Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:16-23
Posted by Dim Bulb on February 13, 2011
This post opens with Father’s brief analysis of all of chapter 3. Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on. Text in red, if my, are my additions.
1Co 3:16 Know you not that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
Know you not that you are not only the building, but the sacred building, or temple of God, owing to the in-dwelling of the Holy Ghost in you by sanctifying grace?
The Apostle now returns to the subject from which he had digressed at verse 10, for the purpose of reminding the teachers of their duty; and following up the metaphor of the building, he says, the Corinthians are not only the building, but the temple, or sacred building of the Lord, and that the Spirit of God & c. And has the meaning of because in this passage, “because the Spirit of God dwells in you”.
1Co 3:17 But if any man violate the temple of God, him shall God destroy. For the temple of God is holy, which you are.
If any person violates the temple of God, him shall God destroy. Should any one, therefore, ruin your faith or morals, and be thus instrumental in expelling the Holy Ghost from you, who are his spiritual and holy temple, he shall meet with the punishment due to the sacrilegious profaners of God’s temple.
He here points out the fate of those who, instead of building on the foundation, subvert it by preaching false doctrine, or by corrupt morals. Violate, (in Greek, φθερει, corrupt), they shall not be saved by fire, but eternally destroyed. While addressing the people directly, the lesson is intended for the corrupters of their faith or morals. Those, therefore, who, by word or example, are instrumental in ruining the souls of their brethren, are guilty of a spiritual sacrilege, and shall he punished more severely than were even the violators of God s material temple, or the profaners of sacred things, of which we have examples in Baithasar, Athalia, and Heliodorus. (Daniel 5:2; 2 Chron 23; Maccabees 4:27).
1Co 3:18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seem to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
Let no man be deceived; if any one among you has a character for worldly wisdom, let such a person become foolish, according to the world; should he wish to be wise according to God.
Having pointed out the lot of the different builders, on the day of judgment the perfect to be rewarded; the imperfect, saved by fire; and the wicked, eternally destroyed the Apostle now again addresses an admonition to those teachers, who prided in the possession of superior worldly accomplishments, and secular wisdom. He tells them not to be deceived, as if each teacher shall not be treated, as has been already explained, some saved by fire, others damned. If any one among you seem to be wise in this world, i.e., have a character for worldly wisdom, let him become a fool. according to this world, by reducing his intellect to captivity, in obedience to Christian faith, and by proposing the doctrines of faith to others in a simple way, which is folly with the world. That he may he wise according to God. The Apostle here strikes at the root of the Corinthian schism, viz., an affectation of superior wisdom on the part of the teachers, and an undue value attached to the same by the people. It is not unlikely that he refers to those men who were attempting to destroy the spiritual temple of God in the souls of men. These he exhorts to lay aside all pretensions to the character of worldly wisdom, and to become fools according to the world by reducing their intellect to captivity, unto the obedience of faith.
1Co 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written: I will catch the wise in their own craftiness.
For the wisdom of this world is viewed in no better light by God than folly; for, it is written: I will catch the crafty in their cunning.
He assigns a reason for rejecting human wisdom, viz., because it has been rejected by God, in the work of salvation, and regarded by him in no better light than folly; it even proves noxious and injurious to our salvation. I will catch the wise, &c. (In the Greek, he it is, viz., God that catcheth the wise in their craftiness) that is, he shall frustrate and turn the schemes of the crafty against themselves, so as to educe therefrom the very ends they are desirous to prevent, as in the case of Joseph’s brethren, and also in the case of the devil, whose empire the crucifixion of Christ destroyed; or, the words may mean, that he shall elude all the craftiness of the worldly wise. The words are quoted from the 5th chapter of Job, according to the Hebrew, and they are the words, not of Job, but of his friend, Eliphaz.
1Co 3:20 And again: The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.
And also it is written: The Lord has known the devices of those men, who are reputed wise, to be vain and foolish.
This is from Psalm 94:11; the thoughts, διαλογισμους, i.e., the devices or plans of the wise. In the Psalm it is the thoughts of men, but St. Paul here applies to the powerful, and those desirous of a character for wisdom, what is said of men in general by the Psalmist.
1Co 3:21 Let no man therefore glory in men.
Let no one, therefore, glory in men (but in God alone).
This, then, is the conclusion which the Apostle derives from the foregoing; since all human wisdom and power are utterly worthless, they should not glory in any man, nor in any teacher beyond another. Far from glorying in any creatures, we should refer all glory to God alone, whose ministers the different preachers of the gospel are.
1Co 3:22 For all things are yours, whether it be Paul or Apollo or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come. For all are yours.
(Through whose mercy) all things are yours, whether it be Paul, or Apollo, or Cephas, or the whole world, with all it contains, whether animate or inanimate, whether things present or future, whether gifts of nature or of grace; all are yours, and made, by the grace of Christ, subservient to your salvation: (why then glory in anything that is made subservient to your use?)
The words of this verse convey the same as the passage in the Epistle to the
Romans, all things work together unto good for them that love God (Rom 8:28). All things are yours, i.e., subservient and ancillary to your salvation. Paul, &c., all the preachers of the Gospel announce it for your salvation; the world, all creatures are intended by God to lead you to him; or life, to acquire merits during its continuance; or death, which is a passage unto glory; or things present, all the gifts of grace or nature which you now enjoy, point to the glory in store for you; or things to come, all the gifts of glory which are held forth as so many motives for encouragement to perseverance, all are yours.
1Co 3:23 And you are Christ’s. And Christ is God’s.
But you yourselves belong to Christ, who redeemed you, and Christ as man, belongs to God; therefore, we should glory in Christ and God only.
And you are Christ’s. Christ, as man, has purchased you, and hence, you
are his, by right of purchase, and Christ is God’s. All creatures are intended for the use and benefit of man, but man himself is destined to enjoy God hereafter, and promote his glory here. Therefore, we should seek to promote in all our words and actions the glory of God alone, whether we eat, or whether we drink, or whatever else we do, we should seek the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31). The Lord hath made all things for himself (Prov 16:4). I the Lord, this is my name ; I will not give my glory to another (Isa 42:8). To us God has given the benefit of his gifts, but the glory of them he has inalienably reserved to himself. For God then we are created. We are here below only in a state of probation a place of exile. Heaven and God is our end, our final, eternal enjoyment. What folly, then, to engage in any pursuit, to indulge in any enjoyment which would imperil this great end of our being, and, which, besides entailing an irreparable loss of infinite good, of boundless happiness, would involve us in excruciating tortures, which would end only with God, and of the never-ending duration of which we would be irresistibly conscious every moment that we suffered: thus hearing, each moment, the entire torture of Eternity pomlus eternitatis. Notum fae mihi, Domine, finem meum…..ut sciam quid desit mihi (O Lord, make me know my end. And what is the number of my days: that I may know what is wanting to me Ps 39:5).
What torture so dreadful as when sentence of eternal damnation, is first made known to the trembling soul, at judgment, after a dreadful state of suspense?