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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians Chapter 16

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

The Apostle and St. Barnabas, whose mission was to be exercised among the Gentiles, were charged by the first Council of Jerusalem, with the collection of alms from the other churches for the afflicted poor of that Church, who, in consequence of having embraced the faith, suffered the greatest persecution from their fellow-countrymen, including the loss of their worldly substance (Hebrews 10:34). In the first four verses of this chapter, the Apostle reminds the Corinthians of this collection, and points out the mode of carrying it into execution, and of transmitting it to its destination (1 Cor 16:1–5). He next discloses his purpose of visiting them, and of remaining with them for some time (1 Cor 16:5–10). He commends Timothy to them, and requests of them to treat him in such a way as to render him free from molestation; to respect him as his own co-operator, and, at parting, to escort him and supply him with the necessary viatic (1 Cor 16:10-11). He apologizes for not sending Apollo, whom the Apostle earnestly besought to visit them; but, Apollo himself declined doing so. He devotes the remainder of this chapter to moral exhortations, on the subject of constant, persevering faith, charity, reverence for good men (1 Cor 16:13, &c.); and finally, closes with salutations, and with inculcating the love of Jesus Christ.

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

1 Cor 16:1. With regard to the collection of the alms which is made for the relief of the poor plundered Christians of Jerusalem, follow the same method which I have marked out for the guidance of the churches of Galatia.

“Collections,” in Greek, collection, “that are made for the saints;” “are made,” is not in the Greek, which runs thus: περὶ τῆς λογίας, τῆς εἰς τους ἁγίους, “concerning the collection, that for the saints,” i.e., which is being made, or, is to be made “for the saints,” i.e., the poor of Jerusalem, who were plundered of their property, in consequence of having embraced the faith. Paul and Barnabas were charged with collecting alms for them.—(Galatians 2:10). “As I have given order.” That is, follow the plan of collection which I have prescribed for the churches of Galatia. He marks out the plan of collection; the sum to be given, he leaves to their own generosity.

1 Cor 16:2. On Sunday, let each of you, when coming to the church, carry with him whatever it may please him to give, according to the means with which God prospered him, treasuring it up for the poor; in order that when I come, the collection may be completed, and there be no delay in having it transmitted to Judea.

“On the first day of the week.” (In the Greek, κατὰ μίαν σαββατου, on the one of the Sabbath; day, is not in the text, but it is understood. The Cardinal number “one” is put, after the Hebrew custom, for the ordinal, first). “Sabbath” is put for the “week,” as expressed in our version; because the Sabbath was the principal day of the week among the Jews. The first day of the Sabbath, or week, corresponds with our Sunday. This was the day on which the people assembled together in the church, and on it, they made their offerings for the poor. Some Commentators, particularly the Greeks, understand this verse to mean—let each person, on Sunday, lay aside whatever he may please, treasuring it up at home in some private coffer, to be afterwards given in the public collection. This interpretation, although it would appear, at the first reading of the text, to be the true one, still seems improbable; because the Apostle’s object in advising this course is, that by this means the collection would be completed when he comes. Again, the usage of the Church, at all times, has been to make oblations on Sundays, at the altar. Hence, the interpretation of A’Lapide is preferred in the Paraphrase—“laying up.” The Greek is θησαυρίζων, treasuring up.

The words of this verse supply a probable argument, that the solemnity of the Christian Sabbath has been transferred by the Apostles to Sunday; since St. Paul fixes on it, as the day for making the collections, when the faithful assemble to celebrate the divine mysteries. This transfer of the day is implied here, and is supposed to have already occurred. We have no certain authority, however, for the fact of such translation of the Christian Sabbath, except Tradition.

1 Cor 16:3. But when I shall have come to you, whomsoever you shall select as the fittest persons for this purpose, these I shall send with commendatory letters, to carry your liberal and generous contributions to the afflicted poor of Jerusalem.

“By letters.” Some interpreters connect these words with the preceding, thus:—Whomsoever you shall approve by letters, which you shall give them, those will I send. The connexion in the Paraphrase, which connects “by letters” with “I will send,” although the punctuation of the Vulgate would connect it with the preceding (Estius is also of the same opinion), is preferable. “Your grace.” Such is the delicate term by which he designates their contribution; he abstains from calling it, alms, as this latter term might not be so agreeable to the feelings of the saints for whom it was destined.

1 Cor 16:4. But, should the sum contributed be such, as not to be beneath the dignity of an Apostle to be its bearer, those whom you will have selected shall accompany me.

By this he stimulates their generosity. If the sum contributed be worthy of the ministry of an Apostle, he will go himself; but, still, to guard against the remotest ground for adverse suspicion, he says he will not be the sole bearer of it; the others shall accompany him. What an edifying example of Apostolic prudence is set here before such as have charge of ecclesiastical funds. With what caution should they guard against the remotest suspicion of appropriating to themselves, directly or indirectly, or to the wants of greedy relatives, the patrimony of the poor. They should, in every instance, have others associated with them, in charge of ecclesiastical property.

1 Cor 16:5. But after having passed through Macedonia, I will come to you, for I will make my passage through Macedonia.

He addresses them here as devoted friends, and acquaints them with his intentions with regard to the future. It is disputed whether he fulfilled this promise or not. It is most likely that he did, and that he remained some time at Corinth. At all events, his words are true, as expressing his present purpose and determination.

1 Cor 16:6. But my stay with you shall be of some continuance, perhaps for the winter, so that you may afterwards escort me when leaving you.

He expresses his desire that his advent amongst them may be of longer duration than the passing visit, which he intends paying to the Churches of Macedonia; he says “perhaps,” on account of the uncertainty of the event.

1 Cor 16:7. For I wish to see you, not merely in a passing way; I expect that I may be enabled to prolong my stay, if the Lord permit me.

“For I trust.” In the common Greek ελπιζω δε, “but I trust.” The causal particle, γαρ, is preferred by the best critics, and found in the chief MSS. “If the Lord permit.” The chief MSS. have the future, ἐπιτρέψῃ. This the Apostle adds because, he knew not whether it might be God’s will or not, that he should remain.

1 Cor 16:8. In the meantime, I will continue at Ephesus until Pentecost.

“I will remain at Ephesus.” Hence it is inferred, that this Epistle was written from Ephesus. “Until Pentecost.” The Jewish festival—a time well known to both Jews and Gentiles; and thus, they well knew how long he was determined to remain at Ephesus. It is well remarked by Estius, that the computation of time among the Jews bespoke more their religious feelings, than does that which obtains among Christians, the names of whose months and days may be traced back to the errors of Paganism. Among the Jews, the days of the week were traced from Sabbath to Sabbath. The first of the Sabbath; the second of the Sabbath; third, &c. Similar is the arrangement, which takes place in the Ecclesiastical computation—Feria 2da—3tia, &c.

1 Cor 16:9. For I have great and evident hopes of an abundant harvest of conversions to the faith in this great city. But I have to encounter great difficulties in accomplishing this holy work, from the numerous adversaries who are endeavouring to impede the progress of the gospel.

“A door.” That is, a great opportunity of promoting the cause of the gospel. Some say, this opportunity was grounded on the preparation of the hearts of all to receive the gospel. Cajetan conjectures, it might be owing to the conversion of some leading persons, whose example would stimulate others. Baronius is of opinion, that it arose from the circumstance of the place itself, it being the capital of Asia Minor, famed for the famous Temple of Diana, and the seat of the proconsul. “Evident;” for this we have in the Greek ἐνεργὴς, effective, or ripe for the good work; but the word “evident” better suits the term “door,” and means, a distinguished opportunity of good. “And many adversaries,” a cause for longer stay. These, probably, refer to the Jews, who were numerous in Ephesus, and were always the most violent and bitterest enemies of the gospel. These are, probably, the “beasts” referred to.—(1 Cor 15:32).

How admirable the zeal of the Apostle, which no toils can relax, and the intrepidity, which no dangers can appal!

1 Cor 16:10. But should Timothy come amongst you, take care that he enjoy perfect security, and that he have no cause for fear; for he is my colleague and co-operator in promoting the divine work of the gospel.

Timothy was sent to them by St. Paul to remind them of his own mode of living (1 Cor 4:17). The Apostle expresses a desire that he would “be without fear,” i.e., free from molestation, arising from unmeaning opposition.

1 Cor 16:11. Let no one then despise him on account of his youth. But do you take care to escort him honourably when leaving you, that he may come to me, for I expect him with the brethren.

“Let no man despise him.” Timothy was a young man, and the Corinthians, whom he was to govern, very haughty. They should honour him, as the fellow-labourer of the Apostle. “But conduct ye him in peace.” Escort him upon leaving, securely and honourably: supplying him with a suitable viatic and outfit, so as to reach the Apostle at Ephesus.

1 Cor 16:12. But as to our brother Apollo, whose presence you anxiously desire, I wish to inform you that I earnestly besought him to go to you, accompanied by the brethren; but for some reasons, he does not wish to go to you at present; he will, however, go when he has leisure and opportunity.

He excuses himself in this verse for sending to them Timothy, a young man, instead of Apollo, who was much esteemed by them. The Apostle says he entreated the latter to go, and that he would by no means consent to do so, for certain reasons; but, that hereafter he would go.

1 Cor 16:13. In the meantime, until we come to you, be on the watch against the snares of your spiritual enemies, and attend to the business of your salvation. Persevere in the faith you have received from us, display true manly courage and invincible constancy in bearing up against the persecutors of your faith, be they Jews or Gentiles.

“Watch ye.” In consequence of being in the midst of snares and temptations. “Stand fast in the faith.” On account of the false teachers, who endeavour to corrupt it. “And be strengthened” (“and” is not in the Greek), on account of the trials and crosses they were doomed to bear.

1 Cor 16:14. Let all your actions be performed not from any factious or contentious spirit, but from a spirit of charity, which is the secret bond of concord and union.

“Let all your actions,” and thus you will put an end to factions and contentions. These words are to be explained in the sense given to 1 Cor 10:31.—(See also the meaning given to “Charity” chap. 13 of this same Epistle).

1 Cor 16:15. Brethren, you know the families of Stephanas, of Fortunatus, and of Achaicus, that they are the first fruits of Achaia, who embraced the faith, and that they have entirely devoted themselves to the service of the poor Christians, by exercising hospitality towards them, and ministering to their wants and several necessities.

“And I beseech you, brethren.” These words are to be immediately connected with the words of next verse—“that you be subject,” &c. (as in Paraphrase). The intermediate words—“you know … and have dedicated themselves,” &c., serving as a reason why he beseeches them to be subject to such persons. “The house of Stephanas, Fortunatus,” &c. Fortunatus and Achaicus, are not in the Greek.

1 Cor 16:16. I entreat you, therefore, to reverence such persons, by ranging yourselves under their holy standard, and attending to their admonitions and example, and to the admonitions of every one else, who co-operates and labours in promoting the holy work of the gospel. Such persons deserve special honour.

“That you be subject to such.” The word for “subject,” ὑποτασσησθε, conveys the idea of ranging themselves under the banners beneath which Fortunatus, Achaicus, and Stephanas were ranged. (This is conveyed by the Greek word for “dedicated” in the preceding verse, εταξαν,) viz., the banners of charity and good works of mercy to the poor.

1 Cor 16:17. The arrival of Fortunatus, Stephanas, and Achaicus, has been to me a source of joy and delight; for, as your representatives, they have made up for your absence, whose presence I so ardently desire.

The Apostle is urgent in procuring the respect of the Corinthians for these men, lest any feeling of bitterness might be entertained for them on account of having informed him of the abuses that prevailed at Corinth. The Greek, επι τῃ παροῦσία, should, probably, be translated, at the arrival; for they went to Ephesus to see the Apostle. “That which was wanting on your part,” το ὑμῶν ὑστερημα, &c. They made up for the absence of the Corinthians, because the people of Corinth were represented and present in them. Or, it may refer to their aiding the Apostle in a pecuniary way, and relieving his wants. In this sense, verse, 18, is to be understood.

1 Cor 16:18. For, by their assiduities in attending to my wants, they have refreshed my spirit, and consequently yours also, who are identified with me in heart and feeling, and I am all yours. Pay particular honour and respect to such persons.

No commentary is offered on this verse beyond the paraphrase.

1 Cor 16:19. The Churches of Asia Minor salute you. My kind hosts, Aquila and Priscilla, with the other faithful members of the same family, anxiously salute you in the Lord.

“With whom also I lodge.” These words are wanting in the Greek, and in many of the best Latin editions. Some critics think they are not of the text. From the Acts of the Apostles, we learn that St. Paul, while at Corinth, lodged with Aquila and Priscilla; but, we find nothing of the kind said of him, when at Ephesus. They are, however, found in the MSS. of Clermont and St. Germain.

1 Cor 16:20. All the faithful salute you. Embrace one another with that holy kiss, which is a symbol of chaste and Christian love.

No commentary is offered on this verse beyond the paraphrase.

1 Cor 16:21. I, Paul, salute you, and this salutation I subscribe with my own hand.

The rest of the Epistle is supposed to have been dictated by him to an amanuensis.

1 Cor 16:22. If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema. Maran Atha.

Before giving his salutation, which is expressed in verse 23, the Apostle interposes this impassioned denunciation of eternal damnation—this execration of anathema, or separation from Christ, against “such as love not Jesus Christ.” These words, “love not,” are understood by some in a positive sense, as implying hatred of Christ, and they confine the words to the Jews, who, while they anathematized Christ, deserve this same sentence of anathema, pronounced against themselves by the Apostle. St. Thomas favours this interpretation; for, he understands the words to refer to heretics and infidels—Who love not (the faith) of our Lord Jesus Christ. Others understand the words to refer to the absence of the love of God manifested by the violation of his commandments; and these extend the execratory sentence to all the sinners of every class referred to, throughout this Epistle. The plenitude of divine love, with which the Apostle was filled, inspires him on a sudden with this denunciatory sentence.

“Anathema,” with the penultimate syllable short, (ε).—The Septuagint translation for charma, from the Hebrew root, cherem—means a separation, or a thing separated from human uses, as execrable, and abominable, and worthy of extermination, without a vestige of it being left. In this sense, the word, anathematize, was applied, in the Old Testament, to the Chanaanite nations given over for destruction to the Jews. In reference to men, anathema meant, eternal damnation.—(See Romans 9:3). When the penultimate syllable is long with an (η) (αναθημα), the word denotes a votive offering. In this sense, it is employed only once in the New Testament.—(Luke 21:5).

“Maran Atha.” These words are of a mixed Hebrew and Syriac origin, signifying, our Lord cometh. They are used by the Apostle in accordance with the Jewish custom after condemning any person, of threatening the judgment of God as immediately following. Hence, the words of this verse mean:—“Let him be anathema,” and the Lord himself has come, as judge, to execute this judgment; to his just judgment is such a sinner to be remitted. Others understand the words to mean, may our Lord come to execute this judgment; for, “Maran Atha,” like anathema, is a word of execration and condemnation.

1 Cor 16:23. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. (This is the salutation signed with his own hand).

In this verse is conveyed the Apostle’s own salutation, which he interrupted by the impassioned denunciation contained in verse 22.

1 Cor 16:24. I sincerely love you all in Christ Jesus—or, may the charity, with which I love you all in Christ Jesus, so continue with you, as to provoke mutual love from you in Christ Jesus.

The first interpretation in the Paraphrase is to be adopted, if we read the present tense “is,” i.e., my charity is with you; or, “I sincerely love you,” &c., as in Paraphrase. The second, if we read it, optatively.

The ordinary Greek copies have the following subscription: “The first to the Corinthians was written from Philippi by Stephanas, and Fortunatus, and Achaicus, and Timotheus.” This is rejected by critics, being wanting in the chief MSS. And that the letter was written, not from Philippi, but from Ephesus, may be clearly inferred from verse, 8, of this chapter. The Codex Vaticanus has: Written to the Corinthians from Ephesus.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians Chapter 15

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

The Apostle devotes this, almost concluding chapter, to arrest the progress of an error which teas broached at Corinth regarding the fundamental dogma of the resurrection of the body. Among the Corinthian converts, many, it would seem, were deeply imbued, before embracing the faith, with the scepticism of the Sadducees, and certain doctrines of Pagan philosophy, both equally subversive of the resurrection as well of the soul as of the body. Others among them had adopted the tenets of those who denied the resurrection of the body only. Having embraced the faith at an advanced period of life, they could hardly divest themselves of the false notions which they had for a long period of time entertained. In this chapter, the Apostle proves the resurrection of the body, and, as the basis of this proof, he establishes, on several grounds, the fundamental dogma of the Resurrection of Christ, from which he infers the general resurrection of all men. He first reminds the Corinthians of the gospel preached by himself among them, the leading heads of which were, Christ’s death for our sins, his burial and resurrection (1 Cor 15:1–4). He proves the truth of Christ’s Resurrection from several testimonies and arguments (1 Cor 14:4–12). From the Resurrection of Christ, he infers the general resurrection of all: such being the connection between both, that if we rise not again, neither has Christ arisen. After pointing out the absurd consequences which the denial of the Resurrection of Christ would involve (1 Cor 15:12–22), and having explained the order in which the dead shall arise (1 Cor 15:22–24), he introduces a new argument in favour of the general resurrection, grounded on the total subjection of all things, death included, to Christ (1 Cor 15:24–29). He advances new arguments to prove our future resurrection, and shows the origin of the unbelief of the Corinthians—viz., evil communications (1 Cor 15:34). In the next place, he replies to the principal difficulties against the resurrection (1 Cor 15:34–42). After describing the qualities of glorified bodies (1 Cor 15:42–46), and after showing that as we are now earthly, we shall then be heavenly, he exhorts us to conform to our heavenly model (1 Cor 15:46–50). He points out the mode of the resurrection, and exhorts the Corinthians to the performance of good works.

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

1 Cor 15:1. I wish, brethren, to recall to your minds the gospel, or the truths of faith, which I preached to you, which you received and embraced, and in which you have hitherto persevered.

“Now I make known unto you,” &c. This he says, for the purpose of showing that in the instructions which he is about giving them, he is only reminding them of those matters which they already heard himself preach when among them.

1 Cor 15:2. In the belief and profession of which you have received that initial salvation of justice which places you in the way of consummate salvation in the life to come, provided you adhere to it, according as I have preached it; otherwise, you shall have believed in vain.

“By which you also are saved,” refers to salvation by grace here, which shall lead to consumate salvation hereafter. “If ye hold fast,” &c. This he adds in consequence of the metaphorical interpretation put by some of them on the words of our Redeemer regarding the Resurrection, as if they meant a rising out of sin and ignorance and leading a new life. Some interpreters include from the words—“I preached to you,” verse 1, to “after what manner,” &c., verse 2, in a parenthesis; and interpret the passage thus:—I wish to recall to your minds the gospel which I preached unto you (…) and “after what manner I preached unto you,” i.e., by what arguments I establish this preaching. From thus reminding you, you know if you have adhered to what I preached; for, if you do not persevere in it, you have believed to no effect. The construction and interpretation in the Paraphrase are, however, the more probable. “Unless,” has the meaning of otherwise.

1 Cor 15:3. I taught you among the first and principal articles of faith, which I myself received, as I did my gospel from the revelation of Jesus Christ, that Christ died for our sins, as has been predicted regarding him in the Scriptures.

“How that Christ died.” This, he adds, to introduce the subject of the resurrection; since there would be no resurrection unless Christ died. “According to the Scripture.” This he mentions for the purpose of removing the scandal which the death of Christ was apt to beget in the minds of the weak and unstable.

1 Cor 15:4. And that he was buried (in testimony of his being really dead), and that he rose again on the third day, as was prefigured and predicted in Scripture.

“That he was buried.” These words are employed for the reason already assigned regarding Christ’s death. “The third day.” When the Evangelists say he was buried three days, they mean three partial days, viz., a part of the first day, the entire second day, and a part of the third. Hence, no contradiction between them and St. Paul here. The first argument adduced in favour of the resurrection is the testimony of the Scriptures.

1 Cor 15:5. My next argument in proof of his resurrection is the testimony of St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, to whom he appeared in the first instance, after having previously appeared to the women, and after him, to the eleven Apostles.

The next argument is the testimony of St. Peter, and the “eleven.” Judas was dead; and hence, only eleven of the apostolic college remained. In Greek, we read, ειτα τοις δωὃεκα, and after that, by the twelve. This reading is susceptible of explanation, although only eleven were present by a figure common to all languages, according to which a number of persons acting in concert and forming a body of colleagues, are designated by the number of which the body was originally composed—although at the time that a particular act was ascribed to them, some of the members may have been absent (v.g.) the same form of expression is used in reference to the Decemvirs. It is said the Decemviri did, what was only the act of a lesser number than ten; so it is also with regard to the “twelve” here.—(See also Gospel of St. John 20:24). It is likely the Apostle refers here to the second apparition of our Redeemer to his Apostles on the octave of Easter day, when the “eleven” were present.—(John 20:26). The Apostle does not, in his account of Christ’s several apparitions, follow the order of the Evangelists; for the first apparition was made to the women. Peter was the first of the men that he appeared to. After this, happened the apparition to the disciples going to Emmaus, to wich no allusion is made here by the Apostle.

1 Cor 15:6. Afterwards, he was seen by more than five hundred disciples, assembled together, of whom many are still alive to attest the fact; others have slept in the Lord.

This probably refers to the apparition to his disciples in Galilee. The Evangelist does not mention the number of persons present on that occasion. St. Matthew (Mt 28:16-17), says: “the eleven” saw him, he but does not say how many more besides.

1 Cor 15:7. Afterwards, he was seen by James (surnamed the Just); and after that by all the Apostles and Disciples at his Ascension.

“James,” the venerable first Bishop of Jerusalem, whose testimony was of the greatest weight with the Jews. This apparition is not recorded by any of the Evangelists. Hence, it must refer to some private one with which St. James was favoured, distinct from those made to him, in common with the other Apostles.

1 Cor 15:8. And last of all, he was seen by me, who am, as it were, an abortion, and deserving only of contempt, compared with the other Apostles.

“As one born out of due time,” or abortion, the meaning of the Greek word, εκτρώμα. This word contains no allusion to the late period of his call to the Apostleship. It is expressive rather of his unworthiness and imperfection, which is conveyed in the idea of an abortive offspring, as appears from following verse. Christ was seen by St. Paul at his conversion.—(Acts 9:3).

1 Cor 15:9. I say an abortion, or, something contemptible; for, I am the least of the Apostles, unworthy of the name. Since (instead of building God’s Church, as is meet for an Apostle), I only attempted to demolish and tear it down (by persecuting it).

He refers to his past life and former sinfulness, from feelings of humility, and with a view of commending the more God’s goodness towards him, in calling him to the apostleship. How sincerely should not we cry out with the Royal penitent, David, from the very bottom of our hearts: “Peccatum meum contra me est semper.” “Tibi soli peccavi et malum coram te feci.” “Ego in flagella paratus sum et cogitabo de peccato meo.”

1 Cor 15:10. But as to my present state, I can only attribute it to the gratuitous call of God conferring on me the gift of Apostleship, and his grace was not lost on me; for, in the discharge of the duties of my office, I laboured more than all the rest; not I alone, but the grace of God, as the principal cause acting with me.

“By the grace of God … and his grace hath not been void,” &c. “Grace” has two different meanings in this passage. In the words, “by the grace of God,” &c., it denotes the grace of the apostleship. In the words, “his grace hath not been void,” it denotes the grace of God, properly so called, or internal grace. “Yet not I, but the grace of God with me,” is a Hebrew form of giving preference to anything. Similar are the words, “I wish mercy and not sacrifice.” They express a preference for mercy without depreciating sacrifice. The grace of God and the free will of man concur in producing an action, not as partial causes, but each produces it entirely. The will of man is the subordinate—grace, the more excellent, cause. The sentence could not be transposed so as to run—not the grace of God but I with it, as such a form of expression would imply that the will of man is the more excellent cause, which is untrue. The words, “with me,” show that the will of man concurs in producing an action. In the common Greek, we have, “but the grace of God which was with me,” ἡ χαρις τοῦ θεοῦ ἡ συν εμοι, the article ἡ, which, is wanting in the chief MSS.

1 Cor 15:11. But to return to my subject. Both they, who have seen him, as well as I, preach this regarding his Resurrection, and such is your faith also.

“For,” (in Greek, οὖν, then or therefore), which is resumptive of the subject of the resurrection, which was dropped at verse 8.

1 Cor 15:12. If, then, it be a matter preached by all the Apostles, and confirmed by your faith, that Christ has risen; how comes it that some amongst you say, that there is no such thing as the resurrection of the dead, the necessary consequence of the Resurrection of Christ?

The fact of Christ’s Resurrection, proves the possibility of such a thing taking place; and hence, destroys the argument against the general resurrection of all, on the ground of its impossibility.

Queritur.—How does the resurrection of all follow, in the mind of the Apostle, as a necessary consequence from the Resurrection of Christ, in such a way, that if you deny the consequent, therefore the dead will arise, you destroy the antecedent—viz., Christ has arisen. The same reason would not appear to hold for Christ and the other dead. He had greater power, neither did he see corruption, and the corruption of the dead bodies was the great difficulty in the minds of the philosophers against the doctrine of the resurrection.

Resp.—The reasoning of the Apostle, deducing from the Resurrection of Christ, the general resurrection of all mankind, is founded on the end and object of Christ’s Resurrection. The object of his Resurrection was to obtain a signal victory over death, and entirely to overcome death introduced by sin into the human race. It was only after securing this happy consummation, he could sing the song of triumph over prostrate death, referred to in verse 55, of this chapter. Now, he would not have overcome death in this perfect way, unless all mankind arose again. For, in what does death consist? How had it effected a triumph over the human race? Was it not in the separation of the soul from the body? So must, therefore, the victory over death consist in their reunion. Now, this is the Resurrection. Hence, unless all mankind were to arise again, Christ would not have secured the end of his own glorious Resurrection.

1 Cor 15:13. For, if the dead will not rise again, it follows, that Christ has not risen. Such is the intimate connexion between both.

No commentary is offered on this verse beyond the paraphrase.

1 Cor 15:14. The greatest inconveniences would result from the supposition that Christ had not risen. In the first place, your faith would be vain, having been founded on the words of a man who would have proved himself to be an impostor. So would the preaching of the Apostles (having their commission from the same).

“Your faith is vain,” because founded on the words, &c. (vide Paraphrase), and because the Resurrection of Christ is the fundamental article of the Christian faith. “Our preaching is vain,” because their preaching had Christ’s Resurrection for its fundamental article.

1 Cor 15:15. Nay, even, we Apostles would be convicted of being false witnesses, and of being witnesses against God. Since, pretending to act on his authority, we attributed to him a fact—viz., Christ’s Resurrection, which he would have never accomplished unless the dead arise.

It would follow that the Apostles have borne testimony against God—a testimony attended with injury to him—by attributing to him a fact, viz., the Resurrection of Christ, which had the effect of deluding mankind in the important concern of religion, and the non-performance of this fact might imply a want of power in God.

1 Cor 15:16. For if they will not arise, neither has Christ arisen.

No commentary is offered on this verse beyond the paraphrase.

1 Cor 15:17. And, if Christ be not risen, your faith is vain in the remission of your sins; for your sins are still unremitted.

The consequence of Christ not having arisen would be, that their faith, as regards the remission of their past sins, would be in vain, or of no benefit, since they are still in their sins: for, Christ rose for our justification. Hence, if he did not arise, we are not justified, nor are our sins remitted. The Greek reading of this verse omits the causal particle “for,” which, in our reading, assigns the following words:—“You are yet in your sins,” as a reason why “their faith is vain.” According to the Greek reading, these latter words only express an inference drawn from the words, “your faith is vain;” and hence, you are still in your sins, since faith is necessary for justification.

1 Cor 15:18. Another inconvenient consequence flowing from a denial of Christ’s Resurrection would be, that those who have died professing the Christian religion, are lost eternally, since they died professing a false faith, and, without faith, it is impossible to please God.

No commentary is offered on this verse beyond the paraphrase.

1 Cor 15:19. And if our hopes in Christ are to be confined to the present life, we are the most miserable of men, having been debarred by our religion from certain pleasures, in which others, less observant of religious ordinances, freely indulge.

“We are the most miserable of all men,” since, from a false and delusive hope of a resurrection never to take place, unless Christ has arisen, we submit to the greatest corporal austerities and self-denial.

Objection.—What, if the dead will never arise? Is not the soul immortal? May not this more noble part of man, which is capable of felicity, as appears from the examples of the saints now reigning in glory without their bodies, enjoy supreme felicity—enjoy the promises of Christ, even though the body never arise? How, then, are the conclusions of the Apostle warranted?

Resp.—Some say the Apostle is here combatting such persons (viz., those of the Sadducean persuasion), as denied the immortality of the soul, and the existence of spirits; and hence, he takes the resurrection of the dead in an extended sense, to comprise the resurrection or immortality of the soul, as in Matthew 22:31. It may, however, be given as a general answer, that the Apostle considers not the immortality, but merely the happiness of the soul, which can never be obtained by persons dying in a false faith, such as ours would be if Christ had not risen. The heretics, whom the Apostle here combats, did not deny the divinity of the Christian religion; and hence it is, that he grounds his arguments in favour of the resurrection, on the inconvenience which the denial of this fundamental article would cause to the Christian religion. It may be also said, in reply to the objection from the immortality of the soul, that the Apostle considers the present order of things, consequent on the decree of God—that the merits of Christ should prove of no avail to us, unless he arose and overcame death in us. If, then, Christ had not arisen, and if we were not to rise again, the merits of Christ would be of no avail to us, nor would our souls be happy, since a reunion with our bodies was decreed by God, as a condition of their eternal happiness.

1 Cor 15:20. (Such, then, being the absurd consequences of the denial of Christ’s Resurrection), we must firmly believe that Christ has arisen, as the first-fruits among the dead, both in time and dignity, and thus consecrating, by his Resurrection, the general resurrection of all.

“The first-fruits of them that sleep.” The common Greek has, απαρχη εγενετο, became the first-fruits, &c. The word, became, is cancelled by the best critics on the authority of the chief MSS. The fact of his being “the first-fruits” supposes, that others will follow, whose resurrection is consecrated by his—as “the first-fruits” among the Jews consecrated the rest of the harvest.

Queritur.—Did not the dead, who arose at Christ’s death, arise before him?

Resp.—The common opinion is, that St. Matthew, in recounting the several phenomena that occurred at Christ’s death, mentions by anticipation, that “the bodies of the saints arose … and appeared to many.”—(Matt. 27:52-53). It is commonly held that there is an inversion of the order of time in the account left us by St. Matthew, and that the dead arose, only at Christ’s Resurrection.

1 Cor 15:21. And that our resurrection should be consecrated in his merits, is quite congruous; for, as by one man came death; so by one man, the destruction of death, which is effected by the resurrection.
1 Cor 15:22. And, as in Adam, all die; so also in Christ, shall all who are vivified, be vivified.

No commentary is offered on these verses beyond the paraphrase.

1 Cor 15:23. But each man shall rise in the class to which his merits during life will have entitled him; a greater degree of glory shall fall to the lot of certain saints beyond others. Christ shall be first; next, those who are of Christ, who have believed in his visible coming to judge mankind—a truth intimately connected with the resurrection.

The Apostle does not treat of the resurrection of the wicked, which is unto eternal misery, and is rather a curse than a blessing. It was sufficient for his purpose to prove the resurrection of the just. Besides, all the inconvenient consequences resulting in the mind of the Apostle from a denial of the Resurrection of Christ, regard the good. The words, “who have believed,” are not in the Greek, which runs thus: ἔπειτα οί τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐν τῇ παρουσία αὐτοῦ.

1 Cor 15:24. Afterwards, the end of all things, when, after having triumphed over the different orders of devils, he will present to God the Father, the whole assemblage of his elect, and refer to him all the glory of his triumphs.

No commentary is offered on this verse beyond the paraphrse.

1 Cor 15:25. But in the mean time, even while his enemies are not perfectly subdued, he shall reign until God the Father shall have placed his enemies under his feet, that is, until the end of the world.

The Apostle adds this, lest it might be imagined for an instant, that Christ would not reign in the interim; for, that he would afterwards reign, there could be no doubt whatever.

In this verse is adduced a new argument in proof of the resurrection, grounded on the supreme dominion of Christ, and the absolute subjection of all things to him; hence, death is subject to him; it shall, therefore, be vanquished as one of his enemies, and its power destroyed by the resuscitation of all men, with their souls and bodies reunited.

1 Cor 15:26. And the last enemy whom he shall vanquish is death. For, that death shall be vanquished is clear from the Psalmist:—He hath put all things under his feet, which words mystically refer to the total subjection of all things to Christ.

“He hath put all things,” &c. The 8th Psalm, from which these words are taken, literally refers to the benefits conferred on Adam and his posterity, and to the dominion which man enjoys over all terrestrial creatures. In its mystic signification—which is employed here—it refers to the total subjection of all things to Christ, which subjection shall be perfected in the General Resurrection.—(See, also, Hebrews 2:8).

1 Cor 15:27. But by saying, all things are put under him, the Scripture cannot, surely, include God the Father, by whom all things were subjected. He must be excepted from the term, all things.
1 Cor 15:28. For, when all things are subjected to Christ, then Christ, as man, will himself be subjected to God the Father, to whom all things else are subjected, so that God may become all in all, and by this universal dominion be acknowledged as sole master and universal ruler of all things.

No commentary is offered on these verses beyond the paraphrase.

1 Cor 15:29. Another argument in favour of the resurrection. If the dead will not arise, what means the profession of faith in the resurrection of the dead, made at baptism? Why are we all baptized with a profession of our faith in their resurrection?

It is almost impossible to glean anything like certainty as to the meaning of these very abstruse words, from the host of interpretations that have been hazarded regarding them.—(See Calmet’s Dissertation on this matter).

In the first place, every interpretation referring the words, “baptized,” or “dead,” to either erroneous or evil practices, which men might have employed to express their belief in the doctrine of the resurrection, should be rejected; as it appears by no means likely, that the Apostle would ground an argument, even although it were, what logicians call, an argumentum ad hominem, on either a vicious or erroneous practice. Besides, such a system of reasoning would be quite inconclusive. Hence, the words should not be referred to either the Clinics baptized at the hour of death, or to the vicarious baptisms in use among the Jews, for their departed friends who died without baptism. The interpretation adopted in the Paraphrase makes the words refer to the sacrament of baptism, which all were obliged to approach with faith in the resurrection of the dead, as a necessary condition. “Credo in resurrectionem mortuorum.” This interpretation—the one adopted by St. Chrysostom—has the advantage of giving the words, “baptized,” and “dead,” their literal signification. The only inconvenience in it is, that the word, resurrection, is introduced. But, it is understood from the entire context, and is warranted by a reference to other passages of Scripture. For, from the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb 6:2), it appears that a knowledge of the faith of the resurrection, was one of the elementary points of instruction required for adult baptism; and hence, the Scriptures themselves furnish the grounds for the introduction of the word.

There is another probable interpretation, which understands the words “baptism” and “dead,” in a metaphorical sense, and refers them to the sufferings which the Apostles and heralds of salvation underwent to preach the gospel to infidels, dead to grace and spiritual life, with a hope of making them sharers in the glory of a happy resurrection. The word, baptism, is employed in this sense in SS. Scripture, even by our divine Redeemer himself—“I have a baptism wherewith to be baptized,” &c. And the word “dead” is employed in several parts of the New Testament, to designate those spiritually dead to grace and justice. In the Greek, the words “for the dead,” ὑπὲρ τῶν νεκρῶν, on account of, or, in behalf of the dead, would serve to confirm, in some degree, this latter interpretation. These appear to be the most probable of the interpretations given of this passage; each, no doubt, has its difficulties. The meaning of the words was known to the Corinthians at the time of the Apostle. All that can be known of their meaning at this remote period cannot exceed the bounds of probable conjecture. “For them.” In the common Greek text, for the dead. The chief manuscripts have the Vulgate reading, ὑπὲρ αὐτῶν.

1 Cor 15:30. If there be no such thing as a resurrection, and no reward to be expected, why should we, Apostles and preachers of the gospel, expose our lives to continual dangers, in the hope of such rewards?

In this verse, St. Paul refers to the sufferings of the Apostles. If, however, we were to embrace the second interpretation of the preceding verse, we should maintain, in order to avoid useless repetition, that in this verse, the Apostle refers to his own sufferings—“we,” i.e., St. Paul himself. However, speaking of himself, he employs the singular number (verses 31-32).

1 Cor 15:31. So far as I myself am concerned, I call God to witness, and I swear by the subject for glorying which our Lord Jesus Christ has given me in you, brethren, that I die daily.

The Greek particle, (νὴ), shows that he swears in this verse, “your glory,” Greek, ὑμετέραν καυχησιν, your glorying.—(See Paraphrase). “Brethren.” This word is omitted in the Greek text; but it is read in the Vatican and Alexandrian MSS.

1 Cor 15:32. To speak after the fashion of men, when they willingly recount their actions, and the dangers from which they were rescued—of what avail was it to me to have fought the beasts at Ephesus, if the dead will not arise? We should rather follow the Epicurean maxims of indulging in all kinds of bodily pleasures and gratification; for, to-morrow we shall die.

“According to man.” Some interpret, “with a view of earthly happiness,” but improbably; for so, why add the words, “if the dead rise not again,” because whether they rise or not, the actions which he here mentions, performed from such motives, would be of no avail with regard to earthly and human happiness.

“Beasts at Ephesus,” according to some, refer to the wild beasts to which he was exposed. According to others, they refer to the savage ferocity with which some men assailed him. This latter is the more probable opinion, as it is likely, had he been exposed to wild beasts we would have some account of it.

“Let us eat and drink,” &c. These words are taken from Isaias, according to the Septuagint (22:13), and originally regarded the Jews, when, besieged by the Chaldeans, they were despairing of safety; or, when they derided their prophet Jeremias continually reminding them of their end; “to-morrow we shall die,” was derisively repeated by them in mockery of the Prophet admonishing them of their impending ruin. The denial of the resurrection would, in its consequences, practically involve a renunciation of Christianity, and the adoption of the Epicurean maxims.

1 Cor 15:33. Be not, however, seduced by holding any intercourse with the misguided professors of such wicked doctrines. They are certain to mislead you; for, evil communications corrupt good morals.

“Evil communications,” &c. These words are taken from the poet Menander; and in consequence of being used by the inspired Apostle, form a portion of divine truth. For a similar quotation, see Titus 1:13.

1 Cor 15:34. Awake, ye just, from the sleepy intoxication of error and pleasure—refraining from sin, put on justice. For I say it to your shame and confusion, some amongst you are ignorant of the truths of God, or, at least practically, know him not.

For “ye just,” the Greek has δικαίως, justly, i.e., to a state of justice, “and sin not” in future.

“Have not the knowledge,” the Greek, αγνωσιαν θεοῦ ἔχουσιν, literally is rendered, have ignorance of God, i.e., are ignorant of his omnipotent power.

1 Cor 15:35. But, the faith of the resurrection being now established, a two-fold question may arise:—first, how is it possible for the bodies of the dead, after having become putrified and corrupt to arise again?—and, secondly, supposing this possible, in what state are these resuscitated bodies to arise?

He proposes two questions on points which the philosophers had a difficulty in conceiving with reference to the resurrection. “How do the dead,” that is (as appears from his answer, next verse), by what power is it possible for the dead to “rise again?”

1 Cor 15:36. In reply to the first question:—If thou, who aimest after secular wisdom, while in reality thou art only a fool, were to consider the process of reviviscence in nature, thou couldst see, that, so far from the corruption of the grain committed to the earth proving an obstacle, it is even necessary for its reviving again.

He answers the first difficulty regarding the alleged impossibility of the resurrection of the dead bodies, because of their corruption and putrefaction. This was the great difficulty in the minds of the philosophers. “That which thou sowest,” &c. (See Paraphrase), and hence, looking to what the omnipotence of God effects in nature ought we not to form the same judgments of its effects in the operations that lie far beyond the reach of nature, such as the resurrection of the dead?

1 Cor 15:37. And what you sow is not the body that is to spring forth; you only sow a mere grain of wheat or of some other kind, which buds forth in the more beautiful and perfect form of a stalk or stem, furnished with leaves and ears.

In this verse, he answers the second question, “with what manner of body,” &c., by saying that the resuscitated bodies shall rise with a difference of qualities; although identically the same in substance with those that were buried, as appears from verses 42–53. This example of the grain is not to be fully urged in every respect; otherwise, it would follow, that the resuscitated body is not the same with that from which it sprang. The question proposed regarded the qualities of the resuscitated bodies, “with what manner of body?” and hence the answer is to be confined to the same point; it merely regards the difference of qualities between the same bodies, when resuscitated and when they were buried.

1 Cor 15:38. But God gives to the body, after corruption, a form such as it pleases him, and to each seed a body peculiar to its kind (so shall it be also in the resurrection; by the omnipotence of God, the resuscitated bodies shall be endowed with glorious qualities different from those of their former state, and each shall possess these glorious qualities in a degree proportioned to its merits in this life).

What the power of God effects now, through the intervention of nature, it shall then effect directly and immediately, without any intermediate cause, for the bodies of the just.

1 Cor 15:39. This diversity of glory in the resuscitated bodies may be illustrated by several examples. The flesh of all sorts of living creatures, is as different as the creatures themselves; it is quite different in man, in beasts, in the winged fowl, and in fishes.

He illustrates, by several examples, the different degrees of glory in the resuscitated bodies. “But one, indeed (is the flesh) of men.” In the common Greek, αλλα αλλη μεν σαρξ ανθρωπων, there is one kind of flesh of men. The chief MSS. simply have αλλα αλλη μεν ανθρωπων, “but one, indeed, of men, omitting flesh.” “And another of beasts.” In the common Greek, αλλη δε σαρξ, another flesh. The chief MSS. want the word “flesh.”

1 Cor 15:40. And the celestial bodies, viz., sun, moon, and stars, and the terrestrial, viz., gems, precious stones, &c., have a glory and lustre, differing from each other.

No commentary is offered on this verse beyond the paraphrase.

1 Cor 15:41. Even among the celestial bodies, viz., the sun, moon and stars, there is a difference of brilliancy and glory; for, one star differs from another in brightness and beauty.

Hence, the most exalted among the elect will possess different degrees of glory, proportioned to the different degrees of merits in this life.

1 Cor 15:42. So will it also happen in the resurrection of the dead. (Although the resuscitated body shall be the same as that which was committed to the earth, its condition shall be quite different in its resuscitated state; and the glory of these resuscitated bodies shall differ according to their different degrees of merit in this life; to each one of the glorified bodies, however, the following qualities belong): it is committed to the earth in a state of corruption, it will rise in a state of incorruption (the quality of impassibility).

Here the Apostle applies to his case, the foregoing examples. It is likely, that he refers to all the comparisons adduced from that of the grain (verses 36), to this, and applies them to the resurrection. “So also is it in the resurrection,” &c.—(See Paraphrase). As the grain after putrefaction naturally revives, because of this very putrefaction; so, shall our bodies revive by God’s power in consequence of being reduced to a state of corruption. As the body springing from the grain, after corruption, is more perfect, and beautiful than that which was sown; so shall our bodies, although the same in substance, be more beautiful, when resuscitated. As each grain has a body peculiar to itself, so shall our bodies have a singular glory and beauty proportioned to their merits. This difference of glory is clearly shown from the examples, verses 39, 40, 41.

“It is sown,” in allusion to the grain, with which it is compared, verse 37. “In corruption,” that is, liable to, and actually falling into corruption. “In corruption,” incapable of suffering, so that the most active agency (v.g.) fire, &c., could not affect it.

1 Cor 15:43. It is committed to the earth in a gross, clumsy form; it shall rise brilliant and shining like the sun (clarity). It is committed to the earth in a weak motionless state; it shall rise in a condition of activity, to move wheresoever the soul may command (agility).

“In dishonour,” in a gross, clumsy form. Commentators observe that the Apostle, in verses 42, 43, 44, refers to the four properties of glorified bodies, viz., impassibility, clarity, agility, subtlety.

1 Cor 15:44. It is committed to the earth in an animal state, requiring earthly ailments to preserve and prolong life; it shall rise in a spiritual state, requiring only the activity or power of the soul to give it support (subtlety). When I say, in a spiritual state, requiring neither meat nor drink, I express nothing to be wondered at; for, as there is such a thing as an animal body, which we inherit from Adam, so, there is also a spiritual body, which we will have from Christ.
1 Cor 15:45. The first part, viz., that there is such a thing as an animal body is proved from the words in Genesis, wherein it is said of Adam, that after “the Lord God hath breathed into his face the breath of life, he was made unto a living soul.”—(Gen. 2:7). From the fact of the Scripture saying that man, or the first Adam, to whom reference is here made, was made into, that is to say, was made, having a living soul, is inferred the existence of an animal body. The last Adam, viz., our Lord Jesus Christ (last, because he is to be succeeded by no other new principle of life), was made “into, or having a vivifying spirit,” that is, a spirit which is the source of spiritual life in our bodies, without requiring the aid of earthly aliments to uphold or prolong it.

“If there be a natural body.” “If” is wanting in the common Greek text, but it is found in the chief MSS. “There is also a spiritual,” to which the common Greek text adds, “body,” but it is wanting in the chief MSS. The Vulgate has only, “est et spirituate.” “As it is written,” (Gen. 2:7). This Scriptural quotation, or, rather, accommodation of the text of Genesis, which runs thus: “and man became a living soul” (the words “first” and “Adam,” are inserted here), regards only the first parts of this verse, the first Adam … “a living soul.” The second part, viz., “the last Adam,” &c., is added by the Apostle, or, it may be said, that the words, “it is written,” may be understood of the entire verse, as if the Apostle meant to say, that in the words of Scripture “man, or the first Adam, was made into a living soul,” it is implied and tacitly insinuated, that the second, or “last Adam,” would be made “into a quickening spirit.”—A’Lapide. By “living soul” is meant, the principle of animal life, such as we have in common with the beasts, requiring meat, drink, &c., for its continuance. By “quickening spirit” is meant, a spirit, which is the source of spiritual life, requiring not the aid of earthly aliments for its support. This is said of our Blessed Lord after his Resurrection, which might be called his glorious Nativity, and of it the Apostle understands the word, “filius meus es tu, ego hodie genui te.”—(Acts 13:33). It is true, that from his Incarnation our Lord possessed the life of a spirit, wholly exempt, if he pleased, from the necessaries of animal life; still, it was only after his Resurrection, that he actually began to lead such a life. It was then, by communicating such a life to his own body, that he gave us a sure, and actual earnest of communicating it to us also at a future day. The word “quickening,” or vivifying others, not only means, that he himself was vivified into this spiritual life, but also that he shall communicate this spiritual life to us, at the proper time. From the fact of Adam being made “into.” (or having) “a living soul.” (animam viventem), which, according to our interpretation, designates the principle of animal life, common to us with the brute creation, we are by no means to infer that he had not a spiritual soul also, different in its principle and nature from that of beasts. Moses himself guards against such an erroneous construction in his minute description of the origin and the formation of man and beasts; for, speaking of these, he says (Gen. 1:20): Producant aquæ reptile animæ viventis; verse 24, producat terra, &c.; whereas, when describing the origin of man, he says, formavit Deus hominem de limo terræ et inspiravit in faciem ejus spiraculum vitæ. We are not warranted in taking the words, “living soul,” in an exclusive sense with regard to Adam, so as to exclude “a spirit,” any more than we would be in inferring from Christ’s having “a vivifying spirit,” that he had not “a living, soul,” also, which we know he had. Hence, the Apostle views the soul under different respects, or in regard to the different functions which it discharges. As the principle of animal life, discharging the functions common to man with all animals, it is termed, “a living soul:” in this sense, it is said in Genesis 1:24: Producat terra animam viventem. But, as the principle of operations, peculiar to a rational spiritual being, (v.g.) volition, &c., it is termed, a spirit. Christ is said after his Resurrection to be made into, or to have “a vivifying spirit,” because he is to vivify our bodies, and communicate to them the spiritual life, independent of material agencies, upon which he himself then entered so as to vivify not only himself, but us.

1 Cor 15:46. But the spiritual body is not the first which we have in the order of time, the animal precedes the spiritual state—the perfect succeeds the imperfect—we have, first, the animal communicated to us by Adam, and afterwards, the spiritual, the principle of which is Christ.

No commentary is offered on this verse beyond the paraphrase

1 Cor 15:47. The first man (Adam) being from the slime of the earth, had an earthly body, subject to the agencies of material causes; the second man (Christ) being from heaven—eternally begotten of the Father—became celestial in body after his Resurrection. It was only then he received the spiritual properties, even as to body, suited to his dignity, viz., impassibility, clarity, &c.

The Apostle here contrasts the two principles of our animal and spiritual bodies. “The second man, from heaven,” &c. In the common Greek, ὁ κυριος ἐξ ουρανοῦ, is the Lord from heaven, &c., having been begotten of the Father, by an eternal generation. The word “Lord” is wanting in the chief MSS. This is said of the man, Christ, by what is termed, the communication of idioms; for, it was not, strictly speaking, the man, Christ, but the Second Person of the Adorable Trinity, that was “from heaven,” in other words, that was “begotten eternally of the Father;” it is by what is theologically termed, the communication of idioms, we predicate the properties of one nature in Christ of the other. “Heavenly” is not in the Greek.

1 Cor 15:48. As from our earthly Father (Adam) we received an earthly animal body, such as he himself had; so, owing to our spiritual birth from Christ, our heavenly principle, we shall receive such a body as he had, viz., a heavenly and spiritual one.

No commentary is offered on this verse beyond the paraphrase

1 Cor 15:49. As, then, before our baptism, we were assimilated by our corrupt morals to the earthly and sinful Adam, let us, in order to become celestial and spiritualized in body hereafter, bear the image of the heavenly Adam, Christ, by the conformity of a holy life.

The Apostle now inculcates a moral lesson; he exhorts us, as we had before our baptism and spiritual regeneration from Christ, been assimilated in our sins to the corrupt Adam, to become now conformable by sanctity of life to the model of our heavenly principle. According to the Greek reading, the words of this verse are not hortatory, as in our Vulgate, but merely confirmatory of the preceding. They run thus, “as we have borne … we will also bear,” &c., φορέσομεν.

1 Cor 15:50. And I exhort you to pursue such a course, brethren, for this reason, that the works of the flesh, or, rather, men following the dictates of corrupt nature, shall never possess the inheritance of God’s kingdom; neither shall a life of corruption ever give us an entrance into the kingdom of incorruption.

No commentary is offered on this verse beyond the paraphrase

1 Cor 15:51. Behold, I disclose to you a secret, with which you have been hitherto unacquainted, regarding the mode of resurrection; we shall all rise, both elect and reprobate, but we shall not all be changed in the glorious way, which I have been hitherto describing.

Having proved the doctrine of the general resurrection, and answered the leading objections against it, the Apostle proceeds to develope some of its circumstances. Before doing so, he wishes to excite their attention by the word “behold.” “We shall all indeed rise again,” &c. The Greek reading is the very opposite of this, παντες οὐ κοιμηθησόμεθα, πάντες δὲ ἀλλαγησμεθα, we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. This reading is preferred by Estius, to that of our Vulgate, although he rejects the doctrine which many among the Greeks attempt to prove from it—viz., that the just, who are to be alive at the approach of the day of judgment, shall not die, but shall be changed without death, in which sense also they understood the words of the Apostles’ Creed, the living and the dead. Estius holds the common doctrine, viz., that all men shall die, a doctrine in accordance with the SS. Scriptures, and the faith of the Church at all times: and when asked to reconcile this doctrine with the Greek reading of this text, which he prefers, he says the words, “we shall not all sleep,” are quite different in meaning from the words, we shall not all die. According to him, to “sleep” means more than simply, to die; it means to remain in death; in this sense, the Greek reading is perfectly true, since all shall not remain in death; for, their death shall continue but for a very short time. The Vulgate reading, which is retained by St. Jerome, and found in the MSS. of Clermont and St. Germain, and which, moreover, has the advantage of more clearly expressing the doctrine of the Church, is to be preferred; nor is it clear that the words “to sleep,” means more than simply, to die.—(See 1 Th 4:14, 16).

1 Cor 15:52. This resurrection shall take place instantaneously, in the twinkling of an eye, at the sound of the last trumpet; for, the trumpet shall sound, and all the dead, even the reprobate, shall rise in a stale of immortality, not subject to the corruption of their members; and we, the just, shall be changed from an animal to a spiritual state.

“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” shows the astonishing and instantaneous celerity, with which the omnipotent power of God will effect the resuscitation of all the dead. “At the last trumpet;” “last,” as its function shall be to announce the end of all things. Those who adopt the Greek reading, connect these words with the last words of the preceding verse, “shall be changed.” In our reading, they are to be connected with the words, verse 51, “we shall all rise.” “For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall rise again incorruptible,” i.e., to a state of undying immortality, “and we” (the elect) “shall be changed.” “We,” shall be changed, but, “not all” the dead, both reprobate, and elect, verse 51. What this “trumpet” means is disputed. The most probable opinion is, that it refers to the commotion and agitation of the air by which the Archangel, Michael (it is called, voce Archangeli, 1 Th 4:13), shall cause a tremendous sound, like that of a trumpet, and louder than thunder.—(Vide 1 Th 4:14).

It is remarked, that in treating of the future condition of the just in the resurrection, the Apostle always speaks in the first person, “we” (verses 51-52) to teach us, after his own example, ever to keep in mind that great day; to tremble at the thought of it, and be ever vigilant to prepare against it, since it shall virtually take place for us at the hour of death.

1 Cor 15:53. For, according to the decree of God, this corruptible body shall be clothed in incorruptibility, and this mortal body shall put on immortality.

This, as well as verse 42, shows that we shall all rise in the very same bodies which we had in this life; for, he says, “this corruptible,” the very same body, that is now corruptible and mortal, shall be then clothed with immortality and incorruptibility.

1 Cor 15:54. And when this same mortal body shall put on immortality, then shall be fulfilled the saying of Scripture: Death shall be utterly destroyed, and swallowed up, without a trace of it remaining, owing to the victory obtained over it by the resurrection.

“And when this mortal hath put on immortality.” In Greek, “ὅταν δὲ το φθαρτον τουτο ενδυσηται αφθαρσιαν, και τὸ θνητον τουτο ενδυσηται αθανασιαν,” and when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, aud this mortal shall have put on immortality. The former part is omitted in the Vulgate. It is wanting in the Coptic and Ethiopian versions. The words, “death is swallowed up,” &c., are supposed by many, to be quoted, as to sense, from the prophet Hos 13:14: “From the hand of death I shall deliver them, I shall redeem them from death,” which are in sense the same with these quoted here by the Apostle; for, Christ, to whom reference is made in Osee, by redeeming men from the hand of death, utterly destroyed death and triumphed over it. The opinion which refers these words to Hos 13:14, derives probability from the circumstance, that the words of the following verse, “O death,” &c., are found in the same place, immediately after the preceding quotation. Others maintain that the passage is taken from Isa 25:8, which, although it be rendered by St. Jerome, in our Vulgate, præcipitabit mortem in sempiternum, “he shall cast death down headlong for ever,” may also be rendered, as in this passage of the Apostle, absorbebit ipsam mortem in victoriam, “he shall swallow up death in victory;” for the Hebrew word for, absorta est, “is swallowed up,” may, according to the difference of points, be taken passively, as here, or actively, præcipitabit, or absorbet, shall cast headlong, or swallow up, as St. Jerome has translated it. And the Hebrew word, lanetsach, i.e., “for ever,” also means “victory.” St. Jerome, in explaining the foregoing passage of Isaias, refers to it, as the passage from which these words of the Apostle are taken. It may be, however, as Estius remarks, that the Apostle has taken the quotation, not from any one passage, but from several passages of Scripture.

1 Cor 15:55. Where, O Death, is thy victory, by which thou were wont to triumph over the human race, deceived by the devil? Where, O Death, is thy sting, by which thou wert wont to wound mankind and domineer over them?

According to the common Greek, the reading is, ποῦ σου, θανατε, το κεντρον; ποῦ σου ἅδη, το νικος,; “O death, where is thy sting? O hell, where is thy victory?” The Vulgate reading is that of the chief MSS. The words, hell, and death, mean the same thing, hell or limbo being the depository of the souls of the dead before Christ. The Apostle follows the Septuagint reading of Osee in this passage, with merely this exception, that he transposes the words “victory,” and “sting,” as found in Osee, and for νικος, victory, we have in Osee, δικη, right or cause; but, the meaning of both ultimately comes to the same.

In the Hebrew and the Vulgate rendering of it by St. Jerome, it runs thus, O death, I will be thy death. O hell, I will be thy bite. In these words is expressed the song of triumph over prostrate death, conquered and vanquished after Christ’s Resurrection, when he brought forth the souls shut up in the prison of Limbo, and led captivity captive. This triumph shall be completed in the general resurrection of all men. It is likely that the word “sting,” contains an allusion to the sting of serpents or scorpions, whose sting constitutes their strength.

1 Cor 15:56. Now, the sting through which death wounds us is sin. But the law it is, that has given to sin, its strength, since by occasion of the law prohibiting sin, it only revived; for our corrupt nature tends to what is prohibited; and, moreover, the knowledge which the laws imparts, aggravates the sin.

“The sting of death,” i.e., the sting through which death wounds us is sin; as the scorpion, even when young, wounds through his sting, so death wounds us through sin. “And the strength of sin is the law.”—(See Paraphrase). The Apostle adds this lest any among the converts from Judaism might imagine that the evils of death and sin were removed by the Mosaic law; so far from that being the case, he says that the law only increased sin.—(See Rom. 7:8).

1 Cor 15:57. But thanks be to God, who has given us a victory over sin and death, through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whose mediation and merits all good comes to us.

God has given us a victory over sin, the sting of death, so as to prevent it from reigning any longer over us, by his gratuitous justification; and over death itself which has now lost its sting, by the earnest he has given us of a future resurrection, and this victory he will complete at a future day, by our own resurrection; all this through the merits of Christ.

1 Cor 15:58. Wherefore, my brethren, the truth of the resurrection being now established, continue firm and unshaken in the faith of this fundamental article; advance more and more constantly in the performance of good works which please the Lord, and are performed by the aid of his grace. Being firmly persuaded that all the labour which you shall undergo in the performance of these good works, shall meet with a sure reward, for we shall all one day rise from the dead, and live in blessedness with God for endless ages.

“Always abounding in the work of the Lord.” He calls good actions “the work of the Lord,” because God is pleased with them; and also because he enables us by his grace to perform them. What will faith avail us, unless our actions correspond with this faith?

“Your labour is not in vain.” The labours undertaken for God shall not be in vain, nor shall they be suffered to pass by unrequited; they shall fructify unto glory, when we shall be resuscitated, and these frail mortal bodies clad with a glorious immortality. Oh, how eminently calculated is not the doctrine of the Apostle throughout this entire chapter, to raise up our hearts to the contemplation of heavenly things, to console and cheer us under worldly afflictions and disappointments, and to stimulate us to labour earnestly and perseveringly for the possession of that glory, which is one day in store for us. What a subject for awful, and, at the same time, for consoling meditation have we not in every line of this chapter? How calculated is not the serious thought of the summons of the Archangel, “of the voice of the Son of God,” “of the last trumpet,” which so surely as we now exist, we shall one day hear, louder than thunder reverberating through the heavens, to strike us with holy alarm, and to keep us in the observance of God’s holy commandments! It is said of the great St. Jerome, that, “whether he eat or drank, or whatever else he did, the dreadful trumpet of the Archangel seemed always sounding in his ears: Arise ye dead and come to judgment.” If such were its terrors for the saints, what a subject of just dread for us, sinners? It is, at the same time, a subject of consolation for us to reflect, that these bodies if at present mortified and rendered obedient to the spirit, shall one day rise again, clad in all the glorious qualities of impassibility, clarity, agility, and subtlety. O God! grant us one day to arrive at this happy term, at this rich inheritance, which we have so often and so recklessly forfeited by our sins.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians Chapter 14

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this chapter, the Apostle exhorts the Corinthians to use their utmost exertions to acquire this virtue of charity, the excellence of which he pointed out in the foregoing. He, at the same time, encourages them to be zealous for the spiritual gifts, but he gives prophecy a preference before the gift of tongues, so much prized by the Corinthians, and he advances several reasons for this preference from verse 2 to verse 25. First, because prophecy is the more useful gift for edification (1 Cor 14:2–13). Again, it is more useful for the purpose of public prayer, whether of impetration (1 Cor 14:14) or of thanksgiving (1 Cor 14:16-17). He recommends them to judge of gifts, not from their appearance, as is done by children, but from their utility, which is the standard of excellence with men of matured judgment (1 Cor 14:17–20). He adduces a quotation from the Prophet Isaias to prove the superior excellence of prophecy. From the quotation he infers, that prophecy was given to the Jews when faithful, and produced its intended effect; whereas, tongues were given to the same people in an unbelieving state, and failed to produce the intended effect of their conversion. Hence, the superiority of the former ( Cor 14:21-22). He proves the same by supposing a case in which tongues would injure believers and unbelievers, while prophecy would serve both (1 Cor 14:23–26). He next regulates the exercise of the gift of tongues (1 Cor 14:26–29), and of prophecy (1 Cor 14:29–33). He commands women to observe strict silence in the church, and assigns reasons why this should be so (1 Cor 14:34-35); and because this law of propriety was not attended to at Corinth, he reproves them sharply (1 Cor 14:36). He says his injunctions are the commands of the Lord. He sums up his commands, which are reduced to three (1 Cor 14:39-40).

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

1 Cor 14:1. Such, then, being the superior excellence of charity, you should use your utmost exertions to possess it. At the same time, you should not undervalue the spiritual gifts; you should rather be zealous for their possession, with a view of exercising them in an edifying manner; but the gift of prophecy, as the more useful, you should prefer to that of tongues.

“Follow after.” The Greek word, διωκετε, conveys a metaphorical allusion to the eager pursuit of battle or the chase. “But rather that you may prophesy.” From the following part of the chapter, it appears quite clear, that the gift of tongues is specially the gift before which he gives prophecy a preference, while in a general way, he gives it a preference before all the gifts classed under the head of knowledge also. Hence, in enumerating the different gifts (chap. 12) he places “Prophets” immediately after “Apostles,” and assigns the last place to the gift of tongues, which the Corinthians prized too highly and abused so much. It is likely that, among the several points submitted to the Apostle (chap. 7), he was consulted regarding the relative merits of the gifts of prophecy and of tongues; and while adjudging here the preference in favour of the former, he corrects some of the abuses to which the latter gift was perverted. The leading abuse consisted in this: that some of those who were endowed with this gift gave utterance to unknown tongues without a due regard to circumstances of time and place, or without caring whether persons gifted with the faculty of explaining these tongues in the vernacular of the country were present or not.

It may be asked here, what is meant by “prophecy”? Looking to etymology, the word means, the faculty of foretelling future events. It is frequently employed to designate also, the faculty of seeing into hidden and obscure things, and especially of examining into and of knowing the divine mind. Hence, it is used to designate the faculty of examining into and explaining the recondite and abstruse meaning of the SS. Scriptures, and especially the prophetical ones, in an extraordinary way, as the effect of the inspiration of the moment; and of treating, in like manner, of the affairs of God and of religion. That this latter, and not its strict meaning, belongs to the word in the present passage, is clear from verse 3, and verse 24, where the effects referred to could not immediately follow from the mere prediction of future events, the truth or falsehood of which could be known only from the result. The word has this meaning, Acts 13:1; Acts 21. The gift of tongues consisted in the faculty of speaking in many unknown languages; this was often unaccompanied in the same person with the gift of interpreting them in the language of the country, as is clear from this chapter.

1 Cor 14:2. For he, who speaks in an unknown tongue, speaks not unto men, since no one understands him, but only to God; nevertheless, he gives utterance with devotion to the mysteries or truths of faith.

“In a tongue” which he has not himself learned, and which his hearers do not understand. He assigns a reason for the preference which he adjudges to prophecy over tongues, viz., its greater utility. “No one heareth,” i.e., understands him. “Hear” has this meaning in Genesis 11:7; Acts 2:6. “By the Spirit.” “Spirit” is understood by some, of the Holy Ghost, as if he said, by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, he speaks mysteries: and hence, although unintelligible to us, he is not still to be despised.

1 Cor 14:3. But he that exercises the gift of prophecy, speaks to men, language, which, on account of being understood, edifies them—(an effect which every communication from God is calculated to produce)—exhorts them—(the truths of faith exhorts us to the practice of virtue)—and consoles them. (The greatest consolation to a mind in affliction is the knowledge, which faith supplies, of the gracious designs of God in sending us crosses and afflictions).

“Speaketh unto edification.” The Greek is, λαλεῖ οικοδομην και παρακλησιν, &c. “Speaketh edification and exhortation,” &c. From this verse it is clearly seen—that by “prophecy” is not meant the prediction of future events, since the effects of “edification,” “comfort,” &c., referred to here, would only result, at most after the prophecy was fulfilled.

1 Cor 14:4. The man who speaks in an unknown tongue merely edifies himself; but the man who exercises the functions of prophet in explaining the truths of faith and divine revelation, edifies the entire Church of God.

“Edifies himself.” The man who speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself only, by devoutly giving expression to the gift of God, just as a person is edified, who devoutly and piously recites a prayer in a language which he does not understand. “Edifieth the church.” The Vulgate has, “Ecclesiam Dei edificat,” “edifies the Church of God.”

1 Cor 14:5. In adjudging the preference, however, to the gift of prophecy over that of tongues, I am not to be misunderstood, as if I were deprecating this latter gift. For, if it so pleased God, and did not interfere with the orderly constitution of his mystical body, I would wish for my part, that you all had this gift. I would, however, prefer that you had the gift of prophecy. For, the man who exercises the gift of prophecy is greater than the man who speaks in unknown tongues, unless he happen to be gifted with the faculty of interpreting them for the edification of the Church.

“Greater is he that prophesieth.” The man who exercises the gift of prophecy is greater than the man who speaks in unknown tongues; because, he corresponds more perfectly with the end for which all spiritual gifts, or, as they are called, “gratiæ gratis datæ,” are given, viz., the edification and spiritual good of others. In this point of view, the man who exercises the gift of prophecy is the greater of the two. “Unless, perhaps, he interpret.” From these words it appears evident, that the gift of interpretation did not always accompany the gift of tongues; for it is only over the gift of tongues in itself, without the gift of interpreting these tongues, that the Apostle adjudges a preference to the gift of prophecy.

1 Cor 14:6. Suppose brethren, that I who am your Apostle, had come to you, speaking in unknown tongues; what good could I have done you, unless I disclosed to you some new revelation which is made known to you by “prophecy,” or some previously revealed truth, the clear knowledge of which, with all its bearings, I had acquired by my own study and research, and made this known to you by “doctrine.”

He illustrates what he has been saying by a case in which he adduces himself as an example. “Revelation,” “knowledge,” “prophecy,” “doctrine.” It is better to reduce these four members to two, the first comprising “Revelation,” the exponent of which is “prophecy;” the second, “science,” of which the exponent, or sermo scientiœ, is “doctrine.” “Doctrine” and “prophecy” differ in this, that “prophecy” is the power of immediately explaining a revelation just made. “Doctrine,” the power of imparting knowledge acquired by labour and studious application.—(See Paraphrase).

1 Cor 14:7. Nay, even the musical instruments devoid of life, whether wind instruments, such as the pipe, or stringed instruments, such as the harp, unless they are made to give a distinction of sounds, so as to give the distinctive characteristic of each kind of musical tunes, how will men be able to know, what is sounded or sung?

Another illustration of the superiority of prophecy is derived from the various instruments of music. “Even.” The Greek word for this ὅμως, “is understood by some to mean the same as, ὅμοιως “in like manner.” This construction is rejected by Erasmus and the best critics. The meaning in the Paraphrase is the more probable.

1 Cor 14:8. Suppose the military trumpet to give an indistinct sound, so as not to give distinctive notes for each duty, how can the soldier prepare himself for battle, if the signal for battle be not distinctly sounded?

The military wind instruments among the ancients were used not only for directing their steps in marching, but also as signals to tell the soldier what to do, whether to march forward or to retreat. Now, if the trumpeter so used the trumpet as not to give the distinctive note for each duty, the soldier could not prepare himself for that duty.

1 Cor 14:9. So shall it be in like manner with you unless you utter language which may convey your meaning to the minds of your hearers, how can any person understand you, any more than the soldier understands the indistinct notes of the trumpet? You shall be speaking in vain, like one speaking to the air.

No commentary is offered on this verse beyond the paraphrase

1 Cor 14:10. There are, for example, so many different idioms in this world, and not one nation without some peculiar language, unintelligible to the others, to express its meaning.

In this verse the Apostle shows how useless it is to speak in any unknown tongue, since each nation has its own peculiar idiom, unintelligible to the others; if, then, you were to speak the idiom or language of one to another, you might as well be speaking to the air. Others understand the word “none” in the sentence, “none is without a voice,” to regard not the different nations (as in Paraphrase), but the tongues, as if he said, and none of these tongues is without a voice or peculiar signification of its own; and hence, when a person speaks, he should endeavour to know the meaning of the articulate sound which he utters. The Greek, καὶ οὐδὲν αυτῶν ἄφωνον, favours this interpretation, and none of them voiceless.

1 Cor 14:11. If, then, I am ignorant of the meaning of the words which I use, I shall be to the person whom I address (and who also may be ignorant of the meaning of my words), a barbarian; and he, in turn, a barbarian in regard to me.

Estius remarks that some addition must be made to the words in the Vulgate, in order to express the Apostle’s meaning, as in Paraphrase (and who also may be ignorant of the meaning of my words). A “barbarian.”—(See Romans 1:14). The Greeks and Romans, from a feeling of pride and a sense of superiority over all others termed all persons not speaking the Greek or Latin tongue, “barbarians”—a term designating not only difference of language, but uncouth rusticity of manners. Here, the word has the meaning of stranger or foreigner. How applicable is the term to those vain preachers of God’s holy word “that fly as clouds,” addressing the people in a lofty strain, quite unintelligible to their hearers. Plebes sibi commissas pro sua et earum capacitate pascant salutaribus verbis, is the precept of the Council of Trent.—(SS. 5, de Reformatione.)

1 Cor 14:12. So shall you also be barbarians in regard to those whom you address in unknown tongues, and in order to avoid this, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, seek for those which will enable you to give more abundant edification to the Church.

“So you also” (shall be barbarians), and in order to avoid this, &c.—(See Paraphrase.) Others connect the words with the following, and interpret them thus: so, therefore, in your case; since you are anxious for spiritual gifts, if you wish not to be accounted barbarians, seek for those which will enable you to give edification.

1 Cor 14:13. And, therefore, let the person favoured with the gift of tongues pray for the gift of interpretation, which shall render that of tongues useful for edification.

Hence the gift of tongues was not always found united with the gift of interpretation.

1 Cor 14:14. The inferiority of the grace of tongues in public prayer and instruction also is manifest; for, if I pray in an unknown tongue, my affection prays (as in the case of a person giving utterance to a good prayer which he does not understand), but the understanding of me by others is without any fruit, because no one understands what I am saying.

“But my understanding is without fruit.” These words are commonly interpreted, my intellect is without fruit, for want of understanding the beauty and unction of the truths contained in my prayer. The interpretation of A’Lapide, adopted in the Paraphrase, explains the words “my understanding,” not of the understanding of the man who prays; but, of his being understood by others. Mens mea, i.e., Mens mei, intellects mei ab aliis, the understanding of me, or, my being understood by others, is without fruit, and hence, the inferiority of tongues even in prayer, since the gift does not fully answer the end of all such gifts, viz., the general good and edification of the Church. This interpretation seems the more probable. The Greek word for understanding, νοῦς bears this meaning. It signifies the same as διᾶνοια the understanding of a man’s mind by others, and its corresponding Hebrew word, Sechel, signifies the same. It is clear, that in this passage the Apostle is referring to public prayer; for, of private prayer, to which he thinks the gift of tongues may be conveniently adapted, he has treated already, verse 2. In public prayer, it is not so much the understanding of a man by himself as by his hearers that is to be considered. Besides, it is not so much by their advantage to the person possessing these gratiæ gratis datæ, such as prophecy, tongues, &c., that the Apostle estimates their relative value, as by their promoting the public good of others and the edification of the Church—the end for which these gratiæ gratis datæ were given—and if we adopt the other interpretation, which refers “my intellect” to the intellect or understanding of the man who utters the prayer, this inconvenience would follow, viz., that the Apostle would be instituting a comparison between the gift of tongues only, in prayer, and the same gift accompanied with the faculty of interpretation, about the relative merits of which no one ever entertained a doubt, as the latter is manifestly preferable.

1 Cor 14:15. What, then, am I to do in order to render my prayer in public, beneficial? I shall pray with fervour and with my affection. I shall pray in such a way as to be understood. I shall recite Psalms with my affections, and in such a way as to be understood (by waiting for some person gifted with interpretation, if I myself have not that gift).

The Greek for “with the understanding,” τῶ νο̈́ι, is a dativus commodi, for, εις το νοεισθαι signifying, so as to be understood by others, the same as, νοῆσαι.

1 Cor 14:16. The same is illustrated by the example of another kind of prayer—prayer of thanksgiving and rejoicing. Suppose, in a public prayer of thanksgiving, that you were only to pray with your affection in an unknown tongue, how could the person who sustains the character of the simple faithful, not favoured with spiritual gifts, join in a confirmatory “Amen,” not knowing what you say? How can he know for certain, that you are not blaspheming God or invoking the devil?

In the preceding verse, there is question of prayer of impetration, of prayer for favours; in this, of prayer of thanksgiving and of rejoicing; after it, “Amen,” or fiat, fiat, “be it so,” used to be added. By “the unlearned,” τοῦ ἰδιώτου, is commonly understood the class of persons not favoured with these gratuitous gifts.

Objection, against the practice of the Catholic Church employing an unknown tongue in her Liturgy. Does not St. Paul here condemn this practice, or, at least, does he not prefer the practice of praying publicly in the language which the faithful could understand.

Resp.—St. Paul neither contemplates the case of a Church Liturgy at all, nor any thing similar to it. This is clear: First—Because the Liturgy of the Church of Corinth was, according to the Protestants themselves, composed and framed in the Greek language—the vernacular of the country, which all understood—whereas St. Paul refers to languages which the people did not understand. Secondly—St. Paul treats of prayers to which the simple faithful, “the unlearned,” could not for certain give the confirmatory “Amen,” for want of knowing whether the prayer was good or bad. Now, the Liturgy had a fixed form of words, which it depended on no private individual to change or modify. Every man in the Church knew such a form of words to be a good prayer, and could, therefore, safely answer “Amen.” The Apostle is not, then, treating of the Liturgy. He is treating, in both verses 15 and 16, of public prayer, consisting of certain extemporaneous effusions, on the part of private individuals, in many instances emanating from the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and intended for the instruction of others, and in consequence of being uttered in unknown tongues, lost upon the hearers for want of having some person present who could interpret them in the vernacular of the country.’

Granted, that the Apostle does not speak here of the Church Liturgy, are not the reasons adduced by him applicable to our Liturgy, and are we not acting against, at least, the spirit of this chapter; for, the Apostle appears to prefer public prayers, said in a language known to the people, to prayers offered up in an unknown tongue?

Resp.—The Apostle does not censure or contemplate at all, the use of prayers in an unknown tongue, if there be one by to interpret such language. Now, the Church has provided interpreters in her pastors, and has strictly commanded them (Council of Trent SS. 22, c. 8; SS. 24, c. 7) to explain the Liturgy in plain language to the people; and hence, the inconvenience referred to here by the Apostle does not exist in our case unless through the neglect of individual pastors, which is not chargeable upon the general discipline of the Church. Again, it is to be borne in mind, that the Apostle is contemplating, not fixed prayers, but certain extemporaneous effusions, intended for public instruction, that prove of no avail to the hearers, and frustrating the end for which they were inspired; and hence, the inconveniences to which he refers can never apply to our Liturgy, in which the prayers are of a fixed character, are intended rather to praise, and entreat God, than to instruct the people. It treatises of Theology, where this question is professedly discussed, are shown the weighty reasons upon which the practice of the Church in this matter is founded. Among these are pointed out the advantages of this practice for preserving unity of faith and discipline, and for consulting, by one unchangeable language, for the decency and dignity of divine worship. These advantages far outweigh any inconvenience arising from the ignorance, on the part of the people, of the language of the Ritual, and this very inconvenience, if there be any, is removed by the decrees of the Church, already referred to. There is another point which should not be lost sight of in this matter. It is, that all the rights and ceremonies of the Catholic Church are translated and published in books of every size and form for the accommodation of all classes of persons; so that any one that pleases may easily accompany the ministering priest, whether in offering up the Adorable Sacrifice of the Mass, or, in administering the holy sacraments, &c. The Latin tongue—the tongue employed in the Church Liturgy—is so generally cultivated, that it can hardly be termed an unknown tongue. At all events, it cannot be regarded as such in the sense here contemplated by the Apostle.

1 Cor 14:17. Indeed, your praise of God and your thanksgiving are good and meritorious for yourself personally; but the end of these gifts, viz., the edification for your neighbour, is not attained; and hence, if you have the gift of tongues, you should pray for the useful gift of interpretation also (verse 13).

No commentary is offered on this verse beyond the paraphrase.

1 Cor 14:18. (Let it not be imagined that I depreciate the gift of tongues in consequence of not having been myself favoured with this gift). Thanks be to God, I can speak and understand the language of all of you.

“I thank my God,” &c. This he adds, lest they might suspect him of undervaluing the gift of tongues, in consequence of not being favoured with it himself, as is the case with many, who depreciate in others the gift which they themselves do not possess “With all your tongues.” (In Greek, πάντων ὑμῶν μᾶλλον γλώσσαις, with tongues more than ye all), may either mean, the tongues of all who frequent their commercial city, or, the tongues which all among them, favoured with this supernatural gift, can speak.

1 Cor 14:19. But while I value the gift of tongues, I would prefer speaking but a few words, so as to understand them and be able to instruct others, beyond speaking the greatest number of words, in a tongue unknown to myself and to my hearers.

“Five words,” signify a very few words, as “ten thousand” signify a large number.

1 Cor 14:20. Do not, any longer, brethren, judge of things from mere appearances, like children, who judge by the senses (I wish, however, you had as little acquaintance with vice and malice as children have); but rather judge of matters from their reality and use, as is wont with men of sound reason and matured judgment.

“Be perfect in sense.” The conclusion from which is, that they should prefer the gift of prophecy, and other such gifts, as being the more useful.

1 Cor 14:21. The superiority of prophecy over tongues is also proved from the law (Isa chap. 28), where the Lord, directly referring to the incredulous Jews, whom he menaced with the Babylonish captivity, in punishment of their infidelity, and mystically to the Jews of the Apostle’s time, says: “I will speak to this people in different tongues and different idioms, so that they will not understand me, saith the Lord.”—Isa 28:11-12.

“In the law it is written.” The prophecy of Isaias is, in a general sense, included under the “law.” The Apostle in this verse adduces another argument to prove the superiority of prophecy over tongues. “In other tongues,” &c. These words, in their literal signification, refer to the Babylonish captivity. They are taken from chap. 28, verse 11, &c., of the Prophet Isaias. In this passage, the Prophet threatens the Jews of his day, that, in punishment of their unbelief, and in return for their rejecting the promises and defying the menaces of God, he will send them persons who shall be the instruments of their punishment; viz., the Chaldeans, who shall speak to them in unknown tongues. Although a good many among the Jews listened to Isaias, the greater number did not. In their mystical sense, however, (a sense oftentimes principally intended by the Holy Ghost in the writings of the prophets, and the sense principally expressed here by the Apostle in this prophetic quotation), the words refer to the gift of tongues conferred on the Apostles at Pentecost, when the greater number of the Jews continued in their incredulity. The Apostle quotes the sense of the passage from Isaias, without minding the exact words. In Isaias they run thus: In loquela enim labii (which is explained by the Apostle, in aliis labiis, “other lips,” and in the original Hebrew, the words mean, in lisping and deriding tongues), et in lingua, altera loquetur ad populum istum. So that the Apostle transposes the phrases, and makes a change from the third to the first person, “I will speak.” &c.

1 Cor 14:22. From which testimony of the Prophet I draw this conclusion, viz., that the gift of tongues was given to the Jewish people when in a state of infidelity, and when God saw that they would not profit by them (“and so neither will they hear me”); whereas prophecies were given to the same people when they were faithful, in order to edify, to exhort, to console them; and hence, the superiority of prophecy in consequence of having the intended effect; whereas, tongues failed in the intended effect of converting the unbelievers.

In this verse, is expressed the conclusion, which the Apostle deduces from the testimony of the Prophet. The conclusion, as far as it regards the “tongues,” is quite clear. From the testimony of the Prophet, it appears that the tongues were given both in the time of the Chaldeans, and, lastly, in the time of the Apostles, as signs for working conviction on the unbelieving Jews, although God foresaw that they would fail to effect the conversion of the greater number among them, “and so neither will they hear me.” We cannot find anything in the quotation from Isaias about prophecies to warrant the Apostle in drawing the conclusion; “but prophecies—for the believers.” But this latter he appears to assert, as a thing quite manifest and undeniable. It is to be borne in mind, that the conclusion of the Apostle in this verse, is not to be understood of tongues and prophecy in reference to all persons; for, as appears from this very chapter, tongues were occasionally given to the faithful, and prophecies to unbelievers. The conclusion is to be limited to the Jewish people, to whom the two gifts were given at different periods. It is only of the Jews, that the Prophet Isaias speaks, and it is from the effects of these gifts among them that the Apostle wishes us to judge of their relative excellency. The conclusion, then, comes to this:—Prophecy was intended for the faithful Jews; tongues for the same when they were unbelievers; prophecy produced its effect of consoling, of encouraging them (verse 2)—tongues failed of producing the intended effect of converting them from their unbelief. Hence, the superiority of the former over the latter gift.

1 Cor 14:23. Suppose all the faithful of any particular district to assemble together in the church, or in any place of meeting, and that all speak in unknown tongues, without an interpreter to explain them, and that uninstructed persons, or Pagans, led by curiosity, were to enter, what other conclusion would they come to, if not that you were all mad?

He supposes a case in which the superiority of prophecy over tongues must appear quite manifest. “Unlearned persons” (ἰδιῶται), refer to those among the faithful who were ignorant of tongues, favoured with no gifts, and exercising no ministry in the Church. “Will they not say that you are mad?” In the case made, the gift of tongues would not only be useless, but even injurious both to the faithful and unbelievers, who would be scared away from sacred meetings.

1 Cor 14:24. Suppose, on the other hand, that on the occasion referred to, all were in due order to exercise the gift of prophecy, the Pagan or unlearned Christian, instead of charging you with madness, would be himself stung with the reproaches of conscience by the words of all, he would be pointed to by all as in a state of damnation.

“If all prophesy.” Of course in order, and in succession, otherwise disorder would result, if they were to “prophesy,” i.e., explain the truths of faith in an intelligible manner, the Pagan or unlearned Christian, would, on entering your place of meeting, “be convinced of all,” that is, he would be convinced, on looking into his soul, and contrasting his life with the sanctity of life which the law of God prescribes, of his error and sinfulness. “He is judged of all,” and shown by the words of all the speakers to be in a state of damnation.

1 Cor 14:25. And by contrasting his own life with the rule of moral guidance, the precepts of God, now clearly explained to him, he would clearly see the sinfulness of his actions, to which his attention was never before directed, and thus, struck with the enormity of his sins, falling prostrate, he would adore God, confessing him to be the true God, and by his gifts to be truly amongst you.

“The secrets of his heart are made manifest.” In the common Greek, και ουτω τα κρυπτα της καρδιας, “and thus, the secrets of his heart,” &c.; the words, and thus, are cancelled by the best critics on the authority of the chief MSS. The words of this verse are understood by some to mean, that the man who exercises the gift of prophecy, had the faculty of diving into the secrets of hearts, and when the infidel or sinful Christian came into the church, the state of his soul was disclosed, and his private sins manifested to him by the man exercising the gift of prophecy.

The meaning, however, adopted in the Paraphrase, which supposes the conversion of the person in question to arise from the moral effect which the plain exposition of God’s law, and of the grievousness of sin (v.g.), idolatry, or fornication, &c., had on him, is the more probable explanation.

1 Cor 14:26. What, then, is be done? Simply this: when, in assembling together, any of you is inspired with some spiritual canticle, or has to explain some doctrine of faith by human reasoning, or is inspired on the spot with some new revelation, or has the gift of tongues, or of interpretation; let all these gifts be exercised in such a way as to promote edification—the great end for which they were conferred.

After showing the superiority of prophecy in the sense already explained, the Apostle now proceeds to regulate the exercise of these several gifts. “A doctrine,” is by some understood to mean a truth of faith, known from the study of revelation. “Hath a revelation, hath a tongue.” The common Greek has the order inverted, “hath a tongue, hath a revelation,” but the Vulgate order is that of the chief MSS. and versions generally.

1 Cor 14:27. If there be question of the gift of tongues, let only two, or at most, three speak, and that in succession, and let one interpret the meaning of the unknown tongues.

No commentary is offered on this verse beyond the paraphrase.

1 Cor 14:28. But if there be no one present favoured with the gift of interpretation, then, as the end of these gifts could not be attained, let the man favoured with tongues be silent in the church, and speak only to God and to himself, and not be disturbing others.

In private prayer, not intended for public instruction, the Apostle does not censure the use of unknown tongues.—(See verse 2). From this verse it clearly follows, that the gift of interpretation did not always accompany, in the same person, the gift of tongues.

1 Cor 14:29. So far for the gift of tongues. Now, as to the gift of prophecy—Let two or three, endowed with the gift, speak in succession, and let the others endowed with the gift, judge whether the announcement made be from God or not.

After pointing out the mode of exercising the gift of tongues, the Apostle now proceeds to regulate the orderly exercise of the gift of prophecy.

1 Cor 14:30. But if a new revelation be made to any person sitting down, let the person speaking be silent, and afford him an opportunity of announcing it.

“Let the first hold his peace.” For, by inspiring a new revelation, the Holy Ghost shows it is a more excellent one, or at least more urgent, than the one already imparted.

1 Cor 14:31. For, by observing proper order, you may all prophesy in turn, so that all may learn, and all may be instructed by those who speak in their proper order.

“That all may learn,” &c. Hence, the intellect and affection of all will profit by such order.

1 Cor 14:32. (And let no one object to such an arrangement as impossible, on the ground that being urged on by the Spirit, he cannot defer giving expression to the revelation with which he has been inspired); for, the divine instinct and impulse by which the true prophets are moved are subject to themselves and under their control, so that they can give expression to the inspirations of the Holy Ghost just as they please.

The true prophets of God, unlike those under the frenzied excitement inspired of the devil, who have no control over themselves, can either express or commit to writing the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, as they please. Others connect the words differently, thus:—“the spirits of the prophets are subject to (other) prophets,” who can, therefore, judge of them whether they are from God or not. Hence, the gift termed discretio spirituum, to which reference is made in the words, “Prophetias æolite spernere, sed omnia probate.”—(1 Th 5:20). The interpretation in the Paraphrase, “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the themselves, unlike the frenzied persons, inspired by the devils,” is the more natural.

1 Cor 14:33. For, God is not a God of dissension, but of peace (and hence he will not impel men to act in a disorderly way), as I teach in all the churches; and hence, on these grounds I exhort you to cultivate order and union.

“He is the God of peace, as I teach in all” the churches. Others connect the words thus: Let this arrangement be observed among you, as it has been in all the other churches. “As I teach,” &c. The word “teach” is not in the Greek, which runs thus, ως εν πασαις ταις εκκλησιαις, &c., found in some ancient MSS. Hence, some persons refer these words to the following verse: “As I teach in all the churches, let the women be silent,” &c.

1 Cor 14:34. As for women, let them be altogether silent in the churches: for, it is not permitted them by any means, to speak or teach publicly; they should be subject to their husbands, as the law of God teaches, which subjection they should testify by their silence in public.

In the common Greek, “let your women,” &c.; your, is wanting in the chief MSS. Females are, therefore, incapable of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. It has been already shown (chap. 11) that there is no contradiction between the injunctions of the Apostle in this place and chapter 11. For, although in chapter 11 the Apostle only condemns the practice of women propheysing with unveiled heads, he by no means permits them to prophesy at all, even when their heads are veiled. It did not fall within his scope, in that passage, to condemn the practice of women speaking at all in public. All that he had in view was to censure the immodesty of female dress in public assemblies. The other abuse of their speaking at all, in public, he reserves for this place.

“As also the law saith.” The “law,” here, as well as in verse 21, denotes, in a general way, the Scripture of the Old Testament. In Genesis (chap. 3, verse 16), the woman is told, that she “shall be under the power of her husband.”

1 Cor 14:35. If a woman have any question to propose for the sake of information, let her consult her husband at home about them, for it is indecent for her, it is opposed to female modesty, to raise her voice in public, and particularly in the church.

Let her consult her husband at home. Unless there be a question of knowledge indispensable for salvation, it would be much better for her to be without it altogether, than expose herself by going about to make inquiries of other men, in case her own husband could not instruct her. Of course, in every such case, the ministers of religion are the only persons to be consulted. “For a woman.” In the common Greek, γυναιξιν for women. The chief MSS. have the singular, γυναιειν.

1 Cor 14:36. (Why not follow the general practice of the church in reference to those gifts?) Was it from you the word of God has emanated, so that your practice should be the model for all others?—or has it reached you only, so that you could institute usages, independent of all the other churches equally favoured with yourselves?
1 Cor 14:37. Any person amongst you gifted with the true spirit of prophesy, or practised in the spiritual principles of faith, can know that the instructions I am writing to you are the commands of God.

No commentary is offered on these verses beyond the paraphrase.

1 Cor 14:38. But if any person persist in ignoring, and not acquiescing in these precepts, he shall not be known by God, and shall be reprobated with the sentence, I know you not.

“He shall not be known.” In Greek, ἀγνοειτω, “let him be ignorant,” as if he said, if any man refuse to follow the order laid down, let him follow his own way at his peril.

1 Cor 14:39. Wherefore—to reduce my injunctions to a few words—be zealous for the acquisition of prophecy, as being the more useful gift; and do not neglect, or prevent the exercise of the gift of tongues, which is a gift from God, and which, if used properly, is useful to the church.

“And forbid not,” &c. This he adds, lest he might be thought, owing to the preference which he adjudged in favour of prophecy, to have prohibited the use of tongues. He only wishes them to regulate the proper exercise of this gift.

1 Cor 14:40. But let all things be done with decency, and in an orderly manner in your public assemblies.

“Decently,” as in the case of women observing silence in the church, “and according to order,” as has been laid down in reference to the exercise of tongues, prophecy, &c.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians Chapter 13

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2019

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

In this chapter, the Apostle points out what the “more excellent way,” referred to in verse 31, of preceding chapter, is. It is charity, the excellence of which he establishes.

First. On the ground of its absolute, indispensable necessity for salvation: since without it, the most distinguished gifts whether of tongues, of prophecy, or miracles, as well as the most heroic acts of virtue will ultimately prove of no avail (1 Cor 13:1-3).

Secondly.—On the ground of its utility; since it prompts us to practice all the other virtues. This he shows by pointing out the acts of virtue, both positive and negative, which charity dictates, and which are its leading features and characteristics (1 Cor 13:4–7).

Thirdly.—On the ground of its perpetuity and continuance, even in the life to come, when the other theological virtues shall cease, and the several gratuitous gifts of prophecy, tongues, and knowledge, shall be destroyed (1 Cor 13:8–13).

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

1 Cor 13:1. If I possess the gifts of tongues in so extraordinary a degree, as to speak not only all human languages, but also languages as exquisite, as we could suppose the angels themselves to employ, were they to speak and have not charity, I am become like the sounding brass or the tinkling cymbal, which wears away, while emitting a pleasing sound.

“The tongues of men,” that is, all idioms spoken by the different nations of the earth, “and of angels,” and hyperbole, intended to express all the languages, the most exquisite that are, or can be spoken either on earth or in heaven—“as sounding brass, or a tinkling,” &c., which wears away while emitting a pleasant sound; hence, such a gift, no matter how highly prized by others, would be of no use to its possessor. It is the circumstance of the inutility of the gift of tongues to its possessor, without charity, that the apostle considers in speaking of the “sounding brass.” This is more clearly expressed, verse 3, “it profiteth me nothing.”

But a question here suggests itself, viz.: what is the “charity to which the Apostle refers? Is it the virtue of charity, “which is poured into our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given us” (Rom. 5), the virtue peculiar to the sons of God, that always accompanies sanctifying grace, and is held by some Divines to be the same with it? Or, does he merely refer to actual charity, without which he would appear to hold that no other acts of virtue are conducive to salvation? The difficulty against the first interpretation is, that we cannot suppose, should a catechumen, who has not sanctifying grace, perform certain good acts (v.g.), of faith, hope, or charity, that such acts will profit him nothing; since it is by such acts, under the influence of actual divine grace, he is to dispose himself for the remission of his sins and for obtaining sanctifying grace. The same applies to a Christian in mortal sin, while preparing himself for the sacrament of Penance. The difficulty against the second interpretation is, that it would appear to follow from it, that no act elicited from any other than a motive of charity is of any avail to salvation. What, then, will become of acts of faith, hope, fear of God, &c.? Those who hold the second interpretation, viz.: that the Apostle speaks of actual charity, understand by “charity” in this passage, not acts of love, but any good intention—any pious affection of the soul towards God. They say, it merely excludes any bad or sinister motive in the performance of an action. Hence, according to them, the passage means: “If I perform any act, or exercise any gift, with any other than a good intention—with any other than a good motive—it profits me nothing.” And these also include—“If I retain odium or hatred for my neighbour, in the exercise of such gifts, it profits,” &c.; for, the scope of the Apostle, according to them, requires such to be added. The first interpretation, according to which the Apostle treats of the virtue of charity, seems preferable; for, he compares it with the virtues of faith and hope; and it is only the virtue that could properly be called “charity.” Of course, acts of the virtue are included under it, to the exclusion of every other contrary act, particularly the harbouring of enmity or ill-will for our neighbour. The difficulty against this interpretation, derived from the case of the catechumen, &c., is thus solved by A’Lapide. The Apostle considers the acts referred to in the three first verses, as not ultimately followed by habitual charity; in that case, these acts are of no avail before God; for, being mere dispositions, they would be worth nothing, unless eventually followed by the form to which they lead, viz., charity.

1 Cor 13:2. Suppose me to have even a more perfect gift still, viz., the gift of prophecy, and to be versed in all wisdom, so as to know all the mysteries of faith, and in all knowledge, so as to propound these truths in an intelligible manner, and to have all faith, including that by which I could remove mountains, and to be devoid of charity, I am of no value before God.

“And if I should have prophecy.” A gift which, in the following chapter, the Apostle proves to be superior to the gift of tongues. “And should know all mysteries;” this is the same with the gift which, in the preceding chapter, he terms “the word of wisdom.” “And all knowledge,” the same as “the word of knowledge,” (1 Cor 12:8). “And all faith.” The faith of miracles, which includes Christian faith. Hence faith can be found without charity; for, the other gifts of tongues and prophecy can be found in a man devoid of charity; and the acts of virtue referred to in verse, 3, can be performed by a man who is not in the state of sanctifying grace. The Apostle, therefore, evidently supposes, that this perfect faith can also be found in such a person; although in the ordinary course of Providence it is only to his friends that God accords so exalted a gift.

1 Cor 13:3. Nay, suppose me to perform the most heroic acts of virtue, such as giving up all my substance to feed the poor, and delivering my body to the flames in testimony for the faith, and that I had not charity, it would be of no avail to me.

“It profiteth me nothing.” This, of course, is to be understood of charity in the sense already mentioned, of not being eventually followed by habitual charity. Suppose that these acts of virtue are not followed by sanctifying grace; suppose that martyrdom, for instance, which, if undergone in the true Church, produces grace, ex opere operato, was prevented from having this effect, either because the sufferer was a heretic or a schismatic, or had not the proper dispositions (v.g.) should he retain hatred or enmity for his neighbour (for, on such a person, the sacraments, which produce grace, ex opere operato, would not confer sanctifying grace), such acts are of no avail before God. Hence, the excellence of charity on the ground of its absolute, indispensable necessity for salvation.

1 Cor 13:4. The characteristic marks of this charity are the different acts of virtue which it dictates. First, charity is “patient”: it dictates to us to fly all feelings of revenge, and to bear the defects and faults of our neighbour, be they ever so disagreeable. It is “kind”: that is, free from all moroseness, and disposes us to serve and act an obliging part towards all. It “envies not”: it does not grieve to see another more exalted either in spiritual or temporal matters, or in possession of greater gifts. It “dealeth not perversely”: it guards its possessor against acting indiscreetly, and in a preposterous or disorderly manner; it prompts him to do all things at a proper time and place, and with a due regard to circumstances. It “is not puffed up” on account of any superior gift or advantage whatever.

The Apostle now proceeds to enumerate the marks of charity, or rather the acts which it dictates to the person in whom it reigns. He is referring in the following, not to the actus eliciti, peculiar to the virtue, but to the actus imperati, as they are called, of charity. The elicited acts of charity are mere acts of love of God and of our neighbour. As queen of virtues, it condemns all acts opposed to this two-fold love. First, it is “patient,” i.e., it dictates not to seek revenge for injuries received. The Greek word for “patient,” is, μακροθυμει, long suffering, or enduring. It denotes that mildness of disposition, which secures us against anger or vengeance. “Is kind;” opposed to all moroseness (see Paraphrase). “Dealeth not perversely,” οὐ περπερευεται—derived from the old Latin Perperus, or rather from the Eolic word, περπερος—it is not preposterous or indignant. If it can effect no good, it will avoid doing positive harm. “Is not puffed up,” it employs all gifts for the good of others, and it loves God too much to prostitute the grace of his gifts to fame and self-aggrandisement.

1 Cor 13:5. It is not “ambitious” of high honours: and hence, will not stoop to the mean disgraceful artifices resorted to by such as inordinately aspire after honours. “Seeketh not her own”: does not seek her own selfish advantage, or private emolument, to the injury of public edification, and of the general good. “Is not provoked to anger”: is not prone to revenge or to passionate excitement, on account of insults or injuries received. “Thinketh no evil”: gives our neighbour’s actions the best construction they can admit.

“Is not ambitious.” The Greek word, ασχη ονεῖ, means, doth not act a shameful part, that is, as in Paraphrase, will not stoop to mean, disgraceful artifices to secure honores, which is the same as “ambitious” according to the Vulgate.

1 Cor 13:6. It takes no complacency in the iniquities and wrongs practised upon our neighbour, nor does it take pleasure in the misfortunes that may chance to befall him; it rather feels delight in justice being done to all, and in their prosperity and good fortune.

No commentary is offered for this verse beyond the paraphrase.

1 Cor 13:7. It bears all our neighbour’s defects, and props him up in his infirmities. It believes all things of our neighbour’s virtues, that can be prudently credited. It hopeth all things, that can be prudently expected from him. It endureth all adverse treatment, persecution calumny—even death itself.

“Beareth all things,” may also mean, it foregoes many rights and privileges sooner than endanger fraternal union; or, as in Paraphrase it supports our neighbour in his infirmities, props him up, like a pillar—this is the meaning of the corresponding Greek word, στεγει, according to some—according to others, it means, to palliate and silently conceal our neighbour’s defects. “Believeth all things.” This and the following are to be understood in a negative sense, as excluding all feelings of mistrust and diffidence in our neighbour’s virtue, when this can prudently be done.

1 Cor 3:8. Charity is never to cease, either in this life or in the life to come, whether prophecies be made void (for they will be of no use, when all things will be clearly seen); or tongues shall cease (when in our heavenly country, there will be no one requiring instruction); or science based on faith shall be destroyed by the brilliant light of glory.

In this verse, the Apostle points out the superior excellence of charity on the ground of its perennial, eternal duration. “Never falleth away”; by some Commentators these words are understood to mean, that charity will remain in the Church at all times, while the other gifts are not to extend beyond its infant state. However, the interpretation in the Paraphrase, which refers the words to the life to come, is preferable; since the reason which is assigned by the Apostle, for the abolition of the other gifts, viz., their imperfection, or rather their unsuitableness for any other than an imperfect state, shows that he makes the superior excellence of charity consist in its remaining in the life to come, and its being suited, unlike the other gifts, to so perfect a state.

1 Cor 13:9. And that both knowledge and prophecy shall be destroyed is clear from their being merely suited to the imperfect condition of the present life, in which we can only require imperfect knowledge, and can only imperfectly explain the things for which the gift of prophecy is given.
1 Cor 13:10. But when the perfect state shall have arrived, then, the things suited to a state of imperfection shall be made void.

No commentary is offered on these two verses beyond the paraphrase.

1 Cor 13:11. What I have been saying regarding the cessation of the gift of knowledge, that is to say, the faculty of explaining the truths of faith by human reasoning and of the gift of prophecy, that is to say, the faculty of explaining revealed truth in a prophetic way, may be elucidated by the example of the two different states of childhood and manhood. As the language, the judgments, the thoughts of a child, are wholly unsuited to the state of full-grown manhood, so would the imperfection necessarily inherent in the gifts of knowledge, prophecy, &c., be unsuited to the perfect state of Christian manhood in the life to come.

Queritur.—Is not the charity also of this life imperfect? Why not, then, cease in the life to come, as well as prophecy, knowledge, &c.

Resp.—These latter gifts are imperfect, and to remove their imperfection, so as to render them suited to the life to come, they must altogether change their species; for the obscurity of the knowledge conveyed by these several gifts is founded on the obscurity of faith, of which they are, in this life, the means and instruments. When, therefore, the obscurity of faith shall be exchanged, in the next life, for the clearness of vision, these other gifts shall be no longer useful, and shall, consequently, cease with the end to which, as so many means, they subserved; whereas, charity, although intensified, and from being imperfect rendered perfect in the next, shall still be specifically the same, with the charity of the present life.

1 Cor 13:12. Now, we see God, and the truths of revelation, through the mirror of faith, obscurely, however, and indistinctly; but in heaven we shall see him clearly and distinctly “face to face.” Now I know but a few things, and in an imperfect way; but then I shall know God in his Divine essence, with a knowledge similar to that which he has of me, clear and distinct, but, of course, unequal.

“We see now through a glass in a dark manner.” By the “glass,” εσοπτρον, some understand the thick, but transparent substance, which alone was used, in many instances, by the ancients, for the admission of light (v.g.), horn, pellucid stone, &c.; through these, they saw but indistinctly and imperfectly. Others (as in Paraphrase), understood it of a mirror, and the clearness of vision in the mirror is removed by the Apostle in the words, “in a dark manner,” which refers to an indirect vision, opposed to the direct way of looking “face to face.” Our mirror, through which we see the truths of faith is Divine revelation. We do not see the truths of faith either in God or in themselves, but in God’s revelation. In heaven we shall see God, intuitively, as he is “face to face.” The grace of the present life would not enable us to see God in this way. The supernatural assistance, which is termed, lumen gloriæ, is necessary to see God, intuitively, as he is, in the life to come. This has been defined in the General Council of Vienne, held a.d. 1311, under Clement V., against the Beguards and Beguines, who maintained, among other points of doctrine, as impious as they were extravagant—“quælibet intellectualis natura in seipsa est beata nec anima indiget lumine gloriæ ad Deum vivendum.”

1 Cor 13:13. But, now, in this life there remain three virtues—faith, hope, and charity, which are necessary for perfect justice; but the most excellent of these is charity.

Faith shall be exchanged in the life to come for vision, and hope for fruition, while charity shall remain for ever.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians Chapter 12

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 31, 2018

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

This and the two following chapters are employed by the Apostle in delivering instructions concerning the gifts of the Holy Ghost. In this chapter, he undertakes to remedy certain abuses of which these gratiæ gratis datæ, with which the Corinthian Church was abundantly favoured, were the occasion. It appears, that many among them, upon whom were conferred gifts of a more exalted and honourable description, had, in consequence, grown insolent, and despised their humbler and less favoured brethren. These, on the other hand, indulged feelings of jealousy and envy. Hence, schisms and divisions among them. To remedy this evil, the Apostle reminds them, in the first place, of their former degraded condition, when professing the errors of Paganism. As they, therefore, possessed no claim to these gifts, they should not make them serve as occasions of pride (1 Cor 12:1–4). In the next place, he shows that these gifts, although differing in number and quality, were one in their source and origin, viz., God, their author; and hence, they should serve rather to cement union, than cause divisions (1 Cor 12:4–6). He then reminds them that these gifts were given for the profit of the entire body of the faithful, as well those who were not favoured with them, as those who were (1 Cor 12:7). In the next place, he shows that in the distribution of the several gifts, which he enumerates and classes wider nine distinct heads, the Holy Ghost is influenced solely by his own gratuitous will; and, therefore, these gifts should neither prove the occasion of pride to one party, nor of envy to the other (1 Cor 12:8–12). By a beautiful illustration drawn from the unity of the natural body of man, although composed of different members, he points out the relative duties which the different members of the mystic body of Christ owe to each other. He shows, that, like the natural body, the mystic body of Christ is one (1 Cor 12:12–13). (Hence, the members of the Church should have but one soul), and composed of different members (1 Cor 12:14). (Hence, all cannot have the same gifts). He then points out, that the different members, all enjoy the honours of the body by incorporation (1 Cor 12:15-16). And, that consistently with the nature of an organized body, all cannot have the same functions (1 Cor 12:17–20). Addressing the more highly gifted, he assigns reasons why they should treat the others with greater attention (1 Cor 12:21–27). He applies all that had been said of the natural body to the Church, and shows the variety of gifts and functions in it 1 Cor 12:(27–30). He recommends charity (1 Cor 12:31).

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

1 Cor 12:1. Whilst deferring until the period of my advent amongst you all further arrangements respecting your Agapes and the Adorable Eucharist (1 Cor 11:34), I am anxious to instruct you regarding the spiritual gifts which are the occasion of certain abuses.

“Concerning spiritual things,” the Greek, πνευματικῶν, will also admit, “concerning spiritual persons.” The former is, however, the more probable rendering of the words. “I would not have you ignorant,” is a form of words requesting serious attention and undoubting faith.

1 Cor 12:2. You know, that before your conversion, when you professed the errors of Paganism, you were in the habit of going to pay your senseless homage to mute idols which were devoid of reason or intelligence, according as you were impelled either by curiosity, or custom, or the craft of the devil.

“When you were heathens,” in which they are reminded of what they now are through the divine mercy. “When,” ὅτε, is omitted in the common Greek text, but found in the chief MSS. “You went.” The Greek is in the participial form, απαγωμενοι, you were going, it expresses custom or habit. “Dumb idols,” devoid of reason or intelligence. “As you were led,” i.e., impelled by curiosity, or custom, or the craft of die devil. The Apostle reminds the Corinthians of their former wretched condition, as the most effectual security against those feelings of pride, which their present favours were apt to engender.

1 Cor 12:3. Wherefore, I wish to make known to you, that no one speaking under the influence of God’s Spirit, will curse, or say anathema to Jesus. (As, then, you were identified in your Pagan state with those who cursed the Lord Jesus, you had no claim whatever to receive those spiritual gifts of which you now boast). And no one can so much as pronounce, in a pious manner, and in a way conducive to salvation, the name of Jesus, without the grace of the Holy Ghost. (Hence, whatever gifts you possess at present come from the Spirit of God).

“Wherefore,” may be connected with the preceding verse, thus: “I have reminded you of your wretched condition in Paganism, in order to make you understand the following truth, viz.”:—“That no man speaking by the Spirit of God,” &c.—A’Lapide; or, with the first verse, thus:—as “I would not have you ignorant of spiritual things” (verse 1), “I therefore,” to remove this ignorance, “give you to understand,” &c. Piconio, in his Triplex Expositio, and others, say, that the object of the Apostle, after reminding the Corinthians of their former wretched condition in Paganism (verse 2), is, to give them a sign for distinguishing from true prophets, those men who falsely pretended to heavenly revelations, many of whom they formerly witnessed, and had still to witness among the Pagans. The false prophets, when questioned about the Lord Jesus, curse him, and wish him to be anathematized, or to be regarded as an object of execration; whereas, the true prophets, under the influence of God’s spirit, pronounce his name with piety and respect. This, although a very ingenious connexion, does not seem to accord well with the context, nor is it suggested by the consideration of the passage itself. The mode of connecting it, adopted in the Paraphrase, seems much preferable, being the most natural, and the one suggested by the context. The Apostle reminds the Corinthians of their wretched condition in Paganism, from which state most of them were converted to the gospel, in order to show them that they were altogether devoid of God’s spirit, having been identified with those who anathematized the Lord Jesus, and hence, not in the way of receiving those spiritual favours of which they now boast; and, if at present, they have any favour of which to boast, it surely comes from the Spirit of God, without whose grace they could not perform the most trifling meritorious action, nor even so much as pronounce the name of Jesus in a pious manner—or, in a manner conducive to salvation. “Saith Anathema to Jesus.” In the common Greek, λεγει αναθεμα Ιησοῦν, calleth Jesus accursed. The chief MSS. have the Vulgate reading, λεγει αναθεμα Ιησους. “No man can say Lord Jesus;” in the common Greek, ειπεῖν κυρίον Ιησοῦν, that Jesus is the Lord. The chief manuscripts have the Vulgate reading, εἰπεῖν κύριος Ἰησοῦς.

1 Cor 12:4. But, although there is a different distribution of gratuitous gifts, the source and principle of them is one and the same—viz., the Holy Ghost.

“There are diversities of graces.” The Greek, διαιρεσεις δε χαρισματων εισιν, means, there are differences of gifts, and the same word which is here translated “graces” is translated “gifts.”—(Rom. 12:6). By it are meant the several gratiæ gratis datæ, as they are termed by Theologians, viz., the word of wisdom, prophecy, the gift of tongues, &c., enumerated by the Apostle, (1 Cor 12:8-10), as distinct from “ministries” and “operations.” Others say that the word “graces,” mentioned in this verse, is a generic term, denoting all the gifts of the Holy Ghost, under which are included “ministries” (1 Cor 12:5), “operations” (1 Cor 12:6), and the other gifts enumerated (1 Cor 12:7-9). The former division is the more probable. These several “graces” are, by appropriation, ascribed to the “same Spirit,” or Holy Ghost, who is goodness and love, because they emanate from the gratuitous goodness of God.

1 Cor 12:5. And although the distribution of ministrations be different, the principle and source of them is the same: viz., God the Son, who is our Lord by the special title of Redemption.

“Ministries,” διακονιῶν, refer to the different orders of ministry established in the Church—viz., Episcopacy, Priesthood, Deaconship, &c., including also the functions committed to females—such as was confided to Phœbe, the deaconess.—(Rom. 14:1). And these are, by appropriation, attributed to the Son, “the same Lord,” because he is the head of the Church, purchased with his blood; he is our “Lord” by the special title of Redemption.

1 Cor 12:6. And although the distribution of supernatural operations, of the active faculties of working great and distinguished miracles be different, their principle is still one and the same—viz., God the Father.—(Having, then, but one source to which all their glory is due, they should not prove the occasion of divisions by engendering feelings of pride in one party, or of envy in the other).

“Operations,” i.e., the active faculties of performing great and splendid miracles, such as raising the dead to life, &c., to distinguish them from “the grace of healing” (verse 9). These, like all the other efforts of Omnipotence, are, by appropriation, ascribed to God the Father, “who worketh all in all.” As first and primary cause, he concurs in the production of all works, whether natural or supernatural; in the former, by his concursus generalis; in the latter, by divine grace. “The same Spirit” (verse 4) “the same Lord” (verse 5), “the same God” (verse 6), serve to remind the Corinthians, that, although these gifts differ in multitude and variety, their source is still the same; and hence, that they should be the occasion of harmony rather than of disunion. The Trinity of Persons in the Godhead is here distinctly insinuated by the Apostle, with the order inverted, to indicate the perfect equality of these Persons.

1 Cor 12:7. (Another reason why these gifts should secure harmony is, the end which God had in view in bestowing them). Every one of these gifts, by which the operation of the Holy Spirit is manifested, was given to each person not for his own private profit, but for the utility of the entire Church. (Hence, the less favoured man is a sharer in the benefits accruing from them).

Another reason why these gifts, which proved the occasion of division, should rather promote harmony—viz., the end for which they were given, which was, the “profit” or general utility of the entire Church; and hence, they were intended to benefit the less favoured as much as those specially favoured with them. “The manifestation of the spirit,” i.e., the gifts by which the operation of the Holy Spirit was manifested.

1 Cor 12:8. To one man, indeed, is given by the Holy Ghost the faculty of treating of the sublime truths of Revelation, and of explaining them on the lofty principles of faith. To another, is given by the same spirit the faculty of explaining truths of Revelation on principles, and by examples, derived from human things.

“The word of wisdom,” most probably means (as in the Paraphrase), the faculty of discoursing on, and explaining, the divine truths of faith on the principles of faith, (v.g.), to explain the congruity of the Incarnation on the grounds pointed out by faith, and all the other truths, which the Apostle terms “wisdom,” of which he treats, with the perfect.—(1 Cor. 2:7). “The word of knowledge,” (vide Paraphrase), these words may also mean, the faculty of explaining moral precepts. The term “word,” shows that in both the gifts referred to in this verse, he considers the power of discoursing on something or other. In this, and the two following verses, the Apostle enumerates the several gifts with which the primitive Church was favoured, and divides them into nine kinds.—(See Analysis).

1 Cor 12:9. To another, is imparted by the same Spirit, the faith by which are wrought miracles: to another, the gift of miraculously healing divers maladies and distempers.

“Faith.” Not the theological virtue of faith; but, the faith of miracles. It most probably consists in an extraordinary enlightenment of the intellect, joined with great confidence in God. Whatever it may consist in, we know that our Redeemer refers to it, as a means of working miracles (Mark 9:9–23; Luke, 17:6); and so does the Apostle (1 Cor 13:2).

1 Cor 12:10. To another, the faculty of working great and splendid miracles. To another, the faculty of explaining, without previous consideration, the SS. Scriptures and points of Revelation. To another, the faculty of discerning the quarter from which the several communications made may come—whether from God or the enemy. To another, the faculty of speaking in several tongues to him hitherto unknown. To another, the faculty of explaining those unknown tongues in the vernacular of the country.

“The working of miracles.” This gift is distinguished from the preceding gift of miraculously curing bodily distempers, in this, that this gift consists in performing great and splendid manifestations of power—such as raising the dead, miraculously punishing others with sudden death—as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira.—(Acts 5:5). The Greek word for “miracles,” δυναμεων, means, manifestations of strength or power.

“To another prophecy,” most probably means, as in the Paraphrase, the gift of explaining extraordinarily, and without previous preparation, the abstruse points of Revelation. It may also denote the power of predicting future events.—(See 1 Cor 11:5).

“The discerning of spirits,” i.e., the faculty of discerning whether certain communications come from God, or are only artifices of the enemy. “Kinds of tongues.” The faculty of speaking several languages of which one before knew nothing. “Interpretation of speeches”—in Greek, γλωσσων, of tongues. The faculty of explaining in the vernacular language of the people these unknown tongues to which those who had the gift of tongues gave utterance. These two giftswere not always united in the same person. The man who could give expression to unknown tongues had not always the power of explaining them, and vice versa, as is clear in 1 Cor 14:28.

1 Cor 12:11. But all these gifts, differing in number and variety, are bestowed by one and the same Spirit, who also co-operates in their exercise, distributing them to each one according as he may think fit and proper. (And hence, one man should not be puffed up with pride, nor should another pine away from envy on account of the gifts bestowed by the Holy Ghost according to his own gratuitous pleasure).

“Worketh.” The Greek word, ενεργει, means, inworketh, i.e., co-operates in the exercise of all these gifts—“one and the same spirit.” Hence, instead of creating disunion, the gifts should, on the contrary, be the source of harmony, as having the same cause and principle. The Apostle is not tired of repeatedly inculcating this truth—viz., that all these gifts, differing in number and variety, have, still, but one principle—the Holy Ghost—in order to reproach the Corinthians with the divisions, of which these gifts were the occasion among them. “Dividing to every one,” in the Greek, ἰδία ἑκάστῶ, severally: “as he (the Holy Ghost) wills.” In these words the Apostle conveys an additional reason why these gifts should neither be the occasion of pride to one party, nor of envy to the other; because, in the distribution of them, in giving greater gifts to one man, and lesser gifts to another, and none at all to some, the Holy Ghost is influenced solely by his own will and pleasure; for, by looking to their former state, in which they anathematized Jesus, and served dumb idols (1 Cor 12:2-3) they will find that none of them had any claim to such gifts.

1 Cor 12:12. (And that the very difference of these gifts conferred on the several members of the Church should, far from creating disunion, on the contrary, secure harmony, is clear from the example of the human body and its several component members). For, as the human body is one, although composed of different members, nor does the difference or multitude of members make it cease to be one body; so it is also with the mystical body of which Christ is head. (It is one, although composed of several members.)

Under an expressive metaphor, derived from the mutual co-operation and dependence of the several members of the human body the Apostle points out the relation which the different members of the mystic body, of which Christ is head, hold towards each other, and inculcates cordial union in contributing mutually to the common advantage of the entire Church, without repining on one side, or pride on the other. “As the body,” i.e., the human body, “is one,” … “and all the members of the body,” (in the common Greek, of that one body, the chief MSS. omit “one,”) “so is also Christ;” i.e., the mystic body of which Christ is head. It is needless to remind the readers of Roman history how successfully this famous apologue of the human body was employed by Menenius Agrippa in reconciling the Roman Plebeians with the Patricians.—(Vide Livy, Book ii. c. xxii.)

1 Cor 12:13. For that the mystic body of Christ is one, is clear from this fact, that in baptism we all, whether Jews or Gentiles, slaves or freemen, are by one Spirit, ingrafted on the one body of Christ. And besides baptism, we have another bond of union, in our having been made partakers of the sacred blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, and thus made into one Spirit.

He applies to the mystic body of Christ, the two qualities which he predicated of the natural body in the preceding verse—viz., that it is one; and, secondly, that it is composed of many and different members. Applying the first part in this verse, he proves that the mystic body of Christ is one. “Baptized into one body,” i.e., by baptism ingrafted on the mystic body of Christ. “And in one spirit we have been all made to drink.” The common Greek is, εἰς ἑν πνευμα, into one spirit. The interpretation of the Paraphrase, which refers this to the Adorable Eucharist, seems preferable to any other. In the first ages of the Church, the Eucharist was given to children under the species of wine; or it might have been the general practice to administer it under that species; because, the administering of it under the one species or the other, or under both, is a point of discipline which may vary at different times according to the will of the Church. In this interpretation, the words mean, that having been “made to drink” of the Eucharist, they are formed into one spirit, in the same way, as speaking of the participation of the Eucharist under the species of bread (1 Cor 10:17), he says they are made, “one body.” The words may also mean, that they were filled with and drank plentifully of the grace of the same holy Ghost, which was abundantly poured out upon them.

1 Cor 12:14. And that this mystic body has many members follows from the very nature of a body, which is composed not of one, but of many members.

He proves that the Church must be composed of different members. This follows from the very fact of its being a body. The Apostle wishes the Corinthians to learn from the natural body the duties which they owe each other. In this verse, he shows that there must be a variety in the members of the mystic body, and that all, therefore, cannot have the same gifts.

1 Cor 12:15. And in the natural body were the foot to complain that it is not the hand, would it, therefore, cease to be of the body, or to partake of its honours?

In this verse, the Apostle undertakes to offer consolation to the less favoured members of the Church—“the foot”—and thereby to remove all ground for murmuring on their part. He consoles them by the assurance, that they partake of the honours of the mystic body, no less than the most highly gifted and exalted of their brethren.

1 Cor 12:16. The same holds for the several inferior members, should they murmur or repine at the place allotted to them respectively in the body—(v.g.), should the ear murmur for not being the eye, would it, therefore cease to belong to the entire body, or to partake of its honour and glory? By no means.

“The ear,” probably refers to the hearers, and to persons requiring instruction. “The eye,” to the learned, and to the teachers among them.

1 Cor 12:17. And if the entire body were reduced to an eye, as the repining member would have it (for, the other members might just as well wish to be the eye as the repining one), where would be the ear?—where the sense of smelling?

He shows in this verse, that consistently with the nature of a body, which must be composed of a variety of members (verse 14), all can neither hold the same place, nor enjoy the same privileges. If, in the natural body, all were reduced to an eye, where would be the ear, or sense of hearing?—where the sense of smelling? So it is also with the mystical body of Christ, if all were teachers, where would be the disciples and hearers?

1 Cor 12:18. But now God has so arranged the different members in the body, that each one should hold its proper place according as it has pleased him.

He shows the ordination of God to be in favour of this diversity of members, as well in the mystical as in the natural body, and to the supreme and adorable will of God all should at once humbly submit.

1 Cor 12:19. And if, contrary to this ordination of God, all the members were reduced to one, where would be the harmony and order of a body regularly organized and composed of different parts?
In this verse he repeats, in an interrogatory form, the assertion which he already made (1 Cor 12:14)—viz., that it is of the very nature of an organized body, to be composed, not of one, but of many members.

1 Cor 12:20. But now, there are many component members, and but one body, as has been asserted, verse 12.

Here he repeats his assertion (verse 12), to the proof of which the preceding verses are devoted.

1 Cor 12:21. (And as the less favoured members should neither repine at their place in the body, nor envy the more highly favoured, so these latter should not in turn grow proud of their position, nor despise the less favoured members.) The eye cannot say to the hand, I require not your assistance; nor can the head say to the feet, you are not necessary for me.

After addressing himself in the foregoing passage to the less honourable members, the Apostle now points out to the more highly favoured, their duties in regard to the less honoured members—viz., that they should treat them with greater attention and respect in proportion to their wants; for they stand in mutual need of each other. By “the eye” and “head” are meant these who hold an exalted position, analogous to that which the eye and head occupy in the natural body. From this verse the Apostle wishes it to be inferred, that those who hold a more exalted position in the Church cannot dispense with the aid and assistance of their more humble brethren.

1 Cor 12:22. Far from undervaluing any member as useless, we should keep in mind, that the very members, which appear to be the most feeble, are the most necessary for the maintenance of life—(v.g.), the brains, intestines, &c.

Not only are the inferior members necessary for the more honourable, but they are indispensable for the existence of the entire body, and the most feeble are the most necessary (v.g.), the brains and intestines.

1 Cor 12:23. And on the members which we regard as least honourable, we bestow the greatest honour, by more studiously covering them with raiment, and those that are called the uncomely parts are covered with greater care and decency.

“The less honourable members,” probably refer to the feet and the lower part of the trunk of the body, especially the ducts, by which nature empties herself and discharges what is redundant. “More abundant honour,” by more studiously covering them with raiment. “Our uncomely parts,” probably refer to the pudenda. In the moral body they refer to sinners, who should be particularly attended to; and hence, their failings cloaked and concealed, as much as possible.

1 Cor 12:24. But our comely parts, viz., the hands, face, &c., require no particular care or honour in having them clothed. But God has so attempered the human body, and nicely balanced all things, as that men bestow more external honour and care on the members that require it.

“But our comely parts,” such as the face, eyes, hands, “have no need” of particular care in having them clothed. This he adds, to conciliate the more highly gifted members of the Church, who might take offence at the foregoing. “But God has tempered the body together.” This he has done by making compensation to the less honoured members for their native unworthiness by adding greater external care and culture, “giving more abundant honour to that which wanted it.”

1 Cor 12:25. In order that there should be no schism or division in the body in consequence of the less favoured members repining at the place allotted to them, but that all might mutually assist and anxiously co-operate with one another in promoting the welfare of the entire body.

The schism of which St. Paul here speaks, is, of course, to be dreaded only in the moral or mystical body. To it, the Apostle wishes to apply all that he has been saying regarding the relations, which the members of the natural body bear to each other.

1 Cor 12:26. And such is the concord and union established by God, that if one member suffer pain, all the others sympathize with it—if one member rejoice and feel pleasure, the others exult with it.

In the mystical body, the order of charity requires that all the others sympathize with the suffering, and exult with the delighted member.

1 Cor 12:27. Now, you are the body of Christ, and fellow-members with each other. (As fellow-members, then, depending on each other, you should afford one another mutual aid and assistance).

In this verse, the Apostle tells the Corinthians and all Christians, that they should apply to themselves, as the mystical body of Christ, what he had been saying of the natural or human body; it was for the purpose of pointing out their relative duties towards one another, that he introduced the comparison between them and the natural body. “You are the body of Christ,” from which they should infer that all which has been said of the relations and duties of the several members of the natural body should be understood to apply to them, and fulfilled by them towards one another.

“And members of member,” i.e., fellow-members of the same body, mutually connected with, and depending on each other. The words are probably allusive to the passage in the Book of Genesis (Gen 2:23). “This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh,” which is mystically understood of Christ and his Church. The words, as containing this allusion, might also mean, members of Christ, because they are members of the body of which he is head, or chief member—hence, “members of member,” μελη εκ μελους. The Greek reading runs thus: μελη εκ μερους, members in part. The Greek reading, followed by the Vulgate, and still found in the manuscripts of St. Germain and Clermont, was, εκ μελους. The meaning of the words, according to the present Greek, is, that they are particular members of Christ’s mystic body, and all, therefore, cannot have the same gifts. This interpretation accords well with the Syriac reading of the words—you are members in your proper places.

1 Cor 12:28. And as the natural body is composed of different members; so it is also the case with the mystical body, or Church of Christ: God has placed in it different members destined for different purposes. First, Apostles, his own legates. Secondly, Prophets, to explain the truths of faith by a sudden inspiration. Thirdly, Doctors, having the faculty of explaining the doctrines of faith in a plain, intelligible way to the people. After these, men gifted with the divine power of working miracles. Next, those gifted with the power of curing diseases. After them, those who have the gift of consoling the miserable, and such as are in pain and sorrow. Next, those who are gifted with peculiar prudence in managing the temporalities of the Church; then those who have the gift of strange and unknown tongues; and, finally, those who have the gift of interpreting those tongues in the vernacular of the country.

The Apostle adopts in this verse the similitude of the natural body to the Church; and by recounting part of the gifts and offices conferred on her, he shows that God has set the different members as he thought proper, conformably to what is said (1 Cor 12:18). He places these gifts and offices in their order of dignity.

“First, Apostles.”—(See Gal. 1:1). These may be regarded as the visible head of the body, as being Christ’s representatives and vicegerents. “Secondly, Prophets.” They were gifted with the “words of wisdom” (verse 8). They may be regarded as the eyes of the body. “Thirdly, Teachers,” who had the faculty of explaining the truths of faith in a plain, simple way. They had the “word of knowledge” (verse 8); the tongue of the body. It is observed by Commentators, that these teachers of the gospel are preferred by the Apostle to those who had the gifts of miracles and of tongues, so much prized by the Corinthians. “After that, miracles.” The workers of miracles—the hands of the body. In the latter part of this verse, the Apostle employs the abstract for the concrete term. “Then, the graces of healings.” Those who are divinely endowed with the gift of healing bodily diseases. “Helps.” Those who assisted their brethren in distress, not by any miraculous operation, but by the performance of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. “Governments,” are understood by some to refer to the directors of souls. The interpretation of the Paraphrase seems preferable. “Kinds of tongues.”—(See 1 Cor 12:10). St. Chrysostom remarks, that almost the last place is given by the Apostle to this gift, so highly prized by the Corinthians. “Interpretation of speeches.” These words are wanting in the Greek copies. But as all Greek manuscripts give the same words in an interrogatory form, next verse—“do all interpret?” it is likely, that the Greek copy from which the Vulgate was taken, was the correct one. The Vulgate is preferred by Beza.

1 Cor 12:29. Are all favoured with these gifts? Are all Apostles?—Prophets?—Doctors? as explained above.
1 Cor 12:30. Are all gifted with the faculty of working miracles?—or with the faculty of healing diseases?—or, with the faculty of speaking in unknown tongues?—or, with the faculty of explaining these tongues in the vernacular of the country? (By no means; for, if so, where would be the variety of members necessary to constitute an organized body?—verse 19. This diversity of gifts in the Church has been arranged by God for the greater beauty and harmony of the entire mystical body).

The several questions are equivalent to so many negations. By them the Apostle intends to assert, that in the mystical, as well as in the natural body, a variety of functions and offices is necessary, in order to consult for the beauty and harmony of the entire body. Each one, therefore, should rest content with whatever place it may please Providence to assign him in the Church.

1 Cor 12:31. But have emulation for gifts, not the most honourable, but the most useful for yourselves and the Church. And I will point out to you a way for exercising them with profit, or, wherein you may walk, a way far exceeding any gift or endowment; and, this is charity!

“But be zealous,” &c. The Greek word for “be zealous,” ζηλοῦτε, may be rendered, you are zealous. The Vulgate, æmulamini, “be zealous,” is preferable. Estius understands the words conditionally, thus: If you are zealous for gifts, be zealous for the better gifts. This is in accordance with the Syriac Paraphrase, and also derives probability from this consideration; that it is not likely the Apostle gives an absolute precept to be zealous for gifts, which might in the end prove injurious.

“A more excellent way.” This is charity, which leads to God and to eternal glory and which sanctifies the use of all the other gifts.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians Chapter 11

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 29, 2018

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

The Apostle undertakes, in this chapter, the correction of three abusive practices, which prevailed at Corinth. The first was, the indecorous practice on the part of the Corinthian females of appearing in the churches with heads uncovered, while the men appeared with their heads covered. In order to combat this abuse, he shows the relation of inferiority and subjection which the woman holds towards the man; whence he infers the deordination of the man appearing with covered head, and the woman with head uncovered, and from other reasons of congruity, and finally, from the practice of the Church, he demonstrates the same (1 Cor 11:1–16).

The second regarded their conduct at the Agapes, celebrated immediately before Holy Communion. He reproves the Corinthians for their dissensions on such occasions. He taxes the rich with a want of consideration for the poor, when they assemble together; and in order to bring them to a sense of what they owed this divine banquet, he relates the history of the institution of the adorable Eucharist (1 Cor 11:16–26).

The third regarded the sacrilegious impiety of unworthy communion. He points out its enormity (1 Cor 11:27), its antidote (1 Cor 11:28), and in order to stimulate them to greater diligence in their preparation for this divine banquet, he again depicts the enormity of unworthy communion (1 Cor 11:29). He refers to instances of its punishment even among themselves (1 Cor 11:30). He shows the mode of avoiding these punishments (1 Cor 11:31), and again reverts to the subject of the Agapes.

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

1 Cor 11:1. (Since, then, regardless of my own temporal ease and profit, I have had always in view, the glory of God, and my neighbour’s spiritual advantage); be you imitators of me, as I have been of Christ.

This is connected with the preceding chapter, in the last verse of which the Apostle encouraged the Corinthians to perform certain laudable actions after his own example. In this verse, he gives the reason for proposing his own example, viz., because he imitated Christ; and it is only inasmuch as they imitate their heavenly model, that we are to follow the example of superiors.

1 Cor 11:2. Now, I have reason to praise you for being mindful of all my precepts, and for observing all my ordinances, as I have delivered them to you.

Before entering on the disagreeable duty of denouncing abuses, the Apostle, in order to soften down the harshness generally involved in their correction, with apostolic prudence, first compliments the Corinthians for what was deserving of praise in them. “That in all things you are mindful,” &c. “All things,” must be taken with some limitation; for, in this very chapter, the Apostle censures them for the violation of some of his precepts (verse 22). Hence, the words must be confined to the more religious among them; or, if they be understood to extend to all, then, they must mean, on the whole “you are mindful of me and keep my ordinances.” By “ordinances,” as appears from the Greek word, παραδοσεις, are meant oral instructions. The word “delivered” also, as appears from the Greek word, παρεδωκα, means, orally delivered.

1 Cor 11:3. But I wish you to know, that Christ is the head or superior to whom every man is immediately subject; and the man is the immediate head or superior to whom the woman owes subjection; and God, or, the blessed Trinity, is the head or superior to whom Christ, as Man, is subject.

The first abuse which he wishes to correct is, that of women appearing with heads uncovered in the Church, either at times of prayer or public instruction. It is not unlikely that, among the several questions proposed to the Apostle by the Corinthians (7:1), he was consulted about the propriety of women appearing in the Church without veils. In order to point out more clearly the impropriety of such conduct, he shows the place which the woman holds with regard to her husband, at the same time he shows the relation of subjection which the husband holds in regard to Christ, and following up the order of subjection, he brings it to the supreme headship and high dominion of God. “The head of every man is Christ.” He is the head of every woman also; but the man is her immediate head or superior. “The head of Christ,” as Man—it is under this respect that the Apostle considers him—“is God,” or the Blessed Trinity. This is said of him in the same nature, of which it is said, “Pater major me est.” Hence, all dominion is ultimately referred to God.

1 Cor 11:4. Every man who prophesies or prays, having his head covered, disgraces his head.

“With his head covered.” The Greek is κατὰ κεφαλῆς ἔχων, having on his head; of course, covering is understood; hence, our version expresses the sense. “Disgraces his head.” because, as the covering of the head was, according to the usage prevalent in the days of the Apostle, a sign of subjection to those before whom it was covered, the man, by having his head covered, would imply that he had a superior on earth; and hence, he would be disgracing his dignity, as lord of creation. It is observed by Commentators, that a different and contrary meaning is now attached to covering and uncovering the head. It is hardly necessary to remark that, with us, the inferior keeps the head uncovered before the superior, in token of reverence and respect. Even of old, the Jewish High Priest, in the discharge of his sacerdotal functions, wore a tiara on his head, with his feet naked; but this was done for a mystical reason, to signify that in the Old Law things were obscured and veiled in mystery.

1 Cor 11:5. While, on the other hand, every woman, who publicly prays or prophesies with head uncovered, disgraces her head; it is just as bad as if she were shaved.

It is a matter of dispute what the word “prophesying” means. It is clear, the Apostle is censuring a fault committed in the public assemblies convened either for the purposes of prayer or instruction, &c. But how it comes to pass that the Apostle censures women merely for prophesying or speaking publicly with heads uncovered, instead of preventing them from speaking at all in the temples, as he does (14:34), is a matter of difficulty; to solve which some say, that by “prophesying,” is meant joining in singing psalms, in which women could take a part. This is a signification of the words not uncommon in SS. Scripture (v.g.), “Saul amongt he prophets” (1 Sam 19:24), i.e., the singers of God’s praises. Others, by “prophesying” understand, not the predicting of future events, but the explaining of the Scriptures in an extraordinary manner, as the result of the inspiration of the moment. These say, that the Apostle censures the women who speak publicly in the Church, for two reasons: First, for doing so with heads uncovered—and this is the reason expressed by him here; and, secondly, for doing so at all, which he reserves for 1 Cor 14:34; whereas, the women who pray in public, he censures only on the ground of appearing with head uncovered; and this is a fair reply; because a person may censure one bad quality of an action, without entering into a condemnation of all the evils which it involves, if his scope do not require it, as is the case here with the Apostle. Others understand the word “prophesying,” of the prediction of future events, as in the case of the daughters of Philip.—(Acts 21:1). The former is, however, the more probable view of the case; for, although it was a fault in them to speak at all in public; still, that was not precisely the fault which the Apostle intended to censure here.

The Corinthian women were remarkable for immodesty in dress, and after their conversion, they adhered to the same, as a matter of fashion in the country. This proved a source of offence to the converted Jews, whose women always appeared with, veils in the temple; and, as this immodesty in dress was the result of improper conduct, to which it also served as an incentive on the part of the Pagan population, it might be, that the Pagans, on seeing Christian women appearing in the same dress with the uncoverted females, would regard the morals of both in the same light, to the detriment of Christian faith and morality. As a city dedicated to Venus, Corinth was the very seat of impurity. Hence, the zeal of the Apostle in remedying this evil. Of course, the meaning attached to covering or uncovering the head, depends on custom, which is always variable. The Apostle argues from the meaning of the usage in his own time. This much, however, is to be inferred, as a precept binding at all times, that women should always appear in modest, becoming dress, whether in the church or elsewhere; but particularly when assisting at the Adorable Sacrifice, and, above all, when approaching Holy Communion.

1 Cor 11:6. Now, if a woman be not veiled, she might as well be shorn; but if it be disgraceful for a woman to appear shorn or bald (as it surely is), then, let her be veiled.

“If a woman be not covered, let her be shorn,” i.e., she might as well be shorn. It was the general feeling that women should be veiled. This was indicated by her natural veil or long hair, which nature gave her as an emblem of that veil which modesty should superadd, and if she throw away this latter veil, she might as well throw away the former or natural one; and so, be shorn. “But if it be a shame to a woman to be shorn,” &c., as it surely is, being adopted only in case of extreme grief, or inflicted as a mark of infamy on harlots or adulteresses. This, of course, contains no argument against the propriety of religious females cutting off their hair; because they lay aside their hair in token of their total renunciation of the world, and their entire devotedness to a better, a heavenly lover. Moreover, the natural disgrace attached to cutting the hair regards those females only who engage in the world and mix in society.

1 Cor 11:7. The man ought not to cover his head, because he is the subject in whom God has cause to glory, as in his most perfect work, and the glory of God is to be manifested and not concealed; he is also the image of God, made after God’s likeness; having, therefore, no superior on earth, he should, as a mark of pre-eminence, keep his head uncovered. But the woman is the subject wherein the man has cause to glory; and hence, in token of subjection to him, whose glory she is, and whose control she is to acknowledge, she should be veiled.

He assigns a reason why the woman and not the man should wear a veil; the man should not wear a veil. “because he is the image and glory of God,” i.e., the glorious image of God; or perhaps, it is better to read the words, “glory” and “image” separately, on account of the following words “the woman is the glory of the man.” She is a subject of glory to him, having been formed from his side. Hence, Adam cried out on seeing Eve: “Hoc nunc os ex ossibus meis,” &c.—(Genesis 2). Is not the woman also the image of God? Moses says of both: “ad imaginem Suam creavit Deus hominem. Mascuium et feminam creavit eos.”—(Genesis 1:27). But still, the image of God is more clearly reflected in the man, his faculties having been more vigorous, and his dominion over creation more universal, than is the case with the woman; for, she herself is subject to man’s control. Moreover, he refrains from calling the woman, the image of God, because she is immediately the image of man, having been formed from man for an assistance like unto himself. Hence, she is the image of God, in the same way as she has Christ for her head, i.e., mediante viro.

1 Cor 11:8. For, that the woman is the glory of the man, whose superiority, therefore, she should acknowledge by wearing a veil, is clear from the fact, that she was formed out of the man, but not reciprocally, the man, in the first instance, out of her.

The Apostle points out the reasons of the inferiority of the woman, in point of nature, having been formed from man, and having been consequently posterior to him in the order of creation.

1 Cor 11:9. The same is clear from the end of woman’s creation, which was the service of man, to be a helpmate to him; but the woman was not the end of the man’s creation. As, then, subserviency implies inferiority, and the means are inferior to the end; hence, the superiority of the man over the woman.

Another ground of inferiority: the purpose of her creation was to be a helpmate to him; and hence, as the woman is, in a certain sense, from the man, as the man is from God, and as she was created for the man, as the man was, in a certain sense, for God, she is the glory of the man, and should acknowledge his superiority by wearing a veil.

1 Cor 11:10. She ought, therefore, wear a veil on her head, in token of her subjection to her husband’s power, on account of the angelic spirits, who are present in our temples, and prostrate before their annihilated God, encircle our altars during the celebration of the divine mysteries.

“A power over her head.” The thing signified, viz., “power,” is used for the sign, viz., a veil, which is a sign of power, one the one hand, and of subjection, on the other. He appeals to the women to guard against impropriety in dress, on account of the angelic pure spirits who are present in our temples, and shall one day appear as witnesses before God, of their immodesty and disorderly conduct. St. John Chrysostom, as we are informed by his disciple, St. Nilus (Epistola ad Anastasium), saw the temple filled with hosts of angels during the celebration of the divine mysteries. And St. Chrysostom himself assures us, that the Cherubim and Seraphim assist at the divine mysteries in prostrate adoration.—(Homilia de Sacra Mensa). St. Gregory (Libro iv. Dialog. chapter 58) asserts the same. How great, then, should be the feelings of awe and reverence which we ought to carry with us into the house of God, in which the Lord of glory remains really, truly, and substantially, on our altars. Quam terribilis est locus iste; non est hic aliud nisi domus Dei, et porta cæli.—(Genesis 28:17).

By “angels” others understand the bishops and priests who may be endangered in their ministry, unless the woman appear clad in modest dress. The Prophet, Malachy, (Mal 2:7) calls the priests “the angels of the Lord of armies.”

1 Cor 11:11. But the man should by no means grow insolent on account of the superiority which we have asserted for him over the woman; for the ordinance of the Lord has been, that the man requires the assistance of the woman, and the woman, that of the man.

Lest the man should grow insolent on account of the superiority which has been asserted for him over the woman; and the woman, on the other hand, should despond and undervalue her position too much, the Apostle now asserts that the ordinance and disposition of God—“in the Lord”—is, that they should mutually depend on each other; and this holds particularly in the management of the household and the education of their families—they should, therefore, live in indissoluble union.

1 Cor 11:12. And as the first woman was formed from the man, so now, in turn, is man born of woman, and this by the arrangement of God, the primary source and fountain of all things, in order to secure for them reciprocal dependence and mutual love.

And as the first woman was formed out of the man; so, now, man is born of woman, God, the first source and principle of everything, so arranging it, ex ipso et per ipsum, et in ipso sunt omnia.—(Rom. 11).

1 Cor 11:13. I appeal to your own sense of propriety, if it be becoming in a woman to appear at prayer without a veil in the public assemblies of the faithful.

He now appeals to their own sense of propriety in proof of what he has been saying; “yourselves,” in Greek ἐν ὑμιν αὐτοῖς, in yourselves; “to pray to God, uncovered.” He omits the word “prophesying,” because veiled, or unveiled, this latter would be improper in her, as he shows (1 Cor 14:34).

1 Cor 11:14. Does not a sense of natural decency, manifested by the repugnance which men commonly feel to nourish their hair, show us, that it is a disgrace for a man to nourish his hair in a womanlike way.

“Nature” may also refer to the usage or custom, which is a sort of second nature. The custom among the Greeks or Hebrews was, for the woman to wear long, and the men, short hair. Of course, the Apostle does not contemplate the case in which men may have particular reasons for wearing long hair.

1 Cor 11:15. For the God of nature has given her long flowing hair as a natural veil (which should, at the same time, remind her of putting on a head-covering, in token of submission to her husband).

This precept of observing propriety in dress is obligatory on women, not only on occasions of public prayer, but at all times.

1 Cor 11:16. But if any person, anxious for superiority in argument, will insist on the propriety of woman appearing unveiled in public, my only reply to him—(and this is the last and the strongest that can be adduced, viz., that of authority)—is, that neither we Apostles (or Jewish converts), nor the Church of God, know any such custom.

His last and most forcible argument on this subject, is the practice of the Church—the safest rule that can be followed in all matters appertaining to either faith or morals. “Contentious.” The Greek word, φιλονεικος, means, fond of superiority in argument. “No such custom,” may either refer to the custom animadverted upon, of men wearing long hair, and of women appearing in church without veils, or, to the custom and practice of pertinaciously resisting apostolic authority. “Nor the Church of God.” In Greek αἱ εκκλησιαι, the churches.

1 Cor 11:17. But with regard to what I am now about to prescribe to you, I enter on the subject, instead of praising you (as heretofore, verse 2), rather disposed to censure you, for causing your religious assemblies to be attended with greater spiritual detiment than profit.

The Apostle now proceeds to treat of another abuse of a still more serious nature, which called for the most rigorous measures of correction. It appears that for the purpose of perfectly representing the institution of the Adorable Eucharist at which our Divine Redeemer, in common with his Apostles, had first partaken of the ordinary Jewish Paschal supper, and afterwards (as we learn from the Evangelists), gave them his adorable Body and Blood, the primitive Christians were wont to go in the evening to the church or room set apart for religious meetings, and there partake in common, rich and poor, of an ordinary repast, to which the rich principally contributed and invited the poor.—(Vide Calmet, Dictionnaire de la Bible). These suppers—termed Agapes, or Charity feasts, from commemorating the love of the faithful for one another—were intended to represent the Paschal and ordinary Jewish suppers, of which our Redeemer and his Apostles partook, before he gave them the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist itself sufficiently represented its own institution. These banquets were made the occasion of very great abuses; for, the rich, instead of joining in the Agapes, and contributing towards them, according to the primitive institution, brought with them, to the Church, each one, his own supper, and indulged to excess in eating and drinking. On this account, they disedified the faithful; they sowed divisions, in consequence of excluding from their tables the poor and hungry, and immediately after received the body and blood of the Lord, unworthily, to their own condemnation. What wonder, then, that the Apostle should have exerted all his zeal to put a stop to such fearful evils. “Now this I ordain.” Some Expositors join these words with the preceding, thus:—these injunctions I have given about women wearing veils, &c., and then, they say, he commences the subject of the Eucharist in the words, “not praising you,” &c., as if he said: while praising you in general (verse 2), I must except your conduct in reference to the following abuse. The arrangement adopted in the Paraphrase seems to be the more natural. In the common Greek, the words, “this I ordain, not praising,” &c., run thus: τοῦτο δὲ παραγγελλων ουκ επαινω, while ordaining this, I praise you not. The Vulgate is the reading of the Alexandrian and other MSS., and of the ancient versions. The Codex Vaticanus has, τουτο παραγγελλων ουκ επαινων, “while ordaining this, not praising you.” The meaning is the same in all.

1 Cor 11:18. For, in the first place, I hear, that when you assemble together in the church, especially destined for the sacred meetings of the faithful, instead of being united in brotherly concord, you, on the contrary, have schisms and divisions among you, and I am inclined to believe these charges to be true of some of you, or some of these charges to be true of you all.

“In the Church” (εν εκκλησια, in church—the article is wanting in the chief MSS.) may either mean the place set apart for sacred assemblages (as in Paraphrase), or, the collection and assemblage itself. So that the words may mean, when you meet together in the assembly of the faithful, which assembling together is calculated to bind them firmly in concord. “There are schisms among you.” What the cause of these “schisms,” or divisions, was, the Apostle does not explain. It appears, however, from the context, that they were occasioned by the manner in which they assembled and celebrated the Agapes: the rich not waiting for, nay, excluding the poor. “And in part I believe it.” “In part,” may refer either to the people; and mean, I believe these charges to be true of some of you; or, to the charges, and mean, I believe some of these charges to be true of all of you.

1 Cor 11:19. Nor does it cause me surprise to witness such breaches of charity and concord amongst you; for, looking to the nature of man, there must be divisions even in the dogmas of faith, which divisions in faith God permits, in order that those who are genuine and sincere amongst you may be made manifest by the contrast with those who err.

“There must be also heresies.” (In the Greek is added, ἐν ὐμιν, among you). By “heresies,” are commonly meant, errors in faith. St. Chrysostom understands the word here to signify the same as “schisms” (verse 18), but improbably; for, by saying, “there must be heresies also,” the Apostle implies that they are different from the others. They “must be,” as a matter of consequent necessity, considering the corruption of human nature; just as “scandals must be.” “That,” may mean the consequence, or, the final cause which God has in view in suffering heresies to exist. “Melius judicavit de malis benefacere quam mala nulla esse permittere.”—(St. Augustine, Enchirid., 27). “Who are approved.” The Greek word, δοκιμοι, means those who are tested and tried, like gold in the furnace, the genuine, sterling believers.

1 Cor 11:20. When, therefore, you assemble together in the meetings referred to, it is no longer to eat the Lord’s Supper.

“Therefore,” is resumptive of the subject referred to, verse 18. “The Lord’s supper.” This was a supper of charity, concord, and love; a supper celebrated in common, to which even Judas was admitted; whereas, their banquets were the occasion of divisions; private banquets from which the poor were excluded. By “the Lord’s supper,” it is clear he means the Agape, and not the Eucharist itself; for, no one would be permitted to drink to excess of the Eucharist, as the ministers of religion would not have given it so abundantly. Moreover, the abusive practice of not waiting for each other could not regard the Eucharistic supper, which was not celebrated until all were assembled. Again, the excesses on account of which he taxes them with unworthy communions, must have preceded the Eucharist; for, though the circumstance of sinning after the communion would aggravate the sin, it would not still prove the preceding communion to be bad or sacrilegious. Hence, from his charging them with bad communions, in consequence of the excesses which took place at the “supper of the Lord,” these excesses, and the supper consequently, must have preceded communion.

1 Cor 11:21. For each one takes with him beforehand his own supper to eat; the consequence is, that while one party, viz., the poor, stands by hungry, another, viz., the rich, drinks to excess.

“The abuse which the Apostle here denounces was occasioned by the fact, that the rich, instead of partaking of a supper in common with the poor, brought their own suppers to the church, and partook of them apart, without waiting for, or inviting the poor; nay, even excluding them.” The consequence was that some of them committed excess (“is drunk”), approached holy communion in mortal sin, and thus became guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

“One man is hungry,” who probably fasted until evening, and hoped to join in the Agape, from which he is excluded.

“And another is drunk.” This word here simply implies excessive indulgence, which, however, did not reach a deprivation of reason.

1 Cor 11:22. If you wish to enjoy your private suppers, have you not your own houses?—or do you despise the house of God by such profanation, and the whole Christian congregation, by outraging and causing shame in those who have nothing to contribute? Surely, for conduct like this I cannot praise you.

“The church of God,” may either mean the congregation, or the place of meeting (as in Paraphrase). Respecting these Agapes, to which reference is made here, it is to be observed, that at the time referred to by the Apostle, they were celebrated immediately before holy communion, as is clear from this entire passage, verse 20 (although St. Chrysostom and others are of a contrary opinion), and continued to be celebrated in the same way, for a considerable time after, in some churches. Sozomen relates, that such was the case in some churches of Egypt, even in his own time; and from the decree of the third Council of Carthage, at which St. Augustine assisted and over which Aurelius, Primate of Africa, presided, prohibiting all who were not fasting beforehand, to receive the Holy Eucharist, Maunday Thursday excepted (canon 29), it is inferred, that the contrary usage generally prevailed throughout the several churches of Africa. It is, however, asserted by many, that those Agapes were, after the time referred to hear, celebrated throughout the church generally after holy communion; and some assert that this change in the time of the celebration was one of the points of reformation promised by the Apostle (verse 34). St. Augustine (Epistola ad Januarium), and others, refer the discipline of fasting before holy communion to the age of the Apostles. This is, however, called in question by many. But although the precise period at which this discipline of fasting before holy communion was introduced, cannot be defined for certain, it is universally agreed that it is of the highest antiquity. In consequence of the abuses to which these Agapes or charity feasts gave occasion, whether they were celebrated before or after communion (and we are told by Baronius, ad annum Christi 57, that they were frequently celebrated on the feasts of the martyrs, and on the occasion of the dedication of churches), the Council of Laodicea (canon 28) prohibited them altogether in the church, and forbade any such banquets in the house of God. The same prohibition was renewed by the Council of Quinisextum (canon 14).

1 Cor 11:23. For I have received by revelation from the Lord himself immediately and directly (as, indeed, I have the entire Gospel, of which the doctrine of the Eucharist forms a prominent part), what I have already described to you by word of mouth touching this subject, viz., that the Lord Jesus, on the very night on which he was betrayed, took bread into his venerable and creative hands;

In order to point out the enormity of the sacrilegious communions, which were the great evils resulting from the excesses committed at the Agapes, the Apostle repeats the loving history of the institution of the adorable Eucharist, which he had already, when among them, described orally, and to their forgetfulness of which, as well as of the sanctity of the mystery they were about to approach, their irreverences, their contempt of the entire church, their neglect of the poor, their excesses might be attributed.

“The same night on which he was betrayed.” This circumstance the Apostle mentions, in order to commend the excessive charity of Christ for us in this adorable institution, wherein our amiable Saviour poured forth all the riches of his Divine love for man (Council of Trent, SS. 13, ch. 2), and exhausted all the treasures of his infinite riches, all the inventions of wisdom, and all the efforts of infinite power.—(St. Augustine). Oh! how calculated is not the frequent consideration of the boundless love of our Blessed Jesus in the Sacrament of the altar—wherein he makes it his delight to remain with the children of men, even unto the end of the world, although the greater part of mankind are quite insensible to the incomprehensible prodigy of love, which he there never fails to exhibit—wherein he is prodigal of himself, to an extent that the mind of man could not fathom, and faith alone could believe—to draw us, to force us to love this disinterested lover who first loved us. What is the gift bestowed? On whom is it bestowed? How long is it to last? When was it given? Why was it given? At how great a sacrifice was it given? Shall not the consideration of these and the other circumstances of this Divine institution, force us to love our Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist!

1 Cor 11:24. And giving thanks, broke and said: Take ye and eat, this is my body which shall be delivered for you. What I have now done, do you and your successors also to the end of time, in commemorat on of my bitter passion and death.

“And giving thanks.” These words express the act of returning thanks to his Heavenly Father, as well for his great benefit, which he had long pre-ordained, and which he is now immediately about to give, as for all his other blessings bestowed on mankind. The Evangelists add, in the history of the institution of the Eucharist—“he blessed”—the object of which benediction was, to implore upon the bread which he was about to consecrate, the Divine beneficence. In the Canon of the Mass, wherein the whole action is minutely and circumstantially detailed, are added the words, elevatis oculis in cœlum, which he is presumed to have done on this as well as on the other occasions when he performed miracles; he did so in multiplying the bread (Matt. 14), and in raising Lazarus from the grave (John, 11)

“Broke.” According to some Expositors, he did this before consecration. These say, there was a two-fold breaking, the one referred to here, the other in the words, “this is my body which shall be delivered for you,” or, as in the Greek, which is broken for you, very expressive of his immolation and subjection to great tortures on the altar of the Cross. It seems, however, more probable that only one breaking took place, viz., that which occurred at the consecration, and of which the Apostle only gives a summary account, neglecting the order in which things took place.

“This is my body, which shall be delivered for you.” In Greek, τὁ ὑπερ ὑμῶν κλωμενον, which is broken for you, of course in the external species or appearances. The words, “which is broken,” although in the present tense, are used for a proximate future; they have a pregnans significatio, equivalent to “broken and given.” It corresponds with διδομενον, in St. Luke (Lk 22:19). Hence, it is well expressed by the Vulgate, tradetur. The word, κλωμενον, is wanting in the Vatican and Alexandrian MSS. From these words is derived a most solid and unanswerable proof of the real presence of the body and blood of our Lord in the blessed Sacrament.—(Concil. Trid. SS. xiii. c. 1). The words must have been understood in their plain, literal sense by the Apostles at the Last Supper; for, the Redeemer gave them no clue, that we are aware of, for understanding them, figuratively. On the contrary, the words of promise, which they had heard a year before (John, 6), and of which the fulfilment was deferred to the present moment, should have made them expect, that he would leave them his real body and blood, which it is clear, from the offence his words caused them, they understood him to promise.—(John, 6:62, &c.) Hence, our Blessed Redeemer could not have employed figurative language on this occasion, unless he had forewarned his Apostles, that he intended doing so; since, according to all the acknowledged laws of language, the man would be guilty of a he, who would employ language, in a figurative sense, which he knew his hearers were prepared to understand, literally. Now, the Apostles could be prepared to understand our Redeemer’s words, in the literal sense only: and his words, therefore, could be uttered in that sense only by our Divine Reedeemer. Taken literally, they clearly enunciate, and, therefore, prove the real presence. “Which shall be delivered for you;” according to this reading, adopted by the Vulgate, reference is made in these words to our Redeemer’s death upon the cross. If we follow the Greek reading, which is broken for you, the words express the present breaking of his body under the appearance or species of bread; and this breaking, which affects only the species, is referred to the substance contained under them, viz., the body and blood of Christ.

“This do for a commemoration of me,” i.e., in commemoration of his death and passion (as in verse 24). It is to be observed, that the three Evangelists (Matthew, 26.; Mark, 14.; Luke, 22), and St. Paul here, give the same precise words in the consecration of the bread, “This is my Body;” to which St. Luke adds, “which is given for you,” and St. Paul here, “which shall be delivered for you.”

1 Cor 11:25. In like manner, after having first partaken of the Paschal supper, and also of the ordinary Jewish supper, he took the chalice, saying, this chalice, i.e., the contents of this chalice, is the authentic instrument of the New Testament, sealed and sanctioned in my blood, or, the thing contained in this chalice of my blood, it is, that ratifies and confirms the New Testament. As often as you shall drink of this, do it in commemoration of me.

“After he had supped.” These words are added in the account given by St. Paul of the consecration of the chalice; because, as is clear from the history of the Last Supper by St. Luke (22:17–20), there were two different chalices used on the occasion; one, the cup employed by the Jewish householder, before the Paschal supper; the other, the Eucharistic chalice, which is not to be confounded with the former—for, it was only after the Paschal Supper, and after the Jewish common supper also, that the Eucharistic chalice was consecrated. It is to be borne in mind, that it was only after the Paschal and the Jewish common suppers, which were used on the occasion of the Pasch (for the Jews had two suppers on this occasion, the Paschal and the common one), the bread also was transubstantiated; but this circumstance is omitted by the Apostle when describing the consecration of the bread; because, no confusion would result from such omission; whereas, if omitted in the history of the consecration of the cup, this Euchariastic cup might be confounded with that used at the common supper.

“This chalice,” the container for the thing contained.

“Is the new testament.” It is a “testament,” being the instrument through which a dying testator bequeathes a gift.

“New,” in opposition to the old, given by Moses; and, moreover, it conveys new blessings of a more exalted and spiritual character.

The form of the consecration of the chalice left us by St. Paul and St. Luke, is perfectly the same; “this chalice is the new testament in my blood,” to which St. Luke adds, τό ὑπερ ὑμῶν εκχυνομενον, “which shall be shed for you,” (Lk 22:20). The form recorded by St. Matthew, which is the same as that of St. Mark, is somewhat different from that employed here by St. Paul and by St. Luke. In Matthew and Mark, the form is, “this is my blood of the new testament which shall be shed for many,” to which is added in St. Matthew, “unto the remission of sin.” The meaning of which is, that the new covenant of God with man, promising grace here and glory hereafter, on certain conditions, is ratified and sanctioned by the blood contained in the chalice; for it was by the effusion of the blood of Christ that these blessings were secured to man. The form here employed by St. Paul, and by St. Luke, “this chalice is the new testament,” &c., is reconciled by Piconio and A’Lapide with the form used by St. Matthew, “this is my blood of the new testament,” &c., in this way: they attach a different meaning to “testament,” in both cases. With St. Matthew, it means, the will itself. Here, according to them, it means the authentic instrument or copy of that will. Estius gives the word, “testament,” the same precise signification in both cases; he says, that the form here used by St. Paul means precisely the same thing with the form of St. Matthew. This chalice, or what is contained in this chalice of my blood, it is, that ratifies and confirms the new testament. Estius transposes the words, “in my blood,” as they are found in the form used here by St. Paul, and joins them with the word “chalice,” “this chalice in my blood,” which, according to him, means the same as “this chalice of my blood;” and he appears to insinuate that the difference of case “in my blood,” for, “of my blood,” is owing to some idiomatic peculiarity of language. This exposition has the advantage of giving the words used on this solemn occasion, the same fixed and definite meaning.

From this is clearly proved that the real blood of Christ was there; for, it was real blood that was shed in the testament of Moses, to which these words are allusive, and it would be perfectly unmeaning to suppose that the type was dedicated in real blood, and the antitype, only in the figure of blood.

“This do ye, as often as you shall drink,” &c. It is the doctrine of the Council of Trent (SS. xxii. chap. 1, de Missæ Sacrif.) that, at the institution of the adorable Eucharist, our Redeemer constituted his Apostles priests of the new testament, and commanded them and their successors in the priesthood to offer up (his body and blood), under the symbols or appearances of bread and wine, when he uttered the words, “Do this in commemoration of me.”

The precept conveyed in this and the preceding verses, by no means implies that the faithful are bound to receive communion under both kinds. For, our Redeemer directly addresses his priests, and commands them to offer sacrifice; to do, what he has done, to the end of time, in commemoration of his bitter death and passion. The only precept indirectly, or, rather, by correlative obligation binding on the faithful, is, to receive the Eucharist from the hands of their pastors, and in receiving it, to commemorate the death of Christ. But there is no command imposed on them to receive it under two kinds. Nay, the very conditional form in which our Redeemer speaks, when referring to the chalice, “this is ye as often as you shall drink.” &c., would imply the contrary; for why employ a condition if it were absolutely imperative? The command goes no farther in reference to the faithful, than to commemorate the death of Christ, when approaching to Holy Communion, and this may be done even under one kind. No doubt, Holy Communion was given in the early ages under both kinds; but, this was only a matter of discipline which might vary, but not of precept, which it was not in the power of the Church to change. She, for wise reasons, changed the discipline of former ages, and now allows Communion to be given to the faithful under one kind only. The precept of receiving under both kinds, only regarded the priests offering sacrifice, and the sacrifice most perfectly “shewed” forth the death of Christ, under the two distinct kinds.

1 Cor 11:26. As often, then, as you shall partake of this bread (transubstantiated into the body), and drink the chalice (changed into the blood of Christ), you shall announce the death of the Lord until he comes to judge the world.

In this verse, the Apostle explains the precept included in the institution of the Eucharist, as regarded the faithful, viz., that as often as they partook of the body and blood of Christ, they should announce his death, until he comes to judge the world. The Eucharist, therefore, is to continue till the end of time. “And drink the chalice,” the common Greek has, ποτηριον τουτο, this chalice, but, this, is cancelled by the best critics, on the authority of the chief MSS. “You shall shew.” The Greek is in the present, “you do show,” καταγγελλετε.

1 Cor 11:27. Whosoever, therefore, shall eat this bread or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, i.e., in the state of mortal sin, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

“Therefore,” shows the object which the Apostle had in view in referring to the institution of the Eucharist, viz., to impress the Corinthians with the enormity of the sin of unworthy Communion. As, then, the Eucharist is a real representation of the suffering and death of Christ (verse 26), “whosoever, therefore,” receives him unworthily in the Eucharist “is guilty,” &c.

“Unworthily,” by positive irreverence, in the state of mortal sin, such as was the state of those referred to here, who committed excesses, and were harsh to the poor at the Agapes.

“Guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” These words evidently suppose his body and blood to be present: otherwise, how could so strong an assertion be warranted? Who could, with any degree of propriety, say, that by insulting or maltreating the picture of a king, a man is guilty of the body and blood of the king? Such a man might be justly charged with irreverence or disrespect to the king, whose image he abuses; but, surely, it would be preposterous to say of him, that he would be guilty of the body and blood of the king. Hence, the body and blood of Christ must be present in the Eucharist, to warrant so strong an assertion on the part of the Apostle.

From this verse it follows, that both species are not necessarily, as a matter of precept, to be taken together at Holy Communion. For, the Apostle supposes that a man may receive either one or the other unworthily; and as it is evident from the entire context, this unworthiness is made by him to consist, not in the separate taking of one species without the other, or in disjoining what should be taken jointly, but in the previous unworthy dispositions of the recipient; for, he speaks of the abuses against morals committed at the Agapes. Hence, it follows, that one part could be received worthily without the other, provided the previous dispositions of the recipient were worthy. In the Protestant Bibles, the words of this verse, contrary to the original Greek, are corruptly rendered. “Whoesoever shall eat this bread, and drink,” &c. The Greek is ἤ πίνη, &c., “or drink,” &c.

1 Cor 11:28. If, then, a man feels conscious of being in mortal sin, let him prove himself by good sacramental confession; and, then, he may eat of this flesh and drink of this chalice.

“Prove himself.” This proof is made by the Council of Trent (SS. 13, chap. 7). to consist, should a man be conscious of a mortal sin, in a good sacramental confession, and this the Council commands, should there be an opportunity of confessing—“and so let him eat of that bread,” &c. The meaning of the words is—he may then, after such proof, partake of that bread and drink of the chalice. The proof here required does not regard faith, as the sectaries pretend; for the Apostle is referring to breaches of morality.

1 Cor 11:29. For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgment—that is to say, entails damnation on himself, in punishment of his not discerning the body of the Lord, treating it with no more respect than he would treat common bread.

“For he that eateth and drinketh” (or does one or the other, as is clear from verse 27, of which this is but a fuller repetition), “unworthily” in the sense already assigned—such a man “eateth and drinketh judgment,” i.e., damnation to himself. He receives his judge, Christ, who will condemn him.

“Not discerning the body of the Lord.” Now, if the body of the Lord were not really there, how incur guilt for not discerning it? This verse is the same as verse 27, the words of which, “guilty of the body and blood of the Lord,” show that the guilt of those who received him unworthily in holy Communion, was equal to that of those who crucified Christ; since receiving him in Communion, his death is commemorated. And a man is said to be guilty of the body and blood of another, not simply by killing him, but when he murders him in a cruel, barbarous manner. O God of mercy! pardon us the many outrages committed against thee in the Sacrament of thy love. Preserve us from murdering, by an unworthy Communion, Him who was tortured for our sakes, to save us from the eternal tortures of the damned.

1 Cor 11:30. In punishment of these bad communions, many amongst you are afflicted with divers maladies and infirmities, and many, punished with death.

Many were visited in the primitive Church, with corporal infirmities and premature death in punishment of unworthy Communions.

1 Cor 11:31. If, then, we would examine and prove ourselves, and expiate our sins by a good confession, we would avert these judgments and punishments from us.

While referring to the visible punishments inflicted on many of them, he consoles them at the same time by the assurance, that these punishments were only the paternal and salutary corrections which God, as a merciful and tender lather, had inflicted on them for their greater good, viz., to save them from the eternal punishment of the damned, in store for the infidels and sinners of “this world.” The visible punishment here referred to is that of death, verse 30.

From this it follows, that although the guilt and eternal debt or liability of sin be remitted, as happened in this case, “that we may not be condemned with this world,” still, the temporal debt sometimes remains to be remitted, “whilst we are judged, we are corrected [i.e., punished] by the Lord.” This proposition, viz., that sometimes, after the remission of the guilt and eternal punishment due to sin, a temporal debt remains to be expiated, either in this life or in Purgatory, is, de fide Catholica, defined in the Council of Trent, (SS. xiv., chap, viii.):—“Sancta Synodus declarat falsum omnino esse, et a verbo Dei alienum, culpam a Domino nunquam remitti, quin universa etiam pœna condonctur;” and (Can. xii.):—“Si quis dixerit totam pœnam simul cum culpa remitti semper a Deo—Anathema sit.”

1 Cor 11:32. Whilst, however, we are thus punished, we are only experiencing the correction which the Lord administers to us as children, to save us from being involved in the same judgment of condemnation with the sinners and infidels of this world.

No commentary on this verse is offered beyond the paraphrase

1 Cor 11:33. Wherefore, on the occasion of all your future meetings at your Agapes; let them be in reality the Lord’s suppers, common to all, and wait for one another.

This shows that the Apostle does not intend to abolish the Agapes, but only to correct the abuses committed in them, and have them reformed.

1 Cor 11:34. If any man be too hungry to remain fasting so long, let him eat at home, in order that your meetings may not serve as so many occasions of damnation on account of your excesses, your pride, and contempt of the poor. Other matters connected with this subject, I will prescribe and arrange as soon as I shall have come amongst you.

“If any man be hungry,” i.e., unable to fast until evening, when the Agape was celebrated, “let him eat at home,” and not make these religious assemblies, intended for their salvation, the occasion of damnation. He is contented with inculcating this one point. He reserves all other points of reformation for his advent amongst them. What these were, cannot be determined. St. Augustine says (Epistle 118), that receiving the Communion in a state of fasting, was one of the points arranged by him.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians Chapter 10

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 29, 2018

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

The Apostle continues, as far as verse 14 of this chapter, the subject referred to in the close of the preceding. He shows why both he and they should fear, lest they might be cast off and numbered amongst the reprobate; and, in order to guard them against relying too confidently on the signal favours which they heretofore received, he introduces the example of the Jews, who left Egypt, whose history—both as to favours conferred and punishment inflicted—was a type of the benefits conferred on us in the New Law, and of the punishment to be inflicted on ns, should we imitate them in sinning. Their passage through the desert was a figure of our passage through life, towards the true Chanaan. Their helps given them primarily, in reference to a temporal end, were a figure of ours given in reference to a spiritual; and, as all the Jews who, the year after leaving Egypt, reached the twentieth year of their age, to the number of six hundred thousand, died in the desert (Caleb and Joshua excepted), without entering the land of Chanaan, although they all partook of the same favours and privileges;—so there is cause for us to dread, should we follow their sinful example, the like exclusion from the Chanaan of Heaven (verse 14). He reverts, after a long digression, to the subject of Idolothytes, of which he treated (chap. 8), and classes the use of them, in certain circumstances, with Idol worship (14). He proves from examples drawn both from the Christian and Jewish laws, that, by partaking of Idolothytes, they join in Idol worship (1 Cor 10:14–19). He shows the enormity of this crime, as it is nothing short of joining in the worship of devils (1 Cor 10:19–22). He next considers the circumstance of scandal, resulting from the use of Idolothytes (1 Cor 10:22–25). He shows when the use of them is allowed (1 Cor 10:25–28). In case, however, a remark be made, either by believers or unbelievers, that the things set before us were offered to Idols, we should abstain from them in charity to our informants (1 Cor 10:28–30). The safest rule for avoiding scandal in every case is to refer all our actions to the glory of God without giving offence in any quarter, after the example of the Apostle himself.

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on.

1 Cor 10:1. (It is not without reason, that I, as well as you, have to fear the dreadful curse of reprobation, notwithstanding the many spiritual advantages bestowed upon us.) For, I would not have you ignorant, that our fathers were under the pillar of cloud, and they all miraculously crossed the Red Sea, after their deliverance from the bondage of Egypt.

“Our fathers.” He calls the ancient Jews the “fathers” of the Corinthians, because the Corinthians were the spiritual Israel at the time; or it may be, that he addresses the Jewish portion particularly, as being the best informed in religion. “The cloud” is that referred to (Exodus 13:22-23). It preceded the people, overshadowing and protecting them from the sun’s heat by day, and this during their entire journey, from the time they left Egypt until they reached Chanaan. By night, in its place was a pillar of fire. “Through the sea” refers to their miraculous passage across the Red Sea. This, and the preceding, were signal favours on the part of God.

1 Cor 10:2. And they were all baptized by the ministry and under the guidance of Moses, in this cloud and in the sea.

The baptism in question, caused, probably, by their immersion in the thick vapours from the cloud that overhung them, and from the sea through which they passed, was typical of our baptism; and several other circumstances attending their passage, were types of the effects which baptism produces (verse 9); the drowning of Egyptians was a type of the destruction of our sin in baptism, &c. Others, strictly adhering to the Greek, “and all unto Moses were baptized,” εἰς τὸν Μω̈υσην, interpret the words thus:—They were initiated into the religion of Moses, in the same way as we are introduced into the Church by baptism; because the protection divinely extended to them in both these instances, made them at once follow Moses and embrace the religion propounded by him. The former, however, is the more probable interpretation; because, the Apostle speaks of what occurred to the incredulous as well as to the believers.

1 Cor 10:3. And they all ate the same spiritual food, viz., the manna.

“The same spiritual food,” viz., the manna, which is called “spiritual,” because formed in the air by the hands of angels; or, rather, on account of its spiritual signification; for, it signified the adorable body of Christ, given us for food in the Holy Eucharist. “The same,” among themselves, but not as St. Augustine understands it, the same with our spiritual food. According to him, they took the same spiritual food as ours, because they partook by faith of that which we receive really. This interpretation of St. Augustine is very improbable; because the Apostle has not hitherto said a single word about our spiritual food. Moreover, it is of the Hebrews alone he speaks in the fifth verse, where it is said, “but with the most of them, God was not pleased.” Again, “all” the Jews did not receive Christ spiritually by faith; for many of them were incredulous.

1 Cor 10:4. And they all drank the same spiritual drink, viz., the water from the rock; for, they drank of the spiritual rock, which followed them in the rivers of water flowing from it to a great distance after them, till they reached abundance; and the object signified by this rock was Christ.

“The same spiritual drink.” “Spiritual,” because figurative of the sacred blood of Christ. This, most probably, refers to the issue from the rock of Horeb, at Raphidim, in the first year of their egress from Egypt (Exodus 18), and not to that recorded (Num. 20), because, this latter issuing of the water occurred at Cades, in Sin, in the last year of the sojourn of the Jews in the desert, and after the construction of the tabernacle, as is clear from the fact of Moses taking the rod, “which was before the Lord” (Num. 20:8), i.e., in the tabernacle of the covenant. And as the Apostle refers to this as one of the blessings, notwithstanding which, “they were overthrown in the desert,” he must, consequently have referred to the issuing of the water which occurred before their death, and hence, not to that which occurred the last year of their abode in the desert, when most of those who left Egypt, after the age of twenty, were dead. (“And they drank of the spiritual rock,” &c.; in Greek, ἔπεινον γὰρ, for they drank, &c., as if these words were corroborative of the preceding.) The interpretation adopted in the Paraphrase is founded on the words of the Psalmist, who, in commemorating the benefits of God towards the Jews in the desert says, et deduxit tanquam flumina aquas (Psalm 68), disrupit petram et fluxerunt aquæ, abierunt flumina in sicco,—(Psalm 105). Others interpret the words thus: they drank of the spiritual rock which followed them; because they were favoured with the exercise of the power of Christ which followed and protected them through the desert. However, in this interpretation, the Apostle should have rather said, which preceded them, because Christ, or his conducting angel, preceded rather than “followed” them.—(Exodus, 23 and 32)

“And the rock was Christ.” From the Greek, ἡ πέτρα δὲ ἦν ὁ Χριστός, it cannot be ascertained which word is the predicate, and which, the subject of this proposition. However, the evident meaning is, that Christ was the object signified by this rock, or this rock in signification was Christ; and hence, spiritual.

The Sacramentarians can ground no objection against the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, on the analogy between the two propositions, “the rock was Christ,” and “this is my body.” Because, in order to be warranted, according to the established laws of human language, in saying of the sign that it is a thing signified, we should be aware, that either our hearers or readers were prepared to understand us as speaking figuratively, as predicating of the sign, the thing signified. This is one of the fundamental laws of human language. Now, at the Last Supper—the occasion when the words, “this is my body,” were uttered—the Apostles received no intimation whatever, that our Redeemer meant the words, “this is my body,” to be taken figuratively—on the contrary, they were to expect that he would leave them his real body and blood, as their meat and drink, in fulfilment of the promise made to them on a former occasion (John, chapter 6); whereas, we are informed by the Apostle, in this place that there is question of figurative language throughout (verses 6 and 11). Secondly, whenever it would involve an absurdity to predicate one thing of another, in the literal signification, then the proposition must be taken figuratively, as in the propositions, Christ is a lion, Christ is a door. &c. So it is also with regard to the proposition, “the rock was Christ.” Hence, it must be understood figuratively: but there is no absurdity in saying of the object present at the Last Supper, in the most literal sense, this is my body. Since Christ not only announced a truth, but operated a change, making the thing to be, what he announced or predicated regarding it.

1 Cor 10:5. But most of them did not please God; for, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, the carcases of all the men, who, after the numbering which occurred the first year of their leaving Egypt, had reached the age of twenty, were strewed in the wilderness.—(Num. 14:29-30; 26:64-65).

Although all had been favoured with these signal blessings on the part of God, which served as it were for so many pledges, that they were to enter the land of Chanaan; still, out of six hundred thousand men, who reached the age of twenty, the first year after their departure from Egypt, only two, viz., Caleb and Joshua, entered the land of promise; and this, in punishment of their having displeased God by their sins—an awful warning to us not to confide too much on the past favours and pledges of God’s goodness; for, if we follow the sinful example of the Israelites, we too shall be excluded from the true Chanaan of heaven, whereof that, towards which they were journeying, was a figure. “With most of them,” ἐν τοῖς πλείοσιν, “with many of them.”

1 Cor 10:6. Now, all these things were typical of us; their helps of our graces; their temporal punishment and exclusion from Chanaan, of our eternal punishment and exclusion from heaven; and convey to us, at the same time, a wholesome warning, not to imitate their sinful course, not to covet evil things, as they inordinately coveted flesh meat.

“Were done in a figure of us.” In Greek, ταῦτα δὲ τύποι ἡμῶν ἑγενήθησαν, were types of us; the word signifies both a type or rude delineation, and also an example or warning, both which meanings are given in the Paraphrase; as the gifts were types, so likewise was the punishment. “That we should not covet evil things.” (In allusion to the greediness of the Corinthians for Idolothytes). “As they also coveted.” The Apostle refers to the occasion (Numbers 11), when disgusted with the manna, they cried out, “who will give us flesh to eat?” (Numbers 11:4); and from the punishment inflicted on them, after partaking of the quails sent into the camp, the place was called “the graves of lust.”—(Numbers 11:34).

1 Cor 10:7. Nor become idolaters, like some of them, when in the absence of Moses, they adored the golden calf of which occurrence, it was written (Exodus 35:6): The people sat down to eat and drink, and afterwards rose up to indulge in sportive amusement of all sorts, in honour of their new god.

“Neither become ye idolaters” (in allusion to the participation of Idolothytes in suspicious circumstancs, which might render them suspected of joining in idol worship), “as some of them.” He refers to the adoration of the golden calf set up by Aaron, while Moses was receiving the law from God on Mount Sinai. “As it is written: The people sat down to eat,” &c.—(Exodus 32). The people after presenting holocausts and peace offerings to their idol, sat down to eat and drink; and then rose up to indulge in all sorts of sportive amusements, leaping, dancing, &c. in honour of their new God. These words, viz., the people sat down, &c., are quoted by the Apostle, simply because in Exodus they are found immediately connected with the description of their idolatrous conduct. The Apostle does not appear to intend them for a proof of any kind. He merely quotes them, because of their connection with idolatry to which he refers.—(Exodus 32:6).

1 Cor 10:8. Nor commit fornication as some of them did, on the occasion of the introduction of the daughters of Moab (Numbers 25:1), and twenty-three thousand were slain in one day.

“Neither let us commit fornication.” These words are allusive to the libidinous propensities of the Corinthians (see chap. 6) “And there fell in one day three-and-twenty thousand.” In the book of Numbers 25:9, it is said, “four and twenty thousand fell.” How reconcile both accounts? Some say, there is no contradiction whatever. St. Paul says, “twenty-three thousand in one day fell.” Moses does not say “twenty-four thousand in one day.” By these Expositors it is supposed that a thousand of the chiefs were slain on the first day, and twenty-three thousand of the people, on the second day, to which St. Paul here refers. Others say, that between twenty-three and twenty-four thousands were the numbers slain, and that both the Apostle and Moses, as historians of the fact, recorded only the round numbers, without attending to strict numerical accuracy; so that St. Paul took the lesser, and Moses, the greater number. Estius adopts the mode of reconciling both statements proposed by Œcumenius, who says, that he found in some copies of this epistle twenty-four thousand, and that twenty-three thousand was inserted through the carelessness of the amanuensis. A’Lapide says, the twenty-three thousand slain, mentioned in this verse, refer not to the fornicators; but to the idolaters (verse 7); and in the book of Exodus 32:28, we find the number of them slain to be “about twenty-three thousand men,” in which interpretation, there is no discrepancy whatever. In favour of this opinion, A’Lapide asserts that it was not unusual with Hebrew writers to refer to a remote antecedent, what might naturally be connected with what immediately precedes.

1 Cor 10:9. Nor tempt Christ, as some of them did, and were destroyed by fiery serpents.

“Neither let us tempt Christ,” probably contains an allusion to the denial of His resurrection by some of the Corinthians. “As some of them tempted.” How could the Jews of old “tempt Christ” since it was only after His Incarnation the Second person of the Adorable Trinity was called “Christ” or the anointed? Again, from the comparison instituted by St. Paul to the Hebrews (chap. 2) between the promulgation of the New Law and the Old, we know that the former was promulgated by Christ himself, and the latter only by his angels; and was it not the same angel whom God intrusted with the guidance of his people, generally supposed to be Michael the Archangel—the protector of the Synagogue, as he is now of the Church—who had a principal share in promulgating the law of Sinai? The common answer of the Holy Fathers and Divines is, that the Angel in question, who also appeared to Abraham, Daniel, and Moses, in the burning bush, and is called “Dominus,” assumed the same external form, which Christ united to himself hypostatically; and hence, it was Christ represented by him that the Jews tempted.

1 Cor 10:10. Nor murmur against authority, as some of them murmured, in the rebellion of Core, Dathan, and Abiron, and were exterminated by the destroying Angel.

This, most probably, refers to the murmuring consequent on the rebellion of Core, Dathan, and Abiron, on which occasion the multitude cried out against Moses and Aaron, “you have killed the people of the Lord” (Numbers 16:41), in punishment of which, fourteen thousand seven hundred were destroyed (verse 49), besides the two hundred and fifty whom the earth swallowed up in the rebellion of Core, &c. The destruction to which the Apostle here refers, as effected by the destroying angel, was put a stop to by Aaron when, taking a censer in his hand, he interposed “between the dead and the living” (verse 48). In the five preceding verses, the Apostle is instancing the crimes which he had to animadvert upon in the Corinthians, and by showing the punishments inflicted upon the Jews for the like transgressions, he wishes to inspire them with a salutary dread of falling into those sins in future.

1 Cor 10:11. Now, all these things happened to them in figure, their punishment was but a type of ours, and serves as an awful warning to us, against imitating their transgressions. They were written for our admonition who have lived in the last age of the world.

“Our correction.” In Greek, νουθεσιαν ἡμῶν, which may also be rendered, our admonition. They were written to admonish us not to sin as they did, for fear of being involved in the like punishment. “Upon whom the ends of the word,” &c.; by these words is meant, the end of the ages of the world. Ours is the last age, because no other form of religion—no other dispensation will succeed ours till the end of all things. Hence, the term of the Christian religion is called “the last hour.”—(1 Jn 2:18).

1 Cor 10:12. Wherefore, let him who thinks that he is firmly established in the state of grace, not be too confident, but take care lest he fall.

From this passage is drawn a conclusive argument against the heretical doctrine of the inamissibility of grace; the Apostle supposes the man in question to be just; for, unless he supposed him to be really standing in grace, his exhortation would be: “let him take to stand really, and not in an imaginary way; let him attain justice and return by penance;” but, by exhorting him to take care, “lest he fall” or lose justice, he evidently supposes him to be just; and hence, that the just man can lose grace, for how could he fall away from justice, unless he were before in it?

Objection.—The Apostle speaks only of him who thinks he stands.

Resp.—The Apostle uses this form of language in preference to the words, he who stands; because many think they stand who do not, in reality; and, secondly, because if he said, he who stands, his exhortation would be without effect, since no one could be certain whether he stood or not, “whether he was worthy of love or hatred;” at all events, the words suppose that a man can fall, and, hence, lose grace; for, if he was not in the state of grace, he could not fall from it.

1 Cor 10:13. Hitherto you have experienced some trials. May God grant, that no temptation assail you in future, unless such as may be accommodated to human strength, aided by the ordinary helps of Divine grace; but no matter to what trials you may be exposed God—who is faithful to His Divine promises, assuring us, that if we call upon him, he will hear us—will not permit you to be assailed beyond your strength; nay, by administering the necessary graces, he will bring the temptation to so favourable a conclusion, as that you may come off victorious in the conflict.

“Let no temptation take hold on you,” &c. This rendering of the words, “Let no temptation,” &c., in the imperative mood, is perfectly in accordance with the Latin Vulgate, non apprehendat tentatio, &c. According to this rendering, the words mean: take care that no temptation of a diabolical nature assail you; as for those that are “human,” i.e., incidental to our nature, God will so temper them, as to lead to a favourable issue, and cause you gain by them. The optative rendering is preferred in the Paraphrase: “May no temptation in future assail you,” &c., this is also admitted by the Vulgate, apprehendat. According to the Greek reading, the words are employed in the perfect indicative, πειρασμὸς ὑμᾶς οὐκ εἴληφεν, “a temptation has not assailed you, except a human one,” &c. According to this reading, the meaning is—you need not be too confident of your strength (verse 12); nor should you rely to much on your past firmness—for, no temptation has hitherto assailed you, that could not be easily overcome by man, aided by the ordinary helps of Divine grace. By this, the Apostle prepares them for the heavy and severe trials, to which they afterwards had to submit in the persecutions they endured for the faith. This is the meaning and bearing of the passage according to the Greek. In the Paraphrase the Vulgate is followed. “And God is faithful,” &c. God is faithful to the promise he has repeatedly pledged of hearing us, if we call upon him, and of giving us the crown of life—“but will make also with the temptation, issue,” τὴν ἕκβασιν, the way of escape, a triumphant evasion or deliverance from it. “That you may be able to bear it,” that is, bear up against the shock of the temptation, and suffer no injury from it. From this verse is proved the dogma of faith against Jansenius, viz., that the just have hic et nunc, sufficient grace to overcome the urgent temptation; for, St. Paul addresses the just; otherwise, verse 12, he would tell them to repent rather than “take care not to fall”—and of them he says, God will give all the necessary graces, so that no temptation, which may be above their strength, shall assail them.

1 Cor 10:14. Wherefore, keeping in mind all the foregoing examples of punishment inflicted on the sinful Jews, or, in order that God may give you grace to persevere under temptation, fly from the worship of idols, this not being a human, but a diabolical temptation.

“Wherefore.” This may regard what immediately precedes, viz., “that you may be able to bear;” or, his motive in adducing the foregoing example of Jewish infidelities and punishment (as in Paraphrase), “flee from the service of idols.” This has reference to their partaking of idolothytes, of which he treated in chapter 8. After a long digression, he reverts to the same subject, and shows that the use of them savours, to a certain extent, of idol worship (verse 20).

1 Cor 10:15. I speak to persons of judgment, capable of appreciating the force of my observations. Be you, yourselves, judges of what I am about to say

This, he adds, to guard against giving any offence, and to soften down any harshness which they might conceive to be involved in the observations, and proofs which he is about to adduce.

1 Cor 10:16. The blessed chalice, upon which we invoke the Divine bounty and omnipotence, doth it not make us partakers of the blood of Christ, and by this participation, unite us with him? And the heavenly bread which we break, in its external species, doth it not make us partakers of his divine body in the same way?

In the following verses, the Apostle undertakes to prove the truth of the assertion implied in the words, “flee from the service of idols” (verse 14), viz., that by partaking of the meats, &c., offered to idols in certain circumstances, they incurred the guilt of taking part in the sacrifice offered to idols: and for this end, he adduces two illustrations, one derived from the Christian law (verses 16-17); another, from the law of Moses (verse 18). “The chalice of benediction,” i.e., the chalice blessed by Christ, “which we bless,” i.e., upon which we daily invoke, in the adorable Sacrifice, the benediction pronounced over it by Christ. What the “benediction” referred to here means, is a matter of dispute. It does not appear to regard the act of thanksgiving, gratias agens, uttered by Christ before he pronounced the word of consecration at the Last Supper; for, this was referred to God, and not to the bread or wine; neither does it seem to regard the act of consecration itself. It, most probably, refers to the act distinct from both, performed by Christ before the consecration, as we find in St. Matthew and St. Mark, and usually performed by him in the several instances of the multiplication of material bread, viz., the act of invoking the Divine bounty and omnipotence on the bread and wine about to be transubstantiated into his body and blood, imparting the heavenly efficacy of transubstantiation to the form of consecration, to be pronounced on future occasions by his annointed ministers. This is the meaning given of the word “benediction” by the Council of Trent, SS. 13, ch. 1:—Post panis vinique benedictionem, se suum ipsius corpus illis præbere, ac suum sanguinem, disertis ac perspicuis verbis testatus est; and in the Canon of the Mass, the act of benediction is accurately distinguished from either the thanksgiving or consecration, tibi gratis agens benedixit, fregit, deditque discipulis suis, dicens; Hoc est enim Corpus meum.

“The chalice of benediction”—the container for the thing contained—“is it not the communion (in the Greek, κοινωνια), of the blood of Christ?”—that is, does it not make us partakers of the blood of Christ, so as to become united with him in this participation of his blood? “And the bread,” he calls it “bread,” on account of its pre-existing materials, just as the serpent of Aaron, which devoured those of the magicians, is still called “a rod,” the form from which it was changed (Exodus 7:12), “which we break,” as to its external species and appearances. “Is it not the partaking (κοινωνια) of the body of the Lord,” (in Greek, τοῦ Χριστοῦ, of Christ), uniting us to him as above, in the case of his blood. In this interrogative form the Apostle supposes the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, as a dogma of faith, with which they were all intimately acquainted.

1 Cor 10:17. So real is the communication of his body and blood in the Eucharist, and our consequent union with him, that all of us who partake of the one bread, although we are many, become, by this participation, one bread and one body.

Having supposed the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist in the preceding verse, the Apostle, in this verse, refers to one of the effects of communion—viz., perfect union between the receivers themselves, and also perfect union between them and Christ whom they receive, leaving it to the Corinthians to be inferred, that by partaking of the Idolothytes, they become sharers with the infidels in the sacrifice, and thus fall into idolatry.

The words of this verse contain a most conclusive proof of Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist. First.—This is inferred from the Apostle’s calling the bread, of which he himself and they partook, at communion, “one bread.” No other bread used at communion (to which the Apostle here refers) could be called “one bread,” except the body of Christ. He could not, with any propriety of language, call several common loaves or breads, “one bread,” in consequence of their having one typical signification, or representation, as our adversaries explain it. As well might it be said, that the priests of the Old Law had eaten of one lamb, because the lambs of which they severally partook had one mystical signification—they signified Christ; and yet no one could say the latter, without the grossest impropriety. Hence, by saying, “we are one body, one bread, all that partake of one bread,” including himself with them, though living in places so far asunder, the Apostle must suppose them to partake of the same identical bread—viz., the body of Christ. Nor could it be said that the Apostle might refer to one large loaf, which would suffice for the communion of all; because, the number of Christians at Corinth was too large for one loaf to suffice for their communion. “I have much people in that city,” (Acts 18); and, besides, these words are intended for all future times—for the body of the Church, when the number of her children partaking of this one bread would be beyond number. It is, then, only in reference to the body of Christ, he could say that he and they partook of the one bread; because the body of Christ was everywhere one and the same.

Secondly.—The same is inferred from his saying, “we being many are one bread, one body,” &c. By partaking of bread, the food and the receiver become one. If one man partake of food, although of the same description, distinct from the portion taken by another, the receivers are not, therefore, identified with one another; it is only in the supposition, that the food taken by a number of persons is identically the same—that the receivers are, on account of this participation, identified, according to the logical axiom, “Quæ sunt eadem uni tertio sunt eadem interse.” It is by their partaking of the same identical food, that they are identified with the food, and therefore among themselves; and there is no other food or bread in creation which is taken identically the same by all receivers, except the body of Christ; hence, by saying that, in consequence of partaking of one bread, they are made “one body and one bread,” the Apostle supposes them to partake of the body of Christ.

1 Cor 10:18. Look to the Jews who continue to profess the Jewish religion, are not those, who eat of the victims offered, made partakers of the altar? Do they not join, and have they not a share in the sacrifice?

This is a second illustration, or argument, drawn from the Jewish religion, to prove that, by partaking of Idolothytes in certain circumstances, they join in the worship of idols.

1 Cor 10:19. What then is my conclusion? Do I contradict what I have already stated (chap. 8) regarding idols? Do I say that an idol is anything?—or, that the thing offered to idols receives any sacrifices therefrom? By no means.

To all these different questions, the answer, by no means, is understood. The several questions may be regarded as so many negations.

1 Cor 10:20. But, what the Gentiles offer in sacrifice, they immolate not to God, but to demons. (Hence, he who partakes of Idolothytes communicates with demons). I do not wish you to hold communion with demons.

“But the things which the heathens sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils.” And hence, by partaking, in certain circumstances, of the things offered to their idols, you may be fairly presumed to identify yourselves with the Pagans, and join in their intention. Whenever, then, a man would be considered by all, and rationally presumed, from circumstances, to join the Pagans, in consummating their sacrifice by partaking of the things offered to idols, he would incur the guilt of idolatry. The tables of the Gentiles, in such circumstances, are nothing else than “tables of devils:” for, it is to honour the devils (“all gods of the Gentiles are devils”—Psalm 96), and consummate the sacrifice offered to them, that such tables are set up. And, even were a Christian to exclude all idea, under these peculiar circumstances, of joining in a false worship, still, the external act itself would be fairly construed into an external participation in idol worship.

1 Cor 10:21. You cannot, without a monstrous association of things in themselves incompatible, drink the chalice of the Lord and that of devils—partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of devils.

This passage furnishes the clearest proof in favour of the sacrifice of the Mass. The evident scope of the Apostle, in referring to the practice observed in the Christian and Mosiac laws, is to prove that by joining the Pagans in partaking of Idolothytes, the Christians of Corinth joined in Pagan sacrifices. Now, unless he supposes the Christians to have a sacrifice on their altar, his reasoning, so far as the example drawn from the Christian law is concerned, would be quite inconclusive. Moreover, he institutes a comparison between the “table of the Lord” and “the table of devils.” The latter, then, must denote a table for sacrifice, or, at least, one in immediate connection with it; for, he would never term the ordinary table of the Gentiles, “the table of devils,” since he permits the Christians to eat of it (verse 17). Hence, he supposes “the table of the Lord” also to be an altar, as otherwise there would be no meaning in the comparison instituted. We know the Pagans did offer sacrifices, and that it is to the meats, &c., offered in sacrifice the Apostle here alludes. The word “table” in Scripture language is frequently used to designate an altar; thus Isiaias 65, “qui ponitis mensam fortunæ,” &c.; and Malachy, 1, “mensa Domini despecta est,” with many similar examples. Again, the Apostle compares the Pagan with the Christian offerings in the same way that he compares them with the Jewish offerings, and for the same purpose. Now, the latter were real sacrifices, and so must, therefore, the Christians offerings also; otherwise, the Apostle would adduce two examples from two different dispensations—viz., the Christian (verse 16), and the Mosaic (verse 18), for the purpose of proving that by partaking of Idolothytes in certain circumstances, the Corinthians were joining in Pagan sacrifice, the first of which would not be, at all, in point, unless he supposed a sacrifice to take place in the Christian communion, when they approach “the table of the Lord.” Hence, the Apostle supposes as a matter already known to them, that they had a sacrifice on the Christian altars.

Question.—Does not the Apostle, in this passage, contradict what he asserts, chap. 8, and also verse 27 of this chapter, in both which places he appears to say, that, per se, the partaking of meats, &c., offered to idols, is perfectly a matter of indifference?

Resp.—There is no contradiction whatever. It is clear, that, of itself, there was nothing wrong in partaking of the things offered to idols. But St. Paul considers two circumstances in which the matter becomes unlawful: first, the circumstance of scandal, of which circumstance alone he treats (chap. 8 and verse 23 of this chapter); secondly, the circumstance of partaking of them in a place specially destined for the consumation of the sacrifice in the mind of the Pagans and of all others. To this latter circumstance, from which he abstracts chap. 8, the Apostle refers in verse 14 of this chapter. In this latter case, abstracting altogether from the circumstance of scandal, or sin against their brethren, men are guilty of the crime of idolatry, since they join in a rite instituted by the Pagans in honour of devils, no matter what may be their internal feelings or intention on the occasion—just as a Catholic, who partakes of the Protestant communion cup, be his intention what it may, joins in false worship. There is no contradiction, then, between this and the other passages, unless it be made out that a man who does not fully consider all the bearings of a subject, at one time, falls into a contradiction by considering its different circumstances, at different times.

1 Cor 10:22. Do we by such conduct wish to provoke God to jealousy?—or combat his omnipotence? But, if not taken in prohibited places, may not the eating of these things be licit? Yes; but many things are licit, that are not expedient for our neighbour’s good or our own.

“Do we provoke?” &c. These words show the enormity of the sin which he is after condemning.

1 Cor 10:23. Many things are lawful that may not promote the spiritual advancement, or the edification of our neighbour, as they should.

“All things are lawful,” &c., i.e., all the things that are in themselves lawful, are not, under certain circumstances, expedient or edifying. Similar is the passage (1 Cor 6:12). The Apostle, in this verse, considers another circumstance of the participation of Idolothytes, viz., when they are attended with scandal or disedification. For the meaning of “edify,” see comments on 8:1.

1 Cor 10:24. But charity dictates to us that we should not seek our own interests merely to the detriment of our neighbour, but that we should consult for his spiritual interests also.

He shows what charity demands of us towards our neighbour. “But that which is another’s.” In Greek but (each one) that which is another’s; “each one,” ἕκαστος, is cancelled by critics on the authority of the chief MSS. and ancient versions.

1 Cor 10:25. Eat of everything sold at the market, asking no questions for conscience sake. Make no inquiries, whether it has been offered to idols or not.

He shows when it is lawful to partake of these meats, &c.

1 Cor 10:26. For to the Lord belong the earth and all its contents, which are, therefore, in themselves good and unpolluted.

As the earth and its contents are the Lord’s, hence, none of its contents are polluted or bad; and so, you can, in proper circumstances, eat of these meats, whether offered or not. “The earth is the Lord’s.” The Greek has, “for the earth is the Lord’s.”

1 Cor 10:27. Should a Pagan invite you to table, and you think fit to accept of his invitation, you may partake of whatever is set before you, asking no question as to whether it was immolated or not.

“Eat of anything that is set before you.’ Here, it is asked by some, why it is that the Apostle did not absolutely prohibit the use of Idolothytes, in accordance with the decree of the Council of Jerusalem?—(Acts 15:29). The probable answer to which is, that the prohibition of the Council in question was neither general nor intended for all places. It was merely a temporary decree, intended for the converted Gentiles of “Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia,” as the title of the decree expresses it; and, if this decree was, for some time after, observed in distant Churches, it was done, not as a matter of strict necessity, but from a feeling of reverence for the Apostles; just as the Mosaic rites were observed for some time by the converted Jews, in order to bury the synagogue with honour.—St. Augustine.

1 Cor 10:28. But should any person present observe, that the meat set before you was immolated, abstain from it both for the sake of him who made the observation, and also for conscience sake.

“And for conscience sake.” To which is added in the Greek—For the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof. But this repitition from verse 26, is cancelled by the best critics, on the authority of the ancient versions and chief MSS.

1 Cor 10:29. When I say, conscience sake, I mean not your own conscience but your informant’s; for, if he be a Pagan, the observation shows that he regards the meats as having some degree of sacredness imparted to them. Should you then eat of them, he shall consider Christians to be regardless of their religioius obligations; and hence, you will give occasion to him to blaspheme our holy religion. If he be a Christian, the remark shows him to be weak, and by eating you would scandalize him, for why should I use my liberty in circumstances, where it is judged and condemned by the conscience of another?

“For why is my liberty?” &c. These words, according to some interpreters, convey an objection. But the particle “for,” shows that they rather contain a proof that we should respect the conscience of others in such circumstances, by abstaining from food. And, moreover, if they contained an objection, the Apostle would answer it, and we have no answer given here. The words may have reference to the weak Christian, who may have been scandalized.

1 Cor 10:30. And if I partake of these things with thankfulness to God, why do so in circumstances where my religious faith is blasphemed and maligned on account of my partaking of the thing for which I give God thanks?

This, most likely, refers to the Gentile who would blaspheme the Christian religion, seeing its followers so indifferent with regard to it.

1 Cor 10:31. The safest rule then to follow, in order to avoid giving scandal either in eating or drinking, or in any of our actions, is, to do all for the glory of God.

The object of the Apostle in this verse is, to caution them against injuring the glory of God, by preventing the spread of the gospel through any act of their’s. “Whether you eat,” &c. Some say these words convey merely a counsel—others, a strict precept. The latter opinion is open to this difficulty, that from it would appear to follow, that all the actions of infidels are sins—because, not knowing God, they can offer no action to his glory. To this, it is replied by some, that the precept is binding only on Christians; others say, it is binding on all men, but that it only requires of us to refer to God’s glory our actions, either by express intention, or virtually, i.e., by performing such actions as are of themselves referrible to God’s glory, and the infidels perform many such actions, viz.—actions morally good, by the sole aid of nature, or by the aid of grace, which we know is sometimes given to infidels. The proposition put forward in the schismatical Council of Pistoia, fides est prima gratia, was condemned by Pius VI. in the Bull, Auctorem fidei, &c.

1 Cor 10:32. Give no cause of offence to either Gentile, or Jew, or Christian.

“And to the Gentiles,” in Greek is, και Ἕλλησιν, and to the Greeks. The meaning is the same. Give no cause of offence to either believers or unbelievers, be they Jews or Gentiles. The former, if weak, would be scandalized; the latter would think the Christians joined in idol worship.

1 Cor 10:33. As I in all things please all men, seeking not my own profit, but what is most conducive to the salvation of others.

He proposes himself as their model; he asks them to do nothing of which he himself had not given first the example.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians Chapter 9

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 23, 2018

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

The Apostle had proposed his own example (1 Cor 8:13) with the view of inducing the Corinthians to forbear scandalizing their weaker brethren. He continues the subject in this chapter, and he shows the painful sacrifices to which he had submitted in forfeiting his rightful claims to support at Corinth, which he was perfectly free to enforce; and these sacrifices he made, lest he might in any way impede the progress of the gospel. From this he leaves it to be inferred, that they should abstain prom things in themselves indifferent, and involving no great sacrifice, in order to avoid the scandal of their brethren. He first establishes his Apostleship (1 Cor 9:1–4). In the next place, he points out certain privileges which he had a right to claim in common with the other Apostles (1 Cor 9:4–7). He proves from several sources his right to receive sustenance from the Corinthians (1 Cor 9:7–15). But he refrained from enforcing this right, although it was hard for him to forego it, lest he might retard the progress of the gospel; nor will he receive any support from them even in future, lest he might be deprived of the special glory and crown attached to the gratuitous discharge of the duties of his sacred ministry (1 Cor 9:15–19). In the next place, he developes the idea expressed in verse 1—(“am I not free?”) and shows how he sacrificed even his personal liberty to procure the salvation of others, and thus to become a sharer in common with them in the blessings of eternal life (1 Cor 9:19–24). The mention of the prize of eternal life suggests to the Apostle an expressive image of the value of this prize, and the difficulty of securing it, conveyed in the difficulty of obtaining a crown at the Grecian games. He continues this subject of the difficulty of salvation, into the next chapter, up to1 Cor 10:14.

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture

1 Cor 9:1. Am I not free to claim the rights and privileges attached to the Apostleship? Am I not an Apostle? Have I not seen our Lord Jesus Christ, in his glorified state, from whom I have derived my mission? Are not you a further proof of my mission, having been converted to the Lord through my apostolic labours?

“Am I not free?” &c. In the common Greek the order is inverted—it is, “Am I not an Apostle? Am I not free?” But some of the best critics prefer the order of the Vulgate, which is the order of the Alexandrian and Vatican MSS. The sense is the same in either collocation. It comes to this: Am I not an Apostle, and, therefore, free to claim the rights and privileges of the apostleship? “Have I not seen Christ Jesus?” &c. He grounds his apostleship on two things:—firstly, on his having seen the Lord on his way to Damascus.—(Acts, 9:5; 1 Cor 15 ). He assigns this reason, in the first place, because it appears that some persons thought to depreciate his apostleship, and would have him be regarded as an inferior kind of Apostle, in consequence of his not having, like the other apostles, seen the Lord. Secondly, on the fact of their conversion—“Are you not my work?” &c.—(See Gal. 1:1).

1 Cor 9:2. And even though it were conceded that I am not the Apostle of others; surely, this cannot be admitted respecting you; for you are the seal, the authentic proof and demonstration of my apostleship in the Lord.

“And if unto others,” &c. “You are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.” They are “the seal of his apostleship,” and, as it were, the letters patent of his mission from God; because the faith which they received, the several gifts and external graces accompanying and following their conversion, were the seal of God himself, attesting the truth of his apostleship among them, as a seal authenticates a writing; since God would never accord the gifts of miracles, prophecy, tongues, &c., to confirm the preaching of any other than his own Apostle.

1 Cor 9:3. This reference, therefore, to your conversion and to the external gifts and graces which accompanied and followed it, is my apologetic reply to such as question me regarding my apostleship.

“My defence with them that examine me is this.” The word “this” refers to the foregoing, viz., the conversion of the Corinthians, and the miracles, prophecies, &c, accompanying it. The words “defence” (απολογια), and “examine” (τοις ἀνακρινουσιν,) are forensic terms, conveying an allusion to the arrogance of certain parties, who presumed to sit in judgment (“examine”) on the claims of St. Paul to be considered a true Apostle of Christ.

1 Cor 9:4. As your Apostle, then, have I not a right to the privileges of the apostleship? Have I not a right to exact from you the necessaries of life, food, clothing, lodging, &c.?

“Have we not the power to eat and drink?” at your expense. In other words, have we not the strict right to exact from you all the necessaries of life? Having established his apostleship in the preceding verses, he now asserts his right to claim its privileges.

1 Cor 9:5. Have I not the same right that the other Apostles, and the cousins of our Lord, and Peter himself had, to bring round with me some Christian woman to administer to my temporal wants?

Among those privileges, of which, however, he declined availing himself, was that enjoyed by the other Apostles and the cousins of our Lord, the sons of Cleophas—called “brethren” according to the usage of the Hebrews, who called cousins, brethren—of bringing about some Christian matron, who would administer to his temporal wants. Our Lord himself did the same, as we read (Luke, 8:3).

This passage furnishes the Reformers with not even the slightest ground of objection against the celibacy of the Catholic clergy. They interpret the words, ἀδελφὴν γυναῖκα, “a woman: a sister,” to mean “a sister, a wife,” as if it were implied, that the Apostle was married. They ground this construction on these reasons:—first, by saying “a sister,” it was evidently implied she was “a woman;” and hence, the word “woman” must mean a “wife”—otherwise, it would be quite superfluous. Secondly, the words, περιαγειν, “carry about,” can only apply to the case of a husband carrying about his wife.

Resp.—These reasons are as unfounded as the proposition which they are intended to establish. First, every “sister” is not “a woman,” in the sense of the word contemplated here by the Apostle; γυνη, signifies a woman advanced in life. The second reason is refuted by the fact of our Redeemer carrying about with him women who ministered to him out of their temporal substance.—(Luke, 8:3). The Catholic version, which makes it—“mulierem sororem,” “a woman, a sister,” is that of all the ancient Fathers, St. Clement of Alexandria, alone, excepted. Putting the authority of the Holy Fathers out of the question, is it not clear from 1 Cor 7:8, that St. Paul was unmarried? What merit, then, could he claim for not bringing about his wife to be a burden to them, when he had none? And if he had a wife, how could the bringing her about with him be any obstacle to the speed of the Gospel, as he supposes (1 Cor 9:12), either on grounds of disedification, or of her support, which was evidently connected with his own support, to which he had a strict right? Hence, he must refer to a different description of female. Moreover, if by “woman” he meant a wife, the word “sister” would be superfluous, since no one could suspect St. Paul of being married to an unbelieving wife.

To whom, then, do the words refer?

Resp.—They refer to those pious matrons, who, according to the custom prevalent in Judea, supplied their teachers with the necessaries of life, as happened in the case of our Redeemer himself.—(St Jerome, contra Jovin., chap. 19). Among the recommendations of widows in his Epistle to Timothy, the Apostle places this: “If they wash the feet of the saints,” i.e., of the apostles and ministers of the gospel.

There existed also, from the very days of the Apostles, an order of females termed deaconesses.—(See Epistle to Rom. 16:1). These were supported by the Church, and it is likely that one of them attended the Apostles. The exalted character of the Apostles, and the well-known piety of the females, precluded all grounds for sinister suspicions. It was, besides, a custom quite prevalent in Judea for teachers to bring round females who were not their wives; and hence, no scandal could be occasioned. This class of females St. Paul calls “women sisters,” or Christian women, different from Pagan slaves, in the same way as the words, viri fratres (Acts 1:16, 2:29, &c.) mean, not husbands, but “men, brethren.” The Apostle, while preaching among the Gentiles, where the custom of bringing round females was unknown, and where unjust suspicions might be excited, had foregone the double claim he had to support for himself and for such a person, lest he might, in any way, obstruct the spread of the gospel.

1 Cor 9:6. Or should I only and Barnabas, be the only persons among the Apostles who have not a right to support both for ourselves and for those ministering unto us?

“To do this.” This is the reading according to the Vulgate, and the reading adopted by all the Latins. It refers to the claims to support both for themselves and their attendants, which he himself and Barnabas had foregone for the sake of the gospel. In the Greek, it is οὐκ ἔχομεν ἐξουσὶαν μὴ ἐργαζεσθαι; have we not the power of not working?—i.e., of abstaining, like the other apostles, from manual labour. This is the reading adopted by all the Greeks, and preferred by Estius.

1 Cor 9:7. Who ever serves as a soldier, at his own expense? Does not the man who plants the vine partake of its fruits? And does not he who feeds the flock partake of the milk?

In the following verses, St. Paul, from several sources of argument, proves his right to support as their Apostle:—“Eateth not of the fruit thereof, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?” These were the ordinary methods of payment for labour at that time. Hence, in order that a minister of the gospel should have a right to his stipend, he should labour. He should “serve” as a soldier; he should “plant” his vineyard; he should “feed” his flock.

1 Cor 9:8. But why confine myself to arguments drawn from human life, as if arguments from other sources were wanting? Does not the law itself inculcate my right to support while labouring as an Apostle for your salvation?

“According to man,” i.e., human arguments only, founded on human laws, and the usages of man.

1 Cor 9:9. For, in the law of Moses it is written (Deut. 25): “Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn.” Were the oxen the principal objects of concern with God in issuing this prohibition?

The usage in Palestine was to tread out the corn by means of oxen, and some persons muzzled them while so employed. The Lord (Deut. 25) strictly prohibited this cruel practice. “Doth God take care for oxen,” i.e., were the oxen only the principal object of concern with God in issuing this prohibition?

1 Cor 9:10. Or was it not rather principally on our account who labour in the cause of the gospel, that those things were written? (Most assuredly, they were principally intended for us.) Whereas, the man who ploughs has a right to expect a share in the harvest, and the man who thrashes has a right to expect a share in the fruits. (Since, in one word, those who engage in temporal culture have a right to support);

“Or doth he say this indeed for our sakes?” In Greek, ἤ δἰ ἡμᾶς πάντως λέγει; or saith he it altogether for our sakes? Some Expositors explain, παντως, to mean, especially, as if he said it was specially for us this was meant. In the words of the Lord prohibiting the muzzling of the treading oxen, we must distinguish a twofold meaning. The literal, which had reference to the oxen, and the mystical, or allegorical (and this is frequently the chief meaning intended by the Holy Ghost); which had reference to men. Under the literal, is contained this mystical and recondite meaning, conveying a precept of giving the necessary support to working men; of course, including the Apostles, who have laboured for the salvation of souls. “That he that ploweth should plow in hope.” “That,” ὅτι, should be rendered, “because he that ploweth,” &c. “And he that thrasheth in hope, to receive fruit.” This latter sentence differs from the Vulgate, in the common Greek, και ὁ αλοῶν τῆς ἐλπίδος αυτοῦ μετεχειν επʼ ελπιδι, which runs thus:—and he that thrasheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. However, our Vulgate conveys the same meaning; since “hope” in the second place denotes the object of hope, or the fruit hoped for—a signification the word has in Scripture.—(Gal. 5; Titus, 2). Besides, the words, in hope, are cancelled by critics on the authority of the chief MSS. These words may be either a consequence drawn from the foregoing in this way: the precept regarding the oxen has principally in view the working man; and hence, the man who ploughs has a right to expect a share in the harvest, &c.—or, the beginning of a new argument (as in Paraphrase), in favour of his claims to support, founded on the right which the tiller of the land and the thrasher of the grain, has to a share of the fruits. If such persons, for their temporal services, have a right to support—

1 Cor 9:11. Does it not clearly follow that we, who have sown blessings of a more exalted nature, of a spiritual character among you, have a still greater claim on you for temporal support?

“It is a great matter,” i.e., is it to be wondered at that “we, who have sown unto you spiritual things,” who have laboured for your salvation, and have sown a spiritual seed to fructify unto eternal life for your souls, should receive in return “carnal things,” blessings of a temporal character—such as food, clothing, and the like? Spiritual blessings, though, of course, not given as the price of temporal remuneration, still, give a right to receive such remuneration. The force of the Apostle’s argument is grounded on the inequality that exists between what he receives and what he bestows.

1 Cor 9:12. If other teachers of an inferior order have enforced their right to receive sustenance from you, why should not we, whose claims are far higher, as your Apostles and fathers in the faith? But we abstained from enforcing this right; we have patiently submitted to privations of every description, rather than place an obstacle to the progress of the gospel.

“If others,” i.e., teachers inferior to himself. He does not appear to allude to false teachers; “be partakers of this power over you,” i.e., the power which they have over you, or rather their right to receive support. It would appear that St. Paul was not bound to forego his claims to support in the present instance; for, if so, he would be only discharging his duty in the course which he pursued; what claims would he, then have to extraordinary merit? Besides, he says (verse 1) “am I not free?” How could he be free, if bound to forego support?

1 Cor 9:13. Are you not aware that those who officiate in the temple, partake of the victims offered therein?—and that all the inferior ministers who serve at the altar, in attendance on the priests, partake of the goods of the altar. 

From the Mosaic law he adduces another proof of his claims to support:—“They who work in the holy place,” οἱ τα ἱερὰ ἐργαζομενοι, those who labour in sacred functions, and “they that serve the altar,” are distinguished by some, as in Paraphrase. The former, referring to the priests—the latter to the inferior ministers. They are, however, commonly understood to refer to the same class of persons, whether of a higher or lower order ministering in the temple.

1 Cor 9:14Lastly, the Lord himself, when sending his Apostles to preach the gospel, ordained that those who preach the Gospel had a right to live by the gospel.

He, lastly, adduces the ordinance of our Redeemer himself, who, when sending his Apostles to preach the gospel, told them that “the labourer was worthy of his hire.”—(Matt. 10:10; Luke, 10:7).

1 Cor 9:15. But, notwithstanding the many arguments which I had at hand to prove my right to receive support from you, I adduced not a single one, nor have I done so in the present instance, in the hope of receiving recompense in future; for, I would die from want, sooner than that anyone should render void the legitimate subject of my glorying.

“But I have used none of these things;” i.e., I have adduced none of the arguments which I had at hand, to prove my right to support; and this right, founded on so many reasons, I have declined to enforce. “For it is good (καλον) for me to die;” i.e., better for me to die, I would sooner die through want, than that any one should make void my glory. The Greek word for “glory,” καυχημα, means, glorying or boasting. The subject for glorying, which the Apostle would submit to death sooner than render void, refers to his not enforcing his right to support. This matter for glorying they would render void, by giving a temporal recompense.

1 Cor 9:16. But, in what does my peculiar subject for glorying consist? In the mere preaching of the gospel? By no means; for, if I merely preach the gospel, I have no peculiar subject wherein to glory. I do only what I must do; for, woe to me if I neglect preaching the gospel.

This peculiar matter for glorying cannot consist in the mere act of preaching the gospel; since, in doing so, he only does what he is bound to do, under pain of eternal woe.

1 Cor 9:17. If I discharge this indispensable duty of preaching with alacrity and with the proper dispositions, I shall be entitled to the essential reward attached to so exalted a function; (I shall not, however, have the peculiar matter for glorying referred to), if I do this work from bad or unworthy motives, I lose a reward; my ministry, however, is not to be undervalued; for, still I act as a dispenser of the mysteries of Christ.

“Willingly,” ἑκὼν, i.e., with proper dispositions. If I perform the act of preaching the gospel with the proper dispositions, receiving, at the same time, the necessary means of support—the recompense to which all laws, human and divine, give me a claim—“I have a reward,” i.e., he secures the essential reward attached to preaching the gospel; but not the special, accidental glory and reward attached to preaching it, not only with proper dispositions, but also gratuitously, as had been done by him. “If against my will,” ἄκων, i.e., from sordid, unworthy motives; then, I lose all reward; however, “a dispensation is committed to me” (οἰκονομίαν πεπιστευμαι), i.e., I am still the dispenser of the mysteries of Christ, and, hence, my ministry is not to be undervalued or rejected in consequence of the unworthy motives by which I may be actuated.—Estius, in hunc locum. Others, with A’Lapide and Piconio, understand “willingly” to mean gratuitously, and “reward,” to mean a special reward attached to gratuitous preaching, and “against my will,” to mean, with the prospect of just temporal retribution. The former interpretation, however, seems preferable; for, the Apostle appears to consider four classes of preachers—the first, those who omit the duty of preaching. Eternal woe is to be their lot. A second, those who preach the gospel with proper dispositions, and receive temporal compensation. They are entitled to the reward attached to the discharge of this exalted function. A third, those who discharge the duty from corrupt motives; and although their ministry in a spiritual point of view, proves of no service to themselves, still, it is not to be undervalued or despised by others; for, they deal out the treasure of heavenly mysteries intrusted to their keeping. A fourth class—of which he himself is the type—those who preach gratuitously, and these are entitled to special glory and rewards. The interpretation of Estius, adopted in Paraphrase, assigns the more natural meaning of the words, “against my will.” For, a man who performs anything perceptive, even with a view of temporal remuneration, could hardly be said to have done so, “against his will.”

1 Cor 9:18 In what, then, consists my peculiar matter for glorying; my peculiar title to a special reward, sooner than forfeit which I would die (verse 15) is this that while preaching the gospel, I do so gratuitously and abstain from fully enforcing my right to support and temporal remuneration, founded on the fact of my preaching the gospel.

“What then is my reward?”—He says, emphatically, “my reward,” to distinguish it from the reward, verse 17. “My reward,” as appears from the following words, means, the cause or matter for reward; it is the same as “my glory,” verse 15:—From the whole passage, it appears quite clear, that the conduct of the Apostle in refusing any temporal compensation from the Corinthians, was a work of supererogation, to which he was not bound either in the abstract (as is clear from the fact of the other Apostles receiving support, and his receiving it himself from the Macedonians), or, in the circumstances; for, he might have explained his claims to support, and thus have removed all legitimate grounds of offence or unfair suspicions on the part of the Corinthians. Moreover, he says, that even were compensation offered him, after the explanation given, he would still refuse it (verse 15); in which case, he, certainly, would not be bound to forego his just claims.

Objection.—He calls a departure from his present line of conduct “an abuse,” and hence, it was a matter of precept for him to act as he did.

Resp.—The Greek word for “abuse,” καταχρησασθαι, simply means, to use fully. It has this meaning in 1 Cor 7:31. St. Chrysostom, by “abuse,” here understands to use a lesser good—minore bono uti—as opposed to a greater, but not to a precept. Hence, the words mean, that I might not use to the full extent (as it would be the exercise of a lesser good), my rights in the gospel.

1 Cor 9:19. For, although free from all human servitude, whether in regard to Jew or Gentile; I, still, made myself the slave of all in order to gain all to Christ.

The Apostle having referred to the sacrifice which he himself had made, when foregoing his claims to support, as a motive to induce the Corithians to forego, in favour of their weaker brethren, claims involving little or no sacrifice, now adduces another example of heroic charity still more arduous than the preceding, as it was, in a certain sense, the sacrifice of his liberty.

“For whereas I was free as to all,” &c. These words would appear to correspond with the words, verse 1, “Am I not free?” and are, according to some Commentators, a more full explanation of the same. He had, in the preceding, shown his light as an Apostle, and the sacrifices he made; he now shows how he gave up his freedom, in the cause of the Gospel.

1 Cor 9:20. With the Jews I conformed in the exterior observances of their religion, in order to gain the Jews to Christ.

He shows how he “made himself the servant of all.” He conformed with the Jews in certain actions and external practices, distinctive of the Jewish religion.

1 Cor 9:21. And with all under the law, i.e., all who observed the law of Moses, whether native Jews or Proselytes, I became ‘like a man still under the law (although I was not under the law, but under graceRom. 6:14), in order to gain those who were under the law. And with those who were not under the law, viz., the Gentiles converted from Paganism, I became from the same motive of gaining them, as a man not under the law (though, to be sure, I was not without a law, having been under the law of grace, and bound by its ordinances).

“To them that are under the law,” probably includes all persons who remained in the profession of Judaism, whether native Jews or Proselytes. In the Epistle to the Romans, chapter 6, the words, “under the law,” are opposed to “under grace.”

Note.—As a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, St. Paul could lawfully practise the Mosaic ceremonies, and he did so; as we read in the Acts 21:24, &c. The observance of the law was not, at this time, sinful for the converted Jews; for them it was, as Divines term it, mortua, not mortifera. (“Whereas myself was not under the law”). These words enclosed in a parenthesis are wanting in the common Greek text and Protestant version. They are, however, admitted to be genuine by the best critics, on the authority of the chief MSS. and several versions. “To them without the law,” i.e., the Gentiles not bound by the law of Moses—Rom. 11:14. (“Whereas I was not without the law of God.”) (in the common Greek, μὴ ὤν ανομος θεῷ ἀλλʼ ἕννομος Χριστῷ, “I was not without the law to God,” &c. The chief MSS. have the genitive, ἄνομος θεοῦ, ἔννομος Χριστοῦ). These words he throws in parenthetically to guard against a suspicion, that he was a lawless man indulging in unrestrained licence among the Gentiles.

1 Cor 9:22. With the uninstructed and scrupulous, I became as a weak ignorant person, accommodating myself, as as far as possibe, from a feeling of tender compassion, to their weakness, in order to gain over persons of this class. In one word, I became all to all, in order to save all.

These words, of course, can only mean, that the Apostle went as far in accommodating himself to every description of persons, as the laws of virtue and religion would permit. He became all to all, says St. Augustine—compassione misericordiæ, non simulatione fallaciæ—and again, non mentientis actu, sed compatientis affectu.—(Epistles, 9 and 19, ad Hieronymum.) “That I might save all.” In Greek, ἵνα παντως τινα σώσω, that I might by all means save some. The Vulgate is supported by some of the chief manuscripts, and by the Arabic and Ethiopic versions.

1 Cor 9:23. And, although I labour gratuitously and disinterestedly for others, I am not still forgetful of my eternal interests. I do all things for the advancement of the gospel, in order that with you I may share in its promises and rewards.

He says, that although regardless of temporal interests, there is one interest, however, which he has constantly in view, as the aim of all his actions, and that is, the interest of eternal salvation. “All things,” the common Greek text has, τουτο, this, but παντα, all things, is read in the chief MSS., and preferred by critics generally. “That I may be made partaker thereof.” The Greek word for partaker, συνκοινωνὸς, means, partaker in common, which shows the great humility of the Apostle seeking only for the same crown that was in store for the Corinthians. What an important lesson is conveyed in these words of the Apostle, for those who are engaged in the salvation of others! What will it avail them to have saved thousands of others, if they themselves are lost? With the Apostle they should, therefore, constantly strive, while labouring for the salvation of their brethren, to be themselves sharers with them in the blessings of eternal life. They should frequently pray for the gift of the only true wisdom, viz., the wisdom of salvation.

1 Cor 9:24. And while striving to be a sharer with you in the rewards of eternal life, I am not ignorant, nor should you either be ignorant, of the arduous nature and conditions of the struggle in which we are all engaged; as it is in the race course, so is it here—all run in the course, but only one receives the prize. Do you so comply with the conditions marked out for running in the ways of the gospel, as to secure its reward.

The allusion to the reward of eternal life, suggested to the Apostle an idea which, with the Greeks, would be very expressive of the value of the prize for which they were contending, and of the conditions for securing it. This was the idea of the prize contested for at their public games, so famous in the history of Greece; and on this idea he founds an exhortation to strive earnestly for the prize of eternal life. The Apostle alludes to the Isthmian games celebrated at Corinth. (For a full account of the Grecian games see Potter’s “Grecian Antiquities.”) “So run that you may obtain.” From this example we are not to infer, that only one person can obtain eternal life, as only one was crowned at the Grecian games; for, the object of the Apostle in this example, as appears from the words, “so run that you may obtain,” is merely to show that as no man gained the prize in the Grecian games without complying with the laws prescribed for the combatants; so, no one can succeed in gaining the prize of eternal life, without complying with the necessary conditions of the spiritual exercises. As the prize at the games was glorious, so is it the case here. As the conditions were arduous, so is it also in regard to eternal life. In this verse, the Apostle refers to one of the exercises practised at the public games, viz., that of running; in verse 26, to two of them, viz., running and boxing.

1 Cor 9:25. And every one who wishes to contend at the public games, submits to the greatest privations, and cautiously abstains from every indulgence that might prejudice success. And they, indeed, submit to all the rigours of abstinence from meat, drink, exercise, &c., to gain a crown that shall fade away at once whereas, the crown for which we have entered the lists shall never fade.

“That striveth for the mastery,” ὁ ἀγωνιζόμενος, who enters the lists as champion. The competitors, at the celebrated Grecian games, were obliged, in the course of preparation, to submit to the greatest privations, to practise abstinence from meat, drink, sleep, &c.—(see Epictetus, Enchiridion, cap. 35)—and all this merely for the purpose of gaining some transient applause, to have their brows encircled with a crown of either laurel or wild olive, ox pine, or even parsley, which was to fade away shortly, and be soon altogether valueless and utterly forgotten. But the crown, for which we are contending, is a crown of undying, never-fading glory; why not then submit to still greater privations in order to secure it? How much have not the saints endured for heaven? Cannot we do the same—none potes tu, quod isti et istæ? says St. Augustine. To how many privations do not worldlings submit for a mere transient glory, or for a wretched fortune? How much do not even the reprobate suffer for hell?—and what have we hitherto done or endured for the bright crown of the just in heaven? “Children of men, how long heavy of heart, why in love with vanity and in quest of lies! And justly may all earthly promises be termed lies; since, instead of the enjoyment and happiness, which they hold out to us, they only cause us bitterness, remorse, and disappointment—“but we an incorruptible one.” Oh! how consoling to us in worldly crosses and disappointment to reflect that, if we lose a corruptible good, we can still secure a never-fading crown of glory. O Mary—“gate of Heaven”—“cause of our joy,” and “comfortress of the afflicted!”—pray for us.

1 Cor 9:26I, therefore, in the race of the gospel, run straightforward in my course towards the prize publicly exposed at the goal, and not as a man who runs at random. In the evangelical palæstra, I combat my adversary with effect, unlike the man who, instead of dealing out unerring blows, is merely beating the air.

The Apostle here makes allusion to two of the exercises in the Grecian games, viz., running and boxing.—(See Potter’s “Antiquities of Greece,” Vol. I. Book II. chap, xxi.)

1 Cor 9:27. And since my chief opponent and most dangerous adversary is my own body; I, therefore, chastise it, rendering it black and livid, and by mortification bringing it under subjection to the spirit; lest, after having preached to others, I myself become a cast-away.

The flesh is the most dangerous of the three leagued enemies of our salvation; if it be overcome, we can easily obtain the mastery over the world and the devil. Duriora sunt prælia castitatis, in qua pugna quotidiana, victoria rara.—St. Jerome. The Apostle here points out the most efficacious way of combating it—it is by “chastising” it, or, as the Greek word, ὐπωπιαζω, means, rendering it bruised and livid, by the force of corporal macerations and austerities, and, thus, bringing it under subjection to the spirit. From this passage is derived a conclusive argument in favour of the practices of fasting and corporal mortification recommended and enjoined by the Catholic Church. For, those who are sincerely anxious for salvation, cannot propose to themselves a better model than the Apostle, who, to guard against reprobation, had recourse to bodily chastisement and austerities; nor can these salutary and painful exercises be less necessary for our sinful and rebellious flesh, than they were for St. Paul, fortified, as he was, by so many graces and communications from heaven.

The words also convey an argument against the erroneous doctrine of the inamissibility of grace; for, St. Paul, who was in the state of grace, fears lest he might fal therefrom and become a castaway. The words, therefore, evidently imply that a man can fall away from grace.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians Chapter 8

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 22, 2018

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims

In this chapter, the Apostle severely censures the conduct of certain well instructed persons among the Corinthians, who, regardless of the scandal which their weaker brethren might conceive from their conduct, freely partook of Idolothytes, or things offered to idols. And because they did so from a vain confidence in their superior knowledge, the Apostle shows the evil of knowledge unaccompanied by charity (1 Cor 8:1-3). In the next place, he combats the principle on which they acted, viz., that an idol was nothing; and hence, as no sacredness was imparted to the things offered to it, there could be no harm in partaking of them. He admits the truth of the principle (1 Cor 8:4-6); but he denies the truth of the practical conclusion which they drew from it, viz., that they could lawfully eat of meats offered to idols, when this might prove an occasion of scandal to their weaker brethren, who, in consequence of not being fully instructed on this point, and from an impression that by eating of these things they join in idol worship, sin against their conscience and offend God (1 Cor 8:7-9). He shows how calculated the conduct of the well instructed is to mislead their weaker brethren (1 Cor 8:10), as also the grievousness of the sin of scandal, as being a sin against Christ (1 Cor 8:11-12). He proposes himself as a model in this respect.

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on

1 Cor 8:1As to the things offered to idols, we know, for we all have knowledge, but knowledge of itself inflates, renders us proud and haughty, whereas charity, or the love of God and of our neighbour, edifies, i.e., promotes our neighbour’s spiritual interest.

“Now concerning those things that are sacrificed to idols.” It is likely that among the questions submitted to him by the Corinthians, the Apostle was consulted about the lawfulness of partaking of Idolothytes, i.e., meat, bread, wine, &c., offered to idols. Viewed in themselves, these meats, &c., had no more sacredness imparted to them by being offered to idols, than had any other similar things exposed for sale at the market. It might, however, happen, that the partaking of them would be sinful, viz., when it proved a scandal, or an occasion of sin to others, who, from want of instruction and spiritual knowledge, might regard them as in some respect sacred, and influenced by the example of their better instructed brethren, might partake of them contrary to their conscience, under the conviction that they joined in idol worship, and thus would sin mortally. The Apostle, in this chapter, condemns the conduct of those well informed Christians who partook of the Idolothytes, regardless of the consciences of their weaker brethren. “We know”—here the sense is suspended as far as verse 4, where it is resumed;—the intermediate parts are to be included within a parenthesis—“that we all have knowledge.” He identifies himself with the better instructed among them, with a view of rendering his reproof less harsh. “Knowledge puffeth up,” &c. Knowledge, although in itself good, and the gift of God, and necessary for many, is said to puff up, and render us insolent; because, considering the corrupt inclinations of human nature, it gives occasion to pride, unless accompanied with charity. Just as the letter of the law is said to kill (2 Cor. 2), because it is the occasion of sin, although in itself “the law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good.”—(Rom. 7:12). “But charity,” i.e., the love of God and of our neighbour—and it is under the latter respect that St. Paul here considers it “edifies.” A metaphorical expression well adapted to express Christian perfection; for, Christians are the temples of the Holy Ghost. Every one, therefore, who, by word or example, promotes the spiritual advancement of his brother, builds or conserves the edifice of sanctity founded by the Holy Ghost, which the man who gives scandal pulls down. The words, “knowledge puffs up,” and “charity edifies,” together with the other words included in the parenthesis, are allusive to the scandal of which the Apostle is about to treat, and which resulted from knowledge unaccompanied with fraternal charity.

1 Cor 8:2. But if any man merely feels complacency in his own knowledge, regardless of the spiritual interests of his neighbour, such a person knows nothing as he should know it, that is to say, in a way conducive to salvation, the end to which all knowledge should subserve.

“And if any man,” &c., i.e., if any man thinking that he possesses knowledge, is, therefore, inflated, “he hath not yet known as he ought to know”—viz., with humility and charity. The common Greek text has, οὐδέπω οὐδεν ἔγνωκε, “he has yet known nothing.” Nothing, is wanting in the chief MSS., which are read thus: οὔπω ε͂γνω, as in our Vulgate. As the rich are not the proprietors, but the depositaries of riches, so it is with the learned, in regard to knowledge. They ought to communicate it for the edification of others, and not appropriate it to themselves, or pervert it to the scandal of their brethren. There are persons who acquire knowledge for the purpose of having knowledge; and this is curiosity. Others, to have the reputation of being learned; and this is vanity. Some, to vend it; and this is the spirit of filthy lucre. Others, to be edified; and it is prudence. Others, to give edification; and it is charity.—Saint Thomas quoting St. Bernard, in hunc locum. O God! what account will they have one day to render, who, filled with all knowledge, and bound by the laws of God and his Church to impart instruction to others over whom they have assumed charge, still suffer them to remain in spiritual ignorance, in many instances not knowing the Father, who created them, nor the Son, who redeemed them, nor the Holy Ghost, who sanctified them. To such men does the reproach of the Apostle literally apply—“qui veritatem Dei in injustitia detinent.”—(Rom. chap. 1).

1 Cor 8:3. But he who loves God, the same hath been foreknown by him with a knowledge of approbation and eternal love.

If any one have the love of God, and, consequently the love of his neighbour—for both are inseparably united—“the same is known by him.” These words are expressed in the past tense in Greek, ἔγνωσται ὑπʼ αυτοῦ, to express that the love of God for us has preceded our love for him. It was he that first enabled us to love him, by having first loved us from eternity.

1 Cor 8:4. As to the things, then, I say, which have been immolated to idols, we know that, in its representative capacity, or as the image of a false god, an idol is nothing in the world, because the thing represented by it does not exist as such, that is to say, invested with divinity, and we also know that there is but one God.

In this verse the Apostle resumes the subject from which he digressed at verse 1. “But as for the meats (I say) that are sacrificed to idols, we know that an idol,” although viewed materially, it is something (v.g.), a block of wood or stone, still, viewed formally, or in a representative capacity, ratione signi, as the representation of a false god, it “is nothing in this world,” because the thing of which it is a representation does not exist; and although there exist demons—“all the gods of the Gentiles are devils”—still, they do not exist as represented by idols, that is, as invested with divinity; for, “there is but one (true) God.” In the Greek we have this reading, περὶ τῆς Βρώρεως οὖν τῶν εἰδολοθύτων. “As to the eating, then, of the meats that are sanctified to idols.” However, the sense is conveyed in the Vulgate, de escis autem quæ idolis immolantur. “No God but one,” in the common Greek text, we have, “no other God but one;” other, is wanting in the chief MSS. and versions.

1 Cor 8:5. For, although there are beings termed celestial gods—viz., the sun, moon, &c., and terrestrial gods, that is to say, men enrolled among the gods, Jupiter, Mars, &c. (for in the minds of the Pagans, there are many gods and supreme lords vested with sovereign power and divinity).

“And lords many.” From the opposition instituted between these and the “one Lord Jesus Christ,” in verse 6, it is clear that they are understood of such as were vested with Divine power in the opinion of the Pagans.

1 Cor 8:6. Still, we, who have been instructed in the unerring principles of our faith, know, that there is but one God, the Eternal Father, who is the principle and source of all things, and we for his glory; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we also through him in a particular manner, in virtue of our redemption.

“Of whom are all things.” God the Father is the principle of everything; of creatures, whom he brought out of nothing, and of the two other Adorable Persons of the Trinity, because, he is the principle and fountain of the Divinity. “Of whom,” in reference to creatures, is, by appropriation, attributed to the Father, although it might be equally attributed to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. “By whom,” is, by appropriation, attributed to the Son, being the Word “by whom all things were made.” (John, chapter 1). This passage does not furnish the Arians with even the shadow of an argument against the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ; because, when it is said of the Father that he is “one God,” those persons only are excluded who possess not the same divine nature. Moreover, if their argument held good, from it would follow that the Father was not “Lord,” since the Son is here termed the “one Lord.” The passage is even more favourable to the divinity of the Son than to that of the Father, because the epithet of “Lord” applied to Jesus Christ, is the same as the Hebrew Jehovah, the incommunicable name of God; whereas, “God,” or Elohim, is sometimes applied to creatures (v.g.), in the passage, “Ego dixi, dii estis et filii excelsi omnes.” And that the Lordship here mentioned does not merely refer to his dominion over us, as man, in consequence of having purchased us with his blood, may be clearly seen by comparing this passage with the text of the gospel of St. John, “omnia per ipsum facta sunt,” the sense of which is clearly identical with that of the words under consideration.

1 Cor 8:7. But although all Christians have faith in the unity of God, still all have not science, that is to say, they have not the powers of reasoning to enable them to apply this truth practically to particular conclusions. Hence, with an erroneous conscience regarding idols, they partake of the things sacrificed to them as sacred, and so their weak and erroneous conscience is polluted.

“Knowledge,” in Greek, ἡ γνῶσις, “the knowledge.” The article denotes the special science of reasoning and drawing practical conclusions: “and their conscience being weak is defiled.” Because, by partaking of the Idolothytes, to partake of which they erroneously consider to be sinful, although, in point of fact, lawful; they act against conscience, and so commit sin, and incur moral defilement.

1 Cor 8:8. Moreover the partaking of these meats shall not render us more acceptable with God. For by partaking of them we shall not abound more in grace or sanctity, nor shall it take away from our sanctity to abstain from them.

There is not the slightest ground here for objection against the law of abstinence enforced and practised in the Catholic Church. The Apostle utters not a single word in depreciation of the merits of abstinence from meats. He only says, that by such abstinence, we shall not lose in point of sanctity; he says not a word in praise of the contrary. It is also to be kept in mind, that St. Paul here views Idolothytes as things indifferent, affected by no law. And this subject of Idolothytes suggests a positive proof in favour of the Catholic discipline. For, some years before this, the Apostles assembled in the first Council of Jerusalem (Acts, 16:30), prohibited the use of such meats to the people of Antioch and the surrounding country. This prohibition did not reach Corinth; otherwise, the Apostle could not permit the eating of them as a matter of indifference. From this decree of the Apostles in the Council of Jerusalem, we can infer the power of the Church to prohibit the use of things in themselves indifferent. St. Paul here considers Idolothytes as affected by no prohibition.

1 Cor 8:9. But take care lest the liberty which you have to eat of these things, in themselves indifferent, be the occasion of scandal or impediment to your weaker brethren.

No commentary.

1 Cor 8:10. For should one of your infirm brethren behold a man instructed in the faith, and, probably, possessing some influence, sitting at a table on which are served meats offered to idols, would not his conscience, although weak and erroneous, be confirmed to partake of the things offered?

“See him that hath knowledge.” In the common Greek text, ἴδῃ σὲ τὸν ἕχοντα γνῶσιν, which is elegantly rendered in the Protestant version, “see thee, which hath knowledge.” The chief MSS. have the Vulgate reading ἴδῃ τὸν ἕχοντα γνῶσιν. “The idol’s temple.” What this refers to is disputed. Many, with Estius, are of opinion, that, although the word sometimes refers to the temple of idols, still, here it only means a table on which were served up meats, &c. (see Paraphrase), and not the temple itself; because the eating of these meats in the very temple of idols, would be denounced by St. Paul in the strongest language, and could not be regarded by him, as he appears to view it here, as something indifferent; for he merely calls the conscience wounded by such an act “weak” (verse 12). If the word be taken to refer to the temple of idols, then, the Apostle must regard the scandal as aggravated by the very sinfulness of the act itself, which is denounced by him (chap. 10) as equivalent to a virtual renunciation of the faith.

1 Cor 8:11. And thus a weak one, nay, even a brother, still more, a weak one and a brother for whose salvation Christ died, will perish on account of your knowledge, which warrants you in eating of these as well as of any other meats.

This verse renders the interptetation of Estius more probable, because the sinfulness of the act referred to is grounded on the weakness, i.e., the ignorance of the uninstructed Christian. Hence, Christ died for more than the predestined. Hence, grace is not inamissible. Hence, acting against an erroneous conscience is sometimes a mortal sin. The rendering of this verse 11, in our English text, does not accurately convey the Greek or Vulgate reading, ἀπόλλυται γὰρ ὁ ἀσθενῶν εν τῇ γνώσει, ὁ ἀδελφός δἰ ὅν Χριστος, &c. The Vulgate, “et peribit infirmus in tua scientia, frater propter quem Christus,” &c., which should be rendered thus: “and the weak one will perish through thy knowledge, the brother for whom Christ died.” The aggravating circumstances are mentioned; a weak one is ruined, a brother is ruined, one for whom Christ died is ruined. From this verse may be seen the enormity of the sin of scandal, owing to which the soul perishes “for which Christ died.” The common Greek text has ὁ ασθενων αδελφος, the former is the reading of the chief MSS.

1 Cor 8:12And thus, sinning against your brethren, and wounding their weak consciences, you sin against Christ.

“Sin against Christ,” inasmuch as the injury inflicted on the members redounds to the head, and that offered to the ransomed slave redounds to his master.

1 Cor 8:13. Wherefore, should the eating of meat be the cause of scandal to my brother, I should abstain for ever from eating meat sooner than scandalize him.

The Apostle points to his own example, for the purpose of dissuading them from giving scandal. A person is, therefore, bound to abstain in certain circumstances from indifferent things, when such matters may prove the cause of scandal. And from this entire chapter it is clear that in certain circumstances, matters in themselves purely indifferent, may be the occasion of the grievous sin of scandal, and may cause the spiritual ruin of our neighbour, particularly where there is question of the scandalum infirmorum.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians Chapter 6

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 22, 2018



In this chapter, the Apostle corrects an abuse prevalent among the Christians of Corinth, viz., that of recurring, in cases of litigation, to Pagan tribunals, when they might have recourse to arbitrators taken from among themselves. With indignant surprise, he refers to the affair, and condemns it on account of the judges selected (1 Cor 6:1–5), the parties engaged in litigation (1 Cor 6:6), and the litigation itself (1 Cor 6:7). He condemns it both in the offending and offended parties, plaintiffs and defendants (1 Cor 6:8). In order to correct such an abuse he reminds them that the unjust shall never enter on God’s inheritance, and from this he takes occasion to enumerate many of the grievous sins, that exclude from the kingdom of heaven, of which sins, many of the Corinthians were formerly guilty, but from which the grace and mercy of God has now cleansed them (1 Cor 6:9-11). In the next place, he answers an objection which might be made against his teaching on the subject of suits at law (1 Cor 6:12), and adduces one or two other reasons to dissuade Christians from becoming involved in litigation (1 Cor 6:13). He then proceeds to point out the enormity of the sin of fornication, which was regarded as a matter in itself indifferent among the voluptuous Corinthians; and he shows its grievousness in a Christian, on the ground of the contumely he offers Christ, by transferring the members of Christ, so as to render them members of a harlot, with whom he becomes one flesh, instead of being one spirit with the Lord (1 Cor 6:14, 19). He, next, points out its enormity, as rendering the body of the Christian, bestial and sordid, and violating the temple of the Holy Ghost; and, again, on the ground, that it makes a transfer of what belongs to another, viz., the body of a Christian, whom Christ purchased with his precious blood (1 Cor 6:19-20).

1Co 6:1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to be judged before the unjust: and not before the saints?

Is it possible, that anyone of you, having a matter of complaint against his brother, such as would furnish ground for a suit at law, could bring himself to have the case tried before unbelieving Pagan magistrates, instead of having it settled by arbitrators selected from among your Christian brethren?

“Dare any one of you,” i.e., can any one among you endure? τολμᾷ τις ὑμῶν, this strong form of expression conveys that the thing cannot be endured. “Having a matter,” i.e., subject matter for a suit at law, “against another” Christian, since in case of litigation with a Pagan, the rule could not hold, “go to be judged before the unjust,” by whom are meant unbelieving Pagan magistrates, who are destitute of true justice before God. By employing the term “unjust,” to designate Pagan magistrates, the Apostle insinuates how preposterous it is to expect justice at the hands of those who are unjust themselves. “The saints,” the general designation for Christians, who are called to a state of sanctity. The indignant surprise here expressed by the Apostle refers to the plaintiff in the case, because, if cited, the defendant had no alternative but to appear before the Pagan tribunals.

1Co 6:2 Know you not that the saints shall judge this world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

(By doing so, you derogate from the authority with which God has invested the faithful). Are you not aware, that on the last day the just shall sit as assessors with Christ in judging the world? And if you are by concurrence to judge the world and decide matters of eternal interest, are you unfit to decide matters of trivial importance, such as subjects of litigation generally are?

After exposing the abuse in the foregoing verse, the Apostle now points out its enormity. The faithful are to act in the capacity of assessors with Christ on the day of judgment, and by concurrence to take a part with him in the judgment which he shall pass on wicked men (“this world,”) and apostate angels, as the Ninevites and Queen of Saba, shall rise in judgment against the Jews.

1Co 6:3 Know you not that we shall judge angels? How much more things of this world?

Know you not that we shall judge the apostate angels? How much better qualified are we not to decide on matters connected with the support of a transient life, such as food, clothing, and the like things?

“Know you not that we shall judge angels,” viz., the apostate angels, “who are reserved for the judgment of the great day.”—(St. Jude, verse 6). Some Commentators extend the word to the good angels also, whose sentence of eternal bliss, confirmed at the last judgment, shall be praised and applauded by the just, who, on the other hand, shall triumph over the devils whom they vanquished. The Apostle probably refers here to the passage of the Gospel (Matt. 19). wherein our Redeemer promises his Apostles to sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. “How much more the things of this world.” The Greek word for “this world,” βιωτικα, means things connected with the support of life, such as food, clothing, and the other subjects of litigation.

1Co 6:4 If therefore you have judgments of things pertaining to this world, set them to judge who are the most despised in the church.

If, then, you have cause for litigation about worldly matters, of this sort, matters connected with the sustenance of life, you should appoint as judges even those who are in the least esteem in the Church, if necessary, rather than have recourse to Pagan tribunals.

The Apostle does not lay this down as a rule for their guidance in their controversies—he speaks comparatively; they should leave matters to the decision, if necessary, of those who are of least consideration in the Church, rather than have recourse to Pagan judges, and thus bring the gospel into disrepute, and prevent its extension among infidels, by an exposure of the vices of Christians.

1Co 6:5 I speak to your shame. Is it so that there is not among you any one wise man that is able to judge between his brethren?

This, I say, not by the way of laying down a rule for your guidance, but rather with a view of causing you shame and confusion, implying as much as that you had no person of judgment amongst yourselves, not even one, to decide the controversies that may arise between Christian brethren.

His recommendation regarding the appointment of those who are of least consideration in the Church to decide their disputes, was intended to cause them shame and confusion, as implying that they had no person of prudence amongst them, no persons sufficiently versed in the business of common life to decide between one brother and another. “Between his brethren,” in the Greek, ἀνὰμέσον τοὑ αδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ, between his brother, i.e., between brother and brother.

1Co 6:6 But brother goeth to law with brother: and that before unbelievers.

But far from contenting yourselves with the arbitration of some prudent persons taken from amongst yourselves, one Christian brother carries on a lawsuit with another, and that before Pagan tribunals.

He repeats in this verse what he mentioned with indignant surprise (verse 1). It is clear that both here, and in verse 1, reference is made to the prosecutor or plaintiff, because the defendant was not free to refuse, if cited before a Pagan tribunal. In this verse lawsuits are condemned on account of the persons engaged in them; in the preceding, they are condemned on account of the tribunals before which they were brought; and in the following, on account of the evils intrinsic to them, or, at least, in almost all cases, attendant on, and resulting from them.

1Co 6:7 Already indeed there is plainly a fault among you, that you have law suits one with another. Why do you not rather take wrong? Why do you not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?

Now, assuredly it is a fault in you to be engaged in a lawsuit at all; why not rather bear with personal outrage?—why not rather sustain losses in property?

“Already indeed there is plainly a fault,” &c. The Greek word for “fault,” ηττημα, means, an inferiority, a failing or defect. Hence, some Commentators interpret this verse to mean, that it is an imperfection in them, or a departure from a counsel of perfection, to have suits of law at all among them. The word, however, more probably means, “a fault,” inasmuch as suits at law are always attended with an almost infinite number of evils, with sins against charity and justice: Lest, however, it might be alleged, that lawsuits are necessary to obtain an indemnity for personal outrage and losses, both of character and property, the Apostle says, they should bear with losses of one kind and the other sooner than engage in litigation: “Why do you not rather take wrong?” &c. From this passage, we are by no means to infer, that it is in all cases wrong to have recourse to the legally constituted tribunnals, with a view of seeking reparation for losses either of character or property. We are allowed to recur to them whenever justice or charity does not prevent it; or, whenever the good, resulting from the assertion of our just rights would outweigh the evils resulting from litigation. The precept here given by the Apostle is similar to those laid down in the gospel: “If a man will contend with thee, and take away thy coat, let go thy cloak also unto him.”—(Matt. 5:40). “And of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again.”—(Luke 6:30). These precepts of our divine Redeemer according to St. Thomas, are not always to be observed in point of fact, but they are to be always kept in the preparation of mind. Non semper observanda sunt hæc præcepta Domini in executione operæ, sed semper habenda in præparatione animi, viz., as he himself explains it, we should be always prepared to sustain the loss or perform the work here enjoined sooner than offend against fraternal charity. But since suits at law, although not intrinsically bad in themselves, rarely take place without, at least, a violation of charity, and in many instances, of justice also; hence, they are rarely without fault, even in the case of the injured party—for, it is of him the Apostle speaks in this verse.

1Co 6:8 But you do wrong and defraud: and that to your brethren.

But, on the contrary, far from submitting to either one or the other, you offer personal outrage, and inflict losses of property, and that on your very brethren.

The Apostle, in this verse, addresses the offending party—so far you are from patiently submitting to losses in property, or to personal outrage, that you even offer personal outrage to your neighbour, not excepting your Christian brother, and inflict on him losses of property—the circumstance of inflicting injury on a Christian brother aggravates the offence. “Do wrong,” αδικεῖτε.

1Co 6:9 Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: Neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers:

I need not inform you—for you must already have sufficiently known it—that the unjust shall never enter on the inheritance of God’s heavenly kingdom; be not deceived, and rest firmly assured, that neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers,

“Know you not,” as if he said, I need not tell you, what you must already know, “that the unjust.” The Greek for “unjust,” αδικοι, has the same signification as “do wrong” of the preceding verse. The Apostle points out the punishment that awaits such sinners, “shall not possess,” in Greek, οὐ κληρονομησουσιν, shall not inherit. “The kingdom of God” is called an inheritance, because destined for the children of the promise. The Apostle does not say of those who institute suits at law before Pagan tribunals, that they should be excluded from God’s kingdom; although such a proceeding is “a fault” in them, it is only of those who commit injustice he says so. Hence, he insinuates the difference between mortal and venial sins. “Do not err.” The Apostle employs these words to arrest attention, whenever he is about treating of any important point either of doctrine or morality. From them is clearly seen how old the error of justification through faith without good works has been.

1Co 6:10 Nor the effeminate nor liers with mankind nor thieves nor covetous nor drunkards nor railers nor extortioners shall possess the kingdom of God.

Nor the unchaste, nor those guilty of the unnatural lust of sodomy—nor those who privately steal, who fraudulently rob, or violently take away their neighbour’s property, nor the drunken, nor railers, shall ever enter on the inheritance of God’s heavenly kingdom.

“Nor thieves,” i.e., such as privately take away their neighbour’s property, without any pretext or colour of justice. “Covetous,” such as fraudulently circumvent him in contracts or usury. “Extortioners.” Such as publicly rob him, and openly rifle his property.

1Co 6:11 And such some of you were. But you are washed: but you are sanctified: but you are justified: in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God.

And indeed, some of you were guilty of a portion of the above mentioned crimes, and some of others; but, you have been washed from the stains of these sins in the regenerating laver of baptism; you have received true and interior sanctity; you have received real and inherent justice, by the merits of the redemption of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the sanctifying gifts of the Holy Ghost.

“And such some of you were.” In their Pagan, unconverted state, they were guilty of these crimes, not each of them of every one of those sins; but some of them were guilty of a portion of the crimes already enumerated, and some, of others. This is probably added by the Apostle to soften the apparent acerbity of the preceding words; otherwise, it might be imagined that he charged all of them with being guilty of every one of these crimes. The following words are also employed for the same purpose, lest it might be imagined, that they still continued in the same sinful state; “but you are washed,” regards the interior ablution effected in the laver of baptism. “But you are sanctified—justified,” &c. These words prove the inherent nature of sanctifying grace, and also show its effects; it “washes” away the filth and stains of sin; it renders the soul pure and without spot (“sanctified”); and it superadds the beauty of that justice and innocence which man forfeited by sin (“justified”); “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” i.e., through the merits of his redemption. He is the meritorious cause of our redemption, and the Holy Ghost is the author of our sanctification.

1Co 6:12 All things are lawful to me: but all things are not expedient. All things are lawful to me: but I will not be brought under the power of any.

But it may be said, are not all things, which are indifferent and not prohibited, lawful for me; and may I not, therefore, lawfully reclaim my just rights in a court of justice? But all things that are lawful are not expedient; that is, they do not contribute to my spiritual advancement in the particular circumstances in which I may be placed. All things indifferent are lawful. Be it so; but I should not bring myself under the power of any one, perhaps to the detriment of my faith.

Some Commentators say, that the Apostle, in this verse, refers to the prohibition of meats offered to idols, of which, although lawful in themselves, it is inexpedient to partake, as they by no means contribute to our spiritual advancement, particularly when they are the cause of scandal to others. It is more probable, however, that he refers to the subject of litigation, and in reference to it, he proposes a twofold objection, giving a reply to each. In verse 7, the Apostle said it was a fault in them to have lawsuits at all, to which it might be objected. “Is it not lawful to demand our just rights?” To which he replies, certainly: but still, everything not prohibited is not always expedient; and it is only in this sense, and not as bad in themselves, that lawsuits are to be condemned. Secondly, in reply to this indignant censure (verse 1), “dare any of you,” &c., it might be objected: “Is it not allowed, even in the presence of Pagan magistrates, to reclaim our just rights?” Admitted. But still you should never bring yourselves under their power, thus endangering your faith. “The power of any,” ἐξουσιασθήσομαι ὑπὸ τίνος, may mean, “the power of any thing.” The Greek admits of this rendering; and, then, the meaning would be; I should not make myself the slave of any inordinate attachment to the things of this life, by prosecuting my claims to them beyond the limits of Christian detachment and forbearance.

1Co 6:13 Meat for the belly and the belly for the meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. But the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord: and the Lord for the body.

Food is meant for the belly, to appease hunger and sustain life, and the belly is destined for the reception and digestion of food; but God shall soon destroy the use of both one and the other. But you are not to regard fornication as one of the things that are lawful, but inexpedient; the body was not destined for fornication, it was consecrated to the Lord as a part of his members, and the Lord was given to the body, as its everlasting head.

“Meat (in Greek, τὰ βρώματα, meats), for the belly,” &c. This verse contains additional reasons for not engaging in litigation. The subjects which afford matter for litigation, are, of their own nature, only of trivial value; they are, ordinarily, but matters connected with food and bodily aliments destined for the maintenance of human life. They are, in the next place, but of short duration; hence, Christians destined for a glorious immortality should undervalue them, and be detached from them. “But the body is not for fornication.” They should not regard fornication as one of the things which are indifferent, but inexpedient; they should not class it with lawsuits and the like. The Pagans, particularly at Corinth, did not hold fornication in any abhorrence. Their philosophers regarded it as a matter of indifference; on which account, the Apostle cautions the Corinthians against classing it with the things of which he spoke (verse 12), of themselves not unlawful; but rendered unlawful only from peculiar circumstances. “But for the Lord,” &c., has reference to the mutual relations of head and members, subsisting between Christ and the faithful. He is the head; they, the members of his mystical body.

1Co 6:14 Now God hath raised up the Lord and will raise us up also by his power.

But this relation of headship—unlike the relation between the food and the belly—is not of a tem porary character; it is everlasting, because God, who raised up our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, will raise us up also by his Omnipotent power, so as to be eternally united with Christ our head.

The Apostle points out the difference, in point of duration, between the relation which the food bears the belly, and that which Christ bears his members. The latter is to last for ever. Hence, we should serve our everlasting head in all purity and sanctity, and hold in horror all uncleanness.

1Co 6:15 Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid!

Consider fully the relation in which you stand with regard to Christ, as a motive to avoid fornication; are you not aware that your bodies are members of Christ? Unjustly, then, withdrawing the members of Christ from the service which they owe him, shall I make them the members of a harlot? May God avert such sacrilegious indignity!

The Apostle having merely alluded, in verse 13, to the relation which subsists between Christ and every member of the Church, “the Lord for the body,” fully enlarges on the subject in this verse, in order to induce them to avoid fornication and the sacrilegious treatment of Christ, which it involves. “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?” Christ is the head of the entire Church, which is his mystic body, and also the head of each individual among the faithful, who is in turn a member of Christ’s body, not only as to soul, to which He communicates, as head, faith, grace, spiritual and divine life; but also, as to body, which is the instrument of the soul, and to which He imparts the faculty and power of more easily obeying the soul. Christ, then, is the mystic head of the Christian, both as to soul and body; for, he assumed the entire nature of man, soul and body, corporeal and spiritual. The Apostle addresses, in these words, “your bodies are members of Christ,” many who had defiled their bodies by fornication. Hence, sinners as well as the just, are members of Christ, and members of the Church, which is his mystic body. “Shall I then take members of Christ?” &c. The Apostle does not mean to say, that by fornication a man ceases to be a member of Christ’s body, although he ceases to be a living member. “Shall I take,” i.e., unjustly withdraw my members from the service they owe Christ: “Shall I make them the members of a harlot?” These words express the affront which the fornicator offers Christ, by prostituting the holy members of Christ so as to become the members of a harlot. St. Chrysostom observes, “that nothing is more awful than this expression.” They are not made the members of a harlot in the same sense in which they were members of Christ as head, but in quite a different way, as is explained in the next verse.

1Co 6:16 Or know you not that he who is joined to a harlot is made one body? For they shall be, saith he, two in one flesh.

The Christian who commits fornication is guilty of such indignity; for, he who adheres to a harlot is become one body with her, according to the words of SS. Scripture (Gen. 2). The man and woman by carnal union shall become one flesh.

By carnal union, the fornicator and harlot become one body, “for they shall be two in one flesh.”—(Genesis, 2). Although the words of Genesis were spoken in allusion to the lawful carnal union of man and wife; they are also verified in regard to the illicit intercourse with a harlot; for, as St. Thomas remarks: Secundum speciem naturæ nou differunt actus externi fornicantium et conjugum, that is, physically speaking, there is no difference between both unions, although in point of morality, they differ essentially.

1Co 6:17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.

But he who is firmly united to the Lord by faith and charity, is made one spirit with him.

He who adheres to the Lord by the spiritual union of faith and charity is become one spirit with him; he shares of God’s spirit; he breathes it; he lives in it; he is become one spirit with God. We commonly say of intimate friends, they are but one soul. The fornicator is not thus united to the Lord.

1Co 6:18 Fly fornication. Every sin that a man doth is without the body: but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

Fly, therefore, the sacrilegious crime of fornication; every other sin which men ordinarily commit is outside the body; by them, men do not incur the turpitude of dishonouring their own bodies; but by fornication, they sin against their own bodies, which from being Christian and holy, they render polluted and bestial.

“Fly fornication.” Spiritual writers remark, that it is only by flight, by avoiding the occasions, by shunning the society of such as may prove an occasion of sin, that the temptations against purity in particular can be overcome. It matters not what may have been our past firmness, what may be our present sanctity, our resolves in regard to the future, let us but frequent the occasion of sin—the oracle of God is pledged for it, and no exception made—most undoubtedly, we shall fall. “He who loves the danger shall perish in it.” We cannot pretend to be holier than David, “the man after God’s own heart;” we cannot claim to be wiser than Solomon, on whom the fulness of wisdom was poured forth from above; nor can we be more exalted than Peter, the immovable rock of God’s Church; and yet they all fell, and fell shamefully, for want of due caution in avoiding the occasion of sin. Let us not be deceived—all moments are not seasons of grace; and we may rest thoroughly assured, that there are moments of passion and circumstances of life, as regards time, and place, and persons, and if we possessed the highest degree of sanctity, if the occasion be present, we shall most undoubtedly fall. The greatest saints have trembled and fled from before the face of danger; and yet we, with a full consciousness of our frailty, recklessly cast ourselves into these appalling circumstances of temptation from which they recoiled with a sacred horror. “Every sin that a man doeth is without the body,” &c. These words may be connected with the preceding, and may be regarded as a reason for flying fornication, and then, they mean: fly fornication, because by this loathsome sin, the body of the Christian, which was pure and holy, is rendered sordid and bestial; or, they may be connected with the following (verse 19), and regarded as an antecedent to the proof contained in verse 19. According to this interpretation, the reasoning of the Apostle would proceed in this way: every other sin that a man commits is outside his body; but by fornication he defiles and sacrilegiously pollutes his body (verse 18), because the body of the Christian is the temple of the Holy Ghost (verse 19), and hence, by fornication he profanes that which, like a temple, was dedicated to sacred purposes.

The words, then, mean, no sin involves such turpitude, no sin so deeply buries the body in the mire and sink of passion as fornication, and the indulgence of lust; since, it excites the most violent motions of concupiscence, so that this base passion of lust absorbs the entire man, makes him “like the horse and the mule, who have no understanding” (Psalm 32:9), blinds him to everything else save the foul and filthy gratification. Spiritual writers assure us that such is the blindness induced by this foul passion, that the impure man would commit sin, even though hell were thrown open before his eyes, and he were certain of being precipitated into it after the commission of sin. Spiritual writers also assure us, that ninety-nine out of every hundred of the damned in hell are damned for the foul sin of impurity. How earnestly, then, should we not pray for “a clean heart and a right spirit within our bowels.”—(Psalm 1).

1Co 6:19 Or know you not that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God: and you are not your own?

Another reason for flying fornication is, that your bodies, as you are well aware, together with being members of Christ, are also the spiritual temples of the Holy Ghost, who, in a special manner, resides in you by his grace, and whom you have received from God; you ought to be aware that you do not belong to yourselves, to dispose of your bodies as you please.

“Know you not that your members are the temple,” &c. (In Greek, ὅτι τὸ σῶμα ὑμῶν ναος, &c., “that your body is the temple,” &c.) This is another reason for avoiding fornication. They have contracted a new relation of sanctity, by being the temples of the Holy Ghost, who resides in a special manner in the souls of the faithful. And this Holy Ghost they have received as a gift from God. Hence, by fornication, they, in a special manner, offend God the Son, whose members they are; God the Holy Ghost, whose temple they violate; and God the Father, whose gifts they despise; for they received the Holy Ghost from God. “And you are not your own.” This is another reason why they should fly fornication; because, they cannot dispose of their own members.

1Co 6:20 For you are bought with a great price. Glorify and bear God in your body.

You are the ransomed slaves of him who purchased you with the price of his own most precious blood. Glorify God, in your bodies, make them subserve to his glory, and carry him in them by rendering them pure temples in which he may reside, and do not expel him by uncleanness.

For, they are the purchased slaves of another, who paid for them a great price, no less than the last drop of his own most precious blood. “For you are bought with a great price.” “Great” is not in the Greek, which simply is, ἠγοράσθητε γὰρ τιμῆς, for you are bought with a price. “Glorify and bear God,” &c. “Bear” is not in the Greek. The words convey an exhortation to the Corinthians, to glorify God in his temple, by preserving their bodies pure from uncleanness of every sort, and thus “bear him,” by representing him in the purity of their lives.

“In your body,” to which is added in the common Greek text, and in your spirit which are God’s. These latter words, although found in St. Chrysostom, are rejected by the best critics, being wanting in some of the chief manuscripts and ancient versions. From the impassioned denunciation of it by the Apostle in this chapter, we can see the hideous deformity of the foul sin of impurity, so opposed to the sanctity of the Christian profession—a sin which deluged the original world, and caused an Immutable God to exclaim: “It repenteth me that I have made man” (Gen. 6:7)—a sin which domineers over the human race, and daily peoples hell. Spiritual writers assure us, that the greater portion of the reprobate are damned for this foul sin. O God of purity, lover of pure souls! preserve us from defiling our bodies, whose temples which thou hast frequently chosen to reside in, as God of the Eucharist, by these illicit indulgences, in punishment of which thy virginal flesh has been furrowed with scourges. O Mary, ever Virgin, conceived, without stain! pray for us.

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