Thursday, January 3, 2013

John Chrysostom on Romans 8:15

On Romans 8:15 “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear.” Then not staying to mention that which stands in contradistinction to bondage, that is, the spirit of freedom, he has named what is far greater, that of adoption, through which he at the same time brings in the other, saying, “But ye have received the Spirit of adoption.”

But this is plain. But what the spirit of bondage may be, is not so plain, and there is need of making it clearer. Now what he says is so far from being clear, that it is in fact very perplexing. For the people of the Jews did not receive the Spirit. What then is his meaning here? It is the letter he giveth this name to, for spiritual it was, and so he called the Law spiritual also, and the water from the Rock, and the Manna. “For they did eat,” he says, “of the same spiritual meat, and all drank of the same spiritual drink.” (1 Cor. x. 3, 4.) And to the Rock he gives this name, when he says, “For they drank of that spiritual Rock which followed them.” Now it is because all the rites then wrought were above nature that he calls them spiritual, and not because those who then partook of them received the Spirit. And in what sense were those letters, letters of bondage? Set before yourself the whole dispensation, and then you will have a clear view of this also. For recompenses were with them close at hand, and the reward followed forthwith, being at once proportionate, and like a kind of daily ration given to domestic servants, and terrors in abundance came to their height before their eyes, and their purifications concerned their bodies, and their continency extended but to their actions.

But with us it is not so, since the imagination even and the conscience getteth purged out. For He does not say, “Thou shalt do no murder,” only, but even "thou shalt not be angry:" so too, it is not, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” but "thou shalt not look unchastely." So that it is not to be from fear of present punishment, but out of desire towards Himself, that both our being habitually virtuous, and all our single good deeds are to come. Neither doth he promise a land flowing with milk and honey, but maketh us joint-heir with the Only-Begotten, so making us by every means stand aloof from things present, and promising to give such things especially as are worth the acceptance of men made sons of God, nothing, that is, of a sensible kind or corporeal, but spiritual all of them. And so they, even if they had the name of sons, were but as slaves; but we as having been made free, have received the adoption, and are waiting for Heaven. And with them He discoursed through the intervention of others, with us by Himself.

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