18. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
18. Quid enim? Caeterum quovis modo, sive per occasionem, sive per veritatem, Christus annuntiatur: atque in hoc gaudeo, quin etiam gaudebo.
19. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
19. Novi enim quod hoc mihi cedet in salutem per vestram precationem, et subministrationem Spiritus Iesu Christi,
20. According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
20. Secundum expectationem et spem meam, quod in nullo re pudefiam, sed cum omni fiducia, quemadmodum semper, ita et nunc magnificabitur Christus in corpore meo, sive per vitam, sive per mortem.
21. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
21. Mihi enim vivendo Christus est, et moriendo lucrum.
18. But in every way. As the wicked disposition of those of whom he has spoken might detract from the acceptableness of the doctrine, 1 he says that this ought to be reckoned of great importance, that they nevertheless promoted the cause of the gospel, whatever their disposition might be. For God sometimes accomplishes an admirable work by means of wicked and depraved instruments. Accordingly, he says that he rejoices in a happy result of this nature; because this one thing contented him -- if he saw the kingdom of Christ increasing -- just as we, on hearing that that impure dog Carolus 2 was scattering the seeds of pure doctrine at Avignon and elsewhere, we gave thanks to God because he had made use of that most profligate and worthless villain for his glory: and at this day we rejoice that the progress of the gospel is advanced by many who, nevertheless, had another design in view. But though Paul rejoiced in the advancement of the gospel, yet, had the matter been in his hand, he would never have ordained such persons as ministers. We ought, therefore, to rejoice if God accomplishes anything that is good by means of wicked persons; but they ought not on that account to be either placed by us in the ministry, or looked upon as Christ's lawful ministers.
19. For I know that. As some published the gospel with the view of rendering Paul odious, in order that they might kindle up against him the more the rage of his enemies, he tells them beforehand that their wicked attempts will do him no harm, because the Lord will turn them to a contrary design. "Though they plot my destruction, yet I trust that all their attempts will have no other effect but that Christ will be glorified in me -- which is a thing most salutary to me." For it is evident from what follows, that he is not speaking of the safety of the body. But whence this confidence on the part of Paul? It is from what he teaches elsewhere, (Romans 8:28,) -- that all things contribute to the advantage of God's true worshippers, even though the whole world, with the devil, its prince, should conspire together for their ruin.
Through your prayer. That he may stir them up to pray more ardently, he declares that he is confident that the Lord will give them an answer to their prayers. Nor does he use dissimulation: for he who depends for help on the prayers of the saints relies on the promise of God. In the mean time, nothing is detracted from the unmerited goodness of God, on which depend our prayers, and what is obtained by means of them.
And the supply. Let us not suppose, that because he joins these two things in one connection, they are consequently alike. The statement must, therefore, be explained in this manner: -- "I know that all this will turn out to my advantage, through the administration of the Spirit, you also helping by prayer,"-- so that the supply of the Spirit is the efficient cause, while prayer is a subordinate help. We must also observe the propriety of the Greek term, for ejpicorhgi>a is employed to mean the furnishing of what is wanting, 3 just as the Spirit of God pours into us everything of which we are destitute.
He calls him, too, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, to intimate, that if we are Christians, he is common to all of us, inasmuch as he was poured upon him with all fullness, that, according to the measure of his grace, he might give out, so far as is expedient, to each of his members.
20. According to my expectation. Should any one object, "From what do you derive that knowledge?"he answers, "From hope."For as it is certain that God does not by any means design to frustrate our hope, hope itself ought not to be wavering. Let then the pious reader carefully observe this adverb secundum, (according to,) that he may be fully assured in his own mind, that it is impossible but that the Lord will fulfill our expectation, inasmuch as it is founded on his own word. Now, he has promised that he will never be wanting to us even in the midst of all tortures, if we are at any time called to make confession of his name. Let, therefore, all the pious entertain hope after Paul's example, and they will not be put to shame.
With all confidence. We see that, in cherishing hope, he does not give indulgence to carnal desires, but places his hope in subjection to the promise of God. "Christ,"says he, "will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death."By making express mention, however, of the body, he intimates that, amongst the conflicts of the present life, he is in no degree doubtful as to the issue, for we are assured as to this by God. If, accordingly, giving ourselves up to the good pleasure of God, and having in our life the same object in view as Paul had, we expect, in whatever way it may be, a prosperous issue, we shall no longer have occasion to fear lest any adversity should befall us; for if we live and die to him, we are his in life and in death. (Romans 14:8.) He expresses the way in which Christ will be magnified -- by full assurance. Hence it follows, that through our fault he is cast down and lowered, so far as it is in our power to do so, when we give way through fear. Do not those then feel ashamed who reckon it a light offense to tremble, 4 when called to make confession of the truth? But how much ashamed ought those to feel, who are so shamelessly impudent as to have the hardihood even to excuse renunciation?
He adds, as always, that they may confirm their faith from past experience of the grace of God. Thus, in Romans 5:4, he says, Experience begets hope.
21. For to me to live. Interpreters have hitherto, in my opinion, given a wrong rendering and exposition to this passage; for they make this distinction, that Christ was life to Paul, and death was gain. I, on the other hand, make Christ the subject of discourse in both clauses, so that he is declared to be gain in him both in life and in death; for it is customary with the Greeks to leave the word pro>v to be understood. Besides that this meaning is less forced, it also corresponds better with the foregoing statement, and contains more complete doctrine. He declares that it is indifferent to him, and is all one, whether he lives or dies, because, having Christ, he reckons both to be gain. And assuredly it is Christ alone that makes us happy both in death and in life; otherwise, if death is miserable, life is in no degree happier; so that it is difficult to determine whether it is more advantageous to live or to die out of Christ. On the other hand, let Christ be with us, and he will bless our life as well as our death, so that both will be happy and desirable for us.