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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT
Ver. 1. Notwithstanding this law of sin opposing the law of the spirit, and endeavouring to captivate us to sin, we can, by the succour of the grace of Jesus Christ, preserve ourselves from sin and damnation, by resisting sin, and attaching ourselves strongly to Jesus Christ, by faith and charity. Concupiscence is not sin. And they who have received a spiritual birth in Jesus Christ by baptism, and have remained faithful to the grace of their justification, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit, shall receive a recompense proportionate to their combats and labours. Calmet.
Ver. 2. The law of the spirit of life, in Christ Jesus. That is, the new law, by which the Holy Ghost, or the spirit of life is given, hath delivered me from the law of sin and of death: that is, from the slavery of sin, that causeth death: though some think that the law of Moses may be here called the law of death, and of sin, because it occasionally brought death upon such as transgressed the known law. Wi.
Ver. 3. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, not in sinful flesh, (because the Son of God could not sin) hath now done; even of sin hath condemned sin in the flesh. That is, in or by his flesh, which was offered on the cross, hath condemned the tyrant sin, as guilty of so many sins, and hath destroyed his tyranny, where the apostle speaks of sin, as it were of a certain person or tyrant. Wi.
Ver. 4. That the justification of the law. That is, that was aimed at, but never attained to, by the written law, might now be fulfilled in us; that is, that we, by the grace of Christ, may be enabled to fulfil and comply with the law, and its moral precepts, by walking according to the spirit of Christ. Wi.
Ver. 5. &c. For they who are according to the flesh. That is, who live according to the false, vain, and deceitful maxims and customs of carnal men, which he also calls the prudence of the flesh: and this prudence he calls death, as leading men to eternal death. Such carnal men relish nothing else but such pleasures. But they who are and live according to the spirit, mind the things which are of the spirit, fix their hearts on the things that belong to God, and his service; and this wisdom of the spirit, in which they experience much greater pleasure, leads them to eternal life, and to eternal peace in the enjoyment of God. The false wisdom of the flesh is an enemy of God, cannot be subject to the law of God, because the maxims of the flesh, and of the world, are so opposite to those of the gospel, and to the doctrine of Christ. Wi. — They who are subject to the flesh, by having their affections fixed on the things of the flesh, that is, carnal men, whilst they are such, cannot please God: for this prudence of the flesh makes them the enemies of God. Estius. — If Christ, or the spirit of Christ, which he also (ver. 9.) calls the spirit of God, as being one and the same, dwell in you, and direct you, the body indeed is dead because of sin; that is, is mortal, and liable to death, the consequence of Adam's sin; but the spirit and the soul liveth by the life of grace, by reason of justification: that is, because she hath been justified and sanctified by the merits of Christ. And the spirit of God, who raised Jesus to life, will also raise all who remain sanctified by the grace of Christ to a happy resurrection. Wi.
Ver. 14. &c. They are the sons of God, by this new grace of adoption, by which also they call God, Abba; that is to say, Father, whereas under the former law of Moses, God rather governed his people by fear; they were his servants, we are his sons; and if sons, also the heirs of God, with the promise of an eternal inheritance in his kingdom, provided we suffer for Christ's sake, as he suffered for us. And surely the short sufferings in this world have no proportion, nor can be put in balance with the future endless glory, which is promised and prepared for us in heaven. Wi. — Abba is a Syriac word, which signifies my father. This is properly the word of free and noble children; for amongst the Hebrews, the children of slaves were not allowed to call their fathers Abba, nor their mothers Imma. This kind of expression was very rarely used under the old law. The Hebrews called the Almighty their Lord, their God, their Salvation, their King, their Protector, their Glory, &c. but seldom their father, scarcely ever, except in the case of Solomon, who was a particular figure of the Messias, the true Son of God. On this account God said to him: "He shall call me Father and God; and I will be to him a Father, and will treat as my first-born." But it is the property of the Christian to call the Almighty his Father with confidence indeed, yet tempered with a filial awe; remembering at the same time that he is his judge. Calmet. — Mat. Polus says that not any one of the just dared to call God, my Father, before the coming of Christ, as this favour was reserved for the time of the gospel. In hunc. locum. A. — S. Chrys. takes notice, that God was also called the Father of the Israelites, and they his children, in the Old Testament, when God rather governed his people by fear of punishments, and promises of temporal blessings, but not in that particular manner as in the new law. Wi. — The Spirit himself, &c. By the inward motions of divine love, and the peace of conscience, which the children of God experience, they have a kind of testimony of God's favour; by which they are much strengthened in the hope of their justification and salvation; but yet not so as to pretend to an absolute assurance, which is not usually granted in this mortal life: during which we are taught to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Phil. ii. 12. And that he who thinketh himself to stand, must take heed lest he fall. 1 Cor. x. 12. See also Rom. xi. 20, 21, 22. Ch. — He hath given to us, says S. John, (c. i. 12.) the power, or dignity, of being the sons of God. Christ taught us to pray, and to begin our prayers with our Father, &c. Matt. vi. 9. Wi.
Ver. 19. The expectation of the creature. He speaks of the corporal creation, made for the use and service of man; and, by occasion of his sin made subject to vanity, that is, to a perpetual instability, tending to corruption and other defects; so that by a figure of speech, it is here said to groan and be in labour, and to long for its deliverance, which is then to come, when sin shall reign no more; and God shall raise the bodies, and united them to their souls, never more to separate, and to be in everlasting happiness in heaven. Ch. — Waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God. That is, for the time after this life, when it shall be made manifest that they are the sons of God, and heirs of the kingdom of his glory. Several interpreters understand all creatures whatsoever, even irrational and inanimate creatures of this world, which are represented as if they had a knowledge and sense of a more happy condition, of a new unchangeable state of perfection, which they are to receive at the end of the world. See 2 Pet. i. 13. Apoc. xxi. 1. Now every insensible creature is figuratively brought in groaning like a woman in labour, waiting, and wishing for that new and happy state; but in the mean time unwillingly made subject to vanity, i.e. to these changeable imperfections of generations and corruptions, which then they shall be delivered from. Wi. — The creature, &c. The creatures expect with impatience, and hope with confidence, to see a happy change in their condition; they flatter themselves that they will be delivered from the captivity of sin, to which man has reduced them, and enter into the liberty of the glory of the sons of God. Not that the inanimate creation will really participate the happiness and glory of the elect; although in some sense they may be said to have part in it, since they will enter into a pure, incorruptible and perfect state to the end of ages. They will no longer be subject to those changes and vicissitudes which sin has brought upon them; nor will sinful man any longer abuse their beauty and goodness in offending the Creator of all. S. Ambrose and S. Jerom teach that the sun, moon, and stars will be then much more brilliant and beautiful than at present, no longer subject to those changes they at present suffer. Philo and Tertullian teach that the beasts of prey will then lay aside their ferocity, and venomous serpents their poisonous qualities. Calmet. — Other, by the creature or creatures, understand men only, and Christians, who groan under miseries and temptations in this mortal life, amidst the vanities of this world, under the slavery of corruption; who having already (v. 23.) received the first-fruits of the Spirit, the grace of God in baptism, have been made the children of God, and now, with expectation and great earnestness, wait and long for a more perfect adoption of the sons of God: for the redemption of their bodies, when the bodies, as well as the souls of the elect, shall rise to an immortal life, and complete happiness in heaven. Wi.
Ver. 24, &c. For we are saved by hope, as it is the will of God we should be, waiting and hoping with patience for the things which we have not seen, which neither the eye hath seen, nor the ear hath heard, &c. 1 Cor. ii. 9. — And the spirit also helpeth our infirmity . . . asketh for us with unspeakable groanings. If we understand this according to the common exposition, of the divine spirit of the Holy Ghost, the sense is, says S. Aug. that the Holy Ghost maketh us ask: but we may understand the spirit of God and his grace, diffused in our souls, and in particular that gift of the Holy Ghost, called the spirit of prayer, given to the new Christians, which taught them what to ask, and how to pray. See S. Chrys. Wi.
Ver. 28. To them that love God, all things work together unto good. All trials, temptations, afflictions, must be taken as coming from the hand of God, who ordains or permits them for the greater good of his elect. — For the good of those, who, according to his purpose are called the saints. Lit. according to purpose: but it seems certain that to translate his purpose, is only to give the literal sense, if we compare this place with other texts, both in the Greek and Latin, where the same words signify according to God's good will, or his eternal decree, and not according to the purpose, or will of men, as some expound it. Wi.
Ver. 29. For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of his Son, in suffering with Christ, in following his doctrine, in imitating his life. This foreknowledge of God, according to S. Augustin, is not merely a foreseeing of what men will do by the assistance and graces of God's ordinary providence, much less a foreseeing of what they will do by their own natural strength, as the Pelagian heretics pretended: but is a foreknowledge including an act of the divine will, and of his love towards his elect servants; (as to know in the Scriptures, when applied to God, is many times the same as to approve and love) God therefore hath foreseen or predestinated, or decreed that these elect, by the help of his special graces, and by the co-operation of their free-will, should be conformable to the image of his Son, that so his Son, even as man, might be the first-born, the chief, and the head of all that shall be saved. Wi. — God hath preordained that all his elect shall be conformable to the image of his Son. We must not here offer to dive into the secrets of God's eternal election: only firmly believe that all our good, in time and eternity, flows originally from God's free goodness; and all our evil from man's free will. Ch.
Ver. 30. And whom he predestinated, them he also called to the true faith and to his service, without any deserts in them, nay, when all mankind were guilty of eternal death, by original sin. — And whom he called, them he also justified, by faith, by hope, by a love of him, and a true penance. — And whom he justified, them he also glorified. That is, hath decreed to glorify. Yet not all who have been justified, but only his elect, who are under his special protection, and to whom he grants a perseverance in his grace to the end: so that the call to faith, their sanctification, their final perseverance, and glorification in heaven, are the effects of their free election and predestination. Wi.
Ver. 31. What shall we then say to these things? That is, though we live amidst temptations and afflictions in this life, we need not fear as long as we are faithful in the service of God, under his protection. — If God be for us, who is against us, or who shall hinder us from being saved. Wi.
Ver. 32. He that spared not, &c. This is another argument for us to hope in the goodness of God, who hath so loved the world, that he hath delivered, and given his true and only Son for us all, to redeem all and every one, and has by his death obtained helps and graces by which we may all be saved. — How hath he not also, with him, given us all things? That is, since he has given for us his only Son, how can we doubt, but that, with him, he will give us all gifts and graces? He hath given us, says S. Chrys. his Son himself, and how can we doubt of other blessings? Wi.
Ver. 33-34. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of the elect of God? God who justifieth. Others read without an interrogation, it is God who justified us: the sense will scarce be different; for it is the same as to say, we need not fear that God will accuse us, since by his mercy he hath been pleased to die, and to rise again from death for us. Wi.
Ver. 35. &c. Who then, or what shall separate us from the love of Christ? Neither devils, nor men, nor any thing in nature, unless it be by our own fault, and unless we wilfully and sinfully leave God. — I am sure. In the Greek, I am  fully persuaded, that nothing can separate us, &c. In fine, another argument to prove we ought to have a firm hope in God, is that Christ Jesus, who sits at the right hand of God, also intercedeth for us. Christ, as man, intercedeth, prayeth for us, is our advocate and chief mediator See Heb. vii. Christ is truly said to pray for us in heaven, though it is not the custom of the Church to call upon him in this manner, "Christ pray for us;" because being God, as well as man, he has all things under his command. Wi.
Ver. 39. So powerful and efficacious, so certain and unchangeable is the love of God, which conducts us to the kingdom of bliss, that no creature can separate us from it, either by making us cease to love him, or by frustrating our love of its effect, viz. life everlasting. Estius.