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1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
Ver. 1. Could not speak unto you ] Unless I would beat the air, and lose my sweet words: q.d. You quarrel me for a shallow trivial teacher, when yourselves are in fault, as not yet capable of more mysterious matter. Our Saviour preached (not as he could have preached, but) "as the people were able to hear," Mark 4:33 . So the author to the Hebrews, 1 Corinthians 5:11 . Some impute not their profiting to the minister, as he in Seneca, that having a thorn in his foot complained of the roughness of the way as the cause of his limping. Or as she in the same author, that being struck with a sudden blindness, bade open the windows, when as it was not lack of light, but lack of sight that troubled her.
As unto carnal, even as unto babes ] Or, at least as unto babes, not yet past the spoon, and that must have their meats masticated for them by their nurses.
2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it , neither yet now are ye able.
Ver. 2. I have fed you with milk ] Ministers must condescend to their hearers’ capacities, though they be slighted for so doing, as Paul was; or jeered, as Isaiah, Isaiah 28:9-10 , for his "line upon line, precept upon precept," Kau lekau, and Zau lezau; the sound of the words carries a taunt, as scornful people by the tone of their voice and rhyming words, scorn at such as they despise.
3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
Ver. 3. For ye are yet carnal ] It is a shame for Christians to be like other men, as Samson was after he had lost his hair. It ill becomes those excellent ones of the earth, princes in all lands, to contend and quarrel, as those terrigenae fratres earthly brothers used to do. By the laws of England, noblemen have this privilege, that none of them can be bound to the peace; because it is supposed that the peace is always bound to them, and that of their own accord they will be careful to preserve it.
Envying and strife, &c. ] These overflowings of the gall and spleen came from a fulness of bad humours.
And walk as men ] Christians should be as Saul was, higher than the people by head and shoulders. Something singular is expected from them, Matthew 5:47 ; they should have their feet where other men’s heads are, Proverbs 15:24 . When we do evil, we work de nostro et secundum hominem, we do our kind, as the devil when he speaks lies, speaks de suo, of his own, John 8:44 .
4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
Ver. 4. For when one saith, &c. ] So those that will needs be called Lutherans, Iurantque in verba magistri. They swear in the words of a teacher. Did not Luther play the man, when he and other Dutch divines advised Philip Landgrave of Hesse, a pious prince, to marry a second wife, that is, an adulteress, while his lawful wife was yet alive? And might he not deceive and be deceived in other things as well as in that? (Zanch. Miscel. Epist. Dedicat.)
Are ye not carnal? ] Nay, will not the world think ye are mad? as the apostle speaks in a like case, 1 Corinthians 14:23 . Will they not think worse. See John 17:21 ; John 17:23 . If Christians unite not, if they fall out and wrangle, the world will think "thou never sentest me," saith our Saviour.
5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
Ver. 5. But ministers ] Not masters, as Magistri nostri Parisienses. (Praefat. in 1 Sentent.) So the Sorbonists will needs be called, contrary to James 3:1 . Bacon the Carmelite was called Doctor resolutissimus, most free, because he would endure no May-bes.
6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
Ver. 6. But God gave the increase ] The harp yields no sound till it be touched by the hand of the musician. The heart is never made good till the heavens answer the earth, Hosea 2:21 , till God strikes the stroke. Holy Melancthon, being newly converted, thought it impossible for his hearers to withstand the evidence of the gospel. But soon after he complained that old Adam was too hard for young Melancthon. No man can run the point aright, except God give wind to his sails; as, if he speak the word, our words shall not be only like Peter’s angle, which took a fish, but like Peter’s net, which enclosed a multitude of fishes.
7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
Ver. 7. So then neither is he, &c. ] This made Cyril to conclude his preface to his catechism, with Meum est docere, vestrum auscultare, Dei perficere: I may teach, and you hear, but God must do the deed when all is done. Else we may preach and pray to the wearing of our tongues to the stumps (as Bradford said), and to no more purpose than Bede did when he preached to a heap of stones.
8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
Ver. 8. And he that watereth are one ] Why then are not you at one? Should ye not follow your leaders, press their footsteps? Surely you would, did you not more mind party than peace. Maxima pars studiorum, est studium partium; a hateful kind of study.
Shall receive his own reward ] Those ambitious doctors that draw disciples after them, hunting after popular applause (that empty blast of stinking breath), shall have that for their reward; let them make them merry with it. When faithful ministers shall shine as stars,Daniel 12:3; Daniel 12:3 .
9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
Ver. 9. For we are labourers, &c. ] Let ministers hence learn their, 1. Dignity; 2. Duty. Fructus honos oneris, Fructus honoris onus. Who would not work hard with such sweet company?
10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
Ver. 10. As a wise master builder ] Artificers also have their wisdom, as Aristotle yieldeth. "For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him,"Isaiah 28:26; Isaiah 28:26 . As he did Bezaleel and Aholiah.
11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Ver. 11. Which is Jesus Christ ] The doctrine of his person and offices is the foundation of Christian religion, and must therefore be kept pure and entire by all means possible. Arius’s ομοιουσιος , would not be yielded; nor Nestorius’s θεοδοχος , for θεοστοκος . So religious were the old bishops, that they would not alter or exchange a letter or a syllable in these fundamentals. Every particle of truth is precious, and not to be parted with.
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
Ver. 12. Wood, hay, stubble ] Rhetorical strains, philosophical fancies, that tend not to edification. There are those who together with the gold, silver, and ivory of sound and savoury truths, have, as Solomon’s ships had, store of apes and peacocks, conceits and crotchets. Now if he that debases the king’s coin, deserve punishment; what do they that, instead of the tried silver of divine truths, stamp the name and character of God upon Nehushtan, their own base brazen stuff?
13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
Ver. 13. For the day shall declare it ] That is, the light of the truth, or time, the father of truth, or the day of death, when many recognize and recant their errors, shall show them their sin.
14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
Ver. 14. If any man’s work abide ] Error as glass is bright, but brittle, and cannot endure the hammer or fire, as gold can, which, though rubbed or melted, remains firm and orient.
15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Ver. 15. He shall suffer loss ] Of his work (his laborious loss of time) and of some part of his wages.
Yet so as by fire ] Not of purgatory (a Popish fiction), but of the Holy Ghost. Or (as one interprets it) like unto them who save themselves naked out of the fire without carrying away any of their goods; so his person shall be saved, but he shall not have the reward of a well-qualified minister.
16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
Ver. 16. Ye are the temple of God ] Not God’s building only, as1 Corinthians 3:9; 1 Corinthians 3:9 , but his temple. A mud wall may be made up of anything, not so the walls of a temple or palace, that must have other materials.
And that the Spirit of God, &c. ] Next to the love of Christ indwelling in our nature, we may wonder at the love of the Holy Ghost, that will dwell in our defiled souls. (Dr Sibbs on Eph 4:30 ) Let our care be to wash the pavement of this temple with our tears, to sweep it by repentance, to beautify it with holiness, to perfume it with prayers, to deck it with humility, to hang it with sincerity. Delicata res est Spiritus Dei; A sumptuous person is the Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost will dwell in a poor, so it be a pure house. Religion loves to lie clean, as was a grave speech of an ancient saint.
17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
Ver. 17. Which temple ye are ] Man is God’s temple; God man’s altar. Demosthenes (contra Aristog.) could say, that man’s heart was God’s best and most stately temple, Iustitia, verecundia, et observantia legum communitum. Justice, respected and heeded, reinforces the law.
18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
Ver. 18. Let no man deceive himself ] Bis desipit, qui sibi sapit. Consilii satis est in me mihi, said she in the poet. (Arachne up. Ovid, Metam.) Nothing so easy as to overly ween.
Let him become a fool ] Let him come to the well with an empty pitcher, Intus existens prohibet alienum. Agur (if a man may believe him) is more brutish than any man, Proverbs 30:2-3 . See there how he vilifies, yea, nullifies himself before God. So did blessed Bradford, as appears by the subscriptions of many of his letters.
19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
Ver. 19. He taketh the wise ] ο δρασσομενος , those natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed,2 Peter 2:12; 2 Peter 2:12 ; God takes them and makes fools of them.
In their own craftiness ] When they have eviscerated themselves like spiders, tried all conclusions, beaten their brains, searched the devil’s skull for new devices, done all that may be done (as the word πανουργια imports) to effect their designs. Versutia veteratoria. God lets them carry the ball on the foot till they are almost at the goal, go to the utmost of their tether, and then pulls them back with shame enough to their task. Thus he dealt by Sennacherib, Haman, Herod, others.
20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.
Ver. 20. Of the wise ] Such as excel in natural gifts, that are the choicest and most picked men. The Psalmist saith only of men, Psalms 94:12 .
21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;
Ver. 21. Let no man glory in men ] That is, that they are such a one’s scholars or followers, seeing the Church is not made for them, but they for the Church.
For all things are yours, &c. ] Haec est magnae nostrae Chartulae Epitome, saith Sam. Ward. This is an epitome of the Church’s grand grant or charter. A Christian hath interest in, and right to, all these things, 1. Entirely, Ephesians 1:23 ; Ephesians 2:10 ; Colossians 3:11 . Colossians 3:2 . Refinedly, the curse is removed, Galatians 3:13 ; Proverbs 10:22 . Proverbs 10:3 . Really, 1 Corinthians 7:31 ; Ephesians 1:23 . Ephesians 1:4 . Safely, Proverbs 1:33 ; Proverbs 5:1-23 . Serviceably, Romans 8:28 . Romans 8:6 . Satisfyingly, Psalms 22:26 . So that the poor Christian, saith one, is like the usurer, who goes meanly and fares hard, but hath thousands out at use.
22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;
Ver. 22. All are yours ] Though not in possession, yet in use, or by way of reduction, as we say, the worst things are God’s children, and in reversion those best things above.
23 And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.
Ver. 23. And ye are Christ’s ] We hold all we have in capite tenure in Christ. From Christ therefore let us take our denomination. The name of Jesuits savoureth of blasphemous arrogance.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30