The Divine Lamp

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Archive for June 2nd, 2011

Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians, Chapter 3

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 2, 2011

In this chapter the Apostle insists on the unity of the Church of Christ, as the field which God cultivates, the temple he is building, and compared with this unity, the rivalry of particular teachers is insignificant and contemptible.

3:1  And I, Brethren, could not speak to you as spiritual, but as carnal.  As infants in Christ,

The first three verses belong properly to the last chapter, and explain why St Paul has insisted so much on the distinction between the spiritual and animal man.  To you, Corinthians, I would not speak as spiritual.  You were animal, and a degree worse: for this implies limitation of intellectual power; you were carnal, which implies also some fault of the will and affection.  You were like children in Christ, unable to digest the solid food of higher spiritual instruction.

3:2 I give you milk to drink, not food: for you were not yet able, neither now are you able: for you are still carnal.
3:3 For when there is among you zeal and contention; are you not carnal, and walk according to man?

Milk to drink.  Suitable to those who could taken nothing more solid and substantial; and yet containing in itself the principle of nourishment, on which the body gradually grows in strength and advances towards its full development.  I gave you as much as you could receive.  I could not give you more, not that I was not capable of giving it, but because you were not capable of receiving it.

Neither now are you able.  A sudden and effective blow.  You are no better than infants even now.  There is among you zeal and contention-the Greek text and the Syriac version add, and dissension.

As long as you are divided into parties, full of party spirit, zeal for party, which divides you, not zeal for God, which would unite you, and childish rivalries between the followers of different teachers, are you not guided and influenced less by the love of God than by human and carnal affections?  Zeal of party, or envy, produces contention, and contention leads to division or dissension.

3:4 For when one says: I indeed am of Paul; and another: I Apollo; are you not men?  What then is Apollo? and what is Paul?
3:5 Ministers of him in whom you have believed; and as God has given to each.

Are you not men? Guided by mere human reason, influenced by merely human affection and preference, carnal, animal, imperfect, infants?

What is Apollo? Compared with God, the great Teacher, the human instrument is nothing.  They are ministers of Him in whom you have believed (vs. 5).  The Greek text and the Syriac read: the ministers through whom you believed, whose external ministry God made use of to preach to you the word, through which faith was given you.  As God gave to each the ministry he exercised, the power to fulfill it, the success that attended it, and from Him all three proceed.  The teacher is the minister, not the Lord, the channel, not the fountain.  The fount of wisdom is the Word on high.

3:6  I planted, Apollo watered: but God gave the increase.

I planted, Apollo watered.  I first, as God’s minister, an Apostle, by the will of God, planted the faith of Christ in your city.  Apollo, coming after me, watered the seed sown with richer and fuller supply of Christian doctrine.  But God gave the increase, for it was he that supplied to you the grace of faith.

3:7 Therefore neither who plants is anything, nor who waters: but he who gives the increase, God.

The planter and the waterer are alike nothing.  God is the author of the grace of life, and of the increase of that grace.  They are nothing in or of themselves; they have nothing to teach but what God has given them; they are not the authors of the grace of conversion, or of sanctification and the further increase of that grace by faith, hope, charity.

God is the real cultivator of his field, though He uses the agency of mortal men,  et nos colimus Deum, et Deus colit nos, says St Augustine.

3:8 And he who plants, and he who waters, are one,  And each shall receive his own reward according to his labor.

He who plants, and he who waters, are one. In themselves they are nothing, and in so far as they are anything they are alike, merely ministers of him who gives the increase.  And if one excels another in labor or in merit, that does not concern you, for God will give to each his reward.  According to his labor.  Not according to his success, which is not in his power,  His labor, solicitude, prayer, are in his power, and these God will reward.

3:9 For we are God’s helpers: you are God’s agriculture, God’s building.
3:10 According to the grace of God, which is given to me, as a wise architect I laid the foundation: and another builds upon it.  But let each look how he builds upon it.

We are God’s helpers.  we are one, or alike, because we all co-operate with God, who directs our labors.  In MarK 16:20 we are told that the Lord worked with the Apostles.  Here we are told that the Apostles worked with God.  Although compared with God, the Apostles and Apostolic men are nothing, yet compared with us, and in what should be our estimate of them, they are worthy of the highest honor and reverence.  For their office is nothing less that to do-operate with the Creator of the world in the task of bringing the rational soul back to its principle and origin, the conversion of the souls of men to God.  Saint Dionysius, quoted by Estius, and Cornelius a Lapide.

You are God’s building.  St Paul here introduces another metaphor.  You, the Church of the Corinthians, are a temple reared by God.  I laid the foundation of this temple (vs. 10) as a skilled architect; but he adds, I did so, according to the grace of God, the great architect-in-chief, of whom I am only the instrument.  Apollo, and others, have built upon this foundation.  Let each look how.  There was at Corinth a redundancy of eloquent talkers, rather given to display of their own powers, to whom, and to their hearers, the Apostle here administers a necessary caution.  There is no reason to think these last words are intended to apply to Apollo.

3:11 For other foundation can no one lay, beside that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus.

Other foundation can no one lay.  He has just said he laid the foundation, and his metaphor might be misunderstood, as if he meant himself.  Christ is the foundation of foundations, like a rock, St Thomas says.  The Apostles are a foundation in a secondary sense (Eph 2:20).

3:12  Now, if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble:

The Apostle is still speaking of Christian teachers, as in 1 Cor 3:10.  He doesn’t not refer to heretical teachers, who destroy God’s temple, and will be condemned in 1 Cor 3:17; but who teach true doctrine, and build upon the true foundation.  Gold, silver, precious stones, things rare, incorruptible, and valuable, signify doctrine solid, pure, lucid, derived from Holy Scripture, or the principles of the faith, or the mysteries of the Church.  Wood, hay, stubble, things worthless and easily consumed, signify doctrine in itself good, or else it would be destroy instead of edifying, but valueless, curious, pompous, or fantastic, drawn from secular philosophy and learning, which may win applause, but cannot help to save souls.

3:13  Every man’s work shall be manifest. For the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire. And the fire shall try every man’s work, of what sort it is.

The day of the Lord shall declare it. This life is our day, says St Anselm and St Thomas, in which we do our own will, even when it is against the will of God.  The last day will be the day of the Lord, when he will do his will, and men, by justice, will either be rewarded or condemned.

It shall be revealed in fire. “Fire will go before Him” (Ps 94:3).  the fire that will consume the world, the minister of divine justice, will go before the Judge, and the works of each will not only be made manifest, but tried and proved.  St Paul was under the belief that the day of judgment would come in the lifetime of many then living, and this may help to explain the present allusion to it.  That fire will prove the just, but leave them harmless and free from pain.  See Dan 3:92.  Those who are good and faithful, but imperfect by venial sin, it will purge by suffering.  The evil it will torment in hell for ever.  It is this fire to which the Apostle here alludes, in the opinion of Cornelius a Lapide, who examines the question at some length.  The Latin Fathers, in the Florentine Council, understood the purgatorial fire, which tries the souls of the just after death.  but they are, in the opinion of Cornelius, one and the same; and on the cessation of purgatory, at the end of the world, the same fire will try the just of the generation still existing.  there is a moral application of these two verses, distinct from their literal meaning, for which, see the Corollary of Piety below.

3:14  If the work of any shall remain, which he has built, he shall receive a reward.
3:15  If the work of any shall be burnt, he shall suffer loss; but himself shall be saved; yet as by fire.

The workman whose work, built of solid materials, on the Foundation, shall stand the fire, shall be reputed a good worker, and receive his reward from the Supreme Architect; if his work of worthless hay or stubble, is consumed in the flames, he must bear its loss, but he shall save his soul, like one escaping from a burning house.  He has not yet spoken of heretical teachers, who destroy the work of God, and ruin his edifice.

3:16  Know you not that you are the temple of god, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
3:17  And if any shall have violated the temple of god, God shall destroy him.  for the temple of God is holy, which is you.

You, Corinthians, are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in you by faith, hope, charity: as the Ark of the Covenant dwelt in the tabernacle in the desert, and in the temple of Solomon.  god ruins and destroys the violators of his temple, as Athalia, who profaned the temple (2 Kings 24:6-7), Baltasar, who applied the sacred vessels to common use (Dan 5:3).  But if God thus overthrew the profaners of his material temple, much more will he destroy those who violate his spiritual Temple, which is you, by false doctrine which leads you away from the Apostolic communion.

3:18  Let no one deceive himself; if anyone among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

3:19  For the wisdom of this world is folly with God.  For it is written: I will take the wise in their craft.
3:20  And again: the Lord know the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.

It is evident that the instructors of the Corinthian Christians, against whom this rather severe admonition is levelled, must have assumed a great deal on the score of their rhetorical skill and familiarity with the intricacies of Grecian philosophy: so much so that there was ground of apprehension of their relapsing into actual heresy, or of suspicion that they were inclined to it.  The wisdom of the world is in God’s sight no better than folly: its wild conjectures and groundless theories must seem to him infinitely contemptible and absurd, since he knows all things.  It is written: see Job 5:13, Psalm 93:11.

3:21  Let no one therefore glory in men.
3:22  For all things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollo, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or to come: for all are yours:
1 Cor 3:23  And you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.

Let none of you, therefore, boast or glory in the teacher you follow.  All are yours, at your disposal, for your salvation; Paul, Peter, Apollo, all Christian teachers are sent for your instruction and edification.  The world, and all contained in it, is for your use, temporal and eternal.  Life is yours, to prepare for eternity; death is the penance of your sins, and the entrance to immortality; in the present, you have God’s grace, in the future the hope of glory.  All good things, of nature, of grace, of glory, are yours: the world exists for the sake of God’s chosen ones.  You belong to Christ, who has purchased you at the price of his blood.  Christ is God’s son in his Divine nature, God’s servant in his humanity.  Glory, therefore, not in man, but in Christ, the source of all grace,  in God, the giver of all good.

Corallary of Piety

Every human soul in whom Christ dwells by faith, is God’s building.   God is its Architect: His fellow-workers are Apostles, Bishops, Priests.  The foundation is the faith of Jesus Christ: but man’s will is the workman who builds upon the foundation.  What will he build?  Gold, silver, precious stones; works of charity, penance, prayer, for himself and others, for the Church of God and for the holy souls in suffering; chastity: the ascetic perfection of the spiritual life.  There are things which shall stand the fire of the last day; fitting adornment and decoration for the temple whose inhabitant is the Spirit of God.  Wood, hay, stubble: earthly riches, influence, power, popularity, fame, fine houses, costly dresses, spectacles and amusements, races, balls, the trailing on the fringe of regal splendor: classic literature, pagan philosophy, reading and knowledge applied and applicable to no good and holy purpose, nor tending to the glory of God and the advancement of his faith; mere amusement to kill time and occupy the mind; sordid luxury, rough and vulgar play, thoughtless ribaldry and idle talk.  How shall these things help the soul in her hour of trouble; how shall such a building stand the fire of God’s justice?  How can such things as these enter God’s eternal kingdom?  What can such a builder expect but at the best to save his soul by fire, the purgatorial fire of God’s justice?

At worst, let him not ruin the temple of God, the dwelling-place of God’s Spirit.  Whoever lays waste God’s temple, him shall God lay waste.  For his temple is you, and in your heart the glorious presence given you in Baptism still dwells, for your worship and adoration, not for your forgetfulness, neglect, or contempt.

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Bernardin de Piconio on 1 Corinthians, Chapter 2

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 2, 2011

In this chapter the Apostle declares that the language he had used when at Corinth was simple and unpretending; but that the truths he taught were high and heavenly, taught neither by men nor angels, but by the Spirit of God.

2:1  And I, when I came to you, brethren, came not in sublimity of language, or of wisdom, announcing to you the testimony of Christ.

Not in sublimity of language.  The simplicity which the apostle has just declared a characteristic of the preachers of the Gospel, and which the Greeks, proud of their elaborate skill in rhetoric and philosophy, despised as folly, St Paul here declares he had practiced and adopted himself when he first went to Corinth.  He used no lofty language, made no parade of wisdom.  The Syriac version says: ‘not with grandiloquent language or show of wisdom, I proclaimed to you the secret of God.’  The Greek text has: the testimony of God.

2:2  For I did not judge that I knew anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

2:2 I did not judge. I judged it best, coming to a city of learned men, to seem to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified.  The death and passion, resurrection and ascension of Christ, were the message he had to deliver, and this he delivered in the plainest language.  And to do this with more effect, whatever else he knew, he kept to himself.

2:3 And I was among you in infirmity, and fear, and much trembling.
2:4 And my discourse, and my preaching, were not in persuasive words of human wisdom, but in display of the Spirit and of power.

2:3 In infirmity and fear.  We may perhaps gather from these words, that St Paul was in feeble health while he was at Corinth.  It is certain also, from the narrative in Act of the Apostles, chapter 18, that he was subject to great persecutions and annoyance from the jealousy of the Jews, who ultimately raised a formidable outbreak of violence against him, which possibly caused his retirement from the city or hastened it.  (1 Cor 2:4)-His discourse, he declares, was in harmony with his circumstances and surroundings.  He delivered no great orations, but spoke on all occasions simply and plainly, proving the truth of his words by the display of the Holy Spirit and of power, that is by frequent miracles.

2:5 That your faith may not be in man’s wisdom, but in the power of God.

That your faith may not be in man’s wisdom. May not originate or spring from human eloquence and wisdom.  Or that your conversion to the faith of Christ may not be ascribed to man’s wisdom, but to the power of God, may be a divine, not a human work.  That which you believe and are convinced of, should be, not the wisdom and knowledge of your teacher, but the power of God who commissioned the teacher, and wrought the miracles.

2:6  But we speak a wisdom among the perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, who are being destroyed.
2:7  But we speak the wisdom of God, in mystery, which is hidden, which God predestined before the ages to your glory.
2:8  Which none of the princes of this world knew: for if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory.

There is an inner or esoteric wisdom in the Christian faith, sublime and lofty mysteries of which St Paul here declares he was not ignorant, and of which he had freely spoken among the perfect, those whose fervor in faith enabled them to embrace and understand them.  It is possible that in these words he reflects somewhat upon the method of Apollo, who with the best intentions, may have somewhat rashly enlarged upon the sublimer truths of theology in the hearing of persons scarcely as yet able to understand them.  Modern commentators, and among them Cornelius a’ Lapide, join in mystery in verse 7 with the verb we speak; we speak of these things only in secret.  Theodoret, however, says: The meaning is not, we speak in mystery; but we tell to men the wisdom which is hid in mystery.  This seems more likely, for if the Apostle talked of these subjects only among the perfect, it would be unnecessary for him to add that he did so in mystery.

What is this hidden wisdom?  First, it is not of this world, secular and mundane; nor like the systems of philosophy accepted by the world.  Nor is it of the princes of this world, from the inspiration of demons and fallen spirits, who are so called in Jn 12:31.  Not a dark system of magian philosophy, the practice of divination and the magic art: all whcih were often imposed, in those days, upon the simplicity of the ignorant and credulous, and were even cultivated by the learned and powerful.  This power over the minds of men, founded in trickery and falsehood, it was one of the objects of the Gospel of Christ to overthrow, and its overthro was one of the results of the spread of the true faith.  Thr princes of this world are being destroyed.  If by the princes of this world is understood earthly rulers and great men, then these are continually passing away, as each dies in turn.

This is what the hidden wisdom is not.  It is, the wisdom of God, and therefore true; and it is hidden in the mystery: that is, the mystery of the incarnation; the splendor of God hidden in the flesh.  Christ, therefore, is the wisdom of Go hidden in mystery.  Not that St Paul concealed from any one the great mystery of the incarnation, which was, on the contrary, the center of all his preaching, ad the most important part of the message he had to deliver: but he treated it in a different manner, according to the capacity of his hearers, as he explains below.  The incarnation, death, and passion, and resurrection of Christ, were proclaimed to all men, as the ground of their redemption.  But the full intent, meaning, and end of Christ’s incarnation, the full significance of the adoption of the sons of God; possibly a prophetic view of the victory of the faith in the coming time; these perhaps were among the sublime mysteries of which the apostle spoke among the perfect, but which all could not at first comprehend.  And this further, that God has foreordained this mystery, from the beginning of time, for our glory-our glorification by the gift of the Spirit of God now, and in eternal life hereafter.  That God was hidden, and as it were annihilated, in the flesh, for the glory of that flesh which he assumed, that is for us human beings, was one of those mysteries which none of the princes of this world knew.  The powers of darkness did not comprehend, and would not believe, the depth of humility and charity in the character of God, which rendered this possible.  Had they known it, they would not have crucified him; because it was his cross which was the instrument of his victory, and gave him his irresistible power over the hearts of men.  Rather than this, they would have allowed him to reign in earthly power and glory, in which case he could not have so completely overthrown their empire among men.  It must be admitted, however, that this interpretation of verse 8 is open to some difficulty, since it implies that the Devil was either ignorant of, or would not believe, the Deity of Christ.  It may be more simple to understand by the princes of this world, in this verse, earthly rulers, as in the expression of St Peter, in Acts 3:17: I know that in ignorance you did it, as also your princes.  If Herod and Pontius Pilate had known that Jesus was the creator of the world, it is hardly to be believed that they would have put him to death,  Not that their ignorance of this truth was sufficient to excuse them, after the miracles Christ had wrought, and the evidence they had of his innocence and sanctity.

2:9  But as it is written: That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor has ascended into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love him:
2:10  But to us God has revealed by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.
2:11  For who among men knows what belongs to a man, except the spirit of the man, which is in him?  So also what belongs to God, no one knoweth, but the Spirit of God.
2:12  But we have received not the spirit of this world, but the spirit which is of God; that we may know what is given to us of God:

See Isaiah 64:3 (64:4 in some translations): “From the beginning of the world they have not heard, nor received with their ears, eye hath not seen, O God, without thee, what thou hast prepared for those who wait for thee.”  That is, the great mystery of the Incarnation, beyond human intelligence and expectation; not to be understood or believed without thee, otherwise than by God’s revelation.  And in the Incarnation is included its result, the salvation and ultimate glory of man.  This the Spirit of God has revealed to us, and no other could reveal.  As none knows the secret of a human heart, other than his own, so only the Spirit of God knows, and he knows fully, all the secrets of God.  And this Spirit we have received, no earthly spirit, but the spirit coessential and consubstantial with God (St Athanasius, Theophylact), under whose teaching we know the full extent of the great gifts which have been given to us of God, his Son to redeem us, his Spirit to sanctify us.  And of these mysteries and gifts of God we speak, not in philosophical language, but in words taught us by the Spirit of God.

2:13 Which also we speak, not in words taught by human wisdom; but in the doctrine of the spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Comparing spiritual things with spiritual. Conveying things spiritual in spiritual language.  So Saint Chrysostom, and many other writers, ancient and modern.  Theophylact, who is followed by St Thomas, takes the word spiritualibus in the masculine, and comparantes in the sense of the Greek συγκρινοντες (sygkrinontes=distinguishing, also, interpreting, understanding), and understands, reserving high and spiritual doctrine for the hearing of spiritual persons.  This is more literal, and agrees with what the Apostle has said in verse 6, we speak wisdom among the perfect.  The whole of this passage may then be considered an illustration and expansion of what he there asserted.

2:14  But the animal man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for it is folly to him, and he cannot understand; because it is examined spiritually.

The animal man.  The word animal is used in three senses in Scriptures.  First, in the sense of the English word, that which grows and lives on food, as all animals do, and in this sense it is used 1 Cor 15:45.  Secondly, one who habitually follows animal impulses (Jude 19).  Thirdly, as in this place, those who are guide only by right of natural reason.  Such a person may be instructed in the faith, and give assent to its mysteries, but yet be unable to comprehendnd the higher and sublimer truths which are taught by the Spirit of God.  These truths will appear to him folly, or meaningless, because they are beyond the reach of his capacity, and supernaturally understood.  They should not, therefore, be rashly obtruded upon him, because, as St Thomas says, arguments are not to be given to those who are incapable of receiving them.

2:15  But the spiritual judges all things; and himself is judged of none.
2:16 For who knows the sense of the Lord, to instruct him?  And we have the sense of Christ.

15.  The spiritual judges all things. The spiritual man is also understood in three senses in the holy Scriptures.  1. Who does not require food, as Christ now.  2. Who follows the guidance of the Spirit; in this sense the animal man may be spiritual, though he cannot comprehend the higher mysteries of the faith.  3. The sense in which the word is here used, who is capable of understanding these higher mysteries, by a supernatural illumination.  In this sense the spiritual man is the same with the perfect in 1 Cor 2:6.  He is capable of judging or discussing all things, even the highest; and is not to be judged by his inferior, the animal man.  For if he was, the animal man ought to know the mind, or secret, of God, better than he.  But this mind of God can only be known by natural reason, which is impossible; or by supernatural illumination, which is contrary to the hypothesis.  For who by reason and nature can know, and teach him, the mind of God?  The sense of Christ.  The Syriac reads: the mind; the Arabic: the intellect;  the Ethiopic: the thoughts of Christ.  We, the Apostles, know the mind of Christ by supernatural revelation.  In the whole of this passage the Apostle evidently intends to assert the infinite superiority of the Christian philosophy to the other philosophical systems which it was brought into comparison at Corinth.

Corollary of Piety:

The highest wisdom the human intellect can attain is the knowledge of Jesus Christ.  he is the eternal wisdom of God, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  Whatever God knows, he knows, for he is God.  The nature and character of God are fully known to him, for he is himself God.  He knows all the causes and motives of the creation of the universe, for he is himself its Creator.  He understands every detail of  its complicated framework, down to the minutest, for his hands framed it.  He understands the mode of dependence of the finite upon the Infinite creating will, for that will is his.  He knows the law of connection between spirit and matter, inscrutable to human research, possibly beyond the reach of any finite intelligence, for he is the Creator equally of the spiritual and the material.  Not only has he all wisdom and knowledge in himself, but it is he who imparts it to man, so far as man is capable of apprehending it, for he is the sun and the illumination of the human intellect.  To penetrate the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden in God the Word, have recourse to him, and take him as thy teacher; for there is no truth known to any finite intelligence, but from his teaching.  Wonder: for this wisdom was for thee hidden, and as it were annihilated, in the mystery of the Incarnation.  Love: for to this humiliation he was predestined from eternity in gloriam nostram, for our advancement to the glory of earth, which is sanctification, here, and the glory of eternity, which is his love, hereafter.

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Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 2, 2011

Portions of this chapter were previously posted.

In this chapter the Apostle, after greeting the Corinthian Christians, warns them against sects and divisions, and exhorts them to unity.

1.  Paul, called to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes.

Called to be an Apostle by the will of God. Not by my own will, or yours, like the self-appointed teachers of whom I have to complain.  St Thomas observes: Would to God all prelates could be said to be appointed by the will of God, and not his indignation and wrath, for the sins of those who are subject to them.

Our brother Sosthenes. He was the chief of the synagogue at Corinth, and was beaten by the pagans before the judgment seat of Gallio, in the tumult which preceded St Paul’s departure from Corinth, as related in Acts 18:17.  He then attached himself to the Apostle and accompanied him to Ephesus.  Being a person of influence and authority, well known in Corinth, he obtained the honor of being associated with St Paul in the title of this Epistle.

2.  To the Church of God which is at Corinth, sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, in every place, theirs and ours.

Called to be saints. Called effectually so as to be sanctified in Baptism.

With all who call upon the name of the Lord. It was thus a circular Epistle, addressed not only to the Corinthians, but to all Churches throughout the world.

3.  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace to you and peace, from God our Father, from whom are all good gifts (James 1:17); and from our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are given to us great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4).  He makes no mention of the Holy Spirit, because, St Thomas says, his presence is grace and peace.

4. I give thanks to my God always for you in the grace of God, which is given you in Christ Jesus.
5.  That in all things you are become rich in him, in every word, and in all knowledge.
6.  As the testimony of Christ is confirmed in you:
7.  So that there is nothing wanting to you in any grace, waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
8.  Who also will confirm you to the end without crime, in the day of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9.  God is faithful, by whom you have been called into the society of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

(vss 5-9).  That in all things you are become rich. This is the grace of God, given them in Jesus Christ, not that they are rich in worldly goods, as some of them were, but rich in the possession of Christ, in his faith, an din the communion of His Church, and of Christian hope; and rich also in every word, and in all knowledge, that is in the gift of languages, and in the knowledge of divine things, imparted by the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit.  This is doubtless said with special reference to the more perfect among them.  There were others whom he addresses in a tone of charitable rebuke further on.  These gifts, he continues in verse 6, are a proof and testimony of the truth of the Gospel you have embraced.  There is no spiritual gift which God can confer on you, which he has not bestowed, until the second coming of Christ, for which you wait.  This has a side-reference to some who did not believe in the resurrection of the body, and the coming of Christ at the last day.  God give you the gift of perseverance, that you may be blameless on that day.  And this I hope, from confidence in God’s fidelity in his promises, who intended your salvation when he called you to the high dignity of association and communion with his Son Jesus Christ.  It would seem that at that period the Apostle expected a near approach of the coming of Christ, and the end of the world.

1:10  But I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all say the same thing, and that there may be no schism among you: but that you may be perfect in the same sentiments and the same opinion.

Through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. It will not have escaped the reader, and it is very remarkable, that this is the tenth time the Apostle introduces this name, in the few lines he has already written.  He evidently never tires of the sound of it.  So far he has given the Corinthian Christians congratulation and praise, speaking to some of them, St Augustine says, as of the whole.  He has now some blame to administer, but introduces it with entreaty.  I beseech you. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, which they slighted by adopting various party names, as if his was not sufficient; praying them, as they are one in the society of Jesus Christ, to be one in the understanding and expression of their faith.  One mind and heart, one meaning and one language.

1:11  For it has been signified to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

Of the house of Chloe. Both the Greek text and the Vulgate have those who are of Chloe. The Syriac: the domestics of Chloe. The Arabic: the friends of Chloe, which is also what St Chrysostom understands.  Chloe was no doubt a Christian woman at Corinth in a position of wealth and influence, so that her name was well known to the Christian community.

1:12  And I say this, that every one of you says: I indeed am of Paul; and I of Apollo; but I of Cephas; and I am of Christ.

I say, I have no doubt of the truth of what I hear.  Each of you says I am of  Paul, a disciple and follower and spiritual child of Paul.  An I of Apollo. Apollo (Acts 18:24) was a Jew of Alexandria, eloquent and powerful in the Scriptures, who having been converted to the faith of Christ by Aquila and Priscilla, came to Corinth after St Paul’s departure, and gave great help and support, by his eloquence and learning, to the Christians in that city, especially in their controversy with the Jews, to whom he publicly demonstrated that Jesus was the Messiah promised in the ancient Scripture.  Some party feeling seems to have arisen on his account and that of St Paul.  Some of the Corinthians, declining to take part in it, avowed themselves disciples of St Peter, from whom possibly they had received the faith in Rome; while others had in their earlier years heard the words of Christ in Judea or Galilee.

1:13  Is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you?  Or in the name of Paul were you baptized?

Is Christ divided? Have you more than one Christ?  Has he any partner or associate in power and dominion, with whom he divides his authority?  Was it Paul, or Peter, or Apollo, who was crucified for you?  Or were you baptized in any of these names?  As we have but one Christ, crucified for us, so have we but one teacher and master, by whose name we should be called.  Every preacher should endeavor to win the souls of his hearers for Christ, not for himself.  And every Christian should reverence the teachers and ministers of the Church as the ministers of Christ, not as Christs themselves.  Is your teacher Christ?  was he crucified for you?

1:14  I thank God I baptized none of you, except Crispus and Caius:
1:15  Lest any should say that I baptized in my own name.
1:16  I baptized also the house of Stephanus: but I know not if I baptized any other.

(vs 14).  I thank God. By Divine Providence it was ordered that I baptized very few amongst you, lest it should be said I baptized in my own name (vs 15).  Crispus was a chief of the Jewish synagogue at Corinth (Acts 18:8), a colleague of Sosthenes.  Caius (Rom 16:23) is the person there designated as my host.  (vs 16) There is a eulogy to Stephanus in chapter 15 of this Epistle.  St Thomas thinks that the circumstances here referred to gave origin to the Greek form of baptism.  Be (name) the servant of the Lord baptized, in the name of the Father, ect., instead of I baptize you, ect., lest it should give occasion to say, I of Paul, of Cephas, ect.

1:17  For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to evangelize, not in wisdom of word, that the cross of Christ may not be emptied.

Christ sent me not to baptize. There was an interval between the profession of faith of the new convert, and his baptism, during which he received instruction in the mysteries of faith, as a catechuman.  This instruction of  catechumens is here included in baptism, and St Paul did not habitually undertake it, leaving it to others, and devoting his whole time to making the Gospel known to the outer world, which was the special function of the Apostolate.  Hence it was that he baptized very few.  Not in wisdom of word, eloquence and display of learning, of which he implies that the Corinthians thought too much.  The cross of Christ, and Christ on the cross, was the one subject he sought to bring before the thoughts of men, and implant in their hearts.  If they were only converted by human eloquence, the Cross was emptied of its power and robbed of its glory.

18. For the word of the cross, to those who perish, is indeed folly; but to those who are being saved, that is to us, it is the power of God.

The word of the cross is folly to those who perish. What greater folly than to hope for salvation from one who was unable to save himself from a painful and ignominious death? Yet to us who by faith have entered the way of salvation (the particle is in the present tense, in the Greek) the cross is the power of God, because we know that the death of Christ is effecting our salvation.

19. For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and reprobate the prudence of the prudent.

Isa 29:14. Wisdom shall perish frcm the wise, and the understanding of the prudent shall be hid. God

20. Where is the wise? Where the Scribe? where the enquirer of this world? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

Isa 33:18. Where, among the teachers of the Gospel of Christ, do you find pagan philosophers, Jewish scribes, professors of the physical sciences, who search out the secrets of the material world? Truly God has infatuated the wisdom of the world, says Tertullian, since he can make no use of it for the furtherance of his kingdom. The philosophers have never found out truth for themselves, which is evident from the divergence of their views on every conceivable question: much less can they point it out to others. The simple preaching of the cross of Christ has established the true faith of God, and rooted it firmly in the belief of mankind, in spite of schools of philosophy and the strength of earthly power and empire.

21. For because in the wisdom of God the world knew not God through wisdom, it pleased God to save believers through the folly of preaching.

The Greeks, Theophylact says, had the wisdom of God for their teacher; the wisdom displayed in creation, Yet they never knew God. His wisdom intended they should know him in his works; the sin of men prevented the realization of this intention. The mode of salvation is therefore changed; and God now, by the simple preaching of the cross, which to the wisdom of this world appears folly, saves, not speculators, disputants, cavillers, but believers.

22. Because also the Jews seek signs, and the Greeks ask for wisdom.
23. But we preach Christ crucified; to the Jews indeed a scandal, and to the nations folly;
24. But to those themselves who are called, Jews and Greeks, Christ the virtue of God, and the wisdom of God.
25. Because the folly of God is wiser than men: and the weakness of God stronger than men.
26. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many powerful, not many noble:
27. But the foolish of the world God has chosen to confound the wise: and the weakness of the world God has chosen to confound the strong:
28. And the ignoble things of the world, and contemptible, God has chosen, and the things that are not, to destroy the things that are:
29. That no flesh may glory in his sight.
30. And of him are you in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and justice, and sanctification, and redemption:
31. That as it is written: Who glories, in the Lord let him glory.

This is not what the world expected. The Jews ask for miracles, the Greeks require a system of philosophy (vs 22). The Cross of Christ, which we preach, is to the Jews a scandal, because they do not understand humility; folly to the Gentiles, who are sensible of no greater evils than suffering and death (vs 23). But those whom the grace of God calls to faith (vs 24), can perceive that all the power of God, greater than miracles, all the wisdom of God, far transcending the limited view of human philosophy, is centred in the Crucified. The sun itself is darkness to the blind, says Theodoret; but it gives light to those who see. This (vs 25), which the Greeks call folly, has done what all their systems of philosophy could never do: it has conquered the minds of men. That which seemed to them feeble and helpless, has subdued the empires of the world. Look
at those whom God has selected to be the bearers of this message of salvation to mankind. How few of them are men whom the world regards as wise and eloquent; how few are men of position and influence; how few men of noble or princely birth (vs 26)! He does not say absolutely none; there were, for instance, St. Dionysius the Areopagite, Paulus the governor of Cyprus, Nicodemus, Saint Paul himself, and Apollo.

(vs 27-28) But these were exceptions. For the most part, the early preachers of the Gospel of Christ, and their converts, were men whom the world, in its pride and ignorance, regarded as foolish, feeble, contemptible, and ignoble, as nothing. Yet in the end they put the old systems of philosophy to shame, subdued empires and governments to the faith of Christ, brought to nothing all that the  world, before their time, most admired, believed, reverenced, trusted in. He, who made all things of nothing, has restored all things by those who were as nothing. The fools have taught the wise men. The feeble have conquered kings and emperors. The humble and lowly have brought to the feet of Christ the excellence and grandeur of the world. Nothing that is of this world can glory before God (vs 29); its wisdom, its nobility, it power, are nothing in his sight. We also must learn to despise these things if we would have the regard of God.  (vss 30-31) Christ has given us wisdom, deeper than the systems of philosophy can teach; justice, or remission of sin, more complete than either Judaic or pagan sacrifices could confer; sanctity, which philosophers talked of, but could never realize; redemption from the miseries of life, in hope complete, in great degree in present realization also, by virtue of that hope. In this we may glory  (vs 31), but in nothing that is of this world. Thus saith the Lord: Let not the wise glory in his wisdom, and let not the strong glory in his strength, and let not the rich glory in his riches. But in this, let him glory, who glorieth, that he knows me, because I am the Lord, who show mercy and judgment and justice in the earth; for these are the things that please me, saith the Lord, Jer 9:23, 24.

Corollary of Piety~
The humblest Christian is wiser than the wisest of the philosphers of ancient times; familiar with mysteries which baffled the penetration, and eluded the grasp, of the greatest intellects of all time. All the philosophers of all ages have failed to discover the final cause of man’s existence; what our race is made for. But the Catechism of the Church reveals to every Christian child this secret, the foundation of all philosophy, so necessary to know, so marvellously concealed from the unassisted intelligence of man. God made me to know him, love him, serve him, and enjoy him for ever. Not the foundation of philosophy only, but its completion. Had philosophy attained this truth, it would have been content and satisfied, and desired to know no more. He who knows this knows all; he who knows it not, knows nothing.

The cross, once the emblem of the deepest degradation, the most profound and utter scorn, surmounts the sceptres of kings, is suspended in the courts of judicature, gleams in the decorations of the most renowed orders of chivalry among all the most civilised nations of the world. Christ on the cross, in his most absolute destitution and dereliction, has proved the conqueror of the world. He has done what kings and conquerors could never do: subdued the hearts of men. Few could tell the names of the twelve Cesars; the names of the twelve fishermen of Galilee, who conquered the world, are familiar in every land, and millions of men are called after one or other of them, after eighteen hundred years. No Roman triumphs were ever so brilliant as those which have been achieved by the bearers of Christ’s message of salvation; and the world has no record of conquest which can be compared to his.

What earthly dignity, what far descended genealogy can compete with the nobility of the inheritors of the glory of the sons of God?

Empires pass away, and are not. The Church of Christ, once esteemed as nothmg, stands from generation and generation, triumphs over the empires, and through the ages. God has used the ignorant to put the wise to shame, made the weak victorious over strength, exalted the lowly above the noblest, chosen the things that are not to bring to nothing the things that were.

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