Home‎ > ‎Romans‎ > ‎St. Thomas Aquinas on Romans‎ > ‎Chapter 1‎ > ‎Chapter 2‎ > ‎Chapter 3‎ > ‎Chapter 4‎ > ‎Chapter 5‎ > ‎Chapter 6‎ > ‎Chapter 7‎ > ‎Chapter 8‎ > ‎Chapter 9‎ > ‎Chapter 10‎ > ‎Chapter 11‎ > ‎Chapter 12‎ > ‎

Chapter 13

> ‎Chapter 14‎ > ‎Chapter 15‎ > ‎Chapter 16‎ > 
(1) [n. 1016] Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (2) [n. 1025] Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur condemnation. (3) [n. 1029] For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, (4) [n. 1034] for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer. (5) [n. 1036] Therefore one must be subject, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. (6) [n. 1037] For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. (7) [n. 1042] Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, fear to whom fear is due, honor to whom honor is due. ___________________________________________________________________________________ 1016. After showing how man should behave toward God by using the gifts of His grace [n. 953], the Apostle now shows how man could comport himself toward his neighbor. 503 First, in regard to superiors; secondly, toward all [v. 8; n. 1044]. In regard to the first he does two things: first, he urges men to the subjection owed to superiors; secondly, to show the sign of subjection [v. 6; n. 1037]. In regard to the first he does three things: first, he proposes his teaching; secondly, he assigns a reason [v. 1b; n. 1020]; thirdly, he draws the conclusion [v. 5; n. 1036]. 1017. In regard to the first it should be noted that in the early Church some believers said that they should not be subject to earthly powers on account of the freedom they received from Christ, since it says in Jn (8:36): If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed." But the freedom granted by Christ is a freedom of the spirit, by which we are set free of sin and death, as was said above (8:2): "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death." The flesh, however, remains subject to slavery, as was stated above (7:14). Therefore, the time when a man freed by Christ will not be liable to any subjection, either spiritual or carnal, will be "when Christ delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power" (I Cor 15:24). In the meantime, as long as we live in the flesh, we are subject to temporal rulers; hence it says in Eph (6:5): "Servants, obey your masters in the flesh." And that is what the Apostle says here: Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. 504 What he calls higher powers are men established in power, to whom we owe subjection according to the order of justice: "Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme or to governors as sent by him" (I Pt 2:13). 1018. And he says indefinitely higher powers so that we may subject ourselves to them by reason of the sublimity of their office, even if they are wicked: "Be submissive to your masters, not only to the kind and gentle, cut also to the overbearing" (I Pt 2:18). 1019. The words every soul are to be taken as a synecdoche for "every man," as we find in Gen 17(:14), "That soul shall be destroyed from among his people." And he uses this figure of speech because we owe subjection to the authorities from the soul, i.e., from a pure will: "Not serving to the eye, as though pleasing men, but from the soul with a good will." 1020. Then when he says, For there is no authority, he presents the reason for this admonition: first, because subjection is honorable; secondly, because it is necessary [v. 2b; n. 1026]. In regard to the first he does two things: first, he presents two principles; secondly, he concludes from them [v. 2; n. 1025]. 1021. First, therefore, he speaks about the source of power, saying: There is no power except from God. For whatever is said in common of God and creatures, comes to creatures from God, as in the case of wisdom: "All wisdom comes from God" (Sir 1:1). But power is 505 said of God and of men: "God does not abandon the powers, since He is powerful" (Jb 35:5). Hence, it follows that all human power is from God: "The most high rules the kingdom of men, and gives it to whom he will" (Dan 4:17); "You would have no power over me, unless it had been given you from above" (Jn 19:11). 1022. But a passage in Hosea seems to be against this: "They made kings, but not through me. They set up princes, but without my knowledge" (Hos 8:4). The answer is that royal power or the power associated with any other dignity can be considered from three aspects. First, in regard to the power itself, which is from God "through whom Kings reign," as it says in Pr (8:15). Secondly, in regard to the way in which power is obtained: from this aspect, power is from God sometimes, namely, when a person obtains it rightfully, as it says in Heb (5:4): "One does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God, as Aaron was." But sometimes it is not from God but from a man’s perverse desire, which obtains power through ambition or some other unlawful manner: "Have we not by our own strength taken horns for ourselves?" (Am 6:13). Thirdly, it can be considered in regard to its use, and then it is from God sometimes, as when a person observes the precepts of divine justice in using the power granted him: "By me kings rule" (Pr 8:15). But sometimes it is not from God, as when a person uses power given to him to act against divine justice: "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and his anointed" (Ps 2:2). 1023. The question arises whether the power to sin is from God. 506 The answer is that the power by which one sins is from God. For it is the same power that is employed in sinning and in doing right: but that it is directed to good is from God; that it is directed to sin is due to a defect of the creature, inasmuch as it springs from nothingness. 1024. Secondly, he states that those that exist have been instituted by God, the reason being that God made all things through His wisdom, for it says in Ps 104 (v. 24): "In wisdom hast thou made all." But it is the function of wisdom to dispose of things in order: "She reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and she orders all things well" (Wis 8:1). Therefore, divine effects must be orderly: "Do you know the ordinances of the heavens" (Jb 38:33). But God has established a twofold order in His effects: one, whereby all things are ordained to Him: "The Lord has made everything for himself" (Pr 16:4); the other is that whereby divine effects are ordained one to another, as Dt (4:19) says of the sun and the moon and the stars, that He made them to serve all nations. 1025. Then when he says, therefore, he who, he draws the conclusion. For if the power of rulers is from God and nothing is from God without order, it follows that the order whereby the lower are subjected to the higher powers is form God. Therefore, he who acts against the order and resists the authority, resists what God has appointed: "They have not rejected you, but they have rejected me" (1 Sam 8:7); "He who rejects you rejects me" (Lk 10:16). But to resist the divine order is contrary to the good of virtue. Hence, whoever resists power in anything that pertains to the order of this power acts against virtue. 507 1026. Then when he says, those who resist, he shows that this subjection is not only virtuous but necessary. First he states his proposition; secondly, he proves it [v. 3; n. 1029]. 1027. He says, therefore: It has been sated that he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and this should be avoided as contrary to virtue. Yet there are many who have no love for virtue and who do not detest things contrary to virtue. Such persons must be compelled to avoid evil by punishments. In regard to this he says: Those who resist the divine ordinance will incur condemnation for acting against the order of authority. This can be understood in one way as referring to eternal damnation, which is incurred by those who refuse to be subject to authority in matters in which they should be subject. As an example of this, Dathan and Abiron, who resisted Moses and Aaron, were swallowed up by the earth, as it says in Num (16:20). In another way it can be understood as referring to the punishments imposed by the authorities themselves: "The dread wrath of a king is like the growling of a lion; he who provokes him to anger forfeits his life" (Pr 20:2). 1028. But against this is the fact that the apostles and martyrs seem to have resisted rulers and authorities and did not receive damnation from God as a result but rather a reward. The answer is that the Apostle is now speaking of one who resists a lower power as established by God. But the divine order requires that a lower power not be obeyed in opposition to a higher one, as a duke is not obeyed against a king. And every human 508 power is set under the divine power, so that no human power should be obeyed against God, as it says in Ac (5:29): "We must obey God rather than men." 1029. Then, when he says, For rulers, he assigns the reason for what he had said. First, he presents the reason; secondly, from this reason he draws a useful teaching [v. 3b; n. 1031]; thirdly, he shows the necessity of this teaching [v. 4b; n. 1035]. 1030. First, therefore, he says: It has been stated that those who resist authority will incur condemnation, for rulers, who are here called powers, are not a terror, i.e., a cause of terror, to good conduct, i.e., because of good conduct, but to bad, i.e., because of bad conduct. It seems that this should be understood with reference to the reason for establishing rulers. For the reason why rulers are established is in order that those who are not inclined by any love of virtue to avoid evil and do good, may do so by fear of punishment: "A king who sits on the throne of judgment winnows all evil with his eyes" (Pr 20:8). And according to this interpretation it says that rulers are not a terror to good conduct but to bad as regards what rulers do in virtue of their office, as Is 32(:8) says, "But the prince will devise such things as are worthy of a prince." This can also refer to evil rulers, who are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. For even though they sometimes unjustly persecute those who do good, the latter have no reason to fear; because if they endure it patiently, it turns out for their good: "Even if you do suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled" (I Pt 3:14). 509 From what is said here the reason can be assigned why those who resist authority incur condemnation, whether it be the punishment inflicted by rulers on those who rebel, or the damnation by which men are punished by God. For if rulers are a terror to bad conduct, it follows that those who resist their authority are acting wickedly and thus are the cause of their temporal and eternal punishment. 1031. Then when he says, Would you have no fear, he draws a useful teaching from what he had said, namely, how to avoid the terror of rulers. First, he suggests by his question that this is desirable, saying: Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? As if to say: this should appeal to a person: "As the roar of a lion, so is the terror of a king" (Pr 20:2). 1032. Secondly, he shows how to avoid this fear, saying: Do what is good. For it says in Pr (16:13): "Righteous lips are the delight of a king," and in Ps 101 (v. 6): "He who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me." 1033. Thirdly, he shows the effect of this, saying: If you do what is good, you will not only avoid evil but you will receive his approval. This is obvious when one considers the reason why authority is established. For it is established not only to keep us from evil conduct through fear of punishment but also to induce us to good conduct through rewards, as it says in I Pt (2:14): "Be subject to governors as sent by the emperor to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right." This is also true of evil rulers, whose unjust persecution ends in praise for those who endure it patiently: "We call those happy who were steadfast" (Jas 5:11). 1034. Fourthly, he assigns the reason, saying: For he is God’s minister for your good. This is clear in regard to the proper order of rulers. For they are under the 510 authority of God, the supreme ruler, as His ministers: "Because as ministers of his kingdom, you did not rule rightly" (Wis 6:4). But the ruler and the ministers work for the same end: "Like the magistrate of the people, so are his officials" (Sir 10:2). Therefore, just as God works for the good of those who do good, so also do rulers, if they perform their office properly. Furthermore, even wicked rulers are God’s ministers for inflicting punishments according to God’s plan; although this is not their intention: "Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger, the staff of my fury" (Is 10:5) "But he does not so intend" (v. 7). And also because such wicked rulers sometimes afflict good men, God permitting who profit thereby; for "we know that in everything God works for the good with those who love him" (Rom 8:28). 1035. Then when he says, But if you do wrong, he shows the necessity of this teaching. For it has been stated that if you do right, you will not fear authority; but if you do wrong, be afraid, because you have reason to fear: "Destruction to evildoers" (Pr 10:29); "Wickedness is a cowardly thing, condemned by its own testimony" (Wis 17:11). Secondly, he assigns the reason, saying: for he does not bear the sword in vain. He uses language in keeping with the practice of rulers who carried the instruments of punishment as signs of their power; for example, a bundle of rods for whipping, and axes or swords for killing: "Be afraid of the sword, for wrath brings the punishment of the sword" (Jb 19:29). Thirdly, he explains the reason, saying: He carries the sword, because he is God’s minister to execute his wrath, i.e., God’s wrath, i.e., His just judgment, on the 511 wrongdoers: "Those who do evil are an abomination to kings, for the throne is established by righteousness" (Pr 16:12). From this it is clear that it is not only lawful but meritorious for rulers to execute vengeance on the wicked, when it is done out of zeal for justice. 1036. Then when he says, therefore, one must be subject, he draws the main conclusion, saying: Therefore, i.e., for the reasons given, one must be subject to rulers of necessity, namely, because this is necessary for salvation, or be subject voluntarily to the necessity whereby the ruler’s power inclines you to do right of necessity; not only to avoid God’s wrath, which pertains to the first reason, because he who resists authority resists what God has appointed: "Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities" (*** 3:1). 1037. Then when he says, for the same reason, he urges men to show the sign of their subjection to authority: first, he mentions the sign of subjection; secondly, he urges them to render the sign of subjection [v. 7; n. 1042]. 1038. In regard to the first he does two things: first, he mentions the signs of subjection, saying: For the same reason you also pay taxes, i.e., because you are subject, you should pay taxes as a sign of that subjection. Therefore, in a complaining way it says in Lam (1:1); "She that was a princess among the cities has become a vassal." 1039. Secondly, he assigns the reason, saying; for the authorities are the minister of God, attending, on behalf of God and the people, to this very thing, i.e., to receiving tribute. 512 As if to say: Everyone should make a living from his ministry, for it says in I Cor ((:7): "Who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?" And therefore, since our rulers minister to God in governing, they should receive taxes from the people as wages for their ministry and should not look upon it as a reward. For the special reward of a ruler is praise and honor, as the Philosopher says in book five of the Ethics. When this does not satisfy him, he becomes a tyrant. But this should not be understood as referring only to human praise or honor, because such a reward would be futile, but to divine praise and honor, which is bestowed on those who rule well: "O monarchs over the people, honor wisdom, that you may reign forever" (Wis 6:21). Furthermore, they receive these taxes as sustenance, and rulers labor for the peace of all. Hence it says in 2 Tim (2:1): "I urge that supplications be made for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life"; "Pray for the life of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, that we may live under his shadow" (Bar 1:11). Clerics are free of this debt because of a privilege granted by rulers, which is in fact equitable by nature. Even among the Gentiles those who were devoted to divine things were free from taxation. For we read in Gen 47(:20-22) that Joseph subjected to Pharaoh the entire land of Egypt "except the land of the priests, which had been given them by the king, and to whom also a certain allowance of food was given out of the public stores." And further down it says in the whole land of Egypt, the fifth part of the harvests was paid except for in the land of the priests, which was free from this condition. But this is also equitable, because just as kings have care of the public good in temporal affairs, so God’s ministers in spiritual matters. And so by ministering to God in 513 spiritual matters, they are making a return to the king for his labor in procuring a peaceful life for them. 1041. But it should be noted that although he says that taxes are owed to rulers as a wage for their labors, rulers can sin in two ways by accepting taxes. First, if they do not procure the people’s welfare but are intent only on seizing their goods. Hence it says in Ez (34:si3): "You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the sheep." Secondly, if they violently take more than the law permits and more than the people can bear. Hence it says in Mic (3:1): "Hear, you heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel! Is it not you who tear the skin from my people, and their flesh from their bones?" 1042. Then when he says, Pay all, he admonishes them to render the above-mentioned sign of subjection. First, in general, saying: Inasmuch as taxes are owed to rulers, as to God’s ministers, pay all of them their dues. From this it is clear that justice requires subjects to render rulers their due: "To the king was brought one who owed him ten thousand talents" (Mt 18:24); "Render, therefore, to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s" (Mt 22:21). Secondly, he specifies debts that are paid publicly, saying: taxes to whom taxes are due, for these are paid to the ruler that he might govern the country in peace and quiet: "He saw that a resting place was good, and that the land was pleasant" (Gen 49:15). Revenue to whom revenue is due. This is paid to the ruler in certain places as 514 tolls, for the repair of roads and for safe travel. Or they are the expenses incurred, when the ruler travels through his country. Secondly, he sets out those things which should be rendered interiorly. Here it should be noted that a ruler is owed fear and honor: fear, because he is lord and uses his power to prevent evil men from doing evil: "If I am the Lord, where is my fear?" (Mal 1:6). Hence he says: fear to whom fear is due: "My son, fear the Lord and the king" (Pr 24:21). But inasmuch as the ruler is like a father providing benefits, he deserves praise and honor: "If I am a father, where is my honor?" (Mal 1:6). Therefore, he adds: honor to whom honor is due: "Honor the king (I Pt 2:17). The opposite view is expressed in Lev (19:5): "You shall not defer to the powerful." But this should be interpreted as forbidding a person to deviate from justice to benefit the powerful. Hence it continues: "but in justice shall you judge your neighbor."

(8) [n. 1044] Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. (9) [n. 1050] The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (10) [n. 1058] Love does no wrong; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.


1044. Having shown how believers should observe justice toward superiors [n. 1016], the Apostle now shows how they should behave toward everyone generally. In regard to this he does two things: first, he states his intention; secondly, he gives a reason [v. 8b; n. 1048]. 1045. First, therefore, he says: It has been stated that you must pay your debts to all, not in part but entirely. And that is what he says: Owe no one anything. As if to say: you should pay all you owe to everyone so completely, one anything. As if to say: you should pay all you owe to everyone so completely, that nothing still owing remains. And this for two reasons: first, because sin is committed in delaying to pay, as long as a person unjustly holds back what belongs to another. Hence it says in Lev (19:13): "The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning." And the same is true of other debts. Secondly, because as long as a person owes, he is in a certain sense a slave and is obligated to the one to who he owes: "The borrower is the slave of the lender" (Pr 22:7). 1046. But there are some debts from which a man can never absolve himself. This happens in two ways: in one way on account of the excellence of the benefit for which equal payment cannot be made, as the Philosopher says of honor owed to God or parents, as it says in Ps 116 (v. 12): "What shall I render to the Lord for all his bounty to me?" In another way on account of the debt’s cause, which always remains; or even because what is paid is never terminated but always increases as one pays. 516 1047. For these reasons the debt of fraternal love is paid in such a way that it is always owing. First, because we owe love to our neighbor on account of God, Whom we can never recompense sufficiently. For it says in I Jn (4:2): "This commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also." Secondly, because the cause of love always remains, namely, being alike in nature and in grace: "Every animal loves its like, and every person his neighbor" (Sir 13:15). Thirdly, the cause love does not diminish but grows by loving: "It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more" (Phil 1:9). Therefore, he says: except to love one another, because the debt of love is paid once in such a way that it always remains under the debt of a precept: "This is my commandment, that you love one another" (Jn 15:12). 1048. Then when he says, He who loves his neighbor, he assigns the reason for the statement that we are never released from the debt of love, namely, because the whole fulfillment of the Law consists in love. Hence he does three things in regard to this: first, he states his proposition; secondly, he clarifies it [v. 9; n. 1050]; thirdly, he draws the conclusion intended [v. 10b; n. 1059]. 1049. First, therefore, he says: The reason why we cannot expect to free ourselves from the debut of love, as we do from other debts is that he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law, i.e., the whole fulfillment of the Law depends on love of neighbor. 517 But this does not seem to be true. For it says in I Tim (1:5): "The end of the precept is love." For a thing is made perfect when it attains its end; therefore, the whole perfection of the Law consists in love. But love as two acts, namely, the love of God and the love of neighbor; hence the Lord says in Mt (22:40) that the whole law and the prophets depend on the two precepts of love: one of which is concerned with the love of God and the other with the love of neighbor. Therefore, it does not seem that one who loves his neighbor fulfills the whole Law. The answer is that love of neighbor pertains to love and fulfills the Law, when it is a love by which the neighbor is loved for God. So the love of God is included in the love of neighbor, just as the cause is included in its effect. For it says in I Jn (4:21): "this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also." Conversely, love of neighbor is included in love of God, as the effect in its cause; hence it says in the same place: "If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar." That is why in Sacred Scripture sometimes mention is made only of the love of God, as though it is enough for salvation, as in Dt (10:12): "And now, Israel, what does the Lord you God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him"; and sometimes mention is made of love of neighbor: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 15:12). 1050. Then when he says, the commandments, he proves his proposition: first, by induction; secondly, by use of a middle term in a syllogism [v. 10; n. 1058]. 518 1051. In regard to the first he proceeds inductively by enumerating certain precepts which fulfill the love of neighbor. And because the three precepts of the first tablet are more directly ordained to the love of God, he does not mention them; although they, too, are fulfilled in the love of neighbor, insofar as the love of God is included in the love of neighbor. But he enumerates the commands of the second tablet, omitting only the affirmative precept about honor to parents. By this it is understood that we should pay to all whatever we owe. 1052. He lists the negative precepts, which forbid a person to do evil to his neighbor. And this for two reasons. First, because the negative precepts are more universal both as to time and as to persons. As to time, because the negative precepts oblige always and at every moment. For there is no time when one may steal or commit adultery. Affirmative precepts, on the other hand, oblige always but not at every moment, but at certain times and places: for a man is not obliged to honor his parents every minute of the day, but at certain times and places. Negative precepts are more universal as to persons, because no man may be harmed. Secondly, because they are more obviously observed by love of neighbor than are the affirmative. For a person who loves another, rather refrains from harming him than gives him benefits, which he is sometimes unable to give. 1053. But a person does injury to his neighbor in three ways: by action, by word and by desire. 519 He does injury by action in three ways: first, against the neighbor’s person, and this is forbidden when he says: You shall not kill. This also forbids any injury against the neighbor’s person: "No murderer has eternal life abiding in him" I Jn (3:15). Secondly, against a person’s wife; and this is forbidden when he says: You hall not commit adultery. This also forbids fornication and any unlawful use of the genital organs: "God will judge fornicators and adulterers" (Heb 13:4). Thirdly, against one’s external goods, and this is forbidden when he says: You shall not steal. This also forbids any unjust taking of what belongs to another, either by force or by deceit: "Everyone who steals will be judged" (Zech 5:3). 1054. Injury committed by word against one’s neighbor is forbidden when he says: You shall not bear false witness. This is forbidden not only in court cases but also outside, whether in the form of detraction or of insults: "The false witness will not go unpunished, and one who speaks lies will not escape (Pr 19:5). Injury committed only by desire against one’s neighbor is forbidden when he says: You shall not covet your neighbor’s good; and this also forbids coveting another’s wife: "For I would not have known covetousness" to be a sin, "if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’" (Rom 7:7). 1055. Having listed a number of precepts, he combines all others in one general precept, saying: and any other commandment, affirmative or negative, referring to God or to neighbor, is summed up, i.e., fulfilled, in this sentence: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 1056. When he says, your neighbor, the reference is to all men and also the good angels, as Augustine says. For a neighbor is anyone who shows mercy to another, as it 520 says in Lk (10:36): "Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the men who fell among robbers? He said: ‘The one who showed mercy on him.’" And because a neighbor is neighbor to a neighbor, the consequence is that even a person shown mercy by another is said to be his neighbor. But the good angels show mercy to us; and we should show mercy to all men and receive it from them, when necessary. Hence it is clear that the good angels and all men are our neighbors, because the happiness toward which we are tending is already theirs, or they are tending toward it with us. From this reason it is clear that devils are not our neighbors and that we are not commanded to love them, because they are entirely excluded from the love of God and are not included in the list of neighbors but of enemies. 1057. The phrase, as yourself, does not refer to equality of love, as though a person were bound to love his neighbor as much as himself. For this would be against the ordering of charity, by which a person is obliged to take more care of his own salvation than that of others: "He put love in order in me" (S of S 2:4). It refers, rather to a similarity of love, namely, that we should love our neighbor similarly as ourselves. And this in three ways: first, as to the end of love, namely, that we love ourselves and our neighbor for the sake of God. Secondly, as to the form of love, namely, just as a person loves himself as willing good for himself, so he should love his neighbor by willing good things for him. But one who loves his neighbor in order to acquire some utility or love from him does not will good for his neighbor but wants to obtain a good for himself from his neighbor. This is the way a man is said to love irrational creatures, such as wine or a horse, namely, to use them. Thirdly, as to the effect of love, namely, that he 521 relieve the need of his neighbor, as he relieves his own; and that he do nothing unlawful out of love for his neighbor any more than he does out of love for himself. 1058. Then when he says, Love does not wrong to a neighbor, he clarifies his proposistion with the following syllogism: One who loves his neighbor does no evil to him. But the aim of every precept of the Law is abstention from evil. Therefore, one who loves his neighbor fulfills the Law. That love of neighbor does no evil is gathered from I Cor (13:4): "Love does not work injury." No matter how evil is taken here, whether for evil acts or omissions, it could refer not only to negative precepts but also to affirmative. But inasmuch as love of neighbor includes love of God, it is understood that love of neighbor excludes evil both against one’s neighbor and against God. Thus, even the precepts of the first tablet are included. 1059. Finally, he draws the conclusion mainly intended, saying: Therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law, i.e., the Law is fulfilled and made perfect by love; (Si 14:16), "Above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony" (Col 3:14).


(11) [n. 1060] Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; (12) [n. 1066] the night is far gone, the day is at hand. [n. 1070] Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light;
522 (13) [n. 1073] let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, [n. 1074] not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. (14) [n. 1079] But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

1060. After showing how man should behave in a pious manner toward God by using His gifts properly and paying his neighbor the debts owed him, the Apostle now shows how he should act with probity in regard to himself. With respect to this he does two things: first, he proposes the suitability of the time; secondly, he exhorts them to virtuous works [v. 12b; n. 1070]. In regard to the first he does three things: first, he mentions the suitability of the time; secondly, he assigns the reason [v. 11b; n. 1063]; thirdly, he employs a figure of speech [v. 12; n. 1066]. 1061. First, therefore he says: We have stated what you should do. And you should do it not only for the reasons already given, but also because you know what hour it is, i.e., you ought to consider the nature of the present here, because as it says in Ec (8:6): "Every matter has its time and way"; "Even the stork in the heavens knows her times; and the turtledove, swallow and crane keep the time of their coming; but my people know not the ordinance of the Lord" (Jer 8:70). 523 1062. He shows what the time is suitable for, when he says: it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. This is not a reference to the sleep of nature, sometimes called death, as in I Th (4:13): "We would not have you ignorant concerning those who are asleep" and sometimes the repose of the animal powers, as in Jn (11:12): "If he is asleep, he will recover." Nor is it a reference to the sleep of grace, sometimes called the repose of eternal glory, as in Ps 4 (v. 9): "In peace I will lie down and sleep" and sometimes the rest of contemplation even in this life: "I slept, but my heart was awake" (Song 5:3). But it is a reference to the sleep of guilt, as in Eph (5:14): "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead," or to the sleep of negligence, as in Pr (6:9): "How long will you lie there, O sluggard?" Therefore, it is full time now to wake from the sleep of guilt by doing penance: "Awake after you have rested" (Ps 127:2) and from the sleep of negligence by taking care to act properly: "Arise, O princes, oil the shield!" (Is 21:5); "Let not the hour for rising sadden you." (Sir 32:15). 1063. Then when he says, For salvation, he assigns the reason for what he had said, saying: For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The Apostle is referring to the salvation of eternal life about which it is said: "My salvation will be for ever" (Is 51:8). Man is ordained to this salvation, fist of all, by faith: "He that believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mk 16:16). But man gets closer and closer to it by good works and increased love: "Draw near to God and he will draw near to you" (Jas 4:8). This, therefore, is what the Apostle says: It is full time now for you to rise from sleep, for now, when we have made progress by good works and increased love, our 524 salvation, namely of eternal life, is nearer than when we first believed, i.e., than when we originally received the faith. 1064. This nearness can be understood in two ways. First, in regard to time, by which holy men, as they make progress in good works, draw closer to the end of this life, after which they receive their reward. The other is the nearness of preparation, because by increased love and good works performed, a man is prepared for that salvation: "Those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast" (Mt 25:10). 1065. But inasmuch as the Church reads these words during Advent, they seemed to refer to the salvation which Christ worked during His first coming. Accordingly, we can understand the Apostle speaking in place of all believers since the beginning of the world. For as the time of Christ’s incarnation drew near, and the predictions of the prophets grew in number, it could be said: "Our salvation," namely, Christ "is nearer now than when we believed," i.e., when men in the very beginning stated to believe in the future coming of Christ: "Soon my salvation will come and my deliverance be revealed" (Is 56:11). They can also be taken to refer to the time of mercy, when one begins willing to depart from past sins. For at that time he is closer to his salvation than previously, when he had a dead faith: "Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you" (Jas 4:7). 1066. Then when he says, the night is far gone, he uses a figure of speech to clarify his proposition. The import is that the entire time of the present life is compared to night on account of the darkness of ignorance with which the present life is 525 encumbered. "We are swallowed up in darkness" (Jb 33:4). Isaiah says of this night: "My soul yearns for thee in the night" (26:9). But the state of future happiness is compared to day on account of God’s splendor with which the saints are enlightened: "the sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you by night, but he Lord will be your everlasting light" (Is 60:19). This day is referred to in Ps 118 (v. 24): "This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." 1067. It can also be understood that the state of guilt is being compared to night on account of the darkness of guilt. About this darkness Ps 82 (v. 5) says: "They have neither knowledge nor understanding; they walk about in darkness." About this night Wis (17:21) says: "Over those men alone heavy night was spread, an image of the darkness that was destined to receive them." But day is called the state of grace on account of the light of spiritual understanding which the righteous have, but the wicked lack: "Light dawns for the righteous" (Ps 97:11); "The light of righteousness did not shine on us" (Wis 5:6). 1068. Or it can be understood that the time before Christ’s incarnation is being compared to night, because it was not yet clear but wrapped in darkness: "We have the prophetic word made more sure. You will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place" (2 Pt 1:19). About this night it says in Is (21:11): "Watchman, what of the night?" Hence, just as shadows appear at night, so during that time the practices of the Law were in vogue, but "these were only a shadow of what is to come" (Col 2:17). 526 But the time after Christ’s incarnation is compared to day on account of the power of the spiritual sun in the world: "But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall shine" (Mal 4:2). Hence the Lord says: "I must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day" (Jn 9:4); then he adds: "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." 1069. The saying, the night is far gone, can be taken for any of the three nights mentioned. For a large part of the life span of those to whom he was writing was already far gone; the night of guilt had passed, as had the period of the Law before Christ. But it seems that the saying, the day is at hand, must be understood as referring to the day of future glory, which was at hand for the believers in Christ to whom he was writing, although it had not yet arrived for them. In keeping with the foregoing explanation, the time of Christ’s grace, although it had already arrived as regards the passage of time, is nonetheless described as drawing near through faith and devotion; just as it also says in Phil (4:5): "The Lord is near," and in Ps 145 (v. 18): "The Lord is near to all who call upon him." It can also apply to those who begin to repent of their sins; for such persons the day of grace is at hand. 1070. Then when he says, Let us then cast off, he concludes the exhortation to an honorable life. First he gives the exhortation; secondly, he clarifies it [v. 13b; n. 1074]. In regard to an honorable life he touches on three things. 527 1071. First, the removal of vices, as he concludes: If the night is gone, let us cast off the works of darkness, because, as it says in Ec (8:6): "Every matter has its time and way." Hence, when the night is gone, the deeds of the night should cease. Here the works of sin are called works of darkness: first, because in themselves they lack the light of reason with which man’s works should be illumined: "The wise man has eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness" (Ec 2:14); secondly, they are performed in the dark: "The eye of the adulterer waits for the twilight" (Jb 24:15); thirdly, because by them a person is brought to darkness: "Cast them into the darkness outside" (Mt 22:13). 1072. Secondly, he summons them to put on the virtues. As if to say: Since the day is at hand, be dressed as suits the day and put on the armor of light, i.e., the virtues, which are called armor because they protect us: "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph 6:11). They are called the armor of light, because they are decorated and perfected by the light of reason; hence it says in Pr (4:18): "The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn"’; and because they are tested by light: "He who does what is true comes to the light" (Jn 3:2); and because others are enlightened by virtuous acts: "So let your light shine before men" (Mt 5:16). 1073. Thirdly, he urges them to use the virtues and make progress when he says: Let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day. For these two things seem suited to the day: first, becoming conduct, for in the day everyone tries to present himself becomingly before others. But not so in the night. Hence, it says in I Th (5:7): "For those who sleep sleep at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we 528 belong to the day, let us be sober"’ hence it says in I Cor (14:40): "Let all things be done decently and in order." Secondly, man walks in the day not at night; hence it says in Jn (11:10): "If anyone walks in the night, he stumbles." Therefore, because it is day, we should walk, i.e., advance from good to better: "Walk while you have the light" (Jn 12:35). 1074. Then when he says, not in reveling, he explains what he had said. First, he explains how the works of darkness are to be cast off. These are sinful works, some of which he mentions. First, he mentions those which pertain to the corruption of the concupiscible appetite, whose corruption is intemperance in regard to pleasures of touch and to food. First, therefore, he excludes intemperate use of food when he says: not in reveling: "Be not among wine bibbers or among gluttonous eaters of meat" (Pr 23:20). This, of course, can be a mortal sin from the fact hat according to the Law one is condemned to death for this sin. For it is said of a stubborn son: "This our son is stubborn and rebellious: he is a glutton and drunkard. Then they shall stone him to death with stones" (Dt 21:22). One is said to pass the time in reveling, not if he eats with the magnificence that accords with his state, as King Ahasuerus commanded a splendid banquet to be prepared in honor of Esther, when she was made queen (Est 2:18), but when he does this beyond the limits of his state, and especially if his main interest centers on this, as those about whom it is said: "Such persons do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly" (Rom 16:18); "Their god is their belly" (Phil 3:19). 529 1075. Secondly, he excludes intemperance in drink, when he adds: and drunkenness, which refers to excessive drinking, which places a man outside the bounds of reason: "Wine created to make men glad, not drunk" (Sir 31:27). It should be noted that drunkenness is a mortal sin ex suo genere, namely when a person gets drunk on purpose, because he seems to prefer the pleasure of wine to the full use of reason. Hence it says in Is (5:22): "Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink." But if one gets drunk unintentionally, for example, because he was not aware of the strength of the wine or because he did not suspect he would get drunk on such wine, it is not a mortal sin, because he did not get drunk on purpose but accidentally. However, this cannot happen with persons who get drunk frequently. Hence, Augustine says that drunkenness is a mortal sin, if it is a frequent occurrence. 1076. Thirdly, he excludes intemperance in regard to bodily rest when he says: not in debauchery [literally: not in beds], i.e., not in excessive sleep, which he fittingly forbids after reveling and drunkenness, because it follows from them. Furthermore, there can be mortal sin in this, when for the sake of bodily rest and sleep, a person neglects what he ought to do and is inclined to commit evil deeds: "Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil upon their beds!" (Mic 2:1). The Apostle’s words can also refer to the trappings of lust. Hence the harlot is quoted as saying: "I have perfumed by bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon" (Pr 7:17). 1077. Therefore, fourthly, he fittingly excludes intemperance in regard to sex when he says: and licentiousness, i.e., venereal actions which are called shameful, because they do not avoid what is especially shameful and worthy of confusion: both 530 36 See Aristotle’s Ethics, book 2, chapter 8. because all pleasures of touch, gluttony and lust are common to us and brutes, so that one who pursues them inordinately becomes bestial; and because it is especially in venereal acts that man’s reason is totally absorbed by pleasure to such an extent that he cannot understand, as the Philosopher says in the Ethics.36 Hence it says in Hos(4:11): "Harlotry and drunkenness and wine take away the understanding"; "They did not repent over their licentiousness and fornication and uncleanness" (Rev 9:21). 1078. Then he excludes those sins which pertain to the corruption of the irascible appetite when he says: not in contentions. Contention, as Ambrose says, is an attack on the truth, performed with confident shouting. It is also possible that these words forbid all quarreling, not only in words but also in deeds, which very frequently begin with words: "It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife" (Pr 20:3). Contention generally arises from envy; therefore he adds: and jealousy. Hence it says in Jas (3:16): "Where jealousy and selfish ambitions exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 1079. Secondly, he explains how we should put on the armor of light, saying: But put on the Lord Jesus Christ in Whom all the virtues were present most abundantly according to Is (4:1): "Seven women shall take hold of one man." We put on Jesus Christ, first, by receiving the sacrament: "All you who have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ" (Gal 3:27). Secondly, by imitation. For a person who imitates Christ is said to put on Christ, because, just as a man is covered by a garment and is seen under its color, so in one who imitates Christ the works of Christ appear. Therefore, we put on the armor of light, when we put on Christ. 531 1080. Thirdly, he explains what it is to walk becomingly as in the day when he says: make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires. For the beauty of becoming conduct lies in the fact that man does not prefer the flesh to the spirit but the spirit to the flesh: "We are not debtors to the flesh that we should live according to the flesh" (Rom 8:12).

It should be noted that he does not say "Make no provision for the flesh" absolutely, because everyone is bound to take care of the body in order to sustain nature: "No one hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it" (Eph 5:29); but he adds,
to gratify its desires, so that we do not follow the disorderly desires of the flesh: "Walk by the Spirit and do not gratify the desires of the flesh" (Gal 5:16).

Subpages (1): Chapter 14