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1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
Ver. 1. Through the will of God ] Not the faculty in God, whereby he willeth, but his act, the thing that he willeth. This will of God is either secret or revealed, Deuteronomy 22:29 . And this revealed will is either of his pleasure, Placiti, or of his good pleasure, Beneplaciti. The former is also in things where the effect is evil; and so God willeth in respect of the end, but not of the means to the end; as in sin, and some miseries. The latter is in those things only where the effect is good, as here, and Romans 12:2 . It was for the very great good of the Church that God would have Paul to be a chosen vessel, to bear his name before the Gentiles, &c.,Acts 9:15; Acts 9:15 . So that Cor Pauli est cor Christi, the heart of Paul is the heart of Christ, as Chrysostom hath it; for, "We have the mind of Christ," 1 Corinthians 2:16 .
Sosthenes our brother ] And companion in the kingdom and patience of Christ, Revelation 1:9 ; Acts 18:17 . There he was despitefully entreated, here highly honoured. Christ is a liberal paymaster: never any did or suffered aught for his sake that complained of a hard bargain. It is to my loss (said that martyr) if thou bate me anything in my sufferings. Maiora certamina, maiora sequuntur praemia, After greater battles, greater rewards follow, saith Tertullian.
2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
Ver. 2. Called to be saints ] i.e. Either such as are sanctified by habitual infusion, or such as are sanctified by baptismal profession only, that are in covenant with God by sacrifice,Psalms 50:5; Psalms 50:5 , and are in Christ, though they bear no fruit, John 15:2 . These two sorts of saints make up a true visible Church.
With all that in every place ] The apostles then wrote not their Epistles for the particular uses of those times only, as the Jesuits will have it.
3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ver. 3. Grace be to you and peace ] All peace that flows not from the sense of God’s love and favour, is as that of the Romans with the Samnites, unsound and uncertain. Pax infida, pax incerta. Peace with the treacherous is a dubious peace. (Livius.) See Trapp on " Rom 1:7 "
4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
Ver. 4. I thank my God ] Thus he begins most of his Epistles. Deo gratias was ever in Austin’s mouth, who had Paul’s spirit. Every gracious man is a grateful man. The same Greek word ( χαρις ) signifieth grace and thanks. Only that part of Abraham’s seed that is as the stars of heaven, can in their courses sing a song of praise to God. True it is, that "all his works praise him;" that is, they give matter and occasion so to do; but his saints only bless him, in manner as Paul here doth, Psalms 145:10 , and bring actual glory to him, Ephesians 1:11-12 . Wicked men cannot say, I thank my God, for they have no true notion of God, but as of an enemy; and therefore all their verbal thanks are but as music at funerals, or as the trumpet before a judge, no comfort to the mourning wife or guilty prisoner.
For the grace of God ] Intending to chide them, he first commends them, that he may preserve in their hearts an opinion of his love, while he rebuked them sharply, that they might be sound in the faith.
5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
Ver. 5. Ye are enriched ] See here what is the Christian’s riches. And so David reckons of his wealth, Psalms 119:32 . He cannot be poor in whom the word of God dwells richly, Colossians 3:16 , especially if he be free of discourse, able and willing to communicate. A dumb Christian is to be blamed, as well as a dumb minister.
6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
Ver. 6. The testimony of Christ ] The gospel, called also the testimony, Isaiah 8:20 . To the law, and to the testimony.
7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Ver. 7. So that ye come behind, &c. ] Yet were babes and carnal, 1 Corinthians 3:2-3 , and fell short in many graces. We must distinguish between gifts and graces, and covet these rather than those, 1 Corinthians 13:1 .
8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ver. 8. In the day of our Lord Jesus ] Eleven times in these first ten verses (as Chrysostom well observeth) the apostle mentioneth the Lord Jesus Christ, who was to him, and should be to us, mel in ore, melos in aure, iubilum in corde, honey in the mouth, music in the ear, joy in the heart. (Bernard.) The Jews used to cast to the ground the Book of Esther, before they read it, because the name of God is not in it. This is ill done of them. But that is recorded to the commendation of Augustine, that he cast by Cicero’s writings (though otherwise very delightful to him) because he found not in them that mellifluous a name of Jesus.
a Flowing with honey, honey dropping; sweetened with or as with honey. Now rare. ŒD
9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Ver. 9. Unto the fellowship ] Union being the ground of communion: so that all is in him is for us. I give my goods to the saints, saith David, in the person of Christ.
10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
Ver. 10. That there be no divisions ] To break unity in the Church is to cut asunder the very veins and sinews of the mystical body of Christ.
By the name of our Lord ] Which is like to suffer by your dissensions, and whereof you ought to be as tender as of treading upon your parents that begat you.
Perfectly joined ] Schisms disjoint men; yea, shake them out of their senses, and frighten them out of their wits, 2 Thessalonians 2:2 . See Trapp on " 2Th 2:2 "
11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
Ver. 11. Of the house of Chloe ] A godly matron she was no doubt, and a good office herein she did her neighbours: though, likely, she had little thanks for her labour; as likewise Joseph had for bringing his brethren’s evil report to their father, Genesis 37:2 .
That there are contentions ] These often breed schisms; as did the contention between Luther and Carolostadius; and many of the ancient heresies sprang from private grudges and discontents, in sui solatium, for a sorry comfort to those that broached them.
12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
Ver. 12. And I of Christ ] q.d. I care neither for Paul nor Apollo, &c. As some say today, they are neither Papists nor Protestants, but Christians, that is, just nothing, flat atheists. Heraclius the emperor being imprudently carried away by some bishops into the opinion of the Monothelites, when that heresy was afterwards condemned by the Council of Jerusalem, the emperor, being ashamed to recant, became a mere neutralist, and held neither one way nor another. And have we not some like-minded among us, who are yet to choose their religion; resolving to resolve on nothing, because (forsooth) there are so many sects and controversies, and such differences in opinion, and contradictions of preachers, therefore they will suspend, serve God (as they call it), and not trouble themselves to know which side hath the better? But these might know, 1. That truth is but one and the same; Christi tunica est unica, Christ’s coat is seamless, his truth single, and at good agreement with itself. 2. That we have a most sure word, 2 Peter 1:19 , sure, and sufficient to perfect the man of God; and that Non est litigiosa iuris scientia sed ignorantia, as the lawyers used to say, it is not too much knowledge, but the ignorance of the Scriptures that begets strife. 3. That God’s elect have a promise to be taught of God, to be kept from being finally deceived; to be brought to a certainty and full assurance of what they should hold, so evidently and clearly will God by his Spirit speak to their consciences, that they shall hold fast the faithful word, though they cannot answer every cavil and be unmovable as the centre, as Mount Zion that cannot be stirred. Matthew 24:24 ; Joh 10:4-5 Job 22:21 ; 1 Thessalonians 1:5 ; Joh 7:17 ; 1 John 2:20 ; Psalms 19:7 ; Proverbs 1:4 ; Isaiah 52:6 ; John 6:45 .
13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
Ver. 13. Baptized in the name ] Gr. "Into the name," so as to be called by my name. Those then that will needs be called Franciscans, Lutherans, &c., do after a sort disclaim their baptism, and become renegades from Christ.
14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;
Ver. 14. I thank God ] He noteth and noticeth herein a sweet providence, beyond all that he then imagined, when he was at Corinth. God is to be seen in every special occurrence.
15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.
Ver. 15. Lest any should say ] q.d. God hath so disposed of it, that none can with any colour or cause, or show of sense, say such a thing.
16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.
Ver. 16. Whether I baptized any ] His colleagues belike did it (while he was otherwise busied), with a particular examination and instruction in those principles,Hebrews 6:2; Hebrews 6:2 .
17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
Ver. 17. Not to baptize ] As my chief work, so Jer 7:22 but to preach and plant Churches, wherein he had a very happy hand; as had likewise Farellus among our late reformers, Qui Mompelgardenses, Aquileienses, Lausanneuses, Genevenses, Novocomenses Ghristo lucrifecit, he gained five cities with their territories to Christ. (Melch. Adam. in Vii. xi.)
Not with wisdom of words ] Which yet St Paul could have done as well as another; witness his artificial unstarching of the orator’s speech,Acts 24:10-21; Acts 24:10-21 . But he liked not to put the sword of the Spirit into a velvet scabbard, that it could not pierce, to speak floride plus quam solide, as those self-seekers at Corinth did, that sought more to tickle the ear than to affect the heart. It repented Augustine (and well it might) that when he was young he had preached more ut placeret, quam ut doceret, to please than to profit. And Luther was wont to say, he is the best preacher that preacheth vulgiter, trivialiter, maximeque ad populi captum. Not but that there is a lawful use of rhetoric in sermons, so it be free from ostentation. See the Preface to my God’s Love Tokens.
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Ver. 18. To them that perish, foolishness ] As it is to the Jews to this day, who rail against Christ’s person, calling him the hanged God, the woof and the warp, Leviticus 13:52 , because these two make the figure of the cross. And being asked whether they believe to be saved by Christ’s righteousness, they answer, That every fox must pay his own skin to the flayer. The pagans also jeered at Christ and his people, as did Julian, Lucian, Porphyry, &c.
19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
Ver. 19. For it is written ] Thus the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New, while the world’s wizards are dazzled, dulled, and disannulled, αθετησω .
20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
Ver. 20. Where is the wise? ] The teacher of traditions; the Jews had a proverb, οι σοφοι ημων δευτερωσι .
Where is the scribe? ] Or the textmen, those that proceed according to the literal interpretation.
Where is the disputer? ] The teachers of allegories and mysteries, 1 Timothy 1:4 .
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
Ver. 21. The world by wisdom ] Not the Jews by their deep doctors, nor the Gentiles by their wits and wizards ( qui tanquam noctuae ad solem caligabant ), could grope out God,Acts 17:27; Acts 17:27 , ψηλαφησειαν .
By the foolishness of preaching ] An ironic concession; so the mad world esteemeth it, who shall rue for ever the contempt of it, crying out, Nos insensati, &c.
22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
Ver. 22. For the Jews require, &c. ] The reason of their rejecting the gospel is, they are prepossessed against it; they look for that which it affordeth not. A prejudicate opinion bars up the understanding. Intus existens prohibet alienum, like muddy water in a vessel, that causeth the most precious liquor to run over.
And the Greeks seek after wisdom ] Which yet they attained not. For Sapiens est cui res sapiunt prout sunt, saith Bernard, he is a wise man who conceiveth of things as they are; and all the wisdom of man is only in this, that he rightly know and worship God, saith Lactantius. But this these Greeks could never skill of; no, not these Corinthians (till called and sanctified), who yet were famous for their wisdom (Periander, one of the seven wise men, was a Corinthian), and their city be called by the orator (Cicero) lumen Graeciae, the light of Greece. But whereto tended their light but to light them into utter darkness? And what was all their wisdom without Christ, but earthly, sensual, devilish? James 3:15 . Earthly, managing the lusts of the eyes unto the ends of gain; sensual, managing the lusts of the flesh unto ends of pleasure; and devilish, managing the pride of life unto ends of power.
23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
Ver. 23. But we preach Christ ] We not only preach of him, but we preach him, we give what we preach. It is the special office of the ministry to lay Christ open, to hold up the tapestry, to untold the hidden mysteries of Christ. The Holy Ghost in them taketh of that which is Christ’s, and showeth to men, John 16:15 .
Unto the Jews a stumblingblock ] These Philistines cannot conceive how out of the eater should come meat, and out of the strong, sweet.
Unto the Greeks ] These jeered at Jesus and the resurrection, as at a couple of strange gods, Acts 17:18 . Cato profanely saith, Stultitia est morte alterius sperare salutem: It is a folly to expect safety by the death of another. The gospel was to the Jews a stumblingblock, and to the Greeks a laughing-stock. They both stumbled on the bridge, and so fell into the ditch of destruction.
24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
Ver. 24. Christ the power of God ] Opposite to the power of miracles required by the Jews.
And the wisdom of God ] Opposite to the Grecian’s worldly wisdom.
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Ver. 25. Because the foolishness ] The wisest man compared to God, Simia videbitur, non sapiens, said Heraclitus, as Plato relateth it, he will appear to be an ape rather than a wise man. But what meant that malicious fool Genebrard, to call reverend Beza, Theomorus for Theodorus? Was it not of God, so to direct the tongue of this Caiaphas the second, that in Beza and himself might this Scripture be fulfilled, το μωρον του θεου σοφωτερον των ανθρωπων , &c., "The foolishness of God," &c.
26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called :
Ver. 26. Not many mighty ] The eagle and lion were not offered in sacrifice, as the lamb and the dove were. It is hard for great ones to deny themselves. Hence it grew to a proverb in times of Popery, that hell was paved with priests’ shaven crowns and great men’s headpieces. Rasis sacrificulorum verticibus et magnatum galeis. (Jerome.) Indeed if men might pass de deliciis ad delicias, e coeno ad coelum, as Jerome hath it; if they could dance with the devil all day, and sup with Christ at night; if they might live all their lives long in Delilah’s lap, and then go to Abraham’s bosom when they die, they would have a fine time of it. But that cannot be, and hence so many mighties miscarry.
Not many noble ] Blessed be God that any; as Galeacius Caracciolus, an Italian marquis, and nephew to Pope Paul V, was converted by Peter Martyr reading upon this First Epistle to the Corinthians; George Prince of Anhalt, a pious preaching prince, converted by Melancthon; Ulysses Martinengus, earl of Baccha, another Italian convert, and some few more that might be instanced. But good nobles are black swans (saith one) and thinly scattered in the firmament of a state, even like stars of the first magnitude. We may say of such, as Luther (in Epist. ad John Agricol.) doth of Elizabeth Queen of Denmark, a pious princess, Scilicet Christus etiam aliquando voluit reginam in caelum vehere. Certainly even Christ ever wished to bear a queen into heaven.
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
Ver. 27. But God hath chosen ] In our Church assemblies the meaner usually, like little fishes, bite more than the greater. The poor are gospelized, Matthew 11:5 .
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea , and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
Ver. 28. Things which are not ] i.e. That are nought set by,1 Samuel 25:10; 1 Samuel 25:10 . Thus shall ye say to him that liveth, that is, to him that is rich; for poor men are reputed as dead men. They have but prisoners’ pittances, which will keep them alive, and that is all. Arrian upon Epictetus hath observed, that in a tragedy there is no place for a poor man, but only to dance.
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
Ver. 29. That no flesh ] Proud flesh will soon swell, if it have but anything to fasten on. The devil will also easily blow up such a blab.
30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
Ver. 30. But of him are ye ] q.d. Albeit ye have nothing of your own, yet in Christ you have all; for in him is all fulness both repletive and diffusive, both of abundance and of redundance too, both of plenty and of bounty.
Is made unto us wisdom ] This notes out Christ’s prophetic office.
Righteousness and sanctification ] By his priestly office.
Redemption ] By his kingly office, having fully delivered his from sin, death, and hell; all which is not fully done till after death. And that is the reason why redemption is here set last. See Romans 8:23 ; Luke 21:28 .
31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
Ver. 31. Glory in the Lord ] Acquiesce and exult in him, which is the end why God hath done all this for us in Christ.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29