The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 23, 2012

This post begins with the bishop’s analysis of chapter 1, followed by his notes on the reading. I’ve included (in purple text) the bishop’s paraphrase of the text he is commenting on.

Analysis of chapter 1~The Apostle commences the Epistle with the usual form of Apostolical salutation (1 Cor 1:1-3).  In the next place, he congratulates the Corinthians upon the manifold spiritual blessings conferred on them, the glory of which is to be referred to God, their bountiful dispenser, who will also bring these gifts to a happy issue (1 Cor 1:4-9).  He implores them to heal the schism, of the existence of which amongst them he had been informed (1 Cor 1:10-12).  He shows the consequences of the notions from which these divisions sprang-divisions to which he himself had given no occasion whatever (1 Cor 1:13-16).  He afterwards traces this schism to its very source, viz.: the undue value set by some of them on the eloquence of their respective teachers; and he justifies, from the very economy and plan of human redemption, the simplicity of his own style of preaching.  He wished, by this simple style of preaching, to preserve for the cross of Christ its full efficacy; for, whatever unbelievers might think of it, the faithful know that this cross is the power of God (1 Cor 1:17-18).  He shows, by a reference to the prophet Isaiah, that human wisdom was to be excluded in the work of redemption (1 Cor 1:19); and he points out the actual fulfilment of this prophecy, by referring to their own experience (1 Cor 1:20).  He shows the congruity of this adorable economy of God, in excluding human wisdom (1 Cor 1:21).

Another reason why the style of preaching should be simple is, that it should be accommodated to the subject; and this subject propounded by the divinely commissioned Apostles, being no other than Christ crucified, though a scandal to the Jews, and folly to the Gentiles, is to the believer, the wisdom and power of God (1 Cor 1:22-25).

Resuming the argument from experience referred to (1 Cor 1:22), he points out to them, in the next place, the description of persons whom God first called to the faith, or made instrumental in its propagation.  They were devoid of all earthly recommendations (1 Cor 1:26).  But this economy God fixed upon, to remove all grounds on the part of men for glorying in themselves, and to have all the glory of this great masterpiece of his power and wisdom referred, as was meet, to himself alone (1 Cor 1:27-31).

1:1  Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, and Sosthenes a brother,

Paul, called by a heavenly and divine vocation to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, and Sosthenes, a (Christian) brother,

Paul called,” &c.-(see Epistle to Romans 1:7).  “Called;” The Greek word, κλητο, means, “by vocation and apostle,’ &c.  By the will of God, not self-sent or self-commissioned, and Sosthenes a  brother.  He is generally supposed to have been the same person of whom mention is made (Acts 17).  He was ruler of the synagogue at Corinth, and a man, therefore, of some consideration amongst the Corinthians.  St Paul makes mention of him in order to gain their good will.

1:2  To the church of God that is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that invoke the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place of their and ours.

To the congregation of the faithful believers, at Corinth, that is to say, to those who have received the gift of sanctifying grace, by being incorporated with Jesus Christ in baptism, who are called to a state and profession of sanctity, as also to all who truly worship our Lord Jesus Christ, that is to say, all Christians in whatever place they man chance to be scattered, all over the globe: since that place is ours also by a communication of spiritual blessings.

To them that are sanctified, &c.  These words are a more ample explanation of what the Church of God means.  Called to be saints.  Hence, every Christian is by his very profession bound to be a saint.  How few are there, however, to correspond with the exalted end of their vocation.  With all that invoke, &c., a circumlocution for all Christians.  The words, invoke the name expresses worshipping him, in the most general acceptation of the term, implying faith in him, supreme adoration of him, as God, ect.  In every place of their and ours. These latter words show the union that exists between all the members of the Church; they also show that this Epistle was intended as a circular for the instruction of all Christians.  Theirs and ours, αὑτοῦ καί ἡμῶν, are in the Vulgate connected with place: they may, however, be connected with our Lord, as if he said, he is not only our Lord, he is theirs as well as ours: St Chrysostom connects them so.

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

May you receive the abundance of all spiritual gifts, and the quiet, undisturbed possession of them from their efficient cause, God the Father; and their meritorious cause, Jesus Christ, whose purchased slaves we are become by right of redemption.

The usual form of apostolic salutation (see note to Rom 1:7).  Grace: “The word grace when used with reference to human relationships can mean either the quality that makes a person attractive (Acts 2:47), or it can mean thanks for a gift (Lk 6:32-34; Lk 17:9), or it can mean something given freely and unearned (Acts 25:3; 1 Cor 16:3; 2 Cor 8:6-7, 19).  This last sense predominates in the N.T. and especially in Paul who uses the word to describe the way God saves through Jesus: it is a work of spontaneous love to which no one has any claim…The word sums of the gift of God so well that Paul begins and ends his letters by wishing ‘grace’ to all his readers” (Jerusalem Bible, footnote “i” to chapter 3 of Romans). In other words, “grace” designates the entire salvific bounty of God.  Peace: “The customary Jewish greeting and farewell (Lk 10:5); it means soundness of body but came to be used of the perfect happiness and the deliverance which the Messiah would bring.  All this Jesus gives” Jerusalem Bible, footnote “s” to chapter 14 of John).

1Co 1:3  Grace to you and peace, from God our father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

1:3 May you receive the abundance of all spiritual gifts, and the quiet, undisturbed possession of them from their efficient cause, God the Father; and their meritorious cause, Jesus Christ, whose purchased slaves we are become by right of redemption.

The usual form of apostolic salutation (see note to Rom 1:7). Grace: “The word grace when used with reference to human relationships can mean either the quality that makes a person attractive (Acts 2:47), or it can mean thanks for a gift (Lk 6:32-34; 17:9), or it can mean something given freely and unearned (Acts 25:3; 1 Cor 16:3; 2 Cor 8:6-7, 19).  This last sense predominates in the N.T. and especially in Paul who uses the word to describe the way God saves through Jesus: it is a work of spontaneous love to which no one has any claim…The word sums of the gift of God so well that Paul begins and ends his letters by wishing ‘grace’ to all his readers” (Jerusalem Bible, footnote “i” to chapter 3 of Romans). In other words, “grace” designates the entire salvific bounty of God.  Peace: “The customary Jewish greeting and farewell (lk 10:5); it means soundness of body but came to be used of the perfect happiness and the deliverance which the Messiah would bring.  All this Jesus gives” Jerusalem Bible, footnote “s” to chapter 14 of John).

1:4  I give thanks to my God always for your for the grace of God that is given you in Christ Jesus.

I always render thanks to God on account of the spiritual gifts abundantly conferred on you by your having become Christians:

I give thanks to my God always for you.  As God is the source of all blessings; to him, therefore, all thanks and gratitude is due.  For the grace of God &c., This refers to their Christian vocation, and all the blessings flowing from it, which he enumerates in the next verse.

1:5  That in all things you are made rich in him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

Because you are enriched with the plentitude of all spiritual gifts through Christ, both as regards the abundance of spiritual knowledge, and the power of expressing and communicating the same.

In all things you are made rich.  This is spoken in allusion to the commercial wealth of the Corinthians, as if he said, that the converts among them enjoyed riches of a higher order than those so much prized by their countrymen.  In him, i.e., Christ; in all utterance, the power or faculty of imparting this knowledge of faith to others.  Knowledge means the spiritual illumination of the intellect; and utterance the power of giving expression.

1:6  as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you.

By the means of which gifts the gospel of Christ has received further confirmation amongst you.

As the testimony of Christ, &c. This verse is to be included in a parenthesis; and verse 7, immediately connected with verse 5.  As, i.e., by which gifts of knowledge and eloquence, the testimony of Christ, i.e., his gospel, called testimony-because transmitted by witnesses-was confirmed in you.  The abundant effusion of spiritual gifts (v.g.), of miracles, prophecy, tongues, &c., which accompanied the preaching of the Apostles, and the sacraments of baptism, and confirmation affords an additional proof of the divinity of the Christian religion, in particular individuals, these external gifts might be found without real interior sanctity, as in the case of Balaam (Num 26); still, the same could not be said of a particular society of men.  The presence of these gifts would impel others to join in religion with those possessed of them; and hence, God himself would, to a certain extent, be the cause of leading men into error.

1:7  So that nothing is wanting to you in any grace, waiting for the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So that no grace is wanting to you to bring you to your end of consummate glory, which shall be conferred on you, when our Lord Jesus Christ shall appear at his second coming.

This is connected with verse 5.  In this verse  he asserts that all the gifts necessary to bring them to a happy resurrection, were to e found in the Church of Corinth.

1:8  Who also will confirm you unto the end without crime, in the day of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And this same Jesus Christ, the giver of all these good gifts, will, I firmly hope, bring those graces to a happy issue, and confirm you unto the end without any grievous sin, or any sin deserving of reproach on the day of his second and glorious coming.

Who will also confirm you, &c. All this is conditional.  God will bring them to a happy issue; he will preserve them free from all grievous crimes; or, if they fall, resuscitate them, and confer on them the crowning gift of final perseverance, provided they comply with the necessary conditions.  This is evidently implied in the following verse: In the day of the coming.  In the Greek, coming is wanting: which simply is εν τη ημερα του κυριου ημων ιησου, in the day of our Lord, &c. Some MSS. have the word “coming,” and omit “day.”  The Vulgate combines both readings

1:9  God is faithful: by whom you are called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

1:9  My hopes in your perseverance are founded on the veracity of God, who has pledged his unerring word that, provided we comply with the necessary conditions, he will grant us final perseverance and eternal glory, of which he has given us a sure earnest by calling us to partnership with his Son, of whom we are the co-heirs.

1:9  From this verse it appears, that the Apostle’s hopes are conditional; for it is only on condition that they perform their part, that the veracity of God is pledged to them.

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