1 Corinthians 1:28
And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
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(28) And things which are not.—This climax loses somewhat of its force by the insertion of the word “and,” which is not in some of the best MSS., and “yea,” which is not in any MS. Omitting the word “and,” the sentence is not an addition to the things already mentioned, but a general and emphatic summary of all the things which have been already contrasted with their opposites. After the words “hath God chosen” there is a slight pause, and then the Apostle describes all those things which he has declared to be God’s choice, as things which “are not”—i.e., do not in men’s estimation even exist (Romans 4:17; Romans 9:25; see also Job 34:19; Job 34:24).

1:26-31 God did not choose philosophers, nor orators, nor statesmen, nor men of wealth, and power, and interest in the world, to publish the gospel of grace and peace. He best judges what men and what measures serve the purposes of his glory. Though not many noble are usually called by Divine grace, there have been some such in every age, who have not been ashamed of the gospel of Christ; and persons of every rank stand in need of pardoning grace. Often, a humble Christian, though poor as to this world, has more true knowledge of the gospel, than those who have made the letter of Scripture the study of their lives, but who have studied it rather as the witness of men, than as the word of God. And even young children have gained such knowledge of Divine truth as to silence infidels. The reason is, they are taught of God; the design is, that no flesh should glory in his presence. That distinction, in which alone they might glory, was not of themselves. It was by the sovereign choice and regenerating grace of God, that they were in Jesus Christ by faith. He is made of God to us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; all we need, or can desire. And he is made wisdom to us, that by his word and Spirit, and from his fulness and treasures of wisdom and knowledge, we may receive all that will make us wise unto salvation, and fit for every service to which we are called. We are guilty, liable to just punishment; and he is made righteousness, our great atonement and sacrifice. We are depraved and corrupt, and he is made sanctification, that he may in the end be made complete redemption; may free the soul from the being of sin, and loose the body from the bonds of the grave. And this is, that all flesh, according to the prophecy by Jeremiah, Jer 9:23-24, may glory in the special favour, all-sufficient grace, and precious salvation of Jehovah.And base things of the world - Those things which by the world are esteemed ignoble. Literally, those which are not of noble, or illustrious birth τὰ ἀγειῆ ta ageiē.

Things which are despised - Those which the world regards as objects of contempt; compare Mark 9:12; Luke 18:19; Acts 4:11.

Yea - The introduction of this word by the translators does nothing to illustrate the sense, but rather enfeebles it. The language here is a striking instance of Paul's manner of expressing himself with great strength. He desires to convey in the strongest terms, the fact, that God had illustrated his plan by choosing the objects of least esteem among people. He is willing to admit all that could be said on this point. He says, therefore, that he had chosen the things of ignoble birth and rank - the base things of the world; but this did not fully express his meaning. He had chosen objects of contempt among people; but this was not strong enough to express his idea. He adds, therefore, that he had chosen those things which were absolutely nothing, which had no existence; which could not be supposed to influence him in his choice.

And things which are not - τὰ μὴ ὄντα ta mē onta. That which is nothing; which is worthless; which has no existence; those flyings which were below contempt itself; and which, in the estimation of the world, were passed by as having no existence; as not having sufficient importance to be esteemed worthy even of the slight notice which is implied in contempt. For a man who despises a thing must at least notice it, and esteem it worth some attention. But the apostle here speaks of things beneath even that slight notice; as completely and totally disregarded, as having no existence. The language here is evidently that of hyperbole (compare the note at John 21:25). It was a figure of speech common in the East, and not unusual in the sacred writings; compare Isaiah 40:17.

All nations before him are as nothing.

And they are counted to him less than nothing and vanity.

See also Romans 4:17, "God, who - calleth those things which be not, as though they were." This language was strongly expressive of the estimate which the Jews fixed on the Gentiles, as being a despised people, as being in fact no people; a people without laws, and organization, and religion, and privileges; see Hosea 1:10; Hosea 2:23; Romans 9:25; 1 Peter 2:10. "When a man of rank among the Hindus speaks of low-caste persons, of notorious profligates, or of those whom he despises, he calls them "alla-tha-varkal," that is, "those who are not." The term does not refer to life or existence, but to a quality or disposition, and is applied to those who are vile and abominable in all things. "My son, my son, go not among them 'who are not.'" "Alas! alas! those people are all alla-tha-varkal." When wicked men prosper, it is said, "this is the time for those 'who are not.'" "Have you heard that those 'who are not' are now acting righteously?" Vulgar and indecent expressions are also called, "words that are not." "To address men in the phrase 'are not,' is provoking beyond measure" - Roberts, as quoted in Bush's Illustrations of Scripture.

To bring to naught - To humble and subdue. To show them how vain and impotent they were.

Things that are - Those who on account of their noble birth, high attainments, wealth, and rank placed a high estimate on themselves and despised others.

28. yea, and things which are not—Yea is not in the Greek. Also some of the oldest manuscripts omit "and." Thus the clause, "things which are not" (are regarded as naught), is in apposition with "foolish … weak … base (that is, lowborn) and despised things." God has chosen all four, though regarded as things that are not, to bring to naught things that are. Things which are not in the world’s account, to bring to nought things which are in high esteem.

And base things of the world,.... Who are reckoned the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things; men of mean birth, education, and business of life:

and things that are despised; and set at nought, as poor persons generally are; yet God

hath chosen them; even the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of a kingdom:

yea, and things which are not; some think the Gentiles are here intended, who by the Jews are called "things that are not": as in the apocryphal books:

"O Lord, give not thy sceptre unto "them that be nothing", and let them not laugh at our fall; but turn their device upon themselves, and make him an example, that hath begun this against us.'' Esther 14:11

"56 As for the other people, which also come of Adam, thou hast said that "they are nothing", but be like unto spittle: and hast likened the abundance of them unto a drop that falleth from a vessel. 57 And now, O Lord, behold, these heathen, which have ever been "reputed as nothing", have begun to be lords over us, and to devour us.'' (2 Esdras 6)

See Gill on Romans 4:17 for note on non-entities, or such who are not in being, are meant; but who are not accounted of, or are reckoned as nothing; and these the Lord calls by his grace, as a fruit and evidence of electing love:

to bring to nought things that are; who, on the account of their noble birth, large possessions, and high attainments in knowledge and learning, thought themselves something; all which will one day be abolished, and will stand them in no stead with regard to future happiness and glory. The Jews (q) have a saying quite contrary to all this, that "the Shekinah, or presence of God, does not dwell on any but upon a wise man, a mighty man, and a rich man.

(q) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 92. 1.

And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which {x} are not, to bring to {y} nought things that are:

(x) Which in man's judgment are almost nothing.

(y) To show that they are vain and unprofitable, and worth nothing. See Geneva Ro 3:31

28. and things which are not] i.e. ‘things which by comparison are non-existent’—things which by the side of other things of higher importance in our human eyes appear to us as nothing. Yet these, in the counsels of God, are to change places, and more than change places, with things that are highly regarded in the sight of men.

1 Corinthians 1:28. Τὰ μὴ ὄντα, the things that are not) A genus, under which are included things base and despised, as also things foolish and weak. There is therefore an apposition, to the whole of which is opposed this one phrase, which are.—τὰ ὄντα) which are something.

Verse 28. - And the base things; literally, low-born, unborn; "those who are sprung kern no one in particular" - nullo patre, nullis majoribus. Nothing could be more ignoble in the eyes of the world than a cross of wood upheld by feeble hands, and yet before it "kings and their armies did flee and were discomfited, and they of the household divided the spoil." And the things that are not. The not is the Greek subjective negative (μὴ); things of which men conceived as not existing - "nonentities." It is like the expression of Clement of Rome, "Things accounted as nothing." Christianity was "the little stone, cut without hands," which God called into existence. We find the same thought in St. John the Baptist's sermon (Matthew 3:9). 1 Corinthians 1:28Base (ὠγενῆ)

Of no family. The reverse of εὐγενεῖς noble.

Despised (ἐξουθενημένα)

Lit., set at nought. Not merely despised, but expressly branded with contempt. See Luke 23:11.

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