2 =Hmwn is better taken with egguteron: "For now is salvation nearer to us than when we believed." (So R. V.) Both the position of the words and the requirements of emphasis favor this construction. Chrys. is essentially correct in referring h swthria here to the last things. The reference is to the Messianic salvation which is to be ushered in by the Parousia of the Lord from heaven. The period which shall intervene between the time of writing and the advent of Christ is designated as "night" (12), but the "day" which the Messianic swthria shall usher in is near(hggiken).-G. B. S.
4 In one of the apostle's favorite figures, that of putting off, or on, as clothing, he states again the essential qualities of the Christian life. The Christian is even now to belong to that sphere of light into whose full glory he shall shortly be raised. The culminating thought is: "put on Christ." Chrys.' application of the apostle's exhortation is one of his most eloquent passages.-G. B. S.
1 Chrys. adopts the view which was common in antiquity as to who the "weak" here mentioned were. He regards them as judaizing Christians who were over-zealous for the Mosaic law and even went beyond its explicit requirements to abstain from swine's flesh and abstained from meat altogether. Another class of interpreters have supposed that the scruples of the "weak" concerning meat had the same ground as in 1 Cor. viii. and 1 Cor. x., viz., the fear of eating flesh and drinking wine that had been used in the heathen sacrificial worship (So Rückert, Philippi, Neander). The chief objection to the former view is that they could not have derived their doctrine of entire abstinence from meat and wine from the Mosaic law, which prohibits only the flesh of certain unclean animals and does not prohibit wine at all except in particular cases. The difficulty with the second view is that the whole passage has no allusion to heathen sacrifices, which could hardly have been the case if they had been the ground of the scruple. On the contrary in v. 14 Paul in correcting these ascetic notions declares his conviction that nothing is "unclean of itself," showing that their view was that flesh and wine possessed in themselves some power of pollution. The difficulties connected with these explanations have led many recent scholars to different explanations. Baur regarded the "weak" as Ebionitic Christians, but the Ebionites abstained from flesh as inherently sinful and it would seem that if this had been the opinion of the "weak" that Paul could hardly have treated it so mildly. Since the Ebionites date from about 70 a.d., these ascetics at Rome could have been Ebionitic only in the sense of having the germs of subsequent Ebionism. An opinion similar to this has been advocated by Ritschl, Meyer and Mangold. In their view the root of this asceticism was Essenic. There was certainly a Judeo-Christian minority in the Roman church. The ideas of the Essenes were widely disseminated among the Jews at the time. It is natural to suppose that among the Roman Jews there were Essenes or those of Essenic tendencies who upon their conversion would associate their rigorous asceticism with the Christian doctrine of the subjugation of the flesh. This view best meets the requirements of the passage. The Essenes abstained wholly from wine and practised a supra-legal regimen in regard to food. They would have no occasion to array themselves against the apostle's doctrine and he therefore treats their scruples not in a polemic but in a cautious and conciliatory spirit.-G. B. S.
2 kenoi, i.e. so as not to have to say anything against them directly. St. Chrysostom turns the passage in that way more than Theodoret. See on v. 4, which Theod. applies directly against the Judaizers. His general remarks on the rhetoric of the passage are independent of this question.
3 Verse 2 counsels receiving to Christian fellowship those affected by these ascetic scruples but mh eij diakriseij dialogismwn. These words have been variously rendered: (1) "not to doubtful disputations" (A. V., R. V.); (2) "for decisions of doubts" (marg. R. V.); (3) not to judgings of thoughts (Meyer); "not to discussions of opinions" (Godet). It is the church against allowing the clear that the apostle exhorts scruples in question to be matter of debate and division but whether he means to place a limitation upon the church's duty to receive the weak brethren or whether he exhorts them to refrain from making the opinions of the weak a matter of discussion and judgment, is a question still unsettled. The following consideration deserve attention in the decision of the question (1) Paul treats the "weak" throughout with great forbearance and tenderness. (2) The church is the party exhorted. (3) It is probably that the diakriseij dialogismwn refer to actions or judgments which the church would be in danger of exercising toward the weak. (4) It is likely that the question of eating meats or herbs only (v. 2) is a specimen of the dialogismoi referred to. (5) Diakrisij means an act of distinguishing things that differ, i.e. a logical or moral judgment. (6) The question remains whether dialogismoj means a doubt, or a thought, an opinion. The latter is the primary meaning and seems preferable here. Then the meaning would be: receive these persons to fellowship and abstain from criticisms and judgments upon their conscientious opinions. The translation of our Eng. vs. "not to doubtful disputations" is as ambiguous as the original phrase is in Greek. and is, therefore, a faithful rendering in respect of ambiguity. These translators seem to take diakriseij as meaning "doubts"-a meaning which that word cannot be shown to bear.-G. B. S.
6 xwrij: The construction seems imperfect: the Translator suggests xwrisqeij, "separating Himself from all others." If the passage be not corrupt, xwrij twn allwn apantwn is merely = in primis; and so Field.
11 Field's punctuation will give the sense, "These then are mere words-the rich man is not punished, nor the foolish virgins cast out, etc., but these are only threats!" which is perhaps more vigorous. Compare Hom. xxxi. p. 496: also Browning's Heretic's Tragedy.
"Who maketh God's menace an idle word?
Saith, it no more means what it proclaims
Than a damsel's threat to her wanton bird?
-For she too prattles of ugly names.
Saith, he knoweth but one thing-what he knows?
That God is good and the rest is breath."
20 St. Chrysostom must not be understood here as making light of the labor of an effectual repentance, nor as excluding the office of the Church in accepting the Penitent. His object is to show that there is no such difficulty in repentance, as need be an objection to our belief in eternal punishment. He is speaking of repentance in the lowest degree, and he certainly held that different degrees of it would obtain different degrees of benefit. As of almsgiving on Rom. xi. 6, p. 485. etc. "It is possible to gain approval by thy last will, not indeed in such way as in thy lifetime," and more generally ad Theodorum Lapsum, t. i. p. 11, 12. Ben. where he represents it as difficult, though not so much so as it might seem to those who did not try it, and know its consolations: and Hom i. de S. Pentec. fin. he says, "It is possible by diligence, prayer, and exceeding watchfulness, to wipe out all our sins that are written down. This then let us make our business all our days, that when we depart thither, we may obtain some forgiveness, and all escape irrevocable punishments." Of confession he speaks strongly, de Cruce et Latrone, Hom. i. t. 2, 407; B. ad Pop. Ant. Hom. 3, p. 42 E. on the Statues, p. 66 O. T. and of the power of the Priesthood to absolve, de Sac., c. 3, §5, t. i. p. 384 E. quoting Ja. v. 14, 15.
21 murian askhsin: the term asceticism is an insufficient translation of ascesis, since its termination takes off the reality. The word "crown" hints at a play on its secular sense, of gymnastic training.
22 This sentence may be read so as to avoid the fault in reasoning; he breaks off the supposition as too absurd, and after a pause gives the true account of the case, which he in fact assumes in the first clause. The whole passage is rhetorical, and the first mention of the devils is introduced with tremendous power, as almost any one must have felt in reading it.
2 In addition to the three possible meanings of "your good" which Chrys. mentions, two other interpretations may be noted: (1) "The good you enjoy," i. e. your Christian liberty (Godet); (2) "The kingdom of God" (v. 17) (Meyer). The connection favors the view that to agaqon is a general reference to the same source of blessing which is more specifically designated as h basileia tou qeou (17).-G. B. S.