Saint Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

What do we mean when we say that God is infinitely powerful?  We don’t actually know what infinite looks like or is.  Maybe you remember that from Math class – we tried to picture how big infinity is.  The problem is that infinity doesn’t have any limits at all so we can’t even imagine it.  The mountains are vast, but we can see their outline, space is vast but scientists still think there must be some kind of limit to it.

We human creatures are not infinite – we are limited.  You weren’t always alive, you were born one day and you will die some day.  Even the evil doers among us are limited in the amount of evil they can do – they can’t achieve infinite evil.  God, on the other hand, can do something infinitely good – and that’s what He does when He saves us in Jesus.  The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is infinitely good – infinitely powerful.  That’s why we should never be afraid of following Jesus, and receiving His infinite forgiveness.

CHRYSOSTOM:

The Corinthians did not need to learn the doctrine, which they already knew, but they had to be reminded of it and corrected from their errors in understanding it.1

AMBROSIASTER:

The prophet Isaiah said: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter” [Is 53:7] and so on. Revelation [13:8] adds that he was slain from before the foundation of the world. And Deuteronomy [28:66] says: “You will see your life hanging before your eyes, yet you will not believe.” This is expressed in the future tense, to prevent the wicked from claiming that it does not apply to Christ.2

CYRIL OF JERUSALEM:

The iniquity of sinners was not as great as the justice of the One who died for them. The sins we committed were not as great as the justice he embodied, when he laid down his life for us.3

HILARY OF POITIERS:

Paul reminded us that we are to confess the manner of the death and resurrection not so much by literally naming these things but strictly according to the testimony of the Scriptures, so that our understanding of his death might be in accord with the apostles.… He did this in order that we might not become helpless or to be tossed about by the winds of useless disputes or hampered by the absurd subtleties of unsound opinions.4

CHRYSOSTOM:

Paul says this because he was a humble man and also because it is what he really thought about himself. He was forgiven for having persecuted the church, but it was a shame he never forgot. It taught him the greatness of God’s grace toward him.5

JEROME:

These words apply to those who complain: Why wasn’t I created such that I would be free from sin forever? Why was I fashioned such a vessel that I could not endure hard like metal instead of being fragile and easily broken whenever touched?… Let us blush and say what those say who have already obtained their rewards. Let us, who are sinners on earth and encased in this fragile and mortal body, say what we know the saints are saying in heaven.6

AUGUSTINE:

The Enemy is more completely vanquished in the case of a man over whom he holds fuller sway.7

BASIL:

He who spends his time in softness and all laxity because of his luxurious living, who is clothed in purple and fine linen and feasting every day in splendid fashion and who flees the labors imposed by virtue has neither labored in this life nor will live in the future, but he will see life afar off, while being racked in the fire of the furnace.8

AUGUSTINE:

Paul did not labor in order to receive grace, but he received grace so that he might labor.9

Footnotes

  1. Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians 38.2. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 149). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  2. COMMENTARY ON PAUL’S EPISTLES. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 149). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  3. CATECHETICAL LECTURES 13. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 149). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  4. ON THE TRINITY 10.67. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 150). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  5. Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians 38.6. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 152). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  6. Against the Pelagians 2.25. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 152). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  7. Confessions 8.4. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 152). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  8. UNTO THE END 19.5. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 152). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  9. PROCEEDINGS OF PELAGIUS 14.36. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 153). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
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