Category Archives: st thomas aquinas on the first epistle to the corinthians

st thomas aquinas on the first epistle to the corinthians — prologue

let us turn, therefore, to the text

secrets are sacraments, for aquinas, while sacraments refer specifically to the seven sacraments (baptism, confirmation, eucharist, penance, extreme unction, orders and matrimony).  the reason then for this commentary is to “la[y] bare” these sacraments/secrets “to Christ’s faithful by their teachers and prelates”.   aquinas then enumerates three reason behind the need to de-conceal these sacraments/secrets, the third reason being a quotation of st paul: “‘To me, though I am the very least of the saints, this grace was given, to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God’ (Eph 3:8)”.

within the prologue, this revealing of the sacraments/secrets of god seems to come from two different positions: for aquinas, the revealing comes from within a hierarchical institutional structure, from teachers and prelates; for paul, the revealing comes up from the bottom, from “the very least of the saints”.

if paul already was given grace to make everyone see the mysteries of god, why this commentary (not to mention the mountains of commentaries written on the pauline letters throughout the last two thousand years)?  of course, only a fraction of paul’s writings remain today, and those are only accessible to most of us through various translations.  so there’s a language problem with the de-concealing with which paul was employed.  but still, i have to wonder if all these commentaries, the institution of not only the catholic church, but all other christian churches, the fact that many of the letters attributed to paul were decidedly not written by paul and so on are the very things keeping me today from easily seeing those sacraments/secrets.  but also i wonder: what if these mountains of writings on paul and the way paul has been appropriated by these different institutions also provide traces back to those mysteries paul, with his given grace, was able to simply reveal?

either way, i should take the advice of aquinas and turn to the actual texts of paul (if even only in translation).