But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Foolish things.—The neuter is used probably for the purpose of generalising, and it expresses the qualities of the men whom God has chosen—“the wise” is masculine in the Greek, showing that it is still of “persons” the Apostle is speaking.1 Corinthians 1:27-29. But God hath chosen the foolish things — Or, supplying the word προσωπα, the foolish persons of the world. Such persons as are of little esteem in the world, for want of learning, parts, eloquence, and such other endowments as some have attained, and who are judged altogether unfit to teach others, especially the Greeks and Romans. To confound the wise — To shame those who account themselves, and are accounted wise; and of whom the world is most ready to boast. In this passage the apostle imitates the contemptuous language in which the Greek philosophers, and men of learning, affected to speak of the Christian preachers: yet, as he does it in irony, he aggrandizes them. The first preachers of the gospel, as Bishop Newton observes, “were chiefly a few poor fishermen, of low parentage, of no learning or eloquence, of no reputation or authority, despised as Jews by the rest of mankind, and by the Jews as the meanest and worst of themselves. What improper instruments were these to contend with the prejudices of the world, the superstition of the people, the interests of the priests, the vanity of the philosophers, the pride of the rulers, the malice of the Jews, the learning of the Greeks, and the power of Rome!” But the weaker the instruments who converted the world, the greater was the display of the power of God by which they acted. See on 2 Corinthians 4:7. And the weak things of the world — Persons who pretend to no extraordinary abilities or endowments; to confound — Or shame; the things which are mighty — Which, with all their boasted powers and qualifications, have never been able to work such a reformation among men, as these despised disciples of Jesus have been the means of effecting. And base things of the world — Things accounted vile and despised, εξουθενημενα, set at naught; and things which are not — Which are as little regarded, or as much overlooked, as if they had no being, and were below contempt itself; hath God chosen — To be his instruments in renewing and saving mankind; to bring to naught — To annihilate; things that are — In the highest esteem, and that make the most illustrious figures among mankind. That no flesh — A fit appellation; flesh is fair, but withering as grass; should glory in his presence — That no human being might boast of any advantages or distinctions, or of any excellence in himself, as the cause of his being appointed an apostle, evangelist, or minister of Christ, and employed in preaching the gospel: and that none who are converted by the preaching of such, should consider their conversion as the effect of any human abilities, natural or acquired, but should be compelled to ascribe the glory of all to God.
The foolish things - The things esteemed foolish among people. The expression here refers to those who were destitute of learning, rank, wealth, and power, and who were esteemed as fools, and were despised by the rich and the great.
To confound - To bring to shame; or that he might make them ashamed; that is, humble them by showing them how little he regarded their wisdom; and how little their wisdom contributed to the success of his cause. By thus overlooking them, and bestowing his favors on the humble and the poor; by choosing his people from the ranks which they despised, and bestowing on them the exalted privilege of being called the sons of God, he had poured dishonor on the rich and the great, and overwhelmed them, and their schemes of wisdom, with shame. It is also true, that those who are regarded as fools by the wise men of the world are able often to confound those who boast of their wisdom; and that the arguments of plain people, though unlearned except in the school of Christ; of people of sound common sense under the influence of Christian principles, have a force which the learning and talent of the people of this world cannot gainsay or resist. They have truth on their side; and truth, though dressed in a humble garb, is more mighty than error, though clothed with the brilliancy of imagination, the pomp of declamation, and the cunning of sophistry.
And the weak things - Those esteemed weak by the people of the world.
to confound—The Greek is stronger, "that He might confound (or put to shame)." God confounds the wise by effecting through His instruments, without human wisdom, that the worldly wise, with it, cannot effect, namely, to bring men to salvation.
chosen … chosen—The repetition indicates the gracious deliberateness of God's purpose (Jas 2:5).
to confound the wise; who sooner or later will be brought to shame and confusion, to see such idiots, as they took them to be, wiser than they in the business of salvation; having been directed and influenced by divine grace to choose that good part, which shall never be taken from them, when they will be stripped of their nobility, wealth, and wisdom; to see these men go into the kingdom of heaven, and they themselves shut out:
and God hath chosen the weak things of the world; who cannot boast of their birth and pedigree, of their ancient and illustrious families; have no titles of honour to aggrandize them, nor estates, possessions, and worldly substance to support themselves with; and this he has done,
to confound the things which are mighty; as Haman was by the advancement of Mordecai. It will be to the utter confusion of the rich and mighty, to see persons of the lowest class in life made kings and priests by Christ, set among princes, and upon the throne of glory; and they themselves fleeing, and calling to the mountains to fall upon them, and cover them from the sight of him that sits on the throne, and the Lamb,But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)1 Corinthians 1:27-28. Expanded (see τοῦ κόσμου and πᾶσα σάρξ, 1 Corinthians 1:29) statement of the opposite: No; the foolish things of the world were what God chose out for Himself, etc. The calling, 1 Corinthians 1:26, was in truth just the result and the proof of the election. Comp 1 Thessalonians 1:4 f.; 2 Thessalonians 2:13 f.; Romans 8:30; Romans 9:23 f.
ΤᾺ ΜΩΡᾺ ΤΟῦ ΚΌΣΜΟΥ] the foolish elements of the world (mankind), i.e. those to whom earthly wisdom was a quite foreign thing, so that they were the simple among men. Comp Matthew 11:25. Many exegetes (including Theodoret, Luther, Grotius, Estius, Rosenmüller, Flatt, and Billroth) take the genitive as: according to the judgment of the world. Against this may he urged, partly, the very fact that when God chose to Himself the persons referred to, they too had not yet the higher wisdom, and consequently were not unwise merely in the eyes of the world; and partly, as deciding the point, the following ἀσθ. and ἈΓΕΝ., for they were, it is plain, really (and not merely in the eyes of the world) weak and of mean origin.
The neuters (comp on the plural, Galatians 3:22) indicate the category generally, it being evident from the context that what is meant is the persons included under that category. See generally, Winer, p. 167 [E. T. 222], and the same usage among classical writers in Blomfield, a Aesch. Pers. Gloss. 101.
ἽΝΑ Τ. Σ. ΚΑΤΑΙΣΧ.] design. The nothingness and worthlessness of their wisdom were, to their shame, to be brought practically to light (by God’s choosing not them, but the unwise, for honour), no matter whether they themselves were conscious of this putting of them to shame or not.
The thrice-repeated ἐξελ. ὁ Θεός, beside the three contrasts of ΣΟΦΟΊ, ΔΥΝΑΤΟΊ, and ΕὐΓΕΝΕῖς (1 Corinthians 1:26), carries with it a triumphant emphasis.
ΤᾺ ΜῊ ὌΝΤΑ] The contrast to ΕὐΓΕΝΕῖς is brought out by three steps forming a climax. This third phrase is the strongest of all, and sums up powerfully the two foregoing ones by way of apposition (hence without ΚΑΊ): the non-existent, i.e. what was as utterly worth nothing as if it had not existed at all (Winer, p. 451 [E. T. 608]). Comp Eur. Hec. 284: ἦν πότʼ, ἀλλὰ νῦν οὐκ εἴμʼ ἔτι. Dem. 248. 25; Plat. Crit. p. 50 B; and Stallbaum thereon. The subjective negation μή is quite according to rule (Baeumlein, Partik. p. 296), since the participle with the article expresses a generic notion; and there is no need of importing the idea of an untrue although actual existence (Hofmann). We are not therefore to supply τι to ΤᾺ ὌΝΤΑ (as if ΜΗΔῈΝ ΕἾΝΑΙ had been used before), but to explain it: the existent, what through repute, fortune, etc., is regarded as that which is (κατʼ ἐξοχήν). Comp Pflugk, a Hec. l.c: “ipsum verbum εἶναι eam vim habet, ut significet in aliquo numero esse, rebus secundis florere.”
κατηργ.] Not ΚΑΤΑΙΣΧ. again, because the notions ΜῊ ΕἾΝΑΙ and ΕἾΝΑΙ required a stronger word to correspond to them; one which would convey the idea of bringing to nought (i.e. making worthless, Romans 3:31).
 d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.
 d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.
 .c. loco citato or laudato.1 Corinthians 1:27-28. “Nay, but (ἀλλά, the but of exclusion) the foolish … the weak … the base-born things of the world God did choose out (when He chose you).”—ἐξελέξατο (selected, picked out for Himself) is equivalent to ἐκάλεσεν (1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 1:26), εὐδόκησεν … σῶσαι (1 Corinthians 1:21), τὴν χάριν ἔδωκεν ἐν Χ. Ἰ. (1 Corinthians 1:4); this word indicates the relation in which the saved are put both to God and to the world, out of (ἐξ) which they were taken (see parls.); nothing here suggests, as in Ephesians 1:4, the idea of eternal election.—ἐξελέξατο ὁ Θεός: the astonishing fact thrice repeated, with solemn emphasis of assurance. The objects of God’s saving choice and the means of their salvation match each other; by His τὸ μωρὸν and τὸ ἀσθενές (1 Corinthians 1:25) He saves τὰ μωρὰ and τὰ ἀσθενῆ: “the world laughs at our beggarly selves, as it laughs at our beggarly Gospell” The neut. adj of 1 Corinthians 1:27 f. mark the category to which the selected belong; their very foolishness, weakness, ignobility determine God’s choice (cf. Matthew 9:13, Luke 10:21, etc.).—τοῦ κόσμου is partitive gen: out of all the world contained, God chose its (actually) foolish, weak, base things—making “fæx urbis lux orbis!” In this God acted deliberately, pursuing the course maintained through previous ages, ἐν τῇ σοφίᾳ τοῦ Θεοῦ (see note, 1 Corinthians 1:21): He “selected the foolish things of the world, that He might shame its wise men (τοὺς σοφούς) … the weak things of the world, that He might shame its strong things (τὰ ἰσχυρά), and the base-born things of the world and the things made absolutely nothing of … the things nonexistent, that He might bring the things existent to naught”. In the first instance a class of persons, immediately present to Paul’s mind (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:20), is to be “put to shame”; in the two latter P. thinks, more at large, of worldly forces and institutions (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:31, 2 Corinthians 10:4-6). The pride of the cultured and ruling classes of paganism was to be confounded by the powers which Christianity conferred upon its social outcasts; as, e.g., Hindoo Brahminism is shamed by the moral and intellectual superiority acquired by Christian Pariahs.—τὰ ἀγενῆ τοῦ κόσμου, third of the categories of disparagement, is reinforced by τὰ ἐξουθενημένα (from ἐξ and οὐδέν, pf. pass: things set down as of no account whatever), then capped by the abruptly apposed τὰ μὴ ὄντα, to which is attached the crowning final clause, ἵνα τὰ ὄντα καταργήσῃ. For καταργέω (ut enervaret, Bz), see note on κενόω (1 Corinthians 1:17), and parls.; the scornful world-powers are not merely to be robbed of their glory (as in the two former predictions), but of their power and being, as indeed befell in the end the existing social and political fabric. In τὰ μὴ ὄντα, “μὴ implies that the non-existence is not absolute but estimative” (Al); the classes to which Christianity appealed were non-entities for philosophers and statesmen, cyphers in their reckoning: contrast οὐκ ὤν, of objective matter of fact, in John 10:12, Acts 7:5; also Eurip., Troad., 600.—τὰ ὄντα connotes more than bare existence; “ipsum verbum εἶναι eam vim habet ut significet in aliquo numero esse, rebus secundis florere” (Pflugk, on Eurip., Hecuba, 284, quoted by Mr); it is τὰ ὄντα κατʼ ἐξοχήν: cf. the adv ὄντως in 1 Timothy 6:19.
 genitive case.
 passive voice.
 Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).
 Alford’s Greek Testament.
 Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Eng. Trans.).
 adverb27. to confound] Literally to disgrace, bring to shame. That which is disgraced can have no ground for self-glorification.1 Corinthians 1:27. Τὰ) The article has this force: those things in particular and especially, which are foolish, etc.—ἐξελεξατο, hath chosen [viz., in great numbers]) Acts 18:10—V. g.] (“I have much people in this city,” i.e., Corinth). This word is put thrice; election [choosing] and calling, 1 Corinthians 1:26, are joined in one; Ezekiel 20:5. The latter is a proof of the former. Election is the judgment of Divine grace exempting in Christ from the common destruction of men, those who accept their calling by faith. Every one who is called, is elected from the first moment of his faith; and so long as he continues in his calling and faith, he continues to be elected; if at any time he loses calling and faith, he ceases to be elected; when he brings forth fruit in faith, he confirms that calling and election in his own case: if he returns to faith, and believing falls asleep, he returns to his state of election, and as one elected falls asleep. And these κατʼ ἐξοχὴν, pre-eminently, are the men who are elected and foreknown. Election relates either to peoples or individuals. The question here and in Ezekiel 20:5 : also Acts 18:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:4 : is concerning the election of a people; and this species of election in a greater degree falls under the distinct perceptions of men that are believers, than the election of individuals; for some individuals of the people may fall away, and yet the breadth of calling and election [i.e. the calling viewed in its comprehension of the whole people as such] may be equally preserved. The election of some outside of the church is a Thing Reserved for God Himself, and must not be tried by the rule of the preaching of the Gospel.—ΤΟῪς ΣΟΦΟῪς, the wise) In the masculine to express a very beautiful idea; the rest are neuter, as all standing in opposition to τοὺς σοφοὺς, yea even foolish things.—καταισχύνῃ, might put to shame [confound]) This word is twice repeated; we have afterwards, might bring to nought [1 Corinthians 1:28]. By both of these words glorying [1 Corinthians 1:29; 1 Corinthians 1:31] is taken away, whether the subject of boasting be more or less voluntary.
 Which restricts salvation to them that believe.—ED.
 Viz., That even things (and, those too, foolish things) are chosen by God to confound persons (and, those too, persons who are wise).—ED.Verse 27. - God chose; not, hath chosen out. We may remark, once for all, that there was no reason why the translators of 1611 should thus have turned the Greek aorists of the New Testament into perfects. In this and in many instances the change of tense is unimportant, but sometimes it materially and injuriously affects the sense. The foolish things... the weak things. So, too, the psalmist, "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength" (Psalm 8:2); and St. James, "Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith?" (James 2:5).
The threefold repetition of the word emphasizes the deliberate and free action of God's gracious will.
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