Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Life and Works of Rufinus with Jerome's Apology Against Rufinus.: As to “Paul the prisoner of Jesus Christ.”
25. The fourth ground of his censure is in the beginning of my Second Book, in which I expounded the statement which St. Paul makes “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles.” The passage in itself is perfectly plain; and I give, therefore, only that part of the comment on it which lends itself to malevolent remark:
“The words which describe Paul as the prisoner of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles may be understood of his martyrdom, since it was when he was p. 496 thrown into chains at Rome that he wrote this Epistle, at the same time with those to Philemon and the Colossians and the Philippians, as we have formerly shewn. Certainly we might adopt another sense, namely, that, since we find this body in several places called the chain of the soul, in which it is held as in a close prison, Paul may speak of himself as confined in the chains of the body, and so that he could not return and be with Christ; and that thus he might perfectly fulfil his office of preaching to the Gentiles. Some commentators, however, introduce another idea, namely, that Paul, having been predestinated and consecrated from his mothers womb, and before he was born, to be a preacher to the Gentiles, afterwards took on the chains of the flesh.”
Here also, as before, I gave a three fold exposition of the passage: in the first my own view, in the second the one supported by Origen, and the third the opinion of Apollinarius going contrary to his doctrine. Read over the Greek commentaries. If you do not find the fact to be as I state it, I will confess that I was wrong. What is my fault in this passage? The same, I presume, as that to which I made answer before, namely, that I did not name those whose views I quoted. But it was needless at each separate statement of the Apostle to give the names of the writers whose works I had declared in the Preface that I meant to translate. Besides, it is not an absurd way of understanding the passage, to say that the soul is bound in the body until Christ returns and, in the glory of the resurrection, changes our corruptible and mortal body for incorruption and immortality: for it is in this sense that the Apostle uses the expression, “O wretched man that I am; who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” calling it the body of death because it is subject to vices and diseases, to disorders and to death; until it rises with Christ in glory, and, having been nothing but fragile clay before, becomes baked by the heat of the holy Spirit into a jar of solid consistency, thus changing its grade of glory, though not its nature.
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