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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise Against Two Letters of the...: Chapter 13

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 13 [VIII.]—The Fifth Calumny,—That It is Said that Paul and the Rest of the Apostles Were Polluted by Lust.

He says, “They say that even the Apostle Paul, even all the apostles, were always polluted by immoderate lust.” What man, however profane he may be, would dare to say this? But doubtless this man thus misrepresents because they contend that what the apostle said, “I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing, for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not,” 2556 and other such things, he said not of himself, but that he introduced the person of somebody else, I know not who, who was suffering these things. Wherefore that passage in his epistle must be carefully considered and investigated, that their error may not lurk in any obscurity of his. Although, therefore, the apostle is here arguing broadly, and with great and lasting conflict maintaining grace against those who were boasting in the law, yet we do come upon a few matters which pertain to the matter in hand. On which subject he says: “Because by the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight. For by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God by the faith of Jesus Christ unto all them that believe. For there is no difference. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” 2557 And again: “Where is boasting? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No; but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law.” 2558 And again: “For the promise that he should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but by the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect. Because the law worketh wrath, for where no law is, there is no transgression.” 2559 And in another place: “Moreover, the law entered that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded grace did much more abound.” 2560 In still another place: “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under law, but under grace.” 2561 And again in another place: “Know ye not, brethren (for I speak to them that know the law), that the law hath dominion over a man so long as he liveth? For the woman which is under a husband is joined to her husband by the law so long as he liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is freed from the law of her husband.” 2562 And a little after: “Therefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should belong to another, who has risen from the dead that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh the passions of sins which are by the law did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death, but now we are delivered from the law of death in which we were held, so that we may serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” 2563 With these and such like testimonies that teacher of the Gentiles showed with sufficient evidence that the law could not take away sin, but rather increased it, and that grace takes it away; since the law knew how to command, to which command weakness gives way, while grace knows to assist, whereby love is infused. 2564 And lest any one, on account of these testimonies, should reproach the law, and contend that it is evil, the apostle, seeing what might occur to those who ill understand it, himself proposed to himself the same question. “What shall we say, then?” said he. “Is the law sin? Far from it. But I did not know sin except by the law.” 2565 He had p. 382 already said before, “For by the law is the knowledge of sin.” It is not, therefore, the taking away, but the knowledge of sin.



Rom. vii. 18.


Rom. iii. 20.


Rom. iii. 27.


Rom. iv. 13, etc.


Rom. v. 20.


Rom. vi. 14.


Rom. 7:1, 2.


Rom. vii. 4 ff.


On the Spirit and the Letter, 6.


Rom. vii. 7.

Next: Chapter 14

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