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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

- 1 Corinthians

by Multiple Authors

A COMMENTARY

ON

THE New Testament Epistles

BY

DAVID LIPSCOMB

EDITED, WITH ADDITIONAL NOTES,

BY

J. W. SHEPHERD

VOLUME II

First Corinthians

GOSPEL ADVOCATE COMPANY

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

1972

COPYRIGHT BY

GOSPEL ADVOCATE COMPANY

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

1935

PREFACE

The hearty reception given to the Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans is very encouraging, and it is hoped that this volume will receive a like reception. That the instruction given in this series of commentaries is needed is apparent to all who are informed of the conditions now facing the Lord’s work in every place; for in them is set forth in no uncertain terms the principles which gave David Lipscomb such a wide influence in his battle against every form of error, during the half century of his editorial work.

In this volume there is no change from that on Romans. The same general plan is followed throughout.

Each volume is complete within itself. When the same subject is discussed in different epistles it is treated as though it was not mentioned elsewhere. This will be quite an advantage to those using the book, and I think will be appreciated.

Just here I must acknowledge the very valuable assistance rendered by the congregation at Lincoln Park, Detroit, Michigan, which furnished us an apartment in which to live and supplied us with the necessaries of life for about four years, while I was engaged in preparing these volumes. It is true that I assisted them in various ways in the Lord’s work, but their desire was to have part in the work in which I was engaged. For their valuable assistance I am truly thankful, for had it not been for their interest in the work I could not have made the progress I have.

Here I also acknowledge the part Mrs. Shepherd has done in the work. During all the years while this work has been occupying my mind she has had, in a large measure, the burden to bear. She has lived a lonely life, because I have been so busily engaged that I could not be with her much. But for the sake of the good the work will be in the Lord’s service, she willingly made the sacrifice. For her patience, faithfulness, and loving devotion to the Lord’s work I am deeply grateful, for without her willing cooperation, together with that of the Lincoln Park church, I could not have accomplished this work.

It is hoped that the volume on Second Corinthians and Galatians will be ready for the press within a short time.

This book will do good only in proportion to the number of readers and the disposition to receive correction, instruction, consolation, and encouragement from one of God’s noblest servants; and I send it forth with an earnest prayer that it may tend to the promotion of pure and undefiled religion, help extend the knowledge of God, and be instrumental in aiding the glorious work of converting and edifying all who seek a habitation in "the city which hath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God."

J. W. SHEPHERD.

Nashville, Tennessee,

November 20, 1934.

INTRODUCTION

I. CORINTH

Corinth was built upon the narrow neck of land called the isthmus or "neck of Corinth," that connects the Peloponnesus with the mainland. This gave it the command of the land traffic from north to south, whilst from the two ports on the Ionian and Aegean seas, Cenchreae and Lechaeum, much of the traffic between Asia and the west was brought to its harbors and portage because of the convenience of the water route afforded by the Saronic Gulf on the east of the isthmus and the Gulf of Corinth on the west. The way across the isthmus shortened the route to the west many miles and obviated the perilous voyage around the southern coast of Greece, the terror of the seamen of those days. Arriving at either port, the large vessels transhipped their cargoes across the isthmus for further transport. A road about five miles long was built across the isthmus on which small vessels were often hauled. The value of this shortened trade route is evident from the fact that plans were made in Paul’s day to cut a canal through the isthmus. Nero actually began to dig one, but found the undertaking so difficult and expensive that he abandoned it. In A.D. 1893 the work was completed and the two gulfs are now united.

In respect to military strength, Corinth from nature had almost unequaled advantages; and, of these its builders wisely availed themselves. They built it about a mile and a half south of the isthmus, on a rocky eminence about two hundred feet above the sea level. Behind the city stood the magnificent rock known as the citadel of Corinth, and called "Acrocorinthus," about 2,000 feet high. To the west there ran from the city to the Gulf of Corinth a double wall, a mile and a half long, terminating at Lechaeum; while on the east the city was connected with the seaport town of Cenchreae (Romans 16:1), on the Saronic Gulf, by a road eight miles in length. Thus fitted as Corinth was to take a distinguished place among the cities of Greece, alike for military and political influence, its rulers early saw by developing its commercial resources it might easily rise to the wealthiest and most powerful of the Grecian cities--a distinction of which, indeed, it had given early promise, about a thousand years before Christ, and reached some centuries later. Its fortunes, however, fluctuated greatly in the succeeding centuries; and when its liberties were crushed by Philip of Macedon, B.C. 338, Corinth became subject to the Macedonian kings, who took care to keep it always strongly garrisoned. The galling yoke was broken B.C. 196, when Corinth was reunited to the Achean League; but though nominally free, it became really subject to its Roman liberators. And when the league was so unwise as to go to war with Rome, and even to maltreat the Roman ambassadors at Corinth, the Achean troops were easily defeated; and the Romans under Mummius their commander, B.C. 146, revenged the insult with great barbarity--killing all the males, selling into slavery the women and children, stripping the city of its immense wealth, and carrying off its innumerable works of art. Having done this, the conquerors laid the city in ashes.

After lying in ruins exactly 100 years, Julius Caesar, B.C. 46, in pursuance of a scheme to create an empire in the provinces that might balance the power of Rome, rebuilt and peopled it with a Roman colony, to be peopled, in the first instance, by his own veterans and freedmen. By them the city was rebuilt, and grew to be a city of six hundred thousand inhabitants. Greek merchants poured into it to make it their home, while Jews were attracted to it from its advantages for business and its proximity to their native land. In fact, though it was constituted into a Roman colony, it became the capital of the Roman province of Achaia, and was governed by a proconsul residing at Corinth. (Acts 18:12.) The Romans themselves were outnumbered by their Greek and Jewish fellow citizens.

Corinth now became more wealthy than ever, its temples and civic buildings glittered as of old, and the same luxury and vice, for which it had become so infamous, reappeared and flourished in all their ancient vigor. Even religion gave sanction to immorality by its cult of sexual indulgence. Strabo tells us that in the temple of Venus there were more than a thousand harlots, the slaves of the temple, who, in honor of the goddess, prostrated themselves to all corners for hire, and through these the city was crowded, and became wealthy. Such was Corinth, when, in the year A.D. 52, Paul entered it; and what a sight it must have presented to his eyes! He wrote his epistle to the Romans from Corinth, and it was from her life that he got the description of heathenism which is found in Romans 1:21-32. Drunkenness was common and dishonesty notorious.

It would be unfair, however, to leave the impression that business and profligacy were the only characteristics of the city. There were intellectual interests both in art and in philosophy. Her citizens were proud of their mental acuteness; so much so that in their conceit they criticized all men and questioned anything and everything. They loved disputation, but their intellectual activity resulted in nothing of much value. The knowledge of the schools took but little hold upon the earnest realities of life. They dabbled in philosophy. The knowledge that puffeth up was the consequence. Indeed, "the artificiality and flowing rhetoric of the sophists were quite satisfying."

Its population was increased and its character somewhat formed from another circumstance. In the neighborhood of the city the Isthmian games, which attracted so much attention, and which drew so many strangers from different parts of the world, were celebrated. To these games, Paul frequently refers when pressing Christian energy and activity.

II. ORIGIN OF THE CORINTHIAN CHURCH

That the church at Corinth was founded by Paul is abundantly evident. He came to Corinth from Athens on his second missionary journey. He entered the city alone, a total stranger, and penniless. The little means he had brought with him from Macedonia were exhausted, and his attention was turned first to the supply of his daily bread. Possibly by a combination of circumstances he secured most desirable lodgings, and means of livelihood, with "a certain Jew named Aquila, a man of Pontus by race, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome: and he came unto them; and because he was of the same trade, he abode with them, and they wrought; for by their trade they were tentmakers." (Acts 18:2-3.) To be thus under the necessity of laboring as a tentmaker, when his heart was set on evangelizing this proud and opulent city, was anything but encouraging. Of his feelings at this time he says: "I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling." (1 Corinthians 2:3.) He was keenly sensitive of the weakness of his situation he feared a failure similar to that of Athens;and he trembled at the thought that the salvation of so many souls was dependent on so weak and feeble an instrumentality.

Whether Aquila and Priscilla were Christians when Paul met them is not stated, but it is not probable that Luke would have called Aquila "a certain Jew," had he been a disciple of Christ; yet nothing is said of their becoming Christians. It is certain, however, if they were not Christians, they soon became such, and Paul found in them truehearted worshipers of God, and formed a personal attachment to them, which lasted to the close of his life, and henceforward they are his earnest fellow workers in the gospel.

The preaching in the synagogue which continued through several Sabbaths seems to have been slower in its effect than usual. Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia while he was engaged in this work. Shortly after their arrival, on account of the opposition of the Jews, he found it expedient for him to leave the synagogue. Fortunately, a proselyte was favorably impressed by Paul; and as he had a house which "joined hard to the synagogue," tendered it to Paul for his subsequent meetings. Although Paul left the synagogue in apparent disappointment, he was not without fruits of his labor, for Luke says: "Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized." (Acts 18:8.) It was much to the credit of Crispus that he became obedient unto the Lord, and at this time when the opposition and blasphemy of the other Jews were so pronounced. He was the kind of material to form the nucleus for a congregation.

Notwithstanding the fact that Paul’s success when leaving the synagogue must have been a source of great comfort and encouragement to him, he was far from being relieved, for he says, "I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling." (1 Corinthians 2:3.) Most likely a part of this distress was due to his failure to save these Jews who were now reviling him, and who, he was sure, would do everything in their power to defeat his efforts to bring them to the obedience of faith. It was at this crisis that the Lord Jesus said to him by a night vision: "Be not afraid, but speak and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to harm thee: for I have much people in this city." (Acts 18:9-10.) The comfort which this gave was not the assurance of personal safety alone, but the assurance that his labors and sufferings in Corinth would be rewarded by the salvation of many people. Supported by this assurance, Paul continued his labors with renewed zeal and earnestness great success attended his labors which increased the determination of the Jews to defeat his purpose.

The attempt of the Jews to suppress the preaching, which Paul had been expecting ever since he left the synagogue, came at last, but it came in an unusual form, and with unusual results. The occasion was the coming of Gallio, the new proconsul, who was perhaps unfamiliar with the duties of his office and whose desire for popularity at the beginning of his government might have made him courteous to prosperous Jews, who thought they could with impunity excite a tumult. They rose in a body, seized Paul and dragged him before the proconsul. It was evident that they had presumed on his probable inexperience, and his reputation for mildness; and with all the turbulent clamor of their race, they charged Paul with persuading "men to worship God contrary to the law." (Acts 18:13.) Though Claudius had expelled the Jews from Rome, their religion was licensed by the State but the religion of "this man," they urged, though it might pass itself off under the name of Judaism, was not Judaism at all--it was a spurious counterfeit of Judaism. They seemed to have thought, if this violation of the Jewish law could be proved, Paul would become amenable to the criminal law of the Empire; or, perhaps, they hoped, that he would be given up into their hands for punishment.

Their chief speaker was Sosthenes, the successor of Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue. The Greeks were standing around to hear the result, and hating the Jews, were ready to be partisans. At the moment "when Paul was about to open his mouth" to make his defense, Gallio, taking no notice of him, by contemptuous dismissal of the Jews and their charge, stopped the proceedings with the remark: "If indeed it were a matter of wrong or of wicked villany, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: but if they are questions about words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves I am not minded to be a judge of these matters." Having thus quashed the case, Gallio ordered his officers to clear the court.

The effect of this proceeding must have produced humiliation and disappointment among the Jews. With the Greeks and other bystanders the result was very different. They were very gratified. They held the forbearance of Gallio as proof that their own religious liberties would be protected under the new administration; and, with the disorderly impulse of a mob which had been kept up to this time in suspense, rushed upon the "ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment-seat." Meanwhile, Gallio took no notice of the injurious punishment they thus inflicted on the Jews, and with characteristic indifference left Sosthenes to his fate. Thus the accusers were themselves involved in disgrace. Gallio obtained a high popularity among the Greeks, and Paul was enabled to pursue his labors in safety.

Had he been driven away from Corinth, the whole Christian community might have been put in jeopardy. But the result of this onslaught was to give protection to the infant church, with opportunity of safe and continued growth. As for Paul, his credit rose with the disgrace of his persecutors, the most imminent peril was turned into safety and honor; and the assurance communicated in the vision was abundantly fulfilled. Though bitter enemies had "set on" Paul, no one had harmed him. The Lord was with him, and "much people" turned to the Lord, "and he dwelt there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them." (Acts 18:11.) This shows that during that period he was executing chiefly the second part of the commission, "teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you." (Matthew 28:20.) From this we can see that, notwithstanding the many disorders which were afterwards found in the Corinthian church, it was probably the best taught church of all the churches thus far planted by Paul. If they had been less fully instructed, what might have been their later condition?

III. OCCASION OF WRITING THE EPISTLE

After Paul’s departure from Corinth, events moved rapidly, and far from satisfactorily. The distance from Ephesus by sea was about an eight days’ journey, and in the constant travel between the two cities news of what was transpiring must frequently have come to his ears. Members of the household of Chloe are distinctly mentioned as having brought tidings of the contentions that prevailed (1 Corinthians 1:11), and there was most likely other information. Paul was so concerned by the information received that he sent Timothy on a mission to them with many commendations (1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10), although the present epistle reached them first. He had also felt impelled, in a letter (1 Corinthians 5:9), which is now lost, to send earnest warnings against companying with fornicators. Moreover, Apollos, after excellent work in Corinth, had returned to Ephesus, and was received as a brother. (1 Corinthians 3:5-6; 1 Corinthians 16:12.) Equally welcome were the messengers consisting of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus (1 Corinthians 16:17), from whom the fullest information could be gained, and who were probably bearers of a letter from the church at Corinth itself (1 Corinthians 7:1), requesting advice and direction on a number of points. This letter has not been preserved, but it was evidently the immediate occasion of this epistle, and its tenor is clearly indicated by the nature of Paul’s reply. So this epistle treats of a condition fully understood, and, on the whole, of a most distressing situation. The church was divided into factions, and was disturbed by party cries. Some of its members were living openly immoral lives, and discipline was practically in abeyance. Others had quarrels over which they dragged one another into the heathen courts. Great differences existed with regard to marriage and the social relations generally, to food offered to idols, to the behavior of the women in the assemblies, to the Lord’s Supper, to the use and value of spiritual gifts, and with regard to the hope of the resurrection. Resisting the impulse to visit them at once "with a rod," he wrote this epistle with the purpose of arousing them to the seriousness of their condition, and delayed his own visit to Corinth till after his visit to Macedonia, so as to leave time for his injunctions and warnings to have their proper effect, and prepare the way for his own coming, after his visit to Macedonia.

IV. PLACE OF WRITING

The place where the epistle was written can be no other than Ephesus, for in closing he says: "But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost for a great door and effectual is opened unto me." (1 Corinthians 16:8-9.) And again, he sends salutations from the churches of Asia, and likewise from Aquila and Priscilla, who had sailed with Paul from Corinth to settle at Ephesus.

V. TIME OF WRITING

The entire sojourn of Paul at Ephesus continued about three years. (Acts 20:32.) The thing to settle is, What time of this sojourn did he write the epistle? On this point there are several facts which will enable us to definitely set the date.

(1) Paul says: "I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost." (1 Corinthians 16:8.)

(2) At the time of writing, Apollos, who had returned from Corinth, was with Paul. (16:12.) Now Apollos, unto whom Priscilla and Aquila had expounded "the way of God more accurately," shortly after their arrival in that city, and before that of Paul, had gone thence to Achaia, with a letter of commendation to continue the work there begun by Paul, and had exerted a great influence, after which he returned to Ephesus. (Acts 18:24-28.) This all supposes a considerable time to have elapsed since Paul’s arrival at Ephesus, and brings us to an advanced period of his sojourn in that city.

(3) Luke tells us (Acts 19:8; Acts 19:10; Acts 19:21) that after having labored two years and three months at Ephesus he purposed in the spirit to go to Rome. But before proceeding there he felt bound to visit Jerusalem once more, and to offer to the church a solemn testimony of love and fellowship from all the churches founded by him among the Gentiles. He therefore determined to send Timothy and Erastus from Ephesus to make preparations, in Macedonia and Achaia, for the execution of the plan. (Acts 19:21-22.) Now this sending of Timothy to Corinth coincides perfectly with that which is twice mentioned in this epistle. (1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10.) It took place at the time when Paul was composing it, and shortly before leaving Ephesus, for in it he announces the sending of Timothy as an accomplished fact.

(4) The collection for which Timothy was to prepare, and which is expressly mentioned (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8:1 to 2 Corinthians 9:15), can only be that with which Paul closes his ministry in the East, and of which he speaks in Romans 15:24; Romans 15:33; Acts 24:17. Here is a new indication which again brings us to the same date.

As it is impossible for all these reasons to suppose a date previous to the circumstances mentioned, it is no less so to suppose a later one. In fact, when the epistle was written, Paul was yet freely going whithersoever he chose, but it is a well-known fact that shortly after, when he had delivered the gift of the Gentile churches into the hands of the elders at Jerusalem, he was arrested and thrown into prison, and from that time remained a prisoner for more than four years.

If the sojourn of Paul in Asia, by the time this epistle was written, had continued two years and three months (Acts 19:8-10), dating from the year 54 when Paul arrived at Ephesus, it was written just before Pentecost, possibly at the time of the Passover of the year 57.

INTRODUCTION TO THE

BOOK OF FIRST CORINTHIANS

Clayton Winters

CORINTH: ITS PEOPLE AND CUSTOMS

The city of Corinth. Julius Caesar built the Corinth of New Testament fame, and peopled it as a Roman colony. Due to its geographic, military, and economic importance, it soon attained status as the capital city of Achaia (the Roman name for Greece). But beyond this, it, along with Athens, became a center for learning and disseminating the Greek philosophies; and it is this par­ ticular claim to fame that is of primary significance in a study of the First Corin­ thian epistle.

The Stoic and Epicurean philosophies. The Stoic philosophy of God was that He was nothing more than the Spirit or Reason of the universe. Man was but a mortal being who at death would have his soul burned or absorbed back into the elements of the universe. The wise man was thus encouraged to live according to reason, and in doing so was taught that he was perfect and totally self-sufficient. Such philosophy left no need of a Saviour; and much like the humanism of today, could only result in the enthroning of human pride, and the shameless profligacy of self-gratification.

The Epicureans, however, were the atheist of the day. They did not believe in God; and even if there were one (or more), he would be far removed, and would have no interest whatsoever in the miserable dust of humanity. Like the Stoics, the Epicurean believed that life ended at death; and that the greatest goal of life was that which afforded man the greatest pleasure (sensual or other­ wise). This belief inevitably led to the grossest sensuality and crime: "Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die" (1 Corinthians 15:32).

It has been well said that the two ruling principles moral man has ever had to deal with - pleasure and pride - are exemplified in the Epicureans and the Stoics.

The corruptions of idolatry. An insight into the licentious nature of idol worship is given in God’s warning to Israel: "None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, nor shall any of the sons of Israel be a cult prostitute. You shall not bring the hire of a harlot or the wages of a dog into the house of the Lord your God for a votive offering, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God" (Deuteronomy 23:17-18, NASV). According to Babylonian law every woman was obligated to submit to the embrace of a stranger at least once in her lifetime as an offering to Venus. Sons and daughters of leading Armenian

families were consecrated to the service of Anaitis for a longer or shorter period of time to entertain strangers. The females who received the greatest number were the most sought after for marriage. The Phoenicians were well known for promiscuous intercourse during certain religious festivals. The Babylonians erected sacred enclosures on their temples for the purpose of cult prostitution. In her apostasy this practice also found its way into the nation of Israel (2 Kings 23:7).

During New Testament times, the temple of Venus, located in the city of Corinth, was said to have had more than 1,000 of that city’s choice women engaged in cult prostitution. This practice so corrupted the sexual morals of the Corinthians that the very name itself became a synonym for sexual impurity. Godless philosophy had produced some very despicable fruits.

ESTABLISHMENT OF

THE CHURCHAT CORINTH

Into such a morally bankrupt society the leaven of the gospel was con­ spicuously placed. While at Troas, Paul received the Macedonian call (Acts 16:9-10). He responded by planting the church in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. From there he traveled to Athens to dispute with the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers on Mars’ HilL After a relatively short stay in Athens, he made his way to the city of Corinth, some forty-five miles away. At first he supported himself by tent-making, and reasoned every sabbath day in the syna­ gogue, persuading both Jews and Greeks. Paul was soon joined by his companions, Silas and Timothy, who evidently brought him a contribution from the Macedonian churches (Acts 18:1-5; 2 Corinthians 11:8-9; Philippians 4:15), enabling him to give his full time to the word of God (Acts 18:5, NIV). Paul’s preaching aroused strong opposition among the Jews and they drove him from the synagogue. However, he continued his work in the home of Justus for a year and a half, and "Many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized" (Acts 18:6-8). The success of the gospel caused an insurrection among the Jews, and Paul was brought before the Roman proconsul Gallio. But Gallio dismissed the case and drove the Jews from the judgment seat (Acts 18:12-16).

After an unspecified period of time (Acts 18:18) Paul left Corinth for Syria, but not without leaving behind a flourishing body of Christians who knew idols made with men’s hands were nothing, and that there was in reality "but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him" (1 Corinthians 8:6).

THE FIRST CORINTHIAN EPISTLE

Author. Unquestionably the epistle was written by Paul. It bears his sig­ nature (1 Corinthians 1:1). It is replete with personal references to the apostle: he mentions those he had baptized (1 Corinthians 1:14-16), the fact that he had planted the gospel seed in Corinth (1 Corinthians 3:6), pointed out that he was their father in the gospel (1 Corinthians 4:15), and that they were his work in the Lord (9:1-2). Stronger evidence of its authorship could not be expected nor given.

Time and place of composition. Paul left Corinth in A.D. 54. He then came to Jerusalem where he spent some time (Acts 18:19-23). From there he journeyed through Phrygia and Galatia strengthening the churches (Acts 18:23). He then entered Ephesus for a three-year ministry (Acts 19:1-41; Acts 20:1-3). It was from this city that Paul penned the First Corinthian epistle (1 Corinthians 16:8-9).

Sometime after Paul had spent more than two years at Ephesus (Acts 19:8; Acts 19:10), he decided to send Timothy ahead of him to Corinth to prepare the collection he was hoping to take to the needy saints at Jerusalem (Acts 19:21-22). While Paul was writing the epistle, Timothy was already on his way to Corinth (1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10). This would unquestionably date the letter near the end of Paul’s stay in Ephesus, or around A.D. 57.

Contents of the epistle. Old practices die hard; and since the Corinthian church had been planted in the midst of Stoic pride, Epicurean materialism, and idolatrous sexual immorality, it would be quite natural to expect these philosophies to invade the church, creating problems among weak brethren. And, indeed, such was the case.

The pride of human reasoning manifested itself in the assumption of leader­ ship to the division of the church (1 Corinthians 1:10-17). It set the wisdom of the world against the wisdom of God, considering the preaching of the cross foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18-31); and it led some Christians to reject Spirit-inspired revelation and its proponents for the human reasoning of the philosophers (1 Corinthians 2:1 to 1 Corinthians 4:6). Perhaps even the inordinate desire for the gift of tongue-speaking was motivated by this ele­ ment of pride (12-14).

Former idolatrous practices had resurfaced as overt sexual immorality. A man was living with his father’s wife; but rather than mourning the immoral practice, the brethren seemingly were taking pride in it, and rushing to the man’s defense (1 Corinthians 5:1-5). The satisfaction of sexual lusts outside of marriage was considered as natural as satisfying the appetite for food (1 Corinthians 6:12-14, NEB). One is almost tempted to believe that they were on the verge of establishing cult pros­ titution as a tenet of the Lord’s church (1 Corinthians 6:15-20), and it is certain that it had so affected Christian women that they were appearing publicly with attire more in harmony with prostitution than with Christian modesty and subjection (1 Corinthians 11:3-16).

A further problem involving past idolatrous practice concerned the eating of meat offered to idols. Customarily the Corinthians had joined their friends in the idol’s temple for a sacrificial feast. Some Christians had continued (or resumed) this practice, arguing that the knowledge that an idol is nothing nullified the act as service to an idol (1 Corinthians 8:1-6). But Paul contended that the Lord’s Supper is communion with the body of Christ, and that idolatrous feasts were no less fellowship with devils, regardless of the knowledge of the nothingness of idols (1 Corinthians 10:19-21). Others would seem to have found a counterpart of idolatrous feasts in the Lord’s Supper, thus turning it into a gluttonous meal rather than the memorial which it was intended to be (1 Corinthians 11:17-34).

Materialism had also manifested itself in the Corinthian church, leading some to deny the bodily resurrection of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:12-20).

It was to address these departures from truth that Paul penned the First Co­ rinthian epistle. But in addition to this he was responding to a letter from the church, inquiring about such matters as husband-wife responsibilities, mar­ riage of believers to unbelievers, the marriage of virgins, and the remarriage of Christian widows (1 Corinthians 7:1-40).

It is unfortunate that the Corinthian church became embroiled in so many problems; but it is so fortunate for us that we have this epistle, since so many of the same problems experienced in ancient Corinth are alive and well in our own time.

GREETING, THANKSGIVING, REPROOF OF

DIVISIONS, VANITY OF PHILOSOPHY
J.W. McGarvey

Acts 1:1-26

1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother [Paul does not here call himself the slave of Christ as he afterwards did when he wrote to the Romans, for he now needed to assert the divinity of his apostleship because certain Judaizers had affirmed in Corinth that he was not divinely called, as were the twelve. See 1 Corinthians 9:1; 2 Corinthians 12:12. His apostleship was not the result of his own choice, nor yet the choice of any church, but of the will of God. Who Sosthenes was is not known. It is not unlikely that he was Paul’s amanuensis, as was Tertius (Romans 16:22). The speed with which the apostle uses the pronoun "I" (verse 4) shows how little Sosthenes had to do with the Epistle. It is highly improbable that he is the same man mentioned at Acts 18:17], 2 unto the church of God which is at Corinth, even them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, [50] their Lord and ours [All Christians are sanctified, i. e., set apart from the world and consecrated to God, and in the New Testament Scriptures they are all called saints, which means "holy ones" (Romans 15:26; 1 Corinthians 6:1-2; Ephesians 1:1; Ephesians 1:18; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2). Into this saintship they were called by the Holy Spirit through the agency of preachers like Paul and Apollos, etc. Unto the saints at Corinth, together with all others who showed themselves saints by calling upon or praying (Acts 7:51; Acts 9:14; Romans 10:3), in the name of Jesus, who is Lord over all Christians everywhere, Paul addresses his letter, and gives the greeting which follows in verse 3]: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. [See note at 1 Thessalonians 1:1.] 4 I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus; 5 that in everything [in every respect] ye were enriched in him, in all utterance [so that they were able to preach, teach, prophesy, and speak with tongues--1 Corinthians 12:8-10; 2 Corinthians 8:7; 2 Corinthians 11:6] and all knowledge [so that they had perception of doctrine, discerning of spirits, and interpretation of tongues];

6 even as the testimony of [about] Christ was confirmed in you [Paul here asserts that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit which characterized the times when he preached to them and converted them, were still equally manifest among them]: 7 so that [causing that] ye come behind [other churches] in no gift [or miracle-working power of the Spirit]; waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ [Christ taught all his followers to be constantly ready for his coming, and the Corinthians were conforming to this rule]; 8 who shall also confirm you [assuming that they earnestly desired and labored to be confirmed, or kept stedfast] unto the end [i. e., unto the coming of Christ], that ye be unreprovable [unimpeachable, because forgiven--Colossians 1:22; 1 Timothy 3:10; Titus 1:6] in the day [judgment day] of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, through whom ye were called into the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. [The faithfulness of God insured that it would be [51] no fault of his if the Corinthians failed to attain fellowship with Jesus; i. e., a close intimacy with him in the present, and an association with him in glory in the future. In these nine verses with which the apostle opens his Epistle he follows his usual course of putting his commendation before his reproof. But the quality of his commendation should be carefully noted. He praises them for their spiritual endowments, and not for their private virtues. There is no commendation for moral advance, as is accorded to the Thessalonians and Philippians. Moreover, he deftly concludes by noting how God had brought them into fellowship and union with Christ, that this unifying act of God might stand in sharp contrast with the schisms and factions into which they had divided themselves, and for which he is just now going to reprove them.]

10 Now I beseech you [a voice of entreaty], brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ [a voice of authority, enforced by threatened judgment (1 Corinthians 4:21). In this Epistle Paul has already used the name of Jesus nine times, thus emphasizing its virtue before he uses it as the symbol of supreme authority: as Chrysostom says, "he nails them to this name"], that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment. [The pride of Corinth showed itself largely in philosophical conceit, and the citizens who vaunted their superior intelligence were divided into sects, of whom Aristotle, Plato, Zeno, Epicurus, and later philosophers, were the heads. The church became inflated with this same intellectual vanity, and apparently sought to make Christianity the rival of philosophy by exalting her humble teachers to be heads of religio-philosophical sects, and rivals of Christ himself. As to this sinful condition the apostle gives an injunction, covering three points: 1. Unity of speech. 2. Unity of organization. 3. Unity of mind and judgment. They may be treated in their order as follows: 1. Paul first strikes at their speech, because then, as now, speculative discourses, philosophical dissertations, unscriptural reasonings, vapid dialectics for display’s sake, etc., had become a fruitful cause of [52] division. It is this speculative, argumentative spirit which genders confessions and creeds. 2. He strikes next at the divisions themselves, as the finished, completed evil complained of. But the divisions which he censures were mere parties in the church, not sects disrupting it, nor organized denominations professing to be "branches of the church." These greater divisions, and hence greater evils, came centuries later. 3. He proposes unity of mind and judgment as the ideal condition--the condition in which he had left them, and to which he would now restore them. The "mind" represents the inner state, the "judgment" the outward exhibition of it in action. In all this, Paul bespeaks not a partial, but a perfect, unity. "Perfected together" is a very suggestive phrase. Perfection of knowledge brings unity of thought and action, but defective understanding results in division. If one body of men, therefore, grows in truth faster than another, the tardiness of the latter tends to divide. All should grow and be perfected together. Hence, it becomes the duty of the growing disciple to impart his knowledge, and the correlative duty of the ignorant disciple to freely receive it.]

11 For it hath been signified [made known] unto me concerning you, my brethren [as they indeed were, despite their shortcomings], by them that are of the household of Chloe [no doubt one of their number], that there are contentions among you. 12 Now this I mean, that each one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? [the church is called the "body of Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:12-13; 1 Corinthians 12:27), and Paul asks if that body can be cut in pieces and parceled out to human leaders] was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized into the name of Paul? [Paul shows the disinterestedness of his rebuke by centering it more especially upon those who had honored him as their leader, thus showing, as Bengel says, that "he disliked Paulinists as much as he did Petrinists." Jesus became the Author of our salvation, and the head of the church through suffering upon the cross (Hebrews 2:10), and Paul, in order to be his rival, should [53] not only have been crucified for his followers, but his sacrifice should have been as efficacious for the cleansing of sin and the procuring of salvation as was Christ’s. This was, of course, preposterous. Again, if Paul was incompetent as the head of a religious body, his followers also had not properly qualified themselves as his disciples, for they had not been baptized into Paul’s name, but being baptized into Christ they had put on Christ (Galatians 3:27), and, becoming thus members of Christ, how could they belong to Paul? What Paul thus spoke of himself could be said with equal force of either Apollos or Cephas.] 14 I thank God [who, foreseeing the future, prevented him from making such a mistake] that I baptized none of you, save Crispus [the ruler of the synagogue--Acts 18:8] and Gaius [from whose house Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans--Romans 16:23.]; 15 lest any man should say that ye were baptized into my name. [Paul knew that they would think it unreasonable that he should be accused of baptizing in his own name, but it was equally unreasonable in them to suppose that he was making disciples in his own name. Though many converts were made at Corinth, they appear to have been baptized by Paul’s assistants, Silas and Timothy, and the few whom he baptized with his own hand were no doubt converts made before Paul’s two friends arrived from Thessalonica. We should note how inseparably connected in Paul’s thought were the sacrifice of the cross and the baptism which makes us partakers in its benefits--Romans 6:3-11.]

16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas [this man, being then present with Paul in Ephesus, probably reminded the apostle of his baptism]: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. [Inspiration did not make the apostle remember such matters.] 17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made void. [A baptism is part of the commission (Matthew 28:19). Paul was sent to baptize; but it was not necessary that the apostle should administer the rite in person. It sufficed if he saw to it that it was done [54] (John 4:2). Paul does not here mean to assert that he preached without study or forethought. His words must be construed in the light of the context; which show that he intends to deny that he encumbered the gospel message with any philosophical reasoning.] 18 For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God. [From this point Paul proceeds to contrast the "words," or message of the cross, with the "wisdom of words," or worldly wisdom, i. e., the philosophical messages or schemes of men, of which he has just spoken; having particularly in mind those of the two leading classes; viz.: Greeks and Jews. He first notes that the word of the cross is differently viewed by two different classes; those who, whether as disciples of Greek philosophers or of Jewish scribes, have dulled their moral perception by following worldly wisdom, and leading a worldly, perishing life, look upon it as foolishness; while those who have quickened their apprehension by leading a godly life, look upon it as God’s saving power.] 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the discernment of the discerning will I bring to nought. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? [triumphant questions, as at Isaiah 36:19] hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe. [Here Paul quotes Isaiah 24:14 to show that God had foretold how he would make foolish and useless all kinds of worldly wisdom, Grecian or Jewish, by making the gospel the only means of salvation, and how he had carried out the prophecy; for in his wisdom, or plan of operation, he had frustrated the efforts of wise men to find or know him by their coldblooded, philosophical research, or speculative reasoning (Acts 17:23), and showed that it was his good pleasure to reveal himself and his salvation through this (to them) foolish preaching, and save them who believe the preaching. Where, then, asked the [55] apostle in triumph, are these men of worldly wisdom, be they scribes or philosophical dialecticians? What have they done in comparison with that gospel which reveals their efforts as foolish and useless? What place, then, has a wise Paul or a disputing Apollos in the church, which, having the gospel, has this superior, saving wisdom of God? and why should the Corinthians leave the leadership of God in Christ and return to fools?]

22 Seeing that Jews ask for signs, and Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 but we preach Christ crucified, unto Jews a stumblingblock, and unto Gentiles foolishness; 24 but unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. [The apostle here enlarges the thought of verse 18, and describes the two methods by which worldly wisdom sought to be led to God, or to know him when he revealed himself as he did in Christ. The Jews looked for him to prove his claims by miracles of power, such as signs from heaven (Matthew 12:38; Matthew 16:1; John 2:18; John 4:48); and the Greeks required that he transcend all their philosophers before they gave him their allegiance. But God revealed himself in his crucified Son, and so was rejected by both classes of wiseacres, the one stumbling at a crucified Messiah, whom they regarded as an accursed one (Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:13), when they expected a regal and victorious Messiah (Romans 9:33; comp. Isaiah 8:4); the other, looking upon crucifixion as a slave’s death, regarded salvation by such a one as absurd. But believing Jews saw in Jesus a power of God far transcending all their dreams of an earthly Messiah, and believing Greeks found in him a divine wisdom higher than all their ideals of truth, goodness and holiness. Thus God vindicated his so-called foolishness as wiser than all man’s wisdom, and his so-called weakness in Christ as stronger than all the conceptions of an earthly Messiah--yet the Corinthians were leaving this transcendent sign and incarnate truth to return to their old worldly wisdom with its human leaders.] 26 For behold your calling [the [56] "principle God has followed in calling you"--Beza; a principle whereby "God," as Augustine says, "caught orators by fishermen, not fishermen by orators"], brethren, that not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called [The wise were moved by conceit to reject the gospel invitation: see the case of Gallio (Acts 18:12-17). The corruptness of Roman politics kept the mighty aloof from the purity of Christianity, and the pride of noble birth felt repugnance at the lowly fellowship of the early church. A brief catalogue will record all the distinguished names brought into the church during its first thirty years, viz.: Joseph of Arimathea, perhaps Nicodemus, Saul of Tarsus, Sergius Paulus and Dionysius the Areopagite]:

27 but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put to shame them that are wise; and God chose the weak things of the world [Psalms 8:2; John 2:5], that he might put to shame the things that are strong; 28 and the base things of the world, and the things that are despised, did God choose, yea and the things that are not [the people whom the world called "nobodies"], that he might bring to nought the things that are: 29 that no flesh [no minister or other instrument of his] should glory [take pride in himself, and aspire to be head of a faction] before God. [The Corinthians in endeavoring to exalt their leaders were running counter to the counsels of God, who had rejected as his instruments all those who had worldly wisdom and power, and had chosen those utterly deficient in those things, that the triumph of his gospel might be manifestly due to his own power, and not to any excellency residing in the instruments or ministers whom he chanced to employ--2 Corinthians 4:7.] 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption: 31 that, according as it is written [Jeremiah 9:24], He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. [By the power of God, therefore, and not by the human wisdom of preachers, were the Corinthians brought into Christ, in whom they had found a wisdom of God [57] superior to all worldly wisdom, and also the blessings of righteousness and sanctification and redemption, which no philosophy could obtain for them; so that every one who gloried in being a Christian was properly directed by the Scripture to glory in the Author of his salvation, and not in the humble nobody whom God had used as a messenger of grace. Glorying in men is even more sinful in us than it was in the Corinthians, for we have more light.]

THE GOSPEL VERSUS PHILOSOPHY
J.W. McGarvey

1 Corinthians 2:1-16

[In the last section Paul showed that it was God’s plan to overthrow the vain wisdom of the world by those weak and lowly ones whom the world despised. He now proceeds to show that the church at Corinth was founded by him as a weak and lowly one, in accordance with God’s plan.] 1 And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech [as an orator] or of wisdom [as a philosopher], proclaiming to you the testimony of [about] God. [Though Paul was educated at Tarsus, which Strabo preferred as a school of learning to Athens or Alexandria, yet he made no display of his learning, and hence his enemies spoke of his speech as contemptible or no account (2 Corinthians 10:10). He quotes from Aratus at Acts 17:28, and Epimenides at Titus 1:12, and Menander at 1 Corinthians 15:33. But Paul counted all such polite learning as mere dross in comparison with the excellency of the knowledge of Christ--Philippians 3:8.] 2 For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. [Paul here asserts that the subject-matter of his preaching was selected from choice, or fixed design. He does not mean to say that every sermon was a description of the crucifixion of our Lord, but that all his teaching and preaching related to the atonement wrought by Christ upon the cross. This atonement, through [58] the sacrifice of our Lord, was recognized by Paul as the foundation of the Christian system, and he here means to say that he handled no doctrine or theme at Corinth without remembering and recognizing its relation to that foundation.]

3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. [Paul frequently asserts his tendency to physical weakness and depression (1 Corinthians 4:7-12; Galatians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 10:1; 2 Corinthians 10:10; 2 Corinthians 12:7). This sense of weakness was accentuated by his recent semi-failure at Athens, by frequent persecution, and by the absence of his companions, Silas and Timothy, till Paul’s sense of timidity amounted to actual fear (Acts 18:9). He was also out of money and had to work for Aquila. The slight admixture of philosophy which he had used in addressing the Athenians (Acts 17:22-34) had thoroughly convinced the apostle that it was of no use, or benefit, in the presentation of the gospel.] 4 And my speech [discourse on doctrine] and my preaching [announcement of facts] were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power [1 Corinthians 1:5. He relied upon the divine aid, rather than upon the aid of human learning]: 5 that your faith should not stand in [should not be based upon] the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

6 We [as an inspired apostle] speak wisdom, however, among them that are fullgrown: yet a wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, who are coming to nought [Paul here begins to correct the impression which his semi-ironical language about the foolishness of God might have made, and proceeds to show that the gospel is the highest wisdom--a wisdom which he had not yet been able to impart to the Corinthians because it could only be comprehended by mature Christians, and so was above the receptive powers of the Corinthians who as yet were mere babes in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1). But if the Corinthians who were developing in spiritual manhood could not receive this heavenly wisdom, much less could the world-rulers who were moving backward, crab-fashion, into nothingness, in accordance with the plan of God outlined in the last section. Thus the apostle [59] reveals the startling fact that progression in philosophical and political worldliness is retrogression as to the kingdom of God, so that the Corinthians in seeking to better their religious condition by bringing these worldly elements into the church, were not only retarding their spiritual growth, but were actually associating themselves with those who were shrinking and shriveling toward the vanishing point]:

7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, even the wisdom that hath been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds unto our glory [Paul often speaks of Christ and his gospel as a mystery (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:4-9; Colossians 1:26; 1 Tim. 3:6, 17). God’s purpose to give his Son for the salvation of the world was a mystery long hidden, but now revealed, but still hidden from those who wickedly refused to receive it (Matthew 11:25; Matthew 13:10-13), to which class Paul proceeds to relegate the world-rulers]: 8 which none of the rulers of this world hath known: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory [their conduct proved their ignorance even as Jesus asserted--Luke 23:34]: 9 but as it is written, Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, And which entered not into the heart of man, Whatsoever things God prepared for them that love him. [This passage is taken from Isaiah 64:4; but it is an exposition, and not a verbatim quotation. The words form an unfinished sentence, and, as is not infrequent with Paul’s quotations, do not fit nicely into the general structure of his discourse. To understand them we should supply the words "we speak" from verse 7; i. e., we fulfill the prophecy by telling those things which God prepared for those that love him (the mystery of the gospel), but which no uninspired man ever in any way surmised or anticipated. The prophecy includes the unseen glories of heaven.]

10 But unto us [inspired apostles] God revealed them through the Spirit [Here the defective knowledge gained by the world-rulers through their wisdom or philosophy stands in sharp contrast to the heavenly and perfect knowledge which the apostles had by revelation of the Spirit. Paul proceeds to discuss the [60] perfection of this inspired knowledge]: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things [Romans 11:33] of God. 11 For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him? even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God. 12 But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God. [As a man alone knows himself, so God alone knows himself. As the thoughts and intentions of a man are best known by his own spirit, so also are the divine counsels of God best known by the Spirit of God. If a man’s knowledge of himself surpasses that of his neighbor who knows him well, much more must the revelation of the unseen God by his Spirit far surpass all the speculations of mankind with regard to him. But this revelation of God the apostles enjoyed, through the Spirit of God, who guided them into all truth (John 16:13). How superior, then, was their knowledge to that of worldly philosophy, even if it embraced the collective knowledge of all men.]

13 Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words. [Here again we have a clear claim to inspiration, and not only so, but verbal inspiration. Paul did not reason after the manner of worldly philosophers, but imparted his truth under the guidance of the Spirit, who taught him the words to use, so that he taught spiritual truths with spiritual words, a fitting combination. The leaders of our current Reformation did well in conforming to this rule, by seeking to express Bible thoughts in Bible language. To Paul the terms and phrases of theology would have been as distasteful as those of philosophy, because equally man-made and unspiritual.] 14 Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged. [As sound is perceived by the ear, and not by the eye, so the spirit of man perceives spiritual things which can not be comprehended by his [61] psychic nature. But a man who has lived on the low psychic plane--a carnal, sensuous victim to bodily appetites--has, by neglect, let his spiritual faculties become so torpid, and by sin so deadened them, that the spiritual things of God become as foolishness to him, despite their worthiness--1 Timothy 1:15.]

15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, and he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ [A spiritual man, helped by the indwelling Spirit of God, is enabled to judge of things divine, and much more of things human. But he himself can not be judged of carnal men, because they have no knowledge of those things by which they should weigh or estimate him. Could a man know God so as to instruct him? Surely not. No more, then, could a man counsel, judge or instruct a man who, by the inspiring power of the Spirit, thinks the thoughts and has the mind of Christ. Jesus revealed his mind to the apostles (John 15:15), and also to Paul as one of them--Galatians 1:11-12.]

SUPREMACY OF GOD AND THE CHURCH
J.W. McGarvey

1 Corinthians 3:1-23

1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ. [The simplicity of Paul’s instruction had given occasion to the false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:12-15) to criticize him as a shallow teacher (2 Corinthians 10:10), rather than as one who had "the mind of Christ." To this the apostle replies that their own immature condition up to the time when he left them, rendered them incapable of any fuller instruction; for, far from being mature disciples (ch. 2:8; Ephesians 4:13), they were still swayed by the prejudices and passions of the unregenerate life out of which they had been but lately born, and to which they were not wholly dead.] 21 fed you with milk, not with meat, for [62] ye were not yet able to bear it [he had merely grounded them in first principles, and had not enlightened them as to those higher doctrines which lead on to perfection, because they could not grasp them. Comp. Hebrews 5:11 to Hebrews 6:2; 1 Peter 2:2; Mark 4:33; John 16:12]: nay, not even now are ye able; 3 for ye are yet carnal [showing undue reverence for men, etc.]: for whereas there is among you jealousy and strife, are ye not carnal [Galatians 5:19-20; James 3:16], and do ye not walk after the manner of men? 4 For when one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not men? [Surely the Corinthians had no ground to argue with Paul as to their condition when he was among them, for their present condition was no better, since they were still swayed by the same prejudices and passions, and were showing themselves worldlings, rather than Spirit-led Christians--Galatians 5:25.]

5 What [the neuter of disparagement] then is Apollos? and what is Paul? Ministers [literally, deacons, i. e., servitors--Acts 6:2; Colossians 1:7; not leaders--Luke 22:25-26] through whom ["not in whom"--Bengel] ye believed; and each as the Lord gave to him. [i. e., gave spiritual gifts (Romans 12:6); and success.] 6 I planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth anything [in himself, without Christ--2 Corinthians 12:12; John 15:4-5; John 15:16], neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. [Paul brought them into the vineyard or kingdom, Apollos instructed them; but God gave the results, causing them to live and grow, and so to God alone was due the honor and praise (Psalms 115:1). Paul regarded it as his especial duty because of his apostleship to tarry in no territory already occupied, but to press into new fields and plant churches, leaving others to help water them--Romans 15:20; 2 Corinthians 10:15-16.] 8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one [with respect to their purposes, or the ends for which they labor: hence, not rivals]: but each shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. [Since God gives the increase, the reward will be proportioned to fidelity, etc., [63] rather than to results.]

9 For we are God’s fellow-workers: ye are God’s husbandry, God’s building [The supreme ownership of God is here emphasized, as is shown by the three possessives. Paul and Apollos were not fellow-workers with God, but fellow-workers with each other under God. The Corinthians were God’s field in which they labored, or his building which they reared; but workers, field and building all belonged to God.] 10 According to the grace [apostleship with its attendant gifts--Romans 1:5; Galatians 1:15-16; Ephesians 3:8] of God which was given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder I laid a foundation [In Corinth Paul had preached Christ as the foundation of the church and of each individual Christian, and this foundation admitted no mixture of philosophy and no perversion which could produce sects (Galatians 1:9). All this Paul asserts without any shadow of boasting, for the skill or wisdom by which he had done it had been imparted to him by God]; and another buildeth thereon. But let each man take heed how he buildeth thereon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid [of or by God the Father (1 Peter 2:6); God laid him by gift, Paul by preaching], which is Jesus Christ. [Paul had laid Christ as the foundation (Matthew 16:18; Acts 4:11-12; Ephesians 2:20); and others (each being individually responsible, hence the singular) had been building carnal, worldly-minded factions upon it, and these are warned that the superstructure should comport with the foundation, for so worthy a foundation should have a correspondingly worthy structure.]

12 But if any man buildeth on the foundation gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 each man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day [the judgment day] shall declare it, because it is revealed in fire [as to its quality]; and the fire itself shall prove each man’s work of what sort it is. [All of the building materials here mentioned were familiar in Corinth. The first three kinds were found in their fireproof temples--material worthy of sacred structures, and the latter three were used in their frail, combustible huts which were in no way dedicated [64] to divinity. The argument is that Corinthian Christians should build the spiritual temple of God, the church, with as good spiritual material as the relative earthly material employed by their fathers in constructing idolatrous shrines. The church should be built of true Christians, the proper material; and not of worldly-minded hypocrites, or those who estimate the oracles of God as on a par with the philosophies of men. The day of judgment will reveal the true character of all who are in the church, as a fire reveals the character of the material in a temple structure. The Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory is in some measure founded on this passage; but the context shows a purging of all evil men from the church as an entirety. There is no hint that the evil in the individual is purged by fire, leaving a residuum of righteousness. Our sins are not purged by fire, but by the blood of Christ, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission--Hebrews 9:22.]

14 If any man’s work shall abide which he built thereon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss [if a teacher’s disciples endure the test of judgment, he shall receive a reward, of which his converts will be at least a part (1 Thessalonians 2:19; Philippians 2:16); but if his disciples do not stand that test, he shall of course lose whatever property he had in them, and perhaps more--2 John 1:8]: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as through fire. [The teacher may of course be saved independently of his disciples, for salvation is a gift and not a reward; but he will be saved as a steward who has lost the things of his stewardship; as a tenant who has had his harvest burned, or as a contractor whose structure has gone up in flames: see verse 9.] 16 Know ye not [a touch of amazement at their ignorance] that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? [In verse 9 he had called them God’s building; he now reminds them of what kind the building was, and how exalted were its uses. The Jerusalem temple was honored by the Shechinah, but the church by the very Spirit of God.]

17 If any man destroyeth the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the [65] temple of God is holy, and such are ye. [The factions are here plainly made aware of the magnitude of their sin, and the severity of their punishment. They were destroying the church by their divisions (Ephesians 5:27), maiming and dismembering it by their discordant factions--2 Peter 2:1.] 18 Let no man deceive himself. [By thinking himself wise enough to amend or modify God’s truth.] If any man thinketh that he is wise among you in this world, let him become a fool, that he may become wise. [Let such a one become a fool in the world’s sight, as Paul was (Acts 26:24; ch. 4:10), that by preaching the so-called foolishness of God he may learn the real wisdom of it.] 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written [Job 5:13], He that taketh the wise in their craftiness: 20 and again [Psalms 94:11], The Lord knoweth the reasonings of the wise, that they are vain. [Alford interprets the passage thus: "If God uses the craftiness of the wise as a net to catch them in, such wisdom is in his sight folly, since he turns it to their own confusion." How foolish to modify or adapt the gospel to make it palatable and acceptable to sectarian spirits or worldly minds! Man is to be adjusted to God, not God to man, for he is unchangeable--James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8.]

21 Wherefore let no one glory in men. [A returning upon the thought at ch. 1:31.] For all things are yours [why, then, grasp a paltry part and forego the glorious whole?]; 22 whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world [Matthew 5:5; Mark 10:29-30], or life [with its possibilities], or death [with its gain--Philippians 1:21], or things present, or things to come [Revelation 21:5-27]; all are yours [This is a positive, as Romans 8:38-39 is a negative side of the truth at Romans 8:28. All things further, and nothing hinders the saint’s prosperity]; 23 and ye are Christ’s [and hence not the property of his servants]; and Christ is God’s. [These words are an echo of the prayer of the Master at John 17:21-23. The church must have perfect unity in Christ that Christ may maintain his unity with God. Christ must of necessity quiet all contention between the [66] members of his body (1 Corinthians 12:12); for if he is at variance with himself, how can he have unity with the Father? Variance is an infallible proof of imperfection, and imperfection can not have unity with God, who is perfection--Matthew 5:48.]

APOSTOLIC STEWARDSHIP AND AUTHORITY
J.W. McGarvey

1 Corinthians 4:1-21

1 Let a man so account of us, as of ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. [Paul here gives the rule by which apostles and evangelists are to be estimated. They are not to be magnified, for they are servants, nor are they to be deprecated because of the value and importance of that which is entrusted to them as stewards. The term "ministers" here means literally under-rowers. The church is a ship, or galley; Christ is the chief navigator, or magisterium; and all the evangelists and teachers are mere oarsmen with no ambition to be leaders. In the second figure the church is a household, God is the householder, the gospel truths are the food and other provisions which are dispensed by the evangelists or stewards.] 2 Here, moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. [It was not expected of the steward that he would procure or provide; he was merely to distribute that which was provided by the master. The apostles were not philosophers burdened with the discovery and invention of truth, but were mere dispensers of truth revealed to them by God--truth which must be thus revealed because it can not be discovered by any process of ratiocination. If the apostles faithfully rehearsed that which was revealed, nothing more could be asked of them.] 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s Judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing against myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. [Paul is not arrogantly [67] vaunting himself as disdaining the good or bad opinion of the Corinthians, but pointing out the inadequacy of all human judgment, even his own, to decide that which God alone can decide. God gave the office and fixed the manner in which its duties should be discharged, and so God alone can judge the officer (Romans 14:4). One might do wrong unconsciously, and yet justify himself--Psalms 19:12; 1 John 3:20.]

5 Wherefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall each man have his praise from God. [The revelation or manifestation of things which shall accompany the Lord’s coming, was mentioned in our last section. In the light of that hour, not only the deeds of men will be manifest, but even the motives which prompted the deeds. The Corinthians, having no adequate means of telling whether Paul spoke less or more than was revealed, would have to wait until that hour of revelation before they could judge him accurately and absolutely. If he was then approved, he would receive not only their praise, but the praise of God--Matthew 25:21.] 6 Now these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes; that in us ye might learn not to go beyond the things which are written; that no one of you be puffed up for the one against the other. [Though neither Paul nor Apollos had headed a faction in Corinth, Paul has spoken in this Epistle as though they had done this, and that he might spare the feelings of the real leaders in faction he had put himself and Apollos in their places, and had shown the heinousness of their supposed conduct as reproved by many passages of Scripture. He had done this that the Corinthians, seeing the evil of such a thing even in an apostle, might see it more plainly in their little local party leaders, and might not boast themselves of any one leader to the disparagement of another. We may be sure that those who were puffing themselves up in one, were correspondingly busy traducing the other.] 7 For who maketh thee to differ? and what [68] hast thou that thou didst not receive? but if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it? [God had made them to differ both in natural and in spiritual gifts (Romans 12:3-8). If, then, one had more subtle reasoning faculties than another, what ground had he for boasting, since his superiority was due to the grace of God in bestowing it, and not to himself in acquiring it?]

8 Already ye are filled [with self-satisfaction], already ye are become rich [with intellectual pride], ye have come to reign without us [Ye have so exalted yourselves that we poor apostles have become quite needless to your lordly independence. The inflated self-esteem of the Corinthians was like that of the Laodiceans some twoscore years later--Revelation 3:17-18]: yea and I would that ye did reign, that we also might reign with you. [Here, moved by his ardent affection, the apostle passes instantly from biting sarcasm to a divinely tender yearning for their welfare. He wishes that they possessed in reality that eminence which existed only in their conceit. How different, then, would be his own condition. Their true development was his joy, their real elevation his exaltation, and their final triumph in Christ his crown of glorying (1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Corinthians 9:23). From the brilliant picture thus raised before his imagination, Paul turns to depict his true condition, in all its unenviable details.] 9 For, I think, God hath set forth us the apostles last of all, as men doomed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, both to angels and men. [As, after the end of the performance, condemned criminals were brought into the amphitheater and made a gazing-stock to the populace before their execution, so the apostles seemed to be exhibited to public contempt.] 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye have glory, but we have dishonor. [In this verse Paul resumes his satire, contrasting the vain imaginations of the Corinthians with the real condition of the apostles, himself in particular.] 11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted [69] [smitten with the clenched fist], and have no certain dwelling-place [Matthew 8:20; Matthew 10:23]; 12 and we toil, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless [Luke 6:27; 1 Peter 2:23]; being persecuted, we endure; 13 being defamed, we entreat [Matthew 5:44]: we are made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things, even until now. ["Filth" indicates either rubbish swept up, or such foulness as is cleansed by washing. "Offscouring" indicates dirt removed by scraping or scouring. Each neighborhood to which the apostles came hastened to be cleansed of their presence.]

14 I write not these things to shame you [to make you feel how contemptible you are in adding to my many sorrows and burdens], but to admonish you as my beloved children. [As to the foolishness of your conceit.] 15 Though ye have ten thousand tutors [literally, pedagogues: the large number rebukes their itch for teachers] in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers [they had but one--Paul]; for in Christ Jesus I begat you through the gospel. [In the first, or highest, sense disciples are begotten by the will of God (John 1:13); but in a secondary sense they are begotten by the teacher of gospel truths (James 1:18). The Corinthians had many builders, but one founder; many waterers, but one planter; many tutors, but one father. He had rights, therefore, which could never be rivaled.] 16 I beseech you therefore, be ye imitators of me. [Again, in the highest sense we can only be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1); but in a secondary sense the Corinthians could imitate Paul--his humility, faithfulness, self-sacrifice and industry, as did the Thessalonians--1 Thessalonians 1:6.]

17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, who shall put you in remembrance of my ways which are in Christ, even as I teach everywhere in every church. [To aid you in imitating me, I have sent Timothy. He can tell you how I teach, not accommodating the gospel to the prejudices and foibles of any locality; and he can, as my spiritual son, aid you by his own manner of life to remember mine. Paul knew [70] that as soon as they heard of this sending of Timothy, his enemies would conclude that he had sent a messenger because he was afraid to face the church himself. Instantly, therefore, he proceeds to counteract this conclusion.] 18 Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly [as he did], if the Lord will [James 4:15]; and I will know, not the word of them that are puffed up, but the power. [I will test not their rhetorical ability, but their power, whether they can stand against that which I possess as an apostle.] 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. 21 What will ye? [which do you choose or prefer?] shall I come unto you with a rod [to punish you], or in love and a spirit of gentleness? [Because ye will have repented of your factious spirit.]

RESPONSE TO REPORT OF INCEST
J.W. McGarvey

1 Corinthians 5:1-13

1 It is actually reported that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not even among the Gentiles, that one of you hath his father’s wife. [i. e., his step-mother. She was probably a pagan, and hence is not rebuked. The offense of the Corinthians had been magnified in that they had let Paul find out their sin by public gossip. Though they had written to him seeking light on other matters (1 Corinthians 7:1), they had not even mentioned this deplorable wickedness. Such incest was of course condemned by the Jewish law (Leviticus 18:8; Deuteronomy 27:20). But even Corinth, moral cesspool that it was, would be scandalized by such a [71] crime, for it was condemned alike by Greeks and Romans. See the Oedipus of Sophocles, the Hippolytus of Euripides, and Cicero’s Pro Cluentio, 5. As to such a case Cicero uses these words: "Oh, incredible wickedness, and--except in this woman’s case--unheard in all experience!"] 2 And ye are puffed up, and did not rather mourn, that he that had done this deed might be taken away from among you. [Our last section shows in what manner they had been puffed up. Had they been mourning over their real sinfulness, instead of priding themselves in their philosophical knowledge, this offender would have been taken away by excommunication.] 3 For I verily, being absent in body but present in spirit, have already as though I were present judged him that hath so wrought this thing [The swiftness of Paul’s judgment stands in sharp contrast with the tardiness and toleration of the Corinthians. The broken structure of this verse and the one which follows it, shows Paul’s deep emotion. "The passage is, as it were, written with sobs."--Wordsworth],

4 in the name of our Lord Jesus, ye being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 to deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. [The full assembly of the church was required, for the discipline was to be administered by the entire body. The marked way in which Paul assured them of his presence, and the peculiar punishment which he directs to be administered, have led many to believe that he promises to be present in some miraculous spiritual manner (Colossians 2:5; comp. 2 Kings 5:26); so as to use his miraculous power to smite the offender with sickness, or some bodily infirmity, as the phrase "deliver . . . unto Satan" is taken to mean, Acts 5:1-11; Acts 13:11; 1 Timothy 1:20, being cited to sustain this meaning. The argument is very flimsy, and is not sustained by the facts recorded in this case. The meaning is that Paul, having commanded the condemnation of the culprit, will be spiritually present to aid the church in that condemnation. The offender, being excluded from the kingdom of God, [72] is to be thrust back into the kingdom of Satan, that the sense of his loneliness, shame and lost condition may cause him to repent, and mortify or subdue his flesh, i. e., his lust, after which his spirit, being thus delivered, might be saved. The sequel of the case comports with this interpretation, and there is no hint that the man ever suffered any corporeal punishment. See 2 Corinthians 2:5-8.]

6 Your glorying is not good. [Their glorying was sinful enough at best, but much more so when it was so inopportune.] Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, even as ye are unleavened. For our passover also hath been sacrificed, even Christ: 8 wherefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. [Verses 6-8 form an enlargement of verse 2. The reference to the passover was probably suggested by the season of the year (ch. 16:8), and was very apropos. Leaven is a type of evil, illustrating the hidden constant way in which it spreads. To the Jew it was a symbol of the corruption of Egypt, and he was directed just before the passover to search for it diligently in every part of his house, and remove it (Exodus 12:15). But to the Christian Christ is a perpetual sacrifice, an ever-present paschal Lamb, demanding and enforcing constant vigilance and unceasing cleanliness. The individual must put away every sinful habit of the old life. The church must purge itself of all whose lives are sources of corruption.]

9 I wrote unto you in my epistle [see introduction] to have no company with fornicators; 10 not at all meaning with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous and extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of this world [In this earlier Epistle the apostle had directed that fornicators and other backsliders inside the church, should be treated as outcasts, since they were so regarded of God (Ephesians 5:5; Galatians 5:19-21). But he had been misunderstood, and had been thought to say that fornicators, etc., outside the church were to be [73] wholly avoided; a very impractical precept, which could only be obeyed by migrating to another planet, since this world is steeped in sin--comp. John 17:15]: 11 but as it is, I wrote unto you not to keep company, if any man that is named a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater [Colossians 3:5], or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no, not to eat. [Have no interchange of hospitality which would imply brotherly recognition, lest the church should thereby not only be disgraced, but corrupted--1 Corinthians 15:33.] 12 For what have I to do with judging them that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. [These facts showed that the apostle had referred to those within the church; the discipline of those without is exclusively in the hands of God.] Put away the wicked man from among yourselves. [A summary command as to him and other wicked men.]

RESPONSE TO RUMORS OF LITIGATION, ETC.
J.W. McGarvey

1 Corinthians 6:1-20

1 Dare any of you, having a matter against his neighbor, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? [1. Division, 2. Incest, 3. Litigation: such is the order of Paul’s rebukes. With reckless audacity the Corinthians, by indulging in litigation and submitting their causes to pagan tribunals, were not only disobeying the Lord’s command (Matthew 18:15-17), but were also committing treason against their present brotherhood and their future status as judges. It appears that even the Jews refused to sue each other before pagan tribunals--Josephus Ant. 14:10-17.] 2 Or know ye not that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world is judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more, things that [74] pertain to this life? [They were permitting themselves to be judged by those whom they were appointed to judge. To prove that the saints will participate with Christ in the final judgment, the following passages are often cited (; Psalms 49:14; Daniel 7:22-27; Matthew 19:28; Matthew 20:23; Judges 1:6; Revelation 2:26; Revelation 3:21; Revelation 20:4). It is doubtful if any of these are applicable; the manner of our participation is nowhere explained. Barrow suggested that in the order of the judgments the saints would be justified first (; Matthew 25:41), after which they would sit with Christ as assessors, or associate judges, in the condemnation of the wicked and the evil angels, and his view is pretty generally received. But it is more probable that the saints will only participate as mystically united with Christ the judge, just as, by mystical union, they are kings and priests, though in no sense exercising these offices literally. The church shall judge the world in Christ her head. But the point made by Paul is that those whom God honors by association in so important a judicature may well be entrusted to judge trivial matters; for the weightiest matter of earth is light compared with the questions of eternal destiny decided on that day.] 4 If then ye have to judge things pertaining to this life, do ye set them to judge who are of no account in the church? 5 I say this to move you to shame. [If called on as a church to judge any matter, would you choose its simpletons and numbskulls as judges? I ask this to make you ashamed, for ye do even more foolishly when you submit your cases to worldlings, who are even less competent judges.] What, cannot there be found among you one wise man who shall be able to decide between his brethren, 6 but brother goeth to law with brother, and that before unbelievers? [This question is a crushing rebuke to their vaunted pride as learned sages. The rebuke is intensified by the phrase "know ye not," which is used six times in this chapter, four times in the rest of his writing to the Corinthians, and only twice by him elsewhere--Romans 6:16; Romans 11:2; comp. Matthew 12:3.] 7 Nay, already [before ye even begin civil action] it is altogether a defect in you, that ye have lawsuits [more correctly, [75] matter worthy of litigation] one with another. [Here Paul emphasizes the ripened state of their criminality by condemning even its germinal stage as a defect.] Why not rather take wrong? why not rather be defrauded? 8 Nay, but ye yourselves do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. [Far from enduring wrong and obeying Christ (; Matthew 5:40; 1 Peter 2:22; comp. Proverbs 20:22), they were actually perpetrating wrong upon their brethren. In view of this flagrant wickedness Paul proceeds to warn them of the results of wickedness, and of their professed repentance as to it.] 9 Or know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? [That glorious celestial kingdom of which the church is the earthly type.] Be not deceived [so as to think sin will not result in punishment--; Galatians 6:7]: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [catamites], nor abusers of themselves with men [Romans 1:26-27], 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. [Paul here accords with James that faith without works is dead (; James 2:17). Our highest privileges may be abrogated by sin.] 11 And such were some of you [they had been true Corinthians]: but ye were washed [Acts 22:16; Ephesians 5:26; Titus 3:5 Hebrews 10:22], but ye were sanctified [set apart to God’s uses], but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ [counted righteous after the remission of your sins], and in the Spirit of our God. [The work being consummated by the Holy Spirit--; Acts 2:38.] 12 All things are lawful for me; but not all things are expedient. [The abruptness here suggests that, in palliation of their undue laxity and toleration, they had in their letter (7:1) urged this rule; which they had doubtless learned from Paul (ch. 10:23; Galatians 5:23). Hence Paul takes up the rule to show that it does not avoid the disinheriting of which he has just spoken.] All things are lawful [literally, within my power] for me; but I will not be brought under the power of any. [They had erred in taking the rule as to things indifferent, such as [76] natural appetites, and so applying it as to make it cover not only sinful things, but even those grossly so, such as sensuous lusts (comp. 1 Peter 2:16). The rule is properly applied by the apostle at ch. 8:8-10. He here refutes their ideas as to the rule by showing that their application of it would gender bondage, as excess of freedom invariably does.] 13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall bring to nought both it and them. But the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body: 14 and God both raised the Lord, and will raise up us through his power. 15 Know ye not that your bodies are members of Christ? [parts of his body (ch. 12:27; Ephesians 5:30); branches of the Vine--; John 15:5] shall I then take away the members of Christ, and make them members of a harlot? God forbid. [Literally, let it never be; a phrase often used by Paul when indignantly rejecting a false conclusion.] 16 Or know ye not that he that is joined to a harlot is one body? [as if in Satanic marriage] for, The twain, saith he [Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5:31], shall become one flesh. 17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. [Having closest spiritual union with Christ--; Galatians 2:20; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 3:17.] 18 Flee fornication. [As Joseph did--; Genesis 39:12.] Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. [Paul notes the mutual adaptation or correlation between the belly and food, but asserts that this correlation is transient, and will be demolished by death. A subservient correlation also exists between husband and wife, for they twain become one flesh, and the innocency of their union does not interfere with the relation of either to God, which is the body’s supreme correlation. But there is no lawful correlation between the body of the Christian and that of the harlot, and such a correlation can not be subservient to the body’s supreme correlation, but is repugnant to it. The correlation between the stomach and food is transient, ending at death; but that between the body and the Lord is made eternal by the [77] resurrection. Now, other sins, even drunkenness and gluttony, are sins without the body; i. e., sins against those parts of the body that shall not inhere to it in the future state (Revelation 7:16), and hence do not strike directly at that future state; but fornication joins the whole body in sinful union to a body of death, so that it becomes one flesh with the condemned harlot, thereby wholly severing itself from the mystical body of life in Christ, and thus it does strike directly at the body’s future state.] 19 Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? [as the whole church is a temple (ch. 3:16; Romans 14:8), so also the body of each individual Christian is likewise a temple] and ye are not your own; 20 for ye were bought with a price [sold to sin (; 1 Kings 21:20; Romans 7:14), we have been redeemed by the blood of Christ--; Acts 20:28; Romans 6:16-22; Hebrews 9:12; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 5:9]: glorify God therefore in your body. [Since our bodies belong to God, they should be used to glorify him. The whole passage confutes the slander of those materialists who contend that Christianity depreciates the body.]

RESPONSE AS TO MARRIAGE
J.W. McGarvey

1 Corinthians 7:1-40

1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote [Hitherto Paul has written concerning things which he learned by common report; he now begins to reply to questions which they had asked him in their letter. As we come to the several answers we will state the probable form of the question, as an aid to interpretation. All of the apostle’s answers, however, have reference to then existing conditions, which were very stringent and threatening. His advice is therefore to be wisely and conscientiously applied by modern Christians after weighing differences between present conditions and those which then existed. First question: Is marriage to be desired or avoided [78] by Christians? Paul answers]: It is good [advisable, proper] for a man not to touch [marry] a woman. 2 But, because of fornications, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. [Paul does not discourage marriage, much less forbid it (1 Timothy 4:3; Hebrews 13:4). Moreover, while he begins by counseling the Corinthians to abstain from it under their present conditions (verse 26), he tempers and practically countermands his counsel because of the prevalent licentiousness in Corinth, against which matrimony, being man’s normal state, was a great safeguard.]

3 Let the husband render unto the wife her due: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4 The wife hath not power over her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power over his own body, but the wife. 5 Defraud [deprive] ye not one the other, except it be by consent for a season, that ye may give yourselves unto prayer, and may be together again, that Satan tempt you not because of your incontinency. 6 But this I say by way of concession, not of commandment. [That his readers may understand his counsel, Paul discusses the marriage state, and shows that the reciprocal rights of the parties thereto forbid abstinence to either husband or wife, save in cases where one wishes to devote a season to prayer; but even here the abstinence must be by mutual consent, and the apostle does not enjoin it, but merely concedes or permits it at such times, because the higher duty of prayer may for a season suspend conjugal duty. But here again caution must be observed, lest too prolonged abstinence might work temptation to either party, especially the prayerless one.]

7 Yet I would that all men were even as I myself. Howbeit each man hath his own gift from God, one after this manner, and another after that. 8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. 9 But if they have not continency, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. [In contrast with the enforced indulgence of matrimony, Paul [79] sets up his own life of abstinence as preferable, but only to such as have with him a gift of absolute self-control. But all have not this gift, for God’s gifts are infinitely various. He therefore advises the unmarried who have the gift of self-control to remain unmarried, but those lacking it should avoid unlawful lusts by marriage. In short, then, the single state is preferable in troublous times to such as have Paul’s continence. Second question: Is marriage to be dissolved when one party believes, and the other does not? It is likely that this question was raised by the Judaizers, for while the original law given by Moses only forbade marriage with the seven Canaanitish nations (Deuteronomy 7:1-3), yet the prophets and rulers so interpreted the law as to make it include Egyptians and Edomites (1 Kings 11:1-2; Ezekiel 9:1-2), and at last it came to be understood that Jews were forbidden to marry outside their own nation (Josephus Ant. VIII. 7:5; XI. 5:4; XI. 7:2; XI. 8:2; XII. 4:6), and the children of such marriages were regarded as illegitimate--Ezekiel 10:3.]

10 But unto the married I give charge, yea not I, but the Lord [by his own lips--Matthew 5:31-32; Matthew 19:3-12; Mark 10:12], That the wife depart not from her husband 11 (but should she depart, let her remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband); and that the husband leave not his wife. 12 But to the rest [the further application of the law or principle] say I [as an inspired apostle], not the Lord [with his own lips]: If any brother hath an unbelieving wife, and she is content to dwell with him, let him not leave her. 13 And the woman that hath an unbelieving husband, and he is content to dwell with her, let her not leave her husband. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the wife [The word "sanctified" is here used in the Jewish sense of being not unclean, and therefore not to be touched], and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in the brother [her husband]: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. [Holy is contrasted with unclean, and means the same as "sanctified."] 15 Yet if the unbelieving departeth, let him depart: the brother or the [80] sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us in peace. 16 For how knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O husband, whether thou shalt save thy wife? 17 Only, as the Lord hath distributed to each man, as God hath called each, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all the churches. [Paul first answers generally that under no conditions are the husband and wife to separate (the single exception (Matthew 19:9) not being given, because not a point in controversy). This law, however, rests not on Paul’s authority alone (which some of the Judaizers might question), but on that of the Lord himself, who plainly propounded it, repealing the ordinances of Moses which were contrary to it (see "Fourfold Gospel," p. 242). As an inspired apostle, Paul applies this law to the case of Christians united in wedlock with unbelievers, and declares that such should not separate on account of their faith; for the law of Christ so reverses that of Moses that the Christian sanctifies or removes the uncleanness of the unbelieving partner, and of the children. But such unequal marriages are not favored by God (2 Corinthians 6:14), and therefore if the unbeliever be so intolerant as to refuse to live with a converted partner, then the partner is not under bondage to the unbeliever. But God calls the believer to a life of peace which forbids any such discordant acts as tend to induce or drive the unbeliever to dissolve the marriage, for by the exercise of Christian gentleness and forbearance the believer may convert and save the unbeliever (1 Peter 3:1-2). As a summary rule for all things of a smaller nature, the apostle says that each man must rest content to walk in the lot which God has apportioned to him, not making his new religion an excuse for unwarranted changes. As this rule applied to all churches, it worked no especial hardship to the Corinthians.]

18 Was any man called [converted] being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. [1 Maccabees 1:15.] Hath any been called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but the keeping of the [81] commandments of God. [is, in this connection, everything.] 20 Let each man abide in that calling [trade or social condition] wherein he was called. 21 Wast thou called being a bondservant? care not for it: nay, even if ["nay, even if" should read "but if"] thou canst become free, use it [i. e., freedom] rather. 22 For he that was called in the Lord being a bondservant, is the Lord’s freedman: likewise he that was called being free, is Christ’s bondservant. 23 Ye were bought with a price; become not bondservants of men. 24 Brethren, let each man, wherein he was called, therein abide with God. [i. e., abide with God in the calling wherein he was called. Taking up the rule of verse 17, Paul shows by way of illustration its application to other matters. Christianity does not require that Jews or Greeks change their nationality, for nationality has nought to do with salvation, which rests wholly on obedience to the law of Christ. Again, Christianity does not demand that a man change his vocation or calling, if honest and clean (comp. Luke 3:12-14). Taking up the extreme case of slavery, Paul counsels that a change is not to be feverishly sought. If, however, freedom can be obtained, it is to be preferred, and where master and slave are both Christians it should be bestowed, for the slave is exalted to be Christ’s freedman (Luke 1:52), and the master is humbled in Christ to be a servant (Matthew 20:25-28). Acting under these principles, Paul asked Philemon to free Onesimus. The price which the Lord paid for his own when he gave his precious blood as their ransom, so far exceeds that paid for them as slaves that it nullifies slavery. Third question: Is celibacy or virginity preferable to marriage? Paul answers:]

25 Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: but I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be trustworthy. 26 I think therefore that this is good by reason of the distress that is upon us, namely, that it is good for a man to be as he is. 27 Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek [82] not a wife. 28 But shouldest thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Yet such shall have tribulation in the flesh: and I would spare you. [the pains and sufferings which will arise by reason of your marriage ties.] 29 But this I say, brethren, the time is shortened, that henceforth both those that have wives may be as though they had none; 30 and those that weep, as though they wept not; and those that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and those that buy, as though they possessed not; 31 and those that use the world, as not using it to the full: for the fashion of this world passeth away. [At the time of Paul’s writing, a great social convulsion was expected. The persecutions under Nero and his successors, and the destruction of Jerusalem, were sufficient of themselves to form the burden of many an awe-inspiring prophecy, and such were no doubt plentiful. Because of the nearness of the impending crisis Paul counsels each one to stay as he is, and refrain from entangling himself with new ties and obligations; for the trials of the hour would require stoical fortitude of every disciple. He gives this advice and that which follows simply as a Christian, and not as an inspired apostle.]

32 But I would have you to be free from cares. He that is unmarried is careful for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord: 33 but he that is married is careful for the things of the world, how he may please his wife, 34 and is divided. So also the woman that is unmarried and the virgin is careful for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married is careful for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 35 And this I say for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is seemly, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. [The less the Christian is entangled with social ties, the freer he is to perform the Lord’s service. Those who have no desire to marry have larger liberty to do church work if they remain single. [83] But the apostle warns us not to turn his counsel into a snare by construing it as a prohibition of marriage. Paul saw no peculiar holiness in celibacy, for with him marriage was holy (1 Corinthians 11:13; Ephesians 5:25-32; comp. Revelation 4:4; Revelation 21:2). He merely states that unmarried people are less encumbered.]

36 But if any man thinketh that he behaveth himself unseemly toward his virgin daughter, if she be past the flower of her age, and if need so requireth, let him do what he will; he sinneth not; let them [such daughters] marry. 37 But he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power as touching his own will, and hath determined this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, shall do well. 38 So then both he that giveth his own virgin daughter in marriage doeth well; and he that giveth her not in marriage shall do better. [Marriages in the East were then, as now, arranged by the parents. If a parent saw fit to marry his daughter he had a perfect right to do so and was guilty of no sin, but if he heeded the apostle’s warning as to the coming trials and kept his daughter free from alliances he acted more wisely. Fourth question: Should widows remarry? is answered thus:] 39 A wife is bound for so long time as her husband liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is free to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. [i. e., to a Christian.] 40 But she is happier if she abide as she is, after my judgment: and I think that I also have the spirit of God. [84]

FOURTH RESPONSE, CONCERNING
IDOLATROUS MEAT

J.W. McGarvey

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

[The question which Paul here answers may be stated thus: "Have not Christians perfect liberty to eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols?" To this question the Corinthians seem to have added a line or two of argument, that they might obtain an affirmative answer, as appears by the apostle’s reply.] 1 Now concerning things sacrificed to idols: We know [ye say] that we all have knowledge. Knowledge [I reply] puffeth up, but love edifieth. [literally, buildeth up.] 2 If any man thinketh that he knoweth anything, he knoweth not yet as he ought to know [for humility precedes true knowledge]; 3 but if any man loveth God, the same [i. e., God] is known by him. [i. e., the lover of God (1 John 4:7). Before replying to the question, Paul deals with the argument which accompanied it, pointing out the fact that their boasted knowledge was confessedly without love, and being such it was puffing instead of building them up. But the man who loves God, knows God; and in the richness and fullness of that knowledge is able to deal with such questions as that which they ask. He now resumes answering their question.]

4 Concerning therefore the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol is anything in the world [Isaiah 44:9-20], and that there is no God but one. 5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven [as celestial bodies, or as myths] or on earth [as idols]; as there are gods many [the Greek cities had pantheons and temples filled with them], and lords many [the Roman emperors, and even lesser dignitaries, demanded that divine honors be paid them]; 6 yet to us there is one God, the Father [contradicting the many], of whom are all things [whose creatorship undeifies all other beings, [85] reducing them to mere creatures], and we unto him [created as his peculiar treasure and possession, and hence exalted far above the idols which we once worshiped]; and one Lord [also contradicting the many], Jesus Christ, through whom are all things [as the Father’s creative executive--John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2], and we through him. [regenerated and reconciled to the Father.]

7 Howbeit there is not in all men that knowledge [the apostle limits and corrects their statement found in verse 1]: but some, being used until now [being but recently converted from paganism] to the idol, eat as of a thing sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. 8 But food will not commend us to God: neither, if we eat not, are we the worse; nor, if we eat, are we the better. [There is no inherent virtue either in eating or fasting.] 9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to the weak. 10 For if a man see thee who hast knowledge sitting at meat in an idol’s temple [Literally, idoleum, or idol-house; a term coined by the Jews to avoid desecrating the word "temple" by applying it to seats of idolatry. The idol temples were frequently used as banqueting- houses; but for a Christian to feast in such a place was a reckless abuse of liberty], will not his conscience, if he is weak, be emboldened [literally, built up, as at verse 1--built up in evil, not in Christ] to eat things sacrificed to idols? [will he not eat as a worshiper, and not sinless as you do?]

11 For through thy knowledge he that is weak perisheth, the brother for whose sake Christ died. [Paul here presents a new appeal, of unapproachable pathos and power. The world had never before heard any such reason why mercy should be shown to the weak.]

12 And thus, sinning against the brethren, and wounding their conscience when it is weak, ye sin against Christ. [who suffers with the very least of his servants (Matthew 18:6; Matthew 25:40; Matthew 25:45). Corinth was full of temples, and sacrifices were daily and abundant. Part of the meat of these sacrifices went to the priests, part was burnt on the altar, and part was returned to the worshiper. [86] The priests’ and the worshiper’s parts were frequently sold to the butchers, who in turn vended the same in the public markets. Such sacrificial meat was so plentiful, and was so indistinguishably mingled with other meats, that a Christian could hardly avoid using it unless he refrained from meat altogether. He could not attend any of the public banquets, nor dine with his pagan friends or relatives, without being almost sure to eat such meat. The Jews illustrated the difficulty, for wherever they lived they required a butcher of their own who certified the meat which he sold by affixing to it a leaden seal, on which was engraved the word kashar--"lawful." Under such circumstances the strong-minded made bold to eat such sacrificial meat, contending that the idol, being a nonentity, could in no way contaminate it. But there were others having less knowledge, and weaker consciences, who could not shake off the power of old habits, thoughts and associations, and who therefore could not free themselves from their former reverence for the idol, but looked upon it as really representing something--a false something, but still a reality. To such the sacrificial meat was part of a real sacrifice, and was contaminating. In answering, therefore, Paul states the correctness of the position that the idol, being nothing, does not contaminate meat sacrificed to it, and urges that the Christian’s knowledge of God and relationship to him preclude all thought of reality in idols. But, nevertheless, because it is a cruel sin against Christ to wound those already weak in conscience, he pleads that the strong use forbearance, not privilege; love, not knowledge, lest they make the death of Christ of none effect as to such weaklings. The principle may be applied to many modern amusements and indulgences which the strong regard as harmless, but which they should rejoice to sacrifice rather than endanger weaker lives.]

13 Wherefore, if meat causeth my brother to stumble, I will eat no flesh for evermore, that I cause not my brother to stumble. [To the Corinthians Paul says "take heed" (v. 9); but for himself he proposes a sublime consecration and perpetual self-sacrifice. The apostle would not make the weak [87] brother a tyrant, as he is often disposed to become. He clearly defines him as being wrong, but pleads that his errors may be humored for mercy’s sake.]

FIFTH RESPONSE, AS TO HIS APOSTOLICITY
J.W. McGarvey

1 Corinthians 9:1-27

[False or factional teachers coming to Corinth expected to be supported by the church according to the usual custom, but were hampered by the example of Paul, who had taken nothing for his services. To justify themselves and to discredit Paul, some of them appear to have gone so far as to deny Paul’s appointment as an apostle, and to use his failure to demand wages as an evidence of their assertion. They argued that he knew he was not an apostle, and so forbore through shame to ask an apostle’s pay. To settle this controversy, the Corinthians asked some such question as this: "Explain why, being an apostle, you did not take the wages due you as such." Paul begins his answer with four questions which show both surprise and indignation.]

1 Am I not free? [All free men were entitled to wages for work done. Only slaves worked without compensation. See verse 19.] Am I not an apostle? [and so more entitled to wages than an ordinary, less approved Christian teacher.] Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? [Apostles were to be witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 1:22; Acts 2:32; Acts 10:4), and so it was necessary that they should have seen the risen Christ. But Paul had seen more; on the way to Damascus, not only the risen, but the glorified, Christ had appeared to him. This was Paul’s first proof of apostleship.] Are not ye my work in the Lord? [The presence of a church in Corinth, having in it Christians converted by Paul and living in the Lord, was the second proof of his apostleship. Such work could not be done by impostors--Matthew 7:15-20.] 2 If to others I am not an [88] apostle, yet at least I am to you; for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. [An argumentum ad hominem. Whatever Paul might be in the estimation of Judaizers and enemies, he must still be held as an apostle by those who owed their spiritual life to him, for if he were no apostle, they were no Christians, and vice versa. As the seal vouched for the genuineness and validity of the document to which it was attached, so these Corinthian converts by their existence vouched for Paul’s apostleship.]

3 My defence to them that examine me is this. [This verse refers to what precedes it. It means that when called to defend his apostleship, Paul would point to the presence of a church of his established in Corinth as his answer. A similar answer had satisfied the other apostles (Galatians 2:6-10.) Thus having proved his apostleship, Paul proceeds to discuss the rights and privileges appurtenant to it.] 4 Have we no right to eat and to drink? [are we not entitled to be fed by the church?] 5 Have we no right to lead about [in our constant journeyings] a wife that is a believer [i. e., a lawful wife; it was unlawful to marry an unbeliever--2 Corinthians 6:14-16], even as the rest of the apostles [this passage creates a fair presumption that at least the majority of the apostles were married], and the brethren of the Lord [For their names see Matthew 13:55. For their relation to Jesus, see "Fourfold Gospel," pp. 119, 224-226], and Cephas? [This apostle was married (Matthew 8:14); yet Catholics claim him as the first pope. If all these apostles were allowed maintenance for themselves and their wives, Paul had equal right to demand that the church support his wife had he chosen to marry.]

6 Or I only and Barnabas [Though not one of the twelve, he is called an apostle (Acts 14:14), for he was a messenger or apostle of the Holy Spirit, and of the church at Antioch (Acts 13:2,) and was associated with Paul (Galatians 2:9). His name was illustrious enough at Corinth to give countenance to Paul’s course. If Barnabas and Paul wrought out their self-support to be nobly independent, did their voluntary sacrifice of rights abolish those rights, or prove that they never existed? This late reference to [89] Barnabas is interesting, for it shows that he was still at work and was still loved of Paul despite their disagreement concerning John Mark. Having thus proved his right to maintenance by the example of other church leaders, Paul now goes on to give an argument in six heads showing that the practice of these leaders was wholly lawful and proper. First argument: Wages for service is the rule in all employment; in proof of this, three instances are cited, the soldier, the vine-dresser, the shepherd], have we not a right to forbear working? 7 What soldier ever serveth at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? [In the East, vine-dressers and shepherds are still thus paid in kind. Work without wages would foster rascality, and it is therefore an unhealthy principle to use in church matters. Second argument: The law of Moses allowed wages for work.]

8 Do I speak these things after the manner of men? or saith not the law also the same? [Paul asks these two questions to show that while he has appealed to human authority, he has also divine authority for the principle which he asserts.] 9 For it is written in the law of Moses [Deuteronomy 25:4], Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. [Grain in the East has never been threshed by machinery. Though flails are used, it is usually threshed out by oxen. These are driven over it to tramp out the grain, and they sometimes draw a small sled or threshing instrument after them. The law forbade the muzzling of an ox thus employed, and in the East this law is still obeyed.] Is it for the oxen that God careth, 10 or saith he it assuredly for our sake? Yea, for our sake it was written: because he that ploweth ought to plow in hope, and he that thresheth, to thresh in hope of partaking. [Those fond of carping and caviling have attempted to use this passage to prove that Paul asserts that God does not care for animals. Such a view is abundantly contradicted by Scripture (Job 38:41; Psalms 147:9; Matthew 6:26; Luke 12:24). Paul’s meaning is clear. In giving the law, God’s proximate design was to care [90] for oxen, but his ultimate design was to enforce the principle that labor should not go unrewarded; that each workman might discharge his task in cheerful expectation that he would receive wages for his employment. Paul asserts that God does not legislate for oxen and forget men. It is an argument a minori ad magnus, such as Christ himself employed (Matthew 6:26-30.) Third argument: The law of exchange demands an equivalent for value received.]

11 If we sowed unto you spiritual things, is it a great matter if we shall reap your carnal things? [What was earthly support in comparison with the riches of the gospel? If Paul had demanded his full carnal recompense, it would have been a meager compensation for blessings and benefits which can never be weighed in dollars and cents. Fourth argument: The concessions which you have made in supporting others having inferior claims debar you from thus denying apostolic claims.] 12 If others partake of this right over you, do not we yet more? Nevertheless we did not use this right; but we bear all things, that we may cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. [Since Paul had left Corinth, other teachers had been supported by the church, and this stopped them from denying Paul’s right to support. The apostle had not used this right, for to do so would have hindered him in planting the church. It would retard the progress of any movement to demand salaries under it before demonstrating that it was either beneficent or necessary. To have demanded maintenance subsequently would have given Paul’s enemies a chance to impugn his motives, and say that he labored for earthly gain. Fifth argument: Priests, whose office, like the apostolic, is purely sacred, are universally maintained by sharing in the sacrifices which they offer.]

13 Know ye not that they that minister about sacred things eat of the things of the temple [the offerings, etc.], and they that wait upon the altar have their portion with the altar? [Numbers 18:8-13; Deuteronomy 8:1. Sixth argument: Christ himself ordained that ministers should be supported by those whom they serve.] 14 Even so did the Lord ordain that they [91] that proclaim the gospel should live of the gospel. [Matthew 10:10; Luke 10:7. This precept was all which Paul needed to urge. He no doubt elaborated this argument that the Corinthians might be fully convinced that he was perfectly aware of his rights at the time when he waived them. The apostle next sets forth more fully why he preferred to support himself rather than receive compensation from the churches.]

15 But I have used none of these things [i. e., these rights]: and I write not these things that it may be so done in my case [Paul had a right to receive wages for his labor, and this right was guaranteed both by the customs of the people and the law of Moses; he also had a right to some recompense as an equivalent for the blessings which he bestowed. Moreover, he had a right to receive as fair treatment as that bestowed upon others. Again, he had a right as a man engaged in sacred affairs to be paid by those who enjoyed his services, and lastly as a minister of Christ, the law of Christ, demanded that he be supported. Paul had urged none of these rights, nor did he now assert them that he might shame the Corinthians for their neglect or prepare them to change their conduct toward him when he visited them as he intended]; for it were good for me rather to die, than that any man should make my glorying void. [So far from desiring pay from the Corinthians, he preferred to die rather than receive it, for to do so would deprive him of the glory and joy of preaching the gospel without earthly reward. By denying himself wages, Paul obtained free access to all men, and could found new churches. He gloried in the salvation of souls and in the honoring of Christ.] 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of; for necessity is laid upon me; for woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel. 17 For if I do this of mine own will, I have a reward: but if not of mine own will, I have a stewardship intrusted to me. [He was commanded to preach the gospel. He could not glory therefore in doing it, for he did not do it of his own free will or choice (however cheerfully and willingly he might do it), but because it was a stewardship which he was [92] obliged to discharge (Luke 17:10). Had he been free to preach the gospel or not, he might have gloried in preaching it. But as it was, he had to seek glory elsewhere.]

18 What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel without charge, so as not to use to the full my right in the gospel. [He found his reward in the happiness of preaching the gospel without charge, and in the feeling that as a steward he had not used his privileges to the full, and so was far from abusing them. Paul so loved those whom Christ called that he counted it a privilege to be permitted to serve them gratuitously. But such a course is not without danger to the church--2 Corinthians 12:13.] 19 For though I was free from all men [and therefore had a right to demand wages of them and ignore their prejudices], I brought myself under bondage to all, that I might gain the more. [Here was yet another joy which he found in preaching a free gospel. His spirit of self-sacrifice won the confidence of the people, and enabled him to make a larger number of converts. Though entitled to wages as a free man he preferred to work as a slave for nothing, accounting the additional disciples which he thus made as a more acceptable hire than his maintenance. Moreover, after the manner of a slave, he had adjusted himself to the prejudices and idiosyncrasies of each class which he served as far as he innocently could; that, by having a larger measure of their confidence and good-will, he might be able to win a larger number to Christ. He now describes this part of his service.]

20 And to the Jews I became as a Jew [not a Jew, but like one], that I might gain Jews [Paul observed the Jewish distinction as to meat (ch. 8:13); and performed their rites as to vows (Acts 21:26); and honored their feasts (Acts 20:16); and classed himself among their Pharisees (Acts 23:6); and even had circumcision administered (Acts 16:3), where it did not interfere with the liberty of Gentiles (Galatians 2:3-5). All these were innocent concessions to and harmless compliances with the law. Though Paul was under no obligation to conform his conduct to the prejudices of others, he [93] waived his own predeliction in all matters that were indifferent; but his unbending, unyielding loyalty in all matters of principle was so well known that he does not deem it necessary to state that he never surrendered or sacrificed a single truth or right for any cause]; to them that are under the law [This expression includes proselytes as well as Jews. To these also Paul made harmless concessions], as under the law, not being myself under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 to them that are without law [pagans and Gentiles--Romans 2:12], as without law [Romans 6:14. He did not seek to enforce the laws of Moses among the Gentiles, as did the Jews, and he refrained from insulting heathens in their beliefs (Acts 19:37), and dealt gently with their prejudices--Acts 17:30], not being without law to God [for the Gentiles themselves were not wholly without such law--Romans 2:14-15], but under law to Christ [Paul did not forget his obligations to the moral law, nor his duty to the will of Christ. Though behaving himself as a Jew in Jerusalem in things indifferent, he rebuked Peter openly for playing the Jew in Antioch in matters of principle (Galatians 2:11-21). Peter knew better--Acts 15:10], that I might gain them that are without law.

22 To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak [The preceding chapter is the best comment on this passage. Paul was uniformly self-sacrificing and patient with those who were overscrupulous]: I am become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. [With untiring zeal for the salvation of souls, Paul accommodated himself to all the shapes and forms of character which he met, if he could do so without sin--ch. 10:33; 2 Timothy 2:10.] 23 And I do all things for the gospel’s sake, that I may be a joint partaker thereof. [He made every sacrifice for the success of the gospel, that he might share with other successful apostles and evangelists in its triumphs and blessings (John 4:36). He recommends to others a like spirit of abstinence and sacrifice, and to illustrate the necessity and utility of such a course he draws some comparisons between those who run the Christian [94] race, and the athletes who competed for the prizes in the Grecian games. The Corinthians were familiar with the ways and customs of these athletes, for one of the great race-courses lay in the immediate vicinity of Corinth, and at this time it was the most noted in Greece, having even surpassed the Olympic in its popularity. It was held triennially. Parts of its stadium are still seen as one goes from Corinth to Athens.]

24 Know ye not that they that run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? [Philippians 3:12-14.] Even so run; that ye may attain. [In the Greek contests there was but one prize for each group of contestants, and that was awarded to the winner. But the Christian race is not competitive: each may win a prize, but he does so by contending with his own sinful nature. He must run faithfully, earnestly and continuously if he would win in the race against his lower self.] 25 And every man that striveth in the games exerciseth self-control in all things. [As Paul denied himself that the gospel might not be hindered, so each athlete, whether he intended to run, wrestle or fight, pursued a course of training and abstinence that was painful, protracted and severe, in order that no fatty tissues or depleted muscles might hinder him in his struggle for victory.] Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. [For this worthless, withering symbol of victory, men made measureless sacrifice. For the incomparably better and fadeless crown of eternal life, how cheerfully Christians should deny and discipline themselves--1 Peter 5:4.] 26 I therefore [realizing the value of that for which I contend] so run, as not uncertainly [without doubt or hesitation. Paul felt sure of the course which led to the goal, and certain as to the reward which he would attain when the race was over--2 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:8]; so fight I, as not beating the air [The allusion here is to the boxer who, in blind confusion, strikes wide of the mark, and misses his antagonist. For an instance of vain effort similarly expressed, see ch. 14:9; Virgil’s Æneid 5:446]:

27 but I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage [The body, being, as it is [95] in part, the seat and organ of sin, has become the Biblical term to express our whole sinful nature (Romans 8:13). Paul found in this old sinful man with its corrupt affections an ever-present antagonist. He ran no uncertain race with his body, realizing that God would give him the victory if he ran his best. He fought no uncertain fight with it, but so smote it as to bring it into subjection. By smiting he does not mean literal flagellation, self-torture or even fasting, but he means that he subdues his nature by denying its lusts (Colossians 3:5), and that he employed his body in noble labor, with all self-denial and self-sacrifice, for the good of others--2 Corinthians 6:4-5; 2 Corinthians 11:23-33]: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected. [The word translated "preached" means literally to "proclaim as a herald." It is the word used in the New Testament to describe the preaching of the gospel, and so the reader is at liberty to follow the English version, and drop the metaphor of which Paul has been making use. If he does this, then Paul tells him literally that even he had fears that he might fall from grace, and therefore daily worked out his own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12.) But if "preached" be translated "acted or proclaimed as herald," then Paul conveys to us the same thought metaphorically. It was the duty of the herald to move up and down the lists and proclaim aloud the laws of the contests, the names of the contestants, victors, etc. These laws said in brief that no slave, thief, or man of bad morals, would be admitted as a contestant. Thus construed, Paul expresses a fear lest having laid down the gospel terms of salvation to others, he himself should be rejected for having failed to comply with the very rules which his own mouth had proclaimed (Luke 19:22; Romans 2:1-3). While it was not customary for heralds to be contestants, such a thing was not impossible, for the emperor Nero once played both parts. He was combatant, victor, and herald to proclaim his own triumphs. The metaphors of Paul, like the parables of Jesus, caused the scenes of daily life to suggest great spiritual truths to those who beheld them. [96]

RENEWAL OF RESPONSE CONCERNING
IDOLATROUS MEAT

J.W. McGarvey

1 Corinthians 10:1 to 1 Corinthians 11:1

[In chapter 8 Paul had answered the question of the Corinthians concerning idolatrous meat. In chapter 9 he answered their inquiries concerning his apostleship, and closed with a description of the self-denial which he exercised in order to secure his crown, and a statement that despite all his efforts there was a possibility of his becoming a castaway. Now, the necessity for self-control and the danger of apostasy were the two principal ideas involved in the discussion of eating idolatrous meat, and so the apostle’s mind swings back to that subject, and he again treats of it, illustrating it by analogies drawn from the history of Israel.]

1 For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant [see comment on 1 Thessalonians 4:13], that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea [Paul speaks of the fathers of the Jewish race as "our fathers," though addressing Gentiles. The patriarchs of Israel were the spiritual fathers of Gentile Christians (Galatians 3:7-8; Galatians 3:29). Moreover, the patriarchal and Mosaic dispensations were preparatory to Christianity, and so, in a certain sense, fathered it. The passage through the Red Sea by the Israelites was in many ways analogous to Christian baptism. 1. It stood at the beginning of a journey undertaken by a divine call, and which led from a life and kingdom of bondage to a land of promise, which should be a land of liberty and an everlasting possession. 2. Baptism is a burial (Romans 6:4). With a wall of water on each side and a cloud over them, the Israelites were buried from the sight of the Egyptians, or any others who stood upon the shores of the sea. Relying on the statement at Exodus 14:19-21 that the cloud was between the Egyptians and [97] the Israelites, and hence behind the Israelites part of the night, zealous paidobaptists have argued that at no part of the night were the Israelites under the cloud, their purpose being to avoid the idea of a burial. But in their zeal they have contradicted Paul, who says "under the cloud," "in the cloud," and who elsewhere speaks of baptism as a burial. Paul’s language here implies that the children of Israel were between the walls of water while the cloud was still in front of them, and so they were under it and in it as it passed to their rear. 3. Baptism is a resurrection (Romans 6:5). "The two phrases, ’were under the cloud,’ and ’passed through the sea,’ seem to prefigure the double process of submersion and emersion in baptism" (Canon Cook). The baptism of the Red Sea was to Israel a death to Egypt, and a birth to a new covenant. 4. Baptism is the final seal of discipleship (Matthew 28:19; Galatians 3:27; chap. 1:13). The passage of the Red Sea led Israel to fully accept Moses as their master and leader under God--Exodus 14:31];

3 and did all eat the same spiritual food; 4 and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ. [As Israel had an experience answering to baptism, so it also enjoyed privileges similar to the two parts of the Lord’s Supper; viz.: the manna (Exodus 16:13-22), which lasted throughout the wilderness journey (Joshua 5:12), and which answered to the loaf; and water from the rock, which was given at least twice (Exodus 17:5-7; Numbers 20:7-13), and which answered to the wine. Some think that the manna and the water are called spiritual because they had a spiritual origin, being produced of God directly, and not by the ordinary means of nature; and others think that they are thus described because they were typical of Christ. But neither of these views is suited to the context, for Paul is here speaking of benefits enjoyed by the children of Israel which ministered to their spiritual strength, and which should have kept them from falling. But miraculous food is, of itself, no more strengthening to the spirit than ordinary food (John 6:26-27; John 6:49); and a type confers no benefit upon those who do [98] not understand it and are not conscious of it. The true idea is that the manna and the water were so miraculously and providentially supplied that the people could scarcely fail to see the presence and the goodness of God in them, and hence they were spiritual food and drink to the people because they would waken such thoughts, thanksgivings and aspirations as would give spiritual strength. Paul does not assert that the literal rock or the literal water followed the children of Israel on their journey, and hence there is no occasion for saying, as do Alford and others, that Paul even referred to, much less accepted, Jewish fables and traditions to that effect. The fact that water was twice supplied by Christ at different periods would be sufficient to suggest his continual presence (Exodus 33:14), and thus continually revive their thirsty souls. The Catholics assert that there are seven sacraments, but Paul knew only two ordinances. "The whole passage," says Alford, "is a standing testimony, incidentally, but most providentially, given by the great apostle to the importance of the Christian sacraments, as necessary to membership of Christ, and not mere signs or remembrances: and an inspired protest against those who, whether as individuals or sects, would lower their dignity, or deny their necessity." But Paul also guards against that other extreme which trusts to mere ordinances for salvation.]

5 Howbeit with most of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown [literally, strewn in heaps] in the wilderness. [In verse 24 of the preceding chapter Paul enforces the lesson of self-control by showing that though all run, yet but one receives the prize. This law, which the Greeks applied to a mere handful of racers, was applied of God with like rigor and stringency to the millions of Israel, a fact which Paul emphasizes by the repeated use of the word "all." Though all were under the cloud and all passed through the sea and all were baptized and all ate and drank of spiritual provision, yet only two, Caleb and Joshua, entered the promised land (Deuteronomy 1:34-38; Numbers 26:64-65). What was true of racers and true of Israel may also be true of Christians if they fail to exercise [99] self-control.]

6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. [Having shown that the Israelites lost their inheritance despite the fact that they were prepared, sustained and strengthened by the same Christ and practically the same ordinances enjoyed by the Christian, Paul proceeds to show their perfectness as examples to the Corinthians in that they fell by the five sins, viz.: lust, idolatry, fornication, tempting Christ, murmuring, which were the besetting sins of the Corinthians--and of all succeeding generations. In the case of Israel the punishment was directly and visibly connected with the sin, that their history might be used to instruct future generations; for in this life punishment is not, as a rule, summarily and immediately meted out to sinners. In fact, if we judge by appearances only, we might sometimes even think that God rewarded crime and set a premium on sin. The Scripture records show that such appearances are deceptive, and that God’s punishments are sure, though they may be long delayed. Israel lusted for what God withheld and murmured at what he provided (Numbers 11:4; Numbers 11:33-34). As Israel looked back with regret on the flesh and the fish, the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic which they had left behind in Egypt, so the Corinthians were disposed to go back into the old life and heap up to themselves philosophical teachers, attend idolatrous feasts, etc.]

7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. [Israel worshipped the golden calf, Moloch, Remphan, Baal-peor, etc. The "playing" which Paul refers to (Exodus 32:3-6; Exodus 32:19; Exodus 32:25) was familiar to the Corinthians, who had indulged in such licentious sportfulness in the worship of Bacchus and Venus. Dancing was the common accompaniment of idolatry (Horace 2:12-19). Eating at the feast of idols was the very privilege for which the Corinthians were contending.] 8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. [Numbers 25:1-9. While Paul gives the number as twenty-three thousand, Moses gives it as [100] twenty-four. Alford and Kling think the discrepancy is due to a failure in Paul’s memory, but why should the Spirit of God let him thus forget? Grotius says that a thousand were slain by Phinehas and his followers, and the rest were destroyed by the plague. Kitto varies this a little by saying that Paul gives the number that fell on one day, as his words show, while Moses gives the full number that perished on both days. But Bengel’s solution is a sufficient one. The Hebrews habitually dealt in round numbers, so that a number between twenty-three and twenty-four thousand could be correctly stated by either figure. Moses gave the maximum and Paul the minimum. The sin mentioned was not only an ordinary accompaniment of idolatry, but often a consecrated part of it, as in the rites of Baal-peor among the Moabites and those of Venus among the Corinthians. Sins are gregarious.]

9 Neither let us make trial of the Lord, as some of them made trial, and perished by the serpents. [Numbers 21:4-6. Compare John 3:14-15. To "tempt" here means to try beyond all patience or endurance. Israel tempted God in the case referred to, by its spirit of unbelieving discontent. Compare also Exodus 17:2-7; Numbers 14:22. As Israel became discontented under the hardships of the wilderness, so the Corinthians were liable to a like discontent because of the severe persecutions brought upon them by ungodly men. Chrysostom, Theodoret and Oecuminius think that Paul warns the Corinthians against tempting God by asking for signs. But this was not the besetting sin of the Greeks (ch. 1:22), nor is there any evidence that the Christians at Corinth were at all addicted to this sin. Besides, it is at variance with the analogy which Paul has cited. As a matter of fact, men tempt God by putting his fidelity, patience or power to unnecessary tests--Matthew 4:7; Acts 5:9; Hebrews 3:9.] 10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them murmured, and perished by the destroyer. [Numbers 14:2; Numbers 14:29; Numbers 16:41-49. The Israelites murmured against God by rebelling against and rejecting his servants; and the Corinthians were at this time murmuring against Paul, the servant of Christ. They were also liable to complain of their separation from the [101] pagan world, just as many to-day speak resentfully when the pulpit proclaims those Christian principles which are restrictive of worldly excesses. The angel of death is called the destroyer (Exodus 12:23; 2 Samuel 24:16). The Jews commonly called this angel Sammael. The "all" of grace and privilege, found in verses 1-4, stands in sad contrast to the "some of them" of deflection and apostasy found in verses 7-10. God showed mercy to all, but some disobeyed in one way and some in another until almost all had proved unworthy of his mercy.]

11 Now these things happened unto them by way of example; and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come. [The facts of the past become examples for the present, because God rules by unchanging principles (Romans 15:4). The Christian dispensation is called "the ends of the ages" because it is the last and final dispensation (1 John 2:18; Hebrews 9:26; Matthew 13:38-39; 1 Peter 4:7). The Christian is the heir of all the past, but none shall inherit after him.] 12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. [The weaknesses of saints in former days, notwithstanding their privileges, should warn us of our own frailty lest we presume to dally with temptation, and so fall. This verse is a stumbling-block to those who hold the doctrine "once in grace, always in grace." Whedon aptly says of the Israelites: "If they never truly stood, they never fell; and if they fell, they once stood. If their fault and ruin was in actually falling, then their salvation would have been in actually standing--standing just as they were." Their history does not show the mere possibility of apostasy, but demonstrates its actual reality, and the sad prevalence of it. But the apostle, well aware that so weighty and forceful an argument would breed a spirit of hopelessness and despair in the breasts of the Corinthians, now sets himself to show that the temptations so fatal to Israel need not prove similarly disastrous to them if they were not presumptuous, but looked to God to aid them in escaping such temptations.]

13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is [102] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it. [The temptations which befell the Corinthians were such as men had resisted and could resist. The temptations which had overcome some of the Israelites had been resisted by others of their number. The faithfulness of God who called them would give them strength for the journey which he required of them (2 Peter 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). God shows his faithfulness by providing an opportunity of escape, and we must show our faithfulness by seizing the opportunity when it presents itself. As temptations vary, so the means of escape also vary. God permits temptation for our strengthening, not for our destruction.] 14 Wherefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. [As idolatry had proved the mother of sins in Israel, so had it also in Corinth. Paul, therefore, in exhorting his readers to flee from it, appeals to their own past experience. They were wise men in this respect, and could, out of an abundant personal knowledge, judge as to the wisdom of his counsel when he thus told them to shun all that pertained to it. Idolatry was so interwoven with lust, drunkenness, reveling, etc., that it practically included them, and it was not to be dallied with. If we go to the verge of what is allowable, we make it easy for Satan to draw us over the line into what is sinful.] 16 The cup of blessing which we bless [Not the cup which brings blessing (though it does that), but the cup over which blessing is spoken, the cup consecrated by benediction. Wine becomes a symbol of the blood of Christ by such a consecration, and even ordinary food is sanctified by prayer (1 Timothy 4:4-5. Compare Matthew 26:26; Luke 9:16). But the plural "we" used in this paragraph shows that the blessing and breaking were not the acts of the minister exercising priestly functions, but were the acts of the whole congregation through the minister as their representative. Sacerdotal consecration of the elements is not found here nor anywhere else in the New Testament], is it not a communion [103] of [a participation in or common ownership of] the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the body of Christ? [See John 6:41-59.] 17 seeing that we, who are many, are one bread, one body: for we all partake of the one bread. [Paul here points out the nature of the Lord’s Supper, showing how it unites us with each other and with the Lord. We all partake of the loaf and thereby become qualitatively, as it were, a part of it, as it of us; and even thus we all become members of Christ’s one body which it represents and Christ becomes part of us. Such is the unity of the church: Paul had no conception of a divided church. Though there may be more than one loaf at the communion, yet the bread is one in substance, and is one emblem.]

18 Behold Israel after the flesh: have not they that eat the sacrifices communion with the altar? [In Paul’s eyes the church was the true Israel, and the Jews were Israel after the flesh. Part of the Jewish sacrifice was eaten by the worshiper as an act of worship (Deuteronomy 12:18), and part was consumed upon the altar as a sacrifice to God; that is, as God’s part. Thus the worshiper had communion with the altar, or, more accurately speaking, with God, who owned the altar; a portion of the meat of sacrifice entering his body and becoming part of him, and a portion of it typically entering and becoming part of the Lord. Having thus given two instances showing that sacrificial feasts establish a relationship between the worshiper and the object worshipped, Paul proceeds to make his application of them to idol feasts, and begins by anticipating an objection which the quick-witted Corinthians, seeing the drift of his argument, would begin at once to urge.] 19 What say I then? that a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? ["But, Paul," say the Corinthians, "your reasoning can not apply to feasts or sacrificial meat offered to idols; for you have already admitted (ch. 8:4) that an idol is a nonentity. By sacrifice a man may establish a communal relationship with God, for God is; but he can establish no such relationship with an idol, for an idol is not-it has no existence." The [104] understanding of the Corinthians with regard to idols was true, but it was not the whole truth, for there was some reality back of the idol.]

20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have communion with demons. [It was true that the idol was nothing, but it represented a reality, and it was well established both among Jews and Greeks that that reality was a demon. Among Jews and Christians this word represented an evil spirit (Deuteronomy 32:17; Leviticus 17:7; 2 Chronicles 11:15; Psalms 96:5; Psalms 106:37; Matthew 25:41; Revelation 9:20; Ephesians 6:12). Among the Greeks the word had a broader significance. With them it meant a demi-god or minor deity--a being between God and men. One part of them were spirits of dead men, mainly dead kings or heroes who had been deified and honored with idols and worship. Another part were regarded as having a supernatural origin, and were like angels. These might be good or evil. Thus Socrates regarded himself as under the care and influence of a good demon. Thus at the core idolatry was demon-worship, and if the Christian who ate the Lord’s Supper communed with the Lord, and the Jew who ate the sacrifice of the altar communed with the God of the altar; so the man, be he pagan or Christian, who partook of the idol sacrifice, communed with the demon who appropriated the worship offered to the idol.]

21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of demons: ye cannot partake of the table of the Lord, and of the table of demons. [At the sacrificial feasts of the pagans the provisions and wine were both blessed in the name of the idol, and thereby consecrated to him. Part of the festal cup was poured out as a libation to the idol, after which the guests drank of the cup and thus had fellowship with the idol. See &Aelig;neid 8:273. Outwardly, Christians might partake of both feasts, but it was a moral impossibility for them to do so inwardly and spiritually. We can not be wicked and holy any more than we can be black and white at the same time. We may also note that there were tables in the temples of the idols on which feasts were prepared.] 22 Or do we [105] provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he? [God does not permit a division of his worship (Matthew 6:24). Any attempt to do this is said to arouse his jealousy, that passion which arises from wounded love (Isaiah 54:5; Ephesians 5:23-32; Exodus 20:5). Paul doubtless has in mind the passage at Deuteronomy 32:17-26, which shows the necessity of obedience on the part of those not able to resist.] 23 All things are lawful; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful; but not all things edify. [See comment on ch. 6:12.] 24 Let no man seek his own, but each his neighbor’s good. [As to eating idolatrous meat and all similar questions of liberty, be more careful to think of the interests of others than to assert your own rights.] 25 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, eat, asking no question for conscience’ sake; 26 for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof. [Psalms 24:1; Psalms 50:12. Meat sold in the public market might be bought and used by the Christian without stopping to make investigation or to consult his conscience, for when thus sold it was wholly disassociated from the rites of idolatrous sacrifice, and one so using it could not be suspected of doing so as an act of worship. Moreover, all meat was pure, since it had come from the Lord. Being part of the furniture of the earth, it was to be eaten without scruple--Romans 14:14; Romans 14:20; 1 Timothy 4:4-5; Acts 10:15.]

27 If one of them that believe not biddeth you to a feast, and ye are disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience’ sake. 28 But if any man say unto you, This hath been offered in sacrifice, eat not, for his sake that showed it, and for conscience’ sake: 29 conscience, I say, not thine own, but the other’s; for why is my liberty judged by another conscience? [Christianity did not forbid a man to retain his friendships among pagans, nor did it prohibit fellowship with them. If such a friend should ask a Christian to a meal in a private house and not to a sacrificial feast in an idol temple, the Christian need not trouble himself to ask whether the meat that was served was part of all idol sacrifice, for such [106] a dining was in no sense an act of worship. If, however, some scrupulous Christian or half-converted person should point out that the meat was idolatrous, then it was not to be eaten, for the sake of the man who regarded it as idolatrous. But so far as the real question of liberty was concerned, each man’s liberty is finally judged by his own conscience and not by that of another. Liberty may be waived for the sake of another’s conscience, but it is never thus surrendered. Paul’s teaching, therefore, is that food is not tainted, and so it is always right to eat it as food, but all the rites of idolatry are tainted, and the Christian must do nothing which gives countenance to those rites, and for the sake of others he must abstain from seeming to countenance them even when his own conscience acquits him of so doing.]

30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? [The conscience of another man does not make it wrong for me to do that which I am not only permitted to do by my own conscience, but which I even do in a spirit of prayerful thankfulness. Nor does my doing such a thing give him, or any other, a right to speak evil of me, for I do not have to change my conscience to suit the judgment of others. In theory Paul sided with the strong, but in sympathy he was one with the weak; yet he did not permit them to exercise a vexatious tyranny over him because of their scruples.] 31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to, the glory of God. [All eating should be with thanksgiving to God and should not dishonor God by injuring the consciences of weak men--comp. Colossians 3:17; 1 Peter 4:11.] 32 Give no occasion of stumbling [Mark 9:42], either to Jews, or to Greeks, or to the church of God: 33 even as I also please all men in all things [indifferent or permissible], not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved. XI. 1 Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ. [In all matters that were indifferent Paul pleased others, rather than himself (ch. 9:19, 22; Romans 15:2). He did not needlessly trample upon the prejudices of any, whether [107] in the church or out, and he counseled the Corinthians to follow his example in this, as he himself followed the example of Christ in thus showing mercy and consideration--Rom:15:1-3.]

SIXTH RESPONSE. CONCERNING
HEAD COSTUME

J.W. McGarvey

1 Corinthians 11:2-16

[Paul has been discussing the disorderly conduct of individual Christians. He now proceeds to discuss more general disorders; i. e., those which took place in the meetings of the congregation, and in which the whole church participated. We may conceive him as answering the question, "Ought men to have their heads covered, or may women have their heads uncovered when they are prophesying in public?"] 2 Now I praise you that ye remember me in all things, and hold fast the traditions, even as I delivered them to you. [By "traditions" Paul means the precepts, ordinances and doctrines which he had taught them orally. The traditions of God, given through inspired men, are to be accepted without addition or alteration (1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; Revelation 22:18), but the traditions of men should be weighed carefully, and summarily rejected if they conflict with the teaching of God (Matthew 15:1-9). Since Paul has already censured the Corinthians for departing from his teaching, and since, in the next breath, he points out further departures on their part from his teaching, it is evident that what he says here is a quotation taken from a part of their letter where they were expressing their loyalty to him. Having thus quoted their words in which they committed themselves to his teaching, he points out what the teaching really was, that they may make good their boast by obeying it.]

3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ [108] is God. [Paul settles the humblest difficulties by appealing to the loftiest principles: thus he makes the headship of Christ over man the basis, or principle, on which he decides that the man has headship over the woman, and as we shall see further on, he makes the headship of the man over the woman the principle by which he determines the question as to whether men should worship with uncovered, and women with covered heads; for the uncovered head was the symbol of royalty and dominion, and the covered head of subjection and submission. The order in which he states the several headships is peculiar. We would expect him to begin with God and descend by the regular steps, thus: God, Christ, man, woman. But the order is thus: Christ, man; man, woman; God, Christ. Subtle distinctions are to be made with caution, but it is not improbable that Paul’s order in this case is determined by the delicate nature of the subject which he handles. Dominion is fruitful of tyranny, and so it is well, before giving man dominion, to remind him that he also is a servant (Matthew 18:21-35; Matthew 5:7). Again, the arrangement makes the headship of the man over the woman parallel to the headship of God over Christ, and suggests that there should be between husband and wife a unity of will and purpose similar to that which exists between the Father and the Son. The unquestioned, immediate and absolute submission and concurrence of the Son leave no room for the exercise of authority on the part of the Father, and the infinite and unsearchable wisdom, love, benevolence and good-will on the part of the Father take from the Son every occasion of unwillingness or even hesitation. All Christian husbands and wives should mutually remember this parallel. Jesus the Incarnate, the Son of man and the Son of God, is subject to the Father, by reason of his humanity and his mediatorial kingdom (ch. 3:23; 15:24-28; John 14:28). As to the subjection of the Logos or the eternal Word to the Father we are not informed--comp. Philippians 2:6.]

4 Every man praying or prophesying [speaking by divine inspiration], having his head covered, dishonoreth his head. 5 But every woman praying or prophesying with her [109] head unveiled dishonoreth her head [Corinth was made up of Greeks, Romans and Jews, and all these three elements of her population were found in the church to which Paul wrote. The Jew and the Roman worshipped with covered, and the Greek with uncovered, head. Naturally a dispute would arise as to which custom was right. Moreover, as the women were beyond all doubt acquainted with the principle that there is neither male nor female in the spiritual realm (Galatians 3:28), they seem to have added to the confusion by taking sides in the controversy, so that some of them asserted the right to worship with uncovered heads after the fashion of the Greeks. Now, in the East in Paul’s day, all women went into public assemblies with their heads veiled, and this peplum, or veil, was regarded as a badge of subordination, a sign that the woman was under the power of the man. Thus Chardin, the traveler, says that the women of Persia wear a veil in sign that they are "under subjection," a fact which Paul also asserts in this chapter. Now, the symbolic significance of a woman’s head-dress became the determining factor in this dispute. For a man to worship with a covered head was an act of effeminacy, a disgrace to his head, and for a woman to worship with uncovered head was likewise disgraceful, for it would at once be looked upon as a bold assertion of unwarranted independence, a sign that she had laid aside her modesty and removed from her sphere. From this passage it is plain that it was not intended that Christianity should needlessly vary from the national customs of the day. For Christians to introduce needless innovations would be to add to the misconceptions which already subjected them to persecution. One who follows Christ will find himself conspicuously different from the world, without practicing any tricks of singularity]; or it is one and the same thing as if she were shaven. 6 For if a woman is not veiled, let her also be shorn: but if it is a shame to a woman to be shorn [with shears] or shaven [with a razor], let her be veiled. [Paul does not command that unveiled women be shorn, but he demands it as a logical consistency, as a scornful reductio ad absurdum. For a [110] woman to want only to lay aside her veil was an open repudiation of the authority of her husband, and such a repudiation lowered her to the level of the courtesan, who, according to Elsner, showed her shamelessness by her shorn head, and likewise to the level of the adulteress, whose penalty, according to Wetstein and Meyer, was to have her head shaved. Paul, therefore, demands that those who voluntarily seek a low level, consent to wear all the signs and badges of that level that they may be shamed into rising above it. Having thus deduced a law from human custom, Paul now shows that the same law rests upon divine and creative relationships.]

7 For a man indeed ought not to have his head veiled, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God [Man has no created superior (Genesis 1:27; Psalms 8:6), and, in addition to the glory which is his by reason of the nature of his creation, his estate has been further dignified and glorified by the incarnation of the Son of God (Hebrews 1:2-3), so that, because of his fellowship with Christ, he may stand unveiled in the presence of the Father. Therefore, by covering his head while at worship, man symbolically forfeits his right to share in the glory of Christ, and thus dishonors himself. We are no longer slaves, but sons (Galatians 4:7). "We Christians," says Tertullian, "pray with outspread hands, as harmless; with uncovered heads, as unashamed; without a prompter, as from the heart"]: but the woman is the glory of the Prayer of Manasseh 1:8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man: 9 for neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man [Genesis 2:18; Genesis 2:21-22]: 10 for this cause ought the woman to have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels. [The argument here runs thus: The rule which I have given you rests upon symbolism--the symbol of the wife’s subjection. But this symbolism is correct, for, as man proceeded from God, being fashioned as a minor representative of God, so also woman proceeded from man as a minor representative of man, and her minor state is apparent from the fact that she was created for the man, and not the man for her. Hence, women ought not to do away [111] with the veil while in places of worship, because of the symbolism; and they can not do away with the subordination which it symbolizes, because it rests on the unalterable facts of creation. To abandon this justifiable and well-established symbol of subordination would be a shock to the submissive and obedient spirit of the ministering angels (Isaiah 6:2) who, though unseen, are always present with you in your places of worship" (Matthew 18:10-31; Psalms 138:1; 1 Timothy 5:21; ch. 4:9; Ecclesiastes 5:6). Here we find Paul not only vindicating the religious truths of the Old Testament, but authenticating its historical facts as well.]

11 Nevertheless, neither is the woman without the man, nor the man without the woman, in the Lord ["In the Lord" means by divine appointment.] 12 For as the woman is of the man, so is the man also by the woman; but all things are of God. [Lest any man should be inflated with pride by the statement in verse 7, fancying that there was some degree of proportion between the exaltation of God over man and of man over woman, Paul adds these words to show that men and women are mutually dependent, and hence nearly equals, but that God, as Creator, is exalted over all. The idea of proportion, therefore, is utterly misleading. To the two reasons already given for the covering of a woman’s and the uncovering of a man’s head, Paul adds two more.] 13 Judge ye in yourselves [he appealed to their own sense of propriety, as governed by the light of nature]: is it seemly that a woman pray unto God unveiled? 14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a dishonor to him? 15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. [Instinct should teach us that the head of a woman is more properly covered than that of a man, for nature grants it a greater abundance of hair. In Paul’s time the hair of a man, unless he was under some vow, such as that of the Nazarite, was uniformly cut short. Long hair in a man betokened base and lewd effeminacy, and we find those who wore it ridiculed by Juvenile. Since nature gives a woman more covering than man, her will [112] should accord with nature, and vice versa. Masculine women and effeminate men are alike objectionable. Let each sex keep its place. And in point of attire it is still disgraceful for men and women to appear in public in each other’s garments.]

16 But if any man seemeth to be [a mild way of saying, "if any man is"] contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God. [Knowing the argumentative spirit of the Greeks, and being conscious that it was likely that some would even yet want to dispute the matter, despite his three reasons to the contrary, Paul takes it entirely out of the realm of discussion into that of precedent. The settled and established practice of the church had from the beginning followed the course outlined by Paul, which showed that other apostles besides himself had either established it by rule, or endorsed it in practice. In this appeal for uniformity Paul makes it clear that all churches should strive to make their practices uniform, not variant. Paul is here discussing how men and women should be attired when they take a leading part in public worship. He will speak later as to whether or not women should take any such part at all in public worship (1 Corinthians 14:34-35; 1 Timothy 2:12). We to-day as males worship with uncovered heads in consequence of Paul’s instruction; but not for his reasons. It is now an expression of reverence, which the Jew then expressed by taking off his sandals. "Holland," says Stanley, "is the only exception. In Dutch congregations, men uncover their heads during the psalmody only." In Western countries a woman’s hat has never had any symbolism whatever. We see nothing in Paul’s argument which requires us to make it symbolic. The problem in Western assemblies is how best to persuade women to take their hats off, not how to prevail upon them to keep them on. The principle, however, still holds good that the woman is subordinate to the man, and should not make any unseemly, immodest, vaunting display of an independence which she does not possess.] [113]

SEVENTH RESPONSE. AS
TO THE LORD’S SUPPER.

J.W. McGarvey

1 Corinthians 11:17-34

17 But in giving you this charge, I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better but for the worse. [Their church services, which were intended for their development, had become so corrupted that they tended to retard and to dwarf their natural growth. Farrar makes the words "this charge" refer back to verse 2; but it is more natural and easy to refer them to what he is about to say.] 18 For first of all [Paul was not careful as to his divisions, and so his "secondly" is not clearly stated. Olshausen, Ewald, Winer and others think it begins at verse 20, and thus the apostle first censures the factions, and next the evils which resulted from the factions. But as Paul includes both these in one rebuke, it is best with Meyer, Fausset and others to find the "secondly" beginning at ch. 12:1; so that the first rebuke is directed at their misbehavior at the love-feast and the Lord’s Supper, and the second at their misapplication of the gifts of the Spirit], when ye come together in the church [i. e., in the congregation, for as yet they doubtless had no building (Acts 18:7), and in this latter sense the word is nowhere used in the New Testament], I hear that divisions exist among you; and I partly believe it. [Evidently the divisions rebuked in chapter 1 manifested themselves in the meetings of the congregation, and the Pauline, Petrine and other parties gathered in separate groups. Paul was distressed to hear this, and Alford interprets him thus: "I am unwilling to believe all I hear, but some I can not help believing."]

19 For there must be [Luke 17:1; Matthew 18:7; Matthew 10:11] also factions among you, that they that are approved may be made manifest among you. [A carnal spirit tends to division (ch. 3:1-4; 1 John 2:18-19). The divisive spirit in the [114] perverse and carnal, manifests, by contrast, the loving, united spirit of the obedient and spiritual, which is approved. "Approved" is the cognate opposite of "rejected" found at ch. 9:27. The word "division" used in the verse above was a milder term than "factions" found here. The former represented parties separated by present or at least very recent dissensions, while the latter described matured separations and looked toward permanent organizations. If the former might be regarded as a war of secession, the latter would describe that condition when the war was practically ended, and the two parties were almost ready to establish themselves as separate, independent and rival governments. But factions did not thus mature in Paul’s time, nor does Clement’s epistle written forty years later indicate that they had matured in his time. No doubt, this epistle of Paul’s had much to do in checking their development.] 20 When therefore ye assemble yourselves together, it is not possible to eat the Lord’s supper [The Lord’s Supper is a spiritual feast. It is a feast of love, union and communion in and with Christ, and so can not be eaten by those who have already glutted themselves with hatred, factiousness and partyism]: 21 for in your eating each one taketh before other his own supper; and one is hungry, and another is drunken. [This verse is an indictment with three counts. There could be no communion supper when: 1. The parties did not eat at the same time, but some before and some after; 2. when each ate his own meal, instead of sharing in "the one bread" (ch. 10:17); 3. when some ate to the full and others ate nothing at all, because there was nothing left. It is likely that "drunken" indicates a state of partial intoxication. Grotius gives "drunken" the milder, and Meyer the stronger, sense. But the context suggests that one had more than was good for him, and the other less, and there is a subtle innuendo in the crossing of the terms, so that overdrinking stands in contrast to undereating, for overdrinking is greater debauchery than overeating.]

22 What, have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and put [115] them to shame that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you? In this I praise you not. [Litotes for "I condemn you." The context here makes it evident that the abuses of the Lord’s Supper grew out of the Agapæ, or love-feast, which was associated with it. As the feast of the Passover immediately preceded the Lord’s Supper, the early church thought it expedient to have a preliminary feast as a substitute for the Passover, thinking that the Lord’s Supper would thus have its proper setting. They called this preliminary meal a "love-feast" (Greek, Agapai--Judges 1:12). This Agapæ was a club-feast; i. e., one to which each was supposed to contribute his share. But the factious spirit in Corinth caused the church to eat in different parties and at different times; and may have, to a large degree, caused each to selfishly eat what he himself had brought. Hence, the apostle declares that a feast so devoid of all spirit of communion might just as well be eaten at home. They were mere carnal feasts of appetite and not spiritual feasts of love. Paul does not, however, mention the Agapæ, for, being a human and not a sacred feast, it could not be profaned. But the things which were a disgrace to it became a profanation and a sin when they passed from it into the Lord’s Supper. Paul shows his sense of astonishment at the unseemly conduct of the Corinthians by "lively succession of questions." His meaning may be paraphrased thus: "Private feasts should be eaten in your own private houses, or is it possible that you do not own any houses? Surely you do. Why, then, do you meet in a public assembly to eat your private meal? Is it because you despise the church of God, and wish to show your contempt for it by exposing the poverty of those who have no houses (nor anything else), making a parade of your wealth before them, and publishing the fact that you do not consider them fit to eat with you?" The evil spirit of which Paul speaks still exists; but it shows itself to-day by a parade of dress, and not of victuals. From the perverted feast of the Corinthians Paul now turns to show the nature of the true Lord’s Supper.]

23 For I received of the Lord [Paul did not receive his knowledge as to the supper [116] from the apostles or other witnesses (comp. Galatians 1:11-12). To be truly an apostle and witness (Acts 1:8), it was fitting that Paul should have his knowledge from the fountain source. For a comparison of Paul’s account with the three others, and comments upon verses 23-26, see "Fourfold Gospel," p. 657] that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed [the solemn and affecting circumstances under which the supper was instituted, as well as the sacred nature of the ordinance itself, should have impressed upon the Corinthians how unbecoming it was to celebrate the memorial of it in a spirit of pride, revelry and disorder] took bread; 24 and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me. [The Greek word for giving thanks is eucharistia, and from it many call the Lord’s Supper the Eucharist. But the "Lord’s supper" and the "Lord’s table" (ch. 10:21) and the "communion" (ch. 10:16) are three Bible terms for it. Many ancient authorities read: "This is my body, which is broken for you" etc. Some regard this as a contradiction of John’s assertion that no bone of him was broken (John 19:36). But the word differs from that used by John, which may be properly translated "crushed." "Broken" is involved in the phrase "he brake it," used here, and in the three other accounts of the supper, and hence they err who use the unbroken wafer.]

25 In like manner also the cup, after supper [Paul here inserts the entering wedge of reform. The Lord’s Supper came after the Passover, and was no part of it; hence it was no part of the Agapæ which was substituted for the Passover. As therefore the Agapæ was fruitful of disorder, would it not be well to separate it from the communion? By the end of the first century it was so separated, and at last it was formally prohibited by the Council of Carthage. See Poole’s synopsis on Matthew 26:26], saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. [Diatheke may be translated "testament" (Hebrews 9:16), or "covenant." The latter is the meaning here, for [117] wills or testaments were not sealed with blood, as were covenants. The cup is the symbol of Christ’s blood, which ratified the gospel covenant.] 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim [inwardly and outwardly] the Lord’s death till he come. [Thus the supper looks forward, as well as backward. The constant observance of this feast through the centuries is one of the strongest of the external evidences of the truth of gospel history. By a chain of weekly links it will connect the first and second comings of our Lord; after which there will be no further need of symbols.]

27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. [It is possible to partake of either emblem unworthily, and so be guilty as to both (James 2:10). Though we may be unworthy, we may still eat worthily, i. e., in a prayerful, reverent, repentant spirit; but if we eat unworthily, we profane not only the symbols, but the Lord who is symbolized--comp. Hebrews 10:29.] 28 But let a man prove [test] himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup. [A Christian confronting the communion should first test his sincerity (2 Corinthians 13:5), his state of heart (Matthew 5:22-24), etc., to see if he can eat in a submissive spirit, and in loving remembrance of his Lord.] 29 For he that eateth and drinketh, eateth and drinketh judgment unto himself, if he discern not the body. [The Corinthians were eating the supper in a spirit of levity, as though it were common food; not keeping in mind what it memorialized.] 30 For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep. ["Not a few" indicates a larger number than the preceding "many." It is generally accepted that Paul here refers to physical weakness, ill health and death, and that he asserts that these things came upon the Corinthians as a "judgment" for their abuse of the Lord’s Supper (comp. John 5:14). But the word "sleep" indicates peaceful repose, rather than the violence of the death penalty; and suggests that the Corinthians were condemned to be spiritually unhealthy and sleepy--comp. Matthew 13:12-15.] [118]

31 But if we discerned ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. [If we examined and corrected ourselves, we would escape the correction of God; but, as it is, his judgments are visited upon us, so that we may not finally be condemned with the world (Psalms 94:12; Hebrews 12:5-12). Verses 28 and 31 call for self-judgment, but there is no Biblical authority for the practice of those who take it upon themselves to judge as to the fitness of other professing Christians to commune (comp. Romans 14:4). Moreover, these verses, in giving the true rule of practice, expose the departure of the Romish Church, which calls for no self-examination, but makes confession and priestly absolution the preparation for communion.] 33 Wherefore [if you wish to remedy matters], my brethren, when ye come together to eat, wait one for another. 34 If any man is hungry, let him eat at home; that your coming together be not unto judgment. [By waiting they would eat together, and eat of the same symbolic bread; by eating at home, and taking the edge off their appetites, they would not devour all, and so exclude others from the communion.] And the rest will I set in order whensoever I come. [The spiritual ill health of the church had delayed his coming, but when he arrived he would adjust any lesser irregularities which might need attention.]

EIGHTH RESPONSE. AS TO SPIRITUAL GIFTS
J.W. McGarvey

1 Corinthians 12:1-31

[To avoid confusion in our classification of the subjects handled, we have called this section a response, but it is such as to information received, rather than as to questions asked. In the early church the Spirit of God, fulfilling the predictions of prophecy (Joel 2:28 ff.; Acts 2:17-21), and the promise of the Lord (Mark 16:17-18; Acts 8:7), [119] beginning on the day of Pentecost, endowed certain members with miraculous gifts. These were needful in that day: 1. They aided the evangelists and missionaries to propagate the faith in new fields with greater speed. 2. They assured weak converts that God was indeed in that church for which they had abandoned their former religions. 3. They edified the church, and gave it that body of perfect revealed truth which has been preserved and made permanent in the New Testament. But as different gifts were bestowed on different individuals, some of them became a source of pride and envy. Some who had showy gifts made a boastful display of them, and thus vaunted themselves as superior to those who had powers of a less dazzling nature; and those who had the humbler gifts envied the more richly endowed. To correct all this, Paul wrote the three chapters which follow.]

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. 2 Ye know that when ye were Gentiles ye were led away unto those dumb idols, howsoever ye might be led. 3 Wherefore I make known unto you, that no man speaking in the Spirit of God saith, Jesus is anathema [devoted to destruction, hence accursed]; and no man can say, Jesus is Lord, but in the Holy Spirit. [The previous idolatrous life of the Corinthians left them not only ignorant as to the ways of God’s Spirit, but also tended to mislead them. Paul therefore begins their instruction with the elementary principles which concern inspiration and revelation; thus: 1. An idol reveals no truth; it is dumb. 2. Idols are many, but God is one. 3. The pretended revelations and oracles of idols or idol priests and other impostors, may be tested by what their authors say of Jesus, for they will speak evil of him. 4. The true prophets and revealers may also be so tested. They will assert the claims of Jesus, which no man is moved to do save by the Holy Spirit (1 John 4:2-3; 1 John 2:22; 1 John 5:1). Treating these four points in their order, we need to note that: 1. Dumb idols were often made to speak by priests concealed in or behind them, who made use of speaking-tubes which led to the parted lips of the idol. Hence, converts from [120] paganism needed to be reminded that idols were indeed dumb, as a safeguard against such fraud. No spiritual truth came from the oracles of idols. 2. As each realm of nature had its god, idolaters were drawn about from shrine to shrine and temple to temple, seeking one blessing from one god to-day, and another blessing from another god to-morrow. Hence, saturated as they were with polytheism, diverse gifts were with them instinctively associated with diverse gods. But the diverse gifts of Christianity were not to be attributed to different deities, or even to different subordinate spiritual beings, such as angels, etc., for they were all from one God, as Paul affirms in this chapter, reasserting it ten times in the next ten verses by way of emphasis. 3. Elymas affords a picture of one pretending to speak oracles--a false prophet. 4. The conflict between Paul and Elymas shows the blasphemy of the false and the confession of the true prophet (Acts 13:6-12). The oracle of Delphi was near by, and contentions between idolatry and Christianity were, we may be sure, matters of daily occurrence in Corinth, and the ideas of new converts would be easily confused. The third verse shows that the test of a teacher is not his apostolic succession, but the soundness of his doctrine--comp. Galatians 1:8.]

4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are diversities of ministrations, and the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of workings, but the same God, who worketh all things in all. [Though the gifts were the immediate impartation of the Spirit, yet it was a mistake to think that the Spirit acted as an independent deity in this giving. Hence Paul begins by showing that all the Godhead participated in the bestowal, and that each sustained his own relation to these miraculous manifestations. In relation to the Spirit, they were, as we have seen, gifts; in relation to Jesus, they were means whereby he ministered to the church (Ephesians 4:11-12; Romans 12:6-7; 1 Peter 4:10-11), and to the world through the church (Mark 16:20); in relation to the Father, they were workings, or manifestations of power, whereby he sanctioned the church and kingdom of Jesus as proceeding [121] from himself, approved by him, and part of his universal field of operation--John 8:28-29; John 14:10-11.] 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit to profit withal. [Each of the gifted ones had some power which manifested that the Spirit of God was with him, and this power was not given to him for his own profit, but for the good of the church and of the world.]

8 For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom; and to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit: 9 to another faith, in the same Spirit; and to another gifts of healings, in the one Spirit; 10 and to another workings of miracles; and to another prophecy; and to another discernings of spirits: to another divers kinds of tongues; and to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 but all these worketh the one and the same Spirit, dividing to each one severally even as he will. [Paul here sets forth fully the diversity of the gifts, but checks any tendency to boastful comparison by showing that the gifts emanate from a common source, and are operated by a common will, and are bestowed according to the pleasure of the Spirit, and not because of any inferiority or superiority on the part of the recipients. The nine gifts spoken of may be described as follows: 1. The "word of wisdom" was the ability to reveal divine truth which was possessed by the apostles and partially by prophets. 2. The "word of knowledge" was the ability to teach the truth thus revealed. Paul emphasizes that the second gift was as much a work of the Spirit as the first. 3. Faith, in this connection, is more than that which comes by hearing. It is that energy of faith which carries with it divine power (Matthew 17:19-20; ch. 13:2). 4. "Gifts of healing" was the power to supernaturally restore the sick (Acts 5:15-16; James 5:14-15). This gift may have been separated from the one next named, because some had their miraculous power limited to this field. 5. "Workings of miracles" was larger than the one which preceded it, for it included acts of judgment as well as mercy. It was exercised by Paul in striking Elymas blind, and by Peter in the punishment of Ananias and Sapphira. Paul here names healing first, [122] possibly because those who are called upon to exercise God’s mercy stand higher in his esteem than those who execute his judgment, for pagans and unbelievers have often been used by him to mete out punishment. But in verse 28 he reverses the order, for the greater includes the less. 6. The "gift of prophecy" enabled one to speak the truth under the unerring guidance of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament this gift was a very important one; but in the New, the "word of wisdom," which embraced all the larger scope of prophecy, seems to have been mainly confined to the apostles, and so we find New Testament prophets merely foretelling things of a temporary or personal nature, as in the case of Agabus (Acts 11:28; Acts 21:9-11). 7. "Discernings of spirits" was the power to recognize the difference between the utterances of genuine inspiration and those of a demoniacal or an unaided human spirit. 8. There has been much dispute as to what is meant by "kinds of tongues." Some modern commentators have attempted to show that the gift of tongues mentioned in the Epistles was entirely different from the ability to speak foreign languages manifested on the day of Pentecost. The weakness of those who take this position is fully exposed by Hodge in loco. Speaking with tongues was not an incoherent, meaningless jargon uttered by the speaker in ecstatic rhapsody, nor was it "spiritual language unknown to man, uttered in ecstasy." The second chapter of the Book of Acts shows us clearly what it was, and the New Testament never explains it as being anything less or different. 9. "Interpretation of tongues" was the ability to interpret what was said by the one who spoke with tongues. The gifts of speaking and interpreting were sometimes given to the same person (1 Corinthians 14:13), and sometimes to different persons.]

12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. [Paul here strikes a fatal blow at that pride which animated those who held superior gifts. Can there be pride in one member of the body, as to the other members of which it is only an organic part? But all Christians, no matter how they differ in gifts, [123] are parts of the body of Christ. Jesus illustrated the organic unity between himself and the church under the figure of the vine and the branches; and the apostles, carrying the figure forward so as to include the unity existing between Christians, spoke of Christ as the head and the church as the body, or Christ as the building and the church as the stones. All organism supposes both unity and diversity.] 13 For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all made to drink of one Spirit. [Paul here proves the unity of the church by the method of its creation. One Spirit, acting through the apostles and all other evangelists and ministers (1 Thessalonians 1:5), had begotten people of different races and nationalities and conditions (John 3:5), and had caused them to be baptized into the one church, and had bestowed itself upon them after they had been thus baptized (Acts 2:38). Thus it had made them one organism. Paul speaks of the bestowal of the Spirit under the figure of the living water used by Jesus (John 7:37). As the spirit of a man keeps up the organic unity of the body, so the Spirit of God had vivified and organized the church.]

14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; it is not therefore not of the body. 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; it is not therefore not of the body. [This passage exposes the folly of those who were belittling themselves in the presence of their fellow-Christians. Being in the church, they were organically united to the entire church body. If they felt that their inferiority in gifts excluded them, they were not thereby excluded. Their false views and false assertions did not alter their true condition. Paul associates the members of action (foot and hand) and the members of sensation (eye and ear), and represents each as complaining against the other, because men are apt to be envious and to disparage themselves as to those who have superior gifts similar to their own. We are not envious of those whose gifts are dissimilar. It is the foot and not the eye that [124] envies the hand.]

17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now [(as things actually are)] hath God set the members each one of them in the body, even as it pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now they are many members, but one body. [The necessity for diversity is here shown. If all the church were teachers, who could be taught? If all were healers, who could receive healing? If all were preachers, who could listen? The glory of an organism is its diversity, and the more diverse its functions, the higher it ranks in the scale of life.] 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee: or again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. [The interdependence of the members is here shown. If, as we have seen above, the humbly envious one felt as if he were not included in the church, the proudly superior member felt as if the humbler one should be excluded. Here we find the eye and hand associated contrary to the usage in verses 15 and 16. Those who are puffed up with some great gift do not see the need of any other gifts save their own. But they tolerate those who have their gift in less degree, for such form a background to show off their excellencies. We have seen vain singers who esteemed the preaching as of very little importance, and vice versa. Paul continues to discuss this interdependence.]

22 Nay, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be more feeble are necessary: 23 and those parts of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness; 24 whereas our comely parts have no need: but God tempered the body together, giving more abundant honor to that part which lacked; 25 that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffereth, all the members suffer with it; or one member is honored, [125] all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and severally members thereof. [The hands and face have no need of adornment, but the rest of the body, being less comely, is made beautiful with clothing, so that a state of equilibrium is established, and the whole body is acceptable to the indwelling Spirit as its home. If any part of the body lacks in beauty, the attention of the whole body is drawn to it, and employed to better its condition. Moreover, the parts suffer or rejoice as a whole. Now, God intends that the church shall look upon itself as such an organic whole, and shall feel this lively concern for each of those who lack, feeling that the lack of one is the lack of all. "When a thorn," says Chrysostom, "enters the heel, the whole body feels and is concerned: the back bends, the fore part of the body contracts itself, the hands come forward and draw out the thorn, the head stoops, the eyes regard the affected member with intense gaze, When the head is crowned, the whole man feels honored, the mouth expresses and the eyes look gladness."]

28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, then miracles, then gifts of hearings, helps, governments, divers kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30 have all gifts of hearings? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? [Paul here completes his analogy by showing that the gifts bestowed upon individuals in the church are as diverse and variant as the faculties bestowed upon the various members of the body. As the apostle has named nine spiritual gifts, so he here names nine positions in the church. These may be defined thus: 1. The "apostles" were those who possessed plenary inspiration. They could at all times and on all subjects declare the will of God. 2. "Prophets" had occasional inspiration, which was then usually of a very limited nature. 3. "Teachers" were uninspired men that were gifted in teaching and explaining the historic truths of the gospel and the doctrinal truths which came through inspiration, for those having prophetic gifts did not always fully understand the import of [126] their own words (1 Peter 1:11-12). 4 and 5. Those who worked miracles and had the gift of healing have been spoken of above. 6. "Helps" means the same as helpers. In our land domestic and other helpers are often provincially called "help." It here refers to those who had a sympathetic nature or a generous spirit, etc. (Romans 12:8). 7. "Governments." This refers to those possessing powers of leadership and organization, those having administrative ability, such as the elders. 8 and 9. "Divers kinds of tongues" and the power to interpret the same, have already been described. These appear to have been ranked first in importance by the Corinthians, because most showy, and they are here placed last by the apostles because they added but little to edification, and were of small practical value.]

31 But desire earnestly the greater gifts. [Though these powers were bestowed as gifts by the Spirit, yet they were not bestowed blindly. They were apt to be conferred upon those who strove to be worthy of them.] And moreover a most excellent way show I unto you. [This may mean that I show you a most excellent way to attain unto the best gifts; or, I show you a way of love to which all may attain, and which far exceeds any gift or position. This way of love will be fully described in the next chapter.]

AS TO THE SUPREMACY OF LOVE
J.W. McGarvey

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

[This chapter has been admired by all ages, but, unfortunately, it has been practiced by none. In it Paul shows that love is superior to all extraordinary gifts, both by reason of its inherent excellency and its perpetuity. Also that it surpasses all other graces.] 1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. [The apostle first compares love with that gift of tongues in which the Corinthians took so much [127] pride. The comparison shows that speaking with tongues, even if it were exercised in an unexampled manner, is utter emptiness unless accompanied by love. The gift of tongues, even when it attained its highest conceivable development, is inferior to the language of angels; but even if one spoke with all the gifts of language human or divine, his word, if loveless, would be but a vainglorious noise, or sounds without soul or feeling; such as come from pounding on some brazen gong or basin, or from cymbals, which are the lowest, most monotonous, least expressive of all musical instruments. It is suggestive that Paul had doubtless heard the language of angels (2 Corinthians 12:4). Corinthian brass was a mixture of gold and silver, and was famous for its resonance when made into trumpets, etc.]

2 And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. [Love is next compared with the gifts of prophecy and miracle-working faith mentioned in the last chapter. The gift of prophecy manifested itself in two ways: 1. Ability to receive revelations of those counsels of God which were either not revealed at all, or else concealed in mystery (Matthew 13:11; Romans 16:25; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 3:3; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:26). 2. Ability to fully understand the revelations in all their bearings upon present and future life, former revelations, dispensations, etc. This latter Paul calls "knowledge." The phrase "I would not have you ignorant," so familiar in his writings, shows how frequently he used this knowledge to impart the full truth to others. The fate of those who exercised the gift of prophecy and miracles without love is described at Matthew 7:21-23. Balaam, Judas and Caiaphas may be taken as examples, and Satan himself is partially such. To say that one possessed of such gifts was "nothing"--a spiritual cipher--was a crushing blow to the pride and vanity of the Corinthians. We see that Paul agrees with James that faith which does not work in love is profitless--James 2:26; comp. Galatians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:3.]

3 And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it [128] profiteth me nothing. [Love is here contrasted with those works of charity and self-sacrifice which are included under the term "helps;" so that in his comparison Paul practically exhausts the whole catalogue of gifts described in the last chapter, and shows the entire supremacy of love over all of them. The word translated "bestow to feed," means to dole away in mouthfuls and suggests that though the giving was entire and exhaustive, yet the manner of giving was so parsimonious and grudging as to emphasize the lack of love. From giving goods Paul passes to that higher order of giving in which the body is presented as a sacrifice to God, either by martyrdom, or as a daily offering (Romans 12:1; ch. 15:31; 2 Corinthians 12:15; 2 Corinthians 11:29). It has been urged that Paul could not refer to martyrdom, for, though Christians were burned by fire in great numbers some ten years later, yet there is no account of any such form of martyrdom when Paul wrote. But the mere silence of history proves nothing; besides, the case of the three Hebrews is precedent enough (Daniel 3:23; Daniel 3:28; comp. Hebrews 11:34). See also 2 Maccabees 7. Willingness to fight and die for Christianity will not take the place of loving obedience to Christ. Having shown the supremacy of love when compared with miraculous gifts, Paul now enters upon a discussion of the intrinsic merits of love, thus preparing his hearers to grasp the superiority of love over the other two graces. He gives nine negative and six, or rather eight, positive qualities of love. All seventeen qualities will be found beautifully exemplified in the life of our Lord. The Corinthians were conspicuously lacking in the four which head Paul’s catalogue, as will be shown by comparing them with ch. 6:7; 12:15, 21, 26; 4:6, 18, 19.]

4 Love suffereth long, and is kind [In this catalogue the first and last negative qualities are coupled with their corresponding positives, suggesting a like coupling throughout. Love suffers evil and confers blessing, and seeks to thus overcome evil with good--Romans 12:21; Matthew 23:37; Luke 22:48; Luke 22:50-51]; love envieth not [Is not jealous of the gifts, goods or fortune of another, nor of his spiritual prosperity, as was Cain (Genesis 4:3-8). Love excludes this feeling; the parent does not envy the [129] child (Revelation 3:21). Moses was free from envy (Numbers 11:26-29), and so also was John the Baptist--John 3:26-30]; love vaunteth not itself [does not parade itself--Matthew 6:1; Acts 8:9; Matthew 11:29; Matthew 12:19; Matthew 12:38-39; Matthew 21:5], is not puffed up [is not inflated with pride or arrogance, because of wealth, knowledge, power, etc.--Acts 12:20-23; John 13:1-5],

5 doth not behave itself unseemly [Self-love betrays its lack of sympathy by vulgar indecorum, and cares not how offensive its conduct is towards others. Manners often give the measure of the man (Luke 7:44-47; Luke 23:11; John 13:14-15). Christians should manifest a courteous spirit--1 Peter 3:8-9; Luke 2:51-52], seeketh not its own [Love is unselfish and disinterested, and is happy in the happiness of others (Romans 12:10; Romans 15:1-3; Philippians 2:4; Matthew 8:20; Matthew 20:28). Self-love is grasping and productive of evil--ch. 10:24-33; Luke 12:13-21], is not provoked [It does not lose its temper; is not easily roused to resentment. The same word is used for the "sharp contention" between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:39). Love curbs exasperation--Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 26:62-63; 1 Peter 2:23; Hebrews 12:3], taketh not account of evil [Is not suspicious of evil, is not careful to retain the memory of it, and does not keep a record of it for the purpose of returning it. It continues its blessing despite rebuffs--John 10:32];

6 rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth [It does not rejoice in seeing sin committed nor in the downfall of those who are overcome by it (Romans 1:32; 2 Thessalonians 2:12; comp. John 8:3-11), but is glad when truth puts down iniquity (2 John 1:4; Acts 11:23; Luke 10:17-21; comp. 2 Timothy 3:8). Possibly the verse also includes that malignant joy which many feel at the mishaps or misfortunes of others. It certainly condemns that false charity which compromises truth--Proverbs 17:15; Galatians 1:9; Galatians 2:5; Galatians 2:11];

7 beareth all things [it endures wrongs without complaint, and bears the adversities, troubles and vexations of life without murmuring (Matthew 17:24-27), and often without divulging its needy condition--ch. 9:12; Philippians 4:11-12], believeth all things [It takes the kindest views of men’s actions and circumstances. It sees things in their [130] brightest, not their darkest, colors; and, as far as it consistently can, puts the best construction on conduct--Proverbs 10:12; 1 Peter 4:8; Genesis 45:5; Luke 23:34], hopeth all things [though the object loved is confessedly sinful to-day, yet this supreme grace looks with eager, hopeful expectation for its repentance on the morrow--ch. 3:2, 3; Luke 13:6-9; Luke 15:20; Luke 20:9-13], endureth all things. [The word "hupomenoo," translated "endureth," is a military term, and means to sustain an assault; hence it has reference to heavier afflictions than those sustained by the "beareth" of verse 7. It refers to gross ill-treatment, violence and persecution, and such grievances as provoke resistance, strife, etc. (2 Timothy 2:10; 2 Timothy 2:24; Hebrews 10:32; Hebrews 12:2; Matthew 5:39; comp. John 18:22-23, with Acts 23:2-5). The enduring is not simply that dogged persistency which bears up despite adversity, it is an endurance which forgives offense (Luke 17:4). From love as it manifests itself in daily life Paul now rises to speak of love in its essence.]

8 Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 10 but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: now that I am become a man, I have put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known. [The superlative excellence of love is here shown in that it survives all things with which it may be compared, and reveals its close relation to God whose name is love (1 John 4:8), by its eternal, imperishable nature. Prophecies, tongues and knowledge-three supernatural gifts though they were--were mortals compared with the divine spirit of love. They were needful in developing the infant church, but as that institution passed onward toward maturity and perfection (Hebrews 5:12-14; Hebrews 6:1; Ephesians 3:14-21; Ephesians 4:11-16), they were outgrown and [131] discontinued, because from them had been developed the clear, steady light of the recorded Word, and the mature thoughtfulness and assurance of a well-instructed church. They were thrown aside, therefore, as the wheat stalk which has matured its grain; or, to use Paul’s own figure, put away as the speech, feeling and judgment of childhood when they have produced their corresponding faculties in manhood. Though the triplet of child-faculties--speech, feeling, thought, do not form a close parallel with the triplet of gifts--tongues, prophecies, knowledge, yet they were alike in that to both, the child and the church, they seemed severally all-important. All Christians who mistakenly yearn for a renewal of these spiritual gifts, should note the clear import of these words of the apostle, which show that their presence in the church would be an evidence of immaturity and weakness, rather than of fully developed power and seasoned strength. But if the gifts have passed from the church as transient and ephemeral, shall not that which they have produced abide? Assuredly they shall, until that which is perfect is come; i. e., until the coming of Christ. Then prophecy shall be merged into fulfillment, and the dim light of revelation shall be broadened into the perfect day. We to-day see the reflection of truth, rather than the truth itself. It has come to us through the medium of minds which, though divinely illuminated, were yet finite, and it has modified itself, though essentially spiritual, so as to be clothed in earthly words; and it is grasped and comprehended by us through the use of our material brains. Thus, though perfect after its kind, and true as far as it goes, our present knowledge of heavenly things is perhaps as far from the full reality as is the child’s conception of earthly things (John 3:12). And so our present knowledge may well merge, as will prophecy, into a higher order of perfection, wherein both the means of manifestation (2 Corinthians 5:7) and of comprehension (1 John 3:2) will be wholly perfect. So, though at present we may indeed know God, yet our knowledge is more that received by description, than that which is received by direct, clear sight, and personal acquaintance; but hereafter we shall know God in some sense [132] as he knows us, and know the beings of the heavenly land as thoroughly as they now know us. Mirrors were then made of polished silver or brass, and were far more indistinct than our present glasses; so that to see a reflection in one of them was far less satisfactory than to see the reality.]

13 But now [in this present state] abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love. [If we give the phrase "but now" its other sense, as though the apostle said "But to sum things up, to give the net results," then we have him saying that faith, hope and love are eternal. While it is true that faith in the sense of trust and confidence, and hope in the sense of unclouded expectation, shall abide in heaven, yet, in their large, general meaning, faith shall be lost in sight, and hope in fruition (Romans 8:24-25). It therefore seems more consistent to understand the apostle as asserting that the three graces shall abide while the earth stands; in contrast with miraculous gifts, which, according to his own prophetic statement, have ceased. He does not explain the superior excellence of love when compared with faith and hope, but the points of superiority are not hard to find. 1. If all three are eternal, the other two shall be greatly diminished as graces by the Lord’s coming, while love shall be infinitely enlarged. 2. Love is the basis of faith and hope, for we only fully believe in and hope for that which we love. 3. Faith and hope are human, but God himself is love. 4. Faith and hope can only properly work by love, and are worthless without it. But here the superiority is not so clear, for the three graces go hand in hand.

SPIRITUAL GIFTS CONCLUDED
J.W. McGarvey

1 Corinthians 14:1-40

1 Follow after love; yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. [From the discussion of spiritual gifts Paul turned aside in the last chapter [133] to show that love is superior to all gifts. Having finished his digression, he now resumes the subject of gifts, and proceeds to show that the pursuit of love, as of supreme importance, does not exclude the desire of gifts, as of secondary importance. Having thus brought the subject of gifts again into discussion, he asserts that prophecy is superior to the gift of tongues, and proves his assertion by showing that it is the more useful in the edification of the church. Incidentally his argument shows that though the Spirit gave the gift of tongues to men, that men abused the gift; and so the Spirit, through Paul as its instrument, reproves and corrects this abuse. Prophecy, as here discussed, means preaching under divine guidance, and the gift of tongues was not a gift of the knowledge of, but of the use of, foreign languages. The one having it could declare God’s will in a foreign tongue, and could sometimes even interpret what he had declared; but he could not use the language for business conversation, or any personal or worldly purpose.] 2 For he that speaketh in a tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God; for no man understandeth; but in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. 3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men edification, and exhortation, and consolation. 4 He that speaketh in a tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. [The apostle here lays the groundwork of his argument. Prophecy is superior to the gift of exercising his spiritual gift (Revelation 1:10), might indeed speak the divine truths or mysteries of God; but, speaking them in a foreign language, he would be understood only by God and himself, and so would only edify, etc., himself. On the other hand, the prophet, declaring the same or kindred mysteries in the vernacular, would be understood by all present, and thus he would transform the mysteries into revelations, which would benefit the church, either edifying it, so as to enlighten its ignorance; or rousing its latent energies, so as to dispel its sluggishness; or comforting it, so as to remove its sorrows. In short, tongues might excite wonder (Acts 2:12), but preaching brought [134] forth fruit (Acts 2:36-42) and the Corinthian church had need to be more fruitful, since it was not eminent for its holiness or its works. Paul does not mean to say that no man living could understand the tongues, or that they were mere jargon. He means that no man present in the usual Corinthian assemblies understood them. Had speaking with tongues been mere hysterical "orgiastic" jargon, it certainly would not have bodied forth the mysteries of God, nor would it have edified the one speaking, nor could it have been interpreted by him or by others as Paul directs. Those who belittle the gift by construing it as a mere jargon approach dangerously near making Paul (and themselves likewise) criticize the Holy Spirit for giving such a senseless, abnormal gift. But those who read Paul correctly find that he is only censuring the abuse of the gift and not the nature of it. It was useful to the church while engaged in missionary work in foreign fields. But it became a source of vanity and vainglorious display when used by a church sitting idly at home. To the missionary it was a splendid addition to the gift of prophecy; but to the Corinthian preachers exhorting in their home church, it was a sad subtraction from that gift. The fruits of the Spirit in the Christian life are far enough from being "orgiastic"--Galatians 5:22.]

5 Now I would have you all speak with tongues, but rather that ye should prophesy: and greater [because more profitable] is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. 6 But now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, unless I speak to you either by way of revelation, or of knowledge, or of prophesying, or of teaching? [The gift of tongues had a subordinate use in the church of God, as an evidence of the presence of the Spirit of God. Moreover, it was a reserve of power, liable to be brought into active use at any time by the scattering of the church through persecution. For these reasons, and also to show that he writes in a spirit of generous good-will, Paul expresses a wish that all the churches in Corinth might be endowed with this gift. But, as [135] a more practical wish, he prefers that they shall be able to prophesy, since the church would not be edified by the use of the gift of tongues, unless the foreign language used was interpreted. If Paul came to them as a visitor or missionary, his profit to them would not lie in his speaking with tongues (even though he, a Jew, spake to them miraculously in their own Greek language); but it would lie in the subject-matter of his utterance, in the edification which he conveyed. Paul names the four ways in which men may be edified by the use of words, and all these four manners were as much at the command of prophecy as they were at that of the gift of tongues. Revelation is the unveiling of divine truth to a prophet, and prophecy is the impartation of that truth to others. Knowledge is the divine illumination of the mind as to the bearing and significance of a truth, and doctrine is the impartation to another of the truth thus grasped. These are all matters of sense, and not of sound only. But speaking with tongues in the presence of those not understanding the language spoken, is sound without sense, and fails to convey any prophecy, doctrine, etc. Paul goes on to show that sound without sense is not only profitless, but may even be baneful.]

7 Even things without life, giving a voice, whether pipe or harp, if they give not a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? 8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain voice, who shall prepare himself for war? 9 So also ye, unless ye utter by the tongue speech easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye will be speaking into the air. 10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and no kind is without signification. 11 If then I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be to him that speaketh a barbarian [a foreigner--Acts 28:2], and he that speaketh will be a barbarian unto me. 12 So also ye, since ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may abound unto the edifying of the church. [If there be any place where sound without sense is apparently valuable, or profitable, argues Paul, it will be found in the [136] use of musical instruments. But even here there are laws of cadence, modulation, harmony, etc., which form a veritable grammar of tongue-language, which, when obeyed, give to music what we may call a tone-sense, analogous to the intellectual sense embodied in language. Hence one may play an instrument so as to make it meaningless, and if he does he makes it profitless. Moreover, some instruments, such as the trumpet, because of the fixed and established laws of tone, are used to convey a language as well defined and unmistakable as that of the voice. Thus certain notes on the trumpet command a charge, others the joining of battle, and yet others the retreat, etc. Now, if the trumpet or trumpeter fails to produce this tone-language intelligibly, the army is thrown into confusion. Spiritual guidance uttered in an unknown tongue was like a blare of the trumpet which gave no order. Both disappointed the expectation of the listener. Both spoke idly into the air, instead of profitably into the ear. There are many sounds in the world, but they only become voices when they convey some form of sense. Thus we speak properly enough of the "voice of the trumpet," when it is blown, but no one speaks of the voice of the boiler when it is being riveted. Sense, meaning, signification, are the very essence of voice--the qualities which distinguish it from mere sound. If you use your voice to speak a foreign, and hence a meaningless, language, you degrade it, so that to your hearer it becomes a mere profitless sound. This you should not do. Since you earnestly seek gifts, you should seek them for practical purposes; viz.: for the abundant edification of the church.]

13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in a tongue pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15 What is it then? [What is the conclusion of the argument?] I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. 16 Else if thou bless with the spirit, how shall he that filleth the place of the unlearned say the Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he knoweth [137] not what thou sayest? 17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. [The one who was so under the influence of the Spirit of God as to speak with tongues, produced words and sentences with little or no intellectual effort. His spirit, being in accord with the Spirit of God, uttered the exhortation or the prayer with his spirit rather than with his understanding. Therefore, taking the case of prayer as an example, Paul advises that the understanding be kept as active as the spirit, and that a man so control the flow of prayer as to pause from time to time that he might interpret it, thus making his understanding as fruitful as his spirit. If he does not do this, he prays with his tongue indeed, but his understanding bears no fruit in the congregation where he prays. For this reason the apostle made it his rule to pray with his spirit and interpret with his understanding, and to sing also in like manner. If the speaker did not do this, how could one who was not gifted to interpret say Amen to the petition offered, seeing that he knew not what it was? Thus, no matter how ably the gifted one might pray, the ungifted one would not be edified. Amen was then, as now, the word of ratification or assent to an expression of prayer or praise, of blessing or cursing (Deuteronomy 27:15; Nehemiah 5:13; Revelation 5:14). Justin Martyr (Ap., c. 65, 67) describes the use of the Amen, after the prayer at the communion service. It is to that or some similar use that Paul refers. Doddridge justly says that this passage is decisive against the ridiculous practice of the church of Rome of praying and praising in Latin, which is not only a foreign, but a dead, tongue. Moreover, it shows that prayer is not a vicarious duty done for us by others. We must join in it.]

18 I thank God, I speak with tongues more than you all: 19 howbeit in the church [congregation] I had rather speak five words with my understanding [so as to be understood], that I might instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue. [Paul was thankful for the gift of tongues because of its utility, but especially lest any should think that he disparaged the gift because he did not have it, and assigned it a subordinate place from envy. His [138] disparagement is most emphatic. "Rather half of ten of the edifying sort than a thousand times ten of the other," says Besser. "There is a lesson here," says Johnson, "to preachers who are so learned in their utterances that the people can not understand them."] 20 Brethren, be not children in mind: yet in malice be ye babes, but in mind be men. [The apostle here reiterates the thought at ch. 13:11. To desire showy and comparatively worthless gifts was to be like children, pleased with toys. But as Paul exhorted them to be wise as men, the words of the Lord seem to have flashed through his mind (Matthew 10:16) so that he parallels men with serpents and babes with doves. "Yet in malice be ye babes" is a parenthesis added by way of fullness. It has nothing to do with the line of argument, for there was no possible malice in the use of tongues.]

21 In the law it is written, By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers will I speak unto this people; and not even thus will they hear me, saith the Lord. 22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to the unbelieving: but prophesying is for a sign, not to the unbelieving, but to them that believe. [The Old Testament generally is often called the Law by New Testament writers (John 10:34; John 12:34; Romans 3:20). Therefore the reference here is not to the Pentateuch, but to Isaiah 28:11-12. There the prophet tells how Israel murmured at the quality of the teaching which God gave them, and states that as a consequence God would soon teach them by the tongue of foreigners; i. e., the Assyrians would lead them away captive and they should be instructed by the hardships of captivity. When the captivity came, the necessity to understand and speak a strange tongue was a sign that God was teaching them, and yet a sign which they did not heed. From this incident Paul apparently draws several conclusions. 1. It was no especial mark of divine favor to have teachers who spoke an unknown tongue. 2. Tongues were for unbelievers and prophecy for believers. 3. Tongues were a sign that God was teaching, but the teaching itself was better than the sign. 4. Tongues, unless understood, had [139] never been profitable; i. e., had not produced conversion. It must be remembered that Paul has in mind the abuse rather than the proper use of tongues. He illustrates his meaning by a hypothetical case.] 23 If therefore the whole church be assembled together and all speak with tongues, and there come in men unlearned [not having the gift to interpret tongues, and not being educated in foreign languages] or unbelieving [and hence having no faith in the works of the Spirit], will they not say [because of the queer and unintelligible sounds which ye are making] that ye are mad? 24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one unbelieving or unlearned, he is reproved by all, he is judged [literally, cross-examined] by all; 25 the secrets of his heart are made manifest [being exposed by the cleaving sword of the Spirit--Hebrews 4:12; James 1:23-24; comp. John 4:19; John 4:29]; and so he will fall down on his face [The Oriental mode of showing deep emotion (Isaiah 45:14; 1 Samuel 19:24). Here it indicates feelings of submission and self-abasement] and worship God, declaring that God is among you indeed. [Paul supposes the case of one who dropped into the meeting out of curiosity. If he heard many people speaking at once in an unknown tongue, he would regard the gathering as little better than bedlam (Acts 2:13), and the more he heard speaking at once, the worse it would be. Therefore the meeting would be to him void of blessing from God, and the sign without any signification, for he would hear his fellow-citizens addressing him in a foreign tongue, which was to him a mere jargon, instead of hearing foreigners address him in his own tongue, similar to the miracle at Pentecost. If, on the other hand, he heard all his fellow-citizens prophesying in his own tongue, he would be reproved by all, and the secrets of his heart would be laid bare as though he had been cross-examined by a skillful attorney. This would lead to his conversion, and so be of profit to him, and would make him a witness to the divine nature of the church, instead of one who looked upon it as a hive of fanatics. Prophetic preaching must have had great power to make men feel that they stood face [140] to face with God, for even the faithful preaching of our day lays bare the sinner’s heart. He feels that sermons are aimed at him, and is often convinced that some one has been tattling to the preacher because the life is so fully exposed by his words. It should be observed that if truth is more potent than signs, much more is it more efficacious in revivals than mere excitement or pumped-up enthusiasm.]

26 What is it then, brethren? [See comment on verse 15.] When ye come together, each one hath a psalm, hath a teaching, hath a revelation, hath a tongue, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 27 If any man speaketh in a tongue, let it be by two, or at the most three, and that in turn; and let one interpret: 28 but if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. 29 And let the prophets speak by two or three, and let the others discern. 30 But if a revelation be made to another sitting by, let the first keep silence. 31 For ye all can prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be exhorted; 32 and the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets; 33 for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. [Since those who spoke with tongues were not understood, they could all speak at once without any loss. Thus confusion was fostered and encouraged, and those who came with other contributions to the service, such, as psalms, teachings, revelations, etc., were prevented from conferring any benefit upon the congregation. The apostle, therefore, orders the babel of tongues to be suppressed, that the congregation might be edified by these other contributions. Those who spoke with tongues were not to monopolize the meeting. In a large church like Corinth, where there would be plenty to take part in the exercises with psalms, teachings, interpretations of what had been said in tongues, etc., there was the opportunity for great variety. Hence Paul forbids more than three to speak with tongues in one exercise, and these must not speak all at once, but in turn, and they must pause and let some one gifted as interpreter [141] translate what they had said for the edification of the church. If there was no such interpreter present, then the man gifted with tongues must keep silence, and worship within himself for the edification and benefit of his own soul. Moreover, not more than three prophets must speak in a meeting, and the others present must give heed, especially those competent to discern between true and false prophecies (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21; 1 John 4:1; ch. 14:37). If a fresh revelation was given to a prophet while another prophet was speaking, the one speaking was to give place and keep silence, for the reception of a second revelation at such time would indicate authoritatively that the first revelation had been sufficiently explained. Therefore, the one speaking must desist, lest two should speak at a time, which would defeat the ends of instruction and exhortation. To enforce this rule of silence the apostle asserts the truth that prophets can control their spirits while under the prophetic influence. This guarded against the possibility that any speaker should pretend to be so carried away by the prophetic influence as to be unable to stop. God does not so overcome and entrance men as to make them produce confusion and disorder, for he is the God of order and of peace. God has not changed, and hysteria and frenzy, though they may exist in his churches as they may have done in Corinth, are not from him, nor according to his will. Even in the church at Corinth, where men were endowed with the gifts of the Spirit, all disorders were abuses of the spiritual gift and without excuse.]

As in all the churches of the saints, 34 let the women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law. [Genesis 3:16; Numbers 30:3-12.] 35 And if they would learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home: for it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church. [This is usually regarded as a very difficult passage, but the difficulties are more seeming than real, if we regard it as a general rule. Paul gives two reasons why the women should keep silence: 1. The Old Testament law made her subject to her husband, [142] and hence not a teacher, but a pupil. 2. The customs of the age made it a shameful thing for a woman to speak in public. Of these, of course, the first is the weightier, and yet we find exceptions to the rule in both dispensations. There were several prophetesses who exercised their gifts in public (Exodus 15:20; Judges 4:4; 2 Kings 22:14; Isaiah 8:3; Nehemiah 6:14; Luke 1:41-42; Luke 2:36-38; Acts 21:9). Moreover, the fullness of prophetic endowment granted to the New Testament church was matter of prophecy (Acts 2:17), and Paul himself gives directions as to the attire of women when exercising the prophetic office in the church (ch. 11:5). Paul’s rule, then, admits of exceptions. Some would do away with the rule entirely as obsolete on the ground that in Christ there is neither male nor female (Galatians 3:28); but this is undoubtedly unwarranted, for while the gospel emancipated woman, it did not change her natural relation so as to make her the equal of man. The powers of woman have become so developed, and her privileges have been so extended in gospel lands, that it is no longer shameful for her to speak in public; but the failing of one reason is not the cessation of both. The Christian conscience has therefore interpreted Paul’s rule rightly when it applies it generally, and admits of exceptions. The gift of prophecy no longer exists in the church, but, by the law of analogy, those women who have a marked ability, either for exhortation or instruction, are permitted to speak in the churches. Moreover, the apostle is speaking of the regular, formal meeting of the church; and it is doubtful if his law was ever intended to apply to informal gatherings such as prayer-meetings, etc. There is some weight to the comment that to understand the apostle we should know the ignorance, garrulity and degradation of Oriental women. Again, women are indeed subject to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 2:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1). The law is permanent, but the application of it may vary. If man universally gives the woman permission to speak, she is free from the law in this respect.]

36 What? [An exclamation of indignation] was it from you that the word of God went forth? or came it unto you alone? [Becoming [143] puffed up by the fullness of their spiritual gifts, the Corinthians were acting as if they were the parent church and only church. They were assuming the right to set precedent and dictate customs, when it was their duty to conform to the precedents and customs established before they came into existence. Their pretensions needed this indignant rebuke. Others were to be considered besides themselves, others who had sounded out the word which they had received--1 Thessalonians 1:8]. 37 If any man thinketh himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandment of the Lord. 38 But if any man is ignorant, let him be ignorant. [Since Paul’s words were dictated by the Spirit of God, any one filled with that Spirit would be guided to recognize his words as of divine authority, for the Spirit would not say one thing to one man and another to another. But if any man was so incorrigibly obstinate as to refuse to be enlightened by what the Spirit spoke through the apostle, there was no further appeal to be made to him (Matthew 15:14; 1 Timothy 6:3-5). Paul’s test is still of force. Whoso professes to be inspired, yet contradicts what the Spirit of God has already said in the New Testament, is self-convicted. These verses mark the division between Catholics and Protestants. The former say in effect that the Spirit-filled prophets at Corinth could modify, alter, and even deny what was spoken by the Spirit-filled Paul; for they hold that the pope can change the Scriptures to suit himself. But Protestants hold that a man shows himself to be led of the Spirit of God when he assents and conforms to that which has been spoken by men of undoubted inspiration.]

39 Wherefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. 40 But let all things be done decently and in order. [Paul concludes with a recapitulation. The higher gift is to be sought and the lower gift is not to be prohibited. But as a caution against the abuse of the lower gift, he lays down that rule of order and decorum which the church has too often forgotten to her sorrow.] [144]

NINTH RESPONSE AS TO THE RESURRECTION
J.W. McGarvey

1 Corinthians 15:1-58

[The response in this section also is rather to a condition of the church than to a question. In the eyes of the Greeks the body was the prison-house of the soul, and death was a release of the soul from its captivity. The resurrection of the body, therefore, was regarded by them as a calamity rather than as a blessing, and so contrary to all sound philosophy as to excite ridicule (Acts 17:32). While Paul was present in Corinth, his firm faith, full understanding, and clear teaching, had held the church firmly to the truth; but in his absence the church had grown forgetful of the precise nature of his teaching, and, attempting to harmonize the gospel doctrine of a resurrection with the theories of their own learned teachers, the Greek Christians of Corinth had many of them come to look upon the resurrection promised to Christians as a mere resurrection of the soul, and hence as one which, as to the dead, was already past (2 Timothy 2:18). They flatly denied the possibility of a bodily resurrection. The chapter before us is a restatement of the truth as opposed to this error, and a general discussion of the doctrine of a resurrection tending to remove all the erroneous views which the Greeks held with regard to it. This chapter has been read as an antidote to the pain of death at millions of funerals.]

1 Now I make known unto you, brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand, 2 by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain. [or without cause. In these two verses Paul reminds them of many important facts, as follows: that they had already heard the gospel, weighed, tested and received it, and that they now stood as a church organized under it, and that their hopes of salvation depended [145] upon their holding fast to it, unless they had believed inconsiderately, under the impulse of a mere fitful admiration. His correlative appeal to them to think more deeply and steadfastly will be found in the last verse of the chapter.] 3 For I delivered unto you first of all [as a matter of primary importance: see ch. 2:3, 4] that which also I received [and hence no device or invention of my own]: that Christ died for our sins [to atone for them--1 John 3:5; Galatians 1:4; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Titus 2:14] according to the scriptures [Isaiah 53:5; Isaiah 53:10; Daniel 9:26; Psalms 22:1-22; Zechariah 12:10]; 4 and that he was buried [and this also was according to the Scriptures--Isaiah 53:9]; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures [Psalms 16:10; Isaiah 53:10; Hosea 6:2; Jonah 2:10. Here the apostle reminds the Corinthians that the message which he delivered to them was one which he had received by divine revelation; that it consisted of three pre-eminent facts, namely, the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord; that of these facts the two which were hard to believe, i. e., the first and the last, were made more easy of belief by having been predicted in the Scriptures, the latter with minuteness, even as to the day. The apostle does not waste time proving the death; it was witnessed by thousands, it had never been denied by friend or enemy, and it was not now called in question by the Corinthians. The third item was the one called in question, and, having first proved it by a witness before the fact (the Scriptures), the apostle proceeds to refresh their minds as to how fully it had been proved by witnesses after the fact (viz.: the apostles and others), thus making them again aware that the resurrection was a literal, historical, objective fact. A fact so important and so difficult of belief demanded a host of witnesses, but Paul had them to produce; this thing was not done in a corner--Acts 26:26];

5 and that he appeared to Cephas [Luke 24:34]; then to the twelve [John 20:26-29. "The twelve" was an official name for the apostles, though there were but eleven of them at this time]; 6 then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain [among the [146] living] until now [and hence are producible as witnesses], but some are fallen asleep [Matthew 28:16]; 7 then he appeared to James [This was the one called "the brother of our Lord," and "James the just." Though Paul speaks of him as an apostle (Galatians 1:19), he was not one of the twelve. But he was prominent in that day as a chief elder at Jerusalem (Acts 15:13; Acts 21:18; Galatians 2:9; Galatians 2:11). He was author of the Epistle which bears his name. The appearance here mentioned evidently converted James, for before the resurrection the brethren of our Lord did not believe on him--comp. John 12:3-5; Acts 1:14; Acts 9:5]; then to all the apostles [Acts 1:3]; 8 and last of all, as to the child untimely born, he appeared to me also. [Acts 9:5; Acts 22:14; Acts 26:16. The abortive child is usually weak, puny and undersized. Paul speaks of himself as such a child in the brotherhood of the apostles, and does this without mock modesty (comp. 2 Corinthians 12:11; Ephesians 3:8). For comment on this catalogue of appearances, see "Fourfold Gospel," pp. 751, 753, 761, 764, 766. The other apostles had three years and a half filled with instruction, and so were fully developed in their office; while Paul became a disciple in an instant, and received his instructions briefly by revelation.]

9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. [Comp. Acts 7:57; Acts 8:1-3; Acts 9:1; 1 Tim . 1:13; Galatians 1:13.] 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not found vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. [Galatians 2:8; Philippians 2:13; Colossians 1:29.] 11 Whether then it be I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed. [Paul recognizes the tardiness of his belief on the Lord and the lateness of his vision of him as an evidence of his unworthiness. Though this personal allusion appears on its face to be a digression from his argument, it really lends great force to it. There could be no higher honor known to men than to be chosen as a witness of the resurrection of Christ. For this reason it might be thought that Paul was zealous in [147] establishing the truth of the resurrection because of the honors which he enjoyed as a witness to that truth. But he reminds them that the circumstances under which he saw the Lord so emphasized his own unworthiness (he being then on his way to persecute the Christians at Damascus) that the memory of the event wakened in him a sense of humiliation rather than exaltation. In fact, he would be exalted rather than dishonored by their unbelief, for he could claim no reverence as a witness when his testimony necessarily involved a confession of his crimes. But having confessed his crime and consequent inferiority, and knowing that this admission would be most strictly construed by those who disparaged him and contended that he was not an apostle, he rehabilitates himself by showing that his own littleness had been made big by the abounding grace of God, so that he had labored more abundantly than any of the apostles. Moreover, those to whom Peter or Apollos were more acceptable, would gain nothing by their partiality and discrimination in respect to this matter, for all who had preached Christ to them had been a unit in proclaiming the resurrection. Christ had never been preached otherwise than as a risen one. Again, this preaching had resulted in their believing, which was the point he did not wish them to lose sight of. Having committed themselves to belief, they did wrong in thus becoming champions of unbelief; i. e., unbelief in the resurrection. It should be observed that in proving the resurrection Paul cites witnesses (1) who were living; (2) who were many of them commonly known by name; (3) who were too familiar with the form, face, voice, manner, life, etc., of Jesus to be deceived by a pretender, if any could have found motive for practicing such a deception. Having shown their folly in abandoning without evidence that which they had believed on competent testimony, the apostle turns to show the consequences of their act.]

12 Now if Christ is preached that he hath been raised from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither hath Christ been raised: 14 and if Christ hath not been raised, then is [148] our preaching vain, your faith also is vain. [The resurrection of Christ was the very heart of the gospel, the essence of gospel preaching. The Corinthians had not realized how serious a matter it was to admit the impossibility of any resurrection. By so doing they made the resurrection of Jesus a fiction, and if his resurrection was fictitious, then Christian preaching and Christian faith were both empty vanities. Verily the argument of the rationalists had proved too much, causing them to deny the very faith which they professed. The apostle goes on to develop this thought, in connection with another thought--the nature of the issue between the rationalists and Christ’s ministers. It was not an issue of truth or mistake, but of truth or falsehood--a direct accusation that the apostles and their colleagues were liars--Acts 2:32; Acts 4:33; Acts 13:30.] 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we witnessed of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, neither hath Christ been raised: 17 and if Christ hath not been raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. [unjustified--Romans 4:25.] 18 Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable. [2 Corinthians 1:5-9; 2 Corinthians 11:23-32; 2 Timothy 3:12. If, as the rationalists affirmed, there was no such thing as a resurrection, then Christ was not raised from the dead, and if he was not raised, the apostles and others who witnessed as to his resurrection had borne false testimony as to God, accusing him of doing what he had never done. They were also false witnesses as to the Corinthians, having given them a vain faith as to forgiveness and eternal life, when in reality they were yet in their sins, and doomed to receive the wages of sin which is death. They were also false witnesses as to the dead, for, instead of falling asleep in Jesus, the dead had perished. Moreover, they and other witnesses who had done all this, were wholly without excuse; for they had made others miserable without any profit whatever to themselves. If there was no [149] resurrection and future reward for these witnesses, they must have testified falsely, hoping for some gain in this present life; but instead of such gain, these witnesses had drawn upon themselves from every quarter such storms of persecution as made their lives most pitiable--miserable enough to induce them to abandon so profitless a falsehood. The absolute self-sacrifice of such a life as Paul’s can be explained only by admitting that he believed his own testimony, and truly hoped for a resurrection and blessings in the future state. At this point he ceases to be the persuasive logician, and speaks as the authoritative, inspired prophet. Against the vain and erroneous reasonings of men he places the infallible and unfailing revelations of the Spirit]

20 But now hath Christ been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of them that are asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die [Genesis 3:1], so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order [literally, cohort, regiment, or military division]: Christ the firstfruits; then they that are Christ’s, at his coming. [After clearly reaffirming his testimony to the resurrection of Christ, he goes on to show the comprehensive, all-inclusive nature of that resurrection. This he does by appeal to Scriptural figure and fact. On the morrow after the Sabbath of the passover a sheaf of barley (the earliest grain to ripen) was waved as firstfruits before the Lord (Leviticus 23:9-14). The firstfruits had to be thus presented before the harvest could be begun, and its presentation was an earnest of the ingathering. Now on this very day after the Sabbath Christ was raised as the firstfruits from the dead, and became the earnest of the general resurrection. Moreover, that which was so clearly shown in the type was written with equal clearness in the history. If the justice of God caused the death of Adam to include in its scope the death of all, so the mercy of God had caused the resurrection of Christ to work the contrary effect of liberating all from the grave. But as the firstfruits preceded the harvest, so the raising of Christ preceded the resurrection of the race. But as the firstfruits was part of the [150] harvest, so the resurrection of Christ is a partial resurrection of all humanity. He must be the Omega as well as the Alpha of the resurrection, and must raise all in whom his Spirit dwells. Because Paul states that there shall be order in the resurrection, and because he names but two parties in the order--Christ and his disciples, commentators have been deceived into thinking that there will be a third order--the wicked. Thus they have the anomaly of firstfruits followed by two harvests. But this is contradicted by the entire trend of Scripture, which speaks of a resurrection, and not of resurrections; of a harvest (Matthew 13:36-43), and not harvests; and which describes the judgment day in terms which can not be reconciled with two separate resurrections (Matthew 25:31-46). The only apparent exception is the spiritual or figurative resurrection mentioned in the Apocalypse (Revelation 20:4-6). The truth is that in this chapter Paul is considering only the resurrection of the righteous, and takes no account of the resurrection of the wicked at all, for to have done so would have involved his readers in endless confusion. The context clearly shows this. There is but one resurrection day for humanity, and but one trumpet to summon them to arise and appear in one common hour of judgment.]

24 Then cometh the end [the apostle does not mean to say that this end comes immediately after the resurrection, but that it is next in order of great events, so far as humanity is concerned], when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet. [Ephesians 1:20-22; Matthew 28:18; 1 Peter 3:22.] 26 The last enemy that shall be abolished is death. [2 Timothy 1:10; Hebrews 2:14; Revelation 20:14.] 27 For [saith the Psalmist], He put all things in subjection under his feet. But when he saith, All things are put in subjection [Psalms 8:6; Psalms 110:1; Psalms 2:6-9], it is evident that he [the Father] is excepted who did subject all things unto him. 28 And when all things have been subjected unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subjected to him that did [151] subject all things unto him, that God may be all in all. [i. e., that God may have all headship of all creation; complete and absolute supremacy (Colossians 3:11), so that "all things shall say, ’God is all things to me’" (Bengel). In verse 23 the apostle, while arguing the reasonableness of the resurrection, is led to mention its relation to the end of the world, but the resurrection presents its reasonableness in another form, being intimately associated with a higher, more transcendent climax than even the termination of this physical universe; for it is an essential preliminary to the culmination of Christ’s mediatorial kingdom into the kingdom of the Father. This culmination can not take place until the mediatorial kingdom has attained ripened perfection through the subjugation of all things. But among the enemies to be thus subdued, death stands forth with marked prominence, and the weapon which subdues him is, and can be no other than, the resurrection. Hence the supreme glorification, or, as it were, the crowning of God as all in all, is predicated upon a resurrection as a condition precedent. The chain of Paul’s logic is long, but it runs thus: no glorification until the mediatorial kingdom is turned over to God; no turning over of this kingdom until its work is complete; no completion of its work till all its enemies are destroyed; no destruction of all these enemies while death, a chief one, survives; no destruction of death save by the resurrection: therefore no full glorification of God without a resurrection. The logic would hold good for the doctrine of Universalism, were it not that there is a second death which is not looked upon as an enemy to the kingdom of God.]

29 Else [i. e., if it were otherwise--if baptism were not an all-important factor in God’s plan] what shall they do that are baptized for [on account of, with reference to. For full discussion of this preposition see Canon Evans’ additional note, Speaker’s Commentary in loco] the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them? [The word "baptized" is an imperfect participle, and denotes an act being continually performed. Paul’s question, then, is this: If the resurrection is not part of God’s plan--if affairs are otherwise, [152] and there is really no resurrection then what are converts to do, who, under the mistaken notion that there is a resurrection, are now constantly presenting themselves to be buried in baptism on account of the dead? If the dead are not raised, why then are these converts buried in baptism on their account, or with a view to them? Romans 6:3-11 makes Paul’s meaning in this passage very plain. The dead are a class of whom Christ is the head and firstfruits unto resurrection. By baptism we symbolically unite ourselves with that class, and so with Christ, and we do this because of the hope that we shall be raised with that class through the power of Christ (Romans 6:5). But if the dead are not raised at all, then why should converts be united with them by a symbolic burial? why should they be baptized on their account, or with reference to them? If there is no resurrection, baptism, which symbolizes it, is meaningless. Commentators belonging to churches which have substituted sprinkling for baptism make sad havoc of this passage. Having lost sight of the symbolic meaning of baptism--that it is a union of the convert with the dead, and especially with the dead and buried Christ as their head and firstfruits unto life--they are at a loss how to interpret the apostle’s words, and in despair assert that Christians were in the habit of being baptized vicariously for their friends who died without baptism. Long after Paul wrote, a similar misunderstanding of this passage led the followers both of Marcion and Cerenthus to practice such vicarious baptisms; but the practice grew out of Paul’s words, instead of his words being called forth by the practice.]

30 why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour? 31 I protest by that glorying in [concerning] you, brethren, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. [Romans 8:36.] 32 If after the manner of men [as a carnal man, having no future hope] I fought with beasts at Ephesus, what doth it profit me? [The tense and words indicate that Paul had become a beast-fighter as a settled occupation. It is conceded that his language was figurative, and that he spoke of contending with beasts in human form (Titus 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:17), rather than to the fighting of actual beasts [153] in the arena. Had Paul been thrown to the lions, Luke could hardly have failed to mention it when recording the events of Paul’s ministry at Ephesus. Moreover, Paul’s Roman citizenship shielded him from such a punishment. But he does not refer to the tumult in the theater (Acts 20:19), for it took place after this letter was written. But we may well believe that Paul was in daily danger in Ephesus--2 Corinthians 1:8-9.] If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die. [This is an Epicurean maxim which had passed into a proverb. "If," says South, "men but persuade themselves that they shall die like beasts, they soon will live like beasts too." In the three verses above, Paul passes from the symbolic death of baptism to consider death literally. In the hope of a resurrection he was enduring daily a living death, his life being hourly in jeopardy. If it was idle folly in converts to be symbolically united with the dead, much more was it gross foolishness for the apostle to live thus continually on the verge of being literally, actually united with them. But the folly in both instances was made wisdom by the fact of a resurrection. Thus to the arguments already adduced Paul adds the additional one that Christianity, in its initial ordinance, and in its daily life-experience, is built upon the hope of a resurrection. Without this hope no sensible man could start to be a Christian, much less continue to live in accordance with his profession.]

33 Be not deceived: Evil companionships corrupt good morals. 34 Awake to soberness righteously, and sin not; for some have no knowledge of God: I speak this to move you to shame. [Do not be deceived by freethinkers and shun those who would corrupt the truth, for right doctrine and right practice stand or fall together. Shake off, therefore, this drunken fit, and keep from those sins in which it has tempted you to indulge. The sentence "Evil," etc., is a quotation taken from the Greek poet Menander. To show the full enormity of the teaching of the rationalists, Paul declares that it is a shame to the Corinthians to have such Christless Christians in the church--men who have so little knowledge of even the power of God as to deny his ability to bring to pass [154] so simple a matter as the resurrection. That God gives life is daily apparent; and to give it is infinitely more wonderful than to restore it.] 35 But some one will say, How are the dead raised? and with what manner of body do they come? 36 Thou foolish one, that which thou thyself sowest is not quickened except it die [comp. John 12:24]: 37 and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not the body that shall be, but a bare [naked] grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other kind; 38 but God giveth it a body even as it pleased him [guided by his sense of fitness and propriety], and to each seed a body of its own. [In this paragraph Paul answers the first question of verse 35. The Corinthians, like all materialists, made the resurrection a puzzling problem. They wondered how God could restore a body which returned to the dust, passed thence into vegetation, and thence into the bodies of animals and other men. Paul calls the man who thus puzzles himself a foolish one, because he denies that the all-powerful God can do with a human body that which he himself practically does annually with the bodies (grains) of wheat, etc., by merely availing himself of the common course of nature. When he sows a grain of wheat he does not expect it to come up a naked grain as he sowed it, but he knows that it will die, and in its death produce another body, consisting of stalk, blade, head and other grains similar to the one sown. He knows that though the body thus produced bear small outward resemblance to the single grain planted, yet it is the product of the grain’s germinal life, and on examination can be absolutely demonstrated to be such. Moreover, by doing this same thing with corn, oats and other grain he finds that each produces a body of its own kind, adapted by the wisdom of God to its needs. With all this before him, how foolish in man to deny that God can cause the dead body to rise in a higher and nobler form, and that he can also cause each man to have a resurrected body true to his individuality, so that Smith shall no more rise in the likeness of Jones than corn come up after the similitude of oats. But the analogy taught by nature is true in another respect; i. e., the [155] body produced by the seed is greater and more excellent than the seed. Paul enlarges and applies this thought.]

39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fishes. 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. [Here the apostle answers the second question of verse 35. If a man rises from the dead changed as the grain of wheat is changed, will he not have a different body, and so lose his identity? Will he not cease to be man? Paul gives a threefold answer to this question. He shows that there may be diversity, and yet a common ground of identity. There are diverse forms of flesh, yet all these forms are flesh; there may be different forms of bodies having different glories, yet are they all bodies; yea, even the glories may differ in luster and yet may have common identity as glory. Thus also is the resurrection of the dead. The flesh is changed, and yet it is in a sense flesh--humanity; there may be modifications in the form, and yet it will be the same body. There may be great changes in the glory, yet the glory will still be glory, and not essentially different. Thus man may still be man, and yet be vastly improved. In this part of the argument Paul is correcting a cardinal error in Greek thought. They stumbled at the doctrine of a resurrection, because they regarded the body as a clog to the soul; and so the body might indeed be, if God could form but one kind of body. But he can form celestial as well as terrestrial bodies, and spiritual bodies adapted to the needs of the spirit, which will not hinder it as does this earthly tabernacle which it now inhabits--bodies which will not only prove no disadvantage, but of infinite assistance, because answering every requirement. This truth is now further exemplified.] It is sown in corruption [Ecclesiastes 12:7]; it is raised in incorruption [Luke 20:35-36]: 43 it is sown [156] in dishonor [buried because it is repulsive and will become offensive--John 11:39]; it is raised in glory [Philippians 3:21]: it is sown in weakness [devoid of all ability]; it is raised in power [Revelation 3:21]: 44 it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. [This power of God to preserve identity in diversity works out glorious results for man. Our earthly body, when planted in death, will indeed bring forth after its kind, but God, in the fullness of his power and grace, shall cause it to lay aside its terrestrial glory, and assume the celestial. The nature of the change thus effected is illustrated by four contrasts, the corruption, dishonor, weakness and animal nature of the terrestrial body being laid aside for the incorruptible, glorious, powerful and spiritual body of the celestial world. If man owns a natural, or psychical, body, i. e., a body which is sustained and operated by his lower or soul-life, and suited to this world of death; so he also owns a spiritual body, suited to the desires, motions and operations of the spirit and eternal life; a body wherein the soul takes its proper position of subordination to the spirit, according to God’s original plan and purpose when he created man in his image. Paul says "is," for such a body already exists, and is occupied by Christ our head--Revelation 1:18.]

45 So also it is written [Genesis 2:7], The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 Howbeit that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; then that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. [Here the two heads of humanity are contrasted. Adam was a quickening soul, and Christ a quickening spirit (comp. Genesis 2:7, and John 20:22. See also 2 Corinthians 3:17; Romans 8:2; Romans 8:11; John 7:38-39). But of these two heads the natural came first. We are Adam’s by generation, and [157] Christ’s by regeneration. The life principle of Adam is soul, and he was formed of the earth: the life principle of Christ is spiritual. He was in heaven (John 1:1) and from thence entered the world and became flesh (John 1:14; John 3:13; John 3:21; Philippians 2:6-8; John 1:1-3; Luke 1:35). Now, as the two heads differ, so do the two families, and each resembles its head; the earthly progeny of Adam having earthly natures, and the spiritual progeny of Christ having spiritual and heavenly natures. But in both families the earthly nature comes first, and the spiritual children wait for their manifestation, which is the very thing about which the apostle has been talking, for it comes when they are raised from the dead (Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:2; Romans 8:22-23; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10). Life is not retrogression, but ascension. Therefore he assures them that as they have borne the image of the earthly Adam, so also are they to bear the image of the heavenly Christ, both of whom have the bodies of men, yet bodies differing vastly in glory, power, etc., for one belongs to the earth, dies and returns to it, while the other belongs to the deathless heaven and forever abides there.]

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. [1 Peter 1:4.] 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery [a secret not previously revealed]: We all shall not sleep [die], but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. [Man in his fleshly nature has no place in heaven, for corruption is antagonistic to incorruption, as light is to darkness. It is essential, therefore, that man must put off the corruption of Adam and the natural body of Adam, and assume the incorruptible, spiritual body of Christ, before he can enter upon his celestial inheritance. Those who are alive at Christ’s coming shall not escape this necessary change. If the dead are changed by resurrection (verses 42, 43), the living shall [158] also be changed by transfiguration; but both shall be changed, and the change in each shall take place at the same moment; i. e., when the trumpet shall summon all to appear before God--1 Thessalonians 4:16.]

54 But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written [Isaiah 25:8], Death is swallowed up in victory. [When the natural body shall be transformed into the spiritual, then shall be fulfilled that prophecy which describes death--the one who has swallowed up the human race, as being himself swallowed up in victory.] 55 O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? [This passage is quoted loosely from Hosea 13:14. Warned by the glow and glory of his argument, the apostle bursts forth in this strain of triumphant exultation, which has wakened a corresponding thrill in the heart of the Christian, and has been a solace and comfort to the church through all subsequent centuries.]

56 The sting of death is sin [Romans 6:23]; and the power of sin is the law [Romans 4:15; Romans 7:10-12]: 57 but thanks be to God [Psalms 98:1], who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. [Death is here spoken of under the figure of a serpent. Sin is the bite or sting with which he slays men, and the power or poisonous strength of sin is found in the curse which the law pronounces upon the sinner. By the triple power of law, sin and death, the glory of man was brought to nought; but thanks are due to God, who restored glory to man through Jesus Christ. Christ gave man the victory over the law, for he nailed it to his cross (Colossians 2:14); he gave him victory over sin, for he made atonement for sin (Hebrews 7:27); and he gave him victory over death by his resurrection, which is the earnest of the general resurrection. Wonderful threefold victory!] 58 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord. [Therefore, since you see that the dead are raised and made capable of enjoying heaven, do not again be moved from your belief in [159] these well-proven and established truths, and be careful to abound in the Lord’s work, for no matter what your present sufferings and persecutions may be, the Lord will amply reward you in the resurrection, and your labor will not be in vain.]

CONCERNING THE COLLECTION, PERSONAL
MATTERS, SALUTATIONS AND BENEDICTION

J.W. McGarvey

1 Corinthians 16:1-24

[The fraternal communism of the Jerusalem church (Acts 2:44-45; Acts 4:36-37; Acts 5:1), together with the political troubles, famines (Acts 11:28-30) and persecutions (Acts 8:1-4), all tended to impoverish the church in Judæa. To relieve this poverty and to bring about a more cordial feeling between Jews and Gentiles, Paul had set about gathering an offering in the Gentile churches for the brethren in Judæa. The church at Corinth had consented to make such offering, but had been hindered by their factions, or some other cause, from so doing. In this chapter Paul requests them to begin taking this offering at once. He also speaks of the reasons why he had postponed his visit, tells them when they may expect him, and treats of some other lesser matters.]

1 Now concerning the collection for the saints [Christians], as I gave order to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye. [Very probably he had ordered, or arranged for, this collection on the journey mentioned at Acts 16:6, and he probably collected it on that mentioned at Acts 18:23. "Paul," says Bengel, "holds up as an example to the Corinthians the Galatians, to the Macedonians the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 9:2), and to the Romans the Macedonians and Corinthians (Romans 15:26): great is the force of example." For other references to this collection, see Acts 11:29-30; Acts 24:17; 2 Corinthians 8:1-2.] 2 Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I [160] come. [The word "thesaurizoon," translated "in store," means, literally, "put into the treasury;" and the phrase "par’ heauto," translated "by him," may be taken as the neuter reflexive pronoun, and may be rendered with equal correctness "by itself." Macknight thus renders these two words, and this rendering is to be preferred. If each man had laid by in his own house, all these scattered collections would have had to be gathered after Paul’s arrival, which was the very thing that he forbade. Again, had the collection been of such a private nature, it would have been gathered normally at the end instead of at the beginning of the week. But the first day of the week was evidently set apart for public worship (John 20:19-26; Acts 20:7; Revelation 1:10), and this offering was part of the service. It was put in the public treasury of the church, but kept by itself as a separate fund. The translation of the Revised Version is unfortunate, as it obscures the idea of the weekly service of the church. According to Paul’s method of collecting, each rendered a weekly account of his stewardship, and gave more and felt it less than if he had attempted to donate it all at one time. Paul had promised to take such offerings (Galatians 2:10). As a Christian he tries to relieve that distress which, as a persecutor, he had aided to inflict (Acts 26:6-10). He wished each one, rich or poor, to contribute to the offering, and he wanted the whole matter disposed of and out of the way when he came, that he might turn attention to more important matters.]

3 And when I arrive, whomsoever ye shall approve, them will I send with letters to carry your bounty unto Jerusalem: 4 and if it be meet for me to go also, they shall go with me. [Paul does not ask to be made custodian of the offering. He directs the church to appoint its own messengers to carry it, thus raising himself above all suspicion of misappropriation, and giving the church a new incentive to make a liberal offering, for it would afford the church a new joy and profit to have in its membership those who had been to Jerusalem and seen the apostles. Paul, as an apostle, and as one personally acquainted with the Jerusalem church, promises to [161] give the bearers of the fund letters of introduction and commendation to the apostles and elders at Jerusalem; and, should the greatness of the collection and the dignity of the occasion require it, he agrees to accompany the bounty himself. The collection proved large enough to justify this, and Paul accompanied the delegates. For the names of those who left Greece with Paul, see Acts 20:4.] 5 But I will come unto you, when I shall have passed through Macedonia; for I [purpose to] pass through Macedonia; 6 but with you it may be that I shall abide, or even winter, that ye may set me forward on my journey whithersoever I go. 7 For I do not wish to see you now by the way [merely as I pass through]; for I hope to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit. [James 4:15; Acts 18:21; Hebrews 6:3; ch. 4:19.] 8 But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost; 9 for a great door [the common metaphor expressing opportunity--Acts 14:27; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3; Revelation 3:8; Hosea 2:15] and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries. [For this success and the adversaries which it aroused see Acts 19:1-20. For the riot which it afterwards stirred up see Acts 19:23-41. From this paragraph it appears that it had been Paul’s plan to visit Corinth, going thither from Ephesus by direct course across the Ægean Sea; and after a brief sojourn there to pass up into Macedonia, and visit Corinth again on the return. This plan he evidently communicated to the Corinthians in that first epistle which is lost (ch. 5:9). But the evil reports which came to him concerning the conduct of the Corinthian church caused him to change his purpose, and delay his visit, that they might have time to repent, and so escape the severe correction which he would otherwise have felt constrained to administer to them (2 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 2:1). Moreover, he reversed his route; coming by Macedonia (Acts 19:21-22), and intending to depart by sea (Acts 20:3). To help bring about a state of repentance, he sent Timothy as a forerunner (ch. 4:16-21), and sent him by way of Macedonia (Acts 19:22). He now writes that he has thus altered his plans, and that he is coming through [162] Macedonia, and that he will not pay them two cursory visits, but will make them one long one, and probably stay all winter. However, he will not begin this journey until after Pentecost, for the work in Ephesus has become so fruitful as to demand at present all his attention. Paul carried out his plan as here outlined (2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 8:1; 2 Corinthians 9:2; 2 Corinthians 9:4; 2 Corinthians 12:14; 2 Corinthians 13:1; Acts 20:3-6). He suggests their forwarding him on his journey, thus showing his confidence in them, that they would give him this customary proof of affection (Romans 15:24; Acts 15:3; Acts 17:15; Titus 3:13); but intimates, by using "whithersoever," that his course beyond them is uncertain. We find later that he was compelled to change his plan--Acts 20:3.]

10 Now if Timothy come, see that he be with you without fear; for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do [ch. 14:17]: 11 let no man therefore despise him [1 Timothy 4:12]. But set him forward on his journey in peace, that he may come unto me: for I expect him with the brethren. [Timothy, as we have seen, went the long route by way of Macedonia, no doubt visiting the churches as he journeyed. Soon after his departure the messengers from Corinth arrived, bringing the letter from that church, and Paul sends this answer to it by Titus. Now, Titus was evidently despatched by the short route across the sea, with instructions to return by way of Macedonia. Therefore Paul uses "if," for he supposes that Titus may reach Corinth, discharge his errand, start through Macedonia, and there intercept Timothy so as to prevent his ever reaching Corinth. And this very thing seems to have happened, for Titus and Timothy, returning, evidently met Paul at Philippi, where he wrote his second Corinthian letter (2 Corinthians 1:1); yet only Titus is spoken of as having brought any report of the condition of affairs at Corinth (2 Corinthians 7:6-7). The Corinthians, therefore, had no chance to show their love for Paul by their welcome of Timothy. Paul’s words with regard to him remind us that he was at that time a young man and liable to be intimidated by the factious, arrogant spirit of the Corinthians. Timothy seems to have been of a diffident and sensitive nature (1 Timothy 5:21-23; 2 Timothy 1:6-8). Paul warns them that any [163] unkindness shown to this young man will soon be reported him, for he expects Timothy to return with Titus, Erastus and those with them--Acts 19:22; 2 Corinthians 12:17-18; 2 Corinthians 8:18; 2 Corinthians 8:23.]

12 But as touching Apollos the brother, I besought him much to come unto you with the brethren [with Titus, etc.]: and it was not at all his will to come now; but he will come when he shall have opportunity [Apollos first comes to our notice at Ephesus (Acts 18:24-28) whence he went to Corinth just before Paul came to Ephesus (Acts 19:1). From Corinth Apollos returned to and was now at Ephesus. The old Latin commentators say that he left Corinth on account of the violence of the factions, and now declined to return because of them, but it is not likely that they knew anything more about the facts than we do. Jerome tells us that after the factious spirit subsided, Apollos returned to Corinth, and became bishop or elder of the church; but he gives us no authority for his statement. Paul’s words are important, because they show that neither he nor Apollos gave any countenance or encouragement to the factions. Paul has no fear that Apollos will do wrong intentionally, yet Apollos fears that he may do wrong by his presence unintentionally. It did not seem to Apollos that it was a fit season for him to show himself in Corinth.] 13 Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. 14 Let all that ye do be done in love. [In these brief, nervous phrases, Paul sums up the burden of his entire Epistle. The Corinthians were to be wakeful and not asleep (ch. 11:30; 15:33). They were to be steadfast, manly and strong (ch. 15:2, 58); they were to do all things in love (chs. 7, 8, 10, 11, 12 and 14), not show their lack of love in bringing lawsuits, wrangling about marriage, eating things sacrificed to idols, behaving selfishly at the Lord’s Supper, and vaunting themselves on account of their gifts.]

15 Now I beseech you, brethren (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia [i. e., my first converts in Greece--ch. 1:16], and that they have set themselves to minister unto the saints), 16 that ye also be in subjection unto [164] such, and to every one that helpeth in the work and laboreth. [The apostle asks the Corinthians to be subject to their truly religious teachers, and picks out the family of Stephanas as a sample. This family was the first converted, and, consequently, probably the best instructed in the church.] 17 And I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they supplied. 18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours: acknowledge ye therefore them that are such. [These were the messengers which bore the Corinthian letter to Paul. Of them we know nothing more. What Paul says of them here was probably written to keep the Corinthians from showing resentment toward them for having told him the sad condition of the church. The thought seems to be that they refreshed the apostle by partially filling the void caused by the absence of the Corinthians, and they caused Paul to refresh the church at Corinth both by receiving personal messages from him, and causing him to write the letter. He asks that they be received as a refreshment from him, just as he had received them as such from them.]

19 The churches of Asia salute you. [These were the churches in the Roman province of Asia, of which Ephesus was the capital. Seven churches of this province are mentioned in the opening chapters of the Book of Revelation. They were in the western coast lands of Asia Minor.] Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. [This devoted couple had been with Paul in Corinth, and were now in Ephesus (Acts 18:1-2; Acts 18:18; Acts 18:26). Soon after we find them in Rome (Romans 16:3), where they also had, as here, a church in their house (Romans 16:5). It was yet a day of small congregations, worshipping in private houses--Romans 16:4; Romans 16:15; Colossians 4:15, Philem. 2.] 20 All the brethren [in Ephesus] salute you. Salute one another with a holy kiss. [See commentary on Thessalonians, page 27. "He rightly enjoins the kiss of peace upon those who were in danger of being rent to pieces by schisms."--Grotius.]

21 The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand. [All of Paul’s letters save Galatians appear [165] to have been written by an amanuensis (Galatians 6:11). Inspired Scripture was too important to be wanting in authenticity, or to be subjected to suspicion as forgery.] 22 If any man loveth not the Lord, let him be anathema. Maranatha. [Literally, "Let him be devoted to destruction. O Lord, come!" They were the words with which the Jews began their greatest excommunication. Here Paul pronounces a curse against the man who, professing to be a Christian, had really no love for Christ. Though the church can not always detect and punish such, yet the Lord at his coming will find them out. This, therefore, is Paul’s appeal to the Lord to do this thing, and he writes the words with his own hand to show how seriously he meant them. For use of the word "anathema," see 1 Corinthians 12:3; Acts 23:14; Romans 9:3; Galatians 1:8-9.] 23 The grace [the reverse of the anathema] of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen. [The apostle closes with this thought, lest any should misconstrue his letter. Though it contained severe rebukes, it was dictated by love, and not by hatred.] [166]

1st Corinthians Chapter One

PAUL’S FIRST LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS

Paul began, as always, with a salutation (1 Corinthians 1:1-3), and thanksgiving (1 Corinthians 1:4-9), moving immediately to the principal objective of the epistle, which was that of correcting rampant disorders in the Corinthian church. He first took up the problem of disunity (1 Corinthians 1:10-17), expounded on the glory and power of the cross of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:18-25), and brought forward the character of the Corinthian congregation itself as proof of the wisdom of God in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).

1 Corinthians 1:1 --Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother. (1 Corinthians 1:1)

The words "to be", added by the translators, are unnecessary and even cloud the meaning. Paul was stating what he was, not what he intended to be. As in most of his writings, Paul stressed his divine commission as an apostle, thus invoking the authority needed for dealing with the errors prevalent in Corinth.

Sosthenes ... Many identify this brother with the one mentioned in Acts 18:17, but it is not certain. Apparently, he was the amanuensis by whose hand the letter was written, Paul himself inscribing only the salutation and lovingly including his helper. The emphatic first person singular pronoun in 1 Corinthians 1:4 denies that Sosthenes had anything to do with the content of the epistle.

1 Corinthians 1:2 --Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, even them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, their Lord and ours.

The church of God ... The church did not belong to the Corinthians but to God, unto whom they were set apart (sanctified) to serve God by reason of the fact that they were "in Christ."

In Christ ... denotes the status of all Christians, a relationship brought about through an obedient faith when they were baptized "into" him (Galatians 3:27; 1 Corinthians 12:13; and Romans 6:3). The epic importance of this phrase appears in the fact that it is used no less than 169 times in Paul’s epistles.[1]

Called to be saints ... Again, "to be" is an unnecessary additive to the text. The Corinthian Christians were not merely candidates for sainthood but were in fact already entitled to this designation by virtue of their being in the spiritual body of Christ, "in him," and therefore possessing a complete identity with the Saviour.

With all that call upon the name ... makes this epistle applicable to the saints of all ages in every place and circumstance.

Lord Jesus Christ ... This use of the compound name JESUS CHRIST by Paul, and by the whole church, barely a quarter of a century after the crucifixion of Christ in A.D. 30 declares the historical accuracy of John’s Gospel, which recorded the first usage of it by the Saviour himself in the great prayer of John 17, making it certain that "in Christ Jesus" is equivalent to "in thy name" of John 17:3; John 17:11; John 17:26.

Lord ... Likewise, this title of Jesus was not a development in the last first-century church but was firmly established by the time of Paul’s writing here, having been used by Paul in his very first encounter with Jesus (Acts 9:5).

ENDNOTE:

[1] John Mackay, God’s Order (New York: Macmillan Company, 1953), p. 67

1 Corinthians 1:3 --Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace and peace ... This double salutation combined the common greetings of both Greeks and Hebrews, but with a remarkable extension of the meaning of both. [@Chairein] was the Greek word for "greeting"; but Paul’s word [@charis] means "grace," calling attention to God’s unspeakable gift to humanity. The Hebrew salutation, [shalom], meaning "peace," was united with an affirmation of its coming through Jesus Christ alone.[2]

In Paul’s style of mentioning himself first, then the addressee, and next a formal greeting, he followed the format employed by all educated persons of that era. "When Paul wrote letters he wrote them on the pattern which everybody used."[4]

[2] Leon Morris, Tyndale Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1958), 1Cor., p. 35.

[4] F. W. Grosheide, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1953), 1Cor., p. 25.

1 Corinthians 1:4 --I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus.

THE THANKSGIVING

I thank my God ... This is one of the most amazing words in the New Testament. How incredible it appears on the surface that a church troubled by so many errors and outright sins, as in the case of the Corinthians, should have been the occasion of fervent thanksgiving by an apostle! The explanation lies in the key words IN CHRIST JESUS. In the Lord, the Corinthians were credited with the holy righteousness of Christ himself, even as the Christians of all ages; and the blood of Christ, operative in his spiritual body, was cleansing them from all sins CONTINUALLY (1 John 1:7).

1 Corinthians 1:5 --That in everything ye were enriched in him, in all utterance and all knowledge.

Grosheide explained the last phrase of this verse as meaning that "Their richness in Christ consists especially in the ability to speak well about the revelation of God."[5]

In everything ... has the meaning of "in everything that really matters." The Corinthians were of the same status as all of them "that know the truth" (2 John 1:1:1). Although every Christian is required to study and learn continually, there is a certain corpus of truth that he must know before he can become a Christian; and that body of teaching having been acquired, and the believer having acted upon it by being baptized into Christ, he is at that point "enriched in everything." This was the enrichment enjoyed by the Christians at Corinth. "All things" therefore has in view elementary knowledge and not in the superlative sense of knowing absolutely everything they needed to know, else there would have been no need for Paul to write to them. That Paul intended this verse as a compliment to the Corinthians upon their ability to speak in tongues is evidently a false interpretation.

ENDNOTE:

[5] Ibid., p. 28.

1 Corinthians 1:6-7 --Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Testimony of Christ was confirmed in you ... is Paul’s way of declaring that the Corinthians had believed and obeyed the gospel of Christ as it had been preached to them. This was the source of all the riches of grace which they had received through their being united with Christ and "in him."

Ye come behind in no gift ... The reference here is to the entire galaxy of gifts, in the general sense, which attended establishment of churches of Christ under the apostolic preaching. As Grosheide said:

In early Christian times people must have seen all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the special as well as the permanent, as a unity. They were not differentiated, neither had the church as yet experienced that the special gifts were not going to remain.[6]

Waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ ... This is a reference to the Second Advent of Christ, indicating that the final redemption of people will take place then, and that the time of probation is essentially a period of waiting and expecting. There is no hint here that Paul or the Corinthians believed that the last Advent would come immediately, or in their lifetime.

ENDNOTE:

[6] Ibid., p. 29.

1 Corinthians 1:8 --Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye be unreprovable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Who shall also confirm you unto the end ... Some scholars refer back to God as the antecedent of "who" in this place; but Guthrie seems correct in seeing here an exhortation for the Corinthians not to trust in spiritual gifts which they had received, but that they should look to Christ who would be their strength even to the end.

To the end ... is "a gentle reminder that the Corinthians had not yet `arrived’ at perfection, despite their many gifts."[7] Full redemption for all people must await THAT DAY when the Lord shall come in his glory and all his holy angels with him (2 Timothy 4:8).

ENDNOTE:

[7] Donald Guthrie, The New Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Win. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 1053.

1 Corinthians 1:9 --God is faithful, through whom ye were called into the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Here is the ninth reference in as many verses to Jesus Christ.

God is faithful ... The thought is that God, having begun a good work in the Corinthians, would not change his purpose of leading them into eternal life. Bad as conditions were with the church at Corinth, God’s purpose would continue operative on their behalf.

Ye were called ... "Called, that is, called to be a Christian, is in the New Testament always A CALL OBEYED."[8]

ENDNOTE:

[8] Ibid.

1 Corinthians 1:10 --Now I beseech you, brethren, through 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 perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

ON THE PROBLEM OF DISUNITY

I beseech you ... Paul’s tone in this is one of tender and affectionate appeal, delivered in the all-powerful name of Christ.

No divisions ... All divisions are contrary to the will of Christ; and by reference to the perfect unity which is the ideal of Christian relationships, Paul highlighted the broken fellowship which had marred the body of Christ in Corinth.

Be perfected together ... This comes from a versatile Greek word, meaning "to adjust the parts of an instrument, the setting of bones by a physician, or the mending of nets."[9] The general meaning would appear to be "put the broken unity back together"; and thus by the use of such an expression Paul states by implication the disunity of the church in Corinth. Paul at once stated the source of his information concerning such a disaster.

ENDNOTE:

[9] S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 591.

1 Corinthians 1:11 --For it hath been signified unto me concerning you, my brethren, by them that are of the household of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

The household of Chloe ... It is generally assumed by commentators that Chloe was a respected member of the church, and Metz expressed confidence that she was "a woman of character and good standing";[10] but it should be noted that it was not Chloe who gave Paul the information regarding Corinth, but her "household," a term usually applied in the New Testament to the "familia" (household slaves), as in the case of "the household of Aristobulus" (Romans 16:10). Guthrie pointed out that

Chloe was the popular name of the goddess Demeter, who had 56 temples in Greece, including one at Corinth; and CHLOE’S PEOPLE appear as disinterested critics outside the church parties mentioned.[11]

This is the only mention of Chloe in the New Testament, making it impossible to solve the question of who she might have been. The principal point, perhaps, is this: Paul named the source of the evil report he had received, not relying at all upon mere gossip or rumor.

[10] Donald S. Metz, Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1968), Vol. VIII, p. 314.

[11] Donald Guthrie, op. cit., p. 1053.

1 Corinthians 1:12 --Now this I mean, that each of you saith. I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

Are there three sinful parties in view in this passage, or four? Despite the numerous opinions to the effect that "I of Christ" denotes a sinful division no less than the other slogans, this student cannot agree that there was ever anything wrong with a follower of the Lord claiming to be "of Christ." The glib assertions of many to the effect that the Christ party was a self-righteous little group insisting that they alone had the truth are as ridiculous as they are unsupported by any solid evidence whatever. Paul himself declared that he was "of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:7); and, indeed, the evidence is strong enough that he made such a declaration in this verse, the final "AND I OF CHRIST" being the words not of a faction at Corinth but of the blessed apostle himself. Guthrie admitted that "I belong to Christ could be Paul’s own corrective comment."[12] William Barclay punctuated the verse thus: "I am of Paul; I am of Apollos; I am of Cephas - but I BELONG TO CHRIST."[13] As Adam Clarke expressed it, "It is not likely in any sense of the word that Christ could be said to be the head of a sect or party in his own church."[14] Macknight, commenting on "and I of Christ," said, "Chrysostom thought this was said by Paul himself to show the Corinthians that all ought to consider themselves the disciples of Christ."[15] Any other interpretation of this passage cannot be made to fit.

What was wrong with the first three of these slogans? Those who were using them were glorying in people; but then it follows as a certainty that those who were saying "and I of Christ" were glorying in the Lord. Thus, the uniform construction of the four slogans which is made the basis of construing them all as sinful becomes the positive reason for denying it. It is impossible to make glorying in Christ a parallel sin with glorying in men, the latter being condemned by Paul and the glorying in Christ being commanded. It should be remembered that all of the speculative descriptions of these various groups are unsupported by a single line in the New Testament. Shore’s comment that "a faction dared to arrogate to themselves the name of Christ,"[16] on the basis of having seen and heard Christ preach personally, is an example of unscholarly guessing, apparently engaged in for the purpose of imputing blame to those who were doing exactly what they should have done in affirming that they were indeed "of Christ." Would to God that all people, even as Paul, were "of Christ."

The three schismatic groups which were glorying in the names of people have had their counterparts in all ages. Such conduct then, as it still is, was sinful. Paul moved at once to show how ridiculous is the device of glorying in human teachers.

[12] Ibid. p. 1054.

[13] William Barclay, op. cit., p. 17.

[14] Adam Clarke, Commentary (New York: Carlton and Porter, 1831), New Testament, Vol. II, p. 192.

[15] James Macknight, Apostolical Epistle, with Commentary and Notes (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1969), Vol. II, p. 22.

[16] T. Teignmouth Shore, Ellicott’s Commentary on the Holy Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959), Vol. XII, p. 290.

1 Corinthians 1:13 --Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized into the name of Paul?

In Paul’s dealing with the parties, it should be discerned that this triple question was designed to expose and correct the sin of the three groups glorying in people, but they do not cast the slightest reflection upon those who were "of Christ," who could have given the proper response to Paul’s question. The other three groups, however, would have been forced to confess that neither Paul, Apollos, or Peter had been crucified for them, and that they had not been baptized into any of those three names. As McGarvey observed, "We should note how inseparably connected in Paul’s thought were the sacrifice of the cross and the baptism which makes us partakers of its benefits."[17]

ENDNOTE:

[17] J. W. McGarvey, Commentary on First Corinthians (Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Company, 1916), p. 54.

1 Corinthians 1:14-15 --I thank God that I baptized none of you, save Crispus and Gaius; lest any should say that ye were baptized into my name.

It was Paul’s custom to entrust the physical act of baptizing converts to an assistant such as John Mark, Silas or Timothy. There were occasions, however, when he found it necessary to do the actual baptizing with his own hands, as in the cases here cited. He, in this passage, viewed it as providential that he had baptized so few of them, thus denying them any excuse for connecting his name with a party. Both Gaius and Crispus were prominent Christians, Crispus having been the ruler of a synagogue.

1 Corinthians 1:16 --And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.

Stephanas ... was of "the firstfruits of Achaia" (1 Corinthians 16:15), evidently having been baptized by Paul before the beginning of his great work in Corinth (Acts 18:5 ff).

1 Corinthians 1:17 --For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made void.

Christ sent me not to baptize ... Some have been diligent to make this passage an excuse for denying the necessity of the believer’s baptism into Christ, as for example, Metz, who said, "The gospel of grace and faith that he proclaimed was as free from outer ritual and ceremony as it was devoid of legal observances."[18] If such a view is tenable, how can Paul’s baptism of Stephanas, Gaius, and Crispus be explained? Of course, what Paul referred to here was the ADMINISTRATION OF THE RITE OF BAPTISM, there being nothing here to the effect that Paul preached salvation without baptism. He like all the apostles had been commanded to "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them" (Matthew 28:19).

Not in wisdom of words ... The great apostle renounced the pretentious rhetorical flourishes so dear to the Greek intellectuals, deliberately rejecting the complicated elocutionary devices which were the stock in trade of the philosophers. The Greek word "sophist" (wise man) had fallen from its glory, and in Paul’s day had come to denote a nimble tongue and an empty brain. Dio Chrysostom described the Greek wise men thus:

They croak like frogs in a marsh; they are the most wretched of men, because, though ignorant, they think themselves wise; they are like peacocks, showing off their reputation and the number of their pupils as peacocks do their tails.[19]

It is clear, then, that Paul used the word "wisdom" in a sarcastic sense in this phrase having the meaning of "gobbledegook" as now used. See more on this under 2 Corinthians 11:5.

So-called intellectuals of our own times are by no means exempt from the conceited shallowness of the Greek philosophers. Even a sermon may be well organized, rhetorically excellent, stylishly delivered, "beautiful" and worthless.

Lest the cross of Christ should be made void ... Digressions are frequent in Paul’s works; and this word "cross," mentioned as the antithesis of the philosophers’ so-called wisdom, was made the subject of a characteristic Pauline digression.

[18] Donald S. Metz, op. cit., p. 316.

[19] William Barclay, quotation from Chrysostom, op. cit., p. 22.

1 Corinthians 1:18-19 --For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the discernment of the discerning will I bring to naught.

THE GLORY OF THE CROSS

All of the value judgments of people were nailed to the cross of Christ. People glorify the arrogant, proud, mighty and successful, but Christ was patient, meek, humble and submissive. A crucified Saviour was simply beyond the boundaries of human imagination.

It is the power of God ... There are two reactions to the mystery of the cross on the part of two classes of people who behold it. The two classes are those who are perishing and those who are being saved (English Revised Version margin). To the former, the cross is foolishness, but to the latter it is the power of God. As an illustration of God’s power contrasted with human wisdom, Paul cited Isaiah 29:14 where, according to Marsh,

The prophet, referring to the failure of worldly statesmanship in Judah in the face of the Assyrian invasion, states a principle that the wisdom of man is no match for the power of God.[20]

ENDNOTE:

[20] Paul W. Marsh, A New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1969), p. 377.

1 Corinthians 1:20 --Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

The wise ... refers to the worldly wise such as the Greek sophists.

The scribe ... denotes the expert in Jewish religion. "The disputer of this world ..." includes both the others as well as all others who rely upon their own intelligence and do not trust in God.

Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? ... Although Paul doubtless had in mind that phase of wisdom relating to the eternal things of the spirit, there is also an undeniable application to all phases of human wisdom. History is one long dramatic denial of the world’s wisdom. The pyramids of Egypt, upon which generations of men worked for centuries, are merely colossal monuments to human stupidity. The textbooks of a generation ago are worthless today. Permanence has never yet come to any human government. Every mystery ever solved unlocks a hundred others and raises infinitely more questions than are answered, leading to conviction that the ultimate wisdom on the part of people can never be attained by new formulas and gadgets, that the infinite wisdom is a person, Almighty God, and that people may know him only through Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:21 --For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

Knew not God ... The ineffectiveness and frustration of human wisdom are nowhere more dramatically evident than in the long pre-Christian history of the Gentiles, who, turning away from God and walking in the light (!) of their own intelligence, drowned the whole earth in shameful debaucheries. Paul developed this thought extensively in the first chapters of Romans, and there is a brief mention of the same thing here. Who can believe that modern man, now in the act of turning away from God, will be any more successful in finding the good life apart from his Creator than were his ancient progenitors?

The foolishness of the preaching ... has reference to the foolishness of the thing preached (English Revised Version margin), that is, foolishness from the human viewpoint.

To save them that believe ... "Believe" is here a synecdoche for turning to God through obedience of the gospel, and it includes such things as repentance and baptism.

1 Corinthians 1:22-23 --Seeing that Jews ask for signs, and Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto Jews a stumbling block, and unto Greeks foolishness.

Dummelow paraphrased this thus, "The Jews will not believe unless a miracle is wrought before their eyes; the Greeks will accept no truth that is not commended by philosophical speculation."[21]

Of course, the Jews had witnessed many miracles, not only by the Lord of life, but also by the holy apostles; but what they demanded was the performance, at their bidding, of some spectacular wonder of their own choosing, which, even if it had been wrought, would have had no moral value and would have proved just as ineffective as the true miracles they had already seen (Matthew 16:1).

We preach Christ crucified ... The cross is central to the Christian religion; no person may be a true follower of the Lord who is unwilling to take up his cross and follow the Master (Matthew 16:24).

Despite the Jewish law which declared, "He that is hanged on a tree is accursed of God" (Deuteronomy 21:23), and the hierarchy of Israel having accomplished such a death for the Lord of glory, the cross was the instrument of Jesus’ atonement for the sins of the whole world. It was the place where God, having entered our earthly life as a man, paid the penalty of human transgression, bruised the head of Satan, and purchased the church with his own precious blood. The glory of the cross is seen in what it denied, what it declared, what it accomplished, whom it defeated, and whom it saved. All the human wisdom of all the ages is powerless to achieve the most infinitesimal fraction of the redemption that was achieved to the uttermost on Calvary.

ENDNOTE:

[21] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 895.

1 Corinthians 1:24 --But unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

Called ... This should not be understood in the narrow and restricted sense, for God has called all people to receive eternal life in Christ, the usage here having reference to people who heed and obey the call.

Both Jews and Greeks ... This has the meaning of "all men" of whatever race or nation, time or circumstance.

1 Corinthians 1:25 --Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Christ on the cross appeared to be weakness in the eyes of people; but that "weakness of God was stronger than men and everything that men could produce."[22] The sign-seeking Jews could not comprehend the mighty "sign of the prophet Jonah," enacted before their very eyes; and the wisdom-seeking Greeks could not discern the most profound wisdom in all history, not even after it had been preached to them! Despite this, however, the rolling centuries have vindicated the truth which Paul here proclaimed.

THE GLORY OF THE SHAME

We have borrowed this subtitle from Barclay, for it accurately summarizes the argument Paul was about to make. He would use the character of the Corinthian church itself as a demonstration of God’s foolishness being wiser than human beings.

ENDNOTE:

[22] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 47.

1 Corinthians 1:26 --For behold your calling, brethren, that not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.

Many of the earliest Christians were slaves, a majority were poor, most were uneducated; and few of them had any claim to distinction in the wretched world of their day; but they were the roots from which all that is holy and beautiful has blossomed in succeeding centuries. In their achievements through faith in Christ one reads the pattern of many wonderful things which have happened in America. As Emma Lazarus’ poem on the Statue of Liberty reads:

Your wretched refuse of all lands - your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, Homeless and rejected, send them to me. I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door!

How those rejected ones have blessed the world! but this is only a feeble parable of what Christianity did on a cosmic scale. As Barclay put it, "Christianity was and still is literally the most uplifting thing in the whole universe."[23]

Look at that congregation in Corinth, rescued from the dens of vice and debauchery, gleaned from the dregs of a cruel and heartless society, recruited from the hopeless ranks of slaves, delivered from the treadmills of commerce and industry; but Christ redeemed them, named upon them the eternal name, announced from heaven the plenary discharge of their sins, and made them partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Thank God for the church at Corinth and everywhere.

However, it should be kept in mind that Christianity was not denied to the noble, the mighty, and the wise; for Paul did not say that "none" of what might be called the higher echelons of society were called. Indeed, the truly wise, the really noble, also received the Lord, despite the tragedy of many failing to do so.

The treasurer of Queen Candace became a Christian (Acts 8:27).

The proconsul of Crete, Sergius Paulus, accepted the gospel (Acts 13:6-12).

Dionysius the Areopagite, a mighty judge at Athens, believed (Acts 17:34).

Crispus and Sosthenes were both rulers of a synagogue when they obeyed the gospel (Acts 18:8; Acts 18:17).

Erastus, Chamberlain of the City of Corinth, became a Christian (Romans 16:23).

Many women of the nobility in Thessalonica and Berea accepted the truth (Acts 17:4; Acts 17:12).SIZE>

Such examples as these, however, were the exception, the vast majority of the Christians, at first, coming from the ranks of earth’s unfortunate and poor.

ENDNOTE:

[23] William Barclay, op. cit., p. 24.

1 Corinthians 1:27 --But God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put to shame them that are wise; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong.

Those "foolish" Christians of Corinth triumphed over all the vaunted learning of the philosophers; those "weak" followers of Christ spread the truth over the world while Corinth and Athens crumbled. To go with Christ is to go with the future!

1 Corinthians 1:28 --And the base things of the world, and the things that are despised, did God choose, yea and the things that are not, that he might bring to naught the things that are.

This verse taken in conjunction with 1 Corinthians 1:27 gives five designations to Christians (as they were esteemed by the world of that period). The foolish, the weak, the base, the despised, the things that "are not" (in other words, the "nobodies"); but the great apostle’s words on behalf of those who were despised by the world are to the effect that the triumph, the success, the honor, and the glory belong to them. In the last three designations, as in this verse, the Jewish attitude of despising all Gentiles and actually speaking of them as "dogs" appears to be in Paul’s thinking (see Matthew 15:26).

1 Corinthians 1:29 --That no flesh should glory before God.

How incredible it is that a man, a creature of flesh and blood, created of the dust and to the dust certain to return, whose glory at its zenith is only for a moment, whose days are spent in frustration, whose tears flow incessantly, whose very righteousness is filthy rags - how unbelievable is it that such a creature as man should glory before God! Such is the wretched state of Adam’s race that only God can give salvation and even God could do so only at the extravagant cost of the blood shed on Calvary. God desires that man should recognize and confess his sin and unworthiness, and, like those poor mortals of Corinth, turn to the heavenly Father through Jesus Christ the Lord. If the first converts to Christianity had been the wealthy rulers of earth, there would inevitably have prevailed an impression that such persons had earned eternal life. However, no man, but no man, was ever capable of earning one second of eternal life; and Paul’s thought here stresses the wisdom of God in saving the outcasts of Corinth in order that no flesh should glory before God. Those former debauchees of unspeakable Corinth deserved salvation as much as the wisest and greatest of earth, which is not at all; and fortunate is every man who comprehends this basic truth of salvation in Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 --But of him are ye in Christ Jesus who is made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord

In Christ Jesus ... In Christ alone is there salvation; and in Christ the saved possess all things. Behold here the only true ground of justification in the eyes of God. Jesus is perfect, holy, undefiled, righteous in the superlative degree. In Christ and as Christ and as fully identified with him, it is true also that Christians are holy, righteous, etc. It is not their righteousness, of course, in the sense that they achieved it; but it is theirs in the sense that Christ achieved it and they "are Christ," being members of his spiritual body. Satan, death and hell have no claim on the one who is "in Christ." Why? Because what is true of the head is true of the entire body; and our head, which is Christ, having paid the penalty of death for sin, the whole spiritual body (the church) has likewise paid it in the person of Christ. That is what is meant by being dead to sin by the body of Christ (Romans 6:11).

There are four things mentioned by Paul in this passage which belong to the Christian by virtue of his being "in Christ."

Wisdom of God. In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). The person "in Christ," by reason of having believed and having been baptized "into Christ" is thus identified with Christ, being a part of his spiritual body; and thus, as Christ he has become the possessor of the wisdom of God.

Righteousness. All that has been said of wisdom in the above paragraph pertains with equal force to righteousness, which may be acquired by the believer in no other way except through being baptized into Christ. The notion that "this righteousness is forensic,"[24] that is, an imputed righteousness, bestowed on the grounds of faith alone, is incorrect. It is not an imputed, forensic, bestowed righteousness in any sense whatever. It is a pure, perfect, genuine, and ACTUAL righteousness performed and achieved by Jesus Christ our Lord; and when the believer becomes a part of the Lord’s spiritual body, that true righteousness belongs to him as being "in Christ," "of Christ," and in fact part of the spiritual body which "is Christ." And when does one become a part of that spiritual body which is Christ? "In one Spirit were we all baptized into one body" (1 Corinthians 12:13), as Paul declared a little later in this same epistle.

Sanctification. The person who is "in Christ" is sanctified, set apart for spiritual service, and through spiritual growth endowed with whatever may be needed for development in the Christian life.

Redemption. Significantly, the salvation of the soul is a reality only for those "in Christ." Although Paul gave only an abbreviated list of four blessings in this verse, as resulting from the believer’s being "in Christ," it must be construed as merely a token list, despite the all-importance of the four. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul stated that "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" is "in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3). It is not fair to leave this brief discussion of the salvation (inclusive of all spiritual blessings) which is "in Christ," without pointing out for those who truly desire to know the truth that in all the Holy Scriptures there is no other way revealed by which a believer might acquire the status of being "in Christ," except through being baptized "into him" (Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27; 1 Corinthians 12:13). Could there be any wonder, therefore, that Jesus himself said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16).

He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord ... In this concluding sentence in the paragraph, Paul quoted Jeremiah 9:23, where the meaning is that people should glory in God; and, by his application of this text to Jesus Christ, he testified to the deity and godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ. As Morris said, "No higher view could be taken of the Person of Christ."[25]

[24] S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., op. cit., p. 593.

[25] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 51.

1st Corinthians Chapter Two

One of the problems in Corinth was related to the pretentious, empty philosophy of the Greeks who so highly regarded the eloquent speeches of the popular leaders of such sophistry; and Paul gave his reasons for not following the popular methods of oratory in his preaching of the word of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:1-5). However, fully mature Christians could look forward to an understanding of the true wisdom of God (as contrasted with the current sophistry); and the mystery of God, far more wonderful than the so-called mysteries of the Greeks, could be participated in by those of genuine spirituality (1 Corinthians 2:6-16). Throughout this chapter, Paul made it clear that the glory of the Christian faith is resident in the content of the gospel and not in the manner of its presentation.

1 Corinthians 2:1 --And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1)

Paul had been educated at Tarsus which Strabo preferred as a school of learning above either Alexandria or Athens, and also had been schooled "at the feet of Gamaliel" (Acts 22:3), the famed scholar in Jerusalem. "Paul was a university man, the outstanding scholar of his generation."[1] Nevertheless, he despised the pedantry, superficiality and narrow conceit of those who were received as intellectuals. Paul rejected their methods because he was above them, not because he was inferior to them. Paul had a wide acquaintance with all the learning of his generation. He quoted Aratus (Acts 17:28), Epimenides (Titus 1:12), and Menander (1 Corinthians 15:33);[2] but he counted all such polite learning as mere dross, as compared with the gospel of Christ (Philippians 3:8).

Therefore, the meaning of this verse is that when Paul went to Corinth he renounced all of the tricks and devices of oratory, refused to accommodate the gospel to the style of the Greek philosophers, and did not try to adorn the truth with pagan wisdom. That Paul had the ability to do such things may not be doubted for a moment; but he wanted their faith to be in the power of God, not in the ability of human beings (1 Corinthians 2:5).

Excellency of speech ... "When the preaching itself is stressed to the degree that it obscures its own content, there is a case of excellency of speech."[3]

Testimony of God ... This means that the gospel is founded upon the word and the authority of God himself; and, by this word, as Macknight said,

The apostle insinuated that the credibility of the gospel depended neither on its conformity to the philosophy of the Greeks, nor on the eloquence of its preachers, but on the attestation of God, who confirmed it by miracles.[4]

[1] Henry H. Halley, Bible Handbook (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1927), p. 545.

[2] J. W. McGarvey, Commentary on 1Corinthians (Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Company, 1916), p. 58.

[3] F. W. Grosheide, The New International Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1953), p. 58.

[4] James Macknight, Apostolical Epistles and Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1959), p. 32.

1 Corinthians 2:2 --For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

It is the style among certain commentators to construe Paul’s method in view here as a reversal of what he allegedly did in Athens. They say Paul tried to preach philosophically in Athens, sustained a miserable failure, learned his lesson and announced his return to a more simple advocacy of the gospel in these verses. Despite the popularity of such a view, however, there is nothing, either in the word of God or in history, to give the slightest credibility to it.

There is no hint whatever, either in this passage or in Acts 17, that Paul preached "Christ crucified" at Corinth because of a sense of failure of the philosophical approach in Athens. As a matter of fact, "His sermon at Athens was not basically philosophical."[5] He preached the resurrection of the dead, and when did that get to be philosophical? Furthermore, his preaching in Athens was in no sense whatever a failure. Dionysius the Areopagite, Damaris, certain men, and others with them were converted (Acts 17:34). An exceedingly large number of people in Athens became Christians. "The church in Athens was one of the strongest congregations in the empire in the second and third centuries,"[6] and Lange pointed out that "A Christian congregation in Athens flourished in an eminent degree."[7] The "others with them" of Acts 17:34 may not be construed as "a mere handful," except arbitrarily and with no logic to support it. It is also most probable that Sosthenes and his household were converted in Paul’s work in Athens (see my Commentary on Acts, under Acts 17:34).

In the light of the above, we feel that comments to the effect that "There (in Athens) Paul had one of his very few failures";[8] "He feared a failure similar to that in Athens"[9] "Athens was a sad memory for Paul. He never mentions her name in an epistle. He sends no word of greeting to any of her children";[10] etc. - that all such notions are absolutely untenable. For example, how can it be known that Paul never wrote to the saints in Athens, there being at least one letter to the Corinthians which was lost?

Grosheide’s views on this question are undoubtedly correct. He declared that:

The answer to the question of whether Paul had ever preached anything but Jesus Christ must of course be negative. The meaning is not that the apostle did not resolve to preach Christ until he came to Corinth ... but that he had to go on preaching Christ.[11]

Determined not to know anything ... has the meaning that Paul would rely upon no earthly wisdom for power in his preaching.

Save Jesus Christ and him crucified ... This cannot mean that Paul would henceforth leave off preaching the resurrection, the final judgment, the brotherhood of humanity, the unity of God, the sin of idolatry, etc.; but, as John Wesley said, that here, "a part is put for the whole,"[12] thus indicating that this is another New Testament example of the figure of speech called synecdoche in which a group of related things is denoted by the mention of one or two of them. What a shame it is that Wesley failed to see the same figure in "saved by faith."

[5] S. Lewis Johnson, Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 594.

[6] Don DeWelt, Acts Made Actual (Joplin, Missouri: College Press, 1958), p. 243.

[7] John Peter Lange, Commentary on Acts (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1866), p. 331.

[8] William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1954), p. 26.

[9] David Lipscomb, First Corinthians (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1935), p. 39.

[10] T. Teignmouth Shore, Ellicott’s Commentary on the Holy Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959), p. 283.

[11] F. W. Grosheide, op. cit., p. 59.

[12] John Wesley, One Volume New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1972), in loco.

1 Corinthians 2:3 --And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.

Such was Paul’s dauntless courage that it may not be supposed that this has reference to any fear of physical danger; but it suggests Paul’s recognition of human weakness and his realization that the salvation of so many persons was dependent upon so feeble an instrument as himself. Dummelow paraphrased this verse thus: "It was with much anxiety and self-distrust that I preached the gospel to you."[13]

ENDNOTE:

[13] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 895.

1 Corinthians 2:4 --And my speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.

Macknight’s paraphrase of this is:

Paul’s discourses were neither composed nor pronounced according to the rules of Greek rhetoric, yet they were accompanied with the powerful demonstration of the Spirit, who enabled him to prove the things he preached by miracles.[14]

Of course, there was a reason for Paul’s renunciation of the methods of the rabble-rousers; and that reason he at once emphatically stated.

ENDNOTE:

[14] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 32.

1 Corinthians 2:5 --That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

"What depends upon a clever argument is at the mercy of a clever argument";[15] and Paul desired that the faith of the Corinthians should be grounded in the facts and certainties of the Christian gospel, not in the showy eloquence of polished oratory. There can hardly be any doubt that this paragraph condemns much of the preaching of our own times.

Up to this point Paul was stressing the truth that the gospel of Christ owes nothing to human wisdom, and that his renunciation of the popular methods of advocating it had resulted in its being despised by those who considered themselves sophisticated; but, beginning in the next verse, Paul effectively refuted the notion that "Christianity is contemptible, and proceeded to show something of its profundity and dignity."[16] He showed that it is not wisdom which he rejected but false wisdom; he preached God’s wisdom, which is higher than man’s wisdom, and the only true wisdom.

[15] S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 594.

[16] Leon Morris, Tyndale Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1958), p. 53.

1 Corinthians 2:6 --We speak wisdom, however, among them that are full-grown: yet a wisdom not of this world, nor among the rulers of this world, who are coming to naught.

Among them that are full-grown ... All Christians begin as "babes in Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:1); but through prayerful study and growth they may attain unto the "stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13). To all who are thus full-grown is revealed a measure of the knowledge of God’s wisdom. The rational and intellectual dimensions of the Christian religion infinitely surpass all of the achievements of mortal intelligence; and Paul’s blunt reference to this truth states that it forcefully applies even to "the rulers of this world." Not even they ever attained to any wisdom whatever in any manner comparable to the wisdom of God, the proof of it being that they themselves "are coming to naught."

Are coming to naught ... The subject of this clause is "the rulers of this world"; but the meaning is not restricted to such persons as governors and emperors. "Paul had in mind all of those who set the pattern of this world, including the rulers in the sphere of science and art."[17] The proof of what Paul said here came within a few years when the Jewish state, Jerusalem and the temple were utterly destroyed in 70 A.D. Nor was it any less true of Rome, where the period of the phantom emperors soon came; and the mighty empire itself eventually sank under the ravages of the invading hordes of vandals and barbarians. But it is also true of all history. If human wisdom had any genuine merit, the depredations of war, famine and pestilence might be controlled; but every generation has fulfilled its destiny of proving that "It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (Jeremiah 10:23). Therefore, human wisdom stands condemned in the very areas where it might be supposed to be effective. And beyond that, "Man’s knowledge cannot bring about the redemption of the race."[18]

We speak wisdom ... "The plural we implies that Paul did not stand alone among the apostles in his method of teaching."[19] None of the apostolic preachers of Christ taught in any other manner than that of Paul.

[17] F. W. Grosheide, op. cit., p. 63.

[18] Donald S. Metz, Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1968), p. 324.

[19] T. Teignmouth Shore, op. cit., p. 293.

1 Corinthians 2:7 --But we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, even the wisdom that hath been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds unto our glory.

Mystery ... The mystery of the Christian religion far surpasses anything affected in the mysteries of the Greeks, and notably in the fact of its having been foreordained in God’s purpose even before the creation of the world. The usual definition of mystery, to the effect of its being something once unknown now revealed, while true enough, is inadequate. Some elements of the mystery of God will not even be finished until "the days of the voice of the seventh angel" (Revelation 10:7). Russell said that:

The mystery in the scriptures denotes (a) something above the ordinary human understanding (Mark 4:11); (b) something formerly hidden in the counsel of God, but afterward revealed as a plan understood by its own fulfillment; and (c) as something always accompanied by vastness depth and power.[20]

THE MYSTERY

The New Testament refers to many mysteries: of Christ and his church (Ephesians 5:32), of lawlessness (2 Thessalonians 2:7), of seven stars and seven candlesticks (Revelation 1:20), of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:51) of the blindness of Israel (Romans 11:25), of the harlot church (Revelation 17:7), and of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 13:11).

However, it is not to any of these, specifically, that reference is made here. There is a greater and more comprehensive mystery containing all of these and exceeding them. This greater mystery is often mentioned in the New Testament Scriptures where it is called great (1 Timothy 3:16), the mystery (Romans 16:25), the mystery of God’s will (Ephesians 1:9), the mystery of Christ (Ephesians 3:4), the mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 6:1), the mystery of God (Colossians 2:3), the mystery of the faith (1 Timothy 3:9), and the mystery of godliness (1 Timothy 3:16) - it is to that mystery that Paul refers here.

It is this mystery which dominates the sixty-six books of the Bible. God announced the mystery in Eden; Satan’s part in it was revealed; the mystery deepened in the death of Abel; the mystery was progressively unfolded verbally in the Old Testament prophecies, systematically prefigured in the types and shadows of the Mosaic dispensation, explicitly heralded in the lives of great typical men of the old covenant, and came to crisis on the cross of Christ, where in its great essentials, it was fully unveiled. There are many corollaries of the central mystery; and the ultimate goals of it are projected into the future. A six-line summary of this "great mystery" is in 1 Timothy 3:16. Running throughout the entire Bible is the record of the "mystery of lawlessness" which is antagonistic to the true mystery, but which is to be resolved finally in the overthrow of Satan and the purging of wickedness out of God’s universe.[21]

Unto our glory ... highlights the benevolent purpose of God in the amazing and overwhelmingly comprehensive work of the Father looking to human redemption.

[20] John William Russell, Compact Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1964), p. 406.

[21] The Mystery of Redemption is more elaborately discussed in a book of that title authored by the writer of this series of commentaries, James Burton Coffman, The Mystery of Redemption (Austin, Texas: Firm Foundation Publishing House, 1976).

1 Corinthians 2:8 --Which none of the rulers of this world hath known: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.

One great essential element in the mystery is that of the incarnation of God in Christ, this being the precise element of the mystery unknown to the rulers of this world. Christ made it clear that the Jewish religious hierarchy did indeed know who Christ was, in the sense of knowing that he was the lawful heir of the temple, the promised Messiah, a holy and righteous prophet of God, and also the undisputed heir to the throne of David. What they did not know was that the "fullness of the Godhead" dwelt in him bodily (Colossians 2:9). In Matthew 21:38, the Jewish leaders, under the figure of wicked husbandmen, said, "This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and take his inheritance." Had the human wisdom of the world’s leaders been capable of recognizing God in Christ, they would not have crucified him.

The Lord of glory ... Wesley declared that "The giving Christ this august title, peculiar to the great Jehovah, plainly shows him to be the supreme God."[22] Thus "the Lord of glory," "the Father of glory" (Ephesians 1:17), and "the Spirit of glory" (1 Peter 4:14), indicate that the three members of the Godhead alike receive this title. Psalms 29:3 and Acts 7:2 mention "the God of glory."

Crucified the Lord of glory ... "These words brought into juxtaposition the lowest ignominy, and the most splendid exaltation."[23]

[22] John Wesley, op. cit., in loco.

[23] F. W. Farrar, The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), Vol. 19, p. 60.

Verse 1 Corinthians 2 :But as it is written, Things which eye saw not, and --ar heard not, And which entered not into the heart of man, Whatsoever things God prepared for them that love him.

These words are usually thought of as suggesting heaven and the glories of the future world; but Paul did not hesitate to apply them here to what God has already done for his children. "They certainly belong to the present state, and express the wondrous light, life and liberty which the gospel communicates."[24] "While it is true that heaven will be so wonderful that we cannot comprehend it, Paul was talking about here, the present dispensation."[25]

Learned men have conjectured that these lines are from an early Christian hymn, which had been formed by combining certain Old Testament expressions; but, despite this, as Grosheide said:

The view that Paul quotes the Old Testament, using passages like Isaiah 64:4, Septuagint (LXX) (Isaiah 64:3 in the Hebrew) for the first and last part of the quotation, and Isaiah 65:17 for the middle, remains the most plausible.[26]

[24] Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: Carlton and Porter, 1831), Vol. VI, p. 199.

[25] George W. DeHoff, Sermons on First Corinthians (Murfreesboro, Tennessee: The Christian Press, 1947), p. 30.

[26] F W. Grosheide, op. cit., p. 66.

1 Corinthians 2:10 --But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

Unto us ... The things which eye had not seen, etc., were revealed through God’s Spirit to the apostles. It is a mistake to construe "us" in this passage as indicative of all Christians, except to the extent of their having received God’s revelation through the holy apostles.

The Spirit searcheth all things ... This is true, "not in the sense of `needing information,’ but in the sense of penetrating all things."[27] Ellicott and Wesley also concurred in the restriction of the emphatic "us" in this verse to "Christ’s apostles and (inspired) teachers."[28]

The deep things of God ... have reference not to some abstract inscrutability of God but to the concrete work of salvation."[29] The mystery already mentioned is of the deep things of God.

[27] Donald Guthrie, The New Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 1055.

[28] John Wesley, op. cit., in loco.

[29] F. W. Grosheide, op. cit. p. 68.

1 Corinthians 2:11 --For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him? even as the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God.

The only way to know God is through the revelation of God through the Holy Spirit to the apostles. Greek wisdom, apart from the inspiration of God’s Spirit, found the mind of God impenetrable, in the same manner of its being impossible to read another man’s thoughts.

The things of God none knoweth ... is not to be understood as saying that people know nothing of God, for this would deny revelation. Again from Farrar, "All that is meant is that our knowledge of God must always be relative, not absolute. It is not possible to measure the arm of God with the finger of man."[30]

ENDNOTE:

[30] F. W. Farrar, op. cit., p. 60.

1 Corinthians 2:12 --But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God.

Not the spirit of the world ... By this, Paul did not mean that such a spirit of the world, comparable in a sense to the Holy Spirit and opposed to him, actually exists. Nor can we agree with Marsh that "It may mean Satan."[31] What Paul had in view here was the secular, materialistic thinking of unregenerated people. The Germans had a word for it, the Zeitgeist, which means "the spirit of the times," or "the intellectual and moral tendencies of an age or epoch."

The Spirit which is from God ... "What is meant here is not the perpetual indwelling of the Spirit in the congregation, but the historical fact of his coming."[32] The reference here is to Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles into all truth.

[31] Paul W. Marsh, A New Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1969), p. 379.

[32] F. W. Grosheide, op. cit., p 70

1 Corinthians 2:13 --Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words.

This writer agrees with James Macknight that the declaration here refers to the Holy Spirit’s giving "words" of wisdom to the apostles, not leaving them free to clothe ideas and impressions in their own words merely, but in words which "the Spirit teacheth."[33] Some deny that anything of this kind is meant; but when they deny it, they are left with no explanation whatever of what Paul meant.

Combining spiritual things with spiritual words ... is a disputed rendition. Grosheide translated it, "comparing spiritual things with spiritual";[34] Macknight rendered it, "explaining spiritual things with spiritual words,"[35] holding that Paul had in view here what Paul called "the form of sound words" (2 Timothy 1:13). The theory that God gave people the ideas without imposing any vocabulary upon them breaks down when it is asked, "How may any idea be conveyed without the use of words?" Clearly, the "combining" in this verse pertains to what the Spirit of God did, not to what Paul did; and the fact of the Spirit’s combining spiritual things (ideas) with spiritual words would leave the choice of words to the Spirit, not to people. How otherwise can the writings of the New Testament be understood?

[33] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 41.

[34] F. W. Grosheide op. cit., p. 72.

[35] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 41.

1 Corinthians 2:14 --Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged

The natural man ... is rendered from the Greek "physical man," and has the meaning indicated by Macknight, being that of "an animal man."[36] It is an abuse of this passage to make it mean that unregenerated people cannot understand spiritual things until God, in some independent action, opens their hearts, or regenerates them. The receiving of the truth by the unconverted is not in view here at all. DeHoff gave this exegesis:

Paul means that ordinary man cannot receive or give a revelation from God, because God has not selected him and filled him with the Holy Spirit. Only the apostles and certain other writers of the New Testament were so selected and guided.[37]

The application of this in its primary context is that none of the brilliant orators of Greece had the slightest knowledge of the wisdom of God, such wisdom appearing to the sophists as foolishness.

[36] Ibid.

[37] George W. DeHoff, op. cit., p. 32.

1 Corinthians 2:15 --But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, and he himself is judged of no man.

This applies to the company of inspired apostles and evangelists who delivered the great corpus of Christian doctrine. Such men, "endowed with the Holy Spirit could discern and discriminate what is of God, and teach all things God revealed."[38]

He that is spiritual judgeth ... himself is judged of no man ... In context, this applied to Paul himself, especially, as an affirmation of the authority he was about to exercise in correcting the disorders in Corinth. In the wider application, it means that only the inspired men of Paul’s generation were to be credited with any capability whatever, as regards what is, or is not, the truth of God. The inspired company of apostles and evangelists were "judged of no man." As Lipscomb emphatically stated it, "This applies to the original revelations."[39] However, he went on to point out that Christians are instructed to "Believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1), adding that "Men now test all teaching by the truths delivered by the inspired men."[40] This, however, is a secondary application of Paul’s affirmation in this verse. That secondary application, nevertheless, is valid, as outlined by Metz:

The Christian has a spiritual capacity to sift, to investigate, to examine, and to discern all things within the framework of the divine revelation of redemption. On the other hand, the natural man does not have the ability to subject the Christian way of life to examination and judgment, for he is completely unacquainted with the meaning of spiritual life.[41]

[38] David Lipscomb, op. cit., p. 43.

[39] Ibid., p. 44.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Donald S. Metz, op. cit., p. 328.

1 Corinthians 2:16 --For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

David Lipscomb and Adam Clarke concurred in rendering this verse, "Who hath known the mind of the Lord that he should teach it (that is, teach the truth)?"[42] This would appear to be preferable, because the thought of any mortal "instructing God" is evidently not in the passage at all.

The thought is that `none of you uninspired men have any notion whatever of what the truth of God may be.’

But we have the mind of Christ ... "We" indicates that Paul did not claim this status for himself only, but for all of the inspired apostles and evangelists of the New Testament dispensation.

Isaiah 40:13 speaks of Jehovah in words like those Paul here used of Christ. "This is another passage significant for Paul’s view of Christ. The passage in Isaiah refers to the MIND OF JEHOVAH, but Paul moved easily to the MIND OF CHRIST."[43] By this Paul made the mind of Christ to be equivalent to the mind of Jehovah, thus attesting the deity of our Lord.

THE MIND OF CHRIST

Precisely what is it to have the mind of Christ? There are a number of expressions in the New Testament which clearly have reference to the same condition: Being "in God," God’s being "in us," our being "in Christ," Christ’s being "in us," the Holy Spirit’s being "in us," our being "in the Holy Spirit," or our having the word of Christ dwell "in us," and our having the mind of Christ "in us," as here and in Philippians 2:5, are all references to the saved condition, not to eight different conditions.

There is a distinction, however, between the Christians of all ages having the mind of Christ and the fact of Paul and the other inspired teachers of the New Testament era having the mind of Christ as affirmed in this verse. It is a matter of degree; and they had plenary power to preach God’s word to mankind.

"The whole trend and meaning of the chapter is that none could know or teach the word of God by human wisdom."[44] Today, all people are dependent for a knowledge of the will of God upon the revelation made by God’s Spirit through the apostles and inspired teachers of that era. "No man ever had any greater right than Paul to say, `We have the mind of Christ.’ "[45]

[42] David Lipscomb, op. cit., p. 62.

[43] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 62.

[44] David Lipscomb, op. cit., p. 45.

[45] John Wesley, op. cit., in loco.

1st Corinthians Chapter Three

This chapter falls logically into two divisions having reference to fellow-laborers in God’s field (1 Corinthians 3:1-9 a), and to fellow-workers in God’s building (1 Corinthians 3:9-17), with a short summary and recapitulation of the apostle’s argument in the epistle to this point (1 Corinthians 3:18-23).

THE FIELD

The unspiritual, worldly conduct of the Corinthians, glorying in various parties, was the occasion for Paul’s introduction of the metaphor of farm workers, such a comparison no doubt coming to the recipients of this letter as somewhat of a shock.

1 Corinthians 3:1 --And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:1)

Brethren ... Tempering the stern things he was about to say, Paul began with this word of loving affection.

Spiritual ... carnal ... "There is little profit in seeking out the technical denotation of the Greek words from which these terms are translated, because Paul himself explained exactly what he meant. The SPIRITUAL were those who, after conversion, had continued to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, no longer continuing as "babes in Christ." The CARNAL were those who were continuing to live like the unconverted, full of envy, jealousy and strife.

The background of Paul’s words here was probably the allegation of false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:12-15), or teachers, who had made the simplicity of Paul’s teaching (when the Corinthians were converted) an excuse to "criticize him as a shallow teacher,"[1] insinuating that Paul was deficient, as compared with themselves. This verse is thus a refutation of the false teachers. Paul flatly told the Corinthians that their immature spiritual condition rendered them incapable of receiving any more advanced instruction than he had provided.

It appears that some of the Corinthians had been impressed by the pretentious claims of false teachers; but Paul in this chapter affirmed that "Their philosophical pretense was a sign of their spiritual infancy, produced faction, tended to destroy the church (1 Corinthians 3:17), and resulted in no permanent value (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)."[2] Speaking of such a false teacher, Macknight said, "He had represented Paul as either ignorant or unfaithful, and boasted concerning himself that he had given them complete instruction."[3]

Babes in Christ ... It is evident from the next verse that Paul did not blame them for being immature at the time of their conversion; nevertheless this expression, as used by Paul, "was deprecatory."[4] See Hebrews 5:11 ff; Hebrews 6:11.

[1] J. W. McGarvey, Commentary on First Corinthians (Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Company, 1916), p. 62.

[2] Henry H. Halley, Bible Handbook (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1927), p. 545.

[3] James Macknight, Apostolical Epistles and Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1969), p. 44.

[4] T. Teignmouth Shore, Ellicott’s Commentary on the Holy Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959), p. 295.

1 Corinthians 3:2 --I fed you with milk, not with meat; for ye were not able to bear it: nay, not even now are ye able.

Milk ... meat ... Hebrews 5:11-14,1 Peter 2:2 employ this metaphor and explain it. The milk is the first principles (Hebrews 6:1-2); meat is more advanced learning. "It is the symbol of preaching in which it is possible to unfold the full richness and magnificence of the gospel."[5]

Not even now are ye able ... is written as censure. "This describes a condition wholly inexcusable; by now they should have grown up."[6] It is expected of young Christians that they should be weak "as babes," this having been true of the Twelve themselves, of whom Jesus said, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now" (John 16:12).

[5] F. W. Grosheide, The New International Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1953), p. 71.

[6] Paul W. Marsh, A New Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1969), p. 380.

1 Corinthians 3:3 --For ye are yet carnal for whereas there is among you, jealousy and strife, are ye not carnal, and do ye not walk after the manner of men?

Carnal ... Paul by this word did not deny that the Corinthians were Christians; they were still "brethren"; but their lives were marred by serious failures. Russell declared that Paul used this word,

Not in the modern meaning of "sensual," but as meaning earthly secular, worldly, having the worldly spirit of partisan strife, like (some) politicians rather than Christian disciples.[7]

Jealousy and strife ... These call to mind Paul’s list of the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21); and "Where these exist, the flesh rules. Had they been spiritual, they would have looked to Christ and would not have been partisans of men."[8]

After the manner of men ... means "like ordinary, unconverted men."

[7] John William Russell, Compact Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1964), p. 407.

[8] David Lipscomb, Commentary on First Corinthians (Nashville: The Gospel Advocate Company, 1935), p. 47.

1 Corinthians 3:4-5 --For when one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not men? What then is Apollos? and what is Paul? Ministers through whom ye believed; and each as the Lord gave to him.

I am of Paul ... It is incorrect to suppose that either Paul or Apollos encouraged or approved any such divisions, nor is there the slightest hint that any rivalry existed between them. "Paul always spoke of Apollos with the highest esteem and affection."[9]

What then is Apollos ... Paul ... Certainly, such persons even as Paul and Apollos are nothing worthy of receiving any adoration and glory from men who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. Significantly, it appears here that Paul and Apollos were instruments only, and not, in any sense, the source of divine grace. The second word is not that the Corinthians believed "in" Paul and Apollos, but "through" them.

Ministers ... Although Paul was the grandest apostle of the New Covenant, he nevertheless refers to himself here with a title which, as variously translated in the New Testament, means "servant," "minister," or "deacon." Paul would countenance no party, not even one that proposed to honor him as a man.

And each as the Lord gave to him ... Any benefit that had come to the Christians at Corinth originated not with the instruments through whom it was conveyed, but with the Lord of glory.

Following up on the humility that should pertain to all mortal servants of God, Paul climaxed his argument with an analogy in which he and Apollos were represented merely as laborers working on a farm belonging to another.

ENDNOTE:

[9] Ibid.

1 Corinthians 3:6-8 --I planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: but each shall receive his own reward, according to his own labor.

The location depicted here is fully identified later as "God’s field" (1 Corinthians 3:9). The thought is that Paul planted the crop; Apollos cultivated and watered it. There is no reference to baptism in "watered."

Are one ... They were one in mutual love and respect for each other, one in purpose, one in status as God’s servants, and one in their reliance upon the Lord who would reward both.

According to his own labor ... reveals that the gospel preacher’s reward will be measured according to his work, and not according to his success. The injunction of God is not that men shall go and "convert" all nations, but that they shall "preach the gospel to the whole creation."

1 Corinthians 3:9 --For we are God’s fellow workers: ye are God’s husbandry, God’s building.

God’s fellow-workers ... is ambiguous, and may refer either to men who cooperate with God, or to men who cooperate with each other in God’s service."[10] Despite the fact of there being a sense in which Christians are God’s partners at the present time, and that this partnership shall be expanded at the judgment (Matthew 25:23), it is hard to believe that Paul was stressing such a thought here. Marsh said that the Greek text favors the idea of partnership with God, and that the context indicates the other meaning,[11] Since the oneness of Paul and Apollos had just been mentioned, it is natural to assume that the meaning here is "fellow-servants" under God. It would not have suited Paul’s purpose to announce himself as "God’s partner." However, the higher meaning of this expression, "occurring only here in the New Testament,"[12] may not be denied. The Greek text has: "God’s fellow-workers; God’s husbandry; God’s building."

Ye are God’s husbandry ... In the analogy, the Corinthian congregation was the vineyard, or field, where Apollos and Paul had been fellow-workers. Shore thought that this word "husbandry," which is translated from a Greek word GEORGION, "might have been the cause of the Christian name `George’ becoming so popular in the church."[13]

Paul dramatically shifted to another metaphor in the same line, that of God’s building, house, or temple.

God’s building ... Practically all of the next eight verses have reference to the church as the temple of God. For extended remarks on the church as the true temple, see under Acts 7:47-50 in this series of commentaries (Commentary on Acts, pp. 142-144). See also under 1 Corinthians 3:16.

[10] F. W. Grosheide, op. cit., p. 82.

[11] Paul W. Marsh, op. cit., p. 381.

[12] Ibid.

[13] T. Teignmouth Shore, op. cit., p. 296.

Verse 10

1 Corinthians 3:10 --According to the grace of God which was given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder I laid a foundation; and another buildeth thereon. But let each man take heed how he buildeth thereon.

A foundation ... The foundation which Paul laid at Corinth is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11), and this was done through the faithful proclamation of the whole gospel of our Lord.

Another buildeth thereon ... Although Farrar believed that "the allusion here may be to Apollos,"[14] it may be that Paul, in this new metaphor, considered that both Apollos and himself had laid the foundation in the preaching of Christ, a work which had also been shared by all of the apostles and inspired teachers. The entire apostolic community could do little more than lay the foundation (of Christ); and Christians themselves were expected to continue the building of God’s true temple, the church. As Grosheide said:

They leave the work of building to the congregation itself. The Corinthians were actually engaged in building, but in a way the apostle felt obliged to condemn. Paul was not content with what the Corinthians had done themselves[15]

The words ANOTHER and EACH MAN are too indefinite to apply to Apollos, having rather an application to all who labor in God’s building.

[14] F. W. Farrar, The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 94.

[15] F. W. Grosheide, op. cit., p. 74.

1 Corinthians 3:11 --For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

In Matthew 16:15, Jesus declared that his church would be built upon the rock, and here is revealed what the rock is; it is Christ. "Paul said that Christ is the only foundation that can be laid."[16] No man may begin anywhere else. "This is still worthy of emphasis in a day when so many build their `Christianity’ without Christ, on a foundation of good works, humanism or science."[17] Of course, this is not the only metaphor of Christ’s preeminence in his kingdom. He is also called the door of the sheepfold (John 10:7), the chief corner stone (Ephesians 2:20), the head of the body (Ephesians 1:22-23), etc.

[16] David Lipscomb, op. cit., p. 51.

[17] Leon Morris, Tyndale Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1958), p. 67.

1 Corinthians 3:12 --But if any man buildeth on the foundation gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, stubble.

Two widely held misconceptions are grounded on this verse, which is understood (1) as "applicable primarily, if not exclusively to teachers,"[18] and (2) as applying to DOCTRINES of two classes, (a) gold, etc., and (b) wood, etc. It is evident, of course, that the six kinds of building materials are of two classes: (1) the valuable and permanent and (2) the cheap and destructible; but the conviction of this writer is that the two kinds of people built into God’s temple, the church, constitute the reality indicated here.

If these words had been directed primarily to Christian teachers, it seems inconceivable that Paul would have used the words "each man" and "any man" no less than six times in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. Ministers as a class of persons different from the rank and file of Christians were not a feature of the churches of that era, every Christian being a builder in God’s temple; and such is indicated by these words.

Regarding the view that the six classes of materials are various doctrines used in building God’s temple, a view advocated by an unbelievably large number of scholars, was nevertheless refuted by Macknight thus:

As the apostle is speaking of the Christian church, consisting of the believers of all nations, of which church Christ is the foundation, it is evident that the materials built on this foundation (gold, silver, etc.) cannot represent the doctrines, but the disciples of Christ ... In no passage of scripture is the temple or church of God said to consist of doctrines, but of the disciples of Christ, who are called living stones built up of a spiritual house or temple (1 Peter 2:5-6)[19]

In addition to the views of Macknight cited here, there is also the consideration that all of the true doctrine of Christianity is comprehensively included in Christ himself, that the totality of his doctrine is the foundation, and that there remain no more doctrines of gold, silver, hay or stubble that are to be built into God’s church by men. The two classes of materials must refer, therefore, to the two kinds of people built into God’s temple (the church) by the advocates of Christianity, whether by ministers and teachers, or by the so-called laity. As for seeing only two classes in these six kinds of materials, McGarvey observed that:

The first three kinds were found in their fireproof temples, materials worthy of sacred structures; and the latter three were used in their frail, combustible huts, but which were in no way dedicated to divinity.[20]

McGarvey made the application of this verse as follows:

The church should be built of true Christians, the proper material; and not of worldly-minded hypocrites, or of those who estimate the oracles of God as on a par with the philosophies of men. The day of judgment will reveal the true character of all who are in the church.[21]

[18] John Wesley, One Volume New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids:. Baker Book House, 1972), in loco.

[19] James Macknight, Apostolical Epistles and Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1969), p. 52.

[20] J. W. McGarvey, op. cit., p. 64.

[21] Ibid.

1 Corinthians 3:13 --Each man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself shall prove each man’s work of what sort it is.

The day ... according to McGarvey, and many others, is a reference to the judgment day when Jesus shall be revealed from heaven "in flaming fire" (2 Thessalonians 1:7); but some have understood it as a day of terrible persecutions such as the "fiery trial" (1 Peter 4:12) prophetically mentioned by both Paul and Peter. Despite the fact of there being an element of testing in times of great persecution, agreement is felt with Morris who declared: "THE DAY is clearly the day when Christ returns, the day of judgment."[22]

Only the judgment day will reveal what is and what is not a part of the true temple of God; and, according to Christ himself it will be a time of many surprises (Matthew 7:15-23; Matthew 25:34-46).

ENDNOTE:

[22] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 68.

1 Corinthians 3:14-15 --If any man’s work shall abide which he built thereon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.

The fact that people do not fully understand this passage is implicit in the truth that some have built up the theory of purgatory, based partly on what is stated here. The whole concept of purgatory is foreign to the word of God, but the advocates of it are still deriving immense revenues through the preaching of it. Again from Macknight:

The Romish clergy, seeing that this doctrine properly managed, might be made an inexhaustible source of wealth to their order, have represented this fire of purgatory as lighted up from the very beginning of the world, and have kept it burning ever since, and have assumed to themselves the power of detaining souls in that fire, and of releasing them from it; whereby they have drawn great sums of money from the ignorant and superstitious.[23]

This writer is grieved to know that even now there are some, who were once baptized into Christ and served as elders of God’s church, whose children are paying to get them prayed out of purgatory!

What this verse actually means is that the persons led to Christ through the efforts of any Christian may defect from the faith, proving themselves wood, hay or stubble, and that the loss of such souls will not affect the salvation of a Christian teacher, whose reward would in some manner unknown to us have been far greater if they had not defected, and whose salvation "so as through fire" is understood by such language to be only by the narrowest margin, "by the skin of his teeth" (Job 19:20).

Yet so as through fire ... has the meaning of "something resembling" an escape from fire, as in "snatching them out of the fire" (Jude 1:1:23); and it is certain that this phrase has absolutely nothing in it of actual fire. It is a figure of speech, prompted possibly by Paul’s reference to the judgment and the fire of that day, but not to be identified as the same thing.

The doctrine of purgatory is not merely unscriptural and anti-scriptural, there being not one word in the entire scriptures to support such a monstrous thesis; but it is effectively refuted in a single question: "If any church believes in such a thing, and in their own power, through prayer, to deliver people from it; why do they not pray all people out of it immediately for sweet charity’s sake?"

ENDNOTE:

[23] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 53.

1 Corinthians 3:16 --Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

The words of this text are sometimes applied to individuals; but, as Morris said, "The reference here is to the church."[24] There is no article before "temple" in the Greek; and it would be more accurately translated, "Ye are a temple of God."[25] "The building of which the apostle speaks is the Christian church, called in this verse The Temple of God."[26]

THE CHURCH THE TEMPLE OF GOD

Of all the beautiful metaphors of God’s church such as the bride of Christ, the vineyard of the Lord, the household of God, the pillar and ground of the truth, the spiritual body of Christ, and the flock of Christ, none is more beautiful or intriguing than "The Temple of God."

The first suggestion ever made regarding a temple for the one true God was made by David, whose conscience was stricken with the thought of his own house of cedar compared with the humble tent-shrine which housed the ark of the covenant. Nathan the prophet, however, explained to David that God had never once expressed any desire to have such a house (temple), stating emphatically that after David’s death, David’s son would build God a house, that his kingdom would be established for ever in the person of that "seed" (which was Christ, of course). See 2 Samuel 7:1-13. Concerning the Greater Son of David, who is Christ, it was prophesied that he would build a house (temple) for God’s name and that his throne would be established for ever. From the remarkable teachings in this passage from Samuel it is absolutely clear that God never intended that a physical temple would be constructed in Jerusalem. The departure of Israel from God’s word in 2 Samuel 7 is exactly parallel to their departure from God’s word in 1 Samuel 8.

How did David react to the prophet’s forbidding him in God’s name to build a temple, and promising that "the Son of David" would build God’s temple (a prophecy of the church)? He said, in effect, "Well, that has to be Bathsheba’s boy! Solomon will build the temple!" To be sure he did so, but there is no evidence whatever that the building of a material temple in Jerusalem was any different in the sight of God than the setting up of the earthly monarchy in the days of Samuel. God permitted both. He used both. He accommodated to the hardness of the people’s heart; but that extravagant earthly temple of the Jews was only a second outcropping of the fleshly desire of Israel to be like the nations around them, which had their richly ornamented temples erected to pagan deities.

It is known that God would not permit David to build the temple because of his wickedness. He was a man of blood. But was Solomon any less wicked and bloody? His notorious debaucheries were the scandal of forty generations.

Moreover, the temple proved to be as big a stumbling block to the Jews as the secular kingdom was. Christ’s first announcement to his generation included the fact that "One greater than the temple is here!" (Matthew 12:6). While Christ was on earth, the true temple was "his body" (John 2:21); and after Pentecost, the true temple has been nothing other than the spiritual body of Christ. This was the element of Stephen’s speech that so infuriated the religious partisans in Jerusalem that they mobbed him. See under 1 Corinthians 3:9.

Therefore, Paul’s designation of the body of Christ in this passage as the temple of God is of the utmost significance. Paul himself had, with difficulty, come to understand this. As soon as he was converted, he went straight to that old secular temple; and God told him to get out of the place, even out of the city (Acts 22:17-21); and Paul, even after that, returned to the temple where he was mobbed; and in the behavior of the temple partisans (including the high priest), Paul finally read the will of God as it had been declared by Jesus that the temple was nothing but a "den of thieves and robbers" (Mark 11:17), that it was not God’s house at all, but the house of the Jews, and that it was left unto them "desolate" (Matthew 23:38).

The above reflections are not denied by the fact of God’s using the temple after the Jews constructed it against his will; he did the same thing with the secular kingdom.

The true temple of God, therefore, has never been anything else except the church of Jesus Christ our Lord. In it alone, not in some man-made shrine, men are called to worship and serve the Lord of glory. Meeting houses are not, in any sense, "true" sanctuaries.

The fact of God’s Spirit dwelling in the spiritual body of Christ which is the church does not deny the residence of the Spirit of promise in the hearts of individual Christians (Acts 2:38 ff; Ephesians 1:13).

[24] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 69.

[25] Ibid.

[26] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 46.

1 Corinthians 3:17 --If any man destroyeth the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, and such are ye.

The conduct of the Corinthians was such that the Spirit of God would be grieved and denied of any place in their hearts, thus destroying God’s true temple; and just as any defilement of the ancient tabernacle had been punishable by death, there would be fearful retribution against all who defile the church. In context, this was a terrible warning to the Corinthians, but it applies to all who ever became a part of God’s church. As Grosheide declared: "It is clear that the judgment of God is meant; it may refer to suffering loss (1 Corinthians 3:15), but also to eternal life."[27]

ENDNOTE:

[27] F. W. Grosheide, op. cit., p. 89.

1 Corinthians 3:18 --Let no man deceive himself. If any man thinketh that he is wise among you in this world, let him become a fool, that he may become wise.

A SUMMARY OF PRECEDING ADMONITIONS

Here begins the summary of what Paul had written up to here. This through 1 Corinthians 3:23 gives the highlights of what Paul had written up to this point.

Dummelow’s paraphrase of this is:

Do not deceive yourselves; but if there be any of you priding himself on his worldly wisdom, let him quickly unlearn it, that he may learn the true wisdom.[28]

Macknight gave another interesting paraphrase of the same verse:

Let no teacher deceive himself with false notions of prudence. If any teacher among you thinketh to be wise, in this age of spreading the gospel, by misrepresenting its doctrines for the purpose of making it acceptable to bad men, let him become a fool in his own eyes, by preaching the gospel sincerely, that he may be really wise.[29]

This verse is a short summary of much Paul had written in Corinthians thus far; and it has the effect of condemning intellectual pride, one of the most hurtful of human vanities. In this vivid phrase Paul urged the man who would be wise to become a fool. "This is a simple way of urging a man to be humble enough to learn."[30]

[28] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 898.

[29] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 55.

[30] William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1954), p. 39.

1 Corinthians 3:19 --For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He that taketh the wise in their craftiness.

As Shore observed:

With the exception of the reference in James 5:11 to the "proverbial patience" of Job, this is the only allusion to Job, or to the book of Job in the New Testament.[31]

Paul’s quotation is from Job 5:13, where Eliphaz the Temanite was speaking against Job, declaring that "God frustrates the devices of the crafty ... and taketh the wise in their own craftiness." Eliphaz was wrong in his application of these words to Job, but the words themselves are true. Adam Clarke gave an example of God’s doing just that type of thing when:

The pagans raised up persecution against the Church of Christ in order to destroy it; but this became the very means of quickly spreading it over the earth, and of destroying the whole pagan system. Thus the wise were taken in their own craftiness.[32]

Of course, history affords countless examples of the same thing.

[31] T. Teignmouth Shore, op. cit., p. 297.

[32] Adam Clark, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: Carlton and Porter, 1831), Vol. VI, p. 206.

1 Corinthians 3:20 --And again, The Lord knoweth the reasonings of the wise, that they are vain.

This quotation is from Psalms 94:11. The teaching is not merely that "Human thought is fruitless in the sense of not producing anything of spiritual value that redeems man from sin,"[33] but that it is likewise ineffectual in devising any worthwhile solutions of the secular, political, economic and social problems which plague the entire world.

ENDNOTE:

[33] Donald S. Metz, Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1968), p. 337.

1 Corinthians 3:21 --Wherefore, let no one glory in men. For all things are yours.

The brief summary concludes with the first clause here, except for the beautiful doxology. As Grosheide said, "Paul is here recapitulating all he has said before. The Corinthians named themselves after men; and those who do that love the wisdom of the world."[34]

Therefore, this verse makes it crystal clear what Paul condemned in 1 Corinthians 1:12. It was the sin of their calling themselves after the names of men; and, as the name Christ is not that of a man in the sense of the words use here, there cannot be the slightest condemnation upon those who said they were "of Christ." This same truth is evident in the next verse also.

ENDNOTE:

[34] F. W. Grosheide, op. cit., p. 93.

1 Corinthians 3:22 --For all things are yours; whether Paul, Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours.

This precious doxology reminds one of the famous passage in Romans 5:31-37; but this has a positive implication not in evidence there. "Things present, things to come, etc.," are there viewed as opposing the Christian but failing to thwart him; here the Christian is viewed as the possessor of everything in Christ.

This means that Christians are not to choose certain things, such as certain teachers; for all things are theirs. A Christian is in fact a member of no sect or party, because he has entered "into the possession of a fellowship and love which are as wide as the universe."[35]

Paul, Apollos, or Cephas ... Conspicuous by its absence is the so-called "Christ party" in this list, proving that the words "And I am of Christ," spoken in 1 Corinthians 1:12, are the words of the apostle Paul himself, and not the slogan of any kind of a sect at Corinth.

ENDNOTE:

[35] William Barclay, op. cit., p. 40.

1 Corinthians 3:23 --And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.

Of course, the Christian’s possession of all things in Jesus Christ derives absolutely from the fact of who Jesus Christ is; he is God incarnate in human flesh, the eternal Word, one with the Father, who is and was and will be before all time and now and for ever.

That Christ is God’s, as here stated, "in no way detracts from his deity."[36] His essential oneness and equality with God are not under discussion in this verse, "but his subordination for the sake of human redemption."[37]

[36] Paul W. Marsh, op. cit., p. 382.

[37] Ibid.

1st Corinthians Chapter Four

Paul had stressed the inspiration of the apostles in the previous chapter; but in the first paragraph here he pointed out that even apostolic authority was not absolute and that even he himself and Apollos were but stewards of Christ, their first concern being to please the Lord, and not to accommodate their teaching to win favor with false teachers. He stated that the lower courts of conscience and public opinion were inferior to the judgment of the Lord (1 Corinthians 4:1-5). We agree with Adam Clarke that a more logical division of the chapters would have been to extend chapter 3 through the fifth verse here.[1]

In 1 Corinthians 4:6, Paul pointed out that his use of his own name and that of Apollos was not to be construed as an admission that he and Apollos had actually headed any divisive parties in Corinth, but that he had used these names figuratively for the purpose of teaching against all divisions.

Most of the remainder of the chapter deals with the false teacher, without naming him, ending with a dramatic promise that he would return to Corinth, the Lord willing, and that the Lord would enable him to vanquish the false teacher and set the Corinthians once more in the right way of humility and service. He severely condemned their vain-glorious boasting, egotism and conceit (1 Corinthians 4:7-21).

ENDNOTE:

[1] Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: Carlton and Porter, 1831), Vol. VI. p. 207.

1 Corinthians 4:1 --Let a man so account of us, as of ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. (1 Corinthians 4:1)

This refers to both Paul and Apollos, and the word "minister" here is not the same as in 1 Corinthians 3:5. "It is [@huperetes], and originally meant an under-rower in a trireme."[2] This is very similar to a word Luke used of ministers. "The word Luke used (Luke 1:2; Luke 4:20) is [@huperetai], used in medical terminology to refer to doctors who served under a principal physician."[3]

Stewards of the mysteries of God ... There are two extremes to be avoided in the Christian’s attitude toward teachers. "We should love and respect them; but we ought not, however, to worship them or seek to form a party about them."[4] Stewards in ancient times were very important people.

The steward was the "major domo", in charge of the whole administration of the house or estate. He controlled the staff, issued supplies and rations and ran the whole household; but he himself was still a slave where the master was concerned.[5]

However, as will appear in the next verse, it was not so much the importance of a steward that Paul stressed; it was his faithfulness.

[2] Paul W. Marsh, A New Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1969), p. 382.

[3] Herschel H. Hobbs, An Exposition of the Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1966), p. 19.

[4] George W. DeHoff, Sermons on First Corinthians (Murfreesboro, Tennessee: The Christian Press, 1947), p. 41.

[5] William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1954), p. 41.

1 Corinthians 4:2 --Here, moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

Trustworthiness was the outstanding characteristic of a good steward, and it was that which Paul brought into view here. Furthermore, the proper person to pass on such a question was not to be found among the people who knew the steward or did business with him, but he was the steward’s lord. The next three verses would deal with that thought.

In the New Testament, the term "steward" was applied to all Christians, "as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (1 Peter 4:10), to elders of the church; "A bishop then must be blameless as God’s steward" (Titus 1:7), and to apostles and preachers of the gospel in this verse. "It is important that those entrusted with the truth of God as stewards should be faithful and honest."[6] A failure to teach people God’s truth leaves the blood of the lost on the hands of unfaithful stewards who neglected or refused to teach it.

ENDNOTE:

[6] David Lipscomb, Commentary on First Corinthians (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1935), p. 59.

1 Corinthians 4:3-4 --But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment; yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing against myself; yet am I hereby not justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

In this and the following verse, Paul considers the three tribunals of judgment, these being: (1) conscience, (2) the court of public opinion, and (3) the Lord the righteous judge of all people. The supremacy of that court of last resort is dramatically affirmed.

The implication of Paul’s words here as directed toward the false teacher is as follows:

If I do not regard my own opinion of myself as of high value, I cannot be suspected of undervaluing you when I say that I do not much regard your opinion. If I do not estimate highly my own opinion of myself, then it is not to be expected that I should set a high value on the opinions of others.[7]

Farrar’s paraphrase of the thought is:

The verdict of my own conscience acquits me of all unfaithfulness; but this is insufficient, because God sees with clearer eyes than ours. Who can understand his errors? (Psalms 19:12).[8]

Regarding the lower and higher courts which come into view in this passage, the following is submitted:

LOWER AND HIGHER COURTS

I. The court of public opinion. Later on in this epistle, Paul indicated that, despite its inferiority, the court of public opinion is of some importance and not to be ignored by Christians. These Corinthians were bringing the whole Christian movement into disgrace by their ecstatic tongue-speaking; and Paul wrote: "If therefore the whole church be come together in one place, and all speak with tongues ... will they not say that ye are mad?" (1 Corinthians 14:23). Timothy was instructed to have regard to this court through the requirement that any man appointed as a bishop should have a good report from "them that are without" (1 Timothy 3:7). The sacred evangelist Luke stressed that Jesus himself advanced in favor with men (Luke 2:52), and that the believers in Jerusalem had "favor with all the people" (Acts 2:47).

Nevertheless, desirable as a favorable public opinion undoubtedly is, it should always be courted within the strictest limits of absolute fidelity to the Lord Jesus Christ. Public opinion is a lower court, not a higher one.

Paul said, "I for my part care very little about being examined by you or by any human court." All people should have this attitude where any question of faithfulness to the Lord is involved; and what a pity it is that there are some like the wretched parents of the man born blind (John 9) who would not even acknowledge the Lord of glory out of deference to the wicked Pharisees.

"Vox Populi Vox Dei" (the voice of the people is the voice of God) is a suitable motto in politics, but not in holy religion. The voice of the people is frequently the voice of Satan, as when the people cried, "Make us gods to go before us" (Acts 7:40), or when the people prepared to offer sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:11). God pity the poor soul which pauses on the threshold of any clear duty and asks, "Will this be popular?"

II. The voice of conscience. This is a higher court than that of public opinion, but not the highest court. It is exceedingly important that people respect it, for "If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our hearts" (1 John 3:20). Paul always respected and honored the court of conscience (Acts 23:1; Acts 24:16), being far more attentive to it than to the court of public opinion. And yet we are indebted to Paul for the information that, regardless of its value, this court is still not the final tribunal. He said, While my conscience does not trouble me at all, that does not prove that I am innocent."[9]

The great difficulty with conscience is that it is much like a watch, the value of which (as a timepiece) is determined by the accuracy of its synchronization with the correct time, determined not by the watch, but by the movement of the sun over a certain meridian. Just so, a man’s conscience must be monitored and adjusted to be in perfect harmony with the will of God before it can be of much value.

Like a watch, conscience can have many things wrong with it. It can be evil (Hebrews 10:22), seared (1 Timothy 4:2), defiled (Titus 1:15), ignorant (1 Timothy 1:13), choked with dead works (Hebrews 9:14), etc. Is there any wonder then, that it was a proverb millenniums ago that said "He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool" (Proverbs 28:6)?

III. The highest court of all. This is the great assize at the Last Advent of Jesus Christ, when the dead, small and great, as well as all who are then alive, shall be summoned before the Great White Throne for the final judgment. None shall escape the judgment and sentence of this court (2 Corinthians 5:10); it shall be presided over by Jesus Christ our Lord (Acts 10:42). Then shall be exposed the secrets of people’s hearts (Romans 2:16). The court crier, an angel of light, shall stand with one foot on the land and one on the sea, and blow the trumpet that shall herald the gathering of the myriads of earth to the final judgment before the King of kings and Lord of lords. How infinitely blessed shall be those who are able to stand before that tribunal of righteousness and truth!

I judge not mine own self ... In 1 Corinthians 11:31, Paul said, "If we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged"; but "two different words are used. There the apostle is emphasizing the necessity of self-examination";[10] but in this statement, he is saying:

"I myself am not competent to assess the quality of my apostolic service and pronounce a verdict on it; only One can do that; and I shall submit myself to his decision: "It is the Lord who judges me.[11]

[7] Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1949), 1Cor., p. 69.

[8] F. W. Farrar, The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), Vol. 19, p. 132.

[9] Edgar J. Goodspeed, The New Testament: An American Translation (Chicago: The University of Illinois Press, 1923), p. 318.

[10] F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1972), p. 90.

[11] Ibid.

1 Corinthians 4:5 --Wherefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall each man have his praise from God.

It is a mistake to read into such passages as this and in 1 Corinthians 15:51 that "Paul evidently expected the Advent of Christ within the lifetime of himself and his converts."[12] Since the time of the Second Advent was unknown by all of the apostolic preachers, and not even known by the Lord himself as a man (Matthew 24:36), it was altogether proper that the certainty of that event (whenever it was to come) was a legitimate basis of appeal and motivation for Christians of EVERY generation, including the first. It is a positive certainty that both Christ and his apostles taught that the Second Coming was an event to be expected at a very remote time in the future, although not impossible at ANY TIME. See my Commentary on Luke, pp. 456-457. Paul’s great prophecy of the apostasy (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2) makes it certain that he did not expect the coming of Christ in his own lifetime; and the apostle John devoted the last chapter of his gospel to shooting down the proposition that Jesus had promised to come in John’s lifetime (John 21:23).

The import of this verse, according to Morris, is "Stop judging!"[13] This injunction is necessary because: (1) the only judgment that matters will be announced by the Lord at the final judgment and, besides that; (2) people do not have sufficient information or competence to judge one another, not even themselves.

Each man shall have his praise from God ... Shore’s perceptive comment on this is: "God, unlike man who selects only some one for praise, will give to every worker his own share of approval."[14] Moreover, it must not be supposed that no blame will be assigned in the judgment, for "The word rendered praise denotes in this place reward,"[15] indicating that God will reward every man according to his works "whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10). Some misunderstand this place as teaching universal salvation, as Johnson for example, "Wonder of wonders - every man (believer) shall have some praise from God!"[16] Regarding Paul’s probable reason for stressing praise rather than blame in this verse, Farrar noted that:

He was thinking of faithful teachers like Cephas, Apollos and himself, who were depreciated by rival factions; and like all the apostles, he had an invariable tendency to allude to the bright side, rather than the dark side of judgment.[17]

The hidden things ... and "counsels, of the hearts ..." show "how much that is needful for a correct estimate of people’s conduct lies now under an impenetrable veil."[18]

The background of Paul’s teaching in these profound lines was a sordid condition among the community of Corinthian believers.

There must have been a very considerable group of church leaders, Paul’s own converts, who, in Paul’s absence, had become influential and self-important, and were trying to run away with the church. They had become haughty, overbearing, and boastful in their attitude toward Paul.[19]

[12] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 898.

[13] Leon Morris, Tyndale Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1958), p. 76.

[14] T. Teignmouth Shore, Ellicott’s Commentary on the Holy Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House), p. 298.

[15] Albert Barnes, op. cit., p. 71.

[16] S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p 599

[17] F. W. Farrar, op. cit., p. 133.

[18] John Wesley, One Volume New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1972), in loco.

[19] Henry H. Halley, Bible Handbook (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1927), P. 545.

1 Corinthians 4:6 --Now these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes; that in us ye might learn not to go beyond the things which were written; that no one of you be puffed up for the one against the other.

The first clause here was spoken by way of anticipating and refuting any notion that Paul had conceded (in his use of the names of himself and Apollos) any approval of factions, the allegation here being that Paul had used these names as a figure of what was going on, the real culprits being, not himself or Apollos, but the factious leaders in Corinth.

That ye might learn not to go beyond the things which are written ... The traditional use of this clause as a commandment that Christians should order their lives and their service of God by the holy scriptures, and that it is prohibited that they should go beyond the word of God is without any doubt whatever the true interpretation. Farrar said that "This text, like so many others, has only a very remote connection with the sense in which it is usually quoted";[20] but like all such denials, it is unsupported by any logical evidence. There is no other valid meaning of this passage except that traditionally assigned to it.

Not to go beyond what is written ... is in the Greek literally, "Not beyond what is written."[21] "These words must be a sort of quotation, or in any case a standing expression,"[22] associated with the preaching of Paul and all the apostles. It has the effect of a universal proverb among Christians, "well known to the Corinthians, so that Paul could assume the words to be clear."[23] Russell declared the meaning to be: "The things which are written ... no special text, but the teaching of the scriptures as a whole, which no leader, however gifted, may supersede."[24] "This was a catch-cry familiar to Paul and his readers directing attention to the need for conformity to scripture."[25] There is no need to multiply scholarly support of the usual view of this place; no other explanation is tenable.

And, of course, it was precisely in this matter of going beyond the word of God that the factions in Corinth had developed. They were evaluating the word and authority of people upon a parity with the holy scriptures, thinking of people more highly than they should, and spurning the meekness and humility taught throughout the Bible. Thus, as Grosheide said, "The whole question of factions was raised to a higher level,"[26] namely that of violating the scriptural rule of faith for the believer. "It is not his own words that Paul insists that the Corinthians must not go beyond; it is the word of God."[27]

Puffed up for the one against the other ... An interesting phase of this rebuke is that instead of puffing up their favorite teachers, it was themselves which had become puffed up! This is a sure result of "blowing up" any man.

[20] F. W. Farrar, op. cit., p. 134.

[21] Paul W. Marsh, op. cit., p. 382.

[22] F. W. Grosheide, The New International Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1953), p. 103.

[23] Ibid.

[24] John William Russell, Compact Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1964), p. 408.

[25] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 78.

[26] F. W. Grosheide, op. cit., p. 103.

[27] William Barclay, op. cit., p. 43.

1 Corinthians 4:7 --For who maketh thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? but if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?

It is God who gives to every man life, talent, ability, opportunity, health, personality, strength - everything that he is or has; and what kind of conceit blinds the eyes of people who behave as if this were not so?

1 Corinthians 4:8 --Already are ye filled, already ye are become rich, ye have come to reign without us: yea, and I would that ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.

The first three clauses are directed against the false teachers, who had promoted themselves in the eyes of their admirers, were receiving honors and emoluments from them, and affecting all the airs of "big men," not merely in the church, but in the whole city. The three pungent clauses are spoken in irony and disapproval, the true state of such impostors being far different from what they imagined.

I would that ye did reign ... has the equivalent meaning of "Oh, if it were only true, what you think of yourselves because if it were true, together we could go on building up the temple of God."

1 Corinthians 4:9 --For, I think, God hath set forth us apostles last of all, as men doomed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, both to angels and men.

Beginning with 1 Corinthians 4:7, the remainder of this chapter is devoted to the rebuke of the false teachers and exposure of their sins of worldliness, vanity, conceit, vain glory and division. At the very moment of their sporting all those prideful airs of popularity and success, Paul in this verse reminds them how it is with the GENUINE teachers of the true faith, the holy apostles.

The imagery here is that of the Roman Coliseum. "Paul pictures himself and fellow apostles as `the last and most worthless band’ brought forth to die in the great arena, where the whole world, including men and angels, view the spectacle."[28]

We are not informed in scripture of the exact manner in which angels are concerned with earth life; but the fact is plainly stated. See my Commentary on Hebrews, p. 35. There is a similar scene suggested by Hebrews 12:1.

ENDNOTE:

[28] T. Teignmouth Shore, op. cit., p. 299.

1 Corinthians 4:10 --We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye have glory, but we have dishonor.

The power of these words derives from the truth that Paul was himself the founder of the church in Corinth. He had rescued them from the temples of vice and debauchery, preached to them the unsearchable riches of Christ, nurtured them in their weakness and immaturity as Christians, and suffered and toiled among them, even working in order to eat bread; and now, at the first visible signs of material prosperity among them, they openly despised their teacher, heaped unto themselves popular, shallow leaders after their own lusts, and were indulging the most amazing boastfulness and conceit. It was truly a disgusting development; and Paul’s words here exposed the moral ugliness of their behavior.

Fools ... means "fools in the eyes of the world."

We ... yet, etc. ... contrasts Paul with the Corinthians in terms of their own egotistical reversal of the true values. Forsaking the true values and methods as taught by the apostles, those at Corinth had discovered a way of preaching "so as to procure a name of wisdom, reputation and profundity."[29] To discover such a way and then to walk in it has been a temptation to every preacher of the word of God who ever lived.

ENDNOTE:

[29] David Lipscomb, op. cit., p. 65.

1 Corinthians 4:11 --Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place.

All of these terms refer to genuine, bitter hardships, involving insufficient food and clothing, beatings and chastisements by enemies of the truth, and that lonely itinerancy which was the invariable mark of apostolic preachers. The false teachers in Corinth suffered none of these injuries or discomforts.

1 Corinthians 4:12 --And we toil, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure.

And we toil ... "The Greeks despised all manual labor, regarding it as the duty of slaves or people mentally unfit for anything else."[30] Paul was a tentmaker by trade and frequently worked in order to support himself.

Reviled ... persecuted ... Instead of retaliating in kind, Paul returned good for evil, blessing for reviling, and patient endurance for persecution.

ENDNOTE:

[30] Donald S. Metz, Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1968), p. 343.

1 Corinthians 4:13 --Being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things, even until now.

The imagery here is still that of the Coliseum, where, after the bloody games were over, the grounds-keepers cleaned the theater by the removal of the bloody corpses, the offal and the debris. Paul, in this remarkably blunt, shocking paragraph, merely stated the true facts with a view to bringing the giddy and irresponsible Corinthians to their senses.

1 Corinthians 4:14 --I write not these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my dear children.

What a wealth of abused and suffering love lies in such a tender appeal as this! Not a word of blame, in the sense of recrimination not a trace of bitterness, just the appeal of a loving father for his wayward children. The great thrust of this whole argument was accurately seen by Morris "as an emphasis on the contradiction between the values of true Christians, and those of the worldly-wise Greeks."[31] The Corinthians had simply become mixed up regarding what were true values and what were not. The word from which "admonish" is translated in this place is the root of the cognate noun "admonition" (Ephesians 4:4), where "It is used of the duty of a father to his children."[32] Thus the metaphor of his being the father of the Corinthians was already in Paul’s mind.

[31] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 82.

[32] Ibid., p. 83.

1 Corinthians 4:15 --For though ye have ten thousand tutors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I begat you through the gospel.

Ten thousand tutors ... An element of humor is in this, for certainly that many tutors is too many; and if the word is rendered "guides," as by some, it would still be far too many. Just how many guides could one follow, anyway? As McGarvey said, "The large number rebukes their itch for teachers."[33] The meaning both of "tutor" and of "guide" derives from the Greek word here, [@paidagogos], "who was a slave who escorted his master’s child to school."[34] Of course, such an attendant might form a strong attachment for a child, but his love would never approach that of a father.

I begat you through the gospel ... This is used loosely in a metaphorical sense; because in the highest sense, people are begotten only by the gospel. As Farrar put it: "We are begotten only by the will of God, by that word of truth (James 1:18), to which Paul alludes here in the words `through the gospel.’"[35]

[33] J. W. McGarvey, Commentary on First Corinthians (Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Company, 1916), p. 70.

[34] Donald Guthrie, The New Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing House, 1970), p. 1057.

[35] F. W. Farrar, op. cit., p. 136.

1 Corinthians 4:16 --I beseech you therefore, be ye imitators of me.

Paul never meant this in any absolute sense but in the sense of "Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1). See also Ephesians 5:1, Philippians 3:17,2 Thessalonians 3:9,1 Thessalonians 1:6.

1 Corinthians 4:17 --For this cause have I sent unto you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, who shall put you in remembrance of my ways which are in Christ, even as I teach everywhere in every church.

From this, it is clear what Paul meant regarding imitation of himself namely, that they should imitate his ways "in Christ," meaning as Paul was truly in the Lord and fully identified with Christ, ways of which Timothy would shortly remind them.

Paul had sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia, probably with instructions to go to Corinth if convenient; since it is not certain that Timothy will

arrive there (1 Corinthians 16:10). This was probably while Paul was at Ephesus (Acts 19:22).[36]SIZE>

ENDNOTE:

[36] Albert Barnes, op. cit., p. 78.

1 Corinthians 4:18 --Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you.

Some considerable time had elapsed following Paul’s dispatch of Timothy to Corinth; and, when the word came of Timothy’s intended arrival, some of the factionists said, "Ah, Paul is afraid to show his face here and is sending Timothy instead of coming himself" However, Paul would explode that misconception with the stern warning written a moment later.

1 Corinthians 4:19 --But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will; and I will know, not the word of them that are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?

If the Lord will ... Paul’s purpose of going to Corinth to set things in order was dependent only upon the divine pleasure. These words have the effect of "unless providentially hindered."

Not the word ... but the power ... not in word, but in power ... Paul was conscious of his own apostolic power. Elymas had been stricken blind for opposing Paul’s teaching at Paphos (Acts 13:11), and many other notable miracles had been wrought by him; and there can be no doubt that Paul counted fully upon the confirmation of the word of God which he proclaimed at Corinth by just such signs and wonders and mighty deeds as God had enabled previously.

What will ye ...? has the effect of "All right, do you really want to put me to the test? If so, I am ready." Paul concludes this particular admonition with a suggestion that it would be far better if they amended their behavior to enable Paul to come to them in loving affection, rather than for the purpose of punishing their wickedness.

1st Corinthians Chapter Five

This entire chapter is devoted to the case of the incestuous member of the church in Corinth, the woman involved having apparently no connection with the church; as no rebuke or teaching of any kind concerning her is recorded.

1 Corinthians 5:1 --It is actually reported that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not even among the Gentiles, that one of you hath his father’s wife. (1 Corinthians 5:1)

"Paul was vitally concerned about a new morality!"[1] The old morality of the Corinthians had already been discredited, exposed and revealed in the degradations and shameful debaucheries which invariably resulted from it. The new morality had come to Corinth in the preaching of Jesus Christ. Chastity, sobriety, honesty, truthfulness and kindness were among the features of the new ethic which came to mankind through Jesus Christ, that ethic being the only "new morality" ever heard of on earth.

"Paul was also relevant in his preaching!"[2] He pointed the finger of divine condemnation squarely at the offender, also making the whole congregation to blame for the complacency with which they had looked upon so brazen a resurgence of the old morality.

Fornication ... is here used as a general term for all sexual vice, incest being the specific sin here. For further elaboration of this subject, see my Commentary on Hebrews, p. 325. "Shocked as Paul was at this sin, he was even more shocked by the attitude of the Corinthian church,"[3] which condoned it and went on being puffed up with pride. Johnson thought that they might have been "even proud of their liberty";[4] and Guthrie also believed that their leaving such a glaring sin uncondemned was "Presumably on the ground of their `liberty’ in Christ."[5]

Not even among the Gentiles ... does not mean that incest was not practiced by the Gentiles, but that such vice was unacceptable among them. The feelings, even of pagans, were shocked by it; and Cicero spoke of such a crime (near Corinth), saying, "Oh, incredible wickedness, and, except in this woman’s case, unheard of in all experience."[6]

Hath his father’s wife ... "Hath refers not to just one trespass, but to a life of sin."[7] Speculations on the circumstances attending this sin, as to the question of whether the father was alive, or divorced, or the question of whether the incestuous couple were married or not, are all fruitless. The relationship itself was sinful, no matter what the circumstances; and if it had been profitable to know more of the details of this sordid incident, it is safe to conclude that Paul would have provided them. Some have identified the man who "suffered the wrong" (2 Corinthians 7:12) as the father in this case; and; if correct, this would prove that the father was alive. Farrar was of this opinion.[8] Lipscomb expressed the opinion of McGarvey and many others that, "From the complete silence as to the crime of the woman, it is inferred that she was a heathen."[9]

[1] Donald S. Metz, Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1968), p. 346.

[2] Ibid., p. 347.

[3] William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1954), p. 49.

[4] S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 601.

[5] Donald Guthrie, The New Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 1058.

[6] F. W. Farrar, The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), Vol. 19, p. 165.

[7] F. W. Grosheide, The New International Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1953), p. 120.

[8] F. W. Farrar, op. cit., p. 166.

[9] David Lipscomb, Commentary on First Corinthians (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1935), p. 72.

1 Corinthians 5:2 --And ye are puffed up, and did not rather mourn, that he that had done this thing might be taken away from among you.

Puffed up ... Barnes understood this thus: "They were not puffed up on account of this wickedness, but they were filled with pride notwithstanding it, or in spite of it."[10]

Mourn ... "This is the word that is used in mourning for the dead";[11] and when such a sinful contradiction of truth and righteousness as this case of incest exists in a congregation of believers, it should be an occasion of the most intense sorrow. What an incongruous thing was that prideful boasting of the Corinthians contrasted with this wretched immorality tolerated among them!

[10] Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1949), p. 83.

[11] William Barclay, op. cit., p. 49.

1 Corinthians 5:3-4 --For I verily, being absent in body but present in spirit, have already as though I were present judged him that hath so wrought this thing, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, ye being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of the Lord Jesus.

The question of Paul’s coming to Corinth had just been mentioned (1 Corinthians 4:21); but by the first clause here, Paul said, "I do not have to be present in Corinth to judge such a shameful sin as this. My spirit is already with you in the general assembly which I now order you to convene for the purpose of throwing the offender out."

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ ... may be applied to a number of things in this passage; but the principal thrust of the words is to invoke the authority of Christ himself (through the apostle) for casting out the offender. They must not seek to separate from him privately, or in any hushed-up manner; the whole church was commanded to pronounce the apostolic judgment on the sinful member.

1 Corinthians 5:5 --To deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Deliver ... to Satan ... This was the apostolic sentence; but the full meaning of it is not fully clear, there being a great many things that people simply do not know concerning what is here revealed.

Some things are crystal clear. Paul denounced this sin in the strongest language found in the New Testament; and such a judgment could have been pronounced and executed only by an apostle of Christ. There is a hint that Paul expected that the man would die upon the announcement of his judgment, in the same manner as Ananias and Sapphira had died in Jerusalem. The salvation held out as a hope for the condemned was not envisioned as following his return to the congregation, but as something he would receive "in the day of the Lord Jesus," a certain reference to the final judgment. If these implications should be allowed, this exceedingly severe judgment "might have been an act of mercy, as well."[12] See my Commentary on Acts, under Acts 5:5.

The opinion that this offender repented and came back into the congregation is founded upon 2 Corinthians 7:12; but there is little certainty that this application is correct. If that is what happened, then what became of "the destruction of the flesh" enunciated in this judgment?

The frequent opinion that "The sinful man (was) delivered to Satan, to suffer physical affliction, to bring him to repentance and turn out for the good of his soul,"[13] is another example of what the passage is thought to teach.

Another thing that is certain, with reference to this, was pointed out by Adam Clarke:

No such power as this remains in the Church of God; none such should be assumed; and the pretensions to it are as wicked as they are vain. It was the same power by which Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead, and Elymas the sorcerer struck blind. Apostles alone were entrusted with it.[14]

Even an apostle like Paul exercised such power and authority only upon rare occasions, another instance being that of Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Timothy 1:20).

[12] F. F. Bruce, The Book of Acts (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1954), p. 114.

[13] F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1972), p. 91.

[14] Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: Carlton and Porter, 1831), Vol. VI, p. 213.

1 Corinthians 5:6 --Your glorying is not good. know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

Your glorying ... Their glorying failed to take any note at all of the cancer of immorality in their very midst.

A little leaven ... Although there are exceptions, leaven in the New Testament usually refers to some evil principle, in this case unrebuked immorality, which was fully capable of destroying the whole church. This would account for the severity of the judgment imposed.

1 Corinthians 5:7 --Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, even as ye are unleavened. For our passover also hath been sacrificed, even Christ.

Ye are unleavened ... This is a figure for "you are not contaminated with sin." Despite the sinful lapses visible in the church, the action of their being cleansed in the blood of Christ was constant and effectual. Serious sins would be punished and purged from the Lord’s church;, and the essential purity of it was affirmed even in this moment of her shameful deficiency. This purity was not of themselves, but of Christ "in whom" they continued to be.

CHRIST; OUR PASSOVER

In the above verse, Paul affirmed that Christ is our passover; but, as in most analogies, there are points of likeness and unlikeness.

I. Points of likeness:

A. In both the Jewish passover and the passover of Christians (who is Christ), there is the death of a sinless, blameless victim (John 14:30; John 8:46; Hebrews 4:15).

B. In both, there is the design of deliverance from the wrath of God; in the Jewish Passover, it was from the destruction of the death angel, and for Christians it is from God’s eternal wrath (Romans 1:18).

C. In both, deliverance carne through the vicarious death, in their case, that of the lamb, in our case, that of Christ who died for us (Romans 3:25; Romans 5:6; Matthew 20:28; 1 Peter 3:18).

D. In both, the slain victim became the food of the redeemed. The Jews actually ate the Passover lamb; and Christians partake of Christ who is their spiritual food (John 6:53).

E. In both, a personal participation on the part of the redeemed was an absolute requirement. The lamb had to be slain for every family; each member had to eat; the blood was sprinkled on every door. Every man must be "in Christ" to be saved (1 Corinthians 12:13).

F. In both, the line of demarcation between the saved and lost is clear and emphatic. Egyptians did not partake of the Passover. The evil men of the world do not partake of Christ.

G. In both, there is a pledge of fellowship. Eating together is one of the oldest bonds of fellowship; and, in both dispensations, God made use of this instrument to cement the bonds of fellowship among his people.

II. Points of unlikeness:

A. There is a contrast in the redemptions procured, one being temporal and earthly, the other being heavenly and eternal.

B. There is a contrast in the victims provided. Is not a man of more value than a sheep?

C. There is a contrast in the efficacy of the blood offered, that of animals being unable to take away sin (Hebrews 10:4), but the blood of Christ providing remission of sins (Hebrews 9:14).

D. There is a contrast in that which was purged out, in the case of the Jews being the old leaven of actual bread, but in the case of Christians the purging of sin from the hearts of those saved.

III. The entire institution of the Passover was typical of the entire institution of Christianity:

A. The Passover lamb, sacrificed the first day, was fulfilled by the crucifixion of Christ at the very hours the lambs were slain.

B. The lamb was a type of the person of Christ in that it was innocent, died vicariously, was a male of the flock, and without blemish, and in that not a bone of it was broken (Psalms 34:20).

C. Just as the Passover was slain and eaten in Jerusalem so Christ suffered, died, and rose again in the same city.

D. The Passover was typical of the Lord’s supper in some ways, though not in others. Both were divinely instituted, both were commemorative, both were continuative, moving for millenniums through history; both began a new kingdom, the Passover that of the Jews; the Lord’s Supper distinguished the kingdom of Christ; and in both cases the actual beginning of the kingdom was a little later than the institution of the rite. Who but God could have so designed the religious economy of Israel that all of it would have served to typify and identify the Christ who should come into the world?

1 Corinthians 5:8 --Wherefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Keep the feast ... It seems incredible to this student that anyone would apply this to keeping the Jewish Passover. "We are obliged to keep the feast, the feast of unleavened bread."[15] This whole paragraph is absolutely metaphorical; for, when Paul commanded the Corinthians to "purge out thy old leaven," he referred to purging out sin. Therefore "feast" in this place has the meaning of Christian life and fellowship. Farrar read it "Keep the feast of Christ’s resurrection in the spirit of holiness."[16] Barnes interpreted it as "Let us engage in the service of God by putting away evil."[17] "Keeping the feast suggests the continuous life of the Christian, a day-by-day walking in holiness, strength and joy."[18] There is not a reference here to the Lord’s Supper specifically; but of course it is included in the larger sphere of the entire Christian pilgrimage.

Not with old leaven ... This is a reference to the old morality of the Corinthians, under the figure of the Jews’ actions at Passover. All sexual vice, as well as malice and other forms of wickedness, are specific examples of what Paul meant by "leaven."

Unleavened bread ... refers to the new life in Christ from which the old works of the flesh have been purged and replaced by "sincerity and truth."

[15] F. W. Grosheide, op. cit., p. 126.

[16] F. W. Farrar, op. cit., p. 168.

[17] Albert Barnes, op. cit., p. 88.

[18] Donald S. Metz, op. cit., p. 355.

1 Corinthians 5:9-10 --I wrote unto you in my epistle to have no company with fornicators; not at all meaning with the fornicators of this world, or with covetous and extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.

In my epistle ... This most probably refers to another epistle Paul had written to the Corinthians, but which was lost; and, since they misunderstood it, perhaps it was lost providentially. Skilled efforts to make this a reference to previous passages in this same epistle are unconvincing.

The crux of Paul’s teaching here is that when he had commanded the Corinthians not to keep company with fornicators (in that lost letter), the congregation had taken it to mean that they were not to associate with ANYBODY guilty of that sin, whether in the church or out of the church. Paul here stated that he did not mean that "at all"; and, if he had meant that, they could have obeyed him only by leaving the present world! What a commentary this is upon the depraved condition of Corinth and the whole world of that era.

Fornicators ... covetous ... extortioners ... idolaters ... Significantly, Paul here extended the prohibition to include association with any grossly wicked people, specifically the four classes mentioned, who might be called "brethren."

Furthermore, despite the fact of its being allowable for Christians to associate with the wicked in the necessary business and commerce of the world, such persons having no connection with Christianity, this is definitely not meant to encourage such associations. Every time a child of God is in the company of the wicked, even in cases where it is necessary and allowable, he runs a certain risk; and there is no way that he should be satisfied and comfortable in such associations. Wall, as quoted by Macknight, said:

It is an everlasting rule that a conscientious Christian should choose, as far as he can, the company, intercourse, and familiarity of good men, and such as fear God; and avoid, as far as his necessary affairs will permit, the conversation and fellowship of such as Paul here describes.[19]

ENDNOTE:

[19] James Macknight, Apostolical Epistles and Commentary (Grand Rapids. Baker Book House, 1969), p. 79.

1 Corinthians 5:11 --But as it is, I wrote unto you not to keep company, if any man that is named a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no, not to eat.

But as it is ... or "Now I write ..." as in the English Revised Version margin (1885).

I wrote unto you ... carries the meaning of "what I meant when I wrote to you."

The blanket rule laid down here requiring the Christian to forego any association with unfaithful Christians was stated thus by Russell:

Have no familiar intercourse with one that is named a brother but is false to his profession; withdraw from all associations indicating brotherhood. He does not mean that Christians should go out of the world; monastic seclusion is not for a moment contemplated.[20]

ENDNOTE:

[20] John William Russell, Compact Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1964), p. 410.

1 Corinthians 5:12 --For what have I to do with judging them that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Put away the wicked man from among yourselves.

Despite what was said under 1 Corinthians 5:5 of the unique authority involved in delivering the sinner "to Satan," it may not be supposed that putting away evil men out of the Christian fellowship has no relevance now. However it is to be done, it must be done. Morris said, "Paul’s main point is that the church must not tolerate the presence of evil in its midst, and this is clearly of permanent relevance."[21]

Paul also guarded against any thought that the wicked "without" shall escape judgment; God will judge them. Regarding the last verse here, Macknight wrote:

The apostle wrote this and the preceding verse to show the Corinthians the reason why, after commanding them to pass so severe a sentence on the man, he said nothing to them of the woman who was guilty with him. The discipline of the church was not to be exercised on persons out of it. Hence it appears that this woman was a heathen.[22]

[21] Leon Morris, Tyndale Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1958), p. 93.

[22] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 80.

1st Corinthians Chapter Six

Just as 1 Corinthians 5 was devoted to the subject of the incestuous man and related thoughts, so this is devoted to another serious problem at Corinth, that of Christians going to law with one another before the pagan judges (1 Corinthians 6:1-11), and a special paragraph on sexual vice (1 Corinthians 6:12-20), the entire subject matter in both chapters being discussed in the light of the conceited glorying which characterized the Christian community in Corinth.

ON GOING TO LAW

1 Corinthians 6:1 --Dare any of you having a matter against his neighbor, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? (1 Corinthians 6:1)

Against his neighbor ... means "against a Christian neighbor," because it would be impossible to force a pagan into a Christian tribunal unrecognized by the law of the land.

Before the unrighteous ... This is not a charge that all the pagan judges were unrighteous, but distinguishes between those within the church and those without, all of the latter being unrighteous in the sense of not being Christians.

Not before the saints ... Christ himself had laid down the rules for any follower of the Lord having a matter against his brother; and this rule involved: (1) a personal confrontation between wronged and wrongdoer, (2) another attempt at reconciliation if the first failed, with witnesses present, and (3) a general examination before the whole church. See Matthew 18:15-17. Also for extended discussion of this subject, see my Commentary on Matthew, pp. 279-281. McGarvey stated that "By going to law before the pagan tribunals, they were not only disobeying the Lord but committing treason against their own brotherhood."[1] As DeHoff noted, however, "It is sometimes necessary for Christians to appear in courts for justice; Paul himself appealed to Caesar."[2] "The Rabbis taught the Jews never to take a case before the Gentiles";[3] and there were reasons excellent enough why the Christians should have likewise stayed out of pagan courts, except through the utmost necessity. Not only were the Christians more competent in an ethical sense, but the use of pagan courts would involve oath-taking in the names of pagan deities and other practices abhorrent to Christians.

[1] J. W. McGarvey, Commentary on First Corinthians (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1916), p. 74.

[2] George W. DeHoff, Sermons on First Corinthians (Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 1947), p. 56.

[3] Donald Guthrie, The New Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. T. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 1058.

1 Corinthians 6:2 --Or know ye not that the saints shall judge the world and if the world is judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

Or know ye not ... These words are the key to understanding this difficult passage. Macknight said:

Because this question is repeated six times in this chapter, Locke thinks it was intended as a reproof to the Corinthians, who boasted of the knowledge they received from the false teacher, (but) were extremely ignorant in religious matters.[4]

Dummelow unhesitatingly interpreted this and the two following verses as sarcasm on Paul’s part:

They appeal to the "knowledge" of the Corinthians, who were puffed up with spiritual pride; and in their conceit had spoken of their hope to judge men and angels. If this be their expectation surely they can judge in matters of daily life.[5]

This interpretation makes sense and is supported by many circumstances. First, the matter of human beings judging men and angels is just such a thing as would have been advocated by the conceited false teachers in Corinth; but there are many other reasons:

(1) The greatest importance attaches to the words "know ye not," which occur ten times in the letters of Paul to the Corinthians, and only twice in all the rest.[6] Farrar says that "(these words) are a fitting rebuke for those who took for knowledge their obvious ignorance."[7] Furthermore, this expression occurs six times in this chapter in 1 Corinthians 6:2-3; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 6:15-16; 1 Corinthians 6:19; therefore some very special significance attaches to it. This student believes that the words are a sarcastic reference by Paul to conceited arrogance of the Corinthians who professed to "know" so much.

(2) All other interpretations involve vast difficulties. Jesus never promised that even apostles would judge angels. The passage in Matthew 19:28 speaks of their "judging the twelve tribes of Israel"; and, as Morris noted, "There is no record of Christ having said that all believers would share in that."[8]

(3) The notion that people will judge angels, except in the most poetic sense, as in the thought of their doing so through preaching the gospel, or through their godly living, etc.; such a notion raises impossible questions. What angels shall people judge? Does it mean the devil’s angels? They have already been judged and cast down and reserved in chains of darkness, etc. (2 Peter 2:4). True, Peter said, "reserved unto judgment," but this means "until the judgment day," their sentence only being reserved and their judgment already determined.

(4) Without going into all the fanciful interpretations heaped upon these words, this writer confesses full agreement with Adam Clarke who said:

This place is generally understood to imply that the redeemed of the Lord shall be, on the great day, assessors with him in judgment; and shall give their award in the determinations of his justice. On reviewing this subject, I am fully of the opinion that this cannot be the meaning of these words; and that the interpretation is clogged with a multitude of absurdities.[9]

Thus, it is believed that the matter of Christians judging men and angels is no valid Christian doctrine at all, but the speculative nonsense of the vainglorious experts in Greek philosophy at Corinth.

(5) Christians themselves will be judged at the last day; and in 1 Corinthians 4:4, Paul had just declared that the one who judges "is the Lord." Although it is said of saints that they shall "reign" with Christ, it is nowhere said that they shall judge with him. Despite many learned opinions to the contrary, therefore, this writer strongly inclines to the views expressed above.

[4] James Macknight, Apostolical Epistles and Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1969), p. 84.

[5] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 901.

[6] F. W. Farrar, The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), Vol. 19, p. 192.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Leon Morris, Tyndale Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1958), p. 94.

[9] Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: Carlton and Porter, 1831), Vol. VI, p. 216.

1 Corinthians 6:3-4 --Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have to judge things pertaining to this life, do ye set them to judge who are of no account in the church?

Paraphrase: You who know all about judging angels in the last day, how about judging some of these petty disputes you are disgracefully airing in the courts, of the pagans? And in your practice of resolving these little earthly matters, how is it that you set the pagan judges over such trivialities, such judges being of no account at all in the church, as they are not members of it.

If the sarcastic vein is denied here, the rendering of the words "do ye set" would be imperative, that is, a command that they should choose some humble member of the congregation to be a judge of disputes. In such an interpretation, which is by no means unreasonable, the admonition would stress the rejection of value judgments of the world, letting the humble decide, instead of the mighty.

Taking the words "do ye not know" as meaning "of course, it is a fact, requires some kind of thesis on just "how" the saints are going to judge the earth. Thus, Johnson explained such judging metaphorically: "The saints shall judge the world, because of their union with the Messiah, to whom all judgment is committed."[10] Shore likewise took the judging to be figurative, "arising out of the apostle’s intense realization of the unity of Christ and his Church Triumphant."[11] McGarvey wrote, "The saints will only participate as mystically united with Christ the judge."[12]

Before leaving this subject, a word with regard to Daniel 7:22 is appropriate: The passage reads:

Until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.

The judge in this place is mentioned in the first clause, being the Ancient of Days; and it was his judgment which was given to the saints, the same being a judgment upon their behalf, and not a judgment made by them. The great passage in Matthew 25:31-46 is in complete harmony with this interpretation of Daniel 7:22. In all probability, the false teachers at Corinth had indulged in some very wild speculations.

[10] S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 604.

[11] T. Teignmouth Shore, Ellicott’s Commentary on the Holy Bible (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959), p. 303.

[12] J. W. McGarvey, op cit., p. 75.

1 Corinthians 6:5 --I say this to move you to shame. What, cannot there be found among you one wise man who shall be able to decide between his brethren?

To move you to shame ... The sharpness of Paul’s biting sarcasm in the previous three verses was no doubt keenly felt in Corinth; and by this expression Paul means, "I meant for it to hurt." However unusual the explanation offered here with regard to those Corinthian saints "judging angels" may seem to Christians today, there was probably no one in Corinth who could have failed to know what Paul meant.

Wise man ... to decide ... In this clause, Paul dropped the sarcasm for a moment, asking, "Why don’t you appoint one of the wiser members to settle such disputes?" Thus it appears that Paul could not have meant in 1 Corinthians 6:4 that church members who were of "no account" should be entrusted with such an assignment. The apostles themselves when appointing brethren for such a purpose demanded that the ones appointed should be men "full of the Spirit and wisdom" (Acts 6:3). Thus, here is another strong reason for accepting the thesis that Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 6:2-4 were spoken in irony.

1 Corinthians 6:6 --But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before unbelievers.

Ellicott’s paraphrase of this is: "Your dragging these disputes before the tribunals of the heathen would imply that it is not possible to find a Christian friend to settle these trivial disputes."[13]

ENDNOTE:

[13] Ellicott, as quoted in One Volume New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1972), in loco.

1 Corinthians 6:7 --Nay, already it is altogether a fault with you, that ye have lawsuits one with another. Why not rather take wrong? why not rather be defrauded?

Passing beyond the question of "where" their lawsuits should be settled, Paul in this rebuked them for having any "lawsuits with one another." The Christian is of a different temperament from the man who is always screaming about his "rights," it being a far better way of life to "go the second mile ... give the cloak also ... and turn the other cheek" (Matthew 5:38-42).

1 Corinthians 6:8 --Nay, but ye yourselves do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.

There were some in the Corinthian congregation who made a habit of defrauding their brethren, using sinful devices, procuring advantage by the instrumentality of the pagan system of justice. Such persons would have been those who were skilled in such lawsuits, or those who through some circumstance might have enjoyed preferment in such courts. In any case, some of the Christians were being defrauded by other members of the church.

1Co 6:9=10--Or know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with men, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

A vast proportion of the whole Corinthian population participated in such sins as are catalogued here; and the prevalence of such wickedness throughout the ancient empire resulted in its total destruction, after these debaucheries had run their course; but it was not the destruction of an empire that Paul had in view here; it was the loss of souls. The various actions mentioned in this paragraph are designated as unrighteousness. The people who continue in such wickedness "shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

Fornicators ... is a general term for several kinds of sexual vice. It is here made the head of a shameful list of sins; and, in 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul returned to a fuller discussion of it.

Idolators ... In context, this referred to the patrons of the temple of Aphrodite atop the Acro Corinthus which dominated the Corinthian scene. As Halley said, "A thousand public prostitutes, kept at public expense, were always ready (in the temple) for immoral indulgence as worship to their goddess!"[14] In such an atmosphere, some of the Corinthians were finding it difficult to adjust to the strict code of Christian morality.

Adulterers ... has special reference to persons not faithful to the marriage vows.

Effeminate ... Macknight wrote that this word is translated from a Greek word meaning "catamite,"[15] the technical word for "a boy used in pederasty."[16] "Those wretches who suffered this abuse were likewise called pathics, and affected the dress and behavior of women."[17] Catamites were the passive partners in sodomy.

Abusers of themselves with men ... were the sodomites. Regarding the passive and active homosexuals referred to in these words, it should be remembered that an apostle of Jesus Christ condemned such persons in the judgment that they shall not inherit the kingdom of God. What is to be thought of churches which not only condone this sin, but in widely publicized cases have actually ordained homosexuals to the ministry? It is the judgment of this writer that churches exhibiting such a total disregard of the New Testament have, in so doing, forfeited all identity with Christianity.

William Barclay’s masterful discussion of homosexuality should be read by every Christian. This was the cancer in Greek life that invaded Rome, and brought the vaunted empire to destruction. Fourteen of the first fifteen Roman emperors practiced this vice; others guilty of it were Socrates and Plato. Nero castrated and married a boy called Sporus, which he held as his wife, and at the same time married Pythagoras and called him his husband! Barclay’s conclusion may not be denied that:

In this particular vice in the time of the early church, the world was lost to shame; and there can be little doubt that that was one of the main causes of its degeneracy and the final collapse of its civilization.[18]

Thieves ... covetous ... drunkards ... revilers ... extortioners ... Significantly, Paul classed thieves and extortioners as equally criminal, the latter referring to organized, "white-collar" crime, and thievery to common pilferage.

Covetousness... is the inordinate desire, or love, of money, the same being a ruling passion, not only with the unregenerated, but also with many Christians themselves, who despite their prosperity give little or nothing to the church or philanthropy. This vice is rated with idolatry, sodomy, extortion, etc., being essentially a denial of God in human life.

Drunkards ... Who is a drunkard? The "wisdom" of this age recognizes no such character, the same having been elevated in the popular mind to the status of "an alcoholic"! As such he is not blameworthy in any degree, but merely suffering from "a disease," the same required to be treated, tolerated, and even appreciated by the community. This is merely a part of the blindness of worldly wisdom. No man can become an alcoholic except by his own repeated violations of the Christian law of sobriety. While it may be true, of course, but only in a sense, that drink No. 5,689 is a disease, drink No. 1 is a moral problem. The burning liquors on sale today are not fit for human consumption; and the use of any of them, even socially, is reprehensible. This writer does not expect social drinkers to approve of this viewpoint; but there is actually no intelligent denial of it. If one is really concerned with living the Christian life, far the best thing for him to do is to deny beverage alcohol any place whatever in his life. The whole Moslem world has known for centuries the true nature of the curse of alcohol, making abstinence from it a cardinal rule of their faith.

[14] Henry H. Halley, Bible Handbook (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1927), p. 546.

[15] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 88.

[16] Britannica World Language Dictionary (New York: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1959).

[17] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 88.

[18] William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1954), p. 60.

1 Corinthians 6:11 --And such were some of you: but ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.

Such were some of you ... This was intended by Paul to call attention to the conditions from which they had been rescued by Christ.

But ye are washed ... sanctified ... justified ... This refers to the conversion of the Corinthians. "By `sanctified’ is meant, not the progressive course of sanctification, but the consecration to God by baptism."[19] As always, however, the scholars who deny baptism’s necessity in any true conversion strive to soften the impact of these words, as in: "Nothing in the context identifies this with baptism."[20] "(They) submitted to baptism as THE SIGN OF THE WASHING away of sin."[21] Etc.

Two considerations require the understanding of this place as a reference to Christian baptism, along with the sanctification and justification accomplished in the ceremony itself, when performed Scripturally upon a believing penitent: (1) There is the use of "the middle voice for WASHED, as in Acts 22:16, carrying the meaning of `you had yourselves washed.’"[22] (2) There is the appearance in the verse itself of the trinitarian formula for the administration of baptism. As Guthrie noted:

"In the name of ... Christ ... Spirit ... God ..." Note the unconscious Trinitarianism. The words may recall the actual formula used in baptism and the complementary baptism of the Spirit ... There is a reference here to the external and internal essential of baptism.[23]

Justification has reference to the status of the believer "in Christ" who by virtue of his identity with the Saviour does not deserve any punishment whatever; it is a total and complete justification bestowed upon the believer when he is baptized "into Christ."

[19] F. W. Farrar, op. cit., p. 193.

[20] Paul W. Marsh, A New Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1969), p. 386.

[21] J. R. Dummelow, op. cit., p. 901.

[22] Paul W. Marsh, op. cit., p. 386.

[23] Donald Guthrie, op. cit., p. 1059.

1 Corinthians 6:12 --All things are lawful for me; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful for me; but I will not be brought under the power of any.

CONCERNING FORNICATION

Paul here used a catch phrase which evidently had wide acceptance among the Corinthians. The liberty in Christ which made "all things lawful" was a relative, not an absolute principle; and any notion that the existence of appetites justified their gratification was not true then, or ever. "Some of them were evidently quoting this to justify their promiscuous sexual behavior; but Paul positively stated that it did not so apply."[24]

ENDNOTE:

[24] Henry H. Halley, op. cit., p. 546.

1 Corinthians 6:13 --Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall bring to naught both it and them. But the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.

Meats for the belly ... This was probably another current proverb among the Corinthians with the meaning suggested by Marsh.

As one indulges an appetite for food, that being the function of the stomach, so should the physical urge for sexual indulgence be gratified. Paul refutes the argument, stomach and food being temporal; but not so the body.[25]

But for the Lord ... The purpose of the body is not the gratification of its appetites; but it is for the Lord, a reference to the indwelling of the Spirit mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:19. Sensuality is neither the highest nor the most satisfying use of the body. "Body" as used here has reference to the whole person including the physical body; and the highest happiness of the person is impossible of attainment through gratification, such happiness deriving only from the proper union between man and his Creator.

ENDNOTE:

[25] Paul W. Marsh, op. cit., p. 386.

1 Corinthians 6:14 --And God both raised the Lord, and will raise up us through his power.

The resurrection of Christians is promised here, the proof of it already having been demonstrated in the resurrection of Christ. As the resurrection of Christ was bodily, so shall be that of Christians; and, in this light, an eternal purpose with reference to the body itself is indicated, the same being a telling argument against wasting the physical body through lust and sensuality.

1 Corinthians 6:15 --Know ye not that your bodies are members of Christ? and shall I then take away the members of Christ, and make them members of a harlot? God forbid.

Know ye not ... is still being used sarcastically in this passage, not in the sense of denying that Christians’ bodies are members of Christ, but as protesting the incongruity of debasing such members in immorality. Paul’s use of "body" in this passage makes it certain that the physical body is meant.

1 Corinthians 6:16 --Or know ye not that he that is joined to a harlot is one body? for, The twain, saith he, shall become one flesh.

Or know ye not ... carries the thought of "With all of your conceited knowledge, has it never occurred to you that participation with a harlot makes the participant and the harlot one flesh?" Paul proved it by the reference to Genesis 2:24. As Dummelow said, however,

The words spoken by God (in the reference cited) were first spoken of marriage, and are here applied to an unholy union. Paul does not place the two on the same plane but only points out that in this one respect they are similar.[26]

ENDNOTE:

[26] J. R. Dummelow, op. cit., p. 901.

1 Corinthians 6:17 --But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.

One spirit ... The true Christian, having been joined to the Lord through his conversion from sin, is one in spirit with the Lord, seeking in all things to conform his thoughts, words and deeds to such actions as are approved by the Lord and in harmony with the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:18 --Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

Flee fornication ... For further remarks on this, see my Commentary on Hebrews, p. 325. The sin of fornication is against: (a) God (Genesis 39:9), (b) one’s body (as here), (c) the church, (d) the marriage institution, (e) the life of the nation, and (f) the very soul itself (Proverbs 6:32).

Against his own body ... Although Paul doubtless had specifically in mind the impact of sin against the physical body, his words are true in the widest possible application. No matter how "body" is understood, whether the physical body, the body of the family, the body of the Lord, the body of the social order, or even any corporate body - fornication is "against" any and all of these, many a corporation having been wrecked through fornication.

1 Corinthians 6:19 --Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own.

What Paul had affirmed earlier with reference to the church’s being the temple of the Holy Spirit is here declared to be true of individual members of the church. God’s temple belongs to God, and therefore the individual who partakes of the nature of God’s temple belongs not to himself but to God; and thus he is not free to indulge his lusts and appetites but is obligated to conform his activities to those things which will honor and glorify the Lord whose property the Christian is. For extended comments on "The Indwelling Spirit," see my Commentary on Romans, p. 291, and on "The Witness of the Spirit," see my Commentary on Romans, p. 298.

1 Corinthians 6:20 --For ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body.

Ye were bought with a price ... has reference to the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ which is the purchase price of the church (Acts 20:28).

Glorify God in your body ... identifies the body as an instrument to be used by the Christian in the service of God and for his glory. The honor of the physical body is also implicit in such a view. In true Christianity, there is no hatred of the body, no torturing of the flesh, and no asceticism.

Guthrie pointed out that Paul’s language here "reflects a contemporary custom"[27] prevalent in Corinth. Resort to a temple prostitute meant resort to a strange god; and the participants in temple immorality became the property of the god of that temple, the pagan society holding such persons to be free or "liberated"! "Our redemption by Christ from the enslavement of sin was no such fiction."[28]

[27] Donald Guthrie, op. cit., p. 1059.

[28] Ibid.

1st Corinthians Chapter Seven

This is one of the most interesting chapters in the New Testament, due to the nature of its being Paul’s apostolic answers to no less than six questions propounded in a letter from the church at Corinth, that letter being lost, of course, and thus leaving the communications in this chapter to be understood very much in the same manner as listening to one end of a telephone conversation.

Significantly, Paul had sternly reprimanded the Corinthians for the various sins already noted in the first six chapters, before getting down to the problem of their questions. Therefore, the second major division of the epistle begins at this point, from whence through the next nine chapters he would deal with questions raised in the lost letter.

The six questions treated in this chapter are:

(1) Should married couples continue normal sexual relations after becoming Christians? Answer: Yes, it is their duty to do this (1 Corinthians 7:1-7).

(2) Should single persons get married? Answer: Yes, in all normal situations; but for the gifted, such as Paul, celibacy was advantageous, especially in unsettled times (1 Corinthians 7:8-9).

(3) Is divorce permitted for Christians? Answer: No (1 Corinthians 7:10-11).

(4) When one partner of a pagan couple becomes a Christian, the other refusing to do so, is such a marriage binding? Answer: Yes, except when the unbeliever deserts the Christian partner (1 Corinthians 7:12-16).

A brief digression. At this point Paul, having given an exception in the matter of mixed marriages, allowing liberty in certain cases, interjected a comment on the general rule that becoming a Christian does not free any man from obligations already binding upon him. Evidently there was at Corinth, even at this early date, some impression that becoming a Christian wiped out all prior debts, contracts, even marriages and all other obligations existing prior to conversion. It will be recalled that this very error was the principal motivation for vast numbers of knights and princes who participated in the Crusades at a much later time (1 Corinthians 7:17-24).

(5) Should Christian fathers (or guardians) give their daughters in marriage? Answer: The fathers and guardians were given authority to solve their individual problems, there being no sin involved, however the decision went; but certain guidelines were suggested (1 Corinthians 7:25-38).

(6) May a Christian widow remarry? Answer: Yes, provided that she marry "only in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 7:39-40).

Like many other chapters which are sometimes labeled "difficult," this one contains some of the most instructive teaching in the New Testament, and affords glimpses of the apostolic method which add greatly to one’s faith in the integrity of the apostles.

1 Corinthians 7:1 --Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. (1 Corinthians 7:1)

The development of this paragraph a little later indicates that the question regards the conduct of Christian couples toward each other, a question no doubt related to the broader question of celibacy as a way of life, this being a deduction from the terminology "not to touch a woman." "Epictetus used this word to denote one’s MARRYING."[1] Morris also agreed that "In this context TOUCH refers to marriage."[2]

It is good not to touch a woman ... Paul first addressed himself to the prior question of celibacy, admitting here that, in a sense, it was "good." The word "good" in this place "does not mean morally good, but that it is for man’s best interests in some circumstances to remain single."[3] "He is teaching that because of the persecution of Christians, it is better not to get married and bring children into the world to be killed and suffer persecution.[4] It should be carefully observed, however, that Paul in no sense advocated celibacy, except in certain situations and circumstances, and that even in those cases it was merely "allowable," and not commanded. There is no disparagement of marriage here, Paul’s writings in Ephesians 5:22-23, etc., making it abundantly clear that he held the institution of marriage in the very highest esteem. As Marsh said, "He is not writing a treatise on marriage, but answering their questions within the context of current attitudes and circumstances."[5] Marsh translated this place, "It is WELL for a man not to touch a woman ... meaning COMMENDABLE, but not morally or intrinsically better."[6] It is true now, even as it was in the beginning, that "It is not good for man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18). As Lipscomb noted, "Paul’s teaching here regards the persecution then raging against the Christians; and, on account of these, if a man could restrain his lusts, it was better not to marry."[7]

The background of this paragraph included widespread agitation of the question of the desirability of marriage. Many of the Greek philosophers, such as Menander, held marriage to be "an evil, but a necessary evil";[8] but the Jews, on the other hand, "absolutely required that every man should marry, and reputed those as murderers who did not."[9]

[1] James Macknight, Apostolical Epistles and Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1969), p. 98.

[2] Leon Morris, Tyndale Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1958), p. 105.

[3] Donald S. Metz, Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City, Missouri: Beacon Hill Press, 1968), p. 372.

[4] George W. DeHoff, Sermons on First Corinthians (Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 1947), p. 63.

[5] Paul W. Marsh, A New Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1969), p. 387.

[6] Ibid.

[7] David Lipscomb, Commentary on First Corinthians (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1935), p. 95.

[8] Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: Carlton and Porter, 1831), Vol. VI, p. 220.

[9] Ibid.

1 Corinthians 7:2 --But because of fornications, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.

Christianity is opposed to polygamy, concubinage, divorce and all related evils. Also, there is implicit in this verse a practical condemnation of celibacy. Celibacy being an absolutely unattainable state for the vast majority of mankind, marriage is required as the only practical alternative.

But because of fornications ... By these words and the command following, Paul refuted absolutely the false argument of Jerome who said, "If it is good for a man not to touch a woman, it must be bad to do so; and therefore celibacy is a holier state than marriage."[10] Far from being a holier state than marriage, celibacy, enforced upon the clergy of the historic church contrary to nature, became the worst of evils. As Barnes said:

How much evil, how much deep pollution, how many abominable crimes would have been avoided, which have grown out of the monastic system, and the celibacy of the clergy ... if Paul’s advice had been followed by all professed Christians![11]

Let every man have ... This was an apostolic order, "a rule, and not a mere permission";[12] and Paul applied it equally to women as to men. Such a commandment does not allow any exception for persons who, early in life, take vows of perpetual chastity; because, as Macknight observed, "No person in early life can foresee what his future state of mind may be ... therefore vows of celibacy and virginity taken in early life, must in both sexes be sinful."[13]

[10] F. W. Farrar, The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), Vol. 19, p. 223.

[11] Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1949), 1Cor., p. 111.

[12] F. W. Farrar, op. cit., p. 224.

[13] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 98.

1 Corinthians 7:3 --Let the husband render unto the wife her due: and likewise also the wife unto her husband.

In marriage, the sensuous impulse, by being controlled and placed under religious sanctions is refined and purified ... Instead of being any longer the source of untold curses to mankind, it becomes a condition of their continuance and an element in their peace, because it is then placed under the blessing of God and of his church.[14]

Unto the wife her due ... also unto the husband ... The sexual relationship in married couples, far from being wrong, is a lawful and necessary function of Christian marriage. This verse establishes the idea that "Among some of the Corinthians there existed an exaggerated spiritualistic tendency which threatened to injure conjugal relations."[15] There existed a view among ascetics that sex relations were in and of themselves wicked, or evil; and the blight of this monastic error has fallen upon all succeeding generation.

[14] F. W. Farrar, op. cit., p. 224.

[15] Donald S. Metz, op. cit., p. 373.

1 Corinthians 7:4 --The wife hath not power over her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power over his own body, but the wife.

It may be assumed that Paul delivered such teachings as here, not through any love of the subject, but because all kinds of unnatural and immoral propositions were being advocated by ascetics and "super-spirituals" among the Corinthians. The equality of husband and wife in the marriage partnership is in the foreground here. Neither partner in marriage was to subscribe to any form of "sexless" behavior, because there was a positive duty that each owed the other in marriage.

1 Corinthians 7:5 --Defraud ye not one another, except it be by consent for a season, that ye may give yourselves unto prayer, and may be together again, that Satan tempt you not because of your incontinency.

Except it be for a season ... In such an apostolic directive as this, there disappears totally the notion that sexual relations between Christian marriage partners were allowable only for procreation. On the other hand, the refusal of one of the partners to cohabit is designated as fraud.

May give yourselves unto prayer ... Abstinence from the normal marital relations was allowable only upon the consent of both partners, and even then only for purposes of prayer (in some special sense), and only "for a season."

Fasting ... in this verse (KJV) was an interpolation, being not found in any of the primary manuscripts; but despite this, the requirement that married couples live apart during Lent was grounded on this interpolation.[16]

ENDNOTE:

[16] F. W. Farrar, op. cit., p. 224.

1 Corinthians 7:6

But this I say by way of concession, not of commandment.

This verse has been grossly misunderstood as a denial of his inspiration on Paul’s part, as if he had said that he was in some manner unsure of the advice he gave. This is not true at all; but it indicates that such behavior as celibacy and married couples refraining from cohabitation for "a season" were allowable, but not required, a concession not a commandment. There is no restriction whatever upon Paul’s inspiration visible in this verse.

1 Corinthians 7:7 --Yet I would that all men were even as I myself. Howbeit each man hath his own gift from God, one after this manner, and another after that.

Would that all men ... Paul could not have meant that he wished that all men were unmarried, like himself, but rather that all men had the gift of continence, which is clearly "his own gift from God."

Even as I myself ... The question of whether or not Paul was ever married always surfaces here, there being many dogmatic opinions supporting either view. One thing is certain, Paul was at this time not married. Halley gave his opinion that "This chapter seems to have been written by one who knew something of the intimacies of the married life,"[17] and combined this with the fact of Paul’s voting in the Sanhedrin (Acts 26:10), for which, it was said, marriage was a prerequisite, making these the two reasons for supposing that Paul had been married. Shore, however, declared that "The almost universal tradition of the early church was that Paul was never married."[18] However, that tradition appears to be weak. Farrar stated that it "has no certain support of tradition";[19] and the testimony of both Tertullian and Jerome (in favor of the "unmarried" view) he wrote off as inadmissible, because both of them "were biased witnesses."[20] It is not a matter of great import either way, but this student inclines to the belief that Paul was a widower, his wife having deserted him at the time of his conversion. Moreover, the tradition of Paul’s never having been married was most likely fostered by the historic church as a support of their unscriptural doctrine of celibacy for the clergy.

[17] Henry H. Halley, Bible Handbook (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1927), p. 546.

[18] T. Teignmouth Shore, Ellicott’s Commentary on the Holy Bible (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959), p. 307.

[19] F. W. Farrar, op. cit., p. 225.

[20] Ibid.

1 Corinthians 7:8 --But I say to the unmarried and to widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.

Paul here began his answer to the question of whether unmarried persons (widows, naturally included) should marry or not.

It is good for them if they abide even as I ... This was the permission of the apostle, and even his approval, that for those who were able to live chastely without marriage, it would be better for them not to marry due to "the distress that is upon us" (1 Corinthians 7:26). A savage persecution against the church was then raging, and it was an inopportune time for marrying; but, even so, Paul did not forbid it.

1 Corinthians 7:9 --But if they have no continency, let them marry: for it better to marry than to burn.

McGarvey’s analysis of Paul’s answer has this: "He advises the unmarried who have the gift of self-control to remain unmarried, but those lacking it should avoid unlawful lusts by marriage."[21]

Better to marry than to burn ... has reference to being on fire with passion.

ENDNOTE:

[21] J. W. McGarvey, Commentary on First Corinthians (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1916), p. 80.

1 Corinthians 7:10 --But unto the married I give charge, yet not I, but the Lord, That the wife depart not from her husband.

Not I but the Lord ... The third question from Corinth had asked if divorce was permitted; and Paul here answered in the negative. The words "not I but the Lord" have been construed by some as an admission on Paul’s part that some of his advice in this chapter was not inspired, but no such meaning is logically derived from what is said here. What Paul declared here is that it was unnecessary for him to give any inspired utterance on such a subject, because the Lord himself had given specific commandment on this very thing (Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9; Mark 10:9; Luke 16:18). "Paul here distinguished between Jesus’ command during his ministry and his own apostolic rulings, for which inspiration is claimed."[22]

ENDNOTE:

[22] Donald Guthrie, The New Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 1059.

1 Corinthians 7:11 --(But should she depart, let her remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband); and that the husband leave not his wife.

Paul left out of view in this verse the exception Jesus gave in Matthew 19:9, "except it be for fornication"; but this may not be construed as a denial of it. Paul’s failure to mention the exception was likely due to the fact that it did not apply in the case propounded by the letter from Corinth. As DeHoff said, "Paul told her either to remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. Divorce never solves a problem; it only creates more problems." Of course, exactly the same rule applied to husbands who left their wives.

1 Corinthians 7:12 --But to the rest say I, not the Lord: If any brother hath an unbelieving wife, and she is content to dwell with him, let him not leave her.

Say I, not the Lord ... The meaning here is not that Paul’s injunction here had any less inspiration and authority behind it, but that its authority derived from his own apostolic commission, and not from any direct commandment uttered by Jesus during his ministry, such as that he had just cited. There is not the slightest disclaimer here of full and absolute authority for what Paul commanded in the Spirit of God. As Marsh expressed it, "In this instance Paul cannot refer to any direct command of Christ, as he could for the previous case; but his words carry the full weight of inspiration and authority."[23] One must deplore the blindness of many commentators on this exceedingly important point.

Jesus’ teaching on marriage was directed to the Jews who were all in covenant relationship with God; and his words had no application at all to mixed marriages which Paul dealt with here; hence the necessity for Paul to issue the command himself in the fullness of his apostolic authority. How easy it would have been for him to attribute some saying to Jesus on this, instead of assuming full responsibility for it himself; but, in the light of his example, we may be sure that no apostle ever did such a thing. How vain, therefore, are the speculations of a certain school of critics who accuse the apostles of attributing to Jesus words which were, in fact, their own deductions and not the words of the Lord. Paul’s distinguishing such things in this verse is an overwhelmingly powerful testimony to the truth of the entire New Testament.

This verse through 1 Corinthians 7:16 deals with the problem of divorce in mixed marriages, that is, marriages between Christians and pagans, a situation which arose, not from Christians marrying pagans, but from the conversion of one out of a pagan couple. Paul’s command here is that the marriage stands, unless the unbeliever is unwilling and will not allow it to stand.

ENDNOTE:

[23] Paul W. Marsh, op. cit., p. 388.

1 Corinthians 7:13 --And the woman that hath an unbelieving husband, and he is content to dwell with her, let her not leave her husband.

The teaching here is the same as in the previous verse, except it applies to the Christian woman, just as 1 Corinthians 7:12 applied to the Christian man, with an unbelieving marriage partner. See under above verse.

1 Corinthians 7:14 --For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in the brother: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

Sanctified ... "This verb cannot mean `holy in Christ before God,’ because that kind of holiness cannot be predicated of an unbeliever."[24] Paul here uses such a term in a ceremonial sense, rather than in a sense suggesting the salvation either of the unbelieving partner or of the children. As Johnson said:

Paul simply means that the Old Testament principle of the communication of uncleanness does not hold. The union is lawful and confers privileges on the members, such as the protection of God and the opportunity of being in close contact with one in God’s family.[25]

Those who seek to find here any authority for infant church membership are frustrated by the fact that nothing of the kind is even intimated. "There is not one word about baptism here, not one allusion to it; nor does the argument in the remotest degree bear upon it."[26] Furthermore, as Morris pointed out, the "holiness" here ascribed to children applies only "until the child is old enough to take responsibility upon himself."[27]

[24] Donald S. Metz, op. cit., p. 378.

[25] S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 608.

[26] Albert Barnes, op. cit., p. 117.

[27] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 110.

1 Corinthians 7:15 --Yet if the unbelieving departeth, let him depart: the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us in peace.

The brother or sister is not under bondage ... Some question whether or not such a brother or sister might remarry; but the view here is that, if not, then the brother or sister would still be in bondage. This is another exception, distinguished from the "adultery" mentioned by the Lord (Matthew 19:9), but the desertion of a Christian partner by an unbeliever is thought by some to be presumptive proof of adultery also.] Besides that, Paul was dealing with mixed marriages, which were not in the purview of Jesus’ teaching at all. Many have disputed this interpretation. DeHoff declared that "This does not mean that he (the forsaken one) is free to marry again."[28] David Lipscomb also believed that, "In such cases, remarriage is not approved";[29] but he went on to add that if the departing unbeliever should marry again, the wife or husband forsaken would be at liberty to remarry. It seems to this student, however, that Macknight’s view of this place is correct. He said:

Here he declares that the party who was willing to continue the marriage, but who was deserted notwithstanding a reconciliation had been attempted, was at liberty to marry. And his decision is just, because there is no reason why the innocent party, through the fault of the guilty party, should be exposed to the danger of committing adultery.[30]

See the note at end of chapter 7.

Metz was doubtless correct in the comment that "Paul’s directive does not grant permission for a Christian to marry an unbeliever."[31] The guidelines apply to situations in which one of a pagan couple accepts Christianity, and the other does not. Even then, the marriage is binding unless the unbeliever deserts the faithful partner.

[28] George W. DeHoff, op. cit., p. 66.

[29] David Lipscomb, op. cit., p. 102.

[30] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 107.

[31] Donald R. Metz, op. cit., p. 379.

1 Corinthians 7:16 --For how knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O husband, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

Bruce believed that "A mixed marriage of the kind Paul had in mind is fraught with missionary possibility,"[32] indicating that Paul’s meaning here is that perhaps the faithful partner might be able to convert the unbeliever. There is another possible meaning of this somewhat ambiguous verse. It could mean, "God’s aim for us is peace, which will best be secured by separation; the possibility of saving the heathen partner is, after all, quite uncertain."[33] Morris preferred the latter view, adding that "Marriage is not to be regarded simply as an instrument of evangelism."[34] Despite this, it seems that the first view, advocated by Bruce, is preferable. The principal deterrent to this is the reference to God’s having called us to peace (at the end of 1 Corinthians 7:15). It is a known fact that many a marriage with unbelievers has proved to be the means of converting the unbeliever; but Paul certainly did not advocate marriage with such an end in view. This verse concludes Paul’s teaching on mixed marriages; and, as always, there is evident in it the most devout and sincere desire for the salvation of people’s souls. Everything else is secondary.

[32] F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1972), p. 92.

[33] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 903.

[34] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 111.

1 Corinthians 7:17 --Only, as the Lord hath distributed to each man, as God hath called each, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

The problem of the innocent party in a mixed marriage disposed of, Paul here made a digression to legislate in the power of the Holy Spirit on the larger question behind it, that greater question deriving from an error being advocated at Corinth by certain false teachers. "The Judaizers taught that, by embracing the true religion, all former obligations under which the convert lay were dissolved."[35] Any widespread acceptance of such an error would have resulted in social chaos and precipitated even more savage and relentless persecutions against the church; therefore, for both practical and ethical reasons the error had to be struck down.

As the Lord hath distributed to each man ... refers to the status of each man in the fabric of the social order, some being wealthy, others poor, some free, others slaves, etc.

As God hath called each, so let him walk ... Accepting the gospel did not change prior conditions and obligations of the convert in any legal sense, despite the fact that the holy principles of Christianity were inherently charged with power to destroy many shameful institutions in the pagan society. "The gospel, instead of weakening any moral or just political obligation, strengthened them all."[36]

[35] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 108.

[36] Ibid.

1 Corinthians 7:18-19 --Was any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Hath any been called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but keeping the commandments of God.

Let him not become uncircumcised ... Through surgery, it was possible to do this; and Macknight related how "Apostate Jews (by such action) fancied that they freed themselves from their obligation to obey the law of Moses."[37]

Circumcision is nothing ... Three times Paul made this statement, each time concluding with a powerful statement of that which is everything; here it is "keeping the commandments of God." In Galatians 5:6, it is "faith working through love"; and in Galatians 6:15, it is "a new creation." Any reconciliation of these epic pronouncements with the Protestant heresy of salvation "by faith alone" is impossible.

As the apostle John said, "And hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments" (1 John 2:3).

Let him not be circumcised ... is an order applicable to all of every class who become Christians; and it may not be allowed that the practice of this rite, which is essentially racial and religious, could be acceptable under any circumstances in the church for any persons whomsoever. Paul’s circumcision of Timothy has no bearing whatever on this.

ENDNOTE:

[37] Ibid.

1 Corinthians 7:20-21 --Let each man abide in that calling wherein he was called. Wast thou called being a bondservant? care not for it: nay, even if thou canst become free, use it rather.

There is nothing in this passage which forbids any man to strive for betterment of conditions in his life; but what is forbidden is any thought that such "better conditions" could denote any higher spiritual condition. A slave could be just as noble and successful a Christian as anyone else. Furthermore, many Christians have destroyed their spiritual lives, or greatly damaged them, by inordinate desire to improve their economic or social status. There is something of what Paul wrote to Timothy in this admonition here: "Godliness with contentment is great gain ... having food and covering we shall be therewith content" (1 Timothy 6:6-8).

Even if thou canst become free, use it rather ... There is an amazing uncertainty among the wisest scholars as to what Paul meant by this, and this is reflected in the various versions.

RSV: If you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity. (Footnote on last clause: make use of your present condition instead.) the New English Bible (1961): If a chance of liberty should come, take it. (Footnote: But even if a chance of liberty should come, choose rather to make good use of your servitude.)

Practically all scholars agree with Shore that the interpretation given in the footnotes "is most in accordance with the construction of the sentence in the original Greek."[38] Furthermore, that view is in perfect harmony with the whole thrust of Paul’s paragraph here, as well as with his teaching elsewhere and his invariable practice.

Perhaps, if the circumstances of the slaves at Corinth to whom these words were originally addressed could be known, more light on the true meaning would be available. For example, was Paul addressing the slaves of pagans, or of Christians? If it should be allowed here that Paul advised continuation in servitude, even for one who might have procured his liberty, it would not necessarily follow that such was intended as the will of God for all ages to come. McGarvey believed that Paul meant that "If freedom can be obtained, it is to be preferred";[39] and if master and slave are both Christians, it should be bestowed, as Paul clearly suggested to Philemon. Thus, there can be no doubt of the repugnance in which the apostle held the whole institution of slavery; but he held that conviction in the caution of a very wise restraint. Although the word EMANCIPATION seemed to be always trembling upon Paul’s lips, he never uttered it. Why?

If one single word could have been quoted in Rome as tending to excite slaves to revolt, it would have quadrupled the intensity and savagery of the imperial government’s hatred and persecution of Christians at a time when persecution was already under way; and that fact could have resulted in Paul’s recommendation here. Furthermore, Lipscomb gave this further analysis:

Nor would the danger of preaching the abolition of slavery be confined to that arising from external violence of Rome against the church; it would have been pregnant with danger to the purity of the church itself. Many would have been led to join a communion which would have aided them in securing their freedom. In these considerations, we find ample reasons for the position of non-interference with slavery which Paul maintained.[40]

In keeping with such circumstances, Paul only hinted that Philemon should free Onesimus; and here he advised that slaves continue to serve God in their condition of servitude. Lipscomb preferred the rendition of Paul’s words as, "If the Christian slave could be free, he should prefer his condition as a converted slave."[41]

Before leaving this, it should be noted that the apostolic commandment regarding what was preferable under those peculiar and exceptional circumstances may not be understood as binding at the present time and in far different circumstances.

[38] T. Teignmouth Shore, op. cit., p. 310.

[39] J. W. McGarvey, op. cit., p. 82.

[40] David Lipscomb, op. cit., p. 107.

[41] Ibid.

1 Corinthians 7:22 --For he that was called in the Lord being a bondservant, is the Lord’s freedman: likewise he that was called being free, is Christ’s bondservant.

"The man who is a slave is free in Christ, and the man who is free is the servant of Christ."[42] Thus there is the fulfillment of the principle, "Let the brother of low degree glory in his high estate: and the rich, in that he is made low" (James 1:9-10).

ENDNOTE:

[42] Donald R. Metz, op. cit., p. 382.

1 Corinthians 7:23 --Ye were bought with a price; become not bondservants of men.

Bruce favored the preferred renditions of RSV and New English Bible (1961) in 1 Corinthians 7:21, because, he said, "This interpretation is more in line with the principle of 1 Corinthians 7:23."[43] However, it is the conviction here that Paul used the word "bondservants" in a different sense here, it being extremely unlikely that anyone would voluntarily have become a bondservant of another. What is meant is that "Christians should not be dragooned by others in the way they should live.[44] In context (which we do not certainly know), Paul could have meant, "Do not allow yourselves to be made bondservants of those who are agitating the slavery question. You do not belong to them; you belong to Christ, having been purchased by his precious blood."

[43] F. F. Bruce, op. cit., p. 92.

[44] Donald Guthrie, op. cit., p. 1061.

1 Corinthians 7:24 --Brethren, let each man, wherein he was called, therein abide with God.

This is a pointed recapitulation of the whole paragraph (1 Corinthians 7:17-24).

1 Corinthians 7:25 --Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord; but I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be trustworthy.

This is the fifth question answered in this chapter; and, "Apparently, the church at Corinth had asked Paul’s opinion regarding unmarried daughters and the responsibilities of parents in such instances."[45] This comment is correct as far as it goes; but the duties of guardians as well as those of parents must be included; and sons as well as daughters were also included by the term "virgins" as used here.

Virgins ... Wesley said this means "of either sex."[46] Barclay’s objection that "It is hard to see why Paul used the word VIRGIN if he meant DAUGHTER"[47] is refuted by the fact that Paul did not mean daughter, but unmarried young people of both sexes. As Adam Clarke noted, "The word in this place means young unmarried persons of either sex, as is plain from 1 Corinthians 7:26-27; 1 Corinthians 7:32-34, and from Revelation 14:4."[48] The fact that the word VIRGIN has a different meaning in our day does not alter its evident meaning in this place.

I have no commandment of the Lord ... is not a disclaimer of inspiration on Paul’s part at all; it is a statement that the Lord during his ministry did not make a specific pronouncement upon this subject. The meaning is like that in 1 Corinthians 7:12, above; Paul made a distinction between words that Jesus delivered during his ministry and his own inspired teachings, doing so, no doubt, out of respect to the Lord, but with no sense of diminishing the authority of his own inspired teachings. As Morris said:

Moffatt points out that Paul’s careful discrimination between a saying of the Lord and his own injunction tells strongly against those who maintain that the early church was in the habit of producing the sayings it needed and then ascribing them to Christ.[49]

As one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be trustworthy ... In context, this is a full affirmation of Paul’s apostolic power and authority, added to prevent any misunderstanding of the fact that the Lord had not personally legislated on this question.

[45] Donald R. Metz, op. cit., p. 383.

[46] John Wesley, One Volume New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1972), in loco.

[47] William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1954), p. 74.

[48] Adam Clarke, op. cit., p. 225.

[49] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 109.

1 Corinthians 7:26 --I think therefore that this is good by reason of the distress that is upon us, namely, that it is good for a man to be as he is.

That the meaning of "virgins" in 1 Corinthians 7:25 includes both sexes is implicit in the specific mention of "men" here. As Macknight said, "Paul declared, beginning with the case of the male virgin, that it was good in the present distress to remain unmarried."[50] Here again, as in verse 1, "good" denotes not what was commanded but what was advisable.

ENDNOTE:

[50] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 97.

1 Corinthians 7:27 --Art thou bound to a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.

The present distress ... mentioned in the previous verse looms ominously in the background of these remarks. History has not revealed the nature of the awful persecution inflicted upon the Christians at this particular point, but it should be remembered that both Jewish and Gentile enemies of the faith would have seized any opportunity to exterminate, if possible, the Christian religion. The situation at Corinth was probably a local outburst of the persecutions which became more general at a later date. In any case, it may not be denied that some terrible onslaught against the faith of Christ was under way in Corinth at this very time. It was simply no favorable time for any man to be seeking to alter his marital status.

1 Corinthians 7:28 --But shouldest thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Yet such shall have tribulation in the flesh: and I would spare you.

Regardless of the practical wisdom against it, Paul still allowed that marriage was honorable and that those entering such a state did not sin.

If a virgin marry ... This refers to virgin daughters, making it clear that BOTH sexes are in view here, men having been mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7:26.

Tribulation in the flesh ... is a reference to the sufferings and deprivations invariably associated with persecutions in the first century. Such tribulations would be far more severe upon the married than upon the unmarried.

1 Corinthians 7:29-30 --But this I say, brethren, the time is shortened, that henceforth both those that have wives may be as though they had none; and those that weep, as though they wept not; and those that rejoice as though they rejoiced not; and those that buy as though they possessed not.

This affectionate warning was given in the light of the transience of life, man’s span upon the earth being indeed "shortened" as compared with the longevity of the patriarchs. All earthly pursuits should be made and all obligations and conditions considered in the light of the tragic fact that "Upon my day of life the night is falling!"

"Let us not for one moment think that this principle was evolved by Paul from a mistaken belief that the Second Advent was close at hand."[51] There is not the slightest hint in this passage of Christ’s second coming, except in the general sense of its being always proper for Christians to live as expecting it and being prepared for it. The time of Christ’s return was one point upon which Jesus declared that the apostles could not be informed; and it was the only point upon which they were not informed. It is a weariness to read the carpings of the exegetes always prating about how the apostles and the early church were mistaken about this. All of them with even elementary knowledge of what Jesus taught knew that the time of the Second Coming had not been revealed, not even to the Son of God (Matthew 24:36); and the various apostolic exhortations with respect to "expecting" it were given in the light of that knowledge. Instead of a conceited glorying in their so-called "mistake" on such exhortations, it would be far better for Christians today to take the same attitude as the apostles and pray, "Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 21:20), such words having exactly the same meaning for us as they had for the apostles who uttered them, and in neither case being any kind of "mistake"!

ENDNOTE:

[51] T. Teignmouth Shore, op. cit., p. 312.

1 Corinthians 7:31 --And those that use the world, as not using it to the full: for the fashion of this world passeth away.

This really belongs with the two previous verses, being a part of the same exhortation to prudence in view of the transcience of earthly existence and the swift changes that accompany our mortality.

1 Corinthians 7:32 --But I would have you to be free from cares. He that is unmarried is careful for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord.

This was the basis of Paul’s recommendation of the single status for those whose self-restraint made it possible, the unencumbered being able more wholeheartedly to serve the interests of true religion than those pressed down with cares and obligations.

1 Corinthians 7:33 --But he that is married is careful for the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and is divided.

Paul did not condemn man’s efforts in the secular sphere, but was pointing out the preemption of time and efforts required in the support of a wife and family, such a division of the Christian’s energies being inherent in such a thing as marriage. All of this was said as persuasion to induce any who could to avoid marriage during that "present distress."

1 Corinthians 7:34 --So also the woman that is unmarried and the virgin is careful for the things of the Lord, that he may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married is careful for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

This verse properly begins with "is divided," which was included with verse 33 above. The teaching here is the same as there, except that it would appear that Paul, in the word "unmarried," included widows along with virgin daughters as subjects of the same advice. However, Macknight very probably has the true meaning in his rendition of this verse thus:

There is difference also between a wife and a virgin: the unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit: but she that is married careth for things of the world, how she may please her husband.[52]

Also, note that the antecedent of the masculine pronoun here is "virgin."

ENDNOTE:

[52] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 114.

1 Corinthians 7:35 --And this I say for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is seemly, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.

Paul’s personal preference for celibacy on the part of persons who were capable of it, and in certain circumstances, for more complete dedication, has always appealed to some in every age; and it is not right to depreciate such behavior. Shore pointed out that England’s Queen Elizabeth I was one who made exactly the choice Paul recommended in these verses, although for a different purpose, and yet a high purpose.

Elizabeth I declared that England was her husband and all Englishmen her children, and that she desired no higher character or fairer remembrance of her to be transmitted to posterity than this inscription engraved upon her tombstone: "Here lies Elizabeth, who lived and died a maiden queen.[53]

ENDNOTE:

[53] T. Teignmouth Shore, op. cit., p. 313.

1 Corinthians 7:36 --But if any man thinketh that he behaveth himself unseemly toward his virgin daughter, if she be past the flower of her age, and if need so requireth, let him do what he will; he sinneth not; let them marry.

The RSV has butchered this text in the most deplorable and high-handed mistranslation of it that could possibly be imagined.

If any man ... was used by Paul here for the purpose of including guardians of young women of marriageable age as well as parents; and to make "any man" in this passage refer to any man shacked up in some kind of platonic partnership with a member of the opposite sex is nothing but a shameful rape of this passage. As Foy E. Wallace noted, "They made the virgin daughter in this place the girlfriend of another man to whom the virgin was betrothed, advising him to be free in his behavior."[54] Wallace caught the spirit of the RSV exactly in his words: "The passage is perverted to allow sexual satisfaction `if his passions are strong,’ and `to do what he will,’ and `he does not sin’ in such pre-marital relations."[55]

Dummelow affirmed unequivocally that "any man" in the above passage means "any parent or guardian."[56] There is no way to understand this passage except in the light of the customs of the day, "And the father (or guardian) had control of the arrangements for his daughter’s marriage."[57] The kind of situation assumed to have been the object of Paul’s remarks (as in the RSV and New English Bible (1961)) was absolutely impossible in the first century. No father or guardian would have allowed such an arrangement (as that supposed) under any threat or circumstance whatever. Therefore, with the utmost confidence, the perversion of this place by some of the new translations and even by the RSV is condemned as being sinful, incorrect, and even blasphemous. It was not some passionate suitor Paul had in mind, but the daughter’s father; because, as F. F. Bruce said, "The word rendered GIVETH IN MARRIAGE twice in 1 Corinthians 7:38 (English Revised Version (1885)) is normally used of a father’s giving his daughter in marriage."[58] "The then universal custom of Jews, Greeks and Romans (was) that the father or guardian disposed of the daughter’s hand (in marriage)."[59]

If she be past the flower of her age ... and need so requireth ... Any denial of marriage to an aging daughter would indeed seem unseemly to a loving parent, who should feel no sense of sin in giving his daughter’s hand in marriage.

Let them marry ... This was the injunction to parents and guardians, and it has no reference at all to some passionate suitor shacked up with his girlfriend.

Let him do what he will ... he sinneth not ... This means allow the parents or guardians in such cases to do what they believe is best; no sin is involved in contracting marriages, despite all that Paul had said about celibacy.

[54] Foy E. Wallace, Jr., A Review of the New Versions (Fort Worth, Texas: The Foy E. Wallace, Jr., Publications, 1973), p. 433.

[55] Ibid.

[56] J. R. Dummelow, op. cit., p. 904.

[57] S. Lewis Johnson, op. cit., p. 610.

[58] F. F. Bruce, op. cit., p. 93.

[59] John William Russell, Compact Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1964), p. 415.

1 Corinthians 7:37 --But he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power as touching his own will, and hath determined this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, shall do well.

To keep his own virgin daughter ... here is the opposite of "giveth his own virgin daughter in marriage" in the next verse, absolutely requiring the sense in 1 Corinthians 7:37 to be that of not giving her in marriage, making it absolutely certain that the problem of whether or not to give daughters in marriage was the problem Paul was discussing in this passage. The sense of this verse is that a Christian parent or guardian fully determined to withhold his daughter’s hand in marriage might do so without sin, and might even be commended for it.

1 Corinthians 7:38 --So then both he that giveth his own virgin daughter in marriage does well; and he that giveth her not in marriage shall do better.

Either solution of the problem on the part of parents and guardians was acceptable; but, as throughout this chapter, due to the present distress, Paul still recommended (although he did not command) not to give the daughter’s hand in marriage.

1 Corinthians 7:39-40 --A wife is bound for so long a time as her husband liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is free to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. But she is happier if she abide as she is, after my judgment: and I think that I have the Spirit of God.

This was the sixth question Paul answered in this chapter; and the answer to this one was easy. Yes, widows might indeed marry again, but "only in the Lord." It was never intended that Christians marry unbelievers, as Paul spelled out more fully in 2 Corinthians 6:14 ff. It is a rare and exceptional thing indeed that mixed marriages between Christians and unbelievers can produce anything but sorrow. As Barclay said:

One thing it must be, Paul laid down here; it must be a marriage in the Lord ... Long, long ago, Plutarch, the wise old Greek, laid it down that "marriage cannot be happy unless husband and wife are of the same religion.[60]

I think that I have the Spirit of God ... This is not the expression of any uncertainty but the polite insistence of Paul that his words in this chapter and throughout his writings were inspired by God’s Spirit. The judgment of the church through the ages concurs in this. As Wesley said:

Whoever would conclude from this that Paul was not certain he had the Holy Spirit neither understands the true import of the words, nor considers how expressly he lays claim to the Spirit, both in this epistle (1 Corinthians 2:16; 1 Corinthians 14:37) and the other (2 Corinthians 13:3).[61]

Wesley also thought that the words "I think," as used by Paul here and elsewhere, "ALWAYS imply the fullest and strongest assurance."[62] Leon Morris, one of the MORE able scholars, also believed this. He wrote:

There is nothing tentative about the authority with which Paul speaks. He has throughout this discussion made it clear when he is quoting Christ and when he is not. Now he gives his firm opinion that in what he says he has the Spirit of God. He is conscious of the divine enablement. What he says is more than the opinion merely of a private individual.[63]

See the note on 1 Corinthians 7:15 :

The view that desertion of a Christian partner by an unbeliever is also presumptive proof of adultery is actually irrelevant to the meaning of this passage. The exception granted by the apostle Paul is grounded upon the fact, not of adultery, but of DESERTION by an unbelieving partner. The authority of this lies in the plenary authority of the blessed apostle, inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit, making this therefore to be an additional exception given by Christ himself THROUGH the apostle Paul. Any other view of the apostolic writings is absolutely untenable. It is our view that God, through the Holy Spirit, is the author of ALL the New Testament.

Furthermore, we do not believe that any man or any group of men is endowed with authority to set aside or countermand any declaration in the sacred text upon the basis of their interpretations of related passages. What Paul said, STANDS. Let people keep their hands off of it!

Also, there is no conflict between Paul’s word here and Matthew 19:9. There is a covenant relationship there which is NOT in this situation. Paul and Jesus were speaking of two utterly different situations.

[60] William Barclay, op. cit., p. 79.

[61] John Wesley, op. cit., in loco.

[62] Ibid.

[63] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 123.

1st Corinthians Chapter Eight

Beginning here and through 1 Corinthians 11:1, this epistle discusses food (especially meat) sacrificed to idols; and in the culture and society of the people who first received it the problems here dealt with were paramount and practically universal. The total meat supply, in any practical sense, came from the sacrifices to the idol gods of the Gentiles, a portion of each sacrifice being the perquisite of the pagan priest, and the rest of it consumed in the temple area itself, carried to the homes of the worshipers, or sold, either by them or the priests, in the common meat markets.

It might be inquired, what relevance is the apostolic teaching, with regard to Christians partaking of such meats, to the peoples of this present age; to which it must be replied that they are of the most commanding relevance and importance. This is true because the apostle Paul established four timeless principles of Christian behavior in the course of his writing on this subject, these being: (1) that what is permissible behavior for one man may, in certain circumstances, be dangerous and sinful in another; (2) that no Christian conduct should be evaluated solely from the standpoint of knowledge, but in the light of the love of brethren, with regard to its possible influence upon others, and in the light of what others may think of it; (3) that no Christian has a right to practice anything, however innocent it may be to him, if in so doing he shall damage the faith of another; and (4) that whatever is done, even to the weakest member of the body of Christ, is also done to Christ himself, and that weakening or destroying the faith of even the least and weakest of Christ’s members is a sin of the greatest magnitude against Christ himself. "A pleasure or an indulgence which may be the ruin of someone else is not a pleasure but a sin."[1]

ENDNOTE:

[1] William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1954), p. 85.

1 Corinthians 8:1 --Now concerning things sacrificed to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth. (1 Corinthians 8:1)

Now concerning ... These words indicate that "the Corinthians had asked Paul questions in regard to these matters,"[2] a fact also indicated by the use of quotation marks to set off portions of this verse and in 1 Corinthians 8:4,1 Corinthians 8:5 in the RSV.

We all have knowledge ... This was the conceited declaration of the questioners from Corinth who evidently indulged themselves in the pagan temples without regard to weak brethren; and the first thing Paul did was to nail down the fact that "knowledge" without love was the grossest ignorance.

Knowledge puffeth up, but love buildeth up ... is the way this stands in the Greek (English Revised Version margin); and it is a shame that our translators changed it. Knowledge without love only puffs up the one who fancies he is wise and does nothing for others, whereas love builds up both its possessor and others.

The evident concern of Paul’s questioners did not refer to themselves (they already knew everything), but "they wanted to know how to deal with the people who refused to eat meat sacrificed to idols."[3] Despite this conceit, some of them were actually "sitting at meat in an idol’s temple"! (1 Corinthians 8:10). As some would say today, they were bringing their "culture" into the church!

The problem regarded several possibilities: (1) Should a Christian partake of the feasts in the idol temples? (2) Was it permissible for him to buy food in the public markets, where most if not all of it had been procured from the sacrifices? (3) Might he, when invited to a friend’s house, eat flesh which had been sacrificed to idols?

[2] David Lipscomb, Commentary on First Corinthians (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1935), p. 117.

[3] F. W. Grosheide, The New International Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1953), p. 189.

1 Corinthians 8:2 --If any man thinketh that he knoweth anything, he knoweth not yet as he ought to know.

Thinketh that he knoweth ... All earthly knowledge is partial and fragmentary. "Knowledge is proud that it has learned so much. Wisdom is humble that it knows no more."[4] In thinking that they knew everything and at the same time despising the brethren they denominated as ignorant, the Corinthians indeed knew nothing as they should have known.

ENDNOTE:

[4] Attributed to Kay by Leon Morris, Tyndale Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1958), p. 125.

1 Corinthians 8:3 --But if any man loveth God, the same is known by him.

This verse ends surprisingly with "the same is known by him," instead of "the same knows him," as might have been expected; and Farrar was probably correct in the observation that:

Paul did not wish to use any terms which would foster the already overgrown conceit of knowledge which was inflating the minds of his Corinthian converts. Furthermore he felt that "God knoweth them that are his" (2 Timothy 3:19).[5]

Also, as Morris said, "The really important thing is not that we know God, but that he knows us!"[6]

[5] F. W. Farrar, The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 264.

[6] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 125.

1 Corinthians 8:4 --Concerning therefore the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no God but one.

The sophisticated arguments of the "knowledge" party in Corinth are apparent in this. Since idols had no existence in fact, they felt safe in ignoring the popular superstitions regarding them; and Paul allowed the argument to stand, for the moment, it certainly being true that there is no God but one, and that an idol actually had no existence in reality.

However, although Paul did not recognize idols "as having any real existence, even as false deities,"[7] he was "certain that evil spirits and demons exist, and that in reality these were behind the idols and were using them to seduce men from the worship of the true God."[8] (See 10:20.)

No idol is anything in the world ... Of course, the world was full of idols; but, as Wesley said:

Idol here does not mean a mere image; but, by an inevitable transition of thought, the deity worshipped in the image. By this, Paul says that Zeus, Apollo, etc., have no existence; they are not to be found in the world.[9]

Furthermore, Paul does not by such a statement (that they are not in the world) leave room for the thought that they may be anywhere else. The "world" as used here refers to the whole universe.

There is no God but one ... He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the Old Testament and of the Christian scriptures. He only is God in the true sense. He alone may rightfully be worshiped, and that through his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

[7] John William Russell, Compact Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1964), p. 416.

[8] William Barclay, op. cit., p. 83.

[9] John Wesley, One Volume New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1972), in loco.

1 Corinthians 8:5-6 --For though there be that are called gods whether in heaven or on earth; as there are gods many, and lords many; yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through him.

The multiple names of pagan mythology illustrate the truth Paul mentioned regarding gods many and lords many; but the very fact of their being thought of as operating in heaven or on earth proved that none of them controlled "all things," hence the fragmented nature of deity as misunderstood in paganism.

One God, the Father, of whom are all things ... There is no limitation with God, who cannot be localized like the false gods of the pagans. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things in heaven or upon earth.

To us there is one God ... There is a difference in Christianity and false religions. "The Christian is not a syncretist, who attempts to harmonize the teachings of all religions."[10]

Gods many and lords many ... Grosheide distinguished between the so-called deities of the pagans and their "heroes or demigods";[11] but the terms are here considered to be synonymous.

LORD was the usual way of referring to deity in the various cults of the time, which makes Paul’s frequent application of it to Jesus Christ significant. Paul simply made it clear that the heathen world worshipped a multitude of deities, putting no difference between them.[12]

One Lord Jesus Christ ... There is affirmed here the oneness of God and Christ. God is honored as the Creator of all things and Christ his Son as the Creator of the New Creation. Jesus Christ is called "God" no less than ten times in the Greek New Testament. See my Commentary on Hebrews, p. 31.

We through him ... means "for whom we exist."[13]

Through whom are all things ... in this clause "must be co-extensive with the `all things’ in the preceding verse, that is, the universe."[14]

[10] Donald S. Metz, Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1968), p. 392.

[11] F. W. Grosheide, op. cit., p. 192.

[12] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 126.

[13] F. W. Grosheide, op. cit., p 192.

[14] David Lipscomb, op. cit., p. 120.

1 Corinthians 8:7 --Howbeit there is not in all men that knowledge: but some, being used until now to the idol, eat as of a thing sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.

There is not in all men that knowledge ... Some facts are of a different quality from the ordinary; and, whereas the existence of an idol is no fact at all, there is the psychological fact of its existence in the MINDS OF MEN; and Paul here drew attention to that fact, so totally passed over by the "knowledge" crowd at Corinth.

The great mass of the heathen world did regard the dumb idols as the proper objects of worship, and supposed that they were inhabited by invisible spirits.[15]

Barnes declared that "Although the more intelligent heathen put no confidence in them, yet the effect of the great masses was the same as if they had had a real existence."[16]

Regarding the rationalization by which intelligent people may worship images, and the specious logic by which the historical church itself consecrated and adored them, see full discussion in my Commentary on Romans, pp. 44-45.

Their conscience being weak is defiled ... For fuller comment on the subject of "conscience," see in my Commentary on Romans, p. 469, and in my Commentary on Hebrews, pp. 198-200.

When a man violates his conscience, he assaults the central monitor of his spiritual life; and regardless of whether or not the conscience is properly instructed, the violation of it is a spiritual disaster. This is why a person who thinks a certain action is a sin may not safely take such action.

Defiled ... means polluted, sullied and damaged; and when the conscience is defiled, any true spiritual life becomes impossible.

[15] Donald S. Metz, op. cit., p. 391

[16] Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1949), p. 141.

1 Corinthians 8:8 --But food will not commend us to God: neither if we eat not, are we the worse; nor, if we eat, are we the better.

In a sense, it was absolutely immaterial where the meat came from, whether sacrificed to idols or not; because salvation is simply not a matter of diet at all. Christ took away all prohibitions, "making all meats clean" (Mark 7:19); and Paul himself wrote that "every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, etc." (1 Timothy 4:4); but for a Christian who had not learned such vital truth, and who considered it sinful to eat certain things, it was definitely a sin for him to do so. In the situation at Corinth, therefore, it was not a question of determining what was right or wrong, merely in the abstract sense.

1 Corinthians 8:9 --But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to the weak.

Many of the Corinthian Christians, so recently won over from paganism, still had lingering impressions of the reality of idol gods; and, besides those, there were many of Jewish background whose entire lives and training were absolutely incompatible with any kind of indulgence regarding meat offered to idols. For both classes, it was against their conscience to eat such things.

This liberty of yours ... If through the example of those who boasted "knowledge" to eat such meat, the weak brethren were induced to follow their example, irreparable damage to their souls would result. Paul here prohibited such heartless indifference toward the weak brethren. He said in effect: "Let your motto be forbearance, not privilege, and your watchword charity, not knowledge."[17]

It is considered significant that Paul here made no reference whatever to that so-called Council in Jerusalem which had directed all Christians to "abstain from things sacrificed to idols" (Acts 15:29); and, as more particularly advocated in my Commentary on Acts, pp. 292ff, Paul’s own authority was amply sufficient to teach God’s will on such a subject, his authority and understanding of God’s true will having been, in fact, the means of correcting the Council itself. Dummelow thought that Paul believed "The Corinthians would be more influenced by argument than by an appeal to authority, seeing they prided themselves on their wisdom";[18] but the conviction expressed here is that Paul did not feel that any word from the Council could have added anything whatever to his own authority. However, as Dummelow said, "Paul said nothing inconsistent"[19] with the judgment of the Council.

[17] F. W. Farrar, op. cit., p. 265.

[18] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 904.

[19] Ibid.

1 Corinthians 8:10 --For if a man see thee who hast knowledge sitting at meat in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be emboldened to eat things sacrificed to idols?

See thee who hast knowledge ... There positively has to be a vein of sarcasm in this. What kind of "knowledge" did any Corinthian have that could justify sitting down in the degrading festival carried on in an idol’s temple? "Many of these functions were often accompanied by shameful licentiousness."[20] Paul did not digress here to point out that spiritual damage was almost certain to be sustained even by those who professed to have "knowledge" in such a participation as sitting down to a banquet in the temple of an idol, especially in a place like Corinth. Paul’s great concern was damage to the weak brother and the wound thus inflicted upon the body of Christ which is the church. As Macknight said, "Paul could not have meant that they had a right to eat of the sacrifices in the idol’s temple."[21] Although he passed over it here, Paul returned in 1 Corinthians 10:15-21 "to treat the other side of the question, that concerning the danger to which the strong believer exposed himself."[22] "To recline at a banquet in the temple of Poseidon or Aphrodite, especially in such a place as Corinth, was certainly an extravagant assertion of their right to Christian liberty.[23]

[20] Henry H. Halley, Bible Handbook (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1927), p. 517.

[21] James Macknight, Apostolical Epistles and Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1969), p. 126.

[22] Attributed to Godet by John Wesley, op. cit., in loco.

[23] F. W. Farrar, op. cit., p. 265.

1 Corinthians 8:11 --For through thy knowledge he that is weak perisheth, the brother for whose sake Christ died!

This was a hand grenade detonated in the faces of the "knowledge" group in Corinth. The word "knowledge" throughout this chapter belongs in quotations; because certainly it was not knowledge but the most incompetent ignorance that would approve of behavior capable of murdering an immortal soul.

That school of interpreters holding to the impossibility of apostasy on the part of believers strive to soften the impact of "perisheth." Thus Barnes saluted this verse with "No one who has been truly converted will apostatize and be destroyed."[24] Johnson declared this refers "to bodily perishing, not eternal perishing";[25] but he did not explain how eating meat against one’s conscience could kill him! As Wesley put it, regarding "he that is weak perisheth":

He is from that moment in the way of perdition ... if this state continues and becomes aggravated, as is inevitable in such cases, eternal perdition is the end of it.[26]

Leon Morris’ words regarding the last clause of this verse are beautiful. He wrote:

The last clause could hardly be more forcible in its appeal; every word tells; "the brother," not a mere stranger; "for the sake of whom" precisely to rescue him from destruction; "Christ," no less than he; "died," no less than that![27]

[24] Albert Barnes, op. cit., p. 146.

[25] S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 613.

[26] John Wesley, op. cit., in loco.

[27] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 129.

1 Corinthians 8:12 --And thus, sinning against the brethren, and wounding their conscience when it is weak, ye sin against Christ!

Exclamation points have been used in this and the preceding verse to indicate the epic nature of these pronouncements.

Sinning against the brethren ... ye sin against Christ ... Whatever is done to the church, even in the person of its weakest and most insignificant members (as men count insignificance), is done to Christ. Paul learned this on the Damascus road, and he never forgot it. Was it right to override the scruples of young and weak Christians by indulgence of the appetite for meat? A million times NO! To do so was an unmitigated sin against the Redeemer himself. Paul did not require the support of any opinions from Jerusalem to add any weight to such a decree. This principle is eternally binding, forever true, and as wide in its application as the world itself.

Despite such an apostolic order, however, Paul diligently strove to evoke a feeling of tenderness in the conceited boasters of their "knowledge." The two words repeatedly stressed in the passage are weak (5 times) and BROTHER (4 times). "These should have evoked tenderness and love, but received only the callous disregard of a misguided knowledge."[28]

ENDNOTE:

[28] Paul W. Marsh, A New Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1969). p. 391.

1 Corinthians 8:13 --Wherefore, if meat causeth my brother to stumble, I will eat no flesh forevermore, that I cause not my brother to stumble.

Paul did not lay down rules for others which he was unwilling to honor himself, being of a different sort altogether from the wicked Pharisees (Matthew 23:4).

Despite his firmness, however, Paul’s pledge here is conditional. "If meat causeth my brother to stumble," is the qualifying clause; and this has the meaning of "stumble, so as to fall and be lost." Guthrie noted that: "Paul’s decision is conditional, not absolute: He does not say he will henceforth always be a total abstainer, but only IF and WHEN such eating may cause a brother to fall."[29] DeHoff also has a fine paragraph on this. He wrote:

On the other hand, there is such a thing as a brother who is not nearly so weak as he thinks, but who has been in the kingdom for years and is a crank and a fanatic. He has a tender conscience, he claims; and he tries to use it to control everybody else. His favorite passage is what Paul said about meats, which he applies to anything he wants to keep other people from doing. Of course, we shall just have to get along with this fellow as best we can![30]

This whole chapter exposed the shallowness and conceit of that "knowledge" which had no loving concern for weak and immature Christians, and bound upon all true Christians their responsibility for setting the correct example, regarding the scruples of others and for establishing a pattern of behavior which will build up others in the holy faith of Jesus Christ.

[29] Donald Guthrie, The New Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 1062.

[30] George W. DeHoff, Sermons on First Corinthians (Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 1947), p. 71.

1st Corinthians Chapter Nine

This whole chapter is devoted to the discussion of the rights of an apostle, and by extension, the rights of ministers of the gospel to support by their congregations, seven distinct and convincing arguments being given (1 Corinthians 9:1-14), with the remaining part of the chapter being taken up by Paul’s explanation of why, in his own case, he did not compel the honoring of such right by the Corinthians. It begins with a pointed proof of his being a genuine apostle (1 Corinthians 9:1-3).

1 Corinthians 9:1-3 --Am I not free? am I not an apostle? have I not seen Jesus our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, yet at least I am to you; for the seal of my apostleship are ye in the Lord. My defense to them that examine me is this. (1 Corinthians 9:1-3)

By the last sentence here Paul took knowledge of the slander then current in Corinth to the effect that he was not a true apostle, the alleged proof of it being that Paul had supported himself instead of claiming the emoluments of an apostle as the other apostles were doing. As DeHoff noted, "It is a common occurrence for some minister to preach on an evil and have the evil-doer condemn the preacher instead of repenting of the evil."[1]

Paul refuted the charge that he was not a genuine apostle with two indubitable proofs: (1) he had seen the Lord Jesus, and (2) God had marvelously blessed his apostleship, the Corinthian church itself being the stark proof of it, "the seal," as Paul called it, of his apostleship.

It is important to see in this short paragraph the impossibility of any man’s being a true apostle unless he had seen Jesus Christ after our Lord’s resurrection, thus being an eyewitness of the resurrection.

ENDNOTE:

[1] George W. DeHoff, Sermons on First Corinthians (Murfreesboro, Tennessee: The Christian Press, 1947), p. 73.

1 Corinthians 9:4-6 --Have we no right to eat and drink? Have we no right to lead about a wife that is a believer, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? Or I only and Barnabas, have we not a right to forbear working?

THE FIRST ARGUMENT

Have we no right ...? is a Hebrew idiom for "We certainly do have the right."

To eat and drink ... means "entitled to be fed by the church."[2] It is incorrect to refer this to eating and drinking in an idol’s temple.

Wife that is a believer ... In view here, as Morris noted, is not the rights of apostles to marry; nobody in the first century would have raised any such question; rather, the thing in view is "the right to lead about a wife,"[3] maintaining her (along with her husband) at the church’s expense.

The rest of the apostles, and Cephas ... This means that all of the other apostles, and Cephas (Peter) in particular, carried their wives with them on their missionary journeys; and Paul as a true apostle had the same right to do so. Significantly, Peter appears in this passage not as a celibate, but as a family man. It will be recalled that his mother-in-law was healed by Jesus (Matthew 8:14). Thus, it is certain that Peter did not forsake the married state to discharge his apostolic office.

Brethren of the Lord ... These were James, and Joseph, and Simon and Judas (Matthew 13:55); and there is nothing in the New Testament that requires these to be understood in any other way than as the half-brothers of Jesus, the natural children of Joseph and the Virgin Mary, her virginity following the birth of Jesus being nothing but a superstition. For more on Mary’s so-called perpetual virginity, see in my Commentary on Matthew, pp. 9-11.

Or I only and Barnabas ... It appears that Barnabas also gave up his right to be supported by the churches. While commendable in the highest degree, this renunciation of the right of support on the part of Paul and Barnabas resulted in their being looked down upon by some who were steeped in the culture of the Greeks. "The philosophers regarded the men who performed menial tasks as inferior."[4] Working with one’s hands for his own support was detested by them.

As Metz considered it, so do we, that the "wife" to be carried about as mentioned here could have any possible reference to some woman who was not the wife of the missionary, but a mere female companion or woman assistant, is "morally preposterous."[5] It is a fact, however, that the historic church did so pervert the meaning of this place; and of such perversion Farrar said:

It was the cause of such shameful abuses and misrepresentations that at last the practice of traveling about with unmarried women, who went under the name of "sisters," "beloved," or "companions," was distinctly forbidden by the third canon of the Council of Nice.[6]

Paul’s argument is simply that he was as fully entitled to be supported by the churches as were any of the other apostles, a right proved by the general acceptance of it throughout the brotherhood of that day.

[2] J. W. McGarvey, Commentary on First Corinthians (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1916), p. 89.

[3] Leon Morris, Tyndale Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1958), p. 133.

[4] Donald S. Metz, Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City, Missouri: Beacon Hill Press, 1968), p. 397.

[5] Ibid., p. 396.

[6] F. W. Farrar, The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), Vol. 19, p. 287.

1 Corinthians 9:7 --What soldier ever serveth at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not the fruit therof? or who feedeth a flock and eateth not the milk of the flock?

THE SECOND ARGUMENT

This argument derives from the inherent right of soldiers to be supported by their government, the right of the owner of a vineyard to eat the crop, and the right of a shepherd to drink of the milk of the flock. Such rights have been universally recognized and accepted in all ages. These examples are pointedly appropriate in their application to ministers of the gospel. "The Christian minister fights evil (as a soldier), plants churches (like the planter of a vineyard), and shepherds congregations."[7]

ENDNOTE:

[7] Donald Guthrie, The New Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 1062.

Verse 8

1 Corinthians 9:8-10 --Do I speak these things after the manner of men? or saith not the law the same? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. Is it for the oxen that God careth, or saith he assuredly for our sake? Yea, for our sake it was written: because he that ploweth ought to plow in hope, and he that thresheth, to thresh in hope of partaking.

THE THIRD ARGUMENT

Paul’s argument here is founded on the quotation from Deuteronomy 25:4, which Paul affirmed to be applicable to the support of ministers of the word of God. However, when Paul said that "God does not care for oxen" (the meaning of the interrogative), it is not a denial that God commanded righteous men to regard even their beasts. In the sense that God sought to protect even a beast from abuse, God did indeed care for oxen; Paul’s point here is, he would care infinitely more for the proper care and support of his ministers.

The scene in view is that of an ancient threshing floor, the like of which may still be seen in some places. The wheat (or other grain) was placed upon a threshing floor; and the oxen were driven, treadmill style, around the floor until their hooves had beaten out the grain. No Jew, in the light of the law of Moses, could muzzle the ox and prevent his eating during his work on the floor. Pagans, of course, muzzled the ox to prevent his eating any of the grain.

The prohibition in Deuteronomy occurs in a section where human relations, rather than the treatment of animals, is under consideration; and from this it appears that the human application of the principle was primary, even in Deuteronomy. As Morris said, "It may well have been meant figuratively from the first."[8] In any event, Paul applied it with full force to the question of supporting preachers of the gospel.

ENDNOTE:

[8] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 134.

1 Corinthians 9:11 --If we sowed unto you spiritual things, is it a great matter if we shall reap your carnal things?

THE FOURTH ARGUMENT

As Grosheide noted, "Carnal is not here identical with sinful; the contrast is between the heavenly and the earthly, between the spiritual and the material."[9] "What was earthly support in comparison with the riches of the gospel?"[10]

[9] F. W. Grosheide, The New International Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1953), p. 207.

[10] J. W. McGarvey, op. cit., p. 91.

1 Corinthians 9:12 --If others partake of this right over you, do not ye yet more? nevertheless we did not use this right; but we bear all things, that we may cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ.

THE FIFTH ARGUMENT

The right pointed out in this verse is the superior right of one who planted and nourished a congregation over the claims of others who came afterward; and, by their admission of the claims of many teachers who succeeded Paul, they were bound to admit the prior rights of the founder of their congregation. This writer has known of ministers of the gospel whose labors had planted churches, but who were neglected and denied adequate support at a later period when those congregations had flourished and become prosperous; and something of this same abuse was taking place in Corinth. Despite this, Paul, even then, was not willing to be supported by any gifts from Corinth.

That we may cause no hindrance to the gospel ... In order to disarm any evil thought to the effect that Paul was preaching the word of God for money, the grand apostle chose rather to suffer privation and hardship.

1 Corinthians 9:13 --Know ye not that they which minister about sacred things eat of the things of the temple, and they that wait upon the altar have their portion with the altar?

THE SIXTH ARGUMENT

Paul doubtless had in mind the sacred things of the temple in Jerusalem, but his words have even a wider application, including the universal practice of all the world in such matters, the same things being true of the pagan temples as well as of the temple of the Jews.

It may well be that Paul’s mention, only a moment previously, of not being a "hindrance" to the gospel, was precisely what prompted the thought of the rich emoluments and perquisites of all priests, pagan and Jewish, and of the "hindrance" which the conduct of such priests certainly causes.

Barclay gave a detailed account of all the profitable benefits which Jewish priests claimed under the temple system, pointing out that, at a time when the average family had meat only once a week, many of the priests were suffering "from an occupational disease caused by eating too much meat."[11] They had grown indolent, wealthy, and disdainful of the poor. Paul would not be LIKE THEM.

Nevertheless, Paul did not deny, but rather affirmed, the propriety of the servants of temples living from the temple revenues, the application being that ministers of the gospel should live from the revenues of the churches.

ENDNOTE:

[11] William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1954), p. 89.

1 Corinthians 9:14 --Even so did the Lord ordain that they that proclaim the gospel should live of the gospel.

THE SEVENTH ARGUMENT

Most commentators believe that Paul here had reference to the Lord’s statement that "The laborer is worthy of his hire" (Luke 10:7); but it might be true that "They that proclaim the gospel should live by the gospel" is a verbatim statement of the Lord himself, being another quotation from the Lord found exclusively in Paul’s writings, another example of the same thing being in Acts 20:35 : "It is more blessed to give than to receive." There is no logical reason why this may not be another such statement of the Lord himself.

In any case, here was the climax of Paul’s argument that ministers of the gospel should be supported by the churches. He summed it all up as having been "ordained," that is, "commanded" by the Lord Jesus Christ himself; and it makes no difference if the reference is to such a passage as Luke 10:7, or to a specific order of the Lord; it is true either way, or both ways.

The balance of the chapter deals with a further explanation on Paul’s part of why he had renounced on his own behalf a right of so much consequence to the growth of the church in all ages. The nobility, self-denial, altruistic motivation and benevolent love of others are set forth in the following verses.

1 Corinthians 9:15 --But I have used none of these things: and I write not these things that it may be done in my case; for it were good for me rather to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.

Why did Paul take such a viewpoint? He clearly foresaw that, in so doing, he would rob Satan of any excuse to allege that the eternal gospel of Christ had first been advocated by people seeking their own gain. He would simply rather die than to give the devil any such opportunity to slander the truth.

Glorying ... has reference to glorying in a gospel freely proclaimed without cost to those who heard it. The genius of the holy apostle was profoundly correct in such a discernment; and, through his own self-denial and sacrifice, he placed all subsequent generations of people under a debt of appreciation and gratitude.

1 Corinthians 9:16 --For if I preach the gospel I have nothing to glory of; for necessity is laid upon me; for woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel.

Woe unto me ... if I preach not ... It is to be feared that many ministers of the present day are lacking the essential compulsion which moved the apostle. As Barnes said:

Men who leave the ministry and voluntarily devote themselves to some other calling when they might preach, never had the right spirit. A man whose heart is not in the ministry, and who would be as happy in any other calling, is not fit to be an ambassador of Christ.[12]

What an indictment of one’s life must it be for him to turn away from preaching the truth of God to a perishing world in order to avoid inconvenience, poverty, deprivation and hardship, and with a view to possessing a greater share of the earth’s wealth, honor and privilege! It is to be feared that the spirit of the apostle Paul is as rare upon earth now as it was then.

ENDNOTE:

[12] Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1949), p. 164.

1 Corinthians 9:17 --For if I do this of mine own will, I have a reward: but if not of mine own will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.

If I do this of mine own will ... This probably refers to "preaching the gospel without financial support," as indicated by the consequence, "I have a reward." Above, it was pointed out that this reward consisted of thwarting Satan in a most important particular, the same being stated in the verse immediately following.

I have a stewardship entrusted to me ... Shore’s discernment of the meaning here appears to be correct. He said that if Paul’s preaching the gospel (without charge) was not a thing voluntarily done, then, in that case, "he would be merely a steward, a slave doing his duty."[13] Throughout this passage, it is clear that Paul aimed at going beyond all duty and obligation. The phrase "over and beyond the call of duty" finds its noblest application in the person of Paul the apostle.

ENDNOTE:

[13] T. Teignmouth Shore, Ellicott’s Commentary on the Holy Bible (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959), p. 320.

1 Corinthians 9:18 --What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel without charge, so as not to use to the full my right in the gospel.

The gospel without charge ... This was Paul’s reward, to be able to preach the gospel without charge to dying people. It is not to be denied that a commendable pride existed in his heart. As Wesley said:

There is perhaps no passage in the apostle’s letters where there are more admirably revealed at once the nobility, delicacy, profound humility, dignity, and legitimate pride of this Christian character. Serving Christ cannot give him matter of joy except insofar as he has the consciousness of doing so in a condition of freedom.[14]

ENDNOTE:

[14] Godet as quoted by John Wesley, One Volume New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1972), in loco.

1 Corinthians 9:19 --For though I was free from all men, I brought myself under bondage to all, that I might gain the more.

From this it is clear that it was not merely a matter of justifiable pride that Paul should have insisted on making the gospel free; but it was related to thwarting Satan, as noted under 1 Corinthians 9:15 and for the purpose of procuring a more abundant harvest in the gospel. Moreover, there can be little doubt that Paul’s selfless actions actually did result in a mighty increase in the numbers of those accepting the truth. In all ages, there are people of little minds who suppose that every servant of the gospel is more interested in the pecuniary rewards of his work than in the salvation of souls; and, alas, it must be confessed that many times the conduct of preachers themselves supports such allegations.

Under bondage to all ... This has the same ring as Paul’s "debtor both to Greeks and barbarians" (Romans 1:14). He accepted for himself the obligation of preaching the gospel "to the whole creation."

1 Corinthians 9:20 --And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, not being myself under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law.

I became as a Jew ... has the meaning that Paul did not then any longer consider himself as a Jew, except in an accommodative sense. At a time when it is being alleged that Jews do not have to give up their Jewry to become Christians, it is significant here that Paul did, in some very real sense, consider that he was no longer a Jew. If not, he could not have declared that "to the Jews he became as a Jew."

Not being myself under the law ... This is "a remarkable statement which emphasizes how completely Paul had broken with the law of Moses."[15] This is one of the strongest statements in his writings.

On all matters of innocence or indifference, Paul accommodated himself to the life-style of those whom he hoped to win for the gospel. In keeping with such conduct, he ate with Gentiles without raising any question of where they had purchased the meat; and when in the homes of Jews, Paul avoided flaunting any of the liberty which he enjoyed in Christ.

This accommodation to the viewpoint of others was the master strategy of Paul, reminding us of the notable instance from the life of the Saviour, who, at the well of Samaria, sought the common ground with the woman who had come to draw water. Jesus approached her in the common circumstance that both were thirsty. See my Commentary on John, p. 114. This conformity to the views of others on Paul’s part, however, was limited to incidental or indifferent things; for Paul made it clear in the next verse that he was always under the law of Christ.

ENDNOTE:

[15] S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 616.

1 Corinthians 9:21 --To them that are without law, as without law, not being without law to God, but under law to Christ, that I might gain them that are without law.

This was the limitation which was never waived or relaxed. Whatever adaptation marked Paul’s conduct, it never involved disobeying the word of the Lord, or violating his allegiance to the law of Christ.

1 Corinthians 9:22 --To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak: I am become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some.

David Lipscomb’s comment on this is:

Paul accommodated himself to the prejudices and preferences of men so far as he could without sacrificing truth and righteousness, in order to win them to Christ ... He did this not that he might be personally popular with any man, but that by doing so he might throw no obstacle in the way of their giving the gospel a fair hearing.[16]

For example, Paul felt no obligation whatever to keep the forms and ceremonies of the law of Moses; yet he observed and kept such things in circumstances where his failure to do it would have antagonized the Jews, and in cases where their observance did not violate the spirit of the new law in Christ Jesus. Thus, Paul shaved his head; but there is no record that he ever ate the Jewish Passover. As he said, "Christ is our Passover."

That I may save some ... As Johnson said, "This does not remove salvation from the hands of God";[17] and, when it is declared in the word of the Lord that people should "save themselves" (Acts 2:40), it is likewise true that their doing so cannot remove salvation from God’s hands. When a man is baptized unto the remission of his sins, it does not make him his own saviour; because, when one obeys the gospel, he saves himself in the sense that he does that without which not even God can save him. In that same sense, not even God could save sinners without the preaching of the word; and by preaching the word, Paul, in that sense, saved people.

[16] David Lipscomb, Commentary on First Corinthians (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1935), p. 137.

[17] S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., op. cit., p. 616.

1 Corinthians 9:23 --And I do all things for the gospel’s sake, that I may be a joint partaker thereof.

Adam Clarke translated this, "I do all this for the sake of the prize, that I may partake of it with you."[18] Paul’s use of the word "prize" in the verse immediately following also seems to indicate that it was the prize of eternal life which he had in view here. At any rate, he at once elaborated an illustration taken from the Isthmian games, in which the attainment of the prize was the goal of all participants.

ENDNOTE:

[18] Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: Carlton and Porter, 1831), Vol. VI, p. 239.

1 Corinthians 9:24 --Know ye not that they that run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? Even so, run that ye may attain.

There are important differences, as well as similarities, in such a contest as Paul referred to here. Analogies are: (1) to win; a man must contend legally, being properly enrolled in the contest, suggesting that a Christian must contend along with others in the church, and not as some kind of free-lance operator; (2) discipline is required (Hebrews 12:1); (3) some win; others do not win; (4) a host of spectators views the contest (Hebrews 12:1); (5) patience is necessary; (6) the winner receives the prize. The contrasts are: (1) only one may win an earthly race; all may win the heavenly; (2) the earthly reward is but a trifle; the heavenly reward is eternal life.

The prize ... Johnson objected to interpreting this as eternal life, declaring that "The apostle had in mind service and rewards, and not salvation and eternal life."[19] However, it is probable that such comments are derived from the necessity some scholars feel to soften the implications of "castaway" or "rejected" in 1 Corinthians 9:27. The "prize" in which Paul hoped to participate with all Christians could hardly be anything else, other than eternal life.

REGARDING THE GAMES

Barnes gives an excellent summary of the Greek contests which prompted Paul’s comparison in this and following verses. There were four great celebrations: (1) the Pythian at Delphi, (2) the Isthmian at Corinth, (3) the Nemean in Argolis, and (4) the Olympian at Elis, on the southern bank of the Alphias river. Some of these were celebrated every four years (hence the word Olympiad), but others, such as the Isthmian, were celebrated every two years; and the Pythian were celebrated every three years, or as some say, every five years. In any case, there was hardly any year in which one or more of these celebrated contests did not occur.

The prizes given in these various games were usually garlands bestowed upon the victors, being constructed of the leaves of olive, pine, apple, laurel, or even parsley, their worth being totally symbolical.[20] It was for such worthless prizes that men endured all kinds of rigorous training and hardship; but it is a far different kind of prize that may be won by the Christian.

[19] S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., op. cit., p. 617.

[20] Albert Barnes, op. cit., pp. 169-171.

1 Corinthians 9:25 --And every man that striveth in the games exerciseth self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

See under preceding verse for note on the nature of the "corruptible" crown bestowed upon the winner in the Greek games. In focus here is the dedication and discipline which men enforced upon themselves in order to win such prizes.

But we an incorruptible ... This is the phrase that requires "prize" in preceding verses to be understood as eternal life, that being the ONLY incorruptible crown, all others being sure to perish with time and using. This is the reward which is called "the crown of righteousness," which shall be bestowed upon the faithful by the Lord himself "at that day," that is, the judgment day (2 Timothy 4:8). It is the "crown of glory that fadeth not away," which shall be given to the redeemed "when the chief Shepherd shall be manifested" (1 Peter 5:4). It is the "crown of life" (Revelation 2:10).

Throughout this chapter, Paul was showing the Corinthians, and all Christians, that the inconveniences, hardships, disciplines and self-denial which were accepted by men striving to win in such a contest as the games, should far more willingly be endured and accepted by those intent upon the eternal reward. Specifically, they were not to flaunt their liberty in such a manner as to discourage others.

1 Corinthians 9:26 --I therefore run, as not uncertainly; so fight I as not beating the air.

This indicates that "The whole of this chapter has been a vindication of Paul’s self-denial,"[21] the object of it being the persuasion of the Corinthian boasters of their "liberty" to follow Paul’s example by denying themselves all indulgence at the expense of the faith of their weaker brethren.

Beating the air ... is a reference to boxers who missed with their punches and so lost the fight. "Uncertainly ..." has reference to contestants in a race who, through lack of training, wobbled to defeat, not victory.

ENDNOTE:

[21] T. Teignmouth Shore, op. cit., p. 291.

1 Corinthians 9:27 --But I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.

Buffet my body ... is metaphorical and does not refer to any type of flagellation such as was practiced by ascetics as a means of religious discipline. It indicates that every Christian, as Paul did, should exercise the sternest self-control over the body, its desires and appetites being a powerful source of temptation in all people.

I myself should be rejected ... As Foy E. Wallace, Jr., said: "The translators (in this place) were evidently attempting to circumvent the possibility of apostasy."[22] There is no excuse for rendering the word here [@adokimos] as either "rejected" (English Revised Version (1885)) or "disqualified" (RSV). It means "reprobate" and is so translated elsewhere in the New Testament (Romans 1:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5-7; 2 Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:16). It is thus crystal clear that the apostle Paul, even after the world-shaking ministry of the word of God which characterized his life, considered it possible that he himself could become reprobate and lose the eternal reward. It was for the purpose of avoiding that possibility that he buffeted his body, walked in the strictest discipline, and devoted every possible effort to the service of the Lord. His example should put an end to all thoughts of "having it made" as a Christian and being certain to win eternal life apart from the most faithful continuance in God’s service.

We must therefore refuse interpretations of this passage such as that of Morris, who said, "Paul’s fear was not that he might lose his salvation, but that he might lose his crown through failing to satisfy his Lord."[23] Clearly it was such a view as this that led to the mistranslation of 1 Corinthians 9:27; but the truth is available and clear enough for all who desire to know it.

The hope of eternal life is not sealed in a single glorious moment in one’s experience of conversion; but it is a lifelong fidelity to the risen Lord, the running of life’s race all the way to the finish line. As DeHoff wrote:

Not until every thought and imagination of man’s heart is brought into subjection is his conversion complete. In this sense, conversion goes on as long as we live; and we are finally free from sin only when the day dawns and the shadows flee away, and we stand justified in the presence of God with the redeemed of all ages.[24]

Farrar’s analysis of this verse is as follows:

The word "reprobate" here rendered "a castaway" (KJV) is a metaphor derived from the testing of metals, and the casting aside of those which are spurious. That Paul should see the necessity for such serious and unceasing effort shows how little he believed in saintly works of "supererogation, over and above what is commanded." "When the cedar of Lebanon trembles, what shall the reed by the brookside do?"[25]

It might be added that this passage also shows how little Paul believed any such doctrine as the "final perseverance of the saints," called also "the impossibility of apostasy."

[22] Foy E. Wallace, Jr., A Review of the New Versions (Fort Worth, Texas: The Foy E. Wallace Jr., Publications, 1973), p. 435.

[23] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 140.

[24] George W. DeHoff, op. cit., p. 78.

[25] F. W. Farrar, The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), Vol. 19, p. 291.

1st Corinthians Chapter Ten

In this chapter, and through verse 1 of the next, Paul completed his answer to the triple question regarding the permissibility of Christians: (1) sitting down at idol feasts, (2) purchasing meat in the common markets, and (3) being guests where facts about the origin of the meat were unknown.

The very first word in this chapter demands that a close connection with the previous two chapters must be recognized; and it is deplorable that the RSV omitted that word, ignoring it completely. That word is "for"; and such a perversion of the sacred text was, as Farrar said, "due to the failure to understand the whole train of thought."[1] Also, it may be suspected that the omission of this authentic connective could be related to the critical bias which would make this chapter "the relic of a previous epistle."[2] It is now recognized, however, that such a view is concocted out of "no sufficient evidence."[3] The understanding of Paul’s full line of thought in these chapters also explodes any notion that two different positions are advocated by the apostle in 1 Corinthians 8,1 Corinthians 10.

It will be recalled that in chapter 8, the apostle effectively blasted the conceit and arrogance of his Corinthian questioners by warning them that: (1) knowledge puffs up, but does not build up (1 Corinthians 8:1); (2) those who thought they knew, actually knew nothing as they should have known (1 Corinthians 8:2); (3) their actions defiled the consciences of the weak (1 Corinthians 8:7); (4) such "liberty" was a stumblingblock to the weak (1 Corinthians 8:9); (5) sitting down in an idol’s temple encouraged idol worship (1 Corinthians 8:10); (6) through their conduct the weak perished (1 Corinthians 8:11); and (7) their actions were not merely sins against brethren but a "sin against Christ" (1 Corinthians 8:12). In this light, it is ridiculous to make 1 Corinthians 8 to be in any manner permissive with regard to the worship of idols.

The cautious manner of Paul’s dealing with the question in 1 Corinthians 8, however, was to make a distinction between the legitimate claims of Christian liberty and the heartless abuse of the principle. Having fully made that distinction in 1 Corinthians 8, and also having reinforced his own example in such matters by explaining his forbearance in the matter of financial support in 1 Corinthians 9, Paul in this chapter returned to make an unqualified demolition of the thesis that any Christian could have anything whatever to do with idol worship.

[1] F. W. Farrar, The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), Vol. 19, p. 322.

[2]; ISBE p. 713.

[3] Ibid.

1 Corinthians 10:1 --For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea. (1 Corinthians 10:1)

At the end of 1 Corinthians 9, Paul had hinted that it was possible, even for himself, to be a "castaway," after preaching to others, requiring the conclusion that even he (who had as much "knowledge" as any of the Corinthians, and who knew all about Christian liberty) took the most vigorous precautions against sinning, and that such precautions required him to give up everything such as the indulgences of the Corinthians.

Apparently, the inherent error in the philosophical Corinthians was the impression that the Lord’s Supper and Christian baptism had made them immune to any contamination from the idol feasts, especially in the light of their presumed "knowledge" that idols were actually nothing anyway. Paul refuted this by reference to the allegorical nature of historic Israel, many of them, in fact most of them, being lost despite their covenant relationship to God.

For ... This connective requires the understanding that this section of the epistle is a continuation of the argument in previous chapters. See in the chapter introduction.

I would not have you ignorant ... was a favorite expression with Paul. He used it in 1 Corinthians 12:1; 2 Corinthians 1:8; Romans 1:13; Romans 11:25, and in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, as well as here. It is not likely that Paul thought his readers would have been ignorant of the history of Israel, but rather that they would not have been aware of the typical nature of that history.

Our fathers ... Many of the Corinthians were not of Jewish extraction, and therefore the reference here regards Israel as the spiritual ancestry of all Christians. As Russell said, "The Old Testament was used in the Christian church, and even Gentile converts were expected to be familiar with it."[4] See Romans 9:6; Galatians 3:27-29, etc.

All under the cloud ... all passed through the sea ... The word "all," repeated five times in these first four verses, emphasizes the fact that the entire Jewish people enjoyed the high privilege of covenant relationship with God, being fed miraculously, and that they were thus constituted as God’s chosen people. Some of the Corinthians seem to have regarded the fact of their being baptized into Christ as some kind of endowment that made them immune from dangers, or in some manner exempt from sin even while indulging themselves at idol feasts. By the analogy of what happened historically to Israel, Paul would teach them that high privilege does not mean immunity from sin and death.

ENDNOTE:

[4] John William Russell, Compact Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1964), p. 419.

1 Corinthians 10:2 --And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.

By this bold comparison, Paul made the marvelous deliverance of Israel through the Red Sea from the pursuing armies of Pharaoh as a figure, or type, of Christian baptism. It should be carefully noted that the figure in evidence here is not baptism, that being the reality of which the great deliverance of Israel was the figure. Nowhere in the New Testament is baptism ever referred to as any kind of "figure" or "sign." "The voluntary character of that baptism is suggested by the aorist middle,"[5] as in Acts 22:16; Acts 2:38, where the meaning is "have yourselves baptized."[6]

Bruce presented the analogy between Israel and Christians thus:

Their (the Christians’) baptism is the antitype of Israel’s passage through the Red Sea; their sacrificial feeding on Christ by faith is the antitype of Israel’s nourishment with manna and the water from the rock; Christ the living Rock is their guide through the wilderness; the heavenly rest before them (the Christians) is the counterpart to the earthly Canaan which was the goal of the Israelites.[7]

As the next verse indicates, there is also a reference to the Lord’s Supper in Paul’s analogy.

[5] Paul W. Marsh. A New Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1969), p. 394.

[6] W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1940), p. 97.

[7] F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrew (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1967), p. 62.

1 Corinthians 10:3 --And did all eat the same spiritual food.

Just as Israel’s commitment "unto Moses" by their passage through the sea corresponded to the Christian’s baptism, their being fed with "spiritual food," that is, food of supernatural origin, as in the manna, and the water from the rock, corresponded to the Christian’s eating the flesh of Christ and drinking his blood in the manner of John 6:54-58. John Wesley said that this spiritual food was "typical of the bread which we eat at Christ’s table."[8] Dummelow noted that "Only here in the New Testament are the two Sacraments mentioned side by side,"[9] giving three reasons why the term "spiritual food" was used in this verse: (1) it was miraculous; (2) it was typical; and (3) it assured them of God’s presence.

[8] John Wesley, One Volume New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1972), in loco.

[9] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 907.

1 Corinthians 10:4 --And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them; and the rock was Christ.

Rock that followed them ... This is not to be understood as Paul’s reference to the Jewish legend about a literal rock that followed the Israelites in their wanderings. The rock to which Paul referred here was clearly stated: "The rock was Christ." The miracle of Moses’ bringing forth water from the rock in the wilderness (Exodus 17:5 ff) provided literal water for Israel; but much more than that is in evidence here. As Marsh said, "The rock was Christ, not `is’ or `is a type of’ ... and this is a clear statement of the pre-existence of Christ."[10]

One of the most beautiful and instructive titles of Christ in all the Bible is "Christ the Living Stone"; and for a full discussion of this, see my Commentary on Romans, pp. 352-357.

In these first four verses, the broad outlines of the great allegory of fleshly Israel are laid down; and a little further attention is due to it. As DeHoff declared: "The story of the Israelites and their journey from Egypt into Canaan is a type of our journey from the Egypt of sin into the everlasting Canaan."[11]

THE GRAND ANALOGY OF ISRAEL

Egypt is a type of sin and bondage.

God’s sending Moses to deliver them is a type of God’s sending Christ to deliver us from the degrading slavery of sin.

Pharaoh is a type of the devil.

The compromises he offered Moses are like the compromises that Satan still suggests to Christians.

Moses is the most eloquent type of Christ in all the Bible (see my Commentary on Hebrews, pp. 67-69).

Israel’s crossing the Red Sea is typical of Christian baptism.

Their spiritual food is typical of the Lord’s Supper.

Israel’s entering the wilderness is typical of the Christian’s entering the church.

The wilderness is a type of the church.

That Israel sinned is typical of the sins and rebellions of Christians.

The majority of them failed to enter Canaan; and this is typical of "the many" Christians who will not be saved eternally.

Canaan is a type of heaven.

Some of Israel entering Canaan is typical of the final victory of victory of Christians who shall enter into the joy of the Lord.

That some of them "fell" is typical of Christians who fall away and are lost.

God’s providential care of Israel in the wilderness is typical of his providential care of Christians till "the end of the world."

The fact of Israel’s being "baptized" and having the Lord’s Supper (in the analogy) did not make them immune to sin and death, as Paul was teaching here; and the same is true of Christians now.

Canaan was entered when Israel crossed Jordan, making Jordan a type of death, beyond which Christians enter heaven.

The dangers which beset Israel in the wilderness are typical of the dangers confronting Christians during confronting Christians during their probation.

They were tempted to commit fornication, even as the Corinthians were being tempted, and by the same means, through the licentious celebrations of idol worship.

Other analogies in this remarkable allegory may be pointed out, but the above is sufficient to show the extensive parallel between the fleshly Israel and the spiritual Israel.

[10] Paul W. Marsh, op. cit., p. 394.

[11] George W. DeHoff, Sermons on First Corinthians (Murfreesboro, Tennessee: The Christian Press, 1947), p. 79.

1 Corinthians 10:5 --Howbeit with most of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

Of all that great host who passed through the Red Sea and witnessed God’s mighty act of delivering them from slavery, all of them except Caleb and Joshua failed to enter Canaan (Numbers 14:30-32). This brief, pungent verse is the apostle’s summary of one of the most tragic and pathetic failures of all history. Passing over, except for the brief references in the first four verses, the startling parallels between fleshly and spiritual Israel, Paul here called attention to the pitiful defeat of an entire generation in the wilderness and made their overthrow a warning to the Corinthians and the Christians of all generations of the dreadful consequences of disobedience.

1 Corinthians 10:6 --Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

The blunt meaning here is that Christians should not suppose that their having been baptized into Christ and having been made partakers of the Lord’s table, nor the fact of their sharing high privileges of spiritual life in God’s kingdom, could endow them with any immunity to sin, a conceit which it seems some of the Corinthians had.

Were our examples ... Farrar believed that these words might also be rendered, "Now in these things, they also proved to be figures of us";[12] but the meaning is the same either way. After having been totally and completely "saved" from Egyptian slavery, they were lost and rejected; and, corresponding to that, Christians who are completely and totally saved may fall into sin and lose their hope of eternal life.

Lust after evil things ... Although the technical meaning of "lust" is "to desire either good things or bad things,"[13] its use in the holy Scriptures is invariably a reference to illicit and harmful desire. The inspired author James identified this inward desire ever burning in people’s hearts as the embryonic source of all sin. To paraphrase James, "Lust has a child, which is sin; and then sin also has a child, which is death" (James 1:12-15). Self-denial is the soul’s rejection of all unlawful desire. The surrender to Christ is the subordination of all selfish desire to the will of the Lord. The lust after evil things is the first of five rebellious actions of fleshly Israel; and, enumerating them one by one, Paul demanded that Christians avoid committing them.

[12] F. W. Farrar, op. cit., p. 323.

[13] Donald S. Metz, Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1969), p. 405.

1 Corinthians 10:7 --Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

The Scriptural quotation here is Exodus 32:6; and thus the idolatry Paul mentioned was that of Israel’s worshipping the golden calf. The mention of idolatry almost in the same breath with "lust" (v. 6) shows the close connection, the one leading to the other, indicating that idolatry depended for its motivation upon the gratification of fleshly lusts. It is of great significance that in the incident thus cited by Paul, the Old Testament specifically revealed that the people "were naked" (Exodus 32:25); and this may not be dismissed as a mere reference to their SPIRITUAL nakedness!

Sat down to eat ... rose up to play ... The "playing" was not some innocent diversion, or game, this being a reference to the wild naked dances which concluded the idol feasts. As Wesley said, "(the word play) means to dance in honor of their idol."[14] McGarvey declared that the kind of playing in view here "was familiar to the Corinthians who had indulged in such licentious sportfulness"[15] in such temples as those of Bacchus, Poseidon and Aphrodite (Venus).

[14] John Wesley, op. cit., in loco.

[15] J. W. McGarvey, Commentary on 1Corinthians (Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Company, 1916), p. 100.

1 Corinthians 10:8 --Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.

Notice the list of sins: (1) we should not lust after evil things; (2) neither be idolaters; (3) neither let us commit fornication. The whole sequence was the normal procedure in idol worship.

In one day three and twenty thousand ...; Numbers 25:9 gives the number who fell as 24,000; and many have been perplexed by this, even Lipscomb saying, "Why this discrepancy I am not able to explain."[16] The explanation is in the words "in one day," a phrase not in the Old Testament narrative. Paul’s 23,000, therefore, did not include those slain by the judges before this "one day." It will be recalled that, before the plague broke out, God through Moses had commanded the judges of Israel to "hang all the heads of the people" who had condoned and encouraged the worship of Baal-Peor, the idol god of the Moabites, especially the Moabite women who had used the device of idol worship to seduce the Israelites to commit fornication. Putting the two figures together, in which there is no discrepancy whatever, it is clear that the judges hanged one thousand men in connection with this disaster which are not counted in Paul’s 23,000 who perished in one day. Guthrie pointed out a Jewish tradition which confirms this explanation. He said, "Jewish tradition ascribed 1,000 deaths to the action of the judges described in Numbers 25:5."[17] Another pseudocon bites the dust!

[16] David Lipscomb, Commentary on First Corinthians (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1935), p. 149.

[17] Donald Guthrie, The New Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 1064.

Verse 9

1 Corinthians 10:9 --Neither let us make trial of the Lord, as some of them made trial, and perished by the serpents.

Make trial of the Lord ... refers to provoking the Lord through disobedience and murmuring against his benign government, in a sense "testing" the Lord to see whether or not he will punish the disobedient. The Old Testament background of this admonition is found in Numbers 21:5-6. Significantly, all sin and disobedience of God fall into the category of making "trial" of him. The particular sins of Israel mentioned here were those of speaking against God and Moses and complaining of the manna.

The Lord ... Many ancient authorities read "Christ" instead of "Lord" (English Revised Version margin); and, as Barnes observed, "It cannot be denied that the more natural construction is ... `Christ’ ... rather than `God.’"[18] As the reference is to a time before Christ came, however, the translators rendered it "Lord," thus avoiding the difficulty. The point is not crucial, because, as a matter of fact, they made trial of both God and Christ. The view preferred here is that Paul meant "Christ," the same being another reference to his pre-existence, and indicating that our Lord’s pre-incarnation activity included that of shepherding the chosen people in the wilderness. It was not Christ, however, who spake the law to Israel, for Hebrews 1:1 makes it clear that God did that through the prophets, and not through his Son.

ENDNOTE:

[18] Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1949), p. 185.

1 Corinthians 10:10 --Neither murmur ye, as some of them murmured, and perished by the destroyer.

The sin of murmuring rounds out the five: lusting, idolatry, fornication, making trial of God, and murmuring.

Neither murmur ye ... For a more detailed comment on this vice, see my Commentary on Acts, pp. 121-122. The murmurers are the complainers, fault-finders, objectors and critics who, alas, form a part of every congregation that ever existed. The attitude represented by such behavior is not a minor or negligible "fault" but an atrocious sin, standing in sequence here as the climax involving even greater guilt than idolatry and fornication; for it would certainly seem to be true that Paul arranged these in ascending order of magnitude.

1 Corinthians 10:11 --Now these things happened unto them by way of example; and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come.

Now these things happened ... This is a bold testimony to the Old Testament record, which contains not legends, myths or traditions, but what "happened."

By way of example ... This same thought was expressed in 1 Corinthians 10:6; and under 1 Corinthians 10:4 is given a list of analogies in the great allegory of fleshly Israel, the type of spiritual Israel. Romans 15:4 has much the same teaching, indicating that the Old Testament is for the "learning" of Christians, and making it clear that the Old Testament is a legitimate part of the teaching which applies to every Christian, only with this limitation, that all of its forms and ceremonies and TYPES have been replaced by the great realities of the new covenant.

Upon whom the ends of the ages are come ... This is similar in thought to "this is the ... last days" (Acts 2:16-17) mentioned by Peter on Pentecost, and a number of other similar references in the New Testament; and the usual interpretation is to refer these to the final dispensation of God’s grace, the Christian age, which at that time was only beginning. In this interpretation, the meaning is that the present dispensation is terminal, which is believed to be true of course; but the words have a more immediate application to the end of the Jewish dispensation which had already occurred in the crucifixion of Christ; but that terminus of the whole Mosaic age would shortly be marked by the destruction of the Jewish state, the city of Jerusalem and the temple. It is not incorrect to see this also in Paul’s words here. It was indeed the "ends of the ages" shortly to be fantastically demonstrated before their eyes in 70 A.D.

As Barnes truly observed, "This by no means denotes that the apostle believed the world would soon come to an end."[19]

ENDNOTE:

[19] Ibid., p. 186.

1 Corinthians 10:12 --Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

Whether taken alone or in context, this verse may not be referred to anything else other than to the danger of apostasy, which is an ever-present POSSIBILITY for all of the saved in Christ as long as they are under the probation of earthly existence. We shall not take occasion here to demonstrate the lengths to which scholars have gone in their vain efforts to edit such a thought out of it. Unless there is a real and present danger of falling away so as to be lost, the message of this whole chapter is meaningless. "The history of Israel not only showed the mere possibility of apostasy, but demonstrated its actual reality and the sad prevalence of it."[20]

ENDNOTE:

[20] J. W. McGarvey, op. cit., p. 102.

1 Corinthians 10:13 --There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it.

No temptation ... but such as man can bear ... The notion of temptations being irresistible was not allowed by Paul. "Any temptation that comes to us is not unique! others have endured it, and others have come through it."[21]

God ... The agency of God himself is in view in this passage. All temptation, while allowed by God, is also controlled by him; and the Father will simply not allow a child of God to be tempted above what he is able to bear. In the wise providence of God, he has made a way out of every temptation; and, as Barclay noted, "There is the way out, and the way out is not the way of surrender, and not the way of retreat, but the way of conquest in the power of the grace of God."[22]

This instruction regarding "the way of escape" seems to have been given by Paul to alleviate any undue discouragement caused by the blunt and dreadful warning in 1 Corinthians 10:12. The fact that many may, and do, apostatize cannot mean that they were overwhelmed by irresistible temptations, but that they neglected to take "the way of escape."

[21] William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1954), p. 100.

[22] Ibid. p. 101.

1 Corinthians 10:14 --Wherefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

This is Paul’s dramatic summary of the whole epistle from 1 Corinthians 8:1 to this place, tying the whole passage together as one ardent and sustained plea against any indulgence whatever, by any persons whatever, including both the weak and those who thought of themselves as "strong," and demanding absolutely that they "flee from idolatry." The meaning of that is to get as far away from it as possible. Such dilly-dallying with idolatry as that being engaged in by the "knowledge" party in Corinth was the most stupid kind of folly. Their acceptance of any kind of participation in the idol feasts was a violation of their status as participants in the Lord’s Supper; and Paul’s saying, "I speak as to wise men," in the next verse, far from complimenting them on their wisdom, is a bitter irony spoken in rebuke of their phenomenal spiritual density.

1 Corinthians 10:15 --I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.

Wise men ... (?)" To these who were sitting down in the temples of idols and criticizing the "weak" who would not do likewise, these who were boasting of their "liberty" and declaring that "all things were lawful" for Christians, Paul’s remark here has the weight of "All right, you smart people, listen to this."

1 Corinthians 10:16-17 --The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the body of Christ? seeing that we who are many are one bread, one body: for we all partake of the one bread.

The cup of blessing ... This was one of the four cups which marked participation in the Jewish Passover (see my Commentary on Luke, pp. 467-468), being the final one, over which the patriarch pronounced a blessing at the end of the Passover. "It is here transferred to the chalice of the Eucharist."[23]

Which we bless ... Paul’s use of the plural "we" reveals "his representing the entire company present, and not as individually possessed of some miraculous gift."[24] The superstition that the one presiding at the Lord’s table performed any function that could change the nature of the elements of bread and wine did not arise until a much later time. The thought of this whole verse is that participants in the Lord’s supper were unified and bound together in one spirit. Their taking the supper was a declaration that "They had the same object of worship, the same faith, the same hope, etc., with others whom they joined in such a religious act."[25]

Nothing may be made of the fact that Paul mentioned the cup first in this passage, a circumstance which probably resulted from the fact that, "In the heathen feasts, the libation came before the food."[25] Also, there is the obvious intention of the apostle to dwell at greater length upon the bread. The great principle behind Paul’s remarks here is the truth that "Partaking of a religious table, whether Christian, Jewish or heathen, involves fellowship with the being to whom it is directed,"[26] as well as with the participants themselves. This great principle was not even guessed at by the Corinthians who partook of the idol feasts.

"In almost all nations, the act of eating together has been regarded as a symbol of unity and friendship."[27] This is even more true with reference to eating a sacred meal such as the Lord’s supper.

[23] F. W. Farrar, op. cit., p. 324. ,

[24] T. Teignmouth Shore, Ellicott’s Commentary on the Entire Bible (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959), p. 324.

[25] James Macknight, Apostolical Epistles and Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1969), p. 160.

[26] S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 620.

[27] Albert Barnes, op. cit., p. 191.

1 Corinthians 10:18 --Behold Israel after the flesh: have not they that eat the sacrifices communion with the altar?

"The question is not the intention of the actor, but the import of the act, and the interpretation universally put upon it."[28] Paul thus removed the evaluation of idol worship altogether from the consideration of any "intention" in the heart of the worshiper, the act itself being universally understood as worship either of God or of idols. Here again the question of "What is worship?" demands consideration; and it is a principle laid down dramatically in Scripture that worship is "an action," not some kind of subjective feeling. For full discussion of this see in my Commentary on Acts, pp. 208-210. The subjective feelings of Jewish worshipers made no difference whatever; if they brought their sacrifices, they had communion with the altar and were invariably accounted as worshipping God.

ENDNOTE:

[28] David Lipscomb, op. cit., p. 155.

1 Corinthians 10:19 --What say I then? that a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?

The Hebrew idiom here is to be understood as a negative, such use of the interrogative being common in the New Testament. In Paul’s view, the idol was actually nothing at all; and the intention of the "knowledge" group in Corinth was nothing at all; but none of this made any difference with the fact that actions engaged in the worship of idols were sinful.

1 Corinthians 10:20 --But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have communion with demons.

To demons ... Despite the fact of an idol; being nothing at all, there is, nevertheless, a Satan in the world, and a great number of malignant spirits, perhaps even fallen angels, who are used by the evil one to attain his goals regarding human corruption and destruction. The device of the idol is used by Satan as a means of destroying people’s souls; and Paul brings such facts as these into sharp focus here. One of the great blind spots in modern thinking regards the very existence of Satan as a person; but the most universally prayed prayer on earth says, "Deliver us from the evil one." Paul here identified such things as idol feasts at a theater where the forces of Satan are operative. People refuse to believe this at their peril.

"The essence of the matter lay in the participation in idol worship, which was a reversion to heathenism."[29] As Alford said, "Heathendom being under the dominion of Satan ... he and his angels are in fact the powers honored and worshipped by the heathen, however little they may be aware of it."[30] "Demons are the real force behind all pagan religion; attested not only by the Old Testament and the New Testament, but by missionary experience. Idolatry is a medium through which satanic power is particularly manifest."[31]

[29] Donald S. Metz, op. cit., p. 410.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Paul W. Marsh, op. cit., p. 396.

1 Corinthians 10:21 --Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of demons: ye cannot partake of the table of the Lord, and of the table of demons.

Ye cannot ... has the weight of "I forbid you to ..." Of course, it was not a physical impossibility for some to lead such double lives; and it may be inferred that some in Corinth were actually partaking of both; but it was a sin, the words here indicating that it was morally impossible to do such a thing.

1 Corinthians 10:22 --Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?

Even in the Old Testament, idol worship was spoken of as provoking the Lord to jealousy; and, as Macknight said, "This is an allusion to Exodus 20:5, where, after prohibiting the worshipping of images, God adds, "I the Lord thy God, am a jealous God!"[32]

Are we stronger than he? ... This carries the thought, "Do you really wish to be an enemy of God?" Jesus gave a parable of one who contemplated going to war with one stronger than himself in Luke 14:32. The thought there is particularly applicable here. See my Commentary on Luke, p. 319.

ENDNOTE:

[32] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 163.

1 Corinthians 10:23 --All things are lawful; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful; but not all things edify.

All things are lawful ... The total absence from this passage of any mention of behavior which might, under any circumstances, be considered "lawful" raises a question of how these words should be understood, fithis was the watchword of the "knowledge" party in Corinth, and if they had been pressing Paul for permission to engage in idol worship, which seems likely, then the words here are spoken by way of identifying those to whom these stern words were addressed.

1 Corinthians 10:24 --Let no man seek his own, but each his neighbor’s good.

This does not forbid conduct which is in keeping with enlightened self-interest, but requires that every action shall also be weighed in the light of its effect upon one’s fellow Christians. The purely selfish person is by definition non-Christian.

1 Corinthians 10:25 --Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, eat, asking no question for conscience’ sake.

In verse 21, Paul had commanded, "I forbid you to partake of idol feasts"; but there were two other questions which had troubled the Corinthians, a second being whether or not to eat meat from the common markets, where the likelihood was strong that the meat had been sacrificed to idols. The apostolic answer to this second question was: "Pay no attention to the possibility of its having been sacrificed to idols, there being no intrinsic change whatever wrought in the meat by such an act." Paul reinforced this by an Old Testament quotation in the next verse.

1 Corinthians 10:26 --For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.

This meant that the meat did not really belong to an idol, no matter if it had been sacrificed. It may therefore be eaten in gratitude as a gift from the Lord, and having no connection at all with an idol. This is a quotation from Psalms 24:1, emphasizing that nothing that people might do can change the ownership of that which intrinsically belongs to God, not merely by the right of creation, but also by the right of maintenance.

1 Corinthians 10:27-28 --If one of them that believe not biddeth you to a feast, and ye are disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience’ sake. But if any man say unto you, This hath been offered in sacrifice, eat not, for his sake that showed it, and for conscience’ sake.

This was Paul’s answer to the third question, which regarded eating as a guest in the home of an unbeliever. Paul’s command was full of reason and consideration. The Christian was not to raise any question whatever about the meat served; but, on the other hand, if the meat was definitely identified by "any man" as having been offered to idols, then the Christian should not indulge in it. Thus, by his firm and unequivocal answer to the three solemn questions propounded by the Corinthians, Paul enforced the absolute abstinence on the part of Christians from anything that was identified as a sacrifice to an idol. Where does that leave the "all things are lawful" proposition?

Before leaving this, the words of Farrar should be noted:

How gross was the calumny which asserted that Paul taught men to be INDIFFERENT about eating things sacrificed to idols! He taught indifference only in cases where idolatry could not be directly involved in the question. He only repudiated the idle superstition that the food became INHERENTLY tainted by such a consecration when the eater was unaware of it.[33]

ENDNOTE:

[33] F. W. Farrar, op. cit., p. 325.

1 Corinthians 10:29-30 --Conscience, I say, not thine own, but the others; for why is my liberty judged by another conscience? If 50partake with thankfulness why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?

It will be remembered that Paul frequently had resort to the old diatribe manner of presenting his arguments, in which a question is raised from the viewpoint of the opponent and then devastated with a concise reply. Something of that is certainly in evidence here; and Metz caught the spirit of these verses perfectly, thus:

Paul writes as though he hears an objection from one of the "enlightened" Corinthians. "Living Letters" paraphrases it thus: "But why, you may ask, must I be guided by what someone else thinks? If I can thank God for the food and enjoy it, why let someone spoil everything just because he thinks I am wrong?" In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul replies, "Well, I’ll tell you why.[34]

ENDNOTE:

[34] Donald S. Metz, op. cit., p. 412.

1 Corinthians 10:31 --Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

The overriding question which must determine all that any Christian does is the question of whether or not his actions will build up, edify, strengthen and encourage the church of Christ; and if any action whatsoever falls short of such utility to bless and honor God’s kingdom, then it is forbidden to the child of God. God’s glory is paramount; human appetite and convenience have no weight whatever when opposed to God’s glory. Paul was a great leader who refused to do anything that might hinder people outside the church or alienate those within it.

1 Corinthians 10:32-33 --Give no occasion of stumbling, either to Jews, or to Greeks, or to the church of God: even as I also please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many that they may be saved.

Give no occasion of stumbling ... This is the apostolic order. If our human brethren, either in or out of the church, may be offended by any action, that action for the true Christian is proscribed and forbidden. We are not living the Christian life for the purpose of blessing ourselves, merely, but for the purpose of saving as many immortal souls as possible.

That they may be saved ... This was the passionate desire of the holy apostle; and everything was subordinated to that goal. What a revival would break out upon earth today if all those who profess to follow Christ should adopt such a rule of conduct.

1 Corinthians 11:1, "Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ." This is included in the next chapter, but the logical connection of it is at the conclusion of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10. Paul often used the admonition to be "imitators" of himself, always with the limitation of the qualifier, "as he followed the Lord," whether expressly stated or not. He gave the same command in 1 Corinthians 4:16; Philippians 3:17, and in 1 Thessalonians 1:6.

1st Corinthians Chapter Eleven

This and the following three chapters are usually construed as Paul’s corrective admonition regarding the "worship services"; but since the first paragraph (1 Corinthians 11:1-16) undoubtedly refers to social customs, there being even some doubt of its application to any worship service whatever, there is no need for adherence to such an outline. Throughout this epistle, the apostle Paul dealt with miscellaneous church conditions and disorders, making it nearly impossible to fit the epistle into any form of classical outline.

The first paragraph regards the veiling of women (1 Corinthians 11:1-16), and the second teaches concerning the Lord’s supper (1 Corinthians 11:17-34).

REGARDING THE VEILING OF WOMEN

1 Corinthians 11:1 --Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.

Paul’s teaching here is the basis of diametrically opposed views, Lipscomb holding that "Whether the woman prays in the closet at home, or in the assembly, she should approach God with the tokens of her subjection to man on her head."[1] Johnson limited the ruling to the worship meeting, saying, "This alone is in view."[2] He interpreted the words here as "Paul’s ruling that women must cover their heads during the meeting."[3] This writer admires and respects the immortal Lipscomb; but, in his comment above, the words "tokens of her subjection to man" betray a basic misunderstanding of this difficult passage. If Paul really meant that women should be veiled, then no fancy little hat will do it. This student of the Scriptures is adamantly opposed to tokenism and would just as soon accept "token baptism" as a "token veil." As Marsh said:

One thing is certain; within the context of our contemporary culture, the modern western hat - decorative, attractive, and often obstructive - cannot be said to compare with the veil, either in appearance, function or purpose.[4]

As McGarvey said, "In western countries a woman’s hat has never had any symbolism whatever."[5] The notion that any kind of hat, in the modern sense of that word, can in any manner be construed as a "token veil" is founded in neither reason nor Scripture; and to get that simple fact in focus is to go a long way to understanding this subject.

Eldred Echols, Professor of Bible, South Africa Bible School, Benoni, South Africa, summed up an extensive study of this problem by the Bible faculty with the following conclusion:

The dogmatic position that 1 Corinthians 11 requires a woman to wear a hat at a religious service is linguistically and historically impossible. To enjoin it as an obligation upon Christian women is dangerously presumptive, since it is not based upon Biblical authority. On the other hand, there is not the slightest reason why any Christian woman should not wear a hat at church or elsewhere if she wishes to do so. Nevertheless, she should not be deceived into imagining that her hat has any bearing upon first century doctrine or practice.[6]

References to key words in the exegesis below will further elaborate the facts supporting Echols’ conclusion. This writer wholeheartedly concurs in this conclusion and also with that of McGarvey who wrote: "The problem in western assemblies is how best to persuade women to take their hats off, not how to prevail upon them to keep them on!"[7]

"Drawings in the catacombs do not bear out the assumption that Christian women wore veils at services in the early church."[8] The extensive art of the Middle Ages, however, invariably portrays the women as fully veiled; but, of course, this was derived largely from the Roman Catholic culture of that era. In fact that culture may be viewed as the source of the custom of wearing hats (by women) in church services in the present times, the same having been accepted in Reformation and post-Reformation times without critical reappraisal because more urgent issues commanded the attention of scholars.

Despite the conclusion accepted by this commentator to the effect that Paul does not here require women to wear hats at church, it is felt that Barclay went much too far in saying that "This is one of these passages which have a purely local and temporary significance."[9] On the contrary, Paul’s teaching here is invaluable and relevant to all generations with regard to the Christian’s relation to the culture in which he lives.

Before proceeding to a line-by-line study of this paragraph, one other colossal fact should be noted, that being the word "custom" which appears in 1 Corinthians 11:16, at the end of the paragraph. Paul did a similar thing in Romans 8:1, where the word "now" flies like a banner, demanding that the antithesis "then" be understood as a description of what he treated in Romans 7. See my Commentary on Romans, pp. 262,263, 278. The word "custom" as used in 1 Corinthians 11:16 clearly identifies the subject under consideration in this paragraph as the customs of the times, and not as an apostolic treatise on what either men or women should wear in religious services, except in the degree that the one had a bearing upon the other. Sex differentiation as indicated by hair-length is outlined; and it is hair, not clothes, of which Paul spoke:

[1] David Lipscomb, Commentary on 1Corinthians (Nashville: The Gospel Advocate Company, 1935), p. 167.

[2] S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 622.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Paul W. Marsh, A New Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1969), p. 397.

[5] J. W. McGarvey, Commentary on 1Corinthians (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1916), p. 113.

[6] Eldred Echols, a private manuscript circulated throughout the area of Benoni, South Africa by the faculty of the Bible School. Other references to this will be attributed to Eldred Echols. This writer is indebted to John H. Banister, Dallas, Texas, for this manuscript.

[7] J. W. McGarvey, op. cit., p. 113.

[8] Eldred Echols

[9] William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1954), p. 107.

1 Corinthians 11:1 was discussed at the end of 1 Corinthians 10.

1 Corinthians 11:2 --Now I praise you that ye remember me in all things, and hold fast the traditions, even as I delivered them to you.

Traditions of men are not necessarily binding, but the holy traditions delivered by the apostles of Christ were of the highest authority. For a considerable part of the first century, there existed many written documents of the Christian religion (Luke 1:1); but such written documents were extensively supplemented by the word-of-mouth teaching which was promulgated by apostles and eyewitnesses of the inception of Christianity. See my Commentary on Mark, pp. 3,4.

Hold fast the traditions ... "This ordinarily means `handed down from generation to generation’; but here it refers to the doctrine orally delivered by the apostles to the churches in the first Christian generation."[10] In view of the meaning here, the old KJV rendition of "ordinances" is better than "traditions," despite the fact of the latter being the literal meaning.[11]

[10] John William Russell, Compact Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1964), p. 421.

[11] F. W. Farrar, Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 361.

1 Corinthians 11:3 --But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

In the threefold step from woman to man to Christ to God, it may appear surprising that Paul began with the center stop; but there seems to have been a design in this. Paul, who was about to speak of the subordination of woman to her husband, would first speak to man with a reminder that he himself is subordinated to Christ the Lord. In Ephesians 5:22-33, Paul made it abundantly clear that the subjection of wives to their husbands was coupled with the sternest commandments with regard to the husband’s duty to the wife.

In the current era, there are those who would set aside the apostolic authority regarding the question of the subordination of the wife to her husband; but the wisdom of the ages and also the word of God concur in teaching the necessity that every organism must have a head; and there cannot be any denial that in God’s basic unit of all civilization and all progress, which is the family, the head must be either the man or the woman; and God here commanded man to fulfill that function of being the head of the family. If history has demonstrated anything, it is the truism that a matriarchal society is, by definition, inferior.

The head of Christ is God ... The equality of Christ with the Father is everywhere apparent in Scripture, as Paul himself said in Philippians 2:6; but, even so, the Godhead itself could not function in the project of human redemption without the subordination of the Son "for that purpose." Just so, the subordination of woman to her husband does not set aside the equality of both male and female "in Christ," but it is for the purpose of making the family a viable and successful unit. This verse makes the "headship of the man over the woman parallel to the leadership of God over Christ."[12] Thus the same equality, unity of purpose and unity of will, should exist between a man and his wife as exists between the Father and the Son.

ENDNOTE:

[12] J. W. McGarvey, op. cit., p. 109.

1 Corinthians 11:4 --Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoreth his head.

Having his head covered ... Here is where the misunderstanding of this passage begins. This clause, as rendered in the popular versions, is commentary, not Bible. As Echols noted:

"Having his head covered" is a commentary, not a translation. Lenski translated the sense correctly: "having something down from his head." What the "something" is is neither stated nor implied in 1 Corinthians 11:4.[13]

The logical understanding of this would refer it to "long hair," being long enough to hang down from the head, as clearly indicated by the apostles’ words a moment later: "If a man have long hair, it is a dishonor to him" (1 Corinthians 11:14).

The ancients accepted Paul’s dictum on this and went so far as to define the length of hair that was considered an infraction of Paul’s words.

The hair of the head may not grow so long as to come down and interfere with the eyes ... cropping is to be adopted ... let not twisted locks hang far down from the head, gliding into womanish ringlets.[14]

Significantly, the words "hang far down" strongly resemble Paul’s words "having something down from his head." The above is from Clement of Alexandria and was written in the second century.

The notion that Paul in this place referred to the [~tallith] (shawl), or [~yarmelke] (skull cap) worn by Jewish worshipers is refuted by the fact that the Greek New Testament does not indicate in this verse an artificial covering of any kind.[15] This does not mean, however, that Paul would have approved of the use of either in Christian worship. "For Paul such a covering probably symbolized that the Jewish male continued in spiritual darkness, from which Christians had been liberated."[16] We may therefore interpret this verse as a simple admonition that it was a disgrace for any long-haired Christian male to participate in praying and prophesying; and this interpretation certainly harmonizes with verse 14. History has certainly vindicated this view; because universal human behavior has departed from it only in isolated instances and for relatively very short periods of time.

Every man ... It is wrong to understand this in the generic sense as "every man or woman." Russell said:

There are two Greek words for "man"; one for man as a human being; the other contrasting man with woman or child; the latter form is used for man in every instance in this chapter (1 Corinthians 11:3-16).[17]

[13] Eldred Echols

[14] Clement of Alexandria, in the Ante Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956), Vol. II, p. 286.

[15] Eldred Echols

[16] Paul W. Marsh, op. cit. p. 397.

[17] John William Russell, op. cit., p. 421.

1 Corinthians 11:5 --But every woman praying or prophesying with her head unveiled dishonoreth her head; for it is one and the same thing as if she were shaven.

Every woman praying or prophesying ... As Lipscomb said:

In all the history of Christ and the apostles no example is found of women speaking publicly or leading in public prayer, although they were endowed with miraculous gifts, and did prophesy and teach in private and in the family circle.[18]

However, McGarvey construed this passage as an example of "women when exercising the prophetic office in the church." Macknight took another view (see below). For further discussions, see under 1 Corinthians 14:34, below.

We may suppose that the Corinthian women affected to perform such offices in the public assemblies on pretence of their being inspired; and, although Paul did not here condemn that practice, it does not follow that he allowed it, or that it was allowed in any church.[19]

With her head unveiled ... The word here rendered "unveiled" is [@akatakaluptos].[20] "There is no intrinsic meaning in this word which suggests either the covering material or the object covered; it is simply a general word."[21] [@Katakaluptos] means covered completely. [@Akatakaluptos] means not completely covered. Thus again, the passage falls short of mentioning any kind of garment. To suppose that Paul here meant "mantle" or "veil" or any such thing is to import into this text what is not in it. We have seen that he was speaking of "hair" in 1 Corinthians 11:4; and that is exactly what he is speaking of here. "Not completely covered" would then refer to the disgraceful conduct of the Corinthian women in cropping their hair, after the manner of the notorious Corinthian prostitutes; which, if they did it, was exactly the same kind of disgrace as if they had shaved their heads. It is crystal clear that Paul is not speaking of any kind of garment; because he said in 1 Corinthians 11:15, below, "For her hair is given her instead of a covering."[22] (See under 1 Corinthians 11:15.) Only in 1 Corinthians 11:15 does Paul mention any kind of garment ([@peribolaion]) and even there he stated that the woman’s hair took the place of it.

Dishonoreth her head ... Understanding the "unveiled" in the preceding clause as a reference to cropping her hair explains this. Any man’s wife adopting the style of the notorious "priestesses" on the Acro Corinthus would bring shame and dishonor upon her "head," that is, her husband, who would thus be scandalized in the conduct of his wife. Also, from this, it is clear that in 1 Corinthians 11:4, man’s "head," which is Christ, is the one dishonored there. Thus the thing which concerned Paul here was the arrogant adoption of the hairstyle (by women) of the shameless priestesses of Aphrodite.

Is there any lesson for modern Christians in this? Indeed there is. Any time that Christian men or women adopt styles, whether of clothing or hair, which are widely accepted as immoral, anti-social, anti-establishment, or in any manner degrading, such actions constitute a violation of what is taught here.

[18] David Lipscomb, op. cit., p. 163.

[19] James Macknight, Apostolical Epistles and Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1969), p. 172.

[20] W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1940), p. 174.

[21] Eldred Echols

[22] Eldred Echols

1 Corinthians 11:6 --For if a woman is not veiled, let her also be shorn: but if it is a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be veiled.

Here again the sense of this place is destroyed by the traditional rendition "veiled." No artificial covering of any kind has thus far been mentioned by Paul in this chapter, nor will there be any reference to any kind of garment or artificial covering until 1 Corinthians 11:15, below, where it is categorically stated that her hair is given her "instead of" any other covering. Paul is only repeating here the obvious truth that for a woman to adopt the Aphrodite hair style was the same thing as being shaven. The shaving of any woman’s head was considered either a sign of deep mourning, or a fitting punishment for adultery; and the overwhelming inference here is not that the Corinthian women had thrown off the oriental style "veil" that obscured almost all of the female person, there being no evidence at all that first-century Christian women ever wore such a thing, but that they had adopted the chic hair-styles of the women of Aphrodite. Can it be believed that Paul was here pleading for the Corinthian women to put on "veils" in the style of present-day Moslems, when he was about to say in 1 Corinthians 11:15, below, that their hair had been given them "instead of" such a covering? It is the flagrant mistranslation of this passage which has obscured the truth and confused millions of students of it.

1 Corinthians 11:7-9 --For a man indeed ought not to have his head veiled, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man: for neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

Ought not to have his head veiled ... See under 1 Corinthians 11:4 for the true meaning which is that "a man ought not to have anything hanging down from his head," an obvious reference to long hair, as more thoroughly explained above. Whatever "covered" means in 1 Corinthians 11:4 must also be the meaning of "veiled" in this verse. Moreover, the fact that Paul is speaking of something fundamental and intrinsic in human appearance, and not merely about some kind of clothing, is inherent in the reasons assigned to support his words. In these verses, the big thing in view is the eternal propriety of woman’s submission to her husband, a subject already in Paul’s mind, from the reference to "man as the head of woman" (1 Corinthians 11:3). The facts of creation reveal that: (1) woman was taken out of man, (2) she was given to man, (3) she was created for man, and (4) she was intended to be the glory of man. The scandalous behavior of the Corinthian women had contravened God’s purpose in all of these things, hence the mention of them here.

Charles Hodge stated in connection with these verses:

In this way does the New Testament constantly authenticate, not merely the moral and religious truths of the Old Testament, but its historical facts; and makes the facts the grounds or proofs of great moral principles.[23]

ENDNOTE:

[23] Charles Hodge, An Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974), p. 210.

1 Corinthians 11:10 --For this cause ought the woman to have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels.

This verse should be read without the words "a sign of," the same being not in Paul’s writings at all, but having been merely added by translators to help out with what they conceived to be the meaning of the passage. As Farrar said, "A great deal of irrelevant guesswork has been written on this verse."[24] We shall not trouble the reader with any of the wild guesses concerning the danger that women without veils might tempt some of the angels attending church and seeing them, or any such speculations. The simplest explanation (since Paul was speaking of the proper subordination of woman) is that this is a reminder that the "angels who kept not their first estate" lost heaven; and it is not far-fetched to draw the analogy that those precious angels called women should not go beyond the limitations imposed upon them by their creation.

Authority upon her head ... Scholars do not agree on the exact meaning implied by the use of "authority" here; but it is clear that Paul referred to the woman’s head being properly covered; but it is of the utmost importance to note that "the nature of that covering" is not here specified. The opinion of this writer is that the reference means she should not have her hair cropped. Even in such a regulation as that, the implication is that the prohibition is not absolute, but qualified. The sin was not in cutting off hair, but in cutting it off in such a manner as to obscure the sexes or to imitate the shameless prostitutes of the pagan temples.

ENDNOTE:

[24] F. W. Farrar, op. cit., p. 362.

1 Corinthians 11:11-12 --Nevertheless, neither is the woman without the man, nor the man without the woman, in the Lord For as the woman is of the man, so is the man also by the woman; but all things are of God.

Despite the fact of Paul’s speaking on the subordination of woman in God’s order of created beings, he was careful here to point out what kind of subordination he was speaking of. Man and woman are mutually dependent upon each other, each enjoying unique prerogatives and blessings under the will of God, as Paul stressed in Ephesians 5:22-33, etc. While true enough that the first woman was made out of man, it has been true of all others since then that they are born of woman. The natural relationship between men and women, like everything else, is ordained of God. Johnson believed that the point of emphasis here is that "The man must always remember that he exists by woman, and that both are of God."[25]

ENDNOTE:

[25] S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., op. cit., p. 623.

1 Corinthians 11:13 --Judge ye in yourselves: is it seemly that a woman pray unto God unveiled?

As Farrar said, "This is an appeal to the decision of their instinctive sense of propriety."[26] Johnson believed that "seemly" here should be read "proper."[27] It should be noted again that "unveiled" here has no reference at all to what is commonly referred to as a "veil." The word is exactly the same as the one used in 1 Corinthians 11:5.[28] A covering of some kind is meant; but the Greek text leaves totally out of sight anything that would enable this to be identified as some kind of artificial covering, or man-made garment. See under 1 Corinthians 11:5. The instinctive judgment of men is much more easily associated with their approval of long hair for a woman than with the approval of some kind or style of clothing. The fallibility of human instinct in that whole area of concern is proved by the new styles accepted every spring!

[26] F. W. Farrar, op. cit., p. 363.

[27] S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., op. cit., p. 624.

[28] W. E. Vine, op. cit., p. 175.

1 Corinthians 11:14 --Doth not even nature itself teach you, that if a man have long hair, it is a dishonor to him?

As Johnson observed, "The fact of short hair for men and long hair for women is a divine suggestion in nature itself."[29] It is quite evident throughout this whole paragraph that Paul is talking about "hair," not clothes! If such is not the case, such a verse as this is totally out of place. The judgment of history as well as the New Testament confirms Paul’s words here are true. People may deny it if they please; but the sacred text and the usage of centuries are against any such denial.

ENDNOTE:

[29] S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., op. cit., p. 624.

1 Corinthians 11:15 --But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

It is a glory to her ... This would have been the ideal place for Paul to have said that a mantle thrown over a woman’s head and shoulders is a glory to her, if he ever had such a thing in mind. On the contrary, it comes out here, as it does in every verse in the whole passage, his subject was "hair"!

Her hair is given her for a covering ... Here again is an enormous mistranslation; and one may only wonder at the efforts of commentators to make this conform to the misinterpretations they have foisted upon this innocent passage. For example, Johnson declared that "This does not mean that her hair is her covering";[30] but a glance at any interlinear Greek New Testament will reveal the meaning instantly. Nestle gives it, "instead of a veil."[31] The Emphatic Diaglott has "Her hair is given her instead of a veil."[32] Echols emphatically stressed this expression "instead of" as follows:

The idea conveyed by "instead of" is that if the noun preceding this preposition is available, the noun following the preposition is not required. Therefore, the conclusion is quite inescapable that, if a woman’s hair conforms to apostolic standards of propriety, she requires no artificial covering.[33]

But of paramount importance in this verse is the noun [@peribolaion], here rendered "veil." This is the one noun in the whole passage that unmistakably refers to a head covering. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament translates it, "a covering thrown around, a wrapper." This is the "veil" which has already been imported into the passage five times; but this is Paul’s first reference to anything of the kind; and, significantly, it is mentioned in the same breath with woman’s hair which is given to her "instead of" any such covering.

The only conceivable situation in which it may be inferred that Paul expected women to wear the kind of mantle, or veil, spoken of here, would be one in which a woman’s hair had been lost, from disease, accident, or something of that kind. Echols thought that "instead of" in this verse "forces us to accept the alternative that, if a woman’s hair does not fulfill its proper function, then she should wear a mantle or hood."[34] However, this seems to be an unnecessary conclusion, since the natural modesty of almost any person would lead to the wearing of a head covering in such a circumstance.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Nestle’s Greek text

[32] The Emphatic Diaglott

[33] Eldred Echols

[34] Eldred Echols

1 Corinthians 11:16 --But if any man seemeth to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

If any man seemeth to be contentious ... This was Paul’s way of saying, "Look, we do not intend to argue this question endlessly; the whole matter is already solved by the type of behavior which marks God’s churches everywhere." This is grounds for holding that in this whole passage it is decorous conduct with which Paul is concerned, since it touched on the all-important question of the proper submission of women to their husbands, and was also related to the prevailing opinion of the people in that community.

This whole passage affirms the necessity for Christians to have a decent respect for the opinions of mankind, and not to flaunt social customs of any kind merely for the sake of being different. As McGarvey said, "One who follows Christ will find himself conspicuously different from the world, without practicing any tricks of singularity."[35]

QUESTIONS ON THE VERSES ABOVE

If Paul meant "hair," why did he use the word "covered"? The answer is that in the vocabulary of the Old Testament "to uncover the head" was to shave off the hair. When Nadab and Abihu sinned (Leviticus 10:1 ff), God commanded Aaron not to "uncover his head" in mourning at their death; and this meant not to cut off his hair (the customary sign of mourning). Job shaved his head when he learned his children were dead (Job 1:20). Many examples of this usage could be cited; but as Echols noted: "Wherever the expression `uncover the head’ occurs in the Hebrew Old Testament, it means `remove the hair.’"[36] The culture of that era as well as the environment at Corinth suggests that some of the Corinthian women (in the church) were violating decent rules of conduct, not by discarding the mantle ([@peribolaion]) which there is no evidence that any of them were wearing, but by adopting the cropped hair of Aphrodite’s priestesses. It is even likely that some of them had been converted and had neglected to change their hair styles. Furthermore, it must be evident to all who think about it that when Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:4 that a man praying or prophesying with his head "covered" dishonored his head, he simply COULD NOT have referred to any man’s wrapping himself up in the type of mantle that was called a veil in those days. That type of veil (or mantle), as far as history reveals, was never worn by men in any circumstance. Therefore the fault Paul sought to correct in 1 Corinthians 11:4 was not that of men veiling themselves like women, but that of sporting indecently long hair.

What was the veil, actually, that was worn in those days? It was a large loose mantle which the woman wrapped around her head and face, leaving only the eyes visible, and sometimes only one eye. The word "veil" used by our translators is extremely misleading. Ruth’s veil, for example, held six measures of barley! (Ruth 3:15). Although Hebrew women did not always wear veils, they seem to have done so for harvesting, as in the case of Ruth.

Was the mantle (veil) a symbol of modesty and submission? It came in time to be so considered; but there was certainly a time when such a garment (designed to obscure the person) was considered the attire of a harlot. Note the following:

And she (Tamar) put her widow’s garments off, and covered her with a veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife. When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face. And he turned in unto her by the way (Genesis 38:14-16).

Is there any word in this whole passage that unmistakably means the type of veil under consideration? Yes, the word [@peribolaion] in 1 Corinthians 11:15 refers to that type of covering; and this is the only word in the whole passage that does so; but this is also the verse where Paul said the Lord had given woman her hair "instead of" any such garment!

What is Paul’s subject in these verses? Whatever it was, it could not have been the type of veil or mantle that obscures the person of women, that having been mentioned only once. On the other hand HAIR is mentioned three times, "shaved" or "shorn" is mentioned four times; and, in this light, it appears certain that Paul’s subject here was HAIR. One could not speak of a mantle’s being shorn or shaved.

How could this passage have been so long misunderstood? Echols’ explanation is as good as any. He said:

A clear understanding has been obscured by ambiguous English translations, as well as by established custom. There can be little doubt that the custom itself derived largely from Roman Catholic practice during the Middle ages.[37]

CONCERNING THE LORD’S SUPPER

The balance of this chapter (1 Corinthians 11:17-34) deals with abuses in the Corinthian congregation with regard to the proper observance of the Lord’s Supper and the "love feast" which usually preceded it in the primitive church.

[35] J. W. McGarvey, op. cit., p. 110.

[36] Eldred Echols

[37] Eldred Echols

1 Corinthians 11:17-18 --But in giving you this charge, I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and I partly believe it.

When ye come together ... is a reference to the formal assembly of the congregation for worship as a body, the corporate worship, as it is sometimes called.

Not for the better but for the worse ... Not merely were their assemblies so disordered and perverted as to deny all benefit to the worshipers, but they were actually productive of harm, so much so that those attending were actually worse off for having participated.

When ye come together in the church ... divisions ... Paul had already discussed the shameful schisms, or parties, that had become prevalent in C