ICC New Testament Commentary
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.3:1-4. In following to its application his contrast between the spiritual and the animal character, the Apostle is led back to his main subject, the σχίσματα. These dissensions show which type of character predominates among his readers. The passage corresponds to 2:13 (see note there), and forms its negative counterpart, prepared for by the contrast (2:13-16) between the spiritual and the animal man.
Κἀγώ, ἀδελφοί. See on 1:10 and 2:1.
ὡς πνευματικοῖς. Ideally, all Christians are πνευματικοί (12:3, 13; Galatians 4:3-7): but by no means all the Corinthians were such in fact.* Along with the heathen, they are in the category of ψυχικοί or σαρκικοί, but they are not on a level with the heathen. They are babes in character, but ‘babes in Christ’; and, apart from the special matters for blame, there are many healthy features in their condition (1:4-9, 11:2).
ἀλλʼ ὡς σαρκίνοις. The word is chosen deliberately, and it expresses a shade of meaning different from σαρκικός, placing the state of the Corinthians under a distinct aspect. The termination -ινος denotes a material relation, while -ικος denotes an ethical or dynamic relation, to the idea involved in the root. In 2 Corinthians 3:3 the tables are made of stone, the hearts are made of flesh (see note on ἀνθρώπινος, 4:3). Accordingly, σαρκίνος means ‘of flesh and blood,’, what a man cannot help being, but a state to be subordinated to the higher law of the Spirit, and enriched and elevated by it. We are all σαρκίνοι (ζῶ ἐν σαρκί, Galatians 2:20), but we are not to live κατὰ σάρκα (15:50; Romans 8:12; 2 Corinthians 10:2, 2 Corinthians 10:3). The state of the νήπιος is not culpable in itself, but it becomes culpable if unduly prolonged (13:11, 14:20).
There are two other views respecting σαρκίνος which may be mentioned, but seem to be alien to the sense. Meyer holds that the word means ‘wholly of flesh,’ without any influence of the spirit (John 3:6). In the σαρκικός, although the flesh still has the upper hand, yet there is some counteracting influence of the spirit. This view makes the state of the σαρκικός an advance upon that of the σαρκίνός, and is really an inversion of the true sense. Evans regards σαρκικός as a term free from any reproach. It is “the first moral state after conversion, in a figure borrowed from an infant, which to outward view is little more than a living lump of dimpled flesh, with few signs of intelligence.” This is an exaggeration of the true sense. Cf. Arist. Eth. Nic. III. ix. 2.
σαρκίνοις (א A B C* D* 17) is the original reading, of which σαρκικοῖς (D3 E F G L P) is obviously a correction.
2. γάλα ὑμᾶς ἐπότισα, οὐ Βρῶμα. Cf. Hebrews 5:12, where στερεὰ τροφή takes the place of βρῶμα. The verb governs both substantives by a very natural zeugma: it takes a double accusative, and the passive has the accusative of the thing (12:13). The γάλα is described 2:2, the βρῶμα, 2:6-13, and the distinction corresponds to the method necessarily adopted by every skilful teacher. The wise teacher proves himself to be such by his ability to impart, in the most elementary grade, what is really fundamental and educative—what is simple, and yet gives insight into the full instruction that is to follow. The ‘milk,’ or ὁ τῆς ἀρχῆς τοῦ Χριστοῦ λόγος (Hebrews 4:1), would be more practical than doctrinal (as 2:2), and would tell of ‘temperance and righteousness and judgment to come’ before communicating the foundation-truths as to the person and work of Christ. Christ Himself begins in this way; ‘Thou knowest the commandments’; ‘Repent ye, for the kingdom of God is at hand.’ The metaphor was current among the Rabbis, and occurs in Philo (see Lightfoot’s note). The aorist ἐπότισα refers to a definite period, evidently that which began with the ἦλθον of 2:1, viz. the eighteen months of Acts 18:11.
οὔπω γὰρ ἐδύνασθε. ‘For ye had not yet the power.’ The verb is used absolutely, as in 10:13.*. This use is not rare in LXX, and is found in Plato, Xenophon, etc. The tense indicates a process. This process was one of growth, but the growth was too slow.
D E F G L, Arm. Aeth. AV. insert καί before οὐ βρῶμα. אA B C P, Vulg. Copt. RV. omit.
3. ἀλλʼ οὐδὲ ἔτι νῦν δύνασθε. The new verse (but hardly a new paragraph) should begin here (WH.). B omits ἔτι, but the omission may be accidental. It adds force to the rebuke, but for that reason might have been inserted. The external evidence justifies its retention. The ἀλλά has its strongest ‘ascensive’ force; ‘Nay, but not yet even now have ye the power’ (6:8; 2 Corinthians 1:9; Galatians 2:3). The impression made by this passage, especially when combined with vv. 6, 10, 2:1, and ἀκούεται in 5:1, is that St Paul had as yet paid only one visit to Corinth. The ἄρτι in 16:7 does not necessarily suggest a hasty visit already paid. The second visit of a painful character, which seems to be implied in 2 Cor. 13., may have been paid after this letter was written. Those who think it was paid before this letter, explain the silence about it throughout this letter by supposing that it was not only painful, but very short.
ὃπου γὰρ ἐν ὑμῖν. The adverb of place acquires the force of a conditional particle in classical authors as here: cf. Clem. Rom. Cor. 43. In Tudor English, ‘where’ is sometimes used for ‘whereas.’ But here the notion of place, corresponding to ἐν ὑμῖν, is not quite lost; ‘seeing that envy and strife find place among you.’ Cf. ἔνι in Galatians 3:28.
ζῆλος καὶ ἔρις. Strife is the outward result of envious feeling: Galatians 5:20; Clem. Rom. Cor. 3. There is place in Christian ethics for honourable emulation (Galatians 4:18), but ζῆλος without qualification, though ranked high by Aristotle* (Rhet. ii. 11), is placed by the Apostle among ‘works of the flesh.’ Lightfoot gives other instances of differences in estimation between heathen and Christian ethics.
οὐξὶ σαρκικοί ἐστε; See above on σαρκινοι, and cf. 9:11; Romans 15:27. Here, as in 2 Corinthians 1:12, σαρκικοί means ‘conformable to and governed by the flesh,’ actuated by low motives, above which they ought by this time to have risen.
κατὰ ἄνθρωπον περιπατεῖτε. ‘Walk on a merely human level’ (15:32; Galatians 1:11, Galatians 1:3:15; Romans 3:5): contrast κατὰ Θεόν (2 Corinthians 7:9-11; Romans 8:27). This level cannot be distinguished from that of the ψυχικὸς ἄνθρωπος (2:14). Περιπατεῖν, of manner of life, is frequent in Paul and 2 and 3 John, while other writers more often have ἀναστρέφειν and ἀναστροφή: cf. ὀρθοδοποῦν (Galatians 2:14), πορεύεσθαι (Luke 1:6, Luke 8:14) and see 7:17. Cf. John 12:35.
D* F G have σαρκίνοι for σαρκικοί. D E F G L, Syrr. AV. add καὶ διχοστασίαι after ἔρις. א A B C P, Vulg. Copt. Arm. Aeth. RV. omit. See Iren. IV. xxxviii. 2.
4. ὅταν γὰρ λέγῃ τις. ‘For whenever one saith’: each such utterance is one more verification (γάρ) of the indictment.† Cf. the construction in 15:27.
ἐλὼ μέν … ἕτερος δέ. The μέν and the δέ correspond logically, although not grammatically. St Paul mentions only himself and Apollos by name (cf. 4:6), because he can less invidiously use these names as the point of departure for the coming analysis of the conception of the Christian Pastorate (3:5-4:5).
οὐκ ἄνθρωποί ἐστε; ‘Are ye not mere human creatures?’ They did not rise above a purely human level. The expression is the negative equivalent of σαρκικοί in the parallel clause,—negative, because implying the lack, not only of spirituality, but even of manliness. The lack of spirituality is implied in the whole context, the lack of manliness in the word itself, which classical writers contrast with ἀνήρ. In 16:13 this contrast is implied in ἀνδρίζεσθε. See Psalm 69:2 and Isaiah 2:9 for a similar contrast in Hebrew. The Corinthians were ἄνθρωποι in failing to rise to the higher range of motives; and they were σαρκικοί in allowing themselves to be swayed by the lower range, a range which they ought (ἔτι γάρ) to have left behind as a relic of heathenism (6:11, 12:2).
“In all periods of great social activity, when society becomes observant of its own progress, there is a tendency to exalt the persons and means by which it progresses. Hence, in turn, kings, statesmen, parliaments, and then education, science, machinery and the press, have had their hero-worship. Here, at Corinth, was a new phase, ‘minister-worship.’ No marvel, in an age when the mere political progress of the Race was felt to be inferior to the spiritual salvation of the Individual, and to the purification of the Society, that ministers, the particular organs by which this was carried on, should assume to men’s eyes peculiar importance, and the special gifts of Paul or Apollos be extravagantly honoured. No marvel either, that round the more prominent of these, partizans should gather” (F. W. Robertson). Origen says that, if the partizans of Paul or Apollos are mere ἄνθρωποι, then, if you are a partizan of some vastly inferior person, δῆλον ὃτι οὐκέτι οὐδὲ ἄνθρωπος εἶ, ἀλλὰ καὶ χεῖρον ἤ ἄνθρωπος. You may perhaps be addressed as γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, if you have such base preferences. Bachmann remarks that, although the present generation has centuries of Christian experience behind it, it can often be as capricious, one-sided, wrong-headed, and petty as any Corinthians in its judgments on its spiritual teachers and their utterances.
We should read οὐκ (א* A B C 17) rather than the more emphatic, and in this Epistle specially common οὐχιν (D E F G L P), which is genuine in v. 3, 1:20, 5:12, 6:7, etc. And we should read ἄνθρωποι (א* A B C D E F G 17, Vulg. Copt. Aeth. RV.) rather than σαρκικοί(א3 LP, Syrr. AV.). ἀνθρώπινοι (4:3, 10:13) is pure conjecture.
We now reach another main section of this sub-division (1:10-4:21) of the First Part (1:10-4:20) of the Epistle. St Paul has hitherto (1:17-3:4) been dealing with the false and the true conception of σοφία, in relation to Christian Teaching. He now passes to the Teacher.
3:5-4:21. THE TRUE CONCEPTION OF THE
(i.) General Definition (3:5-9).
(ii.) The Builders (3:10-15).
(iii.) The Temple (3:16, 17).
(iv.) Warning against a ‘mere human’ estimate of the Pastoral Office (3:18-4:5).
Personal Application of the foregoing, and Conclusion of the subject of the Dissensions (4:6-21).
3:5-9. General Definition of the Christian Pastorate
Teachers are mere instruments in the hands of God, who alone produces the good results.
5 What is there really in either Apollos or me? We are not heads of parties, and we are not the authors or the objects of your faith. We are just servants, through whose instrumentality you received the faith, according to the grace which the Lord gave to each of you. 6 It was my work to plant the faith in you, Apollos nourished it; but it was God who, all the time, was causing it to grow. 7 So then, neither the planter counts for anything at all, nor the nourisher, but only He who caused it to grow, viz. God. 8 Now the planter and the nourisher are in one class, equals in aim and spirit; and yet each will receive his own special wage according to his own special responsibility and toil. 9 God is the other class; for it is God who allows us a share in His work; it is God’s field (as we have seen) that ye are; it is God’s building (as we shall now see) that ye are.
The Apostle has shown that the dissensions are rooted, firstly, in a misconception of the Gospel message, akin, in most cases, to that of the Greeks, who seek wisdom in the low sense of cleverness, and akin, in other cases, to that of the Jews, who are ever seeking for a sign. He goes on to trace the dissensions to a second cause, viz. a perverted view of the office and function of the Christian ministry. First, however, he lays down the true character of that ministry.
5. τί οὖν ἐστίν; A question, Socratic in form, leading up naturally to a definition, and thus checking shallow conceit (v. 18, 4:6) by probing the idea underlying its glib use of words. ‘What is Apollos? i.e. What is his essential office and function? How is he to be ‘accounted of’? (4:1). The two names are mentioned three times, and each time the order is changed, perhaps intentionally, to lead up to ἕν εἰσιν (v. 8). The οὖν follows naturally upon the mention of Apollos in v. 4, but marks also a transition to a question raised by the whole matter under discussion,—a new question, and a question of the first rank.
διάκονοι. The word is used here in its primary and general sense of ‘servant.’* It connotes active service (see note on ὑπηρέτης in 4:1) and is probably from a root akin to διώκω (cf. ‘pursuivant’). See Hort, Christian Ecclesia, pp. 202 f.
διʼ ὧν ἐπιστεύσατε. Per quos, non in quos (Beng.). The aorist points back to the time of their conversion (cf. 15:2; Romans 13:11), but it sums up their whole career as Christians.
καὶ ἑκάστῳ ὡς ὁ Κύριος ἔδωκεν. As in 7:17; Romans 12:3. The construction is condensed for ἕκαστος ὡς ὁ Κ. ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ. It may be understood either of the measure of faith given by the Lord to each believer, or of the measure of success granted by Him to each διάκονος. Romans 12:3 favours the former, but perhaps ὁ Θεὸς ηὔξανεν favours the latter. We have ἕκαστος five times in vv. 5-13. God deals separately with each individual soul: cf. 4:5, 7:17, 20, 24, 12:7, 11. And whatever success there is to receive a reward (v. 8) is really His; Deus coronat dona sua, non merita nostra (Augustine). It is clear from the frequent mention of Θεός in what follows that ὁ Κύριος means God, and it seems to be in marked antithesis to διάκονοι.
We should read τί in both places (א* A B 17, Vulg. d e f g Aeth. RV.), rather than τίς (C D E F G L P, Syrr. Copt. Arm. AV.). D2 L, Syrr. Arm. Aeth. place Παῦλος first and Ἀπολλῶς second, an obvious correction, to agree with vv. 4 and 6. D E F G L, Vulg. Arm. Copt. Omit ἐστιν after τ.δέ. D2; L P, Syrr. AV. insert ἀλλʼ ἤ before διάκονοι. א A B C D* E F G, Vulg. Copt. Arm. RV. omit.
6. ἐλὼ ἐφύτενσα κ.τ.λ. St Paul expands the previous statement. Faith, whether initial or progressive, is the work of God alone, although He uses men as His instruments. Note the significant change from aorists to imperfect. The aorists sum up, as wholes, the initial work of Paul (Acts 18:1-18) and the fostering ministry of Apollos (Act_18:24-1): the imperfect indicates what was going on throughout; God was all along causing the increase (Acts 14:27, Acts 16:14).† Sine hoc incremento granum a primo sationis momento esset instar lapilli: ex incremento statim fides germinat (Beng.). See Chadwick, Pastoral Teaching, p. 183.
7. ἐστιν τί. ‘Is something,’ est aliquid, Vulg. (cf. Acts 5:36; Galatians 2:6, Galatians 6:3); so Evans; quiddam, atque adeo, quia solus, omnia (Berng.). Or, ἐστίν τι, ‘is anything’ (AV., RV.).
Nos mercenarii sumus, alienis ferramentis operamur, nihil debetur nobis, nisi merces laboris nostri, quia de accepto talento operamur (Primasius).
ἀλλͅ ὁ αὐξάνων Θεός. The strongly adversative ἀλλά implies the opposite of what has just been stated; ‘but God who giveth the increase is everything.’ See on 7:19, and cf. Galatians 6:15. To refer ἐπότισεν and ὁ ποτίζων to Baptism, as some of the Fathers do, is to exhibit a strange misappreciation of the context. See Lightfoot’s note. Θεός is placed last with emphasis; ‘but the giver of the increase—God.’
ἕν εἰσιν. Are in one category, as fellow-workers; consequently it is monstrous to set them against one another as rivals. As contrasted with God, they are all of one value, just nothing. But that does not mean that each, when compared with the other, is exactly equal in His sight. The other side of the truth is introduced with δέ.
ἕκαστος δέ. ‘Yet each has his own responsibility and work, and each shall receive his proper reward.’ The repeated ἴδιον marks the separate responsibility, correcting a possible misapprehension of the meaning of ἕν: congruens iteratio, antitheton ad ‘unum’ (Beng.). The latter point is drawn out more fully in vv. 10 f.
9. Θεοῦ γάρ. The γάρ refers to the first half, not the second, of v. 8. The workers are in one category, because they are Θεοῦ συνεργοί. The verse contains the dominant thought of the whole passage, gathering up the gist of vv. 5-7. Hence the emphatic threefold Θεοῦ. The Gospel is the power of God (1:18), and those who are entrusted with it are to be thought of, not as rival members of a rhetorical profession, but as bearers of a divine message charged with divine power.
Θεοῦ συνεργοί. This remarkable expression occurs nowhere else: the nearest to it 2 Corinthians 6:1; the true text of 1 Thessalonians 3:2 is probably διάκονον, not συνεργόν.* It is not quite clear what it means. Either, ‘fellow-workers with one another in God’s service’; or, ‘fellow-workers with God.’ Evans decides for the former, because “the logic of the sentence loudly demands it.” So also Heinrici and others. But although God does all, yet human instrumentality in a sense co-operates (ὅσα ἐποίησεν ὁ Θεὸς μετʼ αὐτῶν, Acts 14:27), and St Paul admits this aspect of the matter in ἡ χάρις τοῦ Θεοῦ σὺν ἐμοί, 15:10, and in συνεργοῦντες, 2 Corinthians 6:1. This seems to turn the scale in favour of the more simple and natural translation, ‘fellow-workers with God.’† Compare τοὺς συνεργούς μου ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ (Romans 16:3), which appears to show how St Paul would have expressed the former meaning, had he meant it.
Θεοῦ γεώργιον, Θεοῦ οἰκοδομή. The one metaphor has been employed in vv. 6-8, the other is to be developed in vv. 10 f. St Paul uses three metaphors to express the respective relations of himself and of other teachers to the Corinthian Church. He is planter (6), founder (10), and father (4:15). Apollos and the rest are waterers, after-builders, and tutors. The metaphor of building is a favourite one with the Apostle. On the different meanings of οἰκοδομή, which correspond fairly closely to the different meanings of ‘building’, see J.A. Robinson, Ephesians, pp. 70, 164: it occurs often in the Pauline Epistles, especially in the sense of ‘edification,’ a sense which Lightfoot traces to the Apostle’s metaphor of the building of the Church. Here it is fairly certain that γεώργιον does not mean the ‘tilled land’ (RV. marg.), but the ‘husbandry’ (AV., RV.) or ‘tillage’ (AV. marg.) that results in tilled land, and that therefore οἰκοδομή does not mean the edifice, but the building-process which results in an edifice. The word γεώργιον is rather frequent in Proverbs; elsewhere in LXX it is rare, and it is found nowhere else in N.T. In the Greek addition to what is said about the ant (Proverbs 6:7) we are told that it is without its knowing anything of tillage (ἐκείνῳ γεωργίον μὴ ὑπάρχοντος) that it provides its food in summer. Again, in the Greek addition to the aphorisms on a foolish man (Proverbs 9:12), we are told that he wanders from the tracks of his own husbandry (τοῦς ἄξονας τοῦ ἰδίον γεωργίον πεπλάνηται) In Ecclus. 27:6 it is said that the ‘cultivation of a tree’ (γεώργιον ζύλον) is shown by its fruit. The meaning here, therefore, is that the Corinthians exhibit God’s operations in spiritual husbandry and spiritual architecture; Dei agricultura estis, Dei aedificatio estis (Vulg.).* It is chiefly in 1 and 2 Cor., Rom., and Eph. that the metaphor of building is found. See also Acts 9:31, Acts 9:20:32; Judges 1:20; 1 Peter 2:5, with Hort’s note on the last passage. In Jeremiah 18:9, Jeremiah 24:6, and Ezekiel 34:9, Ezekiel 34:10 we have the metaphors of building and planting combined.
3:10-15. The Builders
I have laid the only possible foundation. Let those who build on it remember that their work will be severely tested at the Last Day.
10 As to the grace which God gave me to found Churches, I have, with the aims of an expert master-builder, laid a foundation for the edifice; it is for some one else to build upon it. But, whoever he may be, let him be careful as to the materials with which he builds thereon. 11 For, as regards the foundation, there is no room for question: no one can lay any other beside the one which is already laid, which of course is Jesus Christ. 12 But those who build upon this foundation may use either good or bad material; they may use gold, silver, and sumptuous stones, or they may use wood, hay, and straw. But each builder’s good or bad work is certain to be made manifest in the end. For the Day of Judgment will disclose it, because that Day is revealed in fire; and the fire is the thing that will assuredly test each builder’s work and will show of what character it Isa_14 If any man’s work—the superstructure which he has erected—shall stand the ordeal, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burnt to the ground, he will lose it, though he himself shall be saved from destruction, but like one who has passed through fire.
St Paul follows up the building-metaphor, first (v. 10) distinguishing his part from that of others, and then (11-15) dwelling on the responsibility of those who build after him.
10. Κατὰ τὴν χάριν κ.τ.λ. The necessary prelude to a reference to his own distinctive work (cf. 7:25). The ‘grace’ is not that of Apostleship in general, but that specially granted to St Paul, which led him to the particular work of founding new Churches, and not building on another man’s foundation (Romans 15:19, Romans 15:20).
ὡς σοφὸς ἀρχιτέκτων. The same expression is found in LXX of Isaiah 3:3, and σόφος is frequent of the skilled workmen who erected and adorned the Tabernacle (Exodus 35:10, Exodus 35:25, 36:1, Exodus 35:4, Exodus 35:8). It means peritus. Aristotle (Eth. Nic. VI. vii. 1) says that the first notion of σοφία is, that, when applied to each particular art, it is skill; Phidias is a skilled sculptor.* See Lightfoot ad loc. Ἀρχιτέκτων occurs nowhere else in N.T.
θεμέλιον ἔθηκα. The aorist, like ἐφύτενσα (v. 6), refers to the time of his visit (ἦλθον, ii. 1): θεμέλιον is an adjective (sc. λίθον), but becomes a neuter substantive in late Greek. In the plural we may have either gender; οἱ θεμέλιοι (Hebrews 11:10, Revelation 21:14, Revelation 21:19), or τὰ θεμέλια (Acts 16:26 and often in LXX). No architect can build without some foundation, and no expert will build without a sure foundation. Cf. Ephesians 2:20.
ἄλλος δέ. The reference is not specially to Apollos: ‘The superstructure I leave to others.’ But they all must build, according to the rule that follows, thoughtfully, not according to individual caprice.
πῶς ἐποικοδομεῖ. Refers specially, although not exclusively, to the choice of materials (vv. 12, 13). The edifice, throughout, is the Church, not the fabric of doctrine; but ἐποἰοδομεῖν refers to the teaching—both form and substance—which forms the Church, or rather forms the character of its members (Galatians 4:19).
ἔθηκα (א* A B C* 17) is to be preferred to τἐθεικα (א3 C3 D E) or τεθηκα (L P). D omits the second δέ. There is no need to conjecture ἐποικοδόμῃ for the second ἐποικοδομεῖ (all MSS). In 7:32 the balance of evidence is strongly in favour of πῶς ἀρέσῃ.
11. θεμέλιον γάρ. A cautionary premiss to v. 12, which continues the thought of the previous clause: ‘Let each man look to it how he builds upon this foundation, because, although (I grant, nay, I insist) none can lay any foundation παρὰ τὸν κείμενον, yet the superstructure is a matter of separate and grave responsibility.’ Θεμέλιον stands first for emphasis. There can be but one fundamental Gospel (Galatians 1:6, Galatians 1:7), the foundation lies there, and the site is already occupied. By whom is the foundation laid? Obviously (v. 10), by St Paul, when he preached Christ at Corinth (2:2). This is the historical reference of the words; but behind the laying of the stone at Corinth, or wherever else the Church may be founded, there is the eternal laying of the foundation-stone by God, the ‘only wise’ architect of the Church. See Evans.
Compare the use of κειμένη of the city that is already there, and τιθέασιν of the lamp which has to be placed (Matthew 5:14, Matthew 5:15).
ὄς ἐστιν Ἰησοῦς Χριστός. Both name and title are in place, and neither of them alone would have seemed quite satisfying: see on 2:2. He is the foundation of all Christian life, faith, and hope.* In Ephesians 2:20 He is the chief corner-stone, ἀκρογωνιαῖος, the basis of unity: cf. Acts 4:11. It is only by admitting some inconsistency of language that the truth can be at all adequately expressed. There is inconsistency even if we leave Ephesians 2:20 out of account. He has just said that he laid the foundation in a skilful way. Now he says that it was lying there ready for him, and that no other foundation is possible. Each statement, in its own proper sense, is true; and we need both in order to get near to the truth. As in Galatians 1:8, παρά means ‘besides,’ not ‘contrary to,’ ‘at variance with.’
Ἱησοῦς Χριστός (א A B L P Sah. Copt. Arm. Aeth.) rather than Χριστός Ἰησοῦς (C3 D E, Vulg.). Several cursives have Ἱησοῦς ὁ Χρ.
12. εἰ δέ τις κ.τ.λ. The various kinds of superstructure represent various degrees of inferiority in the ministry of the ‘after-builders,’ i.e. according as they make, or fail to make, a lasting contribution to the structure. With regard to the whole passage, three things are to be noted.
(1) The metaphor is not to be pressed too rigidly by seeking to identify each term with some detail in the building. This Grotius does in the following way: proponit ergo nobis domum cujus parietes sunt ex marmore, columnae partim ex auro partim ex argento, trabes ex ligno, fastigium vero ex stramine et culmo; all which is very frigid.* The materials are enumerated with a rapid and vivid asyndeton, which drives each point sharply and firmly home.
(2) The ‘wood, hay, stubble’ do not represent teaching that is intentionally disloyal or false (αὐτὸς δὲ σωθήσεται), but such as is merely inferior.
(3) The imagery alternates between the suggestion of teaching as moulding persons, and the suggestion of persons as moulded by teaching (Evans), so that it is irrelevant to ask whether the materials enumerated are to be understood of the fruits of doctrine, such as different moral qualities (Theodoret), or of worthy and unworthy Christians. The two meanings run into one another, for the qualities must be exhibited in the lives of persons. We have a similar combination of two lines of thought in the interpretation of the parable of the Sower. There the seed is said to be sown, and the soil is said to be sown, and in the interpretation these two meanings are mingled. Yet the interpretation is clear enough.
χρυσίον, ἀργύριον. As distinct from χρυσός and ἄργυρος, which indicate the metals in any condition, these diminutives are commonly used of gold and silver made into something, such as money or utensils; as when by ‘gold’ we mean gold coins, or by ‘silver’ mean silver coins or plate (Acts 3:6, Acts 20:33). But this is not a fixed rule. See Matthew 23:16 and Genesis 2:11.
λίθους τιμίους. Either ‘costly stones,’ such as marble or granite, suitable for building, or ‘precious stones,’ suitable for ornamentation. Isaiah 54:11, Isaiah 54:12 and Revelation 21:18, Revelation 21:19, combined with the immediate context (‘gold and silver’), point to the latter meaning. It is internal decoration that is indicated.
χόρτον, καλάμην. Either of these might mean straw or dried grass for mixing with clay, as in Exodus 5:12, καλάμην εἰς ἄχυρα, ‘stubble instead of straw’; and either might mean material for thatching. Romu leoque recens horrebat regia culmo (Virg. Aen. viii. 654). Luther’s contemptuous expression respecting the Epistle of St James as a ‘strawy epistle’ was made in allusion to this passage. Nowhere else in N.T. does καλάμη occur.
After ἐπὶ τ. θεμέλιον, א 3 C 3 D E L P,; Vulg. AV. add τοῦτον. א* A B C* Sah. Aeth. RV. omit. We ought probably to read χρυσίον (א B) and ἀργύριον (א B C) rather than χρυσόν and ἄργυρον (A D E L P). B, Aeth. insert καί after χρυσίον.
13. ἑκάστου τὸ ἔργον. These words sum up the alternatives, standing in apposition to the substantival clause, εἰ δέ τις … καλάμην. Individual responsibility is again insisted upon: we have ἕκαστος four times in vv. 8-13.
ἠ γὰρ ἠ̔μέρα δηλώσει. ‘The Day’ (as in 1 Thessalonians 5:4; Romans 13:12; Hebrews 10:25), without the addition of Κυρίου (1 Thessalonians 5:2) or of κρίσεως (Matthew 12:36) or of ἐκείνη (2 Thessalonians 1:10; 2 Timothy 1:12, 2 Timothy 1:18, 2 Timothy 1:4:8), means the Day of Judgment. This is clear from 4:3, 5, ubi ex intervallo, ut solet, clarius loquitur (Beng.). The expression ‘Day of the Lord’ comes from the O.T. (Isaiah 2:12; Jeremiah 46:10; Ezekiel 7:10, etc.), and erhaps its original meaning was simply a definite period of time. But with this was often associated the idea of day as opposed to night: ‘the Day’ would be a time of light, when what had hitherto been hidden or unknown would be revealed. So here. And here the fire which illuminates is also a fire which burns, and thus tests the solidity of that which it touches. What is sound survives, what is worthless is consumed.
ἐν πυρὶ ἀποκαλύπτεται. The nominative is neither τὸ ἔργον nor ὁ Κύριος, but ἡ ἡμέρα. ‘The Day’ is (to be) revealed in fire (2 Thessalonians 1:7, 2 Thessalonians 1:8, 2 Thessalonians 1:2:8; Daniel 7:9f.; Malachi 4:1). This is a common use of the present tense, to indicate that a coming event is so certain that it may be spoken of as already here. The predicted revelation is sure to take place. See on ἀποκαλύπτεται in Luke 17:30, Lightfoot on 1 Thessalonians 5:2, and Hort on 1 Peter 1:7, 1 Peter 1:13.
St Paul is not intending to describe the details of Christ’s Second Coming, but is figuratively stating, what he states without figure in 4:5, that at that crisis the real worth of each man’s work will be searchingly tested. This test he figures as the fire of the Second Advent, wrapping the whole building round, and reducing all its worthless material to ashes. The fire, therefore, is regarded more as a testing than as an illuminating agent, as tentatio tribulationis (August. Enchir. 68), which by its destructive power makes manifest the enduring power of all that it touches. There is no thought in the passage of a penal, or disciplinary, or purgative purpose; nor again is there the remotest reference to the state of the soul between death and judgment. Hic locus ignem purgatorium non modo non fovet sed plane extinguit, nam in novissimo demum die ignis probabit. … Ergo ignis purgatorius non praecedit (Beng.). The ἐν suggests that fire is the element in which the revelation takes place. At the Parousia Christ is to appear ἐν πυρὶ φλογός (2 Thessalonians 1:8) or ἐν φλογὶ πυρός (Isaiah 66:15). In the Apocalypse of Baruch (48:39) we have, “A fire will consume their thoughts, and in flame will the meditations of their reins be tried; for the Judge will come and will not tarry.” But elsewhere in that book (44:15, 59:2, etc.) the fire is to consume the wicked, a thought of which there is no trace here. There are no wicked, but only unskilful builders; all build, although some build unwisely, upon Christ.
καὶ ἑκάστου. Still under the ὅτι. It is better to regard τὸ ἔργον as the acc. governed by δοκιμάσει, with αὐτό as pleonastic, than as the nom. to ἐστιν. A pleonastic pronoun is found with good authority in Matthew 9:27; Luke 17:7; and elsewhere; but the readings are sometimes uncertain. To take αὐτό with πῦρ, ‘the fire itself,’ has not much point. In all three verses (13, 14, 15), τὸ ἔργον refers, not to a man’s personal character, good or bad, but simply to his work as a builder (12).
א D E L, Vulg. Sah. Copt. Arm. Aeth. omit αὐτό, but we ought probably to read it with A B C P 17 and other cursives.
14. μενεῖ. It is doubtful, and not very important, whether we should accent this word as a future, to agree with κατακαήσεται and other verbs which are future, or μένει, as a present, which harmonizes better with the idea of permanence: cf. μένει in 13:13.
μισθόν. Compare v. 8 and Matthew 20:8: in 9:17, 18 the reference is quite different. The nature of the reward is not stated, but it is certainly not eternal salvation, which may be won by those whose work perishes (v. 15). Something corresponding to the ‘ten cities’ and ‘five cities’ in the parable may be meant; opportunities of higher service.
15. κατακαήσεται. This later form is found as a v.l. (AL) in 2 Peter 3:10, where it is probably a correction of the puzzling εὑρεθήσεται (א B K P). In Revelation 18:8 the more classical κατακαυθήσεται is found. The burning of Corinth by Mummius may have suggested this metaphor.
ζημιωθήσεται. It does not much matter whether we regard this as indefinite, ‘He shall suffer loss’ (AV., RV.), detrimentum patietur (Vulg.), damnum faciet (Beza), or understand τὸν μισθόν from v. 14, ‘He shall be mulcted of the expected reward.’ In Exodus 21:22 we have ἐπιζήμιον ζημιωθήσεται. The αὐτός is in favour of the latter.
αὐτὸς δὲ σωθήσεται. The αὐτός is in contrast to the μισθός: the reward will be lost, but the worker himself will be saved. If ζημιωθήσεται is regarded as indefinite, then αὐτός may be in contrast to the ἔργον: the man’s bad work will perish, but that does not involve his perdition. The σωθήσεται can hardly refer to anything else than eternal salvation, which he has not forfeited by his bad workmanship: he has built on the true foundation. Salvation is not the μισθός, and so it may be gained when all μισθός is lost. But it may also be lost as well as the μισθός. The Apostle does not mean that every teacher who takes Christ as the basis of his teaching will necessarily be saved: his meaning is that a very faulty teacher may be saved, and ‘will be saved, if at all, so as through fire.’ See Augustine, De Civ. Dei, xxi. 21, 26.
οὕτως δὲ ὡς διὰ πυρός. ‘But only as one passing through fire is saved’: a quasi-proverbial expression, indicative of a narrow escape from a great peril, as ‘a firebrand pluckt out of the fire’ (Amos 4:11; Zechariah 3:2). It is used here with special reference to the fire which tests the whole work (v. 13). The διά is local rather than instrumental. The fire is so rapid in its effects that the workman has to rush through it to reach safety: cf. διʼὕδατος (1 Peter 3:20), and διήλθομεν διὰ πυρὸς καὶ ὕδατος (Psalm 66:12). To explain σωθήσεται διὰ πυρός as meaning ‘shall be kept alive in the midst of hell-fire’ is untenable translation and monstrous exegesis. Such a sense is quite inadmissible for σωθήσεται and incompatible with οὕτως ὡς. Moreover, the fire in v. 13 is the fire alluded to, and that fire cannot be Gehenna. Atto of Vercelli thinks that this passage is one of the ‘things hard to be understood’ alluded to in 2 Peter 3:16. Augustine (Enchir. 68) says that the Christian who ‘cares for the things of the Lord’ (7:32) is the man who builds with ‘gold, silver, and precious stones,’ while he who ‘cares for the things of the world, how he may please his wife’ (7:33), builds with ‘wood, hay, stubble.’
3:16-17. The Temple
St Paul now passes away from the builders to the Temple. The section is linked with vv. 10-15 both by the opening words, which imply some connexion, and by the word ναός, which is doubtless suggested by the ‘building’ of vv. 9 f. (cf. Ephesians 2:20-22). On the other hand, it is quite certain that there is a change of subject: αὐτὸς σωθήσεται (v. 15) and φθερεῖ τοῦτον ὁ Θεός are contradictory propositions, and they cannot be made to apply to the same person, for φθείρειν cannot be attenuated to an equivalent for ζημιοῦν (v. 15).
The subject of the σχίσματα still occupies the Apostle’s mind, and he seems to be thinking of their ultimate tendency. By giving rein to the flesh (v. 3) they tend to banish the Holy Spirit, and so to destroy the Temple constituted by His presence.
16. Οὐκ οἴδατε; Frequent in this Epistle, and twice in Romans; also Jam 4:4. As in 5:6, 6:16, 19, the question implies a rebuke. The Corinthians are so carnal that they have never grasped, or have failed to retain, so fundamental a doctrine as that of the indwelling of the Spirit.*
ναὸς Θεοῦ ἐστε. Not ‘a temple of God,’ but ‘God’s Temple.’ There is but one Temple, embodied equally truly in the whole Church, in the local Church, and in the individual Christian; the local Church is meant here. As a metaphor for the Divine indwelling, the ναός, which contained the Holy of Holies, is more suitable than ἱερόν, which included the whole of the sacred enclosure (6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:21). To converts from heathenism the ναός might suggest the cella in which the image of the god was placed. It is one of the paradoxes of the Christian Church that there is only one ναὸς Θεοῦ and yet each Christian is a ναός: simul omnes unum templum et singula templa sumus, quia non est Deus in omnibus quam in singulis major (Herv.). Ναός is from ναίειν, ‘to dwell.’
καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα. The καί is epexegetic. Both Gentile and Jew might speak of their ναὸς Θεοῦ, but, while the pagan temple was inhabited by an image of a god, and the Jewish by a symbol of the Divine Presence (Shekinah), the Christian temple is inhabited by the Spirit of God Himself.
ἐν ὑμῖν οἰκεῖ. ‘In you hath His dwelling-place.’ In Luke 11:51 we have οἶκος, where, in the parallel passage in Matthew 23:35, we have ναός. Τότε οὖν μάλιστα ἐσόμεθα ναὸς Θεοῦ, ἐὰν χωρητικοὺς ἐαυτοὺς κατασκευάσωμεν τοῦ Πνεύματος του ͂ Θεοῦ (Orig.).
It is not easy to decide between ἐν ὑμῖν οἰκεῖ (B P 17) and οἰκεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν (א A C D E F G L, Vulg.). The former is more forcible, placing the ‘permanent dwelling’ last, with emphasis.
17. εἴ τις …φθείρει … φθερεῖ. The AV. greatly mars the effect by translating the verb first ‘defile’ and then ‘destroy.’ The same verb is purposely used to show the just working of the lex talionis in this case: one destruction is requited by another destruction. The destroyers of the Temple are those who banish the Spirit, an issue to which the dissensions were at least tending. Here the reference is to unchristian faction, which destroyed, by dividing, the unity of the Church: a building shattered into separate parts is a ruin. In 6:19 the thought is of uncleanness in the strict sense. But all sin is a defiling of the Temple and is destructive of its consecrated state.* We have a similar play on words to express a similar resemblance between sin and its punishment in Romans 1:28; καθὼς οὐκ ἐδοκίμασαν τὸν Θεὸν ἔχειν ἐν ἐπιγνώσει, παρέδωκεν αὐτοὺς ὁ Θεὸς εἰς ἀδόκιμον νοῦν. And there is a still closer parallel in Revelation 11:18; διαφθεῖραι τοὺς διαφθείροντας τὴν γῆν. Neither φθείρειν nor διαφθείρειν are commonly used of God’s judgments, for which the more usual verb is ἀπολλύειν or ἀπολλύναι: but both here and in Revelation 11:18 φθείρειν or διαφθείρειν is preferred, because of its double meaning, ‘corrupt’ and ‘destroy.’ The sinner destroys by corrupting what is holy and good, and for this God destroys him. We have φθείρειν in the sense of corrupt, 15:33; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Revelation 19:2.
φθερεῖ τοῦτον ὁ Θεός. The Vulgate, like the AV., ignores the telling repetition of the same verb: si quis autem templum Dei violaverit, disperdet illum Deus. Tertullian (Adv. Marc. v. 6) preserves it: si templum Dei quis vitiaverit, vitiabitur, utique a Deo templi; and more literally (De Pudic. 16, 18) vitiabit illum Deus. But neither φθερεῖ here, nor ὄλεθρος in 1 Thessalonians 5:3, nor ὄλεθρον αἰώνιον in 2 Thessalonians 1:9, must be pressed to mean annihilation (see on v. 5). Nor, on the other hand, must it be watered down to mean mere physical punishment (cf. 11:30). The exact meaning is nowhere revealed in Scripture; but terrible ruin and eternal loss of some kind seems to be meant. See Beet’s careful examination of these and kindred words, The Last Things, pp. 122 f.
ἅγιός ἐστιν. It is ‘holy,’ and therefore not to be tampered with without grave danger. Both the Tabernacle and the Temple are frequently called ἅγιος, and in the instinct of archaic religion in the O.T. the idea of danger was included in that of ‘holiness.’ See Gray on Numbers 4:5, Numbers 4:15, Numbers 4:19, Numbers 4:20, and Kirkpatrick on 1 Samuel 6:20 and 2 Samuel 6:7; and cf. Leviticus 10:6, Leviticus 10:16:2, Leviticus 10:13.
οἵτινές ἐστε ὑμεῖς. It has been doubted whether ναός or ἅγιος is the antecedent of οἵτινες, but the former is probably right: ‘which temple ye are’ (AV., RV.).* The relative is attracted into the plural of ὑμεῖς. Edwards quotes, τὸν οὐρανόν, οὓς δὴ πόλους καλοῦσιν (Plato, Crat. 405). The meaning seems to be, ‘The temple of God is holy; ye are the temple of God; therefore ye must guard against what violates your consecration.’ As distinct from the simple relative, οἵτινες commonly carries with it the idea of category, of belonging to a class; ‘and this is what ye are,’ ‘and such are ye’: cf. Galatians 5:19, where the construction is parallel.
Φθερεῖ (א A B C, d e f g Vulg.) rather than φθείρει (D E F G L P,; Am.) where the difference between Greek and Latin in bilingual MSS. is remarkable: see on v.2. τοῦτον (א B C L P) rather than αὐτόν (A D E F G).
3:18-4:5. Warning Against a More ‘Human’ Estimate
Of the Pastoral Office
Let no one profane God’s Temple by taking on himself to set up party teachers in it. Regard us teachers as simply Christ’s stewards.
18 I am not raising baseless alarms; the danger of a false estimate of oneself is grave. It may easily happen that a man imagines that he is wise in his intercourse with you, with the wisdom of the non-Christian world. Let him become simple enough to accept Christ crucified, which is the way to become really wise. 19 For this world’s wisdom is foolishness in God’s sight, as it stands written in Scripture, Who taketh the wise in their own craftiness; 20 and in another passage, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise that they are vain. 21 If this is so, it is quite wrong for any one to plume himself on the men whom he sets up as leaders. For yours is no party-heritage; it is universal. 22 Paul, Apollos, Kephas, the world, life, death, whatever is, and whatever is to be, all of it belongs to you; 25 but you—you belong to no human leader; you belong to Christ, and Christ to God. Between you and God there is no human leader.
4. 1 The right way of regarding Apollos, myself, and other teachers, is that we are officers under Christ, commissioned to dispense the truths which His Father has revealed to us in Him, just as stewards dispense their masters’ goods. 2 Here, furthermore, you must notice that all stewards are required to prove their fidelity. 3 But, as regards myself, it is a matter of small moment that my fidelity should be scrutinized and judged by you or by any human court. Yet that does not mean that I constitute myself as my own Jdg_4 My judgments on myself would be inconclusive. For it may be the case that I have no consciousness of wrong-doing, and yet that this does not prove that I am guiltless. My conscience may be at fault. The only competent judge of my fidelity is the Lord Christ. 5 That being so, cease to anticipate His decision with your own premature judgments. Wait for the Coming of the Judge. It is He who will both illumine the facts that are now hidden in darkness, and also make manifest the real motives of human conduct: and then whatever praise is due will come to each faithful steward direct from God. That will be absolutely final.
The Apostle sums up his ‘case’ against the σχίσματα, combining the results of his exposure of the false ‘wisdom,’ with its correlative conceit, and of his exposition of the Pastoral Office (18-23). He concludes by a warning against their readiness to form judgments, from a mundane standpoint, upon those whose function makes them amenable only to the judgment of the Day of the Lord.
18. Μηδεὶς ἑαυτὸν ἐξαπατάτω. A solemn rebuke, similar to that of μὴ πλανᾶσθε in 6:9, 15:33, and Galatians 6:7, and even more emphatic than that which is implied in οὐκ οἴδατε (v. 16). He intimates that the danger of sacrilege and of its heavy penalty (vv. 16, 17) is not so remote as some of the Corinthians may think. Shallow conceit may lead to disloyal tampering with the people of Christ. That there is a sacrilegious tendency in faction is illustrated by Galatians 5:7-12, Galatians 5:6:12, Galatians 5:13; 2 Corinthians 11:3, 2 Corinthians 11:4, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, 2 Corinthians 11:20; and the situation alluded to in Galatians may have been in the Apostle’s mind when he wrote the words that are before us—words which have a double connexion, viz. with vv. 16, 17, and with the following section. St Paul is fond of compounds with ἐκ: 5:7, 13, 6:14, 15:34.
εἴ τις δοκεῖ σοφὸς εἷναι. Not, ‘seemeth to be wise’ (AV.), videtur sapiens esse (Vulg.); but, ‘thinketh that he is wise’ (RV.), sibi videtur esse sapiens (Beza). He considers himself an acute man of the world, quite able to decide for himself whether Paul, or Apollos, or Kephas is the right person to follow in matters of religion. We have the same use of δοκεῖ in 8:2, 10:12, 15:37. Excepting Jam 1:26, εἴ τις δοκεῖ is peculiar to Paul; and there the AV. makes the same mistake as here, in translating ‘seem’ instead of ‘think.’ Here ἐξαπατάτω, and there ἀπατῶν, may be regarded as decisive. It is the man’s self-deceit that is criticized in both cases: his estimate is all wrong. See J. B. Mayor on Jam 1:26. It is perhaps not accidental that the Apostle says εἴ τις … ἐν ὑμῖν, and not εἴ τις ὑμῶν. The warning suggests that the self-styled σοφός is among them, but not that he is one of themselves: the wrong-headed teacher has come from elsewhere.
ἐν ὑμῖν ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ. We might put a comma after ἐν ὑμῖν, for the two expressions are in contrast; ‘in your circle,’ which has the heavenly wisdom and ought to be quite different from what is ‘in this world’ and has only mundane wisdom. The latter is out of place in a Christian society (1:20, 22, 2:6, 8). Epictetus (Enchir. 18) warns us against thinking ourselves wise when others think us to such; μηδὲν βούλου δοκεῖν ἐπίστασθαι· κᾄν δόξῃς τισιν εἷναί τις, ἀπίστει σεαυτῷ.
Cyprian (Test. iii. 69, De bono patient, 2) takes ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ with μωρὸς γενέσθω: mundo huic stultus fiat. So also does Origen (Cels.: i. 13; Philoc. 18); and also Luther: der werde ein Narr in dieser Welt. This makes good sense; ‘If any man thinks himself wise in relation to you Christians, let him become a fool in relation to this world’: but it is not the right sence. It is σοφός, not μωρό, that is qualified by ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τ.: ‘If any man thinks himself wise in your circle—I mean, of course, with this world’s wisdom.’ From ἐν ὑμῖν, ‘in a Christian Church,’ it might have been supposed that he meant the true wisdom, and he adds ἐν τ. αἰ. τ. to avoid misunderstanding.
μωρὸς γενέσθω. ‘Let him drop his false wisdom,’ the conceit that he has about himself: 1:18-20, 23, 2:14.
ἵνα γένηται σοφός. So as to be brought ‘unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, unto full knowledge of the mystery of God, even Christ’ (Colossians 2:3).*
19. He explains the paradox of the last verse by stating the principle already established, 1:21, 2:6.
παρὰ τῷ Θεῷ. ‘Before God’ as judge; Romans 2:13, Romans 2:12:16; Acts 26:8. Although μωρός is common in N.T. and LXX, μωρία occurs, in N.T., only in these three chapters; and, in LXX, only in Ecclus. 20:31, 41:15.
ὁ δρασσόμενος κ.τ.λ. From Job 5:13; a quotation independent of the LXX, and perhaps somewhat nearer to the original Hebrew. Job is quoted rarely in N.T., and chiefly by St Paul; and both here and in Romans 11:35, and in no other quotation, he varies considerably from the LXX. Like ὁ ποιῶν in Hebrews 1:7, ὁ δρασσόμενος here is left without any verb. It expresses the strong grasp or ‘grip’ which God has upon the slippery cleverness of the wicked: cf. Ecclus. 26:7, where it is said of an evil wife, ὁ κρατῶν αὐτῆς ὡς ὁ δρασσόμενος σκορπίου: and Ecclus. 34(31):2), the man who has his mind upon dreams is ὡς δρασσόμενος κιᾶς. The words in Psalm 2:12 which are mistranslated ‘Kiss the Son’ are rendered in the LXX, δράξασθε παιδείας, ‘Lay hold on instruction.’ The verb occurs nowhere else in N.T., and in the LXX of Job 5:13 we have ὁ καταλαμβάνων.
πανουργίᾳ. ‘Versatile cleverness,’ ‘readiness for anything’ in order to gain one’s own ends. ‘Craftiness,’ like astutia (Vulg.), emphasizes the cunning which πανουργία often implies. The LXX has ἐν φρονήσει, a word which commonly has a good meaning, while πανουργία almost always has a bad one, although not always in the LXX, e.g. Proverbs 1:4, Proverbs 8:5. The adjective πανοῦργος is more often used in a better sense, and in the LXX is used with φρόνιμος to translate the same Hebrew word. Perhaps ‘cleverness’ would be better here than ‘craftiness’ (AV., RV.). See notes on Luke 20:23; Ephesians 4:14.
20. Κύριος γινώσκει. From Psalm 94:11, and another instance (1:20) of St Paul’s freedom in quoting: the LXX, following the Hebrew, has ἀνθρώπων, where he (to make the citation more in point) has σοφῶν. But the Psalm contrasts the designs of men with the designs of God, and therefore the idea of σοφός is in the context.
διαλογισμούς. In the LXX the word is used of the thoughts of God (Psalm 40:6, Psalm 92:5). When used of men, the word often, but not always, has a bad sense, as here, especially of questioning or opposing the ways of God (Psalm 56:5; Luke 5:22, Luke 5:6:8; Romans 1:21; Jam 2:4).
21. ὥστε μηδεὶς καυχάσθω. Conclusion from vv. 18-20. The connexion presupposes an affinity between conceit in one’s own wisdom and a readiness to make over much of a human leader. The latter implies much confidence in one’s own estimate of the leader. Consequently, the spirit of party has in it a subtle element of shallow arrogance. We have ὥστε, ‘so then,’ with an imperative, 4:5, 10:12, 11:33, 14:39, 15:58. Outside this argumentative and practical Epistle the combination is not very common; very rare, except in Paul. It seems to involve an abrupt change from the oratio obliqua into the oratio recta. It marks the transition from explanation to exhortation.
ἐν ἀνθρώποις. To ‘glory in men’ is the opposite of ‘glorying in the Lord’ (1:31). The Apostle is referring to their wrong-headed estimation of himself, Apollos, and others (as in 4:6), not to party-leaders boasting of their large following. Leaders might glory in the patience and faith of their disciples (2 Thessalonians 1:4), but not in that as any credit to the leaders themselves. All partizan laudation is wrong.
πάντα γὰρ ὑμῶν ἐστίν. ‘You say, I belong to Paul, or, I belong to Apollos. So far from that being true, it is Paul and Apollos who belong to you, for all things belong to you.’ Instead of contenting himself with saying ‘We are yours,’ he asserts that and a very great deal more; not merely πάντες, ‘all servants of God,’ but πάντα, ‘all God’s creatures,’ belong to them. Yet his aim is, not merely to proclaim how wide their heritage is, but to show them that they have got the facts by the wrong end. They want to make him a chieftain; he is really their servant. The Church is not the property of Apostles; Apostles are ministers of the Church. Quia omnia vestra sunt, nolite in singulis gloriari; nolite speciales vobis magistros defendere, quoniam omnibus utimini (Atto). Omnia propter sanctos creata sunt, tanquam nihil habentes et omnia possidentes (Primasius).
The thought is profound and far-reaching. The believer in God through Christ is a member of Christ and shares in His universal lordship, all things being subservient to the Kingdom of God, and therefore to his eternal welfare (7:31; Romans 8:28; John 16:33; 1 John 5:4, 1 John 5:5), as means to an end. The Christian loses this birthright by treating the world or its interests as ends in themselves, i.e. by becoming enslaved to persons (7:23; 2 Corinthians 11:20) or things (6:12; Php 3:19). Without God, we should be the sport of circumstances, and ‘the world’ would crush us, if not in ‘life,’ at least in ‘death.’ As it is, all these things alike ‘are ours.’ We meet them as members of Christ, rooted in God’s love (Romans 8:37). The Corinthians, by boasting in men, were forgetting, and thereby imperilling, their prerogative in Christ. There is perhaps a touch of Stoic language in these verses; see on 4:8. Origen points out that the Greeks had a saying, Πάντα τοῦ σοφοῦ ἐστίν, but St Paul was the first to say, Πάντα τοῦ ἁγίου ἐστίν.
22. εἴτε … εἴτε … εἴτε. The enumeration, rising in a climax, is characteristic of St Paul (Romans 8:38): the πάντα is first expanded and then repeated. We might have expected a third triplet, past, present, and future; but the past is not ours in the sense in which the present and future are. We had no part in shaping it, and cannot change it. In the first triplet, he places himself, first, i.e. at the bottom of the climax.
εἴτε κόσμος. The transition from Kephas to the κόσμος is, as Bengel remarks, rather repentinus saltus, and made, he thinks, with a touch of impatience, lest the enumeration should become too extended. But perhaps alliteration has something to do with it. This Bengel spoils, by substituting ‘Peter’ for ‘Kephas.’ The ‘world’ is here used in a neutral sense, without ethical significance, the world we live in, the physical universe.
εἲτε ζωὴ εἴτε θάνατος. If κόσμος is the physical universe, it is probable that ζωή and θάνατος mean physical life and death. They sum up all that man instinctively clings to or instinctively dreads. From life and death in this general sense we pass easily to ἐνεστῶτα. It is by life in the world that eternal life can be won, and death is the portal to eternal life. In Romans 8:38 death is mentioned before life, and ἐνεστῶτα and μέλλοντα do not close the series.
εἴτε ἐνεστῶτα εἴτε μέλλοντα. These also ought probably to be confined in meaning to the things of this life. They include the whole of existing circumstances and all that lies before us to the moment of death. All these things ‘are yours,’ i.e. work together for your good. It is possible that μέλλοντα includes the life beyond the grave; but the series, as a whole, reads more consistently, if each member of it is regarded as referring to human experience in this world.
For ὑμῶν, ὑμεῖς, B and one or two cursives read ἡμῶν, ἡμεῖς. After ὑμῶν, D2 E L, f g Vulg. Syrr. Copt. Arm. add ἐστίν.
23. ὑμεῖς δὲ Χριστοῦ. These words complete the rebuke of those who said that they belonged to Paul, etc. They belonged to no one but Christ, and they all alike belonged to Him. While all things were theirs, they were not their own (6:20, 7:23), and none of them had any greater share in Christ than the rest (1:13). Christians, with all their immense privileges, are not the ultimate owners of anything. There is only one real Owner, God. On the analogy between Χριστοῦ here and Καίσαρος = “belonging to the Emperor” in papyri see Deissmann, Light from the Anc. East, p. 382. Cf. 15:23; Galatians 3:29, Galatians 5:24.
Χριστὸς δὲ Θεοῦ. Not quite the same in meaning as Luke 9:20, Luke 9:23:35; Acts 3:18; Revelation 12:10. In all those passages we have ὁ Χριστὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ or αὐτοῦ. Here Χριστός is more of a proper name. The thought of the Christian’s lordship over the world has all its meaning in that of his being a son of God through Christ (Romans 8:16, Romans 8:17). This passage is one of the few in which St Paul expresses his conception of the relation of Christ to God (see on 2:16). Christ, although ἐν μορθῇ Θεοῦ ὑπάρχων (Php 2:6, where see Lightfoot and Vincent), is so derivatively (Colossians 1:15, where see Lightfoot and Abbott): His glory in His risen and exalted state is given by God (Php 2:9; cf. Romans 6:10), and in the end is to be merged in God (see on 15:28). Theodoret says here, οὐχ ὡς κτίσμα Θεοῦ, ἀλλʼ ὡς υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦς. There is no need to suppose, with some of the Fathers and later writers, that St Paul is here speaking of our Lord’s human nature exclusively; there is no thought of separating the two natures; he is speaking of ‘Christ,’ the Divine Mediator in His relation to His Father and to His ‘many brethren.’ See many admirable remarks in Sanday, Ancient and Modern Christologies, on the doctrine of Two Natures in Christ, pp. 37, 50, 52, 90, 165, and especially p. 173; see also Edwards’ and Stanley’s notes ad loc.
* Cf. γενώμεθα πνευματικοί, γενώμεθα ναὸς τέλειος τῷ φεῷ (Ep. of Barn. iv. 11), a possible reminiscence of this and v. 16.
אԠא (Fourth century.) The Sinaitic MS., now at St Petersburg, the only MS. containing the whole N.T.
A A (Fifth century.) The Codex Alexandrinus; now at the British Museum.
B B (Fourth century.) The Vatican MS.
C C (Fifth century). The Codex Ephraem, a Palimpsest; now at Paris. Lacks 7:18 ἐν ἀκροβυστίᾳ-9:6 τοῦ μὴ ἐργάζεσθαι: 13:8 παύσονται-14:40 ἀλλὰ ἕτερα.
D D (Sixth century.) Codex Clarmontanus; now at Paris. A Graeco-Latin MS. 14:13 διο͂ ὁ λαλῶν-22 σημεῖον ἐστίν is supplied by a later but ancient hand. Many subsequent hands (sixth to ninth centuries) have corrected the MS. (See Gregory, Prolegomena , pp. 418-422).
E E (Ninth century). At Petrograd. A copy of D, and unimportant
F F (Late ninth century). Codex Augiensis (from Reichenau); now at Trin. Coll. Cambr. Probably a copy of G in any case, secondary to G, from which it very rarely varies (see Gregory, p. 429).
G G (Late ninth century). Codex Boernerianus; at Dresden. Interlined with the Latin (in minluscules). Lacks 1 Corinthians 3:8-16, 1 Corinthians 6:7-14 (F).
L L (Ninth century). Codex Angelicus; At Rome.
P P (Ninth century). Porfirianus Chiovensis. A palimpsest acquired in the East by Porphyrius Bishop of Kiew. Lacks 7:15 ὑμᾶς ὁ θεός-17 περιπάτει: 12:23 τοῦ σώματος-13:5 οὐ λογί-: 14:23 τὸ λαλεῖν μή. A good type of text in St Paul’s Epistles.
* Irenaeus (IV. xxxviii. 2) has οὐδὲ γὰρ ἠδύνασθε βαστάζειν(from John 16:12), and his translator has nondum enim poteratis escam percipere.
* He contrasts it with envy, which is always bad and springs from a mean character; whereas the man who is moved by emulation is conscious of being capable of higher things. Wetstein distinguishes thus; ζῆλος cogitatione, ἕρις uerbis, διχοστασίας opere.
† Abbott renders, ‘In the very moment of saying’; by uttering a partycry he stamps himself as carnal; so also in 14:26 (Johan. Gr. 2534). There is here nothing inconsistent with 1:5-7. There he thanks God for the gifts with which He had enriched the Corinthians. Here he blames them for the poor results.
17 17. (Ev. 33, Act_13. Ninth century.) At Paris (Nat. Gr. 14). See Westcott and Hort., Introd. §§ 211, 212.
* ‘There is no evidence that at this time διακονία or διακονεῖν had an exclusively official sense” (Westcott on Ephesians 4:12); cf. Hebrews 6:10.
d d The Latin text of D
e e The Latin text of E
f f The Latin text of F
g g The Latin text of G
† Latin and English Versions ignore the change of tense; and the difference between human activities, which come and go, and divine action, which goes on for ever, is lost.
* In LXX συνεργός is very rare; 2 Mac. 8:7, 14:5, of favourable opportunities.
† Dei enim sumus adjutores (Vulg.); Etenim Dei sumus administri (Beza); Denn wir sind Gottes Mitarbeiter (Luth.). In such constructions, συναιχμάλωτός μου, σύνδουλοι αὐτοῦ, συνέκδημος ἡμῶν, the συν-commonly refers to the person in the genitive : but see 9:23
* Augustine (De cat. rud. 21) rightly omits the first estis.
* This use of σοφός is more common in poets than in prose writers. When σοφός became usual of philosophical wisdom, δεινός took its place in the sense of skilful. Herodotus (v. xxiii. 3) uses both words of the clever and shrewd Histiaeus. Plato (Politicus 259) defines the ἀρχιτέκτων, as distinct from an έργαστικός, as one who contributes knowledge, but out manual labour. Tertullian (Adv. Marc. v. 6) interprets it here as depalator disciplinae divinae, one who stakes out the boundaries.
* See Lock, St Paul, the Master-Builder, pp. 69 f.
* It is perhaps worse than frigid. Obviously, it would be unskilful to use both sets of material in the same building; Origen regards ξύλα as worse than χόρτος, and χόρτος than καλάμη, which can hardly be right. See Chase, Chrysostom, pp. 186, 187.
K K (Ninth century). Codex S. Synod. xcviii. Lacks 1:1-6:13 ταύτην καί: 8:7 τινὲς δὲ—8:11 ἀπέθανεν.
On the very insufficient ground that Kephas is not mentioned in vv. 5 and 6, but is mentioned in v. 22, Zahn regards vv. 16-20 as directed against the Kephas party. He says that St Paul knows more than he writes about this faction, and fears more than he knows Introd. to N.T. i. pp. 288 f.).
See on v. 1 for the resemblance to Ep. of Barn. iv. 11. Ignatius (Eph. 15) has πάντα οὖν ποιῶμεν, ὡς αὐτοῦ ἐν ἡμῖν κατοικοῦντος, ἵνα ὧμεν αὐτοῦ ναοὶ καὶ αὐτὸς ἐν ἡμῖν Θεός.
* This is a third case, quite different from the two cases in vv. 14, 15. A good superstructure wins a reward for the builder. A bad superstrueture perishes but the builder is rescued. But he who, instead of adding to the edifice, ruins what has been built, will himself meet with ruin.
* We find the same thought, on a lower level, even in such a writer as Ovid (Epp. ex Ponto, 11. i. 34); quae templum pectore semper habet.
* Cf. Οὐαὶ οἱ συνετοὶ ἑαυτοῖς καὶ ἐνώπιον ἑαυτῶν ἐπιστήμονες: Barnabas 4:11 quotes these words as γραφἡ.
I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.
Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;
Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;
And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.