Paulus dispensor sacramenti Dei
Paul is a dispenser of God’s mystery
3:7 cujus factus sum minister secundum donum gratiae Dei, quae data est mihi secundum operationem virtutis ejus. [n. 144]
3:7 Of which I am made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God, which is given to me according to the operation of his power. [n. 144]
3:8 Mihi omnium sanctorum minimo data est gratia haec, in gentibus evangelizare investigabiles divitias Christi, [n. 147]
3:8 To me, the least of all the saints, is given this grace, to preach among the gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ: [n. 147]
3:9 et illuminare omnes, quae sit dispensatio sacramenti absconditi a saeculis in Deo, qui omnia creavit: [n. 150]
3:9 And to enlighten all men, that they may see what is the dispensation of the mystery which has been hidden from eternity in God who created all things: [n. 150]
143. Postquam ostendit Apostolus esse sibi gratiam dispensatam quantum ad mysteriorum divinorum cognitionem, hic ostendit hoc idem quantum ad ipsorum mysteriorum executionem. Et
143. After the Apostle has discussed the grace given him relative to the knowledge of divine mysteries, he indicates the same with respect to carrying these mysteries themselves into effect.
circa hoc duo facit.
Concerning this he makes two points:
Primo commemorat auxilium gratiae praestitum sibi ad exequendum;
first, he acknowledges the assistance of grace granted him to put them into practice;
secundo, ostendit sibi commissum officium ministerii, ibi mihi omnium sanctorum minimo, et cetera.
second, he speaks of the ministerial duty confided to him, at to me, the least of all the saints.
Prima in duas.
The first has two divisions:
Primo tangit ministeriorum divinorum executionem;
first, he briefly treats of putting divine mysteries into effect;
secundo ostendit auxilium sibi datum ad exequendum, ibi secundum donum gratiae, et cetera.
second, he shows how help has been given him, at according to the gift of the grace of God.
144. Executio autem divinorum sibi commissa est per modum ministerii, et quantum ad hoc dicit: dico quod hoc ministerium est mihi commissum, scilicet gentes esse cohaeredes per Evangelium, per quod gentes participes fiunt promissionis Dei in Christo Iesu, cuius ego Paulus factus sum minister, etc.; quasi dicat: non ego impleo vel exequor ut a me vel ut meum, sed sicut ministerium quod Dei est. Act. IX, 15: vas electionis est mihi iste, et cetera. Unde apostolus I Cor. IV, 1: sic nos existimet homo ut ministros Christi et dispensatores mysteriorum Dei.
144. The realization of divine realities was committed to him by way of a ministry. He says in relation to this: I assert that this ministry has been entrusted to me, that the gentiles are co-heirs by the Gospel and through it they share as well in God’s promise in Christ Jesus, of which I am made a minister. As though he stated: I do not fulfill or carry out this mystery as if it came from me or was mine, but as a ministry belonging to God. For this man is to me a vessel of election, to carry my name before the gentiles (Act 9:15). Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ and the dispensers of the mysteries of God (1 Cor 4:1).
145. Deinde cum dicit secundum donum gratiae, etc., tangit auxilium sibi praestitum ad ministeriorum executionem.
145. When he writes according to the gift of the grace of God he touches on the aid granted him to carry out the mysteries.
Huiusmodi autem auxilium duplex fuit. Unum quidem ipsa facultas exequendi, aliud ipsa operatio, sive actualitas. Facultatem autem dat Deus infundendo virtutem et gratiam, per quas efficitur homo potens et aptus ad operandum; sed ipsam operationem confert inquantum operatur in nobis interius movendo et instigando ad bonum.
This type of assistance was twofold. One was the capacity to put them into effect, and another was the actuality or action itself. God bestows the capability by infusing the power and grace through which a man is able and fit for action; while he confers the action itself insofar as he moves us interiorly and spurs us on to good.
Et ideo hoc accipiens Apostolus a Deo, dicit quantum ad primum: dico quod factus sum minister, sed certe non meis meritis, nec virtute propria, sed secundum donum gratiae Dei quae data est mihi, quia scilicet idoneus efficior ad executionem divinorum mysteriorum, qui fui prius persecutor. I Cor. XV. 10: plus omnibus laboravi, non ego, sed gratia Dei mecum.
Receiving both from God, the Apostle acknowledges the first in saying: I am made a minister, certainly not on my own merits, nor by my own power, but according to the gift of the grace of God which is given to me. For I was made worthy to realize the divine mysteries which previously I had persecuted. I have labored more abundantly than all they. Yet not I, but the grace of God with me (1 Cor 15:10).
Quantum ad secundum dicit secundum operationem, quam Deus efficit, inquantum virtus eius operatur in nobis et velle et perficere pro bona voluntate.
In reference to the second he states according to the operation which God effects inasmuch as his power works within us both to will and to act in accord with good will.
146. Potest autem hoc aliter exponi secundum Glossam, ut quod dictum est modo referatur ad praecedentia, scilicet dicatur quod esse gentes cohaeredes et concorporales, et comparticipes promissionis eius, scilicet Dei Patris, hoc quidem donum dedit Deus gentibus in Christo, id est per Christum, et hoc secundum operationem virtutis eius, id est per hoc quod potenter operatus est, suscitando Christum a morte.
146. This can be interpreted in another way according to a Gloss. What is said here refers to what immediately preceded. For it is said that the pagans have become co-heirs, and of the same body, and co-partners of God the Father’s promise; and this is a gift God gave the gentiles in Christ. That is, they come through Christ, according to the operation of his power in that he has powerfully acted in raising Christ from the dead.
147. Consequenter cum dicit mihi enim sanctorum minimo, etc., ostendit officium commissum, cuius quidem commissionis gratia commendatur ex tribus.
147. Next, at to me, the least of all the saints, he speaks of the duty entrusted to him; the grace of such a commission has three qualities to recommend it:
Primo quidem ex personae suae conditione;
first, the condition of the person to whom it is entrusted;
secundo ex commissorum magnitudine, ibi evangelizare investigabiles, etc.;
second, the greatness of what is confided, at to preach among the gentiles;
tertio ex fructus utilitate, ibi ut innotescat, et cetera.
third, the good that results as its fruit, at that through the manifold wisdom (Eph 3:10).
148. Commendat igitur officium sibi commissum ex personae conditione. Si enim rex aliquis, aliquod quidem magnum officium alicui magno principi et excellenti committeret, non multum ei magnam gratiam faceret, quantum ad hunc magnum, si poneret in magno officio; sed si magnum et arduissimum officium alicui parvo committat, multum eum magnificat, et magnam gratiam facit ei, et tanto magis quanto officii excellentia excedit ipsum. Secundum ergo hunc modum Paulus gratiam sibi commissi officii commendat, dicens mihi enim omnium sanctorum minimo data est gratia haec.
148. The office confided to him is recommended from this person’s condition. For if some king entrusted an important office to a great and high-ranking prince, he would not be doing him a very great favor since he would be placing an important person in an important position. But if he entrusts a great and exceedingly difficult duty to an insignificant person, he would greatly honor him and do him a considerable favor; the more so in proportion as the eminence of the office exceeds him. In this fashion Paul praises the gratuity of the office confided to himself: to me, the least of all the saints, is given this grace.
Et vocat se minimum, non ex potestate sibi commissa, sed ex consideratione status praeteriti. I Cor. XV, 9: ego sum minimus apostolorum, qui non sum dignus vocari apostolus, quoniam persecutus sum Ecclesiam Dei. Is. LX, 22: minimus erit in mille, et parvulus in gentem fortissimam.
He calls himself the least, not because of the power granted him, but in recognition of his former state: for I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God (1 Cor 15:9). The least shall become a thousand, and a little one a most strong nation (Isa 60:22).
Et hoc in gentibus, id est inter gentes, Gal. II, 8–9: qui enim operatus est Petro in apostolatum circumcisionis, operatus est et mihi inter gentes. Et cum cognovissent gratiam Dei, quae data est mihi inter gentes, et cetera.
This duty was to be fulfilled among the gentiles, that is, throughout the nations. For he who wrought in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision wrought in me also among the gentiles. And, when they had known the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the gentiles, and they unto the circumcision (Gal 2:8–9).
149. Secundo commendatur huiusmodi commissionis gratia ex officii magnitudine, quod est revelare et manifestare secreta Dei, quae sunt magna et occulta, puta, de magnitudine Christi et de salute fidelium facta per eum. De his autem duobus est totum Evangelium.
149. Second, the grace of his mission is commended by reason of the magnitude of his task: to reveal and clarify the great and hidden secrets of God. Think of the greatness of Christ and of the salvation of the faithful which he accomplished. The entire Gospel concerns these two.
Quantum ad primum dicit evangelizare, etc., quasi dicat: haec gratia data est mihi ut annuntiem bonum. I Cor. I, 17: non misit me Christus baptizare, sed evangelizare. Et ibidem IX, 16: vae enim mihi si non evangelizavero.
Regarding the first he says to preach among the gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, as if to assert: this grace is given to me that I might proclaim the good. Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel (1 Cor 1:17). Woe unto me if I do not preach the Gospel (1 Cor 9:16).
Et bonum hoc, scilicet investigabiles Christi divitias, quae sunt verae divitiae. Supra c. II, 4: Deus autem qui dives est in misericordia, et cetera. Rom. II, 4: an divitias bonitatis eius, et patientiae, et longanimitatis contemnis? et cetera. Rom. X, 12: dives in omnes qui invocant illum. Quasi dicat: divitiae istae vere investigabiles sunt, quia tanta est misericordia eius, quod intelligi vel investigari non possit. Is. XXXIII, 6: divitiae salutis sapientia, et scientia, timor Domini ipse thesaurus eius, scilicet Christi, quia in Christo abundantissime fuit timor Domini. Is. XI, 3: replebit eum Spiritus timoris Domini.
This good is the unsearchable riches of Christ which are true wealth. God who is rich in mercy . . . has quickened us together in Christ (Eph 2:4); or despise you the riches of his goodness, and patience, and longsuffering? (Rom 2:4) The same is Lord over all, rich unto all that call upon him (Rom 10:12). These riches are unsearchable indeed, he affirms, since they are as great as his mercy, which can be neither understood nor analyzed. Riches of salvation, wisdom and knowledge: the fear of the Lord is his treasure (Isa 33:6), referring to Christ since reverence of the Lord found its most plentiful expression in Christ. And he shall be filled with the Spirit of the fear of the Lord (Isa 11:3).
In Christo enim sunt omnes thesauri sapientiae et scientiae absconditi, Col. II, 3, et haec sunt investigabiles, quia perfecte sapientia et scientia Christi investigari non possunt. Iob XI, 7: reperies forsan vestigia Dei, et usque ad perfecte Omnipotentem? Quasi dicat: non. Nam per creaturas, in quibus relucet vestigium creatoris, perveniri non potest ad perfectam eius cognitionem. Huiusmodi autem divitias stupens admiratur Apostolus, dicens, Rom. XI, 33, o altitudo divitiarum sapientiae et scientiae Dei, quam, et cetera. Eccli. I, 3: sapientiam Dei praecedentem omnia quis investigabit?
In Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3). They are unsearchable because Christ’s wisdom and knowledge cannot be perfectly analyzed. Perhaps you will comprehend the steps of God, and will find out the Almighty perfectly? (Job 11:7) The implied answer is, no. For creatures, from whom a trace of their creator shines forth, do not provide us with a perfect understanding of him. Struck by the wonder of these riches, the Apostle exclaimed: O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments, and how unsearchable his ways! (Rom 11:33). Who has searched out the wisdom of God that goes before all things? (Sir 1:3).
150. Quantum ad secundum, id est ad manifestandam salutem fidelibus ex Christo provenientem, dicit et illuminare omnes, non solum Iudaeos, sed etiam gentiles per praedicationem et miracula. Eccli. XXIV, 45: illuminabo omnes sperantes in Domino. Act. c. IX, 15: vas electionis est, et cetera. Matth. V, v. 14: vos estis lux mundi.
150. Concerning the second—to make known the salvation which comes from Christ to those who believe—he says to enlighten all men, not only the Jews, but the gentiles as well, through preaching and miracles. I will enlighten all that hope in the Lord (Sir 24:45). This man is to me a vessel of election, to carry my name before the gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15); you are the light of the world (Matt 5:14).
Illuminare, inquam, quantum in me est omnes, scilicet credere volentes. I Tim. II, 4: qui omnes homines vult salvos fieri, et ad agnitionem veritatis venire. Ad hoc scilicet ut intelligant quae sit dispensatio sacramenti, quia nihil valent ista nisi dispensentur; quasi dicat: de hoc illuminabo, scilicet quam mirabilis et ex quanta dilectione sit facta adimpletio arcanae redemptionis. Huiusmodi autem divitiae investigabiles, per Christum vobis dispensatae sunt.
To enlighten, I say, insofar as I can, all who want to believe. For God will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4) in order that they might understand what is the dispensation of the mystery. For these mysteries would be of no use if they were not imparted, as if he claimed: I shall enlighten men on how awe-inspiring the mystery of our redemption is, and from what an immense love it was accomplished. Unsearchable riches of this sort are imparted to you through Christ.
151. Sed quia dici posset: istud quod dicis, etsi sit magnum, omnes tamen hoc sciunt; ideo ad hoc respondet Apostolus dicens, quod non, quia absconditi a saeculis.
151. Yet it might be objected: what you speak of is known to all, even if it is great. The Apostle gives a negative reply, saying it has been hidden from eternity.
Ubi sciendum est quod omnia quae sunt in effectu, latent virtute in suis causis, sicut in virtute solis continentur omnia quae sunt in generabilibus et corruptibilibus. Sed tamen ibi quaedam sunt abscondita, quaedam manifesta. Nam calor est manifeste in igne; aliquorum vero ratio, quae occulto modo producit, latet in eo. Deus autem est omnium rerum causa efficiens, sed producit quaedam, quorum ratio potest esse manifesta, illa scilicet quae mediantibus causis secundis producit. Aliqua vero sunt in eo abscondita, illa scilicet quae immediate per seipsum producit.
Here it should be noted how everything present in an effect is concealed in the power of its causes. For example, in the power of the sun is contained everything that exists among those things which are able to be generated and able to corrupt. Nevertheless, certain effects are hidden there, and others are evident. For instance, heat is evidently in fire while the intelligibility of other effects, which it produces in a more hidden manner, are concealed in it. Now God is the efficient cause of everything; he makes some things whose intelligibility is able to be manifest, namely, those created through the mediation of second causes. Other effects, however, which he immediately produces by himself are hidden in him.
Et quia sacramentum humanae redemptionis per seipsum operatus est Deus, ideo in eo solo hoc sacramentum est absconditum. Et hoc est quod dicit absconditi a saeculis in Deo, id est in sola notitia Dei. Investigare autem secreta primae causae maximum est. I Cor. II, 6: sapientiam loquimur inter perfectos: sapientiam vero non huius saeculi, neque principum huius saeculi, qui destruuntur, sed loquimur Dei sapientiam in mysterio, quae abscondita est, quam praedestinavit Deus ante saecula. Qui, inquam, omnia creavit.
Since God accomplished by himself the mystery of human redemption, this mystery is hidden in him alone. Thus he states that it is hidden from eternity in God, known to him only. Yet, to seek out the secrets of the first cause is the greatest wisdom: we speak wisdom among the perfect; yet not the wisdom of this world, neither of the princes of this world that come to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, a wisdom which is hidden, which God ordained before the world (1 Cor 2:6–7). He, I say, who created all things.
Revelatio sapientiae Dei
Revelation of God’s wisdom