6 He wondereth that they have so soon left him and the Gospel, 8 and accurseth those that preach any other gospel than he did. 11 He learned the gospel not of men, but of God: 14 and sheweth what he was before his calling, 17 and what he did presently after it.
AUL, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
Douay Rheims Version
He blames the Galatians for suffering themselves to be imposed upon by new teachers. The apostle's calling.
AUL, an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead:
11. For I give you to understand, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.
12. For neither did I receive it of man: nor did I learn it but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
18. Then, after three years, I went to Jerusalem to see Peter: and I tarried with him fifteen days.
19. But other of the apostles I saw none, saving James the brother of the Lord.
The Galatians were Gentiles who emigrated from Gaul into Greece, and so were called Gallo-Greeks. Suidas thinks that these Gauls were Sennonians, who, under the leadership of Brennus, invaded Rome, but being repulsed by Camillus, crossed over into Greece, and were there overthrown by a storm of rain and hail while they were attempting to plunder Delphi—the few, he says, who escaped were called Gallo-Greeks or Galatians. However, Justin (lib. 25), S. Jerome, and others give a different account of them. The Galatians were bounded by Cappadocia on the east, Bithynia on the west, Pamphylia on the south, and the Black Sea on the north. According to Pliny (lib. v. c. ult.), their chief cities were Tanium, Pessinuntis, and Ancyra. Of their language, S. Jerome, in his commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians (Proem. lib. 2, in fine), says: “Apart from the Greek used by the whole of the East, their proper language is the same as that of the Treviri“—that is, German. Since, then, the Galatians derived their tongue together with their origin from the Gauls, some think that German was the language of these latter, and they add that the Franks proceeded from German Franconia and thence obtained their name. Moreover, Clovis, the first Christian king of the Frankish Gauls, is styled Sicambrian. So did S. Remigius address him when coming to be baptized: “Meekly bow thy neck, 0 Sicambrian; adore what once thou didst burn; burn what thou once didst adore” (Greg. Tur. de Gestis Franc. lib. 31). Now it is certain that the Sicambrians were Germans. In short, S. Jerome, Josephus, and Isidore lay down that the Galatians were descendants of Gomer, sprung from the Gomari or Cimbri, who were either Germans, or else closely akin to the Germans.
These Galatians some converted Jews had induced to accept a Judaised Gospel, by quoting the example of Peter and other Apostles, who observed the Mosaic Law. Accordingly, S. Paul sharply rebukes them, and calls them back, pointing out that Christians are free from the Old Law, and cannot be subjected to it. Although, he says, the Jews might keep it for a time, so as to give it an honourable burial, yet Gentiles—and such the Galatians were—had not this reason, or any other, for embracing the law of Moses. If, therefore, they had embraced it, they must he supposed to have done so under the belief inculcated by the Judaising Christians, that the law as well as the Gospel was necessary to salvation. This error the Apostle condemns by his declaration, that the profession of Judaism is the overthrowing of Christianity; for the Christian religion holds that Judaism has been done away, and that there is room for no religion save that of Christ, which alone is necessary and sufficient for salvation. This is the error that the Apostle so sharply condemns.
The argument of this Epistle, accordingly, is the same as that of the Epistle to the Romans, of which this may be considered an epitome, and with which it has many ideas and expressions in common, as is pointed out by Jerome, Anselm, Theophylact, and Chrysostom. There is, however, this difference between the two, that in the Epistle to the Romans he opposes both Jews and Gentiles, here Jews only; there he rejects the works of the law as well as the works of nature, here those of the law only, that he may establish the faith of Christ and the works of faith. This, then, occupies the first part of the Epistle, viz., chap. i. to v. 12; chap. v. 13 to the end is concerned with moral instruction.
Ephrem Syrus, Jerome, Athanasius, Theodoret, and others think that the Epistle was written at Rome ; but Chrysostom and Baronius reject this opinion, on the ground that mention of his imprisonment, customary in his other letters from Rome, is wanting in this. They think, therefore, that it was written before the Epistle to the Romans, and at Ephesus, or some other city of Greece. But the time and place of writing can be determined neither from the Epistle itself nor from any external authority; and in this respect it is the most obscure of all S. Paul’s Epistles. S. Jerome and Augustine wrote elaborate commentaries on it, which are still extant.
i. He chides the Galatians for suffering themselves to be seduced to Judaism, from the Gospel preached by him, by innovators and false teachers, against whom he pronounces an anathema.
ii. He shows (ver. 11) the certitude of his Gospel, from the fact that he received it directly from Christ.
iii. He describes (ver. 13) how, from the Judaism which he was vigorously defending, he was converted to Christ, and set apart for the preaching of the Gospel, and how he traversed Arabia, Damascus, Syria, and Cilicia.
Ver. 1.—Paul, an apostle, not of men. That is, because the other Apostles were sent by Christ while still mortal, Paul by Christ when wholly deified, and therefore in every way immortal. So says S. Augustine. But the simpler explanation is to take not of men to mean, not of mere men, but of Christ, man and God.
There is a fourfold mission, says S. Jerome. Some are sent by God alone, as Paul; some by God through man’s instrumentality, as Joshua was through Moses; some by man alone, as those who are promoted by their friends to be abbot, dean, or bishop; some by themselves, as heretics. The preposition “of” (ab) therefore, used here, denotes the principal cause, while “by” (per) denotes the instrumental; for the meaning is that he was not called by man, nor by God by means of man, but immediately by God Himself.
Ver. 4.—Who gave Himself.—to be an expiatory victim for an atonement, and to the death of the Cross, that He might pay the price of our redemption.
For our sins. “Righteousness Himself,” says S. Jerome, “gave Himself, that He might destroy the unrighteousness in us; Wisdom gave Himself to undo our foolishness; Holiness and Fortitude offered Himself, that He might blot out our uncleanness and weakness.”
From this present evil world. Why does he call the world evil? The Manichæans reply: Because the world is material, it is evil and the creation of the devil. But this is a foolish reply. The evil world is worldly and carnal life and conversation, such as this world lives, and such as it invites us to; and worldly men are such as by hook or by crook hunt after the goods of this world only—riches, honours, and pleasures. The figure of speech here is a metonymy; the world is put for those who are in, or who are coming into the world. “The whole world lieth in wickedness. Not that the world itself is evil, but that things in the world become evil through men. So says the Apostle himself: Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Sylvan glades become of evil report when they are filled with sins; not that the soil and the trees sin, but because the very places gain notoriety for murder. So the world (seculum, i.e., a period of time, in itself neither good nor evil) is called good or evil through the actions of those who are in it” (S. Jerome in 1 John v. 19).
Note that the word here rendered evil in the Greek, πονηρου̃, is rendered by S. Jerome bad, by Augustine great, by Erasmus crafty or miserable or full of toils, by Vatablus wearisome, especially on account of sins committed in this present life, which affords so many occasions of sin; whereas the future world, to which Christ is leading us, is free from sin and is altogether pure. Valentinus evolved from his own consciousness his own æons or worlds, declaring them to be animated beings, and the parents by quadrads, ogdoads, decads, and dodecads, of as many worlds as the son of Æneas had pigs (S. Jerome).
Ver. 6.—I marvel that ye are so soon removed—from Christianity to Judaism, from the liberty of the Gospel to the slavery of legal ceremonies, from the church to the synagogue. “The allusion,” says S. Jerome, “is to the Hebrew , ‘to roll,’” and hints that, “You Galatians are as easily moved as a globe or a wheel, since you suffer yourselves to be so quickly transferred from the Gospel of Christ to the law of Moses.” Elsewhere, however, S. Jerome sees an allusion to ללנּ, “milk,” and supposes that the Galatians were so called from the whiteness of their skin.
From Him that called you. You are apostates from the Gospel, nay, from God and Christ Jesus, and that to the greatest injury and contempt of God and Christ, who called you, without any merits of your own, nay, against your demerits, out of His abounding love, into grace, reconciliation, friendship with God, and salvation. S. Jerome reads, by the grace of Christ, instead of into the grace of Christ, and so gets a more forcible rendering: I marvel that ye are so soon removed unto another Gospel from Christ, who called you by His grace, i.e., out of pure love and unmerited good-will towards you; I marvel that ye are so readily become apostates from God and from Christ, who hath called you so graciously and lovingly; that ye are so ungrateful, so heedless of His love, that ye trample on it.
Unto another gospel. Unto another doctrine about salvation, and your Saviour Christ, as though mine and Christ’s were not sufficient, as though Moses must be taken into partnership with Christ, and the ceremonial law wedded to the Gospel. For even if these Judaisers preach that the Gospel is to be embraced together with the Mosaic law, yet they, thereby preach another Gospel, and destroy the true Gospel preached by Paul. For, according to him, the true Gospel of Christ is this: The law of Christ is necessary and sufficient to salvation, nor can any other be admitted. Whoever introduces or allows to be introduced any other, is injurious to Christ and His law, as implying that it is insufficient, and he, therefore, robs Christ, his only Redeemer, of His glory, and brings in another Saviour. This is what the Judaisers did. They declared the insufficiency of the law of Christ by adding to it the law of Moses as requisite for salvation and bliss. Hence they overturned the Gospel by introducing another, nay, a contrary Gospel. Therefore the Apostle proceeds,
Ver. 7.—Which is not another. S. Jerome and Ephrem omit another, and interpret the clause: “You transfer yourselves to another Gospel, which indeed is no Gospel.” The meaning of the received text is “You transfer yourselves to another Gospel, which still is not another; for there is no other true Gospel save that which I have preached unto you.” To which Ephrem adds: “But as they are, so is it.” As their teachers are apostates, Judaisers, deceitful liars, so is their Gospel heretical, Judaising, deceitful, and false. If the Judaisers, who left the Gospel and teaching of Paul and the Church intact, overturned the Gospel and the Church of Christ, much more do the Protestants overturn it by introducing new dogmas contrary to the Catholic Church.
Unless there are some. This depends on I marvel. I marvel that ye so soon fall away from the Gospel, unless it be that there are some who are troubling you. And when I think this I partly cease to marvel, and I impute your defection to them rather than to you; for you would not have fallen away, if you had not been enticed and deceived.
That trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. To pervert is to subvert, according to Chrysostom. Properly, however, it is to invert, or to turn, as when the outside of a garment is turned inside because it is worn, and the less worn inside becomes the outside. Or, as Jerome says, when what is in front is put behind, and vice versâ. So the Church is like a garment of which the part in front or outside, and now somewhat worn thread-bare, was the old Church or the synagogue, with its Mosaic law, while the after part, or inner and sounder, is the new Church with Christ’s Gospel. This Christ so changed round that He substituted the inward for the worn outward side, so making the after or the inner part, viz., the Gospel, the front or the outer, and putting it before all, to be known and adopted as the robe of righteousness and salvation. These self-appointed teachers wished to turn again this garment inside out, and to put the law first, and to subordinate to it the Gospel—in short, to exchange the spirit of piety breathed forth by the Gospel for Jewish ceremonies. So the Judaisers perverted, i.e., inverted the Gospel of Christ by substituting for it the law of Moses, and setting that before the Gospel (S. Jerome).
Ver. 8.—But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. Understand. If that can be done; for, as a matter of fact, it is impossible, for the angels are established as in bliss so in all truth. It is an hyperbole, like that in 1 Cor. xiii. i.: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels.” S. Jerome quotes here a happy remark of Tertullian directed against Apelles and his virgin Philumena, which latter was filled by some perverse angel with an evil spirit, to the effect that this was an angel who, long before Apelles was born, was described as accursed by the Holy Spirit, speaking through, the Apostle. Such was the angel who taught Luther, and instructed Zwingli on the Eucharist, and about whom the latter writes, that he did not know whether it was black or white. But it is certain that it was a black angel, and that against it was directed the Apostle’s anathema, as against one introducing a new Gospel, a new faith, and new dogmas, contrary to the accepted creed.
Observe how great is the certainty of the faith preached by the Apostles, confirmed by God by so many signs and miracles, and transmitted to us by the continuous tradition of so many centuries, and reflect how firm and constant in it we should be. So much so that we may better deny the evidence of our senses, of our reason, of the authority of all men and angels—even if they should work miracles as proof,—impossible though this really is—then deny the teaching of faith. For faith rests on the original revelation of God, who is the First and Incommutable Truth; all else may deceive and he deceived. Nay, to state an impossibility, if God were to reveal a faith contrary to that which we have received, and which He originally revealed Himself, we should be bound to believe the first, and not the second. For if He should reveal one contrary, He would be changed and would cease to be God, and the First and Infallible Truth; but since this is impossible, it follows that God cannot give a contrary revelation, and hence that those who teach contrary doctrine get it not from God but from their own heads, or else by revelation from devils.
We have here, then, a canon of faith given us by the Apostle, to this effect. If a new dogma arise anywhere, let it be examined to see whether it agree with the ancient, received faith of the Catholic Church, first preached by Paul and the Apostles; if it be found discordant, let it be regarded as heretical and accursed. This is a canon followed by all the Fathers.
“If any dispute arise,” says Irenæus, “about any, even a small question, will it not be our duty to have recourse to the oldest churches, and to gather from them what is clear and certain with reference to the question in dispute?” (Adv. Hær. lib. iii. c. x.).
So Tertullian: “I will lay it down as a canon that what the Apostles preached, what Christ revealed, ought not to be proved except by the same churches which the Apostles themselves founded. If this is so, it is clear that all doctrine which agrees with those Apostolic churches, being the very wombs and originals of the faith, must be put down as true, and all the rest condemned as false, without further examination ”(de Præs. xxi.).
And again: “What is earlier in tradition is shown by its very date to be the Lord’s and to be true; what has come in later is an importation and false” (Ibid. c. xxxi.). So Origen “Every one is to be counted a heretic who, while professing to believe in Christ, believes in a matter of faith otherwise than the traditional definition of the Church declares.” (Hom. in S. Matt. 19)
This same rule is supported by Vincent of Lerins in his golden treatise on Præscription, against the impious novelties of heretics. “Antiquity is to be followed, novelty spurned. When certain innovators were going throughout provinces and cities, offering their errors for sale, and had arrived among the Galatians; and when the Galatians had given them a hearing, and were taken with a distaste for the truth, so much so that they, as it were, vomited the manna of apostolic and Catholic teaching, and were delighted with the filth of heretical novelty, then the authority of the apostolic power made itself heard in these stern words. ‘Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.’ What is this that he saith: ‘Though we?—why not rather, ‘Though I?’ He means: ‘Though Peter, though Andrew, though John—indeed, though the whole college of Apostles preach unto you anything beside what we have preached, let them be accursed.’ An awful pronouncement! It is but a little thing to spare neither himself nor the other Apostles, so as to secure the firm continuance of the faith first preached. But he adds: ‘Though an angel from heaven preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.’ It was not enough to bind men to preserve the faith delivered them—he must also bind angels. ‘Though we,’ he says, ‘or an angel from heaven.’ Not that the holy and heavenly angels can sin; but supposing it were possible that they should, if any one of them were to attempt to change the faith once delivered, let him be accursed” (lib. i. c. 12).
So S. John Damascene, who, like a roaring lion, attacked the iconoclastic Emperor Leo the Isaurian: “Hearken, ye peoples, tribes, tongues—men, women, boys, old men, young men, infants, the whole army of Christian saints: ‘Though any one preach unto you anything beside that which the Catholic Church has received from the Holy Apostles, from the Fathers and Councils, and has preserved to this day, hear him not, nor follow the counsel of the serpent, as Eve did, who thereby drew upon herself death. Though an angel, though a king preach unto you anything beside what you have received, stop your ears. For I fear lest the warning of Paul be fulfilled, ‘Let him be accursed’” (Orat. 2 de Imagin.). He ends thus because he knew that it was the prerogative of Bishops, not of monks, of whom he was one, to pronounce anathema, as Baronius acutely notes (Ann. A.D. 730, in fine). So S. Augustine: “I do not accept what the Blessed Cyprian held on the baptism of heretics, because the Church, for whom Cyprian shed his blood, does not accept it” (contra Cresconiuin, lib. ii. c. 31, 32). And the other Fathers follow him, and the reason they do so is clear. It is because the Church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. iii. 15). Whoever, therefore, following his own imaginations, teaches any new thing against her mind and doctrines, errs and strays from the home of truth and from truth itself, as S. Augustine urges in a fine dilemma. “Answer,” he says—“Did the Church come to an end or not?” (i.e., when Donatus arose). “Choose which you like. If she had come to an end, who was the mother who bore Donatus? If on the other hand, she could not have come to an end while so many had been gathered into her without your baptism, tell me, I pray you, what madness was it which induced the followers of Donatus to withdraw themselves from her, as if they were so avoiding communion with the wicked” (contra Gaudentium, lib. ii. c. 8).
In the same way I will now conclude as follows: On the rise of Luther, Calvin, Menno, and other Protestants, either the Church and the true faith came to an end or they did not. For these two—the true Church and the true faith—are necessarily connected, so much so that if in a single point, say the Invocation of Saints, the Church were to leave the track of the true faith, she must become heretical, and the Church, not of God but of Satan; just as any individual who maintains a single heresy, even though he be otherwise orthodox, is a heretic. I repeat therefore, when Calvin arose, either the Church came to an end or she did not; if she did, and had not existed since the time of Gregory the Great, as the Protestants say, then the Church had been extinct for 900 years, that is to say, the world for 900 years was without true faith, true religion, sacraments, Church, and salvation; therefore for 900 years Christ deserted His Bride; therefore the Eternal Kingdom of Christ had fallen, for Christ reigns in His Church; therefore the gates of hell had prevailed against His Church; therefore Calvin was born outside the Church, was no member of the Church, but an unbeliever, a heretic, or a pagan; therefore he had not claim to be received by the people, by the world, and listened to as one of the faithful, but he should have been despised and rejected as an unbeliever not belonging, to the Church. If, however, the Church had not come to an end, and Calvin was born, baptized, educated, and brought up in the true Church—then, since he was born, baptized, educated, and brought up in the Catholic, Apostolic, Roman Church, that Church was clearly a true Church, holding the true faith. Therefore, when he withdrew from her, and shut himself up in his new dogmas, he separated himself from the true faith and from the Church, and became an apostate. Therefore, when he established another and a reformed Church, it was not a true, apostolic, but an apostate, schismatical, heretical Church that he founded—a mistress and school, not of the faith, but of new doctrines and heresies. Let a fair-minded reader, who sincerely seeks in ignorance the true faith, outside which no one can be saved, consider and weigh the force of this dilemma, and ask himself whether there is any escape from its conclusions, whether the rule here given is not a touchstone of what is true in doctrine and in faith.
Any other gospel than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. The Protestants hence conclude: Therefore the decrees of councils and the canons of pontiffs are accursed, because they contain many things not in the Gospel, and are consequently a Gospel other than that preached.
I reply: Other (præterquam) is here what is contrary to the accepted faith, such as are the doctrines of heretics.
1. This appears, firstly, because Paul is writing against the Judaisers, who were trying to introduce Judaism beside (præter), that is, against the Gospel. It was just as if any one were to try to add Calvinism or Mohammedanism to Christianity. He would be introducing a new law and society beside, i.e., against Christianity. Accordingly, in ver. 6, he calls this another Gospel, and in ver. 7 he says that the preachers of it pervert, or, as Chrysostom styles it overturn the Gospel of Christ.
2. It is clear and certain that not only an angel but Paul himself knew more, and consequently might have preached more truths than he did (2 Cor. xii. 1 and 6).
3. Paul constantly orders, as Christ did, the commands of Apostles and superiors to be obeyed (Acts xvi. 4; Heb. xiii. I7).
4. Moreover, Jerome, Augustine, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Œcumenius explain the phrase as I have done. In 1 Cor. ii. the Apostle uses παρά (præter) in the sense of against, when he writes: “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ;” for he would set up another Christ, just as one who makes another Pope sets up an, anti-Pope, or he who invites another king into a kingdom sets up an enemy of the true king and a tyrant. Similarly, in Rom xi. 24: “If thou wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive-tree”—contrary to nature is παρά φύσιν (præter naturam).Even in Latin we often use the same meiosis. For example, Terence (Andria) says, “Præter civium morem atque legem,” i.e., against law and custom. So, too, in Greek, as, e.g., Aristotle (de Cælo, lib. i. c. i) says παρά φύοιν, beside, i.e., against nature; παρά νόμον, beside, i.e., against law.
With this compare Deut. iv. “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it.” Ye shall not add to the precepts which I shall give you anything contradictory of them, especially, ye shall not add the worship of some new deity, for this the whole chapter, and indeed the whole Book of Deuteronomy, intends to forbid. Nor shall ye add, in the sense of saying that your words are mine; for to no one is it allowed to put forth his own writings or commands, as the commands of God or as the Holy Scriptures.
There is a similar phrase in Rev. xxii. 18: “I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.” As a matter of fact, prophets and Apostles have added many things to this Scripture. Nay, Moses, in Deut. iv. 2, would contradict himself in Deut. xvii. 12, where he orders the words of the priest to be obeyed. Accordingly S. Augustine excellently explains this passage: “The Apostle does not say, ‘More than you have received,’ but, ‘Beside that which you have received.’ For if he had used the former phrase, he would condemn himself for saying that he wished to come to the Thessalonians to supply what was wanting to their faith. But he who supplies what is lacking merely adds, he does not take away what is already there. He, however, who oversteps the rule of faith does not approach the goal in the road, but departs from the road” (Tract. in Joan. 99).
You will say perhaps: “Why, then, did the Apostle not say against instead of beside?” Chrysostom’s answer is that he wanted to make it clear that any is accursed who even indirectly undermines the least important doctrine of the Gospel. But there is another reason, and that is, the Judaisers, against whom this passage is primarily directed, were introducing their Judaism beside the Gospel, i.e., their Jewish rites and sacraments, which by this very attempt became contrary to the Gospel and the New Law of Christ, as I said before.
We preach. I.e., by word or by writing. He does not, therefore, exclude, but rather includes traditions given by word of mouth only, for these he expressly orders to be observed in 2 Thess. ii. 14.
Accursed. Heb. cherem. See comment on this word under Rom. ix. 3.
Ver. 10.—Do I now persuade men, or God? Theophylact, Vatablus, and Erasmus explain this to mean: “Am I now persuading you to human things or to Divine?”—as though the Apostle were showing, not the persons he was addressing, but his subject-matter, i.e., what he is putting forward to be believed. For the Judaisers were boasting that they followed Peter, John, James, who, by their example, seemed to teach the observance of the Old Law. In contrast to them Paul exclaims that he follows not men, or the doctrine of men, but God and His doctrine, and persuades others to do the same. It is from God that I have received what I have preached, and therefore I preach not human things, but Divine.
There is a second interpretation, which is not amiss, whatever Beza may say, which has S. Chrysostom’s support. “Am I pleading a cause before men or before God?” For the word persuade (πείθειν) is a forensic term, and implies a cause pleaded before judges. Hence S. Augustine interprets it here to mean, “I desire to render myself approved,” and S. Ambrose renders it by I satisfy. When this Greek term is used in the sense of persuade, it is, as Beza admits, followed by an accusative of the person. Persuade is then here used in the sense of an inchoate act, “I try to persuade,” according to my canon 32.
That this sense is the more apt appears: (1.) Because to persuade God and men is a phrase referring rather to the men persuaded than to the subject-matter—this last interpretation would make the sentence obscure and involved. (2.) Because the next clause illustrates this when it says, “Or do I seek to please men?” which implies that as he does not seek to please men, so he does not seek to persuade them. So S. Jerome says that “any one is said to persuade when he tries to instil into others what he has himself imbibed and still keeps.”
The sense then is this: I, Paul, speak so boldly and sincerely, and denounce a curse on Judaisers and all who preach another Gospel, because, although I once contended vigorously against the Gospel on behalf of Jews and their religion, yet now, illuminated by the Gospel-light, it is not to men, least of all to Jews, that I do my best to approve myself and my Gospel, but to God, whom alone I seek to please, that I may give a true and good account before His tribunal. In other words, I do not care what the Jews or others think of me, as being too bigoted, or an enemy of my country and its religion, for I seek to please God alone. Formerly I pleased them but displeased Him; and if I wished now to please them, I should again displease Him, for I should be establishing the law of Moses and destroying the grace of Christ.
If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. S. Jerome and Anselm remark that the desire to please men is a vice whereby a man so yields to others, so seeks their favour and good-will, that he is prepared to break the law of God and offend Him. But whoever seeks to please men, in such a way and with such an end in view as to lead them to God and His service, seeks not so much to please men as God. S. Augustine says: “A man does not please others to any useful end, save when he is pleasing for God’s sake; i.e., when it is God in him that pleases and is glorified, as when it is His gifts in a man that are regarded, or that are received through man’s instrumentality. For when a man is pleasing in this way, it is not now man that is pleasing but God.” So S. Paul says, in 1 Cor. ix. 19-22, that he is made all things to all men, that he might gain all to Christ, S. Chrysostom, in his Hom. 29 in Epist. 2 ad. Corin., remarks how useless and contemptible are the favour and good report of this world; and S. Jerome devoutly and stoutly wrote to Asella, that he thanked God for being worthy of the world’s hatred.
Ver. 11.—The Gospel which was preached of me is not after man. It is not a human but a Divine Gospel; it is not man’s but God’s, or, as Ephrem puts it, it is not from man, i.e., it does not spring from man’s opinions or from man’s invention, but from God. Hence he adds:
Ver. 12.—For I neither received it of man, neither was I taight it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Viz., when I was carried by Him into the third heaven (2 Cor. xii. 1).
Ver. 13.—I persecuted the Church of God and wasted it. That is, I did my best to storm it and overturn it. Cf. Ps. cxxix. 1, 2, The word translated waste here comes, as some think, from a word denoting the burning of a town by an enemy, or else, as Erasmus held, from one denoting the surrounding of it. Either way Paul’s meaning is clear. He says this to remove from himself all suspicion of hatred of the Jews. Though they inveigh against me, he says, as their foe, yet my past life is sufficient answer. For I am myself a Jew, and fought more vigorously for Judaism than they, before God, by His call, changed my heart and enlightened it by faith in Christ.
Ver. 14.—In mine own nation being more exceedingly zealous. A more eager lover and follower; or better still, a more jealous lover of it, on behalf of the national institution, handed down to me from my ancestors; a zealot of the law though through ignorance. So much more when he knew the truth was he zealous for the Gospel, so expiating his former evil zeal. From this it seems that Paul’s eager zeal was greater than that of his contemporaries, and acted as a handmaid and whetstone of virtue to him. For an eager nature does not creep along the ground, but, like a fire, leaps upwards and attempts to overcome all difficulties. On this, S. Augustine has some excellent remarks: “Souls that are capable of virtue and expansive often give birth to vices first, by which they show the virtue they are most adapted to produce, when they have been carefully disciplined. For instance, the hasty feeling which prompted Moses to revenge the wrong done to his brother in Egypt by a cruel Egyptian was indeed vicious, inasmuch as it overstepped the bounds of authority, but yet it gave great promise for the future. So in the case of Saul, when he was persecuting the Church, when God called to him out of heaven, smote him to the ground, lifted him up, drew him into the Church, he was as it were cut down, pruned, sown in the ground, and fertilised, for his very fierceness in persecuting the Gospel out of jealousy for the traditions of his fathers, thereby thinking that he was doing God service, was, like a vicious woodland growth, but a sign of greater power” (contra Faustum, lib. xxii. c 70).
Ver. 15.—But when it pleased God. Vatablus has, “When it seemed good to God,” which is too weak a rendering of εὺδόκησεν a word that denotes the free call of God’s love to grace and salvation.
Who separated me from my mother’s womb. Of His loving-kindness He separated me from my mother’s womb, and caused me to be born into this world with this object in view, viz., to reveal His Son in me. Before all merit, and when not yet born, He predestined me; and when predestined, separated me from the womb, and caused me to be born; and when born He called me that He might bring me to the knowledge of Christ and His Gospel, and so to the apostleship, that I might preach Christ to the Gentiles.
S. Jerome remarks that the same thing is said of Jeremiah in Jer. i. 5: “Before I found thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.“Paul here alludes to this, for Jeremiah was a type of Paul. The Hebrew for sanctifier denotesboth sanctified and separated; for that is called sacred which is separated from father, mother, and all earthly things to be dedicated and consecrated to God. So Paul was separated by God’s predestination from his mother’s womb, and consecrated to the Gospel, to be a prophet and teacher of the Gentiles.
Mystically, says S. Anselm, from my mother’s womb denotes “from the darkness of the synagogue to see the light of the Gospel.”
Observe that segregatus, “separated,” denotes one selected out of the flock, as the predestinate are selected by God out of the flock of men. So much more is an Apostle and Herald of the word of God separated from the many; and, as S. Chrysostom says, he ought to excel the many as a shepherd excels his flock. It was for this reason that the prophet exclaims, in Isa. vi. 5: “Woe is me! for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” Woe is me! for I am nothing better than others, who are merely unholy themselves. See the comment on Rom. i. 1.
Ver. 16.—To reveal His Son in me. In my soul. The phrase is a Hebraism. He says in me rather than to me, to denote that he had received no bare revelation by ear or eye, but that in his inmost heart he had so entirely drunk in Christ and His teaching and Spirit that Christ was in him and spoke by him (Theophylact). Secondly, Jerome and Vatablus understand it, “To reveal His Son through me.” Thirdly, Jerome has another interpretation more subtle than literal: “He does not say to me but in me, because Christ was already in Paul. For there were in him the principle of all virtues and of God, and the seeds of faith. These, however, he did not recognise, nor believe in them till God revealed them in him as being in his heart.”
I conferred not with flesh and blood. I joined myself to no one; I conferred with no one about my vocation, or the revelation, or the way to act on it; I called into counsel no relations or any one else; but, knowing of a certainty that I had been called and taught by God, I followed God as my only teacher and leader. The word rendered confer denotes, says Budæus, to communicate secrets and counsels, to go to one’s friends as counsellors and upright judges, that they may approve or disapprove, advise or dissuade, as they see fit.
Flesh and blood denotes, by synecdoche, the whole man consisting of these two elements. Cf. S. Matt. xvi. 17. I was not taught the Gospel, says S. Paul, by any man, for I conferred with none, but by revelation from God alone. See, then, 0 Galatians, how by rejecting it, and tainting it with an admixture of Judaism, you are tainting and rejecting the word of God, and even God Himself, who revealed it to me, that I might go and preach it.
It may be said: Why, then, did Paul afterwards go to Jerusalem to see Peter (ver. 18), and what is more, confer with him about the Gospel? I reply. He did not confer with him as though in doubt or imperfectly instructed, but that the faithful whom he taught might know him to be in communion with Peter and the other Apostles, to hold the same faith as they, that so they might give more credence to his preaching of the Gospel.
Jerome, however, refers the word immediately to the preceding clause, thus: “To reveal him immediately in the Gentiles I conferred not with flesh and blood.” “Since I was ordered by God immediately to preach to the Gentiles, I immediately obeyed, so that I took no counsel with any man. Afterwards, however, I did confer with Peter, James, and John.” The first explanation, however, is better. Or it may be rendered: I did not see, I did not cling to my earthly parents and relations, but, loving them, I followed the call of God (Augustine and Œcumenius).
Morally, he follows S. Paul’s example who is called by God to the apostleship, to religion, to evangelical perfection, to heroic works, and does not yield to flesh and blood, but at once departs to gain that to which he feels himself called. S. Jerome writes to Heliodorus: “0 delicate soldier, what do you in your father’s house? Where is the rampart, the fosse, the winter spent under tents? Call to mind the day of your enlistment, when you were buried with Christ in baptism, when you took your military oath that for His name you would spare neither father nor mother. Lo! the adversary is trying to slay Christ in your breast. Lo! the camp of the enemy is thirsting for the donative which you received when you started on your warfare. What, though a little grandson hang an your neck; though your mother, with dishevelled hair and garments rent, bare the breasts which suckled you; though your father lie on the threshold: go forth, trampling on his body, and with dry eyes hasten to the banner of the Cross. Filial piety demands that in this you be cruel. . . . The love of God and the fear of hell will easily break your fetters. If they believe in Christ, let them assist me who am about to fight for His name. If they do not, let the dead bury their dead.”
Again, he writes to that noble widow, Furia: “The father will be sorrowful, but Christ will rejoice; the family will mourn, but there will be joy among the angels. Let your father do what he will with your goods. It is not he for whom you were born, but Christ, for whom you have been born again, who has redeemed you at a great price, even His own blood, of whom you have to think. Beware of nurses and bearers and venomous animals of that sort, who seek to fill their bellies with your husks. They advise not what is for your good but their own.”
S. Bernard too, preaching on the text, “Lo, we have left all,” says: “How many does the accursed wisdom of the world overcome, and extinguish the fire kindled in them, which the Lord had wished to see burn fiercely! Do nothing, it says, in a hurry: take plenty of time to think over it; it is an important step that you are proposing to take; you had better try first what you can do, and consult your friends, lest you come afterwards to be sorry for your action. This wisdom of the world is earthly, sensual, devilish, the foe of salvation, the destroyer of life, the mother of lust, and abominable unto the Lord.”
Ver. 17.—Neither went I up to Jerusalem. But Acts ix. 26 represents Paul as flying directly after his conversion from Damascus to Jerusalem. Jerome and Lorinus, when commenting on that passage, say that he went to Jerusalem directly after his conversion, because compelled to seek safety in flight, not that he might see Peter and confer with him about the Gospel, for this latter is all that is denied here. Baronius replies differently, that Paul is not said directly after his conversion to have gone to Jerusalem, but after many days, i.e., after three years, spent partly in Arabia, partly in Damascus. After that he came to see Peter, as is said here (ver. 18), and afterwards went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia (Ver. 21). With this agrees Acts ix. 30, where it is said that the brethren brought him down to Cæsarea and sent him forth to Tarsus, which is the metropolis of Cilicia. If this be the true explanation, then S. Luke, in Acts ix., passes over the journey of Paul into Arabia, because in it nothing calling for mention had happened.
Both explanations are tenable. But the fear of the Apostles and the sponsorship of Barnabas (Acts ix. 26, 27) favour the former. It is not likely that the miraculous conversion of Paul could for three years have remained unknown to the Apostles and the rest of the faithful at Jerusalem. If this be correct, then we must, with S. Chrysostom, marvel at the grace of God which so suddenly changed so bitter a persecutor as S. Paul was into a public teacher and a disputer with the Jews.
Ver. 18.—Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter. Chrysostom and Theophylact remark on the distinction between ι̉δει̃ν and the word ίστορη̃σαι, used here. This latter is used of those who visit and go round splendid cities, like Rome, and carefully inspect its monuments, its Pontiff, its Cardinals, its clergy, and holy men. I came to Jerusalem, says S. Paul, to see Peter, not to learn anything from him (though Erasmus thinks that ίστορη̃σαι connotes this), for I had been taught from above, but merely to see and pay my respect to the chief of the Apostles (Theodoret, Chrysostom, Ambrose, Jerome). In Gal. ii. 2 Paul gives another reason for his visit.
S. Chrysostom writes: “Peter was the chief and the mouth of the Apostles, and therefore Paul went up to see him especially” (Hom . in Joan. 87). And S. Jerome on this passage: “Paul came to see Peter—not to gaze on his eyes, cheeks, and countenance—to see if he was fat or lean, if he had a hooked or a straight nose, whether he had hair on his head, or was (as Clement relates) bald headed. Nor is it to be supposed consistent with apostolical dignity, that after such a separation of three years he should wish to see anything in Peter that was merely human. Paul saw Cephas with those same eyes with which he himself is seen still by those who have power to see him. If this does not seem clear to any one, let him compare this sentence with the one before, in which it is said that the Apostles conferred nothing on him. For he went to Jerusalem, that he might see an Apostle, not to learn anything from him—for both had the same authority for their preaching but to do honour to one who was an Apostle before him.” From this it is clear that Paul did not see Peter that he might be taught by him, as Erasmus and Vatablus think. For this is contradicted by Gal. ii. 6: “They added nothing to me,” and by Gal. i. 11, 12, where he expressly says that he had been taught not by man but by God.
Ver. 19.—But other of the apostles saw I none save James the Lord’s brother. I.e., a cousin or relation of Christ’s, for the Hebrews call cousins brothers. S. Jerome adds that S. James was called the Lord’s brother before all the Apostles, even those related to Christ, on account of his lofty character, his incomparable faith and wisdom, which made him seem like a brother to Christ. For the same reason he was surnamed the Just. Secondly, S. Jerome says that Christ, when going to His Father, commended to James, as to a brother, the eldest children of His mother, i.e., those in Judæa who believed on Him; for this James, the son of Alphæus, the son of Mary, wife of Cleophas, one of the twelve Apostles, was the first Bishop of Jerusalem. This is why, in the First Council of Jerusalem, he was the first after Peter to pronounce judgment (Acts xv. 13). A Canonical Epistle of his is extant.
S. Jerome hints both here and in his book on Ecclesiastical Writers, when writing of James, that this James was not of the twelve Apostles, but was called an Apostle, only because he had seen Christ and preached Him. In this case we have three of the name of James—the brother of John, slain by Herod; the son of Alphæus, both of whom were Apostles; and this brother of the Lord. But since this brother of the Lord is called an Apostle, and there is no cogent reason for distinguishing him from James the Apostle and son of Alphæus, when, indeed, there are many reasons why we should identify them, the first opinion seems the better one.
Ver. 20.—Before God I lie not. Vatablus paraphrases this verse: “What I write unto you, behold I write before God—I lie not;” and Theophylact agrees with him. But Ambrose and Augustine think that before God is a formal oath—I call God to witness. The Apostle asserts that he had not seen the other Apostles so strenuously that no one might be able to say that he had visited them in secret, and had not been taught by God (Jerome).
Ver. 22.—And was unknown by face. The Christians in Judæa had not seen my face. He says this, says Chrysostom, to prove that he had not taught in Judæa, nor preached circumcision and the Old Law, as the Judaisers alleged he had done.
Which were in Christ—inHis faith and religion; which were Christians. See my canon 37.
l He sheweth when he went up again to Jerusalem, and for what purpose: 3 and that Titus was not circumcised: 11 and that he resisted Peter, and told him the reason, 14 why he and other, being Jews, do believe in Christ to be justified by faith, and not by works: 20 and that they live not in sin, who are so justified.
HEN fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.
Douay Rheims Version
The apostle's preaching was approved of by the other apostles. The Gentiles were not to be constrained to the observance of the law.
HEN, after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus also with me.
9. And when they had known the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship: that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision:
10. Only that we should be mindful of the poor: which same thing also I was careful to do.
21. I cast not away the grace of God. For if justice be by the law, then Christ died in vain.
i. Paul declares that he had compared his Gospel with Peter, James, and John, and that it had been approved of them so completely that there was nothing to be added to it or subtracted from it.
ii. He declares (ver. 7) that it had been mutually agreed between them that they should preach to the Jews and he to the Gentiles.
iii. He describes (ver. 11) how he had rebuked Peter openly for heedlessly assuming the appearance of a Judaiser, and so tempting the Gentiles into a similar error.
iv. He proves (ver. 16) that we are justified not by the works of the law but by the faith of Christ, and that for three reasons: (a) because (ver. 17) otherwise in abolishing the law Christ would be the minister of sin; because (b) the law itself proclaims its own abrogation in Christ, because (Ver. 21) otherwise Christ would have died in vain.
Ver. 1.—Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem. Are these years to be reckoned from the date of Paul’s conversion, or from the end of the three years spent in Arabia and Damascus? S. Jerome takes the latter, and so gets a date of seventeen years after the conversion, or A.D. 54, the twelfth of the Emperor Claudius, for this journey of S. Paul. But since Claudius ceased to reign in the next year, and was succeeded by Nero, in whose second year Paul was sent bound to Rome (Acts xxvii.), it would follow that all the history of Paul that is contained in Acts xv.-xxvii—I shall show directly that the journey alluded to here and that described in Acts xv. are the same—must be compressed into two years, which, considering the number and importance of the events recorded, seems very improbable. Moreover, it is clear, from Acts xviii. 11, that Paul, after what took place at Jerusalem, spent a year and a half at Corinth and then three years at Ephesus (Acts xx. 31). Accordingly, the opinion of Baronius and others seems better founded, by which these fourteen years are reckoned from S. Paul’s conversion. He treats that as an illustrious event from which to reckon, just as we treat a call to the Papacy, to the Episcopate, or to religion as the beginning of a new era.
That this journey of Paul to Jerusalem is the same as that described in Acts xv., when he went up to the council, is evident from the identity of cause, place, and persons in both. This is the opinion of the Fathers in general, except Chrysostom, who argues as follows: In Acts xv. Paul appears as sent to Jerusalem by his fellow-Christians; but here (ver. 2) he says that he went up to Jerusalem by revelation, hence the two journeys are distinct. My answer is: I deny the consequence. For both may be true, viz., that he went up by revelation, and that he was sent by the Christians of Antioch; because, as Bede remarks, he was warned by a voice from heaven to undertake the embassy entrusted to him by the people of Antioch, and went up, both for the sake of obtaining a decision of the common question about the observance of the law, and also for his own private purpose, viz., that he might compare his own teaching with that of the chief of the Apostles (ver. 2). From what has been said it follows, as Baronius holds, that the Council of Jerusalem was held fourteen years after Paul’s conversion, in the sixteenth year after the Crucifixion of Christ, in the ninth year of Claudius, A.D. 51.
Ver. 2.—I communicated unto them that the Gospel which I preached. I put it before Peter and the Apostles, making them as it were judges of my Gospel, that they might approve, disapprove, add, or take away as they saw fit in common council, and that I might receive it then at their hands to be believed and taught. See Gal. 1. 16, and comments.
Observe that the Apostle did not compare his Gospel with that of the other Apostles because he had any doubt of its truth or completeness, or of its agreement with that preached by Peter and the rest; for he knew most certainly, by the revelation of God, that together with them he had received the same full and perfect Gospel, as is evident from Gal i. 11, 12. It was not for his own sake that he made the comparison, but for the sake of those converted to the faith, amongst whom Paul was traduced by the Judaising pseudo-Apostles, as one who, among the Gentiles, slighted the law of Moses, contrary to the practice of Peter, James, and John, nay, of Paul himself when among Jews. To show the falsity of the accusation, to show the agreement of his teaching with that of the other Apostles, and also to guard his own authority, Paul compares his Gospel with theirs, lest, he says, by any means I should run, or had run in vain.
To Them. That is to the first Christians, those made at Jerusalem, for the adjective “Christian” is latent in the substantive “Jerusalem.”
Which were of reputation. Who seemed to be pillars (ver. 9.) of the Church and leading Apostles.
Lest I should run in vain. Lest, through the report spread abroad by the pseudo-Apostles, that my teaching was condemned by the Apostles, the faithful should believe neither me nor any teaching, and so all my labour should he rendered ineffectual Cf. S. Jerome (Ep. xi. ad August.), Tertullian (contra Marcion. lib. iv.), and S. Augustine (contra Faustum), who anticipates Luther’s opinions, and against them shows that the word of God, even when most pure, and all its preachers, stand in need of the testimony and authority of men. This is what he says: “Who is so foolish as to believe nowadays that the epistle produced by Manichæus was really written by Christ, and not to believe that what Matthew wrote contained the doings and sayings of Christ? Even if he has doubts about Matthew being the author, at all events he prefers to believe about Matthew himself what he finds the Church believes, and what has been continuously believed and handed down from his times to the present, rather than what some fugitive or other from Persia, coming 200 or more years after Christ, tells us about Christ’s words and works. For would the Church wholly believe the Apostle Paul himself, who was called from heaven after the Lord’s ascension, if he had not found Apostles in the flesh, to whom he might make it clear by communicating his Gospel that he was of the same fellowship as they?” (lib xxviii. c. 4).
Our Protestant friends should note this, and apply it to themselves, who prefer to believe Calvin, coming 1500 years after Christ, and teaching new doctrines, rather than the Church and the unanimous tradition of so many centuries.
Observe that this testimony is not for the laity to give, even if they be magistrates, but for Peter and the Apostles, i.e., for the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops, who have succeeded the Apostles, whether individually, or assembled in council. For Paul sought this testimony to his teaching and Apostleship from the Council of Jerusalem, in which the judges were the Apostles, and where Peter, as the president, spoke first and pronounced sentence. So from the time of the Apostles up to the present time, the whole Christian world, when doubts as to the faith, or new opinions, or heresies spring up, has sought from the Roman Pontiff, and from the Councils over which he presides, either in person or by his legates, a decision and testimony as to the truth. Whatever dogmas or doctors are condemned by them the whole Christian world regards as heretical. Heretics alone, because they are heretics, have refused to recognise this condemnation, this judgment, this testimony, and have in every age avoided it. So it is not surprising if our Protestants do the same; nay, their doing so is a sure proof of novelty, of wrong faith, and of heresy.
Ver. 3.—Neither Titus, who was a Gentile, was compelled to be circumcised. Observe the word compelled. Though the false brethren, the Jews, urged and tried to force it, yet I would not consent to Titus being circumcised, since he was a Gentile. Had I consented, I should have been thought to allow the necessity of circumcision and the law of Moses for Gentiles. But when I circumcised Timothy afterwards (Acts xvi. 3), I did so not under compulsion, but of my own initiative, that I might not irritate the Jews. For Timothy was not wholly a Gentile, being on his mother’s side a Jew, and on his father’s a Gentile, and so half-Jew, half-Gentile
Gentile. Literally “Greek” [as in A.V.] At the time of Alexander the Greeks were those of the Gentiles who were best known to the Jews.
Ver. 4.—And that. I.e., not even though the false brethren of the Jews urged it was Titus circumcised (Chrysostom, Œcumenius). S. Jerome takes away the adversative but, and makes the verse follow immediately on the construction of the preceding. But it is better to take the Greek διὰ δὲ, which our version renders sed propter, in the sense of δὴ or δη̃τα, i.e., “nempe,” in spite of it all, he was not circumcised.
The interpretation of Primasius and some others, who take the δὲ, sed, in its strictly adversative sense, as meaning that Titus was not indeed compelled by the Apostles to be circumcised, but yet was circumcised because of the importunity of the false brethren, is clearly inconsistent with the following words, To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour, and also with a sound faith. For circumcision having been already done away, and having given place to baptism under the Gospel, it was forbidden to Gentiles to be circumcised. But Titus was a Gentile by both parents. Cf. S. Augustine (Ep. xix. ad. Hieron., and de Mendacio, c. 5).
Unawares brought in, who came in privily. Like spies preparing for traps to be laid for us, they crept in by stealth. Cf. Rom. v. 20 and comments.
To spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus. Our liberty from the yoke and burden of the numerous legal ceremonies from which Christ has set us free by His faith and His Church.
Ver. 6.—But by those who seemed to be somewhat (supply nothing) was adding to my teaching. The Apostle, as is his wont, breaks off and interpolates a clause (whatsoever they were it maketh nothing to me), and then returns to his subject with a change of case. Peter, James, and John, the chief Apostles, added nothing to me (Anselm).
They who seemed to be somewhat.(1.) These leading Apostles who seemed to be somewhat were illiterate and uncultivated fishermen, whilst I, a Roman citizen, excelled them in zeal and knowledge of the law (Ambrose and Anselm). Since Paul was pressed by the authority of the other Apostles, who were claimed as Judaisers, he exalts his own authority and his own teaching, though with all modesty. This is why he adds, God accepteth no man’s person, as appears from this choice of fishermen to be Apostles. (2.) Augustine turns the όποι̃οι (quales) as implying sinners. No one need trouble to cast in my teeth the sins of my persecuting days, or remind Peter that he denied Christ. (3.) Chrysostom and Jerome, however, read it: Whatever they were in doctrine and observance of circumcision and the law is nothing to me; to God they will give account, for God accepteth no man’s person. The first of these three explanations is nearest the intention of the Apostle.
God accepteth no man’s person. I.e., the conditions attaching to a person, which have nothing to do with the free calling of God. To pay attention to these in conferring benefices and offices is in men a vice contrary to distributive justice, which is called in Greek προσωποληψία. In God it would be no vice, but it would be inconsistent with His liberality and greatness. See Rom. ii. 11 and comments.
Added nothing to me. This is Valla’s translation [and that of A.V.], but the Greek is προσανέθεντο, they communicated nothing—being content with my statement as sufficient. See Gal. i. 16 and comments.
Ver. 7.—The gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter. I.e., of the circumcised Jews. See my canon 21.
You will urge: Then Peter was not head of the Church, but Apostle and Pope of the Jews only. Some reply that this is said of the care and division of protection—that Peter was appointed to protect the Jews, Paul the Gentiles; and this especially, because he adds, He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles; which signifies: I was given the duty, the necessary graces, and apostolic gifts for my apostleship to the Gentiles.
Jerome’s answer is much better. He points out that at that time, at the very beginning of the Church, when there was still, as verse 12 shows, a wall of separation between Jews and Gentiles, Peter and Paul divided between them not power but works, so that Paul, hateful as he was to the Jews, might primarily and chiefly preach to the Gentiles, and Peter to the Jews. On occasion Paul preached to the Jews, as Acts ix. shows, and Peter to the Gentiles (Acts x.). Moreover, Peter transferred his see to Gentile Rome, as all historians, all the Fathers, the chronicles and monuments testify in common. See Bellarmine for these in detail. If any one after reading them still is in doubt, he must be too prejudiced or too impudent to form a sane judgment.
Ver. 8.—He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision—to make him the Apostle of the circumcised Jews by filling Peter with strength and effectual energy, did exactly the same for me among the Gentiles. As Ephrem puts it, he was alike effectual in us, both by working signs and wonders, by efficacy of speech, by the conversion of some—many—to Christ.
Ver. 9.—Cephas. Clement of Alexandria (Euseb. Hist. Eccl. ii. 12) and Dorotheus (in Synopsi) thought that that Cephas was not the Apostle Peter, but one of the seventy disciples. But the Church neither knows nor commemorates any other Cephas save S. Peter. The words, who seemed to be pillars, show that an Apostle is meant, and, therefore, Peter. Accordingly, in verse 14, S. Paul opposes himself to Peter, as being a sort of primate over James and John. In Syriac, spoken at Antioch of Syria, the same person would be called Cephas who by the Greeks was called Peter. So the man styled Cephas here is in verse 7 Peter.
That we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. So Christ is called, in Rom. xv. 8, a minister of the circumcision, inasmuch as He was promised and given to the Jews as the first-fruits of the world. Accordingly, the Apostles at first confined their labours to these circumcised Jews.
Ver. 10.—The poor. The Jews, who, for Christ’s sake, had been spoiled of their goods by their fellows (Heb. x. 34 and Chrysostom). Jerome, however, understands the poor who became so voluntarily to be meant, those who had sold their possessions and had given the price to the Apostles, to be distributed among the faithful—especially the poor among them, of whom there was a great number (Acts ii. 45).
Ver. 11.—I withstood him to the face. Erasmus and others interpret this to mean in appearance, outwardly, feignedly, and by previous arrangement. The literal meaning is better: I openly resisted Peter, in order that the public scandal caused by him might he removed by a public rebuke (Augustine, Ambrose, Bede, Anselm, and nearly all other authorities).
Because he was to be blamed. (1.) Because he had been blamed (κατεγνωσμένος) by other brethren, whom Peter had offended by this proceeding, in their ignorance of his true intention and motive, as Chrysostom and Jerome say, or, as Ephrem turns it, “because they were offended in him.” (2.) Theophylact and Œcumenius understand it: Peter had been blamed by the other Apostles because he had eaten with the Gentile Cornelius at Cæsarea. Fearing lest he should be blamed again by them or by other Jews, he withdrew himself from all intercourse with the Gentiles. (3.) The opinion of Ambrose is better. He had fallen under the condemnation of the truth and of Gospel liberty, which sets the Gentiles free from the darkness and slavery of Judaism. (4.) The Vulgate reprehesiblis (in place of reprehensus, as with the authors cited above) is better, and agrees with the context. It gives the reason for resisting Peter, because he was to be blamed for simulating Judaism.
It may be asked whether Peter was really blameworthy and was actually blamed by Paul. For many years there was a sharp dispute on this point between S. Jerome and S. Augustine, as may be seen in their epistles. Jerome, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Baronius answer in the negative, and hold that the rebuke was only theatrical. They argue that Peter, who had lawfully followed the Jewish customs at Jerusalem among Jews, lived as a Gentile among Gentiles at Antioch; when, however, the Jews arrived who had been sent to Antioch from Jerusalem by James, he withdrew from the Gentiles in favour of the Jews, lest he should offend those who had been the earliest to receive the faith (see ver. 9), and also that he might at the same time give Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, an opportunity of rebuking him, that by yielding he might teach the Jews that the time for Judaising was past. On the other side S. Augustine maintains that Peter was really blameworthy, and was blamed by Paul, as the record distinctly declares.
Out of this arose a dispute between S. Augustine and S. Jerome about simulation and lying. Jerome argued from this action of Peter’s that any similar simulation is lawful. Augustine denied that he did simulate, and laid down the unlawfulness of all lying or simulation, especially in matters of religion. In this second question, however, neither seems to have understood the other’s position. Jerome did not maintain that Peter told a lie, or put on a profession of Judaism while secretly detesting it, as Augustine, by the strength of his language, seems to think that Jerome held. The latter did not say that Peter was right in professing Judaism; if he did, then it would be right for any one of the faithful to make a profession of any false faith or any heresy. But Jerome only held what S. Chrysostom did, viz., that the rebuke administered to Peter by Paul was not really intended, but was merely theatrical, it being arranged between them beforehand that Paul should rebuke Peter, not for simulation, but for thoughtless dissimulation, and that Peter should accept the rebuke thus arranged for, that so the Judaisers might be really rebuked in the specious rebuke given to Peter, and with him might clearly understand that Judaising was forbidden. The lawfulness of such an action is not denied by Augustine, all he denies is that the proceeding was of this nature.
From this it appears how little ground Cassian (Collat. xvii. 17- 25), Origen, Clement, Erasmus, and others (see the passages in Sixtus of Sens, lib. v. annot. 105) had for founding the lawfulness of lying on this passage, or for endorsing the saying of Plato, that, although a lie is an evil thing, yet it is occasionally necessary, just as we use hellebore or some other drug, for this is now an established error condemned by Innocent III. (Tit. de Usuris, cap. super eo.), and by Ecclesiasticus vii. 14. Against it too S. Augustine writes two treatises, one entitled de Mendacio and the other contra Mendacium. Nor is there any exception to be taken here against Jerome and Chrysostom. They only understand and excuse a secret arrangement, whereby no lie was acted, but a rebuke was simulated, and this is a legitimate action, as is evident in military stratagems, when for instance, the enemy feigns to flee, and so draws its foes into an ambush.
A third question was also disputed between Jerome and Augustine as to the date when the Old Law came to an end, but this is outside the present subject, and it is sufficient therefore to say very briefly that the Old Law, so far as obligation goes, came to an end at Pentecost, when the New Law was promulgated, but that its observance did not wholly cease, it being lawful to observe it for a while, till the Jews had been gradually weaned from it, that so in due time it might receive an honourable burial. In this dispute Augustine seems to have held the stronger position.
It may be urged that in this act of Peter’s there was at least something sinful, if not actually erroneous in faith, as some have rashly asserted. By his action it may be thought that he thoughtlessly made a profession of Judaism, and so put a stumbling-block in the way of the Gentiles, and tempted them to Judaise with him. He had previously lived with the Gentiles, but he afterwards withdrew from them suddenly, went over to the Jews, and lived with them. From this the Gentiles might properly infer that judaism was necessary to salvation, both for him and themselves, and was binding on Christians; for though the Old Law, with its ceremonies, was not yet the cause of death, and might be preserved so as to secure for itself an honourable burial, and also to draw the Jews to the faith of Christ, yet it was dead, and in one sense death-giving, viz., to any one who should keep it on the supposition that it was binding on Christians. Although Peter, however, did not so regard it, yet his action was so imprudent as to give the Gentiles good reason for thinking that he did.
The justness of this remark is evident from the two remarks made by Paul: I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed; and: When I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, Why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?—viz., by your simulation, or what the Greeks call hypocrisy. All this shows that either Peter sinned or that Paul told a lie, which God forbid. See S. Augustine (Ep. 8, 9, and 19 to Jerome), Cyprian (Ep. ad Quintum), Gregory (Hom. 18 in Ezech.), Ambrose, &c.
To what has been said I add this: This sin of Peter’s was venial, or material only, arising from want of thought, or from want of light and prudence. He seems to have thought that, being the Apostle of the Jews especially, that he ought rather to avoid scandalising them than the Gentiles, and that the Gentiles would readily recognise the rightfulness of this line of action. In so doing he erred, for “although,” as S. Thomas says, “the Holy Spirit who descended an the Apostles at Pentecost established them thereafter in such prudence and grace as to keep them from mortal sins, yet he did not also save them from venial sins.”
Observe that a lie may consist in deeds as well as in words. For example, if a man lead another to suppose by his conduct that he is a good man or his friend, when he is neither of these, then he is guilty of a lie. This lie by deed is what is properly called hypocrisy. Similarly, if any Christian at Rome wears a yellow cap he acts a lie, by thus giving himself out as a Jew.
Notice, however, with Cajetan that falsity in deeds is more easily excused than falsity in words. The reason is that words are express signs of mental concepts, but deeds are not, and so admit a wider interpretation. Hence if soldiers feign flight to draw the enemy into an ambush, they are not guilty of hypocrisy, as they would be if they were to say in words: “We flee, 0 enemy, because we are afraid of you.”
Again, observe the following rule: When there is a just cause of concealing the truth, no falsehood is involved. Peter, in the act under discussion, had partly a just cause, viz., the fear of offending the Jews. His withdrawal from the Gentiles was not a formal declaration that he was a Judaiser, but only tantamount to saying that he preferred to serve the Jews rather than the Gentiles, the just cause of this preference being that he was more an Apostle of the former than of the latter. I say partly, for he was not wholly justified in so acting, inasmuch as he was bound, as universal pastor, to care for the Jews without neglecting the Gentiles. Hence it follows also that in one respect he sinned through want of due consideration. The infirmity of man’s mind, however, is such that he cannot always hit the exact mean, and under complex circumstances benefit one without harming another.
Some one will object then: Since Paul corrected Peter, he was of equal, if not superior authority; in other words Paul, and not Peter, was the head of the Apostles.
I deny the consequence. For superiors may, in the interests of truth, be corrected by their inferiors. Augustine (Ep. xix.), Cyprian, Gregory, and S. Thomas lay down this proposition in maintaining also that Peter, as the superior, was corrected by his inferior. The inference from what they say is that Paul was equal to the other Apostles, inferior to Peter, and hence they all were Peter’s inferiors; they were the heads of the whole Church, and Peter was their chief. Gregory (Hom. 18 in Ezech.) says: “Peter kept silence, that the first in dignity might be first in humility;” and Augustine says the same (Ep. xix. ad Hieron.): “Peter gave to those who should follow him a rare and holy example of humility under correction by inferiors, as Paul did of bold resistance in defence of truth to subordinates against their superiors, charity being always preserved.”
He did eat with the Gentiles. He ate, according to Anselm, of pork and other forbidden meats, without any scruple, to show that the Ceremonial Law was abrogated.
Ver. 13.—And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him. What was the nature of this dissimulation? Jerome, Chrysostom, and Œcumenius say it was “economical,” to prevent the Jews being scandalised; but Augustine, Anselm, and the Latins in general give a more satisfactory explanation in maintaining that it was an act of hypocrisy. The latter, too, have the Greek on their side, the literal meaning of which is, they acted hypocritically with him. They pretended to keep the law, which they knew to be abrogated. Barnabas followed them in pretending that there was a difference in meats, and that the Jews were to be preferred to the Gentiles, and so, though they did not consciously intend it, yet they made the Greeks to believe that the Old Law was necessary to salvation.
Ver. 14.—But when I saw that they walked not uprightly. The Greek word used here denotes literally to walk straight, without turning to the right hand or to the left.
If thou being a Jew lives after the manner of the Gentiles. To live as a Gentile is to partake indifferently of the same food, and thereby to show that the ceremonies of the law are dead, if not deadly, now that the Gospel is being preached. Having done this, why do you now avoid the Gentiles, and so compel them to Judaise?
Ver. 15.—Sinners of the Gentiles. So, according to Augustine and Anselm, the Jews contemptuously called the Gentiles, as being idolaters.
Ver. 16.—A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ. The English but here exactly interprets the work that the Latin translates by nisi. There is an antithesis between the works of the law and the faith of Jesus Christ, and accordingly the Protestants are wrong in neglecting the force of the antithesis, and translating the phrase as if it meant a man is justified only by the faith of Christ. Moreover, even if the Apostle had said the latter, yet he would lend no support to the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith only, for S. Thomas admits faith as the sole justifying cause. The word only excludes the works of the law, not the works of hope, fear, charity, and penance, which spring from faith as daughters from a mother.
Ver. 17.—But if while we seek to be justified by Christ we ourselves also are found sinners, is, therefore, Christ the minister of sin? 1. If we are still in sin, and are looking to faith in Christ for forgiveness, while as a matter of fact it is not to be found there, but in the law, then does Christ support sin, inasmuch as He has taken away the law, which, according to the Judaisers, alone destroys sin. If the law alone justifies, then the law of grace, which abolishes the law, is the minister of sin. This is the interpretation of Jerome, Chrysostom, Primasius, Anselm, and Theophylact.
2. Vatablus says that “to be found a sinner” means to teach that the Mosaic law is necessary to salvation along with the Evangelical law. If, says S. Paul, we have taught this, as our traducers say we have, is then Christ or the Gospel involved in this heresy?
3. Others again interpret the verse thus: If we also, who boast of our being justified in Christ, are found sinners; if we give way to our lusts equally with the Jews or the Gentiles, who are aliens to Christ, does it necessarily follow that our teaching about justification through Christ is erroneous? Does Christ make us sinners unless He be joined to the Law? If Christ’s followers give way to sin it is their own fault, not His.
The first of these three interpretations is the best, as being the least forced. The others have to supply a clause; the second supplies “are called sinners,” the third, “because they give way to their lusts.” The first two agree better with the context. The Apostle is trying to prove that faith and not the law justifies. If, then, they who trust to faith in Christ are none the less found sinners, then Christ is found a deceiver in promising righteousness by faith, and in not keeping His promise. Hence He becomes the servant of sin, not its conqueror, especially since He has abrogated the law, which, they say, was our justifier against sin.
The Apostle uses a common Hebraism. His question implies a negative reply, and refutes the Judaising error by a reductio ad absurdum. Cf. Rom. iii. 5; S. John viii. 53; Jer. xviii. 20.
Ver. 18.—For if I build again—if I attribute justifying faith to the law—the things which I destroyed—i.e., the law, as justifying—I make myself a Transgressor. Like a Proteus, I change my faith at every wind. This is a fresh argument. If I do what the Jews falsely allege against me, I shall be a hypocrite, a destroyer in public of what I build again in private. But a hypocrite no one has charged me with being.
Ver. 19.—For I through the law am dead to the law. The law was the forerunner of Christ, and died when He appeared. The Ceremonial died absolutely, the Moral only so far as it was a tutor, and a judge of sin. By the law itself I died to law, because itself bade me die to it and live unto Christ. This is a second reason, following on that given in ver. 17, why we are justified by Christ and not by the law. Since the law itself sent me to Christ, why do you, 0 Jews, go against its own declarations, and seek to galvanise it into fresh life? It does not, however, follow from this that the binding force of the Decalogue ceased when Christ came, for the law in this respect was not Mosaic, but natural and immutable. Cf. notes on Rom. vii. 1.
Accordingly, Luther’s remarks here and again on chapter iv. of this Epistle are impious. “To die to the law,” he says, “is nothing but to be free from obeying it, whether it be ceremonial or moral, for it is obvious that the law was given to the Jews, and not to us.” He says the same in his treatise de Libertate Christiantâ: “The Christian needs neither law nor works, for by faith he is free from all law.” Again, in the Wittenberg Edition of his works (pp. 189, 190), he says: “The human heart must hate above all things the law of God, and so far God Himself.” Listen to these words, all ye who have been miserably deceived by him and his colleagues, and shudder at the words not of a man but of Satan. For what more blasphemous and abominable words could Satan, the sworn foe of God and man, utter against God, or what words more dangerous to man?
The sentiments of Calvin (Instit. lib. 3, cap. 19, § 2, 4, 7): “When conscience says, ‘Thou hast sinned,’ reply, ‘ Yes, I have sinned.’—‘God will, therefore, condemn and Punish you.’—‘No, for it is the law that threatens that; but I have nothing to do with the law.’—‘Why?’—‘Because I am free.’ ” Is this the pure Gospel? Did Paul teach this? “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid. Yea, we establish the law.” (Rom. iii. 31.) “Who,” says S. Augustine (contra Ep. Pelag. lib. iii. c. 4), “is so impious as to say that he does not keep the commandments, because a Christian is not under the law but under grace?” Who can believe that Luther and Calvin were sent by God to be reformers of the Church, when they abrogate all law, human and Divine?
Ver. 20.—I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. By baptism I am crucified with Christ, and dead to sin and the law; I am cut off from the old tree, and grafted as a new branch into the new tree of the Cross of Christ, from which I draw a new life, so that it is not so much I that live but Christ who lives in me. It is not the law, not nature, not concupiscence, not my own will that now drives me into action; but Christ’s grace is now, as it were, my soul, and the cause of all virtuous living, and the wellspring of humility, fortitude, wisdom, joy, peace, and all virtues. So Jerome, Chrysostom, Anselm. Gregory (Hom. 32 in Evan.) says. “We leave ourselves, we deny ourselves when we change what we were in the old man, and strive for what we are called in the new. Think how Paul denied himself when he said, ‘It is not I that live.’ The cruel persecutor was dead, the pious preacher had begun to live; for if he were himself, he would not be pious. But if he asserts that it is not he that lives, let him tell us whence it is that he preaches holiness in his teaching of the truth. He adds ‘Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.’ It is as if he said plainly: ‘As far as I am concerned, I am dead, for I do not live after the flesh; but yet I am not really dead, for I live spiritually in Christ.’ ” So too Chrysostom writes: “See and admire an exact explanation of life. Since he had given himself wholly to Christ and His Cross, and did everything at His command, he did not say, ‘I live to Christ,’ but, what is much more, ‘Christ liveth in me.’ ” So too S. Jerome. “He who once lived as a persecutor and under the law, lives no longer. But Christ liveth in him as wisdom, fortitude, peace, joy, and all virtues. He who has not these cannot say, ‘Christ liveth in me.’ ”
S. Bernard (Serm. 7 in Quad.) says: These words of Paul are as if he should say: ‘To all other things I am dead; I do not feel them, I pay them no attention, I care not for them. Whatever, however, is Christ’s finds me alive and ready. For if I can do nothing else, at all events I can feel. Whatever makes for his honour pleases me, what against it displeases. Yea, it is not I that live, it is Christ that lives in me.’ ”
It is Christ then, that teaches, preaches, prays, works, suffers in me, says S. Paul, so much so that I seem to be changed into Christ and Christ into me. “Each one,” says S. Augustine (in Ep. Joan. tract. 2), “is what he loves. If thou lovest earth, thou will be earthly; if thou lovest God, thou wilt be God.” Or, as S. Dionysius puts it, “Love changes the lover into what he loves.” Cf. Hosea ix. 10: “Their abominations were according as they loved.”
The metaphor of the old tree and the new, the old life and the new, used here by S. Paul, is paralleled by that used in Rom. vi., where he speaks of our being planted, buried, crucified, dead, and risen, together with Christ. So S. Ignatius wrote to the Romans, “My love was crucified” —my love, my life, my soul, my whole being was crucified when Christ suffered.
Notice here four properties of love. (1.) According to Dionysius (de Divin. Nomin. c. 4), “love is a unifying force.” This the Apostle touches in the words: “I am crucified with Christ;” I am united to, and am as it were one with Christ crucified. (2.) The second property of love is mutual inherence, which links God and man in the bonds of mutual love, and causes each to will what the other wills, and to say with the Bride in Cant. vi. 3: “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.” This too S. Paul alludes to when he says that “he is in Christ, and Christ in him.” (3.) The third property is to turn the thoughts always in the same direction. For love, as a bond between minds, necessarily governs the thoughts of the mind. This S. Paul touches in the words, “I live,” and “Christ liveth,” i.e., the same life of memory, understanding, and will. (4.) The fourth is ecstasy. “Divine love,” says Dionysius (ubi supra), “causes ecstasy; it takes lovers out of themselves, so that they are no longer their own masters, but pass under the yoke of what they love. Hence the exclamation of Paul, when on fire with love and dominated by it: ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.’ Like a true lover, he was beside himself. We may even venture to say that a lover passes all bounds of self, and can do everything for the greatness of his love, because it makes him reach out in every direction and lay hold of everything.” Nay, ecstatic love laid hold on God Himself, and made Him communicate Himself to His creatures, and still more strongly, when it led Him to ally the Person of the Word to human nature in the Incarnation (Phil. ii. 7). It was ecstasy, therefore, which made the Word flesh, crucified It, and gave It the likeness of sin, because we were sinners and condemned to death; for it was out of His great, nay, His ecstatic love that Christ took all that we are, sin only excepted.
This ecstasy of love may almost be said to have changed the heart of Paul into the heart of Christ, just as we read about S. Catherine of Sienna, that her ardent love for Christ made her ask Him to remove her own heart and give her His; whereupon He granted her petition, and in place of her own gave her a new Christ-like heart. So too S. Chrysostom (Hom. 23 in Ep. ad Rom.), after quoting, these words of Paul’s, went on to say: “And so the heart of Paul was the heart of Christ, the tablets of the Holy Spirit, a roll written on by charity.” A little before he had called the heart of Paul, “the heart of the world,” and given this explanation of the term: “His heart was so enlarged that in it was room for whole cities and peoples and tribes. For ‘my heart,’ he says, ‘is enlarged.’ Nevertheless, however large it was, the love which enlarged it often brought it anguish. ‘Out of much tribulation and sorrow,’ he says, ‘have I written unto you;’ and I would fain see that heart melted, burning with love of them that they are perishing, bringing forth children. A heart that sees God is higher than the heavens, wider than the world, brighter than the rays of the sun, hotter than fire, harder than adamant, that sends forth streams of living water, a springing well, that waters not the face of the earth but the souls of men.”
This ecstasy has often been experienced by saints who have been overcome by the love of Christ. S. Dominic, when elevating the Body of Christ in the Mass, was carried aloft, and his body, catching the fire with which his soul was consumed, was kindled as it were into a flame, whilst he ascended to be united to Christ, his love. S. Francis too conceived in his mind such ardour, as S. Bonaventura says, from the seraph who appeared to him at night, that his body was wonderfully changed from that of an earthly man to a heavenly spirit, and into an image of the Crucified: bearing the five wounds of the Saviour, and the five marks burnt into him by the fire of the love of Christ, he became a marvel to the world.
Well too says S. Gregory of Nyssa (Hom. 15 in Cant.): “‘To me to live is Christ.’ By these words the Apostle not only exclaims that in him live no human affections, such as pride, fear, lust, grief, anger, timidity, audacity, recollection of injuries, envies, desire of revenge, of money, of honour, or of glory, but that all these being killed, He only remains who is none of these, who is sanctification, purity, immortality, and light and truth, who feeds among the lilies in the glories of His saints.”
So did Andrew the Apostle joyfully embrace the Cross. When he was condemned by Ægeas, Proconsul of Achaia, to be crucified for preaching the Cross, he exclaimed, as he approached the cross prepared for him: “0 noble cross, long desired, ardently loved, ever sought, already foreseen, gaily and gladly do I come to thee; may my Master, who hung on thee, welcome me, His disciple, that through thee I may come to Him who through thee redeemed me.” So saluting the cross, and making his prayer, he stripped off his garments and surrendered himself to his executioners, who thereupon tied him with ropes to the cross and raised him aloft. There he hung for two days and taught the people, till, finally, after having asked the Lord that he might not be taken down from the cross, he was surrounded with a glorious light from heaven, and when the light departed he gave up the ghost. All this is related in his Acts, which are thoroughly trustworthy.
So too S. Peter, when condemned by Nero to the cross, asked and obtained that he might be crucified, not like his Master, but with his head downwards.
S. Philip the Apostle preached the faith to the Scythians at Hierapolis, a city of Asia, during the reign of the Emperor Claudius; and having baptized many of them, he was at length crucified by the heathens and stoned, and so died a blessed martyr, as Eusebius relates, and, following him, Baronius.
When S. Bartholomew the Apostle had spread the Gospel through Lycaonia, in Greater Armenia, when Astyax was king, and had converted a temple of Ashtaroth in Lower India into a temple of the true God, and had baptized King Polemius and all his subjects, he was seized shortly afterwards, and after being beaten with sticks was crucified, and then flayed alive. On the twenty-fourth day afterwards he was beheaded, and so died.
At Rome, when Decius and Valerian were emperors, Pope Xystus was thrown into the Tullian prison and afterwards crucified. Prudentius (Hymn. 2 de S. Laurentio) thus alludes to this: “When Xystus was already fastened to the cross he said prophetically to Laurence, when he saw him standing weeping at the foot of his cross: ‘Cease to weep for me; I go before thee, my brother. In three days thou shalt follow me.’ ”
S. Dionysius the Areopagite was scourged at Paris in the time of the Emperor Hadrian, then tortured by fire and thrown to the wild beasts, without suffering any harm. He was then raised on a cross, from which he was taken down and again scourged, after which his head was cut off, and he carried it in his own hands for two miles. Baronius (in Martyrol. Od. 9).
When S. Calliopus, a devout youth, was invited to a banquet spread in honour of the gods, he replied: “I am a Christian; I worship Christ with fastings, and it is not lawful for a Christian mouth to receive what has been offered to infamous and unclean idols.” The governor, on hearing this, ordered him to be cruelly scourged, and then bade him give up his foolish craze, obey the decrees of the emperors, sacrifice to the gods, and so save his life, otherwise he should be crucified like his Master. Calliopus replied: “I wonder at your impudence; you have been repeatedly told that I am a Christian, and that when a Christian dies he will live with Christ, yet you impudently fight against the truth. Hasten for me the same death as any Master bore.” When the governor saw that he was not to be shaken from his purpose, he gave sentence that he should be crucified on the Friday in Holy Week. When his mother heard of this, she bribed the soldiers to crucify her son with his head downwards, which was done. When he died a voice was heard from heaven: “Come, thou citizen of Christ’s kingdom and fellow-heir of the holy angels.” All this is related in his Life by Surius (April 7).
Wonderful, too, was the love of the Cross shown by a mere boy, S. Wernher, and wonderful was his martyrdom by crucifixion. Having confessed and made his Communion, he was secretly taken by the Jews, and on Good Friday, in imitation of Christ, and out of hatred to Him, tied to a wooden pillar. There he was cruelly scourged, cut about with a knife in every part of his body, tortured with pincers, so that he seemed to be dead. The holy boy, however, lingered three days, hanging from the pillar, till the blood ceased to flow, when, after bearing his sufferings with the utmost patience, he gave up his spirit to Christ, crucified to the glory of God. See the account of him in Surius (April 2). For similar cruelties on the part of the Jews, see Socrates (Hist. lib. vii. c. 16).
Ado (Martyrol. May 22), and, following him, Baronius (A.D. 440), relates a similar story of a holy maiden named Julia, who was brought before Felix, and urged by every blandishment to sacrifice to idols. On her refusal she was beaten by the hands of the servants, tortured by means of her hair, scourged, and crucified. When she gave up the ghost a dove left her mouth and flew to heaven. Who shall find a brave woman? Her price is far off, yea, from the ends of the earth.
Lately in Japan six Franciscans, three of our Order, and seventeen Japanese laymen, among them a lad, Aloysius, of twelve years, and another, Antonius, of thirteen, were, by order of King Taicosama, crucified, and pierced with a sword in the right side. They thus joyfully suffered the agonies of martyrdom.
Who loved me and gave Himself for me. Note the use of the singular. It is not us nor for us, but me and for me. Paul speaks thus: (1.) because of the greatness and the sweetness of his love; (2.) because he felt himself the first of sinners; (3.) because each one owes thanks to Christ for His death, just as though Christ had died for him only. “Happy, thrice happy he,” says S. Jerome, “who can say, because Christ lives in him, in every thought and work, ‘I live in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.’ ”
Ver. 21.—I do not frustrate the grace of God. I do not reject or spurn, or, as S. Ambrose renders it, “I am not ungrateful to the grace of God.” S. Augustine takes it as in the text. They frustrate the grace of God, says S. Jerome, who seek for justification through the law, and those who after baptism are polluted by sin. But this is a moral interpretation; that first given is the literal meaning.
For if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. Since Christ gave His life as the price of our justification, He would have given it in vain if we could gain that justification through the law. This is a third argument, ex impossibili. No one is so mad as to say that Christ suffered in vain; but He did suffer for our justification; therefore we are justified by Christ, not by Moses—by faith, not by the law.