The Divine Lamp

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

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Father George Howe’s Homily Notes on Romans 13:10

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 30, 2017

Love therefore is the fulfilling of the law~Rom 13:10

i. S. Paul tells us charity is the fulfilment of the Law: Rom. 13:10.
ii. He then goes on to recall a good part of this Law.
iii. Take this occasion to speak on the Decalogue.

The Decalogue:

i. So called from the Greek, meaning “ten words.”

ii. Comprises the ten Commandments, given on Sinai: Ex. 20.

a. A compendium of Morals, as the Creed is of Faith.

b. Explicit statement of the laws of truth, order, and justice,

iii. Like God Himself, they are Holy . . . True . . . Just . . . Unchangeable,

iv. Necessary for salvation.

a. Our first duty to God is belief in His Revelation. Delivering the Mind from ignorance.

b. Our second duty is observance of His Laws. Delivering the Heart from concupiscence.

c. Need of knowing these laws, through instruction, etc.

v. Not a burden, but a benefit to man, even here. The parapet: If on a narrow plank, crossing a ravine, a parapet is raised on either side, so that a traveller cannot fall into the abyss, unless he deliberately leap over it, no one would consider its erection a piece of tyranny, or an unreasonable curtailment of his freedom and liberty: on the contrary, it is a benefit bestowed to secure his safety. So with man, on his way to eternity, the Commandments are a protection to him, as he passes along the

vi. Divided into

a. Positive: requiring a thing to be done: e.g. the 4th.

b. Negative: forbidding a thing to be done: e.g. the 7th. The stream and its banks: The positive precepts are like so many different streams, conveying the riches of a fountain to various parts of the earth. The negative are like banks, hindering the passions from troubling the waters, and turning them out of their course.

vii. Binding

a. On all men, unlike human laws.

b. Each and every commandment: Whosoever shall offend in one point is become guilty of all. Jas. 2:10.

One instrument out of tune destroys a whole concerted piece.

One weak link weakens the whole chain,

viii. Therefore possible to all.

a. God is wisdom, goodness, and justice.

b. He does not, can not, exact the impossible.

c. Grace is given to enable us to observe His Law.

d. The Saints have kept it, so may we.

ix. Confirmed by Christ in the New Law :

a. By His teaching and doctrine.

b. By His example in life.

c. By His sending the Holy Ghost.


i. Learn, understand and love the commandments,

ii. Humility, in submission and obedience to them,

iii. Petition for grace in temptation against them.

IV. Heaven the reward of observing them.


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Father George Howe’s Homily Notes on Romans 13:8 On the Payment of Debts

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 30, 2017

Owe no man anything. Rom. 13:8.

1. There is one debt we can never fully pay the debt of charity.

2. All other debts we must try to discharge. Owe no man anything.

3. Too often neglected is this precept of the Apostle.

We must pay our debts:

i. When goods are bought, the price of them belongs to the seller. He parts with them, on the understanding we pay
him their value.

ii. To refuse payment is an unjust keeping of what belongs to another.

a. Now, all unjust keeping is forbidden by the 7th Commandment.

b. It is always sinful, therefore, to some degree.

c. Hence, we must pay our debts.

iii. Under this heading come wages, loans, interest, rent, etc.

a. They are all real debts of justice.

b. But how often is there unnecessary delay in paying them.

iv. We must economize, so as to be able to meet our liabilities!

Evils of delay:

i. Inconvenience and loss to creditors.

a. Tradesmen have goods to buy, for resale.

b. These they must pay for.

c. But how do it, if their own dues be withheld ?

d. All know the inconvenience of want of money,

ii. Sometimes such delay may spell ruin.

a. Tradespeople being thus unable to pay their way, further goods are refused them.

b. What responsibility in us, to place them in such a position!

iii. Necessity of having to make restitution, founded on

a. The Natural Law, implanted in the heart.

b. The Divine Law of God: Ex. 22:5; Mt 22:21.

c. The Civil Law of nations.

d. Duty most strictly binding, where possible.

e. Duty oftentimes as difficult as it is essential, e.g., through human respect, fear of detection, etc.

iv. Ill-feeling between neighbours:

a. Men thus defrauded naturally resent the evil.

b. Ill-feeling may then spring up, which

1. May deepen into hatred, and

2. Lead to detraction, calumny, etc.

c. Thus is scandal produced.

v. Scorn and ridicule brought on Religion : for,

a. Too often “Good church-goers are bad debtpayers.”

b. Too often they run into debt for mere luxuries.

c. Too often they borrow, without prospect of being able to repay ;

d. Too often they take offence, when asked to settle accounts!

e. All this is opposed to simple honesty and truemReligion. Hence the contempt into which Religion is brought.


i. Ever show real honesty in all your dealings with others.

ii. Be thoughtful to pay your just debts within reason able time.

iii. If bound to restitution, make it at once. Conscience cannot rest till this be done. Better still

iv. Avoid the difficulty of restitution, by avoiding the cause of it.

v. All this will be easy, if we make Christian charity our guide.

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Homily on Romans 6:19-23

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 17, 2017

EPISTLE. Rom. 6: 19-23. Brethren! speak a human thing, because of the infirmity of your flesh. For as you have yielded your members to serve uncleanness and iniquity unto iniquity; so now yield your members to serve justice unto sanctification. For when you were the servants of sin, you were free from justice. What fruit therefore had you then in those things, of which you are now ashamed ? For the end of them is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end life ever lasting. For the wages of sin is death : but the grace of God, life everlasting, in Christ Jesus our Lord.


St. Paul begins the lesson of this day, which is an extract from his epistle to the Romans, in these words: Brethren, I speak a human thing, because of the infirmity of your flesh. What does the Apostle mean to say in these words ? That it is no exaggerated demand when he requires Christians to rid themselves now and for evermore of the servitude of sin and serve God, because the service of God does not impose upon them a heavier burden than the service of sin. St. Paul encourages the Christians at Rome, who had only lately abandoned Paganism with its excesses and vices to stand firm in the service of God and not to be deterred from it by imaginary difficulties. We will consider a little more closely the points touched upon by St. Paul, viz.

I. The service of justice and sin;
II. The fruits of sin;
III. The fruits of justice.


As you have yielded your members to serve uncleanness and iniquity unto iniquity, so now yield your members to serve justice unto sanctification.

1. The Gentiles, especially in the time of Christ and his Apostles, were given to all vices. The Apostle describes them as men filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, covetousness, wickedness, full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity, and says of them that they were detractors hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, with out mercy. Rom. 1:24-31. The Christians at Rome had once been such pagans, more or less sunk in vice. Having become Christians they indeed renounced the pagan abominations, and resolved to serve God in justice and holiness. But as from youth they had been accustomed to the vicious life of the Gentiles, and were only recently converted, it can easily be imagined that it
gave them much trouble to eradicate their bad habits and vices and to lead a holy Christian life. Therefore the Apostle tells them in earnest but affectionate words, that now, having become Christians, they should yield no longer to the service of sin, but serve God in justice. Consider, he means to say, that as pagans you have defiled yourselves with many sins and vices, but you must now, being Christians, lead a blameless, pure and holy life, serving God at least with as much devotion and fervor as you formerly served your idols, endeavoring to repair your former
viciousness by virtue and piety.

This admonition concerns us too. We have not grown up in Paganism, but in Christianity, we have obliged ourselves in the first hours of our life, when we received holy baptism, to renounce for ever the devil and all his works and pomps, and to dedicate ourselves to the service of God; but I do not hesitate to say there are very few among us who have been faithful to their duty ; the majority will be obliged to confess, that from their childhood to this hour they have sinned often and grievously in thought, word and deed and by the omission of many good works. Probably there are many among us who have lived not only for weeks and months but for years in sin and vice. Yes, and many of us even now live in a state of sin and, if God should call us into eternity this moment, we should be condemned to hell. How necessary then is it for all who formerly were sinners, or are still sinners, to make a firm resolution from this very hour to serve God, and to bring forth fruits worthy of penance.

2. The Apostle speaks of a yielding to serve iniquity unto iniquity, and of a yielding to serve justice unto sanctification. What does yielding to serve iniquity unto iniquity mean? It means that the state of man becomes worse the oftener he sins and the longer he remains in the state of sin. The reason is because he becomes more thoughtless ; the fear of God decreases in him more and more, sin is implanted more firmly in his heart and becomes a habit which is seldom or never forsaken, and, finally, because by the accumulation of sins and the delay of repentance he becomes more guilty before God and sinks deeper into vice, so that his conversion can hardly be hoped for. Should not a sinner seriously consider this, at once do penance and serve God with fidelity?

We may say the same of virtue; it is confirmed and brought to greater perfection by diligent and constant practice. If, for instance, we diligently practice the virtues of humility, meekness, purity, obedience, charity, we shall obtain greater facility in so doing, and they will to a certain extent become habits with us, so that we can more easily overcome the obstacles and difficulties connected with them. Therefore Christ says that his yoke is sweet and his burden light. Matt. 11:30. The more zealously we do good, the more perfect we shall become, and the greater will be our reward in heaven, for he who soweth in blessings, shall also reap blessings. 2 Cor. 9: 6.


St. Paul also speaks of the fruits of sin, when he writes: For when you were the servants of sin, you were free from justice. What fruit therefore had you then in those things, of which you are now ashamed? For the end of them is death. According to these words of the Apostle, the service of sin

1. Frees from justice. What does this mean? Man who yields himself to sin disregards God and his holy law, he renounces God and his justice, and becomes the slave of sin and of the devil. Blessed are those Christians who remain united with God and walk in the way of justice. God loves them as his children and is pleased with them; they possess sanctifying grace, that treasure which is more valuable than the world with all its treasures, because it is the price of the precious blood of Christ; all their good works and even the indifferent actions which they perform with a good intention are meritorious before God and eternal beatitude awaits them in heaven. Those who renounce God and his justice and serve sin forfeit all these graces. They deprive themselves of the love and friendship of God, lose sanctifying grace, and with it all merits previously acquired by good works, according to the prophet: If the just man turn himself away from his justice, and do iniquity … all his justices which he had done shall not be remembered Ezek. 18; 24. Neither are they able to do anything meritorious for eternal life. They will perish eternally, unless they do penance and return to God.

2. Brings shame and disgrace.

(a.) Every man, even the most abandoned, feels that sin is something abominable ; therefore, he takes good care not to do evil in public: he does it in secret and keeps it out of the sight of men as much as possible. Sin is something so base that many Christians cannot even resolve sincerely to accuse themselves of it in the confessional. They know that no forgiveness of sins is possible if they conceal a mortal sin ; they know that they commit a sacrilege and render
themselves guilty of eternal damnation; they know that God according to his infinite mercy will forgive them all sins, even the greatest, if they confess them sincerely and with a contrite heart, and yet they remain silent and dumb such a base thing is sin in their eyes. And have you never heard or read that people whose secret crimes and misdemeanors were brought to light, took away their own life in order, as they thought, to escape shame before the world?

(b.) Sin is also something disgraceful in the eyes of human society. When a wicked deed becomes known, even abandoned people confess that such an act is disgraceful. Thus, the thief, the cheat, the liar and slanderer, the drunkard, the fornicator and adulterer are everywhere in disgrace. And because worldlings and sinners know that sin is disgraceful they try to cover it, as it were, with a mantle, that its heinousness may not be seen. Thus they call pride self-respect; avarice, prudent economy ; impurity, a necessity of human nature ; injustices and frauds in business, good management. In such a way they seek to avert shame and disgrace from themselves and to appear as upright men before the world.

(c.) Zealous penitents particularly recognize and feel that sin is something disgraceful. They never think of their sins but with detestation and sorrow : they are ashamed of them, and say within themselves : Ah, my God, what a wicked sinner I was ; how disgraceful was my conduct ? Thinking of their vices and criminal excesses, they would like to hide themselves, so deep is the sense of shame with which they are penetrated. This sense of shame, however, is something very useful, for it makes us humble, preserves us from relapse into sin, animates our zeal for penance, and urges us to repair to the best of our ability the evil we have done by exercises of penance. Therefore it is right and profitable to keep the detestation of our sins always alive.

3. It draws death after it, that is, eternal death. It is an article of the faith that all who die in mortal sin will be damned for ever, and that one mortal sin is enough to damn us for ever. Christ expressly assures us that the bad shall go into everlasting punishment, and in the Apocalypse we read: the fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, they shall have their portion in the pool burning with fire and brimstone. Rev 21:8. The greatest punishment that the temporal authority can inflict upon man is death. This punishment infuses fear even into the greatest malefactors and deters him from crimes. But what is temporal death compared with eternal? This robs man not only of the temporal but also of the eternal life, the everlasting felicity of heaven; it prepares for him not only a transient terror and pain, but an eternal torment and despair in the abyss of hell. Oh, who could seriously think of this death and consent to any temptation to sin? Who could think of death and live in sin? Let us therefore frequently descend in thought into hell whilst we live, that we may not be compelled to descend into it when we die. St. Bernard.


Finally, the Apostle comes to speak of the fruits of justice, when he says : But now, being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end life ever lasting.

1. St. Paul calls holiness the first fruits of justice. This holiness consists

(a.) In freeing ourselves more and more from small faults. The lowest degree of holiness excludes all mortal sins; it is consistent with venial sins. But he that makes progress in sanctity abstains as much as possible also from venial sins, and never commits one with premeditation. Herein all the saints go before us with their example. St. Anselm and St. Thomas of Aquin repeatedly stated that they would rather burn in hell innocently, than, defiled with a venial sin, triumph in heaven.

(b.) In mortifying ourselves interiorly and exteriorly, not only in unlawful, but sometimes also in lawful things, for without such mortifications holiness can neither be preserved nor increased. Thus we read in the following of Christ: You will advance in good in proportion as you do violence to yourself that is, as you mortify yourself. St. Francis Borgia was accustomed to measure holiness by the degree of mortification. When he heard anyone praised for his piety, he used to say: If he is a mortified man, he is a saint; if he is a very mortified man, he is a great saint.

(c. ) In availing ourselves of the opportunities of doing good. Negligence in doing good is a sign that true holiness is either wanting altogether, or that it is very imperfect and in danger of being lost altogether. Truly pious, zealous Christians hunger and thirst after justice and embrace every opportunity that offers itself for exercises of virtue and good works. They love to pray; they go to mass as often as they can ; they frequently receive the sacraments, and do their fellow -men acts of kindness with a cheerful heart.

(d. ) In doing all good works as perfectly as possible. Zealous Christians who aspire to holiness do not pray in a lukewarm and distracted manner, but they endeavor to say their prayers with recollection and devotion; they listen to the word of God with attention, and resolve to regulate their life accordingly; they al ways prepare themselves well for the reception of the sacraments, sanctify all their actions by a good intention, and do everything quietly, patiently and for the love of God.

(e. ) Finally in dying to the world and living to God. Pious Christians live indeed in the world, but they do not love the world; they are solicitous for earthly things, but set not their hearts and affections on them ; they use the world as if they used it not ; they seek the things that are above and say with the Apostle (Gal. 6: 14): God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our I,ord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world. Behold herein consists holiness ; this is the fruit of justice. What a precious fruit ! How ardently should we wish for it, especially since it already renders us happy here below, for much peace have they that love thy law. Ps.

2. The last fruit of justice is everlasting life. God does not make us serve him for nothing. He rewards with everlasting life all who walk in the way of justice. Thus Christ himself declares: He that doth the will of my Father, who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. Matt. 7: 21. And again: If any man minister to me, let him follow me, and where I am, there also shall my minister be. John 12: 26. In what does this everlasting life consist, which awaits the just? It consists–

(a.) In freedom from all sufferings. “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more, for the former things are passed away.” Rev. 21:4.

(b.) In an inexpressible joy and felicity. This joy, this felicity is so great that nothing on earth can be compared with it: nay, in comparison with it all earthly joys dwindle to nothing. David says of the blessed: “They shall be inebriated with the plenty of thy house, and thou shalt make them drink of the torrent of thy pleasure.”  Ps. 35: 9. And the Apostle says: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Cor. 2: 9. The happiness of heaven," says St. Augustine, can be acquired, but not estimated; it can be merited, but not described.

(c. ) In everlasting joy and happiness. Thus we read in the Book of Wisdom 5: 16 : “The just shall live for ever more, and their reward is with the Lord, and the care of them with the Most High.” And Christ himself says of the elect, that they shall enter “into life everlasting.” Matt. 25 : 46. Thousands and millions of years may pass away, the happiness which the saints enjoy in heaven will never have an end ; like the saints themselves it will be eternal. Oh, what joy, what delight for the saints in heaven when they can say to themselves: We are now in everlasting security ; the happiness which we enjoy will last for ever and ever.


At the conclusion of the lesson for this day the Apostle repeats what will be the fruit of sin and of justice, in these words: The wages of sin is death, but the grace of God (that is, justice) life everlasting, in Christ Jesus our Lord. Here the Apostle briefly utters the truth that sin leads to death, i. e., to damnation, and justice is rewarded with everlasting happiness through the merits of Jesus Christ. Oh, let us frequently make this important truth the subject of our meditation, and serve the Lord with unchangeable fidelity in justice and holiness, that we may be found worthy to be admitted into everlasting life. Amen.


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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans 9:1-5

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 4, 2017


The Apostle, having proved in the foregoing chapters, that faith in Christ, as contradistinguished from the works of the Mosaic Law, or the law of nature, was the only means of arriving at justice and salvation, employs this and the two succeeding chapters in showing that the Jews were rejected, because, confiding too much in the external advantages and privileges they enjoyed, they refused to embrace the faith of Christ; while the Gentiles were called to justice, because they embraced this all necessary faith. Before, however, announcing the disagreeable truth regarding the rejection of the Jews, he employs the strongest and most affecting language, and calls God in the most solemn manner, to witness the intensity of his affection for the Jews, whose rejection (and this he by no means expresses, but leaves to he understood) caused him the most intense grief and sorrow of heart (1–5). He then shows, that the rejection and reprobation of the Jews from the justice of the Gospel, was not opposed to the promises of God made to Abraham; since these promises regarded the spiritual sons of Abraham, and not all his carnal descendants. This he shows from the example of Isaac, and of Jacob, the younger son of Isaac (6–14). And although the promises, to which the Apostle refers, primarily regarded temporal benedictions, still, these temporal blessings, which God bestowed on certain sons of Abraham before the others, were types of spiritual benedictions, in the disposal of which God was as free, as he had been in regard to the temporal inheritance. The argument of the Apostle, then, is, that as God had conferred the temporal inheritance of Abraham on Isaac, before all the other sons of Abraham, and on Jacob, before Esau, so is he also free in calling to the spiritual inheritance of Abraham, that is to say, to the grace of the Gospel, the Gentiles, the children of promise, in preference to the Jews, his descendants according to the flesh.
He next solves an objection, to which the preceding doctrine might give rise (14–18). And as his reply to the objection might give rise to a further difficulty regarding the justice of God in punishing sinners, he solves this difficulty also (19–24). He proves, in the next place, that God called to his Church both Jews and Gentiles (24–29); and, finally, he accounts for the vocation of the Gentiles and the rejection of the Jews.

Rom 9:1  I speak the truth in Christ: I lie not, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost:

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

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

Rom 9:2  That I have great sadness and continual sorrow in my heart.

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

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

Rom 9:3  For I wished myself to be an anathema from Christ, for my brethren: who are my kinsmen according to the flesh:

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

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

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

Rom 9:4  Who are Israelites: to whom belongeth the adoption as of children and the glory and the testament and the giving of the law and the service of God and the promises:

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

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

Rom 9:5  Whose are the fathers and of whom is Christ, according to the flesh, who is over all things, God blessed for ever. Amen. 

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

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

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

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 14

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 3, 2017

A Summary of Romans 14:1-23

 In the Roman Church there was a Jewish, as well as a larger Gentile element. The Jewish Christians there, as elsewhere, naturally retained, to a greater or less extent, their love for the Law and the Mosaic observances. It was likely, therefore, that some of these converts in Rome should carry their inherited practices and prejudices so far as to observe some of the Mosaic feasts, and so distinguish between different foods as entirely to abstain from certain meats and drinks. This some of the Gentile Christians would doubtless imitate; and thus there was danger of uncharitable divisions in the Church,—those who were given to these scrupulous and obsolete customs, and those of stronger and more enlightened consciences, who might look down upon and despise their weaker brethren, morally forcing them perhaps to act against their own conscience.

St. Paul, therefore, thought it well to treat this subject in writing to the Romans, and to urge all to abstain from unfavorable judgment of one another, leaving all judgment to God (Rom 14:1-13a). He then counsels the strong to bear with the weak, and not to do anything that could scandalize the latter (Rom 14:13b-23).

Rom 14:1. Now him that is weak in faith, take unto you: not in disputes about thoughts

The Apostle first adddresses the strong, and touches upon the principal object of possible disagreement. The strong should bear with the weak. All have not the same conscience, though all mean to do their best.

Weak in faith, i.e., he that, while firmly admitting the great principles of faith, does not fully realize their import in all matters. Such a one has imperfect knowledge, and does not understand that justification through faith in Christ has freed him from all the ceremonial observances of the Mosaic Law; hence he abstains from meat and wine, scrupulously fearing they may be unclean, having first been offered to idols. Fr. Lagrange thinks “faith” here does not mean simply conscience, otherwise there would be question of the whole moral law, and not of certain Jewish observances only. The term doubtless means the living principle of conduct.

Take unto you, i.e., admit into your company and friendship.

Not in disputes, etc., i.e., not disputing and judging about one another’s ideas of right and wrong, thus interfering with one another’s consciences, even though one is erroneous in some things.

Rom 14:2. For one believeth that he may eat all things: but he that is weak, let him eat herbs.

The principle laid down in the preceding verse is now illustrated. St. Paul is giving an example of two extreme parties.

One, i.e., the strong Christian believeth, i.e., is persuaded, convinced that he can eat any kind of food without injury to his faith or conscience; whereas he that is “weak in faith” refuses to eat meat out of fear of contamination, and satisfies himself with herbs only.

The English let him eat, etc., is a wrong rendering of the Greek indicative εσθιει (estheil), found in all the best MSS. The correct translation of the last clause of this verse is: “But he that is weak eateth (only) herbs.”

In the Vulgate se before manducare should be omitted, and manducet should be manducat.

Rom 14:3. Let not him that eateth, despise him that eateth not: and he that eateth not, let him not judge him that eateth. For God hath taken him to him

The practical application of the above principle is that the Christian with strong faith and a right conscience should not despise his brother of weaker faith and erroneous conscience; and also that the latter should not condemn the former as lax and guilty of violating the law of God, because such a judgment would be against God Himself, who hath taken him, i.e., the strong Christian, and made him His faithful servant and a member of His Church.

Rom 14:4. Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? To his own lord he standeth or falleth. And he shall stand : for God is able to make him stand.

St. Paul cautions the “weak” not to condemn the “strong,” because both are the servants of the same Christ (Rom 14:7-9), and no one has a right to judge another man’s servant: only the master is the lawful judge of his servants. All Christians, therefore, being the servants of Christ, will be judged by Christ according to their individual service, and the judgment upon them of any one else besides Christ is wrong and out of place (see below, on verse 12).

To his own lord, etc., i.e., a servant is approved or condemned by the sole judgment of his master.

And he shall stand, i.e., this strong Christian shall not fall from his faith and piety because God will provide for him.

Deus of the Vulgate should be dominus.

Rom 14:5. For one judgeth between day and day: and another judgeth every day: let every man abound in his own sense.

A second example is given to show that the actions of one Christian do not pertain to another.

One, i.e., a Jewish Christian distinguishes between different days, judging some to be more sacred than others; another, i.e., a strong Christian makes no more distinction between days than between meats, knowing that the old Mosaic observances regarding the Sabbath, the New Moon and other feasts, no longer oblige under the New Dispensation. St. Paul later on (verse 14) gives his personal advice about meats, but he does not return to the distinction of days.

Let every man abound, etc. This and the equivalent Vulgate reading, unusquisque in suo sensu abundet,—which can only mean: suo sensui dimittatur (St. Thomas),—do not conform to the Greek, which is: Let every man be certain in his own mind (Cornely), i.e., a conscience practically and morally certain is the only kind with which it is proper to act.

The Vulgate diem inter diem would better be diem plus quam diem.

Rom 14:6. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord. And he that eateth, eateth to the Lord: for he giveth thanks to God. And he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth thanks to God

The Apostle now urges mutual tolerance, because both the parties in question are prompted by the same spirit and intention of serving and pleasing God. The scrupulous Christian who regards one day as holier than another, and refrains from certain foods, does so because he feels he is thus pleasing and serving God. In like manner the strong Christian, who disregards these distinctions, is moved by his desire to do the will of God, as is evident from his giving thanks to God after the example of his Lord and Master (Matt. 15:36; 26:26).

Rom 14:7. For none of us liveth to himself; and no man dieth to himself.
Rom 14:8. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; or whether we die, we die unto the Lord. Therefore, whether we live, or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

A proof that each Christian is following his conviction and conscience in all he does is this, that each one is living, not for himself, but for his Lord. The Christian who lives up to his calling consecrates his whole life and actions, together with his death, to God. Having been purchased at a great price (1 Cor. 6:19-20), by the very blood of his Master, the true Christian knows that both in life and in death he is the property of his Lord Jesus Christ.

Rom 14:9. For to this end Christ died and rose again; that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Christ died and rose again to establish the relationship described in the preceding verses. By His death and Resurrection He acquired universal dominion over all men, He conquered death and opened the gates of life to all.

The Vulgate, mortuus est et resurrexit follows the Greek απεθανεν και ἀναζάω (died and rose). A better reading has: απεθανεν και εζησεν (died and lives again), mortuus est et revixit.

Rom 14:10. But thou, why judgest thou thy brother? or thou, why dost thou despise thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ

Since we are all servants of Christ, none of us has a right to set himself up as judge of his fellow-servant. Christ is the judge of us all.

But thou, scrupulous Christian, why do you judge and condemn as a transgressor of the Law your brother for whom you ought to have real charity? or thou, Christian of strong faith, why do you despise your weaker brother as a superstitious fellow? Both of you have usurped a right which belongs to God alone, before whose tribunal we must all appear to render an account of our works (Rom 2:6).

The best Greek MSS. have “judgment seat of God,” instead of judgment seat of Christ. To St. Paul it is all the same whether he says judgment seat of God or of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10), because Christ is also God.

Rom 14:11. For it is written: As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

The Apostle now cites a conflation of Isaiah 45:23 and Isaiah 49:18, according to the LXX, to prove that all men must appear before the judgment seat of God. The citation was probably from memory, because it is not literal. The direct meaning of the Prophet’s words is that Yahweh, the only Saviour, shall receive the homage of the whole world; however, the question of the judgment is also implied.

As I live is in the LXX, “I swear by myself,” i.e., by the life which I live. 

Every knee shall bow to me, i.e., all men shall render homage to Me as their Sovereign and Supreme Judge. 

And every tongue, etc., is in the LXX, “And every tongue shall swear by God.” The sense in either case is the same, because every lawful oath is a recognition of God’s omnipotence and supreme justice.

The flectetur of the Vulgate ought to be flectet.

Rom 14:12. Therefore every one of us shall render account to God for himself.

The general conclusion is drawn: each one shall have to give an account to God for his own life and actions. God, therefore, is the supreme Judge of all we do, and we should not rashly judge one another. This counsel is meant in particular for the weak Christian who is over solicitious for the doings of the strong.

Rom 14:13. Let us not therefore judge (κρινωμεν) one another any more. But judge this (κρινατε) rather, that you put not a stumbling block or a scandal in your brother’s way.

The preceding verses have been chiefly addressed to the “weak”; but now St. Paul, first counselling both weak and strong not to judge each other, turns his attention to the “strong” and bids them beware of scandalizing their weaker brethren.

Judge this, etc., i.e., take care that, etc. (κρινατε, used in a different sense from κρινωμεν just preceding). Various modern translations bring out the subtle difference better than the one used here. For example, the RSVCE reads: Then let us no more pass judgment (κρινωμεν) on one another, but rather decide (κρινατε) never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

Stumbling block . . . scandal, both mean an obstacle put in another’s way which can cause one to fall. The former is placed by chance, or carelessness; the latter, with deliberate intent to trap. The “strong” Christian should keep in mind the delicate conscience of the weak and avoid, as far as possible, eating meat or doing anything in the latter’s presence which would cause him to act against his own conscience, or with a doubtful conscience, and thus fall into sin.

Rom 14:14. I know, and am confident in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean of itself; but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

St. Paul here, as in 1 Cor. 8:1-6, clearly declares his own position regarding things clean and unclean. He fully approves of the doctrine of the strong Christian, and holds in theory that it is lawful to eat any kind of food; but in practice it may sometimes be necessary to abstain from certain foods out of charity to one’s neighbor (verse 15).

I know, and am confident, etc., i.e., on the authority of the teaching of Christ (Mark 7:1 ff.), or as a minister and Apostle of Christ (Rom 9:1 ; 2 Cor. 2:17; 12:19), I am certain that nothing is unclean of itself, i.e., of its own nature (δι εαυτου); or, according to another reading, “through him” (δι αυτου), namely, through Christ, who abolished the distinction between foods (St. Thomas). This was against the teaching of the Pharisees, commonly followed by the Jews, that certain meats were unclean and contaminating by their very nature. Of course if one really thinks a food is unclean, then it becomes so subjectively for him: an erroneous conscience is binding.

According to the reading of the best MSS. the Vulgate per ipsum should be per seipsum, or per se.

Rom 14:15. For if, because of thy meat, thy brother be grieved, thou walkest not now according to charity. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died

For if (ει γαρ, according to the best MSS.) probably refers back to verse 13, verse 14 being a parenthesis. If the meat which you, as one strong in the faith, are able to take, grievously offends your weaker brother, who thinks your conduct seriously wrong and is thereby unnecessarily angered, you ought to avoid it; otherwise your appetite, and not charity, rules you.

Destroy not, i.e., do not, by your example, encourage your weak brother to act against his conscience and do what he thinks to be wrong; for thereby you lead into serious sin and ruin a soul for whom Christ died (1 Cor. 8:8, 13; Matt, 18:6-7).

Rom 14:16. Let not then our good be evil spoken of.

According to the ancient opinion (St. Chrysostom and others) our good here refers to the Christian faith, or the kingdom of God in the Gospel. This meaning fits in well with the following verse and could be sustained, if the best reading were ημῶν το αγαθον (“our good”), instead of υμων το αγαθον (“your good”). Following, therefore, the better reading St. Thomas, Cornely and others understand by “our good,” or “your good,” the liberty received from Christ to eat all meats of whatever kind. Hence the Apostle’s meaning is: Let us not so use our Christian freedom that it will be misunderstood, vilified and calumniated by our weaker brethren. This liberty we have from Christ is a great blessing, but we should use it with prudence, so that it may not become an occasion of sin to those who do not understand it fully.

The nostrum of the Vulgate ought to be vestrum, and the “our” of the English ought to be “your,” according to the best Greek reading.

Rom 14:17. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but justice, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost

The kingdom of God, i.e., according to one opinion, the essence of Christianity and the Gospel (Cajetan, Maier, etc.); or, that by which God reigns in our souls: God reigns in us by justice, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost (St. Thomas, Cornely). To use or abstain from certain foods is a minor affair considered in itself, and when compared with those fundamental and essential virtues by which we are spiritually united to God. If, however, the use of any foods should imperil the spiritual life of our neighbor, the justice within us, which requires us to render to everyone his due, will demand that we abstain from such foods.

Peace is an effect of justice or sanctity.

Joy is the natural outcome of justice and peace, and the product of charity which the Holy Ghost diffuses in our hearts, moving us to seek the glory of God and the good of our neighbor.

 Rom 14:18. For he that in this serveth Christ, pleaseth God, and is approved of men.

In this, i.e., in justice, in peace, etc.

Pleaseth God, because he procures the glory of God.

Is approved of men, i.e., men do not have wherefore to find fault with him, as they do in the case of verse 16.

Rom 14:19. Therefore let us follow after the things that are of peace; and keep the things that are of edification one towards another.

This is a conclusion to the passage which began in verse 16. The best MSS. have, we follow after, etc., instead of let us follow after.

Keep is not in the best MSS., and so custodiamus of the Vulgate should be omitted.

Rom 14:20. Destroy not the work of God for meat. All things indeed are clean: but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.

The Apostle returns to the thought of Rom 14:14; but the repetition is not useless, because here he brings out the high character of the weak Christian who is imperiled by the other’s conduct: this weak Christian is the work of God who has converted and sanctified him. Although all things are clean in themselves, it is evil for the strong Christian to disregard the tender conscience of his weak brother, and, by doing in his presence what the latter thinks is wrong, to lead him, by force of example, to violate his own conscience and eat the food which he feels to be unclean.

Rom 14:21. It is good not to eat flesh, and not to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother is offended, or scandalized, or made weak.

It is good and noble on the part of the strong Christian to abstain from all those indifferent things whereby the weak may be offended, i.e., made weak in his faith or unsettled in his conscience.

Not to drink wine. Some of the Christians perhaps thought wine was unclean because “the heathen used to pour libations to their idols from the firstfruits of their wine, and offered many sacrifices at the wine-presses themselves” (St. Aug.). Cf. 1 Cor. 8:13.

Rom 14:22. Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God. Blessed is he that condemneth not himself in that which he alloweth.

The Apostle counsels the strong man to follow in private his convictions and eat anything he pleases, but to be careful when there is danger of doing harm to another. Blessed, he says, is the man of strong faith who is not tormented by doubt and scrupulosity in his actions.

Faith, i.e., a firm conviction, a clear conscience regarding the lawfulness of eating all kinds of foods.

Have it to thyself, etc., i.e., let it guide thy conduct in private.

Blessed is he that is not troubled in conscience by his own conduct or actions, i.e., blessed is he whose conscience approves his actions.

Rom 14:23. But he that discerneth, if he eat, is condemned, because not of faith. For all that is not of faith is sin.

He that discerneth, i.e., he that hesitates and acts with a doubtful conscience is condemned, i.e., is culpable and actually guilty of sin. A conscience practically and morally certain is the only rule of conduct.

All that is not of faith, etc., i.e., all that is not approved by a certain conscience is sinful; “faith” here means a good conscience.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans 6:3-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 28, 2017

This post begins with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of all of chapter 6, followed by his notes on verses 3-11. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the verses he is commenting on.


In this chapter, the Apostle answers an objection to which his doctrine in the preceding (verse 20), might give rise (1). From the very rite of baptism, he shows that we should no longer commit sin; on the contrary, we should lead a new life of grace; for the rite of immersion practised in his time in baptism, was a type of our death to sin, and the egress from the waters of baptism was a type of our spiritual resurrection, both of which were effected, as well as signified, by the sacrament of baptism; and both had the death and resurrection of Christ for models (2–9). He next shows, from the very nature of Christ’s death, which took place but once, and of his resurrection, which was the entrance to an immortal life, that we, too, after his example, should persevere in a life of grace (9–11). He exhorts to a life of sanctity (11–20). He points out the present and future fruits of a life of sin and of a life of grace.

Rom 6:3  Know you not that all we who are baptized in Christ Jesus are baptized in his death?

For that we are dead to sin, you may clearly see, by calling to mind what you already know, viz., that when we are baptized in the name and by the authority of Jesus Christ, we are baptized into the likeness and representation of his death.

He now proves that they are dead to sin, since by being “baptized in Christ Jesus,” in the Greek, εἰς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν, into Christ Jesus, i.e., by professing ourselves followers of Christ in the rite of baptism. In the Codex Vaticanus, the word “Jesus” is wanting, it simply is, “baptized unto Christ.” “Are baptized in his death”; in the Greek, εἰς τὸν θάνατον, into his death, i.e., into the likeness and representation of his death. So that his death on the cross would be represented by our death to sin, of which the baptism by immersion—the form of baptism in use in the time of the Apostle—was a significant type; and this death to sin on our part is effected by baptism, since, according to the doctrine of St. Thomas, the sacraments operate what they signify.

Rom 6:4  For we are buried together with him by baptism into death: that, as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life.

For, in order vividly to represent his death, we have been buried with him in the baptismal rite of immersion. So that as Christ has been resuscitated from the grave by the glorious operation of his Father’s power, we also, emerging from the baptismal waters, would lead a new life, as he did after his resurrection, and continue perseveringly in it.

He shows how our spiritual death to sin is signified by baptism. For, our immersion in baptism is a type of our burial, and, consequently, of our death to sin, of which his death on the cross was the model. “For we are buried together with him by baptism,” his burial, and, consequently, his death, being the model of our burial and death to sin, signified by our immersion in the waters of baptism. In all the Greek copies we have, οὖν, therefore, instead of “for.” “Into death,” to represent his death, which must precede burial. “That as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father,” i.e., by the glorious operation of the Father’s power, to enter on a new and immortal life, we too, after emerging from the waters of baptism, which is a type of our spiritual resurrection, would, like Christ, risen from the grave—our resuscitated model—enter on a new and holy life. As the death of Christ is the model of our death to sin, so is his resurrection from the tomb the model of our spiritual resurrection, and both signified by the rite of baptism, then conferred by immersion.

Rom 6:5  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.

For, if, like young shoots, we have been engrafted on him by baptism, so as to represent, by our death to sin, his death on the cross, we shall certainly, for a like reason, be engrafted also unto the likeness of his resurrection, which will be effected by our leading a new life of grace, after the model of his glorious and immortal life.

He shows why we should walk in the newness of life, or become assimilated to Christ in his resurrection; for, our assimilation to him in our spiritual death, was not to rest there. Baptism not only represented and effected our spiritual death to sin—for this was but one spiritual effect signified and caused by baptism—but it also signified and effected our resurrection to a new life, in which we are to live after the model of Christ resuscitated from the grave. Our death to sin was the precursor of our new life of grace. Hence, if we die with Christ, with much greater reason shall we rise with him. “Planted together with him,” συμφυτοι γεγοναμεν; there is allusion in these words to the grafting of young shoots on the stock of another tree: Christ is the stock of the true and faithful vine on which we must be engrafted, to die with him to sin, and to live with him to grace, as the young graft participates in all the vicissitudes of the stock on which it is inserted. The nutriment we derive from our insertion on him, will not be merely confined to our dying to sin; it is intended to produce in us the fruits of a new and spiritual life.

Rom 6:6  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin may be destroyed, to the end that we may serve sin no longer.

We should die to sin and live a new life of grace, if we consider that in baptism, our old man, i.e., the corruption of nature, which we inherited from Adam, is crucified with Christ, so that the whole mass, or body of sin consisting of different members, may be destroyed, and we may no longer serve as slaves under the tyranny of sin.

From the end of baptism he shows that we should be dead to sin, and walk in the newness of life (verse 4); for, while baptism represents the crucifixion of Christ, it also signifies and effects the crucifixion of our vices. “Our old man,” i.e., the sinfulness and corruption inherited from Adam, or rather man himself, as affected by this sinfulness. The Apostle distinguishes two men, the old and the new. The “old man was crucified” with Christ; for, in his person “who was made for us a malediction,” the entire fallen race of Adam was nailed to the cross. “That the body of sin,” i.e., the entire mass or collection of sins—the members of which collection are uncleanness, avarice, &c. (Colossians, 3). They are called a body, because as different members joined together constitute a body, so all the particular sins committed by the “old man” constitute a “body” also; in using the word body, the Apostle carries with him the idea of crucifixion, and alludes to the body of man after he fell in Adam, before he was renewed in Christ. This corrupt body was made by man the instrument of indulging his concupiscences. “May be destroyed,” by mortifying and restraining its members, “and may serve sin no longer.” “Sin” is represented as a tyrant exercising dominion over us.

Rom 6:7  For he that is dead is justified from sin.

For, as the dead slave is freed from servitude, so are we, who are dead to sin by baptism, freed from its tyranny; and hence, we should no longer serve it.

He continues to represent sin as a tyrant exercising sway—“is justified from sin?” “justified” is taken in a legal sense to signify acquitted, fully absolved, so as not to be again questioned on that account.

Rom 6:8  Now, if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall live also together with Christ.

But if we be really dead to sin with Christ, we have a firm hope and confidence, that one day we shall enjoy with Christ a glorious and immortal life.

“We believe,” i.e., we confidently hope, “we shall live together with Christ.” These words are understood by Estius to refer to our living a life of grace after the model of His glorious and immortal life. The interpretation in the Paraphrase, which makes it refer to our living with him one day a life of glory in heaven, is, however, to be preferred; for, the Apostle would appear to take occasion, from treating of the life of grace, to refer to the reward of future glory, as a means of stimulating men to the practice of virtue. The opinion of Estius, however, derives great probability from the meaning given to the words, alive unto God, verse 11, where the foregoing example is applied.

Rom 6:9  Knowing that Christ, rising again from the dead, dieth now no more. Death shall no more have dominion over him.

As we know that Christ, resuscitated from the tomb, dies no more, death has no further dominion over him he (enjoys a glorious and immortal life, free from all the ills of mortality).

These words show that Christ, now risen, shall live for ever; and hence, as we are to live with him, we are to enjoy an immortal life. The connexion is more easily seen in the interpretation of Estius: “We shall live also together with Christ,” (verse 8). But what life is that?—an unceasing, continuous life of grace; for such is its model—the life of Christ resuscitated from the tomb; or, perhaps, it might be more probably said, that this verse has no immediate connexion with the foregoing; but that in it is merely introduced a new reason for persevering in grace—founded on the mode of Christ’s death and resurrection. From the very nature, the oneness, of Christ’s resurrection, he shows our obligation to persevere in good, and not relapse again into the state of sin.

Rom 6:10  For in that he died to sin, he died once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

For, so far as his death is concerned, it took place but once for the expiation of sin, but as to his life, it is altogether employed for the glory of God.

“He died to sin, he died once,” i.e., he died one death to expiate and atone for sin. In the common Greek, the punctuation is so placed that the words “to sin” are joined to “once,” thus, “he died to sin once.” The punctuation in the Codex Vaticanusὅ γὰρ απεθανεν, τῆ αμαρτία, απεθανεν εφαπαξ,” leaves the matter doubtful. “But he liveth unto God,” i.e., solely for God’s glory; and hence, our life of grace should be devoted to the same; or, the words, “unto God,” may mean, he lived a life worthy of God, immortal and unchangeable.

Rom 6:11  So do you also reckon that you are dead to sin, but alive unto God, in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

So do you, therefore, after his example, regard yourselves as dead to sin by baptism, and gifted with an unchanging, unfading life of grace, to be wholly devoted to the promotion of God’s glory, through the grace and merits of Jesus Christ our Lord.

He applies the foregoing, and founds on it the exhortation to sanctity of life. Hence, we should regard ourselves after baptism as dead once and for ever to sin, and living, like Christ, solely for God, performing all the actions of our life solely for the end of advancing his glory.

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Father Rickaby’s Commentary on Romans 8:22-27

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 19, 2017

Text in red are my additions.

Rom 8:22  For we know that every creature groaneth and travaileth in pain, even till now.

Every creature groaneth and is in labour. It needs no commentator to point out how true these words are of every creature, πασα η κτισις, in the sense of all mankind, from the first dawn of history till now.

Rom 8:23  And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit: even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body.

It might have been thought that this heart-ache of humanity, this αποκαραδοκια, or eager looking out for absent good (v. 19); this groaning and travailing (v. 22), would have been cured by conversion to Christianity. The Apostle shows that the Gospel is not a cure, only a mitigation, and an earnest of perfect cure to come. Even to the Christian this life remains a period of groaning and waiting, but waiting for a definite and assured good,

Rom 8:24  For we are saved by hope. But hope that is seen is not hope. For what a man seeth, why doth he hope for?

We are saved by hope, i.e. our salvation is in hope, not yet consummated, spe, non re (hope, not reality), as St. Augustine often says.

What a man seeth, why doth he hope for? is hardly English. Render: What doth a man hope for, that he seeth? A better reading however is the reading of the Vatican manuscript: ο γαρ βλεπει τις ελπιζει; who hopeth for what he seeth?

Rom 8:25  But if we hope for that which we see not, we wait for it with patience.

Father Rickaby offers no comment on this verse.

Rom 8:26  Likewise, the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. For, we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings,

As we ought, as the context shows, refers not to the manner but to the matter of our prayer. Only in general do we know what is good for us: in particular we are often mistaken in our petitions, as was St. Paul himself on a notable occasion, 2 Cor. 12:8-9.

The Spirit himself (i.e. of Himself, preventing us with His gratuitous grace) asketh for us with unspeakable groanings. What is asketh for us but maketh us ask? To ask with groanings is a sure sign of need, but it is impious
to suppose the Holy Spirit to be in need of anything. But the word asketh means that He makes us ask, and breathes upon us the impulse of asking and groaning, according to the text (Matt. 10:20): “It is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you” (St. Augustine).

Unspeakable (or unuttered) groanings. A parent, himself an uneducated man, brings his boy to school, and says to the schoolmaster: I want you to make this boy a scholar : prepare him for the University. Thus the end is laid down in genera: but of the particular course of studies to be pursued, the parent knows nothing: all these details he leaves to the schoolmaster. Such details are by him unuttered, and even unutterable and unspeakable, because of his ignorance. So, moved strongly by the Holy Ghost, we desire and groan for salvation: but the detail of means that will lead to our individual salvation is, on many points, beyond our knowledge. Our groanings then, in respect of these particular means, are unuttered and unspeakable, because of our ignorance of detail.

Rom 8:27  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what the Spirit desireth: because he asketh for the saints according to God.

He that searcheth hearts (God, Psalm 7:10; Rev 2:23), knoweth what the Spirit desireth, i.e. under stands the full meaning of the petitions which the Holy Ghost prompts us to make, though we understand our own requests only in the vague, or even positively misunderstand them. One may think of a loyal-hearted man, who hates Catholics, praying that he may find the true way to salvation, or of a child praying to be a priest.

He asketh for the saints, i.e. moves the saints to ask for themselves. Saints here (as in 1 Cor. 1:2, &c.) means all true followers of Christ.

According to God, things which lie within God’s purpose to grant us in order to our salvation. Such things the Holy Spirit moves us to pray for; and such prayers are always heard (Matt. 7:7-8 ; John 14:13-14; 1 John 5:14-15). When we pray for those things, we pray as we ought (v. 26). See St. Thomas, 2a 2ae, q. 83, art. 15, ad 2 (Aquinas Ethicus, vol. ii. p. 128).

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Father Boylan’s Commentary on Romans 8:22-27

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 19, 2017

Some may find the following commentary rather difficult because Fr. Boylan was writing for those with a working knowledge of Greek. I have translated and defined the Greek words in an attempt to aid the reader. Text in red or are my additions. I’ve employed text in green to help the reader identify Greek prefixes here these are important for Fr. Boylan’s comments.

Rom 8:22  For we know that every creature groaneth and travaileth in pain, even till now.

οιδαμεν γαρ (“for we know”) etc. : All Christians would know the doctrine, of the Fall and what it implied: they would also know how the disorder induced by the Fall was ultimately to be overcome (Acts 3:21; 2 Pet 3:12 f .). What the faithful knew from Christian teaching they can observe with their own senses. Nature sighs and groans because of the slavery of corruption. Even up to the present moment all nature joins in a chorus of groaning. All nature writhes in pain (συνωδινει = groaneth) in pain like the pangs of childbirth.  The συν in συστεναζει (“groaneth”) and συνωδινει (“travaileth in pain”) emphasises the universality of the sorrows which nature endures: all nature groans and suffers pangs together.

The groaning and suffering of all nature continue, αχρι του νυν (“even till now”) even into the Christian period: with the Parousia the complete renewal of nature will begin. Parousia, literally, “presence.” The word is used for the return of Christ, the second coming. See 1 Thess 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess 2:1, 8.

Rom 8:23  And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit: even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body.

Paul now passes on to another reason for the certainty of our future glory.

Not merely irrational creatures, but we men also, look with painfully eager longing for the full glory of the sons of God. We groan also in the depths of our spirits ( εν εαυτοις) even we (read, και αυτοι [“even we”], or και ημεις αυτοι [“even we ourselves”]) though (or, because) we possess the Holy Spirit, as the first fruits (απαρχην) of the divine Sonship. We possess the first fruits which are the Holy Spirit (appositional Genitive): that is, the grace which we possess through Baptism is a prelude to, and a pledge of, glory. The “first-fruits ” are not thought of as a first installment of a glory to be more fully received; but the Holy Spirit is a pledge and guarantee of glory. Cf. the αρραβωνα του πνευματο (“pledge of the spirit”) in 2 Cor 1:22; 2 Cor 5:5; Eph 1:14.

The και αυτοι (“even we”) are not the Apostles merely, but all the regenerate, as distinguished from the κτίσις (“creatures,” “creation”) of vv. 19-22.

εχοντες (translated above as “who have”) can be rendered “although we possess” (concessive), or “because we possess”: the causal rendering would put emphasis on απεκδεχομενοι (“waiting for”). Most recent interpreters prefer the causal rendering because of the context (e.g., verses 15-17). Also, the causal rendering fits better with the description of the Spirit as a “pledge” (or downpayment)” in 2 Cor 1:22; 5:5; Eph 1:14. Finally there is the link between the Spirit and the coming hope of the end time blessings (Gal 5:5; 1 Cor 2:9-10).

The υιοθεσιαν (“adoption of the sons”) which is looked for, is the full and secure possession of divine Sonship. The faithful will attain to this when they rise from the dead, and their bodies are glorified. This is implied in “redemption of our body.” Aquinas says: Incohata est hujusmodi adoptio per Spiritum Sanctum justificantem animam . . . consummabitur autem per ipsius corporis glorificationem. . . . Ut sicut spiritus noster redemptus est a peccato, ita corpus nostrum redimatur a corruptione et morte (From Aquinas fifth lecture on Romans 8. The passage reads fully: “This adoption was begun by the Holy Spirit Justifying the soul: you have received the spirit of adoption of sons [Rom 8:15]. And it will be brought to fulfillment when the body is glorified: We glory in the hope of the glory of the sons of God [Rom 5:2]. And this is why Paul adds the redemption of our body here. For as our spirit has been redeemed from sin, so too our bodies will be redeemed from decay and death). (Cf. Phil 3:21; 1 Cor 15:51; 2 Cor 5:2 ff.). The πολυτρωσιν του σωματος (“redemption of our bodies”), not mean “redemption from the body” as if the body were something essentially evil. Such an idea is definitely out of harmony with Pauline teaching. At present the Spirit is life, and the body is dead, but when the uiodeaicc is perfect, the body also will be released from mutability: it also will be glorified. Hence we, looking forward to this glorification of our bodies, join in the chorus of nature’s sighing.

Rom 8:24  For we are saved by hope. But hope that is seen is not hope. For what a man seeth, why doth he hope for?
Rom 8:25  But if we hope for that which we see not, we wait for it with patience.

τη γαρ ελπιδι εσωθημεν, etc.  (for we are saved by hope): The  τη ελπιδι may mean, (a) for hope (dative of advantage), (b) through hope (instrumental dative), (c) as to hope i.e. (dativus modi], in hoping fashion.

Gut. accepts (a) and explains “for this hope” i.e., the glorification of our bodies is a “hope” in the sense of an object of hope; and for this object of hope, or unto the attainment of this object of hope, we have become participant in salvation through faith and baptism. As, according to Paul, we are saved by faith, not by hope, (b) is not in the spirit of Pauline teaching. Bard, and Lagrange accept (c): we are already redeemed and justified and, in so far, saved; but we still hope for redemption, since the body still looks for redemption. The sense is then, that we are saved in a hoping fashion but not yet fully in reality.

A thing that is hoped for must still be absent and invisible. If a thing is present and fully visible, it cannot be an object of hope: a “visible object of hope” is not a genuine object of hope!

The reading of the clause ο γαρ βλεπει τις ελπιζει (For what a man seeth, why doth he hope for) is uncertain.  At this point, Father Boylan gives several variant readings in the Greek manuscripts, but these need not detain us here since The sense of all the readings is substantially the same. What need has a man still to expect what he directly beholds? Spes est expeclatio futuri (“Hope is the expectation of something future,” Aquinas), and that which is immediately present and visible, is not futurum.

But the Christian does not behold the glory which is prepared for him. It is in the future. Hope, steadfast and patient, is an essential feature of the Christian life. The confident, patient hope of final glory is itself a guarantee of attaining that glory; and nothing, therefore, should be permitted to lessen the dogged steadfastness of our Christian hope.

Rom 8:26  Likewise, the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. For, we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings,

ωσαυτως (likewise), etc.: As we sigh together with irrational nature, so does the indwelling Holy Spirit help our weakness by helping us in our prayers, and sighing with us for the glory which is to come.

In the patient hopeful waiting, and longing of the Christ an life the Holy Spirit, Whom we have received as “firstfruits,” or “pledge” of salvation, graciously comes to the help of our weakness. Often in times of trouble we do not rightly know what God would have us ask for in prayer, or how He would have us to pray. As Aquinas says: In
generali quidem possumus scire quid convenienter oremus, sed in speciali hoc non possumus scire (we can know in a general way what it is suitable to pray for, but we cannot know this in particular). In this uncertainty as to how or what precisely we ought to pray, the Holy Spirit Himself (αυτο το πνευμα), Who dwells in us, comes to our help, and prays with us, and through us, by inspiring us with unutterable sighings. In nobis gemit (Spiritus Sanctus)
quia nos gemere facit (in us He [the Holy Spirit] groans because He makes us to groan. Augustine). Every due and suitable prayer that we utter in the abnormal seasons referred to, is produced in us by the Holy Spirit. Paul is obviously not speaking here of ordinary prayer, but of extraordinary and unusual prayer of mystic prayer, apparently, of which it can be said (as of the name written on the stone in Rev 2:17) ο ουδεις εγνω ει μη ο λαμβανων (no man knoweth but he that receiveth it). With this gift of mystic or ecstatic prayer should be compared the charism
of tongues.

The υπερ (on behalf of, for the sake of) in the word υπερεντυγχανει (asketh for us) implies that the Holy Spirit prays in our stead.  The sighings which He evokes in us are “unspeakable” because we cannot put them into clear words. But they are, nevertheless, in effect, prayers pleasing to God.

Rom 8:27  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what the Spirit desireth: because he asketh for the saints according to God. 

The “unspeakable groans” are fully understood by God because He is the “Searcher of hearts” (Ps 7:10; Jer 18:1; etc.) The Searcher of hearts knows (with approval) what the Holy Spirit has in view the φρονημα του πνευματος (the intentions of the Spirit, translated above as “what the Spirit desires”). Men’s hearts are often unintelligible to the men themselves, but not to God; He sees them through and through, for παντα δε γυμνα και τετραχηλισμενα τοις οφθαλμοις αυτου (all things are naked and open to his eyes, Heb. 4:13).

God and the Holy Spirit are one in nature, and hence God must know the purpose of the Holy Spirit when He prays in and through us. Furthermore, it is clear that the Holy Spirit can only pray “for the Saints” according to God’s designs and wishes (κατα θεον = “according to the will of God”).

The “Saints” are those who are in sanctifying grace, and who, therefore, enjoy the indwelling of the Spirit. The object of the sighing which the Holy Spirit evokes is “redemption of the body” (v. 23), heavenly glory (cf. 2 Cor. 5:2 ff.), union with Christ (Phil. 1:23).

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans 8:18-27

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 19, 2017

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s analysis of Romans chapter 8, followed by his comments on verses 18-25. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the scripture passage he is commenting on. Text in red, if any, are my additions.


In this chapter, after inferring from the foregoing that the baptized have nothing deserving of damnation, except so far as they consent to the motions of concupiscence (verse 1), the Apostle tells us that we are rescued from the dominion of concupiscence by the grace of the Gospel (Rom 8:2-4.) He shows the different motions and effects of the flesh and of the spirit (Rom 8:4–9). He exhorts us to live according to the spirit, and points out the spiritual and eternal life of both soul and body, resulting from such a course (Rom 8:9–11). He next exhorts us to follow the dictates of the spirit, and to mortify the deeds of the flesh, in order to escape death and obtain life (Rom 8:12-13)—to act up to our calling as sons of God, and to conform to the spirit of charity and love, which we received, unlike to that of the Jews of old, and by thus acting as sons of God, to secure the Heavenly inheritance, which we shall certainly obtain, on condition, however, of suffering (Rom 8:13–17). Lest this condition should dishearten them, he points out the greatness of God’s inheritance,—so great indeed is it, that he personifies inanimate creatures, and represents them as groaning for this glorious consummation. The very Christians themselves, although in the infancy of the Church, they received the sweet pledge of future glory in the choice gifts of the Holy Ghost, were sighing for it (Rom 8:17–24). The Holy Ghost, besides the assurance he gave them of being sons of God, was also relieving their necessities and prompting them to pray with ineffable ardour of spirit (Rom 8:26-27). The Apostle encourages them to patient suffering by pointing out to them that they were predestined for these sufferings as the means of their sanctification and future glorification (Rom 8:28–30), and, finally, he excites them to confidence in God (Rom 8:31–38).

Rom 8:22  For we know that every creature groaneth and travaileth in pain, even till now.

22. He expresses, in the strongest form, the desire of inanimate nature to be rescued from corruption, by comparing it with the anxious desire, for a happy delivery, of a woman enduring the painful throes of childbirth.

He expresses, in the strongest form, the desire of inanimate nature to be rescued from corruption, by comparing it with the anxious desire, for a happy delivery, of a woman enduring the painful throes of childbirth.

Rom 8:23  And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit: even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body.

23. “But ourselves also,” is referred by some to the Apostle. It more probably, however, has reference to all Christians in the days of the Apostle. “Who have the first fruits of the spirit,” i.e., who have received the gifts of the Holy Ghost, sanctifying grace, faith, hope, &c., and the other gifts which were abundantly conferred in the primitive Church, and which were so many pledges of future glory. “Waiting for the adoption of the sons of God,” i.e., their perfect, consummate adoption, by receiving the glorious inheritance. We have already received the imperfect, incomplete adoption by grace. “The redemption of our body.” This is the perfect state of our adoption in our resurrection and glorification. “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”—(chap. 7 verse 24).

“But ourselves also,” is referred by some to the Apostle. It more probably, however, has reference to all Christians in the days of the Apostle. “Who have the first fruits of the spirit,” i.e., who have received the gifts of the Holy Ghost, sanctifying grace, faith, hope, &c., and the other gifts which were abundantly conferred in the primitive Church, and which were so many pledges of future glory. “Waiting for the adoption of the sons of God,” i.e., their perfect, consummate adoption, by receiving the glorious inheritance. We have already received the imperfect, incomplete adoption by grace. “The redemption of our body.” This is the perfect state of our adoption in our resurrection and glorification. “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”—(Rom 7:24).

Rom 8:24  For we are saved by hope. But hope that is seen is not hope. For what a man seeth, why doth he hope for?

We are only in a state of expectancy; for, we have here only obtained the salvation of hope. Now, hope is incompatible with actual fruition; it must cease to be hope when we enter on the fruition of the object hoped for; since, who ever made the things which he enjoys the object of his hope.

The Apostle, in the preceding verse, said, that we are anxiously expecting the glory of the blessed, the liberation of our body from the slavery of corruption. The connexion of this verse with it is, “I said we were expecting,” &c., for, that we are yet only expecting is clear from the fact, that it is only the initial salvation by hope we enjoy here below. Now, hope and fruition are perfectly incompatible; for, hope has reference to future, but not to present good or actual possession. “Hope that is seen,” means hope, the object of which is obtained.

Rom 8:25  But if we hope for that which we see not, we wait for it with patience.

If, then, we have not the things we are anxiously hoping for, we are only to wait and expect them by patiently enduring the evils of this life.

If hope excludes actual possession of the thing hoped for, we ought to wait with patience for the object which must be at a distance. “Patience,” in the Greek, ῦπομονῆς, means, the patient suffering of evils; it has reference to the words, verse 17, “yet so if we suffer with him.” As we have not yet attained the objects of hope, viz., the inheritance of the sons of God, we must wait to receive them through the patient suffering of the crosses and evils of this life.

Rom 8:26  Likewise, the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. For, we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings,

And not only have we received from the Holy Ghost the many favours referred to, particularly the testimony, that we are sons of God; but the same Spirit helps in sustaining our many infirmities, which are so great, that far from being able to perform good works, we even know not what to pray for, or how to pray, as we ought, and He Himself inspires us to pray with groans, that is to say, with a degree of spiritual fervour and strength, that cannot be fully expressed, or, with a fervour to ourselves inexplicable.

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth.” This is more probably connected with verse 16, as in Paraphrase. The Holy Ghost “helpeth,” the Greek word, συναντιλαμβανεται, means to lay hold of a weight, on the opposite side, so as to help in carrying it. It implies the free concurrence of man with the aid of the Holy Ghost. “Our infirmity.” (in the common Greek, ἀσθενείαις ἡμῶν, our infirmities. The Vulgate, ἀσθενείᾳ, is supported by the chief MSS.) “For, we know not what we should pray for,” &c. So great is our weakness, that we know not how to pray as we ought, or what to pray for, much less to perform actions, the aid for which must be derived from prayer. The Apostle instances our inability to pray, as one out of the many cases of infirmity under which we labour. “But the Spirit himself,” which evidently refers to the Holy Ghost, “asketh for us, with unspeakable groanings;” “he asketh” by inspiring and making us to ask; and hence he is said “to ask,” because his grace is the principal agent, assisted by our free will, in making us pray “with ineffable groanings,” i.e., with a fervour of spirit which cannot be fully expressed, or, which is even to ourselves unaccountable. The Holy Ghost, then, asks along with us, and through us, by enlightening us, by exciting us as his members, to pray with an ardour and vehemence which we can neither fully express nor account for; hence it is said elsewhere, “non vos estis qui loquimini sed spiritus patris vestri,” &c.—(Matt. 10:20.) “Misit spiritum … clamantem, abba pater.”—(Gal. 4:6).

Rom 8:27  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what the Spirit desireth: because he asketh for the saints according to God.

But although these groans which we send forth under the influence of God’s Spirit, be to us inexplicable, still God, the searcher of hearts, attends to them, and approves of them, because the Holy Ghost asks things, and asks them in a manner conformable to the will of God, when supplying the defect in the prayers of his saints.

But though these groans be to us inexplicable, still, God knows and fully approves of them, because they proceed from his Spirit, whose prayers for us, i.e., to supply our deficiency, are always according to God’s will, “because he asketh for the saints,” i.e., in order to supply the deficiency in the prayers of the saints. Others connect the words thus: The Spirit also, as well as the hope of future bliss, sustains us in all our distresses and weakness.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 16

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 6, 2016

A Summary of Romans 16:1-16

That Phoebe, a deaconess of the community at Cenchrae, was the bearer of this letter to the Eternal City has been commonly believed by both ancient and modern interpreters, and is attested to by the subscriptions of many codices, Greek, Latin, Syriac and Coptic. Entrusting her with the care of this momentous Epistle, St. Paul considers Phoebe worthy of commendation to the Roman faithful for two reasons: first, because she is their, as well as his “sister,” that is, a Christian; and secondly, because of her kindly offices and helpfulness to many, including himself. After this follow special greetings to a number of converts and close friends of the Apostle.

Rom 16:1. And I commend to you Phebe, our sister, who is in the ministry of the church, that is in Cenchrae:

I commend, i.e., I introduce to you Phebe, the bearer of this letter.

Who is in the ministry, etc. This is the only place in the New Testament where it is said that a woman exercised the office of  διακονον (diakonon), deaconess; 1 Tim. 3:11 cannot be taken in the same sense (Lagrange). Another proof, however, of the existence of deaconesses in the primitive Church is found in Pliny the Younger (Ep. x. 96. 8): Necessarium credidi ex ducbus ancillis, quae ministrae dicebantur (“Accordingly, I judged it all the more necessary to find out what the truth was by torturing two female slaves who were called deaconesses.”), etc. The duties of deaconesses in the early Church were chiefly: (a) to assist at female Baptisms, which were by immersion; (b) to help in the care of the poor and the sick; (c) to instruct female catechumens in their homes. It is certain that these devout women took no part in preaching, or in the discharge of liturgical functions (1 Tim 2:12).

Cenchrae, a small town, a port of Corinth, on the Aegean Sea.

Rom 16:2. That you receive her in the Lord as becometh saints; and that you assist her in whatsoever business she shall have need of you. For she also hath assisted many, and myself also.

In the Lord, i.e., out of love for the Lord, as becometh the saints, i.e., in a manner worthy of Christians who are all members of the same body, whose head is Christ, and who are therefore bound by the same bonds of charity.

That you assist her, etc. This shows that Phoebe had much other business of her own to attend to in Rome. By applying the term προστατις (= prostatis) to Phoebe, St. Paul does not mean the word to be taken in its official and technical sense, as patron or representative; he wishes only to say that she was of great assistance to himself and to the faithful in looking after their needs. Some insist on seeing 1-2 as indicating that Phoebe held an ordained ministry. Context is important here. St Paul has just been speaking of his plans to travel to Jerusalem to fulfill his “serving” (diakonon) of the saints there (Rom 15:25). In Rom 15:31 he describes it as a “ministry” (diakonia) he hopes the Christians in Jerusalem will find “acceptable” (eusprodektos).  Diakonia in the sense St Paul has just been using it (serving by giving financial aid) is also used in 2 Cor 8:4, 9:1; 12-13. It was a voluntary service any Christian could engage in, not an ordained ministry in the sense in which diakonon is used today (“deacon”), or as the word is used in passages such as 1 Tim 3:8, 12. It appears that Phoebe served as a “prostasis” by rendering financial or other aid to “many,” including St Paul, and so he asks that the Romans “assist her” (parastete = render assistance).

Rom 16:3. Salute Prisca and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus,
Rom 16:4. (Who have for my life laid down their own necks: to whom not I
only give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles,)
Rom 16:5. And the church which is in their house. Salute Epenetus, my beloved:
who is the firstfruits of Asia in Christ.

Prisca and Aquila. Prisca, the wife of Aquila, was most likely of Jewish origin ; she is the same person as Priscilla of Acts 18:2, 18. Aquila was by birth a Jew of Pontus; his Latin cognomen probably came from his own, or his ancestors’ association with a Roman family. Both Aquila and Prisca were perhaps converted to the faith in Rome by St. Peter. St. Paul first met them in Corinth on his first visit there. They had lately come from Rome, having been driven from the Eternal City with other Jews and Christians by the edict of Claudius. Accompanying the Apostle to Ephesus they remained in that city and established a church in their house, while St. Paul went on his way to Jerusalem. They were there still, or again, when the first letter to the Corinthians was written (1 Cor. 16:19); later, when this present letter was written, as we see, they were in Rome; and some years later still they were again at Ephesus (2 Tim. 4:19).

The authenticity of this present passage has been questioned on account of the frequent change of abode on the part of Aquila and Prisca. But the following considerations will clear away the difficulty: (a) It was common among the Jews of this time often to change their home; (b) it is clear from this passage, from 1 Cor. 16:19, and from Acts 28:26, that Aquila and Prisca were engaged in propagating the Gospel; (c) it was only natural that they should wish to return to Rome to prepare for the Apostle’s advent there (Acts 19:21), and after his release from prison they would wish again to visit the faithful of Asia. They probably died at Ephesus some time after the writing of the Second Epistle to Timothy.

Since Aquila and Prisca, when at Ephesus the first time, knew of the Apostle’s intended Roman visit (Acts 19:21), and in all probability returned there to arrange for his coming, it is most reasonable to suppose that they communicated with him from Rome, giving him such information about friends and conditions there as would explain the list of salutations that follows here, and which also perhaps influenced in some measure the whole character of the present Epistle.

Who have for my life, etc., i.e., to save my life, etc. What were the sufferings here alluded to we do not know. That Aquila and Prisca, however, exposed their own lives to danger in order to save the Apostle is clear from this verse. The reference is doubtless to some such events as are spoken of in Acts 18:12 ff.; 19:23 ff.; 1 Cor. 15:23; 2 Cor. 11:26.

But also all the churches of the Gentiles, etc., whose members had been so much assisted by Aquila and Prisca at Corinth, at Ephesus, and at Rome.

The church which is in their house. The Apostle sends his salutations to those Christians who were accustomed to assemble in the house of Aquila and Prisca in Rome. This phrase seems to indicate that St. Paul had heard from Aquila and Prisca after their return to Rome. The faithful, in the early days of the Church, not having special buildings for the celebration of the divine mysteries, were accustomed to assemble in private houses, and there assist at the Holy Sacrifice, receive Holy Communion, listen to sermons and instructions, etc. (Acts 12:12; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Philem. 2). Doubtless there were many such houses of worship in Rome and in other large cities.

There should be no parentheses enclosing verse 4.

Epenetus, who was a Gentile Christian, was probably converted at Ephesus by Aquila and Prisca and went with them to Rome.

The firstfruits of Asia, i.e., the first person, or among the first persons converted in the Roman Province of Asia, which had Ephesus for its capital, just as Stephanas, baptized by St. Paul himself, was among the firstfruits of Achaia (1 Cor. 16:15).

Rom 16:6. Salute Mary, who hath laboured much among you.

Mary was doubtless a Christian of Jewish origin, if the reading μαριαμ (Mariam = Miriam) is correct; but if we read with Soden μαριαν (Marian), the name may be either Jewish or Roman.

Among you. This phrase is read εις ημας εν υμας, and εις υμας in various MSS.; but the last reading, found in the best MSS., is to be preferred. What were the great services rendered to the Church of Rome by this pious lady we do not know. Basically, εις ημας εν υμας would indicate that Mary has labored for the sake of St Paul and his missionaries; εις υμας indicates that she has labored for the sake of the the epistle’s recipients.

The in vobis of the Vulgate should be in vos.

Rom 16:7. Salute Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and fellow prisoners: who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

Andronicus, a Greek name often used by Jews.

Junias. The Greek ιουνιαν is probably the accusative of ιουνια, and thus, being feminine, would signify the wife or sister of Andronicus. It is also possible, however, that we have here an abbreviation of the masculine ιουνιανος, Junianus in Latin, which would mean a man.

My kinsmen, i.e., descendants from St. Paul’s own tribe of Benjamin. It is unlikely that “kinsmen” here means merely Jews, because this appellation is not applied to Aquila and Prisca, who were also Jews. We do not know when Andronicus and Junias were fellow prisoners with St. Paul.

Of note among the apostles, i.e., distinguished, esteemed among the Apostles, or by the Apostles (Cornely, Zahn), as having been converted to the faith before St. Paul, and consecrated to the work of the Apostles. They were not, however, Apostles in the strict sense of the term.

The Vulgate nobiles in apostolis=nobiles inter praedicatores, or
rather, apostolos (St. Thomas, Lagr.).

Rom 16:8. Salute Ampliatus, most beloved to me in the Lord.

Ampliatus is a Latin name found in inscriptions of the imperial household. In a chamber in the cemetery of Domitilla, one of the first of the Christian catacombs in Rome, there are two inscriptions, one of which contains in bold letters Ampliati, the other Aurel. Ampliatus; the first goes back to the end of the first or the beginning of the second century, and the other belongs to the end of the second century. It seems very probable that this is the Ampliatus of whom St. Paul here speaks. That he should have been buried in a richly painted tomb in Domitilla seems to show that he was very prominent among the early Roman Christians and dear to St. Paul by reason of his many virtues and great services.

The Vulgate dilectissimum should be dilectum. The word most before beloved in English should be omitted.

Rom 16:9. Salute Urbanus, our helper in Christ Jesus, and Stachys, my beloved.

Urbanus. A Roman name, common among slaves and frequently found in Latin inscriptions. St. Paul speaks of him as our helper, showing that he was a helper of the Roman Christians, rather than a personal friend of his own.

Stachys, a Greek name, but found in inscriptions of the imperial household. According to tradition St. Andrew made Stachys first Bishop of Byzantium.

Jesus (Vulg., Jesu) is not in the Greek.

Rom 16:10. Salute Apelles, approved in Christ.

Apelles, a Greek name that passed into Latin under the form Apella, then Apelles. Cf. Horace, Sat. I. v. 100. It was also borne by Jews. Apelles was an approved Christian.

Rom 16:11. Salute them that are of Aristobulus’ household. Salute Herodian, my kinsman. Salute them that are of Narcissus’ household, who are in the Lord.

Them that are of Aristobulus’ household, i.e., the servants, or Christian slaves of Aristobulus. Perhaps Aristobulus was not himself a Christian, or was already dead. There is probably question here of Aristobulus, brother of Herod Agrippa I, who lived a long time in Rome and was a friend of the Emperor Claudius (Josephus, Bell. Jud. II. 11. 6; Antiq. xx. 1. 2).

Herodian, perhaps a slave pertaining to the household of Aristobulus,
and through the latter, connected in some way with the
Herod family.

Narcissus, a Greek name, probably the famous freedman of Claudius (Tacit., Ann xi. 29 ff.), put to death by order of Agrippina during the first year of Nero. His slaves became the property of the Emperor, but continued to be called Narcissiani, or of the household of Narcissus.

Who are in the Lord, i.e., who are Christians.

Rom 16:12. Salute Tryphsena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute Persis, the dearly beloved, who hath much laboured in the Lord.

Tryphaena and Tryphosa are Greek names, belonging perhaps to two sisters, or to a mother and daughter. They were probably deaconesses, who gave their lives to the service of the Church in Rome. These two names are found in Latin inscriptions.

Persis, a Greek slave name. St. Paul speaks of Persis as of a personal acquaintance; the use of the past tense, hath laboured, would indicate that his labors for the Church were over and that the faithful servant had gone to his reward.

Rom 16:13. Salute Rufus, elect in the Lord, and his mother and mine.

Rufus was probably the son of Simon the Cyrenian, and brother of Alexander (Mark 15:21). Rufus was therefore from the Orient, and his mother had long been known to St. Paul; perhaps she had been of some special helpfulness to the Apostle in his youth when studying in the school of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), and hence he speaks of her with affection and gratitude. St. Mark, who wrote his Gospel for the Romans, speaks of Alexander and Rufus as persons well known to the Christians there.

Rom 16:14. Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hennas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren that are with them.

The five persons here mentioned, together with their brethren not so well known, perhaps formed a distinct group among the Roman Christians. They all have slave names, some of which are found in inscriptions among the imperial household. 

Hermas is not to be confounded with the author of the book called Pastor, written in the second century.

Rom 16: 15. Salute Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympias; and all the saints that are with them.

We have here another group of five persons bearing slave names, with the members of their domestic church, who doubtless constituted one more distinct Christian centre among the Romans.

Philologus was probably the husband of Julia, and Nereus and his sister were their children.

Rom 16:16. Salute one another with an holy kiss. All the churches of Christ salute you.

Having enumerated the various persons to whom he wished his personal greetings to be conveyed, St. Paul bids all the Christians at Rome to salute one another in his name with a holy kiss. The Christians, after the manner of the Jews before them (Matt. 26:48; Luke 7:45; 22:48), were accustomed to greet one another with a kiss as a sign of charity; this custom became with the Christians a liturgical ceremony expressive of the unity and charity that prevailed among them, and was practiced especially at their religious reunions after the celebration of the divine mysteries (St. Justin, Apol. i. 65; Tertull., De Orat. 18; Const. Apost. ii. 57; etc.).

All the churches of Christ, etc. St. Paul is speaking in the name of all the Churches, perhaps because there were present with him as he wrote representatives of many, if not all, of the other Christian communities, and also because the Church of Rome was an object of special veneration to all the rest.

A Summary of Romans 16:17-20

This section causes a somewhat serious difficulty. It is indeed surprising to find placed between St. Paul’s personal greetings and those of his companions a section warning against the sowers of discord, the Judaizers. The interruption appears unnatural and strange. It will not do to say that the passage is out of place, since it is uniformly found here in all MSS. Certain critics, like Lipsius and Kuhl, have regarded this warning against agitators as contrary to the tone of the whole Epistle, which everywhere else supposes unusual unity and concord, and they have therefore regarded the passage as unauthentic. The following may be said in reply: (a) St. Paul is not warning against an actual existing situation among the Roman Christians, but is putting them on their guard against a possible future peril. Having just spoken of the greetings of “all the churches” he suddenly recalled to mind the trouble he had encountered almost everywhere with disturbing Judaizers, and he at once inserted this section of warning to the Romans (Cornely, Zahn, etc.); or (b) St. Paul had knowledge that the Judaizers were already beginning their evil work in Rome, although the Christian community as such was not yet seriously troubled by them, or even aware of the danger among them. While he feels that the Romans will not allow themselves to be deceived, he does not hesitate to lay bare the peril with all his usual vigor. The Apostle has outlined his teaching to the Romans, and now at the end of his Letter, otherwise calm and speculative, he wisely cautions against adversaries who are already seeking to gain the confidence of his readers (Lagrange). (c) This abrupt change of tone and subject here is not more strange than that of 1 Cor. 16:21 ff. (Julicher), and is quite in keeping with the Apostle’s vigorous and impulsive spirit.

Rom 16:17. Now I beseech you, brethren, to mark them who make dissensions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them.

Now, etc. It is only natural and in keeping with his practice elsewhere (Phil 3:17 ff.), that St. Paul, after directing who should be greeted in his name, should now point to those against whom the Christians of Rome ought ever to be on their guard, namely, the Judaizers (Gal. 1:6; 5:20; 2 Cor. 10:7 ff.; 11:12 ff., etc.).

To mark, etc., i.e., carefully to watch those Judaizers who had before caused so much trouble, and who were always and everywhere opposing the Gospel preached by St. Paul. From these facts and from the words, the doctrine which you have learned, it is plain that the Gospel of Paul was also that of the Romans.

Rom 16:18. For they that are such, serve not Christ our Lord, but their own belly; and by pleasing speeches and good words, seduce the hearts of the innocent.

Those Judaizers who try to undo the work of St. Paul are naturally not serving Christ, but themselves and their own selfish aims. They prefer the Law to Christ; and while pretending to shoulder all the burdens of the Law, they are guilty of gluttony and self-indulgence (2 Cor. 11:20; Tit. 1:10; Phil 3:2), and make use of pleasing words only to deceive the simple and the guileless.

Rom 16:19. For your obedience is published in every place. I rejoice therefore in you. But I would have you to be wise in good, and simple in evil.

Your obedience, i.e., the docility with which you embraced the faith is everywhere known. This shows that the community in Rome was as yet undisturbed. 

I rejoice therefore, etc., assures the Romans that St. Paul has no doubt of the integrity of their faith ; but he would have them be as wise as serpents and as simple as doves (Matt. 10:16) in dealing with the treacherous Judaizers. 

Wise in good, i.e., not deceived by false appearances and led to doctrines contrary to those already learned. 

Simple in evil, i.e., not knowing or taking part in evil (1 Cor. 14:20).

The Vulgate in bono, in malo should be in bonum, in malum, to agree with the Greek.

Rom 16:20. And the God of peace crush Satan under your feet speedily. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

St. Paul assures the Romans that God, the author of peace and happiness, will crush (συντριψει = syntripsei) under their feet Satan, the author of discord, whose emissaries the Judaizers are. The allusion here is to Gen. 3:15, where the crushing of the serpent’s head was announced.

The grace of our Lord, etc. This is the formula by which St. Paul, with some slight variations of detail, is accustomed to terminate his letters (1 Cor. 16:23; 2 Cor. 13:13; Gal. 6:8; Eph. 6:24; Phil 4:23; Col. 4:18; 1 Thess. 5:28; 2 Thess.3:18; Heb. 13:25, etc.). It seems, therefore, somewhat singular to find this formula placed here before the greetings of the Apostle’s companions. But since the best MSS. and versions leave no doubt as to its genuineness before verses 21-23, we must conclude that those texts which have omitted it here and placed it at verse 24, or after verse 27, have not the traditional and correct reading; while those texts, like the Vulgate and our English version, that have it both in the present verse and in verse 24 have combined the two readings (Cornely, Lagrange, etc.).

The conterat of the Vulgate here ought to be conteret, in conformity with the Greek.

A Summary of Romans 16:21-24

This section is a postscript to the letter. Most probably St. Paul had intended to add the doxology immediately after his prayer for grace of verse 20, and thus terminate the Epistle. But remembering that he had not included the greetings of his companions, as was often his custom (1 Cor 16:19 ff. ; Phil 4:21; Col. 4:10 ff.; 2 Tim. 4:21; Tit. 3:15; Philem. 23), he preferred to insert them between his prayer and the doxology rather than omit them altogether (Comely). Perhaps this addition of greetings caused the Apostle to repeat in verse 24 the prayer of verse 20, as some critics hold, so that the doxology might immediately follow the prayer, as he had first intended.

Rom 16:21. Timothy, my fellow labourer, saluteth you, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen.

Timothy was also associated with Paul in the writing of several other Epistles (2 Cor. 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col. 1:1; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1; Philem. 1). It is uncertain whether Timothy was with Paul all during the composition of this Epistle, or whether he joined the Apostle only at the end.

Lucius, although Roman in name, was probably Lucius of Cyrene spoken of in Acts 13:1 among the Christians of Jewish origin.

Jason is perhaps the same person that was St. Paul’s host at Thessalonica (Acts 17:5-7, 9), a Jewish Christian.

Sosipater is the same name as Sopater, and doubtless the same person as Sopater of Beraea (Acts 20:4). Lucius, Jason and Sosipater were relatives of St. Paul. The last two, with Timothy (2 Cor. 1:1), had come from Macedonia to Corinth, perhaps to bring their collections for the poor in Jerusalem and to accompany the Apostle on his way thither. Very likely the others here mentioned had come for the same purpose. Their arrival just as the Epistle to the Romans was being terminated would explain this postscript of greetings.

Rom 16:22. I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.

I Tertius. St. Paul made use of a certain Tertius as secretary in writing the present Epistle. It was usual with the Apostle to dictate his letters (2 Thess. 3:17; Gal. 6:11; 1 Cor. 16:21; Col. 4:18; Philem. 19), but it was not customary for the secretary to include his personal greetings as here. Perhaps Tertius was known to the Romans, and so was told by St. Paul to add his own salutation.

Rom 16:23. Caius, my host, and the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city, saluteth you, and Quartus, a brother.

Caius, also written Gaus. This is very likely the person spoken of in 1 Cor. 1:14, a wealthy Corinthian, baptized by St. Paul during the latter’s first visit to Corinth. St. Paul doubtless enjoyed the hospitality of Caius throughout his stay at Corinth.

And the whole church. Better, “And the host of the whole church,” i.e., all the faithful of Corinth that were accustomed to assemble in the house of Caius for divine service (Origen, Lipsius, Julicher, etc.); or all the faithful that were freely permitted to come to Caius’ house while St. Paul was there (Kuhl); or all those Christians who were wont to seek the hospitality of Caius when passing through Corinth (St. Chrysostom, Cornely, Lagrange, etc.).

Erastus does not seem to be the person by the same name of Acts 19:22, of whom St. Paul probably spoke in 2 Tim. 4:20.

The treasurer, i.e., the officer in charge of finances in the city of Corinth.

Quartus, as his name would indicate, was perhaps a Roman
Christian, and therefore known to the Romans. 

A brother, i.e., a Christian.

The Vulgate universa ecclesia ought to be in the genitive, unvversae ecclesiae, as in the Greek.

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

This verse is usually regarded as a mere repetition, due to copyists, of verse 20b. It is wanting in the most ancient MSS. and in many versions.

A Summary of Romans 16:25-27
From verse 22 we gather that the whole Epistle, up to the present section, was dictated by St. Paul to Tertius, his secretary. At this point the Apostle very probably took the pen in his own hand and wrote the doxology by way of solemn conclusion and signature.
The doxology sums up briefly, yet completely, the whole doctrine of the Epistle, reproducing its most significant language, and extolling the omnipotence of God which alone is able to confirm the neophytes in the faith they have received.
Rom 16:25. Now to him that is able to establish you, according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret from eternity,
To him that is able, etc., supposes, as its complement, “glory,” as in verse 27. A similar formula of praise the Apostle often made use of in other Epistles (Gal. 1:1; Eph. 3:21; Phil 4:20; 1 Tim. 1:17; Heb. 13:20).
To establish, etc. When he would be in Rome the Apostle hoped to confirm the Romans in the faith they had received (Rom 1:11), and meanwhile he prays that the grace of God, without which nothing can be accomplished, will stabilize and hold them fast in their faith.
According to my gospel, i.e., according to the Gospel which St. Paul preached everywhere (cf. Rom 2:16; 11:28; 2 Tim. 2:8), and which was the doctrine of Jesus Christ as also preached by the other Apostles. Although St. Paul in his preaching laid stress on the universality of salvation for all, Jews and Gentiles, and the gratuitousness of this salvation through faith alone, independently of antecedent personal merits or the works of the Law; and while the scope of his Gospel thus differed naturally to some extent from that of the other Apostles, since he was in particular the Apostle of the Gentiles, he was, nevertheless, like the others, always teaching the one Gospel of Christ, else how could he ask God to confirm the Romans, to whom he had never preached, in his Gospel, if it were something distinct from and contrary to the teaching of those others?
The preaching of Jesus Christ, i.e., the doctrine which Christ had announced to the world and had commanded the Apostle to preach; or, according to others, the doctrine which has for its object Jesus Christ, dead and raised again to life (Cornely, Kuhl, etc.).
According to the revelation. This phrase is to be coordinated with the previous one, “according to my gospel,” etc.; and the meaning is that this Gospel, this preaching, is the revelation of a mystery, namely, the universality of salvation for all men, Jews and Gentiles, through faith in Jesus Christ. This great mystery God had decreed from all eternity, but had kept secret, until it was made manifest in the appearance of Christ, in His life and Resurrection and the preaching of the Apostles (Lagrange).
Rom 16:26. (Which now is made manifest by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the precept of the eternal God. for the obedience of faith), known among all nations;
Which now, i.e., by the corporal presence of Christ in this world, is made manifest, better, “hath been made manifest,” God’s eternal secret in the Person and life of Christ, His Only-begotten Son.
By the scriptures, etc., i.e., by the ancient prophetic writings, through which Christ and the Gospel were foreshadowed and announced, and of which the Apostles made use in their preaching and writing in confirmation of their teaching (Rom 1:2 ; 3:21; 9:25-26; 10:13, 15, 18, 20; 15:9-12; Eph. 3:21; Acts 2:17-21, 25-28; 13:47; 15:16, etc.).
For the obedience, etc., i.e., that the Gospel might be accepted, that men might believe in Jesus Christ—this was the aim and object of the revelation of the great mystery spoken of in the preceding verse, which was for all nations, Gentiles as well as Jews.
Rom 16:27. To God the only wise, through Jesus Christ, to whom be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
By a prayer of praise to the wisdom of God the Apostle terminates his sublime Epistle to the Romans.
The only wise, i.e., whose infinite wisdom alone was able to guard His eternal secret and prepare His revelation for the redemption of man through Jesus Christ, His Only-begotten Son.
Honour (Vulg., honor) is not represented in the Greek. The construction of the verse is made irregular by the relative ω (ho = “to whom”) which, however, seems to be undoubtedly authentic, as being found in the best MSS., and, which, by referring back to God rather than to Jesus Christ, serves somewhat to complete the sentence begun in verse 25.

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