1 Corinthians 1

Verse 33. The God of peace be with you] The whole object of

the epistle is to establish peace between the believing Jews and

Gentiles, and to show them their mutual obligations, and the

infinite mercy of God to both; and now he concludes with praying

that the God of peace-he from whom it comes, and by whom it is

preserved-may be for ever with them. The word Amen, at the end,

does not appear to have been written by the apostle: it is wanting

in some of the most ancient MSS.

1. IN the preceding chapters the apostle enjoins a very hard,

but a very important and necessary, duty-that of bearing with each

other, and endeavouring to think and let think, in those religious

matters which are confessedly not essential to the salvation of

the soul. Most of the disputes among Christians have been

concerning non-essential points. Rites and ceremonies, even in

the simple religion of Christ, have contributed their part in

promoting those animosities by which Christians have been divided.

Forms in worship and sacerdotal garments have not been without

their influence in this general disturbance. Each side has been

ready to take out of the 14th and 15th chapters of this epistle

such expressions as seemed suitable to their own case; but few

have been found who have taken up the whole. You believe that a

person who holds such and such opinions is wrong: pity him and set

him right, lovingly, if possible. He believes you to be wrong

because you do not hold those points; he must bear with you. Both

of you stand precisely on the same ground, and are mutually

indebted to mutual forbearance.

2. Beware of contentions in religion, if you dispute concerning

any of its doctrines, let it be to find out truth; not to support

a preconceived and pre-established opinion. Avoid all polemical

heat and rancour; these prove the absence of the religion of

Christ. Whatever does not lead you to love God and man more, is

most assuredly from beneath. The God of peace is the author of

Christianity; and the Prince of peace, the priest and sacrifice of

it: therefore love one another, and leave off contention before it

be meddled with. On this subject the advice of the pious Mr.

Herbert is good:-

Be calm in arguing; for fierceness makes

Error a fault, and truth discourtesy.

Why should I feel another man's mistakes

More than his sickness or his poverty?

In love I should; but anger is not love;

Nor wisdom neither:-therefore g-e-n-t-l-y m-o-v-e.





Chronological Notes relative to this Epistle.

-Year of the Constantinopolitan era of the world, as used by

the emperors of the east in their diplomata, &c., and thence

also called the "civil era of the Greeks," 5564

-Year of the Alexandrian era of the world, or Greek

ecclesiastical epocha, 5558.

-Year of the Antiochian era of the world, 5548.

-Year of the Eusebian epocha of the creation, or that used in

the Chronicon of Eusebius, and the Roman Martyrology, 4284.

-Year of the Julian period, 4764.

-Year of the Usherian era of the world, or that used in the

English Bibles, 4060.

-Year of the minor Jewish era of the world, 3816.

-Year of the greater Rabbinical era of the world, 4415.

-Year since the Deluge, according to Archbishop Usher and the

English Bible, 2404.

-Year of the Cali Yuga, or Indian era of the Deluge, 3158.

-Year of the Iphitus, or since the first commencement of the

Olympic games, 996.

-Year of the two hundred and eighth Olympiad, 4.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to Fabius Pictor,

who flourished in the time of the first Punic war, and who is

styled by Dionysius of Halicarnassus an accurate writer, 803.

(This epoch is used by Diodorus Siculus.)

-Year from the building of Rome, according to Polybius, 807.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to Cato and the Fasti

Consulares; and adopted by Solinus, Eusebius, Dionysius of

Halicarnassus, &c., 808.

-Year from the building of Rome according to Varro, which was

that adopted by the Roman emperors in their proclamations, by

Plutarch, Tacitus, Dio Cassius, Gellius, Censorinus, Onuphrius,

Baronius, and by most modern chronologers, 809.

N. B. Livy, Cicero, Pliny, and Vellcius Paterculus, fluctuate

between the Varronian and Catonian computations.

-Year of the epocha of Nabonassar, king of Babylon, or that used

by Hipparchus, by Ptolemy in his astronomical observations, by

Censorinus and others, 803.

(The years of this era constantly contained 365 days, so that

1460 Julian were equal to 1461 Nabonassarean years. This

epoch began on Feb. 26th, B. C. 747; and consequently, the

commencement of the 803d year of the era of Nabonassar

corresponded to the IVth of the Ides of August, A. D. 55.)

-Year of the era of the Seleucidae, or since Seleucus, one of

the generals of Alexander's army, took Babylon, and ascended

the Asiatic throne; sometimes called the Grecian era, and the

era of Principalities, in reference to the division of

Alexander's empire, 368.

-Year of the Caesarean era of Antioch, 104.

-Year of the Julian era, or since the calendar of Numa Pompilius

was reformed by Julius Caesar, 101.

-Year of the Spanish era, or since the second division of the

Roman provinces among the Triumviri, 94.

(This epoch continued in use among the Spaniards till A. D.

1383, and among the Portuguese till about A. D. 1422.)

-Year since the defeat of Pompey, by Julius Caesar, at Pharsalia

in Thessaly, called by Catrou and Rouille, the commencement of

the Roman empire, 104.

-Year of the Actiac, or Actian era, or proper epocha of the

Roman empire, commencing with the defeat of Antony by Augustus

at Actium, 80.

-Year from the birth of Jesus Christ, 60.

-Year of the vulgar era of Christ's nativity, 56.

-Year of the Dionysian period, or Easter Cycle, 57.

-Common Golden Number, or year of the Grecian or Metonic Cycle

of 19 years, 19, or the seventh Embolismic.

-Jewish Golden Number, or year of the Rabbinical Cycle of 19

years, 16, or the second after the fifth Embolismic.

-Year of the Solar Cycle, 9.

-Dominical Letters, it being Bissextile or Leap-year, DC; D

standing till the 24th of February, or the sixth of the Calends

of March, (the two following days after Feb. 23rd, or the

seventh of the Calends of March, being named the sixth of the

same month,) and the other letter for the remainder of the year.

-Jewish passover, (15th of Nisan,) Saturday, April 17th, or the

XVth of the Calends of May.

-Number of Direction, or number of days on which Easter Sunday

happens after the 21st of March, 28.

-Mean time of the Paschal Full Moon at Corinth, (its longitude

being twenty-three degrees to the east of London,) according to

Ferguson's Tables, April 19th, or the XIIIth of the Calends of

May, at fifteen minutes and fifty-eight seconds past eleven at

night. (The reason of the discrepance of the fifteenth of

Nisan, with the day of the mean Paschal Full Moon arises from

the inaccuracy of the Metonic Cycle, which reckoned 235 mean

lunations to be precisely equal to nineteen solar years, these

lunations being actually performed in one hour and a half less

time. The correspondence of the Passover with the mean Full

Moon, according to the Julian account, was in A. D. 325.)

-True time of the Paschal Full Moon at Corinth, according to

Ferguson's Tables, the XIIth of the Calends of May, (April

20th,) at fifty-seven minutes and forty-one seconds past five

in the morning.

-Easter Sunday, April 18th, or the XIVth of the Calends of May.

-Epact, or moon's age on the twenty-second of March, or the XIth

of the Calends of April, 18.

-Year of the reign of Nero Caesar, the Roman emperor, and fifth

Caesar, 3.

-Year of Claudius Felix, the Jewish Governor, 4.

-Year of the reign of Vologesus, king of the Parthians, of the

family of the Arsacidae, 7.

-Year of Caius Numidius Quadratus, governor of Syria, 6.

-Year of Ishmael, high priest of the Jews, 2.

-Year of the reign of Corbred I., king of the Scots, brother to

the celebrated Caractacus, who was carried prisoner to Rome,

but afterwards released by the emperor, 2.

-According to Struyk's catalogue of eclipses, which he collected

from the Chinese chronology, the sun was eclipsed at Canton in

China, on the 25th of December of this year, or on the VIIIth

of the Calends of January, A. D. 57. The middle of the eclipse

was at twenty-eight minutes past twelve at noon; the quantity

eclipsed at this time being nine digits and twenty minutes.

The day of this eclipse was the 19th of Tybi, in the 804th year

of the Nabonassarean era, and on the 24th of Cisleu, of the

minor Rabbinical or Jewish era of the world, 3817, or 4416 of

their greater era.

-Roman Consuls, Q. Volusius Saturninus, and P. Cornelius Scipio.


The salutation of Paul and Sosthenes, 1, 2.

The apostolical benediction, 3.

Thanksgiving for the prosperity of the Church at Corinth, 4.

In what that prosperity consisted, 5-9.

The apostle reproves their dissensions, and vindicates himself

from being any cause of them, 10-17.

States the simple means which God uses to convert sinners and

confound the wisdom of the wise, &c., 18-21.

Why the Jews and Greeks did not believe, 22.

The matter of the apostle's preaching, and the reasons why that

preaching was effectual to the salvation of men, 23-29.

All should glory in God, because all blessings are dispensed by

Him through Christ Jesus, 30, 31.


Verse 1. Paul, called to be an apostle] Bishop Pearce

contends that a comma should be placed after κλητος, called,

which should not be joined to αποστολος, apostle: the first

signifies being called to, the other sent from. He reads it,

therefore, Paul the called; the apostle of Jesus Christ. The word

κλητος, called, may be here used, as in some other places, for

constituted. For this, and the meaning of the word apostle,

See Clarke on Ro 1:1.

As the apostle had many irregularities to reprehend in the

Corinthian Church, it was necessary that he should be explicit in

stating his authority. He was called-invited to the Gospel feast;

had partaken of it, and, by the grace he received, was qualified

to proclaim salvation to others: Jesus Christ therefore made him

an apostle, that is, gave him a Divine commission to preach the

Gospel to the Gentiles.

Through the will of God] By a particular appointment from God

alone; for, being an extraordinary messenger, he derived no part

of his authority from man.

Sosthenes our brother] Probably the same person mentioned

Ac 18:17, where see the note.

Verse 2. The Church of God which is at Corinth] This Church

was planted by the apostle himself about A. D. 52, as we learn

from Ac 18:1, &c., where see the notes.

Sanctified in Christ Jesus] ηγιασμενοις, Separated from the

corruptions of their place and age.

Called to be saints] κλητοιςαγιοις, Constituted saints,

or invited to become such; this was the design of the Gospel, for

Jesus Christ came to save men from their sins.

With all that in every place, &c.] All who profess

Christianity, both in Corinth, Ephesus, and other parts of Greece

or Asia Minor; and by this we see that the apostle intended that

this epistle should be a general property of the universal Church

of Christ; though there are several matters in it that are suited

to the state of the Corinthians only.

Both theirs and ours] That is, Jesus Christ is the common Lord

and Saviour of all. He is the exclusive property of no one

Church, or people, or nation. Calling on or invoking the name of

the Lord Jesus, was the proper distinguishing mark of a Christian.

In those times of apostolic light and purity no man attempted to

invoke God but in the name of Jesus Christ; this is what genuine

Christians still mean when they ask any thing from God for

Christ's SAKE.

Verse 3. Grace be unto you] For a full explanation of all

these terms, See Clarke on Ro 1:7.

Verse 4. For the grace-which is given you] Not only their

calling to be saints, and to be sanctified in Christ Jesus; but

for the various spiritual gifts which they had received, as

specified in the succeeding verses.

Verse 5. Ye are enriched-ye abound-in all utterance] ενπαντι

λογω, In all doctrine; for so the word should certainly be

translated and understood. All the truths of God relative to

their salvation had been explicitly declared to them; and they had

all knowledge; so that they perfectly comprehended the doctrines

which they had heard.

Verse 6. As the testimony of Christ, &c.] The testimony of

Christ is the Gospel which the apostle had preached, and which had

been confirmed by various gifts of the Holy Spirit, and miracles

wrought by the apostle.

Verse 7. So that ye come behind in no gift] Every gift and

grace of God's Spirit was possessed by the members of that Church,

some having their gifts after this manner, others after that.

Waiting for the coming of our Lord] It is difficult to say

whether the apostle means the final judgment, or our Lord's coming

to destroy Jerusalem, and make an end of the Jewish polity.-See

1Th 3:13. As he does not explain himself particularly, he must

refer to a subject with which they were well acquainted. As the

Jews in general continued to contradict and blaspheme, it is no

wonder if the apostle should be directed to point out to the

believing Gentiles that the judgments of God were speedily to fall

upon this rebellious people, and scatter them over the face of

the earth; which shortly afterwards took place.

Verse 8. Who shall-confirm you] As the testimony of Christ

was confirmed among you, so, in conscientiously believing and

obeying, God will confirm you through that testimony.

See 1Co 1:6.

In the day of our Lord Jesus] In the day that he comes to

judge the world, according to some; but, in the day in which he

comes to destroy the Jewish polity, according to others. While

God destroys them who are disobedient, he can save you who


Verse 9. God is faithful] The faithfulness of God is a

favourite expression among the ancient Jews; and by it they

properly understand the integrity of God in preserving whatever is

entrusted to him. And they suppose that in this sense the

fidelity of man may illustrate the fidelity of God, in reference

to which they tell the two following stories. "Rabbi Phineas, the

son of Jair, dwelt in a certain city, whither some men came who

had two measures of barley, which they desired him to preserve for

them. They afterwards forgot their barley and went away. Rabbi

Phineas each year sowed the barley, reaped, thrashed, and laid it

up in his granary. When seven years had elapsed the men returned,

and desired to have the barley with which they had entrusted him.

Rabbi Phineas recollected them, and said, 'Come and take your

treasure,' i.e. the barley they had left, with all that it had

produced for seven years. Thus, from the faithfulness of man ye

may know the faithfulness of God."

"Rabbi Simeon, the son of Shetach, bought an ass from some

Edomites, at whose neck his disciples saw a diamond hanging; they

said unto him, Rabbi, the blessing of the Lord maketh rich,

Pr 10:22. But he answered:

The ass I have bought, but the diamond I have not bought;

therefore he returned the diamond to the Edomites. Thus, from

the fidelity of man ye may know the fidelity of God." This was an

instance of rare honesty, not to be paralleled among the Jews of

the present day, and probably among few Gentiles. Whatever is

committed to the keeping of God he will most carefully preserve;

for he is faithful.

Unto the fellowship, &c.] ειςκοινωνιαν, Into the communion or

participation of Christ, in the graces of his Spirit and the

glories of his future kingdom. God will continue to uphold and

save you, if you entrust your bodies and souls to him. But can it

be said that God will keep what is either not entrusted to him;

or, after being entrusted, is taken away?

Verse 10. Now I beseech you, brethren] The apostle having

finished his introduction comes to his second point, exhorting

them to abstain from dissensions, that they might be of the same

heart and mind, striving together for the hope of the Gospel.

By the name of our Lord Jesus] By his authority, and in his

place; and on account of your infinite obligations to his mercy in

calling you into such a state of salvation.

That ye all speak the same thing] If they did not agree

exactly in opinion on every subject, they might, notwithstanding,

agree in the words which they used to express their religious

faith. The members of the Church of God should labour to be of

the same mind, and to speak the same thing, in order to prevent

divisions, which always hinder the work of God. On every

essential doctrine of the Gospel all genuine Christians agree: why

then need religious communion be interrupted? This general

agreement is all that the apostle can have in view; for it cannot

be expected that any number of men should in every respect

perfectly coincide in their views of all the minor points, on

which an exact conformity in sentiment is impossible to minds so

variously constituted as those of the human race. Angels may thus

agree, who see nothing through an imperfect or false medium; but

to man this is impossible. Therefore men should bear with each

other, and not be so ready to imagine that none have the truth of

God but they and their party.

Verse 11. By them which are of the house of Chloe] This was

doubtless some very religious matron at Corinth, whose family were

converted to the Lord; some of whom were probably sent to the

apostle to inform him of the dissensions which then prevailed in

the Church at that place. Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus,

mentioned 1Co 16:17,

were probably the sons of this Chloe.

Contentions] εριδες, Altercations; produced by the σχισματα

divisions, mentioned above. When once they had divided, they must

necessarily have contended, in order to support their respective


Verse 12. Every one of you saith] It seems from this

expression that the whole Church at Corinth was in a state of

dissension: they were all divided into the following sects

1. Paulians, or followers of St. Paul; 2. Apollonians, or followers

of Apollos; 3. Kephians, or followers of Kephas; 4. Christians, or

followers of Christ. See the introduction, sec. v.

The converts at Corinth were partly Jews and partly Greeks.

The Gentile part, as Dr. Lightfoot conjectures, might boast the

names of Paul and Apollos; the Jewish, those of Kephas and

Christ. But these again might be subdivided; some probably

considered themselves disciples of Paul, he being the immediate

instrument of their conversion, while others might prefer Apollos

for his extraordinary eloquence.

If by Kephas the apostle Peter be meant, some of the

circumcision who believed might prefer him to all the rest; and

they might consider him more immediately sent to them; and

therefore have him in higher esteem than they had Paul, who was

the minister or apostle of the uncircumcision: and on this very

account the converted Gentiles would prize him more highly than

they did Peter.

Instead of Christ, χριστου, some have conjectured that we

should read κρισπου, of Crispus; who is mentioned 1Co 1:14. And

some think that χριστου, of Christ, is an interpolation, as it is

not likely that Christ in any sense of the word could be said to

be the head of a sect, or party, in his own Church; as all those

parties held that Gospel, of which himself was both the author and

the subject. But it is very easy to conceive that, in a Church so

divided, a party might be found, who, dividing Christ from his

ministers, might be led to say, "We will have nothing to do with

your parties, nor with your party spirit; we are the disciples of

Christ, and will have nothing to do with Paulians, Apollonians, or

Kephians, as contradistinguished from Christ." The reading

κρισπου for χριστου is not acknowledged by any MS. or version.

Verse 13. Is Christ divided?] Can he be split into different

sects and parties? Has he different and opposing systems? Or, is

the Messiah to appear under different persons?

Was Paul crucified for you?] As the Gospel proclaims salvation

through the crucified only, has Paul poured out his blood as an

atonement for you? This is impossible, and therefore your being

called by my name is absurd; for his disciples you should be,

alone, who has bought you by his blood.

Were ye baptized in the name of Paul?] To be baptized in, or

into the name of one, implied that the baptized was to be the

disciple of him into whose name, religion, &c., he was baptized.

As if he said: Did I ever attempt to set up a new religion, one

founded on my own authority, and coming from myself? On the

contrary, have I not preached Christ crucified for the sin of the

world; and called upon all mankind, both Jews and Gentiles, to

believe on Him?

Verse 14. I thank God that I baptized none of you] None of

those who now live in Corinth, except Crispus, the ruler of the

synagogue, Ac 18:8.

And Gaius, the same person probably with whom Paul lodged,

Ro 16:23, where see the notes. Dr. Lightfoot observes: "If this

be Gaius, or Caius, to whom the third epistle of John was written,

which is very probable when the first verse of that epistle is

compared with Ro 16:23, 3Jo 1:1 then it will appear probable

that John wrote his first epistle to the Corinthians. I wrote,

says he, unto the Church-What Church? Certainly it must have been

some particular Church which the apostle has in view, and the

Church where Gaius himself resided. And if this be true, we may

look for Diotrephes (3Jo 1:9) in the Corinthian Church; and the

author of the schism of which the apostle complains.

See the Introduction, sect. viii.

Verse 15. Lest any should say, &c.] He was careful not to

baptize, lest it should be supposed that he wished to make a party

for himself; because superficial observers might imagine that he

baptized them into his own name-to be his followers, though he

baptized them into the name of Christ only.

Instead of εβαπτισα, I have baptized, the Codex Alexandrinus,

the Codex Ephraim, and several others, with the Coptic, Sahidic,

later Syriac in the margin, Armenian, Vulgate, some copies of the

Itala, and several of the fathers, read εβαπτισθητε, ye were

baptized. And if we read ινα, so that, instead of lest, the

sentence will stand thus: So that no one can say that ye were

baptized into my name. This appears to be the true reading, and

for it Bp. Pearce offers several strong arguments.

Verse 16. The household of Stephanas] From 1Co 16:15, we

learn that the family of Stephanas were the first converts in

Achaia, probably converted and baptized by the apostle himself.

Epenetus is supposed to be one of this family.

See Clarke on Ro 16:5.

I know not whether I baptized any other.] I do not recollect

that there is any person now residing in Corinth, or Achaia,

besides the above mentioned, whom I have baptized. It is strange

that the doubt here expressed by the apostle should be construed

so as to affect his inspiration! What, does the inspiration of

prophet or apostle necessarily imply that he must understand the

geography of the universe, and have an intuitive knowledge of all

the inhabitants of the earth, and how often, and where they may

have changed their residence! Nor was that inspiration ever given

so to work on a man's memory that he could not forget any of the

acts which he had performed during life. Inspiration was given to

the holy men of old that they might be able to write and proclaim

the mind of God in the times which concern the salvation of men.

Verse 17. For Christ sent me not to baptize] Bp. Pearce

translates thus: For Christ sent me, not so much to baptize as to

preach the Gospel: and he supports his version thus-"The writers

of the Old and New Testaments do, almost every where (agreeably to

the Hebrew idiom) express a preference given to one thing beyond

another by an affirmation of that which is preferred, and a

negation of that which is contrary to it: and so it must be

understood here, for if St. Paul was not sent at all to baptize,

he baptized without a commission; but if he was sent, not only to

baptize but to preach also, or to preach rather than baptize, he

did in fact discharge his duty aright." It appears sufficiently

evident that baptizing was considered to be an inferior office,

and though every minister of Christ might administer it, yet

apostles had more important work. Preparing these adult heathens

for baptism by the continual preaching of the word was of much

greater consequence than baptizing them when thus prepared to

receive and profit by it.

Not with wisdom of words] ουκενσοφιαλογου. In several

places in the New Testament the term λογος is taken not only to

express a word, a speech, a saying, &c., but doctrine, or the

matter of teaching. Here, and in 1Th 1:5, and in several other

places, it seems to signify reason, or that mode of rhetorical

argumentation so highly prized among the Greeks. The apostle was

sent not to pursue this mode of conduct, but simply to announce

the truth; to proclaim Christ crucified for the sin of the world;

and to do this in the plainest and simplest manner possible, lest

the numerous conversions which followed might be attributed to the

power of the apostle's eloquence, and not to the demonstration of

the Spirit of God. It is worthy of remark that, in all the

revivals of religion with which we are acquainted, God appears to

have made very little use of human eloquence, even when possessed

by pious men. His own nervous truths, announced by plain common

sense, though in homely phrase, have been the general means of the

conviction and conversion of sinners. Human eloquence and

learning have often been successfully employed in defending the

outworks of Christianity; but simplicity and truth have preserved

the citadel.

It is farther worthy of remark, that when God was about to

promulgate his laws he chose Moses as the instrument, who appears

to have laboured under some natural impediment in his speech, so

that Aaron his brother was obliged to be his spokesman to Pharaoh;

and that, when God had purposed to publish the Gospel to the

Gentile world-to Athens, Ephesus, Corinth, and Rome, he was

pleased to use Saul of Tarsus as the principal instrument; a man

whose bodily presence was weak, and his speech contemptible,

2Co 10:1, 10.

And thus it was proved that God sent him to preach, not with human

eloquence, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect

but with the demonstration and power of his own Spirit; and thus

the excellence of the power appeared to be of God, and not of man.

Verse 18. For the preaching of the cross] ολογοςγαρο

σταυρου, The doctrine of the cross; or the doctrine that is of

or concerning the cross; that is, the doctrine that proclaims

salvation to a lost world through the crucifixion of Christ.

Is to them that perish foolishness] There are, properly

speaking, but two classes of men known where the Gospel is

preached: απολλυμενοι, the unbelievers and gainsayers, who are

perishing; and σοζομενοι, the obedient believers, who are in a

state of salvation. To those who will continue in the first

state, the preaching of salvation through the merit of a crucified

Saviour is folly. To those who believe this doctrine of Christ

crucified is the power of God to their salvation; it is divinely

efficacious to deliver them from all the power, guilt, and

pollution of sin.

Verse 19. For it is written] The place referred to is

Isa 29:14.

I will destroy the wisdom of the wise] τωνσοφων, Of wise

men-of the philosophers who in their investigations seek nothing

less than God, and whose highest discoveries amount to nothing in

comparison of the grand truths relative to God, the invisible

world, and the true end of man, which the Gospel has brought to

light. Let me add, that the very discoveries which are really

useful have been made by men who feared God, and conscientiously

credited Divine revelation: witness Newton, Boyle, Pascal, and

many others. But all the skeptics and deists, by their schemes of

natural religion and morality, have not been able to save one

soul! No sinner has ever been converted from the error of his

ways by their preaching or writings.

Verse 20. Where is the wise-the scribe-the disputer of this

world?] These words most manifestly refer to the Jews; as the

places (Isa 29:14; 33:18; 44:25) to which he refers cannot be

understood of any but the Jews.

The wise man σοφος, of the apostle, is the chakam of

the prophet; whose office it was to teach others.

The scribe, γραμματευς, of the apostle, is the sopher

of the prophet; this signifies any man of learning, as

distinguished from the common people, especially any master of

the traditions.

The disputer, συζητητης, answers to the derosh, or

darshan, the propounder of questions; the seeker of

allegorical, mystical, and cabalistical senses from the Holy

Scriptures. Now as all these are characters well known among the

Jews, and as the words αιωνοςτουτου, of this world are a simple

translation of olam hazzeh, which is repeatedly used to

designate the Jewish republic, there is no doubt that the apostle

has the Jews immediately in view. This wisdom of theirs induced

them to seek out of the sacred oracles any sense but the true one;

and they made the word of God of none effect by their traditions.

After them, and precisely on their model, the schoolmen arose; and

they rendered the doctrine of the Gospel of no effect by their

hypercritical questions, and endless distinctions without

differences. By the preaching of Christ crucified God made

foolish the wisdom of the Jewish wise men; and, after that the

pure religion of Christ had been corrupted by a Church that was of

this world, God rendered the wisdom and disputing of the schoolmen

foolishness, by the revival of pure Christianity at the

Reformation. The Jews themselves allow that nothing is wise,

nothing strong, nothing rich, without God.

"Our rabbins teach that there were two wise men in this world;

one was an Israelite, Achitophel, the other was a Gentile, Balaam;

but both were miserable in this world."

"There were also two strong men in the world; one an Israelite,

Samson, the other a Gentile, Goliah; but they were both miserable

in this world."

"There were two rich men in the world; one an Israelite, Korah,

the other a Gentile, Haman; but both these were miserable in this

world. And why? Because their gifts came not from God." See


In truth the world has derived very little, if any, moral good,

either from the Jewish rabbins or the Gentile philosophers.

Verse 21. For after that in the wisdom of God] Dr. Lightfoot

observes, "That σοφιατουθεου, the wisdom of God, is not to be

understood of that wisdom which had God for its author, but that

wisdom which had God for its object. There was, among the

heathen, σοφιατηςφυσεως, wisdom about natural things, that is,

philosophy; and σοφιατουθεου, wisdom about God; that is,

divinity. But the world in its divinity could not, by wisdom,

know God." The plain meaning of this verse is, that the wise men

of the world, especially the Greek philosophers, who possessed

every advantage that human nature could have, independently of a

Divine revelation, and who had cultivated their minds to the

uttermost, could never, by their learning, wisdom, and industry,

find out God; nor had the most refined philosophers among them

just and correct views of the Divine nature, nor of that in which

human happiness consists. The work of LUCRETIUS, De Natura Rerum,

and the work of CICERO, De Natura Deorum, are incontestable proofs

of this. Even the writings of Plato and Aristotle have

contributed little to remove the veil which clouded the

understanding of men. No wisdom but that which came from God

could ever penetrate and illuminate the human mind.

By the foolishness of preaching] By the preaching of Christ

crucified, which the Gentiles termed μωρια, foolishness, in

opposition to their own doctrines, which they termed σοφια,

wisdom. It was not by the foolishness of preaching, literally,

nor by the foolish preaching, that God saved the world; but by

that Gospel which they called μωρια, foolishness; which was, in

fact, the wisdom of God, and also the power of God to the

salvation of them that believed.

Verse 22. For the Jews require a sign] Instead of σημειον,

a sign, ABCDEFG, several others, both the Syriac, Coptic, Vulgate,

and Itala, with many of the fathers, have σημεια, signs;

which reading, as undoubtedly genuine, Griesbach has admitted into

the text. There never was a people in the universe more difficult

to be persuaded of the truth than the Jews: and had not their

religion been incontestably proved by the most striking and

indubitable miracles, they never would have received it. This

slowness of heart to believe, added to their fear of being

deceived, induced them to require miracles to attest every thing

that professed to come from God. They were a wicked and

adulterous generation, continually seeking signs, and never

saying, It is enough. But the sign which seems particularly

referred to here is the assumption of secular power, which they

expected in the Messiah; and because this sign did not appear in

Christ, therefore they rejected him.

And the Greeks seek after wisdom.] Such wisdom, or philosophy,

as they found in the writings of Cicero, Seneca, Plato, &c., which

was called philosophy, and which came recommended to them in all

the beauties and graces of the Latin and Greek languages.

Verse 23. But we] Apostles, differing widely from these

Gentile philosophers:-

Preach Christ crucified] Call on men, both Jews and Gentiles,

to believe in Christ, as having purchased their salvation by

shedding his blood for them.

Unto the Jews a stumbling block] Because Jesus came meek,

lowly, and impoverished; not seeking worldly glory, nor affecting

worldly pomp; whereas they expected the Messiah to come as a

mighty prince and conqueror; because Christ did not come so, they

were offended at him. Out of their own mouths, we may condemn the

gainsaying Jews. In Sohar Chadash, fol. 26, the following saying

is attributed to Moses, relative to the brazen serpent: "Moses

said, This serpent is a stumbling block to the world. The holy

blessed God answered: Not at all, it shall be for punishment to

sinners, and life to upright men." This is a proper illustration

of the apostle's words.

Unto the Greeks foolishness] Because they could not believe

that proclaiming supreme happiness through a man that was

crucified at Judea as a malefactor could ever comport with reason

and common sense; for both the matter and manner of the preaching

were opposite to every notion they had formed of what was

dignified and philosophic. In Justin Martyr's dialogue with

Trypho the Jew we have these remarkable words, which serve to

throw light on the above. "Your Jesus," says Trypho, "having

fallen under the extreme curse of God, we cannot sufficiently

admire how you can expect any good from God, who place your hopes

επανθρωπονσταυρωθεντα, upon a man that was CRUCIFIED." The

same writer adds: "They count us mad, that after the eternal God,

the Father of all things, we give the second place, ανθρωπω

σταυρωθεντι, to a man that was crucified." "Where is your

understanding," said the Gentiles, "who worship for a god him who

was crucified?" Thus Christ crucified was to the Jews a stumbling

block, and to the Greeks foolishness. See Whitby on this verse.

Verse 24. But unto them which are called] τοιςκλητοις.

Those, both of Jews and Greeks, who were by the preaching of the

Gospel called or invited to the marriage feast, and have

accordingly believed in Christ Jesus; they prove this doctrine to

be divinely powerful, to enlighten and convert the soul, and to be

a proof of God's infinite wisdom, which has found out such an

effectual way to glorify both his justice and mercy, and save, to

the uttermost, all that come to him through Christ Jesus. The

called, or invited, κλητοι, is a title of genuine Christians,

and is frequently used in the New Testament. αγιοι, saints, is

used in the same sense.

Verse 25. The foolishness of God is wiser, &c.] The meaning

of these strong expressions is, that the things of God's

appointment, which seem to men foolishness, are infinitely beyond

the highest degree of human wisdom; and those works of God, which

appear to superficial observers weak and contemptible, surpass all

the efforts of human power. The means which God has appointed for

the salvation of men are so wisely imagined and so energetically

powerful, that all who properly use them shall be infallibly

brought to the end-final blessedness, which he has promised to

them who believe and obey.

Verse 26. Ye see your calling] τηνκλησιν. The state of

grace and blessedness to which ye are invited. I think, βλεπετε

τηνκλησιν, &c., should be read in the imperative: Take heed to,

or consider your calling, brethren; that (οτι) not many of you

are wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble: men is

not in the original, and Paul seems to allude to the Corinthian

believers in particular. This seems to have been said in

opposition to the high and worldly notions of the Jews, who assert

that the Divine Spirit never rests upon any man, unless he be

wise, powerful, and rich. Now this Divine Spirit did rest upon

the Christians at Corinth, and yet these were, in the sense of the

world, neither wise, rich, nor noble. We spoil, if not corrupt

the apostle's meaning, by adding are called, as if God did not

send his Gospel to the wise, the powerful, and the noble, or did

not will their salvation. The truth is, the Gospel has an equal

call to all classes of men; but the wise, the mighty, and the

noble, are too busy, or too sensual, to pay any attention to an

invitation so spiritual and so Divine; and therefore there are few

of these in the Church of Christ in general.

Verse 27. But God hath chosen the foolish things] God has

chosen by means of men who are esteemed rude and illiterate to

confound the greatest of the Greek philosophers, and overturn

their systems; and, by means of men weak, without secular power

or authority, to confound the scribes and Pharisees, and in spite

of the exertions of the Jewish sanhedrin, to spread the doctrine

of Christ crucified all over the land of Judea, and by such

instruments as these to convert thousands of souls to the faith of

the Gospel, who are ready to lay down their lives for the truth.

The Jews have proverbs that express the same sense as these words

of the apostle. In Shemoth Rabba, sec. 17, fol. 117, it is said:

"There are certain matters which appear little to men, yet by them

God points out important precepts. Thus hyssop in the sight of

man is worth nothing, but in the sight of God its power is great;

sometimes he equals it to the cedar, particularly in the ordinance

concerning the lepers, and in the burning of the red heifer. Thus

God commanded them in Egypt, Ex 12:22:

And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, &c. And concerning Solomon

it is said, 1Ki 4:33:

And he discoursed of trees, from the cedar on Lebanon to the

hyssop that grows out of the wall. Whence we may learn that great

and small things are equal in the eyes of the Lord, and that even

by small things He can work great miracles."

Verse 28. And base things-and things which are despised] It

is very likely that the apostle refers here to the Gentiles and to

the Gentile converts, who were considered base and despicable in

the eyes of the Jews, who counted them no better than dogs, and

who are repeatedly called the things that are not. By these very

people, converted to Christianity, God has brought to nought all

the Jewish pretensions; and by means of the Gentiles themselves,

he has annihilated the whole Jewish polity; so that even Jerusalem

itself was soon after this, trodden under foot of the Gentiles.

Verse 29. That no flesh should glory] God does his mighty

works in such a way as proves that though he may condescend to

employ men as instruments, yet they have no part either in the

contrivance or energy by which such works are performed.

Verse 30. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus] Even the good

which you possess is granted by God, for it is by and through him

that Christ Jesus comes, and all the blessings of the Gospel


Who of God is made unto us wisdom] As being the author of that

evangelical wisdom which far excels the wisdom of the philosopher

and the scribe, and even that legal constitution which is called

the wisdom of the Jews, De 4:6.

And righteousness] δικαιοσυνη, Justification, as procuring for

us that remission of sins which the law could not give,

Ga 2:21; 3:21.

And sanctification] As procuring for and working in us, not

only an external and relative holiness, as was that of the Jews,

but οσιοτητατηςαληθειας, true and eternal holiness,

Eph 4:24, wrought in us by the Holy Spirit.

And redemption] He is the author of redemption, not from the

Egyptian bondage, or Babylonish captivity, but from the servitude

of Satan, the dominion of sin and death, and from the bondage

of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, or the

redemption of the body, Ro 8:21, 23.

See Whitby.

The object of the apostle is to show that man of himself

possesses no good, that whatever he has comes from God, and from

God only through Christ. For the different acceptations of the

word righteousness the reader may consult the note on Ro 1:17,

where the subject is considered in every point of view.

Verse 31. According as it is written] In Jer 9:23, 24:

Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,

neither let the mighty man glory in his might; let not the rich

man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth glory in this:

That he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord, which

exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the

earth. So then, as all good is of and from God, let him that has

either wisdom, strength, riches, pardon, holiness, or any other

blessing, whether temporal or spiritual, acknowledge that he has

nothing but what he has received; and that, as he has cause of

glorying (boasting or exultation) in being made a partaker of

these benefits and mercies of his Creator and Redeemer, let him

boast in God alone, by whom, through Christ Jesus, he has received

the whole.

1. THIS is an admirable chapter, and drawn up with great skill

and address. The divided state of the Corinthian Church we have

already noticed, and it appears that in these factions the

apostle's authority had been set at nought by some, and questioned

by many. St. Paul begins his letter with showing his authority;

he had it immediately through Christ Jesus himself, by the will of

God. And indeed the success of his preaching was a sufficient

proof of the Divinity of his call. Had not God been with him he

never could have successfully opposed the whole system of the

national religion of the Corinthians, supported as it was by the

prejudice of the people, the authority of the laws, and the

eloquence and learning of their most eminent philosophers. It was

necessary, therefore, that he should call the attention of this

people to the Divine origin of his mission, that they might

acknowledge that the excellency of the power was of God, and not

of man.

2. It was necessary also that he should conciliate their

esteem, and therefore speak as favourably concerning them as truth

would allow; hence he shows them that they were a Church of God,

sanctified in Christ Jesus, and called to be saints; that they

abounded and even excelled in many extraordinary gifts and graces;

and that they were not inferior to any Church of God in any gift.

And he shows them that they received all these through God's

confirmation of that testimony which he had delivered among them,

1Co 1:4-7.

3. When he had thus prepared their minds to receive and profit

by his admonitions he proceeds to their schisms, which he mentions

and reprehends in the most delicate manner, so that the most

obstinate and prejudiced could take no offence.

4. Having gained this point, he gently leads them to consider

that, as God is the fountain of all good, so their good had all

come from him; and that none of them should rest in the gift, but

in the giver; nor should they consider themselves as of particular

consequence on account of possessing such gifts, because all

earthly good is transitory, and those who trust in power, wisdom,

or wealth, are confounded and brought to nought; and that they

alone are safe who receive every thing as from the hand of God,

and, in the strength of his gifts, glorify him who is the donor of

all good. He who can read this chapter without getting much

profit has very little spirituality in his soul, and must be

utterly unacquainted with the work of God in the heart.

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