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Their Carnal state required the visible token.
also displayed his faith upon this point. And so if you Roм. reject the uncircumcision, be informed for certain that the 4, 13. circumcision is of no more use unto you. For if you follow not in the steps of his faith, though you were ever so much in a state of circumcision, you will not be Abraham's offspring. For even he received the circumcision for this end, that the man in a state of uncircumcision might not cast thee off. Do not then demand this of him too. For it was you whom the thing was to be an assistance to, not he. But he calls it a sign of the righteousness. And this also was for thy sake, since now it is not even this: for thou then wert in need of bodily signs, but now there is no need of them. And was it not possible,' one might say, from his faith to learn the goodness of his soul? Yes it was possible, but you stood in need of this addition also. For since thou didst not imitate the goodness of his soul, and wert not able to see it, a sensible circumcision was given thee, that, after having become accustomed to this of the body, thou mightest by little and little be led on to the true love of wisdom in the soul also, and that having with much seriousness received it as a very great privilege, thou mightest be instructed to imitate and revere thine ancestor. This object then had God not only in the circumcision, but in all the other rites, the sacrifices, I mean, and the sabbaths and feasts. Now that it was for thy sake that he received the circumcision, learn from the sequel. For after saying that he received a sign and a seal, he gives the reason also as follows. That he might be the father of the circumcisionto those who received the spiritual circumcision also, since if you have only this', no farther good will come to you. For this is then a sign, when the reality of which it is the sign is found with thee, that is, faith; since if thou have not this, the sign, to thee has no longer the power of a sign, for what is it to be the sign of? or what the seal of, when there is nothing to be sealed? much as if you were to shew one a purse with a seal to it, when there was nothing laid up within. And so the circumcision is ridiculous if there be no faith within. For if it be a sign of righteousness, but
i. e. do not require him to be 12. 15. &c. circumcised.' See Rom. 14, 3. Gal. 6,
li. e. the carnal
Summary.-Faith next compared with the Law.
HOMIL. you have not righteousness, then you have no sign either. For the reason of your receiving a sign was that you might seek diligently for that reality whereof you have the sign: so that if you had been sure of diligently seeking thereafter without it, then you had not needed it. But this is not the only thing that circumcision proclaims, namely, righteousness, but righteousness in even an uncircumcised man. Circumcision then does but proclaim, that there is no need of circumcision.
Ver. 14. For if they which are of the Law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect.
He had shewn that faith is necessary, that it is older than circumcision, that it is more mighty than the Law, that it establisheth the Law. For if all sinned, it was necessary if one being uncircumcised was justified, it is older if the knowledge of sin is by the Law, and yet it was without the Law made evident", it is more mighty if it has testimony borne to it by the Law, and establisheth the Law, it is not opposed to it, but friendly and allied to it. Again, he shews upon other grounds too that it was not even possible by the Law to attain to the inheritance, and after having matched it with the circumcision, and gained it the victory, he brings it besides into contrast with the Law in these words, For if they which are of the Law be heirs, faith is made void. To prevent then any one from saying that one may have faith and also keep up the Law, he shews this to be impracticable. For he that clings to the Law, as if of saving force, does disparagement to faith's power; and so he says, faith is made void, that is, there is no need of salvation by grace. For then it cannot shew forth its own proper power; and the promise is made of none effect. This is because the Jew might say, What need have I of faith? If then this held, the things that were promised, would be taken away along with faith. See how in all points he combats with them from the early times and from the Patriarch. For having shewn from thence that righteousness and faith went together in the inheritance, he now shews that the promise
The Promise can only be fulfilled by means of Grace and Faith. 121
did likewise. For to prevent the Jew from saying, What Rom. matters it to me if Abraham was justified by faith? Paul 4, 16. says, neither can what you are interested with, the promise of the inheritance, come into effect apart from it: and this was a thing to scare them exceedingly. But what promise is he speaking of? That of his being the heir of the world, and that in him all should be blessed. And how does he say that this promise is made of none effect?
Ver. 15. Because the Law worketh wrath: for where no Law is, there is no transgression.
Now if it worketh wrath, and renders them liable for transgression, it is plain that it makes them so a curse also. But they that are liable under a curse, and punishment, and transgression, are not worthy of inheriting, but of being punished and rejected. What then happens? faith comes, drawing on it the grace', so that the promise comes into effect. For where grace is, there is a remitting, and where remitting is, there there is no punishment. Punishment then being removed, and righteousness succeeding from faith, there is no obstacle to our becoming heirs of the promise".
Ver. 16. Therefore it is of faith, he says, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise' of God might be sure to all the seed not to that only which is of the Law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all".
You see that it is not the Law only that faith establisheth, but the promise of God also that it will not allow to fall to the ground. But the Law, on the other hand, by being kept to unseasonably, makes even the faith of none effect, and hindereth the promise. And this is why he shews that faith, so far from being superfluous, is even necessary to that degree, that without it there is no being saved. For the Law worketh wrath, as all have transgressed it. But this doth not even suffer wrath to arise at all: for where no Law
9 Sav. ixpoßu mar. and 6 Mss. ¡póbu. r So 6 Mss. Sav. drawn on by grace. So 6 Mss. Sav. adds, which is by
5 Mss, and M. omit,' of God,' so the text.
u 6 Mss. omit, not to that,' &c.
122 True Children of Abraham those who are so by faith.
HOMIL. is, he says, there is no transgression. Do you see how he VIII. not only does away with sin after it has existed, but does
not even allow it to be produced? And this is why he says by grace. For what end? Not with a view to their being put to shame, but to the end that the promise might be sure to all the seed. Here he lays down two blessings, both that the good things are sure, and also that they are to all the seed, so gathering in those of the Gentiles, and shewing that the Jews are without, if they bicker at the faith. For this is a surer thing than that. For faith doth thee no hurt, (be not contentious,) but even now thou art in danger from the Law, it preserves thee. Next having said to all the seed, he defines what seed he meaneth. That which is of the faith, he says, so blending with it' their relationship to the nations, and shewing that they must not be proud of Abraham who do not believe as he did. And see a third thing which faith effected besides. It makes the relationship to that xg righteous man more definite', and holds him up as the βέστεραν ancestor of a more numerous issue. And this is why he does not say merely Abraham, but the father of us who be here. And then to seal what was said with a quotation, he says,
Ver. 17. As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations.
Do you observe that this was ordered by Providence from of old? What then he means, does He say this' of the Ishmaelites, or of the Amalekites, or of the Hagarenes? This however, as he goes on, he proves more distinctly not to be said of these. But as yet he presses forward to another point, and to this end he proves this very thing by defining the mode of the relationship, and establishing it with a vast reach of mind. What then does he say?
Before Him whom he believed, even God.
swering to κατί.
But his meaning is something of this sort, as God is not the God of a part, but the Father of all, so is he also. And again, as God is a Father not by way of the relationship of nature, but by way of the affiance of faith, so is he also, inasmuch as it is obedience that makes Him father of us all.
y Or perhaps fixing the relationship,' i. e. of Abraham to the Gentiles,
6 Mss. and Sav. mar. add, on account.
Making those not so by nature his children a mighty act of God. 123
For since they thought nothing of this relationship, as cling- RoM. ing to that grosser one, he shews that this is the truer relationship by lifting his discourse up to God. And along with this he makes it plain that this was the reward of faith that he received. Consequently, if it were not so, and he were1 the father of all the dwellers upon earth, the expression even before, would be out of place, while the gift of God would be 2 or ancurtailed. For the before, is equivalent to "alike with." swering Since where is the marvel, pray, in a man's being the father of those sprung from himself? This is what is every man's lot. But the extraordinary thing is, that those whom by nature he had not, them he received by the gift of God. And so if thou wouldest believe that the patriarch was honoured, believe that he is the father of all. But after saying, before Him whom he believed, even God, he does not pause here, but goes on thus; Who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were, so laying beforehand His foundations for discoursing upon the resurrection. And it was serviceable also to His present purpose. For if He could raise the dead to life, and bring in those things that were not as though they were, then could he also make those who were not born of Him to be His children. And this is why he does not say, bringing the things which are not, but calling them, so shewing the greater ease of it. For as it is easy to us to call the things which are by name, so to Him it is easy, yea, and much easier, to give a subsistence to things that are not. But after saying, that the gift of God was great and unspeakable, and having discoursed concerning His power, he shews farther that Abraham's faith was deserving of the gift, that you may not suppose him to have been honoured without reason. And after raising the attention of his hearers to prevent the Jew from clamouring and making doubts, and saying, And how is it possible for those who are not children to become children?' he passes on to speak of the patriarch, and says,
Ver. 18. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
How was it that he believed in hope against hope? It was