HOME CHAT NAB PRAYERS FORUMS COMMUNITY RCIA MAGAZINE CATECHISM LINKS CONTACT
 CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC SAINTS INDEX  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC DICTIONARY  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Home
 
Bible
 
Catechism
 
Chat
 
Catholic Encyclopedia
 
Church Fathers
 
Classics Library
 
Church Documents
 
Discussion
 
Mysticism
 
Prayer
 
Prayer Requests
 
RCIA
 
Vocations
 
Ray of Hope
 
Saints
 
Social Doctrine
 
Links
 
Contact
 







An Exposition Of the Epistles Of Saint Paul And Of The Catholic Epistles Volumes 1&2

Analysis

The Apostle had proposed his own example (8:13) with the view of inducing the Corinthians to forbear scandalizing their weaker brethren. He continues the subject in this chapter, and he shows the painful sacrifices to which he had submitted in forfeiting his rightful claims to support at Corinth, which he was perfectly free to enforce; and these sacrifices he made, lest he might in any way impede the progress of the gospel. From this he leaves it to be inferred, that they should abstain prom things in themselves indifferent, and involving no great sacrifice, in order to avoid the scandal of their brethren. He first establishes his Apostleship (verses 1–4). In the next place, he points out certain privileges which he had a right to claim in common with the other Apostles (4–7). He proves from several sources his right to receive sustenance from the Corinthians (7–15). But he refrained from enforcing this right, although it was hard for him to forego it, lest he might retard the progress of the gospel; nor will he receive any support from them even in future, lest he might be deprived of the special glory and crown attached to the gratuitous discharge of the duties of his sacred ministry (15–19). In the next place, he developes the idea expressed in verse 1—(“am I not free?”) and shows how he sacrificed even his personal liberty to procure the salvation of others, and thus to become a sharer in common with them in the blessings of eternal life (19–24). The mention of the prize of eternal life suggests to the Apostle an expressive image of the value of this prize, and the difficulty of securing it, conveyed in the difficulty of obtaining a crown at the Grecian games. He continues this subject of the difficulty of salvation, to verse 14 of next chapter.

Paraphrase

1. Am I not free to claim the rights and privileges attached to the Apostleship? Am I not an Apostle? Have I not seen our Lord Jesus Christ, in his glorified state, from whom I have derived my mission? Are not you a further proof of my mission, having been converted to the Lord through my apostolic labours?

2. And even though it were conceded that I am not the Apostle of others; surely, this cannot be admitted respecting you; for you are the seal, the authentic proof and demonstration of my apostleship in the Lord.

3. This reference, therefore, to your conversion and to the external gifts and graces which accompanied and followed it, is my apologetic reply to such as question me regarding my apostleship.

4. As your Apostle, then, have I not a right to the privileges of the apostleship? Have I not a right to exact from you the necessaries of life, food, clothing, lodging, &c.?

5. Have I not the same right that the other Apostles, and the cousins of our Lord, and Peter himself had, to bring round with me some Christian woman to administer to my temporal wants?

6. Or should I only and Barnabas, be the only persons among the Apostles who have not a right to support both for ourselves and for those ministering unto us?

7. Who ever serves as a soldier, at his own expense? Does not the man who plants the vine partake of its fruits? And does not he who feeds the flock partake of the milk?

8. But why confine myself to arguments drawn from human life, as if arguments from other sources were wanting? Does not the law itself inculcate my right to support while labouring as an Apostle for your salvation?

9. For, in the law of Moses it is written (Deut. 25): “Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn.” Were the oxen the principal objects of concern with God in issuing this prohibition?

10. Or was it not rather principally on our account who labour in the cause of the gospel, that those things were written? (Most assuredly, they were principally intended for us.) Whereas, the man who ploughs has a right to expect a share in the harvest, and the man who thrashes has a right to expect a share in the fruits. (Since, in one word, those who engage in temporal culture have a right to support);

11. Does it not clearly follow that we, who have sown blessings of a more exalted nature, of a spiritual character among you, have a still greater claim on you for temporal support?

12. If other teachers of an inferior order have enforced their right to receive sustenance from you, why should not we, whose claims are far higher, as your Apostles and fathers in the faith? But we abstained from enforcing this right; we have patiently submitted to privations of every description, rather than place an obstacle to the progress of the gospel.

13. Are you not aware that those who officiate in the temple, partake of the victims offered therein?—and that all the inferior ministers who serve at the altar, in attendance on the priests, partake of the goods of the altar.

14. Lastly, the Lord himself, when sending his Apostles to preach the gospel, ordained that those who preach the Gospel had a right to live by the gospel.

15. But, notwithstanding the many arguments which I had at hand to prove my right to receive support from you, I adduced not a single one, nor have I done so in the present instance, in the hope of receiving recompense in future; for, I would die from want, sooner than that anyone should render void the legitimate subject of my glorying.

16. But, in what does my peculiar subject for glorying consist? In the mere preaching of the gospel? By no means; for, if I merely preach the gospel, I have no peculiar subject wherein to glory. I do only what I must do; for, woe to me if I neglect preaching the gospel.

17. If I discharge this indispensable duty of preaching with alacrity and with the proper dispositions, I shall be entitled to the essential reward attached to so exalted a function; (I shall not, however, have the peculiar matter for glorying referred to), if I do this work from bad or unworthy motives, I lose a reward; my ministry, however, is not to be undervalued; for, still I act as a dispenser of the mysteries of Christ.

18. In what, then, consists my peculiar matter for glorying; my peculiar title to a special reward, sooner than forfeit which I would die (verse 15) is this that while preaching the gospel, I do so gratuitously and abstain from fully enforcing my right to support and temporal remuneration, founded on the fact of my preaching the gospel.

19. For, although free from all human servitude, whether in regard to Jew or Gentile; I, still, made myself the slave of all in order to gain all to Christ.

20. With the Jews I conformed in the exterior observances of their religion, in order to gain the Jews to Christ.

21. And with all under the law, i.e., all who observed the law of Moses, whether native Jews or Proselytes, I became ‘like a man still under the law (although I was not under the law, but under grace—Rom. 6:14), in order to gain those who were under the law. And with those who were not under the law, viz., the Gentiles converted from Paganism, I became from the same motive of gaining them, as a man not under the law (though, to be sure, I was not without a law, having been under the law of grace, and bound by its ordinances).

22. With the uninstructed and scrupulous, I became as a weak ignorant person, accommodating myself, as as far as possibe, from a feeling of tender compassion, to their weakness, in order to gain over persons of this class. In one word, I became all to all, in order to save all.

23. And, although I labour gratuitously and disinterestedly for others, I am not still forgetful of my eternal interests. I do all things for the advancement of the gospel, in order that with you I may share in its promises and rewards.

24. And while striving to be a sharer with you in the rewards of eternal life, I am not ignorant, nor should you either be ignorant, of the arduous nature and conditions of the struggle in which we are all engaged; as it is in the race course, so is it here—all run in the course, but only one receives the prize. Do you so comply with the conditions marked out for running in the ways of the gospel, as to secure its reward.

25. And every one who wishes to contend at the public games, submits to the greatest privations, and cautiously abstains from every indulgence that might prejudice success. And they, indeed, submit to all the rigours of abstinence from meat, drink, exercise, &c., to gain a crown that shall fade away at once whereas, the crown for which we have entered the lists shall never fade.

26. I, therefore, in the race of the gospel, run straightforward in my course towards the prize publicly exposed at the goal, and not as a man who runs at random. In the evangelical palæstra, I combat my adversary with effect, unlike the man who, instead of dealing out unerring blows, is merely beating the air.

27. And since my chief opponent and most dangerous adversary is my own body; I, therefore, chastise it, rendering it black and livid, and by mortification bringing it under subjection to the spirit; lest, after having preached to others, I myself become a cast-away.

Commentary

1. “Am I not free?” &c. In the common Greek the order is inverted—it is, “Am I not an Apostle? Am I not free?” But some of the best critics prefer the order of the Vulgate, which is the order of the Alexandrian and Vatican MSS. The sense is the same in either collocation. It comes to this: Am I not an Apostle, and, therefore, free to claim the rights and privileges of the apostleship? “Have I not seen Christ Jesus?” &c. He grounds his apostleship on two things:—firstly, on his having seen the Lord on his way to Damascus.—(Acts, 9:5; chap. 15 of this Epistle). He assigns this reason, in the first place, because it appears that some persons thought to depreciate his apostleship, and would have him be regarded as an inferior kind of Apostle, in consequence of his not having, like the other apostles, seen the Lord. Secondly, on the fact of their conversion—“Are you not my work?” &c.—(See Gal. 1:1).

2. “And if unto others,” &c. “You are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.” They are “the seal of his apostleship,” and, as it were, the letters patent of his mission from God; because the faith which they received, the several gifts and external graces accompanying and following their conversion, were the seal of God himself, attesting the truth of his apostleship among them, as a seal authenticates a writing; since God would never accord the gifts of miracles, prophecy, tongues, &c., to confirm the preaching of any other than his own Apostle.

3. “My defence with them that examine me is this.” The word “this” refers to the foregoing, viz., the conversion of the Corinthians, and the miracles, prophecies, &c, accompanying it. The words “defence” (απολογια), and “examine” (τοις ἀνακρινουσιν,) are forensic terms, conveying an allusion to the arrogance of certain parties, who presumed to sit in judgment (“examine”) on the claims of St. Paul to be considered a true Apostle of Christ.

4. “Have we not the power to eat and drink?” at your expense. In other words, have we not the strict right to exact from you all the necessaries of life? Having established his apostleship in the preceding verses, he now asserts his right to claim its privileges.

5. Among those privileges, of which, however, he declined availing himself, was that enjoyed by the other Apostles and the cousins of our Lord, the sons of Cleophas—called “brethren” according to the usage of the Hebrews, who called cousins, brethren—of bringing about some Christian matron, who would administer to his temporal wants. Our Lord himself did the same, as we read (Luke, 8:3).

This passage furnishes the Reformers with not even the slightest ground of objection against the celibacy of the Catholic clergy. They interpret the words, ἀδελφὴν γυναῖκα, “a woman: a sister,” to mean “a sister, a wife,” as if it were implied, that the Apostle was married. They ground this construction on these reasons:—first, by saying “a sister,” it was evidently implied she was “a woman;” and hence, the word “woman” must mean a “wife”—otherwise, it would be quite superfluous. Secondly, the words, περιαγειν, “carry about,” can only apply to the case of a husband carrying about his wife.

RESP.—These reasons are as unfounded as the proposition which they are intended to establish. First, every “sister” is not “a woman,” in the sense of the word contemplated here by the Apostle; γυνη, signifies a woman advanced in life. The second reason is refuted by the fact of our Redeemer carrying about with him women who ministered to him out of their temporal substance.—(Luke, 8:3). The Catholic version, which makes it—“mulierem sororem,” “a woman, a sister,” is that of all the ancient Fathers, St. Clement of Alexandria, alone, excepted. Putting the authority of the Holy Fathers out of the question, is it not clear from chap. 7:8, that St. Paul was unmarried? What merit, then, could he claim for not bringing about his wife to be a burden to them, when he had none? And if he had a wife, how could the bringing her about with him be any obstacle to the speed of the Gospel, as he supposes (verse 12), either on grounds of disedification, or of her support, which was evidently connected with his own support, to which he had a strict right? Hence, he must refer to a different description of female. Moreover, if by “woman” he meant a wife, the word “sister” would be superfluous, since no one could suspect St. Paul of being married to an unbelieving wife.

To whom, then, do the words refer?

RESP.—They refer to those pious matrons, who, according to the custom prevalent in Judea, supplied their teachers with the necessaries of life, as happened in the case of our Redeemer himself.—(St Jerome, contra Jovin., chap. 19). Among the recommendations of widows in his Epistle to Timothy, the Apostle places this: “If they wash the feet of the saints,” i.e., of the apostles and ministers of the gospel.

There existed also, from the very days of the Apostles, an order of females termed deaconesses.—(See Epistle to Rom. 16:1). These were supported by the Church, and it is likely that one of them attended the Apostles. The exalted character of the Apostles, and the well-known piety of the females, precluded all grounds for sinister suspicions. It was, besides, a custom quite prevalent in Judea for teachers to bring round females who were not their wives; and hence, no scandal could be occasioned. This class of females St. Paul calls “women sisters,” or Christian women, different from Pagan slaves, in the same way as the words, viri fratres (Acts 1:16, 2:29, &c.) mean, not husbands, but “men, brethren.” The Apostle, while preaching among the Gentiles, where the custom of bringing round females was unknown, and where unjust suspicions might be excited, had foregone the double claim he had to support for himself and for such a person, lest he might, in any way, obstruct the spread of the gospel.

6. “To do this.” This is the reading according to the Vulgate, and the reading adopted by all the Latins. It refers to the claims to support both for themselves and their attendants, which he himself and Barnabas had foregone for the sake of the gospel. In the Greek, it is οὐκ ἔχομεν ἐξουσὶαν μὴ ἐργαζεσθαι; have we not the power of not working?—i.e., of abstaining, like the other apostles, from manual labour. This is the reading adopted by all the Greeks, and preferred by Estius.

7. In the following verses, St. Paul, from several sources of argument, proves his right to support as their Apostle:—“Eateth not of the fruit thereof, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?” These were the ordinary methods of payment for labour at that time. Hence, in order that a minister of the gospel should have a right to his stipend, he should labour. He should “serve” as a soldier; he should “plant” his vineyard; he should “feed” his flock.

8. “According to man,” i.e., human arguments only, founded on human laws, and the usages of man.

9. The usage in Palestine was to tread out the corn by means of oxen, and some persons muzzled them while so employed. The Lord (Deut. 25) strictly prohibited this cruel practice. “Doth God take care for oxen,” i.e., were the oxen only the principal object of concern with God in issuing this prohibition?

10. “Or doth he say this indeed for our sakes?” In Greek, ἤ δἰ ἡμᾶς πάντως λέγει; or saith he it altogether for our sakes? Some Expositors explain, παντως, to mean, especially, as if he said it was specially for us this was meant. In the words of the Lord prohibiting the muzzling of the treading oxen, we must distinguish a twofold meaning. The literal, which had reference to the oxen, and the mystical, or allegorical (and this is frequently the chief meaning intended by the Holy Ghost); which had reference to men. Under the literal, is contained this mystical and recondite meaning, conveying a precept of giving the necessary support to working men; of course, including the Apostles, who have laboured for the salvation of souls. “That he that ploweth should plow in hope.” “That,” ὅτι, should be rendered, “because he that ploweth,” &c. “And he that thrasheth in hope, to receive fruit.” This latter sentence differs from the Vulgate, in the common Greek, και ὁ αλοῶν τῆς ἐλπίδος αυτοῦ μετεχειν επʼ ελπιδι, which runs thus:—and he that thrasheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. However, our Vulgate conveys the same meaning; since “hope” in the second place denotes the object of hope, or the fruit hoped for—a signification the word has in Scripture.—(Gal. 5; Titus, 2). Besides, the words, in hope, are cancelled by critics on the authority of the chief MSS. These words may be either a consequence drawn from the foregoing in this way: the precept regarding the oxen has principally in view the working man; and hence, the man who ploughs has a right to expect a share in the harvest, &c.—or, the beginning of a new argument (as in Paraphrase), in favour of his claims to support, founded on the right which the tiller of the land and the thrasher of the grain, has to a share of the fruits. If such persons, for their temporal services, have a right to support—

11. “It is a great matter,” i.e., is it to be wondered at that “we, who have sown unto you spiritual things,” who have laboured for your salvation, and have sown a spiritual seed to fructify unto eternal life for your souls, should receive in return “carnal things,” blessings of a temporal character—such as food, clothing, and the like? Spiritual blessings, though, of course, not given as the price of temporal remuneration, still, give a right to receive such remuneration. The force of the Apostle’s argument is grounded on the inequality that exists between what he receives and what he bestows.

12. “If others,” i.e., teachers inferior to himself. He does not appear to allude to false teachers; “be partakers of this power over you,” i.e., the power which they have over you, or rather their right to receive support. It would appear that St. Paul was not bound to forego his claims to support in the present instance; for, if so, he would be only discharging his duty in the course which he pursued; what claims would he, then have to extraordinary merit? Besides, he says (verse 1) “am I not free?” How could he be free, if bound to forego support?

13. From the Mosaic law he adduces another proof of his claims to support:—“They who work in the holy place,” οἱ τα ἱερὰ ἐργαζομενοι, those who labour in sacred functions, and “they that serve the altar,” are distinguished by some, as in Paraphrase. The former, referring to the priests—the latter to the inferior ministers. They are, however, commonly understood to refer to the same class of persons, whether of a higher or lower order ministering in the temple.

14. He, lastly, adduces the ordinance of our Redeemer himself, who, when sending his Apostles to preach the gospel, told them that “the labourer was worthy of his hire.”—(Matt. 10:10; Luke, 10:7).

15. “But I have used none of these things;” i.e., I have adduced none of the arguments which I had at hand, to prove my right to support; and this right, founded on so many reasons, I have declined to enforce. “For it is good (καλον) for me to die;” i.e., better for me to die, I would sooner die through want, than that any one should make void my glory. The Greek word for “glory,” καυχημα, means, glorying or boasting. The subject for glorying, which the Apostle would submit to death sooner than render void, refers to his not enforcing his right to support. This matter for glorying they would render void, by giving a temporal recompense.

16. This peculiar matter for glorying cannot consist in the mere act of preaching the gospel; since, in doing so, he only does what he is bound to do, under pain of eternal woe.

17. “Willingly,” ἑκὼν, i.e., with proper dispositions. If I perform the act of preaching the gospel with the proper dispositions, receiving, at the same time, the necessary means of support—the recompense to which all laws, human and divine, give me a claim—“I have a reward,” i.e., he secures the essential reward attached to preaching the gospel; but not the special, accidental glory and reward attached to preaching it, not only with proper dispositions, but also gratuitously, as had been done by him. “If against my will,” ἄκων, i.e., from sordid, unworthy motives; then, I lose all reward; however, “a dispensation is committed to me” (οἰκονομίαν πεπιστευμαι), i.e., I am still the dispenser of the mysteries of Christ, and, hence, my ministry is not to be undervalued or rejected in consequence of the unworthy motives by which I may be actuated.—Estius, in hunc locum. Others, with A’Lapide and Piconio, understand “willingly” to mean gratuitously, and “reward,” to mean a special reward attached to gratuitous preaching, and “against my will,” to mean, with the prospect of just temporal retribution. The former interpretation, however, seems preferable; for, the Apostle appears to consider four classes of preachers—the first, those who omit the duty of preaching. Eternal woe is to be their lot. A second, those who preach the gospel with proper dispositions, and receive temporal compensation. They are entitled to the reward attached to the discharge of this exalted function. A third, those who discharge the duty from corrupt motives; and although their ministry in a spiritual point of view, proves of no service to themselves, still, it is not to be undervalued or despised by others; for, they deal out the treasure of heavenly mysteries intrusted to their keeping. A fourth class—of which he himself is the type—those who preach gratuitously, and these are entitled to special glory and rewards. The interpretation of Estius, adopted in Paraphrase, assigns the more natural meaning of the words, “against my will.” For, a man who performs anything perceptive, even with a view of temporal remuneration, could hardly be said to have done so, “against his will.”

18. “What then is my reward?”—He says, emphatically, “my reward,” to distinguish it from the reward, verse 17. “My reward,” as appears from the following words, means, the cause or matter for reward; it is the same as “my glory,” verse 15:—From the whole passage, it appears quite clear, that the conduct of the Apostle in refusing any temporal compensation from the Corinthians, was a work of supererogation, to which he was not bound either in the abstract (as is clear from the fact of the other Apostles receiving support, and his receiving it himself from the Macedonians), or, in the circumstances; for, he might have explained his claims to support, and thus have removed all legitimate grounds of offence or unfair suspicions on the part of the Corinthians. Moreover, he says, that even were compensation offered him, after the explanation given, he would still refuse it (verse 15); in which case, he, certainly, would not be bound to forego his just claims.

OBJECTION.—He calls a departure from his present line of conduct “an abuse,” and hence, it was a matter of precept for him to act as he did.

RESP.—The Greek word for “abuse,” καταχρησασθαι, simply means, to use fully. It has this meaning (7:31). St. Chrysostom, by “abuse,” here understands to use a lesser good—minore bono uti—as opposed to a greater, but not to a precept. Hence, the words mean, that I might not use to the full extent (as it would be the exercise of a lesser good), my rights in the gospel.

19. The Apostle having referred to the sacrifice which he himself had made, when foregoing his claims to support, as a motive to induce the Corithians to forego, in favour of their weaker brethren, claims involving little or no sacrifice, now adduces another example of heroic charity still more arduous than the preceding, as it was, in a certain sense, the sacrifice of his liberty.

“For whereas I was free as to all,” &c. These words would appear to correspond with the words, verse 1, “Am I not free?” and are, according to some Commentators, a more full explanation of the same. He had, in the preceding, shown his light as an Apostle, and the sacrifices he made; he now shows how he gave up his freedom, in the cause of the Gospel.

20. He shows how he “made himself the servant of all.” He conformed with the Jews in certain actions and external practices, distinctive of the Jewish religion.

21. “To them that are under the law,” probably includes all persons who remained in the profession of Judaism, whether native Jews or Proselytes. In the Epistle to the Romans, chapter 6, the words, “under the law,” are opposed to “under grace.”

NOTE.—As a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, St. Paul could lawfully practise the Mosaic ceremonies, and he did so; as we read in the Acts, chap. 21:24, &c. The observance of the law was not, at this time, sinful for the converted Jews; for them it was, as Divines term it, mortua, not mortifera. (“Whereas myself was not under the law”). These words enclosed in a parenthesis are wanting in the common Greek text and Protestant version. They are, however, admitted to be genuine by the best critics, on the authority of the chief MSS. and several versions. “To them without the law,” i.e., the Gentiles not bound by the law of Moses—Rom. 11:14. (“Whereas I was not without the law of God.”) (in the common Greek, μὴ ὤν ανομος θεῷ ἀλλʼ ἕννομος Χριστῷ, “I was not without the law to God,” &c. The chief MSS. have the genitive, ἄνομος θεοῦ, ἔννομος Χριστοῦ). These words he throws in parenthetically to guard against a suspicion, that he was a lawless man indulging in unrestrained licence among the Gentiles.

22. These words, of course, can only mean, that the Apostle went as far in accommodating himself to every description of persons, as the laws of virtue and religion would permit. He became all to all, says St. Augustine—compassione misericordiæ, non simulatione fallaciæ—and again, non mentientis actu, sed compatientis affectu.—(Epistles, 9 and 19, ad Hieronymum.) “That I might save all.” In Greek, ἵνα παντως τινα σώσω, that I might by all means save some. The Vulgate is supported by some of the chief manuscripts, and by the Arabic and Ethiopic versions.

23. He says, that although regardless of temporal interests, there is one interest, however, which he has constantly in view, as the aim of all his actions, and that is, the interest of eternal salvation. “All things,” the common Greek text has, τουτο, this, but παντα, all things, is read in the chief MSS., and preferred by critics generally. “That I may be made partaker thereof.” The Greek word for partaker, συνκοινωνὸς, means, partaker in common, which shows the great humility of the Apostle seeking only for the same crown that was in store for the Corinthians. What an important lesson is conveyed in these words of the Apostle, for those who are engaged in the salvation of others! What will it avail them to have saved thousands of others, if they themselves are lost? With the Apostle they should, therefore, constantly strive, while labouring for the salvation of their brethren, to be themselves sharers with them in the blessings of eternal life. They should frequently pray for the gift of the only true wisdom, viz., the wisdom of salvation.

24. The allusion to the reward of eternal life, suggested to the Apostle an idea which, with the Greeks, would be very expressive of the value of the prize for which they were contending, and of the conditions for securing it. This was the idea of the prize contested for at their public games, so famous in the history of Greece; and on this idea he founds an exhortation to strive earnestly for the prize of eternal life. The Apostle alludes to the Isthmian games celebrated at Corinth. (For a full account of the Grecian games see Potter’s “Grecian Antiquities.”) “So run that you may obtain.” From this example we are not to infer, that only one person can obtain eternal life, as only one was crowned at the Grecian games; for, the object of the Apostle in this example, as appears from the words, “so run that you may obtain,” is merely to show that as no man gained the prize in the Grecian games without complying with the laws prescribed for the combatants; so, no one can succeed in gaining the prize of eternal life, without complying with the necessary conditions of the spiritual exercises. As the prize at the games was glorious, so is it the case here. As the conditions were arduous, so is it also in regard to eternal life. In this verse, the Apostle refers to one of the exercises practised at the public games, viz., that of running; in verse 26, to two of them, viz., running and boxing.

25. “That striveth for the mastery,” ὁ ἀγωνιζόμενος, who enters the lists as champion. The competitors, at the celebrated Grecian games, were obliged, in the course of preparation, to submit to the greatest privations, to practise abstinence from meat, drink, sleep, &c.—(see Epictetus, Enchiridion, cap. 35)—and all this merely for the purpose of gaining some transient applause, to have their brows encircled with a crown of either laurel or wild olive, ox pine, or even parsley, which was to fade away shortly, and be soon altogether valueless and utterly forgotten. But the crown, for which we are contending, is a crown of undying, never-fading glory; why not then submit to still greater privations in order to secure it? How much have not the saints endured for heaven? Cannot we do the same—none potes tu, quod isti et istæ? says St. Augustine. To how many privations do not worldlings submit for a mere transient glory, or for a wretched fortune? How much do not even the reprobate suffer for hell?—and what have we hitherto done or endured for the bright crown of the just in heaven? “Children of men, how long heavy of heart, why in love with vanity and in quest of lies! And justly may all earthly promises be termed lies; since, instead of the enjoyment and happiness, which they hold out to us, they only cause us bitterness, remorse, and disappointment—“but we an incorruptible one.” Oh! how consoling to us in worldly crosses and disappointment to reflect that, if we lose a corruptible good, we can still secure a never-fading crown of glory. O Mary—“gate of Heaven”—“cause of our joy,” and “comfortress of the afflicted!”—pray for us.

26. The Apostle here makes allusion to two of the exercises in the Grecian games, viz., running and boxing.—(See Potter’s “Antiquities of Greece,” Vol. I. Book II. chap, xxi.)

27. The flesh is the most dangerous of the three leagued enemies of our salvation; if it be overcome, we can easily obtain the mastery over the world and the devil. Duriora sunt prælia castitatis, in qua pugna quotidiana, victoria rara.—St. Jerome. The Apostle here points out the most efficacious way of combating it—it is by “chastising” it, or, as the Greek word, ὐπωπιαζω, means, rendering it bruised and livid, by the force of corporal macerations and austerities, and, thus, bringing it under subjection to the spirit. From this passage is derived a conclusive argument in favour of the practices of fasting and corporal mortification recommended and enjoined by the Catholic Church. For, those who are sincerely anxious for salvation, cannot propose to themselves a better model than the Apostle, who, to guard against reprobation, had recourse to bodily chastisement and austerities; nor can these salutary and painful exercises be less necessary for our sinful and rebellious flesh, than they were for St. Paul, fortified, as he was, by so many graces and communications from heaven.

The words also convey an argument against the erroneous doctrine of the inamissibility of grace; for, St. Paul, who was in the state of grace, fears lest he might fal therefrom and become a castaway. The words, therefore, evidently imply that a man can fall away from grace.








Copyright ©1999-2018 e-Catholic2000.com