hereafter, when “absent” from the body; we shall be objects always pleasing in His sight, and we shall merit that this happiness be not taken from us for eternity.

2 Cor 5:10. For we must all, without exception, stand before the judgment seat of Christ, the Supreme Judge of all, and have our deeds then publicly manifested and exposed, so that each one may receive either the reward or punishment due to him, conformably to the life which he led in the body, according as that life was good or wicked.

In this verse is given a reason why we should always endeavour to please God; because we must all stand and be examined before the judgment seat of Christ, to whom the Father has transferred all judgment, and whom he has constituted Judge of the living and of the dead. In this judgment, five circumstances are here noticed by the Apostle:—First, it is to be universal—“we all.” Second, inevitable—“we must.” Third, clear and evident, exposing both interior actions and intentions; and hence a source of shame and confusion—“be manifested.” Fourth, irrevocable, as occurring before a supreme Judge, Christ—“before the judgment seat of Christ.” Fifth, most just; being grounded on all the actions, thoughts, &c., of our entire life, “according as he hath done.” What a subject of most serious reflection!

“The proper things of the body.” In Greek, τα δια τοῦ σώματος, the things by the body. The Vulgate interpreters read, ιδια τοῦ σώματος, propria corporis, the reading of Origen.

2 Cor 5:11. Keeping, therefore, always before our eyes this fearful judgment of the Lord, we endeavour to convince men of the sincerity of our ministry and profession, lest we should be a scandal or an impediment to any one; and as to God, our sincerity is perfectly known to him, and I trust, that to your consciences too, it will be perfectly manifest, notwith standing the malicious insinuations of the false teachers.

“Fear of the Lord”—“fear”; the effect is put for the judgment which causes it. “We use persuasion to men,” to avoid scandalizing the weakness, or obstructing in any way the progress of the Gospel; for, as to God, the searcher of hearts, to him the fulness of our sincerity is already clear and evident.

2 Cor 5:12. We do not speak thus, with the view of again commending ourselves to you, and of gaining your good will (as had been charged upon us), but with the view of affording you an opportunity of glorying in us, and of furnishing you with some answer against those who feel elated from external accomplishments, without any real interior virtue wherein to glory.

The Apostle here takes precaution against a repetition of the charge made against him by the false teachers (see 2 Cor 3:1), and removes all grounds for the misconstruction of his words. His motive in referring to his past good works is, to afford the Corinthians a subject for glorifying in him, as their true Apostle, and a means of reply against the false teachers, who were in the habit of boasting of mere external advantages, such as learning, riches, worldly connections, &c.; but, were prevented by their private deeds of shame (2 Cor 4:2) from boasting of acts of virtue, or of purity of heart and conscience.

2 Cor 5:13. We do nothing on our own account merely; for whether by speaking in praise of ourselves, and of our actions, we appear to be insanely transported in mind, it is for the glory of God we do so; or whether by speaking in terms of lowliness of ourselves, we act like men in their sober senses, it is for your sakes, to give you an example of modesty and humility.

Whether he praises himself at one time, or speaks in terms of modesty and humility of his actions at another, he does neither on his own account; on each occasion, he has the glory of God, or the edification of his neighbour in view. “Transported in mind,” when praising himself; for it is the mark of a madman or of a fool, to be speaking commendably of himself. “It is to God;” it is to glorify God who is the author of every good gift in us. “Be sober,” like men in their senses, who speak modestly of themselves; “it is for you,” to give them an example of modesty and humility.

2 Cor 5:14. The gratuitous and excessive love of Christ for us, urges us to pursue such a disinterested line of conduct, considering this, that if one man has died to save all from eternal death; therefore, all were spiritually dead (and his death for all shows the extent of the benefit conferred).

The gratuitous, disinterested love of Christ, who did nothing to please himself, non sibi placuit (Rom 15:3), constrains the Apostles to follow the same disinterested course, having God’s glory and the neighbour’s salvation always in view. “Judging this,” &c. He adds this to show the magnitude of the benefit of Redemption; and to point out the excess of the love of Christ, which “pressed” the Apostle. What a strong exhortation to labour unceasingly for the salvation of our brethren! If Christ died for all, why should not we give our lives for our brethren?

2 Cor 5:15. And also bearing in mind, that Christ has died for all; so that those who now live, are bound to his service in such a way, as to live no longer for themselves, but for him who has died and has risen for their sakes. (Hence, we should live solely for the service of our Redeemer, whose ransomed slaves we are).

“And Christ died for all.” We have not the word “Christ” in the Greek; it is, however, understood. “That they who live,” &c. Besides the motive of Redemption and ransom, Christ in his death also wished to teach us, that we should devote our life to his service; since, as ransomed slaves, we owe all our actions to the master and Lord who purchased us.

2 Cor 5:16. Wherefore, since we, Apostles, have become Christians, and dying to ourselves have begun to live to Christ, we have regarded in no man earthly or carnal considerations; and if at anytime we have known and loved Christ from human motives, we do so no longer, but from purer and more exalted spiritual motives, we adore and serve him.

“Henceforth,” that is, since we, Apostles, began to live a new life imparted to us in Christianity. “According to the flesh,” i.e., regarding in them merely human considerations (v.g.), because Jews or Gentiles, learned or unlearned, kinsmen or strangers. “And if we have known Christ,” &c., that is, if from the beginning of our conversion, we regarded in Christ the human consideration of being a fellow-countryman, or of being of Jewish extraction. “But now,” &c., we have been no longer guided by such consideration, we have begun to love and adore him from higher and more spiritual motives. Some understand this of the other Apostles, while living with Christ here on earth; for St. Paul was not a follower of His until after the Ascension. It may refer to St. Paul himself at the commencement of his conversion, for he had not wholly divested himself of human feelings, or of an over zeal for everything Jewish, at once.

2 Cor 5:17. This is not peculiar to us, Apostles, but if any person has been regenerated with us in Christ, let him know that he is a new creature, he has received a new existence; for him the old have passed away, behold all things are made new for him (hence, he should lead a new life, conformably to the new spiritual existence which he has received).

“If then any be in Christ a new creature.” The Greek, ει τις εν Χριστῳ καινη κτισις, might be translated, if any be in Christ, he is a new creature. It is not peculiar to the Apostles to enter on a new life in accordance with the object of Christ’s death and resurrection (verse 15), but every Christian, every man who has been baptized, has received a new spiritual existence, to which his actions should conform, by living solely for him who died and rose again for him. “Old things are passed away,” i.e., the passions, inordinate affections of the old, unregenerate man should no longer domineer over him. They are dead to the things of the flesh. “Behold all things are made new.” These words are, according to St. Thomas and Cajetan, mystically allusive to, Isa 43:18-19. They are illustrative of the “new creature,” and express, the newness of faith, justice and sanctity, as opposed to unbelief, sin, and immorality. They also convey an allusion to the total renovation of redeemed human nature, both as to soul and body, and to the new heavens and the new earth, the destined abode of the Saints, in which justice is to dwell.

2 Cor 5:18. But all this renewed spiritual existence, with its accompanying gifts, are from God, the author of all good gifts, who has admitted us, his enemies, by sin into his friendship, through the merits of Christ, and has constituted us the ministers of his reconciliation with others.

“To himself by Christ.” (In the common Greek, by Christ Jesus; “Jesus” is not in the Codex Vaticanus). All these spiritual blessings resulting from our new existence should be referred to God, as their real author. This new existence is the result of our reconciliation with God, and God himself is the author of this reconciliation or his enemies with him, which, through the merits of Christ, and through the ministry of reconciliation, he has perpetuated in his Apostles and the pastors of his Church to the end of time.

2 Cor 5:19. For God has reconciled a sinful world to himself through Christ, gratuitously remitting their sins, and to us he has intrusted the preaching’ of this reconciliation with others.

In this verse, is explained and developed more fully the idea expressed in the preceding. He reconciled the world through Christ, by gratuitously remitting their sins in consideration of the ransom which he paid for them, and by bestowing on them his sanctifying grace which he gratuitously, merited for them. This passage furnishes no argument in favour of the heretical doctrine of imputative justice. For, the Apostle only considers one circumstance of our reconciliation, namely—the remission of our sins on the part of God. But from other sources we know that this remission is effected by the infusion of sanctifying grace. By this grace sin is really remitted; otherwise, how could God, who hates iniquity, regard with complacency, or repute as just the man who really remains in the mire and filth of sin? He has constituted the Apostles ministers of announcing this great blessing of reconciliation.

2 Cor 5:20. We, Apostles, are, therefore, in the place of Christ, the ambassadors of God with man. Our exhortations and entreaties, to you to return to penance, should be regarded by you, as emanating from God himself. In the name of Christ, therefore, and in his person, we beseech you to become reconciled to God, mindful of his infinite mercy.

We, Apostles, are ambassadors, of Christ; hence, when we exhort or encourage you, it is the same as if this were done by Christ himself; because Christ speaks through us. “For Christ,” i.e., in the name and person of Christ, “we beseech you,” &c. The ministers of the gospel are, then, the ambassadors of Christ. With what reverence and respect are they not, therefore, to be treated, when acting in this capacity. The respect or contempt shown them is shown to Christ himself, by whom they are sent, and in whose name and authority they act. Whosoever touches them might as well touch the apple of his eye. On the other hand, with what circumspection should not the ministers of religion walk, and how cautious should they not be to avoid the least offence, that might mar or obstruct the interests of him by whom they were sent. What sanctity of life should they not practise, both in the presence of God and before men, in order to be fit representatives, before men, of their heavenly Master.

2 Cor 5:21. A reason for seeking and confidently hoping for reconciliation with God, is grounded on his infinite benignity and mercy in making his Son, who had as little commerce with sin, as if he were utterly ignorant of its nature, a victim of sin for us, that through him we might receive real and inherent justice, being made sharers in God’s justice by the infusion of sanctifying grace.

In this verse is assigned a motive to inspire us with confidence in seeking and hoping for reconciliation with God, viz., because he made his Son, who had no experimental knowledge of sin, or who had no more knowledge of it than if he knew not what it was. “Sin,” i.e., a victim of sin, according to the Scripture usage, which often uses the word “sin” to express the victim for sin, (v.g.) Hos 4:8; Lev 4:24. “That we might be made,” &c., i.e., that we might be made really and internally just, by a justice like the justice of God, of which we are rendered, by sanctifying grace, sharers through his merits.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 4

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 12, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

Having established, in the preceding chapter, the superior excellence of the Apostolit ministry, the Apostle employs this chapter in defending himself and his colleagues against the charges of the false teachers; his apology is contrived in such a way as, by implication, to insinuate against his accusers the very charges which they preferred against himself. He says, that in discharging his exalted ministry, he has avoided everything, even in private, that might damage its efficacy (2 Cor 4:1-2). If to any persons this Gospel publicly preached is unknown, it is through their own fault (2 Cor 4:3-4). In preaching, he seeks only God’s glory and his neighbour’s utility, in order to correspond with the designs of God in imparting his ministry (2 Cor 4:5-6). But the treasure of celestial knowledge communicated to others, is carried in frail vessels in order to consult for the glory of God alone, whose power appears clearly in preserving the Apostles in the midst of sufferings. (2 Cor 4:7-9). They suffer thus, in the hope that by representing Christ’s death, they may share hereafter in the glory of his resurrection (2 Cor 4:10-12). But, notwithstanding their constant exposure to death, the Apostles intrepidly preach the Gospel and profess their faith, as did David in the like circumstances (2 Cor 4:13). Being firmly convinced, that God will, one day, resuscitate them with Jesus, and give a share in the glory of his heavenly kingdom to them as well as to their faithful converts, for whose advantage all the Apostolic ministrations are intended (2 Cor 4:14-15). Hence, in the midst of trials, their souls are become more and more vigorous, while constantly making the inexpressible and never ending glory of the life to come, the subject of their continual meditation (2 Cor 4:16-18).

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

2 Cor 4:1. Having, therefore, been called by the mercy of God to a ministry of such superior excellency, we are not cast down by the difficulties in which the faithful discharge of its arduous functions may involve us.

“Therefore.” As this ministry which has been confided to us by the purely gratuitous mercy of God, without any merits on our part, has been so excellent and exalted, as appears from the preceding chapter, “we faint not,” which may mean we are not idle or slothful in the discharge of its duties; or, rather, we are not cast down by adversity, but willingly sacrifice our lives for our flocks. In this, the Apostle indirectly censures the false teachers who, like mercenary hirelings, when they see the wolf approach and danger nigh, fly and abandon the flock.

2 Cor 4:2. Even in private we do nothing unbecoming so exalted a ministry; we altogether abhor and eschew these private deeds of turpitude which carry with them shame and disgrace, not leading a life of hypocrisy and dissimulation, nor corrupting the word of God, either by the admixture of false tenets, or by preaching it from selfish, interested motives, but by the open and undisguised manifestation of truth, as well in the sanctity of our lives, as in the purity of our doctrine rendering ourselves worthy of commendation with all men who follow the convictions of conscience, and in the presence of God, who sees all things as they are.

“But we renounce,” i.e., execrate, shun, and abhor private deeds of shame and turpitude, unlike the false teachers who wear exteriorly the garb of sanctity, but whose conduct in private is shameful to be mentioned, as is expressed (Eph 5:12). “Not walking in craftness,” i.e., in hypocrisy and deceit, like the false teachers, saying one thing and thinking another, or saying one thing in public and acting in a contrary way in private. “Adulterating the word of God.” The Greek for “adulterating” δολουντες, is different from that used in 2 Cor 2:17, but the meaning in both places is the same, viz., not preaching the word of God in its unalloyed purity as it emanated from God, but mixing with it foreign doctrines, or preaching it from corrupt, selfish motives. In this also, the false teachers are censured. “Manifestation of the truth,” both in purity of doctrine and sancity of life; “the truth” probably includes both. “Commending ourselves to every man’s conscience,” i.e., rendering ourselves deserving of praise with every man who wishes to speak according to the convictions of his conscience, be he a believer or unbeliever, and even in the presence of an omniscient God. Oh! what a lesson to the minister of the gospel. He should pursue the even tenor of his onward course, neither elated by prosperity nor cast down by adversity, doing nothing, even in private, unworthy of his exalted calling, walking always “in God’s sight,” and sanctifying his actions by the consideration that the eye of God is always upon him, having God’s glory alone in view, and acting in such a way before men, as to merit the just commendation both of God and man.

2 Cor 4:3. But if, after this public and open preaching of the gospel, its truths are veiled for some, and concealed from them, it must be said, that this occurs only to the unbelieving reprobates, who refuse to believe, and who voluntarily place the veil of spiritual blindness on their own hearts.

In this verse, he meets a question which might be put, viz., if the gospel be preached thus openly, why be veiled for so many? The answer to which is, that this veil is not on the truths themselves, as was the case in the Mosaic law, but it was superinduced by the mental obstinancy of men themselves and by their resistance to the truth.

2 Cor 4:4. Whose minds the devil, who rules over the children of this world of unbelief, has blinded, lest the bright glory of the gospel should shine unto them, by which gospel are made known and manifested the glorious mysteries of Christ, who is the perfect image of God, light of light.

These men who voluntarily superinduce this veil, are the reprobates and unbelievers whose minds are blinded by “the god of this world,” which is commonly understood of the devil, who is called also by St. John (Jn 14:30), “the prince of this world,” since he exercises dominion over those who prefer earthly to heavenly things. Moreover, this class of men practically worship the devil, as a God. Even among Christians one would imagine that in baptism, instead of promising to renounce the devil, they promised him eternal allegiance, if their lives were taken as the standard of their profession. If they promised to be his servants, they could not more faithfully adhere to their promise, than they do at present. Others understand the words to refer to Almighty God, who blinds the wicked, not positively, by imparting malice, but negatively, by withholding mercy. Non obcecat impertiendo malitiam sed non impertiendo misericordiam.—St. Augustine. In this interpretation, the words “of this world” would, however, have no meaning, unless we join them with the word “unbelievers,” which would be without meaning also, and would besides, be a very forced and unnatural construction. The construction then runs thus:—It is concealed from those who perish (verse 3), I mean those unbelievers whose minds or spiritual senses the devil blinds, &c. (verse 4). “The gospel of the glory of Christ;” it is called such, either because in it are manifested the mysteries of Christ’s glory and divinity; or, because it is preached for his glory. “Image,” i.e., God’s uncreated image, begotten of him by an eternal generation, light of light. “The figure of his substance, and the splendour of his glory.”—(Hebrews 1). Hence, our Redeemer says in the gospel:—“He who sees me, sees the Father also.”—(John 14:9).

2 Cor 4:5. I said (verse 2), we rendered ourselves worthy of commendation with all men and in the presence of God; and with truth I have said so; for, in preaching we seek not our own glory or emolument, but the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we seek your advantage, and not our own; for, we profess ourselves your servants, devoted to you for Christ’s sake.

This is to be connected with the second verse, the intermediate verses being taken up in answering the question which presented itself. He says that by the manifestation of the truth (verse 2), they commended themselves to God and man, because they had in view only the glory of God and the utility of their neighbour, to whose service they devoted themselves. “We preach Jesus Christ and (profess) ourselves your servants.” The word, profess, must be understood. In order to show that their ministry does not involve anything like abject servitude, he says it is “through Jesus,” or for the sake of Jesus. The Greek particle, δια, corresponding with “through,” has frequently the meaning of, on account of.

2 Cor 4:6. And in seeking God’s glory and your advantage, we only correspond with the designs of God in conferring this grace of apostleship; for, it is the same Lord who, by the word of his might, commanded of old light to shine forth from the dark abyss, that by his spirit has shone in our hitherto darksome hearts, in order that we might enlighten others by the science and the knowledge of the glory of God, shining resplendent in the face of Christ, God’s most perfect image.

In the Greek the construction runs thus, as in Paraphrase: ὅτι ὁ θεος ὁ εἰπὼν· ἐκ σκότους φῶς λὰμψει, ὅς ἔλαμψεν ἐν ταις καρδίαις ἡμῶν, for the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness (it is) who hath shone in our hearts, &c. It is the same God who at the beginning of creation said: “Let there be light, and there was light” (Genesis 1) that hath by his spirit shone in our hearts. The Apostle in these words indicates the allegorical reference contained in the words of Genesis. “To give the light of the knowledge,” &c., shows the purpose God had in view in shining in our hearts; it was, in order that we should be so many lights, illuminating the spiritual darkness of this world, by the knowledge of the bright glory of God, reflected in the face of Christ, his most perfect image. Others understand the words, “in the face of Christ,” to refer to the person of Christ, as if to imply that by illuminating the world, the ministers of the gospel acted in the person, or as the representatives, of Christ. In the Vulgate reading, in facie Christi Jesu, there would seem to be an allusion to the veiled face of Moses, with which the face of Christ is contrasted. The comparison has however, been instituted throughout, not between Moses and Christ, but between Moses and the Apostles. Hence, the Vulgate translation, in facie Christi Jesu, is supposed by some not to be the best version of the words; these prefer the reading which makes it “in the person of Christ Jesus” which reading the Greek, ἐν προσώπῳ Χριστου, admits, and which is also found in the Syriac version. “Jesus,” although in the common Greek text, is not in the Codex Vaticanus. What a lesson of instruction for all the ministers of the gospel. They should commend themselves by their zeal for God’s glory, preaching Christ and not themselves; instead of domineering over any, they should be the servants of all. They should make the brightness of God’s glory and sanctity shine forth in their own lives, as so many shining and burning lamps, enlightening others.

2 Cor 4:7. But this treasure of the heavenly knowledge of the truths of God for the enlightenment of others, we carry in ourselves who are frail and contemptible, like earthen vessels, that the excellence which is in us, and the fruit resulting from our ministry may redound to the glory of God, and not to our own.

The Lord wished to confide this treasure of the ministry of heavenly illumination to poor, ignorant, frail, and contemptible men, in order that all its glory and excellence should be attributed to himself. By the “earthen vessels,” some understand the mortal bodies of the Apostles formed from the earth. Others, more probably, understand them of the persons of the Apostles, who were weak, frail, and despicable in the eyes of men.

2 Cor 4:8. And in the preservation of such frail beings in the midst of the most imminent perils, the divine power is clearly displayed; for, although we are pressed on all sides by adversity; still we are not utterly ruined; and although we are destitute of corporal aid and human counsel in our perplexities, we are not altogether left without resource, God in his mercy suggesting a means of evading our perplexities and embarrassments.

In the following verses, is shown how the power of God was exerted in favour of his ministers, although placed in the most imminent perils. It may not be necessary to give a distinct meaning to each word of the two following verses, the whole passage being nothing more than a mere rhetorical amplification conveying the same idea in different words, which increase in intensity. “Distressed,” στενοχωρούμενοι, is interpreted by many, we are seized with excessive mental anxiety. The version of Erasmus gives the same meaning to the corresponding Greek word. The purpose of the Apostle, however, would appear to be, to show that, although as brittle as earthen vessels, they are still preserved from bodily destruction in the midst of the greatest dangers.

“Straitened but not destitute.” The Greek, απορουμενοι ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἐξαπορουμενοι, literally translated, is, aporiati, sed non exaporiati; the former means destitute of human counsel in perplexity, without knowing what to do; the latter, that they are not oppressed in this perplexity, from which they knew not how to extricate themselves, because God suggests to them a means of effecting an escape.

2 Cor 4:9. We suffer persecution on account of the exercise of our ministry, but we are not forsaken by God who rescues us in our perils; we are cast down to the earth in our struggles with our opponents; but still, we are not despatched (because God interposes to save and raise us up).

“We are cast down,” &c., conveys the idea of most imminent danger of life, just as if a man in single combat were thrown to the earth by his adversary, and ready to be despatched, unless some one interpose to raise him up and enable him to avoid the fatal stab. God interposed to rescue the Apostles placed in the like danger. The words may also convey the idea, in allusion to earthen vessels, that although flung down upon the earth, God still interposed to save them from being utterly destroyed.

2 Cor 4:10. By our daily exposure to dangers and death, we always carry about, and by certain resemblance express in our bodies, the death of our Lord Jesus, in order that the life of glory which he now enjoys, may at a future day be revealed in us, when this mortal shall put on immortality.

“The mortification.” The Greek word, νεκρωσιν, denotes a dying state without actual death. “of Christ.” (In the common Greek, of the Lord Jesus). The word “Lord” is wanting in the chief MSS. which support the Vulgate. “That the life also of Jesus,” &c., are understood by some as referring, not to the future glory of the children of God (as in Paraphrase), but to the proof of Christ’s Resurrection, in consequence of rescuing so miraculously out of the very jaws of death, those who were thus exposed for his sake, so that the life of Jesus now risen may be clearly manifested and seen in our bodies rescued by him from death; for, had He not lived, He could not have rescued them. Others understand these words as referring to a typifying of His Resurrection; for, as our constant exposure to death was a type of His passion and death, so was our deliverance from these imminent perils of death a type of His Resurrection. “In our bodies.” In Greek, ἐν τῶ σηματι ἡμῶν, in our body.

2 Cor 4:11. For, although living, we are constantly given over to death on account of the preaching of Jesus, in order that the glorious and immortal life of Jesus may, at a future day, be revealed in this mortal flesh.

This verse is illustrative of the preceding. “That the life of Jesus,” &c., may also mean, that the life of Jesus risen from the dead may be made manifest by His having saved those perishable bodies amidst such deadly perils; and hence, our preservation furnishes a confirmatory proof of the Resurrection of Jesus.

2 Cor 4:12. Therefore, by the preaching of the gospel, death is caused in us; but, by this means, your spiritual life is advanced.

The conclusion drawn by the Apostle is, that by these sufferings, death is exercised in himself and his colleagues, by which means their spiritual life is advanced. Others, with St. Chrysostom, understand the words of this verse to convey a reproach to the Corinthians, who were living in ease and abundance, while the Apostles were exposed to danger and want of all sorts. The former interpretation is the more probable. In all this, the Apostle indirectly and obliquely reproaches the false teachers as having encountered no such dangers or privations for the faith, and as having no such testimony of divine deliverance and interposition in their favour.

2 Cor 4:13. But having, in the midst of dangers and death, the same faith proceeding from the Holy Ghost, that David had of old, when, as it is written of him, he said in the midst of trials and dangers: I have believed, and still believe firmly in the divine promises, and therefore, in consequence of this unhesitating faith in God’s promises, I have proclaimed, and still proclaim it aloud; so we also Apostles firmly believe in the promises, and, therefore, openly proclaim and profess this our faith.

He assigns a reason why the Apostles, in the midst of dangers, preach intrepidly it is because they really and firmly believe, unlike the false teachers, who, in dangerous circumstances, are become like “dumb dogs not able to bark.”—(Isa 56:10), “Having the same spirit of faith,” which David had, proceeding from the Holy Ghost, when in Psalm 116 he says, in the midst of the dangers which menaced his life: “I believed” (the perfect tense is put, by a Hebrew idiom, for the present, “I believe:” or, it may mean, I have believed and still continue to believe, in the promises of God made to me by Samuel, that one day I should ascend the throne; for, it is to this he refers in the 116th Psalm), and, therefore, on account of the firmness of this faith, “I have spoken” I have proclaimed, and do proclaim it aloud, knowing that God will preserve me. Some interpreters understand the word thus: having the same faith, with you, emanating from the Holy Ghost, we too believe, and, therefore, as did he of whom it was written, “I believed,” &c. It is better, however, to understand it of the same faith, with David. Hence, the faith of the saints of old is the same with ours. The mode of believing may be different; for they believed implicitly, what we believe explicitly; but “the same spirit” was the author of their faith and ours. Those, therefore, who believe firmly in their hearts, shall not be afraid or ashamed to profess this interior faith openly, when its external profession becomes a matter of duty.

2 Cor 4:14. Firmly impressed with the belief, that he who raised Jesus from the dead, will so raise us, and bestow on us a like glory with Jesus, and give us a place with you in his heavenly kingdom.

“Raised up Jesus.” In the common Greek, raised up the Lord Jesus. (The Codex Vaticanus has not the word Lord). “With Jesus.” (In the common Greek, δια Ιησου, through Jesus). The Codex Vaticanus has, συν ιησου, the Vulgate reading retained by St. Jerome. This firm belief in their future resurrection animates the Apostles to proclaim it aloud and preach the gospel intrepidly amid the most appalling dangers. “And place us with you.” He uses this form rather than place you with us, to show the great value he attaches to them, so as to prefer them to himself in glory, since he is only to come in for a share of glory of which they will be in possession.

2 Cor 4:15. I said, give us a place with you, for all our ministrations are ordained for your salvation, that the grace of the gospel, being diffused amongst many, whilst many are returning thanks for it, may redound to the glory of God.

It is not without cause that he placed them first; for they, or rather their salvation, is the end for which all his labours are designed. From making them sharers in his own glory this good shall result, viz., that the benefits of the gospel being more widely diffused and more extensively communicated, may redound to the glory of God, whilst the many on whom they are conferred will join in returning God thanks for them. Acts of thanksgiving, therefore, contribute much to God’s glory. The Greek, την ευχαριστιαν περισευσση εἰς την δοξαν τοῦ θεοῦ, admits the construction of Erasmus, viz., that the grace abounding through many may abound with thanksgiving unto the glory of God, in which the verb “abound” has a transitive signification, as in 2 Cor 11:8.

2 Cor 4:16. Propped up by this hope of future glory (verse 14), we faint not in adversity. For, although our bodies, the exterior portion of our persons, be attenuated by the sufferings we undergo for Christ, and tending to dissolution; still, our interior part, the soul, is daily becoming more and more vigorous and renovated.

It is the hope of future glory in heaven that animates the just in the midst of sufferings and persecutions. By the “outward man,” is meant the outward and sensible portion of man, viz., his frail and corruptible body. This is attenuated and worn by sufferings. But the “inward man,” the invisible soul, from these same sufferings receives vigour, and is renovated from the oldness of sin to the newness of truth and justice.

2 Cor 4:17. For the fleeting and light afflictions of the body, which we endure at present, shall beget and insure for us hereafter an eternal weight of glory, which ineffably and incomparably exceeds the light and passing afflictions of the present life.

The Greek reading runs thus:—τὸ γὰρ παραυτικα ελαφρὸν τῆς θλιψεως καθʼ ὑπερβολην εἰς ὑπερβολην κατεργαζεται, for the present lightness of affliction from excess to excess worketh, &c. From excess to excess, or, as we have it, “above measure exceedingly,” means that this weight of eternal glory, which our present light and passing afflictions merit for us, is also ineffable, superlatively immense. This form of expression is common with the Hebrews to express what is ineffably great in its kind; or, the words may mean, that this glory inexpressibly exceeds the sufferings undergone here to gain it. The lightness of our sufferings, and their momentary continuance, are contrasted with the weight and eternal duration of the glory, that shall one day be exchanged for them. “O! our tribulation:” “our” is not in the Codex Vaticanus, as in the above quotation.

2 Cor 4:18. Whilst we keep steadily in view, not the goods of the present life, viz., honours, riches, &c., which fill beneath the senses—but the good of the life to come, which are not seen, but only believed. For, the things of this life, which are seen, are fleeting and temporary, while the invisible things of the life to come are eternal and never-ending.

“While we look not at the things which are seen.” The Greek word for “look,” σκοπουντων means keeping steadily in view. Oh! were we, with the eyes of the understanding, and in the light of faith, to consider the nothingness of earthly enjoyments and pleasures, in duration exceedingly brief, and even this very brief enjoyment alloyed with bitterness and remorse and disappointments of all sorts; and on the other hand, were we to contemplate the things of the invisible world, their never-ending duration, their intensity exceeding all human comprehension; were we but to “consider in the heart,” on the awful import of these words, “ever,” “never;” ever to continue, never to end; what a stimulus to walk in the way of virtue, and keeping God always in view, to look to the remuneration he has in store for us; what a consolation under the crosses and afflictions with which this loving Father may visit us, in order to chasten us with the rod of discipline, and wean us from the nothingness of earthly pleasures. O God! increase in us a spirit of lively faith, so as to view temporal and eternal things, the fleeting affairs of this visible world, and the never-ending concerns of the invisible world, as they are; ever to bear in mind that there are two worlds, the visible and invisible—the one to pass away, as regards us, very soon, nay, sooner than we may imagine; the other never to end, to continue as long as God shall be God—and be influenced in our conduct, with reference to them, according to their relative importance.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 3

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 5, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

Among the charges preferred by the false teachers against the Apostle, was that of indulging in self-praise. He defends himself against this charge, for which he might have given some grounds in the seventeenth verse of the preceding chapter, as well as in chapter 9 of his first Epistle, by retorting upon his adversaries, and showing that he did not, like them, require any recommendation with the Corinthians. For, having been converted by his ministry, they were his letters patent, or, more properly speaking, the Epistle of Christ himself who, by the ministry of the Apostle, engraved on their hearts, with the grace of the Holy Ghost, the characters of true sanctity (2 Cor 3:1–3). The glory of all this he refers to God, through whose grace alone, man can elicit even as much as a single good or supernatural thought, conducive to salvation (2 Cor 3:4-5). And to God he acknowledges his obligation for his call to the exalted function of the Apostolic ministry. He contrasts this ministry with that of Moses, and he shows the superior excellence of the former (2 Cor 3:6). He shows that the glory attached to his own ministry, so incomparably surpasses that attached to the ministry of Moses, that the glory of the latter might, comparatively speaking, be termed no glory at all (2 Cor 3:7-10). His ministry, and the new covenant, excelled the Mosaic on another ground also—viz., on the ground of perpetuity (2 Cor 3:11). His practical conclusion from the hope of the glory attached to his ministry is, to preach the gospel openly, and with much boldness of speech (2 Cor 3:12), and not act, as did Moses, who placed a veil upon his face, when speaking to the people (13). He explains the mystical signification of this veil, which signified the spiritual blindness of the Jews, who see not Christ represented in the beaming effulgence of the face of Moses (2 Cor 3:14-15). It is only by believing in Christ, that this veil will be taken away (2 Cor 3:16). He says that the Lord is the spirit to whom he has been referring, as distinguishing the Covenant of grace from that of Moses; he it is that removes the veil of darkness and obstinacy (2 Cor 3:17). The Apostle concludes the second number of the antithesis, instituted at verse 13, and shows how clearly the revelation of God has been made by the Holy Spirit to the ministers of the gospel beyond that of Moses, so that they can, like so many suns, enlighten others (2 Cor 3:18).

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

2 Cor 3:1. Is it to be inferred from the foregoing (2 Cor 2:17), that we are again anxious to praise ourselves and be commended to your favour? Or, do we require commendatory letters to you or from you (as is the case with some others)?

“Again,” has reference to chapter 9 of the First Epistle, where he is forced, in his own defence, as well as here, to refer to his labours and privations. “Epistles of commendation,” were propably letters of introduction, or, the tesseræ hospitalitatis common among the Greeks, Romans, and Jews, and in frequent use in the primitive Church. (“As some do,”) viz., the false teachers, who made this a charge against the Apostle, of which they themselves alone were guilty.

2 Cor 3:2. We require no such recommendation; you yourselves, converted to the faith through our labours and ministry, are a sufficient recommendation of us, and a proof of our true apostleship, written on our hearts (owing to our anxiety for you). You are our letters patent, known to all men, since the several nations of the earth, with which you hold relations of commerce, know us, to be your Apostle.

“Written on our hearts.” Owing to our anxiety and affection for you. “Which is known and read,” &c., may also mean, it is known and read by all that you are engraven on our hearts, in consequence of our constant mention and remembrance of you in every place.

2 Cor 3:3. It should rather have been said, that, by your faith and good works, it is made manifest regarding you, that you are the Epistle of Christ himself, on whom, as on a chart, are inscribed his sacred laws and precepts written by our ministry; not with ink, but with the grace of the Holy Ghost, which has impressed, on you the characters of true sanctity; not on tables of stone, but on the softer and more pliant tablets of the heart.

He corrects his assertion, to the effect that they were his Epistle; they were rather “the Epistle of Christ,” whose law is written on their hearts. “The Epistle of Christ” may also mean the Epistle written by Christ, and of which Christ is the principal author. The former, which is adopted in the Paraphrase, is the interpretation of the Greeks. The latter interpretation, wherein it is insinuated that the Corinthians, or, rather the fruits of their conversion to the faith, are the work of Christ, better suits the following words:—“Ministered by us,” i.e., written by our ministry as a subordinate agent. “Not with ink,” with which human instruments are ordinarily written, “but with the spirit,” &c., i.e., the grace of the Holy Ghost. “Not in tables of stone,” like the Law of Moses, to which these words are evidently allusive, “but in the fleshy tablets,” &c. The word “fleshy,” is opposed to hard, stony, impenetrable; but not to spiritual. The Apostle is most probably alluding to the difference between both testaments referred to, chapter 31, of Jeremiah, and quoted in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb 8:8). How many are there, alas! whose hearts, harder than adamant, always resist the inspirations of the Holy Ghost. How fervently should we pray, not to be delivered over to an impenitent heart—to a spirit of obduracy and insensibility in the ways of God!

2 Cor 3:4. And this confidence and matter for glorying in you as our converts before God, we have not from any merits of our own, but from the merits of Christ.

The Apostle boasts before God for having been made the instrument in the conversion of the Corinthians, not through any merits of his own, but through the merits of Christ. He claims no merit for himself, notwithstanding his immense labours and boundless success in the propagation of the gospel and conversion of the world. “Dens, qui universum mundum B. Pauli Apostoli prædicatione docuisti,” is the language of the Church (January 25). What a lesson is here conveyed to such as wish that their most trifling efforts in the cause of religion should be bruited abroad, and that a twofold glory should redound to themselves!—“receperunt mercedem suam.”

2 Cor 3:5. We glory in our ministry and its successful issue with you, not that we are sufficient of ourselves, from our own natural strength to elicit even a good thought of the supernatural order—a thought conducive to salvation—much less perform a good work of the same kind, since all our sufficiency, in that respect, must come from the grace of God.

This passage has been adduced by St. Augustine and the Council of Orange to refute the errors of the Pelagians and semi-Pelagians, and to show the necessity of divine grace for performing a good action or for eliciting a good thought conducive to salvation. It is of supernatural actions the Apostle here speaks; for he is treating of works appertaining to the Apostolic ministry of preaching the gospel. “Of ourselves as of ourselves;” i.e., of our own natural strength, and independent of any other assistance.

2 Cor 3:6. Who, among the other gifts bestowed upon us, has also rendered us fit ministers of the new testament, not of the written law given by Moses, but of the spiritual covenant of grace, which grace is given to be abundantly dealt out to others. For, the law of Moses, written on tables of stone, is of itself the occasion of death in its infraction, and by stimulating concupiscence; but the spiritual covenant vivifies, by the charity and grace which it communicates to our hearts.

“Who also,” i.e., who, among the other blessings bestowed on us, “hath made us fit ministers of the new testament.” This has reference to the sixteenth verse of the preceding chapter, “and for these things who is so fit?” “Not in the letter” (the Greek is, οὐ γράμματος ἀλλὰ πνευματος, not of the letter, but of the spirit), i.e., not ministers to announce the mere letter of the Law of Moses, viewed in itself, and without grace; but to announce a spiritual covenant, which administers abundant grace. “For the letter killeth.” The Apostle here views the letter without the spirit, as he views science without charity—(1 Cor 7), and in this sense “the letter kills,” because it gives no grace of itself to fulfil the precepts which it imposes. Again, “it kills,” by becoming the occasional cause of spiritual death, inasmuch as it stimulates, by the very prohibition, to its transgression, and excites concupiscence, as the Apostle expressly declares in his Epistle to the Romans.

In this passage the Apostle undertakes to show the superiority of the Christian law and ministry over the Mosaic. This is directed against the false teachers, who wished to unite the Mosaic with the Christian law.

2 Cor 3:7. For, if the ministry of announcing a law which served as the occasional cause of death, a law engraven in letters with the finger of God on tables of stone, were glorious in its effects, so much so that the children of Israel could not look on the face of Moses on account of the bright effulgence beaming from his countenance, an effulgence which has passed away with Moses himself:

“Glorious,” is understood by some of the frightful appearances, the thunder, lightnings, &c., which were manifested on Sinai. It is more probable, however, that it refers to the effect produced on the countenance of Moses by his converse with God (as in Paraphrase). The Greek of this verse runs thus:—εν γραμματι ευτετυπωμενη λιθοις εγεννηθη ἐν δοξῃ, engraven on letters on stones, be in glory, &c. The meaning, according to which, might be, if the ministry of announcing a law which, in letters, or taken literally, is the occasion of death, and engraven on stone, &c. “Which is done away,” refers to “the glory of his countenance,” as is evident from the Greek, δοξαν καταργουμενην. This effulgence on the face of Moses has passed away with himself.

2 Cor 3:8. How much greater shall not the glory be, that is reserved in the life to come, for those employed in announcing the covenant of grace, which imparts the abundant gifts of the Spirit?

The Apostle refers to the future glory, in a special manner reserved for the ministers of the gospel before all the other elect—the glory of the children of God. What encouragement and consolation are held out here to the labourers in the cause of the gospel, amidst all the perils and arduous toils of their ministry!

2 Cor 3:9. But if, I say, the ministration of the law which was the occasion of damnation, was glorious, how much more glorious shall be the office of announcing the law which confers true justice and sanctity (in the fulness of that bliss after which inanimate nature itself sighs, the glory of the adoption of the sons of God)?—Rom. 8:19.

In this verse is conveyed, in different language, the idea expressed in the two preceding verses. The “glory” to which he refers, is that reserved for us, in the life to come, and after which manimate creation itself sighs.—(Romans 15:17).

2 Cor 3:10. For, indeed, should we institute a comparison, we might truly say that the glory attached to the ministry of Moses was no glory at all, compared with that of the Apostolic ministry, or the new covenant, on account of the supereminent glory of the latter.

“In this part,” that is, in respect of comparison. The glory and ministry of Moses, compared with that attached to the new covenant, was no glory at all.

2 Cor 3:11. Another respect in which appears the superiority of the new ministry and covenant over the old—viz., its perpetuity. For if the old covenant and its ministry, although transitory, were glorious, much more glorious shall be the covenant and its ministry, which are to last to the end of time.

He institutes a comparison between both covenants and their respective ministries under another head—viz., that of permanency or perpetuity. The new ministry and covenant are to last to the end of time, while those of Moses are transient, being a mere introduction to a covenant and ministry of better hope.

2 Cor 3:12. Animated, then, with the hope of such glory, arising from preaching the gospel, the practical resolve which we Apostles come to is, to preach it openly and undisguisedly, with much freedom and boldness of speech.

Having shown the superior excellence of the gospel ministry, he proceeds to point out the proper mode of exercising that ministry, a subject on which he treats as far as chapter 7. The first distinguishing trait of the evangelical ministry is intrepidity; and the practical lesson which it ought to inspire should be to teach us to preach the gospel openly, with freedom of speech. This is the meaning of the Greek word corresponding with “confidence,” παῤῥησία.

2 Cor 3:13. Nor do we in preaching, act as Moses did, who put a veil on his face when he spoke to the people, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look on his countenance effulgent with the rays of glory, which glory is now destroyed.

“That the children of Israel could not look steadfastly on the face of that which is made void; for which the Greek reading is, εἰς τὸ τὲλος τοὖ καταργουμένου, so that the children … on the end of that which is made void. The meaning of which is, that the children of Israel, on account of the veiled and mysterious manner in which Moses spoke (which was signified by the veil covering his face, to conceal the glory beaming from his countenance), did not see Christ, who is “the end of the law” (Romans 10:5), in whom all its figures are accomplished, and by whose grace all its recepts are fulfilled. Others, by “the end,” understand the extremities of the face of Moses, which would appear to be the meaning attached to it by the Vulgate translation. “On the face of that which is made void.” The word “which” is also referred by the Vulgate, quod evacuatur, to the veil which covered the face of Moses, as if it were meant, that the veil of Jewish darkness was destroyed, and totally removed by the gospel and the clear revelation of Christ. The interpretation in the Paraphrase is, however, more in accordance with verse 11, which refers it to the brilliancy emanating from the face of Moses.

2 Cor 3:14. This veil on the face of Moses mystically signified the blindness of the Jewish people, and the dulness of perception under which they labour; for, unto the present day, this same veil, of which the veil of Moses was a type, is unremoved, while they are reading the Old Testament, because it can be removed only by Christ, in whom they refuse to believe.

The Apostle, in this verse and the following, points out the mystical signification of the veil which Moses wore on his face after having conversed with the Lord on Mount Sinai. It was a type of the blindness of heart of the Jewish people. And he says, that the same blindness and obduracy, typified by the veil of Moses, is, to the present day, placed on the hearts of the Jews, whilst reading the SS. Scriptures in their synagogues on each successive Sabbath; because this spiritual blindness and obduracy of heart is to be removed by Christ only, in whom they refuse to believe. “The self-same veil,” i.e., the antitype of the veil of Moses—viz., blindness of heart.

2 Cor 3:15. But even to the present day, while Moses is read in their synagogues, this veil of spiritual blindness is placed on their hearts.

In this verse there is a repetition, in plainer terms, of the idea conveyed in the preceding.

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

Some commentators, among whom is Estius, understands the words, “converted to the Lord,” not of the Jewish people (as in Paraphrase), but of Moses representing and prefiguring the Christian people, and they understand the words thus:—But when he (Moses) converted himself to the Lord, he took off the veil. This construction is admitted by the Greek reading, επιστεψη προς κύριον. According to them, then, the meaning is:—“As Moses turning from the Lord to the people, and wearing a veil, was a type of the Jews of old, that is, of the incredulous Israel, so the same Moses, taking off his veil when conversing with the Lord, was a type of spiritual Israel, the Christian people, who clearly contemplate the mysteries of faith.”

2 Cor 3:17. Now, the Lord is the spirit to whom we have been referring throughout, as distinguishing the new covenant from the old (and hence, the conversion of Israel to the Lord signifies the adoption of the spiritual covenant, which is the inheritance of the sons of promise in the New Testament). And where the spirit of the Lord is, there is to be found exemption from blindness of intellect, from obstinacy of will, and obduracy of heart (and hence, it is only by becoming Christians, that the veil of darkness and mental obstinacy shall be removed from the Jews).

“The Lord is a spirit.” In Greek, το πνευμα, the spirit, i.e., the spirit which distinguishes the new from the old covenant. The consequence deducible from this is shown in the Paraphrase. “Liberty,” i.e., exemption from blindness of intellect and obduracy of heart, such as that (signified by the veil of Moses) under which the Jews laboured.

2 Cor 3:18. But we Apostles and ministers of the gospel, unlike Moses (2 Cor 3:13), receiving in ourselves as in a mirror, with face uncovered, i.e., openly and undisguisedly, the glorious revelation of God, are transformed into the same likeness which we saw in the mirror; from the brightness of his glory reflected on us to the brightness which we also reflect on others; we are thus transformed, like so many suns, enlightening others, in a manner becoming the spirit of the Lord, which is the spirit of liberty, freeing us from mental darkness and obstinacy (2 Cor 3:17).

“But we all.” In the Paraphrase this is made to refer to the ministers of the gospel, whom the Apostle has been throughout comparing with Moses, and whose ministry he has been exalting above the Mosaic. The word “beholding” is interpreted in the Paraphrase to mean, receiving as in a mirror; a signification warranted by the Greek, κατοπτριζομενοι, which is taken passively, and accords better with the rest of the interpretation in the Paraphrase, which confines the words, “we all,” to the ministers of the Gospel. Others make the words, “we all,” extend to all Christians—all the children of the new testament. And “beholding” will mean seeing as in a mirror—a signification admitted by the Greek word, which may be taken in either a passive or a middle signification. Then the words will mean:—But we all, Christians, beholding the glorious mysteries and revealed truths of God in a mirror “with open face,” i.e., openly and undisguisedly—unlike the children of Israel, who saw the resplendent face of Moses covered with a veil—are transformed in a manner becoming the spirit of God to the same likeness which he saw in the mirror, as the face of Moses partook of the brilliancy of the angel which he saw. “From glory to glory,” so as to advance more and more in brightness and resemblance to the image pictured or reflected in the mirror of God’s revelation; for all Christians are bound to aspire to perfection resembling that of God. The words, “from glory to glory,” may also mean from the brightness of Christian revelation here (for although obscure, it is bright compared with the revelation made to the Jews); to the brightness of heavenly vision hereafter. In the Paraphrase they have been interpreted, from the brightness of his glory reflected on us (Apostles) to the brightness which we also reflect on others. “As by the spirit of the Lord.” The word “as,” καθώσπερ, means a way becoming the spirit of the Lord, who removes all mental obscurity and obstinacy; for, “where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (verse 17). The words “by the spirit of the Lord,” may be also translated from the Greek, ἀπὸ κυρίου πνεύματος, by the Lord, who is the sprit, to whom reference has been made in the foregoing.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 2

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 5, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this chapter, the Apostle more fully explains the cause of his delay in visiting the Corinthians: he deferred his visit lest he might render them sorrowful, and he himself, contristated in turn (2 Cor 2:1-2). He states, that it was in order to effect their amendment, and thus be spared the pain of punishing those, in whose sorrow and joy he participated, he wrote his former Epistle in a style of severity (2 Cor 2:3). Moreover, when penning that Epistle, he participated by anticipation in the sorrow which he foresaw it would cause them, and he wrote it to give a proof of his solicitude for them (2 Cor 2:4). Passing to the principal cause of his own sorrow and theirs, viz., the guilt of the incestuous man—he mildly instructs them, by way of request, to admit this man to the society of the faithful, and remit to him in the form of indulgence, any further canonical penance that may be due by him (2 Cor 2:5–8). This he commands them to do (2 Cor 2:9-10); lest by excessive severity, they might drive him to despair, and thus they would fall into the snare laid for them by the enemy (2 Cor 2:11).

For the purpose of expressing his anxiety for them, he informs them that not finding at Troas, Titus, whom he hath sent to Corinth, he hastened to meet him in Macedonia, in order to learn from him the state of their Church (2 Cor 2:12-13). He gives God thanks for his triumph over his persecutors in Macedonia; and for making the apostles the means of diffusing the sweet odour of the Gospel (2 Cor 2:15). From the circumstance of having diffused this sacred odour, he takes occasion to contrast the unalloyed purity of his own teaching with the corrupt doctrines and selfish motives of the false teachers (2 Cor 2:17).

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

2 Cor 2:1. I came to the fixed resolve, that my second visit to you should not be a visit of sorrow; and, hence, I postponed the fulfilment of my promise, until I first heard of your amendment.

“Come again to you in sorrow.” Some interpreters connect the word “again” with “sorrow;” as if he meant, I was determined, that my promised visit to you should not be in sorrow, as was my preceding visit. It does not, however, appear that the first visit of the Apostle to Corinth was a sorrowful one; and hence, others, with St. Chry sostom, understand the second sorrow to have reference, not to the sorrow which he might have caused in his first visit, but to that caused by his first Epistle, which contained passages couched in terms of great severity. It is better, however, and more in accordance with the Greek construction, to connect it with the word “come,” as in Paraphrase, so as to mean a second visit.

2 Cor 2:2. For, if on my arrival, I were to make you sorrowful by the infliction of the penalties and censures due to your irregularities; who, I ask, would there be to gladden me, but the very persons contristated by me?—that is to say, no one; since those who are in sorrow themselves are unfit to gladden or console others.

“Who is he then that can make me glad?” The answer, Nobody, is implied. “But the same who is made sorrowful by me,” which means, “but they who are made sorrowful”—the singular is put for the plural. The whole congregation would, by sympathy, share in the grief of the censured man. Some interpreters understand the words, “but he who is made sorrowful,” of the incestuous Corinthian, to whom reference is made in the following part of this chapter. These, also, understand the words, “it I make you sorrowful,” of the sorrow caused by his former Epistle; according to them, the words have a past signification; “if I have made you sorrowful,” &c. “Who is he then?” &c. In Greek it is και τις ὁ ευφραινων με, “and who is he. &c.” The and, is redundant; or it may mean, “who is he, I ask?”

2 Cor 2:3. It was from the like feeling, that in my former Epistle I called upon you to repent, lest, should I find you unreformed on my arrival, I would suffer excessive grief from those who ought to be the subject of my joy; and this I did from a firm conviction regarding you all, that my joy would be fully shared in by you all. (You should, therefore, remove every cause of sorrow to me, by reforming your lives and banishing all irregularities).

He says it was from a conviction, that their sorrow would be a source of sorrow to himself, as his joy would, in turn, gladden them, that he wrote his Epistle to them, with a view to their amendment, in order to cause him joy, in which they themselves would also participate. The words, “upon sorrow,” are not in the Greek. They are, however, found in some of the best manuscripts.

2 Cor 2:4. And should I appear too severe in my former Epistle, I have only to say, that I wrote that Epistle with great affliction and anxiety of heart, and with many tears; not for the purpose of contristating you, but that you might learn from my anxiety for your reformation, the excess of my sincere affliction for you.

Lest the severity of his former Epistle might appear to accord but little with the solicitude which he expresses for their joy and happiness, he says, that while writing it, he suffered great anxiety and sorrow of mind, sharing, by anticipation, in their sorrow, and that he wrote it, not with a view of saddening them, but, in order to testify his great love for them. How admirable is this charity of the Apostle! What a model to such an authority as are charged with the correction of abuses! How cautious ought they not be, in consulting for the feelings of their delinquent children!

2 Cor 2:5. And if any person has given cause for this grief, he has contristated not only me, but he has also contristated you all, in a certain sense, or a great portion of you all, so that I, by no means, intend to reproach you all as accomplices or approvers of his guilt.

He now passes to the principal cause of his own sorrow and theirs. All are agreed that he alludes to the incestuous man, whom he instructed them to excommunicate (1 Cor 5). He now omits all mention of his name, nor does he even mention his crime. He treats of it as a merely hypothetical matter, and as if the recollection of it had passed away, on account of his penance and the reparation which he made. “But in part,” may be also interpreted thus: such a person has grieved me, only in part, only for a short time, and with a temporary grief, which he has removed by his repentance; or thus—he has grieved you all partly, or in some degree; I say, partly, that I may not press too heavily on him, by saying simply and unqualifiedly, that he contristated the whole Church. This latter construction is preferred by Estius.

2 Cor 2:6. This man, whose name I forbear mentioning, has been sufficiently punished by his public separation from the Chinch, and by the reproach which he suffered from you, assembled together.

In the following verses, the Apostle recommends the Corinthians to admit the incestuous man to the communion of the faithful, as the public reproach, which he suffered in his expulsion from the Church, was a sufficient punishment for him, now that he bad made reparation and given signs of repentance.

2 Cor 2:7. So that you should now, on the other hand, treat him with lenity rather than with severity, by remitting the penalty which may be still required for full satisfaction, and console him by receiving him into the communion of the Church, lest, perhaps, overwhelmed by excessive grief, he may in despair seek consolation in the indulgence of his passions.

He wishes then to remit any further canonical penance that may be due by him, and to console him by admitting him to the communion of the faithful. “Pardon.” In Greek, χαρισασθαι, to bestow a grace.

2 Cor 2:8. Wherefore, I entreat you to confirm, in an authoritative decree, the charity of the faithful towards him, by admitting him to the peace of the Church.

“Confirm” The Greek word, κυρωσαι, implies that they would restore him to the charity of the faithful by an authoritative decree; and this, probably, in a public assembly, as he was expelled by a like process.—(1 Cor 5:5-6). The Apostle “beseeches” them to restore him, although he might have commanded them to do so, as he commanded them to excommunicate him; but, the other course would the more effectually secure a cheerful compliance.

2 Cor 2:9. For I have written to you this Epistle, for the purpose of having an experimental knowledge of your obedience to me in all things, as well when there is question of reconciliation, as of inflicting punishment.

In this verse, he gives them to understand that this request was a mild way of conveying a mandate; since, in writing, he wished to test their obedience.

2 Cor 2:10. But to whom you extend indulgence and remit punishment, to him I shall join you in extending the same; and if I have exercised the power of remitting any punishment, this I have done for your sakes, in order to give you an example of lenity, in virtue of the authority of Christ, whom I represent.

“To whom you have pardoned anything, I also.” The Greek for which is ᾧ δὲ χαρίσεσθε, κᾀγὼ: to whom you forgive anything, I also (forgive). In these words, is contained an allusion to the mode in which the Apostle instructed them to excommunicate the incestuous man, the Apostle was “present in mind in the assembly of them and his spirit” (1 Cor 5), when he excommunicated him. He, therefore, extends indulgence to him in the same way that he inflicted punishment, and this he does “in the person of Christ,” εν προσώπω Χριστοῦ, i.e., in the name and by the authority of Christ, whose person he represents amongst them. The same authority is required in restoring the incestuous man to favour, that had been exercised in inflicting punishment, “for your sakes,” i.e., for the purpose of giving you an example of lenity, as well as of severity, or, at your request.

2 Cor 2:11. We should act this indulgent part towards repentant sinners, lest, by excessive severity, we be over-reached by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his crafty wiles and designs regarding us.
They would be circumvented by the wiles of Satan, if, while they were intending good by a course of severity, this would be turned by the enemy to the ruin of the sinful man, whom he would drive to despair, “turning their remedy into his own triumph,” as St. Ambrose expresses it. His devices and deceitful snares are planned with such cunning dexterity, that he endeavours to render every course of treatment resorted to against sinners, particularly that of severity, subservient to their ruin.

From this passage is derived an argument in favour of the Catholic doctrine and practice regarding indulgences. All that the Council of Trent has defined to be of faith on this subject is; first, that the Church has the power of granting indulgences; and, secondly, that these indulgences are salutary and useful.—“Sacrosancta Synodas eos anathemate damnat qui aut inutiles esse asserunt aut eas (indulgentias) concedendi in Ecclesia potestatcm esse negant.”—(SS. 25 Doct. de Indul.) These are the only points defined of faith respecting indulgences. The divine warrant for this power, is conveyed in the unlimited commission given by Christ to his Apostles—“Whatever you shall lose on earth, shall be loosed also in heaven.” The Church, at all times, exercised this power of according indulgences, that is to say, of remitting either entirely or in part, the temporal debt or penalty, which, according to the teaching of Catholic faith sometimes remains to be expiated after the guilt of sin, and the eternal punishment due to it, are remitted. This remission is given to the living, by way of absolution and to the dead by way of suffrage. The treasure out of which the supreme authority in the Church dispenses this remission, is composed of the infinite satisfaction and merits of Christ, as well as of the superabundant satisfaction and merits of the glorious Virgin Mary and the Saints. It is disputed among Divines, whether the merits of Christ alone do not constitute this treasure. It is, however, the common opinion, that the good works of the Saints, being satisfactory, as well as meritorious, are also included. The Apostle, in union with the heads of the Corinthian Church, manifestly remits here this temporal debt. He does it “in the person,” i.e., as the vicar and representative “of Christ,” who, therefore, ratifies his act; and he really remits this punishment; since, if he were merely remitting the term of canonical penance, without remitting the debt due, he would be only reserving the incestuous man, for heavier punishment in the life to come; and hence, he could be hardly said to “pardon him,” or confer any grace or favour on him, as the Greek word, corresponding with “pardon,” κεχαρισμαι, implies. Nor could the remission referred to here, be understood of any other remission, except that by way of indulgence—not, of absolution from sin, because the object of it was absent—nor from excommunication, since such remission could not be termed “pardoning,” but absolving. Besides he is exempting the incestuous man from the full and perfect discharge of that debt, for which he had already partly satisfied, and this for his advantage, which would not hold with regard to excommunication, by any means; nor external canonical penance; since this would be of no advantage, as it would be only reserving him for heavier punishment, in the life to come.

2 Cor 2:12. But when (after leaving Ephesus) I came to Troas for the purpose of preaching the gospel, although a great opportunity of advancing the glory of the Lord in the work of the gospel presented itself;

The Apostle adds this, to show his anxiety and concern for them. He sent Titus to Corinth, and not finding him at Troas, he hastened to meet him in Macedonia, others account for his uneasiness at not meeting Titus, on the ground that Titus was his interpreter. The reason assigned, viz., that his uneasiness proceeded from his desire to learn from Titus the state of the Church of Corinth, is, however, by far the more probable.

2 Cor 2:13. Still, I could find no rest for my soul, in consequence of not meeting our brother and co-operator, Titus (from whom I expected to hear some account of you, as he was sent to you); but bidding them farewell, after having made all the necessary arrangements among them, I went to Macedonia, in the hope of meeting Titus and of hearing from you.

The Greek word for “bidding farewell,” ἀποταξάμενος, simply means, arranging and putting things in order; arranging all things connected with the government of their Church, appointing teachers and ordaining ministers of the Gospel, and the like.

2 Cor 2:14. (In Macedonia I suffered much), but thanks be to God, who gives us victory on all occasions, through Christ Jesus, and diffuses everywhere, through us, the sweet odour of his Divine knowledge.

He says nothing here about his sufferings in Macedonia; he does, however, in chapter 7 verse 5, of this Epistle; he thanks God for not only rescuing him from these perils, but also for giving him a splendid triumph over them; and that, through the merits of Christ, through whose aid we triumph, “in Christ Jesus.” In Greek it simply is, ἐν τῷ Χριστῳ, in Christ. This may also refer to the favourable account, which he received from Titus, regarding the Corinthian Church.

2 Cor 2:15. For, we are the means of diffusing the saving and odoriferous knowledge of Christ unto the glory of God, both among those who are saved by believing, and those who are lost through unbelief.

The Apostles were commissioned to preach the Gospel, as well among believers as unbelievers—“prædicate Evangelism omni creaturæ.”—(Mark, 16:15).

2 Cor 2:16. To some, indeed, the fragrance of the gospel becomes a deadly savour, causing spiritual, and ending in eternal death, in consequence of their unbelief and resistance to the gospel; to others, it is a vivifying odour, ending in life eternal. And who are so competent to discharge these exalted duties, as the divinely commissioned Apostles of Christ?

“And for these things who sufficient?” The word “so,” is not in the Greek reading, πρὸς ταῦτα τίς ἱκανός, according to which the meaning is—Who is qualified to discharge these duties as he should? The implied answer being, but very few are, so qualified. In the Paraphrase the Vulgate reading, quis tam idoneus? which, independently of the authority of the Vulgate, derives probability from the following verse is followed.

2 Cor 2:17. For, we are not like many others (among whom are self-commissioned false teachers), who corrupt the word of God, by the admixture of false tenets, and dispense it, for selfish emolument; but we announce it in its unalloyed purity, as it emanated from God himself, keeping God always before our eyes, in the name, and acting as the legates, of Christ.

“Adulterating the word of God.” The Greek for “adulterating,” καπηλευοντες, conveys the idea of mixing up with the word of God foreign doctrines, as in the case of low traders, who destroy and corrupt wines and other saleable commodities by the admixture of foreign ingredients. In these words, he alludes to the false teachers who corrupted God’s holy word by the introduction of other doctrines. It may be also implied in the idea, that these teachers imitate merchants, or rather private retailers, in seeking their own emoluments, while dispensing God’s holy word. But the true Apostles propound God’s holy word, “with sincerity, as from God,” i.e., in the pure, unadulterated form, in which it emanated from God himself. “Before God,” keeping God always before your eyes. “We speak in Christ,” acting as the legates and vicegerents of Christ himself.

What a lesson of instruction is conveyed in the latter part of this chapter to the ministers of the Gospel! They should spread the fragrance, the sweet odour of the Gospel everywhere around them, both by the sanctity of their lives, and the unalloyed purity of their teaching. They should not act as mercenary retailers of God’s holy word, in search of every novelty that may gratify the prejudices or passions of their hearers; nor should they seek their own private gain or emolument; but, propounding the eternal truths of God in all their native simplicity, and in language suited to the capacity of their hearers, they should act like men who have God always before their eyes, seeking him alone, and solicitous only for his interests, and the extension of his glory—that is to say, of his love and knowledge amongst men, thus acting as his legates and vicegerents. They should strictly adhere to the instructions of the holy Council of Trent (SS. v. chap. ii. de Ref.): “Plebes sibi commissas pro sua et earum capacitate pascant salutaribus verbis, annuntiando eis, cum brevitate et facilitate sermonis, vitia quæ declinare, et virtutes, quas sectari oporteat,” &c. If they act differently, they shall forfeit the abundant remuneration in store for the zealous preachers of the Divine word, “who after instructing many unto justice, shall shine, as stars, unto all eternity.”—(Dan. 12:3). Those who neglect this duty altogether (thank God, they are but few), should attend to the precept, “pascant salutaribus verbis.” Pastors of souls, who neglect the duty of instruction for one month continuously, without necessity, or three months discontinuously, in the course of the year, are commonly held, as laid down by St. Liguori, to be guilty of mortal sin.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 1

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

The Apostle commences this Epistle with the usual Apostolical salutation (2 Cor 1:1-2). In the next place, he returns thanks to God, the source of true consolation, for having consoled him in the several afflictions which he underwent for the gospel; but in proportion to these afflictions, do his consolations abound. This reference to his afflictions will render more intelligible the apology which he is about to offer for the delay in the fulfilment of his promise of coming to them, which apology is to this effect, viz.:—that he had been prevented by persecutions and several obstacles from fulfilling it as he expected (2 Cor 1:3–6). He conciliates their good will by assuring them, that both his tribulations and consolations tend to their spiritual interest (2 Cor 1:6–8). He describes the imminence of his perils, out of which he was rescued by the special Providence of God, in whom he has unbounded confidence, not only in reference to the present, but also to all future dangers. He expresses a hope that the Corinthians will intercede for him with God, in order to secure the Divine protection (2 Cor 1:8–12). He states some special reasons for confidence in God’s protection—arising from the sincerity and purity of his conduct, and the heavenly means which he employed, particularly among the Corinthians, for establishing the faith. He prepares for the refutation of the charge of fickleness preferred against him by the false teachers, by referring to the knowledge and experience of the Corinthians themselves regarding him (2 Cor 1:12–15), and relying on this knowledge, and their consequent affection for him, he confidently asserts, that he was not guilty of fickleness in changing his purpose of visiting them (2 Cor 1:16-17); and as the false teachers endeavoured to make it appear that he was as changeable in his teaching, as he was in his personal purposes, he defers assigning the cause of his not visiting them according to promise, to verse 23, and undertakes to prove the unchangeableness of his doctrine, on several grounds:—First, because his doctrine was derived from a God essentially veracious (2 Cor 1:18). Again, because the subject of his preaching, viz., Christ Jesus, was unchangeable (2 Cor 1:19). He assigns a confirmation of the foregoing reason (2 Cor 1:20). Another reason for the truth and unchangeableness of his doctrine is, that he exhibited the seal of God himself, viz., the external gifts of the Holy Ghost (2 Cor 1:21-22). He, finally, assigns his motive for not having visited them (2 Cor 1:23).

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

2 Cor 1:1. Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, not self-commissioned, nor self-sent, but sent by the command and authority of God, and Timothy, who is our brother, by a participation in the same faith, and also by co-operation in the gospel ministry, (salute) the congregation of the faithful believers at Corinth, and all the Christians throughout the entire of Achaia.

“Timothy.” He joins Timothy with himself in this salutation, because Timothy was after returning to him from Corinth, whither the Apostle had sent him with authority to confirm the faith of the believers and repress the inroads of the false teachers. From him the Apostle had received favourable accounts of the Church of Corinth, and of the good effects produced by the foregoing Epistle. “Our brother.” (In Greek, ὁ ἀδελφὸς, the brother).—See Paraphrase. “In all Achaia,” of which Corinth was the capital.

2 Cor 1:2. May you enjoy the abundance of all spiritual blessings, and the undisturbed possession of them, from their efficient cause, God the Father, and their meritorious cause, Jesus Christ, who is, in a special manner, our Lord, by right of redemption.

“Grace,” &c. The usual form of apostolical salutation.

2 Cor 1:3. Eternal thanksgiving and praise be rendered to God, who is also the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and who is, therefore, to us a most merciful Father, and the source and fountain of all consolation.

“Blessed be the God,” &c. Our benediction, or blessing of God, differs from his benediction of us. His consists in conferring benefits—ours (for we can confer no benefit on him), consists in our good will towards him, expressed in acts of praise and thanksgiving. “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” may mean, that he is “the God” of the humanity, and “the Father,” or, principle of the Divinity “of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The exposition in the Paraphrase is, however, preferable. “The Father of mercies,” may mean, the source of all mercies, or, by a Hebrew idiom, the most merciful Father—as in Paraphrase.

2 Cor 1:4. Who consoles us (Apostles) in all our tribulations, so that we may be enabled, in turn, to offer consolation to such as are in any distress, by imparting to them the consolation wherewith we are ourselves consoled by God.

“Who comforteth us.” These words probably refer to St. Paul himself, so as to mean, “who comforteth me” his Apostle. They may also be referred to the Apostles (as in Paraphrase). “By the exhortation.” The Greek word, παρακλησεως, means also, by the consolation wherewith we are consoled, &c. The Apostle, having contristated them in the preceding Epistle, now tells them, that God had favoured himself with consolation, in order that he might be the better enabled to impart it to them; for, as we are told by St. Thomas, qui non est consolatus, nescit consolare. In this passage it is also implied, that the gifts, the graces, and consolations imparted to the ministers of the gospel, should be employed, not for their own private advantage, but for the good of their people. The Greek word for “comforteth,” ὁ παρακαλῶν, literally means, “who calls on us to assume courage.”

2 Cor 1:5. For, in proportion as the sufferings which we endure for the gospel of Christ increase in us, so does the same gospel administer to us abundant consolation, which we impart to others.

“The sufferings of Christ.” In Greek, τοῦ Χριστοῦ, of the Christ, may also mean, the sufferings of Christ in his members. The Paraphrase, referring it to the sufferings undergone for Christ, is preferable. As Christ is the occasion of our suffering, so is he the efficient cause of our consolation, which we receive in order to impart it to others, as is expressed in the following verse.

2 Cor 1:6. Now, whether we be in tribulation, it is for your encouragement and salvation—inasmuch as our example encourages you to bear up against tribulations, which will finally lead to your salvation—or, whether we be in consolation, it is for your consolation (since we receive consolation from God in order to impart it to others), or whether we be interiorly excited by God, this too is for your exhortation and salvation, which salvation is operated or wrought by the patient endurance of the same sufferings which we also endure.

The second member of this sentence, “whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation,” is not in the best Greek copies, and its admission into our Vulgate may be accounted for, on this ground, that the corresponding Greek verb for “comforted,” παρακαλουμεθα, having a two-fold meaning—for it also signifies to be exhorted, as translated in the third member of this sentence, “whether we be exhorted,” &c.—it is likely, that the word was rendered both ways by different interpreters, and that both translations were adopted into the Vulgate. In expounding the passage, one of the members ought, however, to be expunged, in order to avoid a useless tautology. “Whether we be in tribulation, it is for your exhortation and salvation:” since it is a great source of encouragement and comfort to the faithful under afflictions, to see the Apostles plant the faith with patience and constancy in the midst of the like tribulations; it encourages them to follow their teachers in treading the only sure road to heaven; for, “by many tribulations must we enter into the kingdom of God.” According to the construction in the Greek, the words, “which worketh the enduring of the same sufferings,” immediately follow the words, “whether we be in tribulation, it is for your exhortation and salvation.” “Salvation” is wanting in this first member, in the reading of the Codex Vaticanus; but, read in the third member. In the English version of the Bible, the words, τῆς ἑνεργουμένης ἐν ὑπομονῇ, are taken in an active signification, “which worketh the enduring,” &c. A passive signification, however, “which (salvation) is worked by the enduring,” &c., is preferable, and the words are understood in this way by St. Chrysostom (see Paraphrase). In some Greek readings the words of the next verse (7), “that our hope for you may be steadfast,” are read immediately after the first member of this verse, thus—“now whether we be in tribulation, it is for your exhortation and salvation, which is effected or wrought by the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer (7), that our hope for you may be steadfast (6), whether we be consoled, it is for your consolation.” “Knowing that you are partners,” &c. According to this construction, the words, “that our hope for you” (verse 7), express the Apostle’s hope, that the Corinthians will attain salvation by suffering with patience the crosses which may befall them.

2 Cor 1:7. Hence it is, that our hopes for your consolation and salvation are quite firm and secure, owing to a communication of sufferings; because we know, that as you have been partners in suffering, so shall you be (or, rather, are you) sharers in the consolations which God imparts to his faithful servants, even in this life, as a pledge and sure earnest of heavenly consolations.

The interpretation in the Paraphrase is according to the Vulgate reading. He refers to the spiritual consolations of this life; for, it is of such he is speaking.

2 Cor 1:8. For, that I had my share in suffering, I wish to inform you, brethren—I allude particularly to my sufferings in Asia—sufferings so unmeasurably beyond human strength, that the divine aid alone could enable us to withstand them, and so oppressive, as to render us weary of life, and make us wish for death to interpose and deliver us from them.

“In Asia.” He probably refers to the tumult caused at Ephesus by Demetrius the silver smith (Acts 19.) “Weary even of life,” wished for death. In this, there was no more deordination, than there was in the words of Job—tædet animan meam vita meæ. The Greek, ὥστε ἐξαπορηθῆναι ἡμᾶς καὶ τοῦ, ζῇν, admits of the following meaning also—so that we were despairing of our lives, and perplexed what course to pursue for the avoidance of such imminent danger.

2 Cor 1:9. But even such was the magnitude of our danger, that we had the sentence of death recorded within our own mind, from the certain conviction which we felt, humanly speaking, that we would die and not live. Divine Providence permitting us to be thus perilled, in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God, who raises the dead, and can therefore rescue those placed in immediate danger of death, which is a sort of resurrection.

He shows the imminence of his danger, by saying, that he felt as certain of not escaping death, as does the man against whom the sentence of death is juridically recorded. He pronounced a similar sentence against himself. “Who raiseth the dead.” He adds these words, to show, that his own deliverance was a kind of resurrection; because, being in certain danger of death, he was rescued from its very jaws; and hence, in a certain sense, resuscitated.

2 Cor 1:10. It is the same God, who rescued us from such imminent perils, and still continues to rescue us, and in whom we are wont to trust that he will rescue us out of the future dangers that may befall us.

“And doth deliver us,” proves that the Apostle’s position, even at the present moment, was by no means free from danger. “We trust.” The Greek word, ἠλπίκαμεν, expresses, we are in the habit of trusting.

2 Cor 1:11. Provided you also assist us by your prayers, in order that the gracious gift of my deliverance, obtained for me by the intercession of many persons, may be acknowledged also by many persons for me with thankfulness and gratitude to God.

“Obtained for us by the means of many persons,” may also mean, given us for the sake of many persons—ex multorum personis. Hence, the utility of joint prayer, as also of intercession for others. And if this be true of the intercession made by sinners here on earth, how much more so must it not be, of the intercession of the saints reigning with God and confirmed in glory? Joint thanksgiving also is the more acceptable in the sight of God.

2 Cor 1:12. (I do hope that God will rescue me from all future dangers), because I have to glory in the testimony of a good conscience assuring me, that I have everywhere in this world, but more particularly amongst you, behaved with the utmost candour and simplicity, free from all dissimulation in my actions, with the utmost sincerity and purity of motive, such as I can call God to witness, not resorting to carnal wisdom, consisting in the ornaments of rhetoric, nor to the reasonings of philosophy (like the false teachers), but to the power of God’s grace manifested by exterior signs, and the occult efficacy of our words to bring men to the faith.

“Simplicity of heart” The words, “of heart,” are not in the Greek. They may have probably crept into the text, in consequence of the phrase, “simplicity of heart,” being frequently used in other parts of SS. Scripture.—(Wisdom 1, Ephes. 6, Colos. 3.) “Simplicity” is opposed to duplicity of conduct—to doing one thing, and pretending another. “Sincerity,” regards the purity of motive and intention. In these words, he arraigns the hypocrisy and selfishness of the false teachers. “Carnal wisdom” means the same, as “the persuasive words of human wisdom” (1 Cor. 2), and “the grace of God,” the same as the “shewing of the spirit and power.”—(1 Cor. 2:4).

2 Cor 1:13. You yourselves are witnesses of my claims to candour in conduct and purity of motive; for, I have written nothing regarding myself, that you may not recognise as leading features in my character, and know from experience to belong to me. I trust you will find me in future, even to the very close of my life, to sustain the same consistency of conduct and character.

I write nothing but what you may yourselves recognise or remember to have been leading features in my character, and which you now know from experience to belong to me. Such is the signification of the Greek verbs αναγινωσκετε, and επιγινωσκετε, corresponding to “read” and “known,” and hence, it has been preferred in the Paraphrase: επιγινωσκετε, is wanting in some Greek copies, in the Codex Vaticanus among the rest. If the Vulgate reading of the words, which is not free from difficulty, and the English rendering of them, as in the text, be adopted; then, they are to be explained thus: I have only written what you have read in my former Epistles, and known from my preaching. But how he could refer to his former Epistles in his own justification, and in proof of his sincerity and truthfulness, is not easily seen, since no one can be a witness in his own cause. Hence, the meaning given in the Paraphrase, which is fully warranted, by the Greek, has been preferred.

2 Cor 1:14. For, you have hitherto partly known regarding me, that I am for you a subject wherein to glory, not seeking my own profit, but the things of Jesus Christ, as you, in turn, shall be the subject of my glorying in the day of judgment, being the fruit of my labours and apostolic ministry.

It is a matter of doubt, whether the last words of the preceding verse, “and I hope that you shall know unto the end,” should be construed with the preceding part of the same verse, as has been done in the Paraphrase, or with this verse, thus: I hope you will find me to sustain the same character, which you have already known partly to belong to me. If we adopt this latter construction, then, the following words, “that we are your glory,” mean, “because we are your glory,” a signification which the Greek, ὅτι, admits; either construction may be adopted. The interpretation of Estius, who makes the construction of this verse independent of the preceding, has been followed in the Paraphrase. “In part,” is understood by Commentators to regard the Corinthians themselves; as if he said, “some among you have known me to be your glory,” &c. In these words, he arraigns the preference which many among them were showing the false teachers.

2 Cor 1:15. And it was from a confidence in these your kind dispositions, towards me, that, on a former occasion, I wished to come to you in order that you might have a second favour.

In his former Epistle, he expressed his wish and fixed purpose of visiting them. “A second grace,” most likely refers to his second coming amongst them. At his first visit he converted them; at his second contemplated visit, he wishes to instruct them more fully in religion, and confirm them in the faith. In this verse, he accounts for the delay in the fulfilment of his promise (for, this was employed against him by the false teachers, as a proof of fickleness), and he declares that he was determined to come to them and fulfil his promise, had no unforseen events prevented him.

2 Cor 1:16. I purposed passing by you into Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come to you, and to be accompanied by some of you to Judea.

It is likely that he intended to pass the winter among them, as he asserts (1 Ep. 16:6). How reconcile his words in this verse with 15:5, where he promises to visit them after having passed through Macedonia—here, he says, his promise was to visit them before going to Macedonia? The more common mode of reconciling both statements is that adopted by St. Thomas, who asserts, that the promise, for the non-fulfilment of which the Apostle apologises here, is different from that referred to (1 Cor 16.) St. Thomas supposes that the Apostle made the promise referred to here, either in an Epistle to the Corinthians now lost (1 Cor 5:9), or had it conveyed through a messenger; and that in chapter 16 of his second Epistle (the first according to him being lost), or as it is now termed, his First Epistle to the Corinthians, he expresses the change of resolution which he was obliged to come to. Hence, there is not question here of the same promise referred to (16, 1 Epistle). And that the Apostle does not refer to that promise made (chapter16, 1 Epistle), is clear from this circumstance, that he needed no apology, as no charge of fickleness or of irresolution could be made against him in that case, because it was yet in his power to fulfil that promise, by going from Macedonia (where, it is supposed, this Epistle was written) to Corinth; whereas the former promise, supposed by St. Thomas, could not be complied with; for he had been in Macedonia without going to Corinth, and this alone needed apology.

2 Cor 1:17. And in failing to carry out this fixed intention have I given proofs of fickleness and inconsistency, as if I had changed this resolution without sufficient cause? When I come to a deliberate resolution, do I form such a purpose and resolution according to the carnal views of self-interest, passion, or worldly ambition, so as to say and unsay, promise, and break that promise, according as it might suit my caprice or worldly interest?

When wishing to visit you first, and then to go to Macedonia, did I display fickleness? The question is equivalent to a negation. “The things that I purpose (with deliberation), do I purpose according to the flesh?”—(See Paraphrase). And since the false teachers endeavoured to make it appear to the Corinthians, that the Apostle was as inconstant in his teaching, and as changeable in his doctines, as he was in his personal purposes; hence, the Apostle defends at once the truth and unchangeableness of the doctrines which he preached, and defers the defence of his own conduct in not visiting them before going to Macedonia, to the 23rd verse of this, and the beginning of the next chapter. In the common Greek “it is,” “it is not,” are doubled, τὸ ναὶ, ναὶ, καὶ τὸ οὔ, οὔ, it is, it is, it is not, it is not. This, however, does not affect the sense, it only adds greater force to the affirmation and negation. In the Codex Vaticanus, they are not doubled. It supports the Vulgate reading.

2 Cor 1:18. Whatever may be said of my personal fickleness and changeableness of disposition; God is essentially true; and, therefore, our doctrine, or the doctrine which we preached among you, was neither changeable nor unstable.

“For our preaching,” &c. “For” is the same as, therefore (as in Paraphrase), or, if it retain its ordinary meaning, then, the verse will merely convey the following form of obtestation: I appeal to God, who is infinitely and essentially veracious, that the doctrines which we preach to you is not changeable. The first reason assigned by the Apostle for the truth of his doctrine is, that he is the Apostle of a God infinitely veracious. For, although his purpose of visiting, or not visiting, might be from himself, that is to say, human—his doctrine was divine, being from God.

2 Cor 1:19. The subject of my preaching, and that of my fellow-labourers among you, viz., Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was not, “it is, it is not,” that is, changeable; but he has been always unchangeably the same; and hence, our doctrine also has been one and the same.

The second argument is founded on the unchangeableness of the subject of his preaching, and that of his co-operators, Silvanus and Timothy, which subject was Christ crucified. Nos prædicamus Christum crucifixion (1 Cor. 1); he is unchangeable; and hence, the Apostle’s doctrine regarding him is always the same.

2 Cor 1:20. For, in Christ, are all the promises of God to man ratified and accomplished. In his merits they are fulfilled; and, therefore, it is by him we firmly believe in God—which belief tends to our glory.

In this verse is conveyed a corroboration of the reason referred to in the preceding. Christ, the subject of our preaching, is unchangeable. In him are accomplished the promises made by God in the Old Testament, and from the fulfilment of these promises, is derived an additional reason for firmly believing in God. “Amen to God,” i.e., the firm faith and belief in God, which faith serves for our glory. “Unto our glory.” In Greek, πρὸς δὀξαν δἰ ἡμῶν, unto glory by us, or, unto the glory of God, by us.

2 Cor 1:21. It is God, who has confirmed us as the ministers of the gospel of Christ, giving us the grace of constancy to preach it in the midst of you, it is he who has also anointed us with the unction and grace of the Holy Ghost.
2 Cor 1:22. Who has affixed his seal to the high commission with which he has invested us, by the effusion of the gifts of miracles, tongues, and other external graces, and has given us a sure earnest of our future glory and happiness, in the grace of the Holy Ghost, which he has poured in our hearts.

Another argument of the truth of the doctrine which he preached, viz., his having exhibited the seal of God himself, viz., miracles, the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which are the authentic testimony given by God himself, and which would never be accorded to a man preaching false doctrine. From this passage, some Divines undertake to prove the impression of a spiritual character by some of the sacraments. It is not easy to see how such a proof can be grounded on these words; for, the character referred to, and which three of the sacraments, viz., Baptism, Confirmation, and Orders, most assuredly impress (this is de fide Catholica, Council of Trent, SS. vii. de Sacramentis, canon ix.) is necessarily invisible; whereas, the seal to which the Apostle here refers, must be visible, to prove the truth of his doctrine. It is, therefore, more probable, that the seal, of which mention is made here, is the seal of external gifts of the Holy Ghost, viz., miracles, tongues, &c. By such gifts, God affixes his true and authentic seal to the divine mission of such as are favoured with them.

2 Cor 1:23. Now, as to my change of purpose—I call God to witness against my soul, if I speak not the truth, that my reason for not visiting you, according to promise, was, to spare you the penalties and censures due to your irregularities; not that mean to tyrannize over you on account of the power which, as the Apostle of your faith, I have over you—but I wish to cooperate in gladdening you, for you deserve to be gladdened on account of your steadfastness in the faith.

After having refuted the charge of inconstancy, made against him, and established the unchangeable truth of his doctrine, the Apostle now assigns his motive for having changed his purpose of visiting them. His motive in doing so (and he solemnly appeals to God in attestation of the truth of his assertion), was, to spare them the infliction of the censures with which the irregularities of some amongst them would force him to visit them; and lest the words, “to spare you,” might appear to savour too much of arbitrary despotism or domineering tyranny, he says, he is not to be understood as attempting to lord it over them on account of their faith, conceived from his preaching, which circumstance, consequently, gave him authority over them This meaning is warranted by the Greek. The words, on account of, are understood thus: We do not exercise dominion over you (on account of), your faith which we planted. The words may also mean—We do not mean to exercise authority over you, and visit you with censures on account of any errors in faith; for, in this you are firm and blameless. In this latter construction, the words, “in faith you stand,” are connected not with the words immediately preceding; hut, with the words, “we exercise dominion over your faith,” and they are a reason why he lords it over their faith. In this construction also is implied, that they deserved censure rather on account of breaches of moral conduct, than for errors in faith. Others (as in Paraphrase), connect them with the words immediately preceding, “we are helpers of your joy,” and, then, they serve as a reason why the Apostle should endeavour to gladden them, viz., as a reward of their steadfastness in the faith.

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Father MacEvilly’s Introduction to 2 Corinthians

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2019

Canonicity of.—The Canonicity, or Divine authority of this Epistle, has never been called in question in the Church. Hence, in the Canon of Scriptures, it is classed among the books termed, Proto-Canonical.

There has been no difference of opinion about the language of it either. It is universally admitted to have been written in Greek.

Time and Place of.—It is generally supposed to have been written about the year 57—the same year in which the preceding Epistle was written, but a few months after it. The place where it was written is generally supposed to have been Philippi in Macedonia. This is asserted by the subscriptions of the Greek copies. Baronius states, however, that it was written from Nicopolis in Epirus.

Occasion of.—The Apostle had, in his former Epistle, promised to visit the Corinthians—a promise, however, he was prevented from fulfilling by duties of importance. And although, as he learned from Titus, whom he sent to Corinth, his former Epistle was attended with partial success; still, he was informed, that the false teachers, who insinuated themselves amongst the Corinthians, offended at the holy liberty with which they were rebuked by him, endeavoured by all means to alienate the minds of the people from him. They charged him with fickleness and irresolution—with tyranny, as instanced in his treatment of the incestuous man—with indulging in self-praise—with arrogant haughtiness in his Epistles, so ill befitting the lowliness and seeming meanness of his personal appearance and conversation, when amongst them. The Apostle defends himself against these imputations. He clears himself of the charge of fickleness, and assigns satisfactory reasons for not appearing amongst them according to his promise. He shows that his treatment of the incestuous man was attended with the most salutary results; and finding that the excommunication had the desired effect of reforming the offender, he mildly instructs them, by way of request, to remove the censure and restore him to the communion of the faithful (chapters 1, 2). He repels the charge of indulging in self-praise, by retorting upon his enemies, and by showing that unlike them, he needed no recommendation with the Corinthians; and after contrasting the Apostolic ministry with that of Moses (chap. 3), and after pointing out the exalted virtues which the Apostles practised, together with the sufferings and persecutions they underwent for the Gospel (chap. 5, 6, 7) he refutes the charge of arrogance in his Epistle, by showing, that whether absent or present he always acted consistently, always with candour and sincerity, both in his words and actions—(chapter 10).

In his own defence, and from the strictest necessity, he enumerates the manifold labours and perils he underwent in the cause of the Gospel; the success with which his efforts were crowned; and, consequently, his claims to their confidence and affection in preference to the false teachers, whom all along, in the enumeration of his own services, he indirectly censures; and whom, moreover, in several passages, depicting in their true colours, he denounces in the strongest language. And as the false teachers had endeavoured to recommend themselves by putting forward their high-sounding titles, the Apostle, in order to counteract their wicked devices, enumerates the exalted titles and heavenly favours, wherein he might justly glory—(chapters 11 and 12).

He was informed that the collection in favour of the poor of Jerusalem, which he recommended in his former Epistle, was not yet made; he, therefore, exhorts them to the zealous discharge of this meritorious duty, and instructs them to perform it with liberality, promptitude, and cheerfulness. He proposes to them, as models in this respect, the poor churches of Macedonia—(chapters, 8 and 9). Finally, he exhorts them, under pain of the severest chastisements, to correct the faults to which they were still addicted—(chapter 13).

The chief object and general scope of this Epistle may be said briefly to consist in the defence of his own conduct and apostleship against the false teachers.

Commentators remark that this Epistle may be regarded as a perfect masterpiece of that solid and impassioned eloquence for which the writings of St. Paul are so remarkable.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Galatians Chapter 4

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 1, 2018

The final verse of chapter 4 (verse 31) is treated as related to chapter 5, verses 1-12. It will therefore be commented upon in the commentary on chapter 5. Text in red are my additions.

A Summary of Galatians 4:1-7.

St. Paul here returns to the discussion broken off at Gal 3:25, namely, the opposition between the promise and the Law. Already he has likened the former to a testament and the latter to a pedagogue; and now he asks what was the condition of mankind during the period that intervened between the giving of the promise and its realization. The answer is that, until the coming of Christ, the Jews, although in reality sons and heirs to the inheritance, were like minors, under guardians and stewards, enslaved by the elementary rules that pertained to things merely external. And if such was the inferior state of the Jews, how much worse was that of the Gentiles! All, therefore, Jews and Gentiles, were, like children who had lost their father, waiting for the expiration of the time of their minority and the entrance upon the possession of their inheritance. And when the fulness of the time fixed by the Father arrived, God sent His Son, that He might redeem those in bondage, making through His grace all believers to become His adopted sons and thus heirs of the promised inheritance.

Gal 4:1. Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;

As long as the Jews were under the tutelage of the Law they were like young children, minors, who were heirs indeed to the inheritance bequeathed them by their Father, but, so far as regarded the free use and disposition of their inheritance, differing nothing from servants who have no right to the property.

The figure supposes the father to be dead, but St. Paul is making only a comparison, and every comparison is imperfect.

Gal 4:2. But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed by the father:

Tutors, i.e., guardians, if the father is supposed to be dead.

Governors (οικονομους = oikonomous), i.e., administrators, as of property, whether material or spiritual; here, perhaps, the term simply means attendants. The plural, tutors and governors, is used to signify the various guardians and attendants appointed by the father at the same time, or, more probably, in succession.
Until the time, etc. In Roman Law ordinarily a minor was under a tutor till fourteen, and under a curator till twenty-five (cf. Ramsay, Gal., p. 392). See Lagrange, h. 1.

Gal 4:3. So we also, when we were children, were serving under the elements of the world.

Application of the foregoing comparison is now made. See on verse 1.

We, i.e., St. Paul and the Jewish Christians only (St. Chrys., Theod., St. Thomas, Cornely, etc.). Others say there is question here of Gentile, as well as Jewish converts, (a) because, instead of speaking of the Law, St. Paul here uses terms that apply to both Jews and Gentiles (“elements of the world”), and (b) because, according to the Apostle’s uniform teaching, carnal descendance from Abraham gave no right to the inheritance which was promised to those who would have faith like Abraham (Lagr., Light., Bousset, etc.).

When . . . children, i.e., before the coming of Christ and the Gospel, when mankind were all in a state of infancy and helplessness described above.

Elements of the world. The meaning is the same as in Col 2:8, Col 2:20, namely, the elementary principles of natural conduct, such as the religious laws and rites of the Jews, and the various ceremonies of the heathen, all of which inspired fear and servitude, rather than love and a sense of freedom which have come with the Gospel (St. Jerome, Lagr., Light., etc.). The phrase does not mean (a) the four material elements of the ancients: water, fire, earth and air (against Zahn, Toussaint); nor (b) the celestial bodies (against Bousset, Lipsius); nor (c) spiritual beings, such as angels, directing heavenly bodies and physical elements (against Loisy).

Gal 4:4. But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent his Son, made of a woman, made under the law:

With the coming of Christ all was changed regarding our relations with God.

The fulness of time, i.e., the time fixed from eternity by the Eternal Father when the servitude and fear of the Law should give way to the liberty and love of the Gospel. There is no hint here of what brought about this fulness of time.

God sent his son (εξαπεστειλεν = exapesteilen). The compound of the verb in Greek indicates close union between the Father and the Son, and consequently the eternal preexistence of the latter, one in nature with the Father (John 1:1-2.; John 10:30). The word “son” also implies the eternal procession of the Second Person from the Father (John 3:16; John 8:42).

Made of a woman, i.e., born of a woman with our human nature, and under the Mosaic Law, like other Jews. St. Paul wishes to show here the abasement of the Son of God who took upon Himself our human nature and subjected Himself to the Law. There does not seem to be any proof in the present passage of our Lord’s virginal conception (Lagrange).

The reading γενομενον εκ γυναικο (= genomenon ek gynaikos) is that of all the best MSS.

Gal 4:5. That he might redeem them who were under the law: that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Here we have stated the purpose of the Son’s supernatural mission in this world: He was born under the Law that he might redeem them, i.e., the Jews, who were under the law; He was born of a woman that, by assuming our nature, He might become our brother, and thus elevate us all to the dignity of adopted sons of God.

We refers to all believers, Jews and Gentiles.

Might receive (απολαβωμεν = apolabomen), as a right conferred by God Himself.

Gal 4:6. And because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying: Abba, Father.

Because you are, etc., i.e., as a proof that you Galatians, pagans as well as Jews, are now adopted sons of the Father God hath sent, etc. The connective on is probably demonstrative rather than causal.

The Spirit, etc., i.e., the Holy Ghost, who, as sent by the Father, is distinct from Him, and as the Spirit of the Son, is distinct also from the Son. This text affords a proof that the Holy Ghost proceeds alike from the Father and the Son.

Your hearts should be “our hearts,” as in the Greek.

Crying is attributed to the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the faithful.

Abba, Father is expressive of deepest feeling. This was perhaps a consecrated formula handed down from our Lord’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemani (Mark 14:36). The Jews were a bilingual people in the time of Christ, and this would explain why our Lord should use the two synonymous terms (Abba, ο πατηρ) in His prayer. However, see on Rom 8:15. See comment here.

The vestra of the Vulgate should be nostra, in conformity with the Greek.

Gal 4:7. Therefore now he is not a servant, but a son. And if a son, an heir also through God.

The conclusion is now drawn that if, as has been proved above, the Galatians are adopted sons of God, they have the rights of sons, and so are heirs to the inheritance through God’s goodness and mercy.

He is should be changed to the second person singular, “thou art,” to agree with the best Greek. This address is very intimate and personal (cf. Gal 6:1; Rom 12:20-21; 1 Cor 4:7).

The est of the Vulgate should be es.

A Summary of Galatians 4:8-11

Before their conversion the Galatians were slaves to material things, not knowing God; but since, how different has been their state? Would they put themselves back into religious slavery, without their former excuse of ignorance? The address is now more directly to the Gentiles.

Gal 4:8. But then indeed, not knowing God, you served them, who, by nature, are not gods.

Then, i.e., in your former condition as pagans.

Not knowing God, i.e., being ignorant of the one true God; the Creator of all things.

You served, i.e., you were enslaved to (εδουλευσατε) them who were in reality no gods at all, but to whom in your worship you gave the place of gods. See comments on Rom 1:18-23.

Gal 4:9. But now, after that you have known God, or rather are known by God: how turn you again to the weak and needy elements, which you desire to serve again?

But now, etc., i.e., after your conversion, when you have come to have a more perfect knowledge (γνοντες, which indicates a progress from the ειδοτες of the preceding verse) of God; and further, after having been known by Him, i.e., having been the object of His graces and benefits (1 Cor 8:3): how turn you again, etc. This last phrase, with the verb in the present and the use of again, shows that the Galatians were already on the wrong road. (Note: verse 8 reads, But then indeed, not knowing [ειδοτες] God, you served them, who, by nature, are not gods. This verse reads, But now, after that you have known (γνοντες) God, &c).

Elements. See above, on verse 3. These former rites and practices are called weak because unable to justify and lead man to salvation; and needy, because, at best, they were only shadows and figures of future realities (Heb 7:18; Heb 10:1). The Apostle is warning the Galatians against submission to the Mosaic Law, which would mean a return to servitude.

Gal 4:10. You observe days, and months, and times, and years.

St. Paul here enumerates some of the Jewish practices which the Galatians are already observing.

Days, i.e., Sabbaths.

Months, i.e., the observance of the new moon, the first month (Nisan), the seventh month (Tisri).

Times, i.e., the feasts of Pasch, Pentecost, Tabernacles.

Years, i.e., the sabbatical and jubilee years. They commenced with their general Jewish observances, which would not be offensive to converts from paganism, intending gradually to introduce all, or at least the most distinctive of the Mosaic practices.

Gal 4:11. I am afraid of you, lest perhaps I have laboured in vain among you.

I am afraid, etc., i.e., I fear you, or for you (Lagrange). The Apostle fears that his labors among the Galatians may not, after all, be unto their eternal salvation; if for the servitude of paganism, from which he liberated them, they substitute the servitude of the Mosaic Law.

A Summary of Galatians 4:12-20

The Galatians are exhorted to imitate the Apostle who first preached to them, and who in turn was loved so much by them. At that time they had reason to despise him, because of his physical infirmity, but they received him, on the contrary, as an angel of God, even as Christ Himself. They were ready to pluck out their eyes for him. Wherefore have they changed? was it because he told them the truth? The false teachers are more flattering, but for an evil purpose. He warns them to be on their guard against these evil-doers, and tells them that for their sakes he is again undergoing the pangs of motherhood. He wishes he were with them, so as to soften by his presence any harshness there may lurk in his words.

Gal 4:12. Be ye as I, because I also am as you: brethren, I beseech you: you have not injured me at all.

Be ye as I, etc., i.e., become like me, free from the Law, a true son of God, not caring for the Mosaic observances.

Because I also am as you, i.e., I became like you, that is, after my conversion I became as free from the Law as if, like you, I had been born in paganism. This is the interpretation of Cornely, Lightfoot and others. Perhaps it is better to explain with Lagrange: Become like me, i.e., totally devoted to Christ, living His life (1 Cor 4:16), as I became all things to you, as far as this was permissible.

You have not injured, etc., i.e., you have not done me any personal injury, especially when I was among you, and therefore I feel free to plead with you. Probably, however, there is reference here to some recent unpleasant happening (Lagrange), or to some expression used by the Galatians in a letter to St. Paul protesting that they had done him no harm (Ramsay).

Gal 4:13. And you know how through infirmity of the flesh, I preached the gospel to you heretofore: and your temptation in my flesh, (concerning this last clause see comment on verse 14).

You know (οιδατε δε = iodate de) would seem to imply the contrary of any supposed wrong the Galatians had done St. Paul.

Infirmity, according to Cornely and the majority of the Fathers, means the persecutions and trials experienced by the Apostle in founding the Galatian Churches. But ασθενειαν (= astheneian “infirmity”) could hardly signify a persecution, although it might be the result of one; and δι ασθενειαν (= di astheneian “through infirmity”) seems to exclude the whole idea of persecution. Hence modern interpreters are mostly inclined to understand the word to indicate some illness of body, such as epilepsy (Lightfoot), malaria or fever (Ramsay). Whatever its nature, it seems to have affected St. Paul’s eyes (verse 15), and to have been the occasion of his preaching the Gospel to the Galatians.

Heretofore, i.e., formerly, or better, “the first time” (cf. Heb. 4:6; Heb 7:27). This shows that he had visited the Galatians twice before. If he was addressing South Galatia, the first visit was that of Acts 13:14-14:23; and the second that of Acts 16:1-5; if he was writing to North Galatia the two visits were those of Acts 16:6 and Acts 18:23.

Gal 4:14. You despised not, nor rejected: but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. (According to the Greek text the last part of verse 13 should go with 14, thus: “Your temptation in my flesh you despised not, nor rejected: but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus”).

Your temptation in my flesh belongs to verse 14 in the Greek. The Apostle’s malady was a trial (πειρασμον = peirasmon) to the faith of the Galatians, and might have driven them from him and the Gospel had they not been so well disposed. Far from despising his illness or rejecting him they received him as if he were an angel, or even Christ Himself.

Gal 4:15. Where is then your blessedness? For I bear you witness, that, if it could be done, you would have plucked out your own eyes, and would have given them to me.

Blessedness (μακαρισμος = makarismos) means rather, “self-congratulations.” The Galatians congratulated themselves on the happy circumstance of Paul’s stay with them.

I bear you witness. He recalls to their minds how much they loved him.

You would have plucked out, etc. This may mean that the Galatians were willing, had it been possible, to cure the Apostle’s eyes by giving him their own; or that they loved him to such an extent as to be willing to give the dearest parts of their bodies for him, were it necessary. Such strong affection is said to be characteristic of the people of Galatia Proper.

 Gal 4:16. Am I then become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

Your enemy, i.e., your enemy in the active sense of having done you harm, perhaps on his second visit to them.

The truth is interpreted by St. Chrys., Cornely and Loisy as the simple preaching of the Gospel. The Galatians were grieved at Paul because, in not preaching to them the necessity of observing the Law, he had deprived them of what they now regarded as a great blessing (Loisy). But this interpretation is rejected by Lagrange, who believes that after the first preaching among them, when they loved him so much, the Apostle, perhaps on his second visit, told the Galatians some further truths which caused them offence.

The inimicus vobis (your enemy) of the Vulgate should be inimicus vester (your enemy),to correspond with the active meaning of εχθρος (= echthros, “enemy”). St. Paul did not hate the Galatians, as his enemies claimed. Although the two Latin phrases translate the same into English, vobis would indicate that the hostility came from the Galatians whereas vester relates the hostility as coming from St Paul.

Gal 4:17. They are zealous in you regard not well: but they would exclude you, that you might be zealous for them.

They are zealous, etc., i.e., they are courting you, taking a warm interest in you, thus contrasting themselves with the inimical picture they have given you of me; but for no good purpose.

They would exclude you, i.e., they would separate you from your true friends, Paul and his companions; or, more probably, they would shut you out from the Christian community, and so from salvation, if you did not conform to their views. The reference is undoubtedly to the Judaizers, although St. Paul does not name them.

That you might, etc. Better, “that you may court them to the exclusion of all others.” The form ζηλουτε (= zeloute, “zealous”) is doubtless indicative, whereas we should have the subjunctive here, following the causal  ινα (= hina, “that”).

Gal 4:18. But be zealous for that which is good in a good thing always: and not only when I am present with you.

Be zealous, etc., should not be imperative. According to most MSS. and the Fathers the Greek reading is ζηλουσθαι (= zelousthai, “be zealous”), an infinitive passive. The more probable sense of the passage is: “It is good for you to be courted always,” whether by me or by anyone else, provided it is done in a good way. St. Paul wishes to say that he does not object to anyone taking interest in the Galatians in his absence, so long as this is done in a proper manner and with a good motive. The implication is that the Judaizers are not doing this, and hence the Apostle gives way to a sudden burst of affection in the following verse, which, consequently, should be separated from the present verse by a comma only.

The Vulgate imperative, aemulamini would better be the infinitive aemulari. Thus reflecting better the Greek construction noted above.

Gal 4:19. My little children, of whom I am in labour again, until Christ be formed in you.

My little children (τεκνια μου = teknia mou). Only here does this diminutive (“my little children”) appear in St. Paul, and this explains the more common, but less probable reading of some of the MSS. τεκνα μου (= tekna mou, “my children”). The more tender term corresponds better to the present state of the Apostle’s mind. He is regarding the Galatians through the eyes of a tender mother who with much labor and suffering gave them Christian birth, and who now would again suffer the same pangs to keep them from perversion.

Until Christ be formed, etc. This proves that the situation was grave. If the Galatians had only adopted a part of the Jewish Law, or if only some among them had adopted it, they had lost the true form of Christianity, because by their action they showed that they did not regard Christ as entirely sufficient for them and as the only principle of their spiritual life (Lagrange).

Gal 4:20. And I would willingly be present with you now, and change my voice: because I am ashamed for you.

St. Paul wishes he could be with the Galatians so as to know better their circumstances and situation, and thus be able to help them more; and also that by his voice he might soften what may seem harsh and unkind in his written words.

I am ashamed, etc. Better, “I do not know what to make of you,” “I do not understand exactly enough your situation.” He is embarrassed to know just what to say, whereas, if he were present, he could change his voice according to the circumstances.

A Summary of Galatians 4:21-30

The greatest argument for the observance of the Law was, from the Jewish standpoint, that the Scripture itself seemed to declare it to be a perpetual ordinance. St. Paul has already refuted this error in a general way by showing that the Law was only a guide, a pedagogue, with a temporary mission. But now, in order to turn against the Judaizers their own argument, he draws from Scripture a proof that the Law was not intended in the designs of God to be an enduring provision. A first, imperfect disposition engendering servitude, it was to be followed by another which would be perfect, making us children of the promise and sons of God.

Gal 4:21. Tell me, you that desire to be under the law, have you not read the law?

The Galatians were desiring to be under the Law. Very well, says St. Paul, let us see what the Law itself contains. In the history of Sara and Agar (Sarah and Hagar) he finds the Old and the New Covenants illustrated. The former resembles the Church, because she was the mother of the free-born; while the latter is like Judaism, a mother of the enslaved. Like Sara the Church was long sterile, but it is now fecund and assured of blessings. On the contrary, Judaism, a religion of fear and servitude, is to receive from God the same treatment which He gave to the son of the bondwoman; it is to be excluded from the inheritance. Those, therefore, who go back to the Law will likewise fail to inherit the promised blessings.

Whatever may seem the force of his argument for us, we must admit that it was conclusive for the Galatians; they understood it.

Under the law. The article is absent in the Greek, but the Mosaic Law is doubtless meant. The reference could be to the whole Old Testament, but is more to the Pentateuch in particular.

Have you not read. Better, “Do you not hear (ακουετε),” i.e., have you not understood the deeper meaning, the typical signification of that part of Scripture which gives the history of Abraham?

Gal 4:22. For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, and the other by a freewoman.

Two sons, namely, Ismael (Ishmael) by the bondwoman Agar (Hagar), and Isaac by the freewoman Sara (Sarah).

Bondwoman (παιδισκης) means “maid servant,” “slave,” in the New Testament. Cf. Gen 16:15; Gen 21:2.

Gal 4:23. But he who was of the bondwoman, was born according to the flesh: but he of the freewoman was by promise.

But he, i.e., Ismael, was born according, etc., i.e., according to the ordinary laws of nature: but he, i.e., Isaac, was by promise, i.e., was born in virtue of the promise. Isaac’s birth was miraculous inasmuch as, owing to the advanced age of Abraham and the sterility of Sara, it would have been physically impossible without a divine intervention.
There are then two differences between the two sons of Abraham: Ismael was of a slave and according to the flesh; Isaac was of a freewoman and in virtue of the promise. Cf. Gen 17:16, Gen 17:19; Gen 18:10.

Gal 4:24. Which things are said by an allegory. For these are the two testaments. The one from mount Sina, engendering unto bondage; which is Agar:

Which things are said, etc., i.e., those circumstances concerning the two sons of Abraham have, besides their historical and literal sense, a spiritual meaning, which the Apostle is now going to point out.

For these, i.e., these two women, Agar and Sara.

Are, i.e., represent two testaments, i.e., two covenants. The first was from Mt. Sinai, where it was contracted between God and Israel.

Engendering, i.e., bring forth unto bondage, i.e., for obedience to the Law.

Which is Agar, i.e., Agar was the type of the first covenant, because like it she brought forth unto bondage.

Gal 4:25. For Sina is a mountain in Arabia, which hath affinity to that Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

The Apostle now shows the relation between Agar and Sinai, thus emphasizing the fact that Agar represents the Old Covenant.

For Sina is a mountain, etc. There are several different readings of this phrase. The most important variation is in the omission or inclusion of the term Agar before Sinai. It is omitted by the Sinaitic and several other important MSS. (C F G), by many versions and a number of the Fathers. For its inclusion we have, besides the Vatican and Alexandrian MSS., a few others (D K L P), most of the cursives, and several versions and Fathers. The authorities are therefore fairly well divided. According to the first reading, which seems by far the more probable, because the more natural, we have as follows: “For Mount Sinai is in Arabia.” The Apostle is basing his argument upon the typical meaning of the condition of the two women, and consequently he makes the slave a type of the covenant contracted on Sinai, which supposes subjection. But that slave was Agar, the mother of Ismael, from whom sprang the principal tribe of the Arabs. St. Paul names her now to remind that Mount Sinai, being situated in Arabia, is appropriately connected with the allegory of Agar, the mother of the Arabs. Moreover her name is the same as that of the important Arab tribes mentioned in the Bible (Ps 83:6; 1 Chron 5:19). In her flight (Gen 16:6-8) she betook herself into the desert that led to Sinai. These facts explain perfectly how St. Paul found a connection between Agar and Mount Sinai, and he draws attention to the meaning of the coincidence, namely, that Agar the slave is a fitting representation of the alliance that was entered into on Mount Sinai in the desert of Arabia (Lagrange).

The second and less probable reading, “For Agar is Mount Sinai in Arabia,” is explained by saying, with St. Chrysostom, that Agar is the name which the Arabs have always given to Mount Sinai.

Which hath affinity refers back to Agar, and consequently 25a must be regarded as parenthetical.

Hath affinity, i.e., is in the same class with that Jerusalem which is now the centre of Judaism, subject to the servitude imposed by the law.

Bondage means the slavery of the Law.

Children are those living in the Holy City under the yoke of the Mosaic Law.

In the Vulgate qui conjunctus est supposes Mount Sinai to be the subject of συστοιχει δε, instead of Agar, as explained above. If this were correct, then the mountain would also be the subject of et servit. Therefore the Vulgate should read: congruit autem, servit enim (Lagrange).

Gal 4:26. But that Jerusalem, which is above, is free: which is our mother.

In contrast to “the one” (covenant) of verse 24 we should expect St. Paul here to speak of the other covenant; but instead he takes up the contrast to the present Jerusalem, and speaks of the Jerusalem above. By above he does not mean only the Church Triumphant, for he says she is our mother, i.e., the mother of us Christians living yet on earth. And this Jerusalem is free, i.e., not subject to the Law; she is the Kingdom of God, governed by God’s Holy Spirit.

Gal 4:27. For it is written: Rejoice, thou barren, that bearest not: break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for many are the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband.

St. Paul now cites the LXX of Isaiah 54:1 to prove that the fecundity of the Jerusalem which is above, i.e., of the Messianic Kingdom, was foretold by the Prophet and miraculously ordained by God. Literally the Prophet’s words refer to the earthly Jerusalem which, although bereft of her inhabitants during the Babylonian captivity, would one day be more populous than ever. But spiritually the reference is to the heavenly Jerusalem, the Messianic Kingdom, which, born at the time of the promise made to Abraham (Cornely), or existing only in the designs of God (Lagrange), remained sterile, until the death of Christ, when her children became far more numerous than were the children of the earthly city.

Agar was a fitting type of the old Jerusalem, of the Synagogue; as Sara was of the Messianic Kingdom, the Church of Christ. And this the Prophet seems to have had in mind, for a few chapters ahead (Isa 51:1-2) he had invited the Jews to imitate the faith of Abraham and Sara, whose children they were. St. Paul makes the application more definite.

The words barren, break forth, desolate refer literally to Jerusalem during the captivity (or to Sara, in the Apostle’s application); but spiritually to the reign of Christ and His Church. She that hath a husband in the Prophet’s literal meaning referred to Jerusalem before the captivity (as applied by St. Paul, toAgar); spiritually the reference is to the Old Covenant, the Synagogue, which had the Law as a husband.

Gal 4:28. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.

This verse is a conclusion from what has preceded.

We, i.e., we Christians, both Gentile and Jewish, having embraced the faith, are children of the free woman, of the Jerusalem that is above, typified in Sara. Like Isaac we are born of promise and heirs to the inheritance promised to Abraham; we are therefore free, and in nowise subject to the Law, of which Agar, the slave, was a figure.

The Vulgate nos . . . sumus does not represent the reading υμεις εστε of some of the best MSS., which would seem more natural in St. Paul addressing the Galatians who were forgetting their dignity as Christians.

Gal 4:29. But as then he, that was born according to the flesh, persecuted him that was after the spirit; so also it is now.

But (αλλ) here shows the sharp contrast to what might naturally have been expected; for as Ismael persecuted Isaac, so the Judaizers now persecuted St. Paul and the other faithful Christians.

Then, i.e., when Ismael and Isaac were actually living.

He, that was born, etc., i.e., Ismael.

Persecuted. What this persecution consisted in we do not know. In Gen 21:9-10 we read that the son of Agar played with Isaac, and from Sara’s indignation, as well as from Jewish tradition, we gather that there was something offensive, something of mockery, in that playing, which St. Paul here regards as a persecution. At any rate, history tells us that the Ismaelites were the bitter foes of the descendants of Isaac (cf. Ps 83:5-6; 1 Chron 5:10, 1 Chron 5:19).

Him that was after the spirit, i.e., Isaac, whose conception and birth were due to the miraculous intervention of the Spirit of God in virtue of the promise made by God to Abraham.

So … it is now. The allusion is to the persecutions sustained by St. Paul and the faithful Christians at the hands of the Judiazers.

Gal 4:30. But what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son; for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.

St. Paul here cites Gen 21:10, according to the LXX, as illustrative of what should be the action of the Galatians against their false teachers. As Sara told Abraham to cast out the slave woman with her son—which Abraham did, so should the faithful of Galatia put away the enslaving Judaizers with their Mosaic observances. If they fail to do this, they and their leaders shall be cut off from the inheritance, i.e., from the Messianic benefits, just as Agar and her son Ismael were cut off. The words of Sara are cited by St. Paul as Scripture, because they were approved by God, as the obedient action of Abraham shows. That God gave wholesale approval to Sarah’s demands is problematic inasmuch as he showed concern for Abraham’s distress, and the well-being of Hagar and Ishmael-things Sarah herself appears to have taken no account of (Gen 21:12-13).

The Apostle’s conclusion is definite and practical for the Galatians: they must put out the false teachers.

Father Callan rounds off this section of his commentary by indicating why he ends the section at verse 30: In commencing the new section with Gal 4:31 we are following the division made by Bousset, Lagrange and Zahn. The recurrence of the word freedom joins it with what precedes, as a result with its sources. Many critics see in Gal 4:31 the last word of the allegory illustrating the two alliances, rather than the beginning of a practical conclusion. But the allegory was really concluded in verse 28, and is presupposed in verses 29, 30. It seems better then to regard 31 as the point of transition between what has preceded and the section that now follows (Lagrange).

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Galatians Chapter 3

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 1, 2018

I’ve included in this post Father Callan’s summary of the dogmatic portion of the Epistle (3:1-5:12) and his summary of 3:1-5. Text in red are my additions.

A Summary of Galatians 3:1-5:12

Since Christ was the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham, and since the entire revelation of the Old Testament was a preparation for, and a leading up to Christ, it could most reasonably occur to the Galatians that the ancient Scriptures, including the Law of Moses, were sacred, and that the Gospel, with its perfect revelation, had grown out of them, like the fruit out of the vine. Would it not follow, then, that the observance of the Law was necessary to salvation also for Christians, and that thus only is justification to be obtained?

It is beyond doubt that the Gentiles were partakers of the salvation foreshadowed in the Old Testament, but as heirs of the promise and blessing made to Abraham long centuries before the Law was given. The Law was only an intermediate measure for the Jewish people, a special help to lead them to Christ and to the fruition of those blessings which were promised to the father of their race. To return to the Law after having found Christ would be to go backwards; it would be to give up the end and return to a particular means which were intended for a particular people.

St. Paul, therefore, after having reviewed the history of his divine call and mission, and having shown the conformity of his Gospel with that of the other Apostles, passes on now, in the second part of his letter, to prove that the doctrine and fact of justification are not dependent on the works of the Law, but only on faith in Jesus Christ (Gal 3:1-5:12).

A Summary of Galatians 3:1-5

The Apostle had just said (Gal 2:21) that to seek salvation through the Law was to render null the death of Christ; and reflecting now on the situation in Galatia, where there was imminent danger of an attempt to do this very thing, he breaks forth in holy indignation, exclaiming, “O senseless Galatians, who hath bewitched you?” He asks if Christ crucified, whom he had preached to them, was not power and charm enough to keep them from error, and if their own experience in receiving the Holy Spirit through faith, independently of the Law, was not sufficient proof that their justification was from faith and not from the Law.

Gal 3:1. O senseless Galatians, who hath bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been set forth, crucified among you?

Senseless, i.e., dull of mind, slow to penetrate the mystery of Christianity and to perceive things of deep spirituality. Galatians.

Hath bewitched you, i.e., has cast about you a spell or charm, thus inducing you to turn your eyes away from the crucified Christ and fix them upon the doctrine of the Judaizers.

St. Chrysostom, Theodoret and other Greek Fathers have understood in “bewitched” (βασκαίνω = baskainō) an allusion to the “evil eye” of folk-lore, especially in Babylon and Assyria. But in both the Old and the New Testaments it usually has the meaning of “envy.” St. Jerome understands the term in the sense of fascination that is exercised on children.

That you should not obey the truth. These words are wanting in the best MSS. and in some versions. As St. Jerome observed, they are doubtless a gloss from Gal 5:7. Modern translations omit the words here.

Before whose eyes, etc. So vivid, so definite had been the preaching of St. Paul to the Galatians that Christ crucified was made to appear before their very eyes as if actually existing in the flesh. Such a picture ought never to fade from their minds, and should ever protect them against attractions of a contrary sort.

Set forth, i.e., pictured, depicted (προγράφω = prographō). The literal meaning is to placard, post in public; or, as the Greek Fathers think, to paint.

Among you (Vulg., in vobis) is not found in the best MSS. It was added in the Received Text. Some of the Latin Fathers, following the old Latin version, read proscriptus (banned, condemned), instead of praescriptus (prefixed, ordered). This is difficult to understand unless we add et (and), thus: proscriptus est, et in vobis crucifixus, “(Christ) condemned anew and crucified among you.”

Gal 3:2. This only would I learn of you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

To bring out more plainly the folly of their conduct St. Paul reminds the Galatians of their own experience. They themselves know that their reception of the Holy Spirit, with His sanctifying grace, His manifest special gifts (Gal 3:5), was when they received by faith the truths of Christ crucified which had been preached to them, and not by the observing of the Law which they, as Gentiles, did not know.

The hearing of faith (ακοης πιστεως) means the hearing which led to faith and was accompanied by faith.

Works are here contrasted with hearing; and law with faith, i.e., believing. That Christ was the object of their faith and belief is evident (Gal 2:16-21).

Gal 3:3. Are you so foolish, that, whereas you began in the Spirit, you would now be made perfect by the flesh?

St. Paul reduces the conduct of the Galatians to an absurdity. They would go from the law of grace and liberty to that of works and slavery; they would begin with the Holy Spirit, and attain to their end and perfection by the flesh (St. Chrys., Cornely).

The Spirit means the Holy Ghost, the principle of the new life of grace, whom the Galatians had received with faith (see Gal 3:2).

Flesh stands for Judaism, which was embraced through circumcision. In the one there is the action of the Spirit; in the other, the use of certain corporal rites. Spirit and flesh are the respective characteristics of Christianity and Judaism (Theodoret, Lagr.).

The spiritu of the Vulgate ought to be capitalized, because there is question of the Holy Ghost.

Gal 3:4. Have you suffered so great things in vain? If it be yet in vain.

Have you suffered, etc. Can it be that the Galatians, who had suffered so many persecutions for their faith, would now be so foolish as to lose all the merit and reward of their trials by renouncing the Gospel and going back to Judaism? What these sufferings were we do not know, since no record of them has come down to us. We have in Acts 13:50; 14:2, 5, 6 accounts of persecutions endured by the Lycaonians, but this does not prove the identity of the Lycaonians and the Galatians.

In vain, i.e., to no purpose, without hope of reward, which would certainly be the case if the Galatians renounced the Gospel.

If it be yet in vain (ει γε και εικη = ei ge kai eike), i.e., “If indeed it be to no purpose.” St. Paul is not expressing apprehension, but the hope that the Galatians will not have suffered to no purpose (Theodoret, Comely, Light., Zahn, etc.). This interpretation corresponds to the Galatian situation, where apostasy was menacing rather than actually committed. But ειγε with και usually means, “If, as I believe,” or “if, as I fear”; and this is the sense in which it is here understood by Lagrange, Lipsius and Sieffert.

Some theologians draw from the last phrase of this verse an argument for the reviviscence (an act of reviving or the state of being revived), through Penance, of merits lost by mortal sin. However sound or weak the inference from this text might otherwise be, it is rendered of little value by the fact that it is not at all certain that the Galatians had actually turned from Christ.

Gal 3:5. He therefore who giveth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you; doth he do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of the faith? 

The Apostle returns to the question proposed in Gal 3:2.

Giveth to you . . . worketh. These verbs, in the present tense, show that the situation among the Galatians was not altogether hopeless; some, doubtless, had gone farther than others. The gifts of the Spirit here referred to were experienced internally, in the souls of the faithful, such as, science, wisdom, etc. (1 Cor 12:6-11); whereas miracles (δύναμις = dunamis) were exterior manifestations of the Spirit within, such as, prophecy, the gifts of tongues, and the like (1 Cor 12:10). All these gifts, internal and external, had been received through faith, independently of the works of the Law.

The in vobis of the Vulgate (εν υμιν) means among you.

Summary of Galatians 3:6-9

This section was rejected by Marcion on account of his opposition to the Old Testament; it showed too plainly against his heretical views that the principle of salvation is the same both in the Old and in the New Testaments (cf. St. Jerome here; Tertull., Adv. Marc. v. 3).

The Judaizers taught that in order to have part in the blessings promised to Abraham and his posterity, it was necessary for the Gentile converts to establish, through circumcision, that filial relationship with the father of their race by which they could really be called the children of Abraham. They erred, as St. Paul now points out, in not understanding that Abraham’s justification was through faith, and that consequently the faithful are truly his sons and heirs of the blessings promised him.

Gal 3:6  As it is written: Abraham believed God: and it was reputed to him unto justice.

See on Rom 4:3-5. Here is what Father Callan wrote regarding those verses:

Rom 4:3. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was reputed to him unto justice.

St. Paul now appeals to Scripture (Gen 15:6) to prove whereby Abraham was justified, and he finds there no mention of works, but of faith only; it was, therefore, on account of his faith, and not on acount of his works, that Abraham was declared just by God. We have not, however, in this verse an explanation of the manner in which Abraham acquired his justification; this is the problem which engages the Apostle’s attention in the following verses (Lagrange).

Abraham believed God, i.e., when God promised him a numerous progeny, although he was without child at the time. Of course, the Apostle is speaking here of the faith which animated the whole life of Abraham, beginning with his vocation (Gen 17:4: Gen 17:15; Gen 4:19-21).

It was reputed, i.e., it was reckoned (ελογισθη).

The Lutherans pretend to find in this verse a basis for their doctrine of imputed justice, according to which one’s sins are not really pardoned, but only covered by God for Christ’s sake. They say Abraham believed in God, and this faith sufficed that God should declare him just without his actually being so. This is as contrary to the true sense of Gen 15:6, as it is opposed to the doctrine of St. Paul.

Rom 4:4. Now to him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned according to grace, but according to debt.
Rom 4:5. But to him that worketh not, yet believeth in him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reputed to justice, according to the purpose of the grace of God.

In these verses St. Paul adduces an example drawn from daily life to show that Abraham’s justification was not due to works, but was a gratuitous gift of God. A workman, he says, is rewarded not according to favor, i.e., gratuitously, but according to what he deserves in strict justice for his labor. Hence the laborer has a claim to his wages. If, therefore, without works, and only on condition of faith, which is a gratuitous gift of God, one is freely justified, as in the case of Abraham, it cannot be said that one is receiving what is his due; but rather that he is the object of favor and of a gratuitous benefit because of which he has no reason for boasting, either before men or in the sight of God. The works to which St. Paul is referring here, as elsewhere in the same connection, are those which are performed without faith and the help of grace.

(vs 5). In him that justifieth, etc., i.e., in God who has the power to render just him who is unjust or sinful.

His faith is reputed, etc., i.e., his faith is reckoned, etc. Faith does not merit justification, but is the necessary foundation of it. “Nothing of those things which precede justification, whether faith or works, merits the grace itself of justification” (Conc. Trid., Sess. VI. cap. 8).

According to the purpose of the grace of God, i.e., according to the decree of God’s mercy by which He has determined from all eternity gratuitously to save men through faith in Christ. These words, however, are most probably a gloss, since they are not found in the Greek MSS., nor in any of the versions, except the Latin. Being a marginal explanation of how “faith is reputed,” they at length crept into the text.

It is written (Vulg., scriptum est) is not represented in the Greek.

Gal 3:7  Know ye, therefore, that they who are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

The Apostle here concludes that, since Abraham was justified by faith and not by works, they are his sons who imitate his faith.

Know ye (γινώσκω = ginōskō) can be imperative or indicative. St. Jerome understood it as indicative.

They who are of faith, etc., i.e., those who make faith the principle of their religious life and activities. Faith is here contrasted with the ceremonial works of the Law (verse 10).

The same, i.e., these only (οὗτοι = houtoi) in an exclusive sense. Are the children (υἱός = huioi), i.e., enjoy the real sonship with all its privileges. The Jews thought physical relationship with Abraham was sufficient to establish also spiritual sonship.

Gal 3:8. And the scripture, foreseeing, that God justifieth the Gentiles by faith, told unto Abraham before: In thee shall all nations be blessed.

The scripture, foreseeing. Better, “The Scripture foresaw.” Scripture is personified, because of the personality of God behind it. The meaning is that the Holy Ghost, the author of Scripture, foresaw before the Law was given that God the Father had determined to justify the Gentiles by faith. Of this truth the Galatians had had actual personal experience, and were therefore a confirmation; it was through faith that they had obtained the grace of Christianity.

Told unto, i.e., “announced the good news” (προευηγγελισατο = proeuengelisato) to Abraham. This announcement was really the beginning of the Gospel.

In thee, i.e., in thy person.

All nations, i.e., all those who shall imitate the faith of Abraham. The quotation is a fusion of Gen 12:3 and Gen 18:18, perhaps in order to emphasize the fact that the pagans were to participate in the blessings of Abraham. See on Rom 4:1. Here is what Fr. Callan wrote on that passage:

Rom 4:1. What shall we say then that Abraham hath found, who is our father according to the flesh.

What shall we say then. Then (ουν, “therefore”) shows the connection between this and verse 31 of the preceding chapter. If it be true that justification through faith was taught by the Old Testament, how was Abraham justified? by works or by faith? From the following verse it is evident that Abraham’s justification was not by works, but by faith.

According to the flesh. These words, according to the best authorities, should be joined to our father, thus: “What hath Abraham, our father according to the flesh, found?” i.e., how was he justified? Abraham was called the father of the Jews “according to the flesh” in opposition to a more extensive spiritual paternity which belonged to him by reason of his faith; by faith he became the spiritual father of all who believe.

Some exegetes join the above phrase to hath found, thus: “What hath Abraham found according to the flesh?” i.e., what profit or advantage had Abraham from circumcision? In this interpretation “flesh” means circumcision. Others understand “flesh” to mean works performed by natural strength, hence the meaning would be: “What profit had Abraham in the works performed by his natural strength?” “Before Abraham believed God, what justice do we hear of in him accruing from works?” (Theodoret). This last interpretation is made probable by the sense in which “works” is used in the following verse.

Gal 3:9  Therefore, they that are of faith shall be blessed with faithful Abraham.

Therefore. Better, “And so,” or “So that” (ὥστε = hoste).

Shall be blessed. Better, “Are blessed.”

A conclusion is drawn from what has been said. As the Gentiles, at the time of the promise made to Abraham, were blessed in his person, so now, in consequence of their faith, are they blessed with faithful Abraham. This blessing could not come to the Gentiles because they were his natural children, nor again because they had received circumcision; therefore only because they imitated his faith.

A Summary of Galatians 3:10-14

After having proved that the blessings of Abraham have come to the Galatians through faith the Apostle now shows first, that neither blessing nor justification, but only a curse, could come through the Law; and then, that Christ, by becoming a curse for our sakes, has extended the blessings of Abraham to the Gentiles, in order that we may, through faith, receive the promise of the Spirit. Gal 3:13 is a return to the thought of Gal 3:10, and Gal 3:14 (“by faith”) looks back to verses Gal 3:11-12.

Gal 3:10  For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse. For it is written: Cursed is every one that abideth, not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

Far from giving a part in the blessings of Abraham the Law brought a curse upon those who, without grace, tried to fulfil it. This is proved by a citation from the Law itself (Deut 27:26).

As many as, etc., i.e., all, whether Jews or Christians, who think that their salvation is not to be obtained by faith, but through the fulfillment of the works of the law, such as, circumcision, the observance of the Sabbath and the like, are under a curse, i.e., in a state of permanent hostility to God, simply because they cannot, without the grace that comes through faith in Christ, keep the commandments and precepts of the Law.

St. Paul is not saying that no one could keep the precepts of the Law, but only that the Law itself, independently of God’s grace, gave no help for the fulfillment of its commands. The Law pointed out what should be done and what should be avoided, and in so doing, without at the same time giving any help towards keeping its mandates, it only multiplied transgressions.

Those, therefore, who trusted in the Law only, put themselves in a perilous position.

The citation of Deut. is according to the LXX, and is in conformity with the Hebrew, except for every one (πᾶς = pas) and in all things (πασιν = pasin), whose equivalents are not in the Hebrew, although St. Jerome thinks originally they were there. He suspects the Jews to have omitted the second (πασιν = pasin), so as not to be under a curse in case they were not able to observe the whole

Gal 3:11  But that in the law no man is justified with God, it is manifest: because the just man liveth by faith.

The meaning of this verse is that no one is rendered really and truly just before God in virtue of the Law. True justice in the sight of God comes only through faith.

In the law. The Greek is εν νομω (=en nomo), without the article, but the Jewish Law is clearly meant, as elsewhere in this Epistle.

Because the just man, etc. See on Rom 1:17. Fr. Callan wrote the following on this verse:

Rom 1:17. For the justice of God is revealed therein, from faith unto faith, as it is written: The just man liveth by faith.

The justice of God, i.e., the justice or justification given by God to man, which has its root and foundation in faith, and renders man holy and pleasing in God’s sight. This justification must be preceded, in the first instance, not by the habit, but by an act of faith.

Is revealed therein, i.e., justification is made manifest through the Gospel, inasmuch as it is a gift of God which before was hidden, but is now made known to the world. Before the Gospel it was not altogether clear just how justification was to be obtained, whether, namely, by faith in the Redeemer to come, or through the observance of the Law of Moses. But now the Gospel has made it entirely plain that justification comes through faith, and is extended to all who believe, be they Jews or Gentiles.

From faith unto faith. These words are variously understood. According to Calmet, Lagrange, etc., they refer to progress in faith. The justice of God is revealed in the Gospel, and takes its beginning in man from faith, as from its root, and increases and develops in faith. Cornely understands the words to refer to the extension of the faith among the believers, in omnes credentes; i.e., the justice of God, manifested through the Gospel, is not restricted to the Jews, but is extended to all those who believe in Christ, of whatever nationality they may be.

It is written, etc., to show that faith, even in the Old Testament, was the source of justification, St. Paul now cites one of the ancient Prophets. The words quoted are from Hab 2:4. Literally they express the manner in which the Jews, under the Chaldeans, should conduct themselves: they should live by faith in the promise of a deliverer (Cyrus) given them by Almighty God; and thus through patient expectation, accompanied by good works, they would at length be freed. Likewise, says the Apostle, applying the spiritual meaning of the Prophet’s words, he who is just by virtue of the faith revealed in the Gospel will, by good works and patient confidence in God’s promises, live and continually increase in faith and spirituality, unto life everlasting. In the application of these words of the Prophet, St. Paul makes the Babylonian captivity a figure of the state of sin, “and the law of the Israelites a symbol of that of good Christians” (Calmet).

The just man liveth by faith. With the Prophet there was question in these words of life granted in recompense of one’s faith; but with St. Paul there is question of the source of man’s justice: faith is the source, i.e., the foundation, of the spiritual life of the just man. Justice comes from faith, and not from the works of the Law, the Apostle means to say (St. Chrys., Cajetan, Lagr., etc.).

The citation of Habacuc (Habakkuk) is from the Septuagint, although not literal. The Hebrew reads, “in his faithfulness,” instead of “by faith,” but the meaning is the same.

St. Paul in these verses (Rom 1:16-17) has stated his thesis, that justification comes not from wisdom or learning, nor from the observance of the Law, but from faith.

Gal 3:12  But the law is not of faith: but he that doth those things shall live in them.

The last words of the preceding verse form the major of a syllogism; in the present verse we have the minor; the conclusion is in Gal 3:10 above.

The law is not of faith, i.e., the Law, as such, has not the same nature as faith; faith is concerned primarily with internal dispositions, while the Law regards only external acts. “The precepts of the Law are not concerned with things to be believed, but with things to be done” (St. Thomas).

He that doth, etc. This citation is a free rendering of the Hebrew of Lev 18:5. It means that he who keeps the Law shall live; but St. Paul’s point is that this keeping of the Law is impossible without some further help which the Law itself could not provide. The just of the Old Testament were not justified by the Law, but through their faith in the Messiah to come. It was this faith that procured for them the grace necessary to keep the precepts of the Law. See on Rom 10:5. Here is what Father Callan wrote there:

Rom 10:5. For Moses wrote, that the justice which is of the law, the man that shall do it, shall live by it

The Apostle quotes Moses (Lev. 18:5, according to the LXX) to show the difference between the justice of the Law and that of faith. If a man is able to obtain the justice of the Law, he will have as his reward, temporal, and even eternal life; but this justice is very difficult, being beyond man’s natural strength.

The justice … of the law, i.e., the justice which resulted from an observance of all the precepts of the Mosaic Law.

The man that shall do it, etc., i.e., the man that is able to do such a difficult thing.

Shall live by it. To the observers of the Law there was promised a life of temporal blessings (Deut. 28:2-13; 30:9-10), and also life eternal (Matt. 19:17; Luke 10:25-28). But to obtain this latter it was necessary to observe, not only externally, but also internally, all the precepts of the Law; and, in particular, to love God and have faith in Christ to come (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:36; Rom. 2:13; 4:11)—a task utterly beyond the powers of fallen human nature unaided by grace (Rom 7:22-25). This grace, however, which the Law could not provide, would be given by God in virtue of faith in Christ to come. The Jews erroneously thought they could keep the Law by their own mere natural strength, and thereby obtain the rewards promised.

Very probably the Judaizers had used the above text to prove to the Galatians the necessity of observing the Law, but St. Paul turns it against his adversaries, taking it for granted that his readers will understand that the Jews did not and could not observe the Law by virtue of any help that it afforded them.

Gal 3:13  Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us (for it is written: Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree).

What the Law could not do Christ, dying on the cross, has accomplished. He redeemed us, i.e., us Jews, from the malediction under which we lived by reason of the Law. “Us” could not include the pagans, because they were not under the curse of the Law; but the liberation of the Jews who became Christians brought about the diffusion of the blessing among the Gentiles (Cornely).

Hath redeemed, i.e., has satisfied for our sins by the pouring out of His blood on the cross. Here there is question of being ransomed from the curse of the Law.

Being made a curse, etc., i.e., He took upon Himself all the maledictions of the Law in order to liberate those who were under the Law; He put Himself in the place of the enslaved that He might free them, becoming Himself an object of malediction for their sakes. Christ was an object of malediction, inasmuch as upon Him the fury of God’s wrath was poured out, not because of any personal wrong, but as bearing the sins of the whole world.

For it is written. St. Paul cites as an illustration the text of Deut 21:23, which shows that Christ, having been a victim for sin, incurred also the curse of sin. The Law declared him cursed by God who hung on a tree; and Christ was nailed to the wood of the tree. The citation is made freely according to the LXX.

Crucifixion was not a Jewish form of execution, and was resorted to only in rare cases (Num 25:4). The dead body of a criminal was sometimes raised on a cross as a deterrent against crime, but it had to be taken down the same day, lest, being a thing accursed of God (Deut 21:23), it should pollute the land.

Gal 3:14  That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Christ Jesus: that we may receive the promise of the Spirit by faith.

This shows the end for which Christ suffered on the cross, namely, that the blessings promised to Abraham, i.e., justification by faith and all the Messianic gifts, might come to the Gentiles as well as the Jews, and that we, i.e., the Jews, might receive the promise of the Spirit, i.e., all the gifts of the Holy Ghost which make us sons of God and heirs of heaven.

Through Christ Jesus. Better, “In Jesus Christ,” the Redeemer, who ransomed the Jews, and in and through whom both Jews and Gentiles are united and receive the gifts of the Spirit by faith, and not by the works of the Law.

A Summary of Galatians 3:15-18

In verses 15-18 St. Paul illustrates the inviolability of the promise made to Abraham by an allusion to a human custom. No one adds to or takes from a man’s will when once it is ratified. Likewise, the covenant made by God with Abraham cannot be annulled by the Law which was given four hundred and thirty years later.

Gal 3:15. Brethren (I speak after the manner of man), yet a man’s testament, if it be confirmed, no man despiseth, nor addeth to it.

Brethren. St. Paul speaks now with the affection of a master for his disciples, and not as in verse 1.

After the manner of man, i.e., according to human custom and practice; or, according to the relation of man to man. The Apostle uses human terms and methods to illustrate and explain the ways of God.

Testament, i.e., a will, or solemn disposition. This is the sense of διαθηκην (diatheken) in classic Greek, in inscriptions and papyri (Cornely, Lagrange). Some object to the word will as connoting death, which διαθηκην (diatheken) does not necessarily include; hence these scholars translate, “deed of gift” (Williams). Others prefer to give the term the meaning of covenant or contract, in which sense it is used in the LXX to signify the alliance between God and Israel. Doubtless disposition comes nearest the Apostle’s meaning, since he is speaking of the great disposition made by God which regulates all His dealings with Abraham and his descendants.

If it be confirmed, etc. Better, “When it hath been ratified,” i.e., officially recognized by proper public authority. The disposition of property by a testator was regarded by the Romans as radically emanating from the power of the State, and consequently as inviolable when enacted according to required legal form; no one could add to or subtract from it in any way.

Gal 3:16. To Abraham were the promises made and to his seed. He saith not, And to his seeds, as of many: but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

This verse is really the minor premise of a syllogism, of which the major is in the preceding verse, and the conclusion in the verse that follows. A testator’s disposition of his property is sacred and inviolable; but to Abraham and his issue God made the promises, after the manner of a last will or testament; therefore nothing can interfere with those promises.

The promises. The plural is used because the promise, which had the character of a last will or testament, was not only renewed to Isaac and Jacob, but was several times addressed to Abraham himself (Gen 12:7; Gen 13:15; Gen 15:18; Gen 17:7-10; Gen 22:16 ff.; Gen 24:7). The Apostle is directly alluding to the promise found in Gen 13:15; Gen 17:8: “All the land that thou beholdest, I will give to thee and to thy seed,” etc. These words, in their proper sense, refer to the land of Canaan, the country of Palestine, which God promised as an eternal inheritance to Abraham and his descendants, and which St. Paul is here taking in a spiritual sense, as signifying the Messianic Kingdom, the Church of Christ here below and the Kingdom of Heaven hereafter. Hence the Apostle is here speaking of a spiritual inheritance to which the spiritual descendants of Abraham are heirs. But all of Abraham’s spiritual descendants are summed up in one person who was Christ, to whom, as to their head, all Christians are united through faith and charity, forming one mystical body (Gal 3:28; 1 Cor 12:12).

His seed, i.e., his issue.

He saith not, i.e., God, who spoke to Abraham, saith not.

To his seeds, etc. In order to show the unity between Christ and the faithful, God, when making the promise, made use of a collective word in the singular, indicating unity rather than plurality. The promise was given to Abraham and his issue, i.e., Christ; and hence none can have part in this inheritance except in Christ, i.e., as united to Christ by faith and love.

The Vulgate should have autem (on the other hand, moreover, however, also, but) after Abraham at the beginning of the verse to represent the δε (de) of the best Greek MSS., and thus connect this verse with the preceding.

Gal 3:17. Now this I say, that the testament which was confirmed by God, the law which was made after four hundred and thirty years, doth not disannul, to make the promise of no effect.

The argument of the two preceding verses is concluded. The testament or disposition made by God to Abraham, and ratified by God with an oath (Gen 22:16; Heb 6:17-18) long centuries before the Law was given, and independently of it, is not rendered void by the promulgation of the latter.

The addition of “in Christ” after “God,” which is found in some MSS., is a gloss.

Four hundred and thirty years. This is the period of time allowed by Paul between the making of the promise and the giving of the Law. The statement, while causing a difficulty, does not interfere with the Apostle’s argument given above. It is generally supposed that about 200 years elapsed between the promise made to Abraham and the entrance of the Israelites into Egypt; and on this supposition St. Paul should have said 630 years. Different explanations are given of the difficulty. (a) The chronology of this verse is practically that of the Septuagint of Exodus 12:40, of the Samaritan Pentateuch, and of Josephus (Antiq. ii. 15, 2), which authorities allow 430 years between the entrance of Abraham into Canaan and the departure of the Jews from Egypt, (b) St. Paul is counting from the last renewal of the promise, which was made to Jacob (Gen 46:3-4), and the giving of the Law, i.e., he is speaking of the period during which the Jews were in Egypt, which, according to the Hebrew of Exodus 12:40, was 430 years.

Gal 3:18. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise. But God gave it to Abraham by promise.

See comments on Rom 4:13-16. So radically different are the Law and the promise that it is impossible for the inheritance pledged in the “testament” to come from the former without ceasing altogether to be from the latter. But the inheritance is of promise, and therefore not of the Law.

The inheritance originally and directly meant the land of Canaan, but is here used in a purely spiritual sense, as embracing all the blessings of which Christ is the source; of these spiritual gifts the land of Canaan was a figure and a type.

Be of the law, i.e., if the inheritance be the reward of observing the Law, it is no more of promise, i.e., it is no longer a gratuitous gift of God. Since, therefore, the blessings and gifts of which Christ is the source are entirely gratuitous, depending on no condition, it is clear that they are not the result of observing the Law.

A Summary of Galatians 3:19-24

In verses 19-24 St Paul argues that although the Law was powerless to alter the promise in any way, yet it was a divine institution and in nowise opposed to the promise. It was given as a protection to the Jews, and as a moral guide to lead them to Christ.

Gal 3:19. Why then was the law? It was set because of transgressions, until the seed should come, to whom he made the promise, being ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

Why then, etc., i.e., what was the purpose of the Law? what end had God in view when He gave it?

It was set because, etc., i.e., the Law was added to (προσετεθη) the promise, not as a codicil to modify a testament, but as a temporary disposition to repress and restrain sins, and, by the revelations it made to the Jews of their weakness and sinfulness, to make them long for the grace and help of the Redeemer (St. Chrys., St. Jerome, etc.). The Law was good in itself, but it revealed to man his many sins and infirmities without giving him the grace and help he needed to overcome his evil nature and perform his duties (Rom 7:7). Thus indirectly the Law multiplied transgressions and increased man’s sins (Rom 4:13-15; Rom 7:7-13; 1 Cor 15:56, etc.).

Until the seed, etc., i.e., the Law was only transitory, serving as a teacher and guide until the coming of Christ and the establishment of His Kingdom, the Church (verse 16).

To whom he made the promise. Better, “To whom the promise was made.”

Being ordained, etc., i.e., the Law was not, like the promise, given directly by God, but indirectly, through angels first (Acts 7:53; Heb 2:2), and then through Moses, who was the mediator between God and the Jewish people (1 Tim 2:5; Heb 8:6; Heb 9:15; Heb 12:24). There was a Jewish tradition, based on Deut 33:2 (cf. Acts 7:53; Heb 2:2, where this tradition is presupposed), that angels had a part in making the Law of Moses.

In the hand refers to the reception of the tables of the Law into the hands of Moses (Exodus 31:15). In showing the transitoriness of the Law and the indirectness with which it was given St. Paul is calling attention to its inferiority as compared with the promise. The promise was given directly by God to Abraham. The giving of the Law, on the contrary, was performed by angels on behalf of God, and by Moses on behalf of the people.

Gal 3:20. Now a mediator is not of one: but God is one.

A mediator is not of one, i.e., where there is a mediator there are at least two parties who are brought together by the mediator. This was the case in the giving of the Mosaic Law, which was a bilateral contract between God and the Jewish people. In virtue of this contract God promised to give blessings to the people; and they, in turn, pledged themselves to the observance of the precepts of the Law (Deut 5:25). The blessings of the Law were therefore dependent upon the observance of the Law (Gal 3:12).

But God is one. In the promise, on the contrary, God acted alone, and in accordance with the unity of His nature, without the assistance of a mediator. Accordingly He obligated Himself, independently of any condition, to confer the blessings of the promise. Hence the Law is able neither to nullify the promise, nor to act as a substitute for it. Such seems to be the most probable explanation of this difficult verse, of which, it is said, some 430 interpretations have been given. Cf. Cornely, Lagrange, h. l.

If it be objected that even in the promise there is a mediator, namely, Christ, we reply that St. Paul is here regarding Christ as God, as a Divine Person who is God. It is true that in 1 Tim 2:5, the Apostle speaks of Christ as the “mediator” between God and man, but there, as his words indicate, he is considering our Lord’s humanity.

Gal 3:21. Was the law then against the promises of God? God forbid. For if there had been a law given which could give life, verily justice should have been by the law.

A difficulty arises. What is to be concluded from the two preceding verses? If the giving of the Law has increased and multiplied transgressions (verse 19), and if for salvation it has imposed an onerous condition (the obligation of observing its precepts), which was not required in the promise (verse 20), does it not follow that the Law is opposed to the promise of God which contained a blessing to be given gratuitously and absolutely?

God forbid. The inference is manifestly false.

For if, etc., i.e., “if a law had ever been given” (ει γαρ εδοθη νομος = gar ei edothe nomos) which of itself could give the life of grace and glory, then in reality (“verily”, οντως = ontos) such a law would have been the principle of a justice which St. Paul considers the starting-point of a life of grace and glory (Rom 5:10). In such a case faith would have been useless, because salvation would not be a gratuitous gift, but a reward deserved. But it was not so, as appears from the following verse.

Gal 3:22. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise, by the faith of Jesus Christ, might be given to them that believe.

But the scripture. Contrary to the supposition of the preceding verse the entire Old Testament, including the Law, i.e., various texts and passages throughout the Old Testament, show that all men, Jews as well as Gentiles, were held as enslaved by the tyranny of sin. See comments on Rom 3:10-20. This proves how powerless the Law was of itself to give spiritual life to its subjects; it only enslaved and emprisoned them.

That the promise, etc. The Law, and the Scripture in general, prove that all mankind were under sin, in order that the inheritance promised to Abraham might be given to all who believe, i.e., to all who seek salvation, not through the works of the Law, but in union with Christ, through faith and love. St. Paul is not saying that none of those who had the Law attained salvation, but only that the external Law did not secure to the individual internal morality and justice (Loisy). Those of the Old Dispensation who were justified obtained their justification by imitating the faith of their forefather Abraham.

Gal 3:23. But before the faith came, we were kept under the law shut up, unto that faith which was to be revealed.

Before the faith came, i.e., before the advent of Christ, the author and object of our faith, we, i.e., the Jewish Christians, were by means of the precepts, threats and promises of the Law kept . . . shut up, as prisoners and captives, against the danger of idolatry and the other pagan vices that surrounded us. The various precepts and restrictions of the Law acted as a wall to the Israelites, as a hedge, to protect them from the sins of the heathen (St. Chrysostom, Theodoret).

Unto that faith, etc. The tyranny and severity of the Law was for the good of the Jews. Its purpose was, by preserving the revelation given, by keeping alive the Messianic hope, and by making manifest the impotency of unassisted nature to attain to the perfection it required, to prepare its subjects for that fulness of faith which was to be revealed in Christ, and which in the souls of the faithful would be a new regime, opposed to the Law (Lagrange).

Gal 3:24. Wherefore the law was our pedagogue in Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

The conclusion now follows clearly and naturally. To change the metaphor from the idea of a jailer to that of an instructor and tutor St. Paul now says, the law was our pedagogue, literally, “child-leader” (παιδαγωγος). In Greek and Roman households the pedagogue was a faithful slave charged chiefly with the moral and disciplinary protection of the young children; and in this sense the term is here applied to the Law. The Law instructed and disciplined the Jews, showing them by its restraints and prohibitions what sin really was, but affording them no help to avoid or escape from it. This desperate situation of slavery produced by the Law, together with the impotency of reason to liberate from sin, forced mankind, as it were, to have recourse to faith in Christ that they might be justified.

In Christ (εις χριστον = eis christou) marks the term or end which God the Father had in view as the Messiah and Redeemer of His people enslaved by the Law. Therefore the Law led to Christ, the Redeemer, rather than to Christ the Teacher and Doctor (Lagrange).

A Summary of Galatians 3:25-29
With the coming of Christ the services of the pedagogue ceased. Now all, Jews and Gentiles, who believe, are sons of God in Jesus Christ, united to Christ by faith and Baptism; and, as thus united, the Galatians are also, as He is, the seed of Abraham, and consequently heirs of the inheritance promised to Abraham.

Gal 3:25. But after the faith is come, we are no longer under a pedagogue.

This verse marks the conclusion of what has preceded, and at the same time introduces an account of the privileges which the Galatians enjoy.

After the faith, etc., i.e., after Christ has come.

Gal 3:26. For you are all the children of God by faith, in Christ Jesus.

For (γαρ = gar) introduces the reason why all, Jews and Gentiles, are no longer under a pedagogue, namely, because all are now sons of God, of mature age, with full rights, united by faith to Christ, the perfect man.

It is disputed whether the words in Christ Jesus should be joined with children of God or with faith. The former is preferred by Cornely: “You are the children of God in Christ Jesus,” i.e., through your union with Christ Jesus, to whom you are united by faith and love. The second construction appeals to Lagrange as more natural, according to the order of the words. “It is very true,” he says, “that we become sons of God through union with Christ, but this union commences with faith, and thence produces its effect.”

Gal 3:27. For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ.

Those who in the preceding verse join “Christ Jesus” with “children of God” explain the present verse as follows: You are sons of God as being united with Christ, and you are united with Christ because you have put Him on in Baptism. Those who unite “Christ Jesus” with “faith” see in this verse a proof of the divine filiation: You are the sons of God through faith, because by Baptism, an act of faith, you have put on Christ. In both explanations it is understood that Christ is the Son of God. Cf. Lagrange, h. 1.

This dignity of sonship, this union with Christ, has been effected by Baptism, the exterior and logical conclusion of faith. To put on Christ means to assume the character of Christ, to clothe one’s self with Christ’s dispositions and qualities. The purpose of the metaphor here is to express a most intimate union, in virtue of which Christians really become participants in the sonship of God with the full rights and privileges of sons. By putting on Christ “you are brought to one kindred and one form with Him (Christ). . . . You have all one form, one impress, that of Christ” (St. Chrys.) ; “You are made of the same form with the Son of God. . . . Being then made partakers of Christ, you are rightly called other Christs” (St. Cyril of Jer.).

Gal 3:28. There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Since all those who have received Baptism have put on Christ, that is, are united to Him in a most intimate manner, it follows that there is no longer any distinction between Jew and Gentile, bond or free, male or female; religiously no differences exist, national or social, but all form one moral and mystical body with Christ their head.

The Vulgate unum is εις in Greek, meaning one man in Christ Jesus.

Gal 3:29. And if you be Christ’s, then are you the seed of Abraham, heirs according to the promise.

The conclusion is clear and definite: If all are united as in one man with Christ, then all are heirs to the inheritance promised to Abraham and his seed, Christ. In other words: You are all members of Christ (Gal 3:27-28); but to Christ through Abraham were the promises made (Gal 3:14); therefore these promises extend to you and to you alone (Sales).

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