Chrysostom on Rm
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THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
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HOMILIES ON THE ACTS AND THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS
2 Homilies on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans
(Ap J. B. Morris, M. A., OF Exeter College, Oxford, And
(Ap W. H. Simcox, Fellow of Queen’s College, Oxford.revised, with Notes, by George B. Stevens, Ph.D. D.D., Professor in Yale University).
St. Chrysostom’s Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans in one of the closest and most argumentative of thse he has left us. The style of the Epistle itself called for this, being such as almost constantly to remind anattentive reader of the necessity of froming some notion of the views and feelings of the persons to whom it was orginally addressed. To this point St. Crysotom has paid much attention, and has consequently obtained a far clearer view of the doctinal bearing of the Epistle than most other commentators. His early rhetorical education would probably have given him even to strong a bias toward that kind of exposition, but for his supsequent course of severe discipline and ascetic devotion. As it is, the rhetorical element in his commentary is of ver great value. His ready apprehension of the effect intended to be prodcued by the style and wording of a sentence, is often the means of clearing up what minght othewise seem obscure of even inconsistent. An example of this occurs in the beginning of the seventh cahpter, which he expounds in the 12th Homily. The illustration of uor release from the Law of Moses by partaking in the Death of Christ, by the dissolution of marriage at deat, is so stated in the Epistle as to contain an apparent inconsistency, as though the death of the Law, and the death of the personn, were confounded. And the various readings only shift the difficulty, without removing it. This, however, he has very ably shown to be, in fact, an argument a priori. Other cases will strike other persons as they happen to have found difficulty in the Text.
A far higher qualification for interpreting St. Paul, in whom, as much as in any of the sacred writers, the Man appears as well as the guiding Spirit, was that peculrar affection with which he regared him, and which he expersses particularly in the beginning of the introduction, and at the close of the last Homily. The effect of this is perhaps best traced in the commentary on Rm ix., 3, Hom xvi.
The elaborate composition of these Homilies, and the close attention which it must have required, has been though an indication that they must have been delivered before the Author was engaged in the cares of the Bishopric of Constantinople. But Tillemont has detected even surer indications, which place the point clearly beyond all question. In his exortation to Charity, Homily 8 he speaks of himself and his hearers as under one Bishop. It has been objected that he speaks of himself as Pastor, in Hom. 29,but he does the same in other Homilies, certainly delivered by him when he was only a preacher at Antioch, and the terms are less definite than in the other case, 5,ad. P. Ant. Hom. 20,on the Statutes. Besides, he seems to address persons who have ready access to the place in which St. Paul taught and was bound, which cannot be shown to tally with Constantinople, but evidently agrees with Antioch. The bindong of St. Pault there mentioned is not, however, on record, and it is just possible he may mean in that expression to refer to another place.
Some account of the life of the Author has been biven in the Preface to the Homilies on the First Epistle of to the Corinthians, already translated. It may be worthwhile, however, to notice particlarly, in connection with this work, the manner in which St. Chrysostom was quoted in the Pelagian controversy, as some of the passages were taken from it.
St. Augustin, adv. Julianum. 50,1, c. 6,discusses a passage in a Homily to the newly baptized, which was alleged against the doctrine of Original Sin. He had spoken of infants as not having sins, meaning of course actual sins, as the plural number implies. The words were, however, easily turned in translation so as to bear another sense. St. August quotes on the other side his Letter to Olympias, that “Adam by his sin condemned the whole race of men.” And Hom. ix in Gn c. I 5,28, where he speaks of the loss of command over the creation, as a penalty of the Fall. And finally a pasage from the homily before quoted (as ad Neophytos), in which he speaks of our Lord finding us “bound by a hereditary debt;” and one in Hom. 10,of this commentary, viz. that on Rm 5,14. Theseare sufficient to make it clear, that St. Chrysostom did not hold any Pelagian doctrine on this point.
With respect to Free-will, he has one or two passages, as in Hom on the words of St. Paul, 2Co 4,13. Ben. t. 3,p. 264. “that God does not precede our wills with his gifts; but when we have begun, when we have sent our will before, then He gives us abundant opportunities of salvation.” However, in Hom. 58,in Gn he says, “though he received help from above, yet he first did his own part. So let us persuade ourseves, that though we strive ever so much, we can do no good thing at all, except we are aided by help from above. For as we can never do anything aright without that help, so unless we contribute our own share, we shall not be able to obtain help from above.” This illustrates his meaning about doing our own part first, and shows that he does not mean to exclude Divine aid in the very beginning of good actions, only not superseding the motion of our will. the word gifts is also to be observed. He probably did not think of its being applicable to the first motions of prevenient grace, intending himself the Evangelical gifts. This view of his meaning seems to solve the difficulties of his expressions, so far as is necessary in a writer more rhetorical than logical. Some passages in this Commentary bear on the point, as Rm 2,16, and 8,26.
3 In a letter to Olympias, shortly before his death, he laments the errors of a “Monk Pelagius,” and it is supposed that he means the well-known heretic.
The present Translation is from the text of Savile, except where otherwise noted. For the first sixteen Homilies, several mss. have been collated in Paris, with a view to an Edition of the original, the res of the collation is not yet come to hand. Four contain nearly the whole of the Commentary, and three more several parts of it: two of these were partially used by the Benedictine Editors, and supply some valuable readings in the latter homilies. There is also one ms. in the Bodleian Library, which has many mistakes, but agrees in general with the best readins in those which have been collated. It containes nearly the whole text as far as Hom. 30,and has been entirely collated after Hom. xvi and for a great part of the earlier Homilies.
The Editors are indebted for the Translation, and much of the matter contained in the notes, to the Reverend J.B. Morris, M.A., of Exeter College, as well as for the Index.
The Benedictine text having been revies by Mr. Field with singular acument by id of collations of all European mss. of any account, it was not thought right to republish this important volume without revising the tranlation by that text. This was kindly undertaken by the Ap W. H. Somcox, late Fellow of Queen’s College, and has been executed with the care and exactness to be expected from that accomplished scholar. In other respects, he has with a remarkable modesty left the previous translation untouched.
1876 E. B. Pusey
10 As I keep hearing the Epistles of the blessed Paul read, and that twice every week, and often three or four times, whenever we are celebrating the memorials of the holy martyrs, gladly do I enjoy the spiritual trumpet, and get roused and warmed with desire at recognizing the voice so dear to me, and seem to fancy him all but present to my sight, and behold him conversing with me. But I grieve and am pained, that all people do not know this man, as much as they ought to know him; but some are so far ignorant of him, as not even to know for certainty the number of his Epistles. And this comes not of incapacity, but of their not having the wish to be continually conversing with this blessed man. For it is not through any natural readiness and sharpness of wit that even I am acquainted with as much as I do know, if I do know anything, but owing to a continual cleaving to the man, and an earnest affection towards him. For, what belongs to men beloved, they who love them know above all others; because they are interested in them. And this also this blessed Apostle shows in what he said to the Philippians; “Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the Gospel.” (Ph 1,7). And so ye also, if ye be willing to apply to the reading of him with a ready mind, will need no other aid. For the word of Christ is true which saith, “Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Mt 7,7). But since the greater part of those who here gather themselves to us, have taken upon themselves the bringing up of children, and the care of a wife, and the charge of a family, and for this cause cannot afford to all events aroused to receive those things which have been brought together by others, and bestow as much attention upon the hearing of what is said as ye give to the gathering together of goods. For although it is unseemly to demand only so much of you, yet still one must be content if ye give as much. For from this it is that our countless evils have arisen—from ignorance of the Scriptures; from this it is that the plague of heresies has broken out; from this that there are negligent lives; from this labors without advantage. For as men deprived of this daylight would not walk aright, so they that look not to the gleaming of the Holy Scriptures must needs be frequently and constantly sinning, in that they are walking the worst darkness. And that this fall not out, let us hold our eyes open to the bright shining of the Apostle’s words; for this man’s tongue shone forth above the sun, and be abounded more than all the rest in the word of doctrine; for since he labored more abundantly than they, he also drew upon himself a large measure of the Spirit’s grace. (1Co 15,10). And this I constantly affirm, not only from his Epistles, but also from the Acts. For if there were anywhere a season for oratory, to him men everywheregave place. Wherefore also he was thought by the unbelievers to be Mercurius, because he took the lead in speech. (Ac 14,12). And as we are going to enter fully into this Epistle, it is necessary to give the date also at which it was written. For it is not, as most think, before all the others, but before all that were written from Rome, yet subsequent to the rest, though not to all of them. For both those to the Corinthians were sent before this: and this is plain from what he wrote at the end of this, saying as follows: “But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints: for it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.” (Rm 15,25-26). For in writing to the Corinthians he says: “If it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me” (1Co 16,4); meaning this about those who were to carry the money from thence. Whence it is plain, that when he wrote to the Corinthians, the matter of this journey of his was in doubt, but when to the Romans, it stood now a decided thing. And this being allowed, the other point is plain, that this Epistle was after those. But that to the Thessalonians also seems to me to be before the Epistle to the Corinthians: for having written to them before, and having moved the question of alms to them, when he said, “But as touching brotherly love, ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren” (1Th 4,9-10): then he wrote to the Corinthians. And this very point he makes plain in the words, “For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago, and your zeal hath provoked very many” (2Co 9,2): whence he shows that they were the first he had spoken to about this. This Epistle then is later than those, but prior (prwth) to those from Rome; for he had not as yet set foot in the city of the Romans when he wrote this Epistle, and this he shows by saying, “For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift.” (Rm 1,11). But it was from Rome he wrote to the Philip plans; wherefore he says, “All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caear’s household” (Ph 4,22): and to the Hebrews from thence likewise, wherefore also he says, “all they of Italy salute them.” (He 13,24). And the Epistle to Timothy he sent also from Rome, when in prison; which also seems to me to be the last of all the Epistles; and this is plain from the end: “For I am now ready to be offered,” he says, “and the time of my departure is at hand.” (2Tm 4,6). But that he ended his life there, is clear, I may say, to every one. And that to Philemon is also very late, (for he wrote it in extreme old age, wherefore also he said, “as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner in Christ Jesus”) (Phm 1,9), yet previous to that to the Colossians. And this again is plain from the end. For in writing to the Colossians, he says, “All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, whom I have sent with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother.” (Col 4,7). For this was that Onesimus in whose behalf he composed the Epistle to Philemon. And that this was no other of the same name with him, is plain from the mention of Archippus. For it is he whom he had taken as worker together with himself in the Epistle to Philemon, when he besought him for Onesimus, whom when writing to the Colossians he stirreth up, saying, “Say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received, that thou fulfil it.” (Col 4,17). And that to the Galatians seems to me to be before that to the Romans.2 But if they have a different order in the Bibles, that is nothing wonderful, since the twelve Prophets, though not exceeding one another in order of time, but standing at great intervals from one another, are in the arrangement of the Bible placed in succession. Thus Haggai and Zachariah and the Messenger3 prophesied after Ezekiel and Daniel, and long after Jonah and Zephaniah and all the rest. Yet they are nevertheless joined with all those from whom they stand so far off in time.
20 But let no one consider this an undertaking beside the purpose, nor a search of this kind a piece of superfluous curiosity; for the date of the Epistles contributes no little to what we are looking after.4 For when I see him writing to the Romans and to the Colossians about the same subjects, and yet not in a like way about the same subjects; but to the former with much condescension, as when he says, “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations; for one believeth that he may eat all things, another, herbs” (Rm 14,1-2): who is weak, eateth weak, but to the Colossians he does not write in this way, though about the same things, but with greater boldness of speech: “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ,” he says, “why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances (touch not, taste not, handle not), which all are to perish with the using, not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh” ();—I find no other reason for this difference than the time of the transaction. For at the first it was needful to be condescending, but afterwards it became no more so. And in many other places one may find him doing this. Thus both the physician and the teacher are used to do. For neither does the physician treat alike his patients in the first stage of their disorder, and when they have come to the point of having health thenceforth, nor the teacher those children who are beginning to learn and those who want more advanced subjects of instruction. Now to the rest he was moved to write by some particular cause and subject, and this he shows, as when he says to the Corinthians, “Touching those things whereof ye wrote unto me” (1Co 7,1): and to the Galatians too from the very commencement of the whole Epistle writes so as to indicate the same thing; but to these for what purpose and wherefore does he write? For one finds him bearing testimony to them that they are “full of goodness, being filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish others.” (Rm 15,14). Why then does he write to them? “Because of the grace of God,” he says, “which is given unto me, that I should be the minister of Jesus Christ” (Rm 15,16): wherefore also he says in the beginning: “I am a debtor; as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the Gospel to you that are at Rome also;” for what is said—as that they are “ble to exhort others also” (Rm 1,14-15),—and the like, rather belongs to encomium and encouragement: and the correction afforded by means of a letter, was needful even for these; for since he had not yet been present, he bringeth the men to good order in two ways, both by the profitableness of his letter and by the expectation of his presence. For such was that holy soul, it comprised the whole world and carried about all men in itself thinking the nearest relationship to be that in God. And he loved them so, as if he had begotten them all, or rather showed (so 4 mss.) a greater instinctive affection than any father (so Field: all mss. give “a father’s toward all”); for such is the grace of the Spirit, it exceedeth the pangs of the flesh, and displays a more ardent longing than theirs. And this one may see specially in the soul of Paul, who having as it were become winged through love, went continually round to all, abiding nowhere nor standing still. For since he had heard Christ saying, “Peter, lovest thou Me? feed My sheep” (Jn 21,15); and setting forth this as the greatest test of love, he displayed it in a very high degree. Let us too then, in imitation of him, each one bring into order, if not the world, or not entire cities and nations, yet at all events his own house, his wife, his children, his friends, his neighbors. And let no one say to me, “I am unskilled and unlearned:” nothing were less instructed than Peter, nothing more rude than Paul, and this himself confessed, and was not ashamed to say, “though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge.” (2Co 11,6). Yet nevertheless this rude one, and that unlearned man,5 overcame countless philosophers, stopped the mouths of countless orators, and did all by heir own ready mind and the grace of God. What excuse then shall we have, if we are not equal to twenty names, and are not even of service to them that live with us? This is but a pretence and an excuse—for it is not want of learning or of instruction which hindereth our teaching, but drowsiness and sleep. (Ac 1,15 Ac 2,41). Let us then having shaken off this sleep with all diligence cleave to our own members, that we may even here enjoy much calm, by ordering in the fear of God them that are akin to us, and hereafter may partake of countless blessings through the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ towards man, through Whom, and with Whom, be glory to the Father, with the Holy Ghost, now, and evermore, and to all ages. Amen.
1 Field counts this as the first Homily: but it seemed needless to disturb the usual numeration).
2 It is remarkable that the conclusions of Chrys. should harmonize so well with the results of modern scholarship in regard to the order of the Pauline epistles. Except in assigning the Epistle to the Hebrews to Paul and in apparently interposing a considerable period between Philemon and Colossians, his statements may be taken as giving the best conclusions of criticism.—G. B. S.
3 “Or ‘Angel,’ i.e. Malachi; who was so called from the expression Ml 1,1 (LXX). dia ceivo" aggelou. autou cf. E. V. in margin ‘by the hand of Malachi’), cf. 2Esdr. 1). 40.”
4 Our author rightly attaches much importance to the time and occasion of writing as bearing upon the meaning of the epistles. The earliest epistles—those to the Thessalonians—relate to Paul’s missionary labors and are but a continuation of the apostle’s preaching. They might almost be called samples of his sermons. The group which falls next in order (Ga 1 and 2 Cor., and Rom). comprehends the great doctrinal discussions of the problems of law and grace, and reflects the conflict of the Apostle to the Gentiles with the Judaizing tendency in all its phases. This group is most important for the study of the Pauline theology. The third group—the epistles of the (first) imprisonment—Col Philem., Ep and Phil.—besides containing a wonderful fulness and richness of Christian thought, exhibits to us the rise and spread of Gnostic heresies,—the introduction of heathen philosophical ideas which were destined to exert a mighty influence upon the theology, religion and life of the church for centuries. The last group—the Pastoral epistles—has a peculiar private and personal character from being addressed to individuals. They have a special value, for all who hold their genuineness, from being the latest Christian counsels of “Paul the aged.”—G. B. S.
5 The “learning” of the Apostle Paul has been greatly exaggerated on both sides. It has been customary to overestimate it. He has been described as learned in Greek literature. The quotation of a few words from Aratus (Ac 17,28) and the use of two (probably) proverbial sayings which have been traced to Menander and Epimenides (1Co 15,33 Titus 1Co 1,12) furnish too slender support for this opinion. (vid. Meyer in locis). It is said that Paul had abundant opportunity to become acquainted with the Greek literature in Tarsus. But he left Tarsus at an early age and all the prejudices of his family would disincline him to the study of Heathen literature. His connection with Gamaliel and the style of his epistles alike show that his education was predominantly Jewish and Rabbinic. He was learned after the manner of the strictest Pharisees and from his residence in Tarsus and extended travel had acquired a good writing and speaking knowledge of the Greek language. Chrys. is uniformly inclined, however, to depreciate the culture of Paul. This springs from a desire to emphasize the greatness of his influence and power as compared with his attainments. The apostle’s confession that he is an idiwth" tw-logw (2Co 11,6), means only that he was unskilled in eloquence and is to be taken as his own modest estimate of himself in that particular. Moreover it is immediately qualified by all ou th gnwsei which is entirely inconsistent with the idea that he was rude or illiterate in general, or that he considered himself to be so.—G. B. S).
100 Rm 1,1-2
101 Moses having written five books, has nowhere put his own name to them, neither have they who after him put together the history of events after him, no nor yet has Matthew, nor John, nor Mark, nor Luke; but the blessed Paul everywhere in his Epistles sets1 his own name. Now why was this? Because they were writing to people, who were present, and it had been superfluous to show themselves when they were present. But this man sent his writings from afar and in the form of a letter, for which cause also the addition of the name was necessary. But if in the Epistle to the Hebrews he does not do the same, this too is after his own wise judgment.2 For since they felt prejudiced against him, lest on hearing the name at the outstart, they should stop up all admission to his discourse, he subtly won their attention by concealing the name. But if some Prophets and Solomon have put their names, this I leave as a subject for you to look further into hereafter, why some of them wished to put it so, and some not. For you are not to learn everything from me, but to take pains yourselves also and enquire further, lest ye become more dull-witted.
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ.” Why did God change his name, and call him Paul who was Saul? It was, that he might not even in this respect come short of the Apostles, but that that preëminence which the chief of the Disciples had, he might also acquire (Mc 3,16); and have whereon to ground a closer union with them. And he calls himself, the servant of Christ, yet not merely this;3 for there be many sorts of servitude. One owing to the Creation, according to which it says, “for all are Thy servants” (Ps 119,91); and according to which it says, “Nebuchadnezzar, My servant” (Jr 25,9), for the work is the servant of Him which made it. Another kind is that from the faith, of which it saith, “But God be thanked that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from a pure heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto you: being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” (Rm 6,17-18). Another is that from civil subjection (toliteia"), after which it saith, “Moses my servant is dead” (Jos 1,2); and indeed all the Jews were servants, but Moses in a special way as shining most brightly in the community. Since then, in all the forms of the marvellous servitude, Paul was a servant, this he puts in the room of the greatest title of dignity, saying, “a servant of Jesus Christ.” And the Names appertaining to the dispensation4 he sets forth, going on upwards from the lowest. For with the Name Jesus, did the Angel come from Heaven when He was conceived of the Virgin, and Christ He is called from being anointed, which also itself belonged to the flesh. And with what oil, it may be asked, was He anointed? It was not with oil that He was anointed, but with the Spirit. And Scripture has instances of calling such “Christs”: inasmuch as the Spirit is the chief point in the unction, and that for which the oil is used. And where does it call those “Christs” who are not anointed with oil? “Touch not,” it says, “Mine anointed, and do My prophets no harm” (Ps 105,15), but at that time the institution of anointing with oil did not yet even exist.
“Called an Apostle.” He styles himself “called” in all his Epistles, so showing his own candor (eugnwmosunhn), and that it was not of his own seeking that he found, but that when called he came near and obeyed. And the faithful, he styles, “called to be saints,”5 but while they had been called so far as to be believers, he had besides a different thing committed to his hands, namely, the Apostleship, a thing full of countless blessings, and at once greater than and comprehensive of, all the gifts.
And what more need one say of it, than that whatsoever Christ was doing when present, this he committed to their hands when He departed. Which also Paul cries aloud, speaking thereof and magnifying the dignity of the Apostles’ office; “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech by us;” 1,e. in Christ’s stead. “Separated to the Gospel of God.” (2Co 5,20). For as in a house, each one is set apart for divers works; thus also in the Church, there be divers distributions of ministrations. And herein he seems to me to hint, that he was not appointed by lot only, but that of old and from the first he was ordained to this office; which also Jeremy saith, that God spake concerning himself, “Before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee, I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jr 1,5). For in that he was writing to a vainglorious city, and one every way puffed up, he therefore uses every mode of showing that his election was of God. For he Himself called him, and Himself separated him. And he does this, that he may make the Epistle deserve credit, and meet an easy reception. “To the Gospel of God.” Not Matthew then alone is an Evangelist, nor Mark, as neither was this man alone an Apostle, but they also; even if he be said prëeminently to be this, and they that. And he calleth it the Gospel, not for those good things only which have been brought to pass, but also for those which are to come. And how comes he to say, that the Gospel “of God” is preached by himself? for he says, “separated to the Gospel of God”—for the Father was manifest, even before the Gospels. Yet even if He were manifest, it was to the Jews only, and not even to all of these as were fitting. For neither did they know Him to be a Father, and many, things did they conceive unworthily of Him. Wherefore also Christ saith, “The true worshippers” shall come, and that “the Father seeketh such to worship Him.” (Jn 4,23). But it was afterwards that He Himself with the Son was unveiled to the whole world, which Christ also spake of beforehand, and said, “that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou has sent.” (Jn 17,3). But he calls it the “Gospel” of God, to cheer the hearer at the outstart. For he came not with tidings to make the countenance sad, as did the prophets with their accusations, and charges, and reproofs, but with glad tidings, even the “Gospel of God;” countless treasures of abiding and unchangeable blessings.
Rm 1,2. “Which He promised afore by His Prophets in the Holy Scriptures.”
For the Lord, saith he, “shall give the word to them that proclaim glad tidings with great power” (Ps 68,12, Sept).; and again, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace.” (Is 52,7 Rm 10,15).
102 See here both the name of the Gospel expressly and the temper of it, laid down in the Old Testament. For, we do not proclaim it by words only, he means, but also by acts done; since neither was it human, but both divine and unspeakable, and transcending all nature. Now since they have laid against it the charge of novelty also, He shows it to be older than the Greeks, and described aforetime in the Prophets. And if He gave it not from the beginning because of those that were unwilling to receive it, still, they that were willing did hear it. “Your father Abraham,” He says, “rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad.” (Jn 8,56). How then comes He to say, Many prophets desired to see the things which ye. see, and have not seen them?" (Mt 13,17). He means not so, as ye see and hear, the Flesh itself, and the very miracles before your eyes. But let me beg you to look and see what a very long time ago these things were foretold. For when God is about to do openly some great things, He announces them of a long time before, to practise men’s hearing for the reception of them when they come.
“In the Holy Scriptures.” Because the Prophets not only spake, but also writ what they spake; nor did they write only, but also shadowed them forth by actions, as Abraham when he led up Isaac, and Moses when he lifted up the Serpent, and when he spread out his hands6 against Amalek, and when he offered the Paschal Lamb).
Rm 1,3. “Concerning His Son which was made of the seed of David, according to the flesh.”
What dost, thou, O Paul, that after lifting up our souls so, and elevating them, and causing great and unutterable things to pass? show before them, and speaking of the Gospel, and that too the Gospel of God, and bringing in the chorus of the Prophets, and showing the whole of them heralding forth many years before those things which were to come: why dost thou again bring us down to David? Art thou conversing, oh tell me, of some man, and giving him Jesse’s son for a father? And wherein are these things worthy of what thou hast just spoken of? Yea, they are fully worthy. For our discourse is not, saith he, of any bare man. Such was my reason for adding, “according to the flesh;” as hinting that there is also a Generation of the Same after the Spirit. And why did he begin from that and not from this the higher? It is because that was what Matthew, and Luke, and Mark, began from. For he who would lead men by the hand to Heaven, must needs lead them upwards from below. So too was the actual dispensation ordered. First, that is, they saw Him a man upon earth, and then they understood Him to be God. In the same direction then, as He Himself had framed His teaching, did His disciple also shape out the way which leadeth thither. Therefore the generation according to the flesh is in his language placed first in order, not because it was first, but because he was for leading the hearer from this up to that.
Rm 1,4. “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the resurrection from the dead, even Jesus Christ.”
What is said has been made obscure by the close-folding of the words, and so it is necessary, to divide it. What then is it, which he says? We preach, says he, Him Who was made of David. But this is plain. Whence then is it plain, that this incarnate “Person” was also the Son of God? First, it is so from the prophets; wherefore he says, “Which He had promised afore by the Prophets in the Holy Scriptures.” (Rm 1,2). And this way of demonstration is no weak one. And next also from the very way of His Generation: which also he sets forth by saying, “of the seed of David according to the flesh:” for He broke the rule of nature. Thirdly, from the miracles which He did, yielding a demonstration of much power, for “in power” means this. Fourthly, from the Spirit which He gave to them that believe upon Him, and through which He made them all holy, wherefore he saith, “according to the Spirit of holiness.” For it was of God only to grant such gifts. Fifthly, from the Resurrection; for He first and He alone raised Himself: and this Himself too said to be above all a miracle sufficient to stop the mouths even of them that behaved shamelessly. For, “Destroy this Temple,” He says, “and in three days I will raise it up” (Jn 29).; and, “When ye have lifted” Me “up from the earth, then shall ye know that I am He” (Jn 8,28); and again, This “generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of Jonas.” (Mt 21,39). What then is the being “declared?” being shown, being manifested, being judged, being confessed, by the feeling and suffrage of all; by Prophets, by the marvelous Birth after the Flesh, by the power which was in the miracles, by the Spirit, through which He gave sanctification, by the Resurrection, whereby He put an end to the tyranny of death.
Rm 1,5. “By Whom we have received grace and Apostleship for obedience to the faith.”
See the candor of the servant. He wishes nothing to be his own, but all his Master’s. And indeed it was the Spirit that gave this. Wherefore He saith, “I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth” (Jn 16,12): and again, “Separate Me Paul and Barnabas.” (Ac 13,2). And in the Epistle to the Corinthians, he says, that “to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge” (1Co 12,8 1Co 12,11); and that It divideth all as It willeth. And in addressing the Milesians, he says, “Over which the Holy Ghost hath made you shepherds and overseers.” (Ac 20,28). You see, he calls the things of the Spirit, the Son’s, and the things of the Son, the Spirit’s. “Grace and Apostleship;” that is, it is not we that have achieved for ourselves, that we should become Apostles. For it was not by having toiled much and labored that we had this dignity allotted to us, but we received grace, and the successful result is a part of he heavenly gift. “For obedience to the faith.”
103 So it was not the Apostles that achieved it, but grace that paved the way before them. For it was their part to go about and preach, but to persuade was of God, Who wrought in them. As also Lc saith, that “He opened their heart” (Ac 16,14); and again, To whom it was given to hear the word of God.7 “To obedience;” he says not, to questioning and parade (kataskeuhn) of argument but “to obedience.” For we were not sent, he means, to argue, but to give those things which we had trusted to our hands. For when the Master declareth aught, they that hear should not be nice and curious handlers of what is told them, but receivers only; for this is why the Apostles were sent, to speak what they had heard, not to add aught from their own stock, and that we for our part should believe—that we should believe what?—“concerning His Name.” Not that we should be curious about the essence, but that we should believe on the Name; for this it was which also wrought the miracles. For it says, “in the Name of Jesus Christ rise up and walk.” (Ac 3,6). And this too requireth faith, neither can one grasp aught of these things by reasoning (logismw katagabein). “Among all nations, among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ.” What? did Paul preach then to all the nations? Now that he ran through the whole space from Jerusalem to Illyricum, and from thence again went forth to the very ends of the earth, is plain from what he writes to the Romans; but even if he did not come to all, yet still what he says is not false, for he speaks not of himself alone, but of the twelve Apostles, and all who declared the word after them. And in another sense, one should not see any fault to find with the phrase, if about himself, when one considers his ready mind, and how that after death he ceaseth not to preach in all parts of the world. And consider how he extols the gift, and shows that it is great and much more lofty than the former, since the old things were with one nation, but this gift drew sea and land to itself. And attend to this too, how free the mind of Paul is from all flattery; for when conversing with the Romans, who were seated as it were upon a sort of summit of the whole world, he attaches no more to them than to the other nations, nor does he on the score of their being then in power and ruling, say, that they have in spiritual things also any advantage. But as (he means) we preach to all the nations, so do we to you, numbering them with Scythians and Thracians: for if he did not wish to show this, it were superfluous to say “Among whom are ye also.”8 And this he does to take down their high spirit (kenwn to fushma) and to prostrate the swelling vanity of their minds, and to teach them to honor others alike to themselves: and so he proceeds to speak upon this very point.
Rm 1,6. “Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ.”
That is, along with whom ye also are: and he does not say, that he called the others with you, but you with the others. For if in Christ Jesus there is neither bond nor free, much less is there king and private man. For even ye were called and did not come over of yourselves.
Rm 1,7. “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
See how continually he puts the word “called,” saying, “called to be an Apostle; among whom ye also are called; to all that be in Rome, called:” and this he does not out of superfluity of words, but out of a wish to remind them of the benefit. For since among them which believed, it was likely that there would be some of the consuls (upatwn; Ben). consulares) and rulers as well as poor and common men, casting aside the inequality of ranks, he writes to them all under one appellation. But if in things which are more needful and which are spiritual, all things are set forth as common both to slaves and to free, for instance, the love from God, the calling, the Gospel, the adoption, the grace, the peace, the sanctification, all things else, how could it be other than the uttermost folly, whom God had joined together, and made to be of equal honor in the greater things, those to divide on account of things on earth? on this ground, I presume, from the very outstart, this blessed Apostle, after casting out this mischievous disease, conducts them to the mother of blessings, humble-mindedness. This made servants better, since they learnt that they should take no harm from their servitude, while they had the true freedom; this would incline masters to be gentle, as being instructed that they have no advantage in being free, unless the goods of faith have the first place given them. And that you may learn that he was not doing this to work confusion, by dashing all things, but still knew the best distinction, he wrote not simply to all that were in Rome, but with a definition added, “beloved of God.” For this is the best discrimination, and shows whence the sanctification was. Whence then was the sanctification? from Love. For after saying, “beloved,” then he proceeds, “called to be saints,” showing that it is from this that the fount of all blessings is. But saints he calls all the faithful. “Grace unto you and peace.”
Oh address, that bringeth countless blessings to us! This also Christ bade the Apostles to use as their first word when entering into houses. (Lc 10,5). Wherefore it is from this that Paul also in all places takes his beginning, from grace and peace; for it was no small war which Christ put an end to, but indeed one varying and of every kind and of a long season (toikilon kai tantodapon); and this not from our labors, but through His grace. Since then love presented us with grace, and grace with peace, having set them down in the due order of an address, he prays over them that they may abide perpetual and unmoved, so that no other war may again be blown into flame, and beseeches Him that gave, to keep these things firmly settled, saying as follows, “Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” See in this passage, the “from” is common to the Son and the Father, and this is equivalent to “of whom.”9 For he did not say, Grace be unto you and peace from God the Father, “through” our Lord Jesus Christ; but, “from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Strange! how mighty is the love of God! we which were enemies and disgraced, have all at once become saints and sons. For when he calls Him Father, he shows them to be sons; and when he says sons, he has unveiled the whole treasure of blessings.
Let us then keep showing a conversation worthy of the gift, and hold on in peace and holiness. For other dignities are but for a time, and are brought to an end along with this life present, and may be bought with money (whence one might say they are not dignities at all but names of dignities only, having their strength in the investiture of fine array and the servility of attendants), but this as having been given of God, the gift of sanctification and adoption, is not broken through even by death, but even here maketh men conspicuous, and also departs with us upon our journey to the life to come. For he that holdeth on in the adoption, and keeps an exact watch upon his holiness, is much brighter and more happy even than he that is arrayed with the diadem itself, and has the purple; and has the delight of abundant peace inthe present life and is nurtured up with goodly hopes, and hath no ground for worry and disturbance, but enjoys constant pleasure; for as for good spirits and joy, it is not greatness of power, not abundance of wealth, not pomp of authority, not strength of body, not sumptuousness of the table, not the adorning of dresses, nor any other of the things in man’s reach that ordinarily produces them, but spiritual success, and a good conscience alone. And he that hath this cleansed, even though he be clad in rags and struggling with famine, is of better spirits than they that live so softly. So too he that is conscious of wicked deeds, even though he may gather to himself all men’s goods, is the most wretched of all men. For this cause Paul, living in continual hunger and nakedness, and being scourged every day was joyful, and went more softly than they that were then emperors. But Ahab though a king, and indulging in a sumptuous luxury, when he had done that one sin, groaned and was out of spirits, and his countenance was fallen both before the sin and after the sin. If then we wish to enjoy pleasure, above all things else let us shun wickedness, and follow after virtue; since it is not in the nature of things for one to have a share thereof on any other terms, even if we were mounted upon the king’s throne itself. Wherefore also Paul saith, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace.” (Ga 5,22). This fruit then let us keep growing by us, that we may be in the fruition of joy here, and may obtain the kingdom to come, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom and with Whom, be glory to the Father, and to the Holy Spirit, now and always, even unto all ages. Amen).
1 In every one of his Epistles prefixes (Savile).
2 This expression is significant as showing the confidence of Chrys, in the Pauline authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews. It need hardly be said that the reason for the omission of the Apostle’s name is purely fanciful and that the non-Pauline character of the Epistle is almost demonstrable.—G. B. S.
3 Or, “not in one way only.”
4 oikonomia", viz. the concealment of His glory in the Incarnation).
5 It is noticeable that in the New Testament the apostles call the body of believers “saints,” but never apply this term to themselves or to one another. In later times the body of believers returned the compliment and fixed the term as a title upon the Apostles, New Testament writers, Church Fathers, and a large number of Christians more or less distinguished for learning or piety. Most Christians find the title more appropriate to the two first classes than to the two last.—G. B. S.
6 Which the Fathers teach to be a type of Christ upon the Cross. See on Tert. Apol. c. 30, p. 70. Oxf. Tr).
7 Supposed to be a vague recollection of St. Lc 8,10, or of Ac 19,10).
8 The expression has also another important bearing upon a question much debated by modern scholars, viz.: was the Roman Church predominantly Jewish or Gentile? The Pauline usage is strongly in favor of understanding by the words tae qnh Gentiles as opposed to Jews. If this is correct the expression together with en oi" este would seem decisive as showing the predominantly Gentile character of the Roman Christian community.—G. B. S).
9 See St. Basil de Spiritu Sancto, c. 2, 4. and 5. St. Chrysostom is arguing against the Arian abuse of 1Co 8,6, as he does on the passage itself).
Chrysostom on Rm