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“Now to Him that is of power to stablish you according to my Gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and (mss. τεwhich Sav. omits) by the Scriptures of the Prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: to God only wise, to Him be glory through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”1621
It is always a custom with Paul to conclude his exhortation with prayers and doxologies. For he knows that the thing is one of no slight importance. And it is out of affectionateness and caution that he is in the habit of doing this. For it is the character of a teacher devoted to his children, and to God, not to instruct them in words only, but by prayer too to bring upon his teaching the assistance which is from God. And this he does here also. But the connection is as follows: “To Him that is of power to stablish you, be glory for ever. Amen.” For he again clings to those weak brethren, and to them he directs his discourse. For when he was rebuking, he made all share his rebuke; but now, when he is praying, it is for these that he wears the attitude of a suppliant. And after saying, “to stablish,” he proceeds to give the mode of it, “according to my Gospel;” and this was what one would do to show that as yet they were not firmly fixed, but stood, though with wavering. Then to give a trustworthiness to what he says, he proceeds, “and the preaching of Jesus Christ;” that is, which He Himself preached. But if He preached it, the doctrines are not ours, but the laws are of Him. And afterwards, in discussing the nature of the preaching, He shows that this gift is one of much benefit, and of much honor; and this he first proves from the person of the declarer thereof, and then likewise from the things declared. For it was glad tidings. Besides, from His not having made aught of them known to any before us. And this he intimates in the words, “according to the revelation of the mystery.” And this is a sign of the greatest friendliness, to make us share in the mysteries, and no one before us. “Which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest.” For it had been determined long ago, but was only manifested now. How was it made manifest? “By the Scriptures of the Prophets.” Here again he is releasing the weak person from fear. For what dost thou fear? is it lest1622
See how he has roused their attention by his praises, not only by calling them powerful, but also by putting them alongside of himself. And not by this only, but by the advantage of the thing he again allures them, and by its not being burdensome. For thou, he says, art powerful, and art no whit the worse for condescending. But to him the hazard is of the last consequence, if he is not borne with. And he does not say the infirm, but the “infirmities of the weak,” so drawing him and bending him to mercy. As in another place too he says, “Ye that are spiritual restore such an one.” (Gal. vi. 1.) Art thou become powerful? Render a return to God for making thee so. But render it thou wilt if thou settest the weakness of the sickly right. For we too were weak, but by grace we have become powerful. And this we are to do not in this case only, but also in the case of those who are weak in other respects. As, for instance, if any be passionate, or insolent, or has any such like failing bear with him. And how is this to be? Listen to what comes next. For after saying “we ought to bear,” he adds, “and not to please ourselves.”1625
But what he says is this. Art thou powerful? Let the weak have trial of thy power. Let him come to know thy strength; please him. And he does not barely say please, but for his good, and not barely for his good, lest the advanced person should say, See I am drawing him to his good! but he adds, “to edification.” And so if thou be rich or be in power, please not thyself, but the poor and the needy, because in this way thou wilt at once have true glory to enjoy, and be doing much service. For glory from things of the world soon flies away, but that from things of the Spirit is abiding, if thou do it to edification. Wherefore of all men he requires this. For it is not this and that person that is to do it, but “each of you.” Then since it was a great thing he had commanded them, and had bidden them even relax their own perfectness in order to set right the other’s weakness; he again introduces Christ, in the following words:
And this he always does. For when he was upon the subject of alms, he brought Him forward and said, “Ye know the grace of the Lord, that though He was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor.” (2 Cor. viii. 9.) And when he was exhorting to charity, it was from Him that he exhorted in the words “As Christ also loved us.” (Eph. v. 25.) And when he was giving advice about bearing shame and dangers, he took refuge in Him and said, “Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame.” (Heb. xii. 2). So in this passage too he shows how He also did this, and how the prophet proclaimed it from of old. Wherefore also he proceeds:
“The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell upon Me.” (Ps. lxix. 9.) But what is the import of, “He pleased not Himself?” He had power not to have been reproached, power not to have suffered what He did suffer, had He been minded to look to His own things. But yet He was not so minded. But through looking to our good He neglected His own. And why did he not say, “He emptied Himself?” (Phil. ii. 7.) It is because this was not the only thing he wished to point out, that He became man, but that He was also ill-treated, and obtained a bad reputation with many, being looked upon as weak. For it says, “If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the Cross.” (Matt. xxvii. 40). And, “He saved others, Himself He cannot save.” (ib. 42). Hence he mentions a circumstance which was available for his present subject, and proves much more than he undertook to do; for he shows that it was not Christ alone that was reproached, but the Father also. “For the reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell,” he says, “upon Me.” But what he says is nearly this, What has happened is no new or strange thing. For they in the Old Testament who came to have a habit of reproaching Him, they also raved against His Son. But these things were written that we should not imitate them. And then he supplies (Gr. anoints) them for a patient endurance of temptations.
That is, that we might not fall away, (for there are sundry conflicts within and without), that being nerved and comforted by the Scriptures, we might exhibit patience, that by living in patience we might abide in hope. For these things are productive of each other, patience of hope, and hope of patience. And both of them are brought about by the Scriptures. Then he again brings his discourse into the form of prayer, and says,
For since he had given his own advice, and had also urged the example of Christ, he added the testimony of the Scriptures also, to show that with the Scripture Himself giveth patience also. And this is why he said, “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one towards another, according to Christ Jesus.” For this is what love would do, be minded toward another even as toward himself. Then to show again that it is not mere love that he requires, he adds, “according to Christ Jesus.” And this he does, in all places, because there is also another sort of love. And what is the advantage of their agreeing?
He does not say merely with one mouth, but bids us do it with one will also. See how he has united the whole body into one, and how he concludes his address again with a doxology, whereby he gives the utmost inducement to unanimity and concord. Then again from this point he keeps to the same exhortation as before, and says,
The example again is as before, and the gain unspeakable. For this is a thing that doth God especial glory, the being closely united. And so if even against thy will (Field “being grieved for His sake,” after Savile, but against mss.) and for His sake, thou be at variance with thy brother, consider that by putting an end to thine anger thou art glorifying thy Master, and if not on thy brother’s account, for this at all events be reconciled to him: or rather for this first. For Christ also insists upon this upon all possible grounds,1626
Let us obey then, and knit ourselves to one another. For in this place it is not any longer the weak, but all that he is rousing. And were a man minded to break with thee, do not thou break also. Nor give utterance to that cold saying, “Him I love that loveth me; if my right eye does not love me, I tear it out.” For these are satanical sayings, and fit for publicans, and the little spirit of the Gentiles. But thou that art called to a greater citizenship, and are enrolled in the books of Heaven, art liable to greater laws. Do not speak in this way, but when he is not minded to love thee, then display the more love, that thou mayest draw him to thee. For he is a member; and when by any force a member is sundered from the body, we do everything to unite it again, and then pay more attention to it. For the reward is the greater then, when one draws to one a person not minded to love. For if He bids us invite to supper those that cannot make us any recompense, that what goes for recompense may be the greater, much more ought we to do this in regard to friendship. Now he that is loved and loveth, does pay thee a recompense. But he that is loved and loveth not, hath made God a debtor to thee in his own room. And besides, when he loves thee he needs not much pains; but when he loves thee not, then he stands in need of thy assistance. Make not then the cause for painstaking a cause for listlessness; and say not, because he is sick, that is the reason I take no care of him (for a sickness indeed the dulling of love is), but do thou warm again that which hath become chilled. But suppose he will not be warmed, “what then?” is the reply. Continue to do thy own part. “What if he grow more perverse?” He is but procuring to thee so much greater return, and shows thee so much the greater imitator of Christ. For if the loving one another was to be the characteristic of disciples (“For hereby,” He says, “shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye love one another”), (ib. xiii. 35) consider how great an one loving one that hates us must be. For thy Master loved those that hated Him, and called them to Him; and the weaker they were, the greater the care He showed them; and He cried and said, “They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” (Matt. ix. 12.) And He deemed publicans and sinners worthy of the same table with Him. And as great as was the dishonor wherewith the Jewish people treated Him, so great was the honor and concern He showed for them, yea, and much greater. Him do thou also emulate: for this good work is no light one, but one without which not even he that is a martyr can please God much, as Paul says.1627