1 He declareth how he hath used all sincerity and faithful diligence in preaching the gospel, 7 and how the troubles and persecutions which he daily endured for the same did redound to the praise of God’s power, 12 to the benefit of the church, 16 and to the apostle’s own eternal glory.
HEREFORE seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not:
10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Douay Rheims Version
The sincerity of his preaching. His comfort in his afflictions.
HEREFORE seeing we have this ministration, according as we have obtained mercy, we faint not.
i. From what was said in the last chapter of the glory and honour belonging to the office of a preacher of the Gospel, S. Paul proceeds to assert that he discharges that office holily, sincerely, and blamelessly. He declares this to be a fact plainly known to all except to those whose minds were blinded.
ii. He declares (ver. 7) that he and the other Apostles undergo many sufferings on behalf of the Gospel without flinching, and that they with fortitude always bear about in their bodies the mortification of Jesus, on account of the hope of resurrection to a better life.
iii. He points out (ver. 17) that this our tribulation is but light and short lived, and works an eternal weight of glory.
Ver. 1.—Therefore seeing we have this ministry. The ministry of the New Testament, the excellency of which has been dwelt on in the preceding chapter. To this God in His mercy has called us, His unworthy Apostles.
We faint not. We do not yield, are not daunted by dangers and difficulties, are not wearied, as Erasmus turns it.
Ver. 2.—But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty. All hidden and disgraceful wickedness. What is vile loves darkness, and those who seek for what is impure have ever in their mouth, “If not chastely, yet cautiously.” S. Paul means: I do nothing, not even in secret, with which fault can he found: I am no hypocrite, like many false apostles. S. Ambrose (Offic. lib. ii. c. 3), alluding to the ring of Gyges, which enabled him to see all and be seen by none, and so led him to deflower the queen and slay the king, and get possession of the throne of Lydia, says beautifully. “Give this ring to a wise man, that by its power he way be hid from the eyes of all if he does wrong: he will none the less flee from the stain of sin, though he be seen by none. The wise man’s hiding-place is not to be found in fear of punishment, but in hope of keeping innocency. Law is not laid down for the righteous, but for the unrighteous; for the righteous man is a law to himself in the uprightness of his heart, and has his rule of righteousness within.” To the same effect is the golden sentence of Seneca: “Even if I were sure that no man would know, and that God would forgive, yet the hatefulness of sin would prevent me from sinning.” Add to this that even if we escape the notice of men when we sin, yet we cannot escape from the all-seeing eye of God, who will judge and punish. Therefore let every one renounce with S. Paul the hidden things of dishonesty, and live chastely, and keep his heart pure, just as if he were standing in the presence of God.
Not walking in craftiness. Professing to be one thing and secretly doing another. The words are aimed at the lust of the false apostles, and their secret evil-living. Cf. Eph. v. 12.
Nor handling the word of God deceitfully. As the false apostles do, who mix it up with the law of Moses, or fashion their teaching after the needs of time, place, and persons. These three were excellently performed by Luther. (1.) He falsified Rom. iii. 28, “We conclude that a man is justified by faith,” by adding the word “only” to faith; and also 2 Pet. i. 10: “Give diligence by good works to make your calling and election sure,” by omitting the words “by good works.” (2.) He wrested the word of God to his own lusts when he tried to persuade a certain woman that it was lawful for her to lie with him whilst her husband was asleep, on the authority of 1 Cor. vii. 39: “If her husband sleep, she is at liberty.” (3.) To suit different places, times, and persons, he gave different expositions of the words of consecration. Gaspar Querhamer Saxo has published thirty-six contradictory explanations of his on the subject of the Eucharist alone, collected from his writings during his lifetime.
Commending ourselves to every man’s conscience. Those who follow their conscience and form their judgments by it see that what I say is true, and if they would say what they think, they cannot deny that preach with sincerity, as in the presence of God, seeing and fearing God everywhere as my witness and judge.
Ver. 3.—But if Our Gospel be hid. So as not to be understood and hence not believed. He alludes to the veil of Moses (iii. 13), and anticipates the objection: “If you, 0 Paul, manifest, as you say, the word of God in truth, and commend yourself to every man’s conscience, how comes it that this word of God of yours is not manifest to all? Why do not all believe it?” He replies that it is plain enough to the good and faithful, but to the wicked and unbelieving it is hidden and unknown, because they are reprobate. He is not speaking of the written Gospel, as heretics suppose, as though that were clear to all the elect, but of the mysteries of the Gospel, or the articles of the faith that are open and obvious to every Christian, such as the birth, Passion, and resurrection of Christ. These truths were preached by Paul and the Apostles before the Gospels were committed to writing; and when this letter was written, all the Gospels were not yet written.
To them that are lost. It is the proof and cause of their reprobation that they have a veil of blindness and unbelief over their heart, which prevents them from seeing and believing Christ and His mysteries, which are so clearly set forth in the Gospel and the New Testament.
Ver. 4.—In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not. Who is meant by the “god of this world?” (1.) Marcion, according to Chrysostom, inferred that there is a certain god, just but not good, who was the creator of the world. (2.) The Manicheans reply that it is the devil, and that he was the creator of the world and of matter in general. (3) Chrysostom, Anselm, Theodoret, and Theophylact make the sentence run: God, i.e., true God, hath blinded the minds of the unbelievers of this world; or God, the true God, the author and maker of the world, hath blinded the minds of them that believe not. (4.) Œcumenius and S. Thomas say: The God of this world is the devil, who is the god of worldly men, not by having created them, but in the way of wickedness, example, power, and suggestion. This seems the simplest explanation; for S. Paul does not call him God simply, but the God of this world, i.e., of worldly men, who prefer the perishing things of time to the realities of eternity. Cf. Eph. vi. 12. (5.) S. Thomas also says: “The God of this world is mammon, or the power and pomp that men of the world make their chief good and set up as their god.” Cf. Phil. iii. 19.
Them which believe not. The construction is a Hebraism. The Gospel is hidden in the case of unbelievers who perish, in whom i.e., of whom, the God of this world hath blinded the minds.
Lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ . . . should shine unto them. The Greek word αυ̉γὴ, from which the verb here is derived, denotes, say Chrysostom and Theophylact, a faint light and foreshine of clear light, i.e., of the brightness of the Divine glory which will be revealed in heaven. As the dawn and the morning star precede the sun, so does faith in this life, like a morning star, go before the brightness of the si ht of the Beatific Vision. Cf. 2 Pet. i. 19. The Gospel is called the “Gospel of the glory of Christ,” or the “glorious Gospel of Christ,” because by it Christ is glorified.
Who is the image of God. (1.) This is strictly true of the Son, who proceeds from the Father as His image. (2.) The Son is called the image of the Father, because He is begotten by Him in such a way that He is most like to the Father, and most perfectly represents Him. He is the Word of God or the Wisdom of God, in whom the Father beholds His own Wisdom mirrored. “Word,” however, stands for a concept of the mind, and is an image of the thought of the mind, and so He is distinguished from the Holy Spirit, who, though He perfectly resembles the Father, yet is not this by the mere fact of His procession; for by that He is merely the bond of union in will and love between the Father and the Son. (3.) The Son is the image of the Father by reason of His Divine Essence, inasmuch as He has received It from the Father. For, since He has received It from the Father, He is in reality diverse in Person, just as an image is diverse from its original. Moreover, since He has received His Essence from the father, He is most like to Him, and in all things represents Him.
Observe the depth of the Apostle’s statements. The world receives the light of faith from the Apostles, they from Christ, in the same way that Moses received it from an angel representing Christ; Christ from the Father, in the same way that light proceeds from light, and a ray from the sun.
Ver. 5.—Ourselves your servants for Jesus sake. Supply “we show,” or “we preach.”
Ver. 6.—For God . . . hath shined in our hearts. In the account of the creation of the world given in Genesis, light is said to have been created first of all, because light is a quality most splendid, pleasant, gladdening, useful, efficacious, and powerful. Cf. Dionysius (de Divin. Nomin. c. iv.), who enumerates thirty-four properties of light and of fire wonderfully adapted to set forth God and the things belonging to Him. Cf. note to Gen. i. 2.
Hugo (de Sacram. pag. i. c. 10) and others point out, by way of allegory, that on the first day, when light was created and divided from darkness, the good angels were established in good and the evil in evil, and were separated each from other. What, therefore, was done in the world of sense was an image of what was being done in the unseen world. Nay, S. Augustine frequently maintains that the literal sense is that which refers to the angels.
The Apostle here explains this light tropologically. As God formerly produced light out of darkness, so now has He made unbelievers into believers, and has enlightened them with the light of faith. So, too, S. Augustine (contra Advers. Leg. lib. i. c. 8) lays down that by light and day succeeding the pre-existing darkness, and being again succeeded by darkness, is signified what spiritually takes place in man, viz., grace succeeding sin, and sin again grace.
To give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. To illuminate us, that we in turn may illuminate others with that clear and glorious knowledge which shines forth from God in the face of Christ, or else by means of our clear knowledge of Christ and His redemption. It is commonly said that a man is known by his face; hence to know “in the face” signifies to know clearly and openly. Just as at night a lighted torch throws light on the surrounding darkness, and is carried before travellers to show them the way clearly, so does Christ lighten us in the night of this world, so that we know God surely and plainly, and go on our way to see Him in the life of bliss in heaven. Hence the Glossa symbolically explains these words to mean: by Jesus Christ, who is the Face of the Father; for without Him the Father is not known. There is still kept up an allusion to the veil over Moses’ face contrasted with the open face of Christ (iii. 15). The word face may be, with the Syriac, translated the person, i.e., we illuminate, others in the name, place, and authority of Christ. S. Cyril (de Fide ad Theodor. Imp.) says. “He hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. See how openly and plainly the light of the knowledge of God the Father has shone, forth in the person of Christ.”
Ver. 7.—But we have this treasure. The treasure is the ministry and preaching of the Gospel entrusted to him by God. Cf. ver. 1 and vers. 5 and 6.
In earthen vessels. (1.) In a body of dust frail and fragile. Our body is as an earthenware vessel; for as an earthen vessel is nothing but clay baked in the fire, so is our body nothing but earth made solid by the heat of the soul. Take away the soul, and the body returns to the dust whence it came. Cf. Ps. ciii. 14. Or, (2.) in earthen vessels means in ourselves; for though we are Apostles, still we are men, frail and fashioned from the dust, and, like earthen vessels, are worthless, weak, and contemptible, exposed to injuries at the hands of all. This explanation is favoured by the words that follow: “We are troubled on every side,” &c. So in 1 Cor. i. 27, it was said that God had chosen the Apostles as the foolish, and weak, and base things of the world; and also in 1 Cor. ii. 1, Paul said that he had come to the Corinthians, not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, but in weakness, and fear, and trembling ; and again, in 1 Cor. iv. 9, he expresses the same idea.
Origen (Hom. in Numer.) symbolically interprets this treasure as the grace of the Holy Spirit hidden in earthen vessels, i.e., in the rude, unpolished, and unadorned words of the law and the Gospel.
That the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us. God wills me to have this treasure in an earthen vessel, in order that the excellency which is in me, and the fruit that I gather in the conversion of the heathen, may not be ascribed to me, but to the power of God and the grace of Christ.
Ver. 8.—We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed. Not made anxious. Physically he was distressed, hemmed in, and pressed down, but in the midst of adversity the Apostle’s mind was serene and lofty. So, in Ps. iv. 1, David says. “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.”
We are perplexed, but not in despair. The Latin Version gives “We are in want, but not destitute,” or, as Ambrose, Theophylact, Erasmus, and Cajetan explain it: We are pressed with want, but not oppressed. There is a similar play on words in the Greek. Poverty gives sufficiency, nay, plenty, to a soul that is patient, wise, serene, and fixed on God. To say nothing of Christian writers, this was taught by Favorinus, who says. “It is true what wise men have said as the result of their experience, that they who have much want much, and that indigence takes its rise from abundance, and not from want. Much more is desired in order to guard the abundance you already have. Whoever, therefore, has great riches, and wishes to take forethought and guard against need or loss, needs loss, not gain, and should have less, that less may be lost.”
The Greek may also be rendered: We are without guidance, and are perplexed in the midst of our evils and difficulties; still we are not overcome by them, nor by our anxiety and weariness. We do not despair, but we hope for, and we find counsel, help, and deliverance in God, and so we are conquerors. This explanation is nearer to the Greek α̉πόρια, which denotes, not only bodily distress, but mental, viz., want of counsel, doubt, and perplexity, when the mind, seeing itself surrounded by difficulties, is at a stand-still, and knows not what to do. But God succours the Apostles and their successors in these straits, and points out a way of escape. S. Xavier and Gaspar Barzæus found this true in their work among the Indians, and testified that in every difficulty the Holy Spirit taught them more than all doctors or wise men could have done,
Ver. 9.—Persecuted, but not forsaken. S. Gregory of Nyssa (de Beatitud.), explaining the last of the Beatitudes, “Blessed are they that suffer persecution,” acutely and piously weighs the meaning of the word persecution, which etymologically points to some running, or rather running before. He puts before our eyes a holy man and tribulation, like two runners running side by side. When the saint does not give place to tribulation, he says that he goes before it, as victorious over it, and that tribulation follows hard after him, and is, therefore, called persecution, not consecution, for it follows after but does not reach the holy man. He says that this word points out that the saints, through patience, run with great swiftness for the prize of glory, display their vigour and strength most brightly in the midst of persecutions. He goes on: “Martyrdom shows us the arena, and marks out the course to be run by faith; for ‘persecution’ denotes an ardent desire for swiftness, nay, it even indicates the winning of the prize; for who can be victor in the race save he who leaves his competitor behind? Since, therefore, he that has an enemy behind, seeking to deprive him of the prize, has one ‘persecuting’ him—and such are they who finish the course of martyrdom on behalf of their holy religion, who are persecuted by their enemies, but not overtaken. Christ seems in these last words to put before us the most glorious crown of bliss, when He says, ‘Blessed are they that suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’”
Cast down, but not destroyed. There is here an allusion to the earthen vessels of ver. 7. Though, he seems to say, we are earthen vessels, and cast down, as it were, from the most lofty towers of persecutions, yet are we not shattered. We are so hardened by the fire of charity that we cannot break. Some add, “We are humiliated, but not confounded,” but the words are wanting in the Greek and Latin copies.
Ver. 10.—Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus. The death of Jesus, according to S. Ambrose, but the Greek is rather dying or mortification. The dying meant is the suffering of death like to the suffering of Jesus Christ, which is the road to and the beginning of death, a long and living death. This is the suffering spoken in vers. 8 and 9, suffering inflicted from without, though it may be extended also to any voluntary mortification of mind and body. It is called “the dying of Jesus,” (1.) because it is borne by His example; (2.) because it is undergone for His faith; (3.) because we, His servants, bear about in our body, by a kind of representation, the very death and Passion of Christ, just as slaves carry the badge and token of their master. Cf. Gal. vi. 17. So in Heb. xi 26, it is said that Moses bore the reproach of Christ, and preferred it to the riches of Egypt (see note there). “There is no doubt,” says Ambrose, “that in His martyrs Christ is slain, and that in them that suffer chains or scourgings for the faith, Christ suffers the same.” Pau1 gives here the cause why, in the midst of trouble and distress, he is not crushed and destroyed, but is instead raised up and quickened. It is because by tribulation he is made like Christ crucified and smitten, and then raised and quickened; and, therefore, he rejoices in tribulation.
Salvianus (de Vero Jud. et Provid. Dei, lib. i.) says that no one is miserable who is content in the midst of misery, rather he is happy, because it is of his own devotion that he lives in misery. Toil, fasting, poverty, humility, weakness, persecution are not grievous to those that endure them, but to those that kick at them. Among the heathen, Fabricius, Fabius, Regulus, Camillus found poverty and affliction no burden. “No one,” he says, “is made miserable by other people’s opinion but by his own, and therefore false judgment cannot make them miserable whose conscience approves them. . . . None, I think, are happier than they who act according to their own knowledge and wish. Religious are of low estate, but they wish it so; they are poor, but pleased with poverty; they have no ambition, for they scorn it; they mourn, but they rejoice to mourn; they are weak, but they delight in weakness. ‘When I am weak,’ says the Apostle, ‘then am I strong.’ And so, no matter what may happen to those that are religious indeed, they are to be called happy. None are more joyous in the midst of all kinds of adversity than those who are in a state of their own choosing.”
That the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. This is that future life when we shall rise with Christ to glory (ver. 14); and also the present life, when, after the pattern of the risen body of Christ, our afflicted bodies become more lively through the operation of the Spirit, on account of our hope of the resurrection and through the power of God, which delivers us from so many dangers every day and strengthens us against them.
Ver. 11.—For we which live are alway delivered unto death. In the midst of a life such as ours, we are exposed to constant danger of death and to every kind of trouble.
The thought, then, that in all our tribulation we are made like to Christ in His Passion and resurrection is what animates, comforts, and strengthens us. As in our afflicted and mortified body the death of Christ is visibly set forth, so in its deliverance, salvation, and strengthening do we see the life and resurrection of Christ. When we are thrown to the lions and other wild beasts, to be, as all expect, surely devoured by them, they spare us and fawn upon us; when we are cast into the fire it shrinks from us, nay, with genial warmth refreshes us; when we are thrown into the sea to be drowned, the sea bears us up and preserves us from all hurt; when I was stoned at Lystra and left for dead, I was soon after found to be alive. In all these and similar persecutions and afflictions I have fellowship with, I am made like, and I set forth the suffering, death, and burial of Christ, which by the power of God, were but the glorious prelude to the life of bliss. And for this reason I am strong, nay, I rejoice and glory in all my tribulations; for they give me a sure and certain hope of an eternal life of glory. “Therefore,” says Œcumenius, “was Christ permitted by God to be delivered to death, that His resurrection might be made manifest to all. He who daily raises us certainty raised up Himself also, and will in good time raise us up to eternal life.”
Ver. 12.—So then death worketh in us, but life in you. Your spiritual life, your salvation is produced through faith and grace, but ours by the death of our body. The passion and death of the Apostles has been the life of the Church. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,” says Tertullian. Chrysostom gives a different explanation: “You live in peace and suffer no such persecutions for the faith as I do; and so you seem to live and I seem to die daily.”
We, having the same spirit of faith. As David was hemmed in with dangers, and yet was delivered by God alone from them all, and said. “I believed,” i.e., I believe that God will always be true to His promises and deliver me, so too do we believe and hope, and boldly profess that our help and strength, our deliverance and resurrection have been promised by God, and will most surely be wrought out.
Ps. cxvi., alluded to here by S. Paul, is a Eucharistic psalm, in which David gives God thanks for his safe deliverance. Hence it begins with, “I believed.” In other words: I, David, in the midst of dangers and adversity, when hunted by Saul and his men, when my life was sought by Achish and the Philistines, when I was so placed that I seemed to be deprived of all human help, and to be in desperate straits, yet put my trust in God, who had promised me safety and moreover the kingdom, by the mouth of Samuel. Wherefore, I said boldly that I believed, without doubting that God would deliver me from all these evils, and would bring me to His promised kingdom, as, in fact, He has delivered me, and has set me on the throne. “Right dear in the sight of the Lord is the death of His Saints.” My death is of great account and great price in the sight of the Lord. God, therefore, carefully watches that my death, or that of His other Saints may not be allowed, except for good cause and great gain, and He wonderfully guards us and delivers us. This, I, David, found in the cave and at other times when I was shut in by the bands of Saul and of my other enemies, and therefore with praise and thanksgiving do I exclaim, What return shall I make unto the Lord for all the benefits that He hath done unto me? I will receive the cup of salvation, of my many safe deliverances—that cup which is a witness and public profession of God’s goodness to me, and of my frequent escapes from danger—of God’s salvation will I take.
Observe here that (1.) the Jews had three kinds of sacrifices, the whole burnt-offering, the sin-offering, and the peace-offering. This last was a sacrifice of salvation, offered for the peace and salvation of any individual or family, or of the whole people, whether already obtained or to be obtained. (2.) In every Sacrifice a libation was made to God, just as if the sacrifice were God’s feast. The cup, therefore, of salvation is the cup of wine which was offered to God, poured out and drunk by the offerers. (3.) This cup was a figure of the Eucharistic chalice, which makes us not only mindful of the salvation wrought by Christ, but also partakers of it.
Tropologically this “cup” is martyrdom and affliction, and the obstinate resistance that we make to sin, even unto death, says S. Basil, in his comments on Ps. cxvi. For Paul eagerly longed for martyrdom, and hence he speaks not of the cross, but of the cup of salvation, as though he should say: I will readily drink whatever the Lord may have given to me, even though it be the martyr’s death; and therefore knowing, says S. Augustine, that martyrdom is not within my own power, but depends on the grace of God, I will call upon that grace, and will publicly preach and celebrate the name of the Lord. Similarly, Christ speaks of His Passion as a cup, and bids His Apostles and martyrs and all His members drink of it (S. Matt. xx. 22, and xxvi. 42). As, then, every Christian offers to Christ, His Deliverer, the Eucharistic cup and sacrifice as a thanksgiving, so does Paul offer his sufferings, his afflictions, and death to Christ, as a most pleasing cup. So, too, have all the martyrs, by openly professing their faith and dying for it, offered to Christ the cup of their martyrdom.
I believed. I believed, and I still believe. This is a continuous act of belief, and not merely one that is inchoate, especially so since David speaks of the person of Paul and of us all, and puts his own belief forward as one deserving our imitation.
Ver. 14.—Shall raise up us also . . . and shall present us with you. Shall present us with you in glory. He says out of modesty, “shall present us with you,” not “you with us,” because the Corinthians were the cause and object of his preaching, and so also of his glory.
Ver. 15.—That the abundant grace might redound to the glory of God. I.e., through many giving thanks. The Syriac renders it, “that since grace abounds through many, thanksgiving may be proportionately multiplied to the glory of God.”
Ver. 16.—But though our outward man perish. Though the body be corrupted through persecutions, afflictions, hunger, thirst, cold, nakedness, scourgings, and diseases, yet the spirit within is renewed, and advances in faith, hope, charity, readiness of mind, and, like gold from the fire, comes out stronger and brighter, says Chrysostom.
This verse differs from Rom. vii. 22. There the outward man is concupiscence, or the man governed by concupiscence; the inward man is charity, or the man renewed by the spirit. But here the outward man is the body, the inward is the soul; or, more appositely, the outward man is the man regarded as corporeal, or in so far as through his body he is visible, tangible, passible, and susceptible of injuries from without; the inward man is the same man regarded as possessed of a soul, or in so far as through his soul he is invisible, and bravely and cheerfully bears bodily afflictions. Since man consists of two so dissimilar parts, the body without and the soul within, and since the soul itself seems to have two sides, one which animates the body, and shows itself outwardly in the body by its working and passions, and so seems in a sense outward, animal, and embodied; one self-contained, concerned only with the operations of the mind, and so seems inward and invisible, hence man, consisting of these two parts, is called outward in the first respect, and inward in the second.
Hence it is evident, against Illyricus, that original sin and concupiscence are not an evil substance formed from man by the devil, and united to man’s substance as its form; for this form would be the inward man, and that so corrupt as to be incapable of renewal, opposed to what the Apostle says here.
Tertullian was wrong, says S. Thomas, in gathering from this passage that the soul is corporeal, and has its figure and members like the body, so that the inward man is but a copy of the outward. In the same way John Huart, a physician, in his Examen Ingeniorum, lately published, has maintained that the souls of the lost are tortured by fire, because, he says, they have their members or images of members, they have their senses and sensations, in the same way that Dives said that his tongue was tormented, in S. Luke xvi.
But this opinion is baseless. As the soul is not corporeal, it has no members strictly speaking; but what is said of its senses and sensations may be true. For the rational soul, being also sensitive, has within itself a root of sense and sensation, e.g., touch, by which it feels heat and fire, and the pain they cause. Although this sensation cannot be exercised naturally apart from the body, yet God can supernaturally produce it in a soul separated from the body; for such a soul has and retains the root of sensation within itself. This is the opinion of many subtle philosophers, and they find it easy in this way to explain how fire affects the soul. Reason, too, is in their favour; for sensation wholly consists in the soul. When, e.g., we see with the eye, or hear with the ear, or touch with the hand, the sight, or bearing, or perception of touch is not in the eye, or ear, or hand, but in the soul. It is not the body but the soul which sees by the eye, hears by the ear, and touches by the hand; why, then, cannot God, by His omnipotence, produce the same sensation in a soul separated from the body? The natural use of the organs of the body, which has been lost at death, may be supernaturally replaced, as He can and does sometimes supply the object of sensation; as, e.g., he may enable a man to see through a wall what is being done in a closed bedroom, or see what is taking place in distant countries. We read of such things in the life of Anselm and other Saints.
Day by day. As the outward, i.e., the body daily is weakened and aged by affliction, so the inward man, i.e., the mind, is daily renewed and gifted with youth through the hope of resurrection. We read of Abbot Barnabas in Sophronius (Prat. Spir. c. x.), that he drove a thorn into his foot and refused to have it taken out, and so caused his foot to fester; and when some expressed their wonder, he said. “The more the outward man suffers, the more does the inward flourish.” In the same work, in chap. viii., we read of Myrogenes, a man afflicted with dropsy, saying: “Pray for me, fathers, that the inward man may not grow dropsical, for my prayer to God is that I may live a long time in this weakness.” No doubt these Saints applied this general declaration of the Apostle to their own particular diseases.
So that admirable martyr, Clement of Ancyra, when tortured by Agathangelus, under the Emperor Diocletian, with every possible kind of torture, though broken in body, yet became daily stronger, so much so as to long for fresh tortures, and to pray God that his life might be prolonged for them, and obtained his request. He lived for twenty eight years, during which he was constantly tortured. At length Diocletian and the judges, amazed at his constancy, asked him how he could bear such tortures, and he answered in these words of Paul: “Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”
Ver. 17.—For our light affliction, which is but for a moment. All our tribulation is light and short-lived when compared with the exceeding weight of eternal glory, and is to it as a single feather is to all the lead in the universe.
S. Augustine (Enarr. in Ps. lxx.), when explaining the words of Christ, “For My yoke is easy, and My burden light,” says beautifully: “The one burden is oppressive and wearisome, but that of Christ sustains thee. One pulls thee down, the other lends thee wings. If you take away its wings from a bird, you take away, indeed, a weight, but by removing the weight you force it to remain on the ground. Restore the weight, and it will soar aloft. Of this kind is the burden of Christ.”
S. John Chrysostom had this in his mind when he was being led to Cucusus into exile. And then when, in extreme bodily weakness and fever-stricken, he was forced by his guards to travel from there for seventy days continuously, with the hope that he would succumb to the hardships of the journey, and so rid the Empress Eudoxia of one she hated bitterly (as indeed happened), when oppressed with hunger, thirst, poverty, heat, and attacks by the Isaurians, he cheerfully and bravely overcame them all, and, forgetful of himself, consoled and animated the noble matrons, Olympias and Pentadia, and his other friends, bidding them be ready to bear bravely imprisonment and other sufferings for Christ. It was then that he wrote that Divine treatise on the theme, “No one is injured but by himself,” in which he surpasses himself. By solid arguments he showed that the whole cause and matter of real pain arise from ourselves, and not from any one else. “Sin alone,” he says, “is the only evil, and the only one to be grieved for, and it cannot find lodgment in the breast by one’s own free-will. But all other evils and pains, when compared with sin, are not real, but only painted shadows, being light, short-lived, and of little account; but sin brings in its train an innumerable number of grievous and eternal pains.”
A far more exceeding. The Greek is, “from excellence to excellence,” i.e., says Theophylact, a weight of glory that is above measure wonderfully sublime and great. The Latin version gives, “above measure excellent.” The sense, of course, is—the weight of future glory is incomparably greater and more sublime than the tribulation we suffer here.
Chrysostom and Theodoret remark on the beautiful contrast drawn between the eternal and the momentary, the weight and the lightness, the rest, nay, the glory and the tribulation. So in the next verse we have a contrast drawn between the things which are seen and the things which are not seen, between things temporal and things eternal. So to the Maccabees, to Vincent, Laurence, Stephen, stones, gridirons, and racks, and all tortures, when compared with the glory of heaven, were but as a moment in respect of eternity, as a feather or a bubble in respect of heaven, as a point in respect of the whole world.
S. Augustine (Enarr. in Ps. xciv.) says beautifully that “God says ‘I have somewhat for sale!’ ‘What is it, Lord?’ ‘The Kingdom of heaven.’ ‘With what price is it bought?’ ‘Thy kingdom is bought with poverty, joy with grief, rest with toil, glory with shame, life with death.’” For it is written, “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted,” &c. S. Paul therefore aptly assigns to glory, weight; to tribulation, lightness; a moment’s duration to this, eternity to that; to this, present time and place; to that, an exalted permanence; to this, tribulation, that it is ours as a thing we can contain within the hand; to that that it ever works within us, beyond all conception and all measure.
Eternal weight of glory. The Syriac is “an infinite glory for ever and ever.” This is “worked for us,” not physically or efficiently, but morally and meritoriously. Hence appears the merit of good works. Calvin, however, denies that this follows, and in this he is followed by Beza; he says that all that is here signified is the order and road by which we attain to glory, viz., through tribulations. But this is too cold an exposition. A road or way is not said to work the end of the journey, unless you understand the road to mean, not the way itself by which you go, but the act of travelling or journeying; this, indeed, is the cause of the end of the journey, and not merely the moral cause, but the physical and efficient cause. But if Calvin assign this to good works and merits in respect of the eternal reward, he assigns more to them than Catholics do. Again, the Greek word κατεργάζεται shows that more than the order of going is meant, for it signifies, “works out,” “finishes,” “perfects;” i.e., it denotes a cause, not of any kind, but one that is powerful and efficacious. So say Ambrose and also Chrysostom in these words: “God, the just judge, renders bliss to the just, in the same way that He renders hell to the wicked.” But to the wicked He assigns hell as the merited punishment of their wickedness, therefore to the just also He assigns bliss as the reward they merit for their good works.
S. Bernard (Serm 17 in Ps. xci.) says. “He did not say, ‘Shall be rewarded,’ but, ‘Worketh in us an eternal weight of glory.’ Glory, my brethren, lies hidden in our tribulation; in this momentary act eternity is involved, in this imponderable there is an exceeding weight.” One is contained in the other, as the harvest is contained in the seed. When the seed puts forth its strength it is already producing the harvest. S. Bernard goes on to say: “Meanwhile let us hasten then to buy for ourselves that field, that treasure hidden in the field; let us count it all joy when we fall into divers Tribulations. Let us learn to say with all our heart, ‘It is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting.’”
It may be asked, How can these sufferings be called light, when in another place they are said to be not worthy to be compared? I answer that they are not worthy so far as they are sufferings, or natural penal works, because in this sense they have no proportion to so great glory; yet they are “worthy” in so far as they are borne from grace or charity. They then become works of grace, which is the seed whence glory springs. As the seed has a certain worthy proportion to the harvest, so has grace to glory. Again, they are “worthy” in so far as they are sufferings of Christ, springing from His merits and subordinated to them. For Christ merited for us this endurance of sufferings and afflictions, and also merited that we should merit eternal glory by this suffering of ours, as though it were His own, flowing from Him and His merits.
S. Bernard (Serm. 1 de Diversis) presses well each word of the Apostle here; he says: “Go on, then; murmur and say, ‘It is too long, it is too heavy: I cannot endure sufferings so great and protracted.’ The Apostle declares that what He suffered was light and but for a moment. Certainly you have not yet received of the Jews five times forty stripes save one; you have not yet laboured more than all; you have not yet resisted unto blood. Let us see, then, if sufferings are not worthy to be compared with glory. (1.) Why do you uncertainly count up days and hours? The hour flieth by and with it punishment: they do not attach themselves to you, nay, they give place and are succeeded by others. It is not so with glory, it is not so with our reward, with the recompense of our toil. It knows no change, no end; we enjoy it wholly and all at once, and it abides for ever. (2.) Punishment is sipped drop by drop, it is easily swallowed, and soon done with. But in our reward there is a torrent of pleasure, and an overpowering current, an overflowing torrent of joy, a river of glory and of peace. (3.) It is not a glorious robe, or a glorious abode, but glory itself that is promised us. In truth, the expectation of the just is not of something joyful but of joy itself. It is not the honeycomb, but the most pure, liquid honey, that God has laid up for us; it is very joy, life, glory, peace, pleasure, delight, felicity, happiness, and exultation that the Lord our God has treasured up for us; and all these things are one, that Jerusalem may share it equally in all her citizens. And this one Thing is nothing save Himself, according to the words of the Apostle, ‘God shall be all in all.’ This is our reward, this is our crown and prize. Would God that we may so run that we may obtain.”
The author (perhaps Huh of S. Victor) of the treatise, de Anima et Spiritu, which is found in the works of S. Augustine (but evidently not his, for it quotes Boethius), graphically describes this weight of glory and these joys of the Blessed (c. lvii. et seq.). (1.) He describes the mutual love of all the Blessed, and their consequent mutual joy; for no one rejoices in his own glory alone, but in that of every one else, and hence he is not once blessed, but a hundred thousand times. (2.) He describes the rapture of the Blessed flowing from the Beatific Vision. (3.) He sets before our eyes their perfect peace and happiness. (4.) He vividly describes (c. lxiv.) the greatness of their wealth, which is God Himself. (5.) He relates the abundant fulness of the beauty, good health, wisdom, melody, honour, riches, and of all good things more than we can taste here, or even conceive of. “In heaven,” he says, “is whatever you love, whatever you desire. If you are delighted with beauty, the just shall shine as the sun; if swiftness or strength, they shall be as the angels of God; if a long and healthy life, there is eternal health and a healthy eternity; if it is fulness, they shall be filled when the glory of the Lord shall appear; if it is intoxication, they shall be intoxicated from the richness of the house of God; if it is melody, there the angels endlessly sing sweet strains to God; if any worldly pleasure, the Lord shall give them to drink of the torrent of His Godhead; if wisdom, they shall be all taught of God; if concord, their food will be the will of God; if power, they will enter into the power of God, and they will be all-powerful over their own will, as God is over His. As God can do what He will by Himself, so by Him will they be able to do what they will. If honour and riches, God will set His good and faithful servants over many things ; if true security, they will have sure certainty that their good will never fail them, for they will know that of their own accord they will not lose it, and that God, who loves them, will not take it against their will from them that love Him.” From all which Gregory (Hom. 32 in Evang.) rightly infers that “no one can come to great rewards but by great labours. Hence that excellent preacher, Paul, said that no one is crowned except he strive lawfully. Let, then, the mind be delighted at the greatness of the prize, but not terrified by the laborious conflict.” The present time, as one of the Saints says, is a time of penitence and toil; the future will be a time of rest and gladness.
Ver. 18.—The things which are seen are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. S. Augustine (Sentent. No. 270) says well: “There is this difference between things temporal and things eternal, that the former are loved more before they are obtained, but, seem worthless when they arrive. Nothing satisfies the mind but a true and certain eternity of incorruptible joy. But eternal joy is more ardently loved when obtained than when longed for. No one can value it above its true worth, so that when he attains it it seems vile in his eyes through having been too ardently longed for. But so great is the excellency of heaven that charity will obtain far more than faith has believed or hope desired.” See also S. Gregory, Hom. in Evang., where he draws out at length this distinction between carnal and spiritual pleasures.
1 That in his assured hope of immortal glory, 9 and in expectance of it, and of the general judgment, he laboured to keep a good conscience, 12 not that he may herein boast of himself, 14 but as one that, having received life from Christ, endeavoured to live as a new creature to Christ only, 18 and by his ministry of reconciliation to reconcile others also in Christ to God.
OR we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Douay Rheims Version
He is willing to leave his earthly mansion to be with the Lord. His charity to the Corinthians.
OR we know, if our earthly house of this habitation be dissolved, that we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in heaven.
19. For God indeed was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing to them their sins. And he hath placed in us the word of reconciliation.
20. For Christ therefore we are ambassadors, God as it were exhorting by us, for Christ, we beseech you, be reconciled to God.
i. The Apostle goes on to remind the Corinthians of the glories of heaven, saying that in exile here and in the tabernacle of the flesh he longs for them, and wishes to be absent from the body and present with the Lord.
ii. He shows (ver. 9) that it is his endeavour to please not men but Christ alone, who shall come to judgment.
iii. He declares (ver. 14) that he is constrained to do this by the love of Christ, who has reconciled us by His death; and therefore that he no longer knows any one according to the flesh, but only him who is a new creature in Christ.
iv. He professes himself (ver. 18) to be a minister and ambassador of Christ, and he prays them to be reconciled to God for Christ’s sake.
Ver. 1.—For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved. If this mortal body, which is as it were a tent in which we tarry for a brief space while travelling here, be dissolved, we have a firm and lasting house in the glory of the soul and eternal life. This is the interpretation of Photius, Anselm, S. Thomas, Lyranus, and it is supported by vers. 6 and 8. From this and the explanation of the Fathers, and especially from ver. 8, we gather, against Tertullian, the Greeks, Armenians, Luther, and Calvin, that souls immediately at death are beatified, and do not sleep under the altar till the resurrection.
Secondly and more fitly we may say that this house is the body glorified by the resurrection, and this body we have, i.e., shall surely have at the resurrection. And this meaning is more in harmony with ver. 4 and the last chapter; for the Apostle is urging them to endure, in hope of the resurrection when we shall receive our glorified body, bodily mortification and suffering. So, in 1 Cor. xv. 43, he says that the body is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory, i.e., glorified. Such a body is properly the home of a beatified soul, as a mortal body is the home of a soul living and suffering here. So S. Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, Ambrose.
It may be said that the glory itself into which the beatified soul enters is the house of the soul, even as Christ says: “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” I answer that “enter into joy” does not mean that that joy is a house into which the soul enters, as some seem to think, but by metonymy the place of joy is called joy, and the meaning is: “Enter into the heavenly nuptials, enter into heaven, where is the place of the most perfect joy for ever.” It is less accurate to speak of that glory or joy as a house into which the Blessed shall enter.
Chrysostom (Hom. 5 in Ep. ad Heb.) says that “we ought to put off our body with as much ease as we should a coat, or as Joseph left his cloak with the Egyptian woman;” and Aloysius Gonzaga, on his death-bed, spoke of his death as a mere change from one house to another.
Ver. 2.—For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven. That is, (1.) we long to be free, as the Syriac takes it, from the earthly house of our natural body, and receive the heavenly home of our glorified body. (2.) But a better meaning is: We groan because of the death which must intervene between this life and the life of eternity; for death is a violence done to nature. We should wish to be clothed upon with glory, not to be deprived of life, as appears from ver. 4. S. Gregory (Morals, lib. xxxi. c. 26) says: “Lo! Paul longs to die and yet shrinks from death. Why is this? Because, though victory is for ever joyous, yet pain for the present is grievous. For, as a brave man who is girt ready for battle with one that is close at hand is both nervous and ardent, trembling and resolute; as his pallor betrays his fears, while his wrath urges him forward; so is a holy man, when he sees his suffering near, both distressed by the weakness of his nature and strengthened by the certainty of his hope: he trembles at the prospect of a speedy death, and yet rejoices that by dying he will more truly live. No one, however, can enter the Kingdom but through death, and, therefore, in all, confidence is mingled with wavering, and wavering with confidence; joy with fear, and fear with joy.”
It may be asked how the metaphor of a house and tabernacle agrees with that of a garment which is put over all. I answer that the Apostle uses here two metaphors, one taken from a house, one from a garment. The Hebrews are wont, and in this they are here copied by S. Paul, to mingle many metaphors at once. We may see this repeatedly in the Prophecies and the Psalms, and also in the parables of Christ.
Ver. 3.—If so that being clothed we shall not be found naked. Instead of clothed, some read unclothed, through a difference of a letter in the Greek compound verb. This reading is followed by Augustine and Bede, Ambrose, Tertullian, and Paulinus; and Augustine thus gives the sense: “We shall be clothed upon with heavenly glory, when once we are stripped of this body and clothed with Christ.”
We should observe that the Apostle here distinguishes three things, (1.) the being unclothed and naked, (2.) the being clothed, (3.) the being clothed upon. As in the last verse he called our heavenly glory a house, so here by another metaphor he calls it a robe. Now some explain this passage thus: We long to be clothed upon with our heavenly home, the heavenly and incorruptible body, in such a way, however, that we may be gifted with immortality and glory, and be found not bare, but clothed with glory. For, as the Apostle says in I Cor. xv. 51: “We shall all rise indeed to immortality, but we shall not all he changed into glory.” But this is true of the reprobate alone. Although they will have an immortal body, yet it cannot be said that they will have a celestial body; this will be the endowment of the Blessed only. A celestial body, then, is one that is both immortal and glorious, and consequently they that have this are necessarily clothed and not found naked. This is the distinction pointed out here by the Apostle in the conditional statement, “If so be that, being clothed, we shall not be found naked.”
Secondly, S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, Theodoret, Ambrose explain the passage differently. They say: This house, i.e., this celestial glory will be our portion if we be found worthy of it, and are placed among the elect and not the reprobate: in other words, if we are found clothed with grace, charity, and good works, and not naked without them. This is the sentence of S. Paulinus (Ep. 8 ad Sever. Sulpit.). He says: “If, when you are stripped of your body, you be not found naked of good works.” If we be clothed with them, then God will super-clothe us with the new robe of eternal glory. But since in the next verse he explains this nakedness to be the separation of the soul from the body, in the words not for that we would be unclothed, i.e., of the body, so that the soul alone be beatified in nakedness, but clothed upon, it seems better, with Tertullian (de Resurr. Carnis, c. 42), to say that we are called naked and unclothed when we are dead, and when the soul has lost the body; and consequently that we are clothed when the soul regains the body, and puts it on as her robe, and are clothed upon when the body is clad and adorned with heavenly glory as its robe. As the soul’s dress will be the body, so the body’s will be glory; and thus the soul will be clothed with the body, and clothed upon with glory. Therefore, we long to be clothed upon with it, “if so be that, being clothed, we shall not be found naked.”
We should notice again that the word if points to something that is peculiar and not common to all the elect, but proper to those only who shall be found at the end of the world alive and clothed with the body, and who so live, or so die, as quickly to rise again, and seem to be not dead but alive, clothed upon with immortality. As Cajetan rightly points out, the sense therefore is: It will not be our lot to be dissolved in death, from which we naturally shrink, and on account of which we groan, but to be clothed upon with glory, which we so ardently long for; that is to say, if at the end of the world we be found remaining and not yet dead, but clad with the body, and so not be made naked; or if so, at all events for so short a time that we may be said to pass from this life to eternity.
Ver. 4.—For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened. Being burdened, as the Syriac takes it, through the weight and load of the body. Yet we may say with S. Gregory Nazianzen: “Take from me, 0 Lord, this heavy robe” (this earthly, burdensome, and troublesome body), “but give me another, one that is lighter.”
Not for that we would be unclothed but clothed upon. We would not be deprived of the body, but we would be clothed upon with glory, if nevertheless being clothed with a body of flesh we be not found stripped of it by death. The Apostle is in the habit of speaking of the resurrection and the day of judgment as if they were close at hand, and as if he with the others then alive would behold them. Cf. 1 Thess. iv. 17. Since the Apostle says that we would not be stripped of our body, Plato was wrong in identifying σω̃μαand ση̃μα, as though the body were a tomb. In this he was followed by Origen, who supposed souls to be enclosed in bodies as in prisons in punishment of their sins. But the soul does not long to be set free from the body, as it would if this theory were true. The body is therefore the friend, companion, and colleague of the soul, and the soul demands its body as form requires matter, and vice versâ. The Apostle would seem to be here condemning this error of Plato and his followers, which was commonly taught in the schools of Corinth.
That mortality might be swallowed up of life. Mortality by immortality.
Ver. 5.—Now He that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God. He that wrought, perfected, and formed us, i.e., (1.) He that created us for this eternal life of bliss, is God. (2.) He who by His eternal decree prepared and predestinated us for this same bliss, is God. (3.) Best of all, He who by His grace so forms and prepares the will and understanding of man and his whole nature, and who makes him so live as to be worthy of being beatified with this immortality, is God.
Who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. I.e., as Ambrose says, the Spirit Himself. God has not given us a pledge of gold or of silver, i.e., gold or silver as a pledge, but He has given us His Holy Spirit, inasmuch as He has infused into us His charity, and the virtues of the Spirit of holiness, whereby as sons we cry “Abba, Father,” in full trust in God as our Father. For this Spirit is a pledge of our heavenly inheritance of glory laid up for us, and God has given us this Spirit to assure us through Him, as a pledge and earnest, that we shall attain our future inheritance if only we imitate our Father, and call upon Him as sons, and obey Him, and retain inviolate His Spirit as a pledge.
Ver. 6.—Therefore we are always confident. We confidently and boldly endure, nay, long for dangers and death for the sake of Christ and His Gospel. So Theophylact. The word, therefore, points to this daring confidence as the result of hope for this eternal inheritance, and of the possession of a pledge of it in the Holy Spirit.
Knowing that whilst we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. As long as we are in the body here, so long are we absent in banishment from the sight of the Lord God, our Father, and from our inheritance; we are living like foreigners in a strange land, as long as we are in this mortal body. Because we are enrolled as citizens of heaven and heirs of God, we are pilgrims here; therefore we hasten to be free from this pilgrimage and to attain our heavenly country, to enter into the inheritance of God, our Father. Therefore we boldly meet dangers and death, and enter upon them as the road to heaven. S. Bernard (de Præcep. et Dispens. c. xxvii.) says: “What is all care for the body but absence from the Lord? And what is absence but exile? Therefore we are in exile away from the Lord, and live in exile in the body, while our endeavour after God is hampered by the burdens laid upon it by the body, and while charity is wearied with its cares.”
Ver. 7.—For we walk by faith, not by sight. For we do not yet behold the nature and beauty of God face to face. So Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, and Œcumenius. Therefore they are wrong, whoever they be, that say that the Blessed see God, not directly in His Essence, but by means of some appearance which represents His Essence, in the same way that the appearance of colour received on the retina represents to the eye the colour of the wall. It is no such kind of sight that the Apostle here means, but that by which an object is plainly seen in itself. For faith is opposed to sight; but by faith we do not see, but darkly believe what is future and absent.
Ver. 8.—Willing rather to be absent from the body. “Having a good will” (the Latin version); “greatly desiring” (the Syriac); “wishing with all our heart” (Chrysostom). We choose rather to be absent from the body, that we may come to appear before the presence of God and enjoy the sight of His countenance.
Hence it is proved that souls behold God immediately after death; for the reason given for preferring to be absent from the body is that we may be present with the Lord, or, as Erasmus and Vatablus rightly translate the words, “that we may be at home with the Lord.” But if we shall be still exiles when separated from the body, and do not at once reach the home of our Father, but must still linger on the way and live still in exile, then we should not desire to be absent from the body, nay, we should prefer to spend our exile in it, as the natural abode of our soul, rather than in some unknown place.
Ver. 9.—Wherefore we labour. We vie with each other in our zeal, our ministry, our endeavours to please God; we strive not to be surpassed by any one in this contest
Whether present or absent. These are mutually opposed. If we are absent from God we are present with the body, and vice versâ.
We should notice that the Greek word here used strictly means to live at home amongst one’s own people; and the opposite denotes living out of one’s country and in exile. Hence Erasmus and Vatablus translate, “whether present at home, or living in exile abroad.” But the Apostle seems to use the words in a more extended sense; for he applies the words which we have translated “present or absent” to life in the body and also to life with God. But we cannot properly speaking be said both to be at home in the body, and, when separated from the body, with God; and, again, we cannot be said both to be in exile both in the body and with God; and, therefore, we take the meaning to be to dwell or to be present, and in the other case, to leave, to be absent. For as long as we live in this body we are absent from the Lord; and, on the other hand, as long as we inhabit heaven we are present with the Lord and absent from the body. But still there is no reason why the Apostle should not mean to be at home and to be in exile.
Observe that the Apostle said in ver. 1, that we have two houses, one earthly and the other heavenly, and that in both we are at home; for the body is our natural home, and heaven our supernatural. Consequently, our exile is two-fold. While in the body we are exiles from heaven, and, when separated by death from the body, we pass to another land and are exiles from the body. The Apostle’s meaning then is: In whatever state we may be, whether absent from God and present with the body, or vice versâ, we endeavour to please God, that we may be able to appear before His presence and enjoy the light of His countenance. For unless we please God, neither shall we be able, while present in the body and absent from the Lord, to come into His presence, nor while absent from the body and present with the Lord, shall we be able to abide in His presence and enjoy it in bliss. We strive, then, while here to attain both; we endeavour both to come into His presence, and to merit to remain in it for ever. “He who pleases God here,” say Ambrose and Anselm, “will not be displeasing to Him there.”
Others take the clause to mean, “whether living here or departing from the body to go to the Lord,” &c. In other words, we do all that we can to please God down to the very last breath of life, when the soul leaves the body. This is adopted by Tertullian (de Resurr. Carnis, c. xliii.); but since these words of the Apostle, as I have said, have a more extended meaning, the former sense is more probable. This last restricts them too closely to the body.
Ver. 10.—For we must all appear. The particle for gives the reason of what has just been said. We strive to please the Lord in all our works, in order that, at the tribunal of Christ, before which we all must stand, we may be gifted with a glorious body, and with the blissful presence of God and the Beatific Vision. We would not be deprived of it with those who, by their evil works, have displeased God.
Before the judgment seat of Christ. We must all be made manifest to Christ the Judge and to all men before the dread tribunal, that each may see the good and evil deeds of every one. Hence it follows that Paul and the other Apostles must also be judged, but in such a way that at the same time they may be judges of others, and condemn those who have refused to believe (S. Matt. xix. 28).
That every one may receive the things done in his body, &c. Glory or punishment will be awarded in proportion to each one’s merits or demerits. Observe 1. that the deeds of the body are also deeds of the soul; for the soul in this life does nothing and can do nothing without the body; so much so, that for thought itself it needs the help of images drawn from corporeal things. In this way what the soul does by the instrumentality of the body is done by the body.
2. Chrysostom points out that each one’s own deeds are here spoken of, because the merits of others, as, e.g., of our parents, will not avail us before the judgment-seat of Christ. Cf. Ezek. xiv. 14, 20. If we would think of this tribunal when we are tempted by our companions, by lust, by pride, by gluttony, we should easily overcome them all, and should not suffer ourselves to be drawn away by fear or lust from obedience to the law of God. Cf. Chrysostom (Hom. 10 Moral.).
The Pelagians inferred from this verse that infants have no sin, and that there is no such thing as original sin; for it is said here that Christ, when He comes to judgment, will only call into question the sins that each has committed in his body. But infants have done nothing, nor could do anything of their own; and, therefore, they conclude that they have no sin on which Christ can pass judgment.
S. Augustine (Ep. 107) answers that this sentence of the Apostle’s reaches even to infants; for, he says, original sin as a habit is theirs individually and inheres in them, but the actual sin of Adam, viz., the eating of the forbidden fruit, which was his own and physically inherent in him, from which original sin as a habit was derived to every one born from him, may be said to morally belong to each infant, and be regarded as its own proper act; and in this sense they committed this sin, not directly but in Adam; for the will of Adam was regarded as the will of all his descendants, including even children.
But a better answer can be given, and one more in harmony with the Apostle’s meaning, viz., that the Apostle is not speaking of infants but of adults. For he is exhorting them to do all that they can to please God in all things, that each may receive a reward from God proportioned to their deeds. Infants, though they will have to appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, yet will not need to have their works examined nor their demerits, but will receive the punishment due to original sin, as S. Augustine says (Serm. de Omnibus Sanct.), and also Nazianzen (Orat. 60).
Ver. 11.—Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord. Knowing what I have just said of Christ’s judgment-seat, when each will receive the reward of his deeds; or, knowing that the Lord is to be feared as a Judge and Avenger, we therefore persuade men to fear Him also.
Fear has a twofold meaning—(1.) actively of the fear we feel because of the Lord; (2.) passively of that which the Lord is, viz., a terrible Judge. Jacob, e.g., calls God “the fear of his father Isaac,” or the Object that Isaac feared (Gen. xxxi. 42). So here fear is put for the object of fear—a fearful thing, a terror. The meaning, therefore, is: Knowing that God is to be feared, we persuade men. Cf. Isa. viii. 13.
But we are made manifest unto God. God knows that I sincerely fear Him, and try to make others fear Him also. Paul, by speaking of this fear and desire of pleasing God, might seem to some, and especially to his rivals the false apostles; who were only too glad to find an occasion of reproach against him, to be praising himself as holy; hence by these words and what follows he clears himself from any charge of vainglory and love of praise.
Ver. 12.—That ye may have somewhat. Some occasion of glorying about me, some answer to give to my opponents.
Which glory in appearance and not in heart. Who boast of their piety, but know in their conscience that they are hypocrites and false apostles.
Ver. 13.—For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. The Greek verb translated beside ourselves denotes a rapt state, when the mind is carried out of itself, whether by some strong influence of nature, of disease, of melancholy, or of apprehension of new and unwonted objects; or when God throws it into deep contemplation and ecstasy, or when frenzy and insanity drive it into delirious folly. All these senses are applicable here; nay, the Syriac, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Vatablus, and Erasmus render it “whether we be mad.” S. Paul opposes “whether we be beside ourselves” to “whether we be sober,” as if he meant whether we be foolish or wise. The same contrast is found in Acts xxvi. 25. The same word is applied by His relations to Christ in S. Mark iii. 21.
Again, this rapture and folly may be understood either of self-praise or of the love and contemplation of God. The Apostle seems to be speaking primarily of self-praise, according to Ambrose and Chrysostom, and this is supported by what has just gone before. But since this praise has for its object the excellence of the ministry of the New Testament, and the height of love and clear knowledge of God attained under it, the word may be equally well referred to this latter. He seems indeed to be alluding to the vision of Moses, when he saw the glory of God on Mount Sinai at the reception of the law. Cf. 2 Cor. iii. 7, 18, where a comparison is drawn between Moses and S. Paul. Hence, in chaps. iv. and v., S. Paul praises himself for the tribulations and labours he had undergone for the sake of the Gospel, by which he was striving after the glorious presence of God.
The meaning, therefore, is—(1.) If, forgetful of ourselves, we are carried away by the vehemence of our zeal, which the world regards as folly, so that, like fools, we give way to praising our ministry, and speak of ourselves too highly and too boastfully (for to praise one’s self, as S. Ambrose says, is pride, and boasting, and folly), it is to God’s glory that we do it. If we are sober in our words and praises of ourselves, it is to teach you modesty. Hence (2.) follows the explanation of S. Augustine, Anselm, Theophylact, and others. If we are hurried into excess or ecstasy of love, knowledge, and speech of God, as, e.g., in iii. 18, v. 8, 9, so that we seem to boast and sing our own praises, or, as Chrysostom renders it, if we seem drunken and foolish with love and contemplation (as in Acts ii. 13; xxvi. 24), it is to God’s glory that we do it.
Plato in Phædrus says that frenzy or folly is fourfold—that of poets, of mystics, of seers, of lovers—and that the fourth is the best and most blessed. “Of Divine frenzy or madness there are,” he says, “four kinds laid down, over which as many gods preside. The inspiration of the seer is attributed to Apollo, of the mystic to Liber, of the poet to the Muses, while the frenzy of lovers comes from Venus and Cupid. We hold that the last of these is the best and most excellent.” Theophylact says that this last kind of frenzy was S. Paul’s, inasmuch as he was one who lived not in himself, but was carried out of himself and lost in Christ, his Beloved, and wished to be anathema from Christ for his brethren’s sake. The soul of one who loves is not where it lives but where it loves. Theophylact says: “If we are beside ourselves because of God, it is that we may bring you to Him. So S. Paul loved God with a lover’s frenzy, and lived for Him alone, and by Him he loved was carried out of himself and wholly given to God. The life that he lived was not his own but the life of Him that he loved, beloved and precious for His sake only.”
But S. Augustine, Bede, and Anselm understand this verse, not of frenzy, but of S. Paul’s being carried up to the third heaven, and their explanation is this: “What is ‘that whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God,’ but seeing things which it is not lawful for a man to utter? What is that ‘whether we be sober, it is for your cause,’ but what he says elsewhere, ‘I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified?’” S. Augustine again (Enarr. in Ps. civ.) says: “What is meant by ‘whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God,’ but leaving all carnal things, and being unable to speak of what we have seen? What is meant by ‘whether we be sober, it is for your cause,’ but we speak so as you can understand? For Christ by His birth and Passion made Himself such that men might be able to speak of Him.”
The being out of one’s mind is, says S. Anselm, the having it fixed on things above, so that things below slip from the memory. In this state were all the Saints to whom the secrets of God that pass this world’s understanding were revealed. So here the Apostle, being mentally set free from all human frailty and from all the perishing and changeable things of this world, lived in heart in an ineffable contemplation of those things, of which he says that he had heard unspeakable things which it was not lawful for a man to utter. But for the sake of others he descends, and says: “Whether we be sober, it is for your cause”—although we may contemplate high things, yet we speak soberly of them, that you may be able to take them in. This is Anselm’s explanation.
S. Bernard (de Nat. et Dignit. Amoris, c. iii.) describes beautifully this frenzy of S. Paul’s. He says: “Hear this holy frenzy: ‘Whetter we be beside ourselves, it is to God: whether we be sober, it is for your cause.’ Do you wish to hear further frenzy? ‘Yet now if thou wilt forgive their sin—and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy Book of Life.’ Do you wish for more? Listen to the Apostle himself: ‘I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren.’ Does not this sound like the wholesome frenzy of a mind well affected, viz., that he is firmly affected to what cannot possibly be effected, viz., to be anathema from Christ for Christ’s sake? This was the drunkenness of the Apostles at the coming of the Holy Ghost; this was the madness of Paul when Festus said to him: ‘Paul, thou art beside thyself.’ The reason follows: Was it wonderful that he should be pronounced mad, who, when in danger of death, was endeavouring to convert to Christ his judges, by whom he was being judged for Christ’s sake? It was nor much learning that gave this madness, as the king said, concealing the truth that he perceived; but, as was said, it was the Holy Spirit, with which he was drunken, who made him wish to make those who were judging him like himself in all things. And, to pass over all other instances, what greater madness could be conceived than that a man who had left world from an ardent desire to cling closely to Christ should again lay hold of the world at the call of obedience and brotherly love, and descend front the sky to the sty? I speak of our young friend, Benjamin, who in his madness thinks nothing of himself, but only of Him who has made him wholly beside himself. With this same madness were the martyrs afflicted who smiled amid their tortures. So do we delight to be beside ourselves.”
Again (Serm. 85 in Cantic.) he says: “Perchance one may ask me what it is to enjoy the Word. Hear one who has had that experience, as he says, ‘Whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God, or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.’ By the mere will of God my relations with Him are one thing, my relations with you another. It was allowed me to experience that ecstasy but not to speak of it; in my soberness I so condescend to you that you may be able to understand what I say. Whoever thou art that art anxious to know what enjoyment of the Word is, prepare for It thy mind and not thy ear. It is taught by grace and not by the tongue. It is hidden from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes.”
Ver. 14.—For the love of Christ constraineth us. This love of Christ by which He loved us, and gave Himself for us, compels us to follow His example, and give ourselves for all men to save them from death. And hence, as occasion requires, we are at one time beside ourselves, at another, sober. It is better to understand the love of Christ objectively, rather than subjectively.
That if one died for all then were all dead. The bearing of this verse is explained by the next, which also gives its connection with the preceding. So great was the love of Christ that He died for all. Hence it follows that we were dead, for He died to set us free (by taking it on Himself) from death, bodily and spiritual, which sin had brought on us. Hence plainly appears Christ’s compassion and love; and they constrain us to love Christ in return, and to work in every way for the salvation of our neighbour; to exclude no one, but to labour for all, whether rich or poor, even as Christ did. S. Thomas explains it otherwise. “All ought to be dead to the old life, and account themselves dead, that they may live, not to themselves, but to Christ.” But this is somewhat obscure and far fetched, and is identical with what is said in the next verse, which yet is distinct from this.
Were all dead. Except, says S. Anselm, the Blessed Virgin, who never incurred original sin and spiritual death. Secondly and better, all died in Adam because in him all came under the necessity of sin and of death, even the Mother of God herself, so that she and all others without exception needed to be redeemed by the death of Christ. In Adam, therefore, the Blessed Virgin sinned and died, but in herself she incurred neither sin nor spiritual death, because she was kept from them by God’s prevenient grace, as was said in the notes to Rom. v. 12.
Ver. 15.—And that He died for all, &c. We judge also that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live for their own glory, or pleasure, or their desires, but for Christ, who by right of redemption has made us His servants; and as a servant does not labour and live for himself but for his lord, so should each of us be able to say: “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me;” and, “My soul shall live to Him.” Anselm says: “The soul of man should fail in itself to avail in Christ, who died that we should die to our sins, and who rose that we should rise to works of righteousness. What else is ‘living not for themselves but for Him,’ but living not according to the flesh in the hope of earthly vanities, but according to the Spirit, in hope of the resurrection which has already taken place in themselves in Christ?”
Ver. 16.—Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh. Because the love of Christ for us is so great, and constrains us, therefore we regard carnal things, that is things external and temporal, such as fame, health, friendships, kindred, of no account out of Christ. So Chrysostom takes no one to stand for “nothing,” as does Vatablus; and S. Augustine (contra Faust. lib. ix. c. 7) takes it in the same way. But by the flesh he understands the corruption and mortality of the flesh to be meant; and the sense then would be: We no longer know this carnal and mortal life, because, filled with a sure hope, we meditate on and seek for a future life, that blissful spiritual life awaiting us after the resurrection, in which Christ is even now preparing us a place. This meaning is suitable but somewhat far-fetched, for the Apostle is here setting in opposition to the flesh, or the carnal man, the new creature which is in this life, and which lives through faith and grace in Christ; therefore he adds: “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.”
In the third place, then, we may more simply and properly explain the verse thus: We henceforth know none of those outward relation-ships of kindred, friendship, nationality, rank, breeding, or learning, for we are dead to these natural affections, and having been regenerated in Christ, we live to Him alone, and love Him alone, and all others in Him, according to the spirit of charity, and not according to the flesh. In other words, we seek not to please men, or the praise and glory of men, but of God only. S. Paul’s rivals, the Judaising false apostles, as we shall see in chap. xi., were wont to boast that they were Hebrews and of the seed of Abraham, and this boasting he calls, in xi. 18, “glorying after the flesh.” Hence this verse is a tacit rebuke to them, where he says that he knows no one in the way of earthly love or boasting, or because of relationship and friendship according to the flesh, not even in Abraham himself. Similarly, in Phil. iii. 3, he says, “We rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh;” i.e., we once rejoiced that we were Hebrews and nobly born according to the flesh, but now we are dead to those affections, for all our praise and rejoicing is Christ. So Gagneius.
Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh. If at any time we, whether I, Paul, myself, or the other Apostles, regarded and saw Christ present with us in a mortal body and subject, like us, to bodily sufferings, such as hunger and thirst and cold, now we know Him not save as immortal and passible. So Chrysostom, Theodoret, and the Seventh General Synod. This interpretation too is supported by what follows.
Secondly, and better, Gagneius takes the meaning to be: If we formerly knew, i.e., thought of great account, and made our boast of Christ after the flesh, that Christ by birth was a Jew and of our nation, so that we Hebrews were relations of Christ after the flesh, as the false apostles boast; and if we were proud of having lived with Christ on terms of intimacy, then are we now dead to all such feelings, and, being re-created by Christ, we think more highly of Him, and now know Him only according to the Spirit, i.e., as the God-man, the Redeemer of the world, our Teacher, the Author of grace and salvation; and as we live and labour for such an one, so do we preach Him throughout the whole world.
Thirdly, others with great probability think that Paul is referring to that time in his own life when he was a persecutor of Christ. Although once, he would seem to say, I had an unworthy opinion of Christ, thinking that He was to be a mere temporal king, such as the Jews expect the Messiah to be, yet I no longer know Him or regard Him as such.
Hence, fourthly, we may see the error of Faustus the Manichean, in explaining S. Paul to mean that in the beginning he thought Christ to have had a real body, but afterwards saw his error, and that he means the same in Phil. ii. 7, when he says that Christ was made in the likeness of men, as if He had a fantastical and apparent body, but not one that was real and substantial. Eutyches again twisted this passage to suit his heresy. He said that “we know not Christ according to the flesh” means that, by the Incarnation the flesh and human nature of Christ were swallowed up by His Divinity; and he laid down that in Christ was one nature as well as one person, and that that one was Divine.
We may see here how heretics twist and wrest aside the Scripture to suit their own fancies, just as if it were a nose of wax. So did the Iconoclasts of olden times, and lately Calvin (de Reliquiis) twist these words of the Apostle against the veneration of relics and of images of Christ and the Saints, just as though the Apostle had said: Now after the resurrection we know not Christ after the flesh; whatever in Him was carnal must be consigned to oblivion and sent about its business, that we may devote all our energies to seeking Him and possessing Him according to the spirit. But it is most evident that this is not the Apostle’s meaning; for if it were, he would have us forget the flesh, the death, and Passion of Christ, and be unmindful of it and unthankful for it, the very opposite of which Christ commanded when He instituted the Eucharist as the perpetual memorial of His death. Whence S. Paul himself says (1 Cor. xi. 26): “As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup ye do show the Lord’s death till He come.” Therefore the Apostle’s meaning here is not Calvin’s, but the one I have given above. Cf. Second Council of Nice, act 6, following Epiphanius and Cyril.
Ver. 17.—Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. If any one is with me regenerate in Christ, and recreated and changed, as it were, into a new creature, even as I am not what I was, Saul being changed into Paul, then the old rites of Judaism, the old former affections and judgments, such as knowing any one according to the flesh, have all passed away. In such an one all is made new: he has new affections, new thoughts about the realities and hopes of Christianity, a new life, a new hope of the resurrection, new grace, sanctification, and justification. On this newness, cf. S. Anselm and S. Augustine (de Cantic. Novo. vol. ix.).
S. Bernard (de Assumpt. B. Mariæ) assigns its cause He says: “All things are made new, i.e., the old fortress is overturned, a new one raised. Lust having been banished, the heart expands with a mighty longing; and after its arrival the mind yearns far more for heavenly things than it had ever before longed for earthly. Now is the wall of continence raised up, the bulwark of patience. But this work rises on the foundation of faith, and grows by 1ove of one’s neighbour till it reaches even to the love of God.”
Ver. 18.—And all things are of God. All these new things were created and given by the gift and grace of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation, in order that through our preaching we may persuade men to repent and receive the faith of Christ, that so we may reconcile them to God.
Ver. 19.—God was in Christ. I.e., as the Son by oneness of Essence. So Ambrose and Primasius. Hence S. Ambrose (de Fide ad Gratian, lib. iii. c. 5) says that God, i.e., everlasting Divinity, was in Christ, and Christ reconciled the world because He was God. Secondly, and better: “God was in Christ,” i.e., through Christ, reconciling the world to Himself. Thirdly, Cajetan takes it: God reconciled to Himself the world in Christ, or the world that believes in Christ. But this seems forced and harsh.
Not imputing their trespasses unto them. Not imputing but freely forgiving their trespasses, not by imputation of the righteousness of Christ, as the heretics think, but by a real infusion of it. So Chrysostom and Anselm.
Observe the Hebraism. (1.) When the Scripture says that God imputes or does not impute sin, it does not mean that He acts against the reality of things, for so would God be false, but rather, since the judgment of God is most pure, He regards things and sins as they truly are. (2.) The same appears from the fact that the whole law, and consequently every sin against the law, depends on the judgment of God, i.e., on the eternal law which is in the Mind of God. (3.) And the chief reason is that all remission of sins depends on the forgiveness of God: but to forgive is not to impute; for sin, belonging to the sphere of morals as an offence against God, is removed by forgiveness, which equally belongs to the moral world. But the generous goodness of God infuses, together with this forgiveness, grace, charity, and all virtues, that we may be adorned with them as real gifts of God, may be justified and become worthy of the friendship of God.
And hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. He hath given us the duty of preaching the word of God, by which we are to reconcile men to God, as was said at the last verse. By metonymy, word may be put for the reality as sign for the thing signified. In this way the word of reconciliation would be reconciliation itself, or the power and ministry of reconciling men to God.
Ver. 20.—We pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. As Christ’s ambassadors, even as if Christ were entreating you by us, we implore you to give up your wills to be reconciled to God. See what diligence, what energy, what zeal the Apostle displays in his endeavours to convert the Corinthians.
Ver. 21.—Him who knew no sin. Experimentally, says S. Thomas, Christ knew no sin, though by simple knowledge He did, for He did no sin.
Hath made Him to be sin for us. For us, says Illyricus, who were sin; because, he says, sin is the substance and form of our soul. But to say this of ourselves is folly, of Christ blasphemy. (1.) The meaning is that God made Christ to be the victim offered for our sin, to prevent us from atoning for our sins by eternal death and fire. The Apostle plays on the word sin, for when he says, “Him who knew no sin,” he means sin strictly speaking; but when he says, “He made Him to be sin for us,” he employs a metonymy. So Ambrose, Theophylact, and Anselm. In Ps. xl. 12, Christ calls our sins His. (2.) Sin here denotes, says S. Thomas, the likeness of sinful flesh which He took, that He might be passible, just as sinners who are descended from Adam are liable to suffering. (3.) Sin, in the sense of being regarded by men as a noteworthy sinner, and being crucified as a malefactor. So the Greek Fathers.
Of these three interpretations the first is the more full, significant, and vigorous, and the one more consonant with the usage of Scripture, which frequently speaks of an expiatory victim as sin. Cf. Hosea iv. 8; Lev. iv. 24 and 21; Ezek. xliv. 29. The reason of this metonymy is that all the punishment and guilt of the sin were transferred to the expiatory victim, and so the sin itself might seem to be also transferred to it. In token of this the priest was accustomed to lay his hands on the victim, and call down on it the sins of the people; for by the hands are signified sinful actions, which are for the most part executed by the hands, as Theodoret says in his notes on Leviticus i. Therefore the laying of hands on the victim was both a symbol of oblation and a testimony of the transference of guilt to the victim, showing that it was expiatory, and that it bore the sin itself, with all its burden of guilt and punishment. In this way the high-priest on the great Day of Atonement turned a goat into the wilderness, having imprecated on it the sins of the whole people. Cf. Lev. xvi. 20.
That we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (1.) That we might be made righteous before God, with the righteousness infused by God through the merits of Christ. So Chrysostom. He says righteousness and not righteous, says Theophylact, to signify the excellency of the grace, which effects that in the righteous there is no deformity, no stain of sin, but that there is complete grace and righteousness throughout. (2.) The righteousness of God was Christ made, in order that its effects, or the likeness of the uncreated righteousness of God, might be communicated to us by His created and infused righteousness. So Cyril (Thesaur. lib. xii. c. 3). (3.) Christ is so called because God owes not to us, but to Christ and His merits, the infusion of righteousness and the remission of our sins. Cf. Augustine (Enchirid. c. 41). Cf. also 1 Cor. i. 30. Heretics raise the objection that Christ was made for us sin, in the sense that our sin was imputed to Him and was punished in Him; therefore we are made the righteousness of God, because it is imputed to us. I answer that the two things are not parallel; for Christ could not really be a sinner as we can really be righteous, nor does the Apostle press the analogy. He only says that Christ bore our sins, that we through Him might be justified. Moreover, Christ actually was made sin, i.e., a victim for sin (this is the meaning of “sin” here), and therefore we truly become the righteousness of God. So easily and completely can we turn the tables on these Protestant objectors.