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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

1 Corinthians

- 1 Corinthians



THE General Editor of The Cambridge Bible for Schools thinks it right to say that he does not hold himself responsible either for the interpretation of particular passages which the Editors of the several Books have adopted, or for any opinion on points of doctrine that they may have expressed. In the New Testament more especially questions arise of the deepest theological import, on which the ablest and most conscientious interpreters have differed and always will differ. His aim has been in all such cases to leave each Contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment, only taking care that mere controversy should as far as possible be avoided. He has contented himself chiefly with a careful revision of the notes, with pointing out omissions, with suggesting occasionally a reconsideration of some question, or a fuller treatment of difficult passages, and the like.

Beyond this he has not attempted to interfere, feeling it better that each Commentary should have its own individual character, and being convinced that freshness and variety of treatment are more than a compensation for any lack of uniformity in the Series.


IN undertaking an edition of the Greek text of the New Testament with English notes for the use of Schools, the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press have not thought it desirable to reprint the text in common use[1]. To have done this would have been to set aside all the materials that have since been accumulated towards the formation of a correct text, and to disregard the results of textual criticism in its application to MSS., Versions and Fathers. It was felt that a text more in accordance with the present state of our knowledge was desirable. On the other hand the Syndics were unable to adopt one of the more recent critical texts, and they were not disposed to make themselves responsible for the preparation of an entirely new and independent text: at the same time it would have been obviously impossible to leave it to the judgment of each individual contributor to frame his own text, as this would have been fatal to anything like uniformity or consistency. They believed however that a good text might be constructed by simply taking the consent of the two most recent critical editions, those of Tischendorf and Tregelles, as a basis. The same principle of consent could be applied to places where the two critical editions were at variance, by allowing a determining voice to the text of Stephens where it agreed with either of their readings, and to a third critical text, that of Lachmann, where the text of Stephens differed from both. In this manner readings peculiar to one or other of the two editions would be passed over as not being supported by sufficient critical consent; while readings having the double authority would be treated as possessing an adequate title to confidence.

A few words will suffice to explain the manner in which this design has been carried out.

In the Acts, the Epistles, and the Revelation, wherever the texts of Tischendorf and Tregelles agree, their joint readings are followed without any deviation. Where they differ from each other, but neither of them agrees with the text of Stephens as printed in Dr Scrivener’s edition, the consensus of Lachmann with either is taken in preference to the text of Stephens. In all other cases the text of Stephens as represented in Dr Scrivener’s edition has been followed.

In the Gospels, a single modification of this plan has been rendered necessary by the importance of the Sinai MS. (א), which was discovered too late to be used by Tregelles except in the last chapter of St John’s Gospel and in the following books. Accordingly, if a reading which Tregelles has put in his margin agrees with א, it is considered as of the same authority as a reading which he has adopted in his text; and if any words which Tregelles has bracketed are omitted by א, these words are here dealt with as if rejected from his text.

In order to secure uniformity, the spelling and the accentuation of Tischendorf have been adopted where he differs from other Editors. His practice has likewise been followed as regards the insertion or omission of Iota subscript in infinitives (as ζῆν, ἐπιτιμᾶν), and adverbs (as κρυφῆ, λάθρα), and the mode of printing such composite forms as διαπαντός, διατί, τουτέστι, and the like.

The punctuation of Tischendorf in his eighth edition has usually been adopted: where it is departed from, the deviation, together with the reasons that have led to it, will be found mentioned in the Notes. Quotations are indicated by a capital letter at the beginning of the sentence. Where a whole verse is omitted, its omission is noted in the margin (e.g. Matthew 17:21; Matthew 23:12).

The text is printed in paragraphs corresponding to those of the English Edition.

Although it was necessary that the text of all the portions of the New Testament should be uniformly constructed in accordance with these general rules, each editor has been left at perfect liberty to express his preference for other readings in the Notes.

It is hoped that a text formed on these principles will fairly represent the results of modern criticism, and will at least be accepted as preferable to “the Received Text” for use in Schools.





AT the time of the Apostle’s visit, Corinth was the most considerable city in Greece. Its commercial importance had always been great. Situated on a narrow neck of land between two seas[2]—the far-famed Isthmus—the temptations to prefer commerce to war, even in times when war was almost the business of mankind, proved irresistible to its inhabitants[3]. The command of the Isthmus was no doubt important in a military point of view; but at a time when navigation was difficult and dangerous[4], the commercial advantages of the position were enormous. Merchants arriving either from the East or from the West, from Italy or Asia Minor, could save themselves the risk of a hazardous voyage round the Peloponnesus, and found at Corinth both a ready market for their wares, and a convenient means of transport. Corinth, therefore, had always held a high position among the cities of Greece[5], though the military genius of Sparta and the intellectual and political eminence of Athens secured to those two states the pre-eminence in the best periods of Greek history. But in the decline of Greece, when she had laid her independence at the feet of Alexander the Great, the facilities for trade enjoyed by Corinth gave it the first place. Always devoted to the arts of peace, in such a degree as to incur the contempt of the Lacedæmonians[6], it was free, in the later times of the Greek republics, to devote itself undisturbed to those arts, under the protection, for the most part, of the Macedonian monarchs. During that period its rise in prosperity was remarkable. It had always been famous for luxury, but now it possessed the most sumptuous theatres, palaces, temples, in all Greece. The most ornate of the styles of Greek architecture is known as the Corinthian. The city excelled in the manufacture of a peculiarly fine kind of bronze known as aes Corinthiacum[7]. Destitute of the higher intellectual graces (it seems never, since the mythic ages, to have produced a single man of genius) it possessed in a high degree the refinements of civilization and the elegancies of life. It was regarded as the “eye[8],” the “capital and grace[9]” of Greece. And when (B. C. 146) it was sacked by Mummius during the last expiring struggle of Greece for independence, though it was devoted to the gods, and not allowed to be rebuilt for a century, its ruins became the “quarry from which the proud patricians who dwelt on the Esquiline or at Baiae, adorned their villas with marbles, paintings, and statues[10].”

The colony (Julia Corinthus) founded here by Julius Cæsar in B.C. 46 soon restored the city to its former greatness. The site had lost none of its aptitude for commerce. The city rose rapidly from its ruins. The Roman proconsul of Achaia fixed his seat there (Acts 18:12). Merchants once more, as of old, found the convenience of the spot for the transport or disposal of their wares, and in the early days of the Roman Empire Corinth became, as of old, a bye-word for luxury and vice. “Non cuivis homini contingit adire Corinthum[11]” has passed into a proverb, which is also found in the Greek language[12], and which at once points to Corinth as a wonder of the world, and as a place which no man should dare to visit without an ample command of money. The worship of Aphrodite, which had given Corinth an infamous pre-eminence over other cities[13], was restored[14], and Corinth once more became a hotbed of impurity. And though the names of many of its residents indicate a Roman origin, there can be no doubt that the supple and astute Greek, who had become a prominent feature of Roman society even in the capital[15], had re-occupied the city, and gave the tone to the general character of its life. Greek philosophy was then in its decline, and it is to Greek philosophy in its decline that we are introduced in the Epistles of St Paul. Endless logomachies[16], personal vanity and rivalries[17], a disposition to set intellectual above moral considerations[18], a general laxity of manners and morals[19], a preference of individual convenience to the general welfare1[20], a tendency to deny the idea of a future life, and to give oneself up to unlimited enjoyment in this1[21], appear to have been the chief difficulties with which St Paul had to contend in planting the Gospel at Corinth. These were in part the characteristics of Roman society in general; but some of the features in the picture are peculiar to Greece1[22].

It was to such a city, the highway between Rome and the East, that the Apostle bent his steps. It was about the close of the year 51. The time was unusually favourable for his arrival. Not only would he find the usual concourse of strangers from all parts of the world, but there was an unusual number of Jews there at that moment, in consequence of the decree of Claudius that ‘all Jews were to depart from Rome[23].’ We can therefore imagine what feelings were in the Apostle’s mind as he entered the Saronic Gulf after his almost fruitless visit to Athens. On a level piece of rock, 200 feet above the level of the sea, stood the city itself[24]. Above it the hill of AcroCorinthus, crowned by the walls of the Corinthian citadel, rose to the height of 1886 feet[25]. The temples and public buildings of the city, overlaid with gold, silver, and brass, according to the custom of the ancient world, met his eye, and whether glittering in the brilliancy of an Eastern sun, or less splendid in shade, they had a tale to tell him of superstitions to be encountered, and men to be turned from the power of Satan unto God. The hope must have risen strong within him, and was soon to be converted into certainty[26], that God had much people in that city. And as he landed, and beheld luxury and pride, riches in their selfishness, vice in its shameless effrontery, and poverty in its degradation and neglect, as well as the people of various nationalities who thronged the streets then, as they do still in all great maritime cities, he must have felt that, though he might stay there long—his visit lasted a year and a half—yet that there was no time to be lost. He first preached the good tidings to the chosen people, Jews and proselytes[27], and was ‘pressed in spirit[28]’ as he thought of the unusual opportunity which was here afforded him. And when, according to their custom, the Jews reviled his doctrine and refused to listen to it, he shook out his garment and said, ‘Your blood be upon your own heads. I am clean, from henceforth I will go to the Gentiles[29].’ And he kept his word. He was encouraged by an influential secession from the Jewish community[30], headed by Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, but he never entered the synagogue again. In a house ‘hard by[31],’ he ministered to the Jews who had attached themselves to him, and to the Gentiles who came to listen to his words. Under the protection of Gallio, the proconsul[32], who entertained a true Roman contempt for the Jewish law and all questions arising out of it, he was allowed to minister in peace for ‘many days[33].’ And thus were laid the foundations of the Corinthian Church[34].



1. Its foundation. In the Acts of the Apostles we find that the system adopted by St Paul[35] in founding Christian Churches was as follows. Accompanied by one, and as the number of converts increased, by more than one trustworthy colleague or disciple, he traversed the particular district he desired to evangelise, making as long a stay in each city as circumstances permitted[36]. The length of his stay usually depended upon the importance of the city, and its fitness as a centre whence the influence of the Gospel might spread to distant parts. Thus Antioch, the capital of Syria, Corinth, the resort, as has been seen[37], of men of various nationalities, and Ephesus, the metropolis of Asia Minor, became successively the abode of St Paul for a lengthened period. The smaller churches he left under the care of elders, selected from his converts, no doubt on the principle laid down in the Epistle to Timothy[38], that they should be men who had previously enjoyed a reputation for gravity and sobriety of life. The condition laid down in the same Epistle, that they should not have been newly converted[39], was of course impossible in this early stage of the history of the community. The more important Churches enjoyed the Apostle’s superintendence for a longer period; but it was impossible, when leaving them, to avoid placing them under the care of men whose Christian profession was immature. Many evils thus naturally arose in communities to which the principles of Christianity were so new. The manner in which these evils were met by the Apostle is worthy of remark. He gradually gathered round him a band of men who were familiar with his teaching and principles of action. When any scandals or difficulties arose, and it was impossible to deal with them in person, he despatched some of his companions to the place where their presence was required[40]. He gave them instructions how to deal with the cases that had arisen[41], and further enjoined them to return to him as speedily as possible with a report of their success or failure[42]. St Paul followed the same course in Corinth as elsewhere. For a year and a half he stayed there, and endeavoured to gain for Christianity a hearing among those who resorted to Corinth from all quarters of the world. He enjoyed unusual opportunities; for the protection of Gallio, and the unpopularity of the Jews with the heterogeneous mob of Corinth[43], prevented the Jews from raising their usual disturbances. As we have already seen, a number of Jews adhered to his teaching, but the majority (ch. 1 Corinthians 12:2; cf. also ch. 1 Corinthians 8:7, note) of the members of the Church were Gentiles, and by far the greater number (ch. 1 Corinthians 1:26) persons of inferior rank and small intellectual attainments. Among these, as the proportion of Roman names shews (see 1 Corinthians 1:14; 1 Corinthians 1:16; 1 Corinthians 16:17; Romans 16:21-23; Acts 18:8; Acts 18:17), a majority were of Roman origin, while a smaller number were of Greek descent.

2. Condition of the Corinthian Church. St Paul left Corinth in consequence of a determination he had formed to spend the approaching feast at Jerusalem[44], a determination which possibly had some connection with the vow under the stress of which he left Corinth[45]. In consequence of the earnest entreaty of the Ephesians[46] that he would give them the benefit of his presence, he spent three years among them on his return from Jerusalem[47]. But the latter part of his stay was disquieted by reports of disorders at Corinth[48]. Certain teachers had arrived at Corinth, imbued with Jewish leanings[49], who had brought letters of recommendation with them from other Churches[50], and who set themselves to undermine the credit and apostolic authority of St Paul[51], and even, as some have gathered from 2 Corinthians 10:5-6, to persuade the Corinthian Christians to set them at nought altogether. He was a man of no eloquence, they said[52]. He was ignorant of the rules of rhetoric[53]. He had not even the physique of the orator1[54]. And besides this, he was no true Apostle. He had not been among the disciples of Jesus Himself1[55]. And his conduct conclusively shewed that he and his companion Barnabas did not possess an authority co-ordinate with that of the twelve1[56]. His doctrine, too, was irreconcilable with theirs. He was a renegade Jew. He had thrown off the yoke of the Jewish law, whereas it was well known that the original Apostles of the Lord regarded it as binding[57]. Such intelligence as this was alarming enough in itself. Teachers like these had already alienated from St Paul the members of one Church which he had founded[58]. But the effect at Corinth was infinitely more mischievous. The whole community had become disorganised. A tendency had arisen to estimate men by their personal gifts rather than by their spiritual powers or their Divine commission. Those who adhered to St Paul’s teaching were tempted to throw off their allegiance to his person, and to transfer it to Apollos, the gifted Alexandrian teacher, who had visited Corinth after St Paul’s departure[59]. Some declared that they followed St Peter, who was placed by our Lord Himself at the head of the Apostolic band[60]. Others protested that they followed no human teacher, but built their faith on the words of Christ Himself, interpreted, most probably, just as suited themselves[61]. A general relaxation of discipline followed these dissensions. In their intellectual exaltation the Corinthians had passed over a grave social scandal in their body without notice[62]. The Holy Communion, by its institution the Feast of Love, had degenerated into a disorderly general meal, in which the prevalent personal and social antagonism was manifested in an unseemly manner[63], in which the poor were altogether neglected[64], and in which even drunkenness was allowed to pass unrebuked[65]. The women threw off their veils in the Christian congregation, and gave indications of a determination to carry their newfound liberty so far as to be destructive of womanly modesty and submissiveness[66]. Beside this, the spiritual gifts which God had bestowed upon His Church had been shamefully misused[67]. They had become occasions of envy and strife. Those who had received them considered themselves justified in looking down upon those common-place Christians who had them not. And as is invariably the case, pride on the one hand begat bitterness and jealousy on the other. The misuse, too, of the spiritual gifts had intruded itself into the congregation. Men who had received such manifest proofs of the Divine favour regarded themselves as released from all obligations to control the exercise of the powers with which they were endowed. They interrupted each other, they exercised their gifts at improper times, till the aspect of a Christian congregation was sometimes more suggestive of lunacy than of the sober self-restraint Christianity was intended to produce[68]. So far had the evil of division proceeded that there were not wanting those who assailed the great cardinal principle of the resurrection of the dead, and were thus opening the door to the most grievous excesses[69]. Such a condition of a community might well disturb the mind of its founder. St Paul could not leave Ephesus at present, for a ‘great door and effectual’ had been opened to him there[70]. But the occasion was urgent and could not wait for his personal presence. He had already despatched one of his disciples with instructions to proceed to Corinth as soon as he had transacted some necessary business in Macedonia[71]. But, probably after Timothy’s departure, tidings arrived—if indeed it were not the pressure of his own overpowering anxiety—which induced the Apostle not to wait for Timothy’s arrival thither[72], but to send messengers at once. Titus, and with him a brother whose name is not given, were therefore sent direct to Corinth[73], most probably in charge of the Epistle with which we are now concerned[74]. Another reason weighed with St Paul in his determination to write. Some members of the Corinthian Church had sought information from him on certain points[75]. (a) The Platonic philosophy, which had recently invaded the Jewish Church, had placed an exaggerated value on celibacy, and there were many at Corinth who were still sincerely attached to St Paul, and desired to have his opinion[76]. (b) Another difficulty had also arisen. St Paul was everywhere impressing on his converts the doctrine of their freedom from the obligations of the Jewish law. He went so far as to declare that the Christian was bound by no external law whatever[77]. There was nothing, in fact, which in itself was unlawful to the Christian[78]. The lawfulness or unlawfulness of an act was to be determined by the circumstances of the case. And the tribunal by which these nice points were to be decided was the conscience of the individual. Such large principles as these were likely to be misapplied, and, in fact, they were misapplied. Some Christians considered themselves absolved from all obligations whatever. Strong in their contempt for idolatry and idols, they claimed a right to sit at an idol feast, in the very precincts of the temple itself[79]. That such conduct was highly offensive or dangerous to others was to them a matter of no moment. If those who were scrupulous about eating meats offered to idols shunned their company as that of men guilty of gross and open apostasy, they ridiculed their narrow-mindedness. If others were tempted by the license they claimed to relapse into idolatry, they considered it to be no concern of theirs[80]. And their abuse of Christian liberty and of the principles the Apostle had laid down, did but add to the confusion already existing in the Corinthian Church. (c) There were sundry minor questions on which St Paul’s opinion was asked. The chief of these was a difficulty which had arisen out of an expression of his, in an epistle now lost, in which he bade them “not to company with fornicators[81].” In the heathen world, and in Corinth especially, such a command, if literally carried out, would involve an almost entire cessation of intercourse with the heathen. It was necessary to decide these questions at once, and so to give free course to the Christian life of the Corinthian Church.



1. Date and Place of Writing. It was to the state of affairs described in the preceding chapter that the Apostle addressed himself in the Epistle under our consideration. In the spring of the year 57, before his departure from Ephesus for Macedonia, he wrote to his Corinthian converts. The subscription to this Epistle in the A.V. states it to have been written at Philippi. This mistake is due to a mistranslation of ch. 1 Corinthians 16:5. See note there. Calvin remarks further that the salutation in ch. 1 Corinthians 16:19 is not from the Churches of Macedonia, but of Asia Minor. Aquila and Priscilla, too (Acts 18:2; Acts 18:18; Acts 18:26; cf. 1 Corinthians 16:19), appear to have taken up their abode at Ephesus. If, in conclusion, we compare the narrative in Acts 20 with 1 Corinthians 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:8, we can have little doubt that the Epistle was written at Ephesus.

2. Character of the Epistle. No Epistles give us so clear an insight into the character of St Paul as the two Epistles to the Corinthians[82]. Beside the deep and fervent love for God and man, and for the object of his preaching, Jesus Christ, both God and Man, visible in all his Epistles, we have in these Epistles the most remarkable individual characteristics. A large portion of the first Epistle is occupied with personal matters. In the first four chapters the Apostle deals with the divisions in the Corinthian Church, and these divisions, as we have seen, were caused by the intrigues of those who sought to disparage his qualifications and Apostolic authority. The character, therefore, of his preaching, the source of its inspiration, the nature of his work, the sacrifices he made for the Gospel’s sake as a proof of his sincerity, are subjects which take up a large part of the earlier portion of the Epistle. Again, in the ninth chapter, when he is about to refer once more to his own practice, he suddenly remembers that that very practice has been turned into a pretext for denying his Apostolic commission, and he enters into an animated defence of it. Some of the most marked characteristics of St Paul’s style, as revealing to us the nature of the man, are to be found in the Second Epistle. Such are the impassioned vehemence of his self-vindication, his deep anxiety and affection for his converts, the sternness which contends with his love, his sudden deflections from the main argument as some subsidiary idea or illustration occurs to him, the irony mingled with his rebukes, peculiarities which reach their climax in that Epistle. This Epistle, however, is not destitute of these traits of individual character. There is a striking instance of some of them in ch. 1 Corinthians 4:8-13, and in ch. 1 Corinthians 9:1. But for eloquence of the highest order, such as is displayed in the magnificent panegyric on love in ch. 8, no Epistle can compare with this. And there is no passage in any other Epistle which for depth of spiritual insight, felicity of illustration and force of argument combined, approaches the passage in which the doctrine of the Resurrection is at once defended and developed. One particular faculty, the shrewd common-sense of St Paul, which has received far less attention than it deserves, is more plainly manifested in this Epistle than any other. A very large portion of the Epistle is taken up with practical matters. It is “Christianity applied to the details of ordinary life[83].” And no one can have read the part of the Epistle which extends from ch. 5 to ch. 14 inclusive, without being struck with the keenness of the Apostle’s discrimination, which sends him at once to the root of the matter, and enables him to decide on the broadest and most intelligible ground what is permissible to the Christian, and what not. Witness his decisive condemnation of the incestuous person, ch. 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, and of fornication, ch. 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, as well as the basis on which they rest. Observe the way in which he deals with the question of marriage in ch. 7, and, above all, with the delicate and difficult case when the one party has been converted to Christianity, and the other has not (vv. 12–17). Observe the broad distinction he draws between the lawfulness of a thing in itself, and its permissibility in all cases, in the discussion of the question of meats offered in sacrifice to idols (chapter 8 and 10), as well as the calm decision with which he rules (in ch. 14) that supernatural gifts need as much unselfishness and discretion in their use as those which come to men in the ordinary course. It is characteristics like these which mark the Apostle off as a man sui generis, and while they often add tenfold to the difficulty of understanding him, have given to his writings a conspicuous place, even in the New Testament itself.

3. Genuineness. It is to their remarkable originality, as well as the fact that they obviously arose out of the state of the Corinthian Church immediately after its foundation, that these Epistles owe the fact that, with one or two others, their genuineness has never been seriously disputed. It would be impossible for a forger, especially in an age when the writing of fiction had not been reduced to a system, to have invented an Epistle so abounding in local and personal allusions, and to affairs of immediate moment, without hopelessly entangling himself in contradictions. And these two Epistles also possess a testimony to their authenticity which no other book, even of the New Testament, enjoys. Whereas most ancient writings are identified by some allusion or quotation in a writer three or four centuries later than their author, a chain of testimony from the very first establishes the fact that this Epistle, in the form in which it has come down to us, proceeds from the hand of St Paul. Our first witness is Clement of Rome, the friend and companion of St Paul (Philippians 4:3), and afterwards[84] Bishop of Rome. About the year 97 (though some would place it as early as 68), forty years after this Epistle was written, and during the troubles which befel the Christians in the reign of Domitian, Clement wrote to the Corinthians in reference to some disputes which had arisen there of the same kind as those of which St Paul had complained. This Epistle of Clement possessed high authority, and was often bound up with the New Testament and read in church[85]. In it he thus writes, ἀναλάβετε τὴν ἐπιστολὴν τοῦ μακαρίου Παυλοῦ τοῦ ἀποστόλου. Τί πρῶτον ὑμῖν ἐν ἀρχῇ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου ἔγραψεν; ἐπ' ἀληθείας πνευματικῶς ἐπέστειλεν ὑμῖν, περὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ Κηφᾶ τε καὶ Ἀπόλλω, διὰ τὸ καὶ τότε προσκλίσεις ὑμᾶς πεποιῆσθαι[86].” Polycarp, again, the disciple of St John, quotes 1 Corinthians 6:2 as the words of St Paul[87]. In the shorter Greek edition of the Epistles of Ignatius, who was Bishop of Antioch, and had been known to the Apostles[88], there are many quotations from this Epistle, though its author is not named[89]. Irenaeus, the disciple of Polycarp[90], and of others who had seen the Apostles[91], not only quotes this Epistle as the work of St Paul, but mentions it as having been written to the Corinthians[92]. After his time it is needless to multiply quotations. At the close of the second or the beginning of the third century, Tertullian, a learned and able writer, not only quotes it but devotes a considerable part of his Treatise against Marcion to an analysis of its contents, and from that time onward it has unhesitatingly been accepted as the work of the Apostle St Paul, and as one of the canonical writings of the Church.



There is no other passage in the New Testament which treats of the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection with such force and fulness as the fifteenth chapter of this Epistle. This doctrine is the keystone of the Gospel arch, and formed, as we learn from the first record of the proceedings of the Christian Church, the chief feature in the preaching of its first Apostles. They ‘gave witness’ of the Resurrection of the Lord ‘with great power[93]’; they grieved the Sadducees by ‘teaching through Jesus the Resurrection of the dead[94]’; they regarded themselves as specially concerned to be ‘witnesses of the Resurrection[95].’ It was evidently the leading feature in the teaching of St Paul. In his sermon at Athens he preached ‘Jesus and the Resurrection[96].’ And when, years afterwards, he stood to answer for his heresies at a tribunal of his fellow-countrymen, his first remark was ‘of the hope and Resurrection of the dead am I called in question[97].’ We are therefore prepared to find him laying especial stress upon this doctrine. We shall not be surprised to find him preferring it to all others. It is to him the articulus stantis aut cadentis ecclesiae. Without it there is no Christianity[98], no deliverance from sin[99], no future life[100]. To deny it is to give the lie to all his preaching[101]. And therefore he takes especial care to bear witness to the fact.

I. His words on this point are well worthy of study, for upon the fact of the Resurrection depends not only the whole doctrinal system of Christianity, but the whole question of the credibility of the Gospel History. An acute writer has lately observed that the whole question of miracles stands or falls with the capital miracle of the Resurrection of Christ[102]. If that miracle be once conceded, it is but splitting straws to discuss the possibility or probability of minor miracles. If it be denied, with it goes the whole claim of Christ to be considered in any special or peculiar sense the Son of God. We are therefore forced to give marked attention to what was very probably the first written account we have of the Resurrection of Christ[103]. And here we may remark [1] the fearless tone of the Apostle[104]. There is, as Robertson has observed, the “ring of truth” about the whole chapter[105]. There is no hesitation, no half-heartedness. The language is not that of a man who says “I hope” or “I believe,” but ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth[106].’ We may observe further [2] the time when the Apostle was writing. It was about twenty-five years after the Resurrection1[107]. There were plenty of witnesses still alive who could be interrogated about what they themselves had seen and heard. Nor was there any difficulty in the investigation. Jerusalem was by no means difficult of access from Corinth, and abundant opportunity existed for disproving the assertions of the Apostle if such disproof were possible. Lastly observe [3] the nature of the testimony. Instead of being vague and confused, it is definite and precise. Names of living men are given[108], men who had themselves publicly stated that they had eaten and drunk with Jesus after He had risen from the dead[109]. Occasions are mentioned, and the greater part of five hundred persons are stated to be still living, who saw the fact with their own eyes[110]. No clearer evidence could be given that, as the Apostle said on another occasion, this thing ‘was not done in a corner[111].’

II. We may remark next on St Paul’s doctrine of the Resurrection. Christ, we are told, is the last Adam[112], a second progenitor, that is, of mankind. A new and grander humanity is introduced into the world by Him. Its law of operation is spiritual, not natural[113]; that is to say, it comes into the world not in the ordinary course of nature, but by means which are above and beyond that course[114]. The means whereby the first rudiments of the manhood which is from above is communicated to man is faith[115], that is, the practical acknowledgment of the facts of the unseen spiritual universe[116]. This saves man by the gradual incorporation into his very nature of that spiritual humanity which is given to the world by Christ1[117]. And if this process be in operation at death, if the humanity of Christ be then dwelling in man, if he have ‘the earnest of the Spirit1[118],’ through Whom that humanity is imparted1[119], his resurrection is secured1[120]. His body is then as a seed planted in the ground. It contains within it the principle of an imperishable life, a principle which at the end of a period of any length soever, will assert its power. But not at once1[121]. For [1] “the literal resurrection is but a development of the spiritual.” It is from “spiritual goodness” that we can “infer future glory[122].” The spiritual life must manifest its presence here in antagonism to all that is evil and base, in sympathy and in active cooperation with all that is great and glorious and like Christ, if it is to assert its power hereafter in victory over the grave. And [2], this great conflict, necessary in the world as well as in every individual soul, must have been fought out, not merely in the individual but in the race, before that victory is obtained. The natural life in the world at large, as in the individual, must precede, and eventually be ‘swallowed up’ by the spiritual[123]. All that ‘opposeth and exalteth itself’ against the kingdom of righteousness must be brought into captivity before the spiritual principle can have its perfect working[124]. Even death itself must cease to be[125]. And then the power from on high will transform our body of corruption into a spiritual machine of vast and exalted powers[126]. As the germ of life of the future plant is contained in the seed planted in the ground, so there will be a link of connection between the new body and the old[127]. As the same germ, by the law of its being, attracts to itself material particles suitable to its needs as it unfolds to its full perfection, so will it be with the spirit of man after the Resurrection[128]. But the transformation will involve no loss, except of what is known and felt to be a hindrance and a burden[129]. The new body will be a development of, not a substitute for, the old. ‘This corruptible’ will ‘put on incorruption’ and ‘this mortal’ will ‘put on immortality[130].’ We shall not ‘be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality may be swallowed up of life1[131].’ And this wondrous change will be due to the fact that Christ, in His new and glorified humanity, dwells in the hearts of those who are united to Him by faith. He will ‘quicken our mortal bodies, on account of,’ or, as some copies read, ‘by means of, His Spirit that dwells in them.’ ‘If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life, because of righteousness[132],’ that is, His Righteousness, appropriated and inwrought in us by faith. ‘If we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His Resurrection[133]’: ‘for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive[134].’ And that because ‘whoso eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood,’ whoso assimilates and makes his own by taking it into himself the new and Divine Manhood of the Son of God, ‘hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the Last Day[135].’




Section 1. Salutation and Introduction, 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

(α) The persons addressed 1 Corinthians 1:1-2.

(β) Salutation of grace and peace 1 Corinthians 1:3.

(γ) Thanksgiving for the mercies vouchsafed to the Corinthian Church 1 Corinthians 1:4-9.

Section 2. Rebuke of the Divisions in the Corinthian Church, 1 Corinthians 1:10-17.

(α) Exhortation to unity 1 Corinthians 1:10.

(β) Reason for this exhortation. Report concerning the divisions at Corinth 1 Corinthians 1:11-12.

(γ) Christ, not Paul, the centre of the Christian system 1 Corinthians 1:13-17.

Section 3. God’s message not intended to flatter the pride of man, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.

(α) The preaching of the Cross intended to destroy men’s confidence in their own wisdom 1 Corinthians 1:18-21.

(β) Therefore it would of course disappoint men’s natural ideas of power or wisdom among Jews or Gentiles 1 Corinthians 1:22-23.

(γ) Yet to those who can appreciate it, the doctrine of the Cross can prove to be both power and wisdom 1 Corinthians 1:24.

(δ) And this because God is so infinitely above man that the least evidence of His greatness is far above man’s highest efforts 1 Corinthians 1:25.

(ε) The character of the first converts to Christianity regarded as a witness to this truth 1 Corinthians 1:25-29.

(ζ) Christ the true source of all excellence 1 Corinthians 1:30-31.

Section 4. The wisdom of the Gospel discernible by the spiritual faculties alone, 1 Corinthians 2:1-16.

(α) St Paul eschewed all human wisdom, that God might have all the glory 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.

(β) Not that he had no wisdom to impart, but it was wisdom of a different character from that of man 1 Corinthians 2:6-8.

(γ) For it came by the revelation of God’s Spirit 1 Corinthians 2:9-10.

(δ) Who had perfect means of knowing what He revealed 1 Corinthians 2:11.

(ε) This is the Spirit the Christian teachers have received and by Whose influence they speak 1 Corinthians 2:12-13.

(ζ) The man who does not raise himself above this life has no faculty wherewith to apprehend these things 1 Corinthians 2:14.

(η) It belongs alone to the man who possesses spiritual faculties, has the Mind of Christ 1 Corinthians 2:15-16.

Section 5. The partizanship of the Corinthians a hindrance to spiritual progress, 1 Corinthians 3:1-4.

(α) The Corinthians were incapable of entering into this spiritual Wisdom 1 Corinthians 3:1-2.

(β) Because they looked at the man, not at his message 1 Corinthians 3:3-4.

Section 6. Christian Ministers only labourers of more or less efficiency, the substantial work being God’s, 1 Corinthians 3:5-23.

(α) Men are but instruments, God the efficient cause 1 Corinthians 3:5-8.

(β) Man’s duty is to build properly on the true foundation, Jesus Christ 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.

(γ) Responsibility incurred by those who undertake to teach in the Church 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.

(δ) Need for them to renounce the wisdom of this world 1 Corinthians 3:18-20.

(ε) Conclusion, ‘Let no man glory in men,’ for all things are God’s 1 Corinthians 3:22-23.

Section 7. The true estimation of Christ’s ministers, and the true criterion of their work, 1 Corinthians 4:1-7.

(α) Christian teachers, as ‘ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God,’ outside the sphere of human judgments 1 Corinthians 4:1-5.

(β) St Paul desires to put down personal rivalries in the Church 1 Corinthians 4:6-7.

Section 8. Contrast between the Corinthian believers and St Paul, 1 Corinthians 4:8-21.

(α) The Corinthians enjoy all the temporal benefits of the Gospel, St Paul bears all the burden 1 Corinthians 4:8-13.

(β) St Paul’s object to lead the Corinthians into conformity to the Gospel 1 Corinthians 4:14-17.

(γ) He will use severity for this end, if other means fail 1 Corinthians 4:18-21.


Section 1. The case of the Incestuous Person, 1 Corinthians 5:1-8.

(α) The offender to be expelled 1 Corinthians 5:1-5.

(β) Reason: because the leaven of evil sunders men from Christ 1 Corinthians 5:6-8.

Section 2. Application of the same principle to offenders generally, 1 Corinthians 5:9-13.

(α) The duty of refusing to hold intercourse with offenders to be confined to those within the Church 1 Corinthians 5:9-11.

(β) Because those only who are within the Church are within the sphere of its judgment 1 Corinthians 5:12-13.

Section 3. The way to settle disputes in the Christian Church, 1 Corinthians 6:1-11.

(α) The sin of going to law in the heathen courts rebuked 1 Corinthians 6:1-7.

(β) The graver evils which led to such lawsuits rebuked 1 Corinthians 6:8-11.

Section 4. The guilt of the Fornicator, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.

(α) General principle. The lawfulness of all actions in themselves. Limitation [1] that they must not injure others, [2] that they must not interfere with our mastery over ourselves 1 Corinthians 6:12.

(β) Practical application 1 Corinthians 6:13-20.

[1] Comparative unimportance of questions concerning food 1 Corinthians 6:13.

[2] Immense importance of the question of fornication 1 Corinthians 6:13-20.

(a) Because fornication is a violation of the fundamental laws of the human body 1 Corinthians 6:13.

(b) Because the body was created for and redeemed by Christ 1 Corinthians 6:13-14.

(c) Consequently fornication violates the union between God and the body He has created for Himself 1 Corinthians 6:15-17.

(d) Therefore the sin of fornication has a special guilt of its own 1 Corinthians 6:18.

(e) Aggravated by the fact that Christ has made the body the temple of His Spirit 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

Section 5. Advice concerning Marriage and Celibacy, 1 Corinthians 7:1-9.

(α) General principle. Celibacy the state preferable in itself, marriage the more necessary under existing circumstances 1 Corinthians 7:1-9.

(β) Duties of married persons 1 Corinthians 7:3-5.

Section 6. Mutual obligations of Married Persons, 1 Corinthians 7:10-16.

(α) General instruction. Married persons not to live apart or to contract second marriages during the lifetime of their former partners v10–14.

(β) Modification under special circumstances, where one party is converted to Christianity while the other remains in heathenism 1 Corinthians 7:15-16.

Section 7. Christianity not intended to revolutionize the relations between the believer and society, 1 Corinthians 7:17-24.

Affirmation of the above principle generally 1 Corinthians 7:17; 1Co_7:24.

Special application

(α) to Jews and Gentiles 1 Corinthians 7:18-19.

(β) to slaves 1 Corinthians 7:20-23.

Section 8. General instructions concerning the marriage of Virgins, 1 Corinthians 7:25-38.

(α) Celibacy preferable, marriage allowable 1 Corinthians 7:25-28.

(β) Marriage to be contracted in a spirit of self-denial 1 Corinthians 7:29-31.

(γ) For marriage tends to produce care, and care is alien to the spirit of the Gospel 1 Corinthians 7:32-35.

(δ) The duty of a father towards his daughter 1 Corinthians 7:36-38.

Section 9. Second marriage of women, 1 Corinthians 7:39-40. Permitted but not advised.


DIVISION 1. The question of meats offered in sacrifice to idols. 1 Corinthians 8:1 to 1 Corinthians 9:1.

Section 1. The question discussed, 1 Corinthians 8:8.

(α) To be settled rather by love than knowledge 1 Corinthians 8:1-3.

(β) The enlightened Christian knows that an idol is really nothing 1 Corinthians 8:4-6.

(γ) But all are not equally enlightened 1 Corinthians 8:7.

(δ) The question being in itself indifferent, we are bound to consider what are likely to be the results of our conduct 1 Corinthians 8:8-13.

Section 2. (parenthetical). St Paul’s defence of his Apostolic authority, 1 Corinthians 9:1-14.

This authority, and his right to receive maintenance at the hands of the Church, having been questioned (v. 1 Corinthians 1:4-6), St Paul shews:

(α) That the Corinthian Church is itself a standing guarantee of his Apostleship 1 Corinthians 9:2.

(β) Three illustrations of his right to maintenance by the Church (see notes) 1 Corinthians 9:7.

(γ) The principle further illustrated from the Law 1 Corinthians 9:8-10.

(δ) Spiritual benefits deserve at least temporal recompense 1 Corinthians 9:11.

(ε) The principle has been conceded in the case of others 1 Corinthians 9:12.

(ζ) Further illustrations from the temple service 1 Corinthians 9:13-14.

Section 3. (Return to main argument, see end of ch. 8). St Paul’s own use of his Christian liberty is restrained by the thought of the needs of others, 1 Corinthians 9:15-23.

(α) This was his object in preaching the Gospel without charge 1 Corinthians 9:15-18.

(β) His practice being to ignore self for the profit of others 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.

Section 4. Exhortation to self-restraint, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.

(α) All need self-restraint in the Christian course 1 Corinthians 9:24-25.

(β) St Paul himself finds it no easy task 1 Corinthians 9:26-27.

Section 5. Example of Israel a warning to Christians, 1 Corinthians 10:1-14.

(α) In spite of great privileges, want of self-restraint was fatal to the majority of the Israelites in their pilgrimage 1 Corinthians 10:1-10.

(β) Christians must take heed by their example 1 Corinthians 10:11-14.

Section 6. The danger of eating meats offered to idols shewn from the example of sacrificial feasts in general, 1 Corinthians 10:15-22.

(α) Eating at the Lord’s Table brings a man into communion with Christ 1 Corinthians 10:15-17.

(β) The same principle applied to Jewish sacrificial meals 1 Corinthians 10:18.

(γ) The idol is itself nothing, but its worship involves the recognition as divine of other beings than God 1 Corinthians 10:19-20.

(δ) We must either decide for God or His enemies, we cannot have fellowship with both 1 Corinthians 10:21-22.

Section 7. Practical directions on the subject, 1 Corinthians 10:23 to 1 Corinthians 11:1.

The principle (ch. 1 Corinthians 6:12) being restated in 1 Corinthians 10:23, it follows:

(α) That we are to aim at the profit of others, not our own 1 Corinthians 10:24.

(β) That we need have no scruples of our own on the point 1 Corinthians 10:25-27.

(γ) But that we are to respect the scruples of others 1 Corinthians 10:28.

(δ) Not that they have a right to lay down principles of action for us 1 Corinthians 10:29-30.

(ε) But that we are bound in all things to seek God’s glory and the edification of our neighbour 1 Corinthians 10:31 to 1Co_11:1.

DIVISION 2. The conduct and dress of women at the Public Services of the Church, 1 Corinthians 11:2-16.

(α) God’s order in the world 1 Corinthians 11:3.

(β) Men should be uncovered, women covered in the congregation 1 Corinthians 11:4-6.

(γ) Reason. The covering in the congregation the sign of being under authority while there 1 Corinthians 11:7-12.

(δ) Argument from sense of natural fitness 1 Corinthians 11:13-15.

(ε) Argument from the custom of the Churches 1 Corinthians 11:16.

DIVISION 3. Disorders at the Lord’s Supper, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34.

(α) Divisions, self-assertion, and disorder in the congregation 1 Corinthians 11:17-22.

(β) Institution of the Lord’s Supper 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

(γ) Manner in which it should be observed 1 Corinthians 11:27-34.

DIVISION 4. Abuse of Spiritual Gifts, 1 Corinthians 11:12-14.

Section 1. Their origin and character, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11.

(α) How to discern their nature 1 Corinthians 12:1-3.

(β) The Spirit the same, his operations manifold, their object the profit of the Church 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.

Section 2. Comparison of the unity of the body, and the unity of the Church, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.

(α) Analogy between the body and the Church, each being made up of many members, yet being one organized whole 1 Corinthians 12:12-14.

(β) Absurdity of setting up separate interests in the body 1 Corinthians 12:15-21.

(γ) Each member of the body possesses its own proper gifts, and receives its due share of honour 1 Corinthians 12:22-26.

(δ) Application of these principles to the Christian Church 1 Corinthians 12:27-31.

Section 3. The excellencies of Love, 1 Corinthians 12:31 to 1 Corinthians 13:13.

(α) Importance of love 1 Corinthians 12:31 to 1 Corinthians 13:3.

(β) Character of love 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

(γ) Permanence of love 1 Corinthians 13:8-13.

Section 4. Superiority of the gift of prophecy to that of tongues, 1 Corinthians 14:1-25.

(α) Prophecy superior to the gift of tongues, in that it is a means of edification 1 Corinthians 14:1-5.

(β) Reason. Unknown tongues not understood in the congregation 1 Corinthians 14:6-19.

(γ) The result of their public use, confusion instead of edification 1 Corinthians 14:20-23.

(δ) The opposite result produced by prophecy 1 Corinthians 14:24-25.

Section 5. Regulations to insure decency and order, 1 Corinthians 14:26-40.

(α) Rebuke of self-assertion 1 Corinthians 14:26.

(β) Rules for the use of tongues 1 Corinthians 14:27-28.

(γ) For prophecy 1 Corinthians 14:29-31.

(δ) Laid down because spiritual gifts should be under the rule of right reason 1 Corinthians 14:32-33.

(ε) The public ministrations of women forbidden 1 Corinthians 14:34-36.

(ζ) Exhortation to obedience and order 1 Corinthians 14:37-40.


Section 1. Establishment of the fact, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11.

(α) It formed part of St Paul’s preaching 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.

(β) It was testified to by sundry well-known eyewitnesses 1 Corinthians 15:5-7.

(γ) St Paul himself, whatever his Apostolic claims, had seen the Risen Lord 1 Corinthians 15:8.

Section 2. The Resurrection of Christ the foundation of all Christianity, 1 Corinthians 15:12-19.

(α) The resurrection of other men depends entirely upon it 1 Corinthians 15:12-14.

(β) To deny it is to destroy the credit of the Christian ministry 1 Corinthians 15:15.

(γ) As well as Christian faith, and hope, and deliverance from sin 1 Corinthians 15:16-19.

Section 3. The place of the Resurrection of Christ in the scheme of Redemption, 1 Corinthians 15:20-28.

(α) The Resurrection of Christ the first-fruits of His Work 1 Corinthians 15:20.

(β) For as man was the instrument of our death, so man was destined to be the instrument of our life 1 Corinthians 15:21-22.

(γ) In the Divine order, Christ must precede His members 1 Corinthians 15:23.

(δ) And reduce, as Mediator, all that opposes God into submission to Himself 1 Corinthians 15:25-27.

(ε) In order that He may finally deliver up the Kingdom to the Father, and God may be all in all 1 Corinthians 15:24; 1Co_15:27-28.

Section 4. Argument from the lives of believers, 1 Corinthians 15:29-34.

(α) Those who are baptized for the dead 1 Corinthians 15:29.

(β) Those who undergo suffering for Christ’s sake 1 Corinthians 15:30-32.

(γ) Danger of a contrary doctrine leading to a relaxation of morals 1 Corinthians 15:33-34.

Section 5. Manner of the Resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15:35-53.

(α) Analogy of the seed: [1] it rises again; [2] there are different kinds of seeds 1 Corinthians 15:35-38.

(β) There are various genera in animal life 1 Corinthians 15:39.

(γ) There are diversities among the heavenly bodies 1 Corinthians 15:40-41.

(δ) Therefore there will be [1] diversity, [2] change in the Resurrection bodies 1 Corinthians 15:42-44.

(ε) The change will be from the natural to the spiritual, through Christ the life-giving spirit 1 Corinthians 15:44-45.

(ζ) Priority of the natural to the spiritual 1 Corinthians 15:46-49.

(η) The change consists in the translation of corruption into incorruption 1 Corinthians 15:50-53.

Section 6. Result of the Resurrection,—Victory, 1 Corinthians 15:54-58.

(α) The believer’s victory over death 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.

(β) Christian exertion in this life not thrown away 1 Corinthians 15:58.

Part V. Sundry Practical Directions. Conclusion. Ch. 16.

(α) Directions concerning the Collection 1 Corinthians 16:1-4.

(β) Information concerning St Paul’s impending visit 1 Corinthians 16:5-9.

(γ) Concerning Timothy and Apollos 1 Corinthians 16:10-12.

(δ) Exhortation to earnestness and love 1 Corinthians 16:13-14.

(ε) Concerning Stephanas and his companions 1 Corinthians 16:15-18.

(ζ) Salutations 1 Corinthians 16:19-21.

(η) Solemn warning 1 Corinthians 16:22.

(θ) Benediction 1 Corinthians 16:23-24.



CH. 1 Corinthians 15:27-28

IT may not be amiss to add a few more interpretations of this important and difficult passage by distinguished Divines of various periods. First of all Irenaeus (Contr. Haer. V. 36) says, on the authority of the Presbyters who had been disciples of the Apostles (i.e., had been taught by them orally), ‘esse adordinationem et dispositionem eorum qui salvantur, et per hujusmodi gradus proficere, et per Spiritum quidem [ad] Filium, per Filium autem ascendere ad Patrem, Filio deinceps cedente Patri opus suum, quemadmodum et ab Apostolo dictum est, “quoniam oportet regnare eum” &c.’ The passage is not extant in the Greek.

Tertullian, Adv. Praxeam 4, arguing for the Monarchy, or sole and single rule of God, says, ‘Videmus igitur non obesse monarchiae Filium, etsi hodie apud Filium est, quia et suo statu est apud Filium, et cum suo statu restituetur Patri a Filio. Ita eam nemo hoc nomine destruet, (si) Filium admittat, cui et traditam eam a Patre et a quo quandoque restituendam Patri constat.’

Origen, De Principiis III. 7, says, ‘Verum nescio quo pacto haeretici non intelligentes Apostoli sensum … subjectionis in filio nomen infamant … Sermo namque Apostoli, secundum quod isti volunt, hoc videtur ostendere; ut quasi is qui nunc patri subjectus non sit, subjectus futurus sit hinc cum prius pater ei universa subjecerit. Sed miror quomodo hoc intelligi possit, ut is qui nondum sibi subjectis omnibus non est ipse subjectus, hinc, cum subjecta fuerint sibi omnia, cum rex omnium fuerit, et potestatem tenuerit universorum, hinc eum subjiciendum putant, cum subjectus ante non fuerit, non intelligentes quod subjectio Christi ad patrem beatitudinem nostrae perfectionis ostendit … cum non solum regendi ac regnandi summam quam in universam emendaverit creaturam, verum etiam obedientiae et subjectionis correcta reparataque humani generis patri offerat instituta.’ Cf. Hom. 2 on Psalms 36; and in Tom. XX. in Joan. 7, he writes, ζητήσαις δ' ἂν εἰ ἔσται ποτε, ὅτε οἱ ἄγγελοι αὐτοὶ ὄψονται τὰ παρὰ τῷ πατρί, οὐκέτι διὰ μεσίτου καὶ ὑπηρέτου βλέποντες αὐτά. ὅτε μὲν ὁ ἑωρακὼς τὸν υἱὸν ἑώρακε τὸν πατέρα τὸν πέμψαντα αὐτόν, ἐν υἱῷ τις ὁρᾷ τὸν πατέρα, ὅτε δὲ ὡς ὁ υἱὸς ὁρᾷ τὸν πατέρα, καὶ τὰ παρὰ τῷ πατρὶ ὄψεταί τις, οἱονεὶ ὁμοίως τῷ υἱῷ αὐτοπτὴς ἔσται τοῦ πατρός, καὶ τῶν τοῦ πατρός, οὐκέτι ἀπὸ τῆς εἰκόνος ἐννοῶν τὰ περὶ τούτου οὗ ἡ εἰκών ἐστι. καὶ νομίζω γε τοῦτο εἷναι τὸ τέλος, ὅταν παραδίδωσι κ.τ.λ.

Athanasius explains it of Christ as a representative of mankind, αὐτὸς ὑποταγήσεται τῷ πατρί, ὡς κεφαλὴ ὑπὲρ τῶν ἰδίων μελῶν, De Hum. Nat. Suscept. In his Unum Esse Christum he rejects the explanation of Marcellus and Paul of Samosata, which would regard the words of the subjection of the man Christ Jesus to the Divinity which had taken him into Itself. Theodoret in loc. regards the words as being added lest the heathen should imagine something in the Christian scheme corresponding to the fables of Saturn being dethroned by Jupiter and the like. And he explains it in much the same way as Athanasius above. Cyril of Alexandria (De Sacros. Trin. 25) denies that Jesus, as God, was in any way subject to the Father, but regards the words as spoken κατ ̓ οἰκείωσιν καὶ ἀναφοράν.

Aug., De Trinitate, lib. I., ch. 8, says that this was written to guard against the idea that Christ’s manhood would ever be converted into His Divinity. And he adds that we must not suppose that Christ delivers up the kingdom to His Father in such sort as that He takes it away from Himself. Again, he says, Octoginta Quaestiones 69, ‘Non ergo absurde sic intelligimus, Tunc et ipse filius subjectus erit ei qui illi subjecit omnia; et Filium non solum caput Ecclesiae, sed omnes cum eo sanctos intelligamus, qui sunt unum in Christo, unum semen Abrahae. Subjectum autem secundum contemplationem sempiternae veritatis, ad obtinendam beatitudinem, nullo motu animi, nulla parte corporis resistente, ut in illa vita nemine amante propriam potestatem, sit Deus omnia in omnibus.’

Anselm in loc. explains that Christ is subject ‘secundum humanitatem, ne quis putaret humanam naturam quam assumpsit in naturam divinitatis commutandam ut fieret aequalis patri, non subjecta.’

Aquinas in loc. says, ‘Et subjectus est nunc etiam Christus secundum quod homo patri, sed hoc tunc manifestius erit. Et ratio hujus subjectionis est “ut sit Deus omnia in omnibus,” id est ut anima hominis totaliter requiescat in Deo, et solus Deus sit beatitudo.’

Luther’s explanation in his exposition of this passage is as follows; God’s kingdom is so called when it is no longer hidden but clear before all creatures, and when faith shall cease. To hand over the kingdom to the Father is to present us and the whole Christian world openly before the Father, in His eternal brightness and majesty, in which He reigns without a veil. Since the Church is governed through Christ’s Word and Sacraments, it is called His kingdom. But at the last day He will give Himself up with His whole kingdom to the Father. Henceforth men will perceive and enjoy openly that Sacred Trinity in which they have believed, and for which they have waited.

Calvin’s explanation is, ‘Sed ideo testatur Scriptura Christum nunc vice Patris caeli et terrae imperium obtinere; ne quem alium gubernatorem, dominum, tutorem, judicemve mortuorum et vivorum cogitemus; sed defixi sumus in solo ejus intuitu. Deum quidem agnoscimus rectorem, sed in facie hominis Christi. Tunc autem restituet Christus quod accepit regnum ut perfecte adhaereamus Deo. Neque hoc modo regnum a se abdicabit, sed ab humanitate sua ad gloriosam divinitatem quodammodo traducet; quia tunc patebit accessus, quo nunc infirmitas noster nos arcet. Sic ergo Christus subjicietur patri; quia tunc remoto velo palam cernemus Deum in sua majestate regnantem, neque amplius media erit Christi humanitas quae nos ab ulteriore Dei conspectu cohibeat.’

Hooker’s explanation has been given above. Pearson’s is subjoined (On the Creed, Art. II. ‘Our Lord’), ‘Now as all the power given unto Christ as man had not the same beginning in respect of the use and possession, so neither, when begun, shall it all have the same duration. For part of it, being merely economical, aiming at a certain end, shall then cease and determinate, when that end for which it was given shall be accomplished; part, being either due upon the union of the human nature with the Divine, or upon covenant, as a reward for sufferings endured in that nature, must be coeval with that union and that nature which so suffered, and consequently must be eternal.’ Of the first part of that dominion, he adds, is the Apostle speaking here.

Thus in the history of the exegesis of this passage by some of the greatest minds in Christendom, we find three main lines of interpretation; [1] that the Son is subject to the Father as man; [2] that He offers to the Father, as the Head of the Church, the submission of all its members; [3] that there will come a time in the far distant future when His mediatorial office will no longer be needed, when His kingdom over mankind, as man, will cease, and when each of us will enjoy for himself, through the Mediator’s completed work, the blessing of immediate access to the Father. The right method of interpretation may be to include all three meanings. It is no true principle of explanation of a thing so infinite as the revelation of God in His Word to suppose that one contribution to the elucidation of a Divine mystery of necessity shuts out another. But we should miss the point of this deep passage if we left out the last of these three explanations. The truth is that Christ’s Divinity does not come within the scope of this passage at all. It deals simply with Christ’s mediatorial work. That mediatorial work, in man’s present condition, is absolutely necessary in order to bring us to God. He is so far above us, that we cannot conceive of Him, except as revealed in the shape of one of ourselves. But there will come a time, the Apostle dimly hints, when the intermediate action of Christ’s Manhood between us and God will be no longer necessary. Man’s development does not cease with death, but will go on in a constantly ascending process until he becomes sufficiently spiritualized to see God for Himself. Then, when the work of reconciliation and restoration is finally and completely accomplished, when every thought of man’s heart is brought into obedience to the law of Christ, when death and hell are cast into the lake of fire, when the God-Man sees all enemies at His Feet, then shall Christ, as Man, no longer reign: even His humanity will cease to be the necessary link between God and man, for sin, the only barrier between the two, shall have been finally destroyed, and God shall be all in all.


CH. 1 Corinthians 15:29

IT is useless to append a catena of interpretations of this passage. A question of this kind was not one to which the early writers of the Church paid much attention, and they either pass it by altogether, or give an unsatisfactory explanation. Tertullian, however (Adv. Marc. V. 10), propounds one which is as likely to be true as any other. To be baptized for the dead, he says, is to be baptized for our bodies, for if they do not rise again they are as good as dead. And this gives a very good sense. The passage would then mean, ‘What will they do who are being baptized on behalf of persons virtually dead?’ Baptism is a mystical resurrection to life (Romans 6:4). But what resurrection to life can there be said to be in a person who is doomed to eternal death? One of the two great Sacraments of the Gospel, from this point of view, becomes an absurdity. The arguments in favour of interpretation [3] in the note are certainly strong. Yet the argument from the apparently close connection between the first and second half of the verse is minimized by St Paul’s habit of breaking off suddenly into another topic when he grows impassioned. Cf. ch. 1 Corinthians 4:8, 1 Corinthians 6:12-14, 1 Corinthians 9:1, 1 Corinthians 11:21-23; 1 Corinthians 11:32-34 &c. So that one of the earliest interpretations of this passage may be said to be one of the most probable.

15. ἐβαπτίσθητε. So אABC and Vulgate. Rec. ἐβάπτισα DEFG and Peshito. Also Tertullian.

20. τοῦ κόσμου. אABCD. Rec. adds τούτου with EFG Vetus Lat. Vulg. Peshito, and Tertullian.

23. ἔθνεσιν. So אABDEFG Vetus Lat. Vulg. The rec. Ἕλλησι. has the appearance of being a later correction to agree with 1 Corinthians 15:22; 1Co_15:24.

28. [και`] τὰ μὴ ὄντα. So rec., with BE Vulg. and Peshito. אACDFG Vetus Lat. omit καί, which is bracketed by Westcott and Hort.