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Bible Commentaries

Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

1 Corinthians 3

Verse 1

1 Corinthians 3:1 . Καὶ ἐγὼ , and I ) He spoke, 1 Corinthians 2:1 , of his first ‘coming’ among them: he now speaks of his progress. ὡς σαρκικοῖς , as to carnal ) This is a more gentle expression, than natural , especially with the additional mitigation, as babes in Christ , in regard to the degree of attainment, which immediately followed.

Verse 2

1 Corinthians 3:2 . Γάλα , milk ) He speaks in this way to bring the Corinthians to humility. οὐ , not ) supply, I have fed , or any other word, akin to, I have given you drink . An instructor does not necessarily teach what he himself knows, but what is suitable to his hearers. Scripture is perfect; for, as an example, to the Corinthians milk is supplied; to the Hebrews, solid food .

Verse 3

1 Corinthians 3:3 . Ὅπου ) where . ζῆλος , envying ) This refers to the state of feeling. ἔρις , strife ) to the words. διχοστασίαι , divisions ) to the actions. The style of writing increases in strength; he had used the word contentions , 1 Corinthians 1:11 ; he now multiplies the words; in like manner he uses the word glorying , 1 Corinthians 3:21 ; afterwards, a severer expression, to be puffed up , 1 Corinthians 4:6 . κατὰ ἄνθρωπον , according to the ways of men ) not according to the ways of God; after the manner of men.

Verse 4

1 Corinthians 3:4 . Οὐχὶ , [25] are ye not ) For the Spirit does not endure party-spirit among men.

[25] Ὅταν γὰρ , for when ) See how important a matter may be, which seems to be of no consequence. V. g.

Verse 5

1 Corinthians 3:5 . Τίς ; who? ) He returns to what he began with. διάκονοι , ministers ) a lowly expression and on that account appropriate here. διʼ ὧν , by whom ), not in whom. Pelagius correctly observes on this passage, If we, whom He himself has constituted ministers, are nothing, how much more those, who glory in carnal things? ἑκάστῳ , to every man ) i.e. every man as well as they . ὁ Κύριος , the Lord ) The correlative is, διάκονοι , ministers . ἔδωκεν , has given ) in various ways and degrees; see the following verse.

Verse 6

1 Corinthians 3:6 . Ἐφύτευσα ἐπότισεν , I planted he watered ) Acts 18:1 ; Acts 19:1 . Afterwards with the same view, he speaks of the foundation and what is reared upon it; of a father, and instructors [ch. 1Co 4:15 ]. ηὔξανεν , gave the increase ) 1 Corinthians 3:10 , at the beginning; Acts 18:27 , at the end.

Verse 7

1 Corinthians 3:7 . Ὁ φυτεύων , ὁ ποτίζων ) he that planteth, he that watereth , as such; or the very act of planting and watering . ὁ αὐξάνων , [God] who gives the increase ) viz.: ἐστὶν , is τὶ something; and therefore, because He alone is some thing, He is all things [all in all]. Without this increase, the grain from the first moment of sowing would be like a pebble; from the increase, when given, belief instantly springs up, 1 Corinthians 3:5 .

Verse 8

1 Corinthians 3:8 . Ἓν ) one; neither of them is so much as anything . As one star in the heavens shines high above another; but the unscientific man does not perceive the difference in the height; so the Apostle Paul shone far above Apollos; but the Corinthians did not understand this, and Paul in this passage does not instruct them much on that point; he merely asserts the eminent superiority of Christ. ἴδιον ἴδιον , his own his own ) an appropriate repetition, and an antithesis to one . μισθὸν , reward ) something beyond salvation, 1 Corinthians 3:14-46.3.15 . The faithful steward will receive praise, the diligent workman a reward. κόπον , labour ) not merely according to the work [ done , but according to each man’s labour ].

Verse 9

1 Corinthians 3:9 . Θεοῦ , of God ) This word is solemnly repeated immediately after, [26] and is emphatically put at the beginning thrice; as in 1 Corinthians 3:10 , grace; and in 1 Corinthians 3:11 , foundation . συνεργοὶ , labourers together with ) We are God’s labourers , and in turn labourers together with Him. γεώργιον , husbandry ) This constitutes the sum of what goes before; γεώργιον , a word of wide and comprehensive meaning, comprising the field, the garden, and the vineyard. ΟἸΚΟΔΟΜῊ , building ) This constitutes the sum of what follows.

[26] By the figure anaphora, i.e. , the frequent repetition of words in the beginnings of Sections, or in adorning and amplifying weighty arguments. Append. T.

Verse 10

1 Corinthians 3:10 . Χάριν , grace ) By this word he takes anticipatory precaution [ προθεραπείαν ], not to appear arrogantly to pronounce himself wise . δοθεῖσαν , given ) it was therefore a something habitual in Paul. [27] σοφὸς ) [ wise ] skilful . The knowledge of Jesus Christ makes men so. θεμέλιον , foundation ) The foundation is the first beginning. ἄλλος ) another , whoever he is. He elegantly avoids mentioning the proper name. The predecessor does not see his successor, and Paul has regard to the dignity of Apollos; so immediately after, every man; for there were also others, 1 Corinthians 4:15 . βλεπέτω , let him see [take heed]) I, says Paul, have done my part; let them see to theirs, who follow me in this work. πως ) how , how far wisely , how far in builder -like style.

[27] Which is the force of the article, τὴν χάριν τὴν δοθεῖσαν . ED.

Verse 11

1 Corinthians 3:11 . Γὰρ , for) The reason, why he says so deliberately, builds thereon . οὐδεις , no man ) not even Apollos. θεῖναι , lay ) at Corinth, and wherever Christ was made known. Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς , Jesus Christ ) each name here is properly placed.

Verse 12

1 Corinthians 3:12 . Εἰ ) whether [But Engl. Ver. if ]. Comp. of what sort , 1 Corinthians 3:13 . There is an indirect question, which does not require the mark of interrogation. In 1 Corinthians 3:13 , there is the apodosis, whether εἰ be taken as an interrogative, or means if . χρυσόν , gold ) He enumerates three kinds of things, which bear fire; as many, which are consumed by it; the former denote men that are true believers; the latter, hypocrites: Moreover, the abstract is included in the concrete, so that on the one hand true and solid doctrines, or, on the other hand, false and worthless doctrines are denoted together; in both cases, doctrines either of greater or less importance. Even a grain of gold is gold: even the lightest straw feeds the fire. λίθους τιμίους , precious stones ) This does not apply to small gems , but to noble stones, as marble , etc. ξύλα , wood ) In the world, many buildings are fitly constructed of wood; but not so in the building of God, comp. Revelation 21:18-66.21.19 . καλάμην ) stubble .

Verse 13

1 Corinthians 3:13 . Ἔργον ) the work , which any one has erected. ἡ ἡμέρα , the day ) of the Lord. So Hebrews 10:25 , comp. presently ch. 1 Corinthians 4:3 ; 1 Corinthians 4:5 , where, after an interval, as usual, he speaks more clearly. Previous days, which vividly realize to us the fire, for instance, in adversity and at death, are not altogether excluded. δηλώσει , shall declare ) to all. [ Many things are also revealed sooner, at least to some, but Paul lays down the last and most certain day of fiery trial . V. g.] ἐν πυρὶ ἀποκαλύπτεται ) is revealed in fire, viz., the Lord, whose day that is; or, the work [so Engl. Vers.]; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-53.1.8 , is revealed , as present, because it is certain and near, Revelation 22:20 . τὸ πὺρ , the fire ) a metaphor, as throughout this whole discourse. The fire of the last day and of the Divine judgment is intended, as is evident from the subsequent language, which peculiarly applies to the last judgment, 1 Corinthians 4:5 ; 2 Corinthians 5:10 [ 2Th 1:8 ]; to which the visible fire on that day will correspond. δοκιμάσει ) shall try , not shall purge . This passage not only does not support [add fuel to] the fire of purgatory , but entirely extinguishes it; for it is at the last day, and not till then, that the fire shall finally try every man’s work; therefore the fire of purgatory does not precede it. Nor on that very day, shall the work be purged; but it shall be tried, of what sort it previously was on either side [good or bad], when it shall either remain or be burnt up.

Verse 14

1 Corinthians 3:14 . Εἰ τινος , if any man’s ) Hence Paul is accustomed to promise glory to himself from the constancy of his brethren [ hence also to derive exhortations ], 2 Corinthians 1:14 ; Php 2:16 ; 1 Thessalonians 2:19 .

Verse 15

1 Corinthians 3:15 . Ζημιωθήσεται , he shall suffer loss ) He shall fail in obtaining the reward, not in obtaining salvation. αὐτὸς ) he himself . σωθήσεται , shall be saved ) because he does not forsake this foundation, 1 Corinthians 3:12 . ὡς , as ) a particle of explanation and limitation; as one who should be obliged to go through fire . διὰ , through ) So διὰ , through [= with ], Romans 2:27 : not without fire , comp. 1 Corinthians 3:13 . As the shipwrecked merchant, though he has lost his merchandise and his gain, is saved through the waves. [28]

[28] Is saved, though having to pass through the waves. ED.

Verse 16

1 Corinthians 3:16 . Ναὸς , the temple ) The most noble kind of building . ἐστὲ , ye are ) the whole of you together. τὸ πνεῦμα , the Spirit ) The indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and that of God, are held in the same estimation [are equivalent]: therefore the high honour due to the Holy Spirit is the same as that due to God, 1 Corinthians 6:19 .

Verse 17

1 Corinthians 3:17 . Φθείρει , destroys ] by schisms according to the wisdom of the world. φθερεῖ , shall destroy ) by a most righteous retaliation in kind [ φθερεῖ answering to φθείρει ]. There are many punishments, which do not flow from sin by physical connection. ἅγιος , holy ) divine, inviolable.

Verse 18

1 Corinthians 3:18 . Δοκεῖ ) This word is frequently used, as well as λογίζομαι , in the epistles to the Corinthians; but δοκῶ more in the first; the other, with a milder signification in the second. The meaning here is, if any man be wise, and think that he is so . For often, in this epistle especially, δοκῶ has such a force as that the fact of the thing itself is not denied, but there is denoted along with the fact, the estimation, which the man, who has that thing [that subject of his self-esteem], entertains concerning himself, whether [that estimation] be just or inflated [exaggerated] 1 Corinthians 7:40 , 1Co 8:2 , 1 Corinthians 10:12 , 1 Corinthians 11:16 , 1 Corinthians 14:37 . σοφὸς , wise ) Hereby he entirely cuts off all wisdom, whether of this world or divine. [ It is indeed wretched wisdom to deceive one’s own self . V. g.] For in whatever species of wisdom every man wishes to be distinguished, in the same kind of wisdom he ought first of all to deem himself a fool, that he may become wise.

Verse 19

1 Corinthians 3:19 . Ὁ δρασσόμενος τοὺς σοφοὺς ἐν τῇ πανουργίᾳ αὐτῶν ) Eliphaz in Job 5:13 , in the LXX., says, ὁ καταλαμβάνων σοφοὺς ἐν τῇ φρονήσει . The apostles seem to have kept very much by the words of the LXX. Interpreters in passages very well known to the Hellenists [the Greek-speaking Jews], for example in the Parschijoth [29] and Haphtaroth, and likewise in the Psalms; but they have recourse to the Hebrew, in passages less generally used, such as this passage of Job. Paul has also in another place referred to Job. See Philippians 1:19 , note. ἐν , in ) not only whilst they think that they are acting wisely, but in such a way, that their very wisdom is a snare to them.

[29] Parschijoth, sections of the Pentateuch; Haphtaroth, sections of the Prophets, read publicly. T.

Verse 20

1 Corinthians 3:20 . Σοφῶν , of the wise ) LXX. have ἀνθρώπων , of men . The word, thoughts , not in itself, but with this addition, of the wise , corresponds to the Hebrew word מחשבות , Psalms 94:11 , LXX. εἰσι , are) men, namely with their thoughts; see Ps. now quoted in the Hebrew.

Verse 21

1 Corinthians 3:21 . Ἐν ἀνθρώποις , in men ) This appertains to [has the effect of] extenuation. [30] πάντα , all things ) not only all men . ὑμῶν , yours ) Those things are yours; not you theirs, 1 Corinthians 1:12 ; 2 Corinthians 4:5 .

[30] See App., under the tit. Litotes. Using a weaker expression, when a strong one is meant. T.

Verse 22

1 Corinthians 3:22 . Παῦλος , Paul ) Paul, as if a stranger to himself, comes forward in the third person and shows how it was the duty of the Corinthians to speak of him, and he places himself, as if he were lowest in rank, [31] first in the enumeration. Κῆφας , Cephas ) They were wont to glory also in Peter, which also was wrong. See note on 1 Corinthians 1:12 . κόσμος , the world ) He by a sudden bound extends his remarks from Peter to the whole world, as if he were in some degree impatient of enumerating all the other things. Peter and every one else in the whole world, how distinguished soever he may be by his talents, gifts, or office whether ecclesiastical or political, all are yours; they are instrumental in promoting your interests, even though unwittingly: comp. respecting, the world , 1 Corinthians 3:19 ; 1Co 4:9 ; 1 Corinthians 6:2 ; 1 Corinthians 7:31 ; Romans 4:13 ; Galatians 4:3 . εἴτε ζωὴ , εἴτε θάνατος , whether life or death ) and so therefore the living and the dead . Comp. Romans 14:8 ; Philippians 1:21 . ἐνεστῶτα , things present ) on the earth. μέλλοντα , things to come ) in heaven.

[31] In Greek and Latin, a person speaking of himself along with another, puts himself first, in modern languages last. Christ says, more than once, I and the Father: so here, Paul is first as being of least importance. T.

Verse 23

1 Corinthians 3:23 . Ὑμεῖς δὲ Χριστοῦ , and ye are Christ’s ) Immediately; not by the intervention of Peter. Χριστοῦ Θεοῦ , of Christ of God ) To this 1Co 4:1 has respect. Χριστὸς δὲ , Θεοῦ , and Christ is God’s ) 1 Corinthians 15:28 ; Luke 9:20 .

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Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3". Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.