Ver. 18. "The sufferings of the present time are not worthy
to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in (Gr. eij) us."
In what went before, he requires of the spiritual man the correcting
of his habits (Mar. and 6 mss.; passions), where he says, "Ye are not debtors
to live after the flesh," that such an one, for instance, should be above
lust, anger, money, vainglory, grudging. But here having reminded them
of the whole gift, both as given and as to come, and raised him up aloft
with hopes, and placed him near to Christ, and showed him to be a joint-heir
of the Only-Begotten; he now leads him forth with confidence even to dangers.
For to get the better of the evil affections in us, is not the same thing
with bearing up under those trials, scourges, famine, plunderings, bonds,
chains, executions. For these last required much more of a noble and vigorous
spirit. And observe how he at once allays and rouses the spirit of the
combatants. For after he had shown that the rewards were greater than the
labors, he both exhorts to greater efforts, and yet will not let them be
elated, as being still outdone by the crowns given in requital. And in
another passage he says, "For our light affliction, which is but for a
moment, worketh a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor.
iv. 17): it being the deeper sort of persons he was then speaking to. Here,
however, he does not allow that the afflictions were light; but still he
mingles comfort with them by the compensation which good things to come
afford, in the words, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present
time are not worthy to be compared," and he does not say, with the rest
(anesin) that is to come, but what is much greater, "with the glory which
is to come." For it does not follow, that where rest is there is glory;
but that where glory is there is rest, does follow: then as he had said
that it is to come, he shows that it already is. For he does not say, that
which is to be, but "which shall be revealed in us," as if already existing
but unrevealed. As also in another place he said in clearer words, "Our
life is hid with Christ in God." Be then of a good heart about it. For
already hath it been prepared, and awaiteth thy labors. But if it vexes
you that it is yet to come, rather let this very thing rejoice you. For
it is owing to its being great and unutterable, and transcending our present
condition, that it is stored up there. And so he has not put barely "the
sufferings of this present time," but he speaks so as to show that it is
not in quality only, but in quantity also, that the other life has the
advantage. For these sufferings, whatever they are, are attached to our
present life; but the blessings to come reach themselves out over ages
without end. And since he had no way of giving a particular description
of these, or of putting them before us in language, he gives them a name
from what seems to be specially an object of desire with us, "glory." For
the summit of blessings and the sum of them, this seems to be. And to urge
the hearer on in another way also, he gives a loftiness to his discourse
by the mention of the creation, gaining two points by what he is next saying,
the contempt of things present, and the desire of things to come, and a
third beside these, or rather the first, is the showing how the human race
is cared for on God's part and in what honor He holds our nature. And besides
this, all the doctrines of the philosophers, which they had framed for
themselves about this world, as a sort of cobweb or child's mound, he throws
down with this one doctrine. But that these things may stand in a clearer
light, let us hear the Apostle's own language.
Ver. 19, 20. "For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth,"
he says, "for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creation was made
subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected
the same in hope."
And the meaning is something of this kind. The creation itself is in
the midst of its pangs, waiting for and expecting these good things whereof
we have just now spoken. For "earnest expectation" (apokaradokia, looking
out) implies expecting intensely. And so his discourse becomes more emphatic,
and he personifies this whole world as the prophets also do, when they
introduce the floods clapping their hands, and little hills leaping, and
mountains skipping, not that we are to fancy them alive, or ascribe any
reasoning power to them, but that we may learn the greatness of the blessings,
so great as to reach even to things without sense also. The very same thing
they do many times also in the case of afflicting things, since they bring
in the vine lamenting, and the wine too, and the mountains, and the boardings
of the Temple howling, and in this case too it is that we may understand
the extremity of the evils. It is then in imitation of these that the Apostle
makes a living person of the creature here, and says that it groaneth and
travaileth: not that he heard any groan conveyed from the earth and heaven
to him, but that he might show the exceeding greatness of the good things
to come; and the desire of freedom from the ills which now pervaded them.
"For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason
of him who hath subjected the same." What is the meaning of, "the creation
was made subject to vanity?" Why that it became corruptible. For what cause,
and on what account? On account of thee, O man. For since thou hast taken
a body mortal and liable to suffering, the earth too hath received a curse,
and brought forth thorns and thistles. But that the heaven, when it is
waxen old along with the earth, is to change afterwards to a better portion
(lhcin v. p. 384) hear from the Prophet in his words; "Thou, O Lord, from
the beginning hast founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of Thy
hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure; and they all shall wax
old as doth a garment, and as a cloak shalt Thou fold them up, and they
shall be changed." (Ps. cii. 25, Ps. cii. 26.) Isaiah too declares the
same, when he says, "Look to the heaven above, and upon the earth beneath,
for the heavens are as a firmament of smoke, and the earth shall wax old
like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall perish in like manner.
(Is. li. 6.). Now you see in what sense the creation is "in bondage to
vanity," and how it is to be freed from the ruined state. For the one says,
"Thou shalt fold them up as a garment, and they shall be changed;" and
Isaiah says, "and they that dwell therein shall perish in like manner,"
not of course meaning an utter perishing. For neither do they that dwell
therein, mankind, that is, undergo such an one, but a temporary one, and
through it they are changed into an incorruptible (1 Cor. xv. 53) state,
and so therefore will the creature be. And all this he showed by the way,
by his saying "in like manner" (2 Pet. iii. 13), which Paul also says farther
on. At present, however, he speaks about the bondage itself, and shows
for what reason it became such, and gives ourselves as the cause of it.
What then? Was it harshly treated on another's account? By no means, for
it was on my account that it was made. What wrong then is done it, which
was made for my sake, when it suffereth these things for my correction?
Or, indeed, one has no need to moot the question of right and wrong at
all in the case of things void of soul and feeling. But Paul, since he
had made it a living person, makes use of none of these topics I have mentioned,
but another kind of language, as desiring to comfort the hearer with the
utmost advantage. And of what kind is this? What have you to say? he means.
It was evil intreated for thy sake, and became corruptible; yet it has
had no wrong done it. For incorruptible will it he for thy sake again.
This then is the meaning of "in hope." But when he says, it was "not willingly"
that it was made subject, it is not to show that it is possessed of judgment
that he says so, but that you may learn that the whole is brought about
by Christ's care, and this is no achievement of its own. And now say in
Ver. 21. "That the creature itself also shall be delivered from the
bondage of corruption."
Now what is this creation? Not thyself alone, but that also which is
thy inferior, and partaketh not of reason or sense, this too shall be a
sharer in thy blessings. For "it shall be freed," he says, "from the bondage
of corruption," that is, it shall no longer be corruptible, but shall go
along with the beauty given to thy body; just as when this became corruptible,
that became corruptible also; so now it is made incorruptible, that also
shall follow it too. And to show this he proceeds. (eij) "Into the glorious
liberty of the children of God." That is, because of their liberty. For
as a nurse who is bringing up a king's child, when he has come to his father's
power, does herself enjoy the good things along with him, thus also is
the creation, he means. You see how in all respects man takes the lead,
and that it is for his sake that all things are made. See how he solaces
the struggler, and shows the unspeakable love of God toward man. For why,
he would say, dost thou fret at thy temptations? thou art suffering for
thyself, the creation for thee. Nor does he solace only, but also shows
what he says to be trustworthy. For if the creation which was made entirely
for thee is "in hope," much more oughtest thou to be, through whom the
creation is to come to the enjoyment of those good things. Thus men (3
mss. fathers) also when a son is to appear at his coming to a dignity,
clothe even the servants with a brighter garment, to the glory of the son;
so will God also clothe the creature with incorruption for the glorious
liberty of the children.
Ver. 22. "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth
in pain together until now."
Observe, how he shames the hearer, saying almost, Be not thou worse
than the creation, neither find a pleasure in resting in things present.
Not only ought we not to cling to them, but even to groan over the delay
of our departure hence. For if the creation doth this, much more oughtest
thou to do so, honored with reason as thou art. But as this was not yet
enough to force their attention, he proceeds.
Ver. 23. "And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits
of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves."
That is, having had a taste of the things to come. For even if any should
be quite stone hard, he means what has been given already is enough to
raise him up, and draw him off from things present, and to wing him after
things to come in two ways, both by the greatness of the things that are
given, and by the fact that, great and numerous as they are, they are but
first-fruits. For if the first-fruits be so great that we are thereby freed
even from our sins, and attain to righteousness and sanctification, and
that those of that time both drave out devils, and raised the dead by their
shadow (Acts v. 15), or garments (ib. xix. 12), consider how great the
whole must be. And if the creation, devoid as it is of mind and reason,
and though in ignorance of these things, yet groaneth, much more should
we. Next, that he may give the heretics no handle, or seem to be disparaging
our present world, we groan, he says, not as finding fault with the present
system, but through a desire of those greater things. And this he shows
in the words, "Waiting for the adoption." What dost thou say, let me hear?
Thou didst insist on it at every turn, and didst cry aloud, that we were
already made sons, and now dost thou place this good thing among hopes,
writing that we must needs wait for it? Now it is to set this right by
the sequel that he says, "to wit, the redemption of our body." That is,
the perfect glory. Our lot indeed is at present uncertainty to our last
breath, since many of us that were sons have become dogs and prisoners.
But if we decease with a good hope, then is the gift unmovable, and clearer,
and greater, having no longer any change to fear from death and sin. Then
therefore will the grace be secure, when our body shall be freed from death
and its countless ailments (or passions). For this is full redemption (apolutrwsij),
not a redemption only, but such, that we shall never again return to our
former captivity. For that thou mayest not be perplexed at hearing so much
of glory without getting any distinct knowledge of it, he partially exposes
to thy view the things to come, setting before thee the change of thy body
(Gr. changing thy body), and along with it the change of the whole creation.
And this he has put in a clearer light in another passage, where he says,
"Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His
glorious Body." (Phil. iii. 21.) And in another place again he writes and
says, "But when this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be
brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."
(1 Cor. xv. 54.) But to show, that with the corruption of the body the
constitution of the things of this life will also come to an end, he wrote
again elsewhere, "For the fashion of this world passeth away." (1 Cor.