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1 Corinthians 1

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Verses 1-99




Paul, a divinely chosen Apostle, and Sosthenes our brother, give Christian greeting to the Corinthian Church, itself also divinely called.

1 Paul, an Apostle called by divine summons equally with the Twelve, and Sosthenes whom ye know, 2 give greeting to the body of Corinthian Christians, who have been consecrated to God in Christ, called out of the mass of mankind into the inner society of the Church to which so many other Christian worshippers belong. 3 May the free and unmerited favour of God, and the peace which comes from reconciliation with Him, be yours! May God Himself, our Heavenly Father, and the Lord Jesus Messiah, grant them to you!

The Salutation is in the usual three parts: the sender (v. 1), the addressees (v. 2), and the greeting (v. 3).

1. κλητός. Elsewhere only Romans 1:1. As all are called to be ἅγιοι, so Paul is called to be an Apostle: see on v. 2, and note the same parallelism, Romans 1:1, Romans 1:6. In O.T. the idea of κλῆσις is often connected with prophets.*

διὰ θελήματος Θεοῦ. As in 2 Cor., Eph., Col., 2 Tim.; expanded, with emphasis on his divine call to the exclusion of any human source or channel, in Galatians 1:1. Sua ipsius voluntate nunquam P. factus esset apostolus (Beng.). Per quod tangit etiam illos, quos neque Christus miserat, neque Per voluntatem Dei praedicabant (Herveius Burgidolensis), viz., the self-constituted teachers, the false apostles.

Σωσθένης. He was not necessarily the amanuensis, for Tertius (Romans 16:22) does not appear in the Salutation. In Galatians 1:1, a number of unnamed persons are associated with the Apostle. Nor need this Sosthenes be the Corinthian Jew (Acts 18:17) who was the chief of the synagogue (superseding Crispus the convert?) and perhaps leader of the complaint before Gallio.* If the two are identical, S. himself had (1) subsequently become a Christian, (2) migrated from Corinth to Ephesus.

ὁ�2 Corinthians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; Philemon 1:1; Romans 16:23; Hebrews 13:23. The article implies that he was well known to some Corinthians. Deissmann (Bible Studies, pp. 87, 142) has shown that�

A D E omit κλητός. Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ (B D E F G 17, Am.) is to be preferred to Ἰησοῦ Χρ. (א A L P, Syrr. Copt. Arm. Aeth.); see note on Romans 1:1 contrast vv. 1, 2, 4 with 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, where Κύριος is added.

2. τῇ ἐκκλησία τοῦ Θεοῦ. The genitive is possessive: 10:32, 11:16, 22, 15:9; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:13; etc. Cf. Deuteronomy 18:16, 23:1; etc. As Chrysostom remarks, the expression is at once a protest against party-spirit; ‘the Church of God,’ not of any one individual.

τῇ οὔσῃ. See Acts 13:1.

ἡγιασμένοις ἐν Χρ. Ἰ. The plural in apposition to the collective singular throws a passing emphasis upon the individual responsibility of those who had been consecrated in baptism (6:11) as members of Christ. The perfect participle indicates a fixed state.

κλητοῖς ἁγίοις. Called by God (Galatians 1:6; Romans 8:30, Romans 8:9:24; etc.) to the Christian society through the preaching of the Gospel (Romans 10:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:14). See note on Romans 1:7 and separate note on ἅγιοι; also Chadwick, Pastoral Teaching, pp. 96, 98. The active καλεῖν is never used of the human instrument, but only of God or Christ. Admonet Corinthios majestatis ipsorum (Beng.).

σὺν πᾶσι. This is generally connected simply with τῆ ἐκκλησίᾳ, as if St Paul were addressing the Corinthian Church along with all other Christians. But this little suits the individual character of this Epistle, which (much more than Romans, for example) deals with the special circumstances of one particular Church. It is therefore better, with Heinrici, to connect the words with κλητοῖς ἁγίοις (contrast 2 Corinthians 1:1). Euthymius Zigabenus takes it so. St Paul is not making his Epistle ‘Catholic,’ nor is he “greeting the whole Church in Spirit,” but he is commending to the Corinthians the fact that their call is not for themselves alone, but into the unity of the Christian brotherhood, a thought specially necessary for them. See 14:36. Throughout the Epistles it is the Corinthians alone that are addressed, not all Christendom.

τοῖς ἐπικαλουμένοις. This goes back to Joel 2:32, and involves the thought of faith, the common bond of all. See Romans 10:12, Romans 10:13. Here, as there, St Paul significantly brings in the worship of Christ under the O.T. formula for worship addressed to the Lord God of Israel. To be a believer is to worship Christ.

ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ. Cf. 2 Corinthians 1:1b; but it is hardly possible to read into the present expression the limitation to Achaia. This consideration confirms the view taken above of the force of σὺν πᾶσι κ.τ.λ., in spite of the parallels given by Lightfoot of Clem. ad Cor. 65, and the Ep. of the Church of Smyrna on the death of Polycarp, καὶ πάσαις ταῖς κατὰ πάντα τόπον τῆς ἁγίας καὶ καθολικῆς ἐκκλησίας παροικίαις. Cf. 2 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Thessalonians 1:8.

αὐτῶν καὶ ἡμῶν. Connected either with τόπῳ or with Κυρίου. The latter (AV., RV.) would be by way of epanorthosis; ‘our Lord’—rather ‘theirs and ours.’ In itself ἡμῶν is general enough to need no such epanorthosis: but the thought of the claim (v. 13) of some, to possess Christ for themselves alone, might explain this addition. The connexion with τόπῳ (Vulg. in omni loco ipsorum et nostro) is somewhat pointless, in spite of the various attempts to supply a point by referring it either to Achaia and Corinth, or to Ephesus and Corinth, or to Corinth and the whole world, or to the Petrine and the Pauline Churches, etc. etc. He may mean that the home of his converts is his home; cf. Romans 16:13.

B D* E F G place τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Κορίνθῳ after ἡγιασμένοις ἐν Χρ Ἰησοῦ. א A D 2 L P, Vulg. Syrr. Copt. Arm. Aeth. place it before. A omits Χριστοῦ. א3 A* D 3 E L P, Arm. Aeth. insert τε after αὐτῶν, probably for the sake of smoothness. Such insertions are frequent both in MSS. and versions.

3. χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη. This is St Paul’s usual greeting, the Greek χαίρειν combined with the Hebrew Shalom, and both with a deepened meaning. In 1 and 2 Tim., and in 2 John 1:3, ἔλεος is added after χάρις. St James has the laconic and secular χαίρειν (cf. Acts 15:23). St Jude has ἔλεος ὑμν καὶ εἰρήνη καὶ�Romans 1:5 and 7. In Dan. 3:31 [98] we have as a salutation, εἰρήνη ὑμῖν πληθυνθείη. See J. A. Robinson, Ephesians, pp. 221-226. In 2 Macc. 1:1 we have χαίρειν … είρήνην�


I thank God continually for your present spiritual condition. Christ will strengthen you to the end according to Divine assurance.

4 I never cease thanking God, because of the favours which He bestowed upon you through your union with Christ Jesus, 5 whereby as immanent in Him ye received riches of every kind, in every form of inspired utterance and every form of spiritual illumination, for the giving and receiving of instruction. 6 These gifts ye received in exact proportion to the completeness with which our testimony to the Messiah was brought home to your hearts and firmly established there; 7 so that (as we may hope from this guarantee) there is not a single gift of grace in which you find yourselves to be behind other Churches, while you are loyally and patiently waiting for the hour when our Lord Jesus Christ shall be revealed. 8 And this hour you need not dread, for our Lord Himself, who has done so much for you hitherto, will also unto the very end keep you secure against such accusations as would be fatal in the Day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 This is a sure and certain hope: for it was God, who cannot prove false, who Himself called you into fellowship with His Son and in His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; and God will assuredly do His part to make this calling effective.

This Thanksgiving is a conciliatory prelude to the whole Epistle, not directed to a section only (v. 12), nor ironical (1), nor studiously indefinite (Hofm.), but a measured and earnest encomium of their general state of grace (Acts 18:10), with special stress on their intellectual gifts, and preparing the way for candid dealing with their inconsistencies.

4. εὐχαριστῶ. Sosthenes seems to be at once forgotten; this important letter is the Apostle’s own, and his alone: contrast εὐχαριστοῦμεν, 1 Thessalonians 1:2; ὥσπερ οὖν πατὴρ ἐπὶ υἱοῖς εὐχαριστεῖ ὅτʼ ἂν ὑγιαίνωσιν τὸν αὐτὸν τρόπον ὅτʼ ἂν βλέπῃ διδάσκαλος τοὺς�1 Thessalonians 1:2): πάντοτε as in 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:3.

τῇ χάριτι τ. Θ. τ. δοθείσῃ. Special gifts of grace are viewed as incidental to, or presupposing, a state of grace, i.e., the state of one living under the influence of, and governed by, the redemption and reconciliation of man effected by Jesus Christ; more briefly, ‘the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (2 Corinthians 8:9; cf. ὑπὸ χάριν, Romans 6:14). The aorists (δοθείσῃ… ἐπλουτίσθητε … ἐβεβαιώθη) sum up their history as a Christian community from their baptism to the time of his writing.

τῷ Θεῷ μου (א1 A C D E F G L P, Latt. Syr. Copt. Arm.); א* B. Aeth. omit μου. A* and some other authorities omit τοῦ Θεοῦ after χάριτι.

5. ὅτι ἐν παντί. Cf. 2 Corinthians 8:7, ὥσπερ ἐν παντὶ περισσεύετε πίστει καὶ λόγῳ καὶ γνώσει. The two passages, though doubtless addressed to different situations, bring out strikingly by their common points the stronger side of Corinthian Christianity, λόγος and γνῶσις, both true gifts of the Spirit (12:8), although each has its abuse or caricature (1:17-4:20. and 8:1 f.)*. Λόγος is the gift of speech, not chiefly, nor specially, as manifested in the Tongues (which are quite distinct in 12:8 f.), but closely related to the teacher’s work. It was the gift of Apollos (Acts 18:24). The λόγος σοφίας is the gift of the Spirit, while σοφία λόγου—cultivating expression at the expense of matter (v. 17)—is the gift of the mere rhetorician, courting the applause (vanum et inane σοφῶς!) of the ordinary Greek audience. St Paul, according to his chief opponent at Corinth, was wanting in this gift (2 Corinthians 10:10, ὁ λόγος ἐξουθενημένος): his oratorical power was founded in deep conviction (v. 18, 2:4, 4:20).

St Paul “loses sight for a moment of the irregularities which had disfigured the church at Corinth, while he remembers the spiritual blessings which they had enjoyed. After all deductions made for these irregularities, the Christian community at Corinth must have presented as a whole a marvellous contrast to their heathen fellow-citizens,—a contrast which might fairly be represented as one of light and darkness” (Lightfoot). This Epistle contains no indication of the disloyalty to the Apostle which we trace in 2 Cor., especially in 10-13.

πάσῃ γνώσει. See 2 Corinthians 11:6, where St Paul claims for himself eminence in the true γνῶσις, and also 1 Corinthians 8:1 f.

6. καθώς. It introduces, not a mere parallel or illustration, but rather an explanation of what precedes: ‘inasmuch as’; v. 7; John 13:34, John 17:2. But 1 Thessalonians 1:5 (quoted by Lightfoot) is less strong.

τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ Χρ. ‘The witness borne [by our preaching] to Christ’; genitivus objecti. Cf. 15:15. Origen takes it of the witness borne by the Scriptures to Christ, and also of the witness borne by Christ, who is the�

ἐβεβαιώθη. Either (1) was established durably (βεβαιώσει, v. 8) in or among you (Meyer); or (2) was verified and established by its influence on your character (2 Corinthians 3:2); or (3) was brought home to your deepest conviction as true by the witness of the Spirit (2:4.)*. This last is the best sense.

B* F G, Arm. have τοῦ Θεοῦ for τοῦ Χριστοῦ.

7. ὥστε ὑμᾶς μὴ ὑστερεῖσθαι. With the infin., ὥστε points to a contemplated result; with the indic., to the result as a fact (2 Corinthians 5:16; Galatians 2:13). What follows, then, is a statement of what was to be looked for in the Corinthians as the effect of the grace (v. 4) of God given to them in Christ; and there was evidently much in their spiritual condition which corresponded to this (11:2; Acts 18:10).

ὑστερεῖσθαι. ‘Feel yourselves inferior’; middle, as in 12:24. The active or passive is more suitable for expressing the bare fact (2 Corinthians 11:5), or physical want (2 Corinthians 11:9; Philippians 4:12); while the middle, more passive than the active and more active than the passive, is applicable to persons rather than things, and to feelings rather than to external facts. The prodigal began to realize his state of want (ὑστερεῖσθαι, Luke 15:14), while the young questioner appealed to an external standard (τί ἔτι ὑστερῶ; Matthew 19:20).

χαρίσματι. Cf. Romans 1:11, where it is in context with στηριχθῆναι, as here with βεβαιωθῆναι. Philo uses the word of divine gifts (De alleg. leg. iii. 24), and in N.T., excepting 1 Peter 4:10, it is peculiar to Paul. It is used by him (1) of God’s gift of salvation through Christ, Romans 5:15, Romans 5:6:23; (2) of any special grace or mercy, 7:7; 2 Corinthians 1:11; and (3) of special equipments or miraculous gifts, as that of healing, 12:9; cf. 12:4; Romans 12:6. Here it is by no means to be restricted to (3), but includes (2), for the immediate context, especially v. 8, dwells on gifts flowing from a state of grace.

ἀπεκδεχομένους. As in Romans 8:19. For the sense cf. Colossians 3:3 f.; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 John 3:2, 1 John 3:3; and see Μαρὰν�Galatians 5:5; Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 9:28)* Character Christiani veri vel falsi revelationem Christi vel expectare vel horrere (Beng.).

ἀποκάλυψιν. See Romans 8:19; 1 Peter 1:13. Quite needlessly, Michelsen suspects the verse of being a gloss.

8. ὃς καὶ βεβαιώσει. Origen asks, τίς βεβαιοῖ; and answers, Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς. the ὅς refers to τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμ. Ἰ. Χρ.; certainly not, as Beng. and others, to Θεός in v. 4. This remote reference is not made probable by the words ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τ. Κ. ἡμ. Ἰ. Χρ. instead of simply ἐν τῇ ἡμ. αὐτοῦ. We have christ’s name ten times in the first ten verses, and the solemn repetition of the sacred name, instead of the simple pronoun, is quite in St Paul’s manner; 5:3, 4: 2 Corinthians 1:5; 2 Timothy 1:18. Cf. Genesis 19:24, which is sometimes wrongly interpreted as implying a distinction of Persons. The καί points to correspondence ‘on His part,’ answering to ἐβεβαιώθη,�

βεβαιώσει. Cf. 2 Corinthians 1:21, and, for the thought, Romans 16:25; 1 Thessalonians 3:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:24. If they fail, it will not be His fault.

ἕως τέλους. The sense is intenser than in 2 Corinthians 1:13; cf. εἰς ἐκείνην τὴν ἡμέραν (2 Timothy 1:12). Mortis dies est unicuique dies adventus Domini (Herv.).†

ἀνεγκλήτους. ‘Unimpeachable’ for none will have the right to impeach (Romans 8:33; Colossians 1:22, Colossians 1:28). The word implies, not actual freedom from sins, but yet a state of spiritual renewal (2:12 f.; Philippians 1:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 8:1). This proleptic construction of the accusative is found in 1 Thessalonians 3:13, 1 Thessalonians 3:5:23; Philippians 3:21. connect ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ with�

ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ א A B C L P, Syrr. Copt. Arm. Aeth.) rather than ἐν τῇ παρουσία (D E F G, Ambrst.), B omits Χριστοῦ.

9. The confident hope expressed in v. 8 rests upon the faithfulness of God (10:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; Romans 8:30; Philippians 1:6) who had been the agent, as well as the source, of their call. With διʼ οὗ cf. Hebrews 2:10, and also ἐξ αὐτοῦ καὶ διʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν τὰ πάντα, Romans 11:36. Διά with genitive can be applied either to Christ or to the Father,* but ἐξ οὗ would not be applied by St Paul to Christ. “Wherever God the Father and Christ are mentioned together, origination is ascribed to the Father and mediation to Christ” (Lightfoot, who refers especially to 8:6). By St Paul, as by St John (6:44), the calling is specifically ascribed to the Father.

εἰς κοινωνίαν. This fellowship (Romans 8:17; Philippians 3:10 f.) exists now and extends to eternity: it is effected by and in the Spirit (Romans 8:9 f.); hence κοινωνία (τοῦ) πνεύματος (2 Corinthians 13:13; Philippians 2:1). Vocati estis in societatem non modo apostolorum vel angelorum, sed etiam Filii ejus J. C. Domini nostri (Herv.). The genitive τοῦ υἱοῦ is objective, and “the κοινωνία τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ is co-extensive with the βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ” (Lightcoot).

D*F G (not d f g) have ὑφʼ οὖ instead of διʼ οὖ.

After this preamble, in which the true keynote of St Paul’s feeling towards his Corinthian readers is once for all struck, he goes on at once to the main matters of censure, arising, not from their letter to him (7:1), but from what he has heard from other sources. In the preamble we have to notice the solemn impression which is made by the frequent repetition of ‘Christ Jesus’ or ‘our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Only once (v. 5) have we αὐτός instead of the Name. And in the beginning of the next section the Apostle repeats the full title once more, as if he could not repeat it too often (Bachmann).


1:10-4:21. THE DISSENSIONS (Σχίσματα)

10-17. Do be united. I have been informed that there are contentions among you productive of party spirit. It was against this very thing that I so rarely baptised.

10 But I entreat you, Brothers, by the dear name of our Lord Jesus Christ, into fellowship with whom you were called by God Himself, do be unanimous in professing your beliefs, and do not be split up into parties. Let complete unity be restored both in your ways of thinking and in your ultimate convictions, so that all have one creed. 11 I do not say this without good reason: for it is quite clear to me, from what I was told by members of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions and wranglings among you. 12 What I mean is this; that there is hardly one among you who has not got some party-cry of his own; such as, “I for my part stand by Paul,” “And I for my part stand by Kephas,” “And I stand by Apollos,” “And I stand by Christ.” 13 Do you really think that Christ has been given to any party as its separate share? was it Paul who was crucified for you? Or was it to allegiance to Paul that you pledged yourselves when you were baptized? 14 Seeing that you thus misuse my name, I thank God that not one of you was baptized by me, excepting Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, and my personal friend Gaius. 15 So that God has prevented any one from saying that it was to allegiance to me that you were pledged in baptism. 16 Yes, I did baptize the household of Stephanas, my first converts in Achaia. Besides these, to the best of my knowledge, I baptized no one. 17 For Christ did not make me His Apostle to baptize, but to proclaim His Glad-tidings:—and I did this with no studied rhetoric, so that the Cross of Christ might prevail by its own inherent power.

In these verses (10-17) we have the facts of the case. The Apostle begins with an exhortation to avoid dissensions (v. 10), then proceeds to describe (11, 12) and to show the impropriety of (13-17) their actual dissensions. Quorum prius salutem narraverat, postmodum vulnera patefecit (Herv.).

10. παρακαλῶ δέ. ‘But (in contrast to what I wish to think, and do think, of you) I earnestly beg.’ Παρακαλεῖν, like παραιτέομαι (Acts 25:11), suggests an aim at changing the mind, whether from sorrow to joy (consolation), or severity to mercy (entreaty), or wrong desire to right (admonition or exhortation). The last is the sense here. The word is used more than a hundred times in N.T.

ἀδελφοί. Used in affectionate earnestness, especially when something painful has to be said (7:29, 10:1, 14:20, etc.). It probably implies personal acquaintance with many of those who are thus addressed: hence its absence from Ephesians and Colossians.

διὰ τοῦ ὀνόματος. We should have expected the accusative, ‘for the sake of the Name.’ The genitive makes the Name the instrument of the appeal (Romans 12:1, Romans 12:15:30; 2 Corinthians 10:1): cf. ἐν ὀνόματι, 2 Thessalonians 3:6. It is not an adjuration, but is similar to διὰ τ. κυρίον Ἰησοῦ (1 Thessalonians 4:2). This appeal to the one Name is an indirect condemnation of the various partynames.

ἵνα. This defines the purport rather than the purpose of the command or request, as in Matthew 4:3, εἰπὸν ἵνα οἱ λίθοι οὗτοι ἄρτοι γένωνται.

τὸ αὐτὸ λέγητε. The expression is taken from Greek political life, meaning ‘be at peace’ or (as here) ‘make up differences.’ So Arist. Pol. III. iii. 3, Βοιωτοὶ δὲ καὶ Μεγαρῆς τὸ αὐτὸ λέγοντες ἡσύχαζον, and other examples given by Lightfoot ad loc. Cf. τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν (Romans 15:15; Philippians 2:2), and see Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 256. The πάντες comes last with emphasis. St Paul is urging, not unison, but harmony. For his knowledge of Greek writers see 15:34; Romans 2:14; Acts 17:28.

μὴ ᾖ. ‘That there may not be,’ as there actually are: he does not say γένηται.

σχίσματα. Not ‘schisms,’ but ‘dissensions’ (John 7:43, John 9:16), ‘clefts,’ ‘splits’; the opposite of τὸ αὐτὸ λέγητε πάντες.

κατηρτισμένοι. The word is suggestive of fitting together what is broken or rent (Matthew 4:21). It is used in surgery for setting a joint (Galen), and in Greek politics for composing factions (Hdt. 5:28). See reff. in Lightfoot on 1Th 3:10. cf. 2 Corinthians 13:11; Galatians 6:1; Hebrews 13:21; apte et congruenterinter se compingere (Calv.).

νοΐ … γνώμῃ. Νοῦς is ‘temper’ or ‘frame of mind,’ which is changed in μετάνοια and is kindly in εὔνοια, while γνώμη is ‘judgment’ on this or that point. He is urging them to give up, not erroneous beliefs, but party-spirit.

11. ἐδηλώθη. Not ‘was reported,’ but ‘was made (only too) evident.’ The verb implies that he was unable to doubt the unwelcome statement. In papyri it is used of official evidence. For�

ὑπὸ τῶν Χλόης. This probably means ‘by slaves belonging to Chloe’s household.’ She may have been an Ephesian lady with some Christian slaves who had visited Corinth. Had they belonged to Corinth, to mention them as St Paul’s informants might have made mischief (Heinrici). The name Chloe was an epithet of Demeter, and probably (like Phoebe, Hermes, Nereus, Romans 16:1, Romans 16:14, Romans 16:15) she was of the freedman class (see Lightfoot, ad loc.). She is mentioned as a person known to the Corinthians. There is no reason to suppose that she was herself a Christian, or that the persons named in 16:17 were members of her household. Evidence is wanting.

ἔριδες. More unseemly than σχίσματα, although not necessarily so serious. Nevertheless, not σχίσματα, unless crystallized into αἱρέσεις, but ἔριδες, are named as ‘works of the flesh’ in Galatians 5:19, Galatians 5:20, or in the catalogues of vices, Romans 1:29-31; 2 Corinthians 12:20; 1 Timothy 6:4. The divisions became noisy.

12. λέγω δὲ τοῦτο ‘Now I mean this’: but perhaps the force of the δέ is best given by having no conjunction in English; ‘I mean this.’ The τοῦτο refers to what follows, as in 7:29, 15:50, whereas in 7:35 it refers to what precedes, like αὕτη in 9:3.

ἕκαστος. This must not be pressed, any more than in 14:26, to mean that there were no exceptions. No doubt there were Corinthians who joined none of the four parties. It is to be remembered that all these party watchwords are on one level, and all are in the same category of blame. Championship for any one leader against another leader was wrong. St Paul has no partiality for those who claim himself, nor any respect for those who claim Christ, as their special leader. Indeed, he seems to condemn these two classes with special severity. The former exalt Paul too highly, the latter bring Christ too low: but all four are alike wrong. That, if such a spirit showed itself in Corinth at all, Paul, the planter, builder, and father of the community, would have a following, would be inevitable. And Apollos had watered (Acts 18:27, Acts 18:28), and had tutored Paul’s children in Christ. His brilliancy and Alexandrian modes of thought and expression readily lent themselves to any tendency to form a party, who would exalt these gifts at the expense of Paul’s studied plainness. “The difference between Apollos and St Paul seems to be not so much a difference of views as in the mode of stating those views: the eloquence of St Paul was rough and burning; that of Apollos was more refined and polished” (F. W. Robertson)*.

Κηφᾶ. Excepting Galatians 2:7, Galatians 2:8, St Paul always speaks of Κηφᾶς, never of Πέτρος. He was unquestionably friendly to St Paul (Galatians 2:7-9; and vv. 11-14 reveal no difference of doctrine between them). But among the Jewish or ‘devout Greek’ converts at Corinth there might well be some who would willingly defer to any who professed, with however little authority (Acts 15:24), to speak in the name of the leader of the Twelve. “His conduct at Antioch had given them all the handle that they needed to pit Peter against Paul” (A. T. Robertson, Epochs in the Life of Paul, p. 187). There is no evidence, not even in 9:5, that Peter had ever visited Corinth. It is remarkable that, even among Jewish Christians, the Greek ‘Peter’ seems to have driven the original ‘Kephas’ (John 1:43) out of use.

Χριστοῦ. The ‘Christ’ party may be explained in the light of 2 Corinthians 10:7, 2 Corinthians 10:10, 2 Corinthians 10:11, and possibly 11:4, 23 (compare 11:4 with Galatians 1:6), where there seems to be a reference to a prominent opponent of St Paul, whose activity belongs to the situation which is distinctive of 2 Cor. From these passages we gather that, when 2 Cor. was written, there was a section at Corinth, following a leader who was, at least for a time, in actual rebellion against St Paul. This section claimed, in contrast to him, to belong to Christ, which was virtually a claim that Christ belonged to them and not to him; and this claim seems to have been connected with a criterion of genuine Apostleship, namely, to have known Christ in the flesh, i.e. during His life on earth. Doubtless the situation in 2 Cor. goes beyond that which is presupposed in this Epistle. But ἐγὼ δὲ Χριστοῦ here must not be divorced from the clearer indications there. Those who used the watchword ‘of Christ’ were probably more advanced Judaizers than those who used the name of Kephas, to whom they stood related, as did the anti-Pauline Palestinian party (Acts 21:20, Acts 21:21) to Kephas himself. The ‘parties’ at Corinth, therefore, are the local results of streams of influence which show themselves at work elsewhere in the N.T. We may distinguish them respectively as St Paul and his Gospel, Hellenistic intellectualism (Apollos), conciliatory conservatism, or ‘the Gospel of the circumcision’ (Kephas), and ‘zealots for the Law,’ hostile to the Apostleship of St. Paul. These last were the exclusive party.* See Deissmann, Light from the Anc. East, p. 382.

We need not, therefore, consider seriously such considerations as that ἐγὼ δὲ Χριστοῦ was the cry of all three parties (Räbiger, misinterpreting μεμέρισται); or that St Paul approves this cry (Chrysostom, appealing to 3:22, 23); or that it is St Paul’s own reply to the others; or that it represents a ‘James’ party (in which case, why is James not mentioned?); or that it marks those who carried protest against party so far as to form a party on that basis. In 3:23 St Paul says ὑμεῖς δὲ Χριστοῦ most truly and from his heart; that is true of all: what he censures here is its exclusive appropriation by some, To say, with special emphasis, ‘I am of Christ,’ is virtually to say that Christ is mine and not yours.

In Acts 18:24 and 19:1, א, Copt. have ‘Apelles,’ while D in 18:24 has ‘Apollonius.’ The reading ‘Apelles’ seems to be Egyptian, and goes back to Origen, who asks whether Apollos can be the same as the Apelles of Romans 16:10.

For a history of the controversies about the four parties, see Bachmann, pp. 58-63.

13. μεμέρισται. The clauses are all interrogative, and are meant for the refutation of all. ‘Does Christ belong to a section? Is Paul your saviour? Was it in his name that you were admitted into the Church?’ The probable meaning of μεμέρισται is ‘has been apportioned,’ i.e. given to some one as his separate share (7:17; Romans 12:3; Hebrews 7:2). This suggestion has been brilliantly supported by Evans. To say, ‘Is Christ divided?’ implying a negative answer, gives very little point. Lightfoot suggests that an affirmative answer is implied; ‘Christ has been and is divided only too truly.’ But this impairs the spring and homogeneity of the three questions, giving the first an affirmative, and the other two a negative answer. It amounts to making the first clause a plain statement; ‘In that case the Body of Christ has been divided.’ Dividitur corpus, cum membra dissentiunt (Primasius). Si membra divisa sunt, et totum corpus (Atto Vercellensis). This meaning is hardly so good as the other.

μὴ Παῦλος ἐσταυρώθη κ.τ.λ. To say ἐγὼ Παύλου would imply this. To be a slave is ἄλλου εἶναι, another person’s property (Arist. Pol. I.). A Christian belongs to Christ (3:23), and he therefore may call himself δοῦλος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, as St Paul often does (Romans 1:1, etc.): but he may not be the δοῦλος of any human leader (7:23; cf. 3:21; 2 Corinthians 11:20). St Paul shows his characteristic tact in taking himself, rather than Apollos or Kephas, to illustrate the Corinthian error. Cf. 9:8, 9, 12:29, 30.

εἰς τὸ ὄνομα. He takes the strongest of the three expressions: the εἰς (Matthew 28:19; Acts 8:16, Acts 19:5) is stronger than ἐπί (Acts 2:38, v.l.) or ἐν (Acts 10:48). ‘Into the name’ implies entrance into fellowship and allegiance, such as exists between the Redeemer and the redeemed. Cf. the figure in 10:2, and see note there. St Paul deeply resents modes of expression which seem to make him the rival of Christ. Non vult a sponsa amari pro sponso (Herv.). At the Crucifixion we were bought by Christ; in baptism we accepted Him as Lord and Master: crux et baptismus nos Christo asserit (Beng.). “The guilt of these partizans did not lie in holding views differing from each other: it was not so much in saying ‘this is the truth,’ as it was in saying ‘this is not the truth.’ The guilt of schism is when each party, instead of expressing fully his own truth, attacks others, and denies that others are in the Truth at all” (F. W. Robertson). See Deissmann, Bible Studies, pp. 146, 196; Light from the Anc. East, p. 123.

It is difficult to decide between ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν (א A C D2 E F G L P, provobis Vulg.) and περὶ ὑμῶν (B D*). The former would be more likely to be substituted for the latter, as most usual, than vice versa. But περί is quite in place, in view of its sacrifical associations. See note on Romans 8:3.

14. εὐχαριστῶ. A quasi-ironical turn; ‘What difficulties I have unconsciously escaped.’

Κρίσπον. One of the first converts (Acts 18:8).* Ruler of the synagogue.

Γαῖον. Probably the host of St Paul ‘and of the whole Church’ at Corinth (Romans 16:23), but probably not the hospitable Gaius of 3 John 1:5, 3 John 1:6. This common Roman praenomen belongs probably to five distinct persons in the N.T. The Greek preserves the correct Latin form, which is sometimes written Caius, because the same character originally stood in Latin for both G and C. Crispus, ‘curly,’ is a cognomen.

After εὐχαριστῶ, א3 A C D E F G L P, Vulg. add τῷ Θεῷ, while A 17, Syrr. Copt. Arm. add τῷ Θεῷ μου—a very natural gloss. א* B 67, Chrys. omit.

15. ἵνα μή τις εἴπῃ. The ἵνα points to the tendency of such an action on the Apostle’s part among those who had roved themselves capable of such low views: compare ἵνα in Romans 11:11; John 9:2. Their making such a statement was “a result viewed as possible by St Paul” (Evans, who calls this use of ἵνα “subjectively ecbatic”). Thus the sense comes very near to that of ὥστε with the infinitive (v. 7). In N.T., ἵνα never introduces a result as an objective fact, but its strictly final or telic force shows signs of giving way (v. 10),—a first step towards its vague use in mod. Grk. as a mere sign of the infinitive. Those who strive to preserve its strictly telic sense in passages like this (as Winer, Meyer, and others) have recourse to the so-called Hebraic teleological instinct of referring everything, however mechanically, to over-ruling Providence. In 7:29, if “the time is cut short,” this was done with the providential intention ‘that those who have wives should be as those who have none’ : and in John 9:2 the sense would be that ‘if this man sinned or his parents,’ the reason was that Providence purposed that he should be born blind. While refusing to follow such artificial paradoxes of exegesis, we may fully admit that Providentia Dei regnat saepe in rebus quarum ratio postea cognoscitur.

ἐβαπτίσθητε (א A B C*, Vulg. Copt. Arm.) rather than ἐβάπτισα (C3 D E F G L P). RV. corrects AV.

16. ἐβάπτισα δὲ καί. A correction which came into his mind as he dictated:—on reflexion, he can remember no other case. Possibly his amanuensis reminded him of Stephanas.

Στεφανᾶ. The name is a syncopated form, like Apollos, Demas, Lucas, Hermas, etc. It would seem that Stephanas was an earlier convert even than Crispus (16:15). ‘Achaia’ technically included Athens, and Stephanas may himself have been converted there with the ἕτεροι of Acts 17:34; but his household clearly belongs to Corinth, and they, not the head only, are the ‘first-fruits of Achaia,’ which may therefore be used in a narrower sense.

λοιπόν. The neut. sing. acc. (of respect) used adverbially; quod superest (Vulg. caeterum) : τὸ λοιπόν is slightly stronger. See Lightfoot on Philippians 3:1 and on 1 Thessalonians 4:1. Cf. 4:2; 2 Corinthians 13:11. St Paul forestalls possible objection.

17. οὐ γὰρ�Acts 10:48). See John 4:1, John 4:2 for our Lord’s practice. Baptizing required no special, personal gifts, as preaching did. Baptism is not disparaged by this; but baptism presupposes that the great charge, to preach the Gospel,* has been fulfilled; Matthew 28:19; Luke 24:47; [Mark] 16:15: and, with special reference to St Paul, 9:16, 17; Acts 9:15, Acts 9:20, Acts 9:22:15, Acts 9:21, Acts 9:26:16. Ἀπέστειλεν=‘sent as His�

οὐκ ἐν σοφιᾳ λόγου. See note on v. 5. Preaching was St Paul’s great work, but his aim was not that of the professional rhetorician. Here he rejects the standard by which an age of rhetoric judged a speaker. The Corinthians were judging by externals. The fault would conspicuously apply, no doubt, to those who ‘ran after’ Apollos. But the indictment is not limited to that party. All alike were externalists, lacking a sense for depth in simplicity, and thus easily failing a prey to superficialities both in the matter and in the manner of teaching. L’évangile n’est pas une sagesse, c’dest un salut (Godet).

ἵνα μὴ κενωθῇ. To clothe the Gospel in σοφία λόγου was to impair its substance: κενοῦν, cf. 9:15; Romans 4:14; 2 Corinthians 9:3, and εἰς κενόν, Galatians 2:2; Philippians 2:16. In this he glances at the Apollos party.


(I) 1:15-2:5. The False Wisdom

18-31. The message of the Cross is foolishness to the wonder-seeking Jew and to the wisdom-seeking Greek: but to us, who have tried it, it is God’s power and God’s wisdom. Consider your own case, how God has chosen the simple and weak in preference to the wise and strong, that all glorying might be in Him alone.

18 To those who are on the broad way that leadeth to destruction, the message of the Cross of course is foolishness; but to those who are in the way of salvation, as we feel that we are, it manifests the power of God. 19 For it stands written in Scripture, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will set at nought. 20 What, in God’s sight, is the Greek philosopher? What, in God’s sight, is the Jewish Rabbi? What, be he Jew or Gentile, is the skilful disputer of this evil age? Did not God make foolish and futile the profane wisdom of the non-Christian world? 21 For when, in the providence of God, the world, in spite of all its boasted intellect and philosophy, failed to attain to a real knowledge of God, it was God’s good pleasure, by means of the proclaimed Glad-tidings, which the world regarded as foolishness, to save those who have faith in Him. 22 The truth of this is evident. Jews have no real knowledge of the God whom they worship, for they are always asking for miracles; nor Greeks either, for they ask for a philosophy of religion: 23 but we proclaim a Messiah who has been crucified, to Jews a revolting idea, and to Greeks an absurd one. 24 But to those who really accept God’s call, both Jews and Greeks, this crucified Messiah is the supreme manifestation of God’s power and God’s wisdom. 25 For what the Greek regards as the unwisdom of God is wiser than mankind, and what the Jew regards as the impotency of God is stronger than mankind.

26 For consider, Brothers, the circumstances of your own call. Very few of you were wise, as men count wisdom, very few were of great influence, very few were of high birth. 27 Quite the contrary. It was the unwisdom of the world which God specially selected, in order to put the wise people to shame by succeeding where they had failed; and it was the uninfluential agencies of the world which God specially selected, in order to put its strength to shame, by triumphing where that strength had been vanquished; 28 and it was the low-born and despised agencies which God specially selected, yes, actual nonentities, in order to bring to nought things that are real enough. 29 He thus secured that no human being should have anything to boast of before God. 30 But as regards you, on the other hand, it is by His will and bounty that ye have your being by adoption in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom manifested from God,—wisdom which stands for both righteousness and sanctification, yes, and redemption as well. 31 God did all this, in order that each might take as his guiding principle what stands written in Scripture, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

The Gospel in its essence makes no appeal to appreciation based on mere externalism. Divine Wisdom is not to be gauged by human cleverness (18-25). The history and composition of the Corinthian Church is a refutation of human pretensions by Divine Power (26-29), which, in the Person of Christ, satisfies the deeper needs and capacities of man (30, 31).

18. ὁ λόγος. In contrast, not to λόγος σοφίας (v. 5, 2:6), but to σοφιά λόγου (v. 17); the preaching of a crucified Saviour.

The AV. spoils the contrast by rendering ‘the wisdom of words’ and ‘the preaching of the Cross.’ The use of σοφία in these two chapters should be compared with the ἅγιον πνεῦμα in the Book of Wisdom (1:5, 9:17), πνεῦμα σοφίας (7:7), etc. St Paul had possibly read the book. We have in Wisdom the opposition between the σῶμα and the πνεῦμα or ψυχή or σοφία (1:4, 2:3, 9:15).

τοῦ σταυροῦ. “This expression shows clearly the stress which St Paul laid on the death of Christ, not merely as a great moral spectacle, and so the crowning point of a life of self-renunciation, but as in itself the ordained instrument of salvation” (Lightfoot). Cf. Ign. Eph. 18.

τοῖς μὲν�2 Corinthians 2:16, 2 Corinthians 2:4:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:10. The verb (John 3:16) is St Paul’s standing expression for the destiny of the wicked (15:18). The force of the present tense is ‘axiomatic,’ of that which is certain, whether past, present, or future:�

μωρία. See on v. 21 and 2 Corinthians 4:3.

τοῖς δὲ σωζομένοις. It is not quite adequate to render this ‘to those who are in course of being saved.’ Salvation is the certain result (15:2) of a certain relation to God, which relation is a thing of the present. This relation had a beginning (Romans 8:24), is a fact now (Ephesians 2:5, Ephesians 2:8), and characterizes our present state (Acts 2:47); but its inalienable confirmation belongs to the final adoption or�Romans 8:23; cf. Ephesians 4:30). Meanwhile there is great need for watchful steadfastness, lest, by falling away, we lose our filial relation to God. Consider 10:12, 9:27; Galatians 5:4; Matthew 24:13.

ἡμῖν. ‘As we have good cause to know.’ The addition of the pronoun throws a touch of personal warmth into this side of the statement: ‘you and I can witness to that.’*

δύναμις Θεοῦ ἐστίν. See Romans 1:16. Not merely ‘a demonstration of God’s power,’ nor ‘a power of God,’ but ‘God’s power.’ The contrast between δύναμις (not σοφία) Θεοῦ and μωρια belongs to the very core of St Paul’s teaching (2:4; cf. 4:20). Wisdom can carry conviction, but to save, —to give illumination, penitence, sanctification, love, peace, and hope to a human soul,—needs power, and divine power.

19. γέγραπται γάρ. Proof of what is stated in v. 18, i.e. as regards the failure of worldly cleverness in dealing with the things of God. By γέγραπται, used absolutely, St Paul always means the O.T. Scriptures; v. 31, 2:9, 3:19, 10:7, 15:45; Romans 1:17, Romans 1:2:24, Romans 1:3:4, Romans 1:10, etc.

ἀπολῶ τὴν σοφίαν. From Isaiah 29:14 (LXX), substituting�Psalms 33:10.

σύνεσιν. Worldly common sense (Matthew 11:25). It has its place in the mind that is informed by the Spirit of God (Colossians 1:9), and the absence of it is a calamity (Romans 1:21, Romans 1:31). On σύνεσις and σοφία see Arist. Eth. Nic. VI. vii. 10.

ἀθετήσω. The verb is post-classical, frequent in Polybius and LXX. Its etymological sense is not ‘destroy,’ but ‘set aside’ or ‘set at nought,’ and this meaning satisfies the present passage and the use in N.T. generally.

20. ποῦ σοφός; A very free citation from the general sense of Isaiah 33:18 (cf. 19:12): St Paul adapts the wording to his immediate purpose. The original passage refers to the time following on the disappearance of the Assyrian conqueror, with his staff of clerks, accountants, and takers of inventories, who registered the details of the spoil of a captured city. On the tablet of Shalmaneser in the Assyrian Gallery of the British Museum there is a surprisingly exact picture of the scene described by Isaiah. The marvellous disappearance of the invading host was to Isaiah a signal vindication of Jehovah’s power and care, and also a refutation, not so much of the conqueror’s ‘scribes,’ as of the worldly counsellors at Jerusalem, who had first thought to meet the invader by an alliance with Egypt, or other methods of statecraft, and had then relapsed into demoralized despair. St Paul’s use of the passage, therefore, although very free, is not alien to its historical setting. See further on 2:9 respecting examples of free quotation. For ποῦ; see 15:55; Romans 3:27. The question is asked in a triumphant tone.†

The ‘wise’ is a category more suitable to the Gentile (v. 22), the ‘scribe’ to the Jew, while the ‘disputer’ no doubt suits Greeks, but suits Jews equally well (Acts 6:9, Acts 9:29, Acts 28:29). This allotment of the terms is adopted by Clement of Alexandria and by Theodoret, and is more probable than that of Meyer and Ellicott, which makes σοφός generic, while γραμματεύς is applied to the Jew, and σύζητητής to the Greek. But it is unlikely that St Paul is here making an exact classification, or means any one of the terms to be applied to Jew or Gentile exclusively.

συνζητητής. A ἅπαξ λεγόμενον, excepting Ign. Eph. 18, from this passage.

τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου. This is certainly applicable to Jews (see on 2:8), but not to them exclusively (Galatians 1:4; Romans 12:2). The phrase is rabbinical, denoting the time before the Messianic age or ‘age to come’ (Luke 18:30, Luke 20:35). This αἰών, the state of things now present, including the ethical and social conditions which are as yet unchanged by the coming of Christ, is fleeting (7:31), and is saturated with low motives and irreligion (2:6; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2). As αἰών, “by metonymy of the container for the contained,” denotes the things existing in time, in short the world, ὁ αἰὼν οὗτος may be rendered ‘this world’; hujus saeculi quod totum est extra sphaeram verbi crucis (Beng.). See Grimm-Thayer s.v. αἰών, and the references at the end of the article; also Trench, Syn. § lix. The genitive belongs to all three nouns.

οὐχὶ ἐμώρανεν; Nonne stultam fecit (Vulg.), infatuavit (Tertull. and Beza). Cf. Romans 1:22, Romans 1:23, and Isaiah 19:11, 44:25, 33. The passage in Romans is an expansion of the thought here. God not only showed the futility of the world’s wisdom, but frustrated it by leaving it to work out its own results, and still more by the power of the Cross, effecting what human wisdom could not do,—not even under the Law (Romans 8:3).

τοῦ κόσμου. Practically synonymous with τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου (2:12, 3:18, 19): but we do not find ὁ κόσμος ὁ μέλλων, for κόσμος is simply the existing universe, and is not always referred to with censure (5:10; John 3:16).*

After κόσμου, א3 C3 E F G L, Vulg. Syrr. Copt. add τούτου. א* A B C* D* P 17, Orig. omit. It is doubtless an insertion from the previous clause.

21. ἐπειδὴ γάρ. Introduces, as the main thought, God’s refutation of the world’s wisdom by means of what the world holds to be folly, viz. the word of the Cross, thus explaining (γάρ) what was stated in vv. 19, 20. But this main thought presupposes (ἐπειδή) the self-stultification of the world’s wisdom in the providence of God.

ἐν τῇ σοφίᾳ τοῦ Θεοῦ. This is taken by Chrysostom and others (e.g. Edwards, Ellicott) as God’s wisdom displayed in His works (Romans 1:20; Acts 14:17), by which (ἐν quasi-instrumental) the world ought to have attained to a knowledge of Him. But this sense of σοφία would be harsh and abrupt; and the order of the words is against this interpretation, as is also the context (ἐμώρανεν, εὐδόκησεν ὁ Θεός). ‘The wisdom of God’ is here God’s wise dealing with mankind in the history of religion, especially in permitting them to be ignorant (Acts 17:30; Romans 11:32; cf. Acts 14:16; Romans 1:24). So Alford, Findlay, Evans, Lightfoot.

οὐκ ἔγνω. This applies to Jew as well as to Greek, although not in the same manner and degree. “The Pharisee, no less than the Greek philosopher, had a σοφία of his own, which stood between his heart and the knowledge of God” (Lightfoot). See Romans 10:2. The world’s wisdom failed, the Divine ‘foolishness’ succeeded.

εὐδόκησεν. Connects directly with γάρ. The word belongs to late Greek: Romans 15:26; Galatians 1:15; Colossians 1:19.

διὰ τῆς μωρίας τοῦ κηρύγματος. Cf. Isaiah 28:9-13. Κήρυγμα (Matthew 12:41) differs from κήρυξις as the aorist does from the present or imperfect: it denotes the action, not in process, but completed, or viewed as a whole. It denotes, not ‘the thing preached’ (RV. marg.), but ‘the proclamation’ itself (2:4; 2 Timothy 4:17); and here it stands practically for ‘the word of the Cross’ (v. 18), or the Gospel, but with a slight emphasis upon the presentation. Κηρύσσειν, which in earlier Greek meant ‘to herald,’ passes into its N.T. and Christian use by the fact that the ‘Good-tidings’ proclaimed by Christ and His Apostles was the germ of all Christian teaching (Matthew 3:1, Matthew 4:17). ‘The foolishness of preaching’ is a bold oxymoron (cf. v. 25), presupposing and interpreting v. 18. In N.T., μωρία is peculiar to 1 Cor. (18, 23, 2:14, 3:19).

τοὺς πιστεύοντας. With emphasis at the end of the sentence, solving the paradox of God’s will to work salvation for man through ‘foolishness.’ The habit of faith (pres. part.), and not cleverness, is the power by which salvation is appropriated (Romans 1:17, Romans 3:25). He does not say τοὺς πιστεύσαντας, which might mean that to have once believed was enough.

22. ἐπειδή. This looks forward to v. 23, to which v. 22 is a kind of protasis : ‘Since—while Jews and Gentiles alike demand something which suits their unsympathetic limitations—we, on the other hand, preach,’ etc. The two verses explain, with reference to the psychology of the religious world at that time, what has been said generally in vv. 18, 21. The repeated καί brackets (Romans 3:9) the typical Greek with the typical Jew, as the leading examples, in the world in which St Paul’s readers lived, of the�Act_17.) as belonging, for his purpose, to one category. By the absence of the article (not ‘the Jews,’ ‘the Greeks,’ as in AV.) the terms connote characteristic attributes rather than denote the individuals. There were many exceptions, as the N.T. shows.

σημεῖα αἰτοῦσιν. Matthew 12:38, Matthew 12:16:4; John 4:48. The Jewish mind was matter-of-fact and crudely concrete. “Hebrew idiom makes everything as concrete as possible” (R. H. Kennett). There were certain wonders specified as to be worked by the Messiah when He came, and these they ‘asked for’ importunately and precisely. The Greek restlessly felt after something which could dazzle his ingenious speculative turn, and he passed by anything which failed to satisfy intellectual curiosity (Acts 17:18, Acts 17:21, Acts 17:32).* Lightfoot points to the difference between the arguments used by Justin in his Apologies addressed to Gentiles, and those used by him in his controversy with Trypho the Jew.† See Deissmann, Light from the Anc. East, p. 393.

The AV. has ‘require a sign.’ L, Arm. have σημεῖον. Beyond question σημεῖα (א A B C D, etc.) must be read: ‘ask for signs’ is right. B. Weiss prefers σημεῖον‡

23. Χριστὸν ἐσταυρωμένον. ‘A crucified Messiah’ (2:2; Galatians 3:1). ‘We preach a Christ crucified’ (RV. marg.), the very point at which the argument with a Jew encountered a wall of prejudice (Acts 26:23, εἰ παφητὸς ὁ Χριστός. Cf. Galatians 2:21, Galatians 5:11). The Jews demanded a victorious Christ, heralded by σημεῖα, who would restore the glories of the kingdom of David and Solomon. To the Jew the Cross was the sufficient and decisive refutation (Matthew 27:42; cf. Luke 24:21) of the claim that Jesus was the Christ. To the first preachers of Christ, the Cross was the atonement for sin (15:3, 11). On this subject the Jew had to unlearn before he could learn; and so also, in a different way, had the Greek. Both had to learn the divine character of humility. Christ was not preached as a conqueror to please the one, nor as a philosopher to please the other: He was preached as the crucified Nazarene.

ἔφνεσιν δὲ μερίαν. The heathen, prepared to weight the ‘pros and cons’ of a new system,’ lacked the presuppositions which might have prepared the Jew for simple faith in the Christ. To him, the Gospel presented no prima facie case; it was unmeaning not even plausible: he was not, like the Jew, bent on righteousness (Romans 9:30). Compare Cicero’s horror of crucifixion (Pro Rabir. 5), Lucian’s reference to our Saviour (De mort. Peregr. 13) as τὸν�

A few authorities (C3 D3, Clem-Alex.) have Ἕλλησι instead of ἔθνεσιν. Orig. seems to have both readings.

24. αὐτοῖς corresponds to ἡμῖν in v. 18, as τοῖς κλητοῖς to τοῖς σωζομένοις: ‘to the actual believers’ in contrast to other Jews and Gentiles. The pronoun is an appeal to personal experience, as against objections ab extra.

Χριστόν. This implies the repetition of ἐσταυρωμένον. It is in the Cross that God’s power (Romans 1:16) and wisdom (v. 30, below) come into operation for the salvation of man. God’s power and wisdom show themselves in a way which is not in accordance with men’s a priori standards: they altogether transcend such standards.

Whether St. Paul is here touching directly the line of thought which is expressed in the prologue to the Fourth Gospel is very doubtful. He may be said to do so indirectly, in so far as the doctrine of the work of Christ involves that of His Person (Colossians 1:17-20, Colossians 2:9)*

25. τὸ μωρὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ. Either, ‘a foolish thing on God’s part’ (such as a crucified Messiah), or, better, ‘the foolishness of God’ (AV.), in a somewhat rhetorical sense, not to be pressed. God’s wisdom, at its lowest, is wiser than men, and God’s power, at its weakest, is stronger than men. It is quite possible to treat the construction as a condensed comparison; ‘than men’s wisdom,’ ‘than men’s power’ (Matthew 5:20; John 5:36). So Lightfoot, Conbeare and Howson, etc. Infirmitas Christi magna victoria est (Primasius). Victus visit mortem, quam nullus gigas evasit (Herv.). Mortem quam reges, gigantes, et principes superare non poterant, ipse moriendo vicit (Atto).

Throughout the above passage (17-25) we may note the close sequence of explanatory conjunctions, γάρ (18, 19, 21), ἐπειδή (22), ὅτι (25). Without pretending to seize every nuance of transition, or to call the Apostle to stringent account for every conjunction that he uses, the connexion of the successive clauses may be made fairly plain by following it in the order of thought. The γάρ and ὅτι going from effect to cause, present the sequence in reverse order. In following the order of thought, however, we must not forget that proof is sometimes from broad principles, sometimes from particular facts. The order works out somewhat as follows:—

The Divine Power and Wisdom, at their seeming lowest, are far above man’s highest (25); for this reason (22-24) our Gospel —a poor thing in the eyes of men, is, to those who know it, the Power and Wisdom of God. This exemplifies (21) the truth underlying the history of the world, that man’s wisdom is convicted of failure by the simplicity of the truth as declared by God. This is how God, now as of old, turns to folly the wisdom of the wise (19, 20), a principle which explains the opposite look which the ‘word of the Cross’ has to the�

τὴν κλῆσιν ὑμῶν. ‘Summon before your mind’s eye what took place then; not the ranks from which one by one you were summoned into the society of God’s people; very few come from the educated, influential, or well-connected class.’ With κλῆσις compare κλητοί, vv. 2, 24: it refers, not so much to the external call, or even to the internal call of God, as to the conversion which presupposes the latter: πάντων�Ephesians 1:18.

ἀδελφοί. As in v. 10, the affectionate address softens what might give pain.

ὅτι οὐ πολλοί. A substantival clause, in apposition to κλῆσιν as the part to the whole: they are to ‘behold their calling,’ specially noting these facts which characterized it. From ‘not many’ we may assume that in each case there were some: but 10:5 warns us against interpreting οὐ πολλοί as meaning more than ‘very few.’

κατὰ σἀρκα. This applies to δυνατοί and εὐγενεῖς as well as to σοφοί. Each of the three terms is capable of a higher sense, as εὐγενεῖς in Acts 17:11; each may be taken either (1) as a predicate, ‘not many of the called were wise,’ etc.; or (2) as belonging to the subject, the predicate being understood, ‘not many wise had part therein’; or (3) like (2), but with a different predicate, ‘not many wise were called’ (AV., RV.). The last is best.

Some of the converts were persons of culture and position; Dionysius at Athens (Acts 17:34), Erastus at Corinth (Romans 16:23), the ladies at Thessalonica and Beroea (Acts 17:4, Acts 17:12). But the names known to us (16:17; Romans 16:0.) are mostly suggestive of slaves or freedmen. Lightfoot refers to Just. Revelation 2:9; Orig. Cels. 2:79.*

27. τὰ μωρά. Cf Matthew 11:25. The gender lends force to the paradox: τοὺς σοφούς leads us to expect τοὺς ἰσχυρούς, κ.τ.λ., but the contrast of genders is not kept up in the other cases.

έζελέξατο. The verb is the correlative of κλῆσις (26), but here, as in many other places, it brings in the idea of choice for a particular end. Thus, of the choosing of Matthias, of Stephen, of St Paul as a σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς, of St Peter to admit the first Gentiles (Acts 15:7). The emphatic threefold ἐξελέξατο ὁ Θεός prepares the way for v. 31. See 4:7 and Ephesians 2:8. The Church, like the Apostle (2 Corinthians 12:10), was strong in weakness.

28. ἐξουφενημένα. See on 6:4; also 2 Corinthians 10:10. Ἀγενής here only.

καὶ τὰ μὴ ὄντα. ‘Yea things that are not.’ The omission of the καί א* A C* D* F G 17) gives force to the (then) “studiously unconnected” and hyperbolical τὰ μὴ ὄντα: but the καί א3 B C3 D3 E L P, Vulg. Syrr. Copt. Arm. Aeth.) is quite in St Paul’s style. The μή does not mean ‘supposed not to exist,’ but ‘non-existent,’ μή with participles being much more common than οὐ.

καταργήσῃ. The verb means ‘to reduce a person or thing to ineffectiveness,’ ‘to render workless or inoperative,’ and so ‘to bring to nought.’ It is thus a stronger word than καταισχύνῃ, and is substituted for it to match the antithesis between ὄντα and μὴ ὄντα. It is very frequent in this group of the Pauline Epistles. Elsewhere it is rare (2 Thessalonians 2:8; 2 Timothy 1:10; Luke 13:7; Hebrews 2:14); only four times in LXX, and very rare in Greek authors. Cf. κενωθῇ, v. 17, and κενώσει, 9:15.

Instead of τὰ�

29. ὅπως μὴ καυχήσηται πᾶσα σάρξ. For the construction see Romans 3:20; Acts 10:14. The negative coheres with the verb, not with πᾶσα: in 15:39 (οὐ πᾶσα σάρξ) the negative coheres with πᾶσα. Πᾶσα σάξ is a well-known Hebraism (Acts 2:17), meaning here the human race apart from the Spirit; ‘that all mankind should abstain from glorying before God.’*

ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ. Another Hebraic phrase. Non coram illo sed in illo gloriari possumus (Beng.).

‘In His presence’ (AV.) comes from the false reading ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ (C, Vulg. Syrr.). The true reading (א A B C3 D E F G L P, Copt. Aeth.) is a forcible contrast to πᾶσα σάρξ.

30. ἐξ αὐτοῦ δὲ ὐμεῖς ἐστέ. ‘But ye (in emphatic contrast) are His children’ (another contrast). This is their true dignity, and the δέ shows how different their case is from that of those just mentioned. The wise, the strong, the well-born, etc. may boast of what seems to distinguish them from others, but it is the Christian who really has solid ground for glorying. Some would translate ‘But it proceeds from Him that ye are in Christ Jesus,’ i.e. ‘your being Christians is His doing.’ But in that case ὐμεῖς ἐστε (note the accentuation) is hard to explain: the pronoun is superfluous: we should expect simply ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ἐστε. Moreover, the sense given to ἐξ αὐτοῦ is hard to justify. It is far more probable that we ought to read ὑμεῖς ἐστέ (WH., Lightfoot, Ellicott) and not ὐμεῖς ἐστε (T.R.). The meaning will then be, ‘But from Him ye have your being in Christ Jesus.’ The addition of ἐν Χρ. Ἰ. shows that more is meant than being His offspring in the sense of Acts 17:28. ‘By adoption in Christ you are among things that really exist, although you may be counted as nonentities: in this there is room for glorying’ (4:7; Ephesians 2:8-9 f.). This is the interpretation of the Greek Fathers, probably from a sense of the idiom, and not from bias of any kind.*

ὃς ἐγενήθη. This shows what the previous words involve. Not ‘who is made’ (AV.), nor ‘who was made’ (RV.), but ‘who became’ by His coming into the world and by what He accomplished for us. He showed the highest that God could show to man (v. 18, 2:7), and opened the way to the knowledge of God through reconciliation with Him.

σοφία ἡμῖν. This is the central idea, in contrast with the false σοφία in the context, and it is expanded in the terms which follow. For the dative see vv. 18, 24.

ἀπὸ Θεοῦ. The words justify ἐξ αὐτοῦ and quality ἐγενήθη … ἡμῖν, not σοφία only. The�1 Thessalonians 2:6.

δικαιοσύνη τε καὶ …�Romans 6:19), δικ. being used by St Paul of the moral state founded upon and flowing from, faith in Christ (Romans 10:4, Romans 10:10, Romans 10:6:13; Galatians 5:5; Philippians 3:9), and ἁγ. being used of the same state viewed as progress towards perfect holiness (v. 2; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7). By ‘righteousness’ he does not mean ‘justification’: that is presupposed and included. ‘Righteousness’ is the character of the justified man in its practical working. This good life of the pardoned sinner is to be distinguished from (a) God’s righteousness (Romans 3:26, by which we explain Romans 1:17), and from (b) Righteousness in the abstract sense of a right relation between persons (Acts 10:35, Acts 24:25).

καὶ�Romans 5:9, Romans 5:10, Romans 5:8:32; cf. 3:24). Others explain the order by reference to the thought of final or completed redemption (Luke 21:28; Ephesians 1:14, Ephesians 4:30). Redemption Primum Christi donum est quod inchoatur in nobis, et ultimum perficitur (Calv.). The former is better, but it does not exclude the latter.

31. ἵνα καθὼς γέγραπται. Cf. 2:9. We have here a case either of broken construction, a direct being substituted for a dependent clause (9:15), or of ellipse, a verb like γένηται being understood (4:6, 11:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; Galatians 1:20, etc.).

ὀ καυχώμενος. A free quotation, combining the LXX of Jeremiah 9:23, Jeremiah 9:24 with 1 Samuel 2:10, which resembles it. Jeremiah 9:23, Jeremiah 9:24 runs, μὴ κανχάσθω ὁ σοφὸς ἐν τῇ σοφίᾳ αὐτοῦ καὶ μὴ καυχάσθω ὁ ἰσχυρὸς ἐν τῇ ἰσχΰι αὐτοῦ καὶ μὴ καυχάσθω ὁ πλούσιος ἐν τῷ πλούτῳ αὐτοῦ,�1 Samuel 2:10 we have δυνατός and δυνάμει for ἰσχυρός and ἰσχΰι with the ending, γινώσκειν τὸν Κύριον καὶ ποιεῖν κρίμα καὶ δικαιοσύνην ἐν μέσῳ τῆς γῆς. The occurrence of ‘the wise’ and ‘the strong’ and ‘the rich’ (as in v. 26 here) makes the quotation very apt.

Clement of Rome (Cor. 13) quotes the same passage, but ends thus;�Romans 2:17, and for a true glorying, Ecclus. 39:8, 50:20.

Bachmann remarks that this is one of the remarkable quotations in which, by a free development of O.T. ideas and expressions, Christ takes the place of Jehovah; and he quotes as other instances in Paul, 2:16, 10:22; 2 Corinthians 10:17; Philippians 2:11; Romans 10:13. Hort’s remarks on 1 Peter 2:3, where ὁ Κύριος in Psalms 34:8 is transferred by the Apostle to Christ, will fit this and other passages. “It would be rash, however, to conclude that he meant to identify Jehovah with Christ. No such identification can be clearly made out in the N.T. St Peter is not here making a formal quotation, but merely borrowing O.T. language, and applying it in his own manner. His use, though different from that of the Psalm, is not at variance with it, for it is through the χρηστότης of the Son that the χρηστότης of the Father is clearly made known to Christians.” The Father is glorified in the Son (John 14:13), and therefore language about glorifying the Father may, without irreverence, be transferred to the Son; but the transfer to Christ would have been irreverent if St Paul had not believed that Jesus was what He claimed to be.

Deissmann (New Light on the N.T., p. 7) remarks that the testimony of St Paul at the close of this chapter, “as to the origin of his congregations in the lower class of the great towns, is one of the most important historical witnesses to Primitive Christianity.” See also, Light from the Anc. East, pp. 7, 14, 60, 142.

* Cf. Isaiah 6:8, Isaiah 6:9; Jeremiah 1:4, Jeremiah 1:5. See W. E. Chadwick. The Pastoral Teaching of St Paul, p. 76. 1.

* Chrysostom identifies Sosthenes with Crispus, and assumes that he was beaten for having become a Christian. Both conjectures are very improbable. That he headed the deputation to Gallio is very probable, and that he is the Corathian Jew is also very probable.

A A (Fifth century.) The Codex Alexandrinus; now at the British Museum.

D D (Sixth century.) Codex Clarmontanus; now at Paris. A Graeco-Latin MS. 14:13 διο͂ ὁ λαλῶν-22 σημεῖον ἐστίν is supplied by a later but ancient hand. Many subsequent hands (sixth to ninth centuries) have corrected the MS. (See Gregory, Prolegomena , pp. 418-422).

E E (Ninth century). At Petrograd. A copy of D, and unimportant

B B (Fourth century.) The Vatican MS.

F F (Late ninth century). Codex Augiensis (from Reichenau); now at Trin. Coll. Cambr. Probably a copy of G in any case, secondary to G, from which it very rarely varies (see Gregory, p. 429).

G G (Late ninth century). Codex Boernerianus; at Dresden. Interlined with the Latin (in minluscules). Lacks 1 Corinthians 3:8-16, 1 Corinthians 6:7-14 (F).

17 17. (Ev. 33, Acts 13:0. Ninth century.) At Paris (Nat. Gr. 14). See Westcott and Hort., Introd. §§ 211, 212.

אԠא (Fourth century.) The Sinaitic MS., now at St Petersburg, the only MS. containing the whole N.T.

L L (Ninth century). Codex Angelicus; At Rome.

P P (Ninth century). Porfirianus Chiovensis. A palimpsest acquired in the East by Porphyrius Bishop of Kiew. Lacks 7:15 ὑμᾶς ὁ θεός-17 περιπάτει: 12:23 τοῦ σώματος-13:5 οὐ λογί-: 14:23 τὸ λαλεῖν μή. A good type of text in St Paul’s Epistles.

C C (Fifth century). The Codex Ephraem, a Palimpsest; now at Paris. Lacks 7:18 ἐν�

† The doctrine of the approach of the end is constantly in the Apostle’s thoughts; 3:13, 4:5, 6:2, 3, 7:29, 11:26, 15:51, 16:22. We have ἕως τέλους in 2 Corinthians 1:13 with the same meaning as here, and in 1 Thessalonians 2:16 the more common εἰς τέλος with a different meaning. See Abbott. Johannine Grammar, 2322.

* See Basil, De Spiritu, 5:10.

d d The Latin text of D

f f The Latin text of F

g g The Latin text of G

* It is a skilful stroke that the offender’s own words are quoted, and each appears as bearing witness against himself. What each glories in becomes his own condemnation; ἐκ τοῦ στόματός σου.

* The conjecture that the original reading was έγὼ δὲ Κρίσπου is not very intelligent. Could Crispus have been made the rival of Paul, Apollos, and Peter? Could Clement have been made the rival of Paul, Apollos, and Peter ? Could Clement of Rome have failed to mention the Crispus party, if there had been one ? He mentions the other three. And see vv. 13 and 14.

* “Most of the names of Corinthian Christians indicate either a Roman or a servile origin (e.g. Gaius, Crispus, Fortunatus, Achaicus, 16:17; Tertius, Romans 16:22; Quartus, Romans 16:23; Justus, Acts 18:7)” (Ency. Bibl. 898). It was because of the importance of such converts that the Apostle baptized Crispus and Gaius himself. We do not know whether Gaius was Jew or Gentile; but the opposition of the Jews in Corinth to St Paul was so bitter that probably most of his first converts were heathen.

67 67. (Act 66, Apoc. 34. Eleventh century.) At Vienna. The marginal corrections (67**) embody very early readings, akin to those of M (supra). See Westcott and Hort, Introd.§ 212.


The translation of εὐαγγελίζεσθαι varies even in RV.; here, ‘preach the gospel’ ; Acts 13:32, Acts 13:14:15, ‘bring good tidings’; Acts 15:35, Galatians 1:16, Galatians 1:23, ‘preach’;

The old explanation, that missionary preaching requires a special gift, whereas baptizing can be performed by any one, is probably right.

* Both Irenaeus (I. 3:5) and Marcion (Tert. Marc. 5:5) omit the ήμῖν, and Marcion seems to have read δύναμις καὶ σοφία θεοῦ ὲστίν. To omit the ἡμῖν is to omit a characteristic touch; and to insert καὶ σοφία rather spoils the point.

* He quotes from Isaiah 29:0 in Colossians 2:22 and Romans 9:20. Our Lord quotes from it Matthew 11:5, Matthew 15:8 f.

† He may have in his mind Isaiah 19:12, ποῦ εἰσιν νῦν οἱ σοφοί σου; and Isaiah 33:18, ποῦ εἰσιν οἱ γραμματικοί; ποῦ εἰσιν οἱ συμβουλεύοντες; Nowhere else in N.T., outside Gospels and Acts, does γραμματεύς occur. Bachmann shows that there is a parallel between the situation in Isaiah and the situation here; but τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου goes beyond the former.

* St Paul uses κόσμος nearly fifty times, and very often in 1 and 2 Cor. With him the use of the word in an ethical sense, of what in the main is evil, is not rare (2:12, 3:19, 5:10, 11:32). See Hobhouse, Bampton Lectures, pp. 352 f.

* Graios, qui vera requirunt (Luer. 1:641).

† See also biblical essays, pp. 150f., and Edwards ad loc.

‡ Yet he interprets it in a plural sense, Eichhorn more consistently interprets it of a wordly Messiah, Mosheim of a miraculus deliverance of Jesus from erucifixion.

* “This means that Christ stands for God’s wisdom upon earth and exetcises God’s power among men. Such a view implies a very close relation with the Godhead. But it should also be noted that this is still connected in St Paul’s mind with the Mission that has been laid upon Jesus, rather than regarded as the outcome of His essential nature” (Durel, The Self-revelation of Our Lord, p. 150). On the order of the words Benbgel remarks that we recognize God’s power before we recognize His wisdom.

* A century later it was a comon reproach that christanity was a religion of the vulgar, and Apologists were content to imitate St Paul and glory in the fact, rather than deny it. But the charge became steadily less and less true. In Pliny’s famous letter to Trajan he speaks of multi omnis ordinis being Christians. See Harnack, Mission and Expansion of Christanity, bk. 4 ch. 2; Lightfoot, Clement 1 p. 30. Gelsus, who urges this reproach, would not have written a serious traties against the faith, if people of cuture and position were not beginning to adopt it. See Glover, Conflict of Religions in the roman Empire, ch. 9.

* Renan (S. Paul, p. 233) give καυχάομαι as an instance of the way in which a word gets a hold on the Apostle’s mind so that he keeps on repeating it; un not l’obsdè; il le ramèna dans une page à fout propos; not for want of vocabulary, but because he cares so much more about his meaning than his style (v. 17). Cf. v. 31, 3:21, 4:7, 5:6, 9:15, 16, 15:31.

* See Deissmann, Dis neutestamentliche Formel ‘in Christ Jesus.’ Chrysostom remarks how St Paul keeps “nailing them to the Name of christ.”

† It was probably in order to co-ordinate all four that L, Vulg. Syrr. Copt. Arm. have ἡμῖν before σοφία.

Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/1-corinthians-1.html. 1896-1924.
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