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  • The Divine Power Shown in Christ's Incarnation. Meaning of St. Paul's Phrase. Likeness of Sinful Flesh. No Docetism in It. Resurrection of Our Real Bodies. A Wide Chasm Made in the Epistle by Marcion's Erasure. When the Jews are Upbraided by the Apostle for Their Misconduct to God; Inasmuch as that God Was the Creator, a Proof is in Fact Given that St. Paul's God Was the Creator. The Precepts at the End of the Epistle, Which Marcion Allowed, Shown to Be in Exact Accordance with the Creator's Scriptures.

    Chapter XIV.—The Divine Power Shown in Christ’s Incarnation. Meaning of St. Paul’s Phrase. Likeness of Sinful Flesh. No Docetism in It. Resurrection of Our Real Bodies. A Wide Chasm Made in the Epistle by Marcion’s Erasure. When the Jews are Upbraided by the Apostle for Their Misconduct to God; Inasmuch as that God Was the Creator, a Proof is in Fact Given that St. Paul’s God Was the Creator. The Precepts at the End of the Epistle, Which Marcion Allowed, Shown to Be in Exact Accordance with the Creator’s Scriptures.

    If the Father “sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh,”5837

    5837 Rom. viii. 3.

    it must not therefore be said that the flesh which He seemed to have was but a phantom. For he in a previous verse ascribed sin to the flesh, and made it out to be “the law of sin dwelling in his members,” and “warring against the law of the mind.”5838

    5838 Sensus νοός in Rom. vii. 23.

    On this account, therefore, (does he mean to say that) the Son was sent in the likeness of sinful flesh, that He might redeem this sinful flesh by a like substance, even a fleshly one, which bare a resemblance to sinful flesh, although it was itself free from sin. Now this will be the very perfection of divine power to effect the salvation (of man) in a nature like his own.5839

    5839 Pari.

    For it would be no great matter if the Spirit of God remedied the flesh; but when a flesh, which is the very copy5840

    5840 Consimilis.

    of the sinning substance—itself flesh also—only without sin, (effects the remedy, then doubtless it is a great thing).  The likeness, therefore, will have reference to the quality5841

    5841 Titulum.

    of the sinfulness, and not to any falsity5842

    5842 Mendacium.

    of the substance. Because he would not have added the attribute “sinful,”5843

    5843 This vindication of these terms of the apostle from Docetism is important. The word which our A.V. has translated sinful is a stronger term in the original. It is not the adjective ἁμαρτωλοῦ, but the substantive ἁμαρτίας, amounting to “flesh of sin,” i.e. (as Dean Alford interprets it) “the flesh whose attribute and character is sin.” “The words ἐν ὁμοιώματι σαρκὸς ἁμαρτίας, De Wette observes, appear almost to border on Docetism, but in reality contain a perfectly true and consistent sentiment; σὰρξ ἁμαρτίας; is flesh, or human nature, possessed with sin.…The likeness, predicated in Rom. viii. 3, must be referred not only to σάρξ, but also to the epithet τῆς ἁμαρτίας” (Greek Testament, in loc.).

    if he meant the “likeness” to be so predicated of the substance as to deny the verity thereof; in that case he would only have used the word “flesh,” and omitted the “sinful.” But inasmuch as he has put the two together, and said “sinful flesh,” (or “flesh of sin,”)5844

    5844 Carnis peccati.

    he has both affirmed the substance, that is, the flesh and referred the likeness to the fault of the substance, that is, to its sin. But even suppose5845

    5845 Puta nunc.

    that the likeness was predicated of the substance, the truth of the said substance will not be thereby denied.  Why then call the true substance like? Because it is indeed true, only not of a seed of like condition5846

    5846 Statu.

    with our own; but true still, as being of a nature5847

    5847 Censu: perhaps “birth.” This word, which originally means the censor’s registration, is by our author often used for origo and natura, because in the registers were inserted the birthdays and the parents’ names (Oehler).

    not really unlike ours.5848

    5848 It is better that we should give the original of this sentence.  Its structure is characteristically difficult, although the general sense, as Oehler suggests, is clear enough:  “Quia vera quidem, sed non ex semine de statu simili (similis, Latinius and Junius and Semler), sed vera de censu non vero dissimili (dissimilis, the older reading and Semler’s).” We add the note of Fr. Junius: “The meaning is, that Christ’s flesh is true indeed, in what they call the identity of its substance, although not of its origin (ortus) and qualities—not of its original, because not of a (father’s) seed, as in the case of ourselves; not of qualities, because these have not in Him the like condition which they have in us.”

    And again, in contrary things there is no likeness. Thus the likeness of flesh would not be called spirit, because flesh is not susceptible of any likeness to spirit; but it would be called phantom, if it seemed to be that which it really was not. It is, however, called likeness, since it is what it seems to be. Now it is (what it seems to be), because it is on a par with the other thing (with which it is compared).5849

    5849 Dum alterius par est.

    But a phantom, which is merely such and nothing else,5850

    5850 Qua hoc tantum est.

    is not a likeness. The apostle, however, himself here comes to our aid; for, while explaining in what sense he would not have us “live in the flesh,” although in the flesh—even by not living in the works of the flesh5851

    5851 See Rom. viii. 5–13.

    —he shows that when he wrote the words, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,”5852

    5852 1 Cor. xv. 50.

    it was not with the view of condemning the substance (of the flesh), but the works thereof; and because it is possible for these not to be committed by us whilst we are still in the flesh, they will therefore be properly chargeable,5853

    5853 Non ad reatum substantiæ sed ad conversationis pertinebunt.

    not on the substance of the flesh, but on its conduct. Likewise, if “the body indeed is dead because of sin” (from which statement we see that not the death of the soul is meant, but that of the body), “but the spirit is life because of righteousness,”5854

    5854 Rom. viii. 10.

    it follows that this life accrues to that which incurred death because of sin, that is, as we have just seen, the body.  Now the body5855

    5855 Understand “corpus” (Oehler).

    is only restored to him who had lost it; so that the resurrection of the dead implies the resurrection of their bodies. He accordingly subjoins: “He that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies.”5856

    5856 Rom. viii. 11.

    In these words he both affirmed the resurrection of the flesh (without which nothing can rightly be called5857

    5857 Dici capit: capit, like the Greek ἐνδέχεται, means, “is capable or susceptible;” often so in Tertullian.

    body, nor can anything be properly regarded as mortal), and proved the bodily substance of Christ; inasmuch as our own mortal bodies will be quickened in precisely the same way as He was raised; and that was in no other way than in the body. I have here a very wide gulf of expunged Scripture to leap across;5858

    5858 We do not know from either Tertullian or Epiphanius what mutilations Marcion made in this epistle. This particular gap did not extend further than from Rom. viii. 11 to x. 2. “However, we are informed by Origen (or rather Rufinus in his edition of Origen’s commentary on this epistle, on xiv. 23) that Marcion omitted the last two chapters as spurious, ending this epistle of his Apostolicon with the 23d verse of chap. xiv. It is also observable that Tertullian quotes no passage from chaps. xv.; xvi. in his confutation of Marcion from this epistle” (Lardner).

    however, I alight on the place where the apostle bears record of Israel “that they have a zeal of God”—their own God, of course—“but not according to knowledge. For,” says he, “being ignorant of (the righteousness of) God, and going about to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God; for Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”5859

    5859 Rom. x. 2–4.

    Hereupon we shall be confronted with an argument of the heretic, that the Jews were ignorant of the superior God,5860

    5860 The god of the New Testament, according to Marcion.

    since, in opposition to him, they set up their own righteousness—that is, the righteousness of their law—not receiving Christ, the end (or finisher) of the law. But how then is it that he bears testimony to their zeal for their own God, if it is not in respect of the same God that he upbraids them for their ignorance?  They were affected indeed with zeal for God, but it was not an intelligent zeal: they were, in fact, ignorant of Him, because they were ignorant of His dispensations by Christ, who was to bring about the consummation of the law; and in this way did they maintain their own righteousness in opposition to Him. But so does the Creator Himself testify to their ignorance concerning Him: “Israel hath not known me; my people have not understood me;”5861

    5861 Isa. i. 3.

    and as to their preferring the establishment of their own righteousness, (the Creator again describes them as) “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men;”5862

    5862 Isa. xxix. 13 (Sept.)

    moreover, as “having gathered themselves together against the Lord and against His Christ5863

    5863 Ps. ii. 2.

    —from ignorance of Him, of course. Now nothing can be expounded of another god which is applicable to the Creator; otherwise the apostle would not have been just in reproaching the Jews with ignorance in respect of a god of whom they knew nothing.  For where had been their sin, if they only maintained the righteousness of their own God against one of whom they were ignorant? But he exclaims: “O the depth of the riches and the wisdom of God; how unsearchable also are His ways!”5864

    5864 Rom. xi. 33.

    Whence this outburst of feeling? Surely from the recollection of the Scriptures, which he had been previously turning over, as well as from his contemplation of the mysteries which he had been setting forth above, in relation to the faith of Christ coming from the law.5865

    5865 In fidem Christi ex lege venientem. By “the law” he means the Old Testament in general, and probably refers to Rom. x. 17.

    If Marcion had an object in his erasures,5866

    5866 Rigaltius (after Fulvius Ursinus) read “non erasit,” but with insufficient authority; besides, the context shows that he was referring to the large erasure which he had already mentioned, so that the non is inadmissible.  Marcion must, of course, be understood to have retained Rom. xi. 33; hence the argument in this sentence.

    why does his apostle utter such an exclamation, because his god has no riches for him to contemplate? So poor and indigent was he, that he created nothing, predicted nothing—in short, possessed nothing; for it was into the world of another God that he descended. The truth is, the Creator’s resources and riches, which once had been hidden, were now disclosed. For so had He promised: “I will give to them treasures which have been hidden, and which men have not seen will I open to them.”5867

    5867 Isa. xlv. 3.

    Hence, then, came the exclamation, “O the depth of the riches and the wisdom of God!” For His treasures were now opening out. This is the purport of what Isaiah said, and of (the apostle’s own) subsequent quotation of the self-same passage, of the prophet: “Who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counsellor? Who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed to him again?”5868

    5868 Isa. xl. 13, quoted (according to the Sept.) by the apostle in Rom. xi. 34, 35.

    Now, (Marcion,) since you have expunged so much from the Scriptures, why did you retain these words, as if they too were not the Creator’s words? But come now, let us see without mistake5869

    5869 Plane: ironically.

    the precepts of your new god: “Abhor that which is evil, and cleave to that which is good.”5870

    5870 Rom. xii. 9.

    Well, is the precept different in the Creator’s teaching? “Take away the evil from you, depart from it, and be doing good.”5871

    5871 Ps. xxxiv. 14.

    Then again: “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love.”5872

    5872 Rom. xii. 10.

    Now is not this of the same import as: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self?”5873

    5873 Lev. xix. 18.

    (Again, your apostle says:) “Rejoicing in hope;”5874

    5874 Rom. xii. 12.

    that is, of God. So says the Creator’s Psalmist:  “It is better to hope in the Lord, than to hope even in princes.”5875

    5875 Ps. cxviii. 9.

    Patient in tribulation.”5876

    5876 Rom. xii. 12.

    You have (this in) the Psalm: “The Lord hear thee in the day of tribulation.”5877

    5877 Ps. xx. 1.

    Bless, and curse not,”5878

    5878 Rom. xii. 12.

    (says your apostle.) But what better teacher of this will you find than Him who created all things, and blessed them? “Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.”5879

    5879 Rom. xii. 16.

    For against such a disposition Isaiah pronounces a woe.5880

    5880 Isa. v. 21.

    “Recompense to no man evil for evil.”5881

    5881 Rom. xii. 17.

    (Like unto which is the Creator’s precept:) “Thou shalt not remember thy brother’s evil against thee.”5882

    5882 Lev. xix. 17, 18.

    (Again:)  “Avenge not yourselves;”5883

    5883 Rom. xii. 19.

    for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.”5884

    5884 Rom. xii. 19; quoted from Deut. xxxii. 25.

    Live peaceably with all men.”5885

    5885 Rom. xii. 18.

    The retaliation of the law, therefore, permitted not retribution for an injury; it rather repressed any attempt thereat by the fear of a recompense.  Very properly, then, did he sum up the entire teaching of the Creator in this precept of His: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”5886

    5886 Rom. xiii. 9.

    Now, if this is the recapitulation of the law from the very law itself, I am at a loss to know who is the God of the law. I fear He must be Marcion’s god (after all).5887

    5887 Ironically said. He has been quoting all along from Marcion’s text of St. Paul, turning its testimony against Marcion.

    If also the gospel of Christ is fulfilled in this same precept, but not the Creator’s Christ, what is the use of our contending any longer whether Christ did or did not say, “I am not come to destroy the law, but to fulfil it?”5888

    5888 Matt. v. 17.

    In vain has (our man of) Pontus laboured to deny this statement.5889

    5889 For although he rejected St. Matthew’s Gospel, which contains the statement, he retained St. Paul’s epistle, from which the statement is clearly proved.

    If the gospel has not fulfilled the law, then all I can say is,5890

    5890 Ecce.

    the law has fulfilled the gospel. But it is well that in a later verse he threatens us with “the judgment-seat of Christ,”—the Judge, of course, and the Avenger, and therefore the Creator’s (Christ).  This Creator, too, however much he may preach up another god, he certainly sets forth for us as a Being to be served,5891

    5891 Promerendum.

    if he holds Him thus up as an object to be feared.


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