Saturday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time


Let us understand that we arrive at the full mystery of God by two routes: We ourselves by rational insight may come to understand and discern something of the knowledge of divine things. But when there is a certain divine self-disclosure God himself reveals his divinity to us. Some may directly perceive by this revelation something remarkable, majestic and close to truth.… But when we receive wisdom we apprehend what is divine both through our own rational insight and through God’s own Spirit. When we come to know what is true in the way this text intends, both these ways of knowing correspond.1


He demonstrates the power of God through a human image. It is not that a material throne is set up and God the Father is physically seated on it and has the Son seated above with him. Rather he communicates with this metaphor because we could not understand his role as incomparable governor and judge except in our own terms.… Being on the right or left of God is to be understood as meaning that saints are on his right but sinners on his left. … The very word sits denotes the power of kingship, through which God confers benefits on those above whom he is seated. He has reined them in and has them in his service, guiding those who had previously strayed.2


Now we must ask where the apostle found these four names—principalities, powers, forces and dominions? From what sources did he bring them into the open? It would be dishonorable to imagine that Paul, who had been schooled in godly literature, might be quoting this from pagan sources. I therefore suggest that he has brought into the open some of the Hebrew traditions which are secret. Or better, it might have been that once he understood that the law is spiritual, he grasped a higher meaning in those things that are written in the guise of history. He could have known, for example, that there was a symbol of other powers and authorities in what is said in the books of Numbers and Kings about kings, princes, captains and leaders of tribes and ages.3


By his foreknowledge he is celebrating what is to come as though it were done already, as I explained above when he says “he has blessed us.” … Either this interpretation, or a better one might be: If we are to take account of what has gone before, we should take this to mean that even those things whose will is not subject to him serve him because of their natural condition. So demons, Gentiles and Jews all serve him. Even if they do not freely serve Christ nor are they put under his feet, yet, because they have been created by him for good, they are unwillingly subject to his power, even if they strive against him with the volition of their free judgment.4


In the same way as a hand has many members subject to it, of which some are diseased and weak, so too our Lord Jesus Christ, being the head of the church, has as his members the whole congregation of the church, the saints and also the sinners. But the saints are in voluntary subjection to him, while the sinners are under compulsion.5


If the gospel cannot be broken, they who become martyrs, according to the gospel, cannot act contrary to the gospel. Most beloved brothers and sisters, let no one defame the dignity of the martyrs. Let no one destroy their glories and crowns. The strength of an uncorrupted faith is sound. No one can say or do anything against Christ whose hope, faith, virtue and glory are entirely in Christ. They who have performed the commands of God cannot be the authors of anything done by the bishops contrary to the command of God.6


He has taught us that blasphemy is the most wicked crime for people to commit. He said that whoever speaks a word against the Son of man will be forgiven, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. In what way is this to be understood? If the Savior means that if any one of us uses any scornful word toward some mere man, he will receive forgiveness if he repents, the matter is free from all difficulty. Since God is by nature good, he will free from blame all those who repent. If the declaration has reference to Christ, the Savior of all, how can he who has spoken against him be innocent or secure from condemnation? Some one who has not learned the meaning of his mystery or understood that being by nature God he humbled himself to our estate and became man may say something blasphemous to a certain extent against him. If this is not so wicked as to pass forgiveness, God will pardon those who have sinned from ignorance.…
On another hand, condemnation and the eternal punishment both in this world and in that which is to come is inevitable for those who have blasphemed the Godhead itself.
By “the Spirit,” he means not only the Holy Spirit but also the whole nature of the Godhead, as understood [to consist] in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Savior also somewhere said, “God is a Spirit.” Blasphemy against the Spirit is against the whole supreme substance. The nature of the Deity, as offered for our understanding in the holy and adorable Trinity, is one.7


The Christian should not fear or be distressed in difficult circumstances and thus be distracted from trust in God. He should take courage as if the Lord were at hand directing his affairs and strengthening him against all his adversaries. It is as if the Holy Spirit were instructing him even as to the very replies he should make to his enemies.8


  1. EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS 1.1.17–18.  Edwards, M. J. (Ed.). (1999). Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians (p. 121). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  2. EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS 1.1.21.  Edwards, M. J. (Ed.). (1999). Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians (p. 123). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  3. EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS 1.1.21.  Edwards, M. J. (Ed.). (1999). Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians (p. 124). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  4. EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS 1.1.22–23.  Edwards, M. J. (Ed.). (1999). Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians (p. 125). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  5. EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS 1.1.22–23.  Edwards, M. J. (Ed.). (1999). Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians (p. 125). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  6. THE LAPSED 20.  Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 205). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  7. COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 88.  Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 205). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  8. THE MORALS 63.  Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 206). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
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