Theodoret, Commentary on Romans (1840) Part 2
5. Whose are the fathers, the renowned, the celebrated, of whom God was called the God (Exod. iii. 15); and then in the last place he adduces the greatest of the blessings, And of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. And, indeed, the addition of the concerning the flesh had been enough to evidence the divinity of the Lord Christ, yet, as in the opening of the epistle having said, "who was of the seed of David according to the flesh," he subjoined, "and was declared to be the Son of God with power," so here also after the concerning the flesh, he adds, who is over all, God blessed for ever; both exhibiting thereby the difference of the natures, and teaching how just reason he had for his lamentation, since while of them according to the flesh was He who was God over all, they had fallen from their height, and become aliens from that relationship. And herein he imitates the female mourners, who introduce into their funeral songs the beauty of the person, and the flower of the age, and the illustriousness of the ancestry, and the wealth, and the power, of the deceased over whom they lament. Having then thus displayed the love he bore the |31 Jews, he then begins his proposed design; 6. Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. I indeed, says he, not only could desire, but could also even pray, to he separated from Christ, if it were possible that by this separation of mine the Jews should gain the blessings held out, but nevertheless should they still prove gainsayers, and refuse to receive salvation, the promises made to the fathers would still remain true. How then? For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel. For God seeks not the relationship of nature, but of virtue; and then he teaches this yet more plainly; 7. Neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children, that is of God, as he shows just below, —But in Isaac shall thy seed be called; and having thus stated the promise of God, he now explains it, and renders the saying clear by his exposition thereof. 8. That is, not they which are the children of the flesh are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. By the children of the flesh, he means those that were horn after the ordinary course of nature, but of the promise, those that were given by grace. 9. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son. For nature having failed, he was constituted a father by the divine bounty; and this shows that Ishmael also was a son to Abraham—aye, and his firstborn son; and wherefore then boastest thou, O Jew, of being alone called the seed of Abraham? But if thou dost imagine that he was rejected from the relationship, as being on one side a bondsman, then thinkest thou not rightly, for Scripture is wont to calculate descent not from the mother’s, but the father’s side. And so the holy Apostle might have brought forward the children sprung from Keturah, and shown that they also, though born of a free woman, yet were not reckoned as the seed of Abraham; and easy had it been for him to have pointed out the twelve sons of Jacob, born of different mothers, four of them being bondsmen on one side, and yet all called Israel, and receiving no injury from the slavery of their mothers; but contenting himself with fewer instances, all this he has omitted, and beats them down by the ample evidence left. For having mentioned that which had been said by God to Abraham, that in Isaac shall thy seed be called, he shows that neither were the whole of his race partakers of this blessing, seeing that of his own sons the one inherited the privilege, and the other failed of it; for so he subjoins, 10. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac: 11. For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good, or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth, 12. It was said unto her, that the elder shall serve the younger. If thou thinkest, says he, that, on account of (his birth from) Sarah, Isaac was preferred before Ishmael, and Abraham’s other children whom he had by Keturah, what wilt thou say to the case of Rebecca? For here were there the same father and the same mother, and the same one single conception, the children being twins; for this is what he means by having conceived by one, that is conceived both at the same time; but the one nevertheless was beloved of God, and the other unworthy the divine regard; and God waited not for the evidence of events, but while yet they were in the womb predicted the difference between them; and He predicted it from foreknowing their dispositions, for election is not |32 arbitrary, but in accordance to the disposition of men;1 and then he adduces the testimony of the prophet, (Mal. i. 3,) 13. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. He heeds not, therefore, the (bare descent of) nature, but virtue only is it that He requires; for this he confirms by many instances.
14. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. The divine decision, says he, has nothing unjust in it, but is graced with perfect equity. And this indeed, though having it in his power to point out and teach clearly, that it is not the custom with God to pay attention to bare birth, but that He looks for the best disposition, as well as to remind them that oftentimes they had been delivered up to many enemies, without being at all spared for the sake of their forefathers, seeing that they imitated not their virtue; and that the whole nation had been allowed to be taken captive by the Babylonians, while Abimelech, on the other hand, though a slave and an Ethiopian, had been saved through his piety;2 he yet refrains from so doing, as not wishing too much to cast them down; but shows instead that the divine dispensations exceed the reckonings of man, and while many commit iniquity, yet not all are made to suffer vengeance for it; for so in the wilderness the greater part worshipped, for God, the image of the calf, yet not of all was punishment exacted, but some being made to suffer, others by those sufferings of their's were reformed; and so in avenging himself on Pharaoh, He brought by him great benefit to many; and these instances, accordingly, the holy Apostle places before them; and thus he speaks, 15. For he saith to Moses, (Exod. xxxiii. 10,) I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. These words God spake concerning the making of the calf. And it was necessary that he should mention Moses's name here, in order to show the trustworthiness of what he was alleging, by the testimony of Him who spoke, and him who heard; and then he draws the conclusion, 16. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. And he brings not yet the resolution of all this, but continues still the whole question by the addition of what follows, 17. For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, (Exod. ix. 10,) Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show My power in thee, and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth. And then again he adds as a deduction, 18. Therefore hath he mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth. Unquestionable, says he, are these scriptures, for what I advance is collected from thence, and from thence only. Thou hast heard God Himself declaring, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion," and His again are the things spoken concerning Pharaoh. He, passing by Ishmael and the children by Keturah, chose Isaac; and He again preferred Jacob to Esau, although both received their being |33 at the same time, in the same womb; why wonderest thou then, if he hath exactly so done now also, and received those among you who have believed, and rejected those that will not admit that light? But this indeed he does not yet lay down, but continues still adding to the difficulties of the subject, and says, 19. Thou wilt say then unto me, why doth he yet find fault? for who hath resisted his will? For, if "He hath mercy on whom He will, and whom He will hardeneth," man's disposition must depend on His will (say you): and, if so, He cannot with justice inflict punishment on the offenders, for it is not possible for any to resist whatever he thinks fit. Having thus increased the difficulties of the subject by the variety of doubts, and proposed all the objections arising from it, he subjoins, 20. Nay but, O man, who art thou, that repliest against God? Since thou hast asked, says he, "who has resisted His will," tell me what thou art; art thou not a man? How then dost thou reply against, and over-curiously inquirest into the divine dispensations? for if thou wert not a free agent, nor couldest choose by thine own free will what thou wouldest do, but wert enslaved to the compulsion of the divine will, thou wouldest, like the inanimate creation, have been silent, and acquiesced in His dispensations; but since thou art dignified by reason, (therefore it is that) thou both sayest and doest what thou thyself pleasest, and lovest not what has been done, but inquirest into the causes of the divine dispensations. Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21. Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? Look at the clay of the potter, which is devoid of rational discrimination; it answers not against its maker, but although set apart for the structure of some base vessel, it receives in silence what is done; but thou opposest and findest fault; therefore art thou not bound by physical necessity, nor transgressest against thine own inclination, but voluntarily embracest vice, and of thine own free choice undergoest the difficulties of virtue. Right, therefore, and just is the sentence of the God of all things, since with equity does he punish sinners as daring so to act of their own will. And in justice also is His loving-kindness, in that when He receives from us an opportunity, He extends His mercy to us. Some, however, interpret the Nay, but O man, who art thou that repliest against God? as spoken in rebuke; for so, say they, having first chidden those who are impertinently curious about divine matters, and shown their meanness, for man's nature differs not from the clay, does he proceed to the reply; and the reply is this—22. What then if? Here we must place a stop, for he means, if thou art desirous to know this, namely, why, when the majority sin, some of them He punishes, and some through their means He benefits; and when many pursue virtue, some of them He renders illustrious, and to some by them sets forth the hopes of the future; hear what follows: God willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, 23. And that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory; 24. Even us whom He hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles. God, says he, was not the author of Pharaoh's wickedness, but exercised long-suffering towards him as He is wont, but he conceived |34 that long-suffering weakness, and through it increased his own obstinacy; while at the same time the Governor of all things, in His wisdom both justly inflicted punishment on him, and from his very wickedness drew a preventive medicine to the rest. And thus, as physicians do not themselves make vipers, but from them prepare drugs profitable to men, so God preferred that Pharaoh should not suffer punishment, but, inasmuch as he had fallen into so great brutishness, brought on him retributions of every kind, and manifested at the same time His own power to all men; wherefore He says, "even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show My power in thee, and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth the I have raised thee up meaning, I have permitted thee to obtain the throne, and while able to prevent, prevented thee not, foreseeing the advantage that would thence arise to others. And those whom he calls vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, are they, who, by their own free will, have become so, for the same thing also has he written to Timothy, (2 Tim. ii. 20) "But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold, and of silver, but also of wood, and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour;" and, teaching how every one becomes the one or the other of his own free will, he subjoined, "if a man, therefore, purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work;" and to the Corinthians, in like manner, he writes (1 Cor. iii. 12), "Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble," —clearly teaching the free agency of man. So here does he call those who are worthy of the divine loving-kindness, vessels of mercy. And the hath before prepared unto glory displays the divine foreknowledge, for so had he also said before, "for whom He had foreknown He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son;" for the object of the apostle is to prove, that the God of all things alone knows who are worthy of salvation, while among men not a soul. And having stated that He hath called us not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles, he confirms the representation by the testimony of scripture, and says, 25. As he saith also in Osee (ch. ii. 23, and i. 10), I will call them My people, which were not My people, and her beloved, which was not beloved. 26. And it shall come to pass that in the place where it was said unto them, ye are not My people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. And this God spake not of the Gentiles, but of the Jews themselves; for having commanded Hosea to marry an harlot, and indeed even an adulteress, thus did He order the children born from her to be called, the one not a people (Loammi), and the other not beloved (Loruhamah) (ch. i. 9, 6), foretelling what should happen to the Jews; while at the same time He promised them good things again, that the not people should be called a people, and the not beloved, beloved. Observe therefore, says he, that even you have not always enjoyed the same things, but at one time have been reckoned a people, and then not a people, and then a people again; and at one time beloved, and then not beloved, and then beloved again. Nothing then improbable has taken place at present, for you have been cast off in due consistency with all this; but and so if yet you again will it, you shall be reckoned a people, and beloved; for so also the Gentiles who were not a people, now are |35 reckoned a people. And he adduces another witness also to this account: 27. Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant (only) shall be saved. 28. For a short word will the Lord make upon the earth (ch. x. 22, 23). Most opportunely has he brought forward this evidence, to show that, of old, the God of all foresaw both those who had attached themselves to the faith, and those who had sunk beneath the disease of infidelity. For as the Jews alleged that but few of them had accepted the gospel, and all the rest had turned away from it as a deception, he proves that all this had long ago been predicted, and that although they should exceed the power of numbers in multitude, and equal the sand of the sea, not all, but such (only) as were furnished with faith, should obtain salvation. For faith is what he calls the short word, because what the law taught in many commandments, while yet unable to afford complete salvation, that confession in Christ has accomplished, while engendering faith. And this is short, and needs not multiplied periods, being evidenced by the disposition of the heart,3 and published by the tongue. 29. And as Esaias had said before (ch. i. 9), Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrah. Those whom above he spoke of as a "remnant," the same he here calls a seed, through whom the prophet declares that the Jews suffered not the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, for they had undergone a total destruction. Having thus taught that the God of all things looks not to the mere relationship of birth, but seeks for a community of faith, he shows yet more clearly by what means the Jews had fallen from their ancestral excellence, and the Gentiles on the other hand had obtained salvation. 30. What shall we say then? We must read this interrogatively, putting a stop here: and then what follows as the answer. That the Gentiles which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained unto the law of righteousness. Know, says he, that faith is the cause of these blessings to the Gentiles, for it has rendered them meet to receive the righteousness which is of grace, them who formerly wandered about in error, and neither possessed, nor even wished to seek after, righteousness; while Israel, on the other hand, although possessing the law, and following after the righteousness which is of the law, hath failed of the mark, and not obtained righteousness. And then, again, interrogatively, 32. Wherefore? the reason of this, says he, do you desire to know? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. They imagined that the living under the law was sufficient to secure righteousness to them, and they despised faith; wherefore they neither obtained the gifts of faith, nor gained the righteousness arising from living under its covenant. And then he teaches through what cause they enjoyed not the blessings of faith; For they stumbled at that stumbling-stone. 33. As it is written (Isa. viii. 28), Behold I lay in Sion a stumbling-stone and rock of offence; and whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed. They are wont to stumble who turn their attention elsewhere, and do not choose to look at their path. This had been |36 the case with the Jews. For, being intent on the veriest minutiae4 of the law, they chose not to see the stone foretold by the prophets, although they had distinctly predicted, that whosoever trusted in Him should obtain the greatest blessings; for this is what he means by shall not be ashamed, such as hope, and then fail in their expectations being ashamed. Having thus gently touched them, again he exhibits the feelings he entertained towards them, lost his arguments should assume the appearance of arising from hostility, for he has kept the heavier censures for the last. |151
1. Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might he saved. An ardent wish is what he here calls a desire, for I ardently wish, says he, and pray, that they may obtain salvation. 2. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. He mingles his censure with praise, hiding as it were the hook beneath a bait, that the benefit of what he says might be |152 accepted by them. 3. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. Their unreasonable adherence to the law is what he here calls their own righteousness, for they are zealous still to observe it, though it has now come to an end; and that which is of grace, through faith, what he speaks of as the righteousness of God; for so he goes on to say, 4. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For faith in the Lord is not contrary to the law, but most agreeable therewith, seeing that the law itself has directed us to the Lord Christ. he, then, that trusts in Christ, fulfils the intention of the law. And well again does he say, to every one that believeth, for the whole race of mankind has been comprehended, so that whether it be Greek or barbarian, if he believe, he shall obtain salvation. And then he again sets forth the difference between the law and grace, and introduces Moses the lawgiver, as the teacher of both; 5. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. Whosoever has observed all things enjoined by the law, has life as the reward of such obedience, but any one transgression entails punishment.
6. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise; (Deut. xxx. 12,) that is, but concerning the righteousness which is of faith, not Moses himself, but the God of all, through Moses, speaks thus, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? that is, to bring Christ down from above; 7. Or who shall descend into the deep? that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead. 8. But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart. These things the God of all spake indeed concerning the law, teaching the Jews, that without labour on their own part they had received the knowledge of what they ought to do, and needed neither an ascent into heaven, nor a descent into Hades. The word is nigh thee, for the knowledge of what thou shouldest do has been given unto thee; but the holy apostle has transferred them to this account of faith, teaching us that we should not over- curiously inquire into the dispensation in Christ Jesus, or question that the only-begotten Son of God did become incarnate, and having endured the passion, brought in the resurrection; but by faith reap the salvation (offered). For the word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart; and then he adds, that is, the word of faith, which we preach. What Moses once said of the injunctions of the law, that we now say of faith: 9. That if thou shall confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For both are necessary, a sound and firm faith, and a confession uttered with boldness; that both the heart may be adorned with a certain persuasion of faith, and the tongue dignified with a fearless proclamation of the truth. And then again he adduces the testimony of Scripture. 11. For the Scripture saith, (Isa. xxviii. 10,) Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed: and he explains the whosoever, 12. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. 13. For (Joel iii. 5,) whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. The salvation of men is what he here |153 calls the riches of God, for he well knew the loving-kindness of the Lord; and most aptly does he suit his testimonies to the heart, and to the tongue; to the heart, the whosoever believeth on Him shall not he ashamed; to the tongue, the whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. And then he shows that the Jews had voluntarily deprived themselves of salvation, by not choosing to receive the gospel offered, while yet he puts not forth this proof nakedly, but brings about the argument in a different way. 14. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15. And how shall they preach, except they be sent? First, says he, must a person believe, and then call upon God; but it is impossible for any one to believe who has not enjoyed instruction, and this no one can obtain without there being teachers, and these again commission constitutes. Having laid down these positions as it were in vindication of the Jews, by them he increases the blame lying on them. And that which is first, (in order of time) namely, the sending forth of preachers, he puts last, as being about to show, that of old all this had been foretold; for it would have been in the common course to have set forth this before saying the rest, it being necessary first that preachers be appointed,5 then that they should preach, then that men should hear their preaching, and lastly believe. Therefore he adduces the prophecy of Isaiah, (lii. 7,) and says, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! for the Lord bade His apostles, when entering into a house to say, "Peace be to this house" (Luke x. 5), for they were proclaiming the divine reconciliation, and bringing glad tidings of the enjoyment of good things. The feet of such then he calls beautiful, as running a goodly course; as washed by the hands of the Lord Himself. And having thus brought forward the evidence concerning the preachers, he says interrogatively, 16. But they have not all obeyed the gospel? and then again in reply, Esaias saith, (liii. 1,) Lord, who hath believed our report? Nor has Scripture been silent on this point either, but of old God predicted all this by Isaiah; and then as drawing his conclusion, 17. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God; wherefore, whosoever disbelieves, disbelieves the divine oracles, and whosoever believes, receiving the divine words, brings forth faith as the fruit of his hearing.
18. But, I say, have they not heard? And this again is to be read |154 interrogatively, and then as the answer, Yes, verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.6 For how was it possible that the Jews should not have heard, when the nations spread over the whole earth had heard? For to them first the preachers of the truth brought their tidings, for so the Lord Himself enjoined them, (Matt. x. 6,) "But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and in the Acts of the Apostles, (ch. xiii. 40,) "It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you." And the holy apostle continues in the same form of argument, making his positions clearer by question and answer, for so again we must read interrogatively, 19. But, I say, did not Israel know? and then what follows as the reply, First, Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you (Deut. xxxii. 21). We, it is, whom he called foolish, pointing out the folly we laboured under before our conversion to the faith, for so also the holy apostle speaks, (Tit. iii. .3,) "for we ourselves also were sometime foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another." By this God grievously vexed the Jews, for neither the captivity, nor the dispersion, nor the destruction of the temple, so much distresses them, as do the religion and eminence7 of the Gentiles. 20. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought Me not, I was made manifest unto them that asked not after Me (lxv. 11). He shows at once the prophecy of the revelation of divine knowledge to the Gentiles, and the bloodthirstings of the Jews, as the expression is very bold testifies; he feared not, says he, the mad and murdering Jews, but with great boldness predicted the salvation of the Gentiles, and foretold the infidelity of the Jews: as what follows shows, 21. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people. All day long means without ceasing, for so Symmachus and Aquila interpret the every day. Having thus pointed out that the inspired prophets both condemned the Jews, and foreshowed the faith of the Gentiles, he seems indeed in what follows to bring comfort to them, while in truth adding fresh censures on the disbelievers.
1. I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. And then while able to adduce proof of this from many other quarters, and bring forward the three thousand who believed in Jerusalem, (Acts ii. 41,) and the many myriads of whom the great James spake, (Acts xxi. 20,) and those of the Jews spread over the face of the land who had accepted the gospel, instead of all these he instances himself; and says, For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2. God hath not cast away His people, which he foreknew. For if He had cast them off, I also had been one of the condemned, seeing that I also have sprung from that root, and glory in Abraham as |155 my forefather, and Benjamin as the head of my tribe, and boast myself in the name of Israel. And well has he added the which he foreknew, that is, those that are worthy of the divine knowledge, having welcomed the light of faith; for so he presently after shows, Wot ye not what the Scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel (1 Kings xix. 14). 3. Lord, they have killed Thy prophets, and digged down Thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life? 4. But what saith the answer of God unto him? (v. 13,) I have reserved to Myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. And at that time also, says he, were there many of Israel, and all were called Israel, and yet the God of all things designated Himself the God of seven thousand (only), and all the rest He rejected; for I have left unto Myself, said He, seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal; and this indeed the prophet knew not, but imagined that in himself alone was preserved what remained of true piety. No new nor inconceivable thing then is it, if you also know not those among you who have fixed their faith in the Saviour, whom the God of all things acknowledges as His people. And most opportunely does he bring forward the great Elias making this accusation against them, that not only had they slain the prophets, but even overthrown the altars from their foundations; for granting, says he, that they were evilly-disposed towards the prophets, as denouncing bitter things against them, what had they to allege against the divine altars? Rather then by such daring impieties did they manifest that their hatred was against the God thereof. And here the holy apostle, leaving these scripture testimonies, resumes the thread of his own discourse, and says, 5. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6. And if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace, otherwise work is no more work. As at that time, says he, among countless myriads, seven thousand only were left who were free from impiety, even so now also have the greater number disbelieved, and the smaller are they who have believed and enjoyed the divine grace, for it is not the polity of the law that has justified them, which is what is here meant by of works, but the grace of God has saved them; wherefore also salvation itself is called grace, because it proceeds from the divine loving-kindness; and this also he said in speaking concerning the patriarch Abraham, (ch. iv. 4,) "but to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt." 7. What then? Here we must place a stop, for it is put interrogatively, that is, what shall we say to this? and then the rest as the reply, Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were hardened. By the election he signifies those that had believed; and what he means is this, Israel by his adherence to the law has failed of the mark, for now contrary to the (spirit of the) law, he still observes the law, and reaps no righteousness, but such among them as have believed have obtained it, but the rest were hardened, that is, their infidelity has yet more hardened their heart; and he shows that this also was foretold from of old; 8. As it is written, (Isa. vi. 10, xxix. 10,) "God hath |156 given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear unto this day." Gave them, as "gave them up," (i. 24,) that is, permitted them (to fall into), for God did not incline them to disbelief, for how were it possible for Him to have inflicted infidelity on them, and Himself demanded vengeance for the same? And this the prophet has yet more clearly shown, (ch. vi. 10, LXX., as also so cited Matt. xiii. 15, Acts xxviii. 27,) "for this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed." Not another then has blinded them, but themselves have closed their eyes, and have not chosen to see the light. And by the spirit of slumber, he means a fixed and obdurate mind; that as he who enjoys a sound and healthy sleep is open to no change for the worse, so he who has surrendered himself up entirely to evil, admits no alteration for the better. 9. And David saith, (Ps. lxviii. 22,) Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling-block, and a recompense unto them; 10. Let their eyes be darkened that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. By the word table he speaks of their luxurious living, which he prophesied would be exchanged for the reverse. 11. I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid, but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. For to them first, such as believed among them brought the saving gospel, and when they set themselves against it, and refused to receive their teaching, then to the Gentiles did they offer the divine gospel; but they that believed obtained salvation. And this was suited to prick in heart the gainsayers among the Jews, and excite them to emulation, and so gain for them a participation in that salvation, for those that have been last they see made first. |363
12. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fulness? |364 For if, when the greater number disbelieved, those that were converted among them brought the riches of the divine knowledge to the Gentiles, most manifest is it, that if all believed, they would become the means of yet greater blessings to all mankind, for all would the more readily believe, when these no longer opposed, but joined with us instead in preaching, the truth. Thence he turns his exhortations to those among the Gentiles who had believed, and counsels them to entertain a chastened view of themselves; aiming at once at a double point, on the one hand to pull down all self-sufficiency on their part, and lead them to fear; and on the other, to bring the Jews to a participation of their ancestral inheritance; and thus he begins, 13. For I speak unto you, Gentiles; inasmuch indeed as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office, 14. If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and may save some of them. Since God sent me forth as the minister of the Gentiles, necessarily do I labour after the salvation of the Gentiles, and direct my discourses in their behalf, and point out the holy prophets of old predicting these things; and this, that so I may excite the Jews to rivalry, and induce some of them to share in that salvation; for by his flesh he means the Jews, as those that in spirit were distant, and related to him only by the affinity of kindred, 15. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? For if, says he, on their disbelief the Gentiles were received in, and freed from their former ignorance, manifest is it, that if all these were willing to believe, nothing else would then remain to be accomplished, but the resurrection of the dead;8 for so the Lord also said, "and this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached unto all nations for a witness unto them, and then shall the end come," (Matt. xxiv. 14). And all this we must recollect the holy apostle says, from a desire to suit his matter exactly to the subject in hand, and teach humility to those among the Gentiles that had believed, hold out the offer yet to the disbelieving among the Jews, and point out the salvation that would arise from their change of mind; as what follows teaches yet more clearly, 16. For if the first- fruit be holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root be holy, so are the branches. 17. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18. Boast not thyself against the branches. By the first-fruit he means the Lord Christ in his human nature; by the root, the patriarch Abraham; by the branches of the olive, the Jewish people as sprung from thence; and by the richness of the olive, the doctrines of religion. He admonishes those among the Gentiles who believed, not to be puffed up against the disbelieving Jews; for these are they whom he speaks of as branches broken off. Observe rather, says he, that you, born of another race, have been grafted into this, and have received of the richness of the holy root. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee; and consider this also, that the root bears thee, not thou the root, and thou |365 needest it, not it thee. 19. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. 20. Well, because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear. Infidelity has rendered them aliens from the root, and faith has connected thee with the root, and made thee to share in its richness; it behoves thee therefore not to become self-sufficient, but to fear and tremble.—Wherefore? 21. For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee. For if the connexion of nature profited them not at all, because they retained not the same character and disposition, much more thou, if thou preservest not that grace, shalt become an alien from the root. 22. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but towards thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. Behold now how God has cut them off, because they followed not the faith of their forefathers, and how He has conferred on thee the blessing of his loving-kindness, and made thee to share in a root not appertaining to thee, from which thou wilt be altogether severed again, if thou keepest not the gift bestowed on thee. 23. And they also, if they abide not in unbelief shall be grafted in. For it becomes the righteousness of God, both to sever again from the root thee, who contrary to hope wert blessed with the privilege of that root, if thou thereafter preserve not the grace given; and to join them again to it, if they renounce their infidelity. And aptly does he use the words grafted in as regards them also, infidelity having altogether severed them from, and faith exactly, as in the case of the Gentiles, connecting them with, the root. For God is able to graft them in again. By mentioning the power of God, he shows the ease with which this would be done; and gives an instance, not one removed far from them, and of ancient times, but one which comes home, and was recent, for he calls themselves as witnesses to this; and says, 24. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree, which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree; how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? If thou, being a wild olive—for thou hadst not the law tending thee, nor the prophets, watering, and pruning, and taking all needful care about thee,—hast been detached from unholy ancestors and relations, and made a partaker in the faith of Abraham, and boastest in him as thy father and ancestor, not by the natural course of the law, but by the divine loving-kindness; much more probable and natural must it be, that they, on believing, should be united again to their own root. And all this, as I before remarked, he says in order to teach humility to the Gentile converts, and exhort to salvation the disbelievers among the Jews; and with this agrees what follows, 25. For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits.A mystery is a thing not known to all, but to those only who are entrusted with it. What he means then is, that I wish you to understand the mystery I am aware of as regards these things, that you may |366 not over-estimate your own spiritual knowledge, and hence be puffed up with self-sufficiency. And what is the mystery? That blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, and so all Israel shall be saved. He puts the in part, to show that not all had disbelieved, for many even among them had believed; and he bids them not despair of the salvation of the rest. For when the Gentile nation shall have received the gospel, then they also shall believe, the great Elias having come9 and brought instruction in the faith to them, for so the Lord also said in the holy gospels (Matt. xvii. 1), "Elias cometh and shall restore all things and he adds also the testimony of the prophet (Isa. lix. 20,) 26. As it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27. For this is My covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. If the polity of the law gives forgiveness of sins, that it is, which the speech of the prophet predicted; but if the law punishes those that transgress it, and the Jews ever lay under the accusation of such transgression, it is plain that the sentence points out the forgiveness which arises from baptism. And by all Israel, he means such as believe, whether they were of the Jews, as having a natural descent from Israel, or of the Gentiles, as connected with him by the relationship of faith.28. As concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. When I look to you, with whose instruction I am entrusted, I consider them as enemies and hateful, as doing all in their power to your injury; but when I turn to their forefathers, and reflect how God chose them from among the whole earth, on their account I love even these. 29. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. All this he says as an incitement to the Jews; for that the blessings which God gives he again resumes, when He sees those that have received them infected with ingratitude, Saul is a proof, who, having enjoyed spiritual10 grace, was afterwards deprived thereof; and Solomon in like manner, who, having obtained peace through the divine loving-kindness, after his transgression was stripped of that grace;11 and indeed the Jews themselves, who, ever having enjoyed the fostering care of the prophets, at that present time had been bereaved of this guardianship. And the same he had also, just before threatened to the believers among the Gentiles, "if thou continue," says he, "in His goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off." 30. For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief, 31. Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. Remember indeed how for so long a period all of you lived in sin, and yet the merciful Lord looked not to that lengthened and bitter ungodliness, but blessed with his unspeakable loving-kindness such as were willing to receive it, and when these (the Jews) would not believe, called you in their room; nothing inconsistent then were it, that these also, who now gainsay, should be accepted of God whenever willing to believe, and so inherit the divine loving-kindness. And the that he here again uses in |367 the idiom and sense familiar to him,12 for they did not therefore disbelieve, in order that they might find mercy, but they disbelieved because of the hardness of their hearts, and will find mercy by turning to a change of mind. 32. For God hath concluded all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all. Concluded he puts for convicted. For he convicted the Gentiles, as having both received natural judgment, and had the creation teaching them the knowledge of God, and yet from neither the one nor the other having derived benefit; and He convicted the Jews likewise, as having enjoyed yet more instruction, in that in addition to nature and the creation, they had received the prophets also teaching what was right, and so become obnoxious to the heavier vengeance; while at the same time both these and those, thus deserving total destruction, has He blessed with the privilege of salvation, provided only they were willing to believe. Having thus fully gone through these things, and contemplating the profundity of the divine lovingkindness, and how incomprehensible is His wisdom, he cries out, 33. O the depth of the riches, and of the wisdom, and of the knowledge of God! For of old, and from the beginning, has He foreknown all these things, and foreknowing has wisely disposed, and in that dispensation manifested the riches of His loving-kindness. How unsearchable are his judgments, and His ways past finding out! The scheme of the divine economy surpasses man's understanding; nor even by the invisible powers is the providence of the God of all things fully reached unto. 34. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been His counsellor? 35. Or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? These three he puts us answering to the former three, the "riches," and the "wisdom," and the "knowledge:'' the who hath known the mind of the Lord, to the knowledge; the who hath been His counsellor, to the wisdom; and the who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed to him again, to the riches. For so immense are the riches of His goodness, that both to them that were not, has He given existence, and on such as are, of His free grace bestowed well- being.13 And not as really due to us for any thing we have first given, but of His own free kindness does He confer His blessings, although in mercy condescending to call each such free gift, the repayment of ourselves. 36. For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. For He created all things, and He continues governing all that He thus created. To Him we ought to look, confessing our gratitude for all we already have enjoyed, and begging for His future providence; and to Him we ought to offer up also the praise and honour due.— Now in the words above, the holy apostle shows that he recognised not any difference between the expressions of whom and through whom,14 as though the former, as indicating some |368 superiority, belonged to the Father; and the latter, as implying some inferiority, were suited to the Son. For he applies both of them to the same Person; whom if, on the one hand, the Arians and Eunomians say is the Father, they will find the through whom joined to the of whom; and if, on the other, they refer it to the Son, they will see then the of whom connected to the through whom. If then the of whom implies any superiority, and the through whom any inferiority, and yet both are spoken of the same Person, He must in all reason be considered greater than Himself, on account of the of whom, and less than Himself on account of the through whom. Let us then, leaving such (arguers) for the present, magnify our Creator and Saviour, to whom belongs glory for ever and ever. Amen. |617
The knowledge of the nature of God, and faith, and right affections towards Him, are the sum and true foundation of all good; for what the eye is to the body, that faith and the knowledge of divine matters are to the soul. But then she needs also at the same time practical virtue, as the eye does hands and feet, and the other members of the body.
Wherefore, the holy apostle adds moral instructions also to his doctrinal course, in order to promote in us the most perfect virtue, for through the Romans does he afford this advantage to all mankind: and thus he opens the subject.
1. I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God. He lays down laws, and sinking authority puts forth his instructions with intreaties, reminding them of the divine loving-kindness, of which he had before spoken so much at length; and what then dost thou beseech? that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And already before had he exhorted to make "their members instruments of righteousness, and yield themselves to |618 God as those that are alive from the dead," (ch. vi. 13;) and here he bids these become also a sacrifice, and calls it a living sacrifice, for it is not to be slain that he commands the body,15 but to become dead to sin, and not be open to its action; and such sacrifice he speaks of as holy, reasonable, and acceptable, as contrasting it with the oblation of irrational animals, and showing that with this the Lord is pleased. For by ail the prophets, as one may say, he finds fault with the sacrifices of beasts, while he enjoins this; for "sacrifice," says he, "unto God the sacrifice of praise," and "the sacrifice of praise shall glorify Me." Ps. 1. (LXX. li. 14, 23; and see also Isa. i. 11-18,) and a thousand other such passages are to be found in the Holy Scriptures. 2. And follow not the fashions16 of this world. He speaks of the things of this present world, such as wealth, and power, and other like pomps, by fashions, future things being substances, as alone permanent and satisfying; for so in another place also, (1 Cor. vii. 31,) "for the fashion of this world passeth away." For many from the height of abundance have fallen into the extremest poverty, and others sprung from the lowest parents become entrusted with the noblest offices of authority; and some again who elevated an haughty brow, and enlarged themselves in pride, conceiving themselves superior to everybody, being suddenly carried off, have become ill-savoured dust. The holy apostle therefore desires us not to gape after these things, nor to love the fashion of this world, but to seek those things which advance the life eternal. But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. He exhorts here those also who were inclining to the worse to return again to the better, as the word transformed shews. And he teaches how great is the difference between virtue and mere present objects, by calling them fashions, but virtue a form, for a form indicates actually existing objects, but a fashion that which quickly melts away. And he points out the freedom of will which the soul possesses, by commanding it both to renew the mind, and to discriminate the better from the worse; for these things are what he says serve God; and he marks out what these are; and first of all he denounces arrogance, and enjoins humility. 3. For I say. through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think as accords with sobriety. And not himself does he declare thus enjoins, but the grace of the Spirit through him, for its instrument, says he, I am; and by the word sobriety here, he designates the healthy state of the mind, to teach us that arrogance is the sickness of the intellect; and herein, indeed, he imitates his own Master; for so the Lord in the holy gospels (Matt. v. 3) pronounced the first blessing on such as were given to humility. "Blessed," says he, "are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." And these instructions he lays on all, both rich and poor, both servants and masters, both men and women, as the words to every one that is among you testify; and he gives the proper measures of our self-opinion, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. Grace it is which he here calls faith, because that |619 by faith comes the gift of grace; and according to the proportion of a man's faith are the gifts of grace supplied; and he commands each to regulate his own self-estimate by the grace allotted to him. 4. For as we have many members in out body, and all members have not the same office; 5. So we being many are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. The illustration is exactly suited to such an exhortation concerning brotherly love; for as each of the members is not useful to itself alone, but contributes its benefits to the common whole, so, therefore, it becomes him who has been blessed with any grace from above, clearly to understand that he has received that gift for the common advantage; for believers are one body, and each of us fulfils the office of a member; 6. Having gifts, differing according to the grace that is given to us. Thus are we to understand this, we are members of each other, having gifts differing according to the grace given to us; and yet, although thus differing, they are nevertheless bestowed by the divine grace for the common good. Whether prophecy according to the proportion of faith; 7. Or ministry that he should wait on ministering, or as a teacher on teaching; 8. Or as an exhorter, on exhortation. According to the faith of each does the Giver of all good proportion the grace. And by prophecy he means not only the foreknowledge of the future, but the understanding hidden things also;17 and by ministry the office of preaching the gospel; by teaching the instructing in the divine doctrines; by exhortation the inciting to virtue. He that giveth, let him do it with singleness of heart; not seeking after the good opinion of others, but supplying the wants of him that needs; nor calculating with himself whether he has sufficient by him or not, but trusting in God, and so affording assistance liberally; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9. Let love be without simulation. He bids all things be done with earnestness. And the oversight he orders to be exercised with zeal, that it he not the name without the thing; and to shewing bounty he joins joy, in order to point out the gain that arises from communicating to others; seeing that they who gain are wont to rejoice; for so also he says in his epistle to the Corinthians (2 Ep. ix. 7); "not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver;" and love He commands to be genuine and sincere, and repudiates the mask of pretence. Abhorring that which is evil, clinging to that which is good. Again he says not simply to fly from the former, and follow after the latter, but exhorts us exceedingly to hate sin, and to the performance of good deeds bids us closely be connected, our affections serving thereto as it were a cement. 10. Being kindly affectioned one to another in brotherly love; in honour preferring one another. Have your regard warm, and such as becomes brethren towards each other; and let each yield the first places to his neighbour, for this is a proof of true and perfect love. 11. Not slothful in ardour: shewing forth a ready promptness towards what is good, and altogether casting away indolence. Fervent in spirit. By spirit he means the spiritual grace given, and to this, as fuel to the fire, he commands us to bring alacrity as its subject-matter; as he says also in another place (1 Thess. v. 19); "Quench not the Spirit;" for the Spirit is |620 quenched in such as are unworthy of such grace: for, not having the eye of their understanding clear;18 they take not in that beam; even as with the corporeally blind light itself becomes darkness, and in mid-day they are bound by the blackness of night. Wherefore he bid us be fervent in spirit, and possess a warm desire concerning heavenly things; as he also subjoins, serving the Lord. 12. Rejoicing in hope, patient19 in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer. For he who is fervent in spirit, both readily obeys his Master, and waits for the enjoyment of the blessings looked for, and rises superior to the temptations that befall him, arming himself with steadfastness against their attacks, and ever calling the divine grace to his assistance; as he also subjoins, continuing instant in prayer, that is, incessantly doing so; 13. Communicating with the necessities of the saints.20 Having mentioned communication he exhorts to liberality; for who would not choose to impart of his wealth, thereby to become a sharer in good deeds? 21 for so also did he say in his Epistle to the Corinthians, "that your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want." Given to hospitality. The guests he means are not the saints only, but such also as have come from any quarter whatsoever, and need entertainment, whom he commands us to take care of. 14. Bless them which persecute you; bless and curse not. This was a law of our Lord's, for the Lord enjoined it to the holy Apostles, (Matt. v. 44.) 15. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep; 16. Being of the same mind one toward another. Share with each other both in afflictions and their opposite, for the former is the part of sympathy, and the latter of friendship unsullied by envy. Minding not high things, but condescending to men of low estate. Again he banishes the arrogance of haughtiness, and bids the high come down to the low. Be not wise in your own conceits; that is, be not satisfied with your own judgments, but take the counsels also of others. 17. Recompensing to no man evil for evil; and this indeed is an excellence belonging to virtue in its highest state of perfection, and approaching near to a total emancipation from the passions. Providing things honest in the sight of all men; and he says also elsewhere, "Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church of God." (1 Cor. x. 32.) 18. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Most accurately does he express himself here, in making the addition of the if it be possible, and the as far as lieth in you; let nothing, says he, be done on your part, but try every means for peace. And this is in strict consequence from what he had before said, for what feeling of hostility can he entertain, who "blesses him that persecutes,'' and avenges not himself on him that injures him? 19. Avenging not yourselves, dearly beloved, |621 but rather give ye place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. (Deut. xxxii. 3.).) 20. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shall heap coals of fire on his head. Having pointed out the Judge, and shown his just judgments, for so the Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, saith the Lord, signifies, he bids us generously bear all the injuries offered to us, repaying with the reverse those that do evil to us, and ministering to the wants of those that hate us. For these things weave a crown to such as thus meekly and patiently endure,22 while they increase the punishment of the injurers. Not indeed that we are to suppose (that he means) that on this account we are to minister to our enemies, in order that they may suffer the heavier retribution hereafter, for the holy Apostle thus speaks from a wish to repress the anger of the injured party, not from a desire by (his) good to increase (the other's) evil. For that it is such a patient endurance which he inculcates, what follows shews; Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. For to revenge oneself proves defeat, while the returning good for evil is manifest victory. Having thus disciplined (their) morals, he exhorts them also to render to those in authority the honour due; for he foresaw, as one who had plenteously received of the grace of the thrice holy Spirit, how some, led rather by self-arrogance than any holy zeal for religion, would despise their earthly rulers, as conceiving themselves far superior to them by reason of their (better spiritual) knowledge.23 And especially does he do this, that he may blot out the opinion prevalent concerning them; for they were falsely represented as destroyers of the common laws; and some said, (Acts xvii. 6,) "These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;" and others that they were introducing "new customs" (Acts x. 20); wherefore he thought it worth while to lay down his injunctions on this point also. |684
1. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. Whether a man be a priest, or a bishop, or profess a monastic life, let him be subject to those who are invested with authority; evidently if it be consistent with duty to God, for any opposition to the divine laws leaves us not the power of obeying our rulers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. And these come from the providence of God; for He, consulting the general well-being, ordained some to govern, and some to be governed, imposing the fear of the magistrate to serve as a bridle on evil doers. But we must observe, that it is the ordinance of ruling and being ruled, which the holy Apostle derives from the providence of God, and not (so much) the elevation of this or that specific individual to power; for it is not (so much) the sway of the unjust, but the constitution of the office itself which is of God's appointment. And yet, when kindly-disposed towards any, He gives them rulers who respect and keep justice, for "I will give them," says He, "pastors according to Mine heart, which shall feed them with knowledge" (Jer. iii. 15); and again, "I will give your judges as at the first, and your counsellors as at the beginning" (Isa. i. 26); and when again desirous to chastise transgressors, He suffers them to be governed by evil governors also; for "I will place over them," says He, "children to be their princes, and scoffers shall rule over them" (Isa. iii. 4); but it is time to return to the rest of the exposition. 2. Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. He fitly deters them. And they that resist shall receive to themselves judgment; that is, will become obnoxious to punishment. And then he points out also the use of government. 3. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil; for they chastise those that live in wickedness. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shall have praise of the same; 4. For he is the minister of God to thee for good. He shews that he is worthy of all respect in calling him the minister of God; and he exhorts also to the performance of good deeds, in saying that rulers are applauders of good. But if thou do that which is evil be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. If thou lovest what is good, honour then the government which enjoins these same things; but if thou pursuest the reverse fear then its judgment, for it is appointed of God for the punishment of the evil. 5. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake. By wrath he means punishment; and on both grounds he |685 bids us be obedient, both from fear of punishment, and that we may fulfil what is our duty; for this is what he means by conscience' sake. 6. For, for this cause pay ye tribute also; for they are God's ministers attending continually upon this very thing. For while thou art asleep he is bearing about him the common care; and while thou sittest at home, he is meeting the war which brings thee peace. 7. Render therefore to all their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. By tribute he means the taxes arising from land, but by custom the excise or duty from merchandise; nor are these only what he calls dues, but fear and honour also; for these are owing from the ruled to the rulers. 8. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another. Not that we are not to pay the debt of love, for this we ought to discharge before any thing else, but that we should increase it by that payment; for such discharge augments the debt, in that it makes love the warmer; for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. How, and in what manner? 9. For this, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not covet, and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. For he who is kindly disposed towards any one, kills not him whom he thus loves, commits not adultery with his wife, steals not any thing belonging to the object of his affectionate regard, nor does any other thing which might give him pain; for so he subjoins, 10. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour; and then drawing his conclusion, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And so also the Lord, being asked which was the first commandment, mentioned the first, and joined the second to it, (Mark xii. 30,) "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself and shews that in the former is established perfect theoretical, and in the second perfect practical virtue; and so, in like manner, the holy Apostle, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law; and then he goes on to say, 11. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time for us to awake out of sleep; that is, especially as this is not a time for sleep, but for arousing ourselves from slumber; for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed; for each day we draw nearer to the coming of the Lord (in judgment.) 12. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. By night he means the season of ignorance;24 by the day the time since the appearance of the Lord among us. For the Sun of righteousness having arisen, has enlightened the whole world with the rays of divine knowledge. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. By darkness he means ignorance; and by the works of darkness evil actions; and knowledge is what he calls light; and the performance of good deeds the armour of light. 13. Let us walk honestly, as in the day. By natural things he sets forth spiritual, for so they that embrace a life of sin commit such sin in the night, while in the day time they put on the appearance of orderly conduct. He intends, then, that the night having as it were passed away, and ignorance ceased, we should depart from evil deeds. And what these are he goes on to specify. Not in lasciviousness, and drunkenness; not in chambering and wantonness; not in strife and envying. For in their feasts some were |686 wont to act lewdly, and defile their tongues with obscene songs, all of which drunkenness provokes, as it is also the parent of wantonness, and the teacher of strife and quarrelsomeness. 14. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ. Not that they should receive another baptism, but consider the garment wherewith they were already clothed.25 And make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. Here he stops the mouths of those heretics who condemned the flesh itself,26 for he denounces not care for the body, but forbids luxurious indulgence and intemperance; saying not, make no provision for the body, but make it not for the lusts; that is, prepare it not by luxurious living to play the wanton. Having thus in its turn fully spoken of practical virtue, he now returns again to doctrinal instruction. And here it is first necessary to explain the scope of the Apostle's arguments, that the exposition of what he says may be more clearly understood. The Gentile believers, then, embraced the polity prescribed by the gospel; while many of the Jews who had become proselytes to the gospel, persisted still in submission to the institutions of the law, keeping still to the observation of particular days, and partaking of such food (only) as the law directed. Hence a disunion arose, and indeed positive quarrels, these latter condemning the Gentile believers for their indiscriminate use of all foods, and the former despising them in their turn on account of their extreme and superfluous adherence to the law. To correct all this, therefore, the holy Apostle offers such admonitions as are suited to both parties; and first he exhorts the Gentile believers to brotherly love. |729
1. Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not into distinctions of opinions.27 By weak he means him who was yet a slave to legal observances. 2. For one believeth that he may eat all things; that is, the Gentile convert; another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Some declare that the Jewish proselytes, in order to cast shame on the Gentile converts, abstained not only from swine's flesh, but even from all animal food, under the pretext of self-restraint and temperance; whence the holy Apostle says, he who is weak eateth herbs; for not having a perfect faith,28 he thought that he would be defiled by such kind of food. 3. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not. For the Gentile converts despised the Jewish, as not possessing a sound faith, and as on this account being unwilling to partake of such kind of food. And let not him that eateth not judge him that eateth. And the Jewish indeed condemned the Gentile converts, esteeming their indiscriminate use of every kind of food transgression. For God hath received him; that is, the Gentile convert; and he goes on in his rebuke of the Jew: 4. Who art thou that judgest another's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Every servant while living is a source of profit to his own Master, and on death again brings him loss; and this man then the Lord of all things has bought, having given His own blood as the price of his purchase; and having said "to his own Master he standeth or falleth," he necessarily adds, Yea, he shall be holden up; and establishes what he says by the power of God, for God is able to make him stand. Having spoken thus much concerning foods, he transfers his discourse to the matter of days. 5. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike, (for this purpose.) For some abstained from the meats forbidden by the law at all times, and some on particular days (only). Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He lays not this down as a principle of universal application; for neither does he so bid us reckon as regards the doctrines of religion, seeing that he passes an anathema on those that permit themselves to preach contrary to the truth, (Gal. i. 9:) "For if any one preach unto you," says he, "any other gospel than that ye have received, let him he accursed." Concerning foods, then, only is it that he allows this power to each man's own mind. For so indeed this custom remains in the churches even to the present day, and one man embraces abstinence, and another without scruple takes of all kinds of food, and neither does the former condemn the latter, nor the latter find fault with the former, but mutually glory in |730 the law of concord. 6. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; 29 and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. He says this in condescension to us, 30 in order to produce peace and harmony in the church. The God of all, says he, knows the intention, both of those that eat, and of those that eat not, and he attends not to the bare deed, but inquires into the design of what is done. 7. For none of us liveth to himself, and none of us dieth to himself. 8. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord, and whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. We are not our own lords; we have been bought with a price; and while living, therefore, we are the Lord's, and when dead we are the Lord's; that is, neither art thou his master, nor is he thine; for One we all have for our Lord. 9. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might he Lord, both of the dead and the living. He is the Master of all, who for our sakes gave Himself up to death, who destroyed the power of death, and has promised salvation to us all. To Him, then, are we subject, as from Him having received life. 10. But why dost thou judge thy brother? this he says to the Jew; for we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. And then he also establishes what he says on the testimony of Scripture: 11. For it is written, (see Isa. xliii. 10; xlv. 21, 23; xliv. 6, 8, &c.,) As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God. He is our judge, He is our sentencer; at that tribunal of His we must stand. And indeed this witness of the prophet proves the completeness of the divinity of the Only-begotten. 31 For having said by the prophet, "I am God before all ages, and I am first, and I am afterwards, and even unto eternity I am God, and before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me, and beside Me there is none, and a just God and a Saviour there is none beside Me," then He adds, "By Myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, that unto Me every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess to God." But let us proceed on to what remains of our interpretation. 12. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Having pointed out the tribunal of the Lord, most consistently does he exhort them not to judge one another, but to await that judgment; for so he again subjoins, 13. Let us not therefore judge one another any more; but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block, or an occasion to fall, in his brother's way. Here he directs his rebukes to the Gentile converts, who condescended not to the infirmities of the Jewish proselytes, but esteemed the indifferent use of all kinds of food as the height of virtue and the warmth of zeal. And first, then, he teaches that none of these things is really impure and unclean; and thus he speaks: 14. I know and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that in Him there |731 is nothing unclean. It was necessary, by reason of the infirmity of the Jews, that he should add the expression in the Lord Jesus; for it was that they might not say, Who art thou that legislatest in contradiction of Moses? that he brings forward the Lord of Moses; showing that He had put an end to the observances of the law, and permitted us not to consider any food unclean; for the in Him signifies in His institutions in the gospel; for Himself also said to the blessed Peter, "What God hath cleansed that call not thou unclean." (Acts x. 15.) But to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if a man conceiving such food to be unclean, yet partakes therein, it becomes unclean; not by reason of its own nature, but on account of the opinion of him that thus partakes of it. Having thus distinguished as to these things, he again censures the Gentile converts, who bore32 not the infirmities of the Jews. 15. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. He increases the accusation (by that of want) of charity, to expose him that thus acted; and then even more fully points out the folly of such conduct. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. For him the Lord Christ endured death, while thou art not willing by a mere abstinence in food to gain life for him, but by indulgence contrivest death. 16. Let not then your good be evil spoken of. Again, the accusation is made in conjunction with praise, for faith he calls a good thing. I commend, says he, thy faith, but I would not that it become the cause of injury and reproach. 17. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. For imagine not that this is the perfection of excellence, and what will procure the kingdom of heaven; for what procures that is true righteousness, and concord, and zeal as to peace, and love, from which springs joy, as to God. 18. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. For these things the God of all both requires of us, and they also bring advantage to men. Nor must we fail to observe, that he declares the serving Christ is acceptable to the God of all. If, then, the serving Christ be pleasing to God, so also truly to honour Christ must be pleasing to Him; wherefore likewise to speak evil of Christ, and to attempt to lower His dignity, must be offensive to the God of all. 19. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. It behoves us therefore above all to value a profitable concord, and to do all for the mutual advantage of each other. For meat destroy not the work of God. The believing on Him is what our Lord called the work of God; for "this," says He, "is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent," (John vi. 29). Since then it was probable that some of the Jews would fall away from the faith, not enduring the reproaches of the Gentile believers, aptly does he say, for meat destroy not the work of God. And again, that the Jewish proselytes might not hence gain a pretext for insisting on the observance of the law, he provides against this also, and says, 20. All things indeed are pure; none, says he, of these foods is unclean by its own nature, but it is evil to that man who eateth with offence; but to thee, |732 nevertheless, indulgence therein brings injury, because thou neglectest thy neighbour's interests, and seest him suffer with contempt. 21. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. And not as regards flesh alone, but wine also, I bid thee never to indulge in either, if this really work any harm to thy neighbour. 22. Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. In the full exercise of faith thou keepest the law (of Christian liberty in the gospel, v. 14, and Gal. v. 1, &c.) Great is the possession, worthy of praise the excellence, but let it not be to the detriment of thy neighbour. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. The expression insinuates that the Gentile converts were in the habit of compelling the Jews to partake of those things they were averse to; he teaches therefore that the believer33 indeed derives no injury from the use of them, but that he who eats, while yet making a distinction, partakes in such as unclean, wherefore he pronounces him happy that judges not himself; that is, who makes no such difference (in his own mind); and so he subjoins, in explanation, 23. But he that maketh a distinction is condemned if he eat; and he shews the reason, because he eateth not of faith; but whatsoever is not of faith is sin. For he who believes harmlessly partakes, but he who eats with any such distinction passes sentence on himself. And that he may prove himself enjoining what is agreeable to God, he offers up a fervent prayer in their behalf; 34 Now to Him that is of power to stablish you; and after what manner to stablish? according to my gospel; and what is his gospel? and the preaching of Jesus Christ; and pointing out the antiquity of that preaching, he adds, according to the revelation of the mystery; for not now is the mystery framed, but now is it made known, having been long concealed; for so he goes on to say, which was kept secret since the world began; and then he brings forward also the witnesses of this preaching, but now is made manifest and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God; for what He had darkly foreshown in the prophets, these things has the Maker of all ages now clearly displayed; and what is the fruit of this preaching? for the obedience of faith, for it behoves them that hear to believe what is preached; and who are they? made known to all nations. Thus it is to be understood, according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, made known to all nations. To God only wise, through Christ Jesus, to whom be glory for ever, Amen. Having set forth the mystery of the dispensation, of old indeed fore-appointed, and then predicted in the prophets, and afterwards become manifest indeed, he magnifies the wisdom of God, and utters forth a doxology suitable thereto. But if the heretics should assert that God (the Father) is here called the alone wise, let them know that the Lord Christ is not only so called wise, but wisdom itself. (Prov. iii. 19, &c.) And if indeed they think it right to deprive the Son of this name of wise, so neither let them call Him immortal, for the same Apostle says of God, "who alone hath |733 immorlity." (1 Tim. vi. 16).35 But leaving such to their own folly, let us proceed onwards in our course. Having then thus offered up these supplications for them, the holy Apostle adds exhortations, giving praise to the Gentile converts, and designating them as strong, by reason of their faith.
1. We then that are strong ought to hear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2. Let every one of us please his neighbour, for his good to edification:—I know that thou art brought to completeness, and that faith has made thee strong, but I exhort thee to extend a hand to him that is weak, and not to seek thine own (comfort or convenience) alone, but to consult also the advantage of thy neighbour; and he says not merely to please thy neighbour, but for his good to edification, since it is very possible to please a neighbour both to his and our own injury; and then the example, 3. For even Christ pleased not himself, but as it is written (Ps. lxix. 9), "The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me.'' For even the Lord Himself sought not his own (convenience), but for our salvation gave Himself up to death. For we heard Him in his passion praying, and saying (Matt. xxvi. 39), "O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me, nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt and he bore also the blasphemies of the Jews, and those which they had formerly brought upon His Father by their wicked lives,36 the same they uttered against Him; on which account it is that he here cites that testimony of the prophet. 4. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience, and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. God, providing for our advantage, has both afforded us a written rule of doctrine, and also preserved in written history the accounts of the saints. 5. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one towards another according to Christ Jesus. Again by the addition of the according to Christ Jesus he shews that he does not indiscriminately beg for a concord of any kind for them, but the concord of godliness: and speaking of patience and comfort, he joins therewith the mention of love; that adorned therewith they might bear the imperfections of their neighbour, and by mutual counsel and comfort lead him on to completeness. 6. That with one mind and one mouth ye may glorify God. even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He calls God our God, but our Lord Jesus Christ's Father, for He who is the God of us all, is His Father. 7. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. And indeed the Lord Christ loved us not as being holy, but receiving us while sinners so justified; we ought therefore ourselves also to bear the weakness of our brethren, and do all to forward their salvation. And seeing that the Jewish proselytes put forward the circumcision of our Lord, asserting that even Himself also had embraced the polity of the law, the holy Apostle thought it worth while to write what was fitting on this subject |734 also; and he says, 8. Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the Father; 9. And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy. The God of all things promised to Abraham that in his seed He would bless all nations; and the patriarch himself and all his race received the sign of circumcision; it behoved therefore Him also, who is called "his seed after the flesh," and who shed forth the blessing on the Gentiles, to bear the sign of his kindred, that the truth of the divine promise might be clearly manifested, and the Gentiles receiving that grace might magnify Him, from whom the loving-kindness has flowed to them. And then he adduces scriptural testimonies, shewing that the salvation of the Gentiles had been predicted of old; As it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto Thy name (Ps. xviii. 49). 10. And again it saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people, (Deut. xxxii. 13). 11. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles, and laud Him, all ye people. (Ps. cxvii. 1). 12. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and He that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in Him shall the Gentiles trust. Now these testimonies he cites in order to teach the Jewish converts not to be offended at the salvation of the Gentiles, but believe the prophecies concerning them. And again he implores a blessing on them, exhibiting the fatherly affection he bore to them. 13. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. He had already above said, in the part of this Epistle which we have expounded, that "hope which is seen is not hope"' (ch. viii. 24); wherefore also he calls God the God of hope, as having of old given to the Gentiles the hope of the blessing, and now established that promise by deeds; and this is a pledge of the blessings yet hoped for; for He who promised those things, and then fulfilled them, will altogether fulfil also what He has now promised to us. And he bids us not only hope, but abound in hope, that is, hope sincerely, and expect to behold the blessings that we hope for; and this (confidence) he says the grace of the spirit affords. Having thus recommended these things, and invoked a blessing on them, he goes on to accord praise to them, by this leading them onward to yet greater goodness; 14. And I myself also am persuaded of you, brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish others. I know, says he, that ye need not instruction; for ye both possess sufficiently ample knowledge, and abound in good of every kind, so as even to extend to others also every fitting exhortation. 15. Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God. He displays at the same time the modesty of his own mind in saying he made bold to teach them; and exhibits this grace given to him, in teaching that he writes in subservience to it. And what grace then is this given to thee? 16. That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God. I have been appointed the teacher of the Gentiles, this is the ministry I present to the Lord Christ; and what is the gain arising from thence? That the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. I readily undergo any labour that the Gentiles may be established in the faith. I obtain the grace of the Spirit, for by the |735 ministry he means preaching, and by the acceptable offering a sincere and genuine faith. I have done nothing then out of place,37 says he, if I have at all written somewhat more boldly, and rebuked them that offend. 17. I have therefore whereof I may glory in Jesus Christ, in those things which pertain to God. And then he points out the character of that glorying; 18. For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed. 19. By the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God. My boasting is not in mine own labours, but in the gift bestowed on me by the Lord Christ. For he has given me the grace of the thrice-holy Spirit, to the working of signs and wonders; so that by these means the Gentiles have been rescued unto life, and received the light of divine knowledge. And he shews also to how large a portion of the Gentiles he had preached; so that from Jerusalem and in a circle unto Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. For I have tended not those nations lying in the direct line only, but traversing also in a circle have fully supplied with the doctrines of the gospel the eastern regions also, and those about Pontus, together with portions of Asia and Thrace; for this is what the words in a circle indicate. 20. Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation, 21. But as it is written, (Isa. lii. 15), To whom He was not spoken of they shall see; and they that have not heard shall understand. This shews the diligent earnestness of his zeal in labouring, in that taking in hand the fields that as yet had been uncultivated, he ploughed them up, and sowed, and converted them into fruitful corn fields, and brought its due fulfilment to the prophecy. 22. For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you. For my engagement among these others has prevented my presence among yourselves. 23. But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you, 24. Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you; for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company. He gives two reasons for his coming to them—that the rest had been preached unto, no nation remaining among which the doctrines of the gospel had not been heard; and his own love towards them. For the former hindrances having ceased, his longing after them excited him to the journey; and he declares that this his affection had been long antecedent to his actual coming, for for these many years, says he, have I earnestly desired to see you; and he tells them before-hand that he will not only see them, but take in Spain also; and that they may not hence conceive that his visit to them was merely by the way,38 he adds, and by you to be brought on my way thitherward, if first I be somewhat filled with your company; for you are they whom I first wish to see, and after you them. 25. But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. By ministering he means the distribution of a pecuniary collection; and he mentions also the senders thereof; 26. For they of Macedonia and Achaia have been benevolently |736 inclined to make a communication to the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. It was indeed under a previously-arranged agreement to this effect with the blessed Apostles, Peter I mean, and James, and John, that the divinely-appointed Barnabas and Paul undertook the teaching of the Gentiles, promising to exhort the converts among the Gentiles to minister to the wants of the faithful in Judaea; and this he clearly teaches in his epistle to the Galatians (ii. 9, 10), for "Peter,'' says he, "and James, and John, who seemed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision, only they would that we should remember the poor, the same which I also was forward to do." This it is he here also speaks of, praising the zeal of Macedonia and Achaia; and this he calls both a benevolence and a debt; 27. They are benevolently inclined verily, and their debtors they are; and whence arose this debt? For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. To them, says he, appertained the Patriarchs as their forefathers; to them the promises were made; their prophets it was who prophesied the blessings now common to both; of them according to His human nature was the Lord Christ; of them the Apostles the teachers of the whole world; through them have the gifts of the Spirit been shed abroad; it is right then that they who have imparted of the greater, should in return receive of the lesser; wherefore also he above calls the contribution of money a communication, and again afterwards a ministry; by the expression communication shewing it to be a repayment, and by that of ministry a tribute due. 28. When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain. Having sealed to them this fruit, to the Macedonians and Achaians he means; for I offer the things sent, to the right hand of God through the hands of the saints, and it will keep them sale and uninjured.39 29. But I know that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. By the fulness of the blessing of the gospel he means, the dangers for the gospel's sake which he underwent at Jerusalem;40 as what follows evinces, 30. I beseech you, therefore, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; 31. That I may be delivered from them which do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints. With what praise worthy of it could any crown this blessed, aye, thrice blessed, brow? For first he both knew what would happen, and foretels it, for so he spoke to the elders of Ephesus at Miletus, "that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, that bonds and afflictions await me" (Acts xx. 2:5); and when Agabus also predicted the same things, and all were weeping and endeavouring to detain him, the holy man cried out, "What, mean ye to weep and break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts xxi. 13); and here he predicted that he would |737 see both the Romans and Spaniards; and he adds that he would even come"in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ." And then, as fully contemplating the madness of the Jews, he begs also for their prayers not only as respected the disbelievers, but the believers also; for neither were they affectionately disposed towards him, because esteeming him a violator of the law;41 on which account he added, and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints. With a thousand labours had he collected these offerings, using every argument of exhortation with the disciples thereto, and yet he fears concerning those who should receive them, lest their dislike to himself should have greater weight with them than their own wants. 32. That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. Not even what is good does he wish to obtain, unless it be in accordance with the will of God. 33. Now the God of peace be with you all, Amen. Not without cause does he here speak of God, as the God of peace; but both as himself needing it, by reason at once of those that openly opposed him and those that regarded him with suspicion; and as imploring it for them, on account of the differences they had between themselves, respecting legal observances.
1. I commend unto you Phoebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea, 2. That ye receive her in the Lord as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you, for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also. 3. Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus. Cenchrea is a very large village of Corinth. Well then may we admire the power of the gospel, in that in so short a time it had filled with true godliness not the towns only but even the villages also; and so great was the body of the church at Cenchrea, as to have a woman acting as deaconess; 42 and her a celebrated and illustrious person; for so largely did she abound in good works as to have obtained praises like the above from the tongue of an apostle; for she has been a succourer, says he, of many, and of myself also, by succour meaning, as I conceive, hospitality and kind attention. And he repays her with far greater honours in return; for she, it seems, received him into one house, and for a short time; that, it is plain, which he spent at Corinth; while he has opened the whole world to her, and in every land and sea is that woman become celebrated, so that not the Romans only and the Greeks have known her, but even every barbarian nation. And yet she next mentioned has surpassed even her, for Priscilla, or Prisca, for both names are to be found in the Bible, and Aquila, he calls fellow-helpers; and he adds the in Christ Jesus, lest any one should imagine that he alluded to a community of employment, seeing that they also were tent-makers; |738 and he mentions also another trial (undergone by them on his account) of the greatest kind; 4. Who have for my life laid down their own necks.43 And to his private he subjoins the public (debt to them) unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; and he commemorates also another praiseworthy virtue on their part, for he salutes, 5. Likewise the church that is in their house. The expression shews the greatness of their piety, for they instructed, it appears, all their household in the highest virtue, and gladly performed within their walls all the sacred rites of religion; 44 and of these the holy Luke also takes notice, and shews how they led Apollos to the truth. (Acts xviii. 20). Salute my well-beloved Epenetus, who is the first fruits of Achaia unto Christ. For he was the first, it seems, of the whole nation that believed, on which account it was that he here receives the appellation of the first fruits. Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us. Another woman, again, crowned for her individual labours. 7. Salute Andronicus and Junia my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the Apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Many at once are the encomia here; and first that they had been partakers in the dangers of the holy Paul, for he calls them fellow-prisoners as having shared with him in his sufferings; and next he says that they are of note, not among the disciples, but the teachers; nor among ordinary teachers, but the Apostles;45 and he extols them also on account of the date of their faith, for he says, who were in Christ before me, for I myself was called subsequently to them; and I (Theodoret) am every where amazed at the humble-mindedness of the divine Apostle (lit. head.) 8. Greet Amplias, my beloved in the Lord. Nor is this slight praise, for it is in the Lord that he calls him beloved; and this is demonstrative of his excellences. 9. Salute Urbanus our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. With even yet greater praises does he honour Urbanus, for he calls him a helper both in the preaching, and in the labours and sufferings, for Christ's sake. 10. Salute Apelles proved in Christ. A testimony of the highest virtue, for to have no alloy of dross is the summit of excellences. 11. Salute them which are of Arislobulus's household, and Herodion my kinsman, and those of the household of Narcissus. It is evident that they were believing families; but of those of Narcissus he says, who are in the Lord, as there being, forsooth, some who had not yet become so. 12. Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Again, from their labours come the crown; and that labour the words shew to have been one either of hospitality or fasting, or other such virtue. Salute Persis the beloved which laboured much in the Lord. Ampler is her praise, for her zeal in labouring was ampler. 13. Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. And most enviable also is this encomium, for many are called but few chosen; 46 and his mother he praises as adorned |739 with many noble acts of virtue, for not otherwise could she have been deemed worthy of being called the mother of Paul; for of Rufus indeed nature made her the mother, but of the holy Paul respect for her virtue. 14. Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Thermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them. This was another society of the faithful worthy of Paul's greeting. 15. Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympus, and all the saints which are with them. And these again living together, on account of the virtue they possessed obtained the Apostle's salutation. Having thus greeted these by name, he then bids them all salute each other, for, 16. Salute one another, says he, with an holy kiss. For, as being absent he could not himself salute47 them, he does it through them, enjoining them to salute one another, and to salute with an holy kiss, chaste, modest, sincere, and true, and void of all deceit. All the churches of Christ salute you. From the whole world, so to speak, he salutes the Empress of the world. 17. Now I beseech you, brethren, to mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them. He alludes in these words to the evil advocates of the law, whose precepts he bids them to avoid, while praising the teaching of the chief of the Apostles; for the expression causing such contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned is that of one who greatly admires the doctrine they had already obtained. 18. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly. And from hence it is plain that it is of the Jews that he is thus speaking, for he is perpetually condemning their gluttony, and so elsewhere he says, "whose God is their belly."48 And by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. By fair speeches he means praise (flattery); and he hints that some had already been seduced by them, for they deceive, says he, the hearts of the simple; not depravity of disposition indeed, but simplicity does he allege as the cause. And then again he excites them with praises, 19. For your obedience is come abroad unto all men, that you gladly received the apostolic doctrines.49
I am glad therefore, says he, on your behalf; and yet while praising he still continues to instruct, but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and harmless concerning evil. And this rule also the Lord gave to the Apostles, saying, "Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves." |740 And this saying of our Lord signifies, that we are to put away from us the snares brought in by our enemies, and least of all to revenge ourselves on those that injure us. 20. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. Since he had commanded them to be on their guard against their enemies, most opportunely does he beseech God to confound the teacher of all snares, and cast him beneath the feet of the believers. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Having pointed out the enemy, he next points out the Helper, for they that have obtained the divine grace possess that which is invincible. 21. Timotheus my work-fellow, and Lucius and Jason, and Sosipater my kinsmen salute you. The first has the glory of a participation in works, the others relationship; but the fellow-worker is far more honourable than the relation; and this is the same Timothy whom in Lystra he circumcised (Acts xvi. 3), and to whom he wrote those two epistles. And of Jason also the history of the Acts makes mention (ch. xvii.) 22. I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord. And he also was one of those who had been thought worthy to enjoy the instructions of the Apostle, wherefore receiving the outpourings of his holy spirit through the tongue he was commanded to commit them to paper. 23.Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. And this also is the greatest testimony of praise, to have opened one's house to the nurselings of the faith, and together with all others to have ministered even to the very teachers of the whole world; for by host he means entertainer.50 And he was a Corinthian, as the holy Apostle also teaches us in his epistle to the Corinthians, "I thank my God," says he, "that I baptized none of you but Crispus and Gaius." (ch. i. 14). Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother. He calls him not the treasurer of the church, but of the city, as one fully entrusted with some charge; and he makes mention of him who in the epistle to Timothy, thus speaking, (2 Ep. iv. 20), "Erastus abode at Corinth, but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick." 21. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, Amen. Again he imparts to them the spiritual benediction, and surrounds them with the grace of the Lord as with a wall of adamant, for this he made the beginning of his epistle, and this he places as its end. In this grace let us also become partakers, that we may rise superior to all snares; that by it enlightened we may without turning aside tread the strait road, and following in the Apostolic footsteps be deemed worthy to behold the teacher himself, and by his means 51 enjoy the favour of the Lord, and obtain the promised blessing, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ; with whom, to the Father, together with the thrice-holy Spirit, belong glory and majesty, now and ever, and unto endless ages. Amen.
1. * [Greek]
2. + Most probably Ebed-melech. See Jer. xxxviii. 7 9. and xxxix. 16, 17.—E.B.
3. * [Greek]
4. * [Greek] The external observances and ceremonies, its shadows and types, &c. —E.B.
5. ++ .... The sentence then seems so arranged, as at first to appear vindicatory of the Jews; for how indeed, may they say, could we call on one we do not believe in? or believe, without having duly heard of by preachers appointed of God, while yet we have none such in our church, and according to our law? Thus would they be led on in apparent self-justification to the last point, on which all depends; and then, by proof that they had had such, as much altogether condemned, as before apparently justified.—E.B.
6. * In one MS. this is explained as adapted from Psalm xviii. 4. LXX.—E.B.
7. + Ἡ τῶν ἐθνῶν εὐσέβιά τε καὶ περιφάνεια, their conversion and acceptance to the privileges of the elect.—E.B.
8. * So the prayer in the Burial Service, " Beseeching Thee . . . shortly to accomplish the number of Thine elect and to hasten Thy kingdom," &c. Eng. Rit.—E. B.
9. * See on Dan. xii. 1, where this opinion, (one entertained by some both among Jews and Christians, see Calmet "Elijah,") that in the times of Antichrist, Elijah will come as his opponent, is more fully dilated on.—E. B.
10. + 1 Sam. x. 10, and xviii. 10,12.
11. ++ 1 Kings ii. 9; xv. 23-26.
12. * See ch. iii. v. 19.
13. + [Greek] created us from nothing in the first instance, and when created, blessed with a state and means of well-being, both as regards present life and eternity.—E. B.
14. ++ Which such difference was maintained by those heretics who denied our Lord's consubstantiality and equality with the Father; the of whom indicating, in their opinion, the superiority of the Father commanding; the through whom the inferiority of the Son executing; which, if it were so, would, as our author observes, make that Person in the ever blessed Trinity here spoken of, if it be the Father, less than Himself, by the lower expression being equally here applied to him with the higher; and if the Son, greater than Himself, by the higher being predicated of Him together with the lower.— E. B.
15. * Ch. viii. 13.
16. + [Greek] figures, shadows, unrealities, appearances without substance.—E. B.
17. * The gifts of interpretation and exposition. 1 Cor. xiv. 3, 6, 22, 39, &c.— E.B.
18. * Καθαρὸν, pure, free from mist, in active, healthy, and unimpeded vigour. Compare Matt. vi. 22 —E. B.
19. + Faithful and steadfast, as translated below, and as given, same word, Matt. x. 22, Rom, ii. 7, &c.—E. B.
20. ++ Fellow Christians, ch. i. 7. ad fin. and so ch. xv. on ver. 26.— E. B.
21. § i. e. a partner in their wants, and of the praise due to his and their conduct under such, as our author explains the sentence next quoted in its proper place, 2 Cor. viii. 14 "Your repayment is the very highest, and by giving the less you will receive the greater; for ye will become sharers with them in their praiseworthy patience and constancy—E. B.
22. * [Greek] as our own phrase goes, "to hear a thing with philosophy," not that "falsely so called," of the stoic, but of the Christian.—E. B.
23. + And compare 1 Tim vi. 1 — E. B.
24. * Compare Acts xvii. 30.—E. B.
25. * Compare on Ch. vi. 10; and Gal. iii. 27.—E. B.
26. + See on Ch. viii. 13.—E. B.
27. * μῆ εἶς διακρίσεις λογισμῶν. Not so as to make any difference between him and others on account of his ideas respecting clean and unclean meats; as the whole context of the chapter seems to demand.
28. + τελείαν, weaned from ancient prejudices to understand the full liberty of the Gospel. Comp. Heb. v. 12, to end; 1 Cor. viii. 7,11; Gal. v. 1, &c. — E.B.
29. * For the Lords sake, as thinking this most agreeable to Him; the one to make, and the other not to make, such a distinction of days and meats.— E.B.
30. + συγκαταβατικῶς. In kind consideration of the infirmities of those he addressed, ch. vi. 19, &c.—E. B.
31. ++ Because to Him, Christ, spoken of in the last sentence as our Judge, (see Acts xvii. 31.) are applied also the highest divine truths, which immediately follow here, and in the prophet precede the "every knee," &c.—E. B.
32. * In the same sense as in ch. xv. 1, submitting and hearing them themselves also, and so, as it were, lessening the weight mutually carried. See Gal. vi. 2: Luke xi. 46: Acts xv. 28; 1 Cor. ix. 22.—E B.
33. * ὁ πιστεύων, the sound and strong in the faith, the believer in their innocency.—E. B.
34. + Most of MSS. now extant, it appears, here with Theodoret place this doxology, or prayer, though we are informed that in Origen's time some gave it here, and some at the end of the Epistle. See Terrot, in loco.—E.B.
35. * i.e. As they allowed our blessed Lord the name of "Immortal," so must they also of "wise," the argument being the same.—E. B.
36. + See on ch. ii. 21, and John xv. 23, 24 —E. B.
37. * περιττόν, superfluous, not becoming me, over-forwardly, officiously, out of character.—E.B.
38. + πάρεργον τῆς ὁδοῦ, a mere second thought, and dependent on his journey to Spain, to turn aside for a flying visit to them in his passage.—E.B.
39. * Comp. Prov. xix. 17, and the sentences at the "offertory'' and prayer for "church militant." English Ritual.—E. B.
40. + Comp. Matt. v. 10, 11, 12; Mark x. 30. The persecution he met at Jerusalem being the cause of his being carried to Rome. Comp. the prophecy here with Acts xxviii. 16-21.—E. B.
41. * Acts xxi. 20, 21.— E. B.
42. + That is, it was already numerous enough to require the services of a deaconess. Their offices, says Bingham, were to assist at the baptism of women; to be a sort of private catechists to the women-catechumens; to visit and attend women that were sick and in distress; to minister to the martyrs and confessors in prison; to attend at the women's gate of the church; to preside over the widows, &c.; but not to execute any part of the sacerdotal office, or do the duties of the sacred function; for women, says he, were always forbidden to perform any such offices as these. Orig. Eccl. Book ii. Ch. 22.—E. B.
43. * They exposed their lives to save his, probably at Corinth, Acts xviii. 19; or at Ephesus, xix. 30-35.—E. B.
44. + Both Greeks and Romans reckon him a Bishop; the latter of the see of Heraclea. See Calmet.
45. ++ Either as highly esteemed by the Apostles, or as being themselves of note as apostles and teachers: on which latter comp. 2 Cor. viii. 23; Phil. ii. 25; Acts xiv. 14—E.B.
46. § Matt. xx. 16. Comp. on Canticles, ii. 2. [Greek] "They are thus spoken of, as daughters, from their having been blessed with the privilege of (or deemed worthy of) the calling, while they have deprived themselves of being the elected likewise, and again, by sons, as those by daughters, he speaks of those who had been blessed with the privilege of the call, but had rendered themselves unworthy of the election likewise." Comp. 2 Pet. i. 10, 11; 1 Cor. x. 1-7. "Take heed, therefore, lest sitting still, now that we are called, we fall asleep in our sins, and the wicked one, getting the dominion over us . . . shut us out of the kingdom of the Lord ...lest it happen to us as it is written, There be many called, but few chosen." Catholic Epistle of St. Barnabas, ch. iv. Wake's Apost. Fathers.—E. B.
47. * Literally embrace. Comp. Acts xx. 37.—E. B.
48. + Phil. iii. 19, on which passage the comment informs us, that the Jews were most particular and self-indulgent in their feastings, and conceived it the height of virtue to have sumptuous entertainments on the sabbath, ...—E. B.
49. ++ Or the teaching of the Apostle, .... See on ch. i. 11.—E. B.
51. + διὰ τῆς ἐκείνου πρεσβείας,if by following his footsteps,as above, and giving heed to his doctrine comp. on xv. 16, pref. to ch. xii. ad fin., and end of ch. viii.&c.:if with the editors and translators of the edition used per illius intercessionem, comp. on Coloss. ii. 18, and iii.17, where our author says, that it was the very advocates for the laws, whom he here so loudly condemns, as those also, who erroneously taught that we were to address the angels, and by their means conciliate the divine favour: while referring to the Laodicean Canon prohibiting the worship of angels (Can. 35, Johnson's Clerg. Vad. Mec). See also Bingham, Book 13, ch. iii.
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2013. This file and all material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely. From: "The Christian Remembrancer, or, The churchman's biblical, ecclesiastical & literary miscellany", 22 (1840) p.30 &c.
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