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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
1 Corinthians 12

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 12

1 Corinthians 12:2. ὅτι ὅτε] approved by Griesb., adopted also by Lachm. (who brackets ὅτε, however), Scholz, Rück. Tisch. with A B C D E L א, min(1900) and several VSS(1901) and Fathers. The ὅτι alone (Elz. with F G min(1902) Syr(1903) Erp. Clar. Germ. Oec. Ambrosiast.), and the weakly attested ὅτε alone (which Billroth and Ewald prefer), are two different attempts to help out the construction, whose difficulty leads Reiche again to defend the Recept(1904).—1 Corinthians 12:3. Instead of the Recept(1905) ἰησοῦν and κύριον ἰησοῦν, which Reiche upholds, read ἰησοῦς and κύριος ἰησοῦς, with Lachm. Rück. and Tisch., following A B C א, min(1906) and several VSS(1907) and Fathers. The accusatives are the work of copyists altering the oratio directa, which struck them as unusual.—1 Corinthians 12:9. In place of the second αὐτῷ, A B, min(1908) Vulg. Clar. Germ. and Latin Fathers read ἑνί. So, rightly, Lachm. Rück. Tisch.; αὐτῷ has crept in after the preceding.

After σώ΄ατος in 1 Corinthians 12:12, Elz. has τοῦ ἑνός, against greatly preponderating testimony. A gloss.—1 Corinthians 12:13. εἰς ἕν πνεῦ΄α] Many various readings; the best accredited is ἕν πνεῦ΄α (B C D* F G א, 17, 73, 80, with several VSS(1909) and Fathers). So Lachm. Rück. Tisch. Reiche. The insertion of the εἰς arose from comparing the clause with the first half of the verse. Then, according as the words were understood to refer to the Supper or not, arose the readings πό΄α (with or without εἰς) instead of πνεῦ΄α, and ἐφωτίσθη΄εν (said of baptism, as the Greek Fathers were accustomed to use it) instead of ἐποτ.—1 Corinthians 12:31. κρείττονα] A B C א, min(1910) Syr(1911) Aeth. Vulg. ms. Or. (twice) read ΄είζονα. So Lachm. Rück. Tisch. But while κρείττονα might easily appear a doubtful expression in itself, and even objectionable as implying the contrast of “worse,” ΄είζονα on the other hand, was very naturally suggested by 1 Corinthians 13:13, 1 Corinthians 15:5.

CONTENTS.

Concerning the Spirit’s gifts.(1912) The fundamental characteristic of speaking in the Spirit is the confession of Jesus as the Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3); but the especial utterances of the Spirit, which are given to individuals for the welfare of the community (1 Corinthians 12:7-10). differ one from another (1 Corinthians 12:4-6). The Giver of all gifts, however, is one and the same Spirit; for Christians form an organic whole, like the limbs of one body, so that none of them ought either to judge himself in a depreciatory spirit (1 Corinthians 12:11-20), or to ignore the need and worth of those with fewer or lower gifts (1 Corinthians 12:21-30). Still there ought to be a striving after the more excellent charismata; and Paul will show his readers the best kind and mode of thus striving (1 Corinthians 12:31).

The peculiar difficulty attaching to this whole section is very truly described by Chrysostom: τοῦτο ἅπαν τὸ χωριόν σφόδρα ἐστὶν ἀσαφές· τὴν δὲ ἀσάφειαν τῶν πραγμάτων ἄγνοιά τε καὶ ἔλλειψις ποιεῖ, τῶν τότε μὲν συμβαινόντων, νῦν δὲ οὐ γινομένων.


Verse 1

1 Corinthians 12:1. δέ] leads over from the matter previously discussed to another, in connection with which also abuses had crept into the church (see on 1 Corinthians 11:18). We are warranted in assuming that the discussion of such a subject, so comprehensive and entering so much into details, was occasioned by questions put in the letter from Corinth (1 Corinthians 7:1, 1 Corinthians 8:1).

τῶν πνευματικῶν] is to be taken (with Chrysostom, Luther, and most expositors) as neuter, stating the theme in a quite general way: On the forms of action which proceed from the Holy Spirit and make manifest His agency in the life of the church. The speaking with tongues is specially taken up only in chap, 14, so that it is a mistake to regard πνευματ. as referring to this alone (Storr, Heydenreich, Billroth, Baur in the Stud. u. Krit. 1838, p. 644, and Wieseler in the same, p. 711, also Ewald). The πνευματικά are in their nature the same as the χαρίσματα, 1 Corinthians 12:4. Other interpreters make it masculine (Grotius, Hammond, Clericus, Locke, Semler, Morus, Rosenmüller, Stolz, Heydenreich, Ewald, Hofmann, also David Schulz, d. Geistesgaben der ersten Christen, p. 163; and Hilgenfeld, die Glossolalie, 1850, p. 16): concerning the inspired, whether genuine or not; Ewald renders: “concerning the men of the Spirit” (speakers with tongues). But in 1 Corinthians 14:1 we have the theme recurring as τὰ πνευματικά.

οὐ θέλω ὑμ. ἀγνοεῖν] I will not leave you in ignorance. Comp 1 Corinthians 10:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:13. Theodore of Mopsuestia puts it aptly: θέλω ὑ΄ᾶς καὶ τῶν πνευ΄ατικῶν χαρισ΄άτων εἰδέναι τὴν τάξιν, ὥστε βούλο΄αί τι καὶ περὶ τούτων εἰπεῖν.


Verse 2

1 Corinthians 12:2. Reason (comp on διό, 1 Corinthians 12:3) why he wishes to instruct them concerning the πνευ΄ατικά. The pneumatic condition into which they had entered as Christians was, of course, an entirely new one to men who had been heathen, entirely without precedent or analogy in the experiences of their former sad estate,—all the more, therefore, requiring to be subjected to a trustworthy and correct judgment.

The construction, when we adopt the reading ὅτι, ὅτε, is simply this: the object-sentence begins indeed with ὅτι, but instead of ending with ἀπήγεσθε, or repeating ἦτε before ἀπαγό΄., runs off into the participle,—an anakoluthic use of the ὅτι not uncommon also in classic writers, after parenthetic clauses, even when but short, have intervened. See Krüger on Thuc. iv. 37; Stallbaum, a(1915) Plat. Apol. 37 B Heind. a(1916) Plat. Gorg. p. 481 D. Translate: Ye know that, at the time when ye were heathen, ye were led away to the dumb idols, in whatever way people led you. Buttmann (neut. Gr. p. 329 [E. T. 383]) holds that the sentence after ὅτε ἔθνη ἦτε passes with ὡς into an indirect question. But ὡς ἂν ἤγεσθε, from its position between πρὸς τ. εἴδ. τ. ἄφ. and ἀπαγό΄., can only be a parenthetic clause. In that case, too, ἀπαγ. would be cumbrous and dragging at the end of the verse; it must convey a weighty closing thought, to which ὡς ἂν ἤγεσθε serves as modal definition. Hofmann, although not reading ὅτι, ὅτε, but simply ὅτι with Elz. (which in fact does away of itself with all real difficulty), has twisted and obscured the whole passage in a very unhappy way.(1917)

ὅτε ἔθνη ἦτε] A reminder to his readers of their sad ποτέ, to which Paul often turns back their eyes from their happy νῦν (Ephesians 2:2 f., 11, 13, 1 Corinthians 5:8; Colossians 1:21; Colossians 3:7; Romans 11:30).

πρὸς τὰ εἴδωλα] namely, in order to worship them, sacrifice to them, invoke them, inquire of them, and the like.

τὰ ἄφωνα] (Plat. Pol. I. p. 336 D, and often elsewhere; Dem. 292. 6. 294. 19; 2 Maccabees 3:24) impresses on the readers that idols, which were themselves dumb (comp Habakkuk 2:18; 3 Maccabees 4:16), could produce no pneumatic speaking. Notice the emphatic repetition of the article.

ὡς ἂν ἤγεσθε] as ye were at any time led. Regarding this ἄν of repetition, see Fritzsche, Conject. I. p. 35; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 186 f. [E. T. 216]; comp on Acts 2:45.

ἀπαγό΄ενοι] becoming led away. The force of the ἀπό is not that of removal from the normal condition of the natural knowledge of God (Romans 1:19 ff.), an interpretation which would need to be suggested by the context; but it serves vividly to set forth the result. The consequence of the ἄγεσθαι, namely, was the ἀπάγεσθαι, the being involuntarily drawn away from the surroundings in which they were actually placed to the temples, statues, altars, etc. of the idols. We may take it for certain, from Paul’s views of heathenism (1 Corinthians 10:20; Ephesians 2:2), that he thought of Satan as the leading power. Hilgenfeld aptly compares the passage in Athenagoras, Legat. pro Christ. p. 29, ed. Col: οἱ μὲν περὶ τὰ εἴδωλα αὐτοὺς ἕλκοντες οἱ δαίμονές εἰσιν κ. τ. λ(1920) The opposite is πνεύματι ἄγεσθαι, Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18; Matthew 4:1. Others make it: a sacerdotibus (Valckenaer, al(1921)), and the like.

We may note further both that homoioteleuta, such as οἴδατε, ὅτι ὅτεἦτε, occur even in the best writers, showing that the resemblances of sound were not offensive to them (Lobeck, a(1922) Aj. 61, Paral. p. 53 ff.), and also that the subject in hand is brought all the more vividly and impressively home by the adnominatio, ἤγεσθε, ἀπαγόμενοι (Bremi, a(1923) Lys. I. Exc. vi. p. 209).


Verse 3

1 Corinthians 12:3. διό] therefore, because the experiences of spiritually gifted men could not be known to you in your heathen state,(1924) and you have consequently all the more need of sound instruction on the subject, therefore I give you to know: the fundamental characteristic of speaking by the Spirit is, that Jesus is not execrated, but confessed as Lord. Paul expresses this in the two parallel thoughts: that the former, the execration, comes from the lips of no inspired person; and that the latter, the confession of the Lord, can only be uttered by the power of the Holy Spirit. Both the negative and the positive marks are thereby given; and it is arbitrary to lay the whole stress, as Billroth and Rückert do, upon the second half, and to regard the first as almost superfluous and a mere foil to the second. Paul must, moreover, have had his own special reasons for placing such a general guiding rule at the head of his whole discussion in answer to the question, Who in general is to be held an inspired speaker? Among all the different forms and even perversions of the gift of speaking in the Spirit at Corinth, men may have been divided upon the question, Who was properly to be regarded as speaking by the Spirit, and who not? and against all arbitrary, envious, exclusive judgments on this point the apostle strikes all the more powerfully, the more he brings out here the width of the specific field of speaking in the Spirit, and the more simply and definitely he lays down at the same time its characteristics. To find any special reference here to the speaking with tongues—and in particular to go so far in that direction as to assume (Hofmann, comp his Schriftbew. I. p. 309) that the first clause guards against anxiety in presence of the γλώσσαις λαλεῖν, and the second against undervaluing the προφητεύειν—comes just to this, that Paul has expressed himself in a highly unintelligible way, and arbitrarily anticipates the elucidations in detail which follow.

ἐν πνεύματι θεοῦ] so that the Holy Spirit is the element which pervades his inner life, and in which the λαλεῖν takes place. Comp on Romans 8:15; Matthew 22:43.

λαλῶν] uttering himself, speaking; λέγει, on the other hand, has reference to the object of the utterance. Comp on Romans 3:19; John 8:43; Schulz, Geistesgaben, p. 94 ff.

ἀνάθεμα ἰησοῦς] sc(1928) ἐστί, accursed (see on Romans 9:3; Galatians 1:8), fallen into eternal perdition is Jesus! This is the anti-Christian (especially the Jewish) confession; the Christian is: κύριος ἰησοῦς, Jesus is Lord! Comp Philippians 2:11. Why did Paul not say χριστός? Because, from its original appellative meaning, it would not have suited the first clause ( ἀνάθ.); in the second, again, its appellative meaning is contained in κύριος; and in both it was essential to name the historical Person who was the Messiah of the Christians’ faith as exalted to be the σύνθρονος of God. It is self-evident, we may add, that Paul regarded the κύριος ἰησοῦς as the constant watchword of the believing heart, and the keynote of inspired speech. “Paulus loquitur de confessione perseveranti et in tota doctrina,” Melanchthon.

Regarding the confession itself, comp 1 John 4:1 f., where the proposition is of substantially the same import, only still more directly aimed against false teachers.


Verse 4

1 Corinthians 12:4. Although the fundamental character of all inspired speaking is not in any case different: there are, notwithstanding, distributions of grace-gifts (“divisiones gratiarum,” Vulg.), but it is the same Spirit (from whom they proceed). Comp Hebrews 2:4, and Lünemann upon that passage. χάρισμα,(1932) a specifically N. T. word, foreign to ordinary Greek, is used here in the narrower sense (for in the wider sense, every manifestation of divine grace—in particular, every part of the Christian possession of salvation, and every activity of the Christian life—is a χάρισμα). It means any extraordinary faculty, which operated for the furtherance of the welfare of the Christian community, and which was itself wrought by the grace of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, in special individuals, in accordance, respectively, with the measure of their individual capacities, whether it were that the Spirit infused entirely new powers, or stimulated those already existing to higher power and activity, Romans 12:6 ff. Regarding διαιρεσις, distribution, comp 1 Corinthians 12:11; Xen. Cyr. iv. 5. 55; Plat. Soph. p. 267 D, Phaedr. p. 266 B, Polit. p. 275 E Polyb. ii. 43. 10; Sirach 14:15; Judith 9:4. The charismatic endowment is not something undivided; we do not find a unity and equality among the gifted, but there are distributiones donorum, so that one has this peculiar χάρισμα, and the other that, dealt out to him as his own appointed share. If we take διαιρέσεις to mean differences (Beza, and many others, including de Wette, Ewald), this is equally lawful so far as linguistic usage goes (Plat. Soph. p. 267 B, Prot. p. 358 A), but does not correspond to the correlative purposely chosen by the apostle in 1 Corinthians 12:11, διαιροῦν.


Verse 5-6

1 Corinthians 12:5-6. Continuation of the representation of the difference and yet relative unity of the χαρίσματα, illustrated in two characteristic forms of their action, in so far, namely, as they present themselves practically as διακονίαι and as ἐνεργήματα. These are not merely different names for the charismata (as the Greek Fathers held), nor yet distinct species of them (Estius and others), but different forms of expression in which they show themselves and appear to the observer.

And there are distributions of services, but it is the same Lord (Christ as Lord of the church) who is served thereby. To make the διακονίαι refer to the specific offices in the church, 1 Corinthians 12:28 (Beza, Grotius, Estius, Olshausen, and many others), is to narrow the meaning too much; for in accordance with the first sentence, and in accordance generally with the comprehensive scope of the whole three sentences, all charismata must be meant, in so far, namely, as all, according to the relation of their exercise to Christ, manifest themselves as services rendered.—“And there are distributions of workings (deeds of power), but it is the same God who works them all ( ἐνεργήματα) in all (in all who are acting in the power of the Spirit).” ἐνεργ. is as little to be taken in a special sense here as διακ. in the previous sentence; it is neither to be referred to the working of miracles alone (so most interpreters on the ground of 1 Corinthians 12:10, where, however, it is joined with δυνάμ.). nor to the healings of the sick (so Olshausen, quite arbitrarily). No, all charismata may manifest their operation in deeds (comp on ἐνεργή΄ατα, Polyb. ii. 42. 7, iv. 8. 7; Diod. iv. 51), whether these may be miraculous or not.

REMARK.

The Divine Trinity is here indicated in an ascending climax (comp on Ephesians 4:6), in such a way that we pass from the Spirit, who bestows the gifts, to the Lord, who is served by means of them, and finally to God, who, as the absolute First Cause and Possessor of all Christian powers, works the entire sum of charismatic deeds in all who are gifted. This passage has always (from Chrysostom and Theodoret onwards) been rightly adduced in opposition to anti-Trinitarian error (comp too Calovius against the Socinians); but it is to be observed also here, that with all the equality of nature and inseparable unity (2 Corinthians 13:13) of the Three, still no dogmatic canon can do away with the relation of subordination which is also manifest. Comp Gess, v. d. Person Christi, p. 158 f.; Kahnis, Dogm. III. p. 206 ff.


Verse 7

1 Corinthians 12:7. δέ] leading on to the like destination of all the gifts. The emphasis lies on πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον. This is the aim, which is the same in the case of every one who receives a gift. To each one is the manifestation of the Spirit (his making known the Holy Spirit to others by charismatic acts) given with a view to benefit (in order to be of use, see 1 Corinthians 14:12). The genitive is to be taken in this objective sense (with Billroth, Schulz, Geistesg. p. 164, and Hofmann), because there exists no reason here for departing from the similar meaning of φανέρ. τῆς ἄληθ. in 2 Corinthians 4:2; and we have no other instance of the use of the word except in the Fathers. Calvin, Rückert, de Wette, and most expositors understand it subjectively: the self-revelation of the Spirit. Even on the first interpretation there is not too much concession to independent human activity (in opposition to de Wette), as is plain from the very idea of the δίδοται.


Verse 8

1 Corinthians 12:8. μέν] This is followed by ἄλλῳ δέ instead of δέ. An unexact expression, as in 1 Corinthians 12:28. Comp Xen. Anab. iii. 1. 35; Hermes in Stob. Ecl. phys. 52, p. 1082.

λόγος σοφίας] Discourse of wisdom, discourse the contents of which are σοφία. The distinction drawn by many (including Schulz, Neander, Billroth, Olshausen, comp also Froschammer, von d. Charismen, 1850, p. 28 ff.) between this and λόγος γνώσεως, according to which the former is a more practical, the latter a more theoretical method of teaching (Bengel, Storr, Rosenmüller, Flatt reverse it, comp Cornelius a Lapide), is an unlikely one, seeing that the separation between theory and practice is not in keeping with the nature of inspired discourse. The more correct view is indicated by 1 Corinthians 2:6 f. compared with 1 Corinthians 13:2; σοφία, namely, is the higher Christian wisdom (see on 1 Corinthians 2:6, comp Ephesians 1:17) in and by itself, so that discourse, which enunciates its doctrines (mysteries), elucidates, applies them, etc., is λόγος σοφίας. This, however, does not yet imply the deep and thorough knowledge of these doctrines, the speculative insight into, and apprehension and elaboration of, their connection, of their grounds, of their deeper ideas, of their proofs, of their ends, etc., and a discourse which treats of these matters is λόγος γνώσεως.(1944) Accordingly the σοφία cannot cease at the Parousia, but the γνῶσις ceases, 1 Corinthians 13:8, because it belongs to the category of imperfect temporal things. Others interpret otherwise. Chrysostom,(1945) Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact are wrong in holding that the possession or the want of the teaching faculty makes the difference between σοφία and γνῶσις. See, on the contrary, 1 Corinthians 13:8; 2 Corinthians 11:6. Baur makes γνῶσις refer to the unfolding of the deeper meaning of Scripture chiefly through allegorical exegesis, which is totally without proof. De Wette gives no explanation: Osiander explains as we do. Hofmann makes σοφία a property of the subject (see in opposition to this, 1 Corinthians 2:6 : σοφίαν λαλοῦμεν), one, namely, which qualifies for right judgment in general; γνῶσις, again, a relation to an object, namely, the thorough mastery of it in the particular instance in hand. But in that case the γνῶσις would only be the application of the σοφία in concreto, and Paul would thus not be adducing two χαρίσματα distinct in character from each other.

κατὰ τὸ αὐτὸ πνεῦ΄α] according to the same Spirit. Comp 1 Corinthians 12:11, and the classical κατὰ θεόν, according to divine destination (Valckenaer, a(1947) Herod. iii. 153). The prepositions διά, κατά, ἐν, are not equivalent in meaning (Rückert), but they so express the relation of the Spirit to the divine bestowal ( δίδοται), according to the different aspects of His participation therein, as to show that He is medians, normans, or continens, with respect to the different gifts in question.


Verse 9

1 Corinthians 12:9. ἑτέρῳ] not ἄλλῳ again, because introducing another class which differs in kind from the preceding one. Comp on Galatians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 11:4; Matthew 16:14.

πίστις] cannot be the fides salvifica in general, seeing that this is a possession common to all and required of every Christian, not a peculiar charisma of certain individuals. Hence it has been understood by most commentators, following the Fathers (see in Suicer, Thes. II. p. 727), to refer to the fides miraculosa, Matthew 17:20. But this is clearly too narrow a meaning, since not only the ἰάματα and δυνά΄εις are ranked under this head, but also the προφητεία and the διακρίσεις πνευ΄. What is intended, therefore, must be a high degree of faith in Christ produced by the Holy Spirit, a heroism of faith,(1949) the effects of which manifested themselves in one in healings, in another in wonders, in a third in prophecy (Romans 12:6), in a fourth in discernment of spirits.

ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ πν.] in the same Spirit, so that, contained in this Spirit, the χάρισμα is given, and the Spirit thus includes in Himself the gift.

χαρίσ΄. ἰά΄.] gifts, through means of which healings are effected. The instances in the Acts of the Apostles show that this does not mean natural skill, but cures wrought by spiritual power upon bodily maladies (miraculous cures). Comp Mark 16:18; Acts 4:30. It does not, however, exclude the application of natural means in connection with the power that wrought the cure (Mark 7:33; Mark 8:23; John 9:6, al(1951); James 5:14). The plural χαρίσματα points to the different kinds of sickness, for the healing of which different gifts were needful.(1952)

[1949] “Ardentissima et praesentissima apprehensio Dei in ipsius potissimum voluntate, ad effectus vel in naturae vel in gratiae regno singulariter conspicuos.”—BENGEL.


Verse 10

1 Corinthians 12:10. ἐνεργήματα δυνάμ.] workings (1 Corinthians 12:6) which consist in acts of power. It is a purely arbitrary assumption that by this is meant merely the “potestas puniendi sontes, qualis exercita in Ananiam, etc.” (Grotius, following Chrysostom and Theophylact, comp also David Schulz). They are in general—excluding, however, the cures already assigned to a special gift—miraculous works (comp Acts 4:30), which, as the effects of a will endowed with miraculous power, may be very various according to the different occasions which determined its action (2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:4; also Romans 15:19). Instances of raising the dead belonged likewise to this division.(1955)

προφητεία] prophetic speech, i.e. address flowing from revelation and impulse of the Holy Spirit, which, without being bound for that matter to a specific office, suddenly (1 Corinthians 14:30) unveils the depths of the human heart (1 Corinthians 14:25) and of the divine counsels (1 Corinthians 3:10; Ephesians 3:5), and thereby works with peculiar power for the enlightenment, admonition, and comforting of the faithful (1 Corinthians 14:3), and so as to win over the unbelieving (1 Corinthians 14:24). As respects the substance of what he utters, the prophet is distinguished from the speaker with tongues by this, that the latter utters prayers only (see below); and as respects form, by the fact that the prophet speaks intelligibly, not in an ecstatic way, consequently not without the exercise of reflective thought; he differs from the διδάσκαλος thus: ΄ὲν προφητεύων πάντα ἀπὸ τοῦ πνεύ΄ατος φθέγγεται· δὲ διδάσκων ἐστὶν ὅπου καὶ ἐξ οἰκείας διανοίας διαλέγεται, Chrysostom on 1 Corinthians 12:28. Comp generally on Acts 11:27. Lücke, Einl. in d. Offenb. Joh. p. 29. Güder in Herzog’s Encyklop. XII. p. 210 f.

διακρίσεις πνευμ.] judgments of spirits, i.e. judgments which avail, and that immediately on hearing the utterances, for the preservation of the church from misleading influences, by informing it from what spirits the utterances proceeded, and by whom they were carried on in the different cases (hence the plural διακρίσεις), whether consequently the Holy Spirit, or the human spirit merely, or even demoniac spirits (1 Timothy 4:1; 1 John 4:1) were at work; καὶ γὰρ πολλὴ τότε τῶν ψευδοπροφητῶν διαφορὰ, τοῦ διαβόλου φιλονεικοῦντος παρυποστῆσαι τῇ ἀληθείᾳ τὸ ψεῦδος, Chrysostom. Respecting διάκρισις, comp on Romans 14:1.

γένη γλωσσῶν] The γλώσσαις λαλεῖν in Corinth was identical with that mentioned in Acts 10:46; Acts 19:6, identical also with the speaking at Pentecost, Acts 2, according to its historical substance (see on Acts, loc. cit.), although not according to the form preserved by tradition in Luke’s account, which had made it a speaking in foreign languages, and so a miracle of a quite peculiar kind. Most commentators, indeed, following Origen and the Fathers generally (with exceptions, however, as early as Irenaeus and Tertullian), have taken γλῶσσαι in this passage also as meaning foreign languages (so Storr, Flatt, Heydenreich, Schulthess, Schrader, Rückert, Ch. F. Fritzsche, Maier), and that, too, in the view of the majority, unacquired languages;(1958) only a few (among the most recent of whom are Schulthess, de charismatib. Sp. St., Lips. 1818, and Schrader, also Ch. F. Fritzsche in his Nov. Opusc. p. 302 ff.) regarding them as acquired by learning.(1959) The former view is held also by Rückert (“the faculty, in isolated moments of high inspiration, of praising God in languages which they had not previously learned”) and Bäumlein in the Stud. d. evangelischen Geistlichkeit Würtemb. VI. 2, 1834, pp. 30–123; Osiander; Kling in the Stud. u. Krit. 1839, p. 487 ff.; to some extent Olshausen and Bauer in the Stud. u. Krit. 1843, p. 658 ff.; 1844, p. 708 ff. See, in opposition to it, especially Bleek in the Stud. u. Krit. 1829, p. 17 f.; Bauer in the Tübing. Zeitschr. 1830, 2, p. 104 ff.; Schulz, Geistesgaben, p. 57 ff.; Zeller, Apostelgesch. p. 89 ff.; van Hengel, de Gave der talen, Leiden 1864, p. 90 ff. Even putting out of account the singular expression γλώσσῃ λαλεῖν, which is supposed to refer to a foreign language, and the psychological impossibility(1960) of speaking languages which had not been learned, the following considerations tell decidedly against the view of foreign languages: (1) It would make 1 Corinthians 14:2 untrue in all cases in which persons were found among the audience who understood the languages spoken. (2) In 1 Corinthians 14:10-11 we have the γένη φωνῶν (languages) expressly distinguished from γένη γλωσσῶν (see unfounded objections to this in Bäumlein, p. 92, and in Hofmann), and the former adduced as an analogue of the latter. (3) What is contrasted with the glossolalia is not speaking in one’s native tongue, but speaking with employment of the understanding (1 Corinthians 14:15); and the glossolalia itself is characterized as λαλεῖν πνεύματι. (4) In 1 Corinthians 14:6 there is contrasted with the γλῶσσ. λαλεῖν the speaking ἐν ἀποκαλύψει, ἐν γνώσει κ. τ. λ(1961), which could all, of course, be done in any language; hence the unintelligibleness of the glossolalia is not to be sought in the idiom, but in the fact that what was spoken contained neither ἀποκάλυψις nor γνῶσις, etc. (5) Upon this theory, the case supposed in 1 Corinthians 14:28 could not have occurred at all, since every speaker would have been able also to interpret. (6) In 1 Corinthians 14:18 Paul states that he himself possessed the glossolalia in a high degree, but adds that he did not exercise it in the church,—from which it would follow that Paul was in the habit of praying in private, before God, in foreign languages! (7) In 1 Corinthians 14:9, διὰ τῆς γλώσσης plainly means by the tongue, which, however, would be a quite superfluous addition if the point were not one concerning speaking with tongues (not with languages). (8) Paul would have discussed the whole subject of the χάρισμα in question from quite another point of view, namely, according to the presence or non-presence of those who understood foreign languages. Billroth therefore is right in opposing, as we do, the hypothesis of foreign languages; but he still holds fast the signification language, and maintains that the glossolalia was “the speaking of a mixed language, which comprised the elements or rudiments of actual historic languages of the most widely different kinds, and was the type of the universal character of Christianity.” But to say nothing of the Quixotic arbitrariness of the conception of such a medley, to say nothing also of the fact that the first rudiments of languages must have been only very imperfect, unadapted for supersensuous themes, and wholly unsuitable as a means of expression for ecstatic inspiration—this view is opposed by almost all the considerations adduced against the hypothesis of foreign languages applied with the requisite modifications, and in addition by the phrase γλώσσῃ λαλεῖν without the article; for the mixed language would surely not have been indefinitely a language, but the language κατʼ ἐξοχήν, the primeval speech. Rossteuscher, too (Gabe d. Sprachen im apost. Zeitalter, 1850), explains it as languages, and infers from 1 Corinthians 13:1 that the glossolalia in 1 Cor. was the speaking in angelic languages (Acts 2 : in human languages), the designation being formed with reference to the characteristic of this mysterious language, that it betokened a converse alone with God, such as the angels have. So also, in substance, Thiersch, Kirche im apost. Zeitalt. p. 67 f. But this whole conception is shown to be erroneous when we consider that, if the specific characteristic of the phenomenon had been its angelic nature, the latter would have found its expression in the very name of the thing, and would also have been made mention of by Paul in his certainly pretty minute discussion of the subject; whereas, on the contrary, in 1 Corinthians 13:1 a speaking ταῖς γλώσσαις τῶν ἀγγέλων is only supposed as an imaginary case to heighten the contrast. Generally, however, the explanations which make it a speaking in a language or languages, are incompatible with the whole account of it which follows, even if we try to represent to ourselves the phenomenon and the designation as Hofmann does. According to him, the question is regarding languages spoken by the speaker only in virtue of his being carried away by the Holy Spirit, the distinctions between which, however, were not to be considered as differences between the language of one nation and another, but arose out of this, that the Holy Spirit gave impulse and power to the speaker to make his language for himself for what he had to utter at that very moment, so that the language moulded itself specially in the mouth of each individual respectively for that which had to be uttered. Those expositors who departed from the signification language entered on the right path.(1962) But that by itself was not enough to bring them to what was positively the right meaning. For Bleek in the Stud. u. Krit. 1829, pp. 3–79, 1830, p. 43 ff., explains it as glosses, i.e. antique, highly poetic words and formulae, to some extent consisting of provincialisms. This view is equally opposed by most of the considerations which tell against the foreign languages, as well as by 1 Corinthians 13:1; and further, it has against it the fact that γλ. in the above sense is a terminus technicus which occurs, indeed, after Aristotle, although for the most part in grammarians, but which the New Testament writers probably did not so much as know; and also the consideration that the singular γλώσσῃ λαλεῖν, γλώσσαν ἔχειν, γλῶσσῃ προσεύχεσθαι, as well as the expression γλῶσσαι ἀγγέλων, would be quite absurd. See further, Baur, loc. cit. p. 85 ff. (who, however, in the Stud. u. Krit. 1838, p. 618 ff., has come over in substance to Bleek’s view); Schulz, loc. cit. p. 20 ff., and in the Stud. u. Krit. 1839, p. 752 ff.; Wieseler in the Stud. u. Krit. 1838, p. 723 ff.; Hilgenfeld, Glossolalie, 1850, p. 28 ff. The result of all this is, that there is only the signification tongue remaining for γλῶσσα, so that γλῶσσαις λαλεῖν expresses an uttering oneself with tongues. This is not, however, to be taken as justifying the extreme view of Bardili (significatus primitiv. vocis προφητ., etc., Gott. 1786) and Eichhorn (Biblioth. I. pp. 91 ff., 775 ff.; II. p. 755 ff.; III. p. 322 ff.), according to which what is meant is a lisping of inarticulate tones;(1963) for such a strange form of expression for inspiration, for which Paul would hardly have given thanks to God,—such a play of spiritual utterance as would hardly have made any certain charismatic exposition possible,—must have been clearly presented by the text, in order, despite these considerations, to warrant its assumption. Comp on Acts 2. But the text characterizes the speaking in tongues as utterance of prayer (1 Corinthians 14:13-17) in which the νοῦς falls into the background, and therefore unintelligible without interpretation. There must thus, certainly, have been a want of connection, since the reflective faculty was absent which regulates and presents clearly the conceptions; there may even have been inarticulateness in it, sometimes in a greater, sometimes in a less degree; but must it on this account have been a mere babbling? May it not have been a speaking in ecstatic ejaculations, abrupt ascriptions of praise to God, and other mysterious outbursts in prayer of the highest strain of inspiration? Baur, too, loc. cit., agrees in substance with this;(1965) as also Steudel in the Tüb. Zeitschr. 1830, 2, p. 135 ff.; Neander; Kuntze in the theol. Mitarb. 1840, p. 119 ff.; Olshausen (who, however, takes γλ. as languages, and holds himself obliged, on the ground of Acts 2, to include also the use of foreign languages); de Wette; Delitzsch, Psychol. p. 362 f.; Zeller in the theol. Jahrb. 1849, 1, p. 43, and Apostelgesch. p. 111. Comp too, Ewald, Jahrb. III. p. 270 ff., who, however, derives from the speaking with tongues the ἀββὰ πατήρ, which is in itself so intelligible, and which does not presuppose any high inspiration, and the unutterable sighings, Romans 8:26, which do not belong to the sphere of the λαλεῖν. Similarly van Hengel, p. 105, who, again, conceives the original glossolalia (“open-hearted and loud speaking to the glorifying of God in Christ,” see on Acts 2) to have become so degenerate and abused by the Corinthians, that it was now “a spiritless counterfeit, a product of pride and vanity,” and so no longer to the glory of God in Christ,—an assumption which leaves it unexplained why Paul should not have denounced an abuse of this kind in the severest way, and how he could even place his own speaking with tongues upon the same level with that of the Corinthians. Hilgenfeld, who understands it to mean language of immediate divine suggestion (“divine tongues, spirit-voices from a higher world”), is not disposed to keep distinct from each other the two meanings of γλῶσσα, tongue and language (so also Zeller, Delitzsch, and others), although Paul himself keeps them distinct in 1 Corinthians 14:10 f. Schulz limits the conception too narrowly to ascriptions of praise to God,(1967) since, in fact, 1 Corinthians 14:13-17 shows that it included prayer, praise, and thanksgiving. We are accordingly to understand by γλώσσαις λαλεῖν such an outburst of prayer in petition, praise, and thanksgiving, as was so ecstatic that in connection with it the speaker’s own conscious intellectual activity was suspended, while the tongue did not serve as the instrument for the utterance of self-active reflection, but, independently of it, was involuntarily set in motion by the Holy Spirit, by whom the man in his deepest nature was seized and borne away.(1968) As regards this matter, it is conceivable—(1) that the abeyance of the νοῦς made this λαλεῖν so disconnected and mysterious for hearers who were bound to the conditions of the νοῦς, that it could not be understood by them without ἑρμηνεία. Incomprehensible sounds, partly sighing, partly jubilant cries, broken words, expressions new in their form and connection, in which the deepest emotion struggled to express itself, and in whatever other ways the tongue might give utterance to the highest surgings and heavings of the Spirit,—it remained unfruitful for others, if no interpretation was added, like a foreign language not understood. Equally conceivable is it (2) that in such utterances of prayer, the tongue, because speaking independently of the νοῦς, apparently spoke of itself,(1969) although it was in reality the organ of the Holy Spirit. It was not the I of the man that spoke, but the tongue,—so the case seemed to be, and so arose its designation. But (3) because that ecstatic kind of prayer showed itself under very different characteristic modifications (which we doubtless, from want of experience of them, are not in a position to establish), and the same speaker with tongues must, according to the varying degrees, impulses, and tendencies of his ecstasy, have expressed himself in manifold ways which could be easily distinguished from each other, so that he appeared to speak with different tongues, there arose both the plural expression γλώσσαις λαλεῖν and the mode of view which led men to distinguish γένη γλωσσῶν.(1970)

ἑρμηνεία γλωσσ.] Interpretation of tongues, i.e. a making of tongues intelligible in speaking, a presentation of the sense of what they say.(1971) The condition for this was the capacity of the νοῦς, produced by the Spirit, to receive what was prayed for in glossolalia. The man speaking with tongues might himself (1 Corinthians 14:5-13) have the χάρισμα of the interpreter (comp the classical ὑποφήτης), but did not always have it himself alone, as Wieseler also now admits (Stud. u. Krit. 1860, p. 117) in opposition to his own earlier view.


Verse 11

1 Corinthians 12:11. Amid all this diversity, however, what unity of the operative principle!

ἐνεργεῖ] namely, as the divine power endowing the different individuals differently. See what follows. διάφοροι μὲν οἱ κρουνοὶ, μία δὲ πάντως πηγή, Theodoret.

ἰδίᾳ] seorsim, severally. See Bernhardy, p. 185. Comp Plato, Menex. p. 249 B: ἅπερ ἰδίᾳ ἑκάστῳ ἴδια γίγνεται. Pind. Nem. iii. 42; and very often in classical writers. Elsewhere in the N. T.: κατʼ ἰδίαν.

καθὼς βούλεται] not: arbitrarily, but (comp on Matthew 1:19): in accordance with the determination of His will, which by no means precludes this divine self-determining action of the Holy Spirit from proceeding in a manner corresponding to the natural and general Christian capacity, and to the peculiar disposition and tendency of the minds, of men. Hence, on the one hand, the possibility that, from the human side, particular charismata may be obtained by effort, 1 Corinthians 12:31; 1 Corinthians 14:1; and also, on the other hand, the duty of not estimating slightly the gifts of others. Observe, further, in καθὼς βούλεται, the personality of the Spirit.


Verse 12

1 Corinthians 12:12. Illustration of how one and the same Spirit works all the charismata as He will; namely, just as the case stands with the body, that its many members make up its unity, so also does it stand in like manner with Christ, whose many members likewise constitute the unity of His body. χριστός is not the Christian church, but Christ Himself, inasmuch, that is to say, as He, as the Head of the church, has in its many members His organic body,(1975) which receives forth from Him, the Head, the whole harmonious connection and efficiency of all its members and its growth. Christ is not conceived as the Ego of the church as His body (Hofmann), but as in all parallel expressions of the apostle (see especially Ephesians 4:16; Ephesians 4:25; Ephesians 5:30; Romans 12:4 f., and above on 1 Corinthians 6:15), as the Head of the church, and the church as the body of the Head. 1 Corinthians 12:21 does not run counter to this; see on that passage.

The repetition of τοῦ σώματος, which is superfluous in itself, or might have been represented by αὐτοῦ (comp Lobeck, a(1977) Aj. p. 222, ed. 2; Kühner, a(1978) Xen. Anab. i. 7. 11), serves here emphatically to bring out the unity.


Verse 13

1 Corinthians 12:13. Confirmation of this unity from the holy inward relation which conditions it. For even by means of one Spirit were we all baptized into one bodyi.e. for even by this, that we received one and the same Holy Spirit at our baptism, were we all to be bound together into one ethical body. Comp Titus 3:5.

In καί, which belongs to ἐν ἑνὶ πν., is conveyed the indication of the relation corresponding to what was spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12:12; ἐβαπτίσθ., again, is not to be taken tropically, as is done by Reiche also (“de Spiritu sancto largiter nobis collato”), following Venema, Michaelis, Rosenmüller, Krause, Flatt. and admitting only an allusion to baptism; but, as the word itself must have suggested to the reader, of the actual baptism, only in such a way that by ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι it was to be brought prominently before the mind from its spiritual side, according to its materia coelestis, in so far as it was a baptism of the Spirit. Comp Hofmann also, now in opposition to his own Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 28. This βαπτισθῆναι ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι has taken place εἰς ἓν σῶμα, in reference to one body (Matthew 28:19; Romans 6:3; 1 Corinthians 10:2), i.e. it had as its destination that we should all now make up one body. Regarding εἴτε ἰουδαῖοι κ. τ. λ(1981), comp Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11.

The second hemistich does not begin already with εἴτε ἰουδαῖοι κ. τ. λ(1983), in which case καί before πάντες would be only in the way (comp also 1 Corinthians 3:22; Colossians 1:16), but starts only from καὶ πάντες, so that the reception of the one Spirit at baptism is once again declared with emphasis. The reference to baptism was correctly made by as early commentators as Chrysostom,(1985) Oecumenius, Theophylact; in recent times, by Rückert, Baur, de Wette, Ewald, Maier, Hofmann: and we were all given to drink of one Spirit (comp Sirach 15:3). To represent the communication of the Spirit which took place at baptism as a giving to drink, followed naturally from the conception of the pouring out of the Spirit,(1987), John 7:37 ff.; Acts 2:17; Romans 5:5; and is here, after being already mentioned with ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι, brought forward yet again independently and with peculiar emphasis as the inward correlate of the ἓν σῶμα. This καὶ π. ἓν πν. ἐποτ. refers neither (Augustine, Luther, Beza, Calvin, Estius, Grotius, Calovius, Osiander, Neander, Kahnis, Kling, and many others) to the Lord’s Supper (most adopting the reading εἰς ἓν πν., which would mean: in order to make up one Spirit), nor “to the further nourishment and training in Christianity through the Divine Spirit, who constantly renews Himself in every Christian” (Billroth, Olshausen), in connection with which the reference to the Lord’s Supper is not excluded. The aorist is against both these interpretations, for its temporal significance must be the same with that of ἐβαπτ., and against the former of them is the reading ἓν πνεῦμα (without εἰς), by which the reference to the Lord’s Supper (see, in opposition to this, Theophylact) is debarred in this way, because the idea that we drink the Holy Spirit in the Lord’s Supper is not biblical, not even underlying 1 Corinthians 10:3 f. See, besides, Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 355. Rückert refers correctly καίἐποτ. to the reception of the Spirit as an event happening once for all, but takes the relation of the two clauses in such a way, that what Paul means to say is, “we are not simply one body, but also one spirit.” In that case he would not have written ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι in the first clause.


Verse 14

1 Corinthians 12:14 ff. For the further illustration ( γάρ) of this unity, the figure of the human body is again brought forward in order now to carry it out more minutely, and to show by it in detail on to 1 Corinthians 12:26 how preposterous it is to be discontented with the gift received, or to despise those differently gifted. On the whole passage, comp the speech of Menenius Agrippa in Livy, ii. 32, also Seneca, de ira, ii. 31; Marc. Anton. ii. 1, vii. 13; Clem. Cor. I. 37.

ὅτι οὐκ εἰμὶ χείρ] because I am not hand, I am not of the body, do not belong to it.

οὐ παρὰ τοῦτο κ. τ. λ(1989)] cannot, with Erasmus, Luther, Castalio, Beza, Calvin, and most expositors, including Griesbach, Scholz, Flatt, Schulz, de Wette, Ewald, Maier, Neander, be taken as a question (which Billroth, Rückert, Hofmann, following Bengel and others, rightly reject), so that the double negative should strengthen the denial: num ideo non est corporis? In this case, namely, οὐ would only be the ordinary interrogative, which presupposes an affirmative answer; but as such it can by no means warrant or explain an intensifying repetition. And an anadiplosis of the οὐ (Klotz, a(1990) Devar. p. 696 f.; Stallbaum, a(1991) Plat. Symp. p. 199 A) would be suitable in an earnest declaratory sentence, but not in such a question as this. We must therefore delete the mark of interrogation, as Lachmann also and Tischendorf have done, so as to make οὐ serve as a negative for the whole sentence, while the succeeding οὐκ applies simply to the ἔστιν. We render consequently, so is he not on that account (namely, because he asserts it in that discontented expression) no part of the body; that peevish declaration does not do away with what he is, namely, a member of the body.

Regarding παρά with the accusative in the sense of: for the sake of, in virtue of, on account of, see Klausen, a(1992) Aesch. Choeph. 383; Krüger on Thuc. i. 141. 6; so often in Demosthenes. By τοῦτο(1993) cannot be meant: this, that it is not the hand (Billroth and others), but only (comp Hofmann), as the logical relation of the protasis and apodosis requires: this, that it gives vent to such discontent about its position of not being the hand, as if it could not regard itself in its capacity of foot as belonging at all to the body. Erasmus in his Paraphrase happily describes the temper of the member which spoke in this way as: “deplorans sortem suam.”

It may be added, that as early an interpreter as Chrysostom has appreciated the fact of Paul’s placing together foot and hand, eye and ear, as analogous members: ἐπειδὴ γὰρ οὐ τοῖς σφόδρα ὑπερέχουσιν, ἀλλὰ τοῖς ὀλίγον ἀναβεβηκόσι φθονεῖν εἰώθαμεν.


Verse 17

1 Corinthians 12:17 exposes the preposterous character of the preceding language.

ὀφθαλμός] sc(1995) ἦν, 1 Corinthians 12:19.

ὄσφρησις] Plato, Phaed. p. 111 B, the sense of smell.


Verse 18

1 Corinthians 12:18. νυνὶ δέ] but so, i.e. but in this way, as the case really stands, has God given to the members their place ( ἔθετο), etc.

ἓν ἕκαστον αὐτῶν] is in apposition to τὰ μέλη, and defines it more precisely.

ἠθέλησεν] To this simple will of God each member has to submit itself. The thought in καθὼς βούλεται, 1 Corinthians 12:11, is different.


Verse 19

1 Corinthians 12:19 f. If, on the contrary, the whole of the members, which make up the body, were one member,—if they, instead of their variety, formed one undifferentiated member,—where were the body? In that case there would be no body existent, for its essential nature is just the combination of different organs,—a new abductio ad absurdum.

But so (as 1 Corinthians 12:18) there are indeed many members, but one body. The antitheses in 1 Corinthians 12:18; 1 Corinthians 12:20 manifest, in contradistinction to the perverseness of vain longing after gifts not received, the necessity of the existing relation to the organic and harmonious subsistence and life of the church.


Verse 21

1 Corinthians 12:21. Hitherto, in 1 Corinthians 12:15-20, this figure has been used to rebuke those who were discontented with what they considered their lesser gifts; we now come to those who were proud of their higher gifts and contemptuous towards the less highly gifted.

οὐ δύναται] of the impossibility conditioned by the indispensableness of the hand for the eye.

πάλιν] as in Matthew 4:7; Matthew 5:33, again,—since the case belongs to the same category. Comp on 2 Corinthians 10:7; Romans 15:10.

κεφαλή] the head, consequently the part of the body which stands highest, compared with the feet, the members that stand lowest. That Paul, in his specializing representation, has in view simply the corporeal members as such, and therefore introduces the head also upon the scene with the rest, without in any way thereby touching upon the idea of Christ as the Head of the church (comp on 1 Corinthians 12:12), is plain from the whole picture, which, in its concrete details, is as far as possible from giving occasion to allegorical interpretations of the several parts of the body.


Verse 22-23

1 Corinthians 12:22-23. No; the relationship of the members is, on the contrary, of a different sort; those accounted weaker are necessary; likewise those held to be less honourable are the more honourably attired; those which are unseemly are invested with all the greater seemliness. What particular members Paul specially meant here by the weak (Theodoret, Estius, and several others hold: the brain and inward organs; Hofmann: “the delicate inward parts;” Bengel: the hands; most commentators, including Billroth: the eyes and ears) and by the ἀτιμοτέροις (usually: the feet; Grotius and Calovius: “venter cum iis quae sub ventre sunt;” Kypke: the intestines) cannot be definitely settled in detail, since he only says in a summary way: “How contrary it is to the natural relation of the members, if one were to say to the other (as in the preceding illustration the eye to the hand, or the head to the feet), I have no need of thee! Such contemptuous treatment can find no warrant either in the weakness, or the less honourable character, or the unseemliness of any member; for the members which we count weak are shielded from depreciation by their necessity; those held less honourable, by their more honourable dress; and those which are unseemly, by their seemly covering.” Since, however, it is of itself undoubted that he reckoned the pudenda ( τὰ αἰδοῖα) and the breech among the ἀσχήμονα, we may further, without arbitrariness, set down the delicate organs of sense, such as the eye and ear, among the ἀσθενέστερα, and among the ἀτιμότερα again the members specially cared for in the way of adornment by dress, such as the trunk, hips, and shoulders.

πολλῷ μᾶλλον] the logical multo potius.

τὰ δοκοῦντα] which appear, like δοκοῦμεν, 1 Corinthians 12:23. Chrysostom aptly says, that what is conveyed is not τῆς φύσεως τῶν πραγμάτων, but τῆς τῶν πολλῶν ὑπονοίας ψῆφος. The position is, as in Plato, Rep. p. 572 B, καὶ πάνυ δοκοῦσιν ἡμῶν ἐνίοις μετρίοις εἶναι. Comp p. 334 C.

The first καί in 1 Corinthians 12:23 subjoins another category, the two members of which are put in order of climax ( ἀτι΄ότ., ἀσχή΄.).

ἀτι΄ότερα εἶναι τοῦ σώ΄.] to be more dishonourable parts of the body, than others; “comparativus molliens,” Bengel.

τιμὴν περισσ.] honour in richer measure than others, namely, by the clothing, which is indicated by περιτίθ. (Matthew 27:28; Genesis 27:16; Esther 1:20; Proverbs 12:9; 2 Maccabees 11:13; 2 Maccabees 12:39; 2 Maccabees 3:32; Hom. Il. iii. 330, xiv. 187).

τὰ ἀσχήμ. ἡμ.] our unseemly parts. Theodore of Mopsuestia says well: ἀσχήμονα ὡς πρὸς τὴν κοινὴν ὄψιν ἀποκαλεῖ. Notice, too, that we have not here again the milder relative comparative.

ἔχει] They have greater seemliness than others; it becomes their own, namely, through the more seemly covering in which they are attired. On the purport of the verse, Chrysostom remarks rightly: τί γὰρ τῶν μορίων τῶν γεννητικῶν ἀτιμότερον ἐν ἡμῖν εἶναι δοκεῖ; ἀλλʼ ὅμως πλείονος ἀπολαύει τιμῆς, καὶ οἱ σφόδρα πένητες, κἂν τὸ λοιπὸν γυμνὸν ἔχωσι σῶμα, οὐκ ἂν ἀνάσχοιντο ἐκεῖνα τὰ μέλη δεῖξαι γυμνά. According to Hofmann, we are to supply τοῦ σώ΄ατος from what goes before in connection with τὰ ἀσχή΄.; the words from ἡ΄ῶν to ἔχει, again, are to be taken as: they bring with them a greater seemliness (a more seemly demeanour) on our part. Needlessly artificial, and contrary to the τὰ τὲ εὐσχήμ. ἡμῶν which follows.


Verse 24

1 Corinthians 12:24. τὰ δὲ εὐσχήμ. ἡμ. οὐ χρ. ἔχ.] which should be separated from what precedes it only by a comma, is not designed to set aside an objection (Chrysostom, Theophylact), but it appertains to the completeness of the subject that, after the ἀσχήμονα have been spoken of, the remark in question should be added regarding the εὐσχήμονα also, in order to let nothing be wanting in the exhibition of the adjustment which takes place in connection with the variety of relation subsisting between the members. εὐσχημοσύνην περισσ. ἔχειν naturally supplies itself from the foregoing context to οὐ χρείαν ἔχει. All the less ground is there for connecting ἡμῶν with οὐ χρ. ἔχ. (Hofmann, comp Osiander), which would give the thought: they stand in no need of us, which is too general, and which would still need to be limited again by what precedes it.

ἀλλʼ θεὸς κ. τ. λ(2000)] cannot be antithesis to the foregoing negative (Hofmann), which would bring the special subordinate thought οὐ χρείαν ἔχει into a connection quite disproportionately grand and far transcending it. There should, on the contrary, be a full stop placed before ἀλλʼ, so as to mark the beginning of a new sentence; and ἀλλʼ rather breaks off (at, see Baeumlein, Partik. p. 15) the delineation of the mutual relations of the members, which has been hitherto given, in order now to raise the readers to the higher point of view from which this relationship is to be regarded, that of the divine appointment and destination.

συνεκέρασε] He has mingled together, i.e. united into one whole out of differently constituted parts.

τῷ ὑστεροῦντι] to that which stands after, remaining back behind others, 1 Corinthians 1:7, 1 Corinthians 8:8; Plato, Pol. vii. p. 539 E, Epin. p. 987 D (see also on Matthew 19:20), i.e. to the part which, according to human estimation, is meaner than others.(2001)

περισσ. δοὺς τιμ.] δούς is contemporaneous with συνεκέρασε: so that He gave, namely, when He granted to them, according to 1 Corinthians 12:22-23, respectively their greater necessity and the destination of being clad in a more honourable and more seemly way.


Verse 25

1 Corinthians 12:25. σχίσμα] i.e. disunion, such as is vividly represented by way of example in 1 Corinthians 12:21.

ἀλλὰ τὸ αὐτὸ κ. τ. λ(2002)] in order that, on the contrary, there may be one and the same interest, to which the members mutually direct their care for each other. Comp Liv. loc. cit. What Paul has in view in the τὸ αὐτό, which he so emphatically puts first, may be gathered from the ὑπὲρ ἀλλήλων, namely, the welfare of every other member. Comp 1 Corinthians 12:26. The plural μεριμνῶσι with the neuter noun is to be explained from the distributive sense (Kühner, a(2005) Xen. Mem. iv. 3. 12); in 1 Corinthians 12:26, on the other hand, the totality of the members is expressed.


Verse 26

1 Corinthians 12:26. And how perfectly is this design of God realized in the mutual sympathy of the members! This happy result of the divine appointment stands most suitably here at the close of the whole discussion before the application ensues in 1 Corinthians 12:27, although Hofmann denies the connection of thought.

δοξάζεται] is glorified, which may take place practically by flourishing growth, by adornment, dress, anointing, and the like, and further by recognition of its usefulness, beauty, strength, dexterity, and so forth.

In view of the sympathy of the whole organism, and in consideration of the personifying style of the description, the concrete literal sense of the verse ought by no means to be modified.


Verse 27

1 Corinthians 12:27. Application of all that is said of the human body (1 Corinthians 12:14-26) to his readers: now ye are (in order now to apply to you what has been hitherto said, you then are) the body of Christ and members proportionately. In each Christian church the (ideal) body of Christ presents itself, as in each is presented the (ideal) temple of God; but each church is not a separate body of Christ; hence, just as with the idea of the temple (see on 1 Corinthians 3:16), we must keep entirely away from us the conception of a plurality, as if the churches were σώματα χριστοῦ, and understand σῶμα χριστοῦ not as a body,(2006) but as body of Christ, the expression without the article being qualitative.

Now if the church, as a whole, is Christ’s body, then the individuals in it are Christ’s members (comp 1 Corinthians 6:15), but this not without distinction, as if every one could be any member; but ἐκ μέρους, according to parts, according as each one respectively has his own definite part in the body of Christ, consequently his especial place and function which have fallen to him pro parte in the collective organism of the church. ἐκ betokens the accompanying circumstance of the fact, Bernhardy, p. 230; the expression, however, does not stand here as in 1 Corinthians 13:9-10; 1 Corinthians 13:12, in contrast to that which is perfect (Hofmann), but, as the context shows, in contrast to the united whole, the κοινόν; comp ἑκάστου ΄έρους, Ephesians 4:16. Luther puts it well, as regards the essential meaning: “each one according to his part.” Comp Calvin. Other interpreters understand, with Grotius (who explains it like οἱ κατὰ ΄έρους): si ex partibus fit aestimatio, considered as individuals. So Billroth, Rückert, Ewald, Maier. But what would be the object of this superfluous definition? That μέλη refers to individuals, is surely self-evident. Chrysostom held that the Corinthian church was thereby designated as part of the church universal. So also Theodoret, Theophylact, Beza, Wolf, Bengel, and others. But a glance at other churches was entirely alien from the apostle’s purpose here.


Verse 28

1 Corinthians 12:28. More precise elucidation of the ἐκ μέρους, and that in respect of those differently gifted and with extension of the view so as to take in the whole church; hence Paul adds ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ, and thereby averts (against Hofmann’s objection) the misunderstanding of καί (which is to be taken as and indeed), as if there had been Corinthian apostles.

Regarding ἔθετο, comp Acts 20:28.

οὒς ΄έν] certain ones. In beginning thus, Paul had it in mind to make οὓς δέ follow after; but in the act of writing there occurred to him the thought of the enumeration according to rank (comp Ephesians 4:11), and so οὒς ΄έν was left without any continuation corresponding to it. Afterwards, too, from ἔπειτα onwards, he again abandons this mode of enumeration. Comp Winer, p. 528 [E. T. 711]; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 313 [E. T. 365]. According to Hofmann, μὴ πάντες κ. τ. λ(2013), 1 Corinthians 12:29, is meant to form the apodosis of κ. οὓς μὲν κ. τ. λ(2014), so that the subject of πάντες is contained in οὓς: “Those, too, whom God has placed in the church firstly as apostles … are they all apostles, all prophets?” etc. But οὒς ΄έν can be nothing else than the quite common distributive expression, and not equivalent to οὔτοι ΄ὲν, οὓς, as Hofmann would have it (appealing inappropriately to Isocr., Paneg. 15); and the proposition itself, that those appointed by God to this or that specific function have not also collectively (?) all other functions, would be in fact so self-evident, and the opposite conception so monstrous, that the apostle’s discourse would resolve itself into an absurdity.

ἐν τῇ ἐκκλ.] The Christian church generally, not simply the Corinthian, is meant, as is proved by ἀποστ.; comp Ephesians 1:22; Philippians 3:6, al(2016)

ἀποστόλους] in the wider sense, not merely of the Twelve, but also of those messengers of the Messianic kingdom appointed immediately by Christ at a later time for all nations, such as Paul himself and probably Barnabas as well, likewise James the Lord’s brother. Comp on 1 Corinthians 15:7. The apostles had the whole fulness of the Spirit, and could therefore work as prophets, teachers, healers of the sick, etc., but not conversely could the prophets, teachers, etc., be also apostles, because they had only the special gifts for the offices in question.

προφῆτ.] See on 1 Corinthians 12:10.

διδασκάλους] These had the gift of the Holy Spirit for preaching the gospel in the way of intellectual development of its teaching. Comp on 1 Corinthians 12:10 and Acts 13:1; Ephesians 4:11.(2019)

δυνάμεις] sc(2020) ἔθετο, i.e. He instituted a category of spiritual gifts, which consists of miraculous powers. Paul does not designate the persons endowed with such powers (Hofmann, who appeals for support to Acts 8:10, and compares the names of the orders of angels), but, as the following particulars show, his discourse passes here into the abstract form; by no means, however, because there were no concrete representatives of the things referred to (Billroth, Rückert), but probably because variations of this kind, even without any special occasion for them, are very natural to his vivid style of representation. Comp Romans 12:6-8, where, in the reverse way, he passes from abstracts to concretes.

ἀντιλήψεις] services of help (2 Maccabees 8:19; 3 Maccabees 5:50; Sirach 11:12; Sirach 51:7; Ezra 8:27, al(2022); not so in Greek writers), is most naturally taken, with Chrysostom and most interpreters, of the duties of the diaconate, the care of the poor and sick.

κυβερνήσεις] governments (Pind. Pyth. x. 112; Plut. Mor. p. 162 A comp also Xen. Cyr. i. 1. 5; Polyb. vi. 4. 2; Hist. Susann. 5), is rightly understood by most commentators, according to the meaning of the word, of the work of the presbyters (bishops); it refers to their functions of rule and administration, in virtue of which they were the gubernatores ecclesiae. The (climactic) juxtaposition, too, of ἀντιλήψ. and κυβερν. points to this interpretation.

Regarding γένη γλωσσῶν, see on 1 Corinthians 12:10.

The classification of all the points adduced is as follows: (1) To the gift of teaching, the most important of all, belong ἀπόστ., προφ., διδάσκ.; (2) to the gift of miracles: δυναμ., χαρίσμ., ἰαματ.; (3) to the gift of practical administration ( τὰς τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν οἰκονομίας, Theodoret): ἀντιλήψ. and κυβερν.; (4) to the ecstatic χάρισμα: the γένη γλωσσῶν (see on 1 Corinthians 12:10). This peculiar character of the last named gift naturally enough brought with it the position at the end of the list, without there being any design on Paul’s part thereby to oppose the overvaluing of the glossolalia (in opposition to Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, and many others). It is only the ἀπόστ., the προφῆτ., and the διδάσκ. which are expressly adduced in order of rank; the ἔπειτα and εἶτα which follow only mark a further succession, and thereafter the enumeration runs off asyndetically, which, as frequently also in classical writers (see Krüger, Xen. Anab. ii. 4. 28), takes for granted that completeness is not aimed at. The two enumerations, here and in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, supplement each other; and Romans 12:6 ff. also, although the most incomplete, has points peculiar to itself.


Verse 29-30

1 Corinthians 12:29-30. None of these functions and gifts is common property of all (all gifted persons). This Paul expresses in the animated queries: But all surely are not apostles? and so on; whereby, after the same thing had been done positively in 1 Corinthians 12:28, the ἐκ μέρους of 1 Corinthians 12:27 is now clearly elucidated afresh in a negative way—in order to make the readers duly sensible of the non omnia possumus omnes, and of the preposterousness of envy against other gifted persons.

δυνάμεις] Accusative depending on ἔχουσιν, not nominative, as if it denoted wonder-working persons (Bengel, Rückert, de Wette, Osiander, Hofmann, and others); see on 1 Corinthians 12:28.

Paul here passes over the ἀντιλήψ. and κυβερν., since it was of no importance to make a complete repetition.

With reference to the whole thought, comp Homer, Il. xiii. 730 f.


Verse 31

1 Corinthians 12:31. It is not the wish of Paul, by what he has said from 1 Corinthians 12:4 up till now regarding the different gifts of the Spirit, to repress the eager striving after them. But the important question is as to the nature of the gifts and the manner of the striving. Hence: But be zealous after the better gifts of the Spirit,(2025) those which are more essential than others, and have a more absolute value for the highest welfare of the church (1 Corinthians 12:7). The δέ is the autem marking the transition to a new point.

ζηλοῦτε, again, does not conflict with 1 Corinthians 12:11, because the will of the communicating Spirit is not an arbitrary one, but makes the receptive capacity and the mental tendency of the individual to be elements in its own self-determination. The zealous striving after the better gifts consists therefore negatively in this, that one makes such χαρίσματα, as are less generally necessary and have less value for the church (as e.g. the glossolalia, the reception of which was sought after by many for the sake of show), less the aim towards which he directs his will and cultivates a susceptibility; positively, again, it consists in this, that one makes those better gifts, on the other hand, the object of his ardent desire and the aim of his self-active development, in order to reach in this way the definite degree of receptivity needful to be the organ of the agency of the πνεῦμα in question, and thereby to become, by the free will of the Spirit, partaker of the better gifts.(2026) It is perfectly plain that in this ζηλοῦν supplicatory prayer is also included; but it is arbitrary to limit the conception to it, as does Grotius: “agite cum Deo precibus, ut accipiatis” (comp Heydenreich, Rückert, Hofmann). Equally arbitrary, too, is every departure from the hitherto invariable sense of χάρισ΄α; as e.g. Morus and Ewald hold faith, hope, and love to be meant; and Billroth, the fruits arising from love; Flatt, again (comp Osiander), even imports the right use of the gifts which should be striven after. Comp on the contrary, as to the difference in value of the charismata, 1 Corinthians 14:2 ff.

καὶ ἔτι κ. τ. λ(2030)] and furthermore, yet besides (Luke 14:26; Hebrews 11:36; Acts 2:26; often thus in Greek authors), besides prescribing to you this ζηλοῦτε, I show you (now, from chap. 1 Corinthians 13:1 onwards) a surpassing way,(2031) an exceedingly excellent fashion, according to which this ζηλοῦν of yours must be constituted. By this he means that the striving after the better gifts must always have love as its determining and impelling principle, without which, indeed, the gifts of the Spirit generally would be worthless (1 Corinthians 13:1 ff.), and the κρείττονα unattainable. Love is thus the most excellent way, which that ζηλοῦν ought to keep. Rückert (so also Estius) finds here the meaning: “I show you a far better way still, in which ye may walk, namely, the way of love, which far surpasses all possession of charismata;” and so, too, in substance, Hofmann: “even away beyond the goal of the better charismata I show you a way,” i.e. a way which brings you still further than the ζηλοῦν τ. χαρ. τ. κρ. But Paul surely did not conceive of the striving after the better charismata as becoming unnecessary through love, but rather as necessarily to be connected with love (1 Corinthians 14:1; 1 Corinthians 14:39). Besides, he would logically have required to attach his statement not by καί, but by ἐγὼ δέ or ἀλλά; but even à priori it is improbable that he should have merely set down the weighty ζηλοῦτε δὲ τ. χαρίσμ. τ. κρείττ. in such a naked way, and should have forthwith forsaken it again with the remark that he would now give instructions away beyond the better gifts. Grotius and Billroth connect καθʼ ὑπερβ. with the verb. The former renders: by way of superfluity (so also Ewald); the latter: “after a fashion which, as being the best, is certain of its success.” But the meaning, by way of superfluity ( ἐκ περιουσίας, ἐκ τοῦ περισσοῦ), corresponds neither to the N. T. use of the phrase (Romans 7:13; 2 Corinthians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Galatians 1:13; comp 4 Maccabees 3:18), nor to its use elsewhere in Greek (Soph. Oed. Tyr. 1196; Polyb. iii. 92. 10, ix. 22. 8; Lucian, p. merc. cond. 13; Dem. 1411. 14). Moreover, Paul could hardly have considered the following instructions, especially in view of the circumstances of the Corinthians, as given “further by way of superfluity.” It militates against Billroth, again, that the apostle’s thought could not be to recommend the manner of his instruction regarding the way, but only the way itself, as excellent. On the other hand, to take the καθʼ ὑπερβ. ὁδόν together is grammatically correct, since it is a genuine Greek usage to attach adverbs of degree to substantives, and that generally by prefixing them. Bernhardy, p. 338; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 83 f. [E. T. 96]; comp on 2 Corinthians 11:23; also on 1 Corinthians 8:7; 1 Corinthians 7:35; Stallbaum, a(2034) Plat. Phoed. p. 93 B. We find this connection given in the Vulgate, by Chrysostom and Theophylact ( καθʼ ὑπερβ. τουτέστιν ὑπερέχουσαν), Luther, Erasmus, Castalio, Calvin, and most interpreters. Bengel suggestively describes the superlative conception, which is attached to ὁδόν by καθʼ ὑπερβολήν, “quasi dicat: viam maxime vialem.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/1-corinthians-12.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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