THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS Commentary by A. R. Faussett
The Authenticity of this Epistle is attested by Clement of Rome [First Epistle to the Corinthians, 47], Polycarp [Epistle to the Philippians, 11], and Irenæus [Against Heresies, 4.27.3]. The city to which it was sent was famed for its wealth and commerce, which were chiefly due to its situation between the Ionian and Ægean Seas on the isthmus connecting the Peloponese with Greece. In Paul’s time it was the capital of the province Achaia and the seat of the Roman proconsul (Ac 18:12). The state of morals in it was notorious for debauchery, even in the profligate heathen world; so much so that “to Corinthianize” was a proverbial phrase for “to play the wanton”; hence arose dangers to the purity of the Christian Church at Corinth. That Church was founded by Paul on his first visit (Ac 18:1-17).
He had been the instrument of converting many Gentiles (1Co 12:2), and some Jews (Ac 18:8), notwithstanding the vehement opposition of the countrymen of the latter (Ac 18:5), during the year and a half in which he sojourned there. The converts were chiefly of the humbler classes (1Co 1:26, &c.). Crispus (1Co 1:14; Ac 18:8), Erastus, and Gaius (Caius) were, however, men of rank (Ro 16:23). A variety of classes is also implied in 1Co 11:22. The risk of contamination by contact with the surrounding corruptions, and the temptation to a craving for Greek philosophy and rhetoric (which Apollos’ eloquent style rather tended to foster, Ac 18:24, &c.) in contrast to Paul’s simple preaching of Christ crucified (1Co 2:1, &c.), as well as the opposition of certain teachers to him, naturally caused him anxiety. Emissaries from the Judaizers of Palestine boasted of “letters of commendation” from Jerusalem, the metropolis of the faith. They did not, it is true, insist on circumcision in refined Corinth, where the attempt would have been hopeless, as they did among the simpler people of Galatia; but they attacked the apostolic authority of Paul (1Co 9:1, 2; 2Co 10:1, 7, 8), some of them declaring themselves followers of Cephas, the chief apostle, others boasting that they belonged to Christ Himself (1Co 1:12; 2Co 10:7), while they haughtily repudiated all subordinate teaching. Those persons gave out themselves for apostles (2Co 11:5, 13). The ground taken by them was that Paul was not one of the Twelve, and not an eye-witness of the Gospel facts, and durst not prove his apostleship by claiming sustenance from the Christian Church. Another section avowed themselves followers of Paul himself, but did so in a party spirit, exalting the minister rather than Christ. The followers of Apollos, again, unduly prized his Alexandrian learning and eloquence, to the disparagement of the apostle, who studiously avoided any deviation from Christian simplicity (1Co 2:1-5). In some of this last philosophizing party there may have arisen the Antinomian tendency which tried to defend theoretically their own practical immorality: hence their denial of the future resurrection, and their adoption of the Epicurean motto, prevalent in heathen Corinth, “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die” (1Co 15:32). Hence, perhaps, arose their connivance at the incestuous intercourse kept up by one of the so-called Christian body with his stepmother during his father’s life. The household of Chloe informed Paul of many other evils: such as contentions, divisions, and lawsuits brought against brethren in heathen law courts by professing Christians; the abuse of their spiritual gifts into occasions of display and fanaticism; the interruption of public worship by simultaneous and disorderly ministrations, and decorum violated by women speaking unveiled (contrary to Oriental usage), and so usurping the office of men, and even the holy communion desecrated by greediness and revelling on the part of the communicants. Other messengers, also, came from Corinth, consulting him on the subject of (1) the controversy about meats offered to idols; (2) the disputes about celibacy and marriage; (3) the due exercise of spiritual gifts in public worship; (4) the best mode of making the collection which he had requested for the saints at Jerusalem (1Co 16:1, &c.). Such were the circumstances which called forth the First Epistle to the Corinthians, the most varied in its topics of all the Epistles.
In 1Co 5:9, “I wrote unto you in an Epistle not to company with fornicators,” it is implied that Paul had written a previous letter to the Corinthians (now lost). Probably in it he had also enjoined them to make a contribution for the poor saints at Jerusalem, whereupon they seem to have asked directions as to the mode of doing so, to which he now replies (1Co 16:2). It also probably announced his intention of visiting them on way to Macedonia, and again on his return from Macedonia (2Co 1:15, 16), which purpose he changed hearing the unfavorable report from Chloe’s household (1Co 16:5-7), for which he was charged with (2Co 1:17). In the first Epistle which we have, the subject of fornication is alluded to only in a way, as if he were rather replying to an excuse set up after rebuke in the matter, than introducing for the first time [Alford]. Preceding this former letter, he seems to have paid a second visit to Corinth. For in 2Co 12:4; 13:1, he speaks of his intention of paying them a third visit, implying he had already twice visited them. See on 2Co 2:1; 2Co 13:2; also see on 2Co 1:15; 2Co 1:16. It is hardly likely that during his three years’ sojourn at Ephesus he would have failed to revisit his Corinthian converts, which he could so readily do by sea, there being constant maritime intercourse between the two cities. This second visit was probably a short one (compare 1Co 16:7); and attended with pain and humiliation (2Co 2:1; 12:21), occasioned by the scandalous conduct of so many of his own converts. His milder censures having then failed to produce reformation, he wrote briefly directing them “not to company with fornicators.” On their misapprehending this injunction, he explained it more fully in the Epistle, the first of the two extant (1Co 5:9, 12). That the second visit is not mentioned in Acts is no objection to its having really taken place, as that book is fragmentary and omits other leading incidents in Paul’s life; for example, his visit to Arabia, Syria, and Cilicia (Ga 1:17-21).
The Place of Writing is fixed to be Ephesus (1Co 16:8). The subscription in English Version, “From Philippi,” has no authority whatever, and probably arose from a mistaken translation of 1Co 16:5, “For I am passing through Macedonia.” At the time of writing Paul implies (1Co 16:8) that he intended to leave Ephesus after Pentecost of that year. He really did leave it about Pentecost (A.D. 57). Compare Ac 19:20. The allusion to Passover imagery in connection with our Christian Passover, Easter (1Co 5:7), makes it likely that the season was about Easter. Thus the date of the Epistle is fixed with tolerable accuracy, about Easter, certainly before Pentecost, in the third year of his residence at Ephesus, A.D. 57. For other arguments, see Conybeare and Howson’s Life and Epistles of St. Paul.
The Epistle is written in the name of Sosthenes “[our] brother.” Birks supposes he is the same as the Sosthenes, Ac 18:17, who, he thinks, was converted subsequently to that occurrence. He bears no part in the Epistle itself, the apostle in the very next verses (1Co 1:4, &c.) using the first person: so Timothy is introduced, 2Co 1:1. The bearers of the Epistle were probably Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus (see the subscription, 1Co 16:24), whom he mentions (1Co 16:17, 18) as with him then, but who he implies are about to return back to Corinth; and therefore he commends them to the regard of the Corinthians.
1Co 1:1-31. The Inscription; Thanksgiving for the Spiritual State of the Corinthian Church; Reproof of Party Divisions: His Own Method of Preaching Only Christ.
1. called to be–Found in some, not in others, of the oldest manuscripts Possibly inserted from Ro 1:1; but as likely to be genuine. Translate, literally, “a called apostle” [Conybeare and Howson].
through the will of God–not because of my own merit. Thus Paul’s call as “an apostle by the will of God,” while constituting the ground of the authority he claims in the Corinthian Church (compare Ga 1:1), is a reason for humility on his own part (1Co 15:8, 10) [Bengel]. In assuming the ministerial office a man should see he does so not of his own impulse, but by the will of God (Jer 23:21); Paul if left to his own will would never have been an apostle (Ro 9:16).
Sosthenes–See my Introduction. Associated by Paul with himself in the inscription, either in modesty, Sosthenes being his inferior [Chrysostom], or in order that the name of a “brother” of note in Corinth (Ac 18:17) might give weight to his Epistle and might show, in opposition to his detractors that he was supported by leading brethren. Gallio had driven the Jews who accused Paul from the judgment-seat. The Greek mob, who disliked Jews, took the opportunity then of beating Sosthenes the ruler of the Jewish synagogue, while Gallio looked on and refused to interfere, being secretly pleased that the mob should second his own contempt for the Jews. Paul probably at this time had showed sympathy for an adversary in distress, which issued in the conversion of the latter. So Crispus also, the previous chief ruler of the synagogue had been converted. Saul the persecutor turned into Paul the apostle, and Sosthenes the leader in persecution against that apostle, were two trophies of divine grace that, side by side, would appeal with double power to the Church at Corinth [Birks].
2. the church of God–He calls it so notwithstanding its many blots. Fanatics and sectaries vainly think to anticipate the final sifting of the wheat and tares (Mt 13:27-30). It is a dangerous temptation to think there is no church where there is not apparent perfect purity. He who thinks so, must at last separate from all others and think himself the only holy man in the world, or establish a peculiar sect with a few hypocrites. It was enough for Paul in recognizing the Corinthians as a church, that he saw among them evangelical doctrine, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper” [Calvin]. It was the Church of God, not of this or of that favorite leader [Chrysostom].
at Corinth–a church at dissolute Corinth–what a paradox of grace!
sanctified–consecrated, or set apart as holy to God in (by union with) Christ Jesus. In the Greek there are no words “to them that are”; translate simply, “men sanctified.”
called to be saints–rather, “called saints”; saints by calling: applied by Paul to all professing members of the Church. As “sanctified in Christ” implies the fountain sources of holiness, the believer’s original sanctification in Christ (1Co 6:11; Heb 10:10, 14; 1Pe 1:2) in the purposes of God’s grace, so “called saints” refers to their actual call (Ro 8:30), and the end of that call that they should be holy (1Pe 1:15).
with all that in every place call upon … Christ–The Epistle is intended for these also, as well as for the Corinthians. The true Catholic Church (a term first used by Ignatius [Epistle to the Smyræans, 8]): not consisting of those who call themselves from Paul, Cephas, or any other eminent leader (1Co 1:12), but of all, wherever they be, who call on Jesus as their Saviour in sincerity (compare 2Ti 2:22). Still a general unity of discipline and doctrine in the several churches is implied in 1Co 4:17; 7:17; 11-16; 14-33, 36. The worship due to God is here attributed to Jesus (compare Joe 2:32; Mt 4:10; Ac 9:14).
both theirs and ours–“in every place which is their home … and our home also”; this is added to include the Christians throughout Achaia, not residing in Corinth, the capital (2Co 1:1). Paul feels the home of his converts to be also his own. Compare a similar phrase in Ro 16:13 [Conybeare and Howson]. “Ours” refers to Paul and Sosthenes, and the Corinthians’ home [Alford]. Beza better explains, “Both their Lord and our Lord.” All believers have one and the same Lord (1Co 8:6; Eph 4:5); a virtual reproof of the divisions of the Corinthians, as if Christ were divided (1Co 1:13).
3. peace–peculiarly needed in the Corinthian church, on account of its dissensions. On this verse see on Ro 1:7.
4. He puts the causes for praise and hope among them in the foreground, not to discourage them by the succeeding reproof, and in order to appeal to their better selves.
my God–(Ro 1:8; Php 1:3).
always–(Compare Php 1:4).
the grace … given you–(Compare 1Co 1:7).
by … Christ–literally, “IN Jesus Christ” given you as members in Christ.
5. utterance–Alford from Menochius translates, “doctrine.” Ye are rich in preachers or the preaching of the word, and rich in knowledge or apprehension of it: literally “(the) word (preached).” English Version (as in 2Co 8:7) is better: for Paul, purposing presently to dwell on the abuse of the two gifts on which the Corinthians most prided themselves, utterance (speech) and knowledge (1Co 1:20; 3:18; 4:19; 1Co 13:1-14:40), previously gains their goodwill by congratulating them on having those gifts.
6. According as the testimony of (of, and concerning) Christ (who is both the object and author of this testimony [Bengel]; 1Co 2:1; 1Ti 2:6; 2Ti 1:8) was confirmed among [Alford] you; that is, by God, through my preaching and through the miracles accompanying it (1Co 12:3; Mr 16:20; 2Co 1:21, 22; Ga 3:2, 5; Eph 4:7, 8; Heb 2:4). God confirmed (compare Php 1:7; Heb 2:3), or gave effect to the Gospel among (or better as English Version, “in”) the Corinthians by their accepting it and setting their seal to its truth, through the inward power of His Spirit, and the outward gifts and miracles accompanying it [Calvin].
7. ye come behind–are inferior to other Christians elsewhere [Grotius].
in no gift–not that all had all gifts, but different persons among them had different gifts (1Co 12:4, &c.).
waiting for … coming of … Christ–The crowning proof of their “coming behind in no gift.” Faith, hope, and love, are all exercised herein (compare 2Ti 4:8; Tit 2:13). “Leaving to others their MEMENTO MORI (remember death), do thou earnestly cherish this joyous expectation of the Lord’s coming” [Bengel]. The Greek verb implies, “to expect constantly, not only for a certain time, but even to the end till the expected event happens” (Ro 8:19, [Tittmann, Greek Synonyms of the New Testament]).
8. Who–God, 1Co 1:4 (not Jesus Christ, 1Co 1:7, in which case it would be “in His day”).
unto the end–namely, “the coming of Christ.”
blameless in the day of … Christ–(1Th 5:23). After that day there is no danger (Eph 4:30; Php 1:6). Now is our day to work, and the day of our enemies to try us: then will be the day of Christ, and of His glory in the saints [Bengel].
9. faithful–to His promises (Php 1:6; 1Th 5:24).
called–according to His purpose (Ro 8:28).
unto … fellowship of … Jesus–to be fellow heirs with Christ (Ro 8:17-28), like Him sons of God and heirs of glory (Ro 8:30; 2Th 2:14; 1Pe 5:10; 1Jo 1:3). Chrysostom remarks that the name of Christ is oftener mentioned in this than in any other Epistle, the apostle designing thereby to draw them away from their party admiration of particular teachers to Christ alone.
10. Now–Ye already have knowledge, utterance, and hope, maintain also love.
brethren–The very title is an argument for love.
by … Christ–whom Paul wishes to be all in all to the Corinthians, and therefore names Him so often in this chapter.
speak … same thing–not speaking different things as ye do (1Co 1:12), in a spirit of variance.
divisions–literally, “splits,” “breaches.”
perfectly joined together–the opposite word to “divisions.” It is applied to healing a wound, or making whole a rent.
mind … judgment–the view taken by the understanding, and the practical decision arrived at [Conybeare and Howson], as to what is to be done. The mind, within, refers to things to be believed: the judgment is displayed outwardly in things to be done [Bengel]. Disposition–opinion [Alford].
11. (1Co 11:18).
by them … of … house of Chloe–They seem to have been alike in the confidence of Paul and of the Corinthians. The Corinthians “wrote” to the apostle (1Co 7:1), consulting him concerning certain points; marriage, the eating of things offered to idols, the decorum to be observed by women in religious assemblies. But they said not a syllable about the enormities and disorders that had crept in among them. That information reached Paul by other quarters. Hence his language about those evils is, “It hath been declared unto me,” &c.; “It is reported commonly” (1Co 5:1, 2). All this he says before he refers to their letter, which shows that the latter did not give him any intimation of those evils. An undesigned proof of genuineness [Paley, Horæ Paulinæ]. Observe his prudence: He names the family, to let it be seen that he made his allegation not without authority: he does not name the individuals, not to excite odium against them. He tacitly implies that the information ought rather to have come to him directly from their presbyters, as they had consulted him about matters of less moment.
contentions–not so severe a word as “divisions,” literally, “schisms” (1Co 1:10, Margin).
12. this I say–this is what I mean in saying “contentions” (1Co 1:11).
every one of you saith–Ye say severally, “glorying in men” (1Co 1:31; 1Co 3:21, 22), one, I am of Paul; another, I am of Apollos, &c. Not that they formed definite parties, but they individually betrayed the spirit of party in contentions under the name of different favorite teachers. Paul will not allow himself to be flattered even by those who made his name their party cry, so as to connive at the dishonor thereby done to Christ. These probably were converted under his ministry. Those alleging the name of Apollos, Paul’s successor at Corinth (Ac 18:24, &c.), were persons attracted by his rhetorical style (probably acquired in Alexandria, 1Co 3:6), as contrasted with the “weak bodily presence” and “contemptible speech” of the apostle. Apollos, doubtless, did not willingly foster this spirit of undue preference (1Co 4:6, 8); nay, to discourage it, he would not repeat his visit just then (1Co 16:12).
I of Cephas–probably Judaizers, who sheltered themselves under the name of Peter, the apostle of the circumcision (“Cephas” is the Hebrew, “Peter” the Greek name; Joh 1:42; Ga 2:11, &c.): the subjects handled in the seventh through ninth chapters were probably suggested as matters of doubt by them. The church there began from the Jewish synagogue, Crispus the chief ruler, and Sosthenes his successor (probably), being converts. Hence some Jewish leaven, though not so much as elsewhere, is traceable (2Co 11:22). Petrism afterwards sprang up much more rankly at Rome. If it be wrong to boast “I am of Peter,” how much more so to boast I am of the Pope!” [Bengel].
I of Christ–A fair pretext used to slight the ministry of Paul and their other teachers (1Co 4:8; 2Co 10:7-11).
13. Is Christ divided?–into various parts (one under one leader, another under another) [Alford]. The unity of His body is not to be cut in pieces, as if all did not belong to Him, the One Head.
was Paul crucified for you?–In the Greek the interrogation implies that a strong negative answer is expected: “Was it Paul (surely you will not say so) that was crucified for you?” In the former question the majesty of “Christ” (the Anointed One of God) implies the impossibility of His being “divided.” in the latter, Paul’s insignificance implies the impossibility of his being the head of redemption, “crucified for” them, and giving his name to the redeemed. This, which is true of Paul the founder of the Church of Corinth, holds equally good of Cephas and Apollos, who had not such a claim as Paul in the Corinthian Church.
crucified … baptized–The cross claims us for Christ, as redeemed by Him; baptism, as dedicated to Him.
in the name–rather, “into the name” (Ga 3:27), implying the incorporation involved in the idea of baptism.
14. I thank God’s providence now, who so ordered it that I baptized none of you but Crispus (the former ruler of the synagogue, Ac 18:8) and Gaius (written by the Romans Caius, the host of Paul at Corinth, and of the church, Ro 16:23; a person therefore in good circumstances). Baptizing was the office of the deacons (Ac 10:48) rather than of the apostles, whose office was that of establishing and superintending generally the churches. The deacons had a better opportunity of giving the necessary course of instruction preparatory to baptism. Crispus and Gaius were probably among the first converts, and hence were baptized by Paul himself, who founded the church.
15. Lest–not that Paul had this reason at the time, but God so arranged it that none might say [Alford].
16. household of Stephanas–“The first-fruits of Achaia,” that is, among the first converted there (1Co 16:15, 17). It is likely that such “households” included infants (Ac 16:33). The history of the Church favors this view, as infant baptism was the usage from the earliest ages.
17. Paul says this not to depreciate baptism; for he exalts it most highly (Ro 6:3). He baptized some first converts; and would have baptized more, but that his and the apostles’ peculiar work was to preach the Gospel, to found by their autoptic testimony particular churches, and then to superintend the churches in general.
sent me–literally, “as an apostle.”
not to baptize–even in Christ’s name, much less in my own.
not with wisdom of words–or speech; philosophical reasoning set off with oratorical language and secular learning, which the Corinthians set so undue a value upon (1Co 1:5; 2:1, 4) in Apollos, and the want of which in Paul they were dissatisfied with (2Co 10:10).
cross of Christ–the sum and substance of the Gospel (1Co 1:23; 2:2), Christ crucified.
be made of none effect–literally, “be made void” (Ro 4:14); namely, by men thinking more of the human reasonings and eloquence in which the Gospel was set forth, than of the Gospel itself of Christ crucified, the sinner’s only remedy, and God’s highest exhibition of love.
18. preaching, &c.–literally, “the word,” or speech as to the cross; in contrast to the “wisdom of words” (so called), 1Co 1:17.
them that perish–rather, “them that are perishing,” namely, by preferring human “wisdom of words” to the doctrine of the “cross of Christ.” It is not the final state that is referred to; but, “them that are in the way of perishing.” So also in 2Co 2:15, 16.
us which are saved–In the Greek the collocation is more modest, “to them that are being saved (that are in the way of salvation) as,” that is, to which class we belong.
power of God–which includes in it that it is the wisdom of God” (1Co 1:24). God’s powerful instrument of salvation; the highest exhibition of God’s power (Ro 1:16). What seems to the world “weakness” in God’s plan of salvation (1Co 1:25), and in its mode of delivery by His apostle (1Co 2:3) is really His mighty “power.” What seems “foolishness” because wanting man’s “wisdom of words” (1Co 1:17), is really the highest “wisdom of God” (1Co 1:24).
19. I will destroy–slightly altered from the Septuagint, Isa 29:14. The Hebrew is, “The wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” Paul by inspiration gives the sense of the Spirit, by making God the cause of their wisdom perishing, &c., “I will destroy,” &c.
understanding of the prudent–literally, “of the understanding ones.”
20. Where–nowhere; for God “brings them to naught” (1Co 1:19).
the scribe–Jewish [Alford].
the disputer–Greek [Alford]. Compare the Jew and Greek of this world contrasted with the godly wise, 1Co 1:22, 23. Vitringa thinks the reference is to the Jewish discourses in the synagogue, daraschoth, from a Hebrew root “to dispute.” Compare “questions,” Ac 26:3; Tit 3:9. If so, “wise” refers to Greek wisdom (compare 1Co 1:22). Paul applies Isa 33:18 here in a higher sense; there the primary reference was to temporal deliverance, here to external; 1Co 1:22, which is in threefold opposition to 1Co 1:18 there, sanctions this higher application; the Lord in the threefold character being the sole ground of glorying to His people.
of this world … of this world–rather, “dispensation (or age) … world”; the Greek words are distinct. The former is here this age or worldly order of things in a moral point of view, as opposed to the Christian dispensation or order of things. The latter is the world viewed externally and cosmically.
made foolish–shown the world’s philosophy to be folly, because it lacks faith in Christ crucified [Chrysostom]. Has treated it as folly, and not used its help in converting and saving men (1Co 1:26, 27) [Estius].
21. after that–rather, “whereas.”
in the wisdom of God–in the wise arrangement of God.
world by wisdom–rather, “by its wisdom,” or “its philosophy” (Joh 1:10; Ro 1:28).
knew not God–whatever other knowledge it attained (Ac 17:23, 27). The deistic theory that man can by the light of nature discover his duty to God, is disproved by the fact that man has never discovered it without revelation. All the stars and moon cannot make it day; that is the prerogative of the sun. Nor can nature’s highest gifts make the moral day arise; that is the office of Christ. Even the Jew missed this knowledge, in so far as he followed after mere carnal world wisdom.
it pleased God–Paul refers to Jesus’ words (Lu 10:21).
by the foolishness of preaching–by that preaching which the world (unbelieving Jews and Gentiles alike) deem foolishness.
save them that believe–(Ro 1:16).
22. For–literally, “Since,” seeing that. This verse illustrates how the “preaching” of Christ crucified came to be deemed “foolishness” (1Co 1:21).
a sign–The oldest manuscripts read “signs.” The singular was a later correction from Mt 12:38; 16:1; Joh 2:18. The signs the Jews craved for were not mere miracles, but direct tokens from heaven that Jesus was Messiah (Lu 11:16).
Greeks seek … wisdom–namely, a philosophic demonstration of Christianity. Whereas Christ, instead of demonstrative proof, demands faith on the ground of His word, and of a reasonable amount of evidence that the alleged revelation is His word. Christianity begins not with solving intellectual difficulties, but with satisfying the heart that longs for forgiveness. Hence not the refined Greeks, but the theocratic Jews were the chosen organ for propagating revelation. Again, intellectual Athens (Ac 17:18-21, &c.) received the Gospel less readily than commercial Corinth.
23. we–Paul and Apollos.
Christ crucified–The Greek expresses not the mere fact of His crucifixion, but the permanent character acquired by the transaction, whereby He is now a Saviour (Ga 3:1) crucified was the stone on which the Jews stumbled (Mt 21:44). The opposition of Jew and Gentile alike shows that a religion so seemingly contemptible in its origin could not have succeeded if it had not been divine.
unto the Greeks–the oldest manuscripts read “unto the Gentiles.”
24. called–(compare 1Co 1:26). The same class as the “us which are (being) saved” (1Co 1:18); the elect, who have obeyed the call; called effectually (Ro 8:28, 30).
Christ–“Crucified” is not here added, because when the offense of the cross is overcome, “Christ” is received in all His relations, not only in His cross, but in His life and His future kingdom.
power–so meeting all the reasonable requirements of the Jews who sought “a sign.” The cross (the death of a slave), which to the Jews (looking for a temporal Messiah) was a “stumbling-block,” is really “the power of God” to the salvation of all who believe.
wisdom of God–so really exhibiting, and in the highest degree (if they would but see it), that which the Greeks sought after–wisdom (Col 2:3).
25. foolishness of God–that is, God’s plan of salvation which men deem “foolishness.”
weakness of God–Christ “crucified through weakness” (2Co 13:4, the great stumbling-block of the Jews), yet “living by the power of God.” So He perfects strength out of the weakness of His servants (1Co 2:3; 2Co 12:9).
26. ye see–rather, from the prominence of the verb in the Greek, “see” or “consider” (imperative) [Alford from Vulgate and Irenæus].
your calling … are called–Instead of the words in italics, supplied by English Version, supply, “were your callers.” What Paul is dwelling on (compare 1Co 1:27, 28) is the weakness of the instrumentality which the Lord employed to convert the world [Hinds and Whately; so Anselm]. However, English Version accords well with 1Co 1:24. “The whole history of the expansion of the Church is a progressive victory of the ignorant over the learned, the lowly over the lofty, until the emperor himself laid down his crown before the cross of Christ” [Olshausen].
wise … after the flesh–the wisdom of this world acquired by human study without the Spirit. (Contrast Mt 16:17).
27. the foolish things–a general phrase for all persons and things foolish. Even things (and those, too, foolish things) are chosen by God to confound persons, (and those too persons who are wise). This seems to me the force of the change from neuter to masculine.
to confound–The Greek is stronger, “that He might confound (or put to shame).” God confounds the wise by effecting through His instruments, without human wisdom, that the worldly wise, with it, cannot effect, namely, to bring men to salvation.
chosen … chosen–The repetition indicates the gracious deliberateness of God’s purpose (Jas 2:5).
28. yea, and things which are not–Yea is not in the Greek. Also some of the oldest manuscripts omit “and.” Thus the clause, “things which are not” (are regarded as naught), is in apposition with “foolish … weak … base (that is, lowborn) and despised things.” God has chosen all four, though regarded as things that are not, to bring to naught things that are.
29. no flesh … glory–For they who try to glory (boast) because of human greatness and wisdom, are “confounded” or put to shame (1Co 1:27). Flesh, like “the flower of the field,” is beautiful, but frail (Isa 40:6).
in his presence–We are to glory not before Him, but in Him [Bengel].
30. But … ye–in contrast to them that “glory” in worldly wisdom and greatness.
of him are–not of yourselves (Eph 2:8), but of Him (Ro 11:36). From Him ye are (that is, have spiritual life, who once were spiritually among the “things which are not.” 1Co 1:28).
in Christ–by living union with Him. Not “in the flesh” (1Co 1:26, 29).
of God–from God; emanating from Him and sent by Him.
is made unto us–has been made to us, to our eternal gain.
wisdom–unattainable by the worldly mode of seeking it (1Co 1:19, 20; contrast Col 2:3; Pr 8:1-36; Isa 9:6). By it we become “wise unto salvation,” owing to His wisdom in originating and executing the plan, whereas once we were “fools.”
righteousness–the ground of our justification (Jer 23:5, 6; Ro 4:25; 2Co 5:21); whereas once we were “weak” (Ro 5:6). Isa 42:21; 45:24.
sanctification–by His Spirit; whereas formerly we were “base.” Hereafter our righteousness and sanctification alike shall be both perfect and inherent. Now the righteousness wherewith we are justified is perfect, but not inherent; that wherewith we are sanctified is inherent, but not perfect [Hooker]. Now sanctification is perfect in principle, but not in attainment. These two are joined in the Greek as forming essentially but one thing, as distinguished from the “wisdom” in devising and executing the plan for us (“abounded toward us in all wisdom,” Eph 1:8), and “redemption,” the final completion of the scheme in the deliverance of the body (the position of “redemption” last shows that this limited sense is the one intended here). Lu 21:28; Ro 8:23; Eph 1:14; 4:30.
redemption–whereas once we were “despised.”
31. glory in … Lord–(Jer 9:23, 24)–in opposition to “flesh glorying in His presence” (1Co 1:29). In contrast to morbid slavish self-abasement, Paul joins with humility the elevating consciousness of our true dignity in Christ. He who glories is to glory in the Lord, not in the flesh, nor in the world.
1Co 2:1-16. Paul’s Subject of Preaching, Christ Crucified, Not in Worldly, but in Heavenly, Wisdom among the Perfect.
1. And I–“So I” [Conybeare] as one of the “foolish, weak, and despised” instruments employed by God (1Co 1:27, 28); “glorying in the Lord,” not in man’s wisdom (1Co 1:31). Compare 1Co 1:23, “We.”
when I came–(Ac 18:1, &c.). Paul might, had he pleased, have used an ornate style, having studied secular learning at Tarsus of Cilicia, which Strabo preferred as a school of learning to Athens or Alexandria; here, doubtless, he read the Cilician Aratus’ poems (which he quotes, Ac 17:28), and Epimenides (Tit 1:12), and Menander (1Co 15:33). Grecian intellectual development was an important element in preparing the way for the Gospel, but it failed to regenerate the world, showing that for this a superhuman power is needed. Hellenistic (Grecizing) Judaism at Tarsus and Alexandria was the connecting link between the schools of Athens and those of the Rabbis. No more fitting birthplace could there have been for the apostle of the Gentiles than Tarsus, free as it was from the warping influences of Rome, Alexandria, and Athens. He had at the same time Roman citizenship, which protected him from sudden violence. Again, he was reared in the Hebrew divine law at Jerusalem. Thus, as the three elements, Greek cultivation, Roman polity (Lu 2:1), and the divine law given to the Jews, combined just at Christ’s time, to prepare the world for the Gospel, so the same three, by God’s marvellous providence, met together in the apostle to the Gentiles [Conybeare and Howson].
testimony of God–“the testimony of Christ” (1Co 1:6); therefore Christ is God.
2. The Greek implies, “The only definite thing that I made it my business to know among you, was to know Jesus Christ (His person) and Him crucified (His office)” [Alford], not exalted on the earthly throne of David, but executed as the vilest malefactor. The historical fact of Christ’s crucifixion had probably been put less prominently forward by the seekers after human wisdom in the Corinthian church, to avoid offending learned heathens and Jews. Christ’s person and Christ’s office constitute the sum of the Gospel.
3. I–the preacher: as 1Co 2:2 describes the subject, “Christ crucified,” and 1Co 2:4 the mode of preaching: “my speech … not with enticing words,” “but in demonstration of the Spirit.”
weakness–personal and bodily (2Co 10:10; 12:7, 9; Ga 4:13).
trembling–(compare Php 2:12). Not personal fear, but a trembling anxiety to perform a duty; anxious conscientiousness, as proved by the contrast to “eye service” (Eph 6:5) [Conybeare and Howson].
4. my speech–in private.
preaching–in public [Bengel]. Alford explains it, My discourse on doctrines, and my preaching or announcement of facts.
man’s wisdom–man’s is omitted in the oldest authorities. Still “wisdom” does refer to “man’s” wisdom.
in demonstration of … Spirit, &c.–Persuasion is man’s means of moving his fellow man. God’s means is demonstration, leaving no doubt, and inspiring implicit faith, by the powerful working of the Spirit (then exhibited both outwardly by miracles, and inwardly by working on the heart, now in the latter and the more important way only, Mt 7:29; Ac 6:10; Heb 4:12; compare also Ro 15:19). The same simple power accompanies divine truth now, producing certain persuasion and conversion, when the Spirit demonstrates by it.
5. stand in … wisdom of men–rest on it, owe its origin and continuance to it.
6, 7. Yet the Gospel preaching, so far from being at variance with true “wisdom,” is a wisdom infinitely higher than that of the wise of the world.
we speak–resuming “we” (preachers, I, Apollos, &c.) from “we preach” (1Co 1:28), only that here, “we speak” refers to something less public (compare 1Co 2:7, 13, “mystery … hidden”) than “we preach,” which is public. For “wisdom” here denotes not the whole of Christian doctrine, but its sublimer and deeper principles.
perfect–Those matured in Christian experience and knowledge alone can understand the true superiority of the Christian wisdom which Paul preached. Distinguished not only from worldly and natural men, but also from babes, who though “in Christ” retain much that is “carnal” (1Co 3:1, 2), and cannot therefore understand the deeper truths of Christianity (1Co 14:20; Php 3:15; Heb 5:14). Paul does not mean by the “mystery” or “hidden wisdom” (1Co 2:7) some hidden tradition distinct from the Gospel (like the Church of Rome’s disciplina arcani and doctrine of reserve), but the unfolding of the treasures of knowledge, once hidden in God’s counsels, but now announced to all, which would be intelligently comprehended in proportion as the hearer’s inner life became perfectly transformed into the image of Christ. Compare instances of such “mysteries,” that is, deeper Christian truths, not preached at Paul’s first coming to Corinth, when he confined himself to the fundamental elements (1Co 2:2), but now spoken to the “perfect” (1Co 15:51; Ro 11:25; Eph 3:5, 6). “Perfect” is used not of absolute perfection, but relatively to “babes,” or those less ripe in Christian growth (compare Php 3:12, 15, with 1Jo 2:12-14). “God” (1Co 2:7) is opposed to the world, the apostles to “the princes [great and learned men] of this world” (1Co 2:8; compare 1Co 1:20) [Bengel].
come to naught–nothingness (1Co 1:28). They are transient, not immortal. Therefore, their wisdom is not real [Bengel]. Rather, translate with Alford, “Which are being brought to naught,” namely, by God’s choosing the “things which are not (the weak and despised things of the Gospel), to bring to naught (the same verb as here) things that are” (1Co 1:28).
7. wisdom of God–emphatically contrasted with the wisdom of men and of this world (1Co 2:5, 6).
in a mystery–connected in construction with “we speak”: We speak as dealing with a mystery; that is not something to be kept hidden, but what heretofore was so, but is now revealed. Whereas the pagan mysteries were revealed only to a chosen few, the Gospel mysteries were made known to all who would obey the truth. “If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost” (2Co 4:3), “whom the God of this world hath blinded.” Ordinarily we use “mystery” in reference to those from whom the knowledge is withheld; the apostles, in reference to those to whom it is revealed [Whately]. It is hidden before it is brought forward, and when it is brought forward it still remains hidden to those that are imperfect [Bengel].
ordained–literally, “foreordained” (compare 1Co 2:9), “prepared for them that love Him.”
before the world–rather, “before the ages” (of time), that is, from eternity. This infinitely antedates worldly wisdom in antiquity. It was before not only the wisdom of the world, but eternally before the world itself and its ages.
to our glory–ours both now and hereafter, from “the Lord of glory” (1Co 2:8), who brings to naught “the princes of this world.”
8. Which–wisdom. The strongest proof of the natural man’s destitution of heavenly wisdom.
crucified … Lord of glory–implying the inseparable connection of Christ’s humanity and His divinity. The Lord of glory (which He had in His own right before the world was, Joh 17:4, 24) was crucified.
9. But–(it has happened) as it is written.
Eye hath not seen, &c.–Alford translates, “The things which eye saw not … the things which God prepared … to us God revealed through His Spirit.” Thus, however, the “but” of 1Co 2:10 is ignored. Rather construe, as Estius, “(‘We speak,’ supplied from 1Co 2:8), things which eye saw not (heretofore), … things which God prepared … But God revealed them to us,” &c. The quotation is not a verbatim one, but an inspired exposition of the “wisdom” (1Co 2:6, from Isa 64:4). The exceptive words, “O God, beside (that is, except) Thee,” are not quoted directly, but are virtually expressed in the exposition of them (1Co 2:10), “None but thou, O God, seest these mysteries, and God hath revealed them to us by His Spirit.”
entered–literally, “come up into the heart.” A Hebraism (compare, Jer 3:16, Margin). In Isa 64:4 it is “Prepared (literally, ‘will do’) for him that waiteth for Him”; here, “for them that love Him.” For Isaiah spake to them who waited for Messiah’s appearance as future; Paul, to them who love Him as having actually appeared (1Jo 4:19); compare 1Co 2:12, “the things that are freely given to us of God”
10. revealed … by … Spirit–The inspiration of thoughts (so far as truth essential to salvation is concerned) makes the Christian (1Co 3:16; 12:3; Mt 16:17; Joh 16:13; 1Jo 2:20, 27); that of words, the PROPHET (2Sa 23:1, 2; 1Ki 13:1, 5), “by the word of the Lord” (1Co 2:13; Joh 20:30, 31; 2Pe 1:21). The secrets of revelation are secret to some, not because those who know them will not reveal them (for indeed, the very notion of revelation implies an unveiling of what had been veiled), but because those to whom they are announced have not the will or power to comprehend them. Hence the Spirit-taught alone know these secrets (Ps 25:14; Pr 3:32; Joh 7:17; 15:15).
unto us–the “perfect” or fully matured in Christian experience (1Co 2:6). Intelligent men may understand the outline of doctrines; but without the Holy Spirit’s revelation to the heart, these will be to them a mere outline–a skeleton, correct perhaps, but wanting life [Whatley, Cautions for the Times, 14], (Lu 10:21).
the Spirit searcheth–working in us and with our spirits (compare Ro 8:16, 26, 27). The Old Testament shows us God (the Father) for us. The Gospels, God (the Son) with us. The Acts and Epistles, God (the Holy Ghost) in us [Monod], (Ga 3:14).
deep things of God–(Ps 92:5). His divine nature, attributes, and counsels. The Spirit delights to explore the infinite depths of His own divine mind, and then reveal them to us, according as we are capable of understanding them (De 29:29). This proves the personality and Godhead of the Holy Ghost. Godhead cannot be separated from the Spirit of God, as manhood cannot be separated from the Spirit of man [Bengel].
11. what man, &c.–literally, “who of men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of that man?”
things of God knoweth no man–rather, “none knoweth,” not angel or man. This proves the impossibility of any knowing the things of God, save by the Spirit of God (who alone knows them, since even in the case of man, so infinitely inferior in mind to God, none of his fellow men, but his own spirit alone knows the things hidden within him).
12. we … received, not … spirit of … world–the personal evil “spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph 2:2). This spirit is natural in the unregenerate, and needs not to be received.
Spirit which is of God–that is, which comes from God. We have received it only by the gift of God, whose Spirit it is, whereas our own spirit is the spirit that is in us men (1Co 2:11).
that we might know … things … freely given … of God–present experimental knowledge, to our unspeakable comfort, of His deep mysteries of wisdom, and of our future possession of the good “things which God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1Co 2:9).
13. also–We not only know by the Holy Ghost, but we also speak the “things freely given to us of God” (1Co 2:12).
which the Holy Ghost teacheth–The old manuscripts read “the Spirit” simply, without “Holy.”
comparing spiritual things with spiritual–expounding the Spirit-inspired Old Testament Scripture, by comparison with the Gospel which Jesus by the same Spirit revealed [Grotius]; and conversely illustrating the Gospel mysteries by comparing them with the Old Testament types [Chrysostom]. So the Greek word is translated, “comparing” (2Co 10:12). Wahl (Key of the New Testament) translates, “explaining (as the Greek is translated, Ge 40:8, the Septuagint) to spiritual (that is, Spirit-taught) men, spiritual things (the things which we ourselves are taught by the Spirit).” Spirit-taught men alone can comprehend spiritual truths. This accords with 1Co 2:6, 9, 10, 14, 15; 1Co 3:1. Alford translates, “Putting together (combining) spirituals with spirituals”; that is, attaching spiritual words to spiritual things, which we should not do, if we were to use words of worldly wisdom to expound spiritual things (so 1Co 2:1, 4; 1Pe 4:11). Perhaps the generality of the neuters is designed to comprehend these several notions by implication. Comparing, or combining, spirituals with spirituals; implying both that spiritual things are only suited to spiritual persons (so “things” comprehended persons, 1Co 1:27), and also that spiritual truths can only be combined with spiritual (not worldly-wise) words; and lastly, spirituals of the Old and New Testaments can only be understood by mutual comparison or combination, not by combination with worldly “wisdom,” or natural perceptions (1Co 1:21, 22; 2:1, 4-9; compare Ps 119:18).
14. natural man–literally, “a man of animal soul.” As contrasted with the spiritual man, he is governed by the animal soul, which overbears his spirit, which latter is without the Spirit of God (Jude 19). So the animal (English Version, “natural”) body, or body led by the lower animal nature (including both the mere human fallen reason and heart), is contrasted with the Spirit-quickened body (1Co 15:44-46). The carnal man (the man led by bodily appetites, and also by a self-exalting spirit, estranged from the divine life) is closely akin; so too the “earthly.” “Devilish,” or “demon-like”; “led by an evil spirit,” is the awful character of such a one, in its worst type (Jas 3:15).
receiveth not–though they are offered to him, and are “worthy of being received by all men” (1Ti 1:15).
they are foolishness unto him–whereas he seeks “wisdom” (1Co 1:22).
neither can he–Not only does he not, but he cannot know them, and therefore has no wish to “receive” them (Ro 8:7).
15. He that is spiritual–literally, “the spiritual (man).” In 1Co 2:14, it is “A [not ‘the,’ as English Version] natural man.” The spiritual is the man distinguished above his fellow men, as he in whom the Spirit rules. In the unregenerate, the spirit which ought to be the organ of the Holy Spirit (and which is so in the regenerate), is overridden by the animal soul, and is in abeyance, so that such a one is never called “spiritual.”
judgeth all things–and persons, by their true standard (compare 1Co 6:2-4; 1Jo 4:1), in so far as he is spiritual. “Discerneth … is discerned,” would better accord with the translation of the same Greek (1Co 2:14). Otherwise for “discerned,” in 1Co 2:14, translate, “judged of,” to accord with the translation, “judgeth … is judged” in this fifteenth verse. He has a practical insight into the verities of the Gospel, though he is not infallible on all theoretical points. If an individual may have the Spirit without being infallible, why may not the Church have the Spirit, and yet not be infallible (a refutation of the plea of Rome for the Church’s infallibility, from Mt 28:20; Joh 16:13)? As the believer and the Church have the Spirit, and are yet not therefore impeccable, so he and the Church have the Spirit, and yet are not infallible or impeccable. He and the Church are both infallible and impeccable, only in proportion to the degree in which they are led by the Spirit. The Spirit leads into all truth and holiness; but His influence on believers and on the Church is as yet partial. Jesus alone, who had the Spirit without measure (Joh 3:34), is both infallible and impeccable. Scripture, because it was written by men, who while writing were infallibly inspired, is unmixed truth (Pr 28:5; 1Jo 2:27).
16. For–proof of 1Co 2:15, that the spiritual man “is judged of no man.” In order to judge the spiritual man, the ordinary man must “know the mind of the Lord.” But “who of ordinary men knows” that?
that he may instruct him–that is, so as to be able to set Him right as His counsellor (quoted from Isa 40:13, 14). So the Septuagint translates the Greek verb, which means to “prove,” in Ac 9:22. Natural men who judge spiritual men, living according to the mind of God (“We have the mind of Christ”), are virtually wishing to instruct God, and bring Him to another mind, as counsellors setting to right their king.
we have the mind of Christ–in our degree of capability to apprehend it. Isa 40:13, 14 refers to Jehovah: therefore, as it is applied here to Christ, He is Jehovah.
1Co 3:1-23. Paul Could Not Speak to Them of Deep Spiritual Truths, as They Were Carnal, Contending for Their Several Teachers; These Are Nothing but Workers for God, to Whom They Must Give Account in the Day of Fiery Judgment. The Hearers Are God’s Temple, Which They Must Not Defile by Contentions for Teachers, Who, as Well as All Things, Are Theirs, Being Christ’s.
1. And I–that is, as the natural (animal) man cannot receive, so I also could not speak unto you the deep things of God, as I would to the spiritual; but I was compelled to speak to you as I would to MEN OF FLESH. The oldest manuscripts read this for “carnal.” The former (literally, “fleshy”) implies men wholly of flesh, or natural. Carnal, or fleshly, implies not they were wholly natural or unregenerate (1Co 2:14), but that they had much of a carnal tendency; for example their divisions. Paul had to speak to them as he would to men wholly natural, inasmuch as they are still carnal (1Co 3:3) in many respects, notwithstanding their conversion (1Co 1:4-9).
babes–contrasted with the perfect (fully matured) in Christ (Col 1:28; compare Heb 5:13, 14). This implies they were not men wholly of flesh, though carnal in tendencies. They had life in Christ, but it was weak. He blames them for being still in a degree (not altogether, compare 1Co 1:5, 7; therefore he says as) babes in Christ, when by this time they ought to have “come unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph 4:13). In Ro 7:14, also the oldest manuscripts read, “I am a man of flesh.”
2. (Heb 5:12).
milk–the elementary “principles of the doctrine of Christ.”
3. envying–jealousy, rivalry. As this refers to their feelings, “strife” refers to their words, and “divisions” to their actions [Bengel]. There is a gradation, or ascending climax: envying had produced strife, and strife divisions (factious parties) [Grotius]. His language becomes severer now as He proceeds; in 1Co 1:11 he had only said “contentions,” he now multiplies the words (compare the stronger term, 1Co 4:6, than in 1Co 3:21).
carnal–For “strife” is a “work of the flesh” (Ga 5:20). The “flesh” includes all feelings that aim not at the glory of God, and the good of our neighbor, but at gratifying self.
walk as men–as unregenerate men (compare Mt 16:23). “After the flesh, not after the Spirit” of God, as becomes you as regenerate by the Spirit (Ro 8:4; Ga 5:25, 26).
4. (1Co 1:12).
are ye not carnal–The oldest manuscripts read, “Are ye not men?” that is, “walking as men” unregenerate (1Co 3:3).
5. Who then–Seeing then that ye severally strive so for your favorite teachers, “Who is (of what intrinsic power and dignity) Paul?” If so great an apostle reasons so of himself, how much more does humility, rather than self-seeking, become ordinary ministers!
Paul … Apollos–The oldest manuscripts read in the reverse order, “Apollos,” &c. Paul.” He puts Apollos before himself in humility.
but ministers, &c.–The oldest manuscripts have no “but.” “Who is Apollos … Paul? (mere) ministers (a lowly word appropriate here, servants), by whom (not “in whom”; by whose ministrations) ye believed.”
as … Lord gave to every man–that is, to the several hearers, for it was God that “gave the increase” (1Co 3:6).
6. I … planted, Apollos watered–(Ac 18:1; 19:1). Apollos at his own desire (Ac 18:27) was sent by the brethren to Corinth, and there followed up the work which Paul had begun.
God gave the increase–that is, the growth (1Co 3:10; Ac 18:27). “Believed through grace.” Though ministers are nothing, and God all in all, yet God works by instruments, and promises the Holy Spirit in the faithful use of means. This is the dispensation of the Spirit, and ours is the ministry of the Spirit.
7. neither is he that … anything … but God–namely, is all in all. “God” is emphatically last in the Greek, “He that giveth the increase (namely), God.” Here follows a parenthesis, 1Co 3:8-21, where “Let no man glory in men” stands in antithetic contrast to “God” here.
8. one–essentially in their aim they are one, engaged in one and the same ministry; therefore they ought not to be made by you the occasion of forming separate parties.
and every man–rather “but every man.” Though in their service or ministry, they are essentially “one,” yet every minister is separately responsible in “his own” work, and “shall receive his own (emphatically repeated) reward, according to his own labor.” The reward is something over and above personal salvation (1Co 3:14, 15; 2Jo 8). He shall be rewarded according to, not his success or the amount of work done, but “according to his own labor.” It shall be said to him, “Well done, thou good and (not successful, but) faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Mt 25:23).
9. Translate, as the Greek collocation of words, and the emphasis on “God” thrice repeated, requires, “For (in proof that “each shall receive reward according to his own labor,” namely, from God) it is of God that we are the fellow workers (laboring with, but under, and belonging to Him as His servants, 2Co 5:20; 6:1; compare Ac 15:4; see on 1Th 3:2) of God that ye are the field (or tillage), of God that ye are the building” [Alford]. “Building” is a new image introduced here, as suited better than that of husbandry, to set forth the different kinds of teaching and their results, which he is now about to discuss. “To edify” or “build up” the Church of Christ is similarly used (Eph 2:21, 22; 4:29).
10. grace … given unto me–Paul puts this first, to guard against seeming to want humility, in pronouncing himself “a WISE master builder,” in the clause following [Chrysostom]. The “grace” is that “given” to him in common with all Christians (1Co 3:5), only proportioned to the work which God had for him to do [Alford].
wise–that is, skilful. His skill is shown in his laying a foundation. The unskilful builder lays none (Lu 6:49). Christ is the foundation (1Co 3:11).
another–who ever comes after me. He does not name Apollos; for he speaks generally of all successors, whoever they be. His warning, “Let every man (every teacher) take heed how,” &c., refers to other successors rather than Apollos, who doubtless did not, as they, build wood, hay, &c., on the foundation (compare 1Co 4:15). “I have done my part, let them who follow me see (so the Greek for ‘take heed’) to theirs” [Bengel].
how–with what material [Alford]. How far wisely, and in builder-like style (1Pe 4:11).
buildeth thereupon–Here the building or superstructure raised on Christ the “foundation,” laid by Paul (1Co 2:2) is not, as in Eph 2:20, 21, the Christian Church made up of believers, the “lively stones” (1Pe 2:5), but the doctrinal and practical teaching which the teachers who succeeded Paul, superadded to his first teaching; not that they taught what was false, but their teaching was subtle and speculative reasoning, rather than solid and simple truth.
11. (Isa 28:16; Ac 4:12; Eph 2:20).
For–my warning (“take heed,” &c. 1Co 3:10) is as to the superstructure (“buildeth thereupon”), not as to the foundation: “For other foundation can no man lay, than that which has (already) been laid (by God) Jesus Christ,” the person, not the mere abstract doctrine about Him, though the latter also is included; Jesus, God-Saviour; Christ, Messiah or Anointed.
can–A man can not lay any other, since the only one recognized by God has been already laid.
12. Now–rather, “But.” The image is that of a building on a solid foundation, and partly composed of durable and precious, partly of perishable, materials. The “gold, silver, precious stones,” which all can withstand fire (Re 21:18, 19), are teachings that will stand the fiery test of judgment; “wood, hay, stubble,” are those which cannot stand it; not positive heresy, for that would destroy the foundation, but teaching mixed up with human philosophy and Judaism, curious rather than useful. Besides the teachings, the superstructure represents also the persons cemented to the Church by them, the reality of whose conversion, through the teachers’ instrumentality, will be tested at the last day. Where there is the least grain of real gold of faith, it shall never be lost (1Pe 1:7; compare 1Co 4:12). On the other hand, the lightest straw feeds the fire [Bengel] (Mt 5:19).
13. Every man’s work–each teacher’s superstructure on the foundation.
the day–of the Lord (1Co 1:8; Heb 10:25; 1Th 5:4). The article is emphatic, “The day,” that is, the great day of days, the long expected day.
declare it–old English for “make it clear” (1Co 4:4).
it shall be revealed by fire–it, that is, “every man’s work.” Rather, “He,” the Lord, whose day it is (2Th 1:7, 8). Translate literally, “is being revealed (the present in the Greek implies the certainty and nearness of the event, Re 22:10, 20) in fire” (Mal 3:3; 4:1). The fire (probably figurative here, as the gold, hay, &c.) is not purgatory (as Rome teaches, that is, purificatory and punitive), but probatory, not restricted to those dying in “venial sin”; the supposed intermediate class between those entering heaven at once, and those dying in mortal sin who go to hell, but universal, testing the godly and ungodly alike (2Co 5:10; compare Mr 9:49). This fire is not till the last day, the supposed fire of purgatory begins at death. The fire of Paul is to try the works, the fire of purgatory the persons, of men. Paul’s fire causes “loss” to the sufferers; Rome’s purgatory, great gain, namely, heaven at last to those purged by it, if only it were true. Thus this passage, quoted by Rome for, is altogether against, purgatory. “It was not this doctrine that gave rise to prayers for the dead; but the practice of praying for the dead [which crept in from the affectionate but mistaken solicitude of survivors] gave rise to the doctrine” [Whately].
14. abide–abide the testing fire (Mt 3:11, 12).
which he hath built thereupon–which he built on the foundation.
reward–wages, as a builder, that is, teacher. His converts built on Christ the foundation, through his faithful teaching, shall be his “crown of rejoicing” (2Co 1:14; Php 2:16; 1Th 2:19).
15. If … be burnt–if any teacher’s work consist of such materials as the fire will destroy [Alford].
suffer loss–that is, forfeit the special “reward”; not that he shall lose salvation (which is altogether a free gift, not a “reward” or wages), for he remains still on the foundation (1Co 3:12; 2Jo 6).
saved; yet so as by fire–rather, “so as through fire” (Zec 3:2; Am 4:11; Jude 23). “Saved, yet not without fire” (Ro 2:27) [Bengel]. As a builder whose building, not the foundation, is consumed by fire, escapes, but with the loss of his work [Alford]; as the shipwrecked merchant, though he has lost his merchandise, is saved, though having to pass through the waves [Bengel]; Mal 3:1, 2; 4:1, give the key to explain the imagery. The “Lord suddenly coming to His temple” in flaming “fire,” all the parts of the building which will not stand that fire will be consumed; the builders will escape with personal salvation, but with the loss of their work, through the midst of the conflagration [Alford]. Again, a distinction is recognized between minor and fundamental doctrines (if we regard the superstructure as representing the doctrines superadded to the elementary essentials); a man may err as to the former, and yet be saved, but not so as to the latter (compare Php 3:15).
16. Know ye not–It is no new thing I tell you, in calling you “God’s building”; ye know and ought to remember, ye are the noblest kind of building, “the temple of God.”
ye–all Christians form together one vast temple. The expression is not, “ye are temples,” but “ye are the temple” collectively, and “lively stones” (1Pe 2:5) individually.
God … Spirit–God’s indwelling, and that of the Holy Spirit, are one; therefore the Holy Spirit is God. No literal “temple” is recognized by the New Testament in the Christian Church. The only one is the spiritual temple, the whole body of believing worshippers in which the Holy Spirit dwells (1Co 6:19; Joh 4:23, 24). The synagogue, not the temple, was the model of the Christian house of worship. The temple was the house of sacrifice, rather than of prayer. Prayers in the temple were silent and individual (Lu 1:10; 18:10-13), not joint and public, nor with reading of Scripture, as in the synagogue. The temple, as the name means (from a Greek root “to dwell”), was the earthly dwelling-place of God, where alone He put His name. The synagogue (as the name means an assembly) was the place for assembling men. God now too has His earthly temple, not one of wood and stone, but the congregation of believers, the “living stones” on the “spiritual house.” Believers are all spiritual priests in it. Jesus Christ, our High Priest, has the only literal priesthood (Mal 1:11; Mt 18:20; 1Pe 2:5) [Vitringa].
17. If any … defile … destroy–rather as the Greek verb is the same in both cases, “destroy … destroy.” God repays in kind by a righteous retaliation. The destroyer shall himself be destroyed. As temporal death was the penalty of marring the material temple (Le 16:2; Da 5:2, 3, 30), so eternal death is the penalty of marring the spiritual temple–the Church. The destroyers here (1Co 3:16, 17), are distinct from the unwise or unskilful builders (1Co 3:12, 15); the latter held fast the “foundation” (1Co 3:11), and, therefore, though they lose their work of superstructure and the special reward, yet they are themselves saved; the destroyers, on the contrary, assailed with false teaching the foundation, and so subvert the temple itself, and shall therefore be destroyed. (See on 1Co 3:10), [Estius and Neander]. I think Paul passes here from the teachers to all the members of the Church, who, by profession, are “priests unto God” (Ex 19:6; 1Pe 2:9; Re 1:6). As the Aaronic priests were doomed to die if they violated the old temple (Ex 28:43), so any Christian who violates the sanctity of the spiritual temple, shall perish eternally (Heb 12:14; 10:26, 31).
holy–inviolable (Hab 2:20).
which temple ye are–rather, “the which (that is, holy) are ye” [Alford], and, therefore, want of holiness on the part of any of you (or, as Estius, “to tamper with the foundation in teaching you”) is a violation of the temple, which cannot be let to pass with impunity. Grotius supports English Version.
18. seemeth–that is, is, and is regarded by himself and others.
wise in this world–wise in mere worldly wisdom (1Co 1:20).
let him become a fool–by receiving the Gospel in its unworldly simplicity, and so becoming a fool in the world’s sight [Alford]. Let him no longer think himself wise, but seek the true wisdom from God, bringing his understanding into captivity to the obedience of faith [Estius].
19. with God–in the judgment of God.
it is written–in Job 5:13. The formula of quoting Scripture used here, establishes the canonicity of Job.
He taketh … wise in … own craftiness–proving the “foolishness” of the world’s wisdom, since it is made by God the very snare to catch those who think themselves so wise. Literally, “He who taketh … the whole of the sentence not being quoted, but only the part which suited Paul’s purpose.
20. Quotation from Ps 94:11. There it is of men; here it is “of the wise.” Paul by inspiration states the class of men whose “thoughts” (or rather, “reasonings,” as suits the Greek and the sense of the context) the Spirit designated in the Psalm, “vanity,” namely, the “proud” (Ps 94:2) and worldly-wise, whom God in Ps 94:8 calls “fools,” though they “boast themselves” of their wisdom in pushing their interests (Ps 94:4).
21. let no man glory in men–resuming the subject from 1Co 3:4; compare 1Co 1:12, 31, where the true object of glorying is stated: “He that glorieth, let him glory in THE Lord.” Also 1Co 4:6, “That no one of you be puffed up for one against another.”
For all things–not only all men. For you to glory thus in men, is lowering yourselves from your high position as heirs of all things. All men (including your teachers) belong to Christ, and therefore to you, by your union with Him; He makes them and all things work together for your good (Ro 8:28). Ye are not for the sake of them, but they for the sake of you (2Co 4:5, 15). They belong to you, not you to them.
22. Enumeration of some of the “all things.” The teachers, in whom they gloried, he puts first (1Co 1:12). He omits after “Cephas” or Christ (to whom exclusively some at Corinth, 1Co 1:12, professed to belong); but, instead, substitutes “ye are Christ’s” (1Co 3:23).
world … life … death … things present … things to come–Not only shall they not “separate you from the love of God in Christ” (Ro 8:38, 39), but they “all are yours,” that is, are for you (Ro 8:28), and belong to you, as they belong to Christ your Head (Heb 1:2).
things present–“things actually present” [Alford].
23. ye are Christ’s–not Paul’s, or Apollos,’ or Cephas’ (1Co 11:3; Mt 23:8-10). “Neither be ye called masters; for one is your Master, even Christ” (Ro 14:8). Not merely a particular section of you, but ye all are Christ’s (1Co 1:12).
Christ is God’s–(1Co 11:3). God is the ultimate end of all, even of Christ, His co-equal Son (1Co 15:28; Php 2:6-11).
1Co 4:1-21. True View of Ministers: The Judgment Is Not to Be Forestalled; Meanwhile the Apostles’ Low State Contrasts with the Corinthians’ Party Pride, Not That Paul Would Shame Them, but as a Father Warn Them; for Which End He Sent Timothy, and Will Soon Come Himself.
1. account … us–Paul and Apollos.
ministers of Christ–not heads of the Church in whom ye are severally to glory (1Co 1:12); the headship belongs to Christ alone; we are but His servants ministering to you (1Co 1:13; 3:5, 22).
stewards–(Lu 12:42; 1Pe 4:10). Not the depositories of grace, but dispensers of it (“rightly dividing” or dispensing it), so far as God gives us it, to others. The chazan, or “overseer,” in the synagogue answered to the bishop or “angel” of the Church, who called seven of the synagogue to read the law every sabbath, and oversaw them. The parnasin of the synagogue, like the ancient “deacon” of the Church, took care of the poor (Ac 6:1-7) and subsequently preached in subordination to the presbyters or bishops, as Stephen and Philip did. The Church is not the appendage to the priesthood; but the minister is the steward of God to the Church. Man shrinks from too close contact with God; hence he willingly puts a priesthood between, and would serve God by deputy. The pagan (like the modern Romish) priest was rather to conceal than to explain “the mysteries of God.” The minister’s office is to “preach” (literally, “proclaim as a herald,” Mt 10:27) the deep truths of God (“mysteries,” heavenly truths, only known by revelation), so far as they have been revealed, and so far as his hearers are disposed to receive them. Josephus says that the Jewish religion made known to all the people the mysteries of their religion, while the pagans concealed from all but the “initiated” few, the mysteries of theirs.
2. Moreover–The oldest manuscripts read, “Moreover here” (that is, on earth). The contrast thus is between man’s usage as to stewards (1Co 4:2), and God’s way (1Co 4:3). Though here below, in the case of stewards, inquiry is made, that one man be found (that is, proved to be) faithful; yet God’s steward awaits no such judgment of man, in man’s day, but the Lord’s judgment in His great day. Another argument against the Corinthians for their partial preferences of certain teachers for their gifts: whereas what God requires in His stewards is faithfulness (1Sa 3:20, Margin; Heb 3:5); as indeed is required in earthly stewards, but with this difference (1Co 4:3), that God’s stewards await not man’s judgment to test them, but the testing which shall be in the day of the Lord.
3. it is a very small thing–literally, “it amounts to a very small matter”; not that I despise your judgment, but as compared with God’s, it almost comes to nothing.
judged … of man’s judgment–literally, “man’s day,” contrasted with the day (1Co 3:13) of the Lord (1Co 4:5; 1Th 5:4). “The day of man” is here put before us as a person [Wahl]. All days previous to the day of the Lord are man’s days. Emesti translates the thrice recurring Greek for “judged … judge … judgeth” (1Co 4:4), thus: To me for my part (though capable of being found faithful) it is a very small matter that I should be approved of by man’s judgment; yea, I do not even assume the right of judgment and approving myself–but He that has the right, and is able to judge on my case (the Dijudicator), is the Lord.
4. by myself–Translate, “I am conscious to myself of no (ministerial) unfaithfulness.” Bengel explains the Greek compound, “to decide in judgments on one in relation to others,” not simply to judge.
am I not hereby justified–Therefore conscience is not an infallible guide. Paul did not consider his so. This verse is directly against the judicial power claimed by the priests of Rome.
5. Disproving the judicial power claimed by the Romish priesthood in the confessional.
Therefore–as the Lord is the sole Decider or Dijudicator.
judge–not the same Greek word as in 1Co 4:3, 4, where the meaning is to approve of or decide on, the merits of one’s case. Here all judgments in general are forbidden, which would, on our part, presumptuously forestall God’s prerogative of final judgment.
Lord–Jesus Christ, whose “ministers” we are (1Co 4:1), and who is to be the judge (Joh 5:22, 27; Ac 10:42; 17:31).
manifest … hearts–Our judgments now (as those of the Corinthians respecting their teachers) are necessarily defective; as we only see the outward act, we cannot see the motives of “hearts.” “Faithfulness” (1Co 4:2) will hereby be estimated, and the “Lord” will “justify,” or the reverse (1Co 4:4), according to the state of the heart.
then shall every man have praise–(1Co 3:8; 1Sa 26:23; Mt 25:21, 23, 28). Rather, “his due praise,” not exaggerated praise, such as the Corinthians heaped on favorite teachers; “the praise” (so the Greek) due for acts estimated by the motives. “Then,” not before: therefore wait till then (Jas 5:7).
6. And–“Now,” marking transition.
in a figure transferred to myself–that is, I have represented under the persons of Apollos and myself what really holds good of all teachers, making us two a figure or type of all the others. I have mentioned us two, whose names have been used as a party cry; but under our names I mean others to be understood, whom I do not name, in order not to shame you [Estius].
not to think, &c.–The best manuscripts omit “think.” Translate, “That in us (as your example) ye might learn (this), not (to go) beyond what is written.” Revere the silence of Holy Writ, as much as its declarations: so you will less dogmatize on what is not expressly revealed (De 29:29).
puffed up for one–namely, “for one (favorite minister) against another.” The Greek indicative implies, “That ye be not puffed up as ye are.”
7. Translate, “Who distinguisheth thee (above another)?” Not thyself, but God.
glory, as if thou hadst not received it–as if it was to thyself, not to God, thou owest the receiving of it.
8. Irony. Translate, “Already ye are filled full (with spiritual food), already ye are rich, ye have seated yourselves upon your throne as kings, without us.” The emphasis is on “already” and “without us”; ye act as if ye needed no more to “hunger and thirst after righteousness,” and as if already ye had reached the “kingdom” for which Christians have to strive and suffer. Ye are so puffed up with your favorite teachers, and your own fancied spiritual attainments in knowledge through them, that ye feel like those “filled full” at a feast, or as a “rich” man priding himself in his riches: so ye feel ye can now do “without us,” your first spiritual fathers (1Co 4:15). They forgot that before the “kingdom” and the “fulness of joy,” at the marriage feast of the Lamb, must come the cross, and suffering, to every true believer (2Ti 2:5, 11, 12). They were like the self-complacent Laodiceans (Re 3:17; compare Ho 12:8). Temporal fulness and riches doubtless tended in some cases at Corinth, to generate this spiritual self-sufficiency; the contrast to the apostle’s literal “hunger and thirst” (1Co 4:11) proves this.
I would … ye did reign–Translate, “I would indeed,” &c. I would truly it were so, and that your kingdom had really begun.
that we also might reign with you–(2Co 12:14). “I seek not yours, but you.” Your spiritual prosperity would redound to that of us, your fathers in Christ (1Co 9:23). When you reach the kingdom, you shall be our “crown of rejoicing, in the presence of our Lord Jesus” (1Th 2:19).
9. For–assigning the reason for desiring that the “reign” of himself and his fellow apostles with the Corinthians were come; namely, the present afflictions of the former.
I think–The Corinthians (1Co 3:18) “seemed” to (literally, as here, “thought”) themselves “wise in this world.” Paul, in contrast, “thinks” that God has sent forth him and his fellow ministers “last,” that is, the lowest in this world. The apostles fared worse than even the prophets, who, though sometimes afflicted, were often honored (2Ki 1:10; 5:9; 8:9, 12).
set forth–as a spectacle or gazing-stock.
us the apostles–Paul includes Apollos with the apostles, in the broader sense of the word; so Ro 16:7; 2Co 8:23 (Greek for “messengers,” apostles).
as it were appointed to death–as criminals condemned to die.
made a spectacle–literally, “a theatrical spectacle.” So the Greek in Heb 10:33, “made a gazing-stock by reproaches and afflictions.” Criminals “condemned to die,” in Paul’s time, were exhibited as a gazing-stock to amuse the populace in the amphitheater. They were “set forth last” in the show, to fight with wild beasts. This explains the imagery of Paul here. (Compare Tertullian [On Modesty, 14]).
the world–to the whole world, including “both angels and men”; “the whole family in heaven and earth” (Eph 3:15). As Jesus was “seen of angels” (1Ti 3:16), so His followers are a spectacle to the holy angels who take a deep interest in all the progressive steps of redemption (Eph 3:10; 1Pe 1:12). Paul tacitly implies that though “last” and lowest in the world’s judgment, Christ’s servants are deemed by angels a spectacle worthy of their most intense regard [Chrysostom]. However, since “the world” is a comprehensive expression, and is applied in this Epistle to the evil especially (1Co 1:27, 28), and since the spectators (in the image drawn from the amphitheater) gaze at the show with savage delight, rather than with sympathy for the sufferers, I think bad angels are included, besides good angels. Estius makes the bad alone to be meant. But the generality of the term “angels,” and its frequent use in a good sense, as well as Eph 3:10; 1Pe 1:12, incline me to include good as well as bad angels, though, for the reasons stated above, the bad may be principally meant.
10. Irony. How much your lot (supposing it real) is to be envied, and ours to be pitied.
fools–(1Co 1:21; 3:18; compare Ac 17:18; 26:24).
for Christ’s sake … in Christ–Our connection with Christ only entails on us the lowest ignominy, “ON ACCOUNT OF,” or, “FOR THE SAKE OF” Him, as “fools”; yours gives you full fellowship IN Him as “wise” (that is, supposing you really are all you seem, 1Co 3:18).
we … weak … ye … strong–(1Co 2:3; 2Co 13:9).
we … despised–(2Co 10:10) because of our “weakness,” and our not using worldly philosophy and rhetoric, on account of which ye Corinthians and your teachers are (seemingly) so “honorable.” Contrast with “despised” the “ye (Galatians) despised not my temptation … in my flesh” (Ga 4:14).
11. (2Co 11:23-27).
naked–that is, insufficiently clad (Ro 8:35).
buffeted–as a slave (1Pe 2:20), the reverse of the state of the Corinthians, “reigning as kings” (Ac 23:2). So Paul’s master before him was “buffeted” as a slave, when about to die a slave’s death (Mt 26:67).
12. working with our own hands–namely, “even unto this present hour” (1Co 4:11). This is not stated in the narrative of Paul’s proceedings at Ephesus, from which city he wrote this Epistle (though it is expressly stated of him at Corinth, compare Ac 18:3, 19). But in his address to the Ephesian elders at Miletus (Ac 20:34), he says, “Ye yourselves know that these hands have ministered unto my necessities,” &c. The undesignedness of the coincidence thus indirectly brought out is incompatible with forgery.
13. defamed, we entreat–namely, God for our defamers, as Christ enjoined (Mt 5:10, 44) [Grotius]. We reply gently [Estius].
filth–“the refuse” [Conybeare and Howson], the sweepings or rubbish thrown out after a cleaning.
of all things–not of the “World” only.
14. warn–rather, “admonish” as a father uses “admonition” to “beloved sons,” not provoking them to wrath (Eph 6:4). The Corinthians might well be “ashamed” at the disparity of state between the father, Paul, and his spiritual children themselves.
15. ten thousand–implying that the Corinthians had more of them than was desirable.
instructors–tutors who had the care of rearing, but had not the rights, or peculiar affection, of the father, who alone had begotten them spiritually.
in Christ–Paul admits that these “instructors” were not mere legalists, but evangelical teachers. He uses, however, a stronger phrase of himself in begetting them spiritually, “In Christ Jesus,” implying both the Saviour’s office and person. As Paul was the means of spiritually regenerating them, and yet “baptized none of them save Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas,” regeneration cannot be inseparably in and by baptism (1Co 1:14-17).
16. be ye followers of me–literally, “imitators,” namely, in my ways, which be in Christ (1Co 4:17; 1Co 11:1), not in my crosses (1Co 4:8-13; Ac 26:29; Ga 4:12).
17. For this came–that ye may the better “be followers of me” (1Co 4:16), through his admonitions.
sent … Timotheus–(1Co 16:10; Ac 19:21, 22). “Paul purposed … when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem. So he sent into Macedonia Timotheus and Erastus.” Here it is not expressly said that he sent Timothy into Achaia (of which Corinth was the capital), but it is implied, for he sent him with Erastus before him. As he therefore purposed to go into Achaia himself, there is every probability they were to go thither also. They are said only to have been sent into Macedonia, because it was the country to which they went immediately from Ephesus. The undesignedness of the coincidence establishes the genuineness of both the Epistle and the history. In both, Timothy’s journey is closely connected with Paul’s own (compare 1Co 4:19). Erastus is not specified in the Epistle, probably because it was Timothy who was charged with Paul’s orders, and possibly Erastus was a Corinthian, who, in accompanying Timothy, was only returning home. The seeming discrepancy at least shows that the passages were not taken from one another [Paley, Horæ Paulinæ].
son–that is, converted by me (compare 1Co 4:14, 15; Ac 14:6, 7; with Ac 16:1, 2; 1Ti 1:2, 18; 2Ti 1:2). Translate, “My son, beloved and faithful in the Lord.”
bring you into remembrance–Timothy, from his spiritual connection with Paul, as converted by him, was best suited to remind them of the apostle’s walk and teaching (2Ti 3:10), which they in some respects, though not altogether (1Co 11:2), had forgotten.
as I teach … in every church–an argument implying that what the Spirit directed Paul to teach “everywhere” else, must be necessary at Corinth also (1Co 7:17).
18. some … as though I would not come–He guards against some misconstruing (as by the Spirit he foresees they will, when his letter shall have arrived) his sending Timothy, “as though” he “would not come” (or, “were not coming”) himself. A puffed-up spirit was the besetting sin of the Corinthians (compare 1Co 1:11; 5:2).
19. Alford translates, “But come I will”; an emphatical negation of their supposition (1Co 4:18).
shortly–after Pentecost (1Co 16:8).
if the Lord will–a wise proviso (Jas 4:15). He does not seem to have been able to go as soon as he intended.
and will know–take cognizance of.
but the power–I care not for their high-sounding “speech,” “but” what I desire to know is “their power,” whether they be really powerful in the Spirit, or not. The predominant feature of Grecian character, a love for power of discourse, rather than that of godliness, showed itself at Corinth.
20. kingdom of God is not in word–Translate, as in 1Co 4:19, to which the reference is “speech.” Not empty “speeches,” but the manifest “power” of the Spirit attests the presence of “the kingdom of God” (the reign of the Gospel spiritually), in a church or in an individual (compare 1Co 2:1, 4; 1Th 1:5).
21. with a rod, or in love–The Greek preposition is used in both clauses; must I come IN displeasure to exercise the rod, or IN love, and the Spirit of meekness (Isa 11:4; 2Co 13:3)?
1Co 5:1-13. The Incestuous Person at Corinth: The Corinthians Reproved for Connivance, and Warned to Purge Out the Bad Leaven. Qualification of His Former Command as to Association with Sinners of the World.
1. commonly–rather, “actually” [Alford]. Absolutely [Bengel]. “It is reported,” implies, that the Corinthians, though they “wrote” (1Co 7:1) to Paul on other points, gave him no information on those things which bore against themselves. These latter matters reached the apostle indirectly (1Co 1:11).
so much as named–The oldest manuscripts and authorities omit “named”: “Fornication of such a gross kind as (exists) not even among the heathen, so that one (of you) hath (in concubinage) his father’s wife,” that is, his stepmother, while his father is still alive (2Co 7:12; compare Le 18:8). She was perhaps a heathen, for which reason he does not direct his rebuke against her (compare 1Co 5:12, 13). Alford thinks “have” means have in marriage: but the connection is called “fornication,” and neither Christian nor Gentile law would have sanctioned such a marriage, however Corinth’s notorious profligacy might wink at the concubinage.
2. puffed up–with your own wisdom and knowledge, and the eloquence of your favorite teachers: at a time when ye ought to be “mourning” at the scandal caused to religion by the incest. Paul mourned because they did not mourn (2Co 2:4). We ought to mourn over the transgressions of others, and repent of our own (2Co 12:21) [Bengel].
that–ye have not felt such mourning as would lead to the result that, &c.
taken away from among you–by excommunication. The incestuous person was hereby brought to bitter repentance, in the interval between the sending of the first and second Epistles (2Co 2:5-10). Excommunication in the Christian Church corresponded to that in the Jewish synagogue, in there being a lighter and heavier form: the latter an utter separation from church fellowship and the Lord’s house, the former exclusion from the Lord’s Supper only but not from the Church.
3. as absent–The best manuscripts read, “being absent.”
present in spirit–(2Ki 5:26; Col 2:5).
so done–rather, “perpetrated,” as the Greek word here is stronger than that for “done” in 1Co 5:2. “So,” that is, so scandalously while called a brother.
4. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ–By His authority and as representing His person and will (2Co 2:10). Join this with “to deliver such a one unto Satan” (1Co 5:5). The clause, “When ye have been gathered together and my spirit (wherein I am ‘present,’ though ‘absent in body,’ 1Co 5:3), with the power of our Lord Jesus,” stands in a parenthesis between. Paul speaking of himself uses the word “spirit”; of Christ, “power.” Christ’s power was promised to be present with His Church “gathered together in His name” (Mt 18:18-20): and here Paul by inspiration gives a special promise of his apostolic spirit, which in such cases was guided by the Holy Spirit, ratifying their decree passed according to his judgment (“I have judged,” 1Co 5:3), as though he were present in person (Joh 20:21-23; 2Co 13:3-10). This power of infallible judgment was limited to the apostles; for they alone had the power of working miracles as their credentials to attest their infallibility. Their successors, to establish their claim to the latter, must produce the former (2Co 12:2). Even the apostles in ordinary cases, and where not specially and consciously inspired, were fallible (Ac 8:13, 23; Ga 2:11-14).
5. Besides excommunication (of which the Corinthians themselves had the power), Paul delegates here to the Corinthian Church his own special power as an apostle, of inflicting corporeal disease or death in punishment for sin (“to deliver to Satan such an one,” that is, so heinous a sinner). For instances of this power, see Ac 5:1-11; 13:11; 1Ti 1:20. As Satan receives power at times to try the godly, as Job (Job 2:4-7) and Paul (2Co 12:7; compare also as to Peter, Lu 22:31), much more the ungodly. Satan, the “accuser of the brethren” (Re 12:10) and the “adversary” (1Pe 5:8), demands the sinner for punishment on account of sin (Zec 3:1). When God lets Satan have his way, He is said to “deliver the sinner unto Satan” (compare Ps 109:6). Here it is not finally; but for the affliction of the body with disease, and even death (1Co 11:30, 32), so as to destroy fleshly lust. He does not say, “for the destruction of the body,” for it shall share in redemption (Ro 8:23); but of the corrupt “flesh” which “cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” and the lusts of which had prompted this offender to incest (Ro 7:5; 8:9, 10). The “destruction of the flesh” answers to “mortify the deeds of the body” (Ro 8:13), only that the latter is done by one’s self, the former is effected by chastisement from God (compare 1Pe 4:6):
the spirit … saved–the spiritual part of man, in the believer the organ of the Holy Spirit. Temporary affliction often leads to permanent salvation (Ps 83:16).
6. Your glorying in your own attainments and those of your favorite teachers (1Co 3:21; 4:19; 5:2), while all the while ye connive at such a scandal, is quite unseemly.
a little leaven leaveth … whole lump–(Ga 5:9), namely, with present complicity in the guilt, and the danger of future contagion (1Co 15:33; 2Ti 2:17).
7. old leaven–The remnant of the “old” (Eph 4:22-24) heathenish and natural corruption. The image is taken from the extreme care of the Jews in searching every corner of their houses, and “purging out” every particle of leaven from the time of killing the lamb before the Passover (De 16:3, 4). So Christians are continually to search and purify their hearts (Ps 139:23, 24).
as ye are unleavened–normally, and as far as your Christian calling is concerned: free from the leaven of sin and death (1Co 6:11). Paul often grounds exhortations on the assumption of Christian professors’ normal state as realized (Ro 6:3, 4) [Alford]. Regarding the Corinthian Church as the Passover “unleavened lump” or mass, he entreats them to correspond in fact with this their normal state. “For Christ our Passover (Ex 12:5-11, 21-23; Joh 1:29) has been (English Version, “is”) sacrificed for us”; that is, as the Jews began the days of unleavened bread with the slaying of the Passover lamb, so, Christ our Passover having been already slain, let there be no leaven of evil in you who are the “unleavened lump.” Doubtless he alludes to the Passover which had been two or three weeks before kept by the Jewish Christians (1Co 16:8): the Gentile Christians probably also refraining from leavened bread at the love-feasts. Thus the Jewish Passover naturally gave place to our Christian Easter. The time however, of keeping feast (metaphorical; that is, leading the Christian life of joy in Christ’s finished work, compare Pr 15:15) among us Christians, corresponding to the Jewish Passover, is not limited, as the latter, to one season, but is ALL our time; for the transcendent benefits of the once-for-all completed sacrifice of our Passover Lamb extends to all the time of our lives and of this Christian dispensation; in no part of our time is the leaven of evil to be admitted.
For even–an additional reason, besides that in 1Co 5:6, and a more cogent one for purging out every leaven of evil; namely, that Christ has been already sacrificed, whereas the old leaven is yet unremoved, which ought to have been long ago purged out.
8. not … old leaven–of our unconverted state as Jews or heathen.
malice–the opposite of “sincerity,” which allows no leaven of evil to be mixed up with good (Mt 16:6).
wickedness–the opposite of “truth,” which allows not evil to be mistaken for good. The Greek for “malice” means the evil habit of mind; “wickedness,” the outcoming of the same in word and deed. The Greek for “sincerity” expresses literally, a thing which, when examined by the sun’s light, is found pure and unadulterated.
9. I wrote … in an epistle–rather, “in the Epistle”: a former one not now extant. That Paul does not refer to the present letter is proved by the fact that no direction “not to company with fornicators” occurs in the previous part of it; also the words, “in an (or, the) epistle,” could not have been added if he meant, “I have just written” (2Co 10:10). “His letters” (plural; not applying to merely one) confirm this. 2Co 7:8 also refers to our first Epistle, just as here a former letter is referred to by the same phrase. Paul probably wrote a former brief reply to inquiries of the Corinthians: our first Epistle, as it enters more fully into the same subject, has superseded the former, which the Holy Spirit did not design for the guidance of the Church in general, and which therefore has not been preserved. See my Introduction.
10. Limitation of the prohibition alluded to in 1Co 5:9. As in dissolute Corinth to “company with no fornicators,” &c., would be almost to company with none in the (unbelieving) world; ye need not utterly (“altogether”) forego intercourse with fornicators, &c., of the unbelieving world (compare 1Co 10:27; Joh 17:15; 1Jo 5:18, 19). As “fornicators” sin against themselves, so “extortioners” against their neighbors, and “idolaters” against God. The attempt to get “out of the world,” in violation of God’s will that believers should remain in it but keep themselves from its evil, led to monasticism and its consequent evils.
11. But now–“Now” does not express time, but “the case being so,” namely, that to avoid fornicators, &c., of the world, you would have to leave the world altogether, which would be absurd. So “now” is used in Heb 11:16. Thus we avoid making the apostle now retract a command which he had before given.
I have written–that is, my meaning in the letter I wrote was “not to keep company,” &c.
a brother–contrasted with a “fornicator … of the world” (1Co 5:10). There is less danger in associating with open worldlings than with carnal professors. Here, as in Eph 5:3, 5, “covetousness” is joined with “fornication”: the common fount of both being “the fierce and ever fiercer longing of the creature, which has turned from God, to fill itself with the inferior objects of sense” [Trench, Greek Synonyms of the New Testament]. Hence “idolatry” is associated with them: and the covetous man is termed an “idolater” (Nu 25:1, 2). The Corinthians did not fall into open idolatry, but ate things offered to idols, so making a compromise with the heathen; just as they connived at fornication. Thus this verse prepares for the precepts in 1Co 8:4, &c. Compare the similar case of fornication, combined with a similar idolatrous compromise, after the pattern of Israel with the Midianites (Re 2:14).
no not to eat–not to sit at the same table with such; whether at the love-feasts (agapæ) or in private intercourse, much more at the Lord’s table: at the last, too often now the guests “are not as children in one family, but like a heterogeneous crowd of strangers in an inn” [Bengel] (compare Ga 2:12; 2Jo 10, 11).
12. what have I to do–You might have easily understood that my concern is not with unbelievers outside the Church, but that I referred to those within it.
also–Implying, Those within give me enough to do without those outside.
do not ye, &c.–Ye judge your fellow citizens, not strangers: much more should I [Bengel]. Rather, Is it not your duty to judge them that are within? God shall judge them that are without: do you look at home [Grotius]. God is the Judge of the salvation of the heathen, not we (Ro 2:12-16). Paul here gives an anticipatory censure of their going to law with saints before heathen tribunals, instead of judging such causes among themselves within.
13. put away from among yourselves that wicked–Sentence of excommunication in language taken from De 24:7.
1Co 6:1-11. Litigation of Christians in Heathen Courts Censured: Its Very Existence Betrays a Wrong Spirit: Better to Bear Wrong Now, and Hereafter the Doers of Wrong Shall Be Shut Out of Heaven.
1. Dare–This word implies treason against Christian brotherhood [Bengel].
before the unjust–The Gentile judges are here so termed by an epithet appropriate to the subject in question, namely, one concerning justice. Though all Gentiles were not altogether unjust, yet in the highest view of justice which has regard to God as the Supreme Judge, they are so: Christians, on the other hand, as regarding God as the only Fountain of justice, should not expect justice from them.
before … saints–The Jews abroad were permitted to refer their disputes to Jewish arbitrators [Josephus, Antiquities, 14.10,17]. So the Christians were allowed to have Christian arbitrators.
2. Do ye not know–as a truth universally recognized by Christians. Notwithstanding all your glorying in your “knowledge,” ye are acting contrary to it (1Co 1:4, 5; 8:1). The oldest manuscripts have “Or” before “know ye not”; that is, “What! (expressing surprise) know ye not,” &c.
saints … judge–that is, “rule,” including judgment: as assessors of Christ. Mt 19:28, “judging,” that is, “ruling over.” (Compare Ps 49:14; Da 7:22, 27; Re 2:26; 3:21; 20:4). There is a distinction drawn by able expositors between the saints who judge or rule, and the world which is ruled by them: as there is between the elected (Mt 20:23) twelve apostles who sit on thrones judging, and the twelve tribes of Israel that are judged by them. To reign, and to be saved, are not necessarily synonymous. As Jehovah employed angels to carry the law into effect when He descended on Sinai to establish His throne in Israel, so at His coming the saints shall administer the kingdom for, and under, Him. The nations of the earth, and Israel the foremost, in the flesh, shall, in this view, be the subjects of the rule of the Lord and His saints in glorified bodies. The mistake of the Chiliasts was that they took the merely carnal view, restricting the kingdom to the terrestrial part. This part shall have place with the accession of spiritual and temporal blessings such as Christ’s presence must produce. Besides this earthly glory, there shall be the heavenly glory of the saints reigning in transfigured bodies, and holding such blessed intercourse with mortal men, as angels had with men of old, and as Christ, Moses, and Elias, in glory had with Peter, James, and John, in the flesh at the transfiguration (2Ti 2:12; 2Pe 1:16-18). But here the “world” seems to be the unbelieving world that is to be “condemned” (1Co 11:22), rather than the whole world, including the subject nations which are to be brought under Christ’s sway; however, it may include both those to be condemned, with the bad angels, and those about to be brought into obedience to the sway of Christ with His saints. Compare Mt 25:32, 40, “all nations,” “these my brethren” on the thrones with Him. The event will decide the truth of this view.
judged by you–or, before you (compare 1Co 3:22).
smallest matters–The weightiest of earthly questions at issue are infinitely small compared with those to be decided on the judgment-day.
3. judge angels–namely, bad angels. We who are now “a spectacle to angels” shall then “judge angels.” The saints shall join in approving the final sentence of the Judge on them (Jude 6). Believers shall, as administrators of the kingdom under Jesus, put down all rule that is hostile to God. Perhaps, too, good angels shall then receive from the Judge, with the approval of the saints, higher honors.
4. judgments–that is, cases for judgment.
least esteemed–literally, “those of no esteem.” Any, however low in the Church, rather than the heathen (1Co 1:28). Questions of earthly property are of secondary consequence in the eyes of true Christians, and are therefore delegated to those in a secondary position in the Church.
5. your shame–Thus he checks their puffed-up spirit (1Co 5:2; compare 1Co 15:34). To shame you out of your present unworthy course of litigation before the heathen, I have said (1Co 6:4), “Set the least esteemed in the Church to judge.” Better even this, than your present course.
Is it so?–Are you in such a helpless state that, &c.?
not a wise man–though ye admire “wisdom” so much on other occasions (1Co 1:5, 22). Paul alludes probably to the title, “cachain,” or wise man, applied to each Rabbi in Jewish councils.
no, not one–not even one, amidst so many reputed among you for wisdom (1Co 3:18; 4:6).
shall be able–when applied to.
brethren–literally, “brother”; that is, judge between brother and brother. As each case should arise, the arbitrator was to be chosen from the body of the church, such a wise person as had the charism, or gift, of church government.
6. But–emphatically answering the question in the end of 1Co 6:5 in the negative. Translate, “Nay,” &c.
7. utterly a fault–literally, “a shortcoming” (not so strong as sin). Your going to law at all is a falling short of your high privileges, not to say your doing so before unbelievers, which aggravates it.
rather take wrong–(Pr 20:22; Mt 5:39, 40); that is, “suffer yourselves to be wronged.”
8. ye–emphatic. Ye, whom your Lord commanded to return good for evil, on the contrary, “do wrong (by taking away) and defraud” (by retaining what is entrusted to you; or “defraud” marks the effect of the “wrong” done, namely, the loss inflicted). Not only do ye not bear, but ye inflict wrongs.
9. unrighteous–Translate, “Doers of wrong”: referring to 1Co 6:8 (compare Ga 5:21).
kingdom of God–which is a kingdom of righteousness (Ro 14:17).
fornicators–alluding to 1Co 5:1-13; also below, 1Co 6:12-18.
effeminate–self-polluters, who submit to unnatural lusts.
11. ye are washed–The Greek middle voice expresses, “Ye have had yourselves washed.” This washing implies the admission to the benefits of Christ’s salvation generally; of which the parts are; (1) Sanctification, or the setting apart from the world, and adoption into the Church: so “sanctified” is used 1Co 7:14; Joh 17:19. Compare 1Pe 1:2, where it rather seems to mean the setting apart of one as consecrated by the Spirit in the eternal purpose God. (2) Justification from condemnation through the righteousness of God in Christ by faith (Ro 1:17). So Paræus. The order of sanctification before justification shows that it must be so taken, and not in the sense of progressive sanctification. “Washed” precedes both, and so must refer to the Christian’s outward new birth of water, the sign of the inward setting apart to the Lord by the inspiration of the Spirit as the seed of new life (Joh 3:5; Eph 5:26; Tit 3:5; Heb 10:22). Paul (compare the Church of England Baptismal Service), in charity, and faith in the ideal of the Church, presumes that baptism realizes its original design, and that those outwardly baptized inwardly enter into vital communion with Christ (Ga 3:27). He presents the grand ideal which those alone realized in whom the inward and the outward baptism coalesced. At the same time he recognizes the fact that this in many cases does not hold good (1Co 6:8-10), leaving it to God to decide who are the really “washed,” while he only decides on broad general principles.
in the name of … Jesus, and by the Spirit–rather, “in the Spirit,” that is, by His in-dwelling. Both clauses belong to the three–“washed, sanctified, justified.”
our God–The “our” reminds the that amidst all his reproofs God is still the common God of himself and them.
1Co 6:12-20. Refutation of the Antinomian Defense of Fornication as if It Was Lawful Because Meats Are So.
12. All things are lawful unto me–These, which were Paul’s own words on a former occasion (to the Corinthians, compare 1Co 10:23, and Ga 5:23), were made a pretext for excusing the eating of meats offered to idols, and so of what was generally connected with idolatry (Ac 15:29), “fornication” (perhaps in the letter of the Corinthians to Paul, 1Co 7:1). Paul’s remark had referred only to things indifferent: but they wished to treat fornication as such, on the ground that the existence of bodily appetites proved the lawfulness of their gratification.
me–Paul giving himself as a sample of Christians in general.
but I–whatever others do, I will not, &c.
lawful … brought under the power–The Greek words are from the same root, whence there is a play on the words: All things are in my power, but I will not be brought under the power of any of them (the “all things”). He who commits “fornication,” steps aside from his own legitimate power or liberty, and is “brought under the power” of an harlot (1Co 6:15; compare 1Co 7:4). The “power” ought to be in the hands of the believer, not in the things which he uses [Bengel]; else his liberty is forfeited; he ceases to be his own master (Joh 8:34-36; Ga 5:13; 1Pe 2:16; 2Pe 2:19). Unlawful things ruin thousands; “lawful” things (unlawfully used), ten thousands.
13. The argument drawn from the indifference of meats (1Co 8:8; Ro 14:14, 17; compare Mr 7:18; Col 2:20-22) to that of fornication does not hold good. Meats doubtless are indifferent, since both they and the “belly” for which they are created are to be “destroyed” in the future state. But “the body is not (created) for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body” (as its Redeemer, who hath Himself assumed the body): “And God hath raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us” (that is our bodies): therefore the “body” is not, like the “belly,” after having served a temporary use, to be destroyed: Now “he that committeth fornication, sinneth against his own body” (1Co 6:18). Therefore fornication is not indifferent, since it is a sin against one’s own body, which, like the Lord for whom it is created, is not to be destroyed, but to be raised to eternal existence. Thus Paul gives here the germ of the three subjects handled in subsequent sections: (1) The relation between the sexes. (2) The question of meats offered to idols. (3) The resurrection of the body.
shall destroy–at the Lord’s coming to change the natural bodies of believers into spiritual bodies (1Co 15:44, 52). There is a real essence underlying the superficial phenomena of the present temporary organization of the body, and this essential germ, when all the particles are scattered, involves the future resurrection of the body incorruptible.
14. (Ro 8:11).
raised up–rather, “raised,” to distinguish it from “will raise up us”; the Greek of the latter being a compound, the former a simple verb. Believers shall be raised up out of the rest of the dead (see on Php 3:11); the first resurrection (Re 20:5).
us–Here he speaks of the possibility of his being found in the grave when Christ comes; elsewhere, of his being possibly found alive (1Th 4:17). In either event, the Lord’s coming rather than death is the great object of the Christian’s expectation (Ro 8:19).
15. Resuming the thought in 1Co 6:13, “the body is for the Lord” (1Co 12:27; Eph 4:12, 15, 16; 5:30).
shall I then–such being the case.
take–spontaneously alienating them from Christ. For they cannot be at the same time “the members of an harlot,” and “of Christ” [Bengel]. It is a fact no less certain than mysterious, that moral and spiritual ruin is caused by such sins; which human wisdom (when untaught by revelation) held to be actions as blameless as eating and drinking [Conybeare and Howson].
16. Justification of his having called fornicators “members of an harlot” (1Co 6:15).
joined–by carnal intercourse; literally, “cemented to”: cleaving to.
one body–with her.
saith he–God speaking by Adam (Ge 2:24; Mt 19:5). “He which made them at the beginning said,” &c. (Eph 5:31).
17. one spirit–with Him. In the case of union with a harlot, the fornicator becomes one “body” with her (not one “spirit,” for the spirit which is normally the organ of the Holy Spirit in man, is in the carnal so overlaid with what is sensual that it is ignored altogether). But the believer not only has his body sanctified by union with Christ’s body, but also becomes “one spirit” with Him (Joh 15:1-7; 17:21; 2Pe 1:4; compare Eph 5:23-32; Joh 3:6).
18. Flee–The only safety in such temptations is flight (Ge 39:12; Job 31:1).
Every sin–The Greek is forcible. “Every sin whatsoever that a man doeth.” Every other sin; even gluttony, drunkenness, and self-murder are “without,” that is, comparatively external to the body (Mr 7:18; compare Pr 6:30-32). He certainly injures, but he does not alienate the body itself; the sin is not terminated in the body; he rather sins against the perishing accidents of the body (as the “belly,” and the body’s present temporary organization), and against the soul than against the body in its permanent essence, designed “for the Lord.” “But” the fornicator alienates that body which is the Lord’s, and makes it one with a harlot’s body, and so “sinneth against his own body,” that is, against the verity and nature of his body; not a mere effect on the body from without, but a contradiction of the truth of the body, wrought within itself [Alford].
19. What? know ye not? &c.–Proof that “he that fornicates sinneth against his own body” (1Co 6:18).
your body–not “bodies.” As in 1Co 3:17, he represented the whole company of believers (souls and bodies), that is, the Church, as “the temple of God,” the Spirit; so here, the body of each individual of the Church is viewed as the ideal “temple of the Holy Ghost.” So Joh 17:23, which proves that not only the Church, but also each member of it, is “the temple of the Holy Ghost.” Still though many the several members form one temple, the whole collectively being that which each is in miniature individually. Just as the Jews had one temple only, so in the fullest sense all Christian churches and individual believers form one temple only. Thus “YOUR [plural] body” is distinguished here from “HIS OWN [particular or individual] body” (1Co 6:18). In sinning against the latter, the fornicator sins against “your (ideal) body,” that of “Christ,” whose “members your bodies” are (1Co 6:15). In this consists the sin of fornication, that it is a sacrilegious desecration of God’s temple to profane uses. The unseen, but much more efficient, Spirit of God in the spiritual temple now takes the place of the visible Shekinah in the old material temple. The whole man is the temple; the soul is the inmost shrine; the understanding and heart, the holy place; and the body, the porch and exterior of the edifice. Chastity is the guardian of the temple to prevent anything unclean entering which might provoke the indwelling God to abandon it as defiled [Tertullian, On the Apparel of Women]. None but God can claim a temple; here the Holy Ghost is assigned one; therefore the Holy Ghost is God.
not your own–The fornicator treats his body as if it were “his own,” to give to a harlot if he pleases (1Co 6:18; compare 1Co 6:20). But we have no right to alienate our body which is the Lord’s. In ancient servitude the person of the servant was wholly the property of the master, not his own. Purchase was one of the ways of acquiring a slave. Man has sold himself to sin (1Ki 21:20; Ro 7:14). Christ buys him to Himself, to serve Him (Ro 6:16-22).
20. bought with a price–Therefore Christ’s blood is strictly a ransom paid to God’s justice by the love of God in Christ for our redemption (Mt 20:28; Ac 20:28; Ga 3:13; Heb 9:12; 1Pe 1:18, 19; 2Pe 2:1; Re 5:9). While He thus took off our obligation to punishment, He laid upon us a new obligation to obedience (1Co 7:22, 23). If we accept Him as our Prophet to reveal God to us, and our Priest to atone for us, we must also accept Him as our King to rule over us as wholly His, presenting every token of our fealty (Isa 26:13).
in your body–as “in” a temple (compare Joh 13:32; Ro 12:1; Php 1:20).
and in your spirit, which are God’s–not in the oldest manuscripts and versions, and not needed for the sense, as the context refers mainly to the “body” (1Co 6:16, 18, 19). The “spirit” is incidentally mentioned in 1Co 6:17, which perhaps gave rise to the interpolation, at first written in the Margin, afterwards inserted in the text.
1Co 7:1-40. Reply to Their Inquiries as to Marriage; the General Principle in Other Things Is, Abide in Your Station, for the Time Is Short.
1. The Corinthians in their letter had probably asked questions which tended to disparage marriage, and had implied that it was better to break it off when contracted with an unbeliever.
good–that is, “expedient,” because of “the present distress”; that is, the unsettled state of the world, and the likelihood of persecutions tearing rudely asunder those bound by marriage ties. Heb 13:4, in opposition to ascetic and Romish notions of superior sanctity in celibacy, declares, “Marriage is HONORABLE IN ALL.” Another reason why in some cases celibacy may be a matter of Christian expediency is stated in 1Co 7:34, 35, “that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.” But these are exceptional cases, and in exceptional times, such as those of Paul.
2. Here the general rule is given
to avoid fornication–More literally, “on account of fornications,” to which as being very prevalent at Corinth, and not even counted sins among the heathen, unmarried persons might be tempted. The plural, “fornications,” marks irregular lusts, as contrasted with the unity of the marriage relation [Bengel].
let every man have–a positive command to all who have not the gift of continency, in fact to the great majority of the world (1Co 7:5). The dignity of marriage is set forth by Paul (Eph 5:25-32), in the fact that it signifies the mystical union between Christ and the Church.
3, 4. The duty of cohabitation on the part of the married.
due benevolence–The oldest manuscripts read simply, “her due”; that is, the conjugal cohabitation due by the marriage contract (compare 1Co 7:4).
4. A paradox. She hath not power over her body, and yet it is her own. The oneness of body in which marriage places husband and wife explains this. The one complements the other. Neither without the other realizes the perfect ideal of man.
5. Defraud … not–namely, of the conjugal duty “due” (1Co 7:3; compare the Septuagint, Ex 21:10).
except it be–“unless perchance” [Alford].
give yourselves to–literally, “be at leisure for”; be free from interruptions for; namely, on some special “season,” as the Greek for “time” means (compare Ex 19:15; Joe 2:16; Zec 7:3).
fasting and prayer–The oldest manuscripts omit “fasting and”; an interpolation, evidently, of ascetics.
come together–The oldest manuscripts read, “be together,” namely, in the regular state of the married.
Satan–who often thrusts in his temptations to unholy thoughts amidst the holiest exercises.
for your incontinency–because of your inability to “contain” (1Co 7:9) your natural propensities, which Satan would take advantage of.
6. by permission … not of commandment–not by God’s permission to me to say it: but, “by way of permission to you, not as a commandment.” “This” refers to the directions, 1Co 7:2-5.
7. even as I–having tile gift of continence (Mt 19:11, 12). This wish does not hold good absolutely, else the extension of mankind and of the Church would cease; but relatively to “the present distress” (1Co 7:26).
8. to the unmarried–in general, of both sexes (1Co 7:10, 11).
and widows–in particular.
even as I–unmarried (1Co 9:5).
9. if they cannot contain–that is, “have not continency.”
burn–with the secret flame of lust, which lays waste the whole inner man. (Compare Augustine [Holy Virginity]). The dew of God’s grace is needed to stifle the flame, which otherwise would thrust men at last into hell-fire.
10. not I, but the Lord–(Compare 1Co 7:12, 25, 40). In ordinary cases he writes on inspired apostolic authority (1Co 14:37); but here on the direct authority of the Lord Himself (Mr 10:11, 12). In both cases alike the things written are inspired by the Spirit of God “but not all for all time, nor all on the primary truths of the faith” [Alford].
Let not the wife depart–literally, “be separated from.” Probably the separation on either side, whether owing to the husband or to the wife, is forbidden.
11. But and if she depart–or “be separated.” If the sin of separation has been committed, that of a new marriage is not to be added (Mt 5:32).
be reconciled–by appeasing her husband’s displeasure, and recovering his good will.
let not … husband put away … wife–In Mt 5:32 the only exception allowed is, “saving for the cause of fornication.”
12. to the rest–the other classes (besides “the married,” 1Co 7:10, where both husband and wife are believers) about whom the Corinthians had inquired, namely, those involved in mixed marriages with unbelievers.
not the Lord–by any direct command spoken by Him.
she be pleased–Greek, “consents”: implying his wish in the first instance, with which hers concurs.
13. the woman–a believer.
let her not leave him–“her husband,” instead of “him,” is the reading of the oldest manuscripts The Greek for “leave” is the same as in 1Co 7:12, “put away”; translate, “Let her not put away [that is, part with] her husband.” The wife had the power of effecting a divorce by Greek and Roman law.
14. sanctified–Those inseparably connected with the people of God are hallowed thereby, so that the latter may retain the connection without impairing their own sanctity (compare 1Ti 4:5); nay, rather imparting to the former externally some degree of their own hallowed character, and so preparing the way for the unbeliever becoming at last sanctified inwardly by faith.
by … by–rather, “in … in”; that is, in virtue of the marriage tie between them.
by the husband–The oldest manuscripts read, “by the brother.” It is the fact of the husband being a “brother,” that is, a Christian, though the wife is not so, that sanctifies or hallows the union.
else … children unclean–that is, beyond the hallowed pale of God’s people: in contrast to “holy,” that is, all that is within the consecrated limits [Conybeare and Howson]. The phraseology accords with that of the Jews, who regarded the heathen as “unclean,” and all of the elect nation as “holy,” that is, partakers of the holy covenant. Children were included in the covenant, as God made it not only with Abraham, but with his “seed after” him (Ge 17:7). So the faith of one Christian parent gives to the children a near relationship to the Church, just as if both parents were Christians (compare Ro 11:16). Timothy, the bearer of this Epistle, is an instance in point (Ac 16:1). Paul appeals to the Corinthians as recognizing the principle, that the infants of heathen parents would not be admissible to Christian baptism, because there is no faith on the part of the parents; but where one parent is a believer, the children are regarded as not aliens from, but admissible even in infancy as sharers in, the Christian covenant: for the Church presumes that the believing parent will rear the child in the Christian faith. Infant baptism tacitly superseded infant circumcision, just as the Christian Lord’s day gradually superseded the Jewish sabbath, without our having any express command for, or record of, transference. The setting aside of circumcision and of sabbaths in the case of the Gentiles was indeed expressly commanded by the apostles and Paul, but the substitution of infant baptism and of the Lord’s day were tacitly adopted, not expressly enacted. No explicit mention of it occurs till Irenæus in the third century; but no society of Christians that we read of disputed its propriety till fifteen hundred years after Christ. Anabaptists would have us defer baptism till maturity as the child cannot understand the nature of it. But a child may be made heir of an estate: it is his, though incapable at the time of using or comprehending its advantage; he is not hereafter to acquire the title and claim to it: he will hereafter understand his claim, and be capable of employing his wealth: he will then, moreover, become responsible for the use he makes of it [Archbishop Whately].
15. if … depart–that is, wishes for separation. Translate, “separateth himself”: offended with her Christianity, and refusing to live with her unless she renounce it.
brother or a sister is not under bondage–is not bound to renounce the faith for the sake of retaining her unbelieving husband [Hammond]. So De 13:6; Mt 10:35-37; Lu 14:26. The believer does not lie under the same obligation in the case of a union with an unbeliever, as in the case of one with a believer. In the former case he is not bound not to separate, if the unbeliever separate or “depart,” in the latter nothing but “fornication” justifies separation [Photius in Æcumenius].
but God hath called us to peace–Our Christian calling is one that tends to “peace” (Ro 12:18), not quarrelling; therefore the believer should not ordinarily depart from the unbelieving consort (1Co 7:12-14), on the one hand; and on the other, in the exceptional case of the unbeliever desiring to depart, the believer is not bound to force the other party to stay in a state of continual discord (Mt 5:32). Better still it would be not to enter into such unequal alliances at all (1Co 7:40; 2Co 6:14).
16. What knowest thou but that by staying with thy unbelieving partner thou mayest save him or her? Enforcing the precept to stay with the unbelieving consort (1Co 7:12-14). So Ruth the Moabitess became a convert to her husband’s faith: and Joseph and Moses probably gained over their wives. So conversely the unbelieving husband may be won by the believing wife (1Pe 3:1) [Calvin]. Or else (1Co 7:15), if thy unbelieving consort wishes to depart, let him go, so that thou mayest live “in peace”: for thou canst not be sure of converting him, so as to make it obligatory on thee at all costs to stay with him against his will [Menochius and Alford].
save–be the instrument of salvation to (Jas 5:20).
17. But–Greek, “If not.” “Only.” Caution that believers should not make this direction (1Co 7:16; as Alford explains it) a ground for separating “of themselves” (1Co 7:12-14). Or, But if there be no hope of gaining over the unbeliever, still let the general principle be maintained, “As the Lord hath allotted to each, as God hath called each, so let him walk” (so the Greek in the oldest reading); let him walk in the path allotted to him and wherein he was called. The heavenly calling does not set aside our earthly callings.
so ordain I in all churches–Ye also therefore should obey.
18. not become uncircumcised–by surgical operation (1 Maccabees 1:15; Josephus [Antiquities, 12.5.1]). Some Christians in excess of anti-Jewish feeling might be tempted to this.
let him not be circumcised–as the Judaizing Christians would have him (Ac 15:1, 5, 24; Ga 5:2).
19. Circumcision … nothing, but … keeping of … commandments of God–namely, is all in all. In Ga 5:6 this “keeping of the commandments of God” is defined to be “faith which worketh by love”; and in Ga 6:15, “a new creature.” Circumcision was a commandment of God: but not for ever, as “love.”
20. the same calling–that is, the condition from which he is called a Jew, a Greek, a slave, or a freeman.
21. care not for it–Let it not be a trouble to thee that thou art a servant or slave.
use it rather–Continue rather in thy state as a servant (1Co 7:20; Ga 3:28; 1Ti 6:2). The Greek, “But if even thou mayest be made free, use it,” and the context (1Co 7:20, 22) favors this view [Chrysostom, Bengel, and Alford]. This advice (if this translation be right) is not absolute, as the spirit of the Gospel is against slavery. What is advised here is, contentment under one’s existing condition (1Co 7:24), though an undesirable one, since in our union with Christ all outward disparities of condition are compensated (1Co 7:22). Be not unduly impatient to cast off “even” thy condition as a servant by unlawful means (1Pe 2:13-18); as, for example, Onesimus did by fleeing (Phm 10-18). The precept (1Co 7:23), “Become not (so the Greek) the servants of men,” implies plainly that slavery is abnormal (compare Le 25:42). “Men stealers,” or slave dealers, are classed in 1Ti 1:10, with “murderers” and “perjurers.” Neander, Grotius, &c., explain, “If called, being a slave, to Christianity, be content–but yet, if also thou canst be free (as a still additional good, which if thou canst not attain, be satisfied without it; but which, if offered to thee, is not to be despised), make use of the opportunity of becoming free, rather than by neglecting it to remain a slave.” I prefer this latter view, as more according to the tenor of the Gospel, and fully justified by the Greek.
22. the Lord’s freeman–(Phm 16)–rather, “freedman.” Though a slave externally, spiritually made free by the Lord: from sin, Joh 8:36; from the law, Ro 8:2; from “circumcision,” 1Co 7:19; Ga 5:1.
Christ’s servant–(1Co 9:21). Love makes Christ’s service perfect freedom (Mt 11:29, 30; Ga 5:13; 1Pe 2:16).
23. be not ye–Greek, “become not ye.” Paul here changes from “thou” (1Co 7:21) to “ye.” Ye all are “bought” with the blood of Christ, whatever be your earthly state (1Co 6:20). “Become not servants to men,” either externally, or spiritually; the former sense applying to the free alone: the latter to Christian freemen and slaves alike, that they should not be servile adherents to their party leaders at Corinth (1Co 3:21, 22; Mt 23:8-10; 2Co 11:20); nor indeed slaves to men generally, so far as their condition admits. The external and internal conditions, so far as is attainable, should correspond, and the former be subservient to the latter (compare 1Co 7:21, 32-35).
24. abide with God–being chiefly careful of the footing on which he stands towards God rather than that towards men. This clause, “with God,” limits the similar precept in 1Co 7:20. A man may cease to “abide in the calling wherein he was called,” and yet not violate the precept here. If a man’s calling be not favorable to his “abiding with God” (retaining holy fellowship with Him), he may use lawful means to change from it (compare Note, see on 1Co 7:21).
25. no commandment of the Lord: yet … my judgment–I have no express revelation from the Lord commanding it, but I give my judgment (opinion); namely, under the ordinary inspiration which accompanied the apostles in all their canonical writings (compare 1Co 7:40; 1Co 14:37; 1Th 4:15). The Lord inspires me in this case to give you only a recommendation, which you are free to adopt or reject–not a positive command. In the second case (1Co 7:10, 11) it was a positive command; for the Lord had already made known His will (Mal 2:14, 15; Mt 5:31, 32). In the third case (1Co 7:12), the Old Testament commandment of God to put away strange wives (Ezr 10:3), Paul by the Spirit revokes.
mercy of the Lord–(1Ti 1:13). He attributes his apostleship and the gifts accompanying it (including inspiration) to God’s grace alone.
faithful–in dispensing to you the inspired directions received by me from the Lord.
26. I suppose–“I consider.”
this–namely, “for a man so to be,” that is, in the same state in which he is (1Co 7:27).
for–by reason of.
the present distress–the distresses to which believers were then beginning to be subjected, making the married state less desirable than the single; and which would prevail throughout the world before the destruction of Jerusalem, according to Christ’s prophecy (Mt 24:8-21; compare Ac 11:28).
27. Illustrating the meaning of “so to be,” 1Co 7:26. Neither the married (those “bound to a wife”) nor the unmarried (those “loosed from a wife”) are to “seek” a change of state (compare 1Co 7:20, 24).
28. trouble in the flesh–Those who marry, he says, shall incur “trouble in the flesh” (that is, in their outward state, by reason of the present distress), not sin, which is the trouble of the spirit.
but I spare you–The emphasis in the Greek is on “I.” My motive in advising you so is, to “spare you” such trouble in the flesh. So Alford after Calvin, Bengel, and others. Estius from Augustine explains it, “I spare you further details of the inconveniences of matrimony, lest even the incontinent may at the peril of lust be deterred from matrimony: thus I have regard for your infirmity.” The antithesis in the Greek of “I … you” and “such” favors the former.
29. this I say–A summing up of the whole, wherein he draws the practical inference from what precedes (1Co 15:50).
the time–the season (so the Greek) of this present dispensation up to the coming of the Lord (Ro 13:11). He uses the Greek expression which the Lord used in Lu 21:8; Mr 13:33.
it remaineth–The oldest manuscripts read, “The time (season) is shortened as to what remains, in order that both they,” &c.; that is, the effect which the shortening of the time ought to have is, “that for the remaining time (henceforth), both they,” &c. The clause, “as to what remains,” though in construction belonging to the previous clause, in sense belongs to the following. However, Cyprian and Vulgate support English Version.
as though they had none–We ought to consider nothing as our own in real or permanent possession.
30. they that weep … wept not–(Compare 2Co 6:10).
they that buy … possessed not–(Compare Isa 24:1, 2). Christ specifies as the condemning sin of the men of Sodom not merely their open profligacy, but that “they bought, they sold,” &c., as men whose all was in this world (Lu 17:28). “Possessed” in the Greek implies a holding fast of a possession; this the Christian will not do, for his “enduring substance” is elsewhere (Heb 10:34).
31. not abusing it–not abusing it by an overmuch using of it. The meaning of “abusing” here is, not so much perverting, as using it to the full [Bengel]. We are to use it, “not to take our fill” of its pursuits as our chief aim (compare Lu 10:40-42). As the planets while turning on their own axis, yet revolve round the sun; so while we do our part in our own worldly sphere, God is to be the center of all our desires.
fashion–the present fleeting form. Compare Ps 39:6, “vain show”; Ps 73:20, “a dream”; Jas 4:14, “a vapor.”
passeth away–not merely shall pass away, but is now actually passing away. The image is drawn from a shifting scene in a play represented on the stage (1Jo 2:17). Paul inculcates not so much the outward denial of earthly things, as the inward spirit whereby the married and the rich, as well as the unmarried and the poor, would be ready to sacrifice all for Christ’s sake.
32. without carefulness–I would have you to be not merely “without trouble,” but “without distracting cares” (so the Greek).
careth–if he uses aright the advantages of his condition.
34. difference also–Not merely the unmarried and the married man differ in their respective duties, but also the wife and the virgin. Indeed a woman undergoes a greater change of condition than a man in contracting marriage.
35. for your own profit–not to display my apostolic authority.
not … cast a snare upon you–image from throwing a noose over an animal in hunting. Not that by hard injunctions I may entangle you with the fear of committing sin where there is no sin.
comely–befitting under present circumstances.
attend upon–literally, “assiduously wait on”; sitting down to the duty. Compare Lu 10:39, Mary; Lu 2:37, “Anna … a widow, who departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day” (1Ti 5:5).
distraction–the same Greek as “cumbered” (Lu 10:40, Martha).
36. behaveth … uncomely–is not treating his daughter well in leaving her unmarried beyond the flower of her age, and thus debarring her from the lawful gratification of her natural feeling as a marriageable woman.
need so require–if the exigencies of the case require it; namely, regard to the feelings and welfare of his daughter. Opposed to “having no necessity” (1Co 7:37).
let them marry–the daughter and her suitor.
37. steadfast–not to be turned from his purpose by the obloquy of the world.
having no necessity–arising from the natural inclinations of the daughter.
power over his … will–when, owing to his daughter’s will not opposing his will, he has power to carry into effect his will or wish.
38. her–The oldest manuscripts have “his own virgin daughter.”
but–The oldest manuscripts have “and.”
39. bound by the law–The oldest manuscripts omit “by the law.”
only in the Lord–Let her marry only a Christian (2Co 6:14).
40. happier–(1Co 7:1, 28, 34, 35).
I think also–“I also think”; just as you Corinthians and your teachers think much of your opinions, so I also give my opinion by inspiration; so in 1Co 7:25, “my judgment” or opinion. Think does not imply doubt, but often a matter of well-grounded assurance (Joh 5:39).
1Co 8:1-13. On Partaking of Meats Offered to Idols.
1. Though to those knowing that an idol has no existence, the question of eating meats offered to idols (referred to in the letter of the Corinthians, compare 1Co 7:1) might seem unimportant, it is not so with some, and the infirmities of such should be respected. The portions of the victims not offered on the altars belonged partly to the priests, partly to the offerers; and were eaten at feasts in the temples and in private houses and were often sold in the markets; so that Christians were constantly exposed to the temptation of receiving them, which was forbidden (Nu 25:2; Ps 106:28). The apostles forbade it in their decree issued from Jerusalem (Ac 15:1-29; 21:25); but Paul does not allude here to that decree, as he rests his precepts rather on his own independent apostolic authority.
we know that we all have knowledge–The Corinthians doubtless had referred to their “knowledge” (namely, of the indifference of meats, as in themselves having no sanctity or pollution). Paul replies, “We are aware that we all have [speaking generally, and so far as Christian theory goes; for in 1Co 8:7 he speaks of some who practically have not] this knowledge.”
Knowledge puffeth up–when without “love.” Here a parenthesis begins; and the main subject is resumed in the same words, 1Co 8:4. “As concerning [touching] therefore the eating,” &c. “Puffing up” is to please self. “Edifying” is to please one’s neighbor; Knowledge only says, All things are lawful for me; Love adds, But all things do not edify [Bengel], (1Co 10:23; Ro 14:15).
edifieth–tends to build up the spiritual temple (1Co 3:9; 6:19).
2. And–omitted in the oldest manuscripts The absence of the connecting particle gives an emphatical sententiousness to the style, suitable to the subject. The first step to knowledge is to know our own ignorance. Without love there is only the appearance of knowledge.
knoweth–The oldest manuscripts read a Greek word implying personal experimental acquaintance, not merely knowledge of a fact, which the Greek of “we know” or are aware (1Co 8:1) means.
as he ought to know–experimentally and in the way of “love.”
3. love God–the source of love to our neighbor (1Jo 4:11, 12, 20; 5:2).
the same–literally, “this man”; he who loves, not he who “thinks that he knows,” not having “charity” or love (1Co 8:1, 2).
is known of him–is known with the knowledge of approval and is acknowledged by God as His (Ps 1:6; Ga 4:9; 2Ti 2:19). Contrast, “I never knew you” (Mt 7:23). To love God is to know God; and he who thus knows God has been first known by God (compare 1Co 13:12; 1Pe 1:2).
4. As concerning, &c.–resuming the subject begun in 1Co 8:1, “As touching,” &c.
idol is nothing–has no true being at all, the god it represents is not a living reality. This does not contradict 1Co 10:20, which states that they who worship idols, worship devils; for here it is the Gods believed by the worshippers to be represented by the idols which are denied to have any existence, not the devils which really under the idols delude the worshippers.
none other God–The oldest manuscripts omit the word “other”; which gives a clearer sense.
5. “For even supposing there are (exist) gods so called (2Th 2:4), whether in heaven (as the sun, moon, and stars) or in earth (as deified kings, beasts, &c.), as there be (a recognized fact, De 10:17; Ps 135:5; 136:2) gods many and lords many.” Angels and men in authority are termed gods in Scripture, as exercising a divinely delegated power under God (compare Ex 22:9, with Ex 22:28; Ps 82:1, 6; Joh 10:34, 35).
6. to us–believers.
of whom–from whom as Creator all things derive their existence.
we in him–rather, “we for Him,” or “unto Him.” God the Father is the end for whom and for whose glory believers live. In Col 1:16 all things are said to be created (not only “by” Christ, but also) “for Him” (Christ). So entirely are the Father and Son one (compare Ro 11:36; Heb 2:10).
one Lord–contrasted with the “many lords” of heathendom (1Co 8:5).
by whom–(Joh 1:3; Heb 1:2).
we by him–as all things are “of” the Father by creation, so they (we believers especially) are restored to Him by the new creation (Col 1:20; Re 21:5). Also, as all things are by Christ by creation, so they (we especially) are restored by Him by the new creation.
7. Howbeit–Though to us who “have knowledge” (1Co 8:1, 4-6) all meats are indifferent, yet “this knowledge is not in all” in the same degree as we have it. Paul had admitted to the Corinthians that “we all have knowledge” (1Co 8:1), that is, so far as Christian theory goes; but practically some have it not in the same degree.
with conscience–an ancient reading; but other very old manuscripts read “association” or “habit.” In either reading the meaning is: Some Gentile Christians, whether from old association of ideas or misdirected conscience, when they ate such meats, ate them with some feeling as if the idol were something real (1Co 8:4), and had changed the meats by the fact of the consecration into something either holy or else polluted.
unto this hour–after they have embraced Christianity; an implied censure, that they are not further advanced by this time in Christian “knowledge.”
their conscience … is defiled–by their eating it “as a thing offered to idols.” If they ate it unconscious at the time that it had been offered to idols, there would be no defilement of conscience. But conscious of what it was, and not having such knowledge as other Corinthians boasted of, namely, that an idol is nothing and can therefore neither pollute nor sanctify meats, they by eating them sin against conscience (compare Ro 14:15-23). It was on the ground of Christian expediency, not to cause a stumbling-block to “weak” brethren, that the Jerusalem decree against partaking of such meats (though indifferent in themselves) was passed (Ac 15:1-29). Hence he here vindicates it against the Corinthian asserters of an inexpedient liberty.
8. Other old manuscripts read, “Neither if we do not eat, are we the better: neither if we eat are we the worse”: the language of the eaters who justified their eating thus [Lachmann]. In English Version Paul admits that “meat neither presents [so the Greek for ‘commendeth’] us as commended nor as disapproved before God”: it does not affect our standing before God (Ro 14:6).
9. this liberty of yours–the watchword for lax Corinthians. The very indifference of meats, which I concede, is the reason why ye should “take heed” not to tempt weak brethren to act against their conscience (which constitutes sin, Ro 14:22, 23).
10. if any man–being weak.
which hast knowledge–The very knowledge which thou pridest thyself on (1Co 8:1), will lead the weak after thy example to do that against his conscience, which thou doest without any scruple of conscience; namely, to eat meats offered to idols.
conscience of him which is weak–rather, “His conscience, seeing he is weak” [Alford and others].
emboldened–literally, “built up.” You ought to have built up your brother in good: but by your example your building him up is the emboldening him to violate his conscience.
11. shall … perish–The oldest manuscripts read “perisheth.” A single act seemingly unimportant may produce everlasting consequences. The weak brother loses his faith, and if he do not recover it, his salvation [Bengel] (Ro 14:23).
for whom Christ died–and for whose sake we too ought to be willing to die (1Jo 3:16). And yet professing Christians at Corinth virtually tempted their brethren to their damnation, so far were they from sacrificing aught for their salvation. Note here, that it is no argument against the dogma that Christ died for all, even for those who perish, to say that thus He would have died in vain for many. Scripture is our rule, not our suppositions as to consequences. More is involved in redemption than the salvation of man: the character of God as at once just and loving is vindicated even in the case of the lost for they might have been saved, and so even in their case Christ has not died in vain. So the mercies of God’s providence are not in vain, though many abuse them. Even the condemned shall manifest God’s love in the great day, in that they too had the offer of God’s mercy. It shall be the most awful ingredient in their cup that they might have been saved but would not: Christ died to redeem even them.
12. wound their weak conscience–literally, “smite their conscience, being (as yet) in a weak state.” It aggravates the cruelty of the act that it is committed on the weak, just as if one were to strike an invalid.
against Christ–on account of the sympathy between Christ and His members (Mt 25:40; Ac 9:4, 5).
13. meat–Old English for “food” in general.
make … to offend–Greek, “is a stumbling-block to.”
no flesh–In order to ensure my avoiding flesh offered to idols, I would abstain from all kinds of flesh, in order not to be a stumbling-block to my brother.
1Co 9:1-27. He Confirms His Teaching as to Not Putting a Stumbling-block in a Brother’s Way (1Co 8:13) BY His Own Example in Not Using His Undoubted Rights as an Apostle, so as to Win Men to Christ.
1. Am I not an apostle? am I not free?–The oldest manuscripts read the order thus, “Am I not free? am I not an apostle?” He alludes to 1Co 8:9, “this liberty of yours”: If you claim it, I appeal to yourselves as the witnesses, have not I also it? “Am I not free?” If you be so, much more I. For “am I not an apostle?” so that I can claim not only Christian, but also apostolic, liberty.
have I not seen Jesus–corporeally, not in a mere vision: compare 1Co 15:8, where the fact of the resurrection, which he wishes to prove, could only be established by an actual bodily appearance, such as was vouchsafed to Peter and the other apostles. In Ac 9:7, 17 the contrast between “the men with him seeing no man,” and “Jesus that appeared unto thee in the way,” shows that Jesus actually appeared to him in going to Damascus. His vision of Christ in the temple (Ac 22:17) was “in a trance.” To be a witness of Christ’s resurrection was a leading function of an apostle (Ac 1:22). The best manuscripts omit “Christ.”
ye my work in the Lord–Your conversion is His workmanship (Eph 2:10) through my instrumentality: the “seal of mine apostleship” (1Co 9:2).
2. yet doubtless–yet at least I am such to you.
seal of mine apostleship–Your conversion by my preaching, accompanied with miracles (“the signs of an apostle,” Ro 15:18, 19; 2Co 12:12), and your gifts conferred by me (1Co 1:7), vouch for the reality of my apostleship, just as a seal set to a document attests its genuineness (Joh 3:33; Ro 4:11).
3. to them that … examine me–that is, who call in question mine apostleship.
is this–namely, that you are the seal of mine apostleship.
4. Have we not power–Greek, “right,” or lawful power, equivalent to “liberty” claimed by the Corinthians (1Co 8:9). The “we” includes with himself his colleagues in the apostleship. The Greek interrogative expresses, “You surely won’t say (will you?) that we have not the power or right,” &c.
eat and drink–without laboring with our hands (1Co 9:11, 13, 14). Paul’s not exercising this right was made a plea by his opponents for insinuating that he was himself conscious he was no true apostle (2Co 12:13-16).
5. lead about a sister, a wife–that is, “a sister as a wife”; “a sister” by faith, which makes all believers brethren and sisters in the one family of God: “a wife” by marriage covenant. Paul implies he did not exercise his undoubted right to marry and “lead about” a believer, for the sake of Christian expediency, as well to save the Church the expense of maintaining her in his wide circuits, as also that he might give himself more undistractedly to building up the Church of Christ (1Co 7:26, 32, 35). Contrast the Corinthians’ want of self-sacrifice in the exercise of their “liberty” at the cost of destroying, instead of edifying, the Church (1Co 8:9, Margin; 1Co 8:10-13).
as other apostles–implying that some of them had availed themselves of the power which they all had, of marrying. We know from Mt 8:14, that Cephas (Peter) was a married man. A confutation of Peter’s self-styled followers, the Romanists, who exclude the clergy from marriage. Clement of Alexandria [Miscellanies, 7.63] records a tradition that he encouraged his wife when being led to death by saying, “Remember, my dear one, the Lord.” Compare Eusebius [Eccleiastical History, 3.30].
brethren of the Lord–held in especial esteem on account of their relationship to Jesus (Ac 1:14; Ga 1:9). James, Joses, Simon, and Judas. Probably cousins of Jesus: as cousins were termed by the Jews “brethren.” Alford makes them literally brothers of Jesus by Joseph and Mary.
Cephas–probably singled out as being a name carrying weight with one partisan section at Corinth. “If your favorite leader does so, surely so may I” (1Co 1:12; 3:22).
6. Barnabas–long the associate of Paul, and, like him, in the habit of self-denyingly forbearing to claim the maintenance which is a minister’s right. So Paul supported himself by tent-making (Ac 18:3; 20:34; 1Th 2:9; 2Th 3:8).
7. The minister is spiritually a soldier (2Ti 2:3), a vine-dresser (1Co 3:6-8; So 1:6), and a shepherd (1Pe 5:2, 4).
of the fruit–The oldest manuscripts omit “of.”
8. as a man–I speak thus not merely according to human judgment, but with the sanction of the divine law also.
9. ox … treadeth … corn–(De 25:4). In the East to the present day they do not after reaping carry the sheaves home to barns as we do, but take them to an area under the open air to be threshed by the oxen treading them with their feet, or else drawing a threshing instrument over them (compare Mic 4:13).
Doth God … care for oxen?–rather, “Is it for the oxen that God careth?” Is the animal the ultimate object for whose sake this law was given? No. God does care for the lower animal (Ps 36:6; Mt 10:29), but it is with the ultimate aim of the welfare of man, the head of animal creation. In the humane consideration shown for the lower animal, we are to learn that still more ought it to be exercised in the case of man, the ultimate object of the law; and that the human (spiritual as well as temporal) laborer is worthy of his hire.
10. altogether–Join this with “saith.” “Does he (the divine lawgiver) by all means say it for our sakes?” It would be untrue, that God saith it altogether (in the sense of solely) for our sakes. But it is true, that He by all means saith it for our sakes as the ultimate object in the lower world. Grotius, however, translates, “mainly” or “especially,” instead of altogether.
that–“meaning that” [Alford]; literally, “because.”
should plough–ought to plough in hope. The obligation rests with the people not to let their minister labor without remuneration.
he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope–The oldest manuscript versions and Fathers read, “He that thresheth (should or ought to thresh) in the hope of partaking” (namely, of the fruit of his threshing). “He that plougheth,” spiritually, is the first planter of a church in a place (compare 1Co 3:6, 9); “he that thresheth,” the minister who tends a church already planted.
11. we … we–emphatical in the Greek. We, the same persons who have sown to you the infinitely more precious treasures of the Spirit, may at least claim in return what is the only thing you have to give, namely, the goods that nourish the flesh (“your carnal things”).
12. others–whether true apostles (1Co 9:5) or false ones (2Co 11:20).
we rather–considering our greater labors for you (2Co 11:23).
suffer all things–without complaining of it. We desire to conceal (literally, “hold as a water-tight vessel”) any distress we suffer from straitened circumstances. The same Greek is in 1Co 13:7.
lest we … hinder … gospel–not to cause a hindrance to its progress by giving a handle for the imputation of self-seeking, if we received support from our flock. The less of incumbrance and expense caused to the Church, and the more of work done, the better for the cause of the Gospel (2Ti 2:4).
13. minister about holy things–the Jewish priests and Levites. The Greek especially applies to the former, the priests offering sacrifices.
partakers with the altar–a part of the victims going to the service of the altar, and the rest being shared by the priests (Le 7:6; Nu 18:6, &c.; De 18:1, &c.).
14. Even so–The only inference to be drawn from this passage is, not that the Christian ministry is of a sacrificial character as the Jewish priesthood, but simply, that as the latter was supported by the contributions of the people, so should the former. The stipends of the clergy were at first from voluntary offerings at the Lord’s Supper. At the love-feast preceding it every believer, according to his ability, offered a gift; and when the expense of the table had been defrayed, the bishop laid aside a portion for himself, the presbyters, and deacons; and with the rest relieved widows, orphans, confessors, and the poor generally [Tertullian, Apology, 39]. The stipend was in proportion to the dignity and merits of the several bishops, presbyters, and deacons [Cyprian, c. 4, ep. 6].
preach … gospel–plainly marked as the duty of the Christian minister, in contrast to the ministering about sacrifices (Greek) and waiting at the altar of the Jewish priesthood and Levites (1Co 9:13). If the Lord’s Supper were a sacrifice (as the Mass is supposed to be), this fourteenth verse would certainly have been worded so, to answer to 1Co 9:13. Note the same Lord Christ “ordains” the ordinances in the Old and in the New Testaments (Mt 10:10; Lu 10:7).
15. Paul’s special gift of continency, which enabled him to abstain from marriage, and his ability to maintain himself without interrupting seriously his ministry, made that expedient to him which is ordinarily inexpedient; namely, that the ministry should not be supported by the people. What to him was a duty, would be the opposite to one, for instance, to whom God had committed a family, without other means of support.
I have used none of these things–none of these “powers” or rights which I might have used (1Co 9:4-6, 12).
neither–rather, “Yet I have not written.”
so done unto me–literally, “in my case”: as is done in the case of a soldier, a planter, a shepherd, a ploughman, and a sacrificing priest (1Co 9:7, 10, 13).
make my glorying void–deprive me of my privilege of preaching the Gospel without remuneration (2Co 11:7-10). Rather than hinder the progress of the Gospel by giving any pretext for a charge of interested motives (2Co 12:17, 18), Paul would “die” of hunger. Compare Abraham’s similar disinterestedness (Ge 14:22, 23).
16. though I preach … I have nothing to glory of–that is, If I preach the Gospel, and do so not gratuitously, I have no matter for “glorying.” For the “necessity” that is laid on me to preach (compare Jer 20:9, and the case of Jonah) does away with ground for “glorying.” The sole ground for the latter that I have, is my preaching without charge (1Co 9:18): since there is no necessity laid on me as to the latter, it is my voluntary act for the Gospel’s sake.
17. Translate, “If I be doing this (that is, preaching) of my own accord (which I am not, for the ‘necessity’ is laid on me which binds a servant to obey his master), I have a reward; but if (as is the case) involuntarily (Ac 9:15; 22:15; 26:16); not of my own natural will, but by the constraining grace of God; (Ro 9:16; 1Ti 1:13-16), I have had a dispensation (of the Gospel) entrusted to me” (and so can claim no “reward,” seeing that I only “have done that which was my duty to do,” Lu 17:10, but incur the “woe,” 1Co 9:16, if I fail in it).
18. What is my reward?–The answer is in 1Co 9:19; namely, that by making the Gospel without charge, where I might have rightfully claimed maintenance, I might “win the more.”
of Christ–The oldest manuscripts and versions omit these words.
abuse–rather “that I use not to the full my power.” This is his matter for “glorying”; the “reward” ultimately aimed at is the gaining of the more (1Co 9:19). The former, as involving the latter, is verbally made the answer to the question, “What is my reward?” But really the “reward” is that which is the ultimate aim of his preaching without charge, namely, that he may gain the more; it was for this end, not to have matter of glorying, that he did so.
19. free from all men–that is, from the power of all men.
gain the more–that is, as many of them (“all men”) as possible. “Gain” is an appropriate expression in relation to a “reward” (1Th 2:19, 20); he therefore repeats it frequently (1Co 9:20-22).
20. I became as a Jew–in things not defined by the law, but by Jewish usage. Not Judaizing in essentials, but in matters where there was no compromise of principle (compare Ac 16:3; 21:20-26); an undesigned coincidence between the history and the Epistle, and so a sure proof of genuineness.
to them that are under the law, as under the law–in things defined by the law; such as ceremonies not then repugnant to Christianity. Perhaps the reason for distinguishing this class from the former is that Paul himself belonged nationally to “the Jews,” but did not in creed belong to the class of “them that are under the law.” This view is confirmed by the reading inserted here by the oldest manuscripts, versions, and Fathers, “not being (that is, parenthetically, ‘not that I am’) myself under the law.”
21. To them … without law–that is, without revealed law: the heathen (compare Ro 2:12 with 1Co 9:15).
as without law–not urging on them the ceremonies and “works of the law,” but “the hearing of faith” (Ga 3:2). Also discoursing in their own manner, as at Athens, with arguments from their own poets (Ac 17:28).
being not without law to God–“While thus conforming to others in matters indifferent, taking care not to be without law in relation to God, but responsible to law (literally, “IN LAW”) in relation to Christ.” This is the Christian’s true position in relation to the world, to himself, and to God. Everything develops itself according to its proper law. So the Christian, though no longer subject to the literal law as constraining him from without, is subject to an inward principle or law, the spirit of faith in Christ acting from within as the germ of a new life. He does not in the Greek (as in English Version) say “under the law (as he does in 1Co 9:20) to Christ”; but uses the milder term, “in … law,” responsible to law. Christ was responsible to the law for us, so that we are no longer responsible to it (Ga 3:13, 24), but to Him, as the members to the Head (1Co 7:22; Ro 8:1-4; 1Pe 2:16). Christians serve Christ in newness of spirit, no longer in oldness of the letter (that is, the old external law as such), Ro 7:4-6. To Christ, as man’s Head, the Father has properly delegated His authority (Joh 5:22, 27); whence here he substitutes “Christ” for “God” in the second clause, “not without law to God, but under the law to Christ.” The law of Christ is the law of love (Ga 6:2; compare Ga 5:13).
22. gain the weak–that is, establish, instead of being a stumbling-block to inexperienced Christians (1Co 8:7) Ro 14:1, “Weak in the faith.” Alford thinks the “weak” are not Christians at all, for these have been already “won”; but those outside the Church, who are yet “without strength” to believe (Ro 5:6). But when “weak” Christians are by the condescending love of stronger brethren kept from falling from faith, they are well said to be “gained” or won.
by all means … some–The gain of even “some” is worth the expenditure of “all means.” He conformed himself to the feelings of each in the several classes, that out of them all he might gain some.
23. partaker thereof–Greek, “fellow partaker”: of the Gospel blessings promised at Christ’s coming: “with” (not as English Version, “you”: but) them, namely, with those thus “gained” by me to the Gospel.
24. Know ye not–The Isthmian games, in which the foot race was a leading one, were of course well known, and a subject of patriotic pride to the Corinthians, who lived in the immediate neighborhood. These periodical games were to the Greeks rather a passion than a mere amusement: hence their suitableness as an image of Christian earnestness.
in a race–Greek, “in a race course.”
all … one–Although we knew that one alone could be saved, still it Would be well worth our while to run [Bengel]. Even in the Christian race not “all” who enter on the race win (1Co 10:1-5).
So run, that ye may obtain–said parenthetically. These are the words in which the instructors of the young in the exercise schools (gymnasia) and the spectators on the race course exhorted their pupils to stimulate them to put forth all exertions. The gymnasium was a prominent feature in every Greek city. Every candidate had to take an oath that he had been ten months in training, and that he would violate none of the regulations (2Ti 2:5; compare 1Ti 4:7, 8). He lived on a strict self-denying diet, refraining from wine and pleasant foods, and enduring cold and heat and most laborious discipline. The “prize” awarded by the judge or umpire was a chaplet of green leaves; at the Isthmus, those of the indigenous pine, for which parsley leaves were temporarily substituted (1Co 9:25). The Greek for “obtain” is fully obtain. It is in vain to begin, unless we persevere to the end (Mt 10:22; 24:13; Re 2:10). The “so” expresses, Run with such perseverance in the heavenly course, as “all” the runners exhibit in the earthly “race” just spoken of: to the end that ye may attain the prize.
25. striveth–in wrestling: a still more severe contest than the foot race.
is temperate–So Paul exercised self-denial, abstaining from claiming sustenance for the sake of the “reward,” namely, to “gain the more” (1Co 9:18, 19).
corruptible–soon withering, as being only of fir leaves taken from the fir groves which surrounded the Isthmian race course or stadium.
incorruptible–(1Pe 1:4; 5:4; Re 2:10). “Crown” here is not that of a king (which is expressed by a different Greek word, namely, “diadem”), but a wreath or garland.
26. I–Paul returns to his main subject, his own self-denial, and his motive in it.
run, not as uncertainly–not as a runner uncertain of the goal. Ye Corinthians gain no end in your entering idol temples or eating idol meats. But I, for my part, in all my acts, whether in my becoming “all things to all men,” or in receiving no sustenance from my converts, have a definite end in view, namely, to “gain the more.” I know what 1 aim at, and how to aim at it. He who runs with a clear aim, looks straightforward to the goal, makes it his sole aim, casts away every encumbrance (Heb 12:1, 2), is indifferent to what the by-standers say, and sometimes even a fall only serves to rouse him the more [Bengel].
not as one that beateth the air–instead of beating the adversary. Alluding to the sciamachia or sparring in the school in sham-fight (compare 1Co 14:9), wherein they struck out into the air as if at an imaginary adversary. The real adversary is Satan acting on us through the flesh.
27. keep under–literally, “bruise the face under the eyes,” so as to render it black and blue; so, to chastise in the most sensitive part. Compare “mortify the deeds of the body,” Ro 8:13; also 1Pe 2:11. It is not ascetic fasts or macerations of the body which are here recommended, but the keeping under of our natural self-seeking, so as, like Paul, to lay ourselves out entirely for the great work.
my body–the old man and the remainders of lust in my flesh. “My body,” so far as by the flesh it opposes the spirit [Estius] (Ga 5:17). Men may be severe to their bodies and yet indulge their lust. Ascetic “neglect of the body” may be all the while a more subtile “satisfying of the flesh” (Col 2:23). Unless the soul keep the body under, the body will get above the soul. The body may be made a good servant, but is a bad master.
bring it into subjection–or bondage, as a slave or servant led away captive; so the Greek.
preached–literally, “heralded.” He keeps up the image from the races. The heralds summoned the candidates for the foot race into the race course [Plato, Laws, 8.833], and placed the crowns on the brows of the conquerors, announcing their names [Bengel]. They probably proclaimed also the laws of the combat; answering to the preaching of the apostles [Alford]. The The Christian herald is also a combatant, in which respect he is distinguished from the herald at the games.
a castaway–failing shamefully of the prize myself, after I have called others to the contest. Rejected by God, the Judge of the Christian race, notwithstanding my having, by my preaching, led others to be accepted. Compare the equivalent term, “reprobate,” Jer 6:30; 2Co 13:6. Paul implies, if such earnest, self-denying watchfulness over himself be needed still, with all his labors for others, to make his own calling sure, much more is the same needed by the Corinthians, instead of their going, as they do, to the extreme limit of Christian liberty.
1Co 10:1-33. Danger of Fellowship with Idolatry Illustrated in the History of Israel: Such Fellowship Incompatible with Fellowship in the Lord’s Supper. Even Lawful Things Are to Be Forborne, so as Not to Hurt Weak Brethren.
1. Moreover–The oldest manuscripts read “for.” Thus the connection with the foregoing chapter is expressed. Ye need to exercise self-denying watchfulness notwithstanding all your privileges, lest ye be castaways. For the Israelites with all their privileges were most of them castaways through want of it.
ignorant–with all your boasted “knowledge.”
our fathers–The Jewish Church stands in the relation of parent to the Christian Church.
all–Arrange as the Greek, “Our fathers were all under the cloud”; giving the “all” its proper emphasis. Not so much as one of so great a multitude was detained by force or disease (Ps 105:37) [Bengel]. Five times the “all” is repeated, in the enumeration of the five favors which God bestowed on Israel (1Co 10:1-4). Five times, correspondingly, they sinned (1Co 10:6-10). In contrast to the “all” stands “many (rather, ‘the most’) of them” (1Co 10:5). All of them had great privileges, yet most of them were castaways through lust. Beware you, having greater privileges, of sharing the same doom through a similar sin. Continuing the reasoning (1Co 9:24), “They which run in a race, run all, but one receiveth the prize.”
under the cloud–were continually under the defense of the pillar of cloud, the symbol of the divine presence (Ex 13:21, 22; Ps 105:39; compare Isa 4:5).
passed through the sea–by God’s miraculous interposition for them (Ex 14:29).
2. And–“And so” [Bengel].
baptized unto Moses–the servant of God and representative of the Old Testament covenant of the law: as Jesus, the Son of God, is of the Gospel covenant (Joh 1:17; Heb 3:5, 6). The people were led to believe in Moses as God’s servant by the miracle of the cloud protecting them, and by their being conducted under him safely through the Red Sea; therefore they are said to be “baptized unto” him (Ex 14:31). “Baptized” is here equivalent to “initiated”: it is used in accommodation to Paul’s argument to the Corinthians; they, it is true, have been “baptized,” but so also virtually were the Israelites of old; if the virtual baptism of the latter availed not to save them from the doom of lust, neither will the actual baptism of the former save them. There is a resemblance between the symbols also: for the cloud and sea consist of water, and as these took the Israelites out of sight, and then restored them again to view, so the water does to the baptized [Bengel]. Olshausen understands “the cloud” and “the sea” as symbolizing the Spirit and water respectively (Joh 3:5; Ac 10:44-47). Christ is the pillar cloud that screens us from the heat of God’s wrath. Christ as “the light of the world” is our “pillar of fire” to guide us in the darkness of the world. As the rock when smitten sent forth the waters, so Christ, having been once for all smitten, sends forth the waters of the Spirit. As the manna bruised in mills fed Israel, so Christ, when “it pleased the Lord to bruise Him,” has become our spiritual food. A strong proof of inspiration is given in this fact, that the historical parts of Scripture, without the consciousness even of the authors, are covert prophecies of the future.
3. same spiritual meat–As the Israelites had the water from the rock, which answered to baptism, so they had the manna which corresponded to the other of the two Christian sacraments, the Lord’s Supper. Paul plainly implies the importance which was attached to these two sacraments by all Christians in those days: “an inspired protest against those who lower their dignity, or deny their necessity” [Alford]. Still he guards against the other extreme of thinking the mere external possession of such privileges will ensure salvation. Moreover, had there been seven sacraments, as Rome teaches, Paul would have alluded to them, whereas he refers to only the two. He does not mean by “the same” that the Israelites and we Christians have the “same” sacrament; but that believing and unbelieving Israelites alike had “the same” spiritual privilege of the manna (compare 1Co 10:17). It was “spiritual meat” or food; because given by the power of God’s spirit, not by human labor [Grotius and Alford] Ga 4:29, “born after the Spirit,” that is, supernaturally. Ps 78:24, “corn of heaven” (Ps 105:40). Rather, “spiritual” in its typical signification, Christ, the true Bread of heaven, being signified (Joh 6:32). Not that the Israelites clearly understood the signification; but believers among them would feel that in the type something more was meant; and their implicit and reverent, though indistinct, faith was counted to them for justification, of which the manna was a kind of sacramental seal. “They are not to be heard which feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises” [Article VII, Church of England], as appears from this passage (compare Heb 4:2).
4. drink–(Ex 17:6). In Nu 20:8, “the beasts” also are mentioned as having drunk. The literal water typified “spiritual drink,” and is therefore so called.
spiritual Rock that followed them–rather, “accompanied them.” Not the literal rock (or its water) “followed” them, as Alford explains, as if Paul sanctioned the Jews’ tradition (Rabbi Solomon on Nu 20:2) that the rock itself, or at least the stream from it, followed the Israelites from place to place (compare De 9:21). But Christ, the “Spiritual Rock” (Ps 78:20, 35; De 32:4, 15, 18, 30, 31, 37; Isa 28:16; 1Pe 2:6), accompanied them (Ex 33:15). “Followed” implies His attending on them to minister to them; thus, though mostly going before them, He, when occasion required it, followed “behind” (Ex 14:19). He satisfied all alike as to their bodily thirst whenever they needed it; as on three occasions is expressly recorded (Ex 15:24, 25; 17:6; Nu 20:8); and this drink for the body symbolized the spiritual drink from the Spiritual Rock (compare Joh 4:13, 14; see on 1Co 10:3).
5. But–though they had so many tokens of God’s presence.
many of them–rather, “the majority of them”; “the whole part.” All except Joshua and Caleb of the first generation.
not–in the Greek emphatically standing in the beginning of the sentence: “Not,” as one might have naturally expected, “with the more part of them was,” &c.
God–whose judgment alone is valid.
for–the event showed, they had not pleased God.
overthrown–literally, “strewn in heaps.”
in the wilderness–far from the land of promise.
6. were–Greek, “came to pass as.”
our examples–samples to us of what will befall us, if we also with all our privileges walk carelessly.
lust–the fountain of all the four other offenses enumerated, and therefore put first (Jas 1:14, 15; compare Ps 106:14). A particular case of lust was that after flesh, when they pined for the fish, leeks, &c., of Egypt, which they had left (Nu 11:4, 33, 34). These are included in the “evil things,” not that they are so in themselves, but they became so to the Israelites when they lusted after what God withheld, and were discontented with what God provided.
7. idolaters–A case in point. As the Israelites sat down (a deliberate act), ate, and drank at the idol feast to the calves in Horeb, so the Corinthians were in danger of idolatry by a like act, though not professedly worshipping an idol as the Israelites (1Co 8:10, 11; 10:14, 20, 21; Ex 32:6). He passes here from the first to the second person, as they alone (not he also) were in danger of idolatry, &c. He resumes the first person appropriately at 1Co 10:16.
some–The multitude follow the lead of some bad men.
play–with lascivious dancing, singing, and drumming round the calf (compare “rejoiced,” Ac 7:41).
8. fornication–literally, Fornication was generally, as in this case (Nu 25:1-18), associated at the idol feasts with spiritual fornication, that is, idolatry. This all applied to the Corinthians (1Co 5:1, 9; 6:9, 15, 18; 1Co 8:10). Balaam tempted Israel to both sins with Midian (Re 2:14). Compare 1Co 8:7, 9, “stumbling-block,” “eat … thing offered unto … idol.”
three and twenty thousand–in Nu 25:9 “twenty and four thousand.” If this were a real discrepancy, it would militate rather against inspiration of the subject matter and thought, than against verbal inspiration. The solution is: Moses in Numbers includes all who died “in the plague”; Paul, all who died “in one day”; one thousand more may have fallen the next day [Kitto, Biblical Cyclopædia]. Or, the real number may have been between twenty-three thousand and twenty-four thousand, say twenty-three thousand five hundred, or twenty-three thousand six hundred; when writing generally where the exact figures were not needed, one writer might quite veraciously give one of the two round numbers near the exact one, and the other writer the other [Bengel]. Whichever be the true way of reconciling the seeming discrepant statements, at least the ways given above prove they are not really irreconcilable.
9. tempt Christ–So the oldest versions, Irenæus (264), and good manuscripts read. Some of the oldest manuscripts read “Lord”; and one manuscript only “God.” If “Lord” be read, it will mean Christ. As “Christ” was referred to in one of the five privileges of Israel (1Co 10:4), so it is natural that He should be mentioned here in one of the five corresponding sins of that people. In Nu 21:5 it is “spake against God” (whence probably arose the alteration in the one manuscript, 1Co 10:9, “God,” to harmonize it with Nu 21:5). As either “Christ” or “Lord” is the genuine reading, “Christ” must be “God.” Compare “Why do ye tempt the Lord?” (Ex 17:2, 7. Compare Ro 14:11, with Isa 45:22, 23). Israel’s discontented complainings were temptings of Christ especially, the “Angel” of the covenant (Ex 23:20, 21; 32:34; Isa 63:9). Though they drank of “that Rock … Christ” (1Co 10:4), they yet complained for want of water (Ex 17:2, 7). Though also eating the same spiritual meat (Christ, “the true manna,” “the bread of life”), they yet murmured, “Our soul loatheth this light bread.” In this case, being punished by the fiery serpents, they were saved by the brazen serpent, the emblem of Christ (compare Joh 8:56; Heb 11:26). The Greek for “tempt” means, tempt or try, so as to wear out the long-suffering of Christ (compare Ps 95:8, 9; Nu 14:22). The Corinthians were in danger of provoking God’s long-suffering by walking on the verge of idolatry, through overweening confidence in their knowledge.
10. some of them … murmured–upon the death of Korah and his company, who themselves were murmurers (Nu 16:41, 49). Their murmurs against Moses and Aaron were virtually murmurs against God (compare Ex 16:8, 10). Paul herein glances at the Corinthian murmurs against himself, the apostle of Christ.
destroyed–fourteen thousand seven hundred perished.
the destroyer–THE same destroying angel sent by God as in Ex 12:23, and 2Sa 24:16.
11. Now … these things … ensamples–resuming the thread of 1Co 10:6. The oldest manuscripts read, “by way of example.”
the ends of the world–literally, “of the ages”; the New Testament dispensation in its successive phases (plural, “ends”) being the winding up of all former “ages.” No new dispensation shall appear till Christ comes as Avenger and Judge; till then the “ends,” being many, include various successive periods (compare Heb 9:26). As we live in the last dispensation, which is the consummation of all that went before, our responsibilities are the greater; and the greater is the guilt, Paul implies, to the Corinthians, which they incur if they fall short of their privileges.
12. thinketh he standeth–stands and thinks that he stands [Bengel]; that is, stands “by faith … well pleasing” to God; in contrast to 1Co 10:5, “with many of them God was not well pleased” (Ro 11:20).
fall–from his place in the Church of God (compare 1Co 10:8, “fell”). Both temporally and spiritually (Ro 14:4). Our security, so far as relates to God, consists in faith; so far as relates to ourselves, it consists in fear.
13. Consolation to them, under their temptation; it is none but such as is “common to man,” or “such as man can bear,” “adapted to man’s powers of endurance” [Wahl].
faithful–(Ps 125:3; Isa 27:3, 8; Re 3:10). “God is faithful” to the covenant which He made with you in calling you (1Th 5:24). To be led into temptation is distinct from running into it, which would be “tempting God” (1Co 10:9; Mt 4:7).
way to escape–(Jer 29:11; 2Pe 2:9). The Greek is, “the way of escape”; the appropriate way of escape in each particular temptation; not an immediate escape, but one in due time, after patience has had her perfect work (Jas 1:2-4, 12). He “makes” the way of escape simultaneously with the temptation which His providence permissively arranges for His people.
to bear it–Greek, “to bear up under it,” or “against it.” Not, He will take it away (2Co 12:7-9).
14. Resuming the argument, 1Co 10:7; 1Co 8:9, 10.
flee–Do not tamper with it by doubtful acts, such as eating idol meats on the plea of Christian liberty. The only safety is in wholly shunning whatever borders on idolatry (2Co 6:16, 17). The Holy Spirit herein also presciently warned the Church against the idolatry, subsequently transferred from the idol feast to the Lord’s Supper itself, in the figment of transubstantiation.
15. Appeal to their own powers of judgment to weigh the force of the argument that follows: namely, that as the partaking of the Lord’s Supper involves a partaking of the Lord Himself, and the partaking of the Jewish sacrificial meats involved a partaking of the altar of God, and, as the heathens sacrifice to devils, to partake of an idol feast is to have fellowship with devils. We cannot divest ourselves of the responsibility of “judging” for ourselves. The weakness of private judgment is not an argument against its use, but its abuse. We should the more take pains in searching the infallible word, with every aid within our reach, and above all with humble prayer for the Spirit’s teaching (Ac 17:11). If Paul, an inspired apostle, not only permits, but urges, men to judge his sayings by Scripture, much more should the fallible ministers of the present visible Church do so.
To wise men–refers with a mixture of irony to the Corinthian boast of “wisdom” (1Co 4:10; 2Co 11:19). Here you have an opportunity of exercising your “wisdom” in judging “what I say.”
16. The cup of blessing–answering to the Jewish “cup of blessing,” over which thanks were offered in the Passover. It was in doing so that Christ instituted this part of the Lord’s Supper (Mt 26:27; Lu 22:17, 20).
we bless–“we,” not merely ministers, but also the congregation. The minister “blesses” (that is, consecrates with blessing) the cup, not by any priestly transmitted authority of his own, but as representative of the congregation, who virtually through him bless the cup. The consecration is the corporate act of the whole Church. The act of joint blessing by him and them (not “the cup” itself, which, as also “the bread,” in the Greek is in the accusative), and the consequent drinking of it together, constitute the communion, that is, the joint participation “of the blood of Christ.” Compare 1Co 10:18, “They who eat … are partakers” (joint communicants). “Is” in both cases in this verse is literal, not represents. He who with faith partakes of the cup and the bread, partakes really but spiritually of the blood and body of Christ (Eph 5:30, 32), and of the benefits of His sacrifice on the cross (compare 1Co 10:18). In contrast to this is to have “fellowship with devils” (1Co 10:20). Alford explains, “The cup … is the [joint] participation (that is, that whereby the act of participation takes place) of the blood,” &c. It is the seal of our living union with, and a means of our partaking of, Christ as our Saviour (Joh 6:53-57). It is not said, “The cup … is the blood,” or “the bread … is the body,” but “is the communion [joint-participation] of the blood … body.” If the bread be changed into the literal body of Christ, where is the sign of the sacrament? Romanists eat Christ “in remembrance of Himself.” To drink literal blood would have been an abomination to Jews, which the first Christians were (Le 17:11, 12). Breaking the bread was part of the act of consecrating it, for thus was represented the crucifixion of Christ’s body (1Co 11:24). The distinct specification of the bread and the wine disproves the Romish doctrine of concomitancy, and exclusion of the laity from the cup.
17. one bread–rather, “loaf.” One loaf alone seems to have been used in each celebration.
and one body–Omit “and”; “one loaf [that is], one body.” “We, the many (namely, believers assembled; so the Greek), are one bread (by our partaking of the same loaf, which becomes assimilated to the substance of all our bodies; and so we become), one body” (with Christ, and so with one another).
we … all–Greek, “the whole of us.”
18. Israel after the flesh–the literal, as distinguished from the spiritual, Israel (Ro 2:29; 4:1; 9:3; Ga 4:29).
partakers of the altar–and so of God, whose is the altar; they have fellowship in God and His worship, of which the altar is the symbol.
19, 20. What say I then?–The inference might be drawn from the analogies of the Lord’s Supper and Jewish sacrifices, that an idol is really what the heathen thought it to be, a god, and that in eating idol-meats they had fellowship with the god. This verse guards against such an inference: “What would I say then? that a thing sacrificed to an idol is any real thing (in the sense that the heathen regard it), or that an idol is any real thing?” (The oldest manuscripts read the words in this order. Supply “Nay”) “But [I say] that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils (demons).” Paul here introduces a new fact. It is true that, as I said, an idol has no reality in the sense that the heathen regard it, but it has a reality in another sense; heathendom being under Satan’s dominion as “prince of this world,” he and his demons are in fact the powers worshipped by the heathen, whether they are or are not conscious of it (De 32:17; Le 17:7; 2Ch 11:15; Ps 106:37; Re 9:20). “Devil” is in the Greek restricted to Satan; “demons” is the term applied to his subordinate evil spirits. Fear, rather than love, is the motive of heathen worship (compare the English word “panic,” from Pan, whose human form with horns and cloven hoofs gave rise to the vulgar representations of Satan which prevail now); just as fear is the spirit of Satan and his demons (Jas 2:19).
20. I would not that ye … have fellowship with devils–by partaking of idol feasts (1Co 8:10).
21. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord–really and spiritually; though ye may outwardly (1Ki 18:21).
cup of devils–in contrast to the cup of the Lord. At idol feasts libations were usually made from the cup to the idol first, and then the guests drank; so that in drinking they had fellowship with the idol.
the Lord’s table–The Lord’s Supper is a feast on a table, not a sacrifice on an altar. Our only altar is the cross, our only sacrifice that of Christ once for all. The Lord’s Supper stands, however, in the same relation, analogically, to Christ’s sacrifice, as the Jews’ sacrificial feasts did to their sacrifices (compare Mal 1:7, “altar … table of the Lord”), and the heathen idol feasts to their idolatrous sacrifices (Isa 65:11). The heathen sacrifices were offered to idol nonentities, behind which Satan lurked. The Jews’ sacrifice was but a shadow of the substance which was to come. Our one sacrifice of Christ is the only substantial reality; therefore, while the partaker of the Jew’s sacrificial feast partook rather “of the altar” (1Co 10:18) than of God manifested fully, and the heathen idol-feaster had fellowship really with demons, the communicant in the Lord’s Supper has in it a real communion of, or fellowship in, the body of Christ once sacrificed, and now exalted as the Head of redeemed humanity.
22. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?–by dividing our fellowship between Him and idols (Eze 20:39). Is it our wish to provoke Him to assert His power? De 32:21 is before the apostle’s mind [Alford], (Ex 20:5).
are we stronger?–that we can risk a contest with Him.
23. All things are lawful for me, &c.–Recurring to the Corinthian plea (1Co 6:12), he repeats his qualification of it. The oldest manuscripts omit both times “for me.”
edify not–tend not to build up the spiritual temple, the Church, in faith and love. Paul does not appeal to the apostolic decision (Ac 15:1-29), which seems to have been not so much regarded outside of Palestine, but rather to the broad principle of true Christian freedom, which does not allow us to be governed by external things, as though, because we can use them, we must use them (1Co 6:12). Their use or non-use is to be regulated by regard to edification.
24. (1Co 10:33; 1Co 13:5; Ro 15:1, 2).
25. shambles–butchers’ stalls; the flesh market.
asking no question–whether it has been offered to an idol or not.
for conscience’ sake–If on asking you should hear it had been offered to idols, a scruple would arise in your conscience which was needless, and never would have arisen had you asked no questions.
26. The ground on which such eating without questioning is justified is, the earth and all its contents (“the fulness thereof,” Ps 20:1; 50:12), including all meats, belong to the Lord, and are appointed for our use; and where conscience suggests no scruple, all are to be eaten (Ro 14:14, 20; 1Ti 4:4, 5; compare Ac 10:15).
27. ye be disposed to go–tacitly implying, they would be as well not to go, but yet not forbidding them to go (1Co 10:9) [Grotius]. The feast is not an idol feast, but a general entertainment, at which, however, there might be meat that had been offered to an idol.
for conscience’ sake–(See on 1Co 10:25).
28. if any man–a weak Christian at table, wishing to warn his brother.
offered in sacrifice unto idols–The oldest manuscripts omit “unto idols.” At a heathen’s table the expression, offensive to him, would naturally be avoided.
for conscience’ sake–not to cause a stumbling-block to the conscience of thy weak brother (1Co 8:10-12).
for the earth is the Lord’s, &c.–not in the oldest manuscripts.
29. Conscience … of the other–the weak brother introduced in 1Co 10:28.
for why is my liberty judged off another man’s conscience?–Paul passes to the first person, to teach his converts by putting himself as it were in their position. The Greek terms for “the other” and “another” are distinct. “The other” is the one with whom Paul’s and his Corinthian converts’ concern is; “another” is any other with whom he and they have no concern. If a guest know the meat to be idol meat while I know it not, I have “liberty” to eat without being condemned by his “conscience” [Grotius]. Thus the “for,” &c., is an argument for 1Co 10:27, “Eat, asking no questions.” Or, Why should I give occasion by the rash use of my liberty that another should condemn it [Estius], or that my liberty should cause the destruction of my weak brother?” [Menochius]. Or, the words are those of the Corinthian objector (perhaps used in their letter, and so quoted by Paul), “Why is my liberty judged by another’s conscience?” Why should not I be judged only by my own, and have liberty to do whatever it sanctions? Paul replies in 1Co 10:31, Your doing so ought always to be limited by regard to what most tends “to the glory of God” [Vatablus, Conybeare and Howson]. The first explanation is simplest; the “for,” &c., in it refers to “not thine own” (that is, “not my own,” in Paul’s change to the first person); I am to abstain only in the case of liability to offend another’s conscience; in cases where my own has no scruple, I am not bound, in God’s judgment, by any other conscience than my own.
30. For–The oldest manuscripts omit “For.”
by grace–rather, “thankfully” [Alford].
I … be partaker–I partake of the food set before me.
evil spoken of–by him who does not use his liberty, but will eat nothing without scrupulosity and questioning whence the meat comes.
give thanks–which consecrates all the Christian’s acts (Ro 14:6; 1Ti 4:3, 4).
31. Contrast Zec 7:6; the picture of worldly men. The godly may “eat and drink,” and it shall be well with him (Jer 22:15, 16).
to the glory of God–(Col 3:17; 1Pe 4:11)–which involves our having regard to the edification of our neighbor.
32. Give none offence–in things indifferent (1Co 8:13; Ro 14:13; 2Co 6:3); for in all essential things affecting Christian doctrine and practice, even in the smallest detail, we must not swerve from principle, whatever offense may be the result (1Co 1:23). Giving offense is unnecessary, if our own spirit cause it; necessary, if it be caused by the truth.
33. I please–I try to please (1Co 9:19, 22; Ro 15:2).
not seeking mine own–(1Co 10:24).
many–rather as Greek, “THE many.”
1Co 11:1-34. Censure on Disorders in Their Assemblies: Their Women Not Being Veiled, and Abuses at the Love-Feasts.
1. Rather belonging to the end of the tenth chapter, than to this chapter.
of Christ–who did not please Himself (Ro 15:3); but gave Himself, at the cost of laying aside His divine glory, and dying as man, for us (Eph 5:2; Php 2:4, 5). We are to follow Christ first, and earthly teachers only so far as they follow Christ.
2. Here the chapter ought to begin.
ye remember me in all things–in your general practice, though in the particular instances which follow ye fail.
ordinances–Greek, “traditions,” that is, apostolic directions given by word of mouth or in writing (1Co 11:23; 15:3; 2Th 2:15). The reference here is mainly to ceremonies: for in 1Co 11:23, as to the Lord’s Supper, which is not a mere ceremony, he says, not merely, “I delivered unto you,” but also, “I received of the Lord”; here he says only, “I delivered to you.” Romanists argue hence for oral traditions. But the difficulty is to know what is a genuine apostolic tradition intended for all ages. Any that can be proved to be such ought to be observed; any that cannot, ought to be rejected (Re 22:18). Those preserved in the written word alone can be proved to be such.
3. The Corinthian women, on the ground of the abolition of distinction of sexes in Christ, claimed equality with the male sex, and, overstepping the bounds of propriety, came forward to pray and prophesy without the customary head-covering of females. The Gospel, doubtless, did raise women from the degradation in which they had been sunk, especially in the East. Yet, while on a level with males as to the offer of, and standing in grace (Ga 3:28), their subjection in point of order, modesty, and seemliness, is to be maintained. Paul reproves here their unseemliness as to dress: in 1Co 14:34, as to the retiring modesty in public which becomes them. He grounds his reproof here on the subjection of woman to man in the order of creation.
the head–an appropriate expression, when he is about to treat of woman’s appropriate headdress in public.
of every man … Christ–(Eph 5:23).
of … woman … man–(1Co 11:8; Ge 3:16; 1Ti 2:11, 12; 1Pe 3:1, 5, 6).
head of Christ is God–(1Co 3:23; 15:27, 28; Lu 3:22, 38; Joh 14:28; 20:17; Eph 3:9). “Jesus, therefore, must be of the same essence as God: for, since the man is the head of the woman, and since the head is of the same essence as the body, and God is the head of the Son, it follows the Son is of the same essence as the Father” [Chrysostom]. “The woman is of the essence of the man, and not made by the man; so, too, the Son is not made by the Father, but of the essence of the Father” [Theodoret, t. 3, p. 171].
4. praying–in public (1Co 11:17).
prophesying–preaching in the Spirit (1Co 12:10).
having–that is, if he were to have: a supposed case to illustrate the impropriety in the woman’s case. It was the Greek custom (and so that at Corinth) for men in worship to be uncovered; whereas the Jews wore the Talith, or veil, to show reverence before God, and their unworthiness to look on Him (Isa 6:2); however, Maimonides [Mishna] excepts cases where (as in Greece) the custom of the place was different.
dishonoureth his head–not as Alford, “Christ” (1Co 11:3); but literally, as “his head” is used in the beginning of the verse. He dishonoreth his head (the principal part of the body) by wearing a covering or veil, which is a mark of subjection, and which makes him look downwards instead of upwards to his Spiritual Head, Christ, to whom alone he owes subjection. Why, then, ought not man to wear the covering in token of his subjection to Christ, as the woman wears it in token of her subjection to man? “Because Christ is not seen: the man is seen; so the covering of him who is under Christ is not seen; of her who is under the man, is seen” [Bengel]. (Compare 1Co 11:7).
5. woman … prayeth … prophesieth–This instance of women speaking in public worship is an extraordinary case, and justified only by the miraculous gifts which such women possessed as their credentials; for instance, Anna the prophetess and Priscilla (so Ac 2:18). The ordinary rule to them is: silence in public (1Co 14:34, 35; 1Ti 2:11, 12). Mental receptivity and activity in family life are recognized in Christianity, as most accordant with the destiny of woman. This passage does not necessarily sanction women speaking in public, even though possessing miraculous gifts; but simply records what took place at Corinth, without expressing an opinion on it, reserving the censure of it till 1Co 14:34, 35. Even those women endowed with prophecy were designed to exercise their gift, rather in other times and places, than the public congregation.
dishonoureth … head–in that she acts against the divine ordinance and the modest propriety that becomes her: in putting away the veil, she puts away the badge of her subjection to man, which is her true “honor”; for through him it connects her with Christ, the head of the man. Moreover, as the head-covering was the emblem of maiden modesty before man (Ge 24:65), and conjugal chastity (Ge 20:16); so, to uncover the head indicated withdrawal from the power of the husband, whence a suspected wife had her head uncovered by the priest (Nu 5:18). Alford takes “her head” to be man, her symbolical, not her literal head; but as it is literal in the former clause, it must be so in the latter one.
all one as if … shaven–As woman’s hair is given her by nature, as her covering (1Co 11:15), to cut it off like a man, all admit, would be indecorous: therefore, to put away the head-covering, too, like a man, would be similarly indecorous. It is natural to her to have long hair for her covering: she ought, therefore, to add the other (the wearing of a head-covering) to show that she does of her own will that which nature itself teaches she ought to do, in token of her subjection to man.
6. A woman would not like to be “shorn” or (what is worse) “shaven”; but if she chooses to be uncovered (unveiled) in front, let her be so also behind, that is, “shorn.”
a shame–an unbecoming thing (compare 1Co 11:13-15). Thus the shaving of nuns is “a shame.”
7-9. Argument, also, from man’s more immediate relation to God, and the woman’s to man.
he is … image … glory of God–being created in God’s “image,” first and directly: the woman, subsequently, and indirectly, through the mediation of man. Man is the representative of God’s “glory” this ideal of man being realized most fully in the Son of man (Ps 8:4, 5; compare 2Co 8:23). Man is declared in Scripture to be both the “image,” and in the “likeness,” of God (compare Jas 3:9). But “image” alone is applied to the Son of God (Col 1:15; compare Heb 1:3). “Express image,” Greek, “the impress.” The Divine Son is not merely “like” God, He is God of God, “being of one substance (essence) with the Father.” [Nicene Creed].
woman … glory of … man–He does not say, also, “the image of the man.” For the sexes differ: moreover, the woman is created in the image of God, as well as the man (Ge 1:26, 27). But as the moon in relation to the sun (Ge 37:9), so woman shines not so much with light direct from God, as with light derived from man, that is, in her order in creation; not that she does not in grace come individually into direct communion with God; but even here much of her knowledge is mediately given her through man, on whom she is naturally dependent.
8. is of … of–takes his being from (“out of”) … from: referring to woman’s original creation, “taken out of man” (compare Ge 2:23). The woman was made by God mediately through the man, who was, as it were, a veil or medium placed between her and God, and therefore, should wear the veil or head-covering in public worship, in acknowledgement of this subordination to man in the order of creation. The man being made immediately by God as His glory, has no veil between himself and God [Faber Stapulensis in Bengel].
9. Neither–rather, “For also”; Another argument: The immediate object of woman’s creation. “The man was not created for the sake of the woman; but the woman for the sake of the man” (Ge 2:18, 21, 22). Just as the Church, the bride, is made for Christ; and yet in both the natural and the spiritual creations, the bride, while made for the bridegroom, in fulfilling that end, attains her own true “glory,” and brings “shame” and “dishonor” on herself by any departure from it (1Co 11:4, 6).
10. power on her head–the kerchief: French couvre chef, head-covering, the emblem of “power on her head”; the sign of her being under man’s power, and exercising delegated authority under him. Paul had before his mind the root-connection between the Hebrew terms for “veil” (radid), and “subjection” (radad).
because of the angels–who are present at our Christian assemblies (compare Ps 138:1, “gods,” that is, angels), and delight in the orderly subordination of the several ranks of God’s worshippers in their respective places, the outward demeanor and dress of the latter being indicative of that inward humility which angels know to be most pleasing to their common Lord (1Co 4:9; Eph 3:10; Ec 5:6). Hammond quotes Chrysostom, “Thou standest with angels; thou singest with them; thou hymnest with them; and yet dost thou stand laughing?” Bengel explains, “As the angels are in relation to God, so the woman is in relation to man. God’s face is uncovered; angels in His presence are veiled (Isa 6:2). Man’s face is uncovered; woman in His presence is to be veiled. For her not to be so, would, by its indecorousness, offend the angels (Mt 18:10, 31). She, by her weakness, especially needs their ministry; she ought, therefore, to be the more careful not to offend them.”
11. Yet neither sex is insulated and independent of the other in the Christian life [Alford]. The one needs the other in the sexual relation; and in respect to Christ (“in the Lord”), the man and the woman together (for neither can be dispensed with) realize the ideal of redeemed humanity represented by the bride, the Church.
12. As the woman was formed out of (from) the man, even so is man born by means of woman; but all things (including both man and woman) are from God as their source (Ro 11:36; 2Co 5:18). They depend mutually each on the other, and both on him.
13. Appeal to their own sense of decorum.
a woman … unto God–By rejecting the emblem of subjection (the head-covering), she passes at one leap in praying publicly beyond both the man and angels [Bengel].
14. The fact that nature has provided woman, and not man, with long hair, proves that man was designed to be uncovered, and woman covered. The Nazarite, however, wore long hair lawfully, as being part of a vow sanctioned by God (Nu 6:5). Compare as to Absalom, 2Sa 14:26, and Ac 18:18.
15. her hair … for a covering–Not that she does not need additional covering. Nay, her long hair shows she ought to cover her head as much as possible. The will ought to accord with nature [Bengel].
16. A summary close to the argument by appeal to the universal custom of the churches.
if any … seem–The Greek also means “thinks” (fit) (compare Mt 3:9). If any man chooses (still after all my arguments) to be contentious. If any be contentious and thinks himself right in being so. A reproof of the Corinthians’ self-sufficiency and disputatiousness (1Co 1:20).
we–apostles: or we of the Jewish nation, from whom ye have received the Gospel, and whose usages in all that is good ye ought to follow: Jewish women veiled themselves when in public, according to Tertullian [Estius]. The former explanation is best, as the Jews are not referred to in the context: but he often refers to himself and his fellow apostles, by the expression, “we–us” (1Co 4:9, 10).
no such custom–as that of women praying uncovered. Not as Chrysostom, “that of being contentious.” The Greek term implies a usage, rather than a mental habit (Joh 18:39). The usage of true “churches (plural: not, as Rome uses it, ‘the Church,’ as an abstract entity; but ‘the churches,’ as a number of independent witnesses) of God” (the churches which God Himself recognizes), is a valid argument in the case of external rites, especially, negatively, for example, Such rites were not received among them, therefore, ought not to be admitted among us: but in questions of doctrine, or the essentials of worship, the argument is not valid [Sclater] (1Co 7:17; 14:33).
neither–nor yet. Catholic usage is not an infallible test of truth, but a general test of decency.
17. in this–which follows.
I declare–rather, “I enjoin”; as the Greek is always so used. The oldest manuscripts read literally “This I enjoin (you) not praising (you).”
that–inasmuch as; in that you, &c. Here he qualifies his praise (1Co 11:2). “I said that I praised you for keeping the ordinances delivered to you; but I must now give injunction in the name of the Lord, on a matter in which I praise you not; namely, as to the Lord’s Supper (1Co 11:23; 1Co 14:37).
not for the better–not so as to progress to what is better.
for the worse–so as to retrograde to what is worse. The result of such “coming together” must be “condemnation” (1Co 11:34).
18. first of all–In the first place. The “divisions” (Greek, “schisms”) meant, are not merely those of opinion (1Co 1:10), but in outward acts at the love-feasts (Agapæ), (1Co 11:21). He does not follow up the expression, “in the first place,” by “in the second place.” But though not expressed, a second abuse was in his mind when he said, “In the first place,” namely, THE ABUSE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS, which also created disorder in their assemblies [Alford], (1Co 12:1; 14:23, 26, 33, 40).
in the church–not the place of worship; for Isidore of Pelusium denies that there were such places specially set apart for worship in the apostles’ times [Epistle, 246.2]. But, “in the assembly” or “congregation”; in convocation for worship, where especially love, order, and harmony should prevail. The very ordinance instituted for uniting together believers in one body, was made an occasion of “divisions” (schisms).
partly–He hereby excepts the innocent. “I am unwilling to believe all I hear, but some I cannot help believing” [Alford]: while my love is unaffected by it [Bengel].
19. heresies–Not merely “schisms” or “divisions” (1Co 11:18), which are “recent dissensions of the congregation through differences of opinion” [Augustine, Con. Crescon. Don. 2.7, quoted by Trench, Greek Synonyms of the New Testament], but also “heresies,” that is, “schisms which have now become inveterate”; “Sects” [Campbell, vol. 2, pp. 126, 127]: so Ac 5:17; 15:5 translate the same Greek. At present there were dissensions at the love-feasts; but Paul, remembering Jesus’ words (Mt 18:7; 24:10, 12; Lu 17:1) foresees “there must be (come) also” matured separations, and established parties in secession, as separatists. The “must be” arises from sin in professors necessarily bearing its natural fruits: these are overruled by God to the probation of character of both the godly and the ungodly, and to the discipline of the former for glory. “Heresies” had not yet its technical sense ecclesiastically, referring to doctrinal errors: it means confirmed schisms. St. Augustine’s rule is a golden rule as regards questions of heresy and catholicity: “In doubtful questions, liberty; in essentials, unity; in all things, charity.”
that … approved may be made manifest–through the disapproved (reprobates) becoming manifested (Lu 2:35; 1Jo 2:19).
20. When … therefore–Resuming the thread of discourse from 1Co 11:18.
this is not to–rather, “there is no such thing as eating the Lord’s Supper”; it is not possible where each is greedily intent only on devouring “HIS OWN supper,” and some are excluded altogether, not having been waited for (1Co 11:33), where some are “drunken,” while others are “hungry” (1Co 11:21). The love-feast usually preceded the Lord’s Supper (as eating the Passover came before the Lord’s Supper at the first institution of the latter). It was a club-feast, where each brought his portion, and the rich, extra portions for the poor; from it the bread and wine were taken for the Eucharist; and it was at it that the excesses took place, which made a true celebration of the Lord’s Supper during or after it, with true discernment of its solemnity, out of the question.
21. one taketh before other–the rich “before” the poor, who had no supper of their own. Instead of “tarrying for one another” (1Co 11:33); hence the precept (1Co 12:21, 25).
his own supper–“His own” belly is his God (Php 3:19); “the Lord’s Supper,” the spiritual feast, never enters his thoughts.
drunken–The one has more than is good for him, the other less [Bengel].
22. What!–Greek, “For.”
houses–(compare 1Co 11:34)–“at home.” That is the place to satiate the appetite, not the assembly of the brethren [Alford].
despise ye the church of God–the congregation mostly composed of the poor, whom “God hath chosen,” however ye show contempt for them (Jas 2:5); compare “of God” here, marking the true honor of the Church.
shame them that have not–namely, houses to eat and drink in, and who, therefore, ought to have received their portion at the love-feasts from their wealthier brethren.
I praise you not–resuming the words (1Co 11:17).
23. His object is to show the unworthiness of such conduct from the dignity of the holy supper.
I–Emphatic in the Greek. It is not my own invention, but the Lord’s institution.
received of the Lord–by immediate revelation (Ga 1:12; compare Ac 22:17, 18; 2Co 12:1-4). The renewal of the institution of the Lord’s Supper by special revelation to Paul enhances its solemnity. The similarity between Luke’s and Paul’s account of the institution, favors the supposition that the former drew his information from the apostle, whose companion in travel he was. Thus, the undesigned coincidence is a proof of genuineness.
night–the time fixed for the Passover (Ex 12:6): though the time for the Lord’s Supper is not fixed.
betrayed–With the traitor at the table, and death present before His eyes, He left this ordinance as His last gift to us, to commemorate His death. Though about to receive such an injury from man, He gave this pledge of His amazing love to man.
24. brake–The breaking of the bread involves its distribution and reproves the Corinthian mode at the love-feast, of “every one taking before other his own supper.”
my body … broken for you–“given” (Lu 22:19) for you (Greek, “in your behalf”), and “broken,” so as to be distributed among you. The oldest manuscripts omit “broken,” leaving it to be supplied from “brake.” The two old versions, Memphitic and Thebaic, read from Luke, “given.” The literal “body” could not have been meant; for Christ was still sensibly present among His disciples when He said, “This is My body.” They could only have understood Him symbolically and analogically: As this bread is to your bodily health, so My body is to the spiritual health of the believing communicant. The words, “Take, eat,” are not in the oldest manuscripts.
in remembrance of me–(See on 1Co 11:25).
25. when he had supped–Greek, “after the eating of supper,” namely, the Passover supper which preceded the Lord’s Supper, as the love-feast did subsequently. Therefore, you Corinthians ought to separate common meals from the Lord’s Supper [Bengel].
the new testament–or “covenant.” The cup is the parchment-deed, as it were, on which My new covenant, or last will is written and sealed, making over to you all blessings here and hereafter.
in my blood–ratified by MY blood: “not by the blood of goats and calves” (Heb 9:12).
as oft as–Greek, “as many times soever”: implying that it is an ordinance often to be partaken of.
in remembrance of me–Luke (Lu 22:19) expresses this, which is understood by Matthew and Mark. Paul twice records it (1Co 11:24 and here) as suiting his purpose. The old sacrifices brought sins continually to remembrance (Heb 10:1, 3). The Lord’s Supper brings to remembrance Christ and His sacrifice once for all for the full and final remission of sins.
26. For–in proof that the Lord’s Supper is “in remembrance” of Him.
show–announce publicly. The Greek does not mean to dramatically represent, but “ye publicly profess each of you, the Lord has died FOR ME” [Wahl]. This word, as “is” in Christ’s institution (1Co 11:24, 25), implies not literal presence, but a vivid realization, by faith, of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, as a living person, not a mere abstract dogma, “bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh” (Eph 5:30; compare Ge 2:23); and ourselves “members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones,” “our sinful bodies made clean by His body (once for all offered), and our souls washed through His most precious blood” [Church of England Prayer Book]. “Show,” or “announce,” is an expression applicable to new things; compare “show” as to the Passover (Ex 13:8). So the Lord’s death ought always to be fresh in our memory; compare in heaven, Re 5:6. That the Lord’s Supper is in remembrance of Him, implies that He is bodily absent, though spiritually present, for we cannot be said to commemorate one absent. The fact that we not only show the Lord’s death in the supper, but eat and drink the pledges of it, could only be understood by the Jews, accustomed to such feasts after propitiatory sacrifices, as implying our personal appropriation therein of the benefits of that death.
till he come–when there shall be no longer need of symbols of His body, the body itself being manifested. The Greek expresses the certainly of His coming. Rome teaches that we eat Christ present corporally, “till He come” corporally; a contradiction in terms. The showbread, literally, “bread of the presence,” was in the sanctuary, but not in the Holiest Place (Heb 9:1-8); so the Lord’s Supper in heaven, the antitype to the Holiest Place, shall be superseded by Christ’s own bodily presence; then the wine shall be drunk “anew” in the Father’s kingdom, by Christ and His people together, of which heavenly banquet, the Lord’s Supper is a spiritual foretaste and specimen (Mt 26:29). Meantime, as the showbread was placed anew, every sabbath, on the table before the Lord (Le 24:5-8); so the Lord’s death was shown, or announced afresh at the Lord’s table the first day of every week in the primitive Church. We are now “priests unto God” in the dispensation of Christ’s spiritual presence, antitypical to the HOLY PLACE: the perfect and eternal dispensation, which shall not begin till Christ’s coming, is antitypical to the HOLIEST PLACE, which Christ our High Priest alone in the flesh as yet has entered (Heb 9:6, 7); but which, at His coming, we, too, who are believers, shall enter (Re 7:15; 21:22). The supper joins the two closing periods of the Old and the New dispensations. The first and second comings are considered as one coming, whence the expression is not “return,” but “come” (compare, however, Joh 14:3).
27. eat and drink–So one of the oldest manuscripts reads. But three or four equally old manuscripts, the Vulgate and Cyprian, read, “or.” Romanists quote this reading in favor of communion in one kind. This consequence does not follow. Paul says, “Whosoever is guilty of unworthy conduct, either in eating the bread, or in drinking the cup, is guilty of the body and blood of Christ.” Impropriety in only one of the two elements, vitiates true communion in both. Therefore, in the end of the verse, he says, not “body or blood,” but “body and blood.” Any who takes the bread without the wine, or the wine without the bread, “unworthily” communicates, and so “is guilty of Christ’s body and blood”; for he disobeys Christ’s express command to partake of both. If we do not partake of the sacramental symbol of the Lord’s death worthily, we share in the guilt of that death. (Compare “crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh,” Heb 6:6). Unworthiness in the person, is not what ought to exclude any, but unworthily communicating: However unworthy we be, if we examine ourselves so as to find that we penitently believe in Christ’s Gospel, we may worthily communicate.
28. examine–Greek, “prove” or “test” his own state of mind in respect to Christ’s death, and his capability of “discerning the Lord’s body” (1Co 11:29, 31). Not auricular confession to a priest, but self-examination is necessary.
so–after due self-examination.
of … of–In 1Co 11:27, where the receiving was unworthily, the expression was, “eat this bread, drink … cup” without “of.” Here the “of” implies due circumspection in communicating [Bengel].
let him eat–His self-examination is not in order that he may stay away, but that he may eat, that is, communicate.
29. damnation–A mistranslation which has put a stumbling-block in the way of many in respect to communicating. The right translation is “judgment.” The judgment is described (1Co 11:30-32) as temporal.
not discerning–not duty judging: not distinguishing in judgment (so the Greek: the sin and its punishment thus being marked as corresponding) from common food, the sacramental pledges of the Lord’s body. Most of the oldest manuscripts omit “Lord’s” (see 1Co 11:27). Omitting also “unworthily,” with most of the oldest manuscripts, we must translate, “He that eateth and drinketh, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, IF he discern not the body” (Heb 10:29). The Church is “the body of Christ” (1Co 12:27). The Lord’s body is His literal body appreciated and discerned by the soul in the faithful receiving, and not present in the elements themselves.
30. weak … sickly–He is “weak” who has naturally no strength: “sickly,” who has lost his strength by disease [Tittmann, Greek Synonyms of the New Testament].
sleep–are being lulled in death: not a violent death; but one the result of sickness, sent as the Lord’s chastening for the individual’s salvation, the mind being brought to a right state on the sick bed (1Co 11:31).
31. if we would judge ourselves–Most of the oldest manuscripts, read “But,” not “For.” Translate also literally “If we duly judged ourselves, we should not be (or not have been) judged,” that is, we should escape (or have escaped) our present judgments. In order to duly judge or “discern [appreciate] the Lord’s body,” we need to “duly judge ourselves.” A prescient warning against the dogma of priestly absolution after full confession, as the necessary preliminary to receiving the Lord’s Supper.
32. chastened–(Re 3:19).
with the world–who, being bastards, are without chastening (Heb 12:8).
33. tarry one for another–In contrast to 1Co 11:21. The expression is not, “Give a share to one another,” for all the viands brought to the feast were common property, and, therefore, they should “tarry” till all were met to partake together of the common feast of fellowship [Theophylact].
34. if any … hunger–so as not to be able to “tarry for others,” let him take off the edge of his hunger at home [Alford] (1Co 11:22).
the rest–“the other questions you asked me as to the due celebration of the Lord’s Supper.” Not other questions in general; for he does subsequently set in order other general questions in this Epistle.
1Co 12:1-31. The Use and the Abuse of Spiritual Gifts, Especially Prophesying and Tongues.
This is the second subject for correction in the Corinthian assemblies: the “first” was discussed (1Co 11:18-34).
1. spiritual gifts–the signs of the Spirit’s continued efficacious presence in the Church, which is Christ’s body, the complement of His incarnation, as the body is the complement of the head. By the love which pervades the whole, the gifts of the several members, forming reciprocal complements to each other, tend to the one object of perfecting the body of Christ. The ordinary and permanent gifts are comprehended together with the extraordinary, without distinction specified, as both alike flow from the divine indwelling Spirit of life. The extraordinary gifts, so far from making professors more peculiarly saints than in our day, did not always even prove that such persons were in a safe state at all (Mt 7:22). They were needed at first in the Church: (1) as a pledge to Christians themselves who had just passed over from Judaism or heathendom, that God was in the Church; (2) for the propagation of Christianity in the world; (3) for the edification of the Church. Now that we have the whole written New Testament (which they had not) and Christianity established as the result of the miracles, we need no further miracle to attest the truth. So the pillar of cloud which guided the Israelites was withdrawn when they were sufficiently assured of the Divine Presence, the manifestation of God’s glory being thenceforward enclosed in the Most Holy Place [Archbishop Whately]. Paul sets forth in order: (1). The unity of the body (1Co 12:1-27). (2). The variety of its members and functions (1Co 12:27-30). (3). The grand principle for the right exercise of the gifts, namely, love (1Co 12:31; 1Co 13:1-13). (4) The comparison of the gifts with one another (1Co 14:1-40).
I would not have you ignorant–with all your boasts of “knowledge” at Corinth. If ignorant now, it will be your own fault, not mine (1Co 14:38).
2. (Eph 2:11).
that ye were–The best manuscripts read, “That WHEN ye were”; thus “ye were” must be supplied before “carried away”–Ye were blindly transported hither and thither at the will of your false guides.
these dumb idols–Greek, “the idols which are dumb”; contrasted with the living God who “speaks” in the believer by His Spirit (1Co 12:3, &c.). This gives the reason why the Corinthians needed instruction as to spiritual gifts, namely, their past heathen state, wherein they had no experience of intelligent spiritual powers. When blind, ye went to the dumb.
as ye were led–The Greek is, rather, “as ye might (happen to) be led,” namely, on different occasions. The heathen oracles led their votaries at random, without any definite principle.
3. The negative and positive criteria of inspiration by the Spirit–the rejection or confession of Jesus as Lord [Alford] (1Jo 4:2; 5:1). Paul gives a test of truth against the Gentiles; John, against the false prophets.
by the Spirit–rather, as Greek, “IN the Spirit”; that being the power pervading him, and the element in which he speaks [Alford], (Mt 16:17; Joh 15:26).
of God … Holy–The same Spirit is called at one time “the Spirit of God”; at another, “the HOLY Ghost,” or “Holy Spirit.” Infinite Holiness is almost synonymous with Godhead.
speaking … say–“Speak” implies the act of utterance; “say” refers to that which is uttered. Here, “say” means a spiritual and believing confession of Him.
Jesus–not an abstract doctrine, but the historical, living God-man (Ro 10:9).
accursed–as the Jews and Gentiles treated Him (Ga 3:13). Compare “to curse Christ” in the heathen Pliny’s letter [Epistles, 10.97]. The spiritual man feels Him to be the Source of all blessings (Eph 1:3) and to be severed from Him is to be accursed (Ro 9:3).
Lord–acknowledging himself as His servant (Isa 26:13). “Lord” is the Septuagint translation for the incommunicable Hebrew name Jehovah.
4. diversities of gifts–that is, varieties of spiritual endowments peculiar to the several members of the Church: compare “dividing to every man severally” (1Co 12:11).
same Spirit–The Holy Trinity appears here: the Holy Spirit in this verse; Christ in 1Co 12:5; and the Father in 1Co 12:6. The terms “gifts,” “administrations,” and “operations,” respectively correspond to the Divine Three. The Spirit is treated of in 1Co 12:7, &c.; the Lord, in 1Co 12:12, &c.; God, in 1Co 12:28. (Compare Eph 4:4-6).
5, 6. “Gifts” (1Co 12:4), “administrations” (the various functions and services performed by those having the gifts, compare 1Co 12:28), and “operations” (the actual effects resulting from both the former, through the universally operative power of the one Father who is “above all, through all, and in us all”), form an ascending climax [Henderson, Inspiration].
same Lord–whom the Spirit glorifies by these ministrations [Bengel].
6. operations–(Compare 1Co 12:10).
same God … worketh–by His Spirit working (1Co 12:11).
all in all–all of them (the “gifts”) in all the persons (who possess them).
7. But–Though all the gifts flow from the one God, Lord, and Spirit, the “manifestation” by which the Spirit acts (as He is hidden in Himself), varies in each individual.
to every man–to each of the members of the Church severally.
to profit withal–with a view to the profit of the whole body.
8-10. Three classes of gifts are distinguished by a distinct Greek word for “another” (a distinct class), marking the three several genera: allo marks the species, hetero the genera (compare Greek, 1Co 15:39-41). I. Gifts of intellect, namely, (1) wisdom; (2) knowledge. II. Gifts dependent on a special faith, namely, that of miracles (Mt 17:20): (1) healings; (2) workings of miracles; (3) prophecy of future events; (4) discerning of spirits, or the divinely given faculty of distinguishing between those really inspired, and those who pretended to inspiration. III. Gifts referring to the tongues: (1) diverse kinds of tongues; (2) interpretation of tongues. The catalogue in 1Co 12:28 is not meant strictly to harmonize with the one here, though there are some particulars in which they correspond. The three genera are summarily referred to by single instances of each in 1Co 13:8. The first genus refers more to believers; the second, to unbelievers.
by … by … by–The first in Greek is, “By means of,” or “through the operation of”; the second is, “according to” the disposing of (compare 1Co 12:11); the third is, “in,” that is, under the influence of (so the Greek, Mt 22:43; Lu 2:27).
word of wisdom–the ready utterance of (for imparting to others, Eph 6:19) wisdom, namely, new revelations of the divine wisdom in redemption, as contrasted with human philosophy (1Co 1:24; 2:6, 7; Eph 1:8; 3:10; Col 2:3).
word of knowledge–ready utterance supernaturally imparted of truths ALREADY REVEALED (in this it is distinguished from “the word of wisdom,” which related to NEW revelations). Compare 1Co 14:6, where “revelation” (answering to “wisdom” here) is distinguished from “knowledge” [Henderson]. Wisdom or revelation belonged to the “prophets”; knowledge, to the “teachers.” Wisdom penetrates deeper than knowledge. Knowledge relates to things that are to be done. Wisdom, to things eternal: hence, wisdom is not, like knowledge, said to “pass away” (1Co 13:8), [Bengel].
9. faith–not of doctrines, but of miracles: confidence in God, by the impulse of His Spirit, that He would enable them to perform any required miracle (compare 1Co 13:2; Mr 11:23; Jas 5:15). Its nature, or principle, is the same as that of saving faith, namely, reliance on God; the producing cause, also, in the same,’ namely, a power altogether supernatural (Eph 1:19, 20). But the objects of faith differ respectively. Hence, we see, saving faith does not save by its instrinsic merit, but by the merits of Him who is the object of it.
healing–Greek plural, “healings”; referring to different kinds of disease which need different kinds of healing (Mt 10:1).
10. working of miracles–As “healings” are miracles, those here meant must refer to miracles of special and extraordinary POWER (so the Greek for “miracles” means); for example, healings might be effected by human skill in course of time; but the raising of the dead, the infliction of death by a word, the innocuous use of poisons, &c., are miracles of special power. Compare Mr 6:5; Ac 19:11.
prophecy–Here, probably, not in the wider sense of public teaching by the Spirit (1Co 11:4, 5; 14:1-5, 22-39); but, as its position between “miracles” and a “discerning of spirits” implies, the inspired disclosure of the future (Ac 11:27, 28; 21:11; 1Ti 1:18), [Henderson]. It depends on “faith” (1Co 12:9; Ro 12:6). The prophets ranked next to the apostles (1Co 12:28; Eph 3:5; 4:11). As prophecy is part of the whole scheme of redemption, an inspired insight into the obscurer parts of the existing Scriptures, was the necessary preparation for the miraculous foresight of the future.
discerning of spirits–discerning between the operation of God’s Spirit, and the evil spirit, or unaided human spirit (1Co 14:29; compare 1Ti 4:1; 1Jo 4:1).
kinds of tongues–the power of speaking various languages: also a spiritual language unknown to man, uttered in ecstasy (1Co 14:2-12). This is marked as a distinct genus in the Greek, “To another and a different class.”
interpretation of tongues–(1Co 14:13, 26, 27).
11. as he will–(1Co 12:18; Heb 2:4).
12, 13. Unity, not unvarying uniformity, is the law of God in the world of grace, as in that of nature. As the many members of the body compose an organic whole and none can be dispensed with as needless, so those variously gifted by the Spirit, compose a spiritual organic whole, the body of Christ, into which all are baptized by the one Spirit.
of that one body–Most of the oldest manuscripts omit “one.”
so also is Christ–that is, the whole Christ, the head and body. So Ps 18:50, “His anointed (Messiah or Christ), David (the antitypical David) and His seed.”
13. by … Spirit … baptized–literally, “in”; in virtue of; through. The designed effect of baptism, which is realized when not frustrated by the unfaithfulness of man.
all made to drink into one Spirit–The oldest manuscripts read, “Made to drink of one Spirit,” omitting “into” (Joh 7:37). There is an indirect allusion to the Lord’s Supper, as there is a direct allusion to baptism in the beginning of the verse. So the “Spirit, the water, and the blood” (1Jo 5:8), similarly combine the two outward signs with the inward things signified, the Spirit’s grace.
are … have been–rather as Greek, “were … were” (the past tense).
14. Translate, “For the body also.” The analogy of the body, not consisting exclusively of one, but of many members, illustrates the mutual dependence of the various members in the one body, the Church. The well-known fable of the belly and the other members, spoken by Menenius Agrippa, to the seceding commons [Livy, 2.32], was probably before Paul’s mind, stored as it was with classical literature.
15. The humbler members ought not to disparage themselves, or to be disparaged by others more noble (1Co 12:21, 22).
foot … hand–The humble speaks of the more honorable member which most nearly resembles itself: so the “ear” of the “eye” (the nobler and more commanding member, Nu 10:31), (1Co 12:16). As in life each compares himself with those whom he approaches nearest in gifts, not those far superior. The foot and hand represent men of active life; the ear and eye, those of contemplative life.
17. Superior as the eye is, it would not do if it were the sole member to the exclusion of the rest.
18. now–as the case really is.
every one–each severally.
19. where were the body–which, by its very idea, “hath many members” (1Co 12:12, 14), [Alford].
20. now–as the case really is: in contrast to the supposition (1Co 12:19; compare 1Co 12:18).
many members–mutually dependent.
21. The higher cannot dispense with the lower members.
22. more feeble–more susceptible of injury: for example, the brain, the belly, the eye. Their very feebleness, so far from doing away with the need for them, calls forth our greater care for their preservation, as being felt “necessary.”
23. less honourable–“We think” the feet and the belly “less honorable,” though not really so in the nature of things.
bestow … honour–putting shoes on (Margin) the feet, and clothes to cover the belly.
uncomely parts–the secret parts: the poorest, though unclad in the rest of the body, cover these.
24. tempered … together–on the principle of mutual compensation.
to that part which lacked–to the deficient part [Alford], (1Co 12:23).
25. no schism–(compare 1Co 12:21)–no disunion; referring to the “divisions” noticed (1Co 11:18).
care one for another–that is, in behalf of one another.
all … suffer with it–“When a thorn enters the heel, the whole body feels it, and is concerned: the back bends, the belly and thighs contract themselves, the hands come forward and draw out the thorn, the head stoops, and the eyes regard the affected member with intense gaze” [Chrysostom].
rejoice with it–“When the head is crowned, the whole man feels honored, the mouth expresses, and the eyes look, gladness” [Chrysostom].
27. members in particular–that is, severally members of it. Each church is in miniature what the whole aggregate of churches is collectively, “the body of Christ” (compare 1Co 3:16): and its individual components are members, every one in his assigned place.
28. set … in the church–as He has “set the members … in the body” (1Co 12:18).
first apostles–above even the prophets. Not merely the Twelve, but others are so called, for example, Barnabas, &c. (Ro 16:7).
teachers–who taught, for the most part, truths already revealed; whereas the prophets made new revelations and spoke all their prophesyings under the Spirit’s influence. As the teachers had the “word of knowledge,” so the prophets “the word of wisdom” (1Co 12:8). Under “teachers” are included “evangelists and pastors.”
miracles–literally, “powers” (1Co 12:10): ranked below “teachers,” as the function of teaching is more edifying, though less dazzling than working miracles.
helps, governments–lower and higher departments of “ministrations” (1Co 12:5); as instances of the former, deacons whose office it was to help in the relief of the poor, and in baptizing and preaching, subordinate to higher ministers (Ac 6:1-10; 8:5-17); also, others who helped with their time and means, in the Lord’s cause (compare 1Co 13:13; Nu 11:17). The Americans similarly use “helps” for “helpers.” And, as instances of the latter, presbyters, or bishops, whose office it was to govern the Church (1Ti 5:17; Heb 13:17, 24). These officers, though now ordinary and permanent, were originally specially endowed with the Spirit for their office, whence they are here classified with other functions of an inspired character. Government (literally, “guiding the helm” of affairs), as being occupied with external things, notwithstanding the outward status it gives, is ranked by the Spirit with the lower functions. Compare “He that giveth” (answering to “helps”)–“he that ruleth” (answering to “governments”) (Ro 12:8). Translate, literally, “Helpings, governings” [Alford].
diversities of tongues–(1Co 12:10). “Divers kinds of tongues.”
29. Are all?–Surely not.
31. covet earnestly–Greek, “emulously desire.” Not in the spirit of discontented “coveting.” The Spirit “divides to every man severally as He will” (1Co 12:1); but this does not prevent men earnestly seeking, by prayer and watchfulness, and cultivation of their faculties, the greatest gifts. Beza explains, “Hold in the highest estimation”; which accords with the distinction in his view (1Co 14:1) between “follow after charity–zealously esteem spiritual gifts”; also with (1Co 12:11, 18) the sovereign will with which the Spirit distributes the gifts, precluding individuals from desiring gifts not vouchsafed to them. But see on 1Co 14:1.
the best gifts–Most of the oldest manuscripts read, “the greatest gifts.”
and yet–Greek, “and moreover.” Besides recommending your zealous desire for the greatest gifts, I am about to show you a something still more excellent (literally, “a way most way-like”) to desire, “the way of love” (compare 1Co 14:1). This love, or “charity,” includes both “faith” and “hope” (1Co 13:7), and bears the same fruits (1Co 13:1-13) as the ordinary and permanent fruits of the Spirit (Ga 5:22-24). Thus “long-suffering,” compare 1Co 12:4; “faith,” 1Co 12:7; “joy,” 1Co 12:6; “meekness,” 1Co 12:5; “goodness,” 1Co 12:5; “gentleness,” 1Co 12:4 (the Greek is the same for “is kind”). It is the work of the Holy Spirit, and consists in love to God, on account of God’s love in Christ to us, and as a consequence, love to man, especially to the brethren in Christ (Ro 5:5; 15:30). This is more to be desired than gifts (Lu 10:20).
1Co 13:1-13. Charity or Love Superior to All Gifts.
The New Testament psalm of love, as the forty-fifth Psalm (see Ps 45:1, title) and the Song of Solomon in the Old Testament.
1. tongues–from these he ascends to “prophecy” (1Co 13:2); then, to “faith”; then to benevolent and self-sacrificing deeds: a climax. He does not except even himself, and so passes from addressing them (“unto you,” 1Co 12:31) to putting the case in his own person, “Though I,” &c.
speak with the tongues–with the eloquence which was so much admired at Corinth (for example, Apollos, Ac 18:24; compare 1Co 1:12; 3:21, 22), and with the command of various languages, which some at Corinth abused to purposes of mere ostentation (1Co 14:2, &c.).
of angels–higher than men, and therefore, it is to be supposed, speaking a more exalted language.
charity–the principle of the ordinary and more important gifts of the Spirit, as contrasted with the extraordinary gifts (1Co 12:1-31).
sounding … tinkling–sound without soul or feeling: such are “tongues” without charity.
cymbal–Two kinds are noticed (Ps 150:5), the loud or clear, and the high-sounding one: hand cymbals and finger cymbals, or castanets. The sound is sharp and piercing.
2. mysteries–(Ro 11:25; 16:25). Mysteries refer to the deep counsels of God hitherto secret, but now revealed to His saints. Knowledge, to truths long known.
faith … remove mountains–(Mt 17:20; 21:21). The practical power of the will elevated by faith [Neander]; confidence in God that the miraculous result will surely follow the exercise of the will at the secret impulse of His Spirit. Without “love” prophecy, knowledge, and faith, are not what they seem (compare 1Co 8:1, 2; Mt 7:22; Jas 2:14; compare 1Co 13:8), and so fail of the heavenly reward (Mt 6:2). Thus Paul, who teaches justification by faith only (Ro 3:4, 5; Ga 2:16; 3:7-14), is shown to agree with James, who teaches (Jas 2:24) “by works” (that is, by LOVE, which is the “spirit” of faith, Jas 2:26) a man is justified, “and not by faith only.”
3. bestow … goods … poor–literally, “dole out in food” all my goods; one of the highest functions of the “helps” (1Co 12:28).
give … body to be burned–literally, “to such a degree as that I should be burned.” As the three youths did (Da 3:28), “yielded their bodies” (compare 2Co 12:15). These are most noble exemplifications of love in giving and in suffering. Yet they may be without love; in which case the “goods” and “body” are given, but not the soul, which is the sphere of love. Without the soul God rejects all else, and so rejects the man, who is therefore “profited” nothing (Mt 16:26; Lu 9:23-25). Men will fight for Christianity, and die for Christianity, but not live in its spirit, which is love.
4. suffereth long–under provocations of evil from others. The negative side of love.
is kind–the positive side. Extending good to others. Compare with love’s features here those of the “wisdom from above” (Jas 3:17).
envieth–The Greek includes also jealousy.
vaunteth not–in words, even of gifts which it really possesses; an indirect rebuke of those at Corinth who used the gift of tongues for mere display.
not puffed up–with party zeal, as some at Corinth were (1Co 4:6).
5. not … unseemly–is not uncourteous, or inattentive to civility and propriety.
thinketh no evil–imputeth not evil [Alford]; literally, “the evil” which actually is there (Pr 10:12; 1Pe 4:8). Love makes allowances for the falls of others, and is ready to put on them a charitable construction. Love, so far from devising evil against another, excuses “the evil” which another inflicts on her [Estius]; doth not meditate upon evil inflicted by another [Bengel]; and in doubtful cases, takes the more charitable view [Grotius].
6. rejoiceth in the truth–rather, “rejoiceth with the truth.” Exults not at the perpetration of iniquity (unrighteousness) by others (compare Ge 9:22, 23), but rejoices when the truth rejoices; sympathizes with it in its triumphs (2Jo 4). See the opposite (2Ti 3:8), “Resist the truth.” So “the truth” and “unrighteousness” are contrasted (Ro 2:8). “The truth” is the Gospel truth, the inseparable ally of love (Eph 4:15; 2Jo 12). The false charity which compromises “the truth” by glossing over “iniquity” or unrighteousness is thus tacitly condemned (Pr 17:15).
7. Beareth all things–without speaking of what it has to bear. The same Greek verb as in 1Co 9:12. It endures without divulging to the world personal distress. Literally said of holding fast like a watertight vessel; so the charitable man contains himself in silence from giving vent to what selfishness would prompt under personal hardship.
believeth all things–unsuspiciously believes all that is not palpably false, all that it can with a good conscience believe to the credit of another. Compare Jas 3:17, “easy to be entreated”; Greek, “easily persuaded.”
hopeth–what is good of another, even when others have ceased to hope.
endureth–persecutions in a patient and loving spirit.
8. never faileth–never is to be out of use; it always holds its place.
shall fail … vanish away–The same Greek verb is used for both; and that different from the Greek verb for “faileth.” Translate, “Shall be done away with,” that is, shall be dispensed with at the Lord’s coming, being superseded by their more perfect heavenly analogues; for instance, knowledge by intuition. Of “tongues,” which are still more temporary, the verb is “shall cease.” A primary fulfilment of Paul’s statement took place when the Church attained its maturity; then “tongues” entirely “ceased,” and “prophesyings” and “knowledge,” so far as they were supernatural gifts of the Spirit, were superseded as no longer required when the ordinary preaching of the word, and the Scriptures of the New Testament collected together, had become established institutions.
9, 10. in part–partially and imperfectly. Compare a similar contrast to the “perfect man,” “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph 4:11-13).
10. that which is in part–fragmentary and isolated.
11. When … a child–(1Co 3:1; 14:20).
I spake–alluding to “tongues.”
understood–or, “had the sentiments of.” Alluding to “prophecy.”
I thought–Greek “reasoned” or “judged”; alluding to “knowledge.”
when I became … I put away–rather, “now that I am become a man, I have done away with the things of the child.”
12. now–in our present state.
see–an appropriate expression, in connection with the “prophets” of seers (1Sa 9:9).
through a glass–that is, in a mirror; the reflection seeming to the eye to be behind the mirror, so that we see it through the mirror. Ancient mirrors were made of polished brass or other metals. The contrast is between the inadequate knowledge of an object gained by seeing it reflected in a dim mirror (such as ancient mirrors were), compared with the perfect idea we have of it by seeing itself directly.
darkly–literally, “in enigma.” As a “mirror” conveys an image to the eye, so an “enigma” to the ear. But neither “eye nor ear” can fully represent (though the believer’s soul gets a small revelation now of) “the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1Co 2:9). Paul alludes to Nu 12:8, “not in dark speeches”; the Septuagint, “not in enigmas.” Compared with the visions and dreams vouchsafed to other prophets, God’s communications with Moses were “not in enigmas.” But compared with the intuitive and direct vision of God hereafter, even the revealed word now is “a dark discourse,” or a shadowing forth by enigma of God’s reflected likeness. Compare 2Pe 1:19, where the “light” or candle in a dark place stands in contrast with the “day” dawning. God’s word is called a glass or mirror also in 2Co 3:18.
then–“when that which is perfect is come” (1Co 13:10).
face to face–not merely “mouth to mouth” (Nu 12:8). Ge 32:30 was a type (Joh 1:50, 51).
know … known–rather as Greek, “fully know … fully known.” Now we are known by, rather than know, God (1Co 8:3; Ga 4:9).
13. And now–Translate, “But now.” “In this present state” [Henderson]. Or, “now” does not express time, but opposition, as in 1Co 5:11, “the case being so” [Grotius]; whereas it is the case that the three gifts, “prophecy,” “tongues,” and “knowledge” (cited as specimens of the whole class of gifts) “fail” (1Co 13:8), there abide permanently only these three–faith, hope, charity. In one sense faith and hope shall be done away, faith being superseded by sight, and hope by actual fruition (Ro 8:24; 2Co 5:7); and charity, or love, alone never faileth (1Co 13:8). But in another sense, “faith and hope,” as well as “charity,” ABIDE; namely, after the extraordinary gifts have ceased; for those three are necessary and sufficient for salvation at all times, whereas the extraordinary gifts are not at all so; compare the use of “abide,” 1Co 3:14. Charity, or love, is connected specially with the Holy Spirit, who is the bond of the loving union between the brethren (Ro 15:30; Col 1:8). Faith is towards God. Hope is in behalf of ourselves. Charity is love to God creating in us love towards our neighbor. In an unbeliever there is more or less of the three opposites–unbelief, despair, hatred. Even hereafter faith in the sense of trust in God “abideth”; also “hope,” in relation to ever new joys in prospect, and at the anticipation of ever increasing blessedness, sure never to be disappointed. But love alone in every sense “abideth”; it is therefore “the greatest” of the three, as also because it presupposes “faith,” which without “love” and its consequent “works” is dead (Ga 5:6; Jas 2:17, 20).
but–rather, “and”; as there is not so strong opposition between charity and the other two, faith and hope, which like it also “abide.”
1Co 14:1-25. Superiority of Prophecy over Tongues.
1. Follow after charity–as your first and chief aim, seeing that it is “the greatest” (1Co 13:13).
and desire–Translate, “Yet (as a secondary aim) desire zealously (see on 1Co 12:31) spiritual gifts.”
but rather–“but chiefly that ye may prophesy” (speak and exhort under inspiration) (Pr 29:18; Ac 13:1; 1Th 5:20), whether as to future events, that is, strict prophecy, or explaining obscure parts of Scripture, especially the prophetical Scriptures or illustrating and setting forth questions of Christian doctrine and practice. Our modern preaching is the successor of prophecy, but without the inspiration. Desire zealously this (prophecy) more than any other spiritual gift; or in preference to “tongues” (1Co 14:2, &c.) [Bengel].
2. speaketh … unto God–who alone understands all languages.
no man understandeth–generally speaking; the few who have the gift of interpreting tongues are the exception.
in the spirit–as opposed to “the understanding” (1Co 14:14).
mysteries–unintelligible to the hearers, exciting their wonder, rather than instructing them. Corinth, being a mart resorted to by merchants from Asia, Africa, and Europe, would give scope amidst its mixed population for the exercise of the gift of tongues; but its legitimate use was in an audience understanding the tongue of the speaker, not, as the Corinthians abused it, in mere display.
3. But–on the other hand.
edification–of which the two principal species given are “exhortation” to remove sluggishness, “comfort” or consolation to remove sadness [Bengel]. Omit “to.”
4. edifieth himself–as he understands the meaning of what the particular “tongue” expresses; but “the church,” that is, the congregation, does not.
5. Translate, “Now I wish you all to speak with tongues (so far am I from thus speaking through having any objection to tongues), but rather IN ORDER THAT (as my ulterior and higher wish for you) ye should prophesy.” Tongues must therefore mean languages, not ecstatic, unintelligible rhapsodie (as Neander fancied): for Paul could never “wish” for the latter in their behalf.
greater–because more useful.
except he interpret–the unknown tongue which he speaks, “that the Church may receive edifying (building up).”
6. Translate, “But now”; seeing there is no edification without interpretation.
revelation … prophesying–corresponding one to the other; “revelation” being the supernatural unveiling of divine truths to man, “prophesying” the enunciation to men of such revelations. So “knowledge” corresponds to “doctrine,” which is the gift of teaching to others our knowledge. As the former pair refers to specially revealed mysteries, so the latter pair refers to the general obvious truths of salvation, brought from the common storehouse of believers.
7. Translate, “And things without life-giving sound, whether pipe or harp, YET (notwithstanding their giving sound) if they give not a distinction in the tones (that is, notes) how?” &c.
what is piped or harped–that is, what tune is played on the pipe or harp.
8. Translate, “For if also,” an additional step in the argument.
uncertain sound–having no definite meaning: whereas it ought to be so marked that one succession of notes on the trumpet should summon the soldiers to attack; another, to retreat; another, to some other evolution.
9. So … ye–who have life; as opposed to “things without life” (1Co 14:7).
by the tongue–the language which ye speak in.
ye shall speak–Ye will be speaking into the air, that is, in vain (1Co 9:26).
10. it may be–that is, perhaps, speaking by conjecture. “It may chance” (1Co 15:37).
so many–as may be enumerated by investigators of such matters. Compare “so much,” used generally for a definite number left undefined (Ac 5:8; also 2Sa 12:8).
kinds of voices–kinds of articulate speech.
without signification–without articulate voice (that is, distinct meaning). None is without its own voice, or mode of speech, distinct from the rest.
11. Therefore–seeing that none is without meaning.
a barbarian–a foreigner (Ac 28:2). Not in the depreciatory sense as the term is now used, but one speaking a foreign language.
12. zealous–emulously desirous.
spiritual gifts–literally, “spirits”; that is, emanations from the one Spirit.
seek that ye may excel to–Translate, “Seek them, that ye may abound in them to the edifying,” &c.
13. Explain, “Let him who speaketh with a tongue [unknown] in his prayer (or, when praying) strive that he may interpret” [Alford]. This explanation of “pray” is needed by its logical connection with “prayer in an unknown tongue” (1Co 14:14). Though his words be unintelligible to his hearers, let him in them pray that he may obtain the gift of interpreting, which will make them “edifying” to “the church” (1Co 14:12).
14. spirit–my higher being, the passive object of the Holy Spirit’s operations, and the instrument of prayer in the unknown tongue, distinguished from the “understanding,” the active instrument of thought and reasoning; which in this case must be “unfruitful” in edifying others, since the vehicle of expression is unintelligible to them. On the distinction of soul or mind and spirit, see Eph 4:23; Heb 4:12.
15. What is it then?–What is my determination thereupon?
and–rather as Greek, “but”; I will not only pray with my spirit, which (1Co 14:14) might leave the understanding unedified, BUT with the understanding also [Alford and Ellicott].
pray with the understanding also–and, by inference, I will keep silence altogether if I cannot pray with the understanding (so as to make myself understood by others). A prescient warning, mutatis mutandis, against the Roman and Greek practice of keeping liturgies in dead languages, which long since have become unintelligible to the masses; though their forefathers spoke them at a time when those liturgies were framed for general use.
16. Else … thou–He changes from the first person, as he had just expressed his own resolution, “I will pray with the understanding,” whatever “thou” doest.
bless–the highest kind of prayer.
occupieth the room of the unlearned–one who, whatever other gifts he may possess, yet, as wanting the gift of interpretation, is reduced by the speaking in an unknown tongue to the position of one unlearned, or “a private person.”
say Amen–Prayer is not a vicarious duty done by others for us; as in Rome’s liturgies and masses. We must join with the leader of the prayers and praises of the congregation, and say aloud our responsive “Amen” in assent, as was the usage of the Jewish (De 27:15-26; Ne 8:6) and Christian primitive churches [Justin Martyr, Apology, 2. 97].
17. givest thanks–The prayers of the synagogue were called “eulogies,” because to each prayer was joined a thanksgiving. Hence the prayers of the Christian Church also were called blessings and giving of thanks. This illustrates Col 4:2; 1Th 5:17, 18. So the Kaddisch and Keduscha, the synagogue formulæ of “hallowing” the divine “name” and of prayer for the “coming of God’s kingdom,” answer to the Church’s Lord’s Prayer, repeated often and made the foundation on which the other prayers are built [Tertullian, Prayer].
18. tongues–The oldest manuscripts have the singular, “in a tongue [foreign].”
19. I had rather–The Greek verb more literally expresses this meaning, “I WISH to speak five words with my understanding (rather) than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue”; even the two thousandth part of ten thousand. The Greek for “I would rather,” would be a different verb. Paul would NOT wish at all to speak “ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.”
20. Brethren–an appellation calculated to conciliate their favorable reception of his exhortation.
children in understanding–as preference of gifts abused to nonedification would make you (compare 1Co 3:1; Mt 10:16; Ro 16:19; Eph 4:14). The Greek for “understanding” expresses the will of one’s spirit, Ro 8:6 (it is not found elsewhere); as the “heart” is the will of the “soul.” The same Greek is used for “minded” in Ro 8:6.
men–full-grown. Be childlike, not childish.
21. In the law–as the whole Old Testament is called, being all of it the law of God. Compare the citation of the Psalms as the “law,” Joh 10:34. Here the quotation is from Isa 28:11, 12, where God virtually says of Israel, This people hear Me not, though I speak to. them in the language with which they are familiar; I will therefore speak to them in other tongues, namely, those of the foes whom I will send against them; but even then they will not hearken to Me; which Paul thus applies, Ye see that it is a penalty to be associated with men of a strange tongue, yet ye impose this on the Church [Grotius]; they who speak in foreign tongues are like “children” just “weaned from the milk” (Isa 28:9), “with stammering lips” speaking unintelligibly to the hearers, appearing ridiculous (Isa 28:14), or as babbling drunkards (Ac 2:13), or madmen (1Co 14:23).
22. Thus from Isaiah it appears, reasons Paul, that “tongues” (unknown and uninterpreted) are not a sign mainly intended for believers (though at the conversion of Cornelius and the Gentiles with him, tongues were vouchsafed to him and them to confirm their faith), but mainly to be a condemnation to those, the majority, who, like Israel in Isaiah’s day, reject the sign and the accompanying message. Compare “yet … will they not hear Me” (1Co 14:21). “Sign” is often used for a condemnatory sign (Eze 4:3, 4; Mt 12:39-42). Since they will not understand, they shall not understand.
prophesying … not for them that believe not, but … believe–that is, prophesying has no effect on them that are radically and obstinately like Israel (Isa 28:11, 12), unbelievers, but on them that are either in receptivity or in fact believers; it makes believers of those not wilfully unbelievers (1Co 14:24, 25; Ro 10:17), and spiritually nourishes those that already believe.
23. whole … all … tongues–The more there are assembled, and the more that speak in unknown tongues, the more will the impression be conveyed to strangers “coming in” from curiosity (“unbelievers”), or even from a better motive (“unlearned”), that the whole body of worshippers is a mob of fanatical “madmen”; and that “the Church is like the company of builders of Babel after the confusion of tongues, or like the cause tried between two deaf men before a deaf judge, celebrated in the Greek epigram” [Grotius].
unlearned–having some degree of faith, but not gifts [Bengel].
24. all–one by one (1Co 14:31).
prophesy–speak the truth by the Spirit intelligibly, and not in unintelligible tongues.
one–“anyone.” Here singular; implying that this effect, namely, conviction by all, would be produced on anyone, who might happen to enter. In 1Co 14:23 the plural is used; “unlearned or unbelievers”; implying that however many there might be, not one would profit by the tongues; yea, their being many would confirm them in rejecting the sign, as many unbelieving men together strengthen one another in unbelief; individuals are more easily won [Bengel].
convinced–convicted in conscience; said of the “one that believeth not” (Joh 16:8, 9).
judged–His secret character is opened out. “Is searched into” [Alford]. Said of the “one unlearned” (compare 1Co 2:15).
25. And thus–omitted in the oldest manuscripts and versions.
secrets of his heart made manifest–He sees his own inner character opened out by the sword of the Spirit (Heb 4:12; Jas 1:23), the word of God, in the hand of him who prophesieth. Compare the same effect produced on Nebuchadnezzar (Da 2:30 and end of Da 2:47). No argument is stronger for the truth of religion than its manifestation of men to themselves in their true character. Hence hearers even now often think the preacher must have aimed his sermon particularly at them.
and so–convicted at last, judged, and manifested to himself. Compare the effect on the woman of Samaria produced by Jesus’ unfolding of her character to herself (Joh 4:19, 29).
and report–to his friends at home, as the woman of Samaria did. Rather, as the Greek is, “He will worship God, announcing,” that is, openly avowing then and there, “that God is in you of a truth,” and by implication that the God who is in you is of a truth the God.
1Co 14:26-40. Rules for the Exercise of Gifts in the Congregation.
26. How is it then?–rather, “What then is the true rule to be observed as to the use of gifts?” Compare 1Co 14:15, where the same Greek occurs.
a psalm–extemporary, inspired by the Spirit, as that of Mary, Zechariah, Simeon, and Anna (Lu 1:46-55, 67-79; 2:34-38).
a doctrine–to impart and set forth to the congregation.
a tongue … a revelation–The oldest manuscripts transpose the order: “revelation … tongue”; “interpretation” properly following “tongue” (1Co 14:13).
Let all things be done unto edifying–The general rule under which this particular case fails; an answer to the question at the beginning of this verse. Each is bound to obey the ordinances of his church not adverse to Scripture. See Article XXXIV, Church of England Prayer Book.
27. let it be by two–at each time, in one assembly; not more than two or three might speak with tongues at each meeting.
by course–in turns.
let one interpret–one who has the gift of interpreting tongues; and not more than one.
28. let him–the speaker in unknown tongues.
speak to himself, and to God–(compare 1Co 14:2, 4)–privately and not in the hearing of others.
29. two or three–at one meeting (he does not add “at the most,” as in 1Co 14:27, lest he should seem to “quench prophesyings,” the most edifying of gifts), and these “one by one,” in turn (1Co 14:27, “by course,” and 1Co 14:31). Paul gives here similar rules to the prophets, as previously to those speaking in unknown tongues.
judge–by their power of “discerning spirits” (1Co 12:10), whether the person prophesying was really speaking under the influence of the Spirit (compare 1Co 12:3; 1Jo 4:13).
30. If any thing–Translate, “But if any thing.”
another that sitteth by–a hearer.
let the first hold his peace–Let him who heretofore spoke, and who came to the assembly furnished with a previous ordinary (in those times) revelation from God (1Co 14:26), give place to him who at the assembly is moved to prophesy by a sudden revelation from the Spirit.
31. For ye may–rather, “For ye can [if ye will] all prophesy one by one,” giving way to one another. The “for” justifies the precept (1Co 14:30), “let the first hold his peace.”
32. And–following up the assertion in 1Co 14:31, “Ye can (if ye will) prophesy one by one,” that is, restrain yourselves from speaking all together; “and the spirits of the prophets,” that is, their own spirits, acted on by the Holy Spirit, are not so hurried away by His influence, as to cease to be under their own control; they can if they will hear others, and not demand that they alone should be heard uttering communications from God.
33. In all the churches of the saints God is a God of peace; let Him not among you be supposed to be a God of confusion [Alford]. Compare the same argument in 1Co 11:16. Lachmann and others put a full stop at “peace,” and connect the following words thus: “As in all churches of the saints, let your women keep silence in your churches.”
34. (1Ti 2:11, 12). For women to speak in public would be an act of independence, as if they were not subject to their husbands (compare 1Co 11:3; Eph 5:22; Tit 2:5; 1Pe 3:1). For “under obedience,” translate, “in subjection” or “submission,” as the Greek is translated (Eph 5:21, 22, 24).
the law–a term applied to the whole Old Testament; here, Ge 3:16.
35. Anticipation of an objection. Women may say, “But if we do not understand something, may we not ‘ask’ a question publicly so as to ‘learn’? Nay, replies Paul, if you want information, ‘ask’ not in public, but ‘at home’; ask not other men, but ‘your own particular (so the Greek) husbands.'”
36. What!–Greek, “Or.” Are you about to obey me? Or, if you set up your judgment above that of other churches. I wish to know, do you pretend that your church is the first church FROM which the gospel word came, that you should give the law to all others? Or are you the only persons In, fro whom it has come?
37. prophet–the species.
spiritual–the genus: spiritually endowed. The followers of Apollos prided themselves as “spiritual” (1Co 3:1-3; compare Ga 6:1). Here one capable of discerning spirits is specially meant.
things that I write … commandments of the Lord–a direct assertion of inspiration. Paul’s words as an apostle are Christ’s words. Paul appeals not merely to one or two, but to a body of men, for the reality of three facts about which no body of men could possibly be mistaken: (1) that his having converted them was not due to mere eloquence, but to the “demonstration of the Spirit and of power”; (2) that part of this demonstration consisted in the communication of miraculous power, which they were then exercising so generally as to require to be corrected in the irregular employment of it; (3) that among these miraculous gifts was one which enabled the “prophet” or “spiritual person” to decide whether Paul’s Epistle was Scripture or not. He could not have written so, unless the facts were notoriously true: for he takes them for granted, as consciously known by the whole body of men whom he addresses [Hinds, On Inspiration].
38. if any man be ignorant–wilfully; not wishing to recognize these ordinances and my apostolic authority in enjoining them.
let him be ignorant–I leave him to his ignorance: it will be at his own peril; I feel it a waste of words to speak anything further to convince him. An argument likely to have weight with the Corinthians, who admired “knowledge” so much.
39. covet–earnestly desire. Stronger than “forbid not”; marking how much higher he esteemed “prophecy” than “tongues.”
40. Let, &c.–The oldest manuscripts read, “But let,” &c. This verse is connected with 1Co 14:39, “But (while desiring prophecy, and not forbidding tongues) let all things be done decently.” “Church government is the best security for Christian liberty” [J. Newton]. (Compare 1Co 14:23, 26-33).
1Co 15:1-58. The Resurrection Proved against the Deniers of It at Corinth.
Christ’s resurrection rests on the evidence of many eye-witnesses, including Paul himself, and is the great fact preached as the groundwork of the Gospel: they who deny the resurrection in general, must deny that of Christ, and the consequence of the latter will be, that Christian preaching and faith are vain.
1. Moreover–“Now” [Alford and Ellicott].
I declare–literally, “I make known”: it implies some degree of reproach that it should be now necessary to make it known to them afresh, owing to some of them “not having the knowledge of God” (1Co 15:34). Compare Ga 1:11.
wherein ye stand–wherein ye now take your stand. This is your present actual privilege, if ye suffer not yourselves to fall from your high standing.
2. ye are saved–rather, “ye are being saved.”
if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you–Able critics, Bengel and others, prefer connecting the words thus, “I declare unto you the Gospel (1Co 15:1) in what words I preached it unto you.” Paul reminds them, or rather makes known to them, as if anew, not only the fact of the Gospel, but also with what words, and by what arguments, he preached it to them. Translate in that case, “if ye hold it fast.” I prefer arranging as English Version, “By which ye are saved, if ye hold fast (in memory and personal appropriation) with what speech I preached it unto you.”
unless–which is impossible, your faith is vain, in resting on Christ’s resurrection as an objective reality.
3. I delivered unto you–A short creed, or summary of articles of faith, was probably even then existing; and a profession in accordance with it was required of candidates for baptism (Ac 8:37).
first of all–literally, “among the foremost points” (Heb 6:2). The atonement is, in Paul’s view, of primary importance.
which I … received–from Christ Himself by special revelation (compare 1Co 11:23).
died for our sins–that is, to atone FOR them; for taking away our sins (1Jo 3:5; compare Ga 1:4): “gave Himself for our sins” (Isa 53:5; 2Co 5:15; Tit 2:14). The “for” here does not, as in some passages, imply vicarious substitution, but “in behalf of” (Heb 5:3; 1Pe 2:24). It does not, however, mean merely “on account of,” which is expressed by a different Greek word (Ro 4:25), (though in English Version translated similarly, “for”).
according to the scriptures–which “cannot be broken.” Paul puts the testimony of Scripture above that of those who saw the Lord after His resurrection [Bengel]. So our Lord quotes Isa 53:12, in Lu 22:37; compare Ps 22:15, &c.; Da 9:26.
4. buried … rose again–His burial is more closely connected with His resurrection than His death. At the moment of His death, the power of His inextinguishable life exerted itself (Mt 27:52). The grave was to Him not the destined receptacle of corruption, but an apartment fitted for entering into life (Ac 2:26-28) [Bengel].
rose again–Greek, “hath risen”: the state thus begun, and its consequences, still continue.
5. seen of Cephas–Peter (Lu 24:34).
the twelve–The round number for “the Eleven” (Lu 24:33, 36). “The Twelve” was their ordinary appellation, even when their number was not full. However, very possibly Matthias was present (Ac 1:22, 23). Some of the oldest manuscripts and versions read, “the Eleven”: but the best on the whole, “the Twelve.”
6. five hundred–This appearance was probably on the mountain (Tabor, according to tradition), in Galilee, when His most solemn and public appearance, according to His special promise, was vouchsafed (Mt 26:32; 28:7, 10, 16). He “appointed” this place, as one remote from Jerusalem, so that believers might assemble there more freely and securely. Alford’s theory of Jerusalem being the scene, is improbable; as such a multitude of believers could not, with any safety, have met in one place in the metropolis, after His crucifixion there. The number of disciples (Ac 1:15) at Jerusalem shortly after, was one hundred and twenty, those in Galilee and elsewhere not being reckoned. Andronicus and Junius were, perhaps, of the number (Ro 16:7): they are said to be “among the apostles” (who all were witnesses of the resurrection, Ac 1:22).
remain unto this present–and, therefore, may be sifted thoroughly to ascertain the trustworthiness of their testimony.
fallen asleep–in the sure hope of awaking at the resurrection (Ac 7:60).
7. seen of James–the Less, the brother of our Lord (Ga 1:19). The Gospel according to the Hebrews, quoted by Jerome [On Illustrious Men, p. 170 D.], records that “James swore he would not eat bread from the hour that he drank the cup of the Lord, till he should see Him rising again from the dead.”
all the apostles–The term here includes many others besides “the Twelve” already enumerated (1Co 15:5): perhaps the seventy disciples (Lu 10:1) [Chrysostom].
8. One born out of due time–Greek, “the one abortively born”: the abortion in the family of the apostles. As a child born before the due time is puny, and though born alive, yet not of the proper size, and scarcely worthy of the name of man, so “I am the least of the apostles,” scarcely “meet to be called an apostle”; a supernumerary taken into the college of apostles out of regular course, not led to Christ by long instruction, like a natural birth, but by a sudden power, as those prematurely born [Grotius]. Compare the similar image from childbirth, and by the same spiritual power, the resurrection of Christ (1Pe 1:3). “Begotten again by the resurrection of Jesus.” Jesus’ appearance to Paul, on the way to Damascus, is the one here referred to.
9. least–The name, “Paulus,” in Latin, means “least.”
I persecuted the church–Though God has forgiven him, Paul can hardly forgive himself at the remembrance of his past sin.
10. by … grace … and his grace–The repetition implies the prominence which God’s grace had in his mind, as the sole cause of his marvellous conversion and subsequent labors. Though “not meet to be called an apostle,” grace has given him, in Christ, the meetness needed for the office. Translate as the Greek, “His grace which was (showed) towards me.”
what I am–occupying the honorable office of an apostle. Contrast with this the self-sufficient prayer of another Pharisee (Lu 18:11).
but I laboured–by God’s grace (Php 2:16).
than they all–than any of the apostles (1Co 15:7).
grace of God … with me–Compare “the Lord working with them” (Mr 16:20). The oldest manuscripts omit “which was.” The “not I, but grace,” implies, that though the human will concurred with God when brought by His Spirit into conformity with His will, yet “grace” so preponderated in the work, that his own co-operation is regarded as nothing, and grace as virtually the sole agent. (Compare 1Co 3:9; Mt 10:20; 2Co 6:1; Php 2:12, 13).
11. whether it were I or they–(the apostles) who “labored more abundantly” (1Co 15:10) in preaching, such was the substance of our preaching, namely, the truths stated in 1Co 15:3, 4.
12. if–Seeing that it is an admitted fact that Christ is announced by us eye-witnesses as having risen from the dead, how is it that some of you deny that which is a necessary consequence of Christ’s resurrection, namely, the general resurrection?
some–Gentile reasoners (Ac 17:32; 26:8) who would not believe it because they did not see “how” it could be (1Co 15:35, 36).
13. If there be no general resurrection, which is the consequent, then there can have been no resurrection of Christ, which is the antecedent. The head and the members of the body stand on the same footing: what does not hold good of them, does not hold good of Him either: His resurrection and theirs are inseparably joined (compare 1Co 15:20-22; Joh 14:19).
14. your faith … vain–(1Co 15:11). The Greek for “vain” here is, empty, unreal: in 1Co 15:17, on the other hand, it is, without use, frustrated. The principal argument of the first preachers in support of Christianity was that God had raised Christ from the dead (Ac 1:22; 2:32; 4:10, 33; 13:37; Ro 1:4). If this fact were false, the faith built on it must be false too.
15. testified of God–that is, concerning God. The rendering of others is, “against God” [Vulgate, Estius, Grotius]: the Greek preposition with the genitive implies, not direct antagonism (as the accusative would mean), but indirect to the dishonor of God. English Version is probably better.
if so be–as they assert. It is not right to tell untrue stories, though they are told and seem for the glory of God (Job 13:7).
16. The repetition implies the unanswerable force of the argument.
17. vain–Ye are, by the very fact (supposing the case to be as the skeptics maintained), frustrated of all which “your faith” appropriates: Ye are still under the everlasting condemnation of your sins (even in the disembodied state which is here referred to), from which Christ’s resurrection is our justification (Ro 4:25): “saved by his life” (Ro 5:10).
18. fallen asleep in Christ–in communion with Christ as His members. “In Christ’s case the term used is death, to assure us of the reality of His suffering; in our case, sleep, to give us consolation: In His case, His resurrection having actually taken place, Paul shrinks not from the term death; in ours, the resurrection being still only a matter of hope, he uses the term falling asleep” [Photius, Quæstiones Amphilochiæ, 197].
perished–Their souls are lost; they are in misery in the unseen world.
19. If our hopes in Christ were limited to this life only, we should be, of all men, most to be pitied; namely, because, while others live unmolested, we are exposed to every trial and persecution, and, after all, are doomed to bitter disappointment in our most cherished hope; for all our hope of salvation, even of the soul (not merely of the body), hangs on the resurrection of Christ, without which His death would be of no avail to us (Eph 1:19, 20; 1Pe 1:3). The heathen are “without hope” (Eph 2:12; 1Th 4:13). We should be even worse, for we should be also without present enjoyment (1Co 4:9).
20. now–as the case really is.
and become–omitted in the oldest manuscripts.
the first-fruits–the earnest or pledge, that the whole resurrection harvest will follow, so that our faith is not vain, nor our hope limited to this life. The time of writing this Epistle was probably about the Passover (1Co 5:7); the day after the Passover sabbath was that for offering the first-fruits (Le 23:10, 11), and the same was the day of Christ’s resurrection: whence appears the appropriateness of the image.
21. by man … by man–The first-fruits are of the same nature as the rest of the harvest; so Christ, the bringer of life, is of the same nature as the race of men to whom He brings it; just as Adam, the bringer of death, was of the same nature as the men on whom he brought it.
22. in Adam all–in union of nature with Adam, as representative head of mankind in their fall.
in Christ … all–in union of nature with Christ, the representative head of mankind in their recovery. The life brought in by Christ is co-extensive with the death brought in by Adam.
23. But every man in his own order–rather, “rank”: the Greek is not in the abstract, but concrete: image from troops, “each in his own regiment.” Though all shall rise again, let not any think all shall be saved; nay, each shall have his proper place, Christ first (Col 1:18), and after Him the godly who die in Christ (1Th 4:16), in a separate band from the ungodly, and then “the end,” that is, the resurrection of the rest of the dead. Christian churches, ministers, and individuals seem about to be judged first “at His coming” (Mt 25:1-30); then “all the nations” (Mt 25:31-46). Christ’s own flock shall share His glory “at His coming,” which is not to be confounded with “the end,” or general judgment (Re 20:4-6, 11-15). The latter is not in this chapter specially discussed, but only the first resurrection, namely, that of the saints: not even the judgment of Christian hollow professors (Mt 25:1-30) at His coming, is handled, but only the glory of them “that are Christ’s,” who alone in the highest sense “obtain the resurrection from the dead” (Lu 14:14; 20:35, 36; Php 3:11; see on Php 3:11). The second coming of Christ is not a mere point of time, but a period beginning with the resurrection of the just at His appearing, and ending with the general judgment. The ground of the universal resurrection is the union of all mankind in nature with Christ, their representative Head, who has done away with death, by His own death in their stead: the ground of the resurrection of believers is not merely this, but their personal union with Him as their “Life” (Col 3:4), effected causatively by the Holy Spirit, and instrumentally by faith as the subjective, and by ordinances as the objective means.
24. Then–after that: next in the succession of “orders” or “ranks.”
the end–the general resurrection, and final judgment and consummation (Mt 25:46).
delivered up … kingdom to … Father–(Compare Joh 13:3). Seeming at variance with Da 7:14, “His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away.” Really, His giving up of the mediatorial kingdom to the Father, when the end for which the mediatorial economy was established has been accomplished, is altogether in harmony with its continuing everlastingly. The change which shall then take place, shall be in the manner of administration, not in the kingdom itself; God shall then come into direct connection with the earth, instead of mediatorially, when Christ shall have fully and finally removed everything that severs asunder the holy God and a sinful earth (Col 1:20). The glory of God is the final end of Christ’s mediatorial office (Php 2:10, 11). His co-equality with the Father is independent of the latter, and prior to it, and shall, therefore, continue when its function shall have ceased. His manhood, too, shall everlastingly continue, though, as now, subordinate to the Father. The throne of the Lamb (but no longer mediatorial) as well as of God, shall be in the heavenly city (Re 22:3; compare Re 3:21). The unity of the Godhead, and the unity of the Church, shall be simultaneously manifested at Christ’s second coming. Compare Zep 3:9; Zec 14:9; Joh 17:21-24. The oldest manuscripts for “shall have delivered up,” read, “delivereth up,” which suits the sense better. It is “when He shall have put down all rule,” that “He delivereth up the kingdom to the Father.”
shall have put down all rule–the effect produced during the millennary reign of Himself and His saints (Ps 110:1; 8:6; 2:6-9), to which passages Paul refers, resting his argument on the two words, “all” and “until,” of the Psalmist: a proof of verbal inspiration of Scripture (compare Re 2:26, 27). Meanwhile, He “rules in the midst of His enemies” (Ps 110:2). He is styled “the King” when He takes His great power (Mt 25:34; Re 11:15, 17). The Greek for “put down” is, “done away with,” or “brought to naught.” “All” must be subject to Him, whether openly opposed powers, as Satan and his angels, or kings and angelic principalities (Eph 1:21).
25. must–because Scripture foretells it.
till–There will be no further need of His mediatorial kingdom, its object having been realized.
enemies under his feet–(Lu 19:27; Eph 1:22).
26. shall be–Greek, “is done away with” (Re 20:14; compare Re 1:18). It is to believers especially this applies (1Co 15:55-57); even in the case of unbelievers, death is done away with by the general resurrection. Satan brought in sin, and sin brought in death! So they shall be destroyed (rendered utterly powerless) in the same order (1Co 15:56; Heb 2:14; Re 19:20; 20:10, 14).
27. all things–including death (compare Eph 1:22; Php 3:21; Heb 2:8; 1Pe 3:22). It is said, “hath put,” for what God has said is the same as if it were already done, so sure is it. Paul here quotes Ps 8:6 in proof of his previous declaration, “For (it is written), ‘He hath put all things under His feet.'”
under his feet–as His footstool (Ps 110:1). In perfect and lasting subjection.
when he–namely, God, who by His Spirit inspired the Psalmist.
28. Son … himself … subject–not as the creatures are, but as a Son voluntarily subordinate to, though co-equal with, the Father. In the mediatorial kingdom, the Son had been, in a manner, distinct from the Father. Now, His kingdom shall merge in the Father’s, with whom He is one; not that there is thus any derogation from His honor; for the Father Himself wills “that all should honor the Son, as they honor the Father” (Joh 5:22, 23; Heb 1:6).
God … all in all–as Christ is all in all (Col 3:11; compare Zec 14:9). Then, and not till then, “all things,” without the least infringement of the divine prerogative, shall be subject to the Son, and the Son subordinate to the Father, while co-equally sharing His glory. Contrast Ps 10:4; 14:1. Even the saints do not fully realize God as their “all” (Ps 73:25) now, through desiring it; then each shall feel, God is all to me.
29. Else–if there be no resurrection.
what shall they do?–How wretched is their lot!
they … which are baptized for the dead–third person; a class distinct from that in which the apostle places himself, “we” (1Co 15:30); first person. Alford thinks there is an allusion to a practice at Corinth of baptizing a living person in behalf of a friend who died unbaptized; thus Paul, without giving the least sanction to the practice, uses an ad hominem argument from it against its practicers, some of whom, though using it, denied the resurrection: “What account can they give of their practice; why are they at the trouble of it, if the dead rise not?” [So Jesus used an ad hominem argument, Mt 12:27]. But if so, it is strange there is no direct censure of it. Some Marcionites adopted the practice at a later period, probably from taking this passage, as Alford does; but, generally, it was unknown in the Church. Bengel translates, “over (immediately upon) the dead,” that is, who will be gathered to the dead immediately after baptism. Compare Job 17:1, “the graves are ready for me.” The price they get for their trouble is, that they should be gathered to the dead for ever (1Co 15:13, 16). Many in the ancient Church put off baptism till near death. This seems the better view; though there may have been some rites of symbolical baptism at Corinth, now unknown, perhaps grounded on Jesus’ words (Mt 20:22, 23), which Paul here alludes to. The best punctuation is, “If the dead rise not at all, why are they then baptized for them” (so the oldest manuscripts read the last words, instead of “for the dead”)?
30. we–apostles (1Co 15:9; 1Co 4:9). A gradation from those who could only for a little time enjoy this life (that is, those baptized at the point of death), to us, who could enjoy it longer, if we had not renounced the world for Christ [Bengel].
31. by your rejoicing–by the glorying which I have concerning you, as the fruit of my labors in the Lord. Some of the earliest manuscripts and fathers read “our,” with the same sense. Bengel understands “your rejoicing,” to be the enjoyable state of the Corinthians, as contrasted with his dying daily to give his converts rejoicing or glorying (1Co 4:8; 2Co 4:12, 15; Eph 3:13; Php 1:26). But the words, “which I have,” favor the explanation–“the rejoicing which I have over you.” Many of the oldest manuscripts and Vulgate insert “brethren” here.
I die daily–This ought to stand first in the sentence, as it is so put prominently forward in the Greek. I am day by day in sight of death, exposed to it, and expecting it (2Co 4:11, 12; 1:8, 9; 11:23).
32. Punctuate thus: “If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me? If the dead rise not, let us eat and drink,” &c. [Bengel]. If “merely as a man” (with the mere human hope of the present life; not with the Christian’s hope of the resurrection; answering to “If the dead rise not,” the parallel clause in the next sentence), I have fought with men resembling savage beasts. Heraclitus, of Ephesus, had termed his countrymen “wild beasts” four hundred years before. So Epimenides called the Cretians (Tit 1:12). Paul was still at Ephesus (1Co 16:8), and there his life was daily in danger (1Co 4:9; compare 2Co 1:8). Though the tumult (Ac 19:29, 30) had not yet taken place (for after it he set out immediately for Macedonia), this Epistle was written evidently just before it, when the storm was gathering; “many adversaries” (1Co 16:9) were already menacing him.
what advantageth it me?–seeing I have renounced all that, “as a mere man,” might compensate me for such sufferings, gain, fame, &c.
let us eat, &c.–Quoted from the Septuagint, (Isa 22:13), where the prophet describes the reckless self-indulgence of the despisers of God’s call to mourning, Let us enjoy the good things of life now, for it soon will end. Paul imitates the language of such skeptics, to reprove both their theory and practice. “If men but persuade themselves that they shall die like the beasts, they soon will live like beasts too” [South].
33. evil communications corrupt good manners–a current saying, forming a verse in Menander, the comic poet, who probably took it from Euripides [Socrates, Ecclesiastical History, 3.16]. “Evil communications” refer to intercourse with those who deny the resurrection. Their notion seems to have been that the resurrection is merely spiritual, that sin has its seat solely in the body, and will be left behind when the soul leaves it, if, indeed, the soul survive death at all.
good–not only good-natured, but pliant. Intimacy with the profligate society around was apt to corrupt the principles of the Corinthians.
34. Awake–literally, “out of the sleep” of carnal intoxication into which ye are thrown by the influence of these skeptics (1Co 15:32; Joe 1:5).
to righteousness–in contrast with “sin” in this verse, and corrupt manners (1Co 15:33).
sin not–Do not give yourselves up to sinful pleasures. The Greek expresses a continued state of abstinence from sin. Thus, Paul implies that they who live in sinful pleasures readily persuade themselves of what they wish, namely, that there is to be no resurrection.
some–the same as in 1Co 15:12.
have not the knowledge of God–and so know not His power in the resurrection (Mt 22:29). Stronger than “are ignorant of God.” An habitual ignorance: wilful, in that they prefer to keep their sins, rather than part with them, in order to know God (compare Joh 7:17; 1Pe 2:15).
to your shame–that you Corinthian Christians, who boast of your knowledge, should have among you, and maintain intercourse with, those so practically ignorant of God, as to deny the resurrection.
35. How–It is folly to deny a fact of REVELATION, because we do not know the “how.” Some measure God’s power by their petty intelligence, and won’t admit, even on His assurance, anything which they cannot explain. Ezekiel’s answer of faith to the question is the truly wise one (Eze 37:3). So Jesus argues not on principles of philosophy, but wholly from “the power of God,” as declared by the Word of God (Mt 19:26; Mr 10:27; 12:23; Lu 18:27).
come–The dead are said to depart, or to be deceased: those rising again to come. The objector could not understand how the dead are to rise, and with what kind of a body they are to come. Is it to be the same body? If so, how is this, since the resurrection bodies will not eat or drink, or beget children, as the natural bodies do? Besides, the latter have mouldered into dust. How then can they rise again? If it be a different body, how can the personal identity be preserved? Paul answers, In one sense it will be the same body, in another, a distinct body. It will be a body, but a spiritual, not a natural, body.
36. fool–with all thy boasted philosophy (Ps 14:1).
that which thou–“thou,” emphatical: appeal to the objector’s own experience: “The seed which thou thyself sowest.” Paul, in this verse and in 1Co 15:42, answers the question of 1Co 15:35, “How?” and in 1Co 15:37-41, 43, the question, “With what kind of body?” He converts the very objection (the death of the natural body) into an argument. Death, so far from preventing quickening, is the necessary prelude and prognostication of it, just as the seed “is not quickened” into a new sprout with increased produce, “except it die” (except a dissolution of its previous organization takes place). Christ by His death for us has not given us a reprieve from death as to the life which we have from Adam; nay, He permits the law to take its course on our fleshly nature; but He brings from Himself new spiritual and heavenly life out of death (1Co 15:37).
37. not that body that shall be–a body beautiful and no longer a “bare grain” [Bengel]. No longer without stalk or ear, but clothed with blade and ears, and yielding many grains instead of only one [Grotius]. There is not an identity of all the particles of the old and the new body. For the perpetual transmutation of matter is inconsistent with this. But there is a hidden germ which constitutes the identity of body amidst all outward changes: the outward accretions fall off in its development, while the germ remains the same. Every such germ (“seed,” 1Co 15:38) “shall have its own body,” and be instantly recognized, just as each plant now is known from the seed that was sown (see on 1Co 6:13). So Christ by the same image illustrated the truth that His death was the necessary prelude of His putting on His glorified body, which is the ground of the regeneration of the many who believe (Joh 12:24). Progress is the law of the spiritual, as of the natural world. Death is the avenue not to mere revivification or reanimation, but to resurrection and regeneration (Mt 19:28; Php 3:21). Compare “planted,” &c., Ro 6:5.
38. as it hath pleased him–at creation, when He gave to each of the (kinds of) seeds (so the Greek is for “to every seed”) a body of its own (Ge 1:11, “after its kind,” suited to its species). So God can and will give to the blessed at the resurrection their own appropriate body, such as it pleases Him, and such as is suitable to their glorified state: a body peculiar to the individual, substantially the same as the body sown.
39-41. Illustrations of the suitability of bodies, however various, to their species: the flesh of the several species of animals; bodies celestial and terrestrial; the various kinds of light in the sun, moon, and stars, respectively.
flesh–animal organism [De Wette]. He implies by the word that our resurrection bodies shall be in some sense really flesh, not mere phantoms of air [Estius]. So some of the oldest creeds expressed it, “I believe in the resurrection of the flesh.” Compare as to Jesus’ own resurrection body, Lu 24:39; Joh 20:27; to which ours shall be made like, and therefore shall be flesh, but not of animal organism (Php 3:21) and liable to corruption. But 1Co 15:50 below implies, it is not “flesh and blood” in the animal sense we now understand them; for these “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
not the same–not flesh of the same nature and excellency. As the kinds of flesh, however widely differing from one another, do not cease to be flesh, so the kinds of bodies, however differing from one another, are still bodies. All this is to illustrate the difference of the new celestial body from its terrestrial seed, while retaining a substantial identity.
another of fishes … another of birds–Most of the oldest manuscripts read thus, “another FLESH of birds … another of fishes”: the order of nature.
40. celestial bodies–not the sun, moon, and stars, which are first introduced in 1Co 15:41, but the bodies of angels, as distinguished from the bodies of earthly creatures.
the glory of the celestial–(Lu 9:26).
glory of … terrestrial–(Mt 6:28, 29; 1Pe 1:24).
41. one glory of … sun … another … of … moon–The analogy is not to prove different degrees of glory among the blessed (whether this may be, or not, indirectly hinted at), but this: As the various fountains of light, which is so similar in its aspect and properties, differ (the sun from the moon, and the moon from the stars; and even one star from another star, though all seem so much alike); so there is nothing unreasonable in the doctrine that our present bodies differ from our resurrection bodies, though still continuing bodies. Compare the same simile, appropriate especially in the clear Eastern skies (Da 12:3; Mt 13:43). Also that of seed in the same parable (Mt 13:24; Ga 6:7, 8).
42. sown–Following up the image of seed. A delightful word instead of burial.
in corruption–liable to corruption: corruptible: not merely a prey when dead to corruption; as the contrast shows, “raised in incorruption,” that is, not liable to corruption: incorruptible.
43. in dishonour–answering to “our vile body” (Php 3:21); literally, “our body of humiliation”: liable to various humiliations of disease, injury, and decay at last.
in glory–the garment of incorruption (1Co 15:42, 43) like His glorious body (Php 4:21), which we shall put on (1Co 15:49, 53; 2Co 5:2-4).
in weakness–liable to infirmities (2Co 13:4).
in power–answering to a “spiritual body” (1Co 15:44; compare Lu 1:17, “Spirit and power”). Not liable to the weaknesses of our present frail bodies (Isa 33:24; Re 21:4).
44. a natural body–literally, “an animal body,” a body moulded in its organism of “flesh and blood” (1Co 15:50) to suit the animal soul which predominates in it. The Holy Spirit in the spirit of believers, indeed, is an earnest of a superior state (Ro 8:11), but meanwhile in the body the animal soul preponderates; hereafter the Spirit shall predominate, and the animal soul be duly subordinate.
spiritual body–a body wholly moulded by the Spirit, and its organism not conformed to the lower and animal (Lu 20:35, 36), but to the higher and spiritual, life (compare 1Co 2:14; 1Th 5:23).
There is, &c.–The oldest manuscripts read, “IF there is a natural (or animal-souled) body, there is also a spiritual body.” It is no more wonderful a thing, that there should be a body fitted to the capacities and want of man’s highest part, his spirit (which we see to be the case), than that there should be one fitted to the capacities and wants of his subordinate part, the animal soul [Alford].
45. so–in accordance with the distinction just mentioned between the natural or animal-souled body and the spiritual body.
it is written–(Ge 2:7); “Man became (was made to become) a living soul,” that is, endowed with an animal soul, the living principle of his body.
the last Adam–the LAST Head of humanity, who is to be fully manifested in the last day, which is His day (Joh 6:39). He is so called in Job 19:25; see on Job 19:25 (compare Ro 5:14). In contrast to “the last,” Paul calls “man” (Ge 2:7) “the FIRST Adam.”
quickening–not only living, but making alive (Joh 5:21; 6:33, 39, 40, 54, 57, 62, 63; Ro 8:11). As the natural or animal-souled body (1Co 15:44) is the fruit of our union with the first Adam, an animal-souled man, so the spiritual body is the fruit of our union with the second Adam, who is the quickening Spirit (2Co 3:17). As He became representative of the whole of humanity in His union of the two natures, He exhausted in His own person the sentence of death passed on all men, and giveth spiritual and everlasting life to whom He will.
46. afterward–Adam had a soul not necessarily mortal, as it afterwards became by sin, but “a living soul,” and destined to live for ever, if he had eaten of the tree of life (Ge 3:22); still his body was but an animal-souled body, not a spiritual body, such as believers shall have; much less was he a “life-giving spirit,” as Christ. His soul had the germ of the Spirit, rather than the fulness of it, such as man shall have when restored “body, soul, and spirit,” by the second Adam (1Th 5:23). As the first and lower Adam came before the second and heavenly Adam, so the animal-souled body comes first, and must die before it be changed into the spiritual body (that is, that in which the Spirit predominates over the animal soul).
47. of the earth–inasmuch as being sprung from the earth, he is “earthy” (Ge 2:7; 3:19, “dust thou art”); that is, not merely earthly or born upon the earth, but terrene, or of earth; literally, “of heaped earth” or clay. “Adam” means red earth.
the Lord–omitted in the oldest manuscripts and versions.
from heaven–(Joh 3:13, 31). Humanity in Christ is generic. In Him man is impersonated in his true ideal as God originally designed him. Christ is the representative man, the federal head of redeemed man.
48. As is the earthy–namely, Adam.
they … that are earthy–All Adam’s posterity in their natural state (Joh 3:6, 7).
they … that are heavenly–His people in their regenerate state (Php 3:20, 21). As the former precedes the latter state, so the natural bodies precede the spiritual bodies.
49. as–Greek, “even as” (see Ge 5:3).
we shall also bear–or wear as a garment [Bengel]. The oldest manuscripts and versions read, “We must also bear,” or “let us also bear.” It implies the divine appointment (compare “must,” 1Co 15:53) and faith assenting to it. An exhortation, and yet implying a promise (so Ro 8:29). The conformity to the image of the heavenly Representative man is to be begun here in our souls, in part, and shall be perfected at the resurrection in both bodies and souls.
50. (See on 1Co 15:37; 1Co 15:39). “Flesh and blood” of the same animal and corruptible nature as our present (1Co 15:44) animal-souled bodies, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Therefore the believer acquiesces gladly in the unrepealed sentence of the holy law, which appoints the death of the present body as the necessary preliminary to the resurrection body of glory. Hence he “dies daily” to the flesh and to the world, as the necessary condition to his regeneration here and hereafter (Joh 3:6; Ga 2:20). As the being born of the flesh constitutes a child of Adam, so the being born of the Spirit constitutes a child of God.
cannot–Not merely is the change of body possible, but it is necessary. The spirit extracted from the dregs of wine does not so much differ from them, as the glorified man does from the mortal man [Bengel] of mere animal flesh and blood (Ga 1:16). The resurrection body will be still a body though spiritual, and substantially retaining the personal identity; as is proved by Lu 24:39; Joh 20:27, compared with Php 3:21.
the kingdom of God–which is not at all merely animal, but altogether spiritual. Corruption doth not inherit, though it is the way to, incorruption (1Co 15:36, 52, 53).
51. Behold–Calling attention to the “mystery” heretofore hidden in God’s purposes, but now revealed.
you–emphatical in the Greek; I show (Greek, “tell,” namely, by the word of the Lord, 1Th 4:15) YOU, who think you have so much knowledge, “a mystery” (compare Ro 11:25) which your reason could never have discovered. Many of the old manuscripts and Fathers read, “We shall all sleep, but we shall not all be changed”; but this is plainly a corrupt reading, inconsistent with 1Th 4:15, 17, and with the apostle’s argument here, which is that a change is necessary (1Co 15:53). English Version is supported by some of the oldest manuscripts and Fathers. The Greek is literally “We all shall not sleep, but,” &c. The putting off of the corruptible body for an incorruptible by an instantaneous change will, in the case of “the quick,” stand as equivalent to death, appointed to all men (Heb 9:27); of this Enoch and Elijah are types and forerunners. The “we” implies that Christians in that age and every successive age since and hereafter were designed to stand waiting, as if Christ might come again in their time, and as if they might be found among “the quick.”
52. the last trump–at the sounding of the trumpet on the last day [Vatablus] (Mt 24:31; 1Th 4:16). Or the Spirit by Paul hints that the other trumpets mentioned subsequently in the Apocalypse shall precede, and that this shall be the last of all (compare Isa 27:13; Zec 9:14). As the law was given with the sound of a trumpet, so the final judgment according to it (Heb 12:19; compare Ex 19:16). As the Lord ascended “with the sound of a trumpet” (Ps 47:5), so He shall descend (Re 11:15). The trumpet was sounded to convoke the people on solemn feasts, especially on the first day of the seventh month (the type of the completion of time; seven being the number for perfection; on the tenth of the same month was the atonement, and on the fifteenth the feast of tabernacles, commemorative of completed salvation out of the spiritual Egypt, compare Zec 14:18, 19); compare Ps 50:1-7. Compare His calling forth of Lazarus from the grave “with a loud voice,” Joh 11:43, with Joh 5:25, 28.
and–immediately, in consequence.
53. this–pointing to his own body and that of those whom he addresses.
put on–as a garment (2Co 5:2, 3).
immortality–Here only, besides 1Ti 6:16, the word “immortality” is found. Nowhere is the immortality of the soul, distinct from the body, taught; a notion which many erroneously have derived from heathen philosophers. Scripture does not contemplate the anomalous state brought about by death, as the consummation to be earnestly looked for (2Co 5:4), but the resurrection.
54. then–not before. Death has as yet a sting even to the believer, in that his body is to be under its power till the resurrection. But then the sting and power of death shall cease for ever.
Death is swallowed up in victory–In Hebrew of Isa 25:8, from which it is quoted, “He (Jehovah) will swallow up death in victory”; that is, for ever: as “in victory” often means in Hebrew idiom (Jer 3:5; La 5:20). Christ will swallow it up so altogether victoriously that it shall never more regain its power (compare Ho 6:2; 13:14; 2Co 5:4; Heb 2:14, 15; Re 20:14; 21:4).
55. Quoted from Ho 13:14, substantially; but freely used by the warrant of the Spirit by which Paul wrote. The Hebrew may be translated, “O death, where are thy plagues? Where, O Hades, is thy destruction?” The Septuagint, “Where is thy victory (literally, in a lawsuit), O death? Where is thy sting, O Hades? … Sting” answers to the Hebrew “plagues,” namely, a poisoned sting causing plagues. Appropriate, as to the old serpent (Ge 3:14, 15; Nu 21:6). “Victory” answers to the Hebrew “destruction.” Compare Isa 25:7, “destroy … veil … over all nations,” namely, victoriously destroy it; and to “in victory” (1Co 15:54), which he triumphantly repeats. The “where” implies their past victorious destroying power and sting, now gone for ever; obtained through Satan’s triumph over man in Eden, which enlisted God’s law on the side of Satan and death against man (Ro 5:12, 17, 21). The souls in Hades being freed by the resurrection, death’s sting and victory are gone. For “O grave,” the oldest manuscripts and versions read, “O death,” the second time.
56. If there were no sin, there would be no death. Man’s transgression of the law gives death its lawful power.
strength of sin is the law–Without the law sin is not perceived or imputed (Ro 3:20; 4:15; 5:13). The law makes sin the more grievous by making God’s will the clearer (Ro 7:8-10). Christ’s people are no longer “under the law” (Ro 6:14).
57. to God–The victory was in no way due to ourselves (Ps 98:1).
giveth–a present certainty.
the victory–which death and Hades (“the grave”) had aimed at, but which, notwithstanding the opposition of them, as well as of the law and sin, we have gained. The repetition of the word (1Co 15:54, 55) is appropriate to the triumph gained.
58. beloved–Sound doctrine kindles Christian love.
steadfast–not turning aside from the faith of the resurrection of yourselves.
unmovable–not turned aside by others (1Co 15:12; Col 1:23).
the work of the Lord–the promotion of Christ’s kingdom (Php 2:30).
not in vain–as the deniers of the resurrection would make it (1Co 15:14, 17).
in the Lord–applying to the whole sentence and its several clauses: Ye, as being in the Lord by faith, know that your labor in the Lord (that is, labor according to His will) is not to be without its reward in the Lord (through His merits and according to His gracious appointment).
1Co 16:1-24. Directions as to the Collection for the Judean Christians: Paul’s Future Plans: He Commends to Them Timothy, Apollos, &C. Salutations and Conclusions.
1. collection for the saints–at Jerusalem (Ro 15:26) and in Judea (Ac 11:29, 30; 24:17; compare 2Co 8:4; 9:1, 12). He says “saints” rather than “the poor,” to remind the Corinthians that in giving, it is to the Lord’s people, their own brethren in the faith. Towards the close of the national existence of the Jews, Judea and Jerusalem were harassed with various troubles, which in part affected the Jewish Christians. The community of goods which existed among them for a time gave temporary relief but tended ultimately to impoverish all by paralyzing individual exertion (Ac 2:44), and hence was soon discontinued. A beautiful fruit of grace it was, that he who had by persecutions robbed many of their all (Ac 26:10), should become the foremost in exertions for their relief.
as I have given–rather, “gave order,” namely, during my journey through Galatia, that mentioned in Ac 18:23. The churches of Galatia and Phrygia were the last which Paul visited before writing this Epistle. He was now at Ephesus, and came thither immediately from visiting them (Ac 18:23; 19:1). That he had not been silent in Galatia on contributions for the poor, appears from the hint let fall in his Epistle to that church (Ga 2:10): an undesigned coincidence and mark of genuineness [Paley, Horæ Paulinæ]. He proposes the Galatians as an example to the Corinthians, the Corinthians to the Macedonians, the Corinthians and Macedonians to the Romans (Ro 15:26, 27; 2Co 9:2). There is great force in example.
2. first day of … week–already kept sacred by Christians as the day of the Lord’s resurrection, the beginning day both of the physical and of the new spiritual creations: it gradually superseded the Jewish sabbath on the seventh day (Ps 118:22-24; Joh 20:19, 26; Ac 20:7; Re 1:10). So the beginning of the year was changed from autumn to spring when Israel was brought out of Egypt. Three annual feasts, all typical of Christian truths, were directed to be kept on the first day of the week: the feast of the wave offering of the first sheaf, answering to the Lord’s resurrection; Pentecost, or the feast of weeks, typical of the fruits of the resurrection in the Christian Church (Le 23:11, 15, 16, 36); the feast of tabernacles at harvest, typical of the ingathering of the full number of the elect from one end of heaven to the other. Easter was directed to be kept as a holy sabbath (Ex 12:16). The Christian Sabbath commemorates the respective works of the Three Persons of the Triune God–creation, redemption (the resurrection), and sanctification (on Pentecost the Holy Ghost being poured out). Jesus came to fulfil the Spirit of the Law, not to cancel it, or to lower its standard. The primary object of the sabbath is holiness, not merely rest: “Remember that thou keep holy the sabbath day.” Compare Ge 2:3, “God blessed and sanctified it, because … in it He had rested,” &c. The word “Remember” implies that it was in existence before the giving of the law from Sinai, and refers to its institution in Paradise (compare Ex 16:22, 23, 26, 30). “Six days shalt thou labor”: the spirit of the command is fulfilled whether the six days’ labor be on the last six days or on the first. A perpetual sabbath would doubtless be the highest Christian ideal; but living in a world of business where the Christian ideal is not yet realized, if a law of definite times was necessary in Paradise, it is still more so now.
every one of yon–even those in limited circumstances.
lay by him–though there be not a weekly public collection, each is privately to set apart a definite proportion of his weekly income for the Lord’s cause and charity.
in store–abundantly: the earnest of a better store laid up for the giver (1Ti 6:19).
as God hath prospered him–literally, “whatsoever he may be prospered in,” or “may by prosperity have acquired” [Alford], (Mt 25:15-29; 2Co 8:12).
that there be no gatherings when I come–that they may not then have to be made, when your and my time ought to be employed m more directly spiritual things. When men give once for all, not so much is given. But when each lays by something every Lord’s day, more is collected than one would have given at once [Bengel].
3. approve by your letters–rather translate, “Whomsoever ye shall approve, them will I send with letters”: namely, letters to several persons at Jerusalem, which would be their credentials. There could be no need of letters from them before Paul’s coming, if the persons recommended were not to be sent off before it. Literally, “by letters”; an abbreviated expression for “I will send, recommending them by letters” [Grotius]. If English Version be retained, the sense will be, “When I come, I will send those whom by your letters, then to be given them, ye shall approve.” But the antithesis (opposition or contrast) to Paul himself (1Co 16:4) favors Grotius’ view. So “by” means with (Ro 2:27); and the Greek for “by” is translated, with (2Co 2:4).
liberality–literally, gracious or free gift (2Co 8:4).
4. meet–“worth while.” If your collections be large enough to be worth an apostle’s journey (a stimulus to their liberality), I will accompany them myself instead of giving them letters credential (1Co 16:3; compare Ac 20:1-4).
with me–to guard against all possible suspicion of evil (2Co 8:4, 19-21).
5-7. His first intention had been (2Co 1:15, 16) to pass through them (Corinth) to Macedonia, and again return to them from Macedonia, and so to Judea; this he had announced in the lost epistle (1Co 5:9); now having laid aside this intention (for which he was charged with levity, 2Co 1:17, &c., whereas it was through lenity, 2Co 1:23; 2:1), he announces his second plan of “not seeing them now by the way,” but “passing through Macedonia” first on his way to them, and then “tarrying a while,” and even “abiding and wintering with them.”
for I do pass–as much as to say, “This is what I at last resolve upon” (not as the erroneous subscription of the Epistle represents it, as if he was THEN at Philippi, on his way through Macedonia); implying that there had been some previous communication upon the subject of the journey, and also that there had been some indecisiveness in the apostle’s plan [Paley]. In accordance with his second plan, we find him in Macedonia when Second Corinthians was written (2Co 2:13; 8:1; 9:2, 4), and on his way to Corinth (2Co 12:14; 13:1; compare Ac 20:1, 2). “Pass through” is opposed to “abide” (1Co 16:6). He was not yet in Macedonia (as 1Co 16:8 shows), but at Ephesus; but he was thinking of passing through it (not abiding as he purposed to do at Corinth).
6. He did “abide and even winter” for the three WINTER months in Greece (Corinth), Ac 20:3, 6; from which passage it seems that Paul probably left Corinth about a month before the “days of unleavened bread” or the Passover (so as to allow time to touch at Thessalonica and Berea, from which cities two of his companions were; as we read he did at Philippi); so that thus the three months at Corinth would be December, January, and February [Birks, Horæ Apostolicæ].
ye–emphatical in the Greek.
whithersoever I go–He purposed to go to Judea (2Co 1:16) from Corinth, but his plans were not positively fixed as yet (see on 1Co 16:4; compare Ac 19:21).
7. I will not see you now by the way–literally, “I do not wish to see you this time in passing”; that is, to pay you now what would have to be a merely passing visit as I did in the second visit (2Co 12:14). In contrast to “a while,” that is, some time, as the Greek might better be translated.
but–The oldest manuscripts read “for.”
8. at Ephesus–whence Paul writes this Epistle. Compare 1Co 16:19, “Asia,” wherein Ephesus was.
until Pentecost–He seems to have stayed as he here purposes: for just when the tumult which drove him away broke out, he was already intending to leave Ephesus (Ac 19:21, 22). Combined with 1Co 5:7, 8, this verse fixes the date of this Epistle to a few weeks before Pentecost, and very soon after the Passover.
9. door–(2Co 2:12). An opening for the extension of the Gospel. Wise men are on the watch for, and avail themselves of, opportunities. So “door of hope,” Ho 2:15. “Door of faith,” Ac 14:27. “An open door,” Re 3:8. “A door of utterance,” Col 4:3. “Great,” that is, extensive. “Effectual,” that is, requiring great labors [Estius]; or opportune for effecting great results [Beza].
many adversaries–who would block up the way and prevent us from entering the open door. Not here false teachers, but open adversaries: both Jews and heathen. After Paul, by his now long-continued labors at Ephesus, had produced effects which threatened the interests of those whose gains were derived from idolatry, “many adversaries” arose (Ac 19:9-23). Where great good is, there evil is sure to start up as its antagonist.
10. Now–rather, “But.” Therefore Timothy was not the bearer of the Epistle; for it would not then be said, “IF Timothy come.” He must therefore have been sent by Paul from Ephesus before this Epistle was written, to accord with 1Co 4:17-19; and yet the passage here implies that Paul did not expect him to arrive at Corinth till after the letter was received. He tells them how to treat him “if” he should arrive. Ac 19:21, 22 clears up the difficulty: Timothy, when sent from Ephesus, where this Epistle was written, did not proceed direct to Corinth, but went first to Macedonia; thus though sent before the letter, he might not reach Corinth till after it was received in that city. The undesigned coincidence between the Epistle and the history, and the clearing up of the meaning of the former (which does not mention the journey to Macedonia at all) by the latter, is a sure mark of genuineness [Paley, Horæ Paulinæ]. It is not certain that Timothy actually reached Corinth; for in Ac 19:22 only Macedonia is mentioned; but it does not follow that though Macedonia was the immediate object of his mission, Corinth was not the ultimate object. The “IF Timothy come,” implies uncertainty. 2Co 1:1 represents him with Paul in Macedonia; and 2Co 12:18, speaking of Titus and others sent to Corinth, does not mention Timothy, which it would have probably done, had one so closely connected with the apostle as Timothy was, stayed as his delegate at Corinth. The mission of Titus then took place, when it became uncertain whether Timothy could go forward from Macedonia to Corinth, Paul being anxious for immediate tidings of the state of the Corinthian Church. Alford argues that if so, Paul’s adversaries would have charged him with fickleness in this case also (2Co 1:17), as in the case of his own change of purpose. But Titus was sent directly to Corinth, so as to arrive there before Timothy could by the route through Macedonia. Titus’ presence would thus make amends for the disappointment as to the intended visit of Timothy and would disarm adversaries of a charge in this respect (2Co 7:6, 7).
without fear–Referring perhaps to a nervous timidity in Timothy’s character (1Ti 3:15; 5:22, 24). His youth would add to this feeling, as well as his country, Lystra, likely to be despised in refined Corinth.
11. despise–This charge is not given concerning any other of the many messengers whom Paul sent. 1Ti 4:12 accounts for it (compare Ps 119:141). He was a young man, younger probably than those usually employed in the Christian missions; whence Paul apprehending lest he should, on that account, be exposed to contempt, cautions him, “Let no man despise thy youth” [Paley, Horæ Paulinæ].
conduct–set him on his way with every mark of respect, and with whatever he needs (Tit 3:13).
in peace–(Ac 15:33; Heb 11:31). “Peace” is the salutation of kindness and respect in the East; and so it stands for every blessing. Perhaps here there is too a contrast between “peace” and the “contentions” prevalent at Corinth (1Co 1:11).
I look for him–He and Titus were appointed to meet Paul in Troas, whither the apostle purposed proceeding from Ephesus (2Co 2:12, 13). Paul thus claims their respect for Timothy as one whom he felt so necessary to himself as “look for” to him [Theophylact].
with the brethren–Others besides Erastus accompanied Timothy to Macedonia (compare 1Co 16:12; Ac 19:22).
12. Apollos, I greatly desired … to come unto you–He says this lest they should suspect that he from jealousy prevented Apollos’ coming to them; perhaps they had expressly requested Apollos to be sent to them. Apollos was not at Ephesus when Paul wrote (compare 1Co 16:19, and 1Co 1:1). Probably Apollos’ unwillingness to go to Corinth at this time was because, being aware of the undue admiration of his rhetorical style which led astray many at Corinth, he did not wish to sanction it (1Co 1:12; 3:4). Paul’s noble freedom from all selfish jealousy led him to urge Apollos to go; and, on the other hand, Apollos, having heard of the abuse of his name at Corinth to party purposes, perseveringly refused to go. Paul, of course, could not state in his letter particularly these reasons in the existing state of division prevalent there. He calls Apollos “brother” to mark the unity that was between the two.
with the brethren–who bear this letter (1Co 16:17). (See 1Co 16:24, subscription added to the Epistle). Conybeare thinks Titus was one of the bearers of this first letter (2Co 8:6, 16-24; 12:18). Alford thinks “the brethren” here may be the same as in 1Co 16:11.
convenient time–Apollos did return to Corinth when their divisions were moderated [Jerome], and so it was a more seasonable time.
13. He shows that they ought to make their hopes of salvation to depend not on Apollos or any other teacher; that it rests with themselves. “Watch ye”: for ye are slumbering. “Stand”: for ye are like men tottering. “Quit you like men; be strong”: for ye are effeminate (1Co 16:14). “Let all your things be done with charity” (1Co 8:1; 13:1): not with strifes as at present [Chrysostom]. “In the faith” which was assailed by some (1Co 15:1, 2, 12-17).
15. first-fruits of Achaia–the first Achæan converts (compare Ro 16:5). The image is from the first-fruits offered to the Lord (Le 23:10; compare 1Co 15:20). The members of this family had been baptized by Paul himself (1Co 1:16).
addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints–Translate, “Set themselves, (that is, voluntarily) to minister unto the saints” (compare 2Co 8:4).
16. That ye–Translate, “That ye also,” namely, in your turn … in return for their self-devotion [Alford].
17. Fortunatus … Achaicus–probably of Stephanas’ household.
that … lacking on your part–So far as you were unable yourselves to “refresh my spirit,” in that you are absent from me, “they have supplied” by coming to me from you, and so supplying the means of intercourse between you and me. They seem to have carried this letter back; see the subscription below: hence the exhortations, 1Co 16:16, 18, as though they would be at Corinth when the Epistle arrived.
18. refreshed my spirit and yours–“yours” will be refreshed on receiving this letter, by knowing that “my spirit is refreshed” by their having come to me from you; and (perhaps) by the good report they gave of many of you (1Co 1:4-8); my refreshment of spirit redounds to yours, as being my disciples (2Co 7:13; compare Zec 6:8).
acknowledge–render them due acknowledgments by a kind reception of them: 1Th 5:12, “know” them in their true worth and treat them accordingly.
19. Asia–not all Asia Minor, but Lydian Asia only, of which Ephesus was the capital.
much–with especial affection.
Aquila … Priscilla–(Compare Ac 18:2; Ro 16:3, 4). Originally driven out of Italy by Claudius, they had come to Corinth (whence their salutation of the Corinthians is appropriate here), and then had removed with Paul from Corinth to Ephesus (Ac 18:2, 18, 19, 26); here, as at Rome subsequently, they set up a Church (or assembly of believers) at their house (Ro 16:3, 5). A pattern to Christian husbands and wives. Their Christian self-devoting love appears wherever they were (Ro 16:3, 4). Even the gifted Apollos, so highly admired at Corinth, owed much of his knowledge to them (Ac 18:24-26). In 1Co 16:20, “All the brethren” (that is, the whole Church) seem to be distinguished from “the church that is in their house,” which was but a partial and private assembly out of the general Church at Corinth. Neander thinks Ro 16:23 refers to “the whole Church” meeting at the house of Gaius (compare Col 4:15). “Synagogue” implies an assembly in general, without reference to the character or motives of its members. “Church,” like the Hebrew Kahal, implies an assembly legally convened; as, for instance, the Jews met as a body politic to receive the law (hence Stephen calls it “the Church in the wilderness,” Ac 7:38), and having a legal bond of union. Christ’s followers when dispersed from one another cease to be a congregation (synagogue), but still are a Church, having the common bond of union to the same Head by the same faith and hope [Vitringa, Synagogue and Temple]. From this we may explain Paul’s entering “into every house and haling men and women”: he would in searching for Christians go to their several “houses”‘ of prayer.
in the Lord–They pray for all blessings on you from the Lord, the source of every good [Grotius]. Alford explains, “in a Christian manner,” as mindful of your common Lord. “In the Lord” seems to me to refer to their union together in Christ, their prayers for one another’s good being in virtue of that union.
20. holy kiss–the token of the mutual love of Christians, especially at the Lord’s Supper (compare Ro 16:16; 1Th 5:26), “in which all the dissensions of the Corinthians would be swallowed up” [Bengel].
21. salutation … with mine own hand–He therefore dictated all the rest of the Epistle.
22. A solemn closing warning added in his own hand as in Eph 6:24; Col 4:18.
the Lord–who ought to be “loved” above Paul, Apollos, and all other teachers. Love to one another is to be in connection with love to Him above all. Ignatius [Epistle to the Romans, 7] writes of Christ, “My love, has been crucified” (compare So 2:7).
Jesus Christ–omitted in the oldest manuscripts.
let him be Anathema–accursed with that curse which the Jews who call Jesus “accursed” (1Co 12:3) are bringing righteously on their own heads [Bengel]. So far from “saluting” him, I bid him be accursed.
Maranatha–Syriac for, “the Lord cometh.” A motto or watchword to urge them to preparedness for the Lord’s coming; as in Php 4:5, “The Lord is at hand.”
23. The grace, &c.–This is the salutation meant in 1Co 16:21; and from which unbelievers (1Co 16:22; compare 2Jo 10:11) are excluded [Bengel].
24. My love, &c.–After having administered some severe rebukes, he closes with expressions of “love”: his very rebukes were prompted by love, and therefore are altogether in harmony with the profession of love here made: it was love in Christ Jesus, and therefore embraced “all” who loved Him.
The subscription represents the Epistle as written from Philippi. 1Co 16:8 shows it was written at Ephesus. Bengel conjectures that perhaps, however, it was sent from Philippi (1Co 16:5), because the deputies of the Corinthians had accompanied Paul thither. From Ephesus there was a road to Corinth above Philippi.
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