COMMENTARIES
ON THE
EPISTLES OF PAUL THE APOSTLE
TO
THE CORINTHIANS

BY JOHN CALVIN


TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL LATIN, AND COLLATED WITH
THE AUTHOR'S FRENCH VERSION
BY THE REV. JOHN PRINGLE


VOLUME FIRST


CHRISTIAN CLASSICS ETHEREAL LIBRARY
GRAND RAPIDS, MI
http://www.ccel.org
TRANSLATOR’S PREFACE
THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY was distinguished by a large and valuable accession of Expositors of the Sacred Volume. Mosheim reckons up not fewer than fifty-five writers, who, in the course of that century, devoted their labors, to a greater or less extent, to the interpretation or illustration of the inspired writings — a circumstance which at once indicated the progress of the principles of the Reformation, and contributed most materially to their diffusion. Nor were exository treatises, in illustrations of the Sacred Scriptures, simply increased in number; they were marked by a decided improvement in point of intrinsic value. It is to the honor of a large proportion of the Interpreters of that age, that, rejecting the practice so well exposed by BISHOP HORSLEY, of “drawing I know not what mystical meanings, by a certain cabalistic alchemy, from the simplest expressions of holy writ,” they made it their endeavor, in every case, to ascertain the true meaning of the Spirit of God, by a careful examination of the text and context.
In unbending integrity of purpose in the investigation of the Inspired Oracles — which must be regarded as one of the primary excellences of an Expositor — JOHN CALVIN is surpassed by none in his own, or indeed in any age. His readers, even where they may not be prepared to adopt his interpretation of a passage, cannot fail to perceive that it is his sincere desire and honest endeavor to ascertain its true meaning. His uprightness of design is more especially observable in connection with passages bearing on controverted points. In such cases the candid reader will discover no disposition to wrest a single expression for the purpose of enlisting it on the side of a particular system of opinion; but, on the contrary, the utmost fairness of interpretation is uniformly apparent.
Every one that is acquainted with CALVIN’S history, and considers the trying scenes through which he was called to pass, must feel astonished that he should have found leisure to prepare, in addition to all his other writings, Commentaries on nearly the whole of the Sacred Scriptures. That he wrote so much, and more especially as an Expositor, appears to have been chiefly owing to the frequent and urgent solicitations of his intimate and beloved FAREL, who “not merely entreated CALVIN, but frequently urged him with great vehemence to write one Commentary after another, from a conviction that he possessed the gifts requisite for exposition in a very extraordinary manner, and that, with the blessing of God, his works of this kind would be extensively useful. ‘Being an inconsiderable man myself,’ said he, ‘I am wont to require very much from those that possess the greatest excellence, and often press them hard to labor beyond their strength.’ It was his conviction that every one who had received superior talents was bound to devote them to the advancement of the kingdom of God.” f1
THE EPISTLES OF PAUL TO THE CORINTHIANS form a most important part of the Sacred Writings. Though not so systematic as the Epistle to the ROMANS, they contain many passages, bearing directly on the fundamentally important doctrines of the Christian system, while they are of the highest utility in connection with Practical Theology. The disorders that had unhappily crept into the Church at Corinth, gave occasion for the Apostle’s handling at greater length than in any of his other Epistles various important points as to doctrine and worship; while the relaxed state of discipline that had begun to prevail among them rendered it necessary to exhibit more fully the principles which ought to regulate the administration of the Christian Church. In this the overruling hand of Him who brings good out of evil is strikingly apparent.
While in the selection of the particular places into which the Gospel was first introduced, and in which Christian Churches were first planted, there is a display of Divine sovereignty which it is beyond our power for fathom, this at least is abundantly manifest, that the places selected were not those in which the triumphs of the Gospel were likely to be most easily affected, but quite the reverse. As the skill of the workman appears so much the more strikingly, when the tools employed by him are few and simple, and the materials to be wrought upon are hard and unyielding; so the wonders achieved in the first ages of the Church, through the foolishness of preaching. (<460121>1 Corinthians 1:21) excite so much the more our astonishment, when we take into view the peculiarly formidable obstacles that opposed its progress in the places that were selected as the scenes of its triumphs. Of this the inspired narrative furnished in the Acts of the Apostles presents numerous and striking illustrations; and when we observe the particular Churches to which Paul’s Epistles are addressed — in the order in which they are presented to our view in the New Testament — it might almost seem as if the order of arrangement had been designed for the very purpose of calling our particular attention to the fact that the triumphs of the Gospel had been most signal in those places in which its success might have appeared most unlikely. It is a remarkable circumstance, and, assuredly, it is not to be looked upon as merely accidental, that the Christian Church to which the first of Paul’s Epistles — in the order in which they stand — is addressed, is one that had been planted, not in some city of secondary importance, but in ROME itself, the metropolis of the then known world; while the second of the Churches to whom Paul’s Epistles are addressed is that of CORINTH, a city that was proverbial among Heathens themselves for its extraordinary profligacy, and consequently the most unlikely place of all to be the scene of the triumphs of a religion that will allow of no compromise with iniquity.
When PAUL first visited CORINTH, appearances were most unpromising; but, having received special encouragement from his Divine Master, he continued to labor at Corinth for a year and six months, (<441811>Acts 18:11;) and such was the success of his labors in that profligate city, that after enumerating some of the worst descriptions of character, he says to the Corinthian converts, — “And such were some of you,” (<460611>1 Corinthians 6:11). While, however, the notorious wickedness that prevailed at Corinth was the occasion of illustrating so much the more clearly the power of Christianity in subduing human depravity, that extreme dissoluteness of manners to which the Corinthian Christians had been addicted previously to their conversion, and which was daily witnessed by them in the unconverted around them, was fitted to exert a most injurious influence; and while the disorders that prevailed in the Corinthians Church after Paul left them, were in part attributable to the insidious efforts of false teachers, there seems every reason to believe that they were, in a very considerable degree, owing to the contagion of corrupt manners around them. It is to this that we must trace their preference of the ornaments of speech to the plain unadorned doctrine of the cross — their party jealousies — their vexatious lawsuits — their unseemly fellowship with heathens in their idol-feasts; and their philosophical speculations, leading them to question the possibility of a resurrection from the dead; while the flagrant case of incest, fallen into by one of their number, and connived at by the others, must still more manifestly be ascribed, in part, to the contagion of evil example. Yet even in this we have occasion still farther to mark the overruling hand of God in making evil subservient to good — the disordered state of the Corinthian Church having given occasion for exhortations and reproofs that are fraught with invaluable instruction to the Church of Christ in every successive age.
CALVIN’S Commentary on the FIRST EPISTLE to the Corinthians was first published in the year 1546, and his Commentary on the SECOND EPISTLE was published in the course of the same year. It was a year that was greatly “unfavorable to Calvin’s repose. He was obliged to cheer the drooping spirits of the Genevese, whom the designs of CHARLES V. against THE REFORMED RELIGION had alarmed. But, besides the cares which the fear of all these evils occasioned him, he was deeply afflicted at the state of GENEVA, and the general and daring profligacy of its inhabitants.” f2
In the course of the same year (as is stated by BEZA) one of the members of the senate, “instigated, it is supposed, by two ministers of the Consistory, both of them given to drunkenness, and not less afraid than others of the rigor of the law, accused CALVIN of preaching false doctrine.” It may well appear surprising that in such circumstances he should have found leisure for preparing this valuable portion of his Expository Works. This, however, is not peculiar to this portion of his Commentaries; for the greater part of them were prepared amidst numerous engagements and harassing occurrences. Yet they do not bear the marks of haste, but might seem to have been prepared in quiet retirement.
The reader will observe that THE DEDICATION, which is prefixed to the Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians in all the ordinary editions of CALVIN’S works, bears date in 1556. It is however stated, at the same time, by CALVIN in the close of the Dedication, that the Commentary to which it is prefixed had been originally published by him ten years previously. It will father be observed that in the commencement of the Dedication, CALVIN alludes to an individual to whom he had originally dedicated the Commentary, but whose name he had been under the painful necessity — contrary to his usual manner — of erasing from his writings. The individual alluded to is JAMES OF BURGUNDY. The original Dedication, which is exceedingly rare, is contained in “Lettres de Calvin a Jaque de Bourgogne,” kindly allowed to the Translator by Mr. Laing, Edinburgh, from the Library of Writers to the Signet. A translation of that Dedication, as well as of the one that was subsequently prefixed by Calvin to this part of his Commentaries, will be found below.
The circumstances connected with the case of James of Burgundy, are briefly stated by BAYLE in his Dictionary, (Art. Philip of Burgundy,) in the following terms: — “James of Burgundy, Lord of Fallaix, grandson, I suppose, of Baldwin, another natural son of Duke Philip, professed the Protestant religion, but being scandalized at the disputes which arose at Geneva between BOLSEC and CALVIN in the year 1551, he and his wife turned aside from the doctrine of the Reformed. He had carried it fair in the Church several years. CALVIN dedicated to him his Commentary on the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, but afterwards he suppressed that Dedication, and prefixed another to THE MARQUIS OF VIC.”
Farther, Bayle, in the Art. Calvin, remarks, when speaking of Beza’s Life of CALVIN — “We do not find in the edition of 1564, in 12mo, what I have transcribed from the folio edition of 1565, when I said that the grandson of a bastard of Philip, the good Duke of Burgundy, forsook the Church of Rome.”
The editor of “Lettres de Calvin,” states that, after much fruitless search in many quarters for two documents referred to in CALVIN’S Letters, viz. the Dedication of Calvin’s Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, and an Apology for the Masters of Falais, presented to the Emperor Charles the Fifth, and composed by CALVIN, he had at length obtained them from one of the librarians of Geneva. The Dedication, he states, had been “transcribed from a copy that is at present at Strasburg.” “These pieces,” he adds, “arrived just in time for being printed in the last sheet of the Letters, to which I have not failed to append them, as being absolutely necessary to render them intelligible. I flatter myself that the public will receive them with delight, as an authentic document, f3 hitherto wanting in the ecclesiastical history of this country. Even those who have neither interest nor inclination for knowing this history to the bottom, will admire the beauty of CALVIN’S genius, the insinuating turns of the Dedication, and the liberty and modesty that reign equally in the Apology; and they will agree with me in thinking, that CALVIN was no less expert, in the art of pleading, than he had been in the art of preaching.”
JAMES OF BURGUNDY was the grandson of Baldwin, a natural son of Philip, Duke of Burgundy, whom the Emperor Maximilian, in 1501, put in possession of Falais, a “Manor of Brabant, situated on the borders of the county of Namur, upon the river Mohaine, between the towns of Huy and Henneguy.” He was “elevated to the court of the Emperor Charles the Fifth. He embraced the views of the Protestants at the age of fifteen. He afterwards married Jolande of Brederode, a descendant of the ancient Counts of Holland, and aunt to Henry of Brederode.” “This marriage increased the suspicions that he had conceived as to the religions in which he was brought up, so that he adopted the resolution of leaving his native country, where he reckoned his life no longer safe. His withdrawment led to a law-suit, before the court of Malines, for the confiscation of his lands. During his exile, the Master of Falais changed his abode from time to time, having taken refuge first at Cologne, afterwards at Strasbourg, and at Basle, and, last of all, at Geneva. There is ground to believe that he was a person of merit, upon the testimony of CALVIN himself, who, after pronouncing upon him the highest eulogiums in his Dedication to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, carried on a familiar correspondence with him for nearly ten years, and takes pleasure in subscribing himself vary frequently his friend unreservedly forever. f4
“It is true that this friendship did not always continue, but, on the contrary, changed into irreconcilable aversion. It may at first view be thought, that the fault was altogether on the side of the Master of Falais, and that CALVIN must have had sufficient reasons for carrying matters so far. We must, however, beware of forming a rash judgment. We often see the greatest animosities between the best friends arise out of nothing. Frequently the two parties are equally in the wrong; and in many cases the fault is found to have been on the side of the one that had been least suspected.”... The reader who peruses superficially the statement of Beza, quoted by Bayle, might imagine not merely that the Master of Falais had approved of all that Bolsec had done or said, but also that he entirely abandoned the side of the Protestants, and entered again the communion of the Romish Church. He might, therefore, fall into a mistake on all these points.
“I do not believe that the Master of Falais ever thought of approving of the conduct of Bolsec, who ventured in a full church to contradict a minister, when preaching the doctrine of predestination. Neither CALVIN nor Beza say so. Besides, the Master of Falais protests in his Apology, that he has no sympathy with those that support their religion in a turbulent and seditious manner. Assuredly he must have been a fanatic, to do what Bolsec did on that occasion; but to say that he had done well, he must have been a downright madman.
“Nor is there any better proof that the Master of Falais was of Bolsec’s opinion on the subject of predestination. CALVIN, Beza, and Castalio himself, (who would not have failed to mention it,) say no such thing. Besides this, the Confession of the Master of Falais, such as he had published in his Apology, is quite in unison with CALVIN’S sentiments; and it may be presumed that the had not renounced these views in three years afterwards, while experience tells us, that they have once imbibed. What was then, properly, the ground of quarrel between CALVIN and the Master of Falais? In my opinion it was this: After Bolsec had been put in prison, on the 16th October 1551, for having contradicted the doctrine of CALVIN, and given occasion of offense in the Church, CALVIN was disposed to punish him with all possible severity. To accomplish his purpose in accordance with forms, he asked the opinion of the Churches of Switzerland, hinting to them at the same time what he desired from them.”
“‘We are desirous,’ says he, ‘to clear our Church from this pestilence in such a way that it will not, on being expelled from it, do injury to the neighboring Churches.’ meaning, plainly enough, that he must either be put to death, or suffered to remain in prison during his whole life.”
The Master of Falais was of another mind; whether it was that he was influenced by a regard to his own interest, and that, being sickly, he imagined that his life depended on that of his physician; or whether it was that, from a principle of humanity and Christianity forbearance, he reckoned that Bolsec’s imprudence did not merit so severe a punishment, he wrote to the clergy of the Cantons, or to his friends in that quarters, and thereby defeated the design of CALVIN, who received replies less full and distinct, and much more moderate, than he had expected and desired. CALVIN finding himself thwarted by the Master of Falais, got into a passion, broke entirely with him, and roused up against him so many enemies at Geneva, that he was obliged to retire into the district of Vaud.
“Judge, now, which of the two was in the right — CALVIN or the Master of Falais.” “I do not know what became of the Master of Falais after this time, nor when he died, nor where, nor in what communion. I cannot, however, subscribe to the views of Mr. Bayle, who says that the Master of Falais turned aside from the doctrine of the Reformed, and that he renounced the Reformed Church. I am of opinion that Beza, on whose authority Mr. Bayle proceeds, means nothing more than this, that the Master of Falais left the Church of Geneva, on quarreling with CALVIN. This does not mean that he renounced the Reformed Church, or abandoned the Protestant party. For it was possible to quarrel with Calvin, to reject his views on predestination and on persecution, and spurn the discipline of the Church of Geneva, and yet, after all, be as good a Protestant, and member of the Reformed Church, as CALVIN himself.”
From the extracts furnished above form an introductory notice by the editor f5 of the work already referred to, (“Lettres de Calvin a Jaque de Bourgogne,”) it will abundantly appear that the writer is desirous to present as favorable a view of James of Burgundy as the circumstances of the case will at all admit of. His attempt to show that James of Burgundy may have, after all, remained in connection with the Reformed Church, appears to be more ingenious than solid, and seems directly at variance with a statement by CALVIN in his second Dedication to this part of his Commentaries, to this effect, that the individual to whom the former Dedication was addressed “has intentionally made it his object, not merely to withdraw as much as possible from me personally, but also to have no connection with our Church.” f6 This expression naturally conveys the idea that he had not simply left the Church of Geneva, but had withdrawn entirely from the Reformed Church. But however matters may have been as to this, the case, as a whole, was of such a nature as could not fail to be painful in the extreme to the mind of CALVIN. In proportion, however, to the pain excited in his mind by this distressing case, must have been the happiness afforded him by an occurrence of an opposite nature, which took place about the same time.
THE CHURCH OF GENEVA, which had suffered from the defection of James of Burgundy, was strengthened by the accession of an Italian nobleman, GALEAZUS CARACCIOLUS, who, having been led to espouse the Protestant faith, took up his residence at Geneva in the year 1551, with a view to enjoy the society of Calvin, and have opportunity of attending upon his ministry. The particulars of his history, and more especially of his conversion from Popery, are interestingly narrated in a work entitled — “THE ITALIAN CONVERT — NEWES FROM ITALY OF A SECOND MOSES — THE LIFE OF GALEACIUS CARACCIOLUS, THE NOBLE MARQUESSE OF VICO,” etc. London, 1635.
This work was written originally in Italian, “by Nicola Balbani, minister of the Italian Church in Geneva. It was translated into Latin by Beza; into French by Minutoli and by Sieur de Lestan; and into English by William Crashaw.” f7
The writer of this work referred to presents, in the dedicatory epistle, the following brief summary of the leading facts of this interesting case: —
“I present you with as strange a story as, out of the holy stories, afore it be laid down at large? Thus it is: — Galeacius Caracciolus, son and heir-apparent to Calantonius, Marquesse of Vicum in Naples, bred, borne and brought up in Popery — a courtier to the Emperor Charles the Fifth, nephew to the Pope, Paul the Fourth, being married to the Duke of Nucerne’s daughter, and having by her six goodly children, at a sermon of Peter Martyr’s was first untouched, — after reading Scripture, and other good means, was fully converted — labored with his lady, but could not persuade her; therefore, that he might enjoy Christ and serve Him with a good conscience, he left his lands, livings and honors of a Marquesdome, the comforts of his lady and children, the pleasures of Italy, his credit with the Emperor, his kindred with the Pope, and forsaking all for the love of Jesus Christ, came to Geneva, and there lived a poor and mean, yet an honorable and a holy life for forty years; and though his father, his lady, his kinsmen, yea, the Emperor and Pope did all they could to reclaim him, yet continued he constant to the end, and lived and died the blessed servant of God, leaving behind him a rare examples to all ages.” f8
Caracciolus was born at Naples in January 1517. His father’s name was Calantonius, who was descended from the ancient and noble family of the Caracciolies in the district of Capua, and was elevated by Charles the Fifth to the rank of Vico. His mother was descended from the noble family of the Caraffi, and was sister to Pope Paul the Fourth. His wife, Victoria, was daughter to the Duke of Nuceria, one of the principal noblemen of Italy. She brought him a large fortune. He had by her six children — four sons and two daughters. His mind was first influenced in favor of the Protestant religion by repeated conversations held by him with a nobleman nearly related to him, who had, along with various persons of distinction in Italy, been induced to renounce Popery, chiefly through the instrumentality of a Spanish nobleman, who at that time resided at Naples — Joannes Waldesius. The more immediate instrument, however, of his conversion, was the celebrated Peter Martyr Vermilius. Caracciolus having from curiousity gone to hear him, was savingly impressed by what he heard; and it is to be noticed as an interesting coincidence, that the means of his conversion was a discourse on a passage in the First Epistle to the Corinthians.
“At that time PETER MARTYR was in hand with Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, and as he was showing the weakness and deceitfulness of the judgment of man’s reason in spiritual things, as likewise the power and efficacy of the Word of God in those men in whom the Lord worketh by His Spirit — amongst other things he used this simile or comparison: If a man, walking in a large place, see afar off men and women dancing together, and hear no sound of instrument, he will judge them mad, or at least foolish; but if he come nearer them, and perceive their order and hear their music, and mark their measures and their courses, he will then be of another mind, and not only take delight in seeing them, but feel a desire in himself to bear them company and dance with them. Even the same (said Martyr) betides many men, who, when they behold in others a sudden and great change of their looks, apparel, behavior, and whole course of life, at the first sight they impute to melancholy, or some other foolish humor; but if they look more narrowly into the matter, and begin to hear and perceive the harmony and sweet consent of God’s Spirit, and His word in them, by the joint power of which two this change was made and wrought, (which afore they counted folly,) then they change their opinion of them, and first of all begin to like them, and that change in them, and afterwards feel in themselves a motion and desire to imitate them, and to be of the number of such men, who, forsaking the world and his vanities, do think that they ought to reform their lives by the rule of the gospel, that so they may come to true and sound holiness. This comparison, by the grace of God’s Spirit, wrought so wonderfully with Galeacius, as himself hath often told more carefully to restrain his affections from following the world and his pleasures, as before they did, and to set his mind about seeking out the truths of religion and the way to true happiness... And thus far, in this short time, had the Lord wrought with him by that sermon: — as first, to consider with himself seriously whether he were right or no: secondly, to take up an exercise continual of reading Scripture: thirdly, to change his former company and make choice of better. And this time was done in the year 1541, and in the four and twentieth year of his age.”
Caracciolus having thus had his eyes opened to the errors of Popery, and being fully satisfied that it was his duty to embrace the Protestant faith, found himself placed in peculiarly trying circumstances. Even those of his countrymen who were personally inclined towards the Protestant cause could not be persuaded to hold meetings in private for their mutual edification, but were prepared no merely to conceal their real sentiments, but even to practice occasional conformity to the rites of Popery. In these circumstances he was called to consider whether he would be prepared to spend the remainder of his life in daily violation of the dictates of conscience, or forsake all for Christ.
“The sacrifice of his secular dignities and possessions did not cost him a sigh, but as often as he reflected on the distress which his departure would inflict on his aged father, who, with parental pride, regarded him as the heir of his titles and the stay of his family, — or his wife whom he loved, and by whom he was loved tenderly, and on the dear pledges of their union, he was thrown into a state of unutterable anguish, and started back with horror from the resolution to which conscience had brought him. At length, by an heroic effort of zeal, which few can imitate and many will condemn, he came to the determination of bursting the tenderest ties which perhaps ever bound man to country and kindred.” f9
The reader will observe that the author of the work already referred to — “The Life of Galeacius Caracciolus,” etc., entitles it — “The Italian Convert — Newes from Italy of a Second Moses” — and in accordance with this title the writer, in the dedicatory epistle prefixed to the work, institutes a comparison between Moses and the subjects of his narrative in a variety of interesting particulars.
“I may say much rather than Jacob — Few and evil have my days been; yet in these few days of mine something have I seen, more have I read, more have I heard; yet never saw I, heard I, or read I any example (all things laid together) more nearly seconding the examples of Moses than this of the most renowned Marquesse Galeacius. Moses was the adopted son of a king’s daughter; Galeacius the natural son and heir apparent to a Marquesse; Moses a courtier in the court of Pharoah, Galeacius in the court of the emperor Charles the Fifth; Moses by adoption a kin to a Queen, Galeacius by marriage to a Duke, by blood son to a Marquesse, nephew to a Pope; Moses in possibility of a kingdom, he in possession of a Marquesdome; Moses in his youth brought up in the heathenism of Egypt, Galeacius noozeled in the superstition of Popery; Moses at last saw the truth and embraced it, so did Galeacius; Moses openly fell from the heathenism of Egypt, so did Galeacius from the superstition of Popery. But all this is nothing to that which they both suffered for their conscience. What Moses suffered Saint Paul tells us — ‘Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter, and chose rather to suffer adversities with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the rebuke of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.’ Nay, Moses had rather be a base brick maker amongst the oppressed Israelites, being true Christians, than to be the son of a king’s daughter in the court of Pharaoh amongst idolaters. In like case noble Galeacius, when he was come to years and knowledge of Christ, refused to be called son and heir to a Marquesse, cup-bearer to an Emperor, nephew to a Pope, and chose rather to suffer affliction, persecution, banishment, losse of lands, livings, wife, children, honors and preferments, than to enjoy the sinful pleasures of Italy for a season, esteeming the rebuke of Christ greater riches than the honors of a Marquesdome without Christ, and therefore, seeing he must either want Christ or want them, he despoiled himself of all these to gain Christ. So excellent was the fact of Moses, and so heroical, that the Holy Ghost vouchsafes it remembrance both in the Old and New Testament, that so the Church in all ages might know it and admire it, and doth chronicle it in the epistle to the Hebrews almost two thousand years after it was done. If God himself did so to Moses, shall not God’s Church be careful to commend to posterity this second Moses, whose love to Christ Jesus was so zealous, and so inflamed by the heavenly fire of God’s Spirit, that no earthly temptations could either quench or abate it; but to win Christ, and to enjoy Him in the liberty of His Word and Sacraments, he delicately contemned the honors and pleasures of the Marquesdome of Vicum — Vicum, one of the paradises of Naples, Naples, the paradise of Italy — Italy of Europe — Europe of the earth; yet all these paradises were nothing to him in comparison of attaining the celestial paradise, there to live with Jesus Christ.”
“And for my part I freely and truly profess, I have been often ravished with admiration of this noble example — to see an Italian so excellent a Christian — one so near the Pope so near to Jesus Christ, and such blessed fruit to blossom in the Pope’s own garden; and to see a nobleman of Italy forsake that for Christ, for which I fear many amongst us would forsake Christ Himself. And surely (I confess truth) the serious consideration of this so late, so true, so strange an example hath been a spur to my slowness, and whetted my dull spirits, and made me to esteem more highly of religion than I did before. I know it is an accusation of myself, and a disclosing of my own shame to confess thus much; but it is a glory to God, an honor to religion, a credit to the truth, and a praise to this noble Marquesse, and therefore I will not hide it. And why should I shame to confess it, when that famous and renowned man of God, holy Calvin, freely confesseth, f10 as in the sequel of this story you shall hear, that this nobleman’s example did greatly confirm him in his religion, and did revive and strengthen his faith, and cheer up all the holy graces of God in him.”
Caracciolus had no sooner left Naples, forsaking country and kindred for the sake of Christ and his gospel, than every possible effort was employed by his family and relatives, and all that were concerned for the credit of the religion that he had abandoned, to induce him to return.
On his refusing to do so, “sentence was passed against him, and he was deprived of all the property which he inherited from his mother.” “In the following year... an offer was made to him in the name of his uncle now POPE PAUL IV., f11 that he should have a protection against the Inquisition, provided he would take up his residence within the Venetian States; a proposal to which neither his safety nor the dictates of his conscience would permit him to acceded.” He went repeatedly to Italy, and had interviews with his aged father, but was refused the privilege of seeing his wife and family, until about six years after he had quitted Naples. His wife, VICTORIA, then wrote to him, earnestly requesting an interview with him, and fixing the place of meeting. This she did on two different occasions, but in both instances, on his arrival at the appointed place, after a fatiguing and dangerous journey, he had the disappointment of finding that she did not make her appearance. At length, impatient of delay, he went once more to Italy, and at his father’s house had an interview with Victoria, when he entreated her to accompany him to Geneva, “promising that no restraint should be laid on her conscience, and that she should be at liberty to practice her religion under his roof. After many protestations of affection, she finally replied, that she could not reside out of Italy, nor in a place where any other religion than that of the Church of Rome was professed, and farther, that she could not live with him as her husband so long as he was infected with heresy.” The scene at their final parting was peculiarly tender. “Bursting into tears, and embracing her husband, Victoria besought him not to leave her a widow, and her babies fatherless. The children joined in the entreaties of their mother, and the eldest daughter, a fine girl of thirteen, grasping his knees, refused to part with him. How he disengaged himself, he knew not; for the first thing which brought him to recollection was the noise made by the sailors on reaching the opposite shore of the Gulf.” (of Venice.) “He used often to relate to his intimate friends, that the parting scene continued long to haunt his mind; and that not only in dreams, but also in reveries into which he fell during the day; he thought he heard the angry voice of his father, saw Victoria in tears, and felt his daughter dragging at his heels.” f12
Caracciolus spent the remainder of his days at Geneva, with the exception of five years spent by him at Nion and Lausanne, for the sake of economy in his living, and continued steadfast in his attachment to the Protestant faith. He was on terms of intimate friendship with CALVIN, which continued unbroken until the death of the Reformer in 1564 — thirteen years subsequent to the time when Carcciolus went to reside at Geneva. One step taken by him during his exile must be regarded as (to say the least) of greatly questionable propriety — that of contracting a second marriage, about nine years after he went to reside at Geneva. CALVIN, on being consulted by him as to the propriety of such a step, “felt great scruples as to the expediency” of it, but “ultimately gave his approbation to it, after he had consulted the divines of Switzerland and the Grisons.” f13 Accordingly, the courts of Geneva having legally pronounced a sentence of divorce against Victoria, on the ground of her obstinate refusal to live with her husband, he married Anne Fremejere, the widow of a French refugee from Rouen, with whom he continued to live happily in a state of dignified frugality. f14 He was held, deservedly, by the Church of Geneva, and wherever he was known, in the greatest esteem, as one whose piety was of a very high order. Matthew Henry, in one part of his Writings, f15 makes mention of “a noble saying of the Marquis of Vico, ‘Let their money perish with them, who esteem all the wealth of this world worth one hour’s communion with God in Jesus Christ,’” and assuredly the devotedness manifested by him to the cause of Christ affords ample evidence that the sentiment was deeply inwrought into his mind. He died at Geneva in 1568, in the sixty-eighth year of his age.
CALVIN’S Commentary on Paul’s Epistles to the CORINTHIANS having, (in common with a large portion of his Commentaries on other parts of the Scriptures) been translated by himself into French for the benefit of his countrymen, the Latin original and French version have been carefully collated, and any additional terms or clauses that occur in the latter, tending to bring out more fully the Author’s meaning, will be found given at the bottom of the page. “CALVIN,” says Pasquier (Biographia Evangelica) “was a good writer, both in Latin and French, and our French tongue is highly obliged to him for enriching it with so great a number of fine expressions.” D’AUBIGNE, when speaking of CALVIN’S early education, states that “he made great progress in Latin literature. He became familiar with Cicero, and learned from this great master to employ the language of the Romans with a facility, purity, and ease that excite the admiration even of his enemies. But at the same time, he found riches in this language which he afterwards transferred to his own.” “CALVIN when called upon to discuss and to prove, enriched his mother-tongue with modes of connection and dependence, with shadows, transitions, and dialectic forms, that it did not as yet possess.” f16
The OLD ENGLISH TRANSLATION of this part of CALVIN’S Commentaries having been published in black letter in 1573, about thirty years after the Commentary itself was first published by CALVIN, it is not to be wondered that it abounds with obsolete terms and phrases, fitted to render it unpalatable to modern taste. In addition to this, the Author’s meaning has, in not a few instances, been manifestly misapprehended, and in almost all cases CALVIN’S critical observations are entirely omitted. The Translator, Mr. Thomas Timme, was the author of various works, one of which more particularly — quaintly entitled “A Silver Bell,” appears to have gained much celebrity. It has been thought proper to subjoin to this Preface, a fac-simile of the title-page to this old English version, with a copy of “The Epistle Dedicatorie” to the ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY.
In preparing the present Translation of this part of CALVIN’S COMMENTARIES, care has been taken to bring out as fully as possible the Author’s meaning, while the reader will find in a variety of instances in the Notes some additional light thrown on some important but difficult passages — derived chiefly from the labors of interpreters that have appeared subsequently to the times of CALVIN. The Translator is fully persuaded that CALVIN’S Commentaries on both of Paul’s Epistles to the Corinthians will be found, in so far at least as the Author’s meaning is properly brought out in the Translation, to justify most amply the confident expectation of the Author himself, (as expressed in his first Dedication to the Commentary on the First Epistle) — that it would “furnish no ordinary assistance for thoroughly understanding PAUL’S mind.”
J.P
ELGIN, October 1848.
A COMMENTARY
UPON SAINT PAUL’S
EPISTLES TO THE CORINTHIANS
WRITTEN BY M. JOHN CALVIN;
AND TRANSLATED OUT OF LATIN INTO ENGLISH, BY
THOMAS TIMME, MINISTER.
Imprinted at London, for
John Harifon and George Byfhop.
1573.
TO THE MOST REVEREND FATHER
IN GOD, AND HIS SINGULER GOOD LORD, EDMOND,
BY THE GRACE OF GOD, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURIE,
Primate and Metropolitiane of all England, Thomas Timme
wisheth the plentifull riches of the Spirite,
in Christ Iesu.
AFTER long exercise in translating such Latine Commentaries uppon the holy Scriptures, as I though most like to further my country men, which understand not that tongue, to the soud knowledg of true Religion: at last I tooke in hand M. Caluin’s exposition upon Saint Paul’s Epistles to the Corinthias. And, as in my poor judgment, the writer is a most excellent instrument of God, for the simple setting foorth of his trueth, so in making my choyse ( most reverend Father) I could not devise with my selfe, a more fyt personage, to whom I might dedicate his trauayle, by my willing paynes translated, than to your Grace: So much the rather, for that as your selfe can skillfully iudge, so they, for whom I have taken this labor upon me, by your allowance (whereon they may and will rest) shalbe the more encouraged to lyke, and with greater diligence to reade, and to take the profite ment them thereby. And although my part herein by the least, and in respect thereof, unwoorthye to be presented to your hands, your worthines in eche condition considered: yet calling to mynde the benefites, which long ago in Cambridge, and els where since, I haue receyued by your Graces preferment: I thought it better nowe at the last, to aduenture the offer of this simple gift, being such as I haue, than utterly to shewe myself unthankeful for that I have receyued. Most humbly therefore beseeching your Grace, that as heretofore it hath pleased you to encourage me in this exercise, by licensing the first booke which I translated to passe the Englishe presse, so now you will vouchsafe to take in good part M. Caluin’s present, offered you by me. I ceasse to trouble you further, recommending your Grace, and all your godly affayres to almighty God, whom I heartely beseeche to direct in all heauenly wisdome, grace, and knowledge, now and euer.
Your Graces most humble at all tymes,
to commaunde, Thomas Tymme.
THE AUTHOR’S FIRST EPISTLE DEDICATORY
TO THAT ILLUSTRIOUS MAN, JAMES OF BURGUNDY,
MASTER OF FALAIS AND BREDA
WOULD that this my Commentary, in which I have attempted to expound an Epistle not less obscure than useful, published, as it now is, in accordance with the earnest solicitations of many for a long time past, and even reiterated demands, may be correspondingly answerable to the hopes and wishes of all! I say this, not with the view of earning from this work any need of praise — an ambition that ought to be quite away from the minds of Christ’s servants — but from a desire that it may do good at all, which it cannot do, if it does meet with acceptance. I have, for my part, labored with the utmost faithfulness, and with no less diligence, that it may, without any show, be of the greatest service to the Church of God. How far I have succeeded, my readers will judge for themselves.
This much at least I am confident that I have secured — that it will furnish no ordinary assistance for thoroughly understanding Paul’s mind. That it will to you, most illustrious Sir, prove exceedingly acceptable, is so far from appearing to me doubtful, that I find it necessary even to warn you against allowing yourself to be carried beyond due bounds by an undue attachment to me, though, if it should so happen, I shall nevertheless regard your judgment as of so much importance, that I shall reckon myself to have succeeded admirably in my labors, if they have secured your unqualified approbation.
In dedicating my Work to you, f17 however, I have not been influenced solely by the hope of its being acceptable to you, but by various other considerations; and more especially this, that your personal character corresponded admirably with the argument of Paul’s Epistle. For while too many in the present day convert the Gospel into a cold and shadowy philosophy, imagining that they have sufficiently discharged their duty, if they simply give a nod of assent to what they hear, you, on the other hand, are an illustrious pattern of that living efficacy, f18 which Paul testifies, ought to breathe in the Gospel. This, assuredly, I do not mention on your account, but because I consider it to be of great importance by way of example.
It would have been an important point gained, though there had been nothing more than this, that, in the first order of nobility, in the elevated station of honor which you had obtained, and amidst a large abundance of fortune and wealth, (situations in life that are all of them at the present day overrun with so many corruptions,) you have yourself lived moderately and temperately, and have regulated your household in a chaste and honorable discipline. You have done both admirably. For you have conducted yourself in such a manner, as to lead all to perceive, by clear tokens, that you are altogether free from ambition. While retaining your splendor, as was necessary, it has been in such a manner, that, moderate as has been your style of living, no symptom of meanness was to be seen; while, at the same time, it was abundantly apparent that you avoided magnificence rather than courted it. You have shown yourself affable and kind to all, so that all were constrained to commend your moderation, while there was not even the slightest token of haughtiness or insolence to give offense to any one. As to your household, suffice it to say, in one word, that is has been regulated in such a manner, as to reflect the mind and manners of the Lord, as a mirror does the person. Even this would have been an illustrious and rare pattern of virtue for imitation.
I reckon it, however, of much greater importance, that while you have been groundlessly charged before the Emperor, through the calumnies of wicked men, and that, too, simply because Christ’s kingdom, whenever it begins to flourish in any quarter, drives them to madness and fury, you bear up with unconquerable magnanimity, and are now in exile from your native country, with no less credit than you had when adorning it previously with your presence. Other things I pass over, because it were tedious to enlarge. It ought indeed to be more than simply common and customary among Christians, not merely to leave contentedly behind them estates, castles, and princely domains, for Christ’s sake, but even cheerfully and willingly to despise in comparison with Him every thing that is most valued under heaven. In consequence, however, of the backwardness and indifference, too, of almost all of us, as the virtue itself is worthy of special admiration, so when it is seen in you so conspicuously, I do most earnestly desire that it may stir up many to a desire of emulation, that they may not in future be always lurking idly in their nests, but may at length discover openly some spark, if they have any, of Christian spirit.
As to your being assaulted from time to time with fresh accusations by those who are manifestly the infuriated enemies of piety, they will gain nothing by this, except to make themselves more and more odious by their gross indulgence in falsehood. At least every man in his senses, perceives that they are mad dogs, that would fain tear you in pieces, and when they cannot bite, take revenge upon themselves by barking. It is well that they do so at a distance, so as to be perfectly harmless. From the injuries of the wicked, however, much as they have diminished your pecuniary resources, there has accrued to you no less glory among the pious. You, however, as becomes a Christian, look beyond this. For you rest satisfied with nothing short of the heavenly glory, which is laid up for us with God, and will be manifested, so soon as “our outward man perishes.” — (<470416>2 Corinthians 4:16.)
Farewell, most illustrious Sir, with your noble partner. The Lord Jesus long preserve you both in safety for the spread of His kingdom, and always triumph in you over Satan, and the whole band of his troops!
GENEVA, 24th January 1546.
THE AUTHOR’S
SECOND EPISTLE DEDICATORY
TO LORD GALLIAZUS CARACCIOLUS:
A Nobleman, Distinguished Still More By Eminent Virtues Than By Illustrious Descent, Only Son And Rightful Heir Of The Marquis Of Vico, Health: —
WOULD that when this Commentary first saw the light, I had either not known at all, or else had known thoroughly the individual whose name, hitherto inscribed upon this page, I am now under the necessity of erasing! I have, it is true, no fear of his upbraiding me with fickleness, or complaining that I have taken from him what I had previously given, for having intentionally made it his object, not merely to withdraw as much as possible from me personally, but also to have no connection with our Church, he has left himself no just ground of complaint. It is, however, with reluctance that I deviate from my custom, so as to erase any one’s name from my writings, and it grieves me that that individual should have quitted the lofty eminence that I had assigned him, f19 so as not to hold out a light to others, as it was my desire that he should. f20 As, however, it is not in my power to remedy this evil, let him, so far as I am concerned, remain buried, as I am desirous even now of sparing his credit by not mentioning his name.
To you, however, most illustrious Sir, I should have had to look out for some apology, for now putting you in his place, did I not freely take this liberty, from the confidence that I have in your incredible kindness of disposition, and your affection towards me personally, which is well known to all our friends. To return again to wishes, would that I had known you ten years sooner, for I should not have had occasion at present for making any change. So far as an example to the Church generally is concerned, it is a fortunate circumstance; because there will not only be no loss incurred by burying in oblivion the individual who has withdrawn from us, but in place of him we shall have in you a compensation f21 much more abundant and every way superior. For although you do not court public applause — satisfied to have God alone as your witness — and though it is not my design to herald your praises, yet it were not proper to conceal altogether from my readers what is useful and profitable to be known: — that a man, sprung from a family of the first rank, f22 prosperous in honors and wealth, blest with a spouse of the noblest descent and strictest virtue, a numerous offspring, domestic quiet and harmony, and happy in his entire condition in life, has, of his own accord, with the view of joining the camp of Christ, quitted his native country, has left behind him a fertile and lovely domain, a splendid patrimony, and a residence not less commodious than delightful, has stript himself of domestic splendor, has left father, wife, children, relatives, and connections, and after bidding farewell to so many worldly allurements, satisfied with our mean style, adopts our frugal and homely way of living, just as if he were one of ourselves. f23 I make mention, however, of these things to others, in such a way as not to overlook at the same time my own individual advantage; for if I hold up here, as in a mirror, your virtues before the eyes of my readers, in order that they may set themselves to imitate them, it were a shame if I, who have a nearer view of them, were not more keenly affected by a daily and distinct contemplation of them. As, however, I for my part know by experience the tendency of your example to strengthen my faith and piety, and all the children of God that live here acknowledge, as I do, that they have derived from this source no ordinary advantage, I have thought that it might be of importance, that, by my publishing it, the like benefit were made to flow out to a still greater distance. But for this, f24 it were utter folly to expatiate in the praises of a man, whose nature and disposition are at the farthest distance possible from ostentation, and that, too, before persons who are in foreign and far distant regions. Hence, if any considerable number to whom, in consequence of distance, you have been hitherto unknown, shall, on this admirable example being presented to them, prepare to imitate it, by leaving the nests to which they too fondly cling, I shall have obtained an ample reward for what I have written.
It ought, indeed, to have been more than simply common and customary among Christians, not simply to leave contentedly behind them estates, castles, and princely domains, where Christ cannot be followed otherwise, but even cheerfully and willingly to despise, in comparison with Him, everything that is most valued under heaven. f25 Such, however, is the backwardness or rather indifference that pervades all of us, that, while many give a cold assent f26 to the doctrine of the gospel, scarcely one in a hundred will, for the sake of it, if he possesses the most insignificant little farm, allow himself to be torn from it. Scarcely one is induced, without the greatest difficulty, to renounce the smallest conveniences: so very far are they from being prepared to abandon, as were befitting, life itself. f27 Above all things, I should wish that all resembled you in that first of all excellences — self-denial. For you are well prepared to bear witness to me, and I in like manner to you, how little pleasure we feel in cultivating the society of those, who, after leaving their native country, come at length to manifest, that they have not left their old dispositions behind them.
As, however, it were better that my readers should revolve in their minds, more than I can express in words, I now turn to entreat, that God, who has encouraged you hitherto by the wonderful efficacy of His Spirit, may furnish you with an unconquerable perseverance unto the end. For I am well aware with what arduous conflicts God has exercised you, and from which, in accordance with your singular prudence, you conclude, that a hard and laborious warfare is still awaiting you. Well knowing, however, from ample experience, how necessary it is for us to have a hand held out to us from heaven, you will, of your own accord, unite with me in imploring from that source the gift of perseverance. As for myself, I will entreat Christ our King, to whom supreme power has been given by the Father, and in whose hands all the treasures of spiritual blessings have been deposited, that He may long preserve you safely to us for the spread of His kingdom; and that He may in you accomplish farther triumphs over Satan and his bands.
24th January 1556, ten years after this Commentary was first published.
THE ARGUMENT
ON THE
FIRST EPISTLE TO THE
CORINTHIANS
THE advantages of this Epistle are various and manifold; for it contains many special topics, f28 the handling of which successively in their order, will show how necessary they are to be known. Nay, it will appear in part from the argument itself, in the recital of which I shall study to be brief, yet in such a way as to take in the whole, without omitting any of the leading points.
Corinth, as every one knows, was a wealthy and celebrated city of Achaia. While it was destroyed by L. Mummius for no other reason than that the advantageousness of its situation excited his suspicions, posterity afterwards rebuilt it for the same reason that Mummius had for destroying it. f29 The convenience of the situation, too, occasioned its being restored again in a short time. For as it had the Aegean Sea contiguous on the one side, and the Ionian on the other, and as it was a thoroughfare between Attica and the Peloponnesus, it was very conveniently situated for imports and exports. Paul, after teaching there for a year and a half, as Luke mentions in the Acts, constrained at length by the wickedness of the Jews, sailed thence into Syria (<441811>Acts 18:11, 18.) During Paul’s absence false apostles had crept in, not, in my opinion, to disturb the Church openly with wicked doctrines, or designedly to undermine sound doctrine; but, priding themselves in the splendor and magnificence of their address, or rather, being puffed up with an empty loftiness of speech, they looked upon Paul’s simplicity, and even the Gospel itself, with contempt. They afterwards, by their ambition, gave occasion for the Church being split into various parties; and, last of all, reckless as to every thing, provided only they were themselves held in estimation, made it their aim to promote their own honor, rather than Christ’s kingdom and the people’s welfare.
On the other hand, as those vices prevailed at Corinth with which mercantile cities are wont to be particularly infested, — luxury, pride, vanity, effeminacy, insatiable covetousness, and ambition; so they had found their way even into the Church itself, so that discipline was greatly relaxed. Nay more, purity of doctrine had already begun to decline, so that the main article of religion — the resurrection of the dead — was called in question. Yet amidst this great corruption in every department, they were satisfied with themselves, equally as though every thing had been on the best possible footing. Such are Satan’s usual artifices. If he cannot prevent the progress of doctrine, he creeps forward secretly to make an attack upon it: if lie cannot by direct falsehoods suppress it, so as to prevent it from coming forth to light, he digs secret mines for its overthrow; and in fine, if he cannot alienate men’s minds from it, he leads them by little and little to deviate from it.
As to those worthless persons, however, who had disturbed the Corinthian Church, it is not without good ground that I conclude that they were not open enemies of the truth. We see that Paul nowhere else spares false doctrines. The Epistles to the Galatians, to the Colossians, to the Philippians, and to Timothy, are short; yet in all of them lie does not merely censure the false apostles, but also points out at the same time in what respects they injured the Church. Nor is it without good reason; for believers must not merely be admonished as to the persons whom they ought to shun, they must also be shown the evil against which they should be on their guard. I cannot therefore believe that, in this comparatively long Epistle, he was prepared to pass over in silence what he carefully insists upon in others that are much shorter. In addition to this, he makes mention of many faults of the Corinthians, and even some that are apparently trivial, so that he appears to have had no intention of passing over any thing in them that was deserving of reproof. Besides, he must, in any other view, be regarded as wasting many words in disputing against those absurd teachers and prating orators. f30 He censures their ambition; he reproves them for transforming the gospel into human philosophy; he shows that they are destitute of the efficacy of the Spirit, inasmuch as they are taken up with mere ornaments of speech, and seek after a mere dead letter; but not a word is there as to a single false doctrine. Hence I conclude that they were persons who did not openly take away any thing from the substance of the gospel, but, as they burned with a misdirected eagerness for distinction, I am of opinion that, with the view of making themselves admired, they contrived a new method of teaching, at variance with the simplicity of Christ. This must necessarily be the case with all that have not as yet thrown off self, that they may engage unreservedly in the Lord’s work. The first step towards serving Christ is to lose sight of ourselves, and think only of the Lord’s glory and the salvation of men. Farther, no one will ever be qualified for teaching that has not first himself tasted the influence of the gospel, so as to speak not so much with the mouth, as with the dispositions of the heart. Hence, those that are not regenerated by the Spirit of God — not having felt inwardly the influence of the gospel, and know not what is meant when it is said that we must become new creatures, (<430307>John 3:7) have a dead preaching, whereas it ought to be lively and efficacious; and, with the view of playing off their part, they disfigure the gospel by painting it over, so as to make it a sort of worldly philosophy.
Nor was it difficult for those of whom we are now speaking to accomplish this at Corinth. For merchants are usually led away with outward disguises, and they do not merely allow themselves to be imposed upon by the empty show with which they deceive others, but in a manner take delight in this. Besides, as they have delicate ears, so that they cannot bear to be rudely taken to task, so if they meet with teachers of the milder sort, that will handle them gently, they give them, as it were, a reward in turn by caressing them. f31 It is so, I grant, everywhere; but it is more especially common ill wealthy and mercantile cities. Paul, who was in other respects a god-like man, and distinguished by admirable virtues, was, nevertheless, not adorned with outward elegance, and was not puffed up with show, with the view of setting himself off to advantage. In fine, as he was inwardly replenished with the genuine excellence of the Spirit, so he had nothing of outward show. He knew not to flatter, and was not concerned to please men. (<480110>Galatians 1:10.) The one object that he had in view was, that Christ might reign, himself and all others being brought under subjection to him. As the Corinthians were desirous of doctrine that was ingenious, rather than useful, the gospel had no relish for them. As they were eager for new things, Christ had now become stale. Or if they had not as yet fallen into these vices, they were, nevertheless, already of their own accord predisposed to corruptions of that nature. Such were the facilities afforded to the false apostles for adulterating the doctrine of Christ among them; for adulterated it is, when its native simplicity is stained, and in a manner painted over, so as to differ nothing from worldly philosophy. Hence, to suit the taste of the Corinthians, they seasoned their preaching in such a way that the true savor of the gospel was destroyed. We are now in possession of the design that Paul had in view in writing this Epistle. I shall now take in the sum of the argument, by noting down briefly the particular heads of discourse.
He begins with an ascription of praise, f32 that is in effect an exhortation, that they should go on as they have begun, and in this way he soothes them beforehand, that he may make them the more docile. Immediately afterwards, however, he proceeds to chide them, making mention of the dissensions with which their Church was infested. Being desirous to cure this evil, he calls upon them to exchange haughtiness for humility. For he overthrows all the wisdom of the world, that the preaching of the Cross may alone be exalted. He also at the same time abases them as individuals, in exhorting them to look around and see what class of persons chiefly the Lord has adopted as members of his flock.
In the second chapter he brings forward, by way of example, his own preaching, which, in the account of men, was base and contemptible, but had nevertheless been signalized by the influence of the Spirit. And in the meantime he unfolds at greater length the sentiment, that there is a heavenly and secret wisdom that is contained in the gospel, which cannot be apprehended by any acuteness or perspicacity of intellect, or by any perception of sense, and is not influenced by human reasonings, and needs no meretricious ornament of words or embellishment, but simply by the revelation of the Spirit comes to be known by the understandings of men, and is sealed upon their hearts. He at length comes to this conclusion, that the preaching of the gospel does not merely differ widely from the wisdom of the flesh, and consists in the abasement of the Cross, but cannot be estimated as to its true nature by the judgment of the flesh; and this he does, with the view of drawing them off from a mistaken confidence in their own judgment, by which they measured every thing amiss.
The beginning of the third chapter contains the application of this last department of the subject to their case. For Paul complains, that, being carnal, they were scarcely capable of learning the first rudiments of the gospel. He intimates in this way, that the distaste which they had contracted for the word, arose from no fault in the word itself, but from their ignorance; and at the same time he indirectly admonishes them, that they need to have their minds renewed, before they will begin to judge aright. He afterwards shows in what estimation the ministers of the gospel ought to be held — that it ought to be in such a way, that the honor given to them does not in any degree detract from the glory that is due to God — as there is one Lord, and all are his servants: all are mere instruments; he alone imparts efficacy, and from him proceeds the entire result. He shows them, at the same time, what they ought to have as their aim — to build up the Church. He takes occasion from this to point out the true and proper method of building aright. It is to have Christ alone as the foundation, and the entire structure harmonizing with the foundation. And here, having stated in passing that he is a wise master-builder, he admonishes those that come after him to make the end f33 correspond with the beginning. He exhorts also the Corinthians not to allow their souls to be desecrated by corrupt doctrines, inasmuch as they are temples of God. Here he again brings to naught proud fleshly wisdom, that the knowledge of Christ may alone be in estimation among believers.
In the beginning of the fourth chapter he points out what is the office of a true apostle. And as it was their corrupt judgment that prevented them from recognizing him as such, putting it aside, he appeals to the day of the Lord. Farther, as he was contemptible in their view from an appearance of abasement, he teaches them that this ought to be regarded as an honor to him rather than a disgrace. He afterwards brings forward tokens, from which it might in reality appear that he had not consulted his own glory, or his own belly (<451618>Romans 16:18), but had with faithfulness devoted himself exclusively to Christ’s work. He comes at length to infer what honor is due to him from the Corinthians. In the close of the chapter he recommends Timothy to them, until he shall come to them himself; and at the same time he forewarns them that, on his coming, he will openly discover how little account he makes of those empty boastings by which the false apostles endeavored to recommend themselves.
In the fifth chapter he takes them to task, for silently tolerating an incestuous connection between a son-in-law and a mother-in-law, and instructs them that in connection with a crime of such enormity, there was good reason why they should be covered with shame, instead of being elated with pride. From this he passes on to lay down a general doctrine to this effect, that. crimes of that nature ought to be punished with excommunication, that indulgence in sin may be repressed, and that the infection may not spread from one individual to the others.
The sixth chapter consists chiefly of two parts. In the first he inveighs against law-suits, with which they harassed one another, before unbelievers, to the great dishonor of the gospel. In the second he reproves indulgence in fornication, which had come to such a pitch, that it was almost looked upon as a lawful thing. He sets out with a heavy threatening, and afterwards enforces that threatening with arguments.
The seventh chapter contains a discussion in reference to virginity, marriage, and celibacy. So far as we may conjecture from Paul’s words, a superstitious notion had become prevalent among the Corinthians of this nature — that virginity was a distinguished, and in a manner angelic virtue, so that marriage was held by them in contempt, as though it had been a profane thing. With the view of removing this error, he teaches that every one must consider what his gift is, and not strive in this matter beyond his ability, inasmuch as all have not the same calling. Accordingly he shows who they are that may abstain from marriage, and what ought to be the design of abstaining from it; and on the other hand, who they are that ought to enter into the married state, and what is the true principle of Christian marriage.
In the eighth chapter he prohibits them from having fellowship with idolaters in their impure sacrifices, or giving countenance to anything of such a nature as might injure weak consciences. And as they excused themselves on this pretext, that they did not by any means connect. themselves with idolaters in any corrupt sentiment, inasmuch as they acknowledged in their heart one God, and regarded idols as empty contrivances, he sets aside this excuse, on this principle that every one ought to have a regard to his brethren, and that there are many weak persons whose faith might be staggered by such dissimulation.
In the ninth chapter he shows that he requires from them nothing more than he himself practiced, that he may not be reckoned so unreasonable as to impose upon others a law that he did not himself observe. For he puts them in mind how he had voluntarily refrained from availing himself of the liberty granted him by the Lord, lest he should give occasion of offense to any one, and how he had, in things indifferent, put on as it were various appearances, with the view of accommodating himself to all, that they may learn from his example that no one should be so devoted to self as not to endeavor to accommodate himself to his brethren for their edification.
Now as the Corinthians were highly satisfied with themselves, as we said in the outset, in the beginning of the tenth chapter he admonishes them, from the example of the Jews, not to deceive themselves by a mistaken confidence; for if they are puffed up on account of outward things and gifts of God, he shows that the Jews were not without similar ground of glorying, and yet all this availed them nothing, because they abused their privileges. After alarming them by this threatening he returns immediately to the subject on which he had previously entered, and shows how unseemly it is for those who partake of the Lord’s Supper to be participants in the “table of devils,” that being a shameful and insufferable pollution. He at length draws this conclusion, that all our actions should be regulated in such a manner as not to be an occasion of offense to any one.
In the eleventh chapter he clears the public assemblies from certain corrupt observances, which were at variance with Christian decorum and propriety, and shows what gravity and modesty ought to be exercised when we stand in the view of God and angels. He takes them to task, however, chiefly for their corrupt administration of the Supper. He subjoins the method of correcting the abuse that had crept in, which is by calling them back to our Lord’s original institution, as the only sure rule and permanent law of right acting.
As, however, many abused spiritual gifts for purposes of ambition, he enters into a discussion, in the twelfth chapter, as to the purpose for which they are conferred by God, and also as to what is the proper and genuine use of them, which is, that by contributing mutually to each other’s advantage, we may be united together in one body, that of Christ. This doctrine he illustrates by drawing a similitude from the human body, in which, although there are different members and various faculties, there is nevertheless such a symmetry and fellow-feeling, that what has been conferred on the members severally contributes to the advantage of the whole body — and hence love is the best directress in this matter. F34
The subject he follows out at greater length, and illustrates it more fully in the thirteenth chapter. The sum is this — that all things must be viewed in relation to love. He takes occasion from this to make a digression for the purpose of commending that virtue, that he may the more strongly recommend the pursuit of it, and may encourage the Corinthians the more to cultivate it.
In the fourteenth chapter he begins to point out more particularly in what respect the Corinthians had erred in the use of spiritual gifts; and as mere show bulked so much in their estimation, he teaches them that in all things edification alone should be looked to. For this reason he prefers prophecy to all other gifts, as being more useful, while the Corinthians set a higher value on tongues, purely from empty show. In addition to this, he lays down the right order of procedure, and at the same time reproves the fault of sounding forth in unknown tongues without any advantage, while in the meantime the doctrine and exhortations, which ought ever to hold the foremost place, were left in the background. He afterwards forbids women to teach publicly, as being a thing unseemly.
In the fifteenth chapter he inveighs against a very pernicious error, which, although we can scarcely suppose it to have spread generally among the Corinthians, had nevertheless taken possession of the minds of some of them to such a degree, that it was necessary that a remedy should be openly administered. He appears, however, to have intentionally delayed mentioning this matter until the close of the Epistle, for this reason — that if he had set out with this, or had entered upon it immediately after commencing, they might have thought that they were all reckoned to be in fault. The hope of a resurrection, accordingly, he shows to be so necessary, that, if it is taken away, the whole gospel falls to pieces. Having established the doctrine itself by powerful arguments, he subjoins also the principle and manner of it. In fine, he carefully draws out a full discussion of this point.
The sixteenth chapter consists of two parts. In the first of these he exhorts them to relieve the necessity of the brethren at Jerusalem. They were at that time pinched with famine, and they were cruelly treated by the wicked. The apostles had assigned to Paul the charge of stirring up the Churches of the Gentiles to afford them help. He accordingly exharts them to lay up in store whatever they were inclined to contribute, that it might be transmitted to Jerusalem without delay. He at length concludes the Epistle with a friendly exhortation and congratulations.
Hence we may gather, as I stated in the outset, that the Epistle is replete with most profitable doctrine, containing, as it does, a variety of discussions on many important topics.
COMMENTARY ON THE
FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS
CHAPTER 1

1 CORINTHIANS 1:1-3
1. Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
1. Paulus, vocatus apostolus Jesu Christi per voluntatem Dei, et Sosthenes frater,
2. Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
2. Ecclesiae Dei quae est Corinthi, sanctificatis in Christo Jesu, vocatis sanctis, una cum omnibus qui invocant nomen Domini nostri Jesu Christi in quovis loco tam sui quam nostri: f35
3. Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. Gratia vobis et pax a Deo Patre nostro, et Domino Jesu Christi.

1. Paul, called to be an Apostle. In this manner does Paul proceed, in almost all the introductions to his Epistles, with the view of procuring for his doctrine authority and favor. The former he secures to himself from the station that had been assigned to him by God, as being an Apostle of Christ sent by God; the latter by testifying his affection towards those to whom he writes. We believe much more readily the man whom we look upon as regarding us with affection, and as faithfully endeavoring to promote our welfare. In this salutation, therefore, he claims for himself authority, when he speaks of himself as an Apostle of Christ, and that, too, as called by God, that is, set apart by the will of God. Now, two things are requisite in any one that would be listened to in the Church, and would occupy the place of a teacher; for he must be called by God to that office, and he must faithfully employ himself in the discharge of its duties. Paul here lays claim to both. For the name, Apostle, implies that the individual conscientiously acts the part of an ambassador for Christ (<470519>2 Corinthians 5:19), and proclaims the pure doctrine of the gospel. But as no one ought to assume this honor to himself, unless he be called to it, he adds, that he had not rashly intruded into it, but had been appointed f36 to it by God.
Let us learn, therefore, to take these two things together when we wish to ascertain what kind of persons we ought to esteem as ministers of Christ, — a call to the office, and faithfulness in the discharge of its duties. For as no man can lawfully assume the designation and rank of a minister, unless he be called, so it were not enough for any one to be called, if he does not also fulfill the duties of his office. For the Lord does not choose ministers that they may be dumb idols, or exercise tyranny under pretext of their calling, or make their own caprice their law; but. at the same time marks out what kind of persons they ought to be, and binds them by his laws, and in fine chooses them for the ministry, or, in other words, that in the first place they may not be idle, and, secondly, that they may confine themselves within the limits of their office. Hence, as the apostleship depends on the calling, so the man who would be reckoned an apostle, must show himself to be really such: nay more, so must every one who demands that credit be given him, or that his doctrine be listened to. For since Paul rests on these arguments for establishing his authority, worse than impudent were the conduct of that man who would think to have any standing without such proofs.
It ought, however, to be observed, that it is not enough for any one to hold out to view the title to a call to the office, along with faithfulness in discharging its duties, if he does not in reality give proof of both. For it often happens that none boast more haughtily of their titles than those that are destitute of the reality; as of old the false prophets, with lofty disdain, boasted that they had been sent by the Lord. Nay, at the present day, what else do the Romanists make a noise about, but “ordination from God, and an inviolably sacred succession even from the Apostles themselves,” f37 while, after all, it appears that they are destitute of those things of which they vaunt? Here, therefore, it is not boasting that is required, but reality. Now, as the name is assumed by good and bad alike, we must come to the test, that we may ascertain who has a right to the name of Apostle, and who has not. As to Paul, God attested his calling by many revelations, and afterwards confirmed it by miracles. The faithfulness must be estimated by this, — whether or not he proclaimed the pure doctrine of Christ. As to the twofold call — that of God and that of the Church — see my Institutes. f38
An Apostle. Though this name, agreeably to its etymology, has a general signification, and is sometimes employed in a general sense, to denote any kind of ministers, f39 yet, as a peculiar designation, it is applicable to those that were set apart by the Lord’s appointment to publish the Gospel throughout the whole world. Now, it was of importance that Paul should be reckoned in that number, for two reasons, — first, because much more deference was paid to them than to other ministers of the gospel; and, secondly, because they alone, properly speaking, had authority to instruct all the Churches.
By the will of God. While the Apostle is accustomed cheerfully to acknowledge himself indebted to God for whatever he has of good, he does so more especially in reference to his apostleship, that he may free himself from all appearance of presumption. And assuredly as a call to salvation is of grace, so also a call to the office of apostle is of grace, as Christ teaches in these words:
“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,”
(<431516>John 15:16.)
Paul, however, at the same time indirectly intimates, that all who attempt to undermine his apostleship, or in any way oppose it, contend against an appointment of God. For Paul here makes no useless boast of honorary titles, but designedly vindicates his apostleship from malicious aspersions. For as his authority must have been sufficiently established in the view of the Corinthians, it would have been superfluous to make particular mention of “the will of God,” had not wicked men attempted by indirect means to undermine that honorable rank which had been divinely assigned him.
And Sosthenes our brother. This is that Sosthenes who was ruler of the Jewish synagogue that was at Corinth, of whom Luke makes mention in <441817>Acts 18:17. His name is added for this reason, that the Corinthians, knowing his ardor and steadfastness in the gospel, could not but hold him in deserved esteem, and hence it is still more to his honor to be made mention of now as Paul’s brother, than formerly as ruler of the synagogue.
2. To the Church of God which is at Corinth. It may perhaps appear strange that he should give the name of a Church of God to a multitude of persons that were infested with so many distempers, that Satan might be said to reign among them rather than God. Certain it is, that he did not mean to flatter the Corinthians, for he speaks under the direction of the Spirit of God, who is not accustomed to flatter. But f40 among so many pollutions, what appearance of a Church is any longer presented? I answer, the Lord having said to him, “Fear not: I have much people in this place” (<441809>Acts 18:9, 10;) keeping this promise in mind, he conferred upon a godly few so much honor as to recognize them as a Church amidst a vast multitude of ungodly persons. Farther, notwithstanding that many vices had crept in, and various corruptions both of doctrine and manners, there were, nevertheless, certain tokens still remaining of a true Church. This is a passage that ought to be carefully observed, that we may not require that the Church, while in this world, should be free from every wrinkle and stain, or forthwith pronounce unworthy of such a title every society in which everything is not as we would wish it. For it is a dangerous temptation to think that there is no Church at all where perfect purity is not to be seen. For the man that is prepossessed with this notion, must necessarily in the end withdraw from all others, and look upon himself as the only saint in the world, or set up a peculiar sect in company with a few hypocrites.
What ground, then, had Paul for recognizing a Church at Corinth? It was this: that he saw among them the doctrine of the gospel, baptism, the Lord’s Supper — tokens by which a Church ought to be judged of. For although some had begun to have doubts as to the resurrection, the error not having spread over the entire body, the name of the Church and its reality are not thereby affected. Some faults had crept in among them in the administration of the Supper, discipline and propriety of conduct had very much declined: despising the simplicity of the gospel, they had given themselves up to show and pomp; and in consequence of the ambition of their ministers, they were split into various parties. Notwithstanding of this, however, inasmuch as they retained fundamental doctrine: as the one God was adored among them, and was invoked in the name of Christ: as they placed their dependence for salvation upon Christ, and, had a ministry not altogether corrupted: there was, on these accounts, a Church still existing among them. Accordingly, wherever the worship of God is preserved uninfringed, and that fundamental doctrine, of which I have spoken, remains, we must without hesitation conclude that in that case a Church exists.
Sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints. He makes mention of the blessings with which God had adorned them, as if by way of upbraiding them, at least in the event of their showing no gratitude in return. For what could be more base than to reject an Apostle through whose instrumentality they had been set apart as God’s peculiar portion. Meanwhile, by these two epithets, he points out what sort of persons ought to be reckoned among the true members of the Church, and who they are that belong of right to her communion. For if you do not by holiness of life show yourself to be a Christian, you may indeed be in the Church, and pass undetected, f41 but of it you cannot be. Hence all must be sanctified in Christ who would be reckoned among the people of God. Now the term sanctification denotes separation. This takes place in us when we are regenerated by the Spirit to newness of life, that we may serve God and not the world. For while by nature we are unholy, the Spirit consecrates us to God. As, however, this is effected when we are engrafted into the body of Christ, apart from whom there is nothing but pollution, and as it is also by Christ, and not from any other source that the Spirit is conferred, it is with good reason that he says that we are sanctified in Christ, inasmuch as it is by Him that we cleave to God, and in Him become new creatures.
What immediately follows — called to be saints — I understand to mean: As ye have been called unto holiness. It may, however, be taken in two senses. Either we may understand Paul to say, that the ground of sanctification is the call of God, inasmuch as God has chosen them; meaning, that this depends on his grace, not on the excellence of men; or we may understand him to mean, that, it accords with our profession that we be holy, this being the design of the doctrine of the gospel. The former interpretation appears to suit better with the context, but it is of no great consequence in which way you understand it, as there is an entire agreement between the two following positions — that our holiness flows from the fountain of divine election, and that it, is the end of our calling.
We must, therefore, carefully maintain, that it is not through our own efforts that we are holy, but by the call of God, because He alone sanctifies those who were by nature unclean. And certainly it appears to me probable, that, when Paul has pointed out as it were with his finger the fountain of holiness thrown wide open, he mounts up a step higher, to the good pleasure of God, in which also Christ’s mission to us originated. As, however, we are called by the gospel to harmlessness of life (<504415>Philippians 2:15,) it is necessary that this be accomplished in us in reality, in order that our calling may be effectual. It will, however, be objected, that, there were not many such among the Corinthians. I answer, that the weak are not excluded from this number; for here God only begins his work in us, and by little and little carries it forward gradually and by successive steps. I answer farther, that Paul designedly looks rather to the grace of God in them than to their own defects, that he may put them to shame for their negligence, if they do not act a suitable part.
With all that call. This, too, is an epithet common to all the pious; for as it is one chief exercise of faith to call upon the name of God, so it is also by this duty chiefly that believers are to be estimated. Observe, also, that he says that Christ is called upon by believers, and this affords a proof of his divinity — invocation being one of the first expressions of Divine homage. Hence invocation here by synecdoche f42 (kata< sunekdoch>n) denotes the entire profession of faith in Christ, as in many passages of Scripture it is taken generally for the whole of Divine worship. Some explain it as denoting mere profession, but this appears to be meager, and at variance with its usual acceptation in Scripture. The little words nostri (ours) and sui (theirs) I have put in the genitive, understanding them as referring to Christ, while others, understanding them as referring to place, render them in the ablative. In doing so I have followed Chrysostom. This will, perhaps, appear harsh, as the expression in every place is introduced in the middle, but in Paul’s Greek style there is nothing of harshness in this construction. My reason for preferring this rendering to that of the Vulgate is, that if you understand it as referring to place, the additional clause will be not merely superfluous, but inappropriate. For what place would Paul call his own? Judea they understand him to mean; but on what ground? And then, what place could he refer to as inhabited by others? “All other places of the world” (say they; ) but this, too, does not suit well. On the other hand, the meaning that I have given it suits most admirably; for, after making mention of all that in every place call upon the name of Christ our Lord, he adds, both theirs and ours, manifestly for the purpose of showing that Christ is the one common Lord, without distinction, of all that call upon him, whether they be Jews or Gentiles.
In every place. This Paul has added, contrary to his usual manner; for in his other Epistles he makes mention in the salutation of those only for whom they are designed. He seems, however, to have had it in view to anticipate the slanders of wicked men, that they might not have it to allege that, in addressing the Corinthians, he assumed a confident air, and claimed for himself an authority that he would not venture to assert in writing to other Churches. For we shall see by and by, that he was unjustly loaded with this reproach, too, as though he were preparing little nests f43 for himself, with the view of shunning the light, or were withdrawing himself in a clandestine way from the rest of the Apostles. It appears, then, that expressly for the purpose of refuting this falsehood, he places himself in a commanding position, from which he may be heard afar off.
3. Grace be to you and peace. For an exposition of this prayer, let my readers consult the beginning of my Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (<450107>Romans 1:7;) for I do not willingly burden my readers with repetitions.

1 CORINTHIANS 1:4-9
4. I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
4. Gratias ago Deo meo semper de vobis propter gratiam Dei, quae data vobis est in Christo Jesu.
5. That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
5. Quia in onmibus ditati estis in ipso, in omni sermone, f44 et in omni cognitione.
6. Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
6. Quemadmodum testimonium Christi confirmatum fuit in vobis.
7. So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
7. Ut nullo in dono destituamini, exspectantes revelationem Domini nostri Jesu Christi.
8. Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
8. Qui etiam confirmabit vos usque in finem inculpatos, in diem Domini nostri Jesu Christi.
9. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
9. Fidelis Deus, per quem vocati estis in communionem Filii ipsius Jesu Christi Domini nostri.

4. I give thanks to my God. Having in the salutation secured for himself authority from the station assigned him, he now endeavors to procure favor for his doctrine, by expressing his affection for them. In this way he soothes their minds beforehand, that they may listen patiently to his reproofs. f45 He persuades them of his affection for them by the following tokens — his discovering as much joy in the benefits bestowed upon them, as if they had been conferred upon himself; and his declaring that he entertains a favorable opinion of them, and has good hopes of them as to the future. Farther, he qualifies his congratulations in such a way as to give them no occasion to be puffed up, as he traces up to God all the benefits that they possessed, that the entire praise may redound to him, inasmuch as they are the fruits of his grace. It is as though he had said — “I congratulate you indeed, but it is in such a way as to ascribe the praise to God.” His meaning, when he calls God his God, I have explained in my Commentary upon the Epistle to the Romans (<450108>Romans 1:8.) As Paul was not prepared to flatter the Corinthians, so neither has he commended them on false grounds. For although all were not worthy of such commendations, and though they corrupted many excellent gifts of God by ambition, yet the gifts themselves it became him not to despise, because they were, in themselves, deserving of commendation. Farther, as the gifts of the Spirit are conferred for the edification of all, it is with good reason that he enumerates them as gifts common to the whole Church. f46 But let us see what he commends in them.
For the grace, etc. This is a general term, for it comprehends blessings of every kind that they had obtained through means of the gospel. For the term grace denotes here not the favor of God, but by metonymy f47 (metwnumikw~v), the gifts that he bestows upon men gratuitously. He immediately proceeds to specify particular instances, when he says that they are enriched in all things, and specifies what those all things are — the doctrine and word of God. For in these riches it becomes Christians to abound; and they ought also to be esteemed by us the more, and regarded by us as so much the more valuable, in proportion as they are ordinarily slighted. The phrase in ipso (in him) I have preferred to retain, rather than render it per ipsum (by him,) because it has in my opinion more expressiveness and force. For we are enriched in Christ, inasmuch as we are members of his body, and are engrafted into him: nay more, being made one with him, he makes us share with him in everything that he has received from the Father.
6. Even as the testimony, etc. Erasmus gives a different rendering, to this effect, “that by these things the testimony of Christ was confirmed in them;” that is, by knowledge and by the word. The words, however, convey another meaning, and if they are not wrested, the meaning is easy — that God has sealed the truth of his gospel among the Corinthians, for the purpose of confirming it. Now, this might be done in two ways, either by miracles, or by the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit. Chrysostom seems to understand it of miracles, but I take it in a larger sense; and, first of all, it is certain, that the gospel is properly confirmed in our experience by faith, because it is only when we receive it by faith that we “set to our seal that God is true” (<430333>John 3:33.) And though I admit that miracles ought to have weight for the confirmation of it, yet we must go higher in search of the origin, namely this, that the Spirit of God is the earnest and seal. Accordingly, I explain these words in this manner — that the Corinthians excelled in knowledge, inasmuch as God had from the beginning given efficacy to his gospel among them, and that not in one way merely, but had done so both by the internal influence of the Spirit, and by excellence and variety of gifts, by miracles, and by all other helps. He calls the gospel the testimony of Christ, or respecting Christ, because the entire sum of it tends to discover Christ to us,
in whom all the treasures of knowledge are hid” (<510203>Colossians 2:3.)
If any one prefers to take it in an active sense, on the ground that Christ is the primary author of the gospel, so that the Apostles were nothing but secondary or inferior witnesses, I shall not much oppose it. I feel better satisfied, however, with the former exposition. It is true that a little afterwards (<460201>1 Corinthians 2:1) the testimony of God must, beyond all controversy, be taken in an active sense, as a passive signification would not be at all suitable. Here, however, the case is different, and, what is more, that passage strengthens my view, as he immediately subjoins what it is f48to know nothing but Christ. (<460202>1 Corinthians 2:2.)
7. So that ye come behind in no gift. JUstereisqai means to be in want of what you would otherwise stand in need of. f49 He means, therefore, that the Corinthians abound in all the gifts of God, so as not to be in want of anything, as if he had said, “The Lord has not merely honored you with the light of the gospel, but has eminently endowed you with all those graces that may be of service to the saints for helping them forward in the way of salvation.” For he gives the name of gifts (cari>smata) to those spiritual graces that are, as it were, means of salvation to the saints. But it is objected, on the other hand, that the saints are never in such abundance as not to feel in want of graces to some extent, so that they must always of necessity be “hungering and thirsting (<400506>Matthew 5:6.) For where is the man that does not come far short of perfection? I answer, “As they are sufficiently endowed with needful gifts, and are never in such destitution but that the Lord seasonably relieves their need; Paul on this ground ascribes to them such wealth.” For the same reason he adds: waiting for the manifestation, meaning, that he does not ascribe to them such abundance as to leave nothing to be desired; but merely as much as will suffice, until they shall have arrived at perfection. The participle waiting I understand in this sense, “In the meantime while you are waiting.” Thus the meaning will be, “So that ye are in want of no gift in the meantime while you are waiting for the day of perfected revelation, by which Christ our wisdom (<460130>1 Corinthians 1:30) will be fully manifested.”
8. Who will also confirm you. The relative here refers not to Christ, but to God, though the word God is the remoter antecedent. For the Apostle is going on with his congratulation, and as he has told them previously what he thought of them, so he now lets them know what hope he has of them as to the future, and this partly for the purpose of assuring them still farther of his affection for them, and partly that he may exhort them by his own example to cherish the same hope. It is as if he had said — Though the expectation of a salvation to come keeps you still in suspense, you ought nevertheless to feel assured that the Lord will never forsake you, but will on the contrary increase what he has begun in you, that when that day comes on which
“we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ,”
(<470510>2 Corinthians 5:10,)
we may be found there blameless.
Blameless. In his Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians (<490104>Ephesians 1:4, and <510122>Colossians 1:22) he teaches that this is the end of our calling — that we may appear pure and unreproachable in the presence of Christ. It is, however, to be observed, that this glorious purity is not in the first instance perfected in us; nay, rather, it goes well with us if we are every day making progress in penitence, and are being purged from the sins (<610109>2 Peter 1:9)that expose us to the displeasure of God, until at length we put off, along with the mortal body, all the offscourings of sin. Of the day of the Lord we shall have occasion to speak when we come to the fourth chapter.
9. God is faithful. When the Scripture speaks of God as faithful the meaning in many cases is, that in God there is steadfastness and evenness of tenor, so that what he begins he prosecutes to the end, f50 as Paul himself says elsewhere, that the calling of God is without repentance (<451129>Romans 11:29.) Hence, in my opinion, the meaning of this passage is, that God is steadfast in what he purposes. This being the case, he consequently does not make sport as to his calling, but will unceasingly take care of his work. f51 From God’s past benefits we ought always to hope well as to the future. Paul, however, has something higher in view, for he argues that the Corinthians cannot be cast off, having been once, called by the Lord into Christ’s fellowship. To apprehend fully, however, the force of this argument, let us observe first of all, that every one ought to regard his calling as a token of his election. Farther, although one cannot judge with the same certainty as to another’s election, yet we must always in the judgment of charity conclude that all that are called are called to salvation; I mean efficaciously and fruitfully. Paul, however, directed his discourse to those in whom the word of the Lord had taken root, and in whom some fruits of it had been produced.
Should any one object that many who have once received the word afterwards fall away, I answer that the Spirit alone is to every one a faithful and sure witness of his election, upon which perseverance depends. This, however, did not stand in the way of Paul’s being persuaded, in the judgment of charity, that the calling of the Corinthians would prove firm and immovable, as being persons in whom he saw the tokens of God’s fatherly benevolence. These things, however, do not by any means tend to beget carnal security, to divest us of which the Scriptures frequently remind us of our weakness, but simply to confirm our confidence in the Lord. Now this was needful, in order that their minds might not be disheartened on discovering so many faults, as he comes afterwards to present before their view. The sum of all this may be stated thus, — that it is the part of Christian candor to hope well of all who have entered on the right way of salvation, and are still persevering in that course, notwithstanding that they are at the same time still beset with really distempers. Every one of us, too, from the time of his being illuminated (<581032>Hebrews 10:32) by the Spirit of God in the knowledge of Christ, ought to conclude with certainty from this that he has been adopted by the Lord to an inheritance of eternal life. For effectual calling ought to be to believers an evidence of divine adoption; yet in the meantime we must all walk with fear and trembling (<503512>Philippians 2:12.) On this point I shall touch again to some extent when we come to the tenth chapter.
Into the fellowship. Instead of this rendering Erasmus translates it into partnership. The old interpreter renders it society. I have preferred, however, to render it fellowship, as bringing out better the force of the Greek word koinwniav. f52 For this is the design of the gospel, that Christ may become ours, and that we may be engrafted into his body. Now when the Father gives him to us hi possession, he also communicates himself to us in him; and hence arises a participation in every benefit. Paul’s argument, then, is this — “ Since you have, by means of the gospel which you have received by faith, been called into the fellowship of Christ, you have no reason to dread the danger of death, f53 having been made partakers of him (<580314>Hebrews 3:14) who rose a conqueror over death.” In fine, when the Christian looks to himself he finds only occasion for trembling, or rather for despair; but having been called into the fellowship of Christ, he ought, in so far as assurance of salvation is concerned, to think of himself no otherwise than as a member of Christ, so as to reckon all Christ’s benefits his own. Thus he will obtain an unwavering hope of final perseverance, (as it is called,) if he reckons himself a member of him who is beyond all hazard of falling away.

1 CORINTHIANS 1:10-13
10. Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
10. Observo autem vos, fratres, per nomen Domini nostri Jesu Christi, ut idem loquamini omnes, et non sint inter vos dissidia: sed apte cohaereatis in una mente et in una sententia. f54
11. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
11. Significatum enim mihi de vobis fuit, fratres mei, ab iis qui sunt Chloes, quod contentiones sint inter vos.
12. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
12. Dico autem illud, f55 quod unusquisque vestrum dicat, Ego quidem sum Pauli, ego autem Apollo, ego autem Cephae:, ego autem Christi.
13. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
13. Divisusne est Christus? numquid pro vobis crucifixus est Paulus? aut vos in nomen Pauli baptizati estis?

10. Now I beseech you, brethren. Hitherto he has handled the Corinthians mildly, because he knew that they were much too sensitive. Now, however, after preparing their minds for receiving correction, acting the part of a good and skillful surgeon, who soothes the wound when about to apply a painful remedy, he begins to handle them with more severity. Even here, however, as we shall still farther see, he uses great moderation. The sum is this: “It is my hope that the Lord has not in vain conferred upon you so many gifts, so as not to have it in view to bring you to salvation, but you ought at the same time to take heed lest graces so distinguished be polluted by your vices. See, then, that you be agreed among yourselves; and it is not without good reason that I call for agreement among yourselves, for I have been informed that you are in a state of disagreement, amounting even to hostility, and that there are parties and contentions raging among you, by which true unity of faith is torn asunder.” As, however, they might not perhaps be sufficiently aroused by mere exhortation, he uses earnest entreaty, for he adjures them, by the name of Christ, that, as they loved him, they should aim at promoting harmony.
That ye all speak the same thing. In exhorting them to harmony, he employs three different forms of expression: for, in the first place, he requires such agreement among them that all shall have one voice; secondly, he takes away the evil by which unity is broken and torn asunder; and, thirdly, he unfolds the nature of true harmony, which is, that they be agreed among themselves in mind and will. What he has placed second is first in order, — that we beware of strifes. For from this a second thing will naturally follow, — that we be in harmony; and then at length a third thing will follow, which is here mentioned first, — that we all speak, as it were, with one mouth; a thing exceedingly desirable as a fruit of Christian harmony. Let us then observe, that nothing is more inconsistent on the part of Christians than to be at variance among themselves, for it is the main article of our religion that we be in harmony among ourselves; and farther, on such agreement the safety of the Church rests and is dependent.
But let us see what he requires as to Christian unity. If any one is desirous of nice distinctions — he would have them first of all joined together in one mind; secondly, in one judgment; and, thirdly, he would have them declare in words that agreement. As, however, my rendering differs somewhat from that of Erasmus, I would, in passing, call my readers to observe, that Paul here makes use of a participle, which denotes things that are fitly and suitably joined together. f56 For the verb katartizesqai itself (from which the participle kathrtisme>nov comes) properly signifies, to be fitted and adjusted, just as the members of the human body are connected together by a most admirable symmetry. f57
For sententia (judgment) Paul has gnw>mhn: but I understand it here as denoting the will, so that there is a complete division of the soul, and the first clause refers to faith, the second to love. Then only will there be Christian unity among us, when there is not merely a good agreement as to doctrine, but we are also in harmony in our affections and dispositions, and are thus in all respects of one mind. Thus Luke bears witness to believers in the primitive Church, (<440246>Acts 2:46,) that they had “one heart and one soul.” And without doubt this will be found wherever the Spirit of Christ reigns. When, however, he exhorts them to speak the same thing, he intimates still more fully from the effect, how complete the agreement ought to be — so that no diversity may appear even in words. It is difficult, indeed, of attainment, but still it is necessary among Christians, from whom there is required not merely one faith, but also one confession.
11. It has been declared. As general observations have usually little effect, he intimates, that what he had said was more particularly applicable to them. The application, therefore, is designed with the view of leading the Corinthians to perceive, that it was not without good reason that Paul had made mention of harmony. For he shows that they had not merely turned aside from a holy unity, f58 but had even fallen into contentions, which are worse f59 than jarrings of sentiment. And that he may not be charged with believing too readily what was said, f60 as though he lightly lent his ear to false accusations, he speaks with commendation of his informants, who must have been in the highest esteem, as he did not hesitate to adduce them as competent witnesses against an entire Church. It is not indeed altogether certain, whether Chloe is the name of a place or of a woman, but to me it appears more probable that it is the name of a woman. f61 I am of opinion, therefore, that it was a well-regulated household that acquainted Paul with the distempered condition of the Corinthian Church, being desirous that it might be remedied by him. The idea entertained by many, in accordance with Chrysostom’s view, that he refrained from mentioning names, lest he should bring odium upon them, appears to me to be absurd. For he does not say that some of the household had reported this to him, but, on the contrary, makes mention of them all, and there is no doubt that they would willingly have allowed their names to be made use of. Farther, that he might not exasperate their minds by undue severity, he has modified the reproof by an engaging form of address; not as though he would make light of the distemper, but with the view of bringing them to a more teachable spirit, for perceiving the severity of the malady.
12. I say then, etc. Some think there is here an instance of mimhsiv, imitation, as if Paul were here repeating their expressions. Now, although the manuscripts differ as to the particle o[ti, I am of opinion that it is the conjunction (because) rather than the relative (which), so that there is simply an explanation of the preceding statement in this sense. “My reason for saying that there are contentions among you is, because every one of you glories in the name of some individual.” It will, however, be objected, that in these words there is no appearance as yet of contention. My answer is, that where there are jarrings in religion, it cannot but be that men’s minds will soon afterwards burst forth in open strife. For as nothing is more effectual for uniting us, and there is nothing that tends more to draw our minds together, and keep them in a state of peace, than agreement in religion, so, on the other hand, if any disagreement has arisen as to matters of this nature, the effect necessarily is, that men’s minds are straightway stirred up for combat, and in no other department are there more fierce contendings. f62 Hence it is with good reason that Paul brings it forward as a sufficient evidence of contention, that the Corinthians were infested with sects and parties.
I am of Paul. He makes mention here of Christ’s faithful servants — Apollos, who had been his successor at Corinth, and Peter himself too, and then adds himself to their number, that he may appear to plead not so much his own cause as that of Christ. In any other point of view it is not likely that there were any parties that espoused the separate interests of ministers joined together by a sacred agreement. f63 He has, however, as he afterwards mentions, transferred to himself and Apollos what was applicable to others; and this he has done, in order that they might more candidly consider the thing itself, viewing it apart from respect of persons. It will, however, be replied, that he makes mention here even of those who professed that they were of Christ. Was this, too, worthy of blame? I answer, that in this way he shows more fully what unseemly consequences result from those depraved affections, when we give ourselves up to men, as in that case Christ must be acknowledged merely in part, and the pious have no alternative left them, but to separate themselves from others, if they would not renounce Christ.
As, however, this passage is wrested in various ways, we must endeavor to ascertain more minutely what Paul intends here. His object is, to maintain Christ’s exclusive authority in the Church, so that we may all exercise dependence upon him, that he alone may be recognized among us as Lord and Master, and that the name of no individual be set in opposition to his. Those, therefore, that draw away disciples after them (<442030>Acts 20:30,) with the view of splitting the Church into parties, he condemns as most destructive enemies of our faith. Thus then he does not, suffer men to have such pre-eminence in the Church as to usurp Christ’s supremacy. He does not allow them to be held in such honor as to derogate even in the slightest degree from Christ’s dignity. There is, it is true, a certain degree of honor that is due to Christ’s ministers, and they are also themselves masters in their own place, but this exception must always be kept in view, that Christ must have without any infringement what belongs to him — that. he shall nevertheless be the sole Master, and looked upon as such. Hence the aim of good ministers is this, that they may all in common serve Christ, and claim for him exclusively power, authority, and glory — fight under his banner — obey him alone, and bring others in subjection to his sway. If any one is influenced by ambition, that man gathers disciples, not to Christ, but to himself. This then is the fountain of all evils — this the most hurtful of all plagues — this the deadly poison of all Churches, when ministers seek their own interests rather than those of Christ. In short, the unity of the Church consists more especially in this one thing — that we all depend upon Christ alone, and that men thus occupy an inferior place, so as not to detract in any degree from his pre-eminence.
13. Is Christ divided? This intolerable evil was consequent upon the divisions that prevailed among the Corinthians: for Christ alone must reign in the Church. And as the object of the gospel is, that we be reconciled to God through him, it is necessary, in the first place, that we should all be bound together in him. As, however, only a very few of the Corinthians, who were in a sounder condition than the others, f64 retained Christ as their Master, (while all made it their boast that they were Christians,) Christ was by this means torn asunder. For we must be one body, if we would be kept together under him as our head. If, on the other hand, we are split asunder into different bodies, we start aside from him also. Hence to glory in his name amidst strifes and parties is to tear him in pieces: which indeed is impossible, for never will he depart from unity and concord, because “He cannot deny himself” (<550213>2 Timothy 2:13.) Paul, therefore, by setting before them this absurdity, designs to lead the Corinthians to perceive that they are estranged from Christ, inasmuch as they are divided, for then only does he reign in us, when we have him as the bond of an inviolably sacred unity.
Was Paul crucified for you? By two powerful considerations, he shows how base a thing f65 it is to rob Christ of the honor of being the sole Head of the Church — the sole Teacher — the sole Master; or to draw away from him any part of that honor, with the view of transferring it to men. The first is, that we have been redeemed by Christ on this footing, that we are not our own masters. This very argument Paul makes use of in his Epistle to the Romans (<451409>Romans 14:9,) when he says,
“For this end Christ died and rose again, that he might be Lord both of the living and the dead.”
To him, therefore, let us live and die, because we are always his. Also in this same Epistle (<460723>1 Corinthians 7:23,)
“Ye are bought with a price: be not ye the servants of men.”
As the Corinthians, therefore, had been purchased with the blood of Christ, they in a manner renounced the benefit of redemption, when they attached themselves to other leaders. Here is a doctrine that is deserving of special notice — that we are not at liberty to put ourselves under bondage to men, f66 because we are the Lord’s heritage. Here, therefore, he accuses the Corinthians of the basest ingratitude, in estranging themselves from that Leader, by whose blood they had been redeemed, however they might have done so unwittingly.
Farther, this passage militates against the wicked contrivance of Papists, by which they attempt to bolster up their system of indulgences. For it is from the blood of Christ and the martyrs f67 that they make up that imaginary treasure of the Church, which they tell us is dealt out by means of indulgences. Thus they pretend that the martyrs by their death merited something for us in the sight of God, that we may seek help from this source for obtaining the pardon of our sins. They will deny, indeed, that they are on that account our redeemers; but nothing is more manifest than that the one thing follows from the other. The question is as to the reconciling of sinners to God; the question is as to the obtaining of forgiveness; the question is as to the appeasing of the Lord’s anger; the question is as to redemption from our iniquities. This they boast is accomplished partly by the blood of Christ, and partly by that of the martyrs. They make, therefore, the martyrs partners with Christ in procuring our salvation. Here, however, Paul in strong terms denies that any one but Christ has been crucified for us. The martyrs, it is true, died for our benefit, but (as Leo f68 observes) it was to furnish an example of perseverance, not to procure for us the gift of righteousness.
Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? Here we have a second argument, which is taken from the profession of baptism; for we enlist ourselves under the banners of him in whose name we are baptized. We are, accordingly, bound f69 to Christ, in whose name our baptism is celebrated. Hence it follows that the Corinthians are chargeable with perfidy and apostasy, if they place themselves under subjection to men. Observe here that the nature of baptism resembles a contract f70 of mutual obligation; for as the Lord by that symbol receives us into his household, and introduces us among his people, so we pledge our fidelity to him, that we will never afterwards have any other spiritual Lord. Hence as it is on God’s part a covenant of grace that he contracts with us, in which he promises forgiveness of sins and a new life, so on our part it is an oath of spiritual warfare, in which we promise perpetual subjection to him. The former department Paul does not here touch upon, because the subject did not admit of it; but in treating of baptism it ought not to be omitted. Nor does Paul charge the Corinthians with apostasy simply on the ground of their forsaking Christ and betaking themselves to men; but he declares that if they do not adhere to Christ alone — that very thing would make them covenant-breakers.
It is asked, what it is to be baptized in the name of Christ? I answer that by this expression it is not simply intimated that baptism is founded on the authority of Christ, but depends also on his influence, and does in a manner consist in it; and, in fine, that the whole effect of it depends on this — that the name of Christ is therein invoked. It is asked farther, why it is that Paul says that the Corinthians were baptized in the name of Christ, while Christ himself commanded (<402819>Matthew 28:19) the Apostles to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. I answer, that in baptism the first thing to be considered is, that God the Father, by planting us in his Church in unmerited goodness, receives us by adoption into the number of his sons. Secondly, as we cannot have any connection with him except by means of reconciliation, we have need of Christ to restore us to the Father’s favor by his blood. Thirdly, as we are by baptism consecrated to God, we need also the interposition of the Holy Spirit, whose office it is to make us new creatures. Nay farther, our being washed in the blood of Christ is peculiarly his work; but as we do not obtain the mercy of the Father, or the grace of the Spirit, otherwise than through Christ alone, it is on good grounds that we speak of him as the peculiar object in view in baptism, and more particularly inscribe his name upon baptism. At the same time this does not by any means exclude the name of the Father and of the Spirit; for when we wish to sum up in short compass the efficacy of baptism, we make mention of Christ alone; but when we are disposed to speak with greater minuteness, the name of the Father and that of the Spirit require to be expressly introduced.

1 CORINTHIANS 1:14-20
14. I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;
14. Gratias ago Deo meo, quod neminem baptizaverim vestrum, nisi Crispurn et Gaium:
15. Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.
15. Ne quis dieat, quod in meum nomen baptizaverim.
16. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.
16. Baptizavi autem et Stephanae familiam; praeteterea nescio, num quem alium baptizaverim.
17. For Christ sent me not, to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
17. Non enim misit me Christus ut baptizarem, sed ut evangelizarem: non in sapientia sermonis, ne inanis reddatur crux Christi.
18. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
18. Nam sermo erucis iis, qui pereunt, stultitia est; at nobis qui salutem consequimur, potentia Dei est.
19. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
19. Scriptum est enim; (Ies. 29:14): perdam sapientiam sapientum, et intelligentiam intelligentum auferam e medio.
20. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
20. Ubi sapiens? ubi scriba? ubi disputator hujus saeculi? nonne infatuavit Deus sapientiam mundi hujus?

14. I thank my God. In these words he reproves very sharply the perversity of the Corinthians, which made it necessary for him to avoid, in a manner, a thing so sacred and honorable as that of the administration of baptism. Paul, indeed, would have acted with propriety, and in accordance with the nature of his office, though he had baptized ever so many. He rejoices, however, that it had happened otherwise, and acknowledges it as having been so ordered, in the providence of God, that they might not take occasion from that to glory in him, or that he might not bear any resemblance to those ambitious men who endeavored in this way to catch followers. But what if he had baptized many? There would have been no harm in it, but (as I have said) there is couched under this a heavy reproach against the Corinthians and their false apostles, inasmuch as a servant of the Lord found occasion to rejoice that he had refrained from a work, otherwise good and commendable, lest it should become an occasion of harm to them.
17. For Christ sent me not. He anticipates an objection that might, perhaps, be brought against him — that he had not discharged his duty, inasmuch as Christ commands his Apostles to baptize as well as teach. Accordingly he replies, that this was not the principal department of his office, for the duty of teaching had been principally enjoined upon him as that to which he should apply himself. For when Christ says to the Apostles, (<402819>Matthew 28:19, <411615>Mark 16:15,) Go, preach and baptize, he connects baptism with teaching simply as an addition or appendage, so that teaching always holds the first place.
Two things, however, must be noticed here. The first is, that the Apostle does not here absolutely deny that he had a command to baptize, for this is applicable to all the Apostles: Go and baptize; and he would have acted rashly in baptizing even one, had he not been furnished with authority, but simply points out what was the chief thing in his calling. The second thing is, that he does not by any means detract here, as some think, from the dignity or utility of the sacrament. For the question here is, not as to the efficacy of baptism, and Paul does not institute this comparison with the view of detracting in any degree from that; but because it was given to few to teach, while many could baptize; and farther, as many could be taught at the same time, while baptism could only be administered to individuals successively, one by one, Paul, who excelled in the gift of teaching, applied himself to the work that was more especially needful for him, and left to others what they could more conveniently accomplish. Nay farther, if the reader considers minutely all the circumstances of the case, he will see that there is irony f71 tacitly conveyed here, dexterously contrived for making those feel acutely, who, under color of administering a ceremony, endeavor to catch a little glory at the expense of another’s labor. Paul’s labors in building up that Church had been incredible. There had come after him certain effeminate masters, who had drawn over followers to their party by the sprinkling of water; f72 Paul, then, giving up to them the title of honor, declares himself contented with having had the burden. f73
Not with wisdom of words. There is here an instance of anticipation, by which a twofold objection is refuted. For these pretended teachers might reply that it was ludicrous to hear Paul, who was not endowed with eloquence, making it his boast that the department of teaching had been assigned to him. Hence he says, by way of concession, that he had not been formed to be an orator, f74 to set himself off by elegance of speech: but a minister of the Spirit, that he might, by plain and homely speech, bring to nothing the wisdom of the world. Now, lest any one should object that he hunted after glory by his preaching, as much as others did by baptism, he briefly replies, that as the method of teaching that he pursued was the farthest removed from show, and breathed nothing of ambition, it could give no ground of suspicion on that head. Hence, too, if I mistake not, it may readily be inferred what was the chief ground of the controversy that Paul had with the wicked and unfaithful ministers of the Corinthians. It was that, being puffed up with ambition, that they might secure for themselves the admiration of the people, they recommended themselves to them by a show of words and mask of human wisdom.
From this main evil two others necessarily followed — that by these disguises (so to speak) the simplicity of the gospel was disfigured, and Christ was, as it were, clothed in a new and foreign garb, so that the pure and unadulterated knowledge of him was not to be found. Farther, as men’s minds were turned aside to neatness and elegance of expression, to ingenious speculations, and to an empty show of superior sublimity of doctrine, the efficacy of the Spirit vanished, and nothing remained but the dead letter. The majesty of God, as it shines forth in the gospel, was not to be seen, but mere disguise and useless show. Paul, accordingly, with the view of exposing these corruptions of the gospel, makes a transition here to the manner of his preaching. This he declares to be right and proper, while at the same time it was diametrically opposed to the ambitious ostentation of those men. f75 It is as though he had said — “ I am well aware how much your fastidious teachers delight themselves in their high-sounding phrases. As for myself, I do not simply confess that my preaching has been conducted in a rude, coarse, and unpolished style, but I even glory in it. For it. was right that it should be so, and this was the method that was divinely prescribed to me.” By the wisdom of words, he does not mean logodaidali>a, f76 which is mere empty talk, but true eloquence, which consists in skillful contrivance of subjects, ingenious arrangement, and elegance of expression. He declares that he had nothing of this: nay more, that it was neither suitable to his preaching nor advantageous.
Lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. As he had so often previously presented the name of Christ in contrast with the arrogant wisdom of the flesh, so now, with the view of bringing down thereby all its pride and loftiness, he brings forward to view the cross of Christ. For all the wisdom of believers is comprehended in the cross of Christ, and what more contemptible than a cross? Whoever, therefore, would desire to be truly wise in God’s account, must of necessity stoop to this abasement of the cross, and this will not be accomplished otherwise than by his first of all renouncing his own judgment and all the wisdom of the world. Paul, however, shows here not merely what sort of persons Christ’s disciples ought to be, and what path of learning they ought to pursue, but also what is the method of teaching in Christ’s school. “The cross of Christ (says he) would have been made of none effect, if my preaching had been adorned with eloquence and show.” The cross of Christ he has put here for the benefit of redemption, which must be sought from Christ crucified. Now the doctrine of the gospel which calls us to this, should savor of the nature of the Cross, so as to be despised and contemptible, rather than glorious, in the eyes of the world. The meaning, therefore, is, that if Paul had made use of philosophical acuteness and studied address in the presence of the Corinthians, the efficacy of the cross of Christ, in which the salvation of men consists, would have been buried, because it cannot come to us in that way.
Here two questions are proposed: first, whether Paul here condemns in every respect the wisdom of words, as opposed to Christ; and secondly, whether he means that eloquence and the doctrine of the gospel are invariably opposed, so they cannot agree together, and that the preaching of the gospel is vitiated, if the slightest tincture of eloquence f77 is made use of for adorning it. To the first of these I answer — that it were quite unreasonable to suppose, that Paul would utterly condemn those arts which, it is manifest, are excellent gifts of God, and which serve as instruments, as it were, to assist men in the accomplishment of important purposes. As for those arts, then, that have nothing of superstition, but contain solid learning, f78 and are founded on just principles, as they are useful and suited to the common transactions of human life, so there can be no doubt that they have come forth from the Holy Spirit; and the advantage which is derived and experienced from them, ought to be ascribed exclusively to God. What Paul says here, therefore, ought not to be taken as throwing any disparagement upon the arts, as if they were unfavorable to piety.
The second question is somewhat more difficult, for he says, that the cross of Christ is made of none effect if there be any admixture of the wisdom of words. I answer, that we must consider who they are that Paul here addresses. The ears of the Corinthians were tickled with a silly fondness for high sounding style. f79 Hence they needed more than others to be brought back to the abasement of the cross, that they might learn to embrace Christ as he is, unadorned, and the gospel in its simplicity, without any false ornament. I acknowledge, at the same time, that this sentiment in some respects holds invariably, that the cross of Christ is made of none effect, not merely by the wisdom of the world, but also by elegance of address. For the preaching of Christ crucified is simple and unadorned, and hence it ought not to be obscured by false ornaments of speech. It is the prerogative of the gospel to bring down the wisdom of the world in such a way that, stripped of our own understanding, we show ourselves to be simply docile, and do not think or even desire to know anything, but what the Lord himself teaches. As to the wisdom of the flesh, we shall have occasion to consider more at large ere long, in what respects it is opposed to Christ. As to eloquence, I shall advert to it here in a few words, in so far as the passage calls for.
We see that God from the beginning ordered matters so, that, the gospel should be administered in simplicity, without any aid from eloquence. Could not he who fashions the tongues of men for eloquence, be himself eloquent if he chose to be so? While he could be so, he did not choose to be so. Why it was that he did not choose this, I find two reasons more particularly. The first is, that in a plain and unpolished manner of address, the majesty of the truth might shine forth more conspicuously, and the simple efficacy of his Spirit, without external aids, might make its way into the hearts of men. The second is, that he might more effectually try our obedience and docility, and train us at the same time to true humility. For the Lord admits none into his school but little children. f80 Hence those alone are capable of heavenly wisdom who, contenting themselves with the preaching of the cross, however contemptible it may be in appearance, feel no desire whatever to have Christ under a mask. Hence the doctrine of the gospel required to be regulated with this view, that believers should be drawn off from all pride and haughtiness.
But what if any one should at the present day, by discoursing with some degree of elegance, adorn the doctrine of the gospel by eloquence? Would he deserve to be on that account rejected, as though he either polluted it or obscured Christ’s glory. I answer in the first place, that eloquence is not at all at variance with the simplicity of the gospel, when it does not merely not disdain to give way to it, and be in subjection to it, but also yields service to it, as a handmaid to her mistress. For as Augustine says, “He who gave Peter a fisherman, gave also Cyprian an orator.” By this he means, that both are from God, notwithstanding that the one, who is much the superior of the other as to dignity, is utterly devoid of gracefulness of speech; while the other, who sits at his feet, is distinguished by the fame of his eloquence. That eloquence, therefore, is neither to be condemned nor despised, which has no tendency to lead Christians to be taken up with an outward glitter of words, or intoxicate them with empty delight, or tickle their ears with its tinkling sound, or cover over the cross of Christ with its empty show as with a veil; f81 but, on the contrary, tends to call us back to the native simplicity of the gospel, tends to exalt the simple preaching of the cross by voluntarily abasing itself, and, in fine, acts the part of a herald f82 to procure a hearing for those fishermen and illiterate persons, who have nothing to recommend them but the energy of the Spirit.
I answer secondly, that the Spirit of God, also, has an eloquence of his own, but of such a nature as to shine forth with a native luster peculiar to itself, or rather (as they say) intrinsic, more than with any adventitious ornaments. Such is the eloquence that the Prophets have, more particularly Isaiah, David, and Solomon. Moses, too, has a sprinkling of it. Nay farther, even in the writings of the Apostles, though they are more unpolished, there are notwithstanding some sparks of it occasionally emitted. Hence the eloquence that is suited to the Spirit of God is of such a nature that it does not swell with empty show, or spend itself in empty sound, but is solid and efficacious, and has more of substance than elegance.
18. For the preaching of the cross, etc. In this first clause a concession is made. For as it might very readily be objected, that the gospel is commonly held in contempt, if it be presented in so bare and abject a form, Paul of his own accord concedes this, but when he adds, that it is so in the estimation of them that perish, he intimates that no regard must be paid to their judgment. For who would choose to despise the gospel at the expense of perishing? This statement, therefore, must be understood in this way: “However the preaching of the cross, as having nothing of human wisdom to recommend it to esteem, is reckoned foolishness by them that perish; in our view, notwithstanding, the wisdom of God clearly shines forth in it.” He indirectly reproves, however, the perverted judgment of the Corinthians, who, while they were, through seduction of words, too easily allured by ambitious teachers, regarded with disdain an Apostle who was endowed with the power of God for their salvation, and that simply because he devoted himself to the preaching of Christ. In what way the preaching of the cross is the power of God unto salvation, we have explained in commenting upon <450116>Romans 1:16.
19. For it is written, etc. He shows still farther, from the testimony of Isaiah, how unreasonable a thing it is that the truth of the gospel should be regarded with prejudice on the ground that the wise of this world hold it in contempt, not to say derision. For it is evident from the words of the Prophet, that their opinion is regarded as nothing in the account of God. The passage is taken from <232914>Isaiah 29:14, where the Lord threatens that he will avenge himself upon the hypocrisy of the people by this kind of punishment, that wisdom will perish from the wise, etc. Now the application of this to the subject in hand is this: “It is nothing new or unusual for men to form utterly absurd judgments, who appear in other respects to be distinguished for wisdom. For in this manner the Lord has been wont to punish the arrogance of those who, depending on their own judgment, think to be leaders to themselves and others. In this manner did He, among the Israelitish people of old, destroy the wisdom of those who were the leaders of the people. If this happened among a people, whose wisdom the other nations had occasion to admire, what will become of others?”
It is proper, however, to compare the words of the Prophet with those of Paul, and to examine the whole matter still more closely. The Prophet, indeed, makes use of neuter verbs when he says, Wisdom will perish and prudence will vanish, while Paul turns them into the active form, by making them have a reference to God. They are, however, perfectly the same in meaning. For this is a great prodigy which God declares he will exhibit, so that all will be filled with astonishment. Wisdom, therefore, perishes, but it is by the Lord’s destroying it: wisdom vanishes, but it is by the Lord’s covering it over and effacing it. As to the second term aqetei~n, (which Erasmus renders reject,) as it is ambiguous, and is sometimes taken to mean efface, or expunge, or obliterate, I prefer to understand it in this sense here, so as to correspond with the Prophet’s word vanish, or be hid. At the same time, there is another reason that has weighed more with me, f83 — that the word reject was not in accordance with the subject, as will appear ere long. Let us see, then, as to the meaning.
The Prophet’s meaning, without doubt, is precisely this, that they would no longer have governors that would rule well, because the Lord will deprive them of sound judgment and intelligence. For as he elsewhere threatens to send blindness upon the whole nation (<230610>Isaiah 6:10,) so here, upon the leaders; which is just as though he were plucking the eyes out of the body. However this may be, a great difficulty arises from the circumstance, that the term wisdom or prudence was taken by Isaiah in a good sense, while Paul quotes it for an opposite purpose, as though the wisdom of men were condemned by God, as being perverted, and their prudence set aside as being mere vanity. I confess that it is commonly expounded in this way; but as it is certain that the oracles of the Holy Spirit are not perverted by the Apostles to meanings foreign to their real design, I choose rather to depart from the common opinion of interpreters than to charge Paul with falsehood. In other respects, too, the natural meaning of the Prophet’s words accords not ill with Paul’s intention; for if even the wisest become fools, when the Lord takes away a right spirit, what confidence is to be placed in the wisdom of men? Farther, as it is God’s usual way of punishing, to strike blind those who, following implicitly their own judgment, are wise in their own esteem, it is not to be wondered if carnal men, when they rise up against God, with the view of subjecting His eternal truth to their rashness, are turned into fools, and become vain in their imaginations. We now see with what appropriateness Paul makes use of this testimony. Isaiah declares that the vengeance of God upon all those that served God with their own inventions would be, that wisdom would vanish from their wise men. Paul, with the view of proving that the wisdom of this world is vain and worthless, when it exalts itself against God, adduces this testimony from Isaiah.
20. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? This expression of triumph is added for the purpose of illustrating the Prophet’s testimony. Paul has not taken this sentiment from Isaiah, as is commonly thought, but speaks in his own person. For the passage which they point to (<233318>Isaiah 33:18) has nothing corresponding to the subject in hand, or nearly approaching to it. For in that passage, while he promises to the Jews deliverance from the yoke of Sennacherib, that he may magnify the more this great blessing from God, he shows how miserable is the condition of those that are oppressed by the tyranny of foreigners. He says, that they are in a constant fever of anxiety, from thinking themselves beset with scribes or questors, treasurers, and counters of towers. Nay more, he says, that the Jews were involved in such difficulties, that they were stirred up to gratitude by the very remembrance of them. f84 It is a mistake, therefore, to suppose that this sentence is taken from the Prophet. f85 The term world, ought not to be taken in connection with the last term merely, but also with the other two. Now, by the wise of this world, he means those who do not derive their wisdom from illumination by the Spirit through means of the word of God, but, endowed with mere worldly sagacity, rest on the assurance which it affords.
It is generally agreed, that by the term scribes is meant teachers. For as rps, saphar, among the Hebrews, means to relate or recount, and the noun derived from it, rps, sepher,, is used by them to signify a book or volume, they employ the term myrpws, sopherim, to denote learned men, and those that are conversant with books; and, for the same reason, too, sopher regis is often used to denote a chancellor or secretary. The Greeks, following the etymology of the Hebrew term, have translated it grammateiv, scribes. f86 He appropriately gives the name of investigators f87 to those that show off their acuteness by starting difficult points and involved questions. Thus in a general way he brings to nothing man’s entire intellect, so as to give it no standing in the kingdom of God. Nor is it without good reason that he inveighs so vehemently against the wisdom of men, for it is impossible to express how difficult a thing it is to eradicate from men’s minds a misdirected confidence in the flesh, that they may not claim for themselves more than is reasonable. Now there is more than ought to be, if, depending even in the slightest degree upon their own wisdom, they venture of themselves to form a judgment.
Hath not God made foolish, etc. By wisdom here he means everything that man can comprehend either by the natural powers of his understanding, or as deriving aid from practice, from learning, or from a knowledge of the arts. For he contrasts the wisdom of the world with the wisdom of the Spirit. Hence, whatever knowledge a man rosy come to have without the illumination of the Holy Spirit, is included in the expression, the wisdom of this world. This he says God has utterly made foolish, that is, He has convicted it of folly. This you may understand to be effected in two ways; for whatever a man knows and understands, is mere vanity, if it is not grounded in true wisdom; and it is in no degree better fitted for the apprehension of spiritual doctrine than the eye of a blind man is for discriminating colors. We must carefully notice these two things — that a knowledge of all the sciences is mere smoke, where the heavenly science of Christ is wanting; and man, with all his acuteness, is as stupid for obtaining of himself a knowledge of the mysteries of God, as an ass is unqualified for understanding musical harmonies. For in this way he reproves the destructive pride of those who glory in the wisdom of the world so as to despise Christ, and the entire doctrine of salvation, thinking themselves happy when they are taken up with creatures; and he beats down the arrogance of those who, trusting to their own understanding, attempt to scale heaven itself.
There is also a solution furnished at the same time to the question, how it happens that Paul in this way throws down upon the ground every kind of knowledge that is apart from Christ, and tramples, as it were, under foot what is manifestly one of the chief gifts of God in this world. For what is more noble than man’s reason, in which man excels the other animals? How richly deserving of honor are the liberal sciences, which polish man, so as to give him the dignity of true humanity! Besides this, what distinguished and choice fruits they produce! Who would not extol with the highest commendations civil prudence f88 (not to speak of other things,) by which governments, principalities, and kingdoms are maintained? A solution of this question, I say, is opened up to view from the circumstance, that Paul does not expressly condemn either man’s natural perspicacity, or wisdom acquired from practice and experience, or cultivation of mind attained by learning; but declares that all this is of no avail for acquiring spiritual wisdom. And, certainly, it is madness for any one, confiding either in his own acuteness, or the assistance of learning, to attempt to fly up to heaven, or, in other words, to judge of the secret mysteries of the kingdom of God, f89 or to break through (<021921>Exodus 19:21) to a discovery of them, for they are hid from human view. Let us, then, take notice, that we must restrict to the specialities of the case in hand what Paul here teaches respecting the vanity of the wisdom of this world — that it rests in the mere elements of the world, and does not reach to heaven. In other respects, too, it holds true, that without Christ sciences in every department are vain, and that the man who knows not God is vain, though he should be conversant with every branch of learning. Nay more, we may affirm this, too, with truth, that these choice gifts of God — expertness of mind, acuteness of judgment, liberal sciences, and acquaintance with languages, are in a manner profaned in every instance in which they fall to the lot of wicked men.

1 CORINTHIANS 1:21-25
21. For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
21. Quoniam enim in sapientia Dei non cognovit mundus per sapientiam Deum, placuit Deo per stultitiam praedicationis salvos facere credentes.
22. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
22. Siquidem et Judaei signum petunt et Graeci sapientiam quaerunt.
23. But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
23. Nos autem praedicamus Christum crucifixum, Judaeis quidem scandalum, Graecis autem stultitiam:
24. But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
24. Ipsis autem vocatis, tam Judaeis, quam Graecis, Christum Dei potentiam, et Dei sapientiara.
25. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
25. Nam stultitia Dei sapientior est hominibus, et infirmitas Dei robustior est hominibus.

21. For since the world knew not. The right order of things was assuredly this, that man, contemplating the wisdom of God in his works, by the light of the understanding furnished him by nature, might arrive at an acquaintance with him. As, however, this order of things has been reversed through man’s depravity, God designs in the first place to make us see ourselves to be fools, before he makes us wise unto salvation, (<550315>2 Timothy 3:15;) and secondly, as a token of his wisdom, he presents to us what has some appearance of folly. This inversion of the order of things the ingratitude of mankind deserved. By the wisdom of God he means the workmanship of the whole world, which is an illustrious token and clear manifestation of his wisdom: God therefore presents before us in his creatures a bright mirror of his admirable wisdom, so that every one that looks upon the world, and the other works of God, must of necessity break forth in admiration of him, if he has a single spark of sound judgment. If men were guided to a right knowledge of God by the contemplation of his works, they would know God in the exercise of wisdom, or by a natural and proper method of acquiring wisdom; but as the whole world gained nothing in point of instruction from the circumstance, that God had exhibited his wisdom in his creatures, he then resorted to another method for instructing men. f90 Thus it must be reckoned as our own fault, that we do not attain a saving acquaintance with God, before we have been emptied of our own understanding.
He makes a concession when he calls the gospel the foolishness of preaching, having that appearance in the view of those foolish sages (mwroso>foiv) who, intoxicated with false confidence, f91 fear not to subject God’s sacred truth to their senseless criticism. And indeed in another point of view nothing is more absurd in the view, of human reason than to hear that God has become mortal — that life has been subjected to death — that righteousness has been veiled under the appearance of sin — and that the source of blessing has been made subject to the curse, that by this means men might be redeemed from death, and become partakers of a blessed immortality — that they might obtain life — that, sin being destroyed, righteousness might reign — and that death and the curse might be swallowed up. We know, nevertheless, in the meantime, that the gospel is the hidden wisdom, (<460207>1 Corinthians 2:7,) which in its height surmounts the heavens, and at which angels themselves stand amazed. Here we have a most beautiful passage, from which we may see how great is the blindness of the human mind, which in the midst of light discerns nothing. For it is true, that this world is like a theater, in which the Lord presents to us a clear manifestation of his glory, and yet, notwithstanding that we have such a spectacle placed before our eyes, we are stone-blind, not because the manifestation is furnished obscurely, but because we are alienated in mind, (<510121>Colossians 1:21,)and for this matter we lack not merely inclination but ability. For notwithstanding that God shows himself openly, it is only with the eye of faith that. we can behold him, save only that we receive a slight perception of his divinity, sufficient to render us inexcusable.
Accordingly, when Paul here declares that God is not known through means of his creatures, you must understand him to mean that a pure knowledge of him is not attained. For that none may have any pretext for ignorance, mankind make proficiency in the universal school of nature; so far as to be affected with some perception of deity, but what God is, they know not, nay more, they straightway become vain in their imaginations, (<450121>Romans 1:21.) Thus the light shineth in darkness, (<430105>John 1:5.) It follows, then, that mankind do not err thus far through mere ignorance, so as not to be chargeable with contempt, negligence, and ingratitude. Thus it holds good, that all
have known God, and yet have not glorified him,
(<450121>Romans 1:21,)
and that, on the other hand, no one under the guidance of mere nature ever made such proficiency as to know God. Should any one bring forward the philosophers as exceptions, I answer, that in them more especially there is presented a signal token of this our weakness. For there will not be found one of them, that has not from that first principle of knowledge, which I have mentioned, straightway turned aside into wandering f92 and erroneous speculations, and for the most part they betray a silliness worse than that of old wives. When he says, that those are saved that believe, this corresponds with the foregoing statement — that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Farther, by contrasting believers, whose number is small, with a blind and senseless world, he teaches us that we err if we stumble at the smallness of their number, inasmuch as they have been divinely set apart to salvation.
22. For the Jews require a sign. This is explanatory of the preceding statement — showing in what respects the preaching of the gospel is accounted foolishness. At the same time he does not simply explain, but even goes a step farther, by saying that the Jews do not merely despise the gospel, but even abhor it. “The Jews,” says he, “desire through means of miracles to have before their eyes an evidence of divine power: the Greeks are fond of what tends to gratify human intellect by the applause of acuteness. We, on the other hand, preach Christ crucified, wherein there appears at first view nothing but weakness and folly. He is, therefore, a stumblingblock to the Jews, when they see him as it were forsaken by God. To the Greeks it appears like a fable, to be told of such a method of redemption.” By the term Greeks here, in my opinion, he does not mean simply Gentiles, but has in view those who had the polish of the liberal sciences, or were distinguished by superior intelligence. At the same time by synecdoche, all the others come in like manner to be included. Between Jews and Greeks, however, he draws this distinction, that the former, striking against Christ by an unreasonable zeal for the law, raged against the gospel with unbounded fury, as hypocrites are wont to do, when contending for their superstitions; while the Greeks, on the other hand, puffed up with pride, regarded him with contempt as insipid.
When he ascribes it to the Jews as a fault, that they are eagerly desirous of signs, it is not on the ground of its being wrong in itself to demand signs, but he exposes their baseness in the following respects: — that by an incessant demand for miracles, they in a manner sought to bind God to their laws — that, in accordance with the dullness of their apprehension, they sought as it were to feel him out f93 in manifest miracles — that they were taken up with the miracles themselves, and looked upon them with amazement — and, in fine, that no miracles satisfied them, but instead of this, they every day gaped incessantly for new ones. Hezekiah is not reproved for having of his own accord allowed himself to be confirmed by a sign, (<121929>2 Kings 19:29, and <122008>2 Kings 20:8,) nor even Gideon for asking a two-fold sign, (<070637>Judges 6:37, 39.) Nay, instead of this, Ahaz is condemned for refusing a sign that the Prophet had offered him, (<230712>Isaiah 7:12.) What fault, then, was there on the part of the Jews in asking miracles? It lay in this, that they did not ask them for a good end, set no bounds to their desire, and did not make a right use of them. For while faith ought to be helped by miracles, their only concern was, how long they might persevere in their unbelief. While it is unlawful to prescribe laws to God, they wantoned with inordinate desire. While miracles should conduct us to an acquaintance with Christ, and the spiritual grace of God, they served as a hindrance in their way. On this account, too, Christ upbraids there, (<410812>Mark 8:12.)
A perverse generation seeketh after a sign.
For there were no bounds to their curiosity and inordinate desire, and for all that they had so often obtained miracles, no advantage appeared to arise from them.
24. Both Greeks and Jews. He shows by this contrast, that the fact that Christ was so unfavorably received, was not owing to any fault on his part, nor to the natural disposition of mankind generally, but arose from the depravity of those who were not enlightened by God, inasmuch as the elect of God, whether Jews or Gentiles, are not hindered by any stumblingblock from coming to Christ, that they may find in him a sure salvation. He contrasts power with the stumblingblock, that was occasioned by abasement, and wisdom he contrasts with folly. The sum, then, is this: — “ I am aware that nothing except signs has effect upon the obstinacy of the Jews, and that nothing soothes down the haughtiness of the Greeks, except an empty show of wisdom. We ought, however, to make no account of this; because, however our Christ in connection with the abasement of his cross is a stumblingblock to the Jews, and is derided by the Greeks, he is, notwithstanding, to all the elect, of whatever nation they may be, at once the power of God unto salvation for surmounting these stumblingblocks, and the wisdom of God for throwing off that mask.” f94
25. For the foolishness of God. While the Lord deals with us in such a way as to seem to act foolishly, because he does not exhibit his wisdom, what appears foolishness surpasses in wisdom all the ingenuity of men. Farther, while God appears to act with weakness, in consequence of his concealing his power, that weakness, as it is reckoned, is stronger than any power of men. We must, however, always keep it in view, that there is a concession, as I have noticed a little ago. For no one can but perceive, that in strict propriety neither foolishness nor weakness can be ascribed to God, but it was necessary, by such ironical expressions, to beat down the mad presumption of the flesh, which does not scruple to rob God of all his glory.

1 CORINTHIANS 1:26-31
26. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty,
26. Videte (vel, videtis) vocationem vestram, fratres, quod non multi f95 sapientes secundum carnem, non multi potentes, non multi nobiles:
27. 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;
27. Sed stulta mundi elegit Deus, ut sapientes pudefaciat: et infirma mundi elegit Deus, ut patifaciat fortia:
28. And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are:
28. Et ignobilia mundi et contempta elegit Deus, et ea quae non erant, ut quae erant aboleret;
29. That no flesh should glory in his presence.
29. Ne glorietur ulla caro coram Deo.
30. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
30. Ex ipso vos estis f96 in Christo Jesu, qui factus est nobis sapientia a Deo, et justitia, et sanctificatio, et redemptio. f97
31. That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
31. Ut (quemadmodum scriptum est) Qui gloriatur, in Domino glorietur (<240924>Jeremiah 9:24.)

26. Behold your calling. As the mood of the Greek verb (ble>pete) is doubtful, and the indicative suits the context equally as well as the imperative, I leave it to the reader’s choice which of them he may prefer. The meaning is manifestly the same in either case, for supposing it to be the indicative (ye see,) he would in that case summon them as witnesses — as of a thing that is manifest, and call them forward as it were to a thing that is present. On the other hand, understanding it in the imperative, he stirs them up, as it were, from their drowsiness to a consideration of the matter itself. The term calling may be taken in a collective sense to mean the multitude of those that are called — in this sense: “Ye see what description of persons they are among you that the Lord has called.” I am, however, rather inclined to think, that he points out the manner of their calling, and it is a most forcible argument, because it follows from this, that, if they despise the abasement of the cross, they in a manner make void their calling, in which God had acted in such a manner, as to take away all merit from human wisdom, and power, and glory. Hence he tacitly accuses them of ingratitude, because, forgetful alike of God’s grace and of themselves, they regard the gospel of Christ with disdain.
Two things, however, must be observed here — that he was desirous from the example of the Corinthians to confirm the truth of what he had said: and farther, that he designed to admonish them, that they must be entirely divested of pride, if they duly considered the order of things that the Lord had observed in their calling. To put to shame, says he, the wise and noble, and to bring to naught things that are. Both expressions are appropriate, for fortitude and wisdom vanish when they are put to shame, but what has an existence requires to be brought to naught. By the choosing of the poor, and the foolish, and the ignoble, he means, that God has preferred them before the great, and the wise, and the noble. For it would not have sufficed, for beating down the arrogance of the flesh, if God had placed them all upon a level. Hence, those who appeared to excel he put in the background, in order that he might thoroughly abase them. That man, however, were an arrant fool, who would infer from this, that God has in this manner abased the glory of the flesh, in order that the great and noble might be shut out from the hope of salvation. There are some foolish persons that make this a pretext for not merely triumphing over the great, as if God had cast them off, but even despising them as far beneath them. Let us, however, bear in mind, that this is said to the Corinthians, who, though they had no great distinction in the world, were nevertheless, even without any occasion, puffed up. God, therefore, by confounding the mighty, and the wise, and the great, does not design to elate with pride the weak, the illiterate, and the abject, but brings down all of them together to one level. Let those, therefore, that are contemptible in the eyes of the world, think thus with themselves: “What modesty is called for on our part, when even those that have high honor in the view of the world have nothing left them?” f98 If the effulgence of the sun is obscured, what must become of the stars? If the light of the stars is extinguished, what must become of opaque objects?” The design of these observations is, that those who have been called by the Lord, while of no estimation in the view of the world, may not abuse these words of Paul by pluming their crests, but, on the contrary, keeping in mind the exhortation —
Thou standest by faith, be not high-minded, but fear,
(<451120>Romans 11:20,)
may walk thoughtfully in the sight of God with fear and humility.
Paul, however, does not say here, that there are none of the noble and mighty that have been called by God, but that there are few. He states the design of this — that the Lord might bring down the glory of the flesh, by preferring the contemptible before the great. God himself, however, by the mouth of David, exhorts kings to embrace Christ, f99 (<190212>Psalm 2:12,) and by the mouth of Paul, too, he declares, that he will have all men to be saved, and that his Christ is offered alike to small and great, alike to kings and their subjects, (<540201>1 Timothy 2:1-4.) He has himself furnished a token of this. Shepherds, in the first place, are called to Christ: then afterwards come philosophers: illiterate and despised fishermen hold the highest rank of honor; yet into their school there are received in process of time kings and their counselors, senators and orators.
28. Things that are not. He makes use of similar terms in <450417>Romans 4:17, but in a different sense. For in that passage, when describing the universal call of the pious, he says, that we are nothing previously to our being called, which must be understood as referring to reality in the sight of God, however we may appear to be something in the eyes of men. Here, the nothingness (oujdeneia) of which he speaks must be viewed as referring to the opinion of men, as is manifest from the corresponding clause, in which he says that this is done in order that the things that are may be brought to naught. For there is nothing except in appearance, because in reality we are all nothing. Things that are, therefore, you must explain to mean things that appear, so that this passage corresponds with such statements as these: —
He raiseth up the poor out of the dunghill, (<19B307>Psalm 113:7.)
He raiseth up them that are cast down, (<19E608>Psalm 146:8,)
and the like. Hence we may clearly see how great is the folly of those who imagine that there is in mankind some degree of merit or worthiness, which would hold a place antecedent to God’s choice.
29. That no flesh should glory. Though the term flesh here, and in many passages of Scripture, denotes all mankind, yet in this passage it carries with it a particular idea; for the Spirit, by speaking of mankind in terms of contempt, beats down their pride, as in <233103>Isaiah 31:3 — The Egyptian is flesh and not spirit. It is a sentiment that is worthy to be kept in remembrance — that there is nothing left us in which we may justly glory. With this view he adds the expression in God’s presence. For in the presence of the world many delight themselves for the moment in a false glorying, which, however, quickly vanishes like smoke. At the same time, by this expression all mankind are put to silence when they come into the presence of God; as Habakkuk says —
Let all flesh keep silence before God, (<350220>Habakkuk 2:20.)
Let every thing, therefore, that is at all deserving of praise, be recognized as proceeding from God.
30. Of him are ye. Lest they should think that any of those things that he had said were inapplicable to them, he now shows the application of those things to them, inasmuch as they are not otherwise than of God. For the words ye are are emphatic, as though he had said — “You have your beginning from God, who calleth those things which are not,” (<450417>Romans 4:17,) passing by those things that appear to be; and your subsistence is founded upon Christ, and thus you have no occasion to be proud. Nor is it of creation merely that he speaks, but of that spiritual existence, into which we are born again by the grace of God.
Who of God is made unto us. As there are many to be found who, while not avowedly inclined to draw back from God, do nevertheless seek something apart from Christ, as if he alone did not contain all things f100 in himself, he reckons up in passing what and how great are the treasures with which Christ is furnished, and in such a way as to intimate at the same time what is the manner of subsistence in Christ. For when he calls Christ our righteousness, a corresponding idea must be understood — that in us there is nothing but sin; and so as to the other terms. Now he ascribes here to Christ four commendatory titles, that include his entire excellence, and every benefit that we receive from him.
In the first place, he says that he is made unto us wisdom, by which he means, that we obtain in him an absolute perfection of wisdom, inasmuch as the Father has fully revealed himself to us in him, that we may not desire to know any thing besides him. There is a similar passage in <510203>Colossians 2:3 —
In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Of this we shall have occasion to speak afterwards when we come to the next chapter.
Secondly, he says that he is made unto us righteousness, by which he means that we are on his account acceptable to God, inasmuch as he expiated our sins by his death, and his obedience is imputed to us for righteousness. For as the righteousness of faith consists in remission of sins and a gracious acceptance, we obtain both through Christ.
Thirdly, he calls him our sanctification, by which he means, that we who are otherwise unholy by nature, are by his Spirit renewed unto holiness, that we may serve God. From this, also, we infer, that we cannot be justified freely through faith alone without at the same time living holily. For these fruits of grace are connected together, as it were, by an indissoluble tie,f101 so that he who attempts to sever them does in a manner tear Christ in pieces. Let therefore the man who seeks to be justified through Christ, by God’s unmerited goodness, consider that this cannot be attained without his taking him at the same time for sanctification, or, in other words, being renewed to innocence and purity of life. Those, however, that slander us, as if by preaching a free justification through faith we called men off from good works, are amply refuted from this passage, which intimates that faith apprehends in Christ regeneration equally with forgiveness of sins.
Observe, on the other hand, that these two offices of Christ are conjoined in such a manner as to be, notwithstanding, distinguished from each other. What, therefore, Paul here expressly distinguishes, it is not allowable mistakenly to confound.
Fourthly, he teaches us that he is given to us for redemption, by which he means, that through his goodness we are delivered at once from all bondage to sin, and from all the misery that flows from it. Thus redemption is the first gift of Christ that is begun in us, and the last that is completed. For the commencement of salvation consists in our being drawn out of the labyrinth of sin and death; yet in the meantime, until the final day of the resurrection, we groan with desire for redemption, (as we read in <450823>Romans 8:23.) If it is asked in what way Christ is given to us for redemption, I answer — “Because he made himself a ransom.”
In fine, of all the blessings that are here enumerated we must seek in Christ not the half, or merely a part, but the entire completion. For Paul does not say that he has been given to us by way of filling up, or eking out righteousness, holiness, wisdom, and redemption, but assigns to him exclusively the entire accomplishment of the whole. Now as you will scarcely meet with another passage of Scripture that more distinctly marks out all the offices of Christ, you may also understand from it very clearly the nature and efficacy of faith. For as Christ is the proper object of faith, every one that knows what are the benefits that Christ confers upon us is at the same time taught to understand what faith is.
31. He that glorieth let him glory in the Lord. Mark the end that God has in view in bestowing all things upon us in Christ — that we may not claim any merit to ourselves, but may give him all the praise. For God does not despoil with the view of leaving us bare, but forthwith clothes us with his glory — yet on this condition, that whenever we would glory we must go out of ourselves. In short, man, brought to nothing in his own estimation, and acknowledging that there is nothing good anywhere but in God alone, must renounce all desire for his own glory, and with all his might aspire and aim at the glory of God exclusively. This is also more clearly apparent from the context in the writings of the Prophet, from whom Paul has borrowed this testimony; for in that passage the Lord, after stripping all mankind of glory in respect of strength, wisdom, and riches, commands us to glory only in knowing him, (<240923>Jeremiah 9:23, 24.) Now he would have us know him in such a way as to know that it is he that exercises judgment, righteousness, and mercy. For this knowledge produces in us at once confidence in him and fear of him. If therefore a man has his mind regulated in such a manner that, claiming no merit to himself, he desires that God alone be exalted; if he rests with satisfaction on his grace, and places his entire happiness in his fatherly love, and, in fine, is satisfied with God alone, that man truly “glories in the Lord.” I say truly, for even hypocrites on false grounds glory in him, as Paul declares, (<450217>Romans 2:17,) when being either puffed up with his gifts, or elated with a base confidence in the flesh, or abusing his word, they nevertheless take his name upon them.
CHAPTER 2

1 CORINTHIANS 2:1-2
1. And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
1. Et ego, quum venissem ad vos, fratres, veni non in excellentia sermonis vel sapientiae, annuntians vobis testimonium Dei.
2. For I determined not to know any thing among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified.
2. Non enim eximium duxi, (vel, duxi pro scientia,) scire quicquam inter vos, f102 nisi Iesum Christum, et hunc crucifixum.

1. And I, when I came. Paul having begun to speak of his own method of teaching, had straightway fallen into a discussion as to the nature of gospel preaching generally. Now again he returns to speak of himself, to show that nothing in him was despised but what belonged to the nature of the gospel itself, and did in a manner adhere to it. He allows therefore that he had not had any of the aids of human eloquence or wisdom to qualify him for producing any effect, but while he acknowledges himself to be destitute of such resources, he hints at the inference to be drawn from this — that the power of God shone the more illustriously in his ministry, from its standing in no need of such helps. This latter idea, however, he will be found bringing forward shortly afterwards. For the present he simply grants that he has nothing of human wisdom, and in the meantime reserves to himself this much — that he published the testimony of God. Some interpreters, indeed, explain the testimony of God in a passive sense; but as for myself, I have no doubt that another interpretation is more in accordance with the Apostle’s design, so that the testimony of God is that which has come forth from God — the doctrine of the gospel, of which he is the author and witness. He now distinguishes between speech and wisdom (lo>gon ajpo< th~v sofi>av.) Hence what I noticed before f103 is here confirmed — that hitherto he has not been speaking of mere empty prattling, but has included the entire training of human learning.
2. For I did not reckon it desirable. As kri>nein, in Greek, has often the same meaning as eklegein, that is to choose out anything as precious, f104 there is, I think, no person of sound judgment but will allow that the rendering that I have given is a probable one, provided only the construction admits of it. At the same time, if we render it thus — “No kind of knowledge did I hold in esteem,” there will be nothing harsh in this rendering. If you understand something to be supplied, the sentence will run smoothly enough in this way — “Nothing did I value myself upon, as worth my knowing, or on the ground of knowledge.” At the same time I do not altogether reject a different interpretation — viewing Paul as declaring that he esteemed nothing as knowledge, or as entitled to be called knowledge, except Christ alone. Thus the Greek preposition and, would, as often happens, require to be supplied. But whether the former interpretation is not disapproved of, or whether this latter pleases better, the substance of the passage amounts to this: “As to my wanting the ornaments of speech, and wanting, too, the more elegant refinements of discourse, the reason of this was, that I did not aspire at them, nay rather, I despised them, because there was one thing only that my heart was set upon — that I might preach Christ with simplicity.”
In adding the word crucified, he does not mean that he preached nothing respecting Christ except the cross; but that, with all the abasement of the cross, he nevertheless preached Christ. It is as though he had said: “The ignominy of the cross will not prevent me from looking up to him f105 from whom salvation comes, or make me ashamed to regard all my wisdom as comprehended in him — in him, I say, whom proud men despise and reject on account of the reproach of the cross.” Hence the statement must be explained in this way: “No kind of knowledge was in my view of so much importance as to lead me to desire anything but Christ, crucified though he was.” This little clause is added by way of enlargement (au]xhsin,) with the view of galling so much the more those arrogant masters, by whom Christ was next to despised, as they were eager to gain applause by being renowned for a higher kind of wisdom. Here we have a beautiful passage, from which we learn what it is that faithful ministers ought to teach, what it is that we must, during our whole life, be learning, and in comparison with which everything else must be “counted as dung.” (<500308>Philippians 3:8.)

1 CORINTHIANS 2:3-5
3. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
3. Et ego in infirmirate, f106 et in timore, et in tremore multo fui apud vos:
4. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
4. Et sermo meus, et praedicatio mea, non in persuasoriis humanae sapientiae sermonibus, sed in demonstratione Spiritus et potentiae:
5. That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
5. Ut fides vestra non sit in sapientia hominum, sed in potentia Dei.

3. And I was with you in weakness. He explains at greater length what he had previously touched upon — that he had nothing shining or excellent in him in the eyes of men, to raise him to distinction. He concedes, however, to his adversaries what they desired in such a way as to make those very things which, in their opinion, tended to detract from the credit of his ministry, redound to its highest commendation. If he appeared less worthy of esteem from his being so mean and abject according to the flesh, he shows that the power of God shone out the more conspicuously in this, that he could effect so much, while sustained by no human helps. He has in his eye not merely those foolish boasters f107 who aimed at mere show, with the view of obtaining for themselves a name, but the Corinthians, too, who gazed with astonishment on their empty shows. Accordingly a recital of this kind was fitted to have great weight with them. They were aware that Paul had brought nothing with him in respect of the flesh that was fitted to help him forward, or that might enable him to insinuate himself into the favor of men, and yet they had seen the amazing success which the Lord had vouchsafed to his preaching. Nay more, they had in a manner beheld with their own eyes the Spirit of God present in his doctrine. When, therefore, despising his simplicity, they were tickled with a desire for a kind of wisdom, I know not of what sort, more puffed up and more polished, and were captivated with outward appearance, nay, even with adventitious ornament, rather than with the living efficacy of the Spirit, did they not sufficiently discover their ambitious spirit? It is with good reason, therefore, that Paul puts them in mind of his first entering in among them, (<520201>1 Thessalonians 2:1,) that they may not draw back from that divine efficacy, which they once knew by experience.
The term weakness he employs here, and in several instances afterwards, (<471130>2 Corinthians 11:30; <471205>2 Corinthians 12:5, 9, 10,) as including everything that can detract from a person’s favor and dignity in the opinion of others. Fear and trembling are the effects of that weakness. There are, however, two ways in which these two terms may be explained by us. Either we may understand him to mean, that when he pondered the magnitude of the office that he sustained, it was tremblingly, and not without great anxiety, that he occupied himself in it; or that, being encompassed with many dangers, he was in constant alarm and incessant anxiety. Either meaning suits the context sufficiently well. The second, however, is, in my opinion, the more simple. Such a spirit of modesty, indeed, becomes the servants of the Lord, that, conscious of their own weakness, and looking, on the other hand, at once to the difficulty and the excellence of so arduous an office, they should enter on the discharge of it with reverence and fear. For those that intrude themselves confidently, and in a spirit much elated, or who discharge the ministry of the word with an easy mind, as though they were fully equal to the task, are ignorant at once of themselves and of the task. f108
As, however, Paul here connects fear with weakness, and as the term weakness denotes everything that was fitted to render him contemptible, it follows necessarily that this fear must relate to dangers and difficulties. It is certain, however, that this fear was of such a nature as did not prevent Paul from engaging in the Lord’s work, as facts bear witness. The Lord’s servants are neither so senseless as not to perceive impending dangers, nor so devoid of feeling as not to be moved by them. Nay more, it is necessary for them to be seriously afraid on two accounts chiefly — first, that, abased in their own eyes, they may learn wholly to lean and rest upon God alone, and secondly, that they may be trained to a thorough renunciation of self. Paul, therefore, was not devoid of the influence of fear, but that fear he controlled in such a manner as to go forward, notwithstanding, with intrepidity through the midst of dangers, so as to encounter with undaunted firmness and fortitude all the assaults of Satan and of the world; and, in fine, so as to struggle through every impediment.
4. And my preaching was not in the persuasive words. By the persuasive words of man’s wisdom he means that exquisite oratory which aims and strives rather by artifice than by truth, and also an appearance of refinement, that allures the minds of men. It is not without good reason, too, that he ascribes persuasiveness (to> piqa>non) f109 to human wisdom. For the word of the Lord constrains us by its majesty, as if by a violent impulse, to yield obedience to it. Human wisdom, on the other hand, has her allurements, by which she insinuates herself f110 and her blandishments, as it were, by which she may conciliate for herself the affections of her hearers. With this he contrasts the demonstration of the Spirit and of power, which most interpreters consider as restricted to miracles; but I take it in a more general sense, as meaning the hand of God powerfully exercised in every way through the instrumentality of the Apostle. Spirit and power he seems to have made use of by hypallage, f111 (kaq j uJpallagh<n,) to denote spiritual power, or at least with the view of showing by signs and effects in what manner the presence of the Spirit had shown itself in his ministry. He appropriately, too, makes use of the term ajpodei>xewv, (demonstration;) for such is our dullness in contemplating the works of God, that when he makes use of inferior instruments, they serve as so many veils to hide from us his influence, so that we do not clearly perceive it. On the other hand, as in the furtherance given to Paul’s ministry, there was no aid furnished from the flesh or the world, and as the hand of God was as it were made bare, (<235210>Isaiah 52:10,) his influence was assuredly the more apparent.
5. That your faith should not be in the wisdom of men. To be is used here as meaning to consist. His meaning, then, is, that the Corinthians derived this advantage from his having preached Christ among them without dependence on human wisdom, and relying solely on the Spirit’s influence, that their faith was founded not on men but on God. If the Apostle’s preaching had rested exclusively on the power of eloquence, it might have been overthrown by superior eloquence, and besides, no one would pronounce that to be solid truth which rests on mere elegance of speech. It may indeed be helped by it, but it ought not to rest upon it. On the other hand, that must have been most powerful which could stand of itself without any foreign aid. Hence it forms a choice commendation of Paul’s preaching, that heavenly influence shone forth in it so clearly, that it surmounted so many hindrances, while deriving no assistance from the world. It follows, therefore, that they must not allow themselves to be moved away from his doctrine, which they acknowledge to rest on the authority of God. Paul, however, speaks here of the faith of the Corinthians in such a way as to bring forward this, as a general statement. Let it then be known by us that it is the property of faith to rest upon God alone, without depending on men; for it requires to have so much certainty to go upon, that it will not fail, even when assailed by all the machinations of hell, but will perseveringly endure and sustain every assault. This cannot be accomplished unless we are fully persuaded that God has spoken to us, and that what we have believed is no mere contrivance of men. While faith ought properly to be founded on the word of God alone, there is at the same time no impropriety in adding this second prop, — that believers recognize the word which they hear as having come forth from God, from the effect of its influence.

1 CORINTHIANS 2:6-9
6. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to naught:
6. Porro sapientiam loquimur inter perfectos: sapientiam quidem non saeculi hujus, neque principum saeculi hujus, qui abolentur:
7. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
7. Sed loquimur sapientiam Dei in mysterio, quae est recondita: quam praefinivit Deus ante saecula in gloriam nostram,
8. Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
8. Quam nemo principum saeculi hujus cognovit: si emro cognovissent, nequaquam Dominum gloriae crucifixissent.
9. But, as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
9. Sed quemadmodum Scriptum est (Ies. 64:4.) “Quae oculus non vidit, nec auris audivit, nec in cor hominis ascenderunt, quae praeparavit Deus iis, qui ipsum diligunt.”

6. We speak wisdom. Lest he should appear to despise wisdom, as unlearned and ignorant men (<440413>Acts 4:13) condemn learning with a sort of barbarian ferocity, he adds, that he is not devoid of that wisdom, which was worthy of the name, but was esteemed as such by none but competent judges. By those that were perfect, he means not those that had attained a wisdom that was full and complete, but those who possess a sound and unbiased judgment. For µt, which is always rendered in the Septuagint by teleiov means complete. f112 He twits, however, in passing, those that had no relish for his preaching, and gives them to understand that it was owing to their own fault: “If my doctrine is disrelished by any of you, those persons give sufficient evidence from that very token, that they possess a depraved and vitiated understanding, inasmuch as it will invariably be acknowledged to be the highest wisdom among men of sound intellect and correct judgment.” While Paul’s preaching was open to the view of all, it was, nevertheless, not always estimated according to its value, and this is the reason why he appeals to sound and unbiased judges, f113 who would declare that doctrine, which the world accounted insipid, to be true wisdom. Meanwhile, by the words we speak, he intimates that he set before them an elegant specimen of admirable wisdom, lest any one should allege that he boasted of a thing unknown.
Yet not the wisdom of this world. He again repeats by way of anticipation what he had already conceded — that the gospel was not human wisdom, lest any one should object that there were few supporters of that doctrine; nay more, that it was contemned by all that were most distinguished for intellect. Hence he acknowledges of his own accord what might be brought forward by way of objection, but in such a way as not at all to give up his point.
The princes of this world. By the princes of this world he means those that have distinction in the world through means of any endowment, for sometimes there are persons, who, though they are by no means distinguished by acuteness of intellect, are nevertheless held in admiration from the dignity of the station which they hold. That, however, we may not be alarmed by these imposing appearances, the Apostle adds, that they come to nought, or perish. For it were unbefitting, that a thing that is eternal should depend upon the authority of those who are frail, and fading, and cannot give perpetuity even to themselves: “When the kingdom of God is revealed, let the wisdom of this world retire, and what is transient give place to what is eternal; for the princes of this world have their distinction, but it is of such a nature as is in one moment extinguished. What is this in comparison with the heavenly and incorruptible kingdom of God?”
7. The wisdom of God in a mystery. He assigns the reason why the doctrine of the gospel is not held in high esteem by the princes of this world — because it is involved in mysteries, and is consequently hidden. For the gospel so far transcends the perspicacity of human intellect, that to whatever height those who are accounted men of superior intellect may raise their view, they never can reach its elevated height, while in the meantime they despise its meanness, as if it were prostrate at their feet. The consequence is, that the more proudly they contemn it, they are the farther from acquaintance with it — nay more, they are removed to so great a distance as to be prevented from even seeing it.
Which God hath ordained. Paul having said that the gospel was a hidden thing, there was a danger lest believers should, on hearing this, be appalled by the difficulty, and retire in despair. Accordingly he meets this danger, and declares that it had notwithstanding been appointed to us, that we might enjoy it. Lest any one, I say, should reckon that he has nothing to do with the hidden wisdom, or should imagine it to be unlawful to direct his eyes towards it, as not being within the reach of human capacity, he teaches that it has been communicated to us in accordance with the eternal counsel of God. At the same time he has something still farther in view, for by an implied comparison he extols that grace which has been opened up by Christ’s advent, and distinguishes us above our fathers, who lived under the law. On this point I have spoken more at large in the end of the last chapter of the Romans. First of all then he argues from what God had ordained, for if God has appointed nothing in vain, it follows, that we will be no losers by listening to the gospel which he has appointed for us, for he accommodates himself to our capacity in addressing us. In accordance with this Isaiah (<234519>Isaiah 45:19) says —
“I have not spoken in a lurking place, or in a dark corner. f114 I have not in vain said to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me.”
Secondly, with the view of rendering the gospel attractive, and alluring us to a desire of acquaintance with it, he draws an argument still farther from the design that God had in view in giving it to us — “for our glory.” In this expression, too, he seems to draw a comparison between us and the fathers, our heavenly Father not having vouchsafed to them that honor which he reserved for the advent of his Son. f115
8. None of the princes of this world knew. If you supply the words by their own discernment, the statement would not be more applicable to them than to the generality of mankind, and the very lowest of the people; for what are the attainments of all of us as to this matter, from the greatest to the least? Only we may perhaps say, that princes, rather than others, are charged with blindness and ignorance — for this reason, that they alone appear in the view of the word clear-sighted and wise. At the same time I should prefer to understand the expression in a more simple way, agreeably to the common usage of Scripture, which is wont to speak in terms of universality of those things that, happen epi to polu, that is commonly, and also to make a negative statement in terms of universality, as to those things that happen only ejpi e]latton, that is very seldom. In this sense there were nothing inconsistent with this statement, though there were found a few men of distinction, and elevated above others in point of dignity, who were at the same time endowed with the pure knowledge of God.
For had they known. The wisdom of God shone forth clearly in Christ, and yet there the princes did not perceive it; for those who took the lead in the crucifixion of Christ were on the one hand the chief men of the Jews, high in credit for holiness and wisdom; and on the other hand Pilate and the Roman empire. In this we have a most distinct proof of the utter blindness of all that are wise only according to the flesh. This argument of the Apostle, however, might appear to be weak. “What! do we not every day see persons who, with deliberate malice, fight against the truth of God, as to which they are not ignorant; nay, even if a rebellion so manifest were not to be seen by us with our eyes, what else is the sin against the Holy Ghost than a willful obstinacy against God, when a man knowingly and willingly does not merely oppose his word, but even fights against it. It is on this account, too, that Christ declares that the Pharisees, and others of that description, knew him, (<430728>John 7:28,) while he deprives them of all pretext of ignorance, and accuses them of impious cruelty in persecuting him, the faithful servant of the Father, for no other reason but that they hated the truth.”
I answer that there are two kinds of ignorance. The one arises from inconsiderate zeal, not expressly rejecting what is good, but from having an impression that it is evil. No one, it is true, sins in ignorance in such a way as not to be chargeable meanwhile in the sight, of God with an evil conscience, there being always a mixture of hypocrisy, or pride, or contempt; but at the same time judgment, and all intelligence in the mind of man, are sometimes so effectually choked, that nothing but bare ignorance is to be seen by others, or even by the individual himself. Such was Paul before he was enlightened; for the reason why he hated Christ and was hostile to his doctrine was, that he was through ignorance hurried away with a preposterous Zeal for the law. f116 Yet he was not devoid of hypocrisy, nor exempt from pride, so as to be free from blame in the sight of God, but those vices were so completely covered over with ignorance and blindness as not to be perceived or felt even by himself.
The other kind of ignorance has more of the appearance of insanity and derangement, than of mere ignorance; for those that of their own accord rise up against God, are like persons in a frenzy, who, seeing, see not. (<401313>Matthew 13:13.) It must be looked upon, indeed, as a settled point, that infidelity is always blind; but the difference lies here, that in some cases malice is covered over with blindness to such a degree that the individual, through a kind of stupidity, is without any perception of his own wickedness. This is the case with those who, with a good intention, as they speak, or in other words, a foolish imagination, impose upon themselves. In some cases malice has the ascendancy in such a manner, that in spite of the checks of conscience, the individual rushes forward into wickedness of this sort with a kind of madness. f117 Hence it is not to be wondered, if Paul declares that the princes of this world would not have crucified Christ, had they known the wisdom of God. For the Pharisees and Scribes did not know Christ’s doctrine to be true, so as not to be bewildered in their mind, and wander on in their own darkness.
9. As it is written, “What eye hath not seen.” All are agreed that this passage is taken from <236404>Isaiah 64:4, and as the meaning is at first view plain and easy, interpreters do not give themselves much trouble in expounding it. On looking, however, more narrowly into it, two very great difficulties present themselves. The first is, that the words that are here quoted by Paul do not correspond with the words of the Prophet. The second is, that it seems as though Paul had perverted the Prophet’s declaration to a purpose quite foreign to his design.
First then as to the words; and as they may be taken in different senses, they are explained variously by interpreters. Some render the passage thus: “From the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived with their ears, and eye hath not seen any god beside Thee, who doth act in such a manner towards him that waiteth for him.” Others understand the discourse as addressed to God, in this manner: “Eye hath not seen, nor hath ear heard, O God, besides thee, the things which thou dost for those that wait for thee.” Literally, however, the Prophet’s meaning is: “From the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor have they perceived with the ears, hath not seen a god, (or O God,) besides thee, will do (or will prepare) for him that waiteth for him.” If we understand µyhla (God) to be in the accusative, the relative who must be supplied. This exposition, too, appears, at first view, to suit better with the Prophet’s context in respect of the verb that follows being used in the third person; f118 but it is farther removed from Paul’s meaning, on which we ought to place more dependence than on any other consideration. For where shall we find a surer or more faithful interpreter than the Spirit of God of this authoritative declaration, which He himself dictated to Isaiah — in the exposition which He has furnished by the mouth of Paul. With the view of obviating, however, the calumnies of the wicked, I observe that the Hebrew idiom admits of our understanding the Prophets true meaning to be this: “O God, neither hath eye seen, nor hath ear heard: but thou alone knowest the things which thou art wont to do to those that wait for thee.” The sudden change of person forms no objection, as we know that it is so common in the writings of the Prophets, that it needs not be any hindrance in our way. If any one, however, prefers the former interpretation, he will have no occasion for charging either us or the Apostle with departing from the simple meaning of the words, for we supply less than they do, as they are under the necessity of adding a mark of comparison to the verb, rendering it thus: “who doth act in such a manner.”
As to what follows respecting the entering of these things into the heart of man, though the expression is not made use of by the Prophet, it does not differ materially from the clause besides thee. For in ascribing this knowledge to God alone, he excludes from it not merely the bodily senses of men, but also the entire faculty of the understanding. While, therefore, the Prophet makes mention only of sight and hearing, he includes at the same time by implication all the faculties of the soul. And without doubt these are the two instruments by which we attain the knowledge of those things that find their way into the understanding. In using the expression them that love him, he has followed the Greek interpreters, who have translated it in this way from having been misled by the resemblance between one letter and another; f119 but as that did not affect the point in hand, he did not choose to depart from the common reading, as we frequently have occasion to observe how closely he follows the received version. Though the words, therefore, are not the same, there is no real difference of meaning.
I come now to the subject-matter. The Prophet in that passage, when mentioning how signally God had on all occasions befriended his people in their emergencies, exclaims, that his acts of kindness to the pious surpass the comprehension of human intellect. “But what has this to do,” some one will say, “with spiritual doctrine, and the promises of eternal life, as to which Paul is here arguing?” There are three ways in which this question may be answered. There were no inconsistency in affirming that the Prophet, having made mention of earthly blessings, was in consequence of this led on to make a general statement, and even to extol that spiritual blessedness which is laid up in heaven for believers. I prefer, however, to understand him simply as referring to those gifts of God’s grace that are daily conferred upon believers. In these it becomes us always to observe their source, and not to confine our views to their present aspect. Now their source is that unmerited goodness of God, by which he has adopted us into the number of his sons. He, therefore, who would estimate these things aright, will not contemplate them in their naked aspect, but will clothe them with God’s fatherly love, as with a robe, and will thus be led forward from temporal favors to eternal life. It might also be maintained that the argument is from the less to the greater; for if man’s intellect is not competent to measure God’s earthly gifts, how much less will it reach the height of heaven? (<430312>John 3:12.) I have, however, already intimated which interpretation prefer.

1 CORINTHIANS 2:10-13
10. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
10. Nobis autem Deus revelavit per Spiritum suum: Spiritus enim omnia scrutatur, etiam profunditates Dei.
11. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
11. Quis enim hominum novit, quae ad eum pertinent, nisi spiritus hominis, qui est in ipso? Ita et quae Dei sunt, nemo novit, nisi Spiritus Dei.
12. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
12. Nos autem non spiritum mundi accepimus, seal Spiritum qui est ex Deo: ut sciamus quae a Christo donata sunt nobis:
13. Which flyings also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
13. Quae et loquimur, non in eruditis humanae sapientiae sermonibus, sed Spiritus sancti, spiritualibus spiritualia coaptantes.

10. But God hath revealed them to us. Having shut up all mankind in blindness, and having taken away from the human intellect the power of attaining to a knowledge of God by its own resources, he now shows in what way believers are exempted from this blindness, — by the Lord’s honoring them with a special illumination of the Spirit. Hence the greater the bluntness of the human intellect for understanding the mysteries of God, and the greater the uncertainty under which it labors, so much the surer is our faith, which rests for its support on the revelation of God’s Spirit. In this, too, we recognize the unbounded goodness of God, who makes our defect contribute to our advantage.
For the Spirit searcheth all things. This is added for the consolation of the pious, that they may rest more securely in the revelation which they have from the Spirit of God, as though he had said. “Let it suffice us to have the Spirit of God as a witness, for there is nothing in God that is too profound for him to reach.” For such is the import here of the word searcheth. By the deep things you must understand — not secret judgments, which we are forbidden to search into, but the entire doctrine of salvation, which would have been to no purpose set before us in the Scriptures, were it not that God elevates our minds to it by his Spirit.
11. For what man knoweth? Two different things he intends to teach here: first, that the doctrine of the Gospel cannot be understood otherwise than by the testimony of the Holy Spirit; and secondly, that those who have a testimony of this nature from the Holy Spirit, have an assurance as firm and solid, as if they felt with their hands what they believe, for the Spirit is a faithful and indubitable witness. This he proves by a similitude drawn from our own spirit: for every one is conscious of his own thoughts, and on the other hand what lies hid in any man’s heart, is unknown to another. In the same way what is the counsel of God, and what his will, is hid from all mankind, for “who hath been his counselor?” (<451134>Romans 11:34.) It is, therefore, a secret recess, inaccessible to mankind; but, if the Spirit of God himself introduces us into it, or in other words, makes us acquainted with those things that are otherwise hid from our view, there will then be no more ground for hesitation, for nothing that is in God escapes the notice of the Spirit of God.
This similitude, however, may seem to be not altogether very appropriate, for as the tongue bears an impress of the mind, mankind communicate their dispositions to each other, so that they become acquainted with each other’s thoughts. Why then may we not understand from the word of God what is his will? For while mankind by pretenses and falsehoods in many cases conceal their thoughts rather than discover them, this cannot happen with God, whose word is undoubted truth, and his genuine and lively image. We must, however, carefully observe how far Paul designed to extend this comparison. A man’s innermost thought, of which others are ignorant, is perceived by himself alone: if he afterwards makes it known to others, this does not hinder but that his spirit alone knows what is in him. For it may happen that he does not persuade: it may even happen that he does not properly express his own meaning; but even if he attains both objects, this statement is not at variance with the other — that his own spirit alone has the true knowledge of it. There is this difference, however, between God’s thoughts and those of men, that men mutually understand each other; but the word of God is a kind of hidden wisdom, the loftiness of which is not reached by the weakness of the human intellect. Thus the light shineth in darkness, (<430105>John 1:5,) aye and until the Spirit opens the eyes of the blind.
The spirit of a man. Observe, that the spirit of a man is taken here for the soul, in which the intellectual faculty, as it is called, resides. For Paul would have expressed himself inaccurately if he had ascribed this knowledge to man’s intellect, or in other words, the faculty itself, and not to the soul, which is endued with the power of understanding.
12. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world. He heightens by contrast the certainty of which he had made mention. “The Spirit of revelation,” says he, “which we have received, is not of the world, so as to be merely creeping upon the ground, so as to be subject to vanity, or be in suspense, or vary or fluctuate, or hold us in doubt and perplexity. On the contrary, it is from God, and hence it is above all heavens, of solid and unvarying truth, and placed above all risk of doubt.”
It is a passage that is most abundantly clear, for refuting that diabolical doctrine of the Sophists as to a constant hesitancy on the part of believers. For they require all believers to be in doubt, whether they are in the grace of God or not, and allow of no assurance of salvation, but what hangs on moral or probable conjecture. In this, however, they overthrow faith in two respects: for first they would have us be in doubt, whether we are in a state of grace, and then afterwards they suggest a second occasion of doubt — as to final perseverance. f120 Here, however, the Apostle declares in general terms, that the elect have the Spirit given them, by whose testimony they are assured that they have been adopted to the hope of eternal salvation. Undoubtedly, if they would maintain their doctrine, they must of necessity either take away the Spirit of God from the elect, or make even the Spirit himself subject to uncertainty. Both of these things are openly at variance with Paul’s doctrine. Hence we may know the nature of faith to be this, that conscience has from the Holy Spirit a sure testimony of the good-will of God towards it, so that, resting upon this, it does not hesitate to invoke God as a Father. Thus Paul lifts up our faith above the world, that it may look down with lofty disdain upon all the pride of the flesh; for otherwise it will be always timid and wavering, because we see how boldly human ingenuity exalts itself, the haughtiness of which requires to be trodden under foot by the sons of God through means of an opposing haughtiness of heroical magnanimity. f121
That we may know the things that are given us by Christ. The word know is made use of to express more fully the assurance of confidence. Let us observe, however, that it is not acquired in a natural way, and is not attained by the mental capacity, but depends entirely on the revelation of the Spirit. The things that he makes mention of as given by Christ are the blessings that we obtain through his death and resurrection — that being reconciled to God, and having obtained remission of sins, we know that we have been adopted to the hope of eternal life, and that, being sanctified by the Spirit of regeneration, we are made new creatures, that we may live to God. In <490118>Ephesians 1:18, he says what amounts to the same thing —
“That ye may know what is the hope of your calling.”
13. Which things also we speak, not in the learned words, etc. He speaks of himself, for he is still employed in commending his ministry. Now it is a high commendation that he pronounces upon his preaching, when he says of it that it contains a secret revelation of the most important matters — the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, the sum of our salvation, and the inestimable treasures of Christ, that the Corinthians may know how highly it ought to be prized. In the meantime he returns to the concession that he had made before — that his preaching had not been adorned with any glitter of words, and had no luster of elegance, but was contented with the simple doctrine of the Holy Spirit. By the learned words of human wisdom f122 he means those that savor of human learning, and are polished according to the rules of the rhetoricians, or blown up with philosophical loftiness, with a view to excite the admiration of the hearers. The words taught by the Spirit, on the other hand, are such as are adapted to a pure and simple style, corresponding to the dignity of the Spirit, rather than to an empty ostentation. For in order that eloquence may not be wanting, we must always take care that the wisdom of God be not polluted with any borrowed and profane luster. Paul’s manner of teaching was of such a kind, that the power of the Spirit shone forth in it single and unattired, without any foreign aid.
Spiritual things with spiritual. Sugkrinesqai is used here, I have no doubt, in the sense of adapt. This is sometimes the meaning of the word, f123 (as Budaeus shows by a quotation from Aristotle,)and hence sugkrima is used to mean what is knit together or glued together, and certainly it suits much better with Paul’s context than compare or liken, as others have rendered it. He says then that he adapts spiritual things to spiritual, in accommodating the words to the subject; f124 that is, he tempers that heavenly wisdom of the Spirit with a simple style of speech, and of such a nature as carries in its front the native energy of the Spirit. In the meantime he reproves others, who, by an affected elegance of expression and show of refinement, endeavor to obtain the applause of men, as persons who are either devoid of solid truth, or, by unbecoming ornaments, corrupt the spiritual doctrine of God.

1 CORINTHIANS 2:14-16
14. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
14. Animalis autem homo non comprehendit quae sunt Spiritus Dei. Sunt enim illi stultitia; nec potest intelligere, quia spiritualiter diiudicantur.
15. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet himself is judged of no man.
15. Spiritualis autem diiudicat omnia, ipsc vero a neminc (vel, nullo) diiudicatur.
16. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
16. Quis enim cognovit mentem Domini, qui adjuvet ipsum? nos autem mentem Christi habemus.

14. But the animal man. f125 By the animal man he does not mean (as is commonly thought) the man that is given up to gross lusts, or, as they say, to his own sensuality, but any man that is endowed with nothing more than the faculties f126 of nature. f127 This appears from the corresponding term, for he draws a comparison between the animal man and the spiritual. As the latter denotes the man whose understanding is regulated by the illumination of the Spirit of God, there can be no doubt that the former denotes the man that is left in a purely natural condition, as they speak. For the soul f128 belongs to nature, but the Spirit is of supernatural communication.
He returns to what he had previously touched upon, for his object is to remove a stumblingblock which might stand in the way of the weak — that there were so many that despised the gospel. He shows that we ought to make no account of a contempt of such a nature as proceeds from ignorance, and that it ought, consequently, to be no hindrance in the way of our going forward in the race of faith, unless perhaps we choose to shut our eyes upon the brightness of the sun, because it. is not seen by the blind. It would, however, argue great ingratitude in any individual, when God bestows upon him a special favor, to reject it, on the ground of its not being common to all, whereas, on the contrary, its very rareness ought to enhance its value. f129
For they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them. “The doctrine of the gospel,” says he, “is insipid f130 in the view of all that are wise merely in the view of man. But whence comes this? It is from their own blindness. In what respect, then, does this detract from the majesty of the gospel?” In short, while ignorant persons depreciate the gospel, because they measure its value by the estimation in which it is held by men, Paul derives an argument from this for extolling more highly its dignity. For he teaches that the reason why it is contemned is that it is unknown, and that the reason why it is unknown is that it is too profound and sublime to be apprehended by the understanding of man. What a superior wisdom f131 this is, which so far transcends all human understanding, that man cannot have so much as a taste of it! f132 While, however, Paul here tacitly imputes it to the pride of the flesh, that mankind dare to condemn as foolish what. they do not comprehend, he at the same time shows how great is the weakness or rather bluntness of the human understanding, when he declares it to be incapable of spiritual apprehension. For he teaches, that it is not owing simply to the obstinacy of the human will, but to the impotency, also, of the understanding, that man does not attain to the things of the Spirit. Had he said that men are not willing to be wise, that indeed would have been true, but he states farther that they are not able. Hence we infer, that faith is not in one’s own power, but is divinely conferred.
Because they are spiritually discerned. That is, the Spirit of God, from whom the doctrine of the gospel comes, is its only true interpreter, to open it up to us. Hence in judging of it, men’s minds must of necessity be in blindness until they are enlightened by the Spirit of God. f133 Hence infer, that all mankind are by nature destitute of the Spirit of God: otherwise the argument would be inconclusive. It is from the Spirit of God, it is true, that we have that feeble spark of reason which we all enjoy; but at present we are speaking of that special discovery of heavenly wisdom which God vouchsafes to his sons alone. Hence the more insufferable the ignorance of those who imagine that the gospel is offered to mankind in common in such a way that all indiscriminately are free f134 to embrace salvation by faith.
15. But the spiritual man judgeth all things. Having stripped of all authority man’s carnal judgment, he now teaches, that the spiritual alone are fit judges as to this matter, inasmuch as God is known only by his Spirit, and it is his peculiar province to distinguish between his own things and those of others, to approve of what is his own, and to make void all things else. The meaning, then, is this: “Away with all the discernment of the flesh as to this matter! It is the spiritual man alone that has such a firm and solid acquaintance with the mysteries of God, as to distinguish without fail between truth and falsehood — between the doctrine of God and the contrivances of man, so as not to fall into mistake. f135 He, on the other hand, is judged by no man, because the assurance of faith is not subject to men, as though they could make it totter at their nod, f136 it being superior even to angels themselves.” Observe, that this prerogative is not ascribed to the man as an individual, but to the word of God, which the spiritual follow in judging, and which is truly dictated to them by God with true discernment. Where that is afforded, a man’s persuasion f137 is placed beyond the range of human judgment. Observe, farther, the word rendered judged: by which the Apostle intimates, that we are not merely enlightened by the Lord to perceive the truth, but are also endowed with a spirit of discrimination, so as not to hang in doubt between truth and falsehood, but are able to determine what we ought to shun and what to follow.
But here it may be asked, who is the spiritual man, and where we may find one that is endowed with so much light as to be prepared to judge of all things, feeling as we do, that we are at all times encompassed with much ignorance, and are in danger of erring: nay more, even those who come nearest to perfection from time to time fall and bruise themselves. The answer is easy: Paul does not extend this faculty to everything, so as to represent all that are renewed by the Spirit of God as exempt from every kind of error, but simply designs to teach, that the wisdom of the flesh is of no avail for judging of the doctrine of piety, and that this right of judgment and authority belong exclusively to the Spirit of God. In so far, therefore, as any one is regenerated, and according to the measure of grace conferred upon him, does he judge with accuracy and certainty, and no farther.
He himself is judged by no man. I have already explained on what ground he says that the spiritual man is not subject to the judgment of any man — because the truth of faith, which depends on God alone, and is grounded on his word, does not stand or fall according to the pleasure of men. f138 What he says afterwards, that
the spirit of one Prophet is subject to the other Prophets,
(<461432>1 Corinthians 14:32,)
is not at all inconsistent with this statement. For what is the design of that subjection, but that each of the Prophets listens to the others, and does not despise or reject their revelations, in order that what is discovered to be the truth of God, f139 may at length remain firm, and be received by all? Here, however, he places the science of faith, which has been received from God, f140 above the height of heaven and earth, in order that it may not be estimated by the judgment of men. At the same time, u[p j oujdeno>v may be taken in the neuter gender as meaning — by nothing, understanding it as referring to a thing, and not to a man. In this way the contrast will be more complete, f141 as intimating that the spiritual man, in so far as he is endowed with the Spirit of God, judgeth all things, but is judged by nothing, because he is not subject to any human wisdom or reason. In this way, too, Paul would exempt the consciences of the pious from all decrees, laws, and censures of men.
16. For who hath known? It is probable that Paul had an eye to what we read in the 40th chapter of Isaiah. The Prophet there asks,
Who hath been God’s counselor? Who hath weighed his Spirit, f142 (<234013>Isaiah 40:13,)
or hath aided him both in the creation of the world and in his other works? and, in fine, who hath comprehended the reason of his works? Now, in like manner Paul, by this interrogation, designs to teach, that his secret counsel which is contained in the gospel is far removed from the understanding of men. This then is a confirmation of the preceding statement.
But we have the mind of Christ. It is uncertain whether he speaks of believers universally, or of ministers exclusively. Either of these meanings will suit sufficiently well with the context, though I prefer to view it as referring more particularly to himself and other faithful ministers. f143 He says, then, that the servants of the Lord are taught by the paramount authority of the Spirit, what is farthest removed from the judgment of the flesh, that they may speak fearlessly as from the mouth of the Lord, — which gift flows out afterwards by degrees to the whole Church.
CHAPTER 3

1 CORINTHIANS 3:1-4
1. And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
1. Et ego, fratres, non potui vobis loqui tanquam spiritualibus, sed tanquam carnalibus, tanquam pueris in Christo. f144
2. 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.
2. Lactis potu vos alui, non solido cibo. Nondum enim eratis capaces, ac ne nunc quidem estis:
3. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
3. Siquidem estis adhuc carnales. Postquam enim sunt inter vos aemulatio et contentio, et factioncs; nonne carnales estis, et secundum hominem ambulatis?
4. For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos: are ye not carnal?
4. Quum enim dicat unus, Ego sum Pauli: alter vero, Ego Apollo: nonne carnales estis?

1. And I, brethren. He begins to apply to the Corinthians themselves, that he had said respecting carnal persons, that they may understand that the fault was their own — that the doctrine of the Cross had not more charms for them. It is probable, that in mercantile minds like theirs there was too much confidence and arrogance still lingering, so that it was not without much ado and great difficulty that they could bring themselves to embrace the simplicity of the gospel. Hence it was, that undervaluing the Apostle, and the divine efficacy of his preaching, they were more prepared to listen to those teachers that were subtle and showy, while destitute of the Spirit. f145 Hence, with the view of beating down so much the better their insolence, he declares, that they belong to the company of those who, stupefied by carnal sense, are not prepared to receive the spiritual wisdom of God. He softens down, it is true, the harshness of his reproach by calling them brethren, but at the same time he brings it forward expressly as a matter of reproach against them, that their minds were suffocated with the darkness of the flesh to such a degree that it formed a hindrance to his preaching among them. What sort of sound judgment then must they have, when they are not fit and prepared as yet even for hearing! He does not mean, however, that they were altogether carnal, so as to have not one spark of the Spirit of God — but that they had still greatly too much of carnal sense, so that the flesh prevailed over the Spirit, and did as it were drown out his light. Hence, although they were not altogether destitute of grace, yet, as they had more of the flesh than of the Spirit, they are on that account termed carnal. This sufficiently appears from what he immediately adds — that they were babes in Christ; for they would not have been babes had they not been begotten, and that begetting is from the Spirit of God.
Babes in Christ. This term is sometimes taken in a good sense, as it is by Peter, who exhorts us to be like new-born babes, (<600202>1 Peter 2:2,) and in that saying of Christ,
Unless ye become as these little children,
ye shall not enter into the kingdom of God, (<421817>Luke 18:17.)
Here, however, it is taken in a bad sense, as referring to the understanding. For we must be children in malice, but not in understanding, as he says afterwards in <461420>1 Corinthians 14:20, — a distinction which removes all occasion of doubt as to the meaning. To this also there is a corresponding passage in <490414>Ephesians 4:14.
That we be no longer children tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine, and made the sport f146 of human fallacies, but may day by day grow up, etc.
2. I have fed you with milk. Here it is asked, whether Paul transformed Christ to suit the diversity of his hearers. I answer, that this refers to the manner and form of his instructions, rather than to the substance of the doctrine. For Christ is at once milk to babes, and strong meat to those that are of full age, (<580513>Hebrews 5:13, 14,) the same truth of the gospel is administered to both, but so as to suit their capacity. Hence it is the part of a wise teacher to accommodate himself to the capacity of those whom he has undertaken to instruct, so that in dealing with the weak and ignorant, he begins with first principles, and does not go higher than they are able to follow, (<410433>Mark 4:33,) and so that, in short, he drops in his instructions by little and little, f147 lest it should run over, if poured in more abundantly. At the same time, those first principles will contain everything necessary to be known, no less than the farther advanced lessons that are communicated to those that are stronger. On this point read Augustine’s 98th homily on John. This tends to refute the specious pretext of some, who, while they do but mutter out, from fear of danger, something of the gospel in an indistinct manner, f148 pretend to have Paul’s example here. Meanwhile, they present Christ at such a distance, and covered over, besides, with so many disguises, that they constantly keep their followers in destructive ignorance. I shall say nothing of their mixing up many corruptions, their presenting Christ not simply in half, but torn to fragments, f149 their not merely concealing such gross idolatry, but confirming it also by their own example, and, if they have said anything that is good, straightway polluting it with numerous falsehoods. How unlike they are to Paul is sufficiently manifest; for milk is nourishment and not poison, and nourishment that is suitable and useful for bringing up children until they are farther advanced.
For ye were not yet able to bear it. That they may not flatter themselves too much on their own discernment, he first of all tells them what he had found among them at the beginning, and then adds, what is still more severe, that the same faults remain among them to this day. For they ought at least, in putting on Christ, to have put off the flesh; and thus we see that Paul complains that the success which his doctrine ought to have had was impeded. For if the hearer does not occasion delay by his slowness, it is the part of a good teacher to be always going up higher, f150 till perfection has been attained.
3. For ye are as yet carnal. So long as the flesh, that is to say, natural corruption, prevails in a man, it has so completely possession of the man’s mind, that the wisdom of God finds no admittance. Hence, if we would make proficiency in the Lord’s school, we must first of all renounce our own judgment and our own will. Now, although among the Corinthians some sparks of piety were emitted, they were kept under by being choked. f151
For since there are among you. The proof is derived from the effects; for as envying, and strifes, and divisions, are the fruits of the flesh, wherever they are seen, it is certain that the root is there in its rigor. Those evils prevailed among the Corinthians; and accordingly he proves from this that they are carnal. He makes use of the same argument, too, in <480525>Galatians 5:25. If ye live in the Spirit, walk also in the Spirit. For while they were desirous to be regarded as spiritual, he calls them to look at their works, by which they denied what with their mouth they professed. (<560116>Titus 1:16.) Observe, however, the elegant arrangement that Paul here pursues: for from envying spring up contentions, and these, when they have once been enkindled, break out into deadly sects: but the mother of all these evils is ambition.
Walk as men. From this it is manifest that the term flesh is not restricted to the lower appetites merely, as the Sophists pretend, the seat of which they call sensuality, but is employed to describe man’s whole nature. For those that follow the guidance of nature, are not governed by the Spirit of God. These, according to the Apostle’s definition, are carnal, so that the flesh and man’s natural disposition are quite synonymous, and hence it is not without good reason that he elsewhere requires that we be new creatures in Christ. (<470517>2 Corinthians 5:17.)
4. For while one saith. He now specifies the particular kind of contentions, f152 and he does this by personating the Corinthians, that his description may have more force — that each one gloried in his particular master, as though Christ were not the one Master of all. (<402308>Matthew 23:8.) Now, where such ambition still prevails, the gospel has little or no success. You are not, however, to understand that they declared this openly in express words, but the Apostle reproves those depraved dispositions to which they were given up. At the same time it is likely, that, as a predilection arising from ambition is usually accompanied with an empty talkativeness, f153 they openly discovered by their words the absurd bias of their mind, by extolling their teachers to the skies in magnificent terms, accompanying this at the same time with contempt of Paul and those like him.


1 CORINTHIANS 3:5-9
5. Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to man?
5. Quis ergo est Paulus, aut quis Apollos, nisi ministri, per quos credidistis, et sicut unicuique Dominus every dedit?
6. I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
6. Ego plantavi, Apollos rigavit; at Deus incrementum dedit.
7. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
7. Ergo neque qui plantat aliquid est, neque qui rigat; sed Deus qui dat incrementurn.
8. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one; and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor.
8. Qui autem plantat, et qui rigat, unum f154 sunt. Porro quisque propriam mercedem secundum laborem suum recipiet.
9. For we are laborers together with God; ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
9. Dei enim cooperarii sumus, f155 Dei agricultura, Dei aedificatio estis.

5. Who then is Paul? Here he begins to treat of the estimation in which ministers ought to be held, and the purpose for which they have been set apart by the Lord. He names himself and Apollos rather than others, that he may avoid any appearance of envy. f156 “What else,” says he, “are all ministers appointed for, but to bring you to faith through means of their preaching?” From this Paul infers, that no man ought to be gloried in, for faith allows of no glorying except in Christ alone. Hence those that extol men above measure, strip them of their true dignity. For the grand distinction of them all is, that they are ministers of faith, or, in other words, that they gain disciples to Christ, not to themselves. Now, though he appears in this way to depreciate the dignity of ministers, yet he does not assign it a lower place than it ought to hold. For he says much when he says, that we receive faith through their ministry. Nay farther, the efficacy of external doctrine receives here extraordinary commendation, when it is spoken of as the instrument of the Holy Spirit; and pastors are honored with no common title of distinction, when God is said to make use of them as his ministers, for dispensing the inestimable treasure of faith.
As the Lord hath given to every man. In the Greek words used by Paul the particle of comparison wJv, as, is placed after eJkastw| — to every man; but the order is inverted. f157 Hence to make the meaning more apparent, I have rendered it “Sicut unicuique,” — “as to every man,” rather than “Unicuique sicut,” — “to every man as.” In some manuscripts, however, the particle kai, and, is wanting, and it is all in one connection, thus: Ministers by whom ye believed as the Lord gave to every man. If we read it in this way, the latter clause will be added to explain the former, — so that Paul explains what he meant by the term minister: “Those are ministers whose services God makes use of, not as though they could do anything by their own efforts, but in so far as they are guided by his hand, as instruments.” The rendering that I have given, however, is, in my opinion, the more correct one. If we adopt it, the statement will be more complete, for it will consist of two clauses, in this way. In the first place, those are ministers who have devoted their services to Christ, that you might believe in him: farther, they have nothing of their own to pride themselves upon, inasmuch as they do nothing of themselves, and have no power to do anything otherwise than by the gift of God, and every man according to his own measure — which shows, that whatever each individual has, is derived from another. In fine, he unites them all together as by a mutual bond, inasmuch as they require each other’s assistance.
6. I have planted, Apollos watered. He unfolds more clearly the nature of that ministry by a similitude, in which the nature of the word and the use of preaching are most appropriately depicted. That the earth may bring forth fruit, there is need of ploughing and sowing, and other means of culture; but after all this has been carefully done, the husbandman’s labor would be of no avail, did not the Lord from heaven give the increase, by the breaking forth of the sun, and still more by his wonderful and secret influence. Hence, although the diligence of the husbandman is not in vain, nor the seed that he throws in useless, yet it is only by the blessing of God that they are made to prosper, for what is more wonderful than that the seed, after it has rotted, springs up again! In like manner, the word of the Lord is seed that is in its own nature fruitful: ministers are as it were husbandmen, that plough and sow. Then follow other helps, as for example, irrigation. Ministers, too, act a corresponding part when, after casting the seed into the ground, they give help to the earth as much as is in their power, until it bring forth what it has conceived: but as for making their labor actually productive, that is a miracle of divine grace — not a work of human industry.
Observe, however, in this passage, how necessary the preaching of the word is, and how necessary the continuance of it. f158 It were, undoubtedly, as easy a thing for God to bless the earth without diligence on the part of men, so as to make it bring forth fruit of its own accord, as to draw out, or rather press out f159 its increase, at the expense of much assiduity on the part of men, and much sweat and sorrow; but as the Lord hath so ordained (<460914>1 Corinthians 9:14) that man should labor, and that the earth, on its part, yield a return to his culture, let us take care to act accordingly. In like manner, it were perfectly in the power of God, without the aid of men, if it so pleased him, to produce faith in persons while asleep; but he has appointed it otherwise, so that faith is produced by hearing. (<451017>Romans 10:17.) That man, then, who, in the neglect of this means, expects to attain faith, acts just as if the husbandman, throwing aside the plough, taking no care to sow; and leaving off all the labor of husbandry, were to open his mouth, expecting food to drop into it from heaven.
As to continuance f160 we see what Paul says here — that it is not enough that the seed be sown, if it is not brought forward from time to time by new helps. He, then, who has already received the seed, has still need of watering, nor must endeavors be left off, until full maturity has been attained, or in other words, till life is ended. Apollos, then, who succeeded Paul in the ministry of the word at Corinth, is said to have watered what he had sown.
7. Neither is he that planteth anything. It appears, nevertheless, from what has been already said, that their labor is of some importance. We must observe, therefore, why it is that Paul thus depreciates it; and first of all, it is proper to notice that he is accustomed to speak in two different ways of ministers, f161 as well as of sacraments. For in some cases he views a minister as one that has been set apart by the Lord for, in the first instance, regenerating souls, and, afterwards, nourishing them up unto eternal life, for remitting sins, (<432023>John 20:23,) for renewing the minds of men, for raising up the kingdom of Christ, and destroying that of Satan. Viewed in that aspect he does not merely assign to him the duty of planting and watering, but furnishes him, besides, with the efficacy of the Holy Spirit, that his labor may not be in vain. Thus f162 in another passage he calls himself a minister of the Spirit, and not of the letter, inasmuch as he writes the word of the Lord on men’s hearts. (<470306>2 Corinthians 3:6.)
In other cases he views a minister as one that is a servant, not a master — an instrument, not the hand; and in short as man, not God. Viewed in that aspect, he leaves him nothing but his labor, and that, too, dead and powerless, if the Lord does not make it efficacious by his Spirit. The reason is, that when it is simply the ministry that is treated of, we must have an eye not merely to man, but also to God, working in him by the grace of the Spirit — not as though the grace of the Spirit were invariably tied to the word of man, but because Christ puts forth his power in the ministry which he has instituted, in such a manner that it is made evident, that it was not instituted in vain. In this manner he does not take away or diminish anything that belongs to Him, with the view of transferring it to man. For He is not separated from the minister, f163 but on the contrary His power is declared to be efficacious in the minister. But as we sometimes, in so far as our judgment is depraved, take occasion improperly from this to extol men too highly, we require to distinguish for the purpose of correcting this fault, and we must set the Lord on the one side, and the minister on the other, and then it becomes manifest, how indigent man is in himself, and how utterly devoid of efficacy.
Let it be known by us, therefore, that in this passage ministers are brought into comparison with the Lord, and the reason of this comparison is — that mankind, while estimating grudgingly the grace of God, are too lavish in their commendations of ministers, and in this manner they snatch away what is God’s, with the view of transferring it to themselves. At the same time he always observes a most becoming medium, for when he says, that God giveth the increase, he intimates by this, that the efforts of men themselves are not without success. The case is the same as to the sacraments, as we shall see elsewhere. f164 Hence, although our heavenly Father does not reject our labor in cultivating his field, and does not allow it to be unproductive, yet he will have its success depend exclusively upon his blessing, that he may have the entire praise. Accordingly, if we are desirous to make any progress in laboring, in striving, in pressing forward, let it be known by us, that we will make no progress, unless he prospers our labors, our strivings, and our assiduity, in order that we may commend ourselves, and everything we do to his grace.
8. He that planteth, and he that watereth are one. He shows farther, from another consideration, that the Corinthians are greatly to blame in abusing, with a view to maintain their own sects and parties, the names of their teachers, who in the meantime are, with united efforts, aiming at one and the same thing, and can by no means be separated, or torn asunder, without at the same time leaving off the duties of their office. They are one, says he; in other words, they are so linked together, that their connection does not allow of any separation, because all ought to have one end in view, and they serve one Lord, and are engaged in the same work. Hence, if they employ themselves faithfully in cultivating the Lord’s field, they will maintain unity; and, by mutual communication, will help each other — so far from their names serving as standards to stir up contendings. Here we have a beautiful passage for exhorting ministers to concord. Meanwhile, however, he indirectly reproves those ambitious teachers, who, by giving occasion for contentions, discovered thereby that they were not the servants of Christ, but the slaves of vain-glory — that they did not employ themselves in planting and watering, but in rooting up and burning.
Every man will receive his own reward. Here he shows what is the end that all ministers should have in view — not to catch the applause of the multitude, but to please the Lord. This, too, he does with the view of calling to the judgment-seat of God those ambitious teachers, who were intoxicated with the glory of the world, and thought of nothing else; and at the same time admonishing the Corinthians, as to the worthlessness of that empty applause which is drawn forth by elegance of expression and vain ostentation. He at the same time discovers in these words the fearlessness of his conscience, inasmuch as he ventures to look forward to the judgment of God without dismay. For the reason why ambitious men recommend themselves to the esteem of the world is, that they have not learned to devote themselves to God, and that they do not set before their eyes Christ’s heavenly kingdom. Accordingly, as soon as God comes to be seen, that foolish desire of gaining man’s favor disappears.
9. For we are fellow-laborers with God. Here is the best argument. It is the Lord’s work that we are employed in, and it is to him that we have devoted our labors: hence, as he is faithful and just, he will not disappoint us of our reward. That man, accordingly, is mistaken who looks to men, or depends merely on their remuneration. Here we have an admirable commendation of the ministry — that while God could accomplish the work entirely himself, he calls us, puny mortals, f165 to be as it were his coadjutors, and makes use of us as instruments. As to the perversion of this statement by the Papists, for supporting their system of free-will, it is beyond measure silly, for Paul shows here, not what men can effect by their natural powers, but what the Lord accomplishes through means of them by his grace. As to the exposition given by some — that Paul, being God’s workman, was a fellow-workman with his colleagues, that is, with the other teachers — it appears to me harsh and forced, and there is nothing whatever in the case that shuts us up to have recourse to that refinement. For it corresponds admirably with the Apostle’s design to understand him to mean, that, while it is peculiarly the work of God to build his temple, or cultivate his vineyard, he calls forth ministers to be fellow-laborers, by means of whom He alone works; but, at the same time, in such a way, that they in their turn labor in common with him. As to the reward of works, consult my Institutes. f166
God’s husbandry, God’s building. These expressions may be explained in two ways. They may be taken actively in this sense: “You have been planted in the Lord’s field by the labor of men in such a way, that our heavenly Father himself is the true Husbandman, and the Author of this plantation. You have been built up by men in such a way, that he himself is the true Master-builder. f167 Or, it may be taken in a passive sense, thus: “In laboring to till you, and to sow the word of God among you and water it, we have not done this on our own account, or with a view to advantage to accrue to us, but have devoted our service to the Lord. In our endeavors to build you up, we have not been influenced by a view to our own advantage, but with a view to your being God’s planting and building. This latter interpretation I rather prefer, for I am of opinion, that Paul meant here to express the idea, that true ministers labor not for themselves, but for the Lord. Hence it follows, that the Corinthians were greatly to blame in devoting themselves to men, f168 while of right they belonged exclusively to God. And, in the first place, he calls them his husbandry, following out the metaphor previously taken up, and then afterwards, with the view of introducing himself to a larger discussion, he makes use of another metaphor, derived from architecture. f169

1 CORINTHIANS 3:10-15
10. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master-builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
10. Ut saplens architectus, secundum gratiam Dei mihi datam, fundamentum posui, alius autem superaedificat: porro unusquisque videat, quomodo superaedificet.
11. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
11. Fundamentum enim aliud nemo potest ponere, praeter id quod positum est, quod est Iesus Christus.
12. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
12. Si quis autem superstruat super fundamentum hoc aurum, argentum, lapides pretiosos, ligna, faenum, stipulam,
13. 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.
13. Cuiuscunque opus manifestum fiet: dies enim manifestabit, quia in igne revelabitur, et cuiuscunque opus quale sit, ignis probabit.
14. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
14. Si cuius opus maneat quod superaedificaverit, mercedem accipiet.
15. If anyman’s work shall be burnt, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
15. Si cuius opus arserit, jacturam faciet: ipse autem salvus fiet, sic tamen tanquam per ignem. f170

10. As a wise master-builder. It is a most apt similitude, and accordingly it is frequently met with in the Scriptures, as we shall see ere long. Here, however, the Apostle declares his fidelity with great confidence and fearlessness, as it required to be asserted in opposition not merely to the calumnies of the wicked, but also to the pride of the Corinthians, who had already begun to despise his doctrine. The more, therefore, they lowered him, so much the higher does he raise himself up, and speaking as it were from a pulpit of vast height, he declares f171 that he had been the first master-builder of God among them in laying the foundation, and that he had with wisdom executed that department of duty, and that it remained that others should go forward in the same manner, regulating the superstructure in conformity with the rule of the foundation. Let us observe that these things are said by Paul first of all for the purpose of commending his doctrine, which he saw was despised by the Corinthians; and, secondly, for the purpose of repressing the insolence of others, who from a desire for distinction, affected a new method of teaching. These he accordingly admonishes to attempt nothing rashly in God’s building. Two things he prohibits them from doing: they must not venture to lay another foundation, and they must not raise a superstructure that will not be answerable to the foundation.
According to the grace. He always takes diligent heed not to usurp to himself a single particle of the glory that belongs to God, for he refers all thing’s to God, and leaves nothing to himself, except his having been an instrument. While, however, he thus submits himself humbly to God, he indirectly reproves the arrogance of those who thought nothing of throwing the grace of God into the shade, f172 provided only they were themselves held in estimation. He hints, too, that there was nothing of the grace of the Spirit in that empty show, for which they were held in esteem, while on the other hand he clears himself from contempt, on the ground of his having been under divine influence. f173
11. For other foundation can no man lay. This statement consists of two parts; first, that Christ is the only foundation of the Church; and secondly, that the Corinthians had been rightly founded upon Christ through Paul’s preaching. For it was necessary that they should be brought back to Christ alone, inasmuch as their ears were tickled with a fondness for novelty. It was, too, of no small importance that Paul should be recognized as the principal, and, so to speak, fundamental master-builder, from whose doctrine they could not draw back, without forsaking Christ himself. The sum is this — that the Church must by all means be founded upon Christ alone, and that Paul had executed this department of duty so faithfully that nothing could be found to be wanting in his ministry. Hence, whoever may come after him, can in no other way serve the Lord with a good conscience, or be listened to as ministers of Christ, than by studying to make their doctrine correspond with his, and retain the foundation which he has laid. Hence we infer, that those are not faithful workmen for building up the Church, but on the contrary are scatterers of it, (<401230>Matthew 12:30,) who succeed faithful ministers, but do not make it their aim to conform themselves to their doctrine, and carry forward what has been well commenced, so as to make it quite manifest f174 that they are attempting no new work. For what can be more pernicious than by a new manner of teaching to harass believers, who have been well instructed in pure doctrine, so that they stagger in uncertainty as to the true foundation. Now the fundamental doctrine, which it were unlawful to undermine, is, that we learn Christ, for Christ is the only foundation of the Church; but there are many who, while they make use of Christ’s name in pretense, tear up the whole truth of God by the roots. f175
Let us observe, then, in what way the Church is rightly built upon Christ. It is when he alone is set forth for righteousness, redemption, sanctification, wisdom, satisfaction and cleansing; in short, for life and glory; or if you would have it stated more briefly, when he is proclaimed in such a manner that his office and influence are understood in accordance with what we found stated in the close of the first chapter. (<460130>1 Corinthians 1:30.) If, on the other hand, Christ is only in some degree acknowledged, and is called a Redeemer only in name, while in the meantime recourse is had to some other quarter for righteousness, sanctification and salvation, he is driven off from the foundation, and spurious f176 stones are substituted in his room. It is in this manner that Papists act, who rob him of almost all his ornaments, leaving him scarcely anything but the bare name. Such persons, then, are far from being founded on Christ. For as Christ is the foundation of the Church, because he is the only source of salvation and eternal life — because in him we come to know God the Father — because in him we have the source of every blessing; if he is not acknowledged as such he is no longer regarded as the foundation.
But it is asked — “Is Christ only a part, or simply the commencement of the doctrine of salvation, as the foundation is merely a part of the building; for if it were so, believers would have only their commencement in Christ, and would be perfected without him. Now this Paul might seem to intimate.” I answer that this is not the meaning of the words; otherwise he would contradict himself when he says elsewhere, that “in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (<510203>Colossians 2:3.) He, then, who has learned Christ, (<490420>Ephesians 4:20,) is already complete in the whole system of heavenly doctrine. But as Paul’s ministry had contemplated rather the founding of the Corinthians than the raising up among them of the top-stone of the building, he merely shows here what he had done in respect of his having preached Christ in purity. With respect to himself therefore, he calls him the foundation, while at the same time he does not thereby exclude him from the rest of the building. In fine, Paul does not put any kind of doctrine in opposition to the knowledge of Christ, but on the contrary there is a comparison between himself and the ministers.
12. Now if any man build upon this foundation. He pursues still farther the metaphor. It would not have been enough to have laid the foundation if the entire superstructure did not correspond; for as it were an absurd thing to raise a structure of vile materials on a foundation of gold, so it were greatly criminal to bury Christ under a mass of strange doctrines. f177 By gold, then, and silver, and precious stones, he means doctrine worthy of Christ, and of such a nature as to be a superstructure corresponding to such a foundation. Let us not imagine, however, that this doctrine is apart from Christ, but on the contrary let us understand that we must continue to preach Christ until the very completion of the building. Only we must observe order, so as to begin with general doctrine, and more essential articles, as the foundations, and then go on to admonitions, exhortations, and everything that is requisite for perseverance, confirmation, and advancement.
As there is an agreement thus far as to Paul’s meaning, without any controversy, it follows on the other hand, that by wood, stubble and hay, is meant doctrine not answering to the foundation, such as is forged in men’s brain, and is thrust in upon us as though it were the oracles of God. f178 For God will have his Church trained up by the pure preaching of his own word, not by the contrivances of men, of which sort also is that which has no tendency to edification, as for example curious questions, (<540104>1 Timothy 1:4,) which commonly contribute more to ostentation, or some foolish appetite, than to the salvation of men.
He forewarns them that every man’s work will one day be made manifest of what sort it is, however it may be for a time concealed, as though he had said: “It may indeed happen, that unprincipled workmen may for a time deceive, so that the world does not perceive how far each one has labored faithfully or fraudulently, but what is now as it were buried in darkness must of necessity come to light, and what is now glorious in the eyes of men, must before the face of God fall down, and be regarded as worthless.”
13. For the day will declare it. In the old translation it is the day of the Lord, f179 but it is probable that the words of the Lord were added by some one by way of explanation. The meaning unquestionably is complete without that addition. For with propriety we give the name of day to the time when darkness and obscurity are dispelled, and the truth is brought to light. Hence the Apostle forewarns us, that it cannot always remain a secret who have acted fraudulently in the work of the Lord, or who have conducted themselves with fidelity, as though he had said: “The darkness will not always remain: the light will one day break forth; which will make all things manifest.” That day, I own, is God’s — not man’s, but the metaphor is more elegant if you read simply — the day, because Paul in this way conveys the idea, that the Lord’s true servants cannot always be accurately distinguished from false workmen, inasmuch as virtues and vices are concealed by the darkness of the night. That night, however, will not always continue. For ambition is blind — man’s favor is blind — the world’s applause is blind, but this darkness God afterwards dispels in his own time. Take notice, that he always discovers the assurance of a good conscience, and with an unconquerable magnanimity despises perverse judgments; first, in order that he may call back the Corinthians from popular applause to a right rule of judgment; and secondly, for the purpose of confirming the authority of his ministry.
Because it will be revealed by fire. Paul having spoken of doctrine metaphorically, now also applies metaphorically the name of fire to the very touchstone of doctrine, that the corresponding parts of the comparison may harmonize with each other. The fire, then, here meant is the Spirit of the Lord, who tries by his touchstone what doctrine resembles gold and what resembles stubble. The nearer the doctrine of God is brought to this fire, so much the brighter will be its luster. On the other hand, what has had its origin in man’s head will quickly vanish, f180 as stubble is consumed in the fire. There seems also to be an allusion to the day of which he makes mention: “Not only will those things which vain ambition, like a dark night, concealed among the Corinthians, be brought to light by the brightness of the sun, but there will also be a strength of heat, not merely for drying up and cleansing away the refuse, but also for burning up everything wrong.” For however men may look upon themselves, as forming acute judgments, their discernment, notwithstanding, reaches no farther than appearance, which, for the most part, has no solidity. There is nothing but that day to which the Apostle appeals, that tests everything to the quick, not merely by its brightness, but also by its fiery flame.
14. If any man’s work remains, he will receive a reward. His meaning is, that those are fools who depend on man’s estimation, so as to reckon it enough to be approved by men, for then only will the work have praise and recompense — when it has stood the test of the day of the Lord. Hence he exhorts His true ministers to have an eye to that day. For by the word remains, he intimates that doctrines fly about as it were in an unsettled state, nay more, like empty bubbles, they glitter for the moment, until they have come to be thoroughly tested. Hence it follows, that we must reckon as nothing all the applauses of the world, the emptiness of which will in a very little be exposed by heaven’s judgment.
15. If any man’s work shall be burned. It is as though he had said: Let no man flatter himself on the ground that, in the opinion of men, he is reckoned among the most eminent master-builders, for as soon as the day breaks in, his whole work must go utterly to nothing, if it is not approved of by the Lord. This, then, is the rule to which every one’s ministry requires to be conformed. Some explain this of doctrine, so that zhmiousqai f181 means simply to perish, and then what immediately follows they view as referring to the foundation, because in the Greek qemeliov (foundation) is in the masculine gender. They do not, however, sufficiently attend to the entire context. For Paul in this passage subjects to trial, not his own doctrine, but that of others. f182 Hence it were out of place to make mention at present of the foundation. He has stated a little before, that every man’s work will be tried by fire. He comes afterwards to state an alternative, which ought not to be extended beyond that general observation. Now it is certain that Paul spoke there simply of the structure which had been erected upon the foundation. He has already in the first clause promised a reward to good master-builders, f183 whose labor shall have been approved of. Hence the contrast in the second clause suits admirably well — that those who have mixed stubble, or wood, or straw, will be disappointed of the commendation which they had expected.
He himself will be saved, etc. It is certain that Paul speaks of those who, while always retaining the foundations, mix hay with gold, stubble with silver, and wood with precious stones — that is, those who build upon Christ, but in consequence of the weakness of the flesh, admit something that is man’s, or through ignorance turn aside to some extent from the strict purity of God’s word. Such were many of the saints, Cyprian, Ambrose, Augustine, and the like. Add to these, if you choose, from those of later times, Gregory and Bernard, and others of that stamp, who, while they had it as their object to build upon Christ, did nevertheless often deviate from the right system of building. Such persons, Paul says, could be saved, but on this condition — if the Lord wiped away their ignorance, and purged them from all dross.
This is the meaning of rim clause so as by fire. He means, therefore, to intimate, that he does not take away from them the hope of salvation, provided they willingly submit to the loss of their labor, and are purged by the mercy of God, as gold is refined in the furnace. Farther, although God sometimes purges his own people by afflictions, yet here by the name of fire, I understand the touchstone of the Spirit, by which the Lord corrects and removes the ignorance of his people, by which they were for a time held captive. I am aware, indeed, that, many refer this to the cross, f184 but I am confident that my interpretation will please all that are of sound judgment.
It remains, that we give an answer in passing to the Papists, who endeavor from this passage to prop up Purgatory. “The sinners f185 whom God forgives, pass through the fire, that they may be saved.” Hence they in this way suffer punishment in the presence of God, so as to afford satisfaction to his justice I pass over their endless fictions in reference to the measure of punishment, and the means of redemption from them, but I ask, who they are that pass through the fire? Paul assuredly speaks of ministers alone. “There is the same reason,” they say, “as to all.” It is not for us f186 but for God to judge as to this matter. But even granting them this, how childishly they stumble at the term fire. For to what purpose is this fire, f187 but for burning up the hay and straw, and on the other hand, for proving the gold and silver. Do they mean to say that doctrines are discerned by the fire of their purgatory? Who has ever learned from that, what difference there is between truth and falsehood? Farther, when will that day come that will shine forth so as to discover every one’s work? Did it begin at the beginning of the world, and will it continue without interruption to the end? If the terms stubble, hay, gold, and silver are figurative, as they must necessarily allow, what correspondence will there be between the different clauses, if there is nothing figurative in the term fire? Away, then, with such silly trifles, which carry their absurdity in their forehead, for the Apostle’s true meaning is, I think, sufficiently manifest.

1 CORINTHIANS 3:16-23
16. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
16. An nescitis, quod templum Dei estis et Spiritus Dei habitat in vobis?
17. If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
17. Si quis ternplum Dei corrumpit, f188 hunc perdet Deus. Templum enim Dei sanctum est, quod estis vos.
18. 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,
18. Nemo se decipiat, si quis videtur sapiens esse inter vos: in saeculo hoc stultus fiat, f189 ut fiat sapiens.
19. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is own craftiness.
19. Sapientia enim mundi huius stultitia est apud Deum. Scriptum est enim (<180513>Job 5:13) Deprehendens sapientes in astutia sua.
20. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.
20. Et rursum (Psalm 94:11) Dominus novit cogitationes sapientum vanas esse.
21. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;
21. Proinde nemo glorietur in hominibus, omnia enim vestra sunt;
22. Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;
22. Sive Paulus, sive Apollos, sive Cephas, sive mundus, sive vita, sive mors, sive prmsentia, sive futura: omnia vestra sunt,
23. And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.
23. Vos autem Christi; Christus autem Dei.

16. Know ye not, etc. Having admonished the teachers as to their duty, he now addresses himself to the pupils — that they, too, may take heed to themselves. To the teachers he had said, “You are the master-builders of the house of God.” He now says to the people, “You are the temples of God. It is your part, therefore, to take care that you be not, in any way defiled.” Now, the design f190 is, that they may not prostitute themselves to the service of men. He confers upon them distinguished honor in speaking thus, but it is in order that they may be made the more reprehensible; for, as God has set them apart as a temple to himself, he has at the same time appointed them to be guardians of his temple. It is sacrilege, then, if they give themselves up to the service of men. He speaks of all of them collectively as being one temple of God; for every believer is a living stone, (<600205>1 Peter 2:5,) for the rearing up of the building of God. At the same time they also, in some cases, individually receive the name of temples. We shall find him a little afterwards (<460619>1 Corinthians 6:19) repeating the same sentiment, but for another purpose. For in that passage he treats of chastity; but here, on the other hand, he exhorts them to have their faith resting on the obedience of Christ alone. The interrogation gives additional emphasis; for he indirectly intimates, that he speaks to them of a thing that they knew, while he appeals to them as witnesses.
And the Spirit of God. Here we have the reason why they are the temple of God. Hence and must be understood as meaning because. f191 This is customary, as in the words of the poet — “Thou hadst heard it, and it had been reported.” “For this reason,” says he, “are ye the temples of God, because He dwells in you by his Spirit; for no unclean place can be the habitation of God.” In this passage we have an explicit testimony for maintaining the divinity of the Holy Spirit. For if he were a creature, or merely a gift, he would not make us temples of God, by dwelling in us. At the same time we learn, in what manner God communicates himself to us, and by what tie we are bound to him — when he pours down upon us the influence of his Spirit.
17. If any man corrupts the temple of God. He subjoins a dreadful threatening — that, as the temple of God ought to be inviolably sacred, that man, whoever he may be, that corrupts it, will not pass with impunity. The kind of profanation of which he now speaks, is, when men intrude themselves, so as to bear rule in the Church in the place of God. For as that faith, which is devoted to the pure doctrine of Christ, is called elsewhere spiritual chastity, (<471102>2 Corinthians 11:2,)so it also sanctifies our souls for the right and pure worship of God. For as soon as we are tinctured with the contrivances of men, the temple of God is polluted, as it were, with filth, because the sacrifice of faith, which he claims for himself alone, is in that case offered to creatures.
18. Let no man deceive himself. Here he puts his finger upon the true sore, as the whole mischief originated in this — that they were wise in their own conceit. Hence he exhorts them not to deceive themselves with a false impression, by arrogating any wisdom to themselves — by which he means, that all are under a mistake, who depend upon their own judgment. Now, he addresses himself, in my opinion, to hearers as well as teachers. For the former discovered a partiality for those ambitious men, and lent an ear to them, f192 because they had too fastidious a taste, so that the simplicity of the gospel was insipid to their taste; while the latter aimed at nothing but show, that they might be in some estimation. He accordingly admonishes both to this effect — “Let no one rest satisfied with his own wisdom, but let him who thinketh himself to be wise, become a fool in this world,” or, “Let him who is distinguished in this world by reputation for wisdom, of his own accord empty himself, f193 and become a fool in his own estimation.”
Farther, in these words the Apostle does not require, that we should altogether renounce the wisdom that is implanted in us by nature, or acquired by long practice; but simply, that we subject it to the service of God, so as to have no wisdom but through his word. For this is what is meant by becoming a fool in this world, or in our own estimation — when we are prepared to give way to God, and embrace with fear and reverence everything that he teaches us, rather than follow what may appear to us plausible. f194
The meaning of the clause in this world, is as though he had said — “According to the judgment or opinion of the world.” For the wisdom of the world is this — if we reckon ourselves sufficient of ourselves for taking counsel as to all matters (<191302>Psalm 13:2) for governing ourselves, and for managing whatever we have to do — if we have no dependence on any other f195 — if we feel no need of the guidance of another, but are competent to govern ourselves. f196 He, therefore, on, the other hand, is a fool in this world, who, renouncing his own understanding, allows himself to be directed by the Lord, as if with his eyes shut — who, distrusting himself, leans wholly upon the Lord, places his whole wisdom in him, and yields himself up to God in docility and submission. It is necessary that our wisdom should in this way vanish, in order that the will of God may have authority over us, and that we be emptied of our own understanding, that we may be filled with the wisdom of God. At the same time, the clause f197 may either be taken in connection with the first part of the verse, or joined with the last, but as the meaning is not much different, I leave every one to choose for himself.
19. For the wisdom of this world. This is an argument taken from things opposite. To maintain the one is to overturn the other. As, therefore, the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, it follows that we cannot be wise in the sight of God, unless we are fools in the view of the world. We have already explained (<460120>1 Corinthians 1:20) what he means by the wisdom of this world; for natural perspicacity is a gift of God, and the liberal arts, and all the sciences by which wisdom is acquired, are gifts of God. They are confined, however, within their own limits; for into God’s heavenly kingdom they cannot penetrate. Hence they must occupy the place of handmaid, not of mistress: nay more, they must be looked upon as empty and worthless, until they have become entirely subject to the word and Spirit of God. If, on the other hand, they set themselves in opposition to Christ, they must be looked upon as dangerous pests, and, if they strive to accomplish anything of themselves, as the worst of all hindrances. f198 Hence the wisdom of the world, in Paul’s acceptation, is that which assumes to itself authority, and does not allow itself to be regulated by the word of God, or to be subdued, so as to yield itself up in entire subjection to him. Until, therefore, matters have come to this, that the individual acknowledges that he knows nothing but what he has learned from God, and, giving up his own understanding; resigns himself unreservedly to Christ’s guidance, he is wise in the world’s account, but he is foolish in the estimation of God.
For it is written, He taketh the wise. He confirms this from two Scripture proofs, the first of which is taken from <180513>Job 5:13, where the wisdom of God is extolled on this ground, that no wisdom of the world can stand before it.
Now it is certain, that the Prophet speaks there of those that are cunning and crafty; but as the wisdom of man is invariably such without God, f199 it is with good reason that Paul applies it in this sense, — that whatever wisdom men have of themselves is reckoned of no account in the sight of God. The second is from <199411>Psalm 94:11, where David, after claiming for God alone the office and authority of the Instructor of all, adds, that He knows the thoughts of all to be vain. Hence, in whatever estimation they are held by us, they are, in the judgment of God, vain. Here we have an admirable passage for bringing down the confidence of the flesh, while God from on high declares that everything that the mind of man conceives and contrives is mere vanity. f200
21. Therefore let no man glory in men. As there is nothing that is more vain than man, how little security there is in leaning upon an evanescent shadow! Hence he infers with propriety from the preceding statement, that we must not glory in men, inasmuch as the Lord thus takes away from mankind universally every ground of glorying. At the same time this inference depends on the whole of the foregoing doctrine, as will appear ere long. For as we belong to Christ alone, it is with good reason that he teaches us, that any supremacy of man, by which the glory of Christ is impaired, involves sacrilege.
22. All things are yours. He proceeds to show what place and station teachers should occupy f201 — such as not to detract in any degree from the authority of Christ, the one Master. As therefore Christ is the Church’s sole master, and as he alone without exception is worthy to be listened to, it is necessary to distinguish between him and others, as even Christ himself has testified respecting himself, (<402308>Matthew 23:8,) and no other is recommended to us by the Father with this honorable declaration, f202 “Hear ye him.” (<401705>Matthew 17:5.) As, therefore, he alone is endowed with authority to rule us by his word, Paul says that others are ours — meaning, that they are appointed to us by God with the view of our making use of them — not that they should exercise dominion over our consciences. Thus on the one hand, he shows that they are not useless, and, on the other hand, he keeps them in their own place, that they may not exalt themselves in opposition to Christ. What he adds, as to death, life, and the rest, is hyperbolical, so far as concerns the passage before us. He had it in view, however, to reason, as it were, from the greater to the less, in this manner. “Christ having put in subjection to us life and death, and everything, can we doubt, whether he has not also made men subject to us, to help us by their ministrations — not to oppress us by tyranny.”
Now if any one takes occasion from this to allege, that the writings both of Paul and of Peter are subject to our scrutiny, inasmuch as they were men, and are not exempted from the common lot of others, I answer, that Paul, while he does not by any means spare himself or Peter, admonishes the Corinthians to distinguish between the person of the individual, and the dignity or distinction of office. “As for myself, viewed as a man, I wish to be judged of simply as a man, that Christ alone may have distinction in our ministry.” This, however, in a general way, we must hold, f203 that all who discharge the office of the ministry, are ours, from the highest to the lowest, so that we are at liberty to withhold our assent to their doctrine, until they show that it is from Christ. For they must all be tried, (<620401>1 John 4:1,)and we must yield obedience to them, only when they have satisfactorily shown themselves to be faithful servants of Christ. Now as to Peter and Paul, this point being beyond all controversy, and the Lord having furnished us with amply sufficient evidence, that their doctrine has come forth from Him, when we receive as an oracle from heaven, and venerate everything that they have delivered to us, we hear not so much them, as Christ speaking in them.
23. Christ is God’s. This subjection relates to Christ’s humanity, for by taking upon him our flesh, he assumed “the form” and condition “of a servant,” that he might make himself obedient to his Father in all things. (<502007>Philippians 2:7, 8.) And assuredly, that we may cleave to God through him, it is necessary that he have God as his head. (<461103>1 Corinthians 11:3.) We must observe, however, with what intention Paul has added this. For he admonishes us, that the sum of our felicity consists in this, f204 that we are united to God who is the chief good, and this is accomplished when we are gathered together under the head that our heavenly Father has set over us. In the same sense Christ said to his disciples,
“Ye ought to rejoice, because I go to the Father,
for the Father is greater than I,” (<431428>John 14:28,)
for there he set himself forth as the medium, through which believers come to the original source of every blessing. It is certain, that those are left destitute of that signal blessing, who depart from the unity of the Head. f205 Hence this order of things suits the connection of the passage — that those subject themselves to Christ alone, who desire to remain under God’s jurisdiction.
CHAPTER 4

1 CORINTHIANS 4:1-5
1. Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
1. Sic nos aestimet homo ut ministros Christi, et dispensatores arcanorum Dei.
2. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
2. Caeterum in ministris hoc quaeritur, ut fidelis aliquis reperiatur.
3. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.
3. Mihi viro pro minimo est, a vobis diiudicari, aut ab humano die: f206 imo nec me ipsum diiudico.
4. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.
4. Nullius enim rei mihi sum conscius: sed non in hoc sum justificatus. Porro qui me diiudicat, Dominus est.
5. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God.
5. Itaque ne ante tempus quicquam iudicetis, donec venerit Dominus, qui et illustrabit abscondita tenebrarum, et manifestabit consilia cordium; et tunc laus erit cuique a Deo.

1. Let a man so account of us. As it was a matter of no little importance to see the Church in this manner torn by corrupt factions, from the likings or dislikings that were entertained towards individuals, he enters into a still more lengthened discussion as to the ministry of the word. Here there are three things to be considered in their order. In the first place, Paul describes the office of a pastor of the Church. Secondly, he shows, that it is not enough for any one to produce a title, or even to undertake the duty — a faithful administration of the office being requisite. Thirdly, as the judgment formed of him by the Corinthians was preposterous, f207 he calls both himself and them to the judgment-seat of Christ. In the first place, then, he teaches in what estimation every teacher in the Church ought to be held. In this department he modifies his discourse in such a manner as neither, on the one hand, to lower the credit of the ministry, nor, on the other, to assign to man more than is expedient. For both of these things are exceedingly dangerous, because, when ministers are lowered, contempt of the word arises, f208 while, on the other hand, if they are extolled beyond measure, they abuse liberty, and become “wanton against the Lord.” (<540511>1 Timothy 5:11.) Now the medium observed by Paul consists in this, that he calls them ministers of Christ; by which he intimates, that they ought to apply themselves not to their own work but to that of the Lord, who has hired them as his servants, and that they are not appointed to bear rule in an authoritative manner in the Church, but are subject to Christ’s authority f209 — in short, that they are servants, not masters.
As to what he adds — stewards of the mysteries of God, he expresses hereby the kind of service. By this he intimates, that their office extends no farther than this, that they are stewards of the mysteries of God. In other words, what the Lord has committed to their charge they deliver over to men from hand to hand — as the expression is f210 — not what they themselves might choose. “For this purpose has God chosen them as ministers of his Son, that he might through them communicate to men his heavenly wisdom, and hence they ought not to move a step beyond this.” He appears, at the same time, to give a stroke indirectly to the Corinthians, who, leaving in the background the heavenly mysteries, had begun to hunt with excessive eagerness after strange inventions, and hence they valued their teachers for nothing but profane learning. It is an honorable distinction that he confers upon the gospel when he terms its contents the mysteries of God. But as the sacraments are connected with these mysteries as appendages, it follows, that those who have the charge of administering the word are the authorized stewards of them also.
2. But it is required in ministers. f211 It is as though he had said, it is not enough to be a steward if there be not an upright stewardship. Now the rule of an upright stewardship, is to conduct one’s self in it with fidelity. It is a passage that ought to be carefully observed, for we see how haughtily f212 Papists require that everything that they do and teach should have the authority of law, simply on the ground of their being called pastors. On the other hand, Paul is so far from being satisfied with the mere title, that, in his view, it is not even enough that there is a legitimate call, unless the person who is called conducts himself in the office with fidelity. On every occasion, therefore, on which Papists hold up before us the mask of a name, for the purpose of maintaining the tyranny of their idol, let our answer be, that Paul requires more than this from the ministers of Christ, though, at the same time, the Pope and his attendant train are wanting not merely in fidelity in the discharge of the office, but also in the ministry itself, if everything is duly considered.
This passage, however, militates, not merely against wicked teachers, but also against all that have any other object in view than the glory of Christ and the edification of the Church. For every one that teaches the truth is not necessarily faithful, but, only he who desires from the heart to serve the Lord and advance Christ’s kingdom. Nor is it without good reason that Augustine assigns to hirelings, (<431012>John 10:12,)a middle place between the wolves and the good teachers. As to Christ’s requiring wisdom also on the part of the good steward, (<421242>Luke 12:42,) he speaks, it is true, in that passage with greater clearness than Paul, but the meaning is the same. For the faithfulness of which Christ speaks is uprightness of conscience, which must be accompanied with sound and prudent counsel. By a faithful minister Paul means one who, with knowledge as well as uprightness, f213 discharges the office of a good and faithful minister.
3. But with me it is a very small thing. It remained that he should bring before their view his faithfulness, that the Corinthians might judge of him from this, but, as their judgment was corrupted, he throws it aside and appeals to the judgment-seat of Christ. The Corinthians erred in this, that they looked with amazement at foreign masks, and gave no heed to the true and proper marks of distinction. f214 He, accordingly, declares with great confidence, that he despises a perverted and blind judgment of this sort. In this way, too, he, on the one hand, admirably exposes the vanity of the false Apostles who made the mere applause of men their aim, and reckoned themselves happy if they were held in admiration; and, on the other hand, he severely chastises the arrogance f215 of the Corinthians, which was the reason why they were so much blinded in their judgment.
But, it is asked, on what ground it was allowable for Paul, not merely to set aside the censure of one Church, but to set himself above the judgment of men? for this is a condition common to all pastors — to be judged of by the Church. I answer, that it is the part of a good pastor to submit both his doctrine and his life for examination to the judgment of the Church, and that it is the sign of a good conscience not to shun the light of careful inspection. In this respect Paul, without doubt, was prepared for submitting himself to the judgment of the Corinthian Church, and for being called to render an account both of his life and of his doctrine, had there been among them a proper scrutiny, f216 as he often assigns them this power, and of his own accord entreats them to be prepared to judge aright. But when a faithful pastor sees that he is borne down by unreasonable and perverse affections, and that justice and truth have no place, he ought to appeal to God, and betake himself to his judgment-seat, regardless of human opinion, especially when he cannot secure that a true and proper knowledge of matters shall be arrived at.
If, then, the Lord’s servants would bear in mind that they must act in this manner, let them allow their doctrine and life to be brought to the test, nay more, let them voluntarily present themselves for this purpose; and if anything is objected against them, let them not decline to answer. But if they see that they are condemned without being heard in their own defense, and that judgment is passed upon them without their being allowed a hearing, let them raise up their minds to such a pitch of magnanimity, as that, despising the opinions of men, they will fearlessly wait for God as their judge. In this manner the Prophets of old, having to do with refractory persons, f217 and such as had the audacity to despise the word of God in their administration of it, required to raise themselves aloft, in order to tread under foot that diabolical obstinacy, which manifestly tended to overthrow at once the authority of God and the light of truth. Should any one, however, when opportunity is given for defending himself, or at least when he has need to clear himself, appeal to God by way of subterfuge, he will not thereby make good his innocence, but will rather discover his consummate impudence. f218
Or of man’s day. While others explain it in another manner, the simpler way, in nay opinion, is to understand the word day as used metaphorically to mean judgment, because there are stated days for administering justice, and the accused are summoned to appear on a certain day. He calls it man’s day f219 when judgment is pronounced, not according to truth, or in accordance with the word of the Lord, but according to the humor or rashness of men, f220 and in short, when God does not preside. “Let men,” says he, “sit for judgment as they please: it is enough for me that God will annul whatever they have pronounced.”
Nay, I judge not mine own self. The meaning is: “I do not venture to judge myself, though I know myself best; how then will you judge me, to whom I am less intimately known?” Now he proves that he does not venture to judge himself by this, that though he is not conscious to himself of anything wrong, he is not thereby acquitted in the sight of God. Hence he concludes, that what the Corinthians assume to themselves, belongs exclusively to God. “As for me,” says he, “when I have carefully examined myself, I perceive that I am not so clear-sighted as to discern thoroughly my true character; and hence I leave this to the judgment of God, who alone call judge, and to whom this authority exclusively belongs. As for you, then, on what ground will you make pretensions to something more?”
As, however, it were very absurd to reject all kinds of judgment, whether of individuals respecting themselves, or of one individual respecting his brother, or of all together respecting their pastor, let it be understood that Paul speaks here not of the actions of men, which may be reckoned good or bad according to the word of the Lord, but of the eminence of each individual, which ought not to be estimated according to men’s humors. It belongs to God alone to determine what distinction every one holds, and what honor he deserves. The Corinthians, however, despising Paul, groundlessly extolled others to the skies, as though they had at their command that knowledge which belonged exclusively to God. This is what he previously made mention of as mans day — when men mount the throne of judgment, and, as if they were gods, anticipate the day of Christ, who alone is appointed by the Father as judge, allot to every one his station of honor, assign to some a high place, and degrade others to the lowest seats. But what rule of distinction do they observe? They look merely to what appears openly; and thus what in their view is high and honorable, is in many instances an abomination in the sight of God. (<421615>Luke 16:15.) If any one farther objects, that the ministers of the word may in this world be distinguished by their works, as trees by their fruits, (<400716>Matthew 7:16,) I admit that this is true, but we must consider with whom Paul had to deal. It was with persons who, in judging, looked to nothing but show and pomp, and arrogated to themselves a power which Christ., while in this world, refrained from using — that of assigning to every one his seat in the kingdom of God. (<402023>Matthew 20:23.) He does not, therefore, prohibit us from esteeming those whom we have found to be faithful workmen, and pronouncing them to be such; nor, on the other hand, from judging persons to be bad workmen according to the word of God, but he condemns that rashness which is practiced, when some are preferred above others in a spirit of ambition — not according to their merits, but without examination of the case. f221
4. I am not conscious to myself of anything faulty. Let us observe that Paul speaks here not of his whole life, but simply of the office of apostleship. For if he had been altogether unconscious to himself of anything wrong, f222 that would have been a groundless complaint which he makes in <450715>Romans 7:15, where he laments that the evil which he would not, that he does, and that he is by sin kept back from giving himself up entirely to God. Paul, therefore, felt sin dwelling in him, and confessed it; but as to his apostleship, (which is the subject that is here treated of,) he had conducted himself with so much integrity and fidelity, that his conscience did not accuse him as to anything. This is a protestation of no common character, and of such a nature as clearly shows the piety and sanctity of his breast; f223 and yet he says that he is not thereby justified. that is, pure, and altogether free from guilt in the sight of God. Why? Assuredly, because God sees much more distinctly than we; and hence, what appears to us cleanest, is filthy in his eyes. Here we have a beautiful and singularly profitable admonition, not to measure the strictness of God’s judgment by our own opinion; for we are dim-sighted, but God is preeminently discerning. We think of ourselves too indulgently, but God is a judge of the utmost strictness. Hence the truth of what Solomon says —
“Every man’s ways appear right his own eyes, but the Lord pondereth the hearts.” (<202102>Proverbs 21:2.)
Papists abuse this passage for the purpose of shaking the assurance of faith, and truly, I confess, that if their doctrine were admitted, we could do nothing but tremble in wretchedness during our whole life. For what tranquillity could our minds enjoy if it were to be determined from our works whether we are well-pleasing to God? I confess, therefore, that from the main foundation of Papists there follows nothing but continual disquietude for consciences; and, accordingly, we teach that we must have recourse to the free promise of mercy, which is offered to us in Christ, that we may be fully assured that we are accounted righteous by God.
5. Therefore judge nothing before the time. From this conclusion it is manifest, that Paul did not mean to reprove every kind of judgment without exception, but only what is hasty and rash, without examination of the case. For the Corinthians did not mark with unjaundiced eye the character of each individual, but, blinded by ambition, groundlessly extolled one and depreciated another, and took upon themselves to mark out the dignity of each individual beyond what is lawful for men. Let us know, then, how much is allowed us, what is now within the sphere of our knowledge, and what is deferred until the day of Christ, and let us not attempt to go beyond these limits. For there are some things that are now seen openly, while there are others that lie buried in obscurity until the day of Christ.
Who will bring to light. If this is affirmed truly and properly respecting the day of Christ, it follows that matters are never so well regulated in this world but that many things are involved in darkness, and that there is never so much light, but that many things remain in obscurity. I speak of the life of men, and their actions. He explains in the second clause, what is the cause of the obscurity and confusion, so that all things are not now manifest. It is because there are wonderful recesses and deepest lurking-places in the hearts of men. Hence, until the thoughts of the hearts are brought to light, there will always be darkness.
And then shall every one have praise. It is as though he had said, “You now, O Corinthians, as if you had the adjudging of the prizes, f224 crown some, and send away others with disgrace, but this right and office belong exclusively to Christ. You do that before the time — before it has become manifest who is worthy to be crowned, but the Lord has appointed a day on which he will make it manifest.” This statement takes its rise from the assurance of a good conscience, which brings us also this advantage, that committing our praises into the hands of God, we disregard the empty breath of human applause.

1 CORINTHIANS 4:6-8
6. And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
6. Haec autem, fratres, transfiguravi in me ipsum et Apollo propter vos, ut in nobis disceretis, quis supra id quod scriptum est, de se sentiat: ut ne quis pro hoc vel illo infletur adversus alterum.
7. For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?
7. Quis enim to discernit? quid autem habes, quod non acceperis? si vero etiam acceperis, quid gloriaris tanquam non acceperis?
8. Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings with out us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.
8. Jam saturati estis, jam ditati estis, absque nobis regnum adepti estis; atque utinam sitis adepti ut et nos vobiscum regnemus.

6. I have in a figure transferred. Hence we may infer, that it was not those who were attached to Paul that gave rise to parties, as they, assuredly, had not. been so instructed, but those who had through ambition given themselves up to vain teachers. f225 But as he could more freely and less invidiously bring forward his own name, and that of his brethren, he preferred to point out in his own person the fault that existed in others. At the same time, he strikes a severe blow at the originators of the parties, and points his finger to the sources from which this deadly divorce took its rise. For he shows them, that if they had been satisfied with good teachers, they would have been exempted from this evil. f226
That is us. Some manuscripts have it “that in you.” Both readings suit well, and their is no difference of meaning; for what Paul intends is this — “I have, for the sake of example, transferred these things to myself and Apollos, in order that you may transfer this example to yourselves.” “Learn then in us,” that is, “in that example which I have placed before you in our person as in a mirror;” or, “Learn in you,” that is, “apply this example to yourselves.” But what does he wish them to learn? That no one be puffed up for his own teacher against another, that is, that they be not lifted up with pride on account of their teachers, and do not abuse their names for the purpose of forming parties, and rending the Church asunder. Observe, too, that pride or haughtiness is the cause and commencement of all contentions, when every one, assuming to himself more than he is entitled to do, is eager to have others in subjection to him.
The clause above what is written may be explained in two ways — either as referring to Paul’s writings, or to the proofs from Scripture which he has brought forward. As this, however, is a matter of small moment, my readers may be loft at liberty to take whichever they may prefer.
7. For who distinguisheth thee? The meaning is — “Let that man come forward, whosoever he be, that is desirous of distinction, and troubles the Church by his ambition. I will demand of him who it is that makes him superior to others? that is, who it is that has conferred upon him the privilege of being taken out of the rank of the others, and made superior to others?” Now this whole reasoning depends on the order which the Lord has appointed in his Church — that the members of Christ’s body may be united together, and that every one of them may rest satisfied with his own place, his own rank, his own office, and his own honor. If one member is desirous to quit his place, that he may leap over into the place of another, and invade his office, what will become of the entire body? Let us know, then, that the Lord has so placed us in the Church, and has in such a manner assigned to every one his own station, that, being under one head, we may be mutually helpful to each other. Let us know, besides, that we have been endowed with a diversity of gifts, in order that we may serve the Lord with modesty and humility, and may endeavor to promote the glory of him who has conferred upon us everything that we have. This, then, was the best remedy for correcting the ambition of those who were desirous of distinction — to call them back to God, in order that they might acknowledge that it was not according to any one’s pleasure that he was placed in a high or a low station, but that this belonged to God alone; and farther, that God does not confer so much upon any one as to elevate him to the place of the Head, but distributes his gifts in such a manner, that He alone is glorified in all things.
To distinguish here means to render eminent. f227 Augustine, however, does not ineptly make frequent use of this declaration for maintaining, in opposition to the Pelagians, f228 that whatever there is of excellence in mankind, is not implanted in him by nature, so that it could be ascribed either to nature or to descent; and farther, that it is not acquired by free will, so as to bring God under obligation, but flows from his pure and undeserved mercy. For there can be no doubt that Paul here contrasts the grace of God with the merit or worthiness of men. f229
And what hast thou? This is a confirmation of the preceding statement, for that man cannot on good ground extol himself, who has no superiority above others. For what greater vanity is there than that of boasting without any ground for it? Now, there is no man that has anything of excellency from himself; therefore the man that extols himself is a fool and an idiot. The true foundation of Christian modesty is this — not to be self-complacent, as knowing that we are empty and void of everything good — that, if God has implanted in us anything that is good, we are so much the more debtors to his grace; and in fine, that, as Cyprian says, we must glory in nothing, because there is nothing that is our own.
Why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it? Observe, that there remains no ground for our glorying, inasmuch as it is by
the grace of God that we are what we are,
(<461510>1 Corinthians 15:10.)
And this is what we had in the first chapter, that Christ is the source of all blessings to us, that we may learn to glory in the Lord, (<460130>1 Corinthians 1:30, 31,) and this we do, only when we renounce our own glory. For God does not obtain his due otherwise than by our being emptied, so that it may be seen that everything in us that is worthy of praise is derived.
8. Now ye are full. Having in good earnest, and without the use of any figure, beat down their vain confidence, he now also ridicules it by way of irony, f230 because they are so self-complacent, as if they were the happiest persons in the world. He proceeds, too, step by step, in exposing their insolence. In the first place, he says, that they were full: this refers to the past. He then adds, Ye are rich: this applies to the future. Lastly, he says, that they had reigned as kings this is much more than either of those two. It is as though he had said, “What will you attain to, when you appear to be not merely full for the present, but are also rich for the future — nay more, are kings?At the same time, he tacitly upbraids them with ingratitude, because they had the audacity to despise him, or rather those, through means of whom they had obtained everything.
Without us, says he. “For Apollos and I are now esteemed nothing by you, though it is by our instrumentality that the Lord has conferred everything upon you. What inhumanity there is in resting with self-complacency in the gifts of God, while in the meantime you despise those through whose instrumentality you obtained them!”
And I would to God that ye did reign. f231 Here he declares that he does not envy their felicity, (if indeed they have any,) and that from the beginning he has not sought to reign among them, but only to bring them to the kingdom of God. He intimates, however, on the other hand, that the kingdom in which they gloried was merely imaginary, and that their glowing was groundless and pernicious, f232 there being no true glorying but that which is enjoyed by all the sons of God in common, under Christ their Head, and every one of them according to the measure of the grace that has been given him.
For by these words that ye also may reign with us, he means this — “You are so renowned in your own opinion that you do not hesitate to despise me, and those like me, but mark, how vain is your glorying. For you can have no glowing before God, in which we have not a share — for if honor redounds to you from having the gospel of God, how much more to us, by whose ministry it was conveyed to you! And assuredly, this is a madness f233 that is common to all the proud, that by drawing everything to themselves, they strip themselves of every blessing — nay more, they renounce the hope of everlasting salvation.”

1 CORINTHIANS 4:9-15
9. For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.
9. Existimo enim, quod Deus nos postremos Apostolos demonstraverit tanquam morti destinatos: nam theatrum facti sumus mundo,et angelis, et hominibus.
10. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ: we are nos weak, but ye are strong; ye are honorable, but we are despised.
10. Nos stulti propter Christum, vos autem prudentes in Christo: infirmi, vos autem robusti: vos gloriosi, nos autem ignobiles.
11. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place:
11. Ad hanc enim horam usque et sitimus, et esurimus, et nudi sumus, et colaphis caedimur.
12. And labor, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless: being persecuted, we suffer it:
12. Etcircumagimur, et laboramus operantes manibus propriis: maledictis lacessiti benedicimus: persequutionem patientes sustinemus:
13. Being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.
13. Conviciis affecti obsecramus: quasi exsecrationes mundi facti sumus, omnium reiectamentum usque ad hunc diem.
14. I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.
14. Non quo pudorem vobis incutiam, haec scribo: sed ut filios meos dilectos admoneo.
15. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
15. Nam etsi decem millia paedagogorum habueritis in Christo, non tamen multos patres; in Christo enim Iesu par Evangelium ego vos genui.

9. For I think, etc. It is uncertain whether he speaks of himself exclusively, or takes in at the same time Apollos and Silvanus, for he sometimes calls such persons apostles. I prefer, however, to understand it of himself exclusively. Should any one be inclined to extend it farther, I shall have no particular objection, provided only he does not understand it as Chrysostom does, to mean that the apostles were as if for the sake of ignominy reserved to the last place. f234 For there can be no doubt that by the term last, he means those who were admitted to the rank of apostles subsequently to the resurrection of Christ. Now, he admits that he is like those who are exhibited to the people when on the eve of being led forth to death. For such is the meaning of the word exhibitedas those who on occasion of a triumph were led round f235 for the sake of show, and were afterwards hurried away to prison to be strangled.
This he expresses more distinctly by adding, that they were made a spectacle. “This,” says he, “is my condition, that I exhibit to the world a spectacle of my miseries, like those who having been condemned to fight with wild beasts, f236 or to the games of the gladiators, or to some other mode of punishment, are brought forth to the view of the people, and that not before a few spectators, but before the whole world.” Observe here the admirable steadfastness of Paul, who, while he saw himself to be dealt with by God in this manner, was nevertheless not broken or dispirited. For he does not impute it to the wantonness of the wicked, that he was, as it were, led forth with ignominy to the sport of the arena, but ascribes it wholly to the providence of God.
The second clause to angels and to men, I take to be expository in this sense — “I am made a sport and spectacle, not merely to earth, but also to heaven.” This passage has been commonly explained as referring to devils, from its seeming to be absurd to refer it to good angels. Paul, however, does not mean, that all who are witnesses of this calamity are gratified with such a spectacle. He simply means, that the Lord has so ordered his lot that he seems as though he had been appointed to furnish sport to the whole world.
10. We are fools for Christ’s sake. This contrast is throughout ironical, and exceedingly pointed, it being unseemly and absurd that the Corinthians should be in every respect happy and honorable, according to the flesh, while in the meantime they beheld their master and father afflicted with the lowest ignominy, and with miseries of every kind. For those who are of opinion that Paul abases himself in this manner, in order that he may in earnestness ascribe to the Corinthians those things which he acknowledges himself to be in want of, may without any difficulty be refuted from the little clause that he afterwards subjoins. In speaking, therefore, of the Corinthians as wise in Christ, and strong, and honorable, he makes a concession ironically, as though he had said f237 — “You desire, along with the gospel, to retain commendation for wisdom, f238 whereas I have not been able to preach Christ otherwise than by becoming a fool in this world. Now when I have willingly, on your account, submitted to be a fool, or to be reckoned such, consider whether it be reasonable that you should wish to be esteemed wise. How in these flyings consort — that I who have been your master, am a fool for Christ’s sake, and you, on the other hand, remain wise!” In this way, being wise in Christ is not taken here in a good sense, for he derides the Corinthians for wishing to mix up together Christ and the wisdom of the flesh, inasmuch as this were to endeavor to unite things directly contrary.
The case is the same as to the subsequent clauses — “You are strong says he, and honorable, that is, you glory in the riches and resources of the world, you cannot endure the ignominy of the cross. In the meantime, is it reasonable that I should be on your account f239 mean and contemptible, and exposed to many infirmities? Now the complaint carries with it so much the more reproach f240 on this account, that even among themselves he was weak and contemptible. (<471010>2 Corinthians 10:10.) In fine, he derides their vanity in this respect, that, reversing the order of things, those who were sons and followers were desirous to be esteemed honorable and noble, while their father was in obscurity, and was exposed also to all the reproaches of the world.
11. For to this hour. The Apostle here describes his condition, as if in a picture, that the Corinthians may learn, from his example, to lay aside that loftiness of spirit, and embrace, as he did, the cross of Christ with meekness of spirit. He discovers the utmost dexterity in this respect, that in making mention of those things which had rendered him contemptible, he affords clear proof of his singular fidelity and indefatigable zeal for the advancement of the gospel; and, on the other hand, he tacitly reproves his rivals, who, while they had furnished no such proof, were desirous, nevertheless, to be held in the highest esteem. In the words themselves there is no obscurity, except that we must take notice of the distinction between those two participles — loidoroumenoi kai blasfhmoumenoi (reviled and defamed.) As loidoria means — that harsher sort of raillery, which does not merely give a person a slight touch, but a sharp bite, and blackens his character by open contumely, there can be no doubt that loidorein means — wounding a person with reproach as with a sting. f241 I have accordingly rendered it — harassed with revilings. Blasfhmia signifies a more open reproach, when any one is severely and atrociously slandered. f242
12. When he says that while persecuted he suffers it, and that he prays for his revilers, he intimates that he is not merely afflicted and abased by God, by means of the cross, but is also endowed with a disposition to abase himself willingly. In this, perhaps, he gives a stroke to the false apostles, who were so effeminate and tender, that they could not bear to be touched even with your little finger. In speaking of their laboring he addswith our own hands, to express more fully the meanness of his employments f243 — “I do not merely gain a livelihood for myself by my own labor, but by mean labor, working with my own hands.”
13. As the execrations of the world. He makes use of two terms, the former of which denotes a man who, by public execrations, is devoted, with the view to the cleansing of a city, f244 for such persons, on the ground of their cleansing the rest of the people, by receiving in themselves whatever there is in the city of crimes, and heinous offense, are called by the Greeks sometimes kaqarmoi, but more frequently kaqa>rmata. f245 Paul, in adding the preposition peri< (around) seems to have had an eye to the expiatory rite itself, inasmuch as those unhappy men who were devoted to execrations were led round through the streets, that they might carry away with them whatever there was of evil f246 in any corner, that the cleansing might be the more complete. The plural number might seem to imply that he speaks not of himself exclusively, but also of the others who were his associates, and who were not less held in contempt by the Corinthians. There is, however, no urgent reason for regarding what he says as extending to more than himself. The other term — peri>yhma, (offscouring,) denotes filings or scrapings of any kind, and also the sweepings that are cleared away with a brush. f247 As to both terms consult the annotations of Budaeus. f248
In so far as concerns the meaning of the passage before us, Paul, with the view of expressing his extreme degradation, says that he is held in abomination by the whole world, like a man set apart for expiation, f249 and that, like offscourings, he is nauseous to all. At the same time he does not mean to say by the former comparison that he is all expiatory victim for sins, but simply means, that in respect of disgrace and reproaches he differs nothing from the man on whom the execrations of all are heaped up.
14. I write not these things to shame you. As the foregoing instances of irony were very pointed, so that they might exasperate the minds of the Corinthians, he now obviates that dissatisfaction by declaring, that he had not said these things with a view to cover them with shame, but rather to admonish them with paternal affection. It is indeed certain that this is the nature and tendency of a father’s chastisement, to make his son feel ashamed; for the first token of return to a right state of mind is the shame which the son begins to feel on being reproached for his fault. The object, then, which the father has in view when he chastises his son with reproofs, is that he may bring him to be displeased with himself. And we see that the tendency of what Paul has said hitherto, is to make the Corinthians ashamed of themselves. Nay more, we shall find him a little afterwards (<460605>1 Corinthians 6:5) declaring that he made mention of their faults in order that they may begin to be ashamed. Here, however, he simply means to intimate, that it was not his design to heap disgrace upon them, or to expose their sins publicly and openly with a view to their reproach. For he who admonishes in a friendly spirit, makes it his particular care that whatever there is of shame, may remain with the individual whom he admonishes, f250 and may in this manner be buried. On the other hand, the man who reproaches with a malignant disposition, inflicts disgrace upon the man whom he reproves for his fault, in such a manner as to hold him up to the reproach of all. Paul then simply affirms that what he had said, had been said by him, with no disposition to upbraid, or with any view to hurt their reputation, but, on the contrary, with paternal affection he admonished them as to what he saw to be defective in them.
But what was the design of this admonition? It was that the Corinthians, who were puffed up with mere empty notions, might learn to glow, as he did, in the abasement of the cross, and might no longer despise him on those grounds on which he was deservedly honorable in the sight of God and angels — in fine, that, laying aside their accustomed haughtiness, they might set a higher value on those marks f251 of Christ (<480617>Galatians 6:17) that were upon him, than on the empty and counterfeit show of the false apostles. Let teachers f252 infer from this, that in reproofs they must always use such moderation as not to wound men’s minds with excessive severity, and that, agreeably to the common proverb, they must mix honey or oil with vinegar — that they must above all things take care not to appear to triumph over those whom they reprove, or to take delight in their disgrace — nay more, that they must endeavor to make it understood that they seek nothing but that their welfare may be promoted. For what good will the teacher f253 do by mere bawling, if he does not season the sharpness of his reproof by that moderation of which I have spoken? Hence if we are desirous to do any good by correcting men’s faults, we must distinctly give them to know, that our reproofs proceed from a friendly disposition.
15. For though you had ten thousand. He had called himself father, and now he shows that this title belongs to him peculiarly and specially, inasmuch as he alone has begotten them in Christ. In this comparison, however, he has an eye to the false apostles to whom the Corinthians showed all deference, so that Paul was now almost as nothing among them. Accordingly he admonishes them to consider what honor ought to be rendered to a father, and what to a pedagogue. f254 “You entertain respect for those new teachers. To this I have no objection, provided you bear in mind that I am your father, while they are merely pedagogues.” Now by claiming for himself authority, he intimates that lie is actuated by a different kind of affection from that of those whom they so highly esteemed. “They take pains in instructing you. Be it so. Very different is the love of a father, very different his anxiety, very different his attachment from those of a pedagogue. What if he should also make an allusion to that imperfection of faith f255 which he had previously found fault with? For while the Corinthians were giants in pride, they were children in faith, and are, therefore, with propriety, sent to pedagogues. f256 He also reproves the absurd and base system of those teachers in keeping their followers in the mere first rudiments, with the view of keeping them always in bonds under their authority. f257
For in Christ. Here we have the reason why he alone ought to be esteemed as the father of the Corinthian Church — because he had begotten it. And truly it is in most appropriate terms that he here describes spiritual generation, when he says that he has begotten them in Christ, who alone is the life of the soul, and makes the gospel the formal cause. f258 Let us observe, then, that we are then in the sight of God truly begotten, when we are engrafted into Christ, out of whom there will be found nothing but death, and that this is effected by means of the gospel, because, while we are by nature flesh and hay, the word of God, as Peter (<600124>1 Peter 1:24, 25) teaches from Isaiah, (<234006>Isaiah 40:6, 7, 8,) is the incorruptible seed by which we are renewed to eternal life. Take away the gospel, and we will all remain accursed and dead in the sight of God. That same word by which we are begotten is afterwards milk to us for nourishing us, and it is also solid food to sustain us for ever. f259
Should any one bring forward this objection, “As new sons are begotten to God in the Church every day, why does Paul say that those who succeeded him were not fathers?” the answer is easy — that he is here speaking of the commencement of the Church. For although many had been begotten by the ministry of others, this honor remained to Paul untouched — that he had founded the Corinthian Church. Should any one, again, ask, “Ought not all pastors to be reckoned fathers, and if so, why does Paul deprive all others of this title, so as to claim it for himself exclusively?” I answer — “He speaks here comparatively.” Hence, however the title of fathers might be applicable to them in other respects, yet in respect of Paul, they were merely instructors. We must also keep in mind what I touched upon a little ago, that he is not speaking of all, (for as to those who were like himself, as, for example, Apollos, Silvanus, and Timotheus, who aimed at nothing but the advancement of Christ’s kingdom, he would have had no objection to their being so named, and having the highest honor assigned to them,) but is reproving those who, by a misdirected ambition, transferred to themselves the glory that belonged to another. Of this sort were those who robbed Paul of the honor that was due to him, that they might set themselves off in his spoils.
And, truly, the condition of the Church universal at this day is the same as that of the Corinthian Church was at that time. For how few are there that love the Churches with a fatherly, that is to say, a disinterested affection, and lay themselves out to promote their welfare! Meanwhile, there are very many pedagogues, who give out their services as hirelings, in such a manner as to discharge as it were a mere temporary office, and in the meantime hold the people in subjection and admiration. f260 At the same time, even in that case it is well when there are many pedagogues, who do good, at least, to some extent by teaching, and do not destroy the Church by the corruptions of false doctrine. For my part, when I complain of the multitude of pedagogues, I do not refer to Popish priests, (for I would not do them the honor of reckoning them in that number,) but those who, while agreeing with us in doctrine, employ themselves in taking care of their own affairs, rather than those of Christ. We all, it is true, wish to be reckoned fathers, and require from others the obedience of sons, but where is the man to be found who acts in such a manner as to show that he is a father? f261
There remains another question of greater difficulty: As Christ forbids us to
call any one father upon earth, because we have one Father in heaven, (<402309>Matthew 23:9,)
how does Paul dare to take to himself the name of father? I answer, that, properly speaking, God alone is the Father, not merely of our soul, but also of our flesh. As, however, in so far as concerns the body, he communicates the honor of his paternal name to those to whom he gives offspring, while, as to souls, he reserves to himself exclusively the right and title of Father, I confess that, on this account, he is called in a peculiar sense the Father of spirits, and is distinguished from earthly fathers, as the Apostle speaks in <581209>Hebrews 12:9. As, however, notwithstanding that it is he alone who, by his own influence, begets souls, and regenerates and quickens them, he makes use of the ministry of his servants for this purpose, there is no harm in their being called fathers, in respect of this ministry, as this does not in any degree detract from the honor of God. The word, as I have said, is the spiritual seed. God alone by means of it regenerates our souls by his influence, but, at the same time, he does not exclude the efforts of ministers. If, therefore, you attentively consider, what God accomplishes by himself, and what he designs to be accomplished by ministers, you will easily understand in what sense he alone is worthy of the name of Father, and how far this name is applicable to his ministers, without any infringement upon his rights.

1 CORINTHIANS 4:16-21
16. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
16. Adhortor ergo vos, imitatores mei estote.
17. For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.
17. Hac de causa misi ad vos Timotheum, qui est filius meus dilectus et fidelis in Domino: qui vobis in memoriam reducat vias meas, quae sunt in Christo, quemadmodum ubique in omnibus Ecclesiis doceam.
18. Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.
18. Perinde quasi non sum ad vos venturus, inflati sunt quidam:
19. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.
19. Veniam autem brevi ad vos, si Dominus voluerit, et cognoscam non sermonem eorum qui sunt inflati, sed virtutem.
20. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
20. Neque enim in sermone regnum Dei est, sed in virtute.
21. What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?
21. Quid vultis? in virga veniam ad vos, an in dilectione spirituque mansuetudinis?

16. I exhort you. He now expresses also, in his own words, what he requires from them in his fatherly admonition — that, being his sons, they do not degenerate from their father. For what is more reasonable than that sons endeavor to be as like as possible to their father. f262 At the same time he gives up something in respect of his own right, when he exhorts them to this, by way of entreaty rather than of command. But to what extent he wishes them to be imitators of him, he shows elsewhere, when he adds, as he was of Christ. (<461101>1 Corinthians 11:1.) This limitation must always be observed, so as not to follow any man, except in so far as he leads us to Christ. We know what he is here treating of. The Corinthians did not merely shun the abasement of the cross, but they also regarded their father with contempt, on this account, that, forgetting earthly glow, he gloried rather in reproaches for Christ; and they reckoned themselves and others fortunate in having nothing contemptible according to the flesh. He accordingly admonishes them to devote themselves, after his example, to the service of Christ, so as to endure all things patiently.
17. For this cause. The meaning is: “That you may know what my manner of life is, and whether I am worthy to be imitated, listen to what Timothy has to say, who will be prepared to be a faithful witness of these things. Now as there are two things that secure credit to a man’s testimony — a knowledge of the things which he relates, and fidelity — he lets them know that Timothy possesses both of these things. For in calling him his dearly beloved son, he intimates that he knew him intimately, and was acquainted with all his affairs; and farther, he speaks of him as faithful in the Lord. He gives also two things in charge to Timothy — first, to recall to the recollection of the Corinthians those things which they should of themselves have had in remembrance, and in this he tacitly reproves them; and secondly, to testify to them, how uniform and steady his manner of teaching was in every place. Now it is probable that he had been assailed by the calumnies of the false apostles, as though he assumed more authority over the Corinthians than he did over others, or as though he conducted himself in a very different way in other places; for it is not without good reason that he wishes this to be testified to them. It is then the part of a prudent minister so to regulate his procedure, and to observe such a method of instruction, that no such objection may be brought against him, but he shall be prepared to answer on the same ground as Paul does.
18. As though I would not come to you. This is the custom of the false apostles — to take advantage of the absence of the good, that they may triumph and vaunt without any hindrance. Paul, accordingly, with the view of reproving their ill-regulated conscience, and repressing their insolence, tells them, that they cannot endure his presence. It happens sometimes, it is true, that wicked men, on finding opportunity of insulting, rise up openly with an iron front against the servants of Christ, but never do they come forward ingenuously to an equal combat, f263 but on the contrary, by sinister artifices they discover their want of confidence.
19. But I will come shortly. “They are in a mistake,” says he, “in raising their crests during my absence, as though this were to be of long duration, for they shall in a short time perceive how vain their confidence has been.” He has it not, however, so much in view to terrify them, as though he would on his arrival thunder forth against them, but rather presses and bears down upon their consciences, for, however they might disguise it, they were aware that he was furnished with divine influence.
The clause, if the Lord will, intimates, that we ought not to promise anything to others as to the future, or to determine with ourselves, without adding this limitation in so far as the Lord will permit. Hence James with good reason derides the rashness of mankind (<590415>James 4:15) in planning what they are to do ten years afterwards, while they have not security for living even a single hour. We are not, it is true, bound by a constant necessity to the use of such forms of expression, but it is the better way to accustom ourselves carefully to them, that we may exercise our minds from time to time in this consideration — that all our plans must be in subjection to the will of God.
And I will know not the speech. By speech you must understand that prating in which the false apostles delighted themselves, for they excelled in a kind of dexterity and gracefulness of speech, while they were destitute of the zeal and efficacy of the Spirit. By the term power, he means that spiritual efficacy, with which those are endowed who dispense the word of the Lord with earnestness. f264 The meaning, therefore, is: “I shall see whether they have so much occasion for being puffed up; and I shall not judge of them by their mere outward talkativeness, in which they place the sum-total f265 of their glory, and on the ground of which they claim for themselves every honor. If they wish to have any honor from me, they must bring forward that power which distinguishes the true servants of Christ from the merely pretended: otherwise I shall despise them, with all their show. It is to no purpose, therefore, that they confide in their eloquence, for I shall reckon it nothing better than smoke.”
20. For the kingdom of God is not in word. As the Lord governs the Church by his word, as with a scepter, the administration of the gospel is often called the kingdom of God. Here, then, we are to understand by the kingdom of God whatever tends in this direction, and is appointed for this purpose — that God may reign among us. He says that this kingdom does not consist in word, for how small an affair is it for any one to have skill to prate eloquently, while he has nothing but empty tinkling. f266 Let us know, then, a mere outward gracefulness and dexterity in teaching is like a body that is elegant and of a beautiful color, while the power of which Paul here speaks is like the soul. We have already seen that the preaching of the gospel is of such a nature, that it is inwardly replete with a kind of solid majesty. This majesty shows itself, when a minister strives by means of power rather than of speechthat is, when he does not place confidence in his own intellect, or eloquence, but, furnished with spiritual armor, consisting of zeal for maintaining the Lord’s honor — eagerness for the raising up of Christ’s kingdom — a desire to edify — the fear of the Lord — an invincible constancy — purity of conscience, and other necessary endowments, he applies himself diligently to the Lord’s work. Without this, preaching is dead, and has no strength, with whatever beauty it may be adorned. Hence in his second epistle, he says, that in Christ nothing avails but a new creature (<470517>2 Corinthians 5:17) — a statement which is to the same purpose. For he would have us not rest in outward masks, but depend solely on the internal power of the Holy Spirit.
But while in these words he represses the ambition of the false apostles, he at the same time reproves the Corinthians for their perverted judgment, in measuring the servants of Christ by what holds the lowest place among their excellences. Here we have a remarkable statement, and one that is not less applicable to us than to them. As to our gospel, of which we are proud, f267 where is it in most persons except in the tongue? Where is newness of life? Where is spiritual efficacy? Nor is it so among the people merely. f268 On the contrary, how many there are, who, while endeavoring to procure favor and applause from the gospel, as though it were some profane science, aim at nothing else than to speak with elegance and refinement! I do not approve of restricting the term power to miracles, for from the contrast we may readily gather that it has a more extensive import.
21. What will ye? The person who divided the Epistles into chapters ought to have made this the beginning of the fifth chapter. For having hitherto reproved the foolish pride of the Corinthians, their vain confidence, and their judgment as perverted and corrupted by ambition, he now makes mention of the vices with which they were infected, and on account of which they ought to be ashamed — “You are puffed up, as though everything were on the best possible footing among you, but it were better if you did with shame and sighing acknowledge the unhappiness of your condition, for if you persist, I shall be under the necessity of laying aside mildness, and exercising towards you a paternal severity.” There is, however, still more of emphasis in this threatening in which he gives them liberty to choose, for he declares that it does not depend upon himself whether he shall show himself agreeable and mild, but that it is their own fault that he is necessitated to use severity. “It is for you,” says he, “to choose in what temper you would have me. As for me, I am prepared to be mild, but if you go on as you have done hitherto, I shall be under the necessity of taking up the rod.” He thus takes higher ground, after having laid claim to fatherly authority over them, for it would have been absurd to set out with this threatening, without first opening up the way by what he said, and preparing them for entertaining fears.
By the term rod, he means that severity with which a pastor ought to correct his people’s faults. He places in contrast with this, love, and the spirit of meeknessnot, as though the father hated the sons whom he chastises, for on the contrary the chastisement proceeds from love, but because by sadness of countenance and harshness of words, he appears as though he were angry with his son. To express myself more plainly — in one word, a father always, whatever kind of look he may put on, regards his son with affection, but that affection he manifests when he teaches him pleasantly and lovingly; but when, on the other hand, being displeased with his faults, he chastises him in rather sharp terms, or even with the rod, he puts on the appearance of a person in a passion. As then love does not appear when severity of discipline is exercised, it is not without good reason, that Paul here conjoins love with a spirit of meekness. There are some that understand the term rod to mean excommunication — but, for my part, though I grant them that excommunication is a part of that severity with which Paul threatens the Corinthians, I at the same time extend it farther, so as to include all reproofs that are of a harsher kind.
Observe here what system a good pastor ought to observe; for he ought of his own accord to be inclined to mildness, with the view of drawing to Christ, rather than driving. This mildness, so far as in him lies, he ought to maintain, and never have recourse to bitterness, unless he be compelled to do so. On the other hand, he must not spare the rod, (<201324>Proverbs 13:24,) when there is need for it, for while those that are teachable and agreeable should be dealt with mildly, sharpness requires to be used in dealing with the refractory and contumacious. We see, too, that the Word of God does not contain mere doctrine, but contains an intermixture of bitter reproofs, so as to supply pastors with a rod. For it often happens, through the obstinacy of the people, that those pastors who are naturally the mildest f269 are constrained to put on, as it were, the countenance of another, and act with rigor and severity.
CHAPTER 5

1 CORINTHIANS 5:1-5
1. It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.
1. Omnino auditur in vobus scortatio, et talis scortatio, quae ne interGentes quidem nominatur, ut quis as uxorem patris habeat.
2. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
2. Et vos inflati estis, ac non magis luxistis, ut e medio vestri removeretur, qui facinus hoc admisit.
3. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,
3. Ego quidem certe tanquam absens corpore, praesens autem spiritu, jam iudicavi tanquam praesens, qui hoc ita designavit,
4. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power our Lord Jesus Christ,
4. In nomine Domini nostri Iesu Christi, congregatis vobis et spiritu meo, cum potentia Domini nostri of Iesu Christi, eiusmodi inquam hominem.
5. To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
5. Tradere Satanae in exitium carnis, ut spiritus salvus fiat in die Domini Iesu.

1. It is generally reported that there is among you. Those contentions having originated, as has been observed, in presumption and excessive confidence, he most appropriately proceeds to make mention of their diseases, the knowledge of which should have the effect of humbling them. First of all, he shows them what enormous wickedness it is to allow one of their society to have an illicit connection with his mother-in-law. It is not certain, whether he had seduced her from his father as a prostitute, or whether he kept her under pretense of marriage. This, however, does not much affect, the subject in hand; for, as in the former case, there would have been an abominable and execrable whoredom, so the latter would have involved an incestuous connection, abhorrent to all propriety and natural decency. Now, that he may not seem to charge them on doubtful suspicions, he says, that the case which he brings forward is well known and in general circulation. For it is in this sense that I take the particle o[lwv (generally) as intimating that it was no vague rumor, but a matter well known, and published everywhere so as to cause great scandal.
From his saying that such a kind of whoredom was not named even among the Gentiles, some are of opinion, that he refers to the incest of Reuben, (<013522>Genesis 35:22,) who, in like manner, had an incestuous connection with his mother-in-law. They are accordingly of opinion, that Paul did not make mention of Israel, because a disgraceful instance of this kind had occurred among them, as if the annals of the Gentiles did not record many incestuous connections of that kind! This, then, is an idea that, is quite foreign to Paul’s intention; for in making mention of the Gentiles rather than of the Jews, he designed rather to heighten the aggravation of the crime. “You,” says he, “permit, as though it were a lawful thing, an enormity, which would not be tolerated even among the Gentiles — nay more, has always been regarded by them with horror, and looked upon as a prodigy of crime.” When, therefore, he affirms that it was not named among the Gentiles, he does not mean by this, that no such firing had ever existed among them, or was not recorded in their annals, for even tragedies have been founded upon it; f270 but that it was held in detestation by the Gentiles, as a shameful and abominable monstrosity, for it is a beastly lust, which destroys even natural modesty. Should any one ask, “Is it just to reproach all with the sin of one individual?” I answer, that the Corinthians are accused, not because one of their number has sinned, but because, as is stated afterwards, they encouraged by connivance a crime that was deserving of the severest punishment.
2. And ye are puffed up. Are ye not ashamed,” says he, “to glory in what affords so much occasion for humiliation?” He had observed previously, that even the highest excellence gives no just ground of glorying, inasmuch as mankind have nothing of their own, and it is only through the grace of God that they possess any excellence. (<460407>1 Corinthians 4:7.) Now, however, he attacks them from another quarter. “You are,” says he, “covered with disgrace: what ground have you, then, for pride or haughtiness? For there is an amazing blindness in glorying in the midst of disgrace, in spite, as it were of angels and men.”
When he says, and have not rather mourned, he argues by way of contrast; for where there is grief there is no more glorying. It may be asked: “Why ought they to have mourned over another man’s sin?” I answer, for two reasons: first, in consequence of the communion that exists among the members of the Church, it was becoming that all should feel hurt at so deadly a fall on the part of one of their number; and secondly, when such an enormity is perpetrated in a particular Church, the perpetrator of it is all offender in such a way, that the whole society is in a manner polluted. For as God humbles the father of a family in the disgrace of his wife, or of his children, and a whole kindred in the disgrace of one of their number, so every Church ought to consider, that it contracts a stain of disgrace whenever any base crime is perpetrated in it. Nay, farther, we see how the anger of God was kindled against the whole nation of Israel on account of the sacrilege of one individual — Achan. (<060701>Joshua 7:1.) It was not as though God had been so cruel as to take vengeance on the innocent for another man’s crime; but, as in every instance in which anything of this nature has occurred among a people, there is already some token of his anger, so by correcting a community for the fault of one individual, he distinctly intimates that the whole body is infected and polluted with the contagion of the offense. Hence we readily infer, that it is the duty of every Church to mourn over the faults of individual members, as domestic calamities belonging to the entire body. And assuredly a pious and dutiful correction takes its rise in our being inflamed with holy zeal through displeasure at the offense; for otherwise severity will be felt to be bitter. f271
That he might be taken away from among you. He now brings out more distinctly what he finds fault with in the Corinthians — remissness, inasmuch as they connived at such an abomination. Hence, too, it appears that Churches are furnished with this power f272 — that, whatever fault there is within them, they can correct or remove it by strictness of discipline, and that those are inexcusable that are not on the alert to have filth cleared away. For Paul here condemns the Corinthians. Why? Because they had been remiss in the punishment of one individual. Now he would have accused them unjustly, if they had not had this power. Hence the power of excommunication is established from this passage. On the other hand, as Churches have this mode of punishment put into their hands, those commit sin, f273 as Paul shows here, that do not make use of it, when it is required; for otherwise he would act unfairly to the Corinthians in charging them with this fault.
3. I truly, etc. As the Corinthians were wanting in their duty, having condemned their negligence, he now shows what ought to be done. In order that this stain may be removed, they must cast out this incestuous person from the society of the faithful. He prescribes, then, as a remedy for the disease, excommunication, which they had sinfully delayed so long. When he says, that he had, while absent in body, already determined this, he severely reproves in this way the remissness of the Corinthians, for there is here all implied contrast. It is as though he had said: “You who are present ought before this time to have applied a remedy to this disease, having it every day before your eyes, and yet you do nothing; f274 while for my part I cannot, even though absent, endure it.” Lest any one should allege that he acted rashly in forming a judgment when at so great a distance, he declares himself to be present in spirit, meaning by this, that the line of duty was as plain to him as if he were present, and saw the thing with his eyes. Now it is of importance to observe what he teaches as to the mode of excommunication.
4. When you are gathered together and my spirit — that is, when ye are gathered together with me, but in spirit, for they could not meet together as to bodily presence. He declares, however, that it would be all one as though he were personally present. It is to be carefully observed, that Paul, though an Apostle, does not himself, as an individual, excommunicate according to his own pleasure, but consults with the Church, that the matter may be transacted by common authority. He, it is true, takes the lead, and shows the way, but, in taking others as his associates, he intimates with sufficient plainness, that this authority does not belong to any one individual. As, however, a multitude never accomplishes anything with moderation or seriousness, if not governed by counsel, there was appointed in the ancient Church a Presbytery, f275 that is, an assembly of elders, who, by the consent of all, had the power of first judging in the case. From them the matter was brought before the people, but it was as a thing already judged of. f276 Whatever the matter may be, it is quite contrary to the appointment of Christ and his Apostles — to the order of the Church, and even to equity itself, that this right should be put into the hands of any one man, of excommunicating at his pleasure any that he may choose. Let us take notice, then, that in excommunicating this limitation be observed — that this part of discipline be exercised by the common counsel of the elders, and with the consent of the people, and that this is a remedy in opposition to tyranny. For nothing is more at variance with the discipline of Christ than tyranny, for which you open a wide door, if you give one man the entire power.
In the name of our Lord. For it is not enough that we assemble, if it be not in the name of Christ; for even the wicked assemble together for impious and nefarious conspiracies. Now in order that an assembly may be held in Christ’s name, two things are requisite: first, that we begin by calling upon his name; and secondly, that nothing is attempted but in conformity with his word. Then only do men make an auspicious commencement of anything that they take in hand to do, when they with their heart call upon the Lord that they may be governed by his Spirit, and that their plans may, by his grace, be directed to a happy issue; and farther, when they ask at his mouth, as the Prophet speaks, (<233002>Isaiah 30:2,) that is to say, when, after consulting his oracles, they surrender themselves and all their designs to his will in unreserved obedience. If this is becoming even in the least of our actions, how much less ought it to be omitted in important and serious matters, and least of all, when we have to do with God’s business rather than our own? For example, excommunication is an ordinance of God, and not of men; on any occasion, therefore, on which we are to make use of it, where shall we begin if not with God. f277 In short, when Paul exhorts the Corinthians to assemble in the name of Christ, he does not simply require them to make use of Christ’s name, or to confess him with the mouth, (for the wicked themselves can do that,) but to seek him truly and with the heart, and farther, he intimates by this the seriousness and importance of the action.
He adds, with the power of our Lord, for if the promise is true,
As often as two or three are gathered together in my name,
I am in the midst of them, (<401820>Matthew 18:20,)
it follows, that whatever is done in such an assembly is a work of Christ. Hence we infer, of what importance excommunication, rightly administered, is in the sight of God, inasmuch as it rests upon the power of God. For that saying, too, must be accomplished,
Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. (<401818>Matthew 18:18.)
As, however, this statement ought to fill despisers f278 with no ordinary alarm, so faithful pastors, as well as the Churches generally, are by this admonished in what a devout spirit f279 they should go to work in a matter of such importance. For it is certain that the power of Christ is not tied to the inclination or opinions of mankind, but is associated with his eternal truth.
5. To deliver to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. As the Apostles had been furnished with this power among others, that they could deliver over to Satan wicked and obstinate persons, and made use of him as a scourge to correct them, Chrysostom, and those that follow him, view these words of Paul as referring to a chastisement of that kind, agreeably to the exposition that is usually given of another passage, in reference to Alexander and Hymeneus, (<540120>1 Timothy 1:20.) To deliver over to Satan, they think, means nothing but the infliction of a severe punishment upon the body. But when I examine the whole context more narrowly, and at the same time compare it with what is stated in the Second Epistle, I give up that interpretation, as forced and at variance with Paul’s meaning, and understand it simply of excommunication. For delivering over to Satan is an appropriate expression for denoting excommunication; for as Christ reigns in the Church, so Satan reigns out of the Church, as Augustine, too, has remarked, f280 in his sixty-eighth sermon on the words of the Apostle, where he explains this passage. f281 As, then, we are received into the communion of the Church, and remain in it on this condition, that we are under the protection and guardianship of Christ, I say, that he who is cast out of the Church is in a manner delivered over to the power of Satan, for he becomes an alien, and is cast out of Christ’s kingdom.
The clause that follows, for the destruction of the flesh, is made use of for the purpose of softening; for Paul’s meaning is not that the person who is chastised is given over to Satan to be utterly ruined, or so as to be given up to the devil in perpetual bondage, but that it is a temporary condemnation, and not only so, but of such a nature as will be salutary. For as the salvation equally with the condemnation of the spirit is eternal, he takes the condemnation of the flesh as meaning temporal condemnation. “We will condemn him in this world for a time, that the Lord may preserve him in his kingdom.” This furnishes an answer to the objection, by which some endeavor to set aside this exposition, for as the sentence of excommunication is directed rather against the soul than against the outward man, they inquire how it can be called the destruction of the flesh. My answer, then, is, (as I have already in part stated,) that the destruction of the flesh is opposed to the salvation of the spirit, simply because the former is temporal and the latter is eternal. In this sense the Apostle in <580507>Hebrews 5:7, uses the expression the days of Christs flesh, to mean the course of his mortal life. Now the Church in chastising offenders with severity, spares them not in this world, in order that God may spare them. f282 Should any one wish to have anything farther in reference to the rite of excommunication, its causes, necessity, purposes, and limitation, let him consult my Institutes. f283

1 CORINTHIANS 5:6-8
6. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
6. Non est bona gloriatio vestra: an nescitis, quod exiguum fermentum totam massam fermentat?
7. Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.
7. Expurgate ergo vetus fermentum, ut sitis nova conspersio, sicut estis azymi: nam Pascha nostrum pro nobis immolatum est, Christus. f284
8. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
8. Proinde epulemur non in fermento veteri, neque in fermento malitiae et pravitatis, sed in azymis sinceritatis veritatis. f285

6. Your glorying is not good. He condemns their glorying, not simply because they extolled themselves beyond what is lawful for man, but because they delighted themselves in their faults. He had previously stripped mankind of all glory; for he had shown that, as they have nothing of their own, whatever excellence they may have, they owe the entire praise of it to God alone. (<460407>1 Corinthians 4:7.) What he treats of here, however, is not that, God is defrauded of his right, when mortals arrogate to themselves the praise of their excellences, but that the Corinthians are guilty of arrant folly in extolling themselves without any just ground. For they proudly gloried as if everything had been in a golden style among them, while in the meantime there was so much among them that was wicked and disgraceful.
Know ye not. That they might not think that it was a matter of little or no importance that they gave encouragement to so great an evil, he shows the destructive tendency of indulgence and dissimulation in such a case. He makes use of a proverbial saying, by which he intimates that a whole multitude is infected by the contagion of a single individual. For this proverb has in this passage f286 the same meaning as in those expressions of Juvenal: “A whole herd of swine falls down in the fields through disease in one of their number, and one discolored grape infects another.” f287 I have said in this passage, because Paul, as we shall see, makes use of it elsewhere (<480509>Galatians 5:9) in another sense.
7. Purge out therefore. Having borrowed a similitude from leaven, he pursues it farther, though he makes a transition from a particular point to a general doctrine. For he is no longer speaking of the case of incest, but exhorts them generally to purity of life, on the ground that we cannot remain in Christ if we are not cleansed. He is accustomed to do this not infrequently. When he has made a particular statement, he takes occasion to pass on to general exhortations. He had made mention of leaven on another account, as we have seen. As this same metaphor suited the general doctrine which he now subjoins, he extends it farther.
Our Passover. f288 Before coming to the subject-matter, I shall say a few words in reference to the words. Old leaven receives that name on the same principle as the old man, (<450606>Romans 6:6,) for the corruption of nature takes the precedence in us, previously to our being renewed in Christ. That, therefore, is said to be old which we bring with us from the womb, and must perish when we are renewed by the grace of the Spirit. f289 The verb ejtu>qh, which occurs between the name Christ and the term which denotes a sacrifice, f290 may refer to either. I have taken it as referring to the sacrifice, though this is of no great importance, as the meaning is not affected. The verb eJorta>zwmen, which Erasmus rendered “Let us celebrate the feast,” signifies also to partake of the solemn feast which was observed after the sacrifice had been offered up. This interpretation appeared to suit better with the passage before us. I have, accordingly, followed the Vulgate in preference to Erasmus, as this rendering is more in accordance with the mystery of which Paul treats.
We come now to the subject-matter. Paul, having it in view to exhort the Corinthians to holiness, shows that what was of old figuratively represented in the passover, ought to be at this day accomplished in us, and explains the correspondence which exists between the figure and the reality. In the first place, as the passover consisted of two parts — a sacrifice and a sacred feast — he makes mention of both. For although some do not reckon the paschal lamb to have been a sacrifice, yet reason shows that it was properly a sacrifice, for in that rite the people were reconciled to God by the sprinkling of blood. Now there is no reconciliation without a sacrifice; and, besides, the Apostle now expressly confirms if, for he makes use of the word qu>esqai, which is applicable to sacrifices, and in other respects, too, the context would not correspond. The lamb, then, was sacrificed yearly; then followed a feast, the celebration of which lasted for seven successive days. Christ, says Paul, is our Passover. f291 He was sacrificed once, and on this condition, that the efficacy of that one oblation should be everlasting. What remains now is, that we eat, f292 not once a-year, but continually.
8. Now, in the solemnity of this sacred feast we must abstain from leaven, as God commanded the fathers to abstain. But from what leaven? As the outward passover was to them a figure of the true passover, so its appendages were figures of the reality which we at this day possess. If, therefore, we would wish to feed on Christ’s flesh and blood, let us bring to this feast sincerity and truth. Let these be our loaves of unleavened bread. Away with all malice and wickedness, for it is unlawful to mix up leaven with the passover. In fine, he declares that we shall be members of Christ only when we shall have renounced malice and deceit. In the meantime we must carefully observe this passage, as showing that the ancient passover was not merely mnhmosunon, f293 a memorial of a past benefit, but also a sacrament, representing Christ who was to come, from whom we have this privilege, that we pass from death to life. Otherwise, it would not hold good, that in Christ is the body of the legal shadows. (<510217>Colossians 2:17.) This passage will also be of service for setting aside the sacrilege of the Papal mass. For Paul does not teach that Christ is offered daily, but that the sacrifice having been offered up once for all, it remains that the spiritual feast be celebrated during our whole life.

1 CORINTHIANS 5:9-13
9. I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
9. Scripsi vobis in Epistola, Ne commisceamini scortatoribus:
10.Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
10. Neque in universum scortatoribus mundi hujus, vel avaris, vel rapacibus, vel idololatris: quandoquidem debuissetis ex hoc mundo exire.
11. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
11. Nunc autem scripsi vobis, Ne commisceamini: si is qui frater nominatur, vel scortator sit, vel avarus, vel idololatra, vel maledicus, vel ebriosus, vel rapax: cum tali ne cibum quidem sumatis.
12. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within?
12. Quid enim mea refert extraneos iudicare? an non eos qui intus sunt iudicatis?
13. But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
13. Extraneos vero Deus iudicat: eiicite scelestum ex vobis ipsis.

9. I wrote to you in an epistle. The epistle of which he speaks is not at this day extant. Nor is there any doubt that many others are lost. It is enough, however, that those have been preserved to us which the Lord foresaw would suffice. But this passage, in consequence of its obscurity, has been twisted to a variety of interpretations, which I do not think it necessary for me to take up time in setting aside, but will simply bring forward what appears to me to be its true meaning. He reminds the Corinthians of what he had already enjoined upon them — that they should refrain from intercourse with the wicked. For the word rendered to keep company with, means to be on terms of familiarity with any one, and to be in habits of close intimacy with him. f294 Now, his reminding them of this tends to expose their remissness, inasmuch as they had been admonished, and yet had remained inactive.
He adds an exception, that they may the better understand that this refers particularly to those that belong to the Church, as they did not require to be admonished f295 to avoid the society of the world. In short, then, he prohibits the Corinthians from holding intercourse with those who, while professing to be believers, do, nevertheless, live wickedly and to the dishonor of God. “Let all that wish to be reckoned brethren, either live holily and becomingly, or be excommunicated from the society of the pious, and let all the good refrain from intercourse and familiarity with them. It were superfluous to speak as to the openly wicked, for you ought of your own accord to shun them, without any admonition from me.” This exception, however, increases the criminality of remissness, inasmuch as they cherished in the bosom of the Church an openly wicked person; for it is more disgraceful to neglect those of your own household than to neglect strangers.
10. Since you would have required. It is as to this clause especially that interpreters are not agreed. For some say, “You must sooner quit Greece.” Ambrose, on the other hand, says, “You must rather die.” Erasmus turns it into the optative, as if Paul said, “Would that it were allowable for you to leave the world altogether; f296 but as you cannot do this, you must at least quit the society of those who falsely assume the name of Christians, and in the meantime exhibit in their lives the worst example.” Chrysostom’s exposition has more appearance of truth. According to him, the meaning is this: “When I command you to shun fornicators, I do not mean all such; otherwise you would require to go in quest of another world; for we must live among thorns so long as we sojourn on earth. This only do I require, that you do not keep company with fornicators, who wish to be regarded as brethren, lest you should seem by your sufferance to approve of their wickedness.” Thus the term world here, must be taken to mean the present life, as in <431715>John 17:15.
I pray not, Father, that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest deliver them from the evil.
Against this exposition a question might be proposed by way of objection: “As Paul said this at a time when Christians were as yet mingled with heathens, and dispersed among them, what ought to be done now, when all have given themselves to Christ in name? For even in the present day we must go out of the world, if we would avoid the society of the wicked; and there are none that are strangers, when all take upon themselves Christ’s name, and are consecrated to him by baptism.” Should any one feel inclined to follow Chrysostom, he will find no difficulty in replying, to this effect: that Paul here took for granted what was true — that, where there is the power of excommunication, there is an easy remedy for effecting a separation between the good and the bad, if Churches do their duty. As to strangers, the Christians at Corinth had no jurisdiction, and they could not restrain their dissolute manner of life. Hence they must of necessity have quitted the world, if they wished to avoid the society of the wicked, whose vices they could not cure.
For my own part, as I do not willingly adopt interpretations which cannot be made to suit the words, otherwise than by twisting the words so as to suit them, I prefer one that is different from all these, taking the word rendered to go out as meaning to be separated, and the term world as meaning the pollutions of the world. “What need have you of an injunction as to the children of this world, (<421608>Luke 16:8,) for having once for all renounced the world, it becomes you to stand aloof from their society; for the whole world lieth in the wicked one.” f297 (<620519>1 John 5:19.) If any one is not satisfied with this interpretation, here is still another that is probable: “I do not write to you in general terms, that you should shun the society of the fornicators of this world, though that you ought to do, without any admonition from me.” I prefer, however, the former; and I am not the first contriver of it, but, while it has been brought forward previously by others, I have adapted it more fully, if I mistake not, to Paul’s thread of discourse. There is, then, f298 a sort of intentional omission, when he says that he makes no mention of those that are without, inasmuch as the Corinthians ought to be already separated from them, that they may know that even at home f299 they required to maintain this discipline of avoiding the wicked.
11. If he who is called a brother. In the Greek there is a participle f300 without a verb. f301 Those that view this as referring to what follows, bring out here a forced meaning, and at variance with Paul’s intention. I confess, indeed, that that is a just sentiment, f302 and worthy of being particularly noticed — that no one can be punished by the decision of the Church, but one whose sin has become matter of notoriety; but these words of Paul cannot be made to bear that meaning. What he means, then, is this: “If any one is reckoned a brother among you, and at the same time leads a wicked life, and such as is unbecoming a Christian, keep aloof from his society.” In short, being called a brother, means here a false profession, which has no corresponding reality. Farther, he does not make a complete enumeration of crimes, but merely mentions five or six by way of example, and then afterwards, under the expression such an one, he sums up the whole; and he does not mention any but what fall under the knowledge of men. For inward impiety, and anything that is secret, does not fall within the judgment of the Church.
It is uncertain, however, what he means by an idolater. For how can he be devoted to idolatry who has made a profession of Christ? Some are of opinion that there were among the Corinthians at that time some who received Christ but in half, and in the mean time were involved, nevertheless, in corrupt superstition, as the Israelites of old, and afterwards the Samaritans maintained a kind of worship of God, but at the same time polluted it with wicked superstitions. For my part, I rather understand it of those who, while they held idols in contempt, gave, nevertheless, a pretended homage to the idols, with the view of gratifying the wicked. Paul declares that such persons ought not to be tolerated in the society of Christians; and not without good reason, inasmuch as they made so little account of trampling God’s glory under foot. We must, however, observe the circumstances of the case — that, while they had a Church there, in which they might worship God in purity, and have the lawful use of the sacraments, they came into the Church in such a way as not to renounce the profane fellowship of the wicked. I make this observation, in order that no one may think that we ought to employ equally severe measures against those who, while at this day dispersed under the tyranny of the Pope, pollute themselves with many corrupt rites. These indeed, I maintain, sin generally in this respect, and they ought, I acknowledge, to be sharply dealt with, and diligently urged, f303 that they may learn at length to consecrate themselves wholly to Christ; but I dare not go so far as to reckon them worthy of excommunication, for their case is different. f304
With such an one not even to take food. In the first place, we must ascertain whether he addresses here the whole Church, or merely individuals. I answer, that this is said, indeed, to individuals, but, at the same time, it is connected with their discipline in common; for the power of excommunicating is not allowed to any individual member, but to the entire body. When, therefore, the Church has excommunicated any one, no believer ought to receive him into terms of intimacy with him; otherwise the authority of the Church would be brought into contempt, if each individual were at liberty to admit to his table those who have been excluded from the table of the Lord. By partaking of food here, is meant either living together, or familiar association in meals. For if, on going into an inn, I see one who has been excommunicated sitting at table, there is nothing to hinder me from dining with him; for I have not authority to exclude him. What Paul means is, that, in so far as it is in our power, we are to shun the society of those whom the Church has cut off from her communion.
The Roman antichrist, not content with this severity, has burst forth into interdicts, prohibiting any one from helping one that has been excommunicated to food, or fuel, or drink, or any other of the supports of life. f305 Now, that is not strictness of discipline, but tyrannical and barbarous cruelty, that is altogether at variance with Paul’s intention. For he means not that he should be counted as an enemy, but as a brother, (<530315>2 Thessalonians 3:15;) for in putting this public mark of disgrace upon him, the intention is, that he may be filled with shame, and brought to repentance. And with this dreadful cruelty, if God is pleased to permit, do they rage even against the innocent. f306 Now, granting that there are sometimes those who are not undeserving of this punishment, I affirm, on the other hand, that this kind of interdict f307 is altogether unsuitable to an ecclesiastical court.
12. For what have I to do to judge them that are without? There is nothing to hinder us from judging these also — nay more, even devils themselves are not exempt from the judgment of the word which is committed to us. But Paul is speaking here of the jurisdiction that belongs peculiarly to the Church. “The Lord has furnished us with this power, that we may exercise it upon those who belong to his household. For this chastisement is a part of discipline which is confined to the Church, and does not extend to strangers. We do not therefore pronounce upon them their condemnation, because the Lord has not subjected them to our cognizance and jurisdiction, in so far as that chastisement and censure are concerned. We are, therefore, constrained to leave them to the judgment of God.” It is in this sense that Paul says, that God will judge them, because he allows them to wander about f308 unbridled like wild beasts, because there is no one that can restrain their wantonness.
13. Put away that wicked person. This is commonly explained as referring to the person who was guilty of an illicit connection with his mother-in-law. For as to those who understand the expression to mean — “Put away evil or wickedness,” they are refuted by the Greek words made use of by Paul, the article (to<n) being in the masculine gender, But what if you should view it as referring to the devil, who, undoubtedly in the person of a wicked and unprincipled man, f309 is encouraged to establish his throne among us? For oJ ponhrov (the wicked one) taken simply and without any addition, denotes the prince of all crimes, f310 rather than some wicked man. If this meaning is approved of, Paul shows how important it is f311 not to tolerate wicked persons, as by this means Satan is expelled from his kingdom which he keeps up among us, when indulgence is given to the wicked. f312 If any one, however, prefers to understand it as referring to a man, I do not oppose it. Chrysostom compares the rigor of the law with the mildness of the gospel, inasmuch as Paul was satisfied with excommunication in case of an offense for which the law required the punishment of death, but for this there is no just ground. For Paul is not here addressing judges that are armed with the sword, but an unarmed multitude f313 that was allowed merely to make use of brotherly correction.
CHAPTER 6

1 CORINTHIANS 6:1-8
1. Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
1. Audet aliquis vestrum, negotium habens cum altero, litigare sub iniustis, et non sub sanctis?
2. Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
2. An nescitis, quod sancti mundum iudicabunt? quodsi in vobis iudicatur mundus, indigni estis minimis iudiciis?
3. Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things pertain to this life?
3. An nescitis, quod angelos iudicabimus, nedum ad victum pertinentia?
4. If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
4. Iudicia ergo de rebus ad victum pertinentibus si habueritis, qui contemptibiles sunt in Ecclesia, f314 eos constituite.
5. I speak to your shame. Is it that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?
5. Ad erubescentiam vestram dico: adeo non est inter vos sapiens, ne unus quidem, qui possit iudicare inter fratres?
6. But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.
6. Sed frater cum fratre litigat, idque sub infidelibus.
7. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?
7. Jam quidera omnino delictum in vobis est, quod iudicia habetis inter vos: cur non potius iniuriam sustinetis? f315
8. Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.
8. Sed vos infertis iniuriam, et fraudatis, et quidem fratres.

HERE, he begins to reprove another fault among the Corinthians — an excessive fondness for litigation, which took its rise from avarice. Now, this reproof consists of two parts. The first is, that by bringing their disputes before the tribunals of the wicked, they by this means made the gospel contemptible, and exposed it to derision. The second is, that while Christians ought to endure injuries with patience, they inflicted injury on others, rather than allow themselves to be subjected to any inconvenience. Thus, the first part is particular: the other is general.
1. Dare any of you. This is the first statement — that, if any one has a controversy with a brother, it ought to be decided before godly judges, and that it ought not to be before those that are ungodly. If the reason is asked, I have already said, that it is because disgrace is brought upon the gospel, and the name of Christ is held up as it were to the scoffings of the ungodly. For the ungodly, at the instigation of Satan, are always eagerly on the watch f316 for opportunities of finding occasion of calumny against the doctrine of godliness. Now believers, when they make them parties in their disputes, seem as though they did on set purpose furnish them with a handle for reviling. A second reason may be added — that we treat our brethren disdainfully, when we of our own accord subject them to the decisions of unbelievers.
But here it may be objected: “As it belongs to the office of the magistrate, and as it is peculiarly his province to administer justice to all, and to decide upon matters in dispute, why should not even unbelievers, who are in the office of magistrate, have this authority, and, if they have it, why are we prevented from maintaining our rights before their tribunals?” I answer, that Paul does not here condemn those who from necessity have a cause before unbelieving judges, f317 as when a person is summoned to a court; but those who, of their own accord, bring their brethren into this situation, and harass them, as it were, through means of unbelievers, while it is in their power to employ another remedy. It is wrong, therefore, to institute of one’s own accord a law-suit against brethren before unbelieving judges. If, on the other hand, you are summoned to a court, there is no harm in appearing there and maintaining your cause.
2. Know ye not that the saints. Here we have an argument from the less to the greater; for Paul, being desirous to show that injury is done to the Church of God when judgments on matters of dispute connected with earthly things are carried before unbelievers, as if there were no one in the society of the godly that was qualified to judge, reasons in this strain: “Since God has reckoned the saints worthy of such honor, as to have appointed them to be judges of the whole world, it is unreasonable that they should be shut out from judging as to small matters, as persons not qualified for it.” Hence it follows, that the Corinthians inflict injury upon themselves, in resigning into the hands of unbelievers the honor f318 that has been conferred upon them by God.
What is said here as to judging the world ought to be viewed as referring to that declaration of Christ:
When the Son of Man shall come, ye shall sit, etc.
(<401928>Matthew 19:28.)
For all power of judgment has been committed to the Son,
(<430522>John 5:22,)
in such a manner that he will receive his saints into a participation with him in this honor, as assessors. Apart from this, they will judge the world, as indeed they begin already to do, because their piety, faith, fear of the Lord, good conscience, and integrity of life, will make unbelievers altogether inexcusable, as it is said of Noah, that by his faith he condemned all the men of his age. (<581107>Hebrews 11:7.) But the former signification accords better with the Apostle’s design, for unless you take the judging here spoken of in its proper acceptation, the reasoning will not hold.
But even in this sense f319 it may seem not to have much weight, for it is as if one should say’ “The saints are endowed with heavenly wisdom, which immeasurably transcends all human doctrines: therefore they can judge better as to the stars than astrologers.” Now this no one will allow, and the ground of objection is obvious — because piety and spiritual doctrine do not confer a knowledge of human arts. My answer here is this, that between expertness in judging and other arts there is this difference, that while the latter are acquired by acuteness of intellect and by study, and are learned from masters, f320 the former depends rather on equity and conscientiousness.
But f321 “lawyers will judge better and more confidently than an illiterate Christian: otherwise the knowledge of law is of no advantage.” I answer, that their advice is not here excluded, for if the determination of any obscure question is to be sought from a knowledge of the laws, the Apostle does not hinder Christians from applying to lawyers. f322 What he finds fault with in the Corinthians is simply this, that they carry their disputes before unbelieving judges, as if they had none in the Church that were qualified to pass judgment, and farther, he shows how much superior is the judgment that God has assigned to his believing people.
The words rendered in you mean here, in my opinion, among you. For whenever believers meet in one place, under the auspices of Christ, f323 there is already in their assembly a sort of image of the future judgment, which will be perfectly brought to light on the last day. Accordingly Paul says, that the world is judged in the Church, because there Christ’s tribunal is erected, from which he exercises his authority. f324
3. Know ye not that we shall judge angels? This passage is taken in different ways. Chrysostom states that some understood it as referring to priests, f325 but this is exceedingly far-fetched. Others understand it of the angels in heaven, in this sense — that the angels are subject to the judgment of God’s word, and may be judged by us, if need be, by means of that word, as it is said in the Epistle to the Galatians —
If an angel from heaven bring any other gospel, let him be accursed. (<480108>Galatians 1:8.)
Nor does this exposition appear at first view unsuitable to the thread of Paul’s discourse; for if all whom God has enlightened by his word are endowed with such authority, that through means of that word they judge not only men but angels too, how much more will they be prepared to judge of small and trivial matters? As, however, Paul speaks here in the future tense, as referring to the last day, and as his words convey the idea of an actual judgment, (as the common expression is,) it were preferable, in my opinion, to understand him as speaking of apostate f326 angels. For the argument will be not less conclusive in this way: “Devils, who sprang from so illustrious an origin, and even now, when they have fallen from their high estate, are immortal creatures, and superior to this corruptible world, shall be judged by us. What then? Shall those things that are subservient to the belly be exempted from our judgment?
4. If you have judgments then as to things pertaining to this life. We must always keep in view what causes he is treating of; for public trials are beyond our province, and ought not to be transferred to our disposal; but as to private matters it is allowable to determine without the cognizance of the magistrate. As, then, we do not detract in any degree from the authority of the magistrate by having recourse to arbitration, it is not without good reason that the Apostle enjoins it upon Christians to refrain from resorting to profane, that is, unbelieving judges. And lest they should allege that they were deprived of a better remedy, he directs them to choose out of the Church arbiters, who may settle causes agreeably and equitably. Farther, lest they should allege that they have not a sufficient number of qualified persons, he says that the meanest is competent to discharge this office. There is, therefore, no detracting here from the dignity of the office of magistrates, when he gives orders that their office be committed to contemptible persons, for this (as I have already said) is stated by anticipation, as though he had said: “Even the lowest and meanest among you will discharge this office better than those unbelieving judges to whom you have recourse. So far are you from necessity in this way.”
Chrysostom comes near this interpretation, though he appends to it something additional; for he is of opinion, that the Apostle meant to say, that, even though the Corinthians should find no one among themselves who had sufficient wisdom for judging, they must nevertheless make choice of some, of whatever stamp they were. Ambrose touches neither heaven nor earth. f327 I think I have faithfully brought out the Apostle’s intention — that the lowest among believers was preferred by him to unbelievers, as to capacity of judging. There are some that strike out a quite different meaning, for they understand the word kaqizete to be in the present tense — You set them to judge, and by those that are least esteemed in the Church they understand profane persons. f328 This, however, is more ingenious than solid, for that were a poor designation of unbelievers. f329 Besides, the form of expression, if you have, would not suit so well with a reproof, for the expression would have required rather to be while you have, for that condition takes away from the force of it. Hence I am the more inclined to think, that a remedy for the evil is here prescribed.
That this statement, however, was taken up wrong by the ancients, appears from a certain passage in Augustine. For in his book — “On the Work of Monks,” where he makes mention of his employments, he declares that among his numerous engagements, the most disagreeable of all was, that he was under the necessity of devoting a part of the day to secular affairs, but that he at the same time endured it patiently, because the Apostle f330 had imposed upon him this necessity. From this passage, and from a certain epistle, it appears that the bishops were accustomed to sit at certain hours to settle disputes, as if the Apostle had been referring to them here. As, however, matters always become worse, there sprang from this error, in process of time, that jurisdiction which the officials of the bishops assume to themselves in money matters. In that ancient custom there are two things that are deserving of reproof — that the bishops were involved in matters that were foreign to their office; and that they wronged God in making his authority and command a pretext for turning aside from their proper calling. The evil, however, was in some degree excusable, but as for the profane custom, which has come to prevail in the Papacy, it were the height of baseness to excuse or defend it.
5. I speak to your shame. The meaning is — “If other considerations do not influence you, let it at least be considered by you, how disgraceful it is to you that there is not so much as one among you who is qualified to settle an affair amicably among brethrenan honor which you assign to unbelievers. Now this passage is not inconsistent with the declaration which we met with above, when he stated that he did not make mention of their faults with the view of shaming them, (<460414>1 Corinthians 4:14,) for instead of this, by putting them to shame in this manner, he calls them back from disgrace, f331 and shows that he is desirous to promote their honor. He does not wish them, then, to form so unfavorable an opinion of their society, as to take away from all their brethren an honor which they allow to unbelievers.
7. Now indeed there is utterly a fault. Here we have the second part of the reproof, which contains a general doctrine; for he now reproves them, not on the ground of their exposing the gospel to derision and disgrace, but on the ground of their going to law with each other. This, he says, is a fault. We must, however, observe the propriety of the term which he employs. For h[tthma in Greek signifies weakness of mind, as when one is easily broken down f332 by injuries, and cannot bear anything it comes afterward to be applied to vices of any kind, as they all arise from weakness and deficiency in fortitude. f333 What Paul, then, condemns in the Corinthians is this — that they harassed one another with law-suits. He states the reason of it — that they were not prepared to bear injuries patiently. And, assuredly, as the Lord commands us (<400544>Matthew 5:44; <451221>Romans 12:21) not to be overcome by evils, but on the contrary to overcome injuries by acts of kindness, it is certain, that those who cannot control themselves so as to suffer injuries patiently, commit sin by their impatience. If contention in law-suits among believers is a token of that impatience, it follows that it is faulty.
In this way, however, he seems to discard entirely judgments as to the affairs of individuals. “Those are altogether in the wrong who go to law. Hence it will not be allowable in any one to maintain his rights by having recourse to a magistrate.” There are some that answer this objection in this way — that the Apostle declares that where there are law-suits there is utterly a fault, because, of necessity, the one or the other has a bad cause. They do not, however, escape by this sophistry, because he says that they are in fault, not merely when they inflict injury, but also when they do not patiently endure it. For my own part, my answer is simply this — having a little before given permission to have recourse to arbiters, he has in this shown, with sufficient clearness, that, Christians are not prohibited from prosecuting their rights moderately, and without any breach of love. Hence we may very readily infer, that his being so severe was owing to his taking particularly into view the circumstances of the case. And, undoubtedly, wherever there is frequent recourse to law-suits, or where the parties contend with each other pertinaciously with rigor of law, f334 it is in that case abundantly plain, that their minds are immoderately inflamed with wrong dispositions, and are not prepared for equity and endurance of wrongs, according to the commandment of Christ. To speak more plainly, the reason why Paul condemns law-suits is, that we ought to suffer injuries with patience. Let us now see whether any one can carry on a law-suit without impatience; for if it is so, to go to law will not be wrong in all cases, but only ejpi< to< polu> — for the most part. I confess, however, that as men’s manners are corrupt, impatience, or lack of patience (as they speak) is an almost inseparable attendant on lawsuits. This, however, does not hinder your distinguishing between the thing itself and the improper accompaniment. Let us therefore bear in mind, that Paul does not condemn law-suits on the ground of its being a wrong thing in itself to maintain a good cause by having recourse to a magistrate, but because it is almost invariably accompanied with corrupt dispositions; as, for example, violence, desire of revenge, enmities, obstinacy, and the like.
It is surprising that this question has not been more carefully handled by ecclesiastical writers. Augustine has bestowed more pains upon it than the others, and has come nearer the mark; f335 but even he is somewhat obscure, though there is truth in what he states. Those who aim at greater clearness in their statements tell us that we must distinguish between public and private revenge; for while the magistrate’s vengeance is appointed by God, those who have recourse to it do not rashly take vengeance at their own hand, but have recourse to God as an Avenger. f336 This, it is true, is said judiciously and appropriately; but we must go a step farther; for if it be not allowable even to desire vengeance from God, then, on the same principle, it were not allowable to have recourse to the magistrate for vengeance.
I acknowledge, then, that a Christian man is altogether prohibited from revenge, so that he must not exercise it, either by himself, or by means of the magistrate, nor even desire it. If, therefore, a Christian man wishes to prosecute his rights at law, so as not to offend God, he must, above all things, take heed that he does not bring into court any desire of revenge, any corrupt affection of the mind, or anger, or, in fine, any other poison. In this matter love will be the best regulator. f337
If it is objected, that it very rarely happens that any one carries on a law-suit entirely free and exempt from every corrupt affection, I acknowledge that it is so, and I say farther, that. it is rare to find a single instance of an upright litigant; but it is useful for many reasons to show that the thing is not evil in itself, but is rendered corrupt by abuse: First, that it may not seem as if God had to no purpose appointed courts of justice; Secondly, that the pious may know how far their liberties extend, that they may not take anything in hand against the dictates of conscience. For it is owing to this that many rush on to open contempt of God, when they have once begun to transgress those limits; f338 Thirdly, that they may be admonished, that they must always keep within bounds, so as not to pollute by their own misconduct the remedy which the Lord has permitted them to employ; Lastly, that the audacity of the wicked may be repressed by a pure and uncorrupted zeal, which could not be effected, if we were not allowed to subject them to legal punishments.
8. But ye do injury. Hence we see for what reason he has inveighed against them with so much bitterness — because there prevailed among them such a base desire of gain, that they did not even refrain from injuring one another. He premised a little before, with the view of exposing the magnitude of the evil, that those are not Christians who know not to endure injuries. There is, then, an amplification here, founded on a comparison: for if it is wrong not to bear injuries patiently, how much worse is it to inflict them?
And that your brethren. Here is another aggravation of the evil; for if those are doubly culpable who defraud strangers, it is monstrous for brother to be cheated or despoiled by brother. Now all of us are brethren that call upon one Father in heaven. (<402309>Matthew 23:9.) At the same time, if any one acts an unprincipled part towards strangers, Paul does not palliate the crime; but he teaches that the Corinthians were utterly blinded in making sacred brotherhood a matter of no moment.

1 CORINTHIANS 6:9-11
9. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
9. An nescitis, quod iniusti regenum Dei hereditate non obtinebunt? Ne erretis, neque scortatores, neque idololatrae, neque moechi, neque molles, neque paederastse.
10. Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
10. Neque fures, neque avari, neque ebriosi, neque maledici, neque rapaces regnum Dei hereditate obtinebunt.
11. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
11. Et haec fuistis, f339 sed abluti estis, sed sanctificati estis, sed iustificati estis in nomine Domini Jesu, et in Spiritu Dei nostri.

9. Know ye not, etc. By unrighteousness here you may understand what is opposed to strict integrity. The unrighteous, then, that is, those who inflict injury on their brethren, who defraud or circumvent others, who, in short, are intent upon their own advantage at the expense of injuring others, will not inherit the kingdom of God. That by the unrighteous here, as for example adulterers, and thieves and covetous, and revilers, he means those who do not, repent of their sins, but obstinately persist in them, is too manifest to require that it should be stated. The Apostle himself, too, afterwards expresses this in the words employed by him, when he says that the Corinthians formerly were such. The wicked, then, do inherit the kingdom of God, but it is only in the event of their having been first converted to the Lord in true repentance, and having in this way ceased to be wicked. For although conversion is not the ground of pardon, yet we know that none are reconciled to God but those who repent. The interrogation, however, is emphatic, for it intimates that he states nothing but what they themselves know, and is matter of common remark among all pious persons.
Be not deceived. He takes occasion from one vice to speak of many. I am of opinion, however, that he has pointed out those vices chiefly which prevailed among the Corinthians. He makes use of three terms for reproving those lascivious passions which, as all historical accounts testify, reigned, nay raged, to an extraordinary height in that city. For it was a city that abounded in wealth, (as has been stated elsewhere.) It was a celebrated mart, which was frequented by merchants from many nations. Wealth has luxury as its attendant — the mother of unchastity and all kinds of lasciviousness. In addition to this, a nation which was of itself prone to wantonness, was prompted to it by many other corruptions.
The difference between fornicators and adulterers is sufficiently well known. By effeminate persons I understand those who, although they do not openly abandon themselves to impurity, discover, nevertheless, their unchastity by blandishments of speech, by lightness of gesture and apparel, and other allurements. The fourth description of crime is the most abominable of all — that monstrous pollution which was but too prevalent in Greece.
He employs three terms in reproving injustice and injuries. He gives the name of thieves to those who take the advantage of their brethren by any kind of fraud or secret artifice. By extortioners, he means those that violently seize on another’s wealth, or like harpies f340 drew to themselves from every quarter, and devour. With the view of giving his discourse a wider range, he afterwards adds all covetous persons too. Under the term drunkards you are to understand him as including those who go to excess in eating. He more particularly reproves revilers, because, in all probability, that city was full of gossip and slanders. In short, he makes mention chiefly of those vices to which, he saw, that city was addicted.
Farther, that his threatening may have more weight, he says, be not deceived; by which expression he admonishes them not to flatter themselves with a vain hope, as persons are accustomed, by extenuating their offenses, to inure themselves to contempt of God. No poison, therefore, is more dangerous than those allurements which encourage us in our sins. Let us, therefore, shun, not as the songs of the Sirens, f341 but as the deadly bites of Satan, the talk of profane persons, when turning the judgment of God and reproofs of sins into matter of jest. Lastly, we must also notice here the propriety of the word klhronomein — to inherit; which shows that the kingdom of heaven is the inheritance of sons, and therefore comes to us through the privilege of adoption.
11. And such were ye. Some add a term of speciality: Such were some of you, as in Greek the word tine<v is added; but I am rather of opinion that the Apostle speaks in a general way. I consider that term to be redundant, in accordance with the practice of the Greeks, who frequently make use of it for the sake of ornament, not by way of restriction. We must not, however, understand him as putting all in one bundle, so as to attribute all these vices to each of them, but he simply means to intimate, that no one is altogether free from these vices, until he has been renewed by the Spirit. For we must hold this, that man’s nature universally contains the seed of all evils, but that some vices prevail and discover themselves more in some than in others, according as the Lord brings out to view the depravity of the flesh by its fruits.
Thus Paul, in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans, piles up many different kinds of vices and crimes, which flow from ignorance of God, and that ingratitude, of which he had shown all unbelievers to be guilty, (<450121>Romans 1:21-32) — not that every unbeliever is infected with all these vices, but that all are liable to them, and no one is exempt from them all. For he who is not an adulterer, sins in some other way. So also in the third chapter he brings forward as applicable to the sons of Adam universally those declarations —
their throat is an open sepulcher: their feet are swift to shed blood: their tongue is deceitful or poisonous, (<450313>Romans 3:13-15)
— not that all are sanguinary and cruel, or that all are treacherous or revilers; but that, previously to our being formed anew by God, one is inclined to cruelty, another to treachery, another to impurity, another to deceit; so that there is no one in whom there does not exist some trace of the corruption common to all; and we are all of us, to a man, by an internal and secret affection of the mind, liable to all diseases, unless in so far as the Lord inwardly restrains them from breaking forth openly. f342 The simple meaning, therefore, is this, that prior to their being regenerated by grace, some of the Corinthians were covetous, others adulterers, others extortioners, others effeminate, others revilers, but now, being made free by Christ, they were such no longer.
The design of the Apostle, however, is to humble them, by calling to their remembrance their former condition; and, farther, to stir them up to acknowledge the grace of God towards them. For the greater the misery is acknowledged to be, from which we have escaped through the Lord’s kindness, so much the more does the magnitude of his grace shine forth. Now the commendation of grace is a fountain f343 of exhortations, because we ought to take diligent heed, that we may not make void the kindness of God, which ought to be so highly esteemed. It is as though he had said: “It is enough that God has drawn you out of that mire in which you were formerly sunk;” as Peter also says,
“The time past is sufficient to have fulfilled the lusts
of the Gentiles.” (<600403>1 Peter 4:3.)
But ye are washed. He makes use of three terms to express one and the same thing, that he may the more effectually deter them from rolling back into the condition from which they had escaped. Hence, though these three terms have the same general meaning, there is, nevertheless, great force in their very variety. For there is an implied contrast between washing and defilement — sanctification and pollution — justification and guilt. His meaning is, that having been once justified, they must not draw down upon themselves a new condemnation — that, having been sanctified, they must not pollute themselves anew — that, having been washed, they must not disgrace themselves with new defilements, but, on the contrary, aim at purity, persevere in true holiness, and abominate their former pollutions. And hence we infer what is the purpose for which God reconciles us to himself by the free pardon of our sins. While I have said that one thing is expressed by three terms, I do not mean that there is no difference whatever in their import, for, properly speaking, God justifies us when he frees us from condemnation, by not imputing to us our sins; he cleanses us, when he blots out the remembrance of our sins. Thus these two terms differ only in this respect, that the one is simple, while the other is figurative; for the term washing is metaphorical, Christ’s blood being likened to water. On the other hand, he sanctifies by renewing our depraved nature by his Spirit. Thus sanctification is connected with regeneration. In this passage, however, the Apostle had simply in view to extol, with many commendations, the grace of God, which has delivered us from the bondage of sin, that we may learn from this how much it becomes us to hold in abhorrence everything that stirs up against us God’s anger and vengeance.
In the name of the Lord Jesus, etc. With propriety and elegance he distinguishes between different offices. For the blood of Christ is the procuring cause of our cleansing: righteousness and sanctification come to us through his death and resurrection. But, as the cleansing effected by Christ, and the attainment of righteousness, are of no avail except to those who have been made partakers of those blessings by the influence of the Holy Spirit, it is with propriety that he makes mention of the Spirit in connection with Christ. Christ, then, is the source of all blessings to us from him we obtain all things; but Christ himself, with all his blessings, is communicated to us by the Spirit. For it is by faith that we receive Christ, and have his graces applied to us. The Author of faith is the Spirit.

1 CORINTHIANS 6:12-20
12. All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
12. Omnium mihi est potestas, at non omnia conducunt: omnium mihi est potestas, sed ego sub nullius f344 redigar potestatem.
13. Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.
13. Escae ventri, et venter escis: Deus vero et has et ilium destruet. Corpus autem non scortationi, sed Domino, et Dominus corpori.
14. And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.
14. Porro Deus et Dominum suscitavit, et nos suscitabit per potentiam suam.
15. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.
15. An nescitis, quod corpora vestra membra sunt Christi? tolthen lens igiturmembra Christi, faclam membra meretricis? Absit.
16. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.
16. An nescitis, quod qui adhaeret meretrici, unum corpus est? erunt enim, inquit, duo in carnem unam.
17. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
17. Qui antera Domino adhaeret,unus spiritus est.
18. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
18. Fugite scortationem. Omne peccatum quod commiserit homo, extra corpus est: qui autem scortatur, in proprium corpus peccat.
19. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own.
19. An nescitis, quod corpus vestrum templum est Spiritus sancti, qui in vobis est, quem habetis a Deo, et non estis vestri?
20. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
20. Empti enim estis pretio: glorificate iam Deum in corpore vestro et in spiritu vestro, quae Dei sunt.

12. All things are lawful for me. Interpreters labor hard to make out the connection of these things, f345 as they appear to be somewhat foreign to the Apostle’s design. For my own part, without mentioning the different interpretations, I shall state what, in my opinion, is the most satisfactory. It is probable, that the Corinthians even up to that time retained much of their former licentiousness, and had still a savor of the morals of their city. Now when vices stalk abroad with impunity, f346 custom is regarded as law, and then afterwards vain pretexts are sought for by way of excuse; an instance of which we have in their resorting to the pretext of Christian liberty, so as to make almost everything allowable for themselves to do. They reveled in excess of luxury. With this there was, as usual, much pride mixed up. As it was an outward thing, they did not think that there was any sin involved in it: nay more, it appears from Paul’s words that they abused liberty so much as to extend it even to fornication. Now therefore, most appropriately, after having spoken of their vices, he discusses those base pretexts by which they flattered themselves in outward sins.
It is, indeed, certain, that he treats here of outward things, which God has left to the free choice of believers, but by making use of a term expressive of universality, he either indirectly reproves their unbridled licentiousness, or extols God’s boundless liberality, which is the best directress to us of moderation. For it is a token of excessive licentiousness, when persons do not, of their own accord, restrict themselves, and set bounds to themselves, amidst such manifold abundance. And in the first place, he limits liberty f347 by two exceptions; and secondly, he warns them, that it does not by any means extend to fornication. These words, All things are lawful for me, must be understood as spoken in name of the Corinthians, kat j ajnqupofora<n, (by anticipation,) as though he had said, I am aware of the reply which you are accustomed to make, when desirous to avoid reproof for outward vices. You pretend that all things are lawful for you, without any reserve or limitation.
But all things are not expedient. Here we have the first exception, by which he restricts the use of liberty — that they must not abandon themselves to licentiousness, because respect must be had to edification. f348 The meaning is, “It is not enough that this or that is allowed us, to be made use of indiscriminately; for we must consider what is profitable to our brethren, whose edification it becomes us to study. For as he will afterwards point out at greater length, (<461023>1 Corinthians 10:23, 24,) and as he has already shown in <451413>Romans 14:13, etc., every one has liberty inwardly f349 in the sight of God on this condition, that all must restrict the use of their liberty with a view to mutual edification.
I will not be brought under the power of anything. Here we have a second restriction — that we are constituted lords of all things, in such a way, that we ought not to bring ourselves under bondage to anything; as those do who cannot control their appetites. For I understand the word tinov (any) to be in the neuter gender, and I take it as referring, not to persons, but to things, so that the meaning is this: “We are lords of all things; only we must not abuse that lordship in such a way as to drag out a most miserable bondage, being, through intemperance and inordinate lusts, under subjection to outward things, which ought to be under subjection to us.” And certainly, the excessive moroseness of those who grudge to yield up anything for the sake of their brethren, has this effect, that they unadvisedly put halters of necessity around their own necks.
13. Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats. Here he shows what use ought to be made of outward things — for the necessity of the present life, which passes away quickly as a shadow, agreeably to what, he says afterwards. (<460729>1 Corinthians 7:29.) We must use this world so as not to abuse it. And hence, too, we infer, how improper it is for a Christian man to contend for outward things. f350 When a dispute, therefore, arises respecting corruptible things, a. pious mind will not anxiously dwell upon these things; for liberty is one thing — the use of it is another. This statement accords with another — that
The kingdom of God is not meat and drink.
(<451417>Romans 14:17.)
Now the body is not for fornication. Having mentioned the exceptions, he now states still farther, that our liberty ought not by any means to be extended to fornication. For it was an evil that was so prevalent at that time, that it seemed in a manner as though it had been permitted; as we may see also from the decree of the Apostles, (<441520>Acts 15:20,) where, in prohibiting the Gentiles from fornication, they place it among things indifferent; for there can be no doubt that this was done, because it was very generally looked upon as a lawful thing. Hence Paul says now, There is a difference between fornication and meats, for the Lord has not ordained the body for fornication, as he has the belly for meats. And this he confirms from things contrary or opposite, inasmuch as it is consecrated to Christ, and it is impossible that Christ should be conjoined with fornication. What he addsand the Lord for the body, is not without weight, for while God the Father has united us to his Son, what wickedness there would be in tearing away our body from that sacred connection, and giving it over to things unworthy of Christ. f351
14. And God hath also raised up the Lord. He shows from Christ’s condition how unseemly fornication is for a Christian man; for Christ having been received into the heavenly glow, what has he in common with the pollutions of this world? Two things, however, are contained in these words. The first is, that it is unseemly and unlawful, that our body, which is consecrated to Christ, should be profaned by fornication, inasmuch as Christ himself has been raised up from the dead, that he might enter on the possession of the heavenly glory. The second is, that it is a base thing to prostitute our body f352 to earthly pollutions, while it is destined to be a partaker f353 along with Christ of a blessed immortality and of the heavenly glory. There is a similar statement in <510301>Colossians 3:1, If we have risen with Christ, etc., with this difference, that he speaks here of the last resurrection only, while in that passage he speaks of the first also, or in other words, of the grace of the Holy Spirit, by which we are fashioned again to a new life. As, however, the resurrection is a thing almost incredible (<442608>Acts 26:8) to the human mind, when the Scripture makes mention of it, it reminds us of the power of God, with the view of confirming our faith in it. (<402229>Matthew 22:29.)
15. Know ye not that our bodies are the members, etc. Here we have an explanation, or, if you prefer it, an amplification of the foregoing statement. For that expression, the body is for the Lord, might, owing to its brevity, be somewhat obscure. Hence he says, as if with the view of explaining it, that Christ is joined with us and we with him in such a way, that we become one body with him. Accordingly, if I have connection with an harlot, I tear Christ in pieces, so far as it is in my power to do so; for it is impossible for me to draw Him into fellowship with such pollution. f354 Now as that must be held in abhorrence, f355 he makes use of the expression which he is accustomed to employ in reference to things that are absurdGod forbid. f356 Observe, that the spiritual connection which we have with Christ belongs not merely to the soul, but also to the body, so that we are flesh of his flesh, etc. (<490530>Ephesians 5:30.) Otherwise the hope of a resurrection were weak, if our connection were not of that nature — full and complete.
16. Know ye not that he that is joined to an harlot. He brings out more fully the greatness of the injury that is done to Christ by the man that has intercourse with an harlot; for he becomes one body, and hence he tears away a member from Christ’s body. It is not certain in what sense he accommodates to his design the quotation which he subjoins from <010224>Genesis 2:24. For if he quotes it to prove that two persons who commit fornication together become one flesh, he turns it aside from its true meaning to what is quite foreign to it. For Moses speaks there not of a base and prohibited cohabitation of a man and a woman, but of the marriage connection which God blesses. For he shows that that bond is so close and indissoluble, that it surpasses the relationship which subsists between a father and a son, which, assuredly, can have no reference to fornication. This consideration has led me sometimes to think, that this quotation is not brought forward to confirm the immediately preceding statement, but one that is more remote, in this way — “Moses says, that by the marriage connection husband and wife become one flesh, but he that is jointed to the Lord becomes not merely one flesh, but one spirit with him.” f357 And in this way the whole of this passage would tend to magnify the efficacy and dignity of the spiritual marriage which subsists between us and Christ.
If, however, any one does not altogether approve of this exposition, as being rather forced, I shall bring forward another. For as fornication is the corruption of a divine institution, it has some resemblance to it; and what is affirmed respecting the former, may to some extent be applied to the latter; not that it may be honored with the praises due to the former, f358 but for the purpose of expressing the more fully the heinousness of the sin. The expression, therefore, that they two become one flesh, is applicable in the true and proper sense to married persons only; but it is applied to fornicators, who are joined in a polluted and impure fellowship, meaning that contagion passes from the one to the other. f359 For there is no absurdity in saying that fornication bears some resemblance to the sacred connection of marriage, as being a corruption of it, as I have said; but the former has a curse upon it, and the other a blessing. Such is the correspondence between things that are contrasted in an antithesis. At the same time, I would prefer to understand it, in the first instance, of marriage, and then, in an improper sense, f360 of fornication, in this way — “God pronounces husband and wife to be one flesh, in order that neither of them may have connection with another flesh; so that the adulterer and adulteress do, also, become one flesh, and involve themselves in an accursed connection. And certainly this is more simple, and agrees better with the context.
17. He that is joined to the Lord. He has added this to show that our connection with Christ is closer than that of a husband and wife, and that the former, accordingly, must be greatly preferred before the latter, so that it must be maintained with the utmost chastity and fidelity. For if he who is joined to a woman in marriage ought not to have illicit connection with an harlot, much more heinous were this crime in believers, who are not merely one flesh with Christ, but also one spirit. Thus there is a comparison between greater and less.
18. Flee fornication. Every sin, etc. Having set before us honorable conduct, he now shows how much we ought to abhor fornication, setting before us the enormity of its wickedness and baseness. Now he shows its greatness by comparison — that this sin alone, of all sins, puts a brand of disgrace upon the body. The body, it is true, is defiled also by theft, and murder, and drunkenness, in accordance with those statements
Your hands are defiled with blood. (<230115>Isaiah 1:15.)
You have yielded your members instruments of iniquity unto sin,
(<450619>Romans 6:19,)
and the like. Hence some, in order to avoid this inconsistency, understand the words rendered against his own body, as meaning against us, as being connected with Christ; but this appears to me to be more ingenious than solid. Besides, they do not escape even in this way, because that same thing, too, might be affirmed of idolatry equally with fornication. For he who prostrates himself before an idol, sins against connection with Christ. Hence I explain it in this way, that he does not altogether deny that there are other vices, in like manner, by which our body is dishonored and disgraced, but that his meaning is simply this — that defilement does not attach itself to our body from other vices in the same way f361 as it does from fornication. My hand, it is true, is defiled by theft or murder, my tongue by evil speaking, or perjury, f362 and the whole body by drunkenness; but fornication leaves a stain impressed upon the body, such as is not impressed upon it from other sins. According to this comparison, or, in other words, in the sense of less and more, other sins are said to be without the bodynot, however, as though they do not at all affect the body, viewing each one by itself.
19. Know ye not that your body. He makes use of two additional arguments, in order to deter us from this filthiness. First, That our bodies are temples of the Spirit; and, secondly, that the Lord has bought us to himself as his property. There is an emphasis implied in the term temple; for as the Spirit of God cannot take up his abode in a place that is profane, we do not give him a habitation otherwise than by consecrating ourselves to him as temples. It is a great honor that God confers upon us when he desires to dwell in us. (<19D214>Psalm 132:14.) Hence we ought so much the more to fear, lest he should depart from us, offended by our sacrilegious actings. f363
And ye are not your own. Here we have a second argument — that we are not at our own disposal, that we should live according to our own pleasure. He proves this from the fact that the Lord has purchased us for himself, by paying the price of our redemption. There is a similar statement in <451409>Romans 14:9.
To this end Christ died and rose again, that he might be Lord of the living and the dead.
Now the word rendered price may be taken in two ways; either simply, as we commonly say of anything that it has cost a price, f364 when we mean that it has not been got for nothing; or, as used instead of the adverb timi>wv at a dear rate, as we are accustomed to say of things that have cost us much. This latter view pleases me better. In the same way Peter says,
Ye are redeemed, not with gold and silver, but with the precious f365 blood of the Lamb, without spot. (<600118>1 Peter 1:18,19.)
The sum is this, f366 that redemption must hold us bound, and with a bridle of obedience restrain the lasciviousness of our flesh.
20. Glorify God. From this conclusion, it appears that the Corinthians took a liberty to themselves in outward things, that it was necessary to restrain and bridle. The reproof therefore is this he allows that the body is subject to God no less than the soul, and that accordingly it is reasonable that both be devoted to his glory. “As it is befitting that the mind of a believer should be pure, so there must be a corresponding outward profession also before men, inasmuch as the power of both is in the hands of God, who has redeemed both.” With the same view he declared a little ago, that not only our souls but our bodies also are temples of the Holy Spirit, that we may not think that we discharge our duty to him aright, if we do not devote ourselves wholly and entirely to his service, that he may by his word regulate even the outward actions of our life.
CHAPTER 7

1 CORINTHIANS 7:1-2
1. Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
1. Porro, de quibus scripsistis mihi, bonum est viro mulierem non tangere.
2. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
2. Propter fornicationes autem unusquisque uxorem suam habeat, et unaquaeque proprium maritum.

As he had spoken of fornication, he now appropriately proceeds to speak of marriage which is the remedy for avoiding fornication. Now it appears, that, notwithstanding the greatly scattered state of the Corinthian Church, they still retained some respect for Paul, inasmuch as they consulted him on doubtful points. What their questions had been is uncertain, except in so far as we may gather them from his reply. This, however, is perfectly well known, that immediately after the first rise of the Church, there crept into it, through Satan’s artifice, a superstition of such a kind, that a large proportion of them, through a foolish admiration of celibacy, f367 despised the sacred connection of marriage; nay more, many regarded it with abhorrence, as a profane thing. This contagion had perhaps spread itself among the Corinthians also; or at least there were idly-disposed spirits, who, by immoderately extolling celibacy, endeavored to alienate the minds of the pious from marriage. At the same time, as the Apostle treats of many other subjects, he intimates that he had been consulted on a variety of points. What is chiefly of importance is, that we listen to his doctrine as to each of them.
1. It is good for a man. The answer consists of two parts. In the first, he teaches that it were good for every one to abstain from connection with a woman, provided it was in his power to do so. In the second, he subjoins a correction to this effect, that as many cannot do this, in consequence of the weakness of their flesh, these persons must not neglect the remedy which they have in their power, as appointed for them by the Lord. Now we must observe what he means by the word good, when he declares that it is good to abstain from marriage, that we may not conclude, on the other hand, that the marriage connection is therefore evil — a mistake which Jerome has fallen into, not so much from ignorance, in my opinion, as from the heat of controversy. For though that great man was endowed with distinguished excellences, he labored, at the same time, under one serious defect, that when disputing he allowed himself to be hurried away into great extravagancies, so that he did not keep within the bounds of truth. The inference then which he draws is this “It is good not to touch a woman: it is therefore wrong to do so.” f368 Paul, however, does not make use of the word good here in such a signification as to be opposed to what is evil or vicious, but simply points out what is expedient on account of there being so many troubles, vexations, and anxieties that are incident to married persons. Besides, we must always keep in view the limitation which he subjoins. Nothing farther, therefore, can be elicited from Paul’s words than this — that it is indeed expedient and profitable for a man not to be bound to a wife, provided he can do otherwise. Let us explain this by a comparison. Should any one speak in this way: “It were good for a man not to eat, or to drink, or to sleep” — he would not thereby condemn eating, or drinking, or sleeping, as things that were wrong — but as the time that is devoted to these things is just so f369 much taken from the soul, his meaning would be, that we would be happier if we could be free from these hindrances, and devote ourselves wholly f370 to meditation on heavenly things. Hence, as there are in married life many impediments which keep a man entangled, it were on that account good not to be connected in marriage.
But here another question presents itself, for these words of Paul have some appearance of inconsistency with the words of the Lord, in <010218>Genesis 2:18, where he declares, that it is not good for a man to be without a wife. What the Lord there pronounces to be evil Paul here declares to be good. I answer, that in so far as a wife is a help to her husband, so as to make his life happy, that is in accordance with God’s institution; for in the beginning God appointed it so, that the man without the woman was, as it were, but half a man, and felt himself destitute of special and necessary assistance, and the wife is, as it were, the completing of the man. Sin afterwards came in to corrupt that institution of God; for in place of so great a blessing there has been substituted a grievous punishment, so that marriage is the source and occasion of many miseries. Hence, whatever evil or inconvenience there is in marriage, that arises from the corruption of the divine institution. Now, although there are in the meantime some remains still existing of the original blessing, so that a single life is often much more unhappy than the married life; yet, as married persons are involved in many inconveniences, it is with good reason that Paul teaches that it would be good for a man to abstain. In this way, there is no concealment of the troubles that are attendant upon marriage; and yet, in the meantime, there is no countenance given to those profane jests which are commonly in vogue with a view to bring it into discredit, such as the following: that a wife is a necessary evil, and that a wife is one of the greatest evils. For such sayings as these have come from Satan’s workshop, and have a direct tendency to brand with disgrace God’s holy institution; and farther, to lead men to regard marriage with abhorrence, as though it were a deadly evil and pest.
The sum is this, that we must remember to distinguish between the pure ordinance of God and the punishment of sin, which came in subsequently. According to this distinction, it was in the beginning good for a man, without any exception, to be joined to a wife, and even yet, it is good in such a way, that there is in the meantime a mixture of bitter and sweet, in consequence of the curse of God. To those, however, who have not the gift of continency, it is a necessary and salutary remedy in accordance with what follows.
2. But to avoid fornication. He now commands, that those who are liable to the vice of incontinency should have recourse to the remedy. For though it may seem that the statement is universal, it ought, nevertheless, to be restricted to those who feel themselves urged by necessity. As to this, every one must judge for himself. Whatever difficulty, therefore, is perceived to be in marriage, let all that cannot resist the promptings of their flesh, know that this commandment has been enjoined upon them by the Lord. But it is asked — “Is this the only reason for entering into matrimony, that we may cure incontinency?” I answer, that this is not Paul’s meaning; for as for those that have the gift of abstinence from marriage, he leaves them at liberty, f371 while he commands others to provide against their infirmity by marrying. The sum is this — that the question is not as to the reasons for which marriage has been instituted, but as to the persons for whom it is necessary. For if we look to the first institution, it could not be a remedy for a disease which had as yet no existence, but was appointed for begetting offspring; but after the fall, this second purpose was added.
This passage is also opposed to (tolugami>a) polygamy. For the Apostle desires that every woman have her own husband, intimating that the obligation is mutual. The man, therefore, who has once pledged his fidelity to a woman as his wife, must not separate from her, as is manifestly done in case of a second connection.

1 CORINTHIANS 7:3-5
3. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and like also the wife unto the husband.
3. Uxori vir debitam benevolentiam vicissim praetet, similiter et uxor marito.
4. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.
4. Mulier corporis sui potestatem non habet, sed maritus: similiter et maritus corporis sui potestatem non habet, sed uxor.
5. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
5. Ne fraudetis alter alterum, nisi ex mutuo consensu ad tempus, ut vacetis ieiunio et orationi: et rursum in unum redite, ne tentet vos Satanas propter incontinentiam vestram.

3. The husband to the wife. He now prescribes the rules to be observed in the marriage connection, or he teaches what is the duty of husband and wife. And in the first place he lays down a general doctrine as to mutual benevolence — that the husband love his wife, and the wife her husband; for as to the interpretation which others give to the expression due benevolenceduty of marriage — I do not know how far it is suitable. The reason that inclines them to this view is, that it is immediately added, The husband has not power of his own body, etc.; but it will suit better to regard that as an inference drawn from the preceding statement. Husband and wife, therefore, are bound to mutual benevolence: hence it follows, that they have, neither the one nor the other, the power of their own body. But it may be asked, why the Apostle here puts them upon a level, instead of requiring from the wife obedience and subjection. I answer, that it was not his intention to treat of all their duties, but simply of the mutual obligation as to the marriage bed. In other things, therefore, husband and wife differ, both as to duty and as to authority in this respect the condition of both is alike — as to the maintaining of conjugal fidelity. For this reason, also, polygamy (tolugami>a) is again condemned; for if this is an invariable condition of marriage, that the husband surrenders the power of his own body, and gives it up to his wife, how could he afterwards connect himself with another, as if he were free?
5. Defraud ye not one the other. Profane persons might think that Paul does not act with sufficient modesty in discoursing in this manner as to the intercourse of a husband with his wife; or at least that it was unbecoming the dignity of an Apostle. If, however, we consider the reasons that influenced him, we shall find that he was under the necessity of speaking of these things. In the first place, he knew how much influence a false appearance of sanctity has in beguiling devout minds, as we ourselves know by experience. For Satan dazzles us with an appearance of what is right, that we may be led to imagine that we are polluted by intercourse with our wives, and leaving off our calling, may think of pursuing another kind of life. Farther, he knew how prone every one is to self-love, and devoted to his own gratification. From this it comes, that a husband, having had his desire gratified, treats his wife not merely with neglect, but even with disdain; and there are few that do not sometimes feel this disdain of their wives creep in upon them. It is for these reasons that he treats so carefully of the mutual obligations of the married life. “If at any time it comes into the minds of married persons to desire an unmarried life, as though it were holier, or if they are tempted by irregular desires, f372 let them bear in mind that they are bound by a mutual connection.” The husband is but the one half of his body, and so is it, also, as to the wife. Hence they have not liberty of choice, but must on the contrary restrain themselves with such thoughts as these: “Because the one needed help from the other, the Lord has connected us together, that we may assist each other.” Let each then be helpful to each other’s necessity, and neither of them act as if at his or her own disposal.
Unless by mutual consent. He requires mutual consent, in the first place, because the question is not as to the continency of one merely, but of two; and besides, he immediately adds two other exceptions. The first is, that it be done only for a time, as perpetual continency is not in their power, lest if they should venture to make an attempt beyond their power, they might fall before Satan’s stratagems. The second is, that they do not abstain from conjugal intercourse, on the ground of that abstinence being in itself a good and holy work, or as if it were the worship of God, f373 but that they may be at leisure for better employments. Now though Paul had taken such pains in guarding this, yet Satan prevailed so far as to drive f374 many to unlawful divorce, from a corrupt desire for an unmarried life. The husband, leaving his wife, fled to the desert, that he might please God better by living as a monk. The wife, against her husband’s will, put on the veil — the badge of celibacy. Meanwhile they did not consider that by violating their marriage engagement they broke the Lord’s covenant, and by loosing the marriage tie, they cast off the Lord’s yoke.
This vice, it is true, was corrected in some measure by the ancient canons; for they prohibited a husband from leaving his wife against her will, on pretense of continency; and in like manner a wife from refusing to her husband the use of her body. In this, however, they erred — that they permitted both together to live in perpetual celibacy, as if it were lawful for men to decree anything that is contrary to the Spirit of God. Paul expressly commands, that married persons do not defraud each other, except for a time. The bishops give permission to leave off the use of marriage for ever. Who does not see the manifest contrariety? Let no one, therefore, be surprised, that we make free to dissent on this point from the ancients, who, it is evident, deviated from the clear statements of the word of God.
That ye may have leisure for fasting and prayer. We must take notice, that Paul does not speak here of every kind of fasting, or every kind of prayer. That sobriety and temperance, which ought to be habitual on the part of Christians, is a kind of fasting. Prayer, too, ought to be not merely daily, but even continual. He speaks, however, of that kind of fasting which is a solemn expression of penitence, with the view of deprecating God’s anger, or by which believers prepare themselves for prayer, when they are undertaking some important business. In like manner, the kind of prayer that he speaks of is such as requires a more intense affection of the mind. f375 For it sometimes happens, that. we require (leaving off everything else) to fast and pray; as when any calamity is impending, if it appears to be a visitation of God’s wrath; or when we are involved in any difficult matter, or when we have something of great importance to do, as, for example, the ordaining of pastors. f376Now it is with propriety that the Apostle connects these two things, because fasting is a preparation for prayer, as Christ also connects them, when he says,
This kind of devils goeth not out but by fasting and prayer. (<401721>Matthew 17:21.)
When, therefore, Paul says, that ye may be at leisure, the meaning is, that having freed ourselves from all impediments, we may apply ourselves to this one thing. Now if any one objects, that the use of the marriage bed is an evil thing, inasmuch as it hinders prayer, the answer is easy — that it is not on that account worse than meat and drink, by which fasting is hindered. But it is the part of believers to consider wisely when it is time to eat and drink, and when to fast. It is also the part of the same wisdom to have intercourse with their wives when it is seasonable, and to refrain from that intercourse when they are called to be engaged otherwise.
And come together again, that Satan tempt you not. Here he brings forward the reason, from ignorance of which the ancients have fallen into error, in rashly and inconsiderately approving of a vow of perpetual continency. For they reasoned in this manner: “If it is good for married persons sometimes to impose upon themselves for a time a voluntary continency with mutual consent, then, if they impose this upon themselves for ever, it will be so much the better.” But then, they did not consider how much danger was involved in this, for we give Satan an occasion for oppressing us, when we attempt anything beyond the measure of our weakness. f377 “But we must resist Satan.” f378 What if arms and shield be wanting? “They must be sought from the Lord,” say they. But in vain shall we beseech the Lord to assist us in a rash attempt. We must, therefore, carefully observe the clausefor your incontinency: for we are exposed to Satan’s temptations in consequence of the infirmity of our flesh. If we wish to shut them out, and keep them back, it becomes us to oppose them by the remedy, with which the Lord has furnished us. Those, therefore, act a rash part, who give up the use of the marriage bed. It is as if they had made an agreement with God as to perpetual strength. f379

1 CORINTHIANS 7:6-9
6. But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.
6. Hoc autem dico secundum veniam, non secundum praeceptum.
7. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.
7. Optarim enim, omnes homines esse sicut me: sed unusquisque proprium donum habet ex Deo, alius sic, alius autem sic.
8. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.
8. Dico autem inconiugatis et viduis: bonum ipsis est, si maneant ut ego.
9. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.
9. Si autem non continent, matrimonium contrahant: melius enim est matrimonium contrahere quam uri.

6. By permission. That they might not, by taking their stand upon a precept of the kind that he had prescribed, loosen unduly the restraints of lust, f380 he adds a limitation — that he had written these things on account of their infirmity — that they may bear in mind that marriage is a remedy for unchastity, lest they should inordinately abuse the advantage of it, so as to gratify their desire by every means; nay more, without measure or modesty. He has it also in view to meet the cavils of the wicked, that no one might have it in his power to object in this way: “What! are you afraid that husbands and wives will not of their own accord be sufficiently inclined to carnal delight that you prompt them to it?” For even the Papists, those little saints, f381 are offended with this doctrine, and would gladly have a contest with Paul, on the ground of his keeping married persons in mutual cohabitation, and not allowing them to turn aside to a life of celibacy. He assigns, then, a reason for his doctrine, and declares, that he had not recommended connubial intercourse to married persons with the view of alluring them to delight, or as though he took pleasure in commanding it, but had considered what was required by the infirmity of those that he is addressing.
Foolish zealots f382 for celibacy make a wrong use of both clauses of this verse; for as Paul says that he speaks by permission, they infer from this, that there is therefore something wrong in conjugal intercourse, for where there is need of pardon, f383 there must be sin. Farther, from his saying that he speaks not by commandment, they infer, that it is, therefore, a holier thing to leave off the use of marriage and turn to celibacy. To the former, I answer, that as there is, I acknowledge, an inordinate excess in all human affections, I do not deny that there is as to this matter an irregularity, (ajtaxi>a,) f384 which, I allow, is vicious. f385 Nay more, this affection, I allow, is beyond others violent, and next to brutish. But, on the other hand, I also maintain, that whatever there is of vice or baseness, is so covered over by the honorableness of marriage, that it ceases to be a vice, or at least is not reckoned a fault by God, as Augustine elegantly discourses in his book “On the advantage of Marriage,” and frequently in other places. You may then take it briefly thus: f386 conjugal intercourse is a thing that is pure, honorable and holy, because it is a pure institution of God: the immoderate desire with which persons burn is a fault arising from the corruption of nature; but in the case of believers marriage is a veil, by which that fault is covered over, so that it no longer appears in the sight of God. To the second I answer: as the term commandment is properly applied to those things which relate to the duties of righteousness, and things in themselves pleasing to God, Paul on this account says that he does not speak by commandment. He has, however, sufficiently shown previously, that the remedy, which he had enjoined, must necessarily be made use of.
7. For I should wish, that all. This is connected with the exposition of the foregoing statement; for he does not fail to intimate, what is the more convenient way, but he wishes every one to consider what has been given him. f387 Why, then, has he, a little before, spoken not by way of commandment? It is for this reason, that he does not willingly constrain them to marry, but rather desires that they may be free from that necessity. As this, however, is not free to all, he has respect to infirmity. If this passage had been duly weighed, that perverse superstition connected with the desire of celibacy, which is the root and cause of great evils, would never have gained a footing in the world. Paul here expressly declares, that every one has not a free choice in this matter, because virginity is a special gift, that is not conferred upon all indiscriminately. Nor does he teach any other doctrine than what Christ himself does, when he says, that
all men are not capable of receiving this saying.
(<401911>Matthew 19:11.)
Paul, therefore, is here an interpreter of our Lord’s words, when he says that this power has not been given to all — that of living without marriage.
What, in the meantime, has been done? Every one, without having any regard to his power, has, according to his liking, vowed perpetual continency. Nor has the error as to this matter been confined to the common people and illiterate persons; for even the most eminent doctors, devoting themselves unreservedly to the commendation of virginity, and forgetting human infirmity, have overlooked this admonition of Paul — nay rather, of Christ himself. Jerome, blinded by a zeal, I know not of what sort, does not simply fall, but rushes headlong, into false views. Virginity, I acknowledge, is an excellent gift; but keep it in view, that it is a gift. Learn, besides, from the mouth of Christ and of Paul, that it is not common to all, but is given only to a few. Guard, accordingly, against rashly devoting what is not in your own power, and what you will not obtain as a gift, if forgetful of your calling you aspire beyond your limits.
At the same time the ancients erred even in their estimate of virginity, for they extol it as if it were the most excellent of all virtues, and wish it to be regarded as the worship of God. f388 Even in this there is a dangerous error; and now follows another — that, after celibacy had begun to be so much esteemed, many, vying with each other, rashly rowed perpetual continency, while scarcely the hundredth part of them were endowed with the power and gift. Hence, too, a third sprung up — that the ministers of the Church were forbidden to enter into marriage, as a kind of life unbecoming the holiness of their order. f389 As for those who, despising marriage, rashly vowed perpetual continency, God punished their presumption, first, by the secret flames of lust; f390 and then afterwards, by horrible acts of filthiness. The ministers of the Churches being prohibited from lawful marriage, the consequence of this tyranny was, that the Church was robbed of very many good and faithful ministers; for pious and prudent men would not ensnare themselves in this way. At length, after a long course of time, lusts, which had been previously kept under, gave forth their abominable odor. It was reckoned a small matter for those, in whom it would have been a capital crime to have a wife, to maintain with impunity concubines, that is, prostitutes; but no house was safe from the impurities of the priests. Even that was reckoned a small matter; for there sprung up monstrous enormities, which it were better to bury in eternal oblivion than to make mention of them by way of example. f391
8. I say, then, to the unmarried. This depends on what goes before, and is a sort of inference from it. He had said that the gifts of God are variously distributed — that continency is not in the power of all, and that those who have it not ought to have recourse to the remedy. He now directs his discourse to virgins, to all that are unmarried, and to widows, and he allows that an unmarried life ought to be desired by them, provided they have the power; but that regard must always be had by each individual to the power that he possesses. The sum is this, that an unmarried life has many advantages, and that these are not to be despised, provided every one measures himself according to his own size and measure. f392 Hence, though virginity should be extolled even to the third heavens, this, at the same time, always remains true — that it does not suit all, but only those who have a special gift from God. For as to the objection that is brought forward by Papists — that in baptism, also, we promise to God purity of life, which it is not in our power to perform, the answer is easy — that in that we promise nothing but what God requires from all his people, but that continency is a special gift, which God has withheld from many. Hence those who make a vow of continency, act precisely as if any unlearned and illiterate person were to set himself off as a prophet, or teacher, or interpreter of languages.
We must also notice carefully the word continue; for it is possible for a person to live chastely in a state of celibacy for a time, but there must be in this matter no determination made for tomorrow. Isaac was unmarried until he was thirty years of age, and passed in chastity those years in which the heats of irregular desire are most violent; yet afterwards he is called to enter into the married life. In Jacob we have a still more remarkable instance. Hence the Apostle would wish those who are at present practicing chastity, to continue in it and persevere; but as they have no security for the continuance of the gift, he exhorts all to consider carefully what has been given them. This passage, however, shows that the Apostle was at that time unmarried; for as to the inference drawn by Erasmus, that he was married, because he makes mention of himself in connection with married persons, it is frivolous and silly; for we might, on the same principle, infer that he was a widower, f393 because he speaks of himself in connection with widows. f394 Now the words intimate, that at that time he was unmarried; for I do not give any countenance to the conjecture, that he had put away his wife somewhere, and had of his own accord abandoned the use of the marriage bed. For where, in that case, had been the injunction, f395 Come together again without delay? (<460705>1 Corinthians 7:5.) It would certainly be an absurdity to say, that he did not obey his own precepts, and did not observe the law which he imposed upon others. It is, however, a singular token of modesty, that, while he is himself endowed with the gift of continency, he does not require others to bind themselves to his rule, but allows them that remedy for infirmity which he dispenses with. Let us, then, imitate his example, so that if we excel in any particular gift, we do not rigorously insist upon it on the part of others, who have not as yet reached that height.
9. But if they cannot contain. While he advises to abstain from marriage, he always speaks conditionallyif it can be done, if there is ability; but where the infirmity of the flesh does not allow of that liberty, he expressly enjoins marriage as a thing that is not in the least doubtful. For this is said by way of commandment, that no one may look upon it as mere advice. Nor is it merely fornicators that he restrains, but those also who are defiled in the sight of God by inward lust; and assuredly he that cannot contain tempts God, if he neglects the remedy of marriage. This matter requires — not advice, but strict prohibition.
For it is better. There is not strictly a comparison here, inasmuch as lawful marriage is honorable in all things, (<581304>Hebrews 13:4,) but, on the other hand, to burn is a thing that is exceedingly wrong. The Apostle, however, has made use of a customary form of expression, though not strictly accurate, as we commonly say: “It is better to renounce this world that we may, along with Christ, enjoy the inheritance of the heavenly kingdom, than to perish miserably in carnal delights.” I mention this, because Jerome constructs upon this passage a childish sophism f396 — that marriage is good, inasmuch as it is not so great an evil as to burn. I would say, if it were a matter of sport, that he foolishly amuses himself, but in a matter so weighty and serious, it is an impious scoff, unworthy of a man of judgment. Let it then be understood, that marriage is a good and salutary remedy, because to burn is a most base abomination in the sight of God. We must, however, define what is meant by burning; for many are stung with fleshly desires, who, nevertheless, do not require forthwith to have recourse to marriage. And to retain Paul’s metaphor, it is one thing to burn and another to feel heat. Hence what Paul here calls burning, is not a mere slight feeling, but a boiling with lust, so that you cannot resist. As, however, some flatter themselves in vain, by imagining that they are entirely free from blame, if they do not yield assent to impure desire, observe that there are three successive steps of temptation. For in some cases the assaults of impure desire have so much power that the will is overcome: that is the worst kind of burning, when the heart is inflamed with lust. In some instances, while we are stung with the darts of the flesh, it is in such a manner that we make a stout resistance, and do not allow ourselves to be divested of the true love of chastity, but on the contrary, abhor all base and filthy affections.
Hence all must be admonished, but especially the young, that whenever they are assailed by their fleshly inclinations, they should place the fear of God in opposition to a temptation of this sort, cut off all inlets to unchaste thoughts, entreat the Lord to give them strength to resist, and set themselves with all their might to extinguish the flames of lust. If they succeed in this struggle, let them render thanks unto the Lord, for where shall we find the man who does not experience some molestation from his flesh? but if we bridle its violence, before it has acquired the mastery, it is well. For we do not burn, though we should feel a disagreeable heat — not that there is nothing wrong in that feeling of heat, but acknowledging before the Lord, with humility and sighing, f397 our weakness, we are meanwhile, nevertheless, of good courage. To sum up all, so long as we come off victorious in the conflict, through the Lord’s grace, and Satan’s darts do not make their way within, but are valiantly repelled by us, let us not become weary of the conflict.
There is an intermediate kind of temptation f398 — when a man does not indeed admit impure desire with the full assent of his mind, but at the same time is inflamed with a blind impetuosity, and is harassed in such a manner that he cannot with peace of conscience call upon God. A temptation, then, of such a kind as hinders one from calling upon God in purity, and disturbs peace of conscience, is burning, such as cannot be extinguished except by marriage. We now see, that in deliberating as to this, one must not merely consider whether he can preserve his body free from pollution: the mind also must be looked to, as we shall see in a little.

1 CORINTHIANS 7:10-17
10. And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:
10. Coniugibus denuntio, non ego, sed Dominus: Uxor a marito ne discedat.
11. But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.
11. Quodsi discesserit, maneat innupta, aut viro reconcilietur: et vir uxorem ne dimittat.
12. But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
12. Reliquis ego dico, non Dominus: Si quis frater uxorem habet infidelem, et ipsa consentit cum eo habitare, ne dimittat eam:
13. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.
13. Et mulier si maritum habet infidelem, et ipse consentit cum ea habitare, ne relinquat eum.
14. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
14. Sanctificatus est enim vir infidelis in uxore: et sanctificata est uxor incredula in viro: alioque liberi vestri immundi essent: nunc autem sancti sunt.
15. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.
15. Quod si infidelis discedit, discedat: non enim subiectus est servituti frater ant soror in talibus, in pace autem vocavit nos Deus.
16. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?
16. Quid enim scis, mulier, an maritum servatura sis? ant quid scis, O vir, an uxorem sis servaturus?
17. But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.
17. Nisi unusquisque ut ei gratiam divisit Dominns, sic ambulet: et sic in Ecclesiis omnibus praecipio.

10. To the married I command. He now treats of another condition of marriage — its being an indissoluble tie. Accordingly, he condemns all those divorces that were of daily occurrence among the heathens, and were not punished among the Jews by the law of Moses. Let not, says he, the husband put away his wife, and let not the wife depart from her husband. Why? Because they are joined together by an indissoluble bond. It is surprising, however, that he does not make an exception, at least in case of adultery; for it is not likely that he designed to curtail in anything the doctrine of Christ. To me it appears clear, that the reason why he has made no mention of this f399 is, that as he is discoursing of these things only in passing, he chose rather to send back the Corinthians to the Lord’s permission or prohibition, than to go over everything in detail. For when persons intend to teach anything in short compass, they content themselves with a general statement. Exceptions are reserved for a minutcr and more extended and particular discussion.
But as to what he subjoins — not I, but the Lord — he intimates by this correction, that what he teaches here is taken from the law of God. For other things that he taught he had also from the revelation of the Spirit; but he declares that God is the author of this, in respect of its being expressly taken from the law of God. If you inquire as to the particular passage, you will nowhere find it in so many words; but as Moses in the beginning testifies, that the connection between a husband and wife is so sacred, that for the sake of it
a man ought to leave his father and mother. (<010224>Genesis 2:24.)
It is easy to gather from this, how inviolable a connection it is. For by right of nature a son is bound to his father and mother, and cannot shake off that yoke. As the connection of marriage is preferred to that bond, much less ought it to be dissolved.
11. But if she depart. That this is not to be understood of those who have been put away for adultery, is evident from the punishment that followed in that case; for it was a capital crime even by the Roman laws, and almost by the common law of nations. But as husbands frequently divorced their wives, either because their manners were not congenial, or because their personal appearance did not please them, or because of some offense; f400 and as wives, too, sometimes deserted their husbands on account of their cruelty, or excessively harsh and dishonorable treatment, he says that marriage is not dissolved by divorces or dissensions of that nature. For it is an agreement that is consecrated by the name of God, which does not stand or fall according to the inclination of men, so as to be made void whenever we may choose. The sum is this: other contracts, as they depend on the mere inclination of men, are in like manner dissolved by that same inclination; but those who are connected by marriage are no longer free, so as to be at liberty, if they change their mind, to break in pieces the pledge, f401 (as the expression is,) and go each of them elsewhere in quest of a new connection. For if the rights of nature cannot be dissolved, much less can this, which, as we have said already, is preferred before the principal tie of nature.
But as to his commanding the wife, who is separated from her husband, to remain unmarried, he does not mean by this that separation is allowable, nor does he give permission to the wife to live apart from her husband; but if she has been expelled from the house, or has been put away, she must not think that even in that case she is set free from his power; for it is not in the power of a husband to dissolve marriage. He does not therefore give permission here to wives to withdraw, of their own accord, from their husbands, or to live away from their husband’s establishment, as if they were in a state of widowhood; but declares, that even those who are not received by their husbands, continue to be bound, so that they cannot take other husbands.
But what if a wife is wanton, or otherwise incontinent? Would it not be inhuman to refuse her the remedy, when, constantly burning with desire? I answer, that when we are prompted by the infirmity of our flesh, we must have recourse to the remedy; after which it is the Lord’s part to bridle and restrain our affections by his Spirit, though matters should not succeed according to our desire. For if a wife should fall into a protracted illness, the husband would, nevertheless, not be justified in going to seek another wife. In like manner, if a husband should, after marriage, begin to labor under some distemper, it would not be allowable for his wife to change her condition of life. The sum is this — God having prescribed lawful marriage as a remedy for our incontinency, let us make use of it, that we may not, by tempting him, pay the penalty of our rashness. Having discharged this duty, let us hope that he will give us aid should matters go contrary to our expectations.
12. To the rest I say. By the rest he means those who are exceptions, so that the law, common to others, is not applicable to them; for an unequal marriage is on a different footing, when married persons differ among themselves in respect of religion; Now this question he solves in two clauses. The first is, that the believing party ought not to withdraw from the unbelieving party, and ought not to seek divorce, unless she is put away. The second is, that if an unbeliever put away his wife on account of religion, a brother or a sister is, by such rejection, freed from the bond of marriage. But why is it that Paul speaks of himself as the author of these regulations, while they appear to be somewhat at variance with what he had, a little before, brought forward, as from the Lord? He does not mean that they are from himself in such a way as not to be derived from the Spirit of God; but, as there was nowhere in the law or in the Prophets any definite or explicit. statement on this subject, he anticipates in this way the calumnies of the wicked, in claiming as his own what he was about to state. At the same time, lest all this should be despised as the offspring of man’s brain, we shall find him afterwards declaring, that his statement are not the contrivances of his own understanding. There is, however, nothing inconsistent with what goes before; for as the obligation and sanctity of the marriage engagement depend upon God, what connection can a pious woman any longer maintain with an unbelieving husband, after she has been driven away through hatred of God?
14. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified. He obviates an objection, which might occasion anxiety to believers. The relationship of marriage is singularly close, so that the wife is the half of the man — so that they two are one flesh — (<460616>1 Corinthians 6:16) — so that the husband is the head of the wife; (<490523>Ephesians 5:23;) and she is her husband’s partner in everything; hence it seems impossible that a believing husband should live with an ungodly wife, or the converse of this, without being polluted by so close a connection. Paul therefore declares here, that marriage is, nevertheless, sacred and pure, and that we must not be apprehensive of contagion, as if the wife would contaminate the husband. Let us, however, bear in mind, that he speaks here not of contracting marriages, but of maintaining those that have been already contracted; for where the matter under consideration is, whether one should marry an unbelieving wife, or whether one should marry an unbelieving husband, then that exhortation is in point —
Be not yoked with unbelievers, for there is no agreement between Christ and Belial. (<470614>2 Corinthians 6:14.)
But he that is already bound has no longer liberty of choice; hence the advice given is different.
While this sanctification is taken in various senses, I refer it simply to marriage, in this sense — It might seem (judging from appearance) as if a believing wife contracted infection from an unbelieving husband, so as to make the connection unlawful; but it is otherwise, for the piety of the one has more effect in sanctifying marriage than the impiety of the other in polluting it. Hence a believer may, with a pure conscience, live with an unbeliever, for in respect of the use and intercourse of the marriage bed, and of life generally, he is sanctified, so as not to infect the believing party with his impurity. Meanwhile this sanctification is of no benefit to the unbelieving party; it only serves thus far, that the believing party is not contaminated by intercourse with him, and marriage itself is not profaned.
But from this a question arises — “If the faith of a husband or wife who is a Christian sanctifies marriage, it follows that all marriages of ungodly persons are. impure, and differ nothing from fornication.” I answer, that to the ungodly all things are impure, (<560115>Titus 1:15,) because they pollute by their impurity even the best and choicest of God’s creatures. Hence it is that they pollute marriage itself, because they do not acknowledge God as its Author, and therefore they are not capable of true sanctification, and by an evil conscience abuse marriage. It is a mistake, however, to conclude from this that it differs nothing from fornication; for, however impure it is to them, it is nevertheless pure in itself, inasmuch as it is appointed by God, serves to maintain decency among men, and restrains irregular desires; and hence it is for these purposes approved by God, like other parts of political order. We must always, therefore, distinguish between the nature of a thing and the abuse of it.
Else were your children. It is an argument taken from the effect — “If your marriage were impure, then the children that are the fruit of it would be impure; but they are holy; hence the marriage also is holy. As, then, the ungodliness of one of the parents does not hinder the children that are born from being holy, so neither does it hinder the marriage from being pure.” Some grammarians explain this passage as referring to a civil sanctity, in respect of the children being reckoned legitimate, but in this respect the condition of unbelievers is in no degree worse. That exposition, therefore, cannot stand. Besides, it is certain that Paul designed here to remove scruples of conscience, lest any one should think (as I have said) that he had contracted defilement. The passage, then, is a remarkable one, and drawn from the depths of theology; for it teaches, that the children of the pious are set apart from others by a sort of exclusive privilege, so as to be reckoned holy in the Church.
But how will this statement correspond with what he teaches elsewhere — that we are all by nature children of wrath; (<490203>Ephesians 2:3;) or with the statement of David — Behold I was conceived in sin, etc. (Psalms 51:7.) I answer, that there is a universal propagation of sin and damnation throughout the seed of Adam, and all, therefore, to a man, are included in this curse, whether they are the offspring of believers or of the ungodly; for it is not as regenerated by the Spirit, that believers beget children after the flesh. The natural condition, therefore, of all is alike, so that they are liable equally to sin and to eternal death. As to the Apostle’s assigning here a peculiar privilege to the children of believers, this flows from the blessing of the covenant, by the intervention of which the curse of nature is removed; and those who were by nature unholy are consecrated to God by grace. Hence Paul argues, in his Epistle to the Romans, (<451116>Romans 11:16,) that the whole of Abraham’s posterity are holy, because God had made a covenant. of life with him — If the root be holy, says he, then the branches are holy also. And God calls all that were descended from Israel his sons’ now that the partition is broken down, the same covenant of salvation that was entered into with the seed of Abraham f402 is communicated to us. But if the children of believers are exempted from the common lot of mankind, so as to be set apart to the Lord, why should we keep them back from the sign? If the Lord admits them into the Church by his word, why should we refuse them the sign? In what respects the offspring of the pious are holy, while many of them become degenerate, you will find explained in the tenth and eleventh chapters of the Epistle to the Romans; and I have handled this point there.
15. But if an unbeliever depart. This is the second department of his statement, in which he sets at liberty a believing’ husband, who is prepared to dwell with an unbelieving wife, but is rejected by her, and in like manner a woman who is, without any fault on her part, repudiated by her husband; for ill that case the unbelieving party makes a divorce with God rather than with his or her partner. There is, therefore, in this case a special reason, inasmuch as the first and chief bond is not merely loosed, but even utterly broken through. While some are of opinion that we are at this day situated ill a much similar way with Papists, f403 we ought to consider wisely what difference there is between the two cases, that we may not attempt anything’ rashly.
In peace. Here, too, interpreters differ; for some take it in this way — “We are called in peace: let us therefore avoid all ground and occasion of quarrels.” I take it in a more simple way: “Let us, so far as we can, cultivate peace with all, to which we have been called. We must not, therefore, rashly separate from unbelievers, unless they first make a divorce. God, therefore, has called us in peace to this end, that we might cultivate peace with all, by acting properly towards cvery one.” This, then, belongs to the former department of his statement — that
believers ought to remain with unbelievers, if they are p1eased, etc., (<460712>1 Corinthians 7:12 and 13,)
because a desire for divorce is at variance with our profession.
16. For what knowest thou, O woman? Those who are of opinion that this observation is a confirmation of the second department of his statement, expound it thus. “An uncertain hope ought not to detain thee,” etc. But, in my opinion, the exhortation is taken from the advantage to be derived; for it is a great and distinguished blessing if a wife gain (<460919>1 Corinthians 9:19) her husband. Now, unbelievers are not in so hopeless a condition but that they may be brought to believe. They are dead, it is true, but God can even raise the dead. So long, therefore, as there remains any hope of doing good, and the pious wife knows not but that she may by her holy conversation (<600301>1 Peter 3:1) bring back her husband into the way, f404 she ought to try every means before leaving him; for so long as a man’s salvation is doubtful, it becomes us to be prepared rather to hope the best.
As to his saying, however, that a husband may be saved by his wife, the expression, it is true, is not strictly accurate, as he ascribes to man what belongs to God; but there is no absurdity in it. For as God acts efficaciously by his instruments which he makes use of, he does, in a manner, communicate his power to them, or, at least, he connects it with their service in such a manner, that what he does he speaks of as being done by them, and hence, too, he sometimes ascribes to them the honor which is due to himself alone. Let us, however, bear in mind, that we have nothing in our power, except in so far as we are directed by him as instruments.
17. Unless every one, according as God has dispensed his grace, etc. Such is the literal meaning: only I have in my rendering made use of the nominative, f305A in order that the connection may be more easy and natural. The meaning is: “What, then, is to be done, unless f306A that every one walk according to the grace given to him, and according to his calling? Let every one, therefore, labor for this, and use his endeavor, that he may do good to his neighbors, and, more especially, when he ought to be excited to it by the particular duty of his calling.” He mentions two things — the calling, and the measure of grace. These he desires us to look to in deliberating as to this matter; as it ought to be no small stimulus to us to duty, that God condescends to make us ministers of his grace for the salvation of our brethren; while the calling, on the other hand, should hold us, as it were, under God’s yoke, even where an individual feels his situation to be an unpleasant one.
And so in all the Churches. I am of opinion that he added this, with the view of obviating the calumnies of some who boasted that he assumed more authority over the Corinthians than he ventured to do over others. At the same time he might have also another end in view — that this doctrine might have the more weight, when the Corinthians understood that it was already published in all the Churches. For we embrace the more readily what we understand that we have in common with all the pious. The Corinthians, on the other hand, would have felt it hateful to be bound more closely than others.

1 CORINTHIANS 7:18-24
18. Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.
18. Circumcisus aliquis vocatus est? ne arcessat praeputium: in praeputio aliquis vocatus est? ne circumcidatur.
19. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
19. Circumcisio nihil est, et praeputium nihil est, sed observatio mandatorum Dei.
20. Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.
20. Unusquisque in qua vocatione fuit vocatus, maneat.
21. Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.
21. Servus vocatus es? ne sit tibi curae: at si etiam possis liber fieri, magis utere.
22. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called being free, is Christ’s servant.
22. Etenim qui in Domino vocatus est servus, libertus Domini est: similiter et qui liber vocatus est, servus est Christi.
23. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.
23. Pretio empti estis: nolite fieri servi hominum.
24. Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.
24. Unusquisque in eo, in quo vocatus est, fratres, maneat apud Deum.

18. Circumcised, etc. As he had made mention of the calling, he takes occasion, from a particular instance, to make a digression for a little into a general exhortation, as he is wont to do in many instances; and, at the same time, he confirms, by different examples, what he had said respecting marriage. The sum is this, that in external things you must not rashly abandon the calling on which you have once entered by the will of God. And he begins with circumcisions, respecting which many at that time disputed. Now, he says that with God it makes no difference whether you are a Gentile or a Jew. Hence he exhorts every one to be contented with his condition. It must always be kept in view, that he treats only of lawful modes of life, which have God as their approver and author.
19. Circumcision is nothing. While this similitude was suited to the subject in hand, it appears to have been designedly made use of with the view of reproving, in passing, the superstition and haughtiness of the Jews. For, as the Jews gloried in circumcision, it was possible that many might feel dissatisfied with the want of it, as if their condition were the worse on that account. Paul, therefore, places both conditions upon a level, lest, through hatred of the one, the other should be foolishly desired. These things, however, must be understood as referring to the time when circumcision was at length abolished; for, if he had had an eye to the covenant of God, and his commandment, he would, without doubt, have estimated it higher. In another passage, it is true, he makes light of the letter of circumcision, (<450227>Romans 2:27,) and declares that it is of no account in the sight of God; but here, as he simply contrasts circumcision with uncircumcision, and makes both alike, it is certain that he speaks of it as a matter of indifference and of no moment. For the abolishing of it has this effect — that the mystery which had been previously conveyed under it, does not now any longer belong to it: nay more, it is now no longer a sign, but a thing of no use. For baptism has come in the place of the symbol used under the law on this footing, that it is enough that we be circumcised by the Spirit of Christ, while our old man is buried with Christ.
But the keeping of the commandments. As this was one of the commandments, so long as the Church was bound to legal ceremonies, we see that it is taken for granted, that circumcision had been abolished by the advent of Christ, so that the use of it, indeed, was allowed among the ignorant and weak, but advantage in it — there was none. For Paul speaks of it here as a thing of no moment: “As these are outward things, let them not take up your attention, but devote yourself rather to piety and the duties which God requires, and which are alone precious in his sight.” As to the circumstance that Papists bring forward this passage for the purpose of overthrowing justification by faith, it is utterly childish; for Paul is not disputing here as to the ground of justification, or the way in which we obtain it, but simply as to the object to which the aim of believers ought to be directed. “Do not occupy yourselves to no purpose in things of no profit, but, on the contrary, exercise yourselves in duties that are well pleasing to God.”
20. Every man in the calling in which. This is the source from which other things are derived, — that every one should be contented with his calling, and pursue it, instead of seeking to betake himself to anything else. A calling in Scripture means a lawful mode of life, for it has a relation to God as calling us, f307A — lest any one should abuse this statement f308A to justify modes of life that are evidently wicked or vicious. But here it is asked, whether Paul means to establish any obligation, f309A for it might seem as though the words conveyed this idea, that every one is bound to his calling, so that he must not abandon it. Now it were a very hard thing if a tailor f310A were not at liberty to learn another trade, or if a merchant were not at liberty to betake himself to farming. I answer, that this is not what the Apostle intends, for he has it simply in view to correct that inconsiderate eagerness, which prompts some to change their condition without any proper reason, whether they do it from superstition, or from any other motive. Farther, he calls every one to this rule also — that they bear in mind what is suitable to their calling. He does not, therefore, impose upon any one the necessity of continuing in the kind of life which he has once taken up, but rather condemns that restlessness, which prevents an individual from remaining in his condition with a peaceable mind f311A and he exhorts, that every one stick by his trade, as the old proverb goes.
21. Art thou called being a servant? We see here that Paul’s object f312A is to satisfy their consciences; for he exhorts servants to be of good cheer, and not be cast down, as if servitude were a hinderance in the way of their serving God. Care not for it then, that is to say, be not concerned how you may throw off the yoke, as if it were a condition unbecoming a Christian, but be contented in mind. And hence we infer, not merely that it is owing to the providence of God that there are different ranks and stations in the world, but also, that a regard to them is enjoined by his word.
But if thou mayest even be made free. The particle even (in my opinion) has simply this force, — “If, in place of servitude, you could attain even to liberty, it would be more advantageous for you.” It is uncertain, however, whether he continues his discourse to servants, or turns to address those that are free. In the latter case, gene>sqai would here mean simply to be. Either meaning suits sufficiently well, and they amount to the same thing. He means to intimate, that liberty is not merely good, but also more advantageous than servitude. If he is speaking to servants, his meaning will be this — While I exhort you to be free from anxiety, I do not hinder you from even availing yourselves of liberty, if an opportunity presents itself to you. If he is addressing himself to those that are free, it will be a kind of concession, as though he had said — I exhort servants to be of good courage, though a state of freedom is preferable, f313A and more to be desired, if one has it in his choice.
22. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant. To be called in the Lord, being a servant, is to be chosen out of the rank of servants, and made a partaker of the grace of Christ. Now this statement is designed to furnish consolation to servants, and, at the same time, to beat down the haughtiness of those that are free-born. As servants feel their situation irksome, in respect of their being mean and despicable, it is of importance that the bitterness of servitude be alleviated by some consolation. Those, on the other hand, that are free, need to be restrained, in order that they may not be unduly elated on account of their more honorable condition, and be lifted up with pride. The Apostle does both; for he teaches, that as the liberty of the spirit is greatly preferable to the liberty of the flesh, servants ought to feel the unpleasantness of their condition the more tolerable, when they take into view that inestimable gift with which they have been endowed; and, on the other hand, that those who are free ought not to be puffed up, inasmuch as their condition in the principal respect is not superior to that of servants. We must not, however, infer from this, that those that are free are made inferior to servants, or that political order is subverted. The Apostle saw what suited both. Those that were free required (as I have said) to be restrained, that they might not in a wanton manner triumph over servants. To servants, on the other hand, some consolation required to be administered, that they might not be disheartened. Now these things tend rather to confirm political order, while he teaches that the inconvenience of the flesh is compensated by a spiritual benefit.
23. Yea are bought with a price. We had these words in the preceding chapter, (<460620>1 Corinthians 6:20,) but for a different purpose. As to the word price, I have stated there, what is my view of it. The sum is this, that he exhorts servants, indeed, not to be anxious as to their condition, but wishes them rather to take heed not to subject themselves to the wicked or depraved inclinations of their masters. “We are holy to the Lord, because he has redeemed us: let us, therefore, not defile ourselves for the sake of men, as we do when we are subject to their corrupt desires.” This admonition was very necessary at that time, when servants were driven by threats and stripes, and even fear of death, to obey every kind of command without selection or exception, so that they reckoned the procuring of prostitutes, and other crimes of that nature, to be duties belonging to servants, equally with honorable employment’s. It is, therefore, not without reason that Paul makes this exception — that they are not to yield obedience in things base and wicked. Would that this were thoroughly and entirely impressed upon the minds of all! There would not, in that case, be so many that prostitute themselves to the lusts of men, as if exposed for sale. As for us, let us bear in mind, that we belong to him who has redeemed us.
24. Let him abide with God. I have already noticed above, that men are not here bound by a perpetual necessity, so as never to have it in their power to change their condition, if at any time there should be a fit occasion for it; but that he simply represses those thoughtless humors, which hurry men hither and thither, so that they are harassed by a continual restlessness. Hence Paul says, that it is all one in the sight of God what a person’s manner of life is in this world, inasmuch as this diversity does not hinder agreement in piety.

1 CORINTHIANS 7:25-28
25. Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hat obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.
25. De virginibus autem praeceptum Domini non habeo: sed consilium do, tanquam misericordiam consequutus a Domino, ut sim fidelis.
26. I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.
26. Arbitror igitur hoc bonum esse propter instantem necessitatem, quod bonum sit homini sic esse.
27. Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.
27. Alligatus es uxori? ne quaeras solutionem. Solutus es ab uxore? ne quaeras uxorem
28. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.
28. Quodsi etiam duxeris uxorem,non peccasti: et si nupserit virgo,non peccavit: attamen afflictionem in carne habebunt eiusmodi. Ego autem vobis parco.

25. Concerning virgins. He now returns to treat of marriage, of which he had begun to speak in the commencement of the chapter. What he is now about to state he had previously touched upon, but briefly and somewhat obscurely. He accordingly intimates more explicitly what his views are respecting virginity; but as it is a matter that is liable to be misapprehended, and is full of difficulties, he always speaks, as we shall see, conditionally. Virgins here I understand as meaning virginity. As to this, he says he has no commandment of the Lord; because the Lord does not in any part of the Scriptures declare what persons ought to remain unmarried. Nay, on the contrary, inasmuch as the Scripture says, that
male and female were created together, (<010221>Genesis 2:21,)
it seems as if it called every one equally and without exception to marriage: f314A at least celibacy is nowhere enjoined upon any one, or commended.
He says that he gives advice, not as if there were anything doubtful in it, and had little or no stability, but as being certain, and deserving to be maintained without any controversy. The word, too, that he employs, gnw>mh, signifies not merely advice, but a decisive judgment. f315A Papists, however, rashly infer from this, that it is allowable to go beyond the limits of God’s word, since nothing was farther from Paul’s intention than to go beyond the limits of God’s word for if any one attends more closely, he will see, that Paul here advances nothing but what is included in what Christ says in <400532>Matthew 5:32, and <401905>Matthew 19:5; but in the way of anticipating an objection, he acknowledges that he has no express precept in the law, pointing out who ought to marry, and who not.
Having obtained mercy to be faithful. He secures authority for his decision, that no one may think himself at liberty to reject it, if he chooses. For he declares that he does not speak simply as a man, but as a faithful teacher of the Church, and an Apostle of Christ. According to his custom, he declares himself to be indebted for this to the mercy of God, f316A as it was no common honor, nay superior to all human merits. Hence it appears, that whatever things have been introduced into the Church by human authority, f317A have nothing in common with this advice of Paul. But faithful here means truthful — one who does not do what he does merely from pious zeal, but is also endowed with knowledge, so as to teach with purity and faithfulness. For it is not enough for a teacher to be conscientious, if he has not also prudence and acquaintance with the truth.
26. I think therefore that this is good. While I translate this passage of Paul’s writings differently from Erasmus or the Vulgate, I at the same time do not differ from them as to its meaning. They divide Paul’s words in such a way, that the same thing is repeated twice. I, on the other hand, make it simply one proposition, and not without authority, for I follow ancient and approved manuscripts, which make it all one sentence, with merely a colon between. The meaning is this: “I think it expedient on account of the necessity, with which the saints are always harassed in this life, that all should enjoy the liberty and advantage of celibacy, as this would be of advantage to them.” There are some, however, that view the term necessity as referring to the age of the Apostle, which was, undoubtedly, full of trouble to the pious: but he appears to me to have had it rather in view to express the disquietude with which the saints are incessantly harassed in the present life. I view it, therefore, as extending to all ages, and I understand it in this way, that the saints are often, in this world, driven hither and thither, and are exposed to many and various tempests, f318A so that their condition appears to be unsuitable for marriage. The phrase so to be, signifies to remain unmarried, or to abstain from marriage.
27. Art thou bound to a wife? Having stated what would be most advantageous, he adds at the same time, that we ought not to be so much influenced by the advantages of celibacy, that one that is bound by the tie of marriage should shake off the connection. It is therefore a restriction upon the preceding statement, lest any one, influenced by his commendation of celibacy, should turn his thoughts to it, and despise marriage, forgetful of his necessity or of his calling. Now in these words he does not merely forbid the breaking up of the connection of marriage, but also represses the dislikes that are wont to creep in, that every one may continue to live with his wife willingly and cheerfully.
Art thou loosed from a wife? This second clause must be taken with a reservation, as is manifest from the entire context. He does not, then, allow to all the choice of perpetual celibacy, but only to those to whom it is given. Let no one, therefore, who is not constrained by any necessity, rashly ensnare himself, for liberty ought not to be lightly thrown away. f319A
28. But if thou shouldest even marry. As there was a danger of one’s thinking from the preceding statement, that he tempted God, if he knowingly and willingly bound himself to marriage, (as that would be to renounce his liberty,) he removes this scruple; for he gives liberty to widows to marry, and says, that those that marry do not sin. The word even also seems to be emphatic — to intimate, that even though there be no positive necessity urging to it, the unmarried are not prohibited from marrying whenever they may see fit.
And if a virgin marry. Whether this is an amplification, or simply an illustration, this, in the first place, is beyond all controversy, that Paul designed to extend the liberty of marriage to all. Those who think that it is an amplification, are led to think so by this, that it seems to approach nearer to a fault, and is more open to reprehension, or at least has. more occasion of shame, to loose the virgin girdle (as the ancients express themselves) than, upon the death of a husband, to enter into a second marriage. The argument then would be this: “If it is lawful for a virgin to marry, much more may widows.” I am rather of opinion, that he makes both equal in this way: “As it is allowable for a virgin, so is it for widows also.” For second marriages among the ancients were not without some mark of reproach, as they adorned those matrons, who had contented themselves with one marriage during their whole life, with a chaplet of chastity f320A — an honor that tended to reflect reproach upon those that had married repeatedly. And it is a well known saying of Valerius, f321A that “it betokens a legitimate excess f322A when a second marriage is desired.” The Apostle, therefore, makes virgins and widows alike as to liberty of marriage.
Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh. He frequently repeats the reason why he leans more to the side of celibacy in his exhortations, lest he should seem to prefer the one condition to the other on its own account, rather than on account of its consequences. He says, that there are many troubles that are connected with the married life, and that on that account he wishes all to be free from marriage, who desire to be exempt from troubles. When he says, that they will have trouble of the flesh, or in the flesh, he means, that the anxieties and distresses in which married persons are involved arise from the affairs of the world. The flesh, therefore, is taken here to mean the outward man. To spare means to indulge, or to wish them to be exempted from the troubles that are connected with marriage. “I am desirous to make provision for your infirmity, that you may not have trouble: now marriage brings with it many troubles. This is the reason why I should wish you not to require to marry — that you may be exempt from all its evils.” Do not, however, infer from this that Paul reckons marriage to be a necessary evil for those troubles of which he speaks do not arise so much from the nature of marriage, as from the corruption of it, for they are the fruits of original sin.

1 CORINTHIANS 7:29-35
29. But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none:
29. Hoc autem dico, fratres, quia f323A tempus contractum est: reliquum est, ut qui uxores habent, sint tanquam non habentes:
30. And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not;
30. Et qui flent, tanquam non flentes: et qui gaudent, tanquam non gandentes: et qui emunt, tanquam non possidentes:
31. And they that use this world, as not abusing it; for the fashion of this world passeth away.
31. Et qui utuntur hoc mundo,tanquam non utentes: praeterit enim figura mundi hujus.
32. But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:
32. Velim autem vos absque solicitudine esse. Qui coelebs est,curat ea quae sunt Domini, quomodo placiturus sit Domino:
33. But he that is married careth for the things that are of the worlds, how he may please his wife.
33. Coniugatus curat ea quae sunt mundi, qualiter uxori placiturus sit, et divisus est.
34. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.
34. Et mulier caelebs, et virgo curat ea quae sunt Domini, ut sancta sit corpore et spiritu: at quae maritum habet, curat ea quae sunt mundi, quomodo placitura sit marito.
35. And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.
35. Hoc autem ad utilitatem vestram dico, non ut laqueum vobis iniiciam, sed ad honestatem ac decorum, ut Domino adhaereatis absque ulla distractione.

29. Because the time is short, etc. Again he discourses respecting the holy use of marriage, for the purpose of repressing the wantonness of those who, when they have married, think of nothing but the delights of the flesh. They have no remembrance of God. Hence he exhorts believers not to give way to unbridled desire in such a way, that marriage should have the effect of plunging them into the world. Marriage is a remedy for incontinency. It has really the effect, if it be used with moderation. He therefore exhorts married persons to live together chastely in the fear of the Lord. This will be effected, if marriage is made use of by them, like other helps of this earthly life, having their hearts directed upwards to meditation on the heavenly life. Now, he draws his argument from the shortness of human life: “This life,” says he, “which we are now spending is frail, and of short duration. Let us not therefore be held entangled by it. Let those accordingly who have wives, be as though they had none.” Every one, it is true, has this philosophy in his mouth, but few have it truly and in good earnest impressed upon their minds. In my first translation, I had followed a manuscript, to which (as I afterwards discovered) not one of the many others gave any countenance. I have accordingly deemed it proper to insert the particle because, to make the meaning more apparent, and in accordance also with the reading in some ancient copies. For as in those cases in which we are deliberating as to anything, we look to the future rather than to the past, he admonishes us as to the shortness of the time that is to come.
As though they had none. All things that are connected with the enjoyment of the present life are sacred gifts of God, but we pollute them when we abuse them. If the reason is asked, we shall find it to be this, that we always dream of continuance in the world, for it is owing to this that those things which ought to be helps in passing through it become hindrances to hold us fast. Hence, it is not without good reason, that the Apostle, with the view of arousing us from this stupidity, calls us to consider the shortness of this life, and infers from this, that we ought to use all the things of this world, as if we did not use them. For the man who considers that he is a stranger in the world uses the things of this world as if they were another’s — that is, as things that are lent us for a single day. The sum is this, that the mind of a Christian ought not to be taken up with earthly things, or to repose in them; for we ought to live as if we were every moment about to depart from this life. By weeping and rejoicing, he means adversity and prosperity; for it is customary to denote causes by their effects. f324A The Apostle, however, does not here command Christians to part with their possessions, but simply requires that their minds be not engrossed in their possessions. f325A
31. And they that use this world. In the first clause there is the participle crw>menoi (using,) in the second, there is a compound of it — katacrw>menoi (abusing.) Now the preposition kata in a compound state is generally taken in a bad sense, or at least denotes intensity. f326A Paul, therefore, directs us to a sober and frugal use of things, such as may not impede or retard our course, but may allow of our always hastening forward toward the goal.
For the fashion of this world passeth away. By the term here used, the Apostle has elegantly expressed the vanity of the world. “There is nothing,” says he, “that is firm or solid; f327A for it is a mere show or outward appearance, as they speak.” He seems, however, to have had an allusion to theatrical representations, in which, on the curtain being drawn up in a single moment, a new appearance is presented, and those things that held the eyes of the spectators in astonishment, are immediately withdrawn from their view. I do not see why it is that Erasmus has preferred the term habitus (form.) He certainly, in my opinion, obscures Paul’s doctrine; for the term fashion is tacitly opposed to substance. f328A
32. But I would wish you. He returns to the advice which he had spoken of, (<460725>1 Corinthians 7:25,) but had not as yet fully explained, and in the outset he pronounces, as he is wont, a commendation upon celibacy, and then afterwards allows every one the liberty of choosing what he may consider to suit him best. It is not, however, without good reason that he returns so frequently to proclaim the advantages of celibacy, for he saw that the burdens of matrimony were far from light. The man who can exempt himself from them, ought not to refuse such a benefit, and it is of advantage for those who resolve to marry, to be forewarned of those inconveniences, that they may not afterwards, on meeting with them unexpectedly, give way to despondency. This we see happens to many, for having promised themselves unmixed honey, on being disappointed in that expectation, they are very readily cast down by the slightest mishap. f329A Let them know, therefore, in good time, what they have to expect, that they may be prepared to endure everything patiently. The meaning is this: “Marriage brings along with it hindrances, from which I should wish you to be free and exempt.”
As, however, he has previously made use of the term trouble, (<460728>1 Corinthians 7:28,) and now makes mention of cares or anxieties, it may admit of doubt whether they have a different signification, or not. I am of opinion that the trouble referred to is what arises from things of a distressing nature, such as loss of children, widowhood, quarrels, and little differences, (as lawyers speak,) f330A many occasions of dislike, faults of children, difficulty in bringing up a family, and the like. The anxieties, on the other hand, are, in my opinion, connected with things that are joyful, as for example marriage fooleries, jests, and other things with which married persons are taken up. f331A
He that is unmarried careth for the things of the Lord. Mark the kind of exemption from anxieties that he desires in behalf of Christians — that they may devote to the Lord all their thoughts and aims. This, he says, belongs to celibacy; and therefore he desires all to enjoy this liberty. He does not mean, however, that it is invariably so in unmarried life, as experience shows it to be quite otherwise in priests, monks, and nuns, than whose celibacy nothing can be conceived to be farther from God. Add to this the many base fornicators who abstain from marriage for the very purpose of having greater liberty for the indulgence of lust, and that their vice may not appear. Where there is burning, (<460709>1 Corinthians 7:9,) no love of God can exist. But Paul’s meaning is this — that an unmarried person is free, and is not hindered from thinking of the things of God. The pious make use of this liberty. Others turn everything to their own destruction.
33. He that is married careth for the things of the world. By the things of the world you must understand the things that belong to the present life; for the world is taken here to mean the condition of this earthly life. But from this someone will infer, that all, therefore, who are married are strangers to the kingdom of God, f332A as thinking of nothing but this earth. I answer, that the Apostle speaks only of a portion of the thoughts, as though he had said: “They have one eye directed to the Lord, but in such a way as to have the other directed to their wife; for marriage is like a burden, by which the mind of a pious man is weighed down, so that he does not move God-ward with so much alacrity.” Let us always, however, bear in mind, that these evils do not belong to marriage, but proceed from the depravity of men. Hence the calumnies of Jerome, f333A who scrapes together all these things for the purpose of bringing marriages into disrepute, fall. For, were any one to condemn agriculture, merchandise, and other modes of life, on this ground, that amidst so many corruption’s of the world, there is not one of them that is exempt from certain evils, who is there that would not smile at his folly? Observe, then, that whatever evil there is in marriage, has its origin somewhere else; for at this day a man would not have been turned away from the Lord by the society of his wife, if he had remained in a state of innocence, and had not corrupted the holy institution of God; but a wife would have been a help-meet to him in everything good, as she was created for that end. (<010218>Genesis 2:18.)
But some one will say: “If anxieties that are faulty and blameworthy are invariably connected with marriage, how is it possible for married persons to call upon God, and serve him, with a pure conscience?” I answer, that there are three kinds of anxieties. There are some that are evil and wicked in themselves, because they spring from distrust. Of these Christ speaks in <400625>Matthew 6:25: There are others that are necessary, and are not displeasing to God; as, for example, it becomes the father of a family to be concerned for his wife and children, and God does not mean that we should be mere stumps, so as to have no concern as to ourselves. The third class are a mixture of the two former; when we are anxious respecting those things as to which we ought to feel anxiety, but feel too keenly excited, in consequence of that excess which is natural to us. Such anxieties, therefore, are not by any means wrong in themselves, but they are corrupt, in consequence of ataxia, that is to say, undue excess. And the Apostle did not intend merely to condemn here those vices by which we contract guilt in the sight of God, but he desires in a general way, that we may be freed from all impediments, so as to be wholly at leisure for the service of God.
And is divided. It is surprising how there has come to be so much diversity upon this passage. For the common Greek version is so widely different from the old Latin translation, that the diversity cannot be ascribed to mistake or inadvertence, in the way in which a mistake often happens in a single letter or a single word. Now the Greeks commonly read it literally, “He that is married thinks of the things of the world, how he may please his wife: a married woman and a virgin are divided: She that is unmarried, thinketh of the things of the Lord,” etc. And being divided they understand as meaning to differ, as if it had been said: “There is a great difference between a married woman and a virgin; for the one is at leisure to attend to the things of God exclusively, while the other is taken up with various matters.” But as this interpretation is somewhat at variance with the simple meaning of the word, I do not approve of it, especially as the meaning of the other reading (which is found also in some Greek manuscripts) is more suitable and less forced. We may, accordingly, understand it in this manner — that a man who is married is divided, f334A inasmuch as he devotes himself partly to God and partly to his wife, and is not wholly and exclusively God’s.
34. The unmarried woman and the virgin. What he had laid down as to men he now declares in like manner as to women — that virgins and widows are not prevented by earthly things from devoting their whole cares and their whole affections to God. Not that all act this part, but that there is opportunity for it, if the mind is so disposed. When he says, that she may be holy in body and in spirit, he shows what kind of chastity is true and acceptable to God — when the mind is kept unpolluted in the sight of God. Would to God that this were more carefully attended to! As to the body, we see what kind of devotement to the Lord there commonly is on the part of monks, nuns, and the whole scum of the Papistical clergy, than whose celibacy nothing can be imagined that is more obscene. f335A But not to speak at present of chastity of body, where is there one to be found among those that are held in admiration in consequence of their reputation for continency, that does not burn with base lusts? We may, however, infer from this statement of Paul, that no chastity is well pleasing to God that does not extend to the soul as well as to the body. Would to God that those who prate in such haughty terms as to continency, did but understand that they have to do with God! They would not be so confident in their contendings with us. At the same time, there are none in the present day who dispute on the subject of continency in more magnificent style than those who are openly and in the most shameless manner guilty of fornication. But though they should conduct themselves ever so honorably in the sight of men, that is nothing, if they do not keep their minds pure and exempt from all uncleanness.
35. And this for your benefit. Observe the Apostle’s moderation. f336A Though he knew the vexations, troubles, and difficulties of the married life, and, on the other hand, the advantages of celibacy, yet he does not venture to prescribe. On the contrary, having commended celibacy, and being afraid that some of his readers might be led away by such commendations, and might straightway say within themselves what the Apostles said in reply to Christ — It is good, therefore, so to be, (<401910>Matthew 19:10) f337A — not in the meantime taking into view their ability, he here declares in express terms, that he points out, indeed, what is most advantageous, but does not wish to impose a necessity upon any one.
And here you have two things worthy of observation. The first is, for what purpose celibacy is to be desired — not on its own account, nor on the ground of its being a state that is nearer to perfection, but that we may cleave to God without distraction — that being the one thing that a Christian man ought exclusively to look to during his whole life. The second thing is, that no snare must be put upon men’s consciences, so as to keep back any one from marriage, but that every one must have liberty allowed him. It is well known what grievous errors have been fallen into on both these points. As to the second point, those assuredly have been bolder than Paul, who have not shrunk from passing a law respecting celibacy, with the view of prohibiting the whole of the clergy from matrimony. The same may be said of those who have made vows of perpetual continency, which are snares by which not a few myriads of souls have been drawn into endless ruin. Hence, if the Holy Spirit has spoken by the mouth of Paul, Papists cannot clear themselves from the crime of fighting against God, (<440539>Acts 5:39,) while binding men’s consciences in a matter in which lie designed that they should remain keep unless, perhaps, He f338A has since that time adopted a new plan, so as to construct a snare, which he had previously disapproved of.

1 CORINTHIANS 7:36-38
36. But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.
36. Si quis autem virgini suae indecorum iudicat, si excedat florem aetatis, et ita fieri debet: quod voluerit faciat, non peccat: nubant.
37. Nevertheless she that standeth steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.
37. Qui autem stat firmus in corde, necessitatem non habens, potestatem vero habens supra sua voluntate, et hoc decrevit in corde suo, servare suam virginem, bene facit.
38. So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.
38. Itaque et qui nuptum collocat, bene facit; et qui non collocat,melius facit.

36. But if any one thinketh that it were unseemly for his virgin. He now directs his discourse to parents, who had children under their authority. For having heard the praises of celibacy, and having heard also of the inconveniences of matrimony, they might be in doubt, whether it were at all a kind thing to involve their children in so many miseries, lest it should seem as if they were to blame for the troubles that might befall them. For the greater their attachment to their children, so much the more anxiously do they exercise fear and caution on their account. f339A Paul, then, with the view of relieving them from this difficulty, teaches that it is their duty to consult their advantage, exactly as one would do for himself when at his own disposal. f340A Now he still keeps up the distinction, which he has made use of all along, so as to commend celibacy, but, at the same time, to leave marriage as a matter of choice; and not simply a matter of choice, but a needful remedy for incontinency, which ought not to be denied to any one. In the first part of the statement he speaks as to the giving of daughters in marriage, and he declares that those do not sin in giving away their daughters in marriage, who are of opinion that an unmarried life is not suitable for them.
The word ajschmonei~n (to be unseemly) must be taken as referring to a special propriety, which depends on what is natural to the individual; for there is a general propriety, which philosophers make to be a part of temperance. That belongs equally to all. There is another, that is special, because one thing becomes one individual that would not be seemly in another. Every one therefore should consider (as Cicero observes) what is the part that nature has assigned to him. f341A Celibacy will be seemly for one, but he must not measure all by his own foot; f342A and others should not attempt to imitate him without taking into view their ability; for it is the imitation of the ape — which is at variance with nature. If, therefore, a father, having duly considered his daughter’s disposition, is of opinion that she is not prepared for celibacy, let him give her away in marriage. f343A
By the flower of her age he means the marriageable age. This lawyers define to be from twelve to twenty years of age. Paul points out, in passing, what equity and humanity ought to be exercised by parents, in applying a remedy in that tender and slippery age, when the force of the disease requires it. And it requires to be so. In this clause I understand him as referring to the girl’s infirmity — in the event of her not having the gift of continency; for in that case, necessity constrains her to marry. As to Jerome’s making a handle of the expression sinneth not, for reviling marriage, with a view to its disparagement, as if it were not a praiseworthy action to dispose of a daughter in marriage, it is quite childish. f344A For Paul reckoned it enough to exempt fathers from blame, that they might not reckon it a cruel thing to subject their daughters to the vexations connected with marriage.
37. But he who standeth firm in his heart. Here we have the second part of the statement, in which he treats of young women who have the gift of abstaining from marriage. He commends therefore those fathers who make provision for their tranquillity; but let us observe what he requires. In the first place, he makes mention of a steadfast purpose — If any one has fully resolved with himself. You must not, however, understand by this the resolution formed by monks — that is, a voluntary binding over to perpetual servitude — for such is the kind of vow that they make; but he expressly makes mention of this firmness of purpose, because mankind often contrive schemes which they next day regret. As it is a matter of importance, he requires a thoroughly matured purpose.
In the second place he speaks of the person as having no necessity; for many, when about to deliberate, bring obstinacy with them rather than reason. And in the present case f345A they do not consider, when they renounce marriage, what is in their power, but reckon it enough to say — “such is my choice.” Paul requires them to have power, that they may not decide rashly, but according to the measure of the grace that has been given them. The absence of necessity in the case he appropriately expresses in the following clause, when he says that they have power over their own will. For it is as though he had said — “I would not have them resolve before knowing that they have power to fulfill, for it is rash and ruinous f346A to struggle against an appointment of God.” But, “according to this system,” some one will say, “vows are not to be condemned, provided these conditions were annexed.” I answer that, as to the gift of continency, as we are uncertain respecting the will of God as to the future, we ought not to form any determination for our whole life. Let us make use of the gift as long as it is allowed us. In the meantime, let us commit ourselves to the Lord, prepared to follow whithersoever he may call us. (<661404>Revelation 14:4.)
Hath decreed in his heart. Paul seems to have added this to express the idea more fully, that fathers ought to look carefully on all sides, before giving up anxiety and intention as to giving away their daughters in marriage. For they often decline marriage, either from shame or from ignorance of themselves, while, in the meantime, they are not the less wanton, or prone to be led astray f347A Parents must here consider well what is for the interests of their daughters, that by their prudence they may correct their ignorance, or unreasonable desire.
Now this passage serves to establish the authority of parents, which ought to be held sacred, as having its origin in the common rights of nature. Now if in other actions of inferior moment no liberty is allowed to children, without the authority of their parents, much less is it reasonable that they should have liberty given them in the contracting of marriage. And that has been carefully enacted by civil law, but more especially by the law of God. So much the more detestable, then, is the wickedness of the Pope, who, laying aside all respect, either for Divine or human laws, has been so daring as to free children from the yoke of subjection to their parents. It is of importance, however, to mark the reason. This, says he, is on account of the dignity of the sacrament. Not to speak of the ignorance of making marriage a sacrament, what honor is there, I beseech you, or what dignity, when, contrary to the general feeling of propriety in all nations, and contrary to God’s eternal appointment, they take off all restraints from the lusts of young persons, that they may, without any feeling of shame, sport themselves, f348A under pretense of its being a sacrament? Let us know, therefore, that in disposing of children in marriage, the authority of parents is of first-rate importance, provided they do not tyrannically abuse it, as even the civil laws restrict it. f349A The Apostle, too, in requiring exemption from necessity, f350A intimated that the deliberations of parents ought to be regulated with a view to the advantage of their children. Let us bear in mind, therefore, that this limitation is the proper rule — that children allow themselves to be governed by their parents, and that they, on the other hand, do not drag their children by force to what is against their inclination, and that they have no other object in view, in the exercise of their authority, than the advantage of their children.
38. Therefore he that giveth in marriage. Here we have the conclusion from both parts of the statement, in which he states, in a few words, that parents are free from blame if they give away their daughters in marriage, while he at the same time declares that they do better if they keep them at home unmarried. You are not, however, to understand that celibacy is here preferred to marriage, otherwise than under the exception which was a little before expressed. For if power be wanting on the part of the daughter, f351A the father acts an exceedingly bad part if he endeavors to keep her back from marriage, and would be no longer a father to her, but a cruel tyrant. The sum of the whole discussion amounts to this — that celibacy is better than marriage, because it has more liberty, so that persons can serve God with greater freedom; but at the same time, that no necessity ought to be imposed, so as to make it unlawful for individuals to marry, if they think proper; and farther, that marriage itself is a remedy appointed by God for our infirmity, f352A which all ought to use that are not endowed with the gift of continency. Every person of sound judgment will join with me in acknowledging and confessing, that the whole of Paul’s doctrine on this point is comprehended in these three articles.

1 CORINTHIANS 7:39-40
39. The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.
39. Muller alligata est Legi, quamdiu maritus ejus vivit: si auterm dormierit maritus ejus, libera est, ut cui vult nubat, modo in Domino.
40. But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.
40. Beatior vero est, si sic maneat,secundum meam sententiam: existimo autem, me quoque Spiritum Dei habere.

39. The wife is bound. He had previously spoken indiscriminately of husbands and wives, but as wives, on account of the modesty of their sex, might seem to have less liberty, he has thought it necessary to give in addition some special directions in reference to them. He now, therefore, teaches that women are not less at liberty than men to marry a second time, on their becoming widows. f353A We have already mentioned above, that those who desired a second marriage were branded with the reproach of intemperance, and that, with the view of putting some kind of slight upon them, those who had been contented with being once married, were wont to be presented with the “chaplet of chastity.” Nay more, this first opinion had, in course of time, become prevalent among Christians; for second marriages had no blessing pronounced upon them, and some Councils prohibited the clergy from being present on such occasions. The Apostle here condemns tyranny of that sort, and declares, that no hindrance ought to be thrown in the way of widows’ marrying, if they think proper.
It is of little consequence, and so far as the sense is concerned it matters nothing, whether we say that the wife is bound legi, (to the law,) in the dative, or lege, (by the law,) in the ablative. For it is the law that declares the connection between husband and wife to be indissoluble. If, however, you read it in the dative, the term will convey the idea of authority or obligation. f354A Now he reasons from contraries; for if a woman is bound to her husband for life, she is, then, set at liberty by his death. After she has been set at liberty, let her be married to whom she will.
When the verb to sleep means to die, f355A it refers not to the soul, but to the body, as is manifest from its constant use in Scripture. f356A It is a foolish part, therefore, that is acted by certain fanatics, who, from this little word, make it their endeavor to prove that the souls of men, after being separated from their bodies, are destitute of thought and intelligence, or, in other words, of their life.
Only in the Lord. This is thought to be added for the purpose of admonishing them in passing, that they ought not to yoke themselves with the irreligious, or to covet their society. This, I acknowledge, is true, but I am of opinion that more is meant that they should do this in a religious way, and in the fear of the Lord, f357A for it is in this manner that marriages are formed auspiciously.
40. But she is happier if she so abide. Why? Is it because widowhood is of itself a virtue? No; but because it will have less to distract, and is more exempt from earthly cares. As to what he adds — according to my judgment, he does not mean by this expression that his opinion was doubtful; but it is as if he had said that such was his decision as to this question; for he immediately adds that he has the Spirit of God, which is sufficient to give full and perfect authority. There appears, at the same time, to be somewhat of irony when he says I think. For as the false apostles were ever and anon boasting in high-sounding terms of their having the Spirit of God, for the purpose of arrogating to themselves authority, and in the meantime endeavored to derogate from that of Paul, he says that he thinks that he is not less a partaker of the Spirit than they.
CHAPTER 8

1 CORINTHIANS 8:1-7
1. Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
1. De iis porro quae idolis immolantur, scimus, quod omnes scientiam habemus: scientia inflat, caritas autem aedificat.
2. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth no thing yet as he ought to know.
2. Si quis autem videtur sibi aliquid scire, nondum quicquam scit,qualiter scire oportet.
3. But if any man love God, the same is known of him.
3. At si quis diligit Deum, hie cognitus est ab illo.
4. As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.
4. De esu ergo eorum quae idolis immolantur, novimus, quod idolum nihil est in mundo, et quod non est alius Deus nisi unus.
5. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)
5. Nam etsi sunt qui vocentur dii, sire in coelo sive super terram, quemadmodum sunt dii multi et domini multi:
6. But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
6. Nobis tamen unus Deus Pater, ex quo omnia, et nos in ipso: et unus Dominus Iesus Christus, per quem omnia, et nos per ipsum.
7. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.
7. At non est in omnibus scientia: quidam autem cum idoli conscientia nunc quoque tanquam idolo immolatum edunt, et conscientia eorum, infirma quum sit, polluitur.

He now passes on to another question, which he had merely touched upon in the sixth chapter, without fully discussing. For when he had spoken of the avarice of the Corinthians, and had drawn that discussion to a close with this statement — Neither covetous, nor extortioners, nor fornicators, etc., shall inherit the kingdom of God, he passed on to speak of the liberty of Christians — All things are lawful for me. He had taken occasion from this to speak of fornication, and from that, of marriage. Now, therefore, he at length follows out what he had touched upon as to things intermediate — how we ought to restrain our liberty in intermediate things. By intermediate things, I mean those that are neither good nor bad in themselves, but indifferent, which God has put in our power, but in the use of which we ought to observe moderation, that there may be a difference between liberty and licentiousness. In the outset, he selects one instance, distinguished above all the others, as to which the Corinthians grievously offended — their having been present on occasion of the sacred banquets, which were held by idolaters in honor of their gods, and eating indiscriminately of the meats that were offered to them. As this gave much occasion of offense, the Apostle teaches them that they rashly perverted the liberty granted them by the Lord.
1. Concerning things offered unto idols. He begins with a concession, in which he voluntarily grants and allows to them everything that they were prepared to demand or object. “I see what your pretext is: you make Christian liberty your pretext. You hold out that you have knowledge, and that there is not one of you that is so ignorant as not to know that there is but one God. I grant all this to be true, but of what avail is that knowledge which is ruinous to the brethren?” Thus, then, he grants them what they demand, but it is in such a way as to show that their excuses are empty and of no avail.
Knowledge puffeth up. He shows, from the effects, how frivolous a thing it is to boast of knowledge, when love is wanting. “Of what avail is knowledge, that is of such a kind as puffs us up and elates us, while it is the part of love to edify?” This passage, which otherwise is somewhat obscure, in consequence of its brevity, may easily be understood in this way — “Whatever is devoid of love is of no account in the sight of God; nay more, it is displeasing to him, and much more so what is openly at variance with love. Now that, knowledge of which you boast, O ye Corinthians, is altogether opposed to love, for it puffs up men with pride, and leads to contempt of the brethren, while love is concerned for the welfare of brethren, and exhorts us to edify them. Accursed, then, be that knowledge which makes men proud, and is not regulated by a desire of edifying.”
Paul, however, did not mean, that this is to be reckoned as a fault attributable to learning — that those who are learned are often self-complacent, and have admiration of themselves, accompanied with contempt of others. Nor did he understand this to be the natural tendency of learning — to produce arrogance, but simply meant to show what effect knowledge has in an individual, that has not the fear of God, and love of the brethren; for the wicked abuse all the gifts of God, so as to exalt, themselves. Thus riches, honors, dignities, nobility, beauty, and other things of that nature, puff up; because men, elated through a mistaken confidence in these things, very frequently become insolent. f358A Nor is it always so; for we see that many who are rich and beautiful, and abounding in honors, and distinguished for dignity and nobility, are, nevertheless, of a modest disposition, and not at all tainted with pride. And even when it does happen to be so, it is, nevertheless, not proper that we should put the blame upon what we know to be gifts of God; for in the first place that were unfair and unreasonable; and farther, by putting the blame upon things that are not blameworthy, we would exempt the persons themselves from blame, who alone are in fault. My meaning is this — “If riches naturally tend to make men proud, then a rich man, if proud, is free from blame, for the evil arises from riches.”
We must, therefore, lay it down as a settled principle, that knowledge is good in itself; but as piety is its only foundation, f359A it; becomes empty and useless in wicked men: as love is its true seasoning, where that is wanting it is tasteless. And truly, where there is not that thorough knowledge of God which humbles us, and teaches us to do good to the brethren, it is not so much knowledge, as an empty notion of it, even in those that are reckoned the most learned. At the same time, knowledge is not by any means to be blamed for this, any more than a sword, if it falls into the hands of a madman. Let this be considered as said f360A with a view to certain fanatics, who furiously declaim against all the liberal arts and sciences, as if their only use were to puff men up, and were not of the greatest advantage as helps in common life. f361A Now those very persons, who defame them in this style, are ready to burst with pride, to such an extent as to verify the old proverb — “Nothing is so arrogant as ignorance.”
2. And if any man thinketh. That man thinketh that he knoweth something, who is delighted with the opinion that he entertains of his own knowledge, and despises others, as if he were far above them. For Paul does not here condemn knowledge, but that ambition and haughtiness which ungodly men contract in consequence of it. Otherwise he does not exhort us to be sceptical, so as to be always hesitating and hanging in doubt, and he does not approve of a false and counterfeit modesty, as if it were a good thing to think that we are ignorant of what we do know. That man, therefore, who thinketh that he knoweth something, or, in other words, who is insolent from an empty notion of his own knowledge, so that he prefers himself before others, and is self-conceited, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. For the beginning of all true knowledge is acquaintance with God, which produces in us humility and submission; nay more, it prostrates us entirely instead of elating us. But where pride is, there is ignorance of God f362A — a beautiful passage! Would to God that all knew it aright, so as properly to understand the rule of right knowledge!
3. But if any man loves God. Here we have the conclusion, in which he shows what is especially commendable in Christians, and even renders knowledge, and all other endowments worthy of commendation, if we love God; for if it is so, we will also love our neighbors in him. By this means all our actions will be properly regulated, and consequently approved by God. He shows, therefore, from consequences, that no learning is commendable that is not dipped in the love of God; because that alone secures, that whatever endowments we have are approved by him, as it is said in the second Epistle —
If any man be in Christ he is a new creature.
(<470517>2 Corinthians 5:17.)
By this he intimates, that without the Spirit of regeneration, all things else, whatever they may have of show, are of no value. To be known by God means to be held in any estimation, or to be reckoned among his sons. Thus he erases all proud persons from the book of life, (<500403>Philippians 4:3,) and from the roll of the pious.
4. Concerning, therefore, the eating of those things. He now returns to the statement with which he had set out, and speaks more plainly in reference to the pretext made use of by the Corinthians. For as the whole of the evil took its rise from this root — that they were pleased with themselves, and despised others, he condemns, in general, that contemptuous knowledge which is not seasoned with love. Now, however, he explains particularly, what is the kind of knowledge on which they valued themselves — that an idol is an empty figment of the human brain, and must therefore be reckoned as nothing; and accordingly, that the consecration, that is gone through in name of the idol, is a foolish imagination, and of no importance, and that a Christian man, therefore, is not polluted, who, without reverence for the idol, eats of things offered to idols. This is the sum of the excuse, and it is not set aside by Paul as false, (for it contains excellent doctrine,) but because they abused it, in opposition to love.
As to the words, Erasmus reads thus — “An idol has no existence.” I prefer the rendering of the old translation — An idol is nothing. For the argument is this — that an idol is nothing, inasmuch as there is but one God; for it follows admirably — “If there is no other God besides our God, then an idol is an empty dream, and mere vanity.” When he says — and there is none other God but one, I understand the conjunction and as meaning because. For the reason why an idol is nothing is, that it must be estimated according to the thing that it represents. Now it is appointed for the purpose of representing God: nay more, for the purpose of representing false gods, inasmuch as there is but one God, who is invisible and incomprehensible. The reason, too, must be carefully observed — An idol is nothing because there is no God but one; for he is the invisible God, and cannot be represented by a visible sign, so as to be worshipped through means of it. Whether, therefore, idols are erected to represent the true God, or false gods, it is in all cases a perverse contrivance. Hence Habakkuk calls idols teachers of lies, (<350218>Habakkuk 2:18,) because they deal falsely in pretending to give a figure or image of God, and deceive men under a false title. Hence oujden (nothing) refers not to essence, but to quality — for an idol is made of some substance — either silver, or wood, or stone; but as God does not choose to be represented in this way, it is vanity and nothing as to meaning and use.
5. For though there be that are called. “They have,” says he, “the name, but the reality is wanting.” He uses the word called here, to mean — renowned in the estimation of men. He has also made use of a general division, when he says in heaven or on earth. The gods that are made mention of as being in heaven, are the heavenly hosts, as the Scripture terms the sun, moon, and the other stars. How very far they are, however, from being entitled to divine honors, Moses shows from this, that they were created for our use. The sun is our servant; the moon is our handmaid. How absurd, therefore, it is to render to them divine honors! By the gods that are on earth, are properly meant, in my opinion, men and women for whom religious worship has been appointed. f363A For, as Pliny observes, those who had deserved well of mankind had their memory consecrated by religion, so as to be worshipped as deities — Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Mercury, and Apollo, who were mortal men, but were, after death, exalted to the rank of deities; and, more recently, Hercules, Romulus, and at length the Cesars — as if it were in the power of mankind to make deities at their pleasure, while they cannot give to themselves either life or immortality. There are also other gods that are terrestrial, taken either from cattle or from brute creatures, as, for example, among the Egyptians, the ox, the serpent, the cat, the onion, the garlic; and, among the Romans, the boundary-stone, f364A and the stone Vesta. They are gods, then, only in name; but Paul says that he does not stop to notice deifications of this sort. f365A
6. But to us there is but one God, the Father. Though Paul says these things by anticipation, he repeats the excuse made by the Corinthians, in such a way as at the same time to convey instruction. For, from what is more especially peculiar to God, he proves that there is but one God: “Whatever has its origin from what is foreign to itself, is not eternal, and, consequently, is not God. All things have their origin from one Being: he alone, therefore, is God.” Again — “He is assuredly God who gives existence to all, and from whom all things flow, as from the supreme source; but there is only One, from whom all things flow, and hence there is but one God.” When he adds — and we in him, (eijv aujto>n,) he means, that we subsist in God, as it was by him that we were once created. For this clause might, indeed, seem to have another signification — that as we have our beginning from him, so we ought to devote our life to him as its end; and it is used in this sense in <451103>Romans 11:39. Here, however, it is taken for ejn aujtw~|, which is commonly made use of by the Apostles. His meaning, therefore, is, that as we were once created by God, so it is by his power that we are preserved in our present condition. That this is its meaning, is evident from what he affirms respecting Christ immediately afterwards — that we are by him. For he designed to ascribe the same operation to the Father and to the Son, adding, however, the distinction which was suitable to the Persons. He says, then, that we subsist in the Father, and that it is by the Son, because the Father is indeed the foundation of all existence; but, as it is by the Son that we are united to him, so he communicates to us through him the reality of existence.
One Lord. These things are affirmed respecting Christ relatively, that is, in relationship to the Father. For all things that are God’s are assuredly applicable to Christ, when no mention is made of persons; but as the person of the Father is here brought into comparison with the person of the Son, it is with good reason that the Apostle distinguishes what is peculiar to them.
Now the Son of God, after having been manifested in the flesh, received from the Father dominion and power over all things, that he might reign alone in heaven and on earth, and that the Father might exercise his authority through his hands. For this reason our Lord is spoken of as one. f366A But in respect of dominion being ascribed to him alone, this is not to be taken as meaning that worldly distinctions f367A are abolished. For Paul speaks here of spiritual dominion, while the governments of the world are political; as when he said a little before — there are many that are called lords — (<460705>1 Corinthians 7:5) — he meant that, not of kings, or of others who excel in rank and dignity, but of idols or demons, to whom foolish men ascribe superiority and rule. While, therefore, our religion acknowledges but one Lord, this is no hindrance in the way of civil governments having many lords, to whom honor and respect are due in that one Lord.
7. But there is not in all that knowledge. He refutes, in a single word, all that he had previously brought forward in their name, showing that it is not enough that they know that what, they do is right, if they have not at the same time a regard to their brethren. When he said above — We know that we all have knowledge, (<460701>1 Corinthians 7:1,) he referred to those whom he reproved for abusing their liberty. Now, on the other hand, he calls them to consider, that there are many weak and ignorant persons associated with them, to whom they ought to accommodate themselves. “You have, it is true, a correct judgment in the sight of God, and if you were alone in the world, it would be as lawful for you to eat of things offered to idols, as of any other kinds of food. But consider your brethren, to whom you are debtors. You have knowledge; they are ignorant,. Your actions ought to be regulated not merely according to your knowledge, but also according to their ignorance.” This reply is particularly deserving of notice; for there is nothing to which we are more prone f368A than this, that every one follows his own advantage, to the neglect of that of others. Hence we feel prepared to rest in our own judgment, and do not consider, that the propriety of those works that we do in the sight of men depends not merely on our own conscience, but also on that of our brethren.
Some with conscience of the idol. This is their ignorance, that they were still under the influence of some superstitious notion, as if there were some virtue in the idol, or some virtue in a wicked and idolatrous consecration. Paul, however, does not speak of idolaters, who were entire strangers to pure religion, but of ignorant persons who had not been sufficiently instructed, to understand that an idol is nothing, and therefore that the consecration, which was gone through in name of the idol, is of no importance. Their idea, therefore, was this: “As an idol is something, the consecration which is gone through in its name is not altogether vain, and hence those meats are not pure, that have been once dedicated to idols.” Hence they thought, that, if they ate of them, they contracted some degree of pollution, and were, in a manner, partakers with the idol. This is the kind of offense that Paul reproves in the Corinthians — when we induce weak brethren, by our example, to venture upon anything against their conscience.
And their conscience. God would have us try or attempt nothing but what we know for certain is agreeable to him. Whatever, therefore, is done with a doubting conscience, is, in consequence of doubts of that kind, faulty in the sight of God. And this is what he says, (<451423>Romans 14:23,) Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. Hence the truth of the common saying, that “those build for hell, who build against their conscience.” For as the excellence of actions depends on the fear of God and integrity of conscience, so, on the other hand, there is no action, that is so good in appearance, as not to be polluted by a corrupt affection of the mind. For the man, who ventures upon anything in opposition to conscience, does thereby discover some contempt of God; for it is a token that we fear God, when we have respect to his will in all things. Hence you are not without contempt of God, if you so much as move a finger while uncertain, whether it may not be displeasing to him. As to meats, there is another thing to be considered, for they are not sanctified to us otherwise than by the word. (<540405>1 Timothy 4:5.) If that word is wanting, there remains nothing but pollution — not that the creatures of God are polluted, but because man’s use of them is impure. In fine, as men’s hearts are purified by faith, so without faith there is nothing that is pure in the sight of God.

1 CORINTHIANS 8:8-13
8. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.
8. Atqui esca nos non commendat Deo: neque si comedamus, abundamus, neque si non comedamus, deficimur aliquo.
9. But take heed, lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.
9. Sed videte, ne quo modo facultas haec vestra offendiculo sit infirmis.
10. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;
10. Si quis enim videat to, utcunque scientiam habeas, in epulo simulacrorum accumbentem; nonne conscientia eius, quum tamen infirmus sit, aedificabitur ad edendum quae sunt idolis immolata?
11. And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
11. Et peribit frater, qui infirmus est, in tua scientia, propter quem Christus mortuus est?
12. But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.
12. Sic autem peccantes in fratres, et vuluerantes conscientiam illorum infirmam, in Christum peccatis.
13. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
13. Quapropter si esca offendit fratrem meum, nequaquam vescar carnibus in aeternum, ne fratri meo sim offendiculo.

8. Meat recommendeth us not to God. This was, or may have been, another pretext made use of by the Corinthians — that the worship of God does not consist in meats, as Paul himself teaches in his Epistle to the Romans, (<451417>Romans 14:17,) that the kingdom of God is not meat or drink. Paul answers: “We must at the same time take care that our liberty does not do injury to our neighbors.” In this he tacitly acknowledges, that in the sight of God it matters not what kinds of food we partake of, because he allows us the free use of them, so far as conscience is concerned; but that this liberty, as to the external use of it, is made subject to love. The argument of the Corinthians, therefore, was defective, inasmuch as they inferred the whole from a part, for in the use of them a regard to the claims of love is included. It is, therefore, certain, that meat recommendeth us not to God; and Paul acknowledges this, but he states this exception, that love is recommended to us by God, which it were criminal to overlook.
Neither if we eat, are we the better. He does not speak of improvement as to the stomach; for the man who has dined has a better filled stomach than the man who goes fasting; but he means, that we have neither more nor less of righteousness from eating or from abstaining. Besides, he does not speak of every kind of abstinence, or of every kind of eating. For excess and luxury are in themselves displeasing to God, while sobriety and moderation are well-pleasing to him. But let it be understood by us, that the kingdom of God, which is spiritual, does not consist in these outward observances, and therefore, that things indifferent are in themselves of no importance in the sight of God. While he brings this forward in the person of others by anthypophora, f369A he at the same time admits that it is true, for it is taken from his own doctrine, which we touched upon a little ago.
9. Take heed that your liberty. He leaves their liberty untouched, but moderates the use of it thus far — that it may not give occasion of stumbling to the weak. And he expressly desires that regard be had to the weak, that is, to those who are not, yet thoroughly confirmed in the doctrine of piety, for as they are wont to be regarded with contempt, it is the will and command of the Lord, that regard should be had to them. In the meantime, he hints that strong giants, who may be desirous tyrannically to subject our liberty to their humor, may safely be let alone, f370A because we need not fear giving offense to those who are not drawn into sin through infirmity, but eagerly catch at something to find fault with. What he means by an occasion, of stumbling we shall see herelong.
10. If any one see thee. From this it appears more clearly, how much liberty the Corinthians allowed themselves; for when the wicked made a kind of sacred banquet for their idols, they did not hesitate f371A to go to it, to eat of the sacrifice along with them. Paul now shows what evil resulted from this. In the first clause, instead of the words who hast knowledge, I have rendered the expression thus — though thou shouldest have; and in the second clause, in the expression who is weak, I have introduced the word notwithstanding. This I found it necessary to do for the clearing up of Paul’s meaning. For he makes a concession, as if he had said: “Be it so, that thou hast knowledge; he who seeth thee, though he is not endowed with knowledge, is notwithstanding confirmed by thine example to venture upon the same thing, while he would never have taken such a step if he had not had one to take the lead. Now when he has one to imitate, he thinks that he has a sufficient excuse in the circumstance that he is imitating another, while in the meantime he is acting from an evil conscience.” For weakness here means ignorance, or scruple of conscience. I am aware, at the same time, in what way others explain it; for they understand the occasion of stumbling to be this — when ignorant persons, induced by example, imagine that in this way they perform some kind of religious service to God, but this idea is quite foreign to Paul’s meaning. For he reproves them, as I have said, f371b because they emboldened the ignorant to hurry on, contrary to conscience, to attempt what they did not think it lawful for them to do. To be built up means here — to be confirmed. f372A Now that is a ruinous kind of building, that is not founded on sound doctrine.
11. And thy brother perish. Mark how serious an evil it is, that mankind commonly think so little of — that of venturing upon anything with a doubtful or opposing conscience. For the object to which our whole life ought to be directed, is the will of the Lord. This, therefore, is the one thing that vitiates all our actions, when we disregard it. f373A This we do, not merely by an outward action, but even by a thought of the mind, when we allow ourselves in anything in opposition to conscience, even though the thing be not evil in itself. Let us bear in mind, therefore, that whenever we take a step in opposition to conscience, we are on the high road to ruin.
I read, however, the sentence interrogatively, thus: Shall he perish through thy knowledge? as though he had said: “Is it reasonable that thy knowledge should give occasion of ruin to thy brother? Is it for this reason that thou knowest what is right, that thou mayest cause another’s ruin!” He makes use of the term brother, in order to expose their pride as unfeeling, in this way: “It is true that the person whom you despise is weak, but still he is your brother, for God has adopted him. You act a cruel part, therefore, in having no concern for your brother.” There is, however, still greater force in what follows — that even those that are ignorant or weak have been redeemed with the blood of Christ; for nothing were more unseemly than this, that while Christ did not hesitate to die, in order that the weak might not perish, we, on the other hand, reckon as nothing the salvation of those who have been redeemed with so great a price. A memorable saying, by which we are taught how precious the salvation of our brethren ought to be in our esteem, and not merely that of all, but of each individual in particular, inasmuch as the blood of Christ was poured out for each individual!
12. When ye sin so against the brethren, etc. For if the soul of every one that is weak is the price of Christ’s blood, that man who, for the sake of a very small portion of meat, hurries back again to death the brother who has been redeemed by Christ, shows how contemptible the blood of Christ is in his view. Hence contempt of this kind is an open insult to Christ. In what way a weak conscience may be wounded has been already explained — when it is built up in what is evil (<460710>1 Corinthians 7:10) so as daringly and rashly to rush on farther than the individual thinks to be lawful for him.
13. Wherefore if meat make my brother to offend. With the view of reproving more severely their disdainful liberty, he declares, that we ought not merely to refrain from a single banquet rather than injure a brother, but ought to give up the eating of meats during our whole life. Nor does he merely prescribe what ought to be done, but declares that he would himself act in this way. The expression, it is true, is hyperbolical, as it is scarcely possible that one should refrain from eating flesh during his whole life, if he remain in common life;f374A but his meaning is, that he would rather make no use of his liberty in any instance, than be an occasion of offense to the weak. For participation is in no case lawful, unless it be regulated by the rule of love. Would that this were duly pondered by those who make everything subservient to their own advantage, so that they cannot endure to give up so much as a hair’s-breadth of their own right for the sake of their brethren; and that they would attend not merely to what Paul teaches, but also to what he marks out by his own example! How greatly superior he is to us! When he, then, makes no hesitation in subjecting himself thus far to his brethren, which of us would not submit to the same condition?
But, however difficult it is to act up to this doctrine, so far as the meaning is concerned, his easy, were it not that some have corrupted it by foolish glosses, and others by wicked calumnies. Both classes err as to the meaning of the word offend. For they understand the word offend to mean, incurring the hatred or displeasure of men, or what is nearly the same thing, doing what displeases them, or is not altogether agreeable to them. But it appears very manifestly from the context, that it means simply to hinder a brother by bad example (as an obstacle thrown in his way) from the right course, or to give him occasion of falling. Paul, therefore, is not here treating of the retaining of the favor of men, but of the assisting of the weak, so as to prevent their falling, and prudently directing them, that they may not turn aside from the right path. But (as I have said) the former class are foolish, while the latter are also wicked and impudent.
Those are foolish, who allow Christians scarcely any use of things indifferent, lest they should offend superstitious persons. “Paul,” say they, “prohibits here everything that may give occasion of offense. Now to eat flesh on Friday will not fail to give offense, and hence we must abstain from it, not merely when there are some weak persons present, but in every case without exception, for it is possible that they may come to know of it.” Not to speak of their misinterpretation of the word rendered occasion of offense, they fall into a grievous blunder in not considering that Paul here inveighs against those who impudently abuse their knowledge in the presence of the weak, whom they take no pains to instruct.
Hence there will be no occasion for reproof, if instruction has been previously given. Farther, Paul does not command us to calculate, whether there may be an occasion of offense in what we do, except when the danger is present to our view.
I come now to the other class. These are pretended followers of Nicodemus, f375A who under this pretext conform themselves to the wicked by participating in their idolatry, and not contented with justifying what they do amiss, are desirous also to bind others to the same necessity. Nothing could be said with greater plainness to condemn their perverse dissimulation than what Paul here teaches — that all who by their example allure the weak to idolatry, commit a grievous outrage against God as well as men. Yet they eagerly shield themselves from this by endeavoring to show that superstitions ought to be cherished in the hearts of the ignorant, and that we ought to lead the way before them to idolatry, lest a free condemnation of idolatry should offend them. Hence I will not do them the honor of dwelling upon a refutation of their impudence. I simply admonish my readers to compare Paul’s times with ours, and judge from this whether it is allowable to be present at mass, and other abominations, giving so much occasion of offense to the weak
CHAPTER 9

1 CORINTHIANS 9:1-12
1. Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?
1. Non sum liber? non sum Apostolus? f376A nonne Iesum Christum Dominum nostrum vidi? nonne opus meum vos estis in Domino?
2. If I be not an an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.
2. Si aliis non sum Apostolus, vobis tamen sum: sigillum enim Apostolatus mei vos estis in Domino?
3. Mine answer to them that do examine me is this,
3.Haec mea defensio est apudeos, qui in me inquirunt.
4. Have we not power to eat and to drink?
4. Numquid non habemus potestatem edendi et bibendi?
5. Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?
5. Numquid potestatem non habemus circumducendae uxoris sororis,quemadmodum et reliqui Apostoli,et fratres Domini, et Cephas?
6. Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?
6. An ego solus et Barnabas non habemus potestatem hoc agendi? f377a
7. Who goeth a warfare any time own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?
7. Quis militavit suo sumptu unquam? quis plantat vitem, et ex fructu ejus non comedit? quis pascit gregem, et lacte gregis non vescitur?
8. Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?
8. Num secundum hominem haec dico?
9. For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?
9. Numquid lex quoque eadem non dicit? in lege enim Mosis (<052504>Deuteronomy 25:4) scripture est: non obligabis os bovi trituranti: numquid boves curae sunt Deo,
10. Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope: and that he that thrasheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.
10. Vel propter nos omnino dicit? Et sane propter nos scripturm est: quoniam debet sub spe, qui arat,arare, et qui triturat, sub spe participandi. (Alias: quia debeat sub spe qui arat, arare, et qui triturat sub spe, spei suae particeps esse debeat.)
11. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?
11. Si nos vobis spiritualia seminavimus, magnum, si carnalia vestra metamus?
12. If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ
12. Si alii hanc in vos sumunt potestatem, an non magis nos? atqui non usi sumus facultate hac: sed omnia sufferimus, ut ne quam offensionem demus Evangelio Christi.

1. Am I not free? He confirms by facts what he had stated immediately before, — that he would rather never taste of flesh during his whole life, than give occasion of stumbling to a brother, and, at the same time, he shows that he requires nothing more from them than what he had himself practiced. And, assuredly, natural equity requires that whatever law is imposed by any one upon others, should be submitted to by himself. More especially a Christian teacher should impose upon himself this necessity, that he may have it always in his power to confirm his doctrine by an exemplary life. We know by experience, that it is a very unpleasant thing that Paul required from the Corinthians — to refrain, for the sake of their brethren, from making use of the liberty that was allowed them. He could scarcely have demanded this, if he had not taken the lead and shown them the way. And he had, it is true, promised that he would do this, but, as he might not be believed by all on his simply promising for the future, he makes mention of what he had already done. He brings forward a remarkable instance, in respect of his having denied himself the liberty which he might otherwise have used, purely in order that he might give the false Apostles no occasion for calumniating. He had preferred to earn his food with his own hands, rather than be supported at the expense of the Corinthians, to whom he administered the Gospel.
He treats, however, at great length of the right of the Apostles to receive food and clothing. This he does, partly for the purpose of stirring them up the more to forego many things for the sake of their brethren after his example, because they were unduly tenacious in the retaining of their own rights, and partly for the purpose of exposing more fully in view the unreasonableness of calumniators, who took occasion for reviling from what was anything but blameworthy. He speaks, also, interrogatively, in order to press the matter home more closely. The question — Am I not free? is of a general nature. When he adds — Am I not an Apostle? he specifies a particular kind of liberty. “If I am an Apostle of Christ, why should my condition be worse than that of others?” Hence he proves his liberty on the ground of his being an Apostle.
Have I not seen Jesus Christ? He expressly adds this, in order that he may not be reckoned inferior in any respect, to the other Apostles, for this one thing the malevolent and envious bawled out on all occasions — that he had received from the hands of men whatever he had of the gospel, inasmuch as he had never seen Christ. And, certainly, he had not had converse with Christ while he was in the world, but Christ had appeared to him after his resurrection. It was not a smaller privilege, however, to have seen Christ in his immortal glory, than to have seen him in the abasement of mortal flesh. He makes mention, also, afterwards of this vision, (<461508>1 Corinthians 15:8,) and mention is made of it twice in the Acts, (<440903>Acts 9:3, and <442206>Acts 22:6.) Hence this passage tends to establish his call, because, although he had not been set apart as one of the twelve, there was no less authority in the appointment which Christ published from heaven.
Are not ye my work? He now, in the second place, establishes his Apostleship from the effect of it, because he had gained over the Corinthians to the Lord by the gospel. Now this is a great thing that Paul claims for himself, when he calls their conversion his work, for it is in a manner a new creation of the soul. But how will this correspond with what we had above — that
he that planteth is nothing, and he that watereth is nothing?
(<460307>1 Corinthians 3:7.)
I answer, that as God is the efficient cause, while man, with his preaching, is an instrument that can do nothing of itself, we must always speak of the efficacy of the ministry in such a manner that the entire praise of the work may be reserved for God alone. But in some cases, when the ministry is spoken of, man is compared with God, and then that statement holds good — He that planteth is nothing, and he that watereth is nothing; for what can be left to a man if he is brought into competition with God? Hence Scripture represents ministers as nothing in comparison with God; but when the ministry is simply treated of without any comparison with God, then, as in this passage, its efficacy is honorably made mention of, with signal encomiums. For, in that case, the question is not, what man can do of himself without God, but, on the contrary, God himself, who is the author, is conjoined with the instrument, and the Spirit’s influence with man’s labor. In other words, the question is not, what man himself accomplishes by his own power, but what God effects through his hands.
2. If I am not an Apostle to others. The sum of this tends to the establishing of his authority among the Corinthians, so as to place it beyond all dispute. “If there are those,” says he, “who have doubts as to my Apostleship, to you, at least, it ought to be beyond all doubt, for, as I planted your Church by my ministry, you are either not believers, or you must necessarily recognize me as all Apostle. And that he may not seem to rest in mere words, he states that the reality itself was to be seen, f378A because God had sealed his Apostleship by the faith of the Corinthians. Should any one, however, object, that this suits the false Apostles too, who gather disciples to themselves, I answer, that pure doctrine is above all things required, in order that any one may have a confirmation of his ministry in the sight of God from its effect. There is nothing, therefore, here to furnish impostors with matter of congratulation, if they have deceived any of the populace, nay, even nations and kingdoms, by their falsehoods. Although in some cases persons are the occasion of spreading the kingdom of Christ, who, nevertheless, do not preach the gospel sincerely, as is said in <500116>Philippians 1:16, it is not without good reason that Paul infers from the fruit of his labor, that he is divinely commissioned: for the structure of the Corinthian Church was such, that the blessing of God could easily be seen shining forth in it, which ought to have served as a confirmation of Paul’s office.
3. My defense. Apart from the principal matter that he has at present in hand, it appears also to have been his intention to beat down, in passing, the calumnies of those who clamored against his call, as if he had been one of the ordinary class of ministers. “I am accustomed,” says he, “to put you forward as my shield, in the event of any one detracting from the honor of my Apostleship.” Hence it follows, that the Corinthians are injurious and inimical to themselves, if they do not acknowledge him as such, for if their faith was a solemn attestation of Paul’s Apostleship, and his defense, against slanderers, the one could not be invalidated without the other falling along with it.
Where others read — those who interrogate me, I have rendered it — those that examine me — for he refers to those who raised a dispute as to his Apostleship. f379A Latin writers, I confess, speak of a criminal being interrogated f380A according to the laws, but the meaning of the word ajnakri>nein which Paul makes use of, seemed to me to be brought out better in this way.
4. Have we not power? lie concludes from what has been already said, that he had a right to receive food and clothing from them, f381A for Paul ate and drank, but not at the expense of the Church. This, then, was one liberty that he dispensed with. The other was, that he had not a wife — to be maintained, also, at the public expense. Eusebius infers from these words that Paul was married, but had left his wife somewhere, that she might not be a burden to the Churches, but there is no foundation for this, for he might bring forward this, even though unmarried. In honoring a Christian wife with the name of sister, he intimates, first of all, by this, how firm and lovely ought to be the connection between a pious pair, being held by a double tie. Farther he hints at the same time what modesty and honorable conduct ought to subsist between them. Hence, too, we may infer, how very far marriage is from being unsuitable to the ministers of the Church. I pass over the fact, that the Apostles made use of it, as to whose example we shall have occasion to speak ere long, but Paul here teaches, in general terms, what is allowable for all.
5. Even as the other Apostles. In addition to the Lord’s permission, he mentions the common practice of others. And with the view of bringing out more fully the waiving of his right, he proceeds step by step. In the first place, he brings forward the Apostles. He then adds, “Nay, even the brethren of the Lord themselves also make use of it without hesitation — nay more, Peter himself, to whom the first place is assigned by consent of all, allows himself the same liberty.” By the brethren of the Lord, he means John and James, who were accounted pillars, as he states elsewhere. (<480209>Galatians 2:9.) And, agreeably to what is customary in Scripture, he gives the name of brethren to those who were connected with Him by relationship.
Now, if any one should think to establish Popery from this, he would act a ridiculous part. We confess that Peter was acknowledged as first among the Apostles, as it is necessary that in every society there should always be some one to preside over the others, and they were of their own accord prepared to respect Peter for the eminent endowments by which he was distinguished, as it is proper to esteem and honor all that excel in the gifts of God’s grace. That preeminence, however, was not lordship — nay more, it had nothing resembling lordship. For while he was eminent among the others, still he was subject to them as his colleagues. Farther, it is one thing to have pre-eminence in one Church, and quite another, to claim for one’s self a kingdom or dominion over the whole world. But indeed, even though we should concede everything as to Peter, what has this to do with the Pope? For as Matthias succeeded Judas, (<440126>Acts 1:26,) so some Judas might succeed Peter. Nay more, we see that during a period of more than nine hundred years among his successors, or at least among those who boast that they are his successors, there has not been one who was one whit better than Judas. This, however, is not the place to treat of these points. Consult my Institutes. (Volume 3.)
One thing farther must here be noticed, that the Apostles had no horror of marriage, which the Papal clergy so much abominate, as unbecoming the sanctity of their order. But it was after their time that that admirable discovery was made, that the priests of the Lord are polluted if they have intercourse with their lawful wives; and, at length matters came to such a pitch, that Pope Syricius did not hesitate to call marriage “a pollution of the flesh, in which no one can please God.” What then must become of the poor Apostles, who continued in that pollution until death? Here, however, they have contrived a refined subtilty to effect their escape; for they say that the Apostles gave up the use of the mar-ridge bed, but led about their wives with them, that they might receive the fruits of the gospel, or, in other words, support at the public expense. As if they could not have been maintained by the Churches, unless they wandered about from place to place; and farther, as if it were a likely thing that they would run hither and thither of their own accord, and without any necessity, in order that they might live in idleness at the public expense! For as to the explanation given by Ambrose, as referring to other persons’ wives, who followed the Apostles for the purpose of hearing their doctrine, it is exceedingly forced.
7. Who hath gone a warfare at his own charges? It is the present tense that is used f382A as meaning — is accustomed to go a warfare. I have, however, with the view of taking off somewhat of the harshness, rendered it in the pretense. Now, by three comparisons, and these, too, taken from common life, he makes it out that it was allowable for him to live, if he chose, at the public expense of the Church, to show that he assumes nothing to himself but what human nature itself teaches us is reasonable. The first is taken from military law, for soldiers are wont to have their provisions furnished to them at the public expense. The second is taken from vine-dressers, for the husbandman plants a vine — not to throw away his pains, but to gather the fruit. The third is taken from keepers of cattle, for the shepherd does not lay out his labor for nothing, but eats of the milk of the flock — that is, he is supported from the produce. As natural equity points out this as reasonable, who will be so unjust as to refuse sustenance to the pastors of the Church? While it may happen, that some serve as soldiers at their own expense, as, for example, the Romans in ancient times, when no tribute was as yet paid, and there were no taxes, f383A this does not militate against Paul’s statement, for he simply takes his argument from common and everywhere received practice.
8. Say I these things as a man? Lest any one should cavil, and say that in the things of the Lord the case is different, and therefore that he had to no purpose brought forward so many comparisons, he now adds, that the very same thing is commanded by the Lord. To speak as a man sometimes means — speaking according to the perverse judgment of the flesh, (as in <450305>Romans 3:5.) Here, however, it means — bringing forward only those things that are in common use among men, and are merely current (as they speak) in a human court. Now, that God himself designed that the labors of men should be remunerated by wages, he proves from this, that he prohibits the muzzling of the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn; and with the view of applying it to the subject in hand, he says, that God was not concerned as to oxen, but rather had regard to men.
In the first place, it may be asked, Why has he more particularly selected this proof, while he had in the law passages that were much clearer? as for example, <052415>Deuteronomy 24:15,
The wages of the hireling shall not remain with thee over night.
If any one, however, will take a nearer view, he will acknowledge that there is more force in this quotation, in which the Lord requires cattle to be taken care of, for from this it is inferred, from the less to the greater, how much equity he requires among men, when he wishes that it should be shown to brute animals. When he says, that God does not take care for oxen, you are not to understand him as meaning to exclude oxen from the care of God’s Providence, inasmuch as he does not overlook even the least sparrow. (<400626>Matthew 6:26, and <401029>Matthew 10:29.) Nor is it as if he meant to expound that precept allegorically, as some hair-brained spirits take occasion from this to turn everything into allegories. Thus they turn dogs into men, trees into angels, and turn all scripture into a laughing-stock.
Paul’s meaning is simple — that, when the Lord enjoins humanity to oxen, he does not do it for the sake of oxen, but rather from a regard to men, on whose account, too, the very oxen were created. That compassion, therefore, towards oxen should be a stimulus to us to stir up to the exercise of humanity among us, as Solomon says, (<201210>Proverbs 12:10,)
The righteous man hath a care over his beast,
but the bowels of the wicked are cruel.
Let it then be understood by you, that God is not so concerned for oxen, as to have had merely a regard to oxen in making that law, for he had mankind in view, and wished to accustom them to equity, that they might not defraud the workman of his hire. For it is not the ox that has the principal part in plowing or treading out the corn, but man, by whose industry the ox himself is set to work. Hence, what he immediately adds — He that ploweth, should plow in hope, etc. is an exposition of the precept, as if he had said, that it extends generally to any kind of recompense for labor.
10. Because he that ploweth ought to plow in hope. There is a twofold reading in this passage, even in the Greek manuscripts, but the one that is more generally received is — He that thrasheth, in hope of partaking of his hope. At the same time, the one that does not repeat the term hope twice in the second clause appears simpler, and more natural. f384A Hence, if I were at liberty to choose, I would prefer to read it thus: He that ploweth should plow in hope, and he that thrasheth in hope of participating. As, however, the most of the Greek manuscripts agree in the former reading, and as the meaning remains the same, I have not ventured to make change upon it. Now he expounds the preceding injunction, and hence he says, that it is an unjust thing that the husbandman should lay out his pains to no purpose in plowing and thrashing, but that the end of his labor is the hope of receiving the fruits. As it is so, we may infer, that this belongs to oxen also, but Paul’s intention was to extend it farther, and apply it principally to men. Now, the husbandman is said to be a partaker of his hope, when he enjoys the produce which he has obtained when reaping, but hoped for when plowing.
11. If we have sown unto you spiritual things. There was one cavil remaining — for it might be objected, that labors connected with this life should without doubt have food and clothing as their reward; and that plowing and thrashing yield fruit, of which those that labor in these things are partakers; but that it is otherwise with the gospel, because its fruit is spiritual; and hence the minister of the word, if he would receive fruit corresponding to his labor, ought to demand nothing that is carnal. Lest any one, therefore, should cavil in this manner, he argues from the greater to the less. “Though food and clothing are not of the same nature with a minister’s labors, what injury do you sustain, if you recompense what is inestimable with a thing that is small and contemptible? For in proportion to the superiority of the soul above the body, does the word of the Lord excel outward sustenance, f385A inasmuch as it is the food of the soul.”
12. If others assume this power over you. Again he establishes his own right from the example of others. For why should he alone be denied what others assumed as their due? For as no one labored more than he among the Corinthians, no one was more deserving of a reward. He does not, however, make mention of what he has done, but of what he would have done in accordance with his right, if he had not of his own accord refrained from using it.
But we have not used this power. He returns now to the point on which the matter hinges — that he had of his own accord given up that power which no one could refuse him, and that he was prepared rather to suffer all things, than by the use of his liberty throw any impediment in the way of the progress of the gospel. He wishes, therefore, that the Corinthians should, after his example, keep this end in view — to do nothing that would hinder or retard the progress of the gospel; for what he declares respecting himself it was their duty to perform according to their station; and he confirms here what he had said previously — that we must consider what is expedient. (<460612>1 Corinthians 6:12.)

1 CORINTHIANS 9:13-22
13. Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple; and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?
13. Nescitis, quod qui sacris operantur, ex sacrario f386A edunt? et qui altari ministrant (ad verbum: adstant) altaris sunt participes?
14. Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
14. Sic et Dominns ordinavit, ut qui Evangelium annuntiant, vivant ex Evangelio.
15. But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.
15. Ego autem nullo horum usus sum: neque vero haec scripsi, ut ita mihi fiat: mihi enim satius est mori, quam ut gloriam meam quis exinaniat.
16. For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, iflpreach not the gospel!
16. Nam si evangelizavero, non est quod glorier: quandoquidem necessitas mihi incumbit, ut vae sit mihi, si non evangelizem.
17. For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.
17. Si enim volens hoc facio, mercedem habeo: si autem invitus, dispensatio mihi eat credita.
18. What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without
18. Quae igitur mihi merces? ut quum evangelizo, gratuitum impendam Evangelium Christi, ut non abutar potestate mea in Evangelio.
19. For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
19. Liber enim quum essem ab omnibus, servum me omnibus feci, ut plures lucrifaciam.
20. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
20. Itaque factus sum Iudaeis tanquam Iudaeus, ut Iudaeos lucrifaciam: iis qui sub Lege erant, tanquam Legi subiectus, ut eos qui erant sub Lege lucrifaciam;
21. To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
21. his qui sine Lege erant, tanquam exlex, (tametsi non absque Lege, Deo, sed subiectus Legi Christi,) ut eos qui sine Lege erant lucrifaciam.
22. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
22. Factus sum infirmis tanquam infirmus, ut infirmos lucrifaciam: omnibus omnis factus sum, ut omnino aliquos servem.

13. Know ye not, Apart from the question that he discusses, he appears to have dwelt the longer in taking notice of this point, with the view of reproaching the Corinthians indirectly for their malignity in allowing the ministers of Christ to be reviled in a matter that was so justifiable. For if Paul had not of his own accord refrained from using his liberty, there was a risk of the progress of the gospel being obstructed. Never would the false Apostles have gained that point, had not ingratitude, to which the Corinthians were already prone, opened up the way for their calumnies. For they ought to have repelled them sharply; but instead of this they showed themselves excessively credulous, so that they would have been prepared to reject the gospel, if Paul had used his right. Such contempt of the gospel, and such cruelty towards their Apostle, deserved to be more severely reproved; but Paul, having found another occasion, touches upon it indirectly and mildly, with his usual modesty, that he may admonish them without affronting them.
Again he makes use of a new comparison, to prove that he had not used the power that he had from the Lord. Nor does he any longer borrow examples from any other source, but shows that this has been appointed by the Lord — that the Churches should provide for the support of their ministers. There are some that think that there are two comparisons in this passage, and they refer the former to the Lord’s priests, and the latter to those that acted as priests to the heathen gods. I am, however, rather of opinion that Paul expresses, as he is accustomed, the same thing by different terms. And, truly, it would have been a weak argument that was derived from the practice of the heathens, among whom the revenues of the priesthood were not devoted to food and clothing, but to magnificent dresses, royal splendor, and profuse luxury. These would, therefore, have been things too remote. I do not call it in question, however, that he has pointed out different kinds of ministerial offices; for there were priests of a higher order, and there were afterwards Levites, who were inferior to them, as is well known; but that is not much to the point.
The sum is this — “The Levitical priests were ministers of the Israelitish Church; the Lord appointed them sustenance from their ministry; hence in ministers of the Christian Church the same equity must be observed at the present day. Now the ministers of the Christian Church are those that preach the gospel.” This passage is quoted by Canonists, when they wish to prove that idle bellies must be fattened up, in order that they may perform their masses; f387A but how absurdly, I leave it to children themselves to judge. Whatever is stated in the Scriptures as to the support to be given to ministers, or the honor that is to be put upon them, they immediately seize hold of it, and twist. it to their own advantage. For my part, however, I simply admonish my readers to consider attentively Paul’s words. He argues that pastors, who labor in the preaching of the gospel, ought to be supported, because the Lord in ancient times appointed sustenance for the priests, on the ground of their serving the Church. Hence a distinction must be made between the ancient priesthood and that of the present day. Priests under the law were set apart to preside over the sacrifices, to serve the altar, and to take care of the tabernacle and temple. Those at the present day are set apart to preach the word and to dispense the sacraments. The Lord has appointed no sacrifices for his sacred ministers to be engaged in; f388A there are no altars for them to stand at to offer sacrifices.
Hence appears the absurdity of those who apply this comparison, taken from sacrifices, to anything else than to the preaching of the gospel. Nay farther, it may be readily inferred from this passage, that all Popish priests, from the head himself to the lowest member, are guilty of sacrilege, who devour the revenues appointed for true ministers, while they do not in any way discharge their duty. For what ministers does the Apostle order to be maintained? Those that apply themselves to the preaching of the gospel. What right then have they to claim for themselves the revenues of the priesthood? f389A “Because they hum a tune and perform mass.” f390A But God has enjoined upon them nothing of that sort. Hence it is evident that they seize upon the reward due to others. When, however, he says that the Levitical priests were partakers with the altar, and that they ate of the things of the Temple, he marks out (metwnumikw~v) by metonymy, the offerings that were presented to God. For they claimed to themselves the sacred victims entire, and of smaller animals they took the right shoulder, and kidneys and tail, and, besides this, tithes, oblations, and first-fruits. The word iJero>n, therefore, in the second instance, f391A is taken to mean the Temple.
15. Nor have I written these things. As he might seem to be making it his aim, that in future a remuneration should be given him by the Corinthians, he removes that suspicion, and declares that, so far from this being his desire, he would rather die than give occasion for his being deprived of this ground of glorying — that he bestowed labor upon the Corinthians without any reward. Nor is it to be wondered that he set so high a value upon this glorying, inasmuch as he saw that the authority of the gospel in some degree depended upon it. For he would in this way have given a handle to the false apostles to triumph over him. Hence there was a danger, lest the Corinthians, despising him, should receive them with great applause. So much did he prefer, even before his own life, the power of advancing the gospel.
16. For if I preach the gospel. To show how very important it was not to deprive himself of that. ground of glorying, he intimates what would have happened, if he had simply discharged his ministry — that he would in this way have done nothing else than what the Lord had enjoined upon him by a strict necessity. By doing that, he says, he would have had no occasion for glorying, as it was not in his power to avoid doing it. f392A It is asked, however, what glorying he here refers to, for he glories elsewhere in his exercising himself in the office of teaching with a pure conscience. (<550103>2 Timothy 1:3.) I answer, that he speaks of a glorying that he could bring forward in opposition to the false apostles, when they endeavored to find a pretext for reviling, as will appear more fully from what follows.
This is a remarkable statement, from which we learn, in the first place, what, as to ministers, is the nature, and what the closeness of the tie that is involved in their calling, and farther, what the pastoral office imports and includes. Let not the man, then, who has been once called to it, imagine that he is any longer at liberty to withdraw when he chooses, if, perhaps, he is harassed with vexatious occurrences, or weighed down with misfortunes, for he is devoted to the Lord and to the Church, and bound by a sacred tie, which it were criminal to break asunder. As to the second point, f393A he says that a curse was ready to fall upon him, if he did not preach the gospel. Why? Because he has been called to it, and therefore is constrained by necessity. How, therefore, will any one who succeeds to his office avoid this necessity? What sort of successors, then, have the Apostles in the Pope and the other mitred bishops, who think that there is nothing that is more unbecoming their station, than the duty of teaching!
17. For if I do this thing willingly. By reward here is meant what the Latins term operae pretium, recompense for labor, f394A and what he had previously termed glorying. Others, however, interpret it otherwise — as meaning that a reward is set before all who discharge their duty faithfully and heartily. But, for my part, I understand the man who does this thing willingly, to be the man who acts with such cheerfulness, that, being intent upon edifying, as his one object of desire, he declines nothing that he knows will be profitable to the Church; as, on the other hand, he terms those unwilling, who in their actings submit, indeed, to necessity, but act grudgingly, because it is not from inclination. For it always happens that the man who undertakes any business with zeal, is also prepared of his own accord to submit to everything, which, if left undone, would hinder the accomplishment of the work. Thus Paul, being one that acted willingly, did not teach in a mere perfunctory manner, but left nothing undone that he knew to be fitted to promote and further his doctrine. This then was his recompense for labor, f395A and this his ground of glorying — that he did with readiness of mind forego his right in respect of his applying himself to the discharge of his office willingly and with fervent zeal.
But if unwillingly, a dispensation is committed to me. In whatever way others explain these words, the natural meaning, in my opinion, is this — that God does not by any means approve of the service done by the man who performs it grudgingly, and, as it were, with a reluctant mind. Whenever, therefore, God has enjoined anything upon us, we are mistaken, if we think that we have discharged it aright, when we perform it grudgingly; for the Lord requires that his servants be cheerful, (<470907>2 Corinthians 9:7,) so as to delight in obeying him, and manifest their cheerfulness by the promptitude with which they act. In short, Paul means, that he would act in accordance with his calling, only in the event of his performing his duty willingly and cheerfully.
18. What then is my reward? He infers from what goes before, that he has a ground of glorying; in this, that he labored gratuitously in behalf of the Corinthians, because it appears from this, that he applied himself willingly to the office of teaching, inasnmuch as he vigorously set himself to obviate all the hindrances in the way of the gospel; and not satisfied with merely teaching, endeavored to further the doctrine of it by every method. This then is the sum. “I am under the necessity of preaching the gospel: if I do it not, wo is unto me, for I resist God’s calling. But it is not enough to preach, unless I do it willingly; for he who fulfils the commandment of God unwillingly, does not act, as becomes him, suitably to his office. But if I obey God willingly, it will in that case be allowable for me to glory. Hence it was necessary for me to make the gospel without charge, that I might glory on good ground.”
Papists endeavor from this passage to establish their contrivance as to works of supererogation. f396A “Paul,” they say, “would have fulfilled the duties of his office by preaching the gospel, but he adds something farther over and above. Hence he does something beyond what he is bound to do, for he distinguishes between what is done willingly and what is done from necessity.” I answer, that Paul, it is true, went a greater length than the ordinary calling of pastors required, because he refrained from taking pay, which the Lord allows pastors to take. But as it was a part of his duty to provide against every occasion of offense that he foresaw, and as he saw, that the course of the gospel would be impeded, if he made use of his liberty, though that was out of the ordinary course, yet I maintain that even in that case he rendered to God nothing more than was due. For I ask: “Is it not the part of a good pastor to remove occasions of offense, so far as it is in his power to do so?” I ask again, “Did Paul do anything else than this?” There is no ground, therefore, for imagining that he rendered to God anything that he did not owe to him, inasmuch as he did nothing but what the necessity of his office (though it was an extraordinary necessity) demanded. Away, then, with that wicked imagination, f397A that we compensate for our faults in the sight of God by works of supererogation. f398A Nay more, away with the very term, which is replete with diabolical pride. f399A This passage, assuredly, is mistakingly perverted to bear that meaning.
The error of Papists is refuted in a general way in this manner: Whatever works are comprehended under the law, are falsely termed works of supererogation, as is manifest from the words of Christ. (<421710>Luke 17:10.)
When ye have done all things that are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done what we were bound to do.
Now we acknowledge that no work is good and acceptable to God, that is not included in God’s law. This second statement I prove in this way: There are two classes of good works; for they are all reducible either to the service of God or to love. Now nothing belongs to the service of God that is not included in this summary: Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength. There is also no duty of love that is not required in that precept — Love thy neighbor as thyself. (<411230>Mark 12:30, 31.) But as to the objection that is brought forward by Papists, that it is possible for one to be acceptable, if he devotes the tenth part of his income, and infer from this, that if he goes so far as to devote the fifth part, he does a work of supererogation, it is easy to remove away this subtilty. For that the deeds of the pious are approved, is not by any means owing to their perfection, but it is because the imperfection and deficiency are not reckoned to their account. Hence even if they were doing an hundred-fold more than they do, they would not, even in that case, exceed the limits of the duty that they owe.
That I may not abuse my power. From this it appears, that such a use of our liberty as gives occasion of offense, is an uncontrolled liberty and abuse. We must keep, therefore, within bounds, that we may not give occasion of offense. This passage also confirms more fully what I just now touched upon, that Paul did nothing beyond what the duty of his office required, because it was not proper that the liberty, that was allowed him by God, should be in any way abused.
19. Though I was free from all. Ek pa>ntwn, that is, from all, may be taken either in the neuter gender or in the masculine. If in the neuter, it will refer to things; if in the masculine, to persons. I prefer the second. He has as yet shown only by one particular instance how carefully he had accommodated himself to the weak. Now he subjoins a general statement, and afterwards enumerates several instances. The general observation is this — that while he was not under the power of any one, he lived as if he had been subject to the inclination of all, and of his own accord subjected himself to the weak, to whom he was under no subjection. The particular instances are these — that among the Gentiles he lived as if he were a Gentile, and among the Jews he acted as a Jew: that is, while among Jews he carefully observed the ceremonies of the law, he was no less careful not to give occasion of offense to the Gentiles by the observance of them.
He adds the particle as, to intimate that his liberty was not at all impaired on that account, for, however he might accommodate himself to men, he nevertheless remained always like himself inwardly in the sight of God. To become all things is to assume all appearances, as the case may require, or to put on different characters, according to the diversity among individuals. As to what he says respecting his being without law and under the law, you must understand it simply in reference to the ceremonial department; for the department connected with morals was common to Jews and Gentiles alike, and it would not have been allowable for Paul to gratify men to that extent. For this doctrine holds good only as to things indifferent, as has been previously remarked.
21. Though not without law to God. He wished by this parenthesis to soften the harshness of the expression, for it might. have seemed harsh at first view to have it stiffed, that he had come to be without law. Hence in order that this might not be taken in a wrong sense, he had added, by way of correction, that he had always kept in view one law — that of subjection to Christ. By this too he hints that odium was excited against him groundlessly and unreasonably, as if he called men to an unbridled licentiousness, while he taught exemption from the bondage of the Mosaic law. Now he calls it expressly the law of Christ, in order to wipe away the groundless reproach, with which the false apostles branded the gospel, for he means, that in the doctrine of Christ nothing is omitted, that might serve to give us a perfect rule of upright. living.
22. To the weak I became as weak. Now again he employs a general statement, in which he shows to what sort of persons he accomodated himself, and with what design. He judaized in the presence of the Jews, but not before them all, for there were many headstrong persons, who, under the influence of Pharisaical pride or malice, would have wished that Christian liberty were altogether taken away. To those persons he would never have been so accommodating, for Christ would not have us care for persons of that sort.
Let them alone, (says he,) they are blind, and leaders of the blind. (<401514>Matthew 15:14.)
Hence we must accommodate ourselves to the weak, not to the obstinate. f400A
Now his design was, that he might bring them to Christ — not that he might promote his own advantage, or retain their good will. To these things a third must be added — that it was only in things indifferent, that are otherwise in our choice, that he accommodated himself to the weak. Now, if we consider how great a man Paul was, who stooped thus far, ought we not to feel ashamed — we who are next to nothing in comparison with him — if, bound up in self, we look with disdain upon the weak, and do not deign to yield up a single point to them? But while it is proper that we should accommodate ourselves to the weak, according to the Apostle’s injunction, and that, in things indifferent, and with a view to their edification, those act an improper part, who, with the view of consulting their own ease, avoid those things that would offend men, and the wicked, too, rather than the weak. Those, however, commit a two-fold error, who do not distinguish between things indifferent and things unlawful, and accordingly do not hesitate, for the sake of pleasing men, to engage in things that the Lord has prohibited. The crowning point, however, of the evil is this — that they abuse this statement of Paul to excuse their wicked dissimulation. But if any one will keep in view these three things that I have briefly pointed out, he will have it easily in his power to refute those persons.
We must observe, also, the word that he makes use of in the concluding clause; f401A for he shows for what purpose he endeavors to gain all — with a view to their salvation. At the same time, he here at length modifies the general statement, unless perhaps you prefer the rendering of the old translation, which is found even at this day in some Greek manuscripts. f402A For in this place, too, he repeats it — that I may by all means save some. f403A But as the indulgent temper, that Paul speaks of, has sometimes no good effect, this limitation is very suitable — that, although he might not do good to all, he, nevertheless, had never left off consulting the advantage of at least a few. f404A

1 CORINTHIANS 9:23-27
23. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker there of with you.
23. Hoc autem facio propter Evangelium, ut particeps eius fiam.
24. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
24. An nescitis, quod qui in stadium currunt, omnes quidem currunt, sed unus accipit praemium? Sic currite, ut comprehendatis.
25. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
25. Porro quicunque certat, per omnia temperans est: f405 illi quidem igitur, ut perituram coronam accipiant, nos autem, ut aeternam.
26. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
26. Ego itaque sic curro, ut non in incertum: sic pugilem ago, non velut aerem fortens:
27. But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
27. Verum subigo corpus meum, et in servitutem redigo, ne quo modo fiat, ut, quum aliis praedicaverim, ipse reprobus f406 efficiar.

23. That I may become a partaker of it. As the Corinthians might think with themselves, that this was a peculiarity in Paul’s case on the ground of his office, he argues, from the very design of it, that this is common to all Christians. For when he declares, that his aim had been, that he might become a partaker of the gospel, he indirectly intimates, that all who do not act the same part with him are unworthy of the fellowship of the gospel. To become a partaker of the gospel is to receive the fruit of it.
24. Know ye not, that they who run in a race. He has laid down the doctrine, and now, with the view of impressing it upon the minds of the Corinthians, he adds an exhortation. He states briefly, that what they had hitherto attained was nothing, unless they steadfastly persevered, inasmuch as it is not enough to have once entered on the Lord’s way, if they do not strive until they reach the goal, agreeably to that declaration of Christ — He that shall endure unto the end, etc. (<401022>Matthew 10:22.) Now he borrows a similitude from the race-course. f407 For as in that case many descend into the arena, but he alone is crowned who has first reached the goal, so there is no reason why any one should feel satisfied with himself on the ground of his having once entered upon the race prescribed in the gospel, unless he persevere in it until death. There is, however, this difference between our contest and theirs, that among them only one is victorious, and obtains the palm — the man who has got before all the others; f408 but our condition is superior in this respect, that there may be many at the same time. f409 For God requires from us nothing more than that we press on vigorously until we reach the goal. f410 Thus one does not hinder another: nay more, those who run in the Christian race are mutually helpful to each other. He expresses the same sentiment in another form in <550205>2 Timothy 2:5,
If any one striveth, he is not crowned, unless he strives lawfully.
So run. Here we have the application of the similitude — that it is not enough to have set out, if we do not continue to run during our whole life. For our life is like a race-course. We must not therefore become wearied after a short time, like one that stops short in the middle of the race-course, but instead of this, death alone must put a period to our running. The particle o[utw, (so,) may be taken in two ways. Chrysostom connects it with what goes before, in this manner: as those who run do not stop running until they have reached the goal, so do ye also persevere, and do not stop running so long as you live. It will, however, correspond not inaptly with what follows. “You must not run so as to stop short in the middle of the race-course, but so as to obtain the prize.” As to the term stadium, (race-course,) and the different kinds of races, f411 I say nothing, as these things may be obtained from grammarians, and it is generally known that there were some races on horseback, and others on foot. Nor are these things particularly needed for understanding Paul’s meaning.
25. Now every one that striveth. As he had exhorted to perseverance, it remained to state in what way they must persevere. This second thing he now sets before them by a comparison taken from pugilists; not indeed in every particular, f412 but in so far as was required by the subject in hand, within which he confines himself — how far they ought to yield to the weakness of the brethren. Now he argues from the less to the greater, that it is an unseemly thing if we grudge to give up our right, inasmuch as the pugilists eating their coliphium, f413 and that sparingly and not to the full, voluntarily deny themselves every delicacy, in order that they may have more agility for the combat, and they do this, too, for the sake of a corruptible crown. But if they value so highly a crown of leaves that quickly fades, what value ought we to set upon a crown of immortality? Let us not, therefore, think it hard to give up a little of our right. It is well known that wrestlers were contented with the most frugal diet, so that their simple fare has become proverbial.
26. I therefore so run. He returns to speak of himself, that his doctrine may have the more weight, on his setting himself forward by way of pattern. What. he says here some refer to assurance of hope — (<580611>Hebrews 6:11) — “I do not run in vain, nor do I run the risk of losing my labor, for I have the Lord’s promise, which never deceives.” It rather appears to me, however, that his object is to direct the course of believers straight forward toward the goal, that it may not be wavering and devious. “The Lord exercises us here in the way of running and wrestling, but he sets before us the object at which we ought to aim, and prescribes a sure rule for our wrestling, that we may not weary ourselves in vain.” Now he takes in both the similitudes that he had employed. “I know,” says he, “whither I am running, and, like a skillful wrestler, I am anxious that I may not miss my aim.” Those things ought to kindle up and confirm the Christian breast, so as to devote itself with greater alacrity to all the duties of piety; f414 for it is a great matter not to wander in ignorance through uncertain windings.
27. But I keep under my body. f415 Budaeus reads Observo; (I keep a watch over;) but in my opinion the Apostle has employed the word uJpwpia>zein f416 here, to mean treating in a servile manner. f417 For he declares that he does not indulge self, but restrains his inclinations — which cannot be accomplished unless the body is tamed, and, by being held back from its inclinations, is habituated to subjection, like a wild and refractory steed. The ancient monks, with a view to yield obedience to this precept contrived many exercises of discipline, for they slept on benches, they forced themselves to long watchings, and shunned delicacies. The main thing, however, was wanting in them, for they did not apprehend why it was that the Apostle enjoins this, because they lost sight of another injunction —
to take no concern for our flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.
(<451314>Romans 13:14.)
For what he says elsewhere (<540408>1 Timothy 4:8) always holds good — that bodily exercise profiteth little. Let us, however, treat the body so as to make a slave of it, f418 that it may not, by its wantonness, keep us back from the duties of piety; and farther, that we may not indulge it, so as to occasion injury, or offense, to others.
That, when I have preached to others. Some explain these words in this way — “Lest, after having taught others with propriety and faithfulness, I should incur the judgment of condemnation in the sight of God by a wicked life.” But it will suit better to view this expression as referring to men, in this way — “My life ought to be a kind of rule to others. Accordingly, I strive to conduct myself in such a manner, that my character and conduct may not be inconsistent with my doctrine, and that thus I may not, with great disgrace to myself, and a grievous occasion of offense to my brethren, neglect those things which I require from others.” It may also be taken in connection with a preceding statement, (<460723>1 Corinthians 7:23,) in this way — “Lest I should be defrauded of the gospel, of which others are partakers through means of my labors.”
CHAPTER 10

1 CORINTHIANS 10:1-5
1. Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
1. Nolo autem vos ignorare, fratres, quod partes nostri omnes sub nube fuerunt, et omnes mare transierunt.
2. And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
2. Et omnes in Mose uterunt baptizati in nube et in mari,
3. And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
3. Et omnes eandem escam spiritualem manducarunt,
4. And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
4. Et omnes eundem biberunt spiritualem potum: bibebant autem e spirituali, quae eos censequebatur, petra. Petra, autem, erat Christus.
5. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
5. Verum complures corum grati non fuerant Deo: prostrati enim fuerunt in deserto.

What he had previously taught by two similitudes, he now confirms by examples. The Corinthians grew wanton, and gloried, as if they had served out their time, f419 or at least had finished their course, when they had scarcely left the starting-point. This vain exultation and confidence he represses in this manner — “As I see that you are quietly taking your ease at the very outset of your course, I would not have you ignorant of what befell the people of Israel in consequence of this, that their example may arouse you.” As, however, on examples being adduced, any point of difference destroys the force of the comparison, Paul premises, that there is no such dissimilarity between us and the Israelites, as to make our condition different from theirs. Having it, therefore, in view to threaten the Corinthians with the same vengeance as had overtaken them, he begins in this manner — “Beware of glorying in any peculiar privilege, as if you were in higher esteem than they were in the sight of God.” For they were favored with the same benefits as we at this day enjoy; there was a Church of God among them, as there is at this day among us; they had the same sacraments, to be tokens to them of the grace of God; f420 but, on their abusing their privileges, they did not escape the judgment of God. f421 Be afraid, therefore; for the same thing is impending over you. Jude makes use of the same argument in his Epistle. (<650105>Jude 1:5.)
1. All were under the cloud. The Apostle’s object is to show, that the Israelites were no less the people of God than we are, that we may know, that we will not escape with impunity the hand of God, which punished them f422 with so much severity. For the sum is this — “If God spared not them, neither will he spare you, for your condition is similar.” That similarity he proves from this — that they had been honored with the same tokens of God’s grace, for the sacraments are badges by which the c of God is distinguished. He treats first of baptism, and teaches that the cloud, which protected the Israelites in the desert from the heat of the sun, and directed their course, and also their passage through the sea, was to them as a baptism he says, also, that in the manna, and the water flowing from the rock, there was a sacrament which corresponded with the sacred Supper.
They were, says he, baptized in Moses, that is, under the ministry or guidance of Moses. For I take the particle eijv to be used here instead of ejn, agreeably to the common usage of Scripture, because we are assuredly baptized in the name of Christ, and not of any mere man, as he has stated in <460113>1 Corinthians 1:13, and that for two reasons. These are, first, because we are by baptism initiated f423 into the doctrine of Christ alone; and, secondly, because his name alone is invoked, inasmuch as baptism is founded on his influence alone. They were, therefore, baptized in Moses, that is, under his guidance or ministry, as has been already stated. How? In the cloud and in the sea. “They were, then, baptized twice,” some one will say. I answer, that there are two signs made mention of, making, however, but one baptism, corresponding to ours.
Here, however, a more difficult question presents itself. For it is certain, that the advantage of those gifts, which Paul makes mention of, was temporal. f424 The cloud protected them from the heat of the sun, and showed them the way: these are outward advantages of the present life. In like manner, their passage through the sea was attended with this effect, that they got clear off from Pharaoh’s cruelty, and escaped from imminent hazard of death. The advantage of our baptism, on the other hand, is spiritual. Why then does Paul turn earthly benefits into sacraments, and seek to find some spiritual mystery f425 in them? I answer, that it was not without good reason that Paul sought in miracles of this nature something more than the mere outward advantage of the flesh. For, though God designed to promote his people’s advantage in respect of the present life, what he had mainly in view was, to declare and manifest himself to be their God, and under that, eternal salvation is comprehended.
The cloud, in various instances, f426 is called the symbol of his presence. As, therefore, he declared by means of it, that he was present with them, as his peculiar and chosen people, there can be no doubt that, in addition to an earthly advantage, they had in it, besides, a token of spiritual life. Thus its use was twofold, as was also that of the passage through the sea, for a way was opened up for them through the midst of the sea, that they might escape from the hand of Pharaoh; but to what was this owing, but to the circumstance, that the Lord, having taken them under his guardianship and protection, determined by every means to defend them? Hence, they concluded from this, that they were the objects of God’s care, and that he had their salvation in charge. Hence, too, the Passover, which was instituted to celebrate the remembrance of their deliverance, was nevertheless, at the same time, a sacrament of Christ. How so? Because God had, under a temporal benefit, manifested himself as a Savior. Any one that will attentively consider these things, will find that there is no absurdity in Paul’s words. Nay more, he will perceive both in the spiritual substance and in the visible sign a most striking correspondence between the baptism of the Jews, and ours.
It is however objected again, that we do not find a word of all this. f427 This I admit, but there is no doubt, that God by his Spirit supplied the want of outward preaching, as we may see in the instance of the brazen serpent, which was, as Christ himself testifies, a spiritual sacrament, (<430314>John 3:14,) and yet not a word has come down to us as to this thing, f428 but the Lord revealed to believers of that age, in the manner he thought fit, the secret, which would otherwise have remained hid.
3. The same spiritual meat. He now makes mention of the other sacrament, which corresponds to the Holy Supper of the Lord. “The manna,” says he, “and the water that flowed forth from the rock, served not merely for the food of the body, but also for the spiritual nourishment of souls.” It is true, that both were means of sustenance for the body, but this does not hinder their serving also another purpose. While, therefore, the Lord relieved the necessities of the body, he, at the same time, provided for the everlasting welfare of souls. These two things would be easily reconciled, were there not a difficulty presented in Christ’s words, (<430631>John 6:31,) where he makes the manna the corruptible food of the belly, which he contrasts with the true food of the soul. That statement appears to differ widely from what Paul says here. This knot, too, is easily solved. It is the manner of scripture, when treating of the sacraments, or other things, to speak in some cases according to the capacity of the hearers, and in that case it has respect not to the nature of the thing, but to the mistaken idea of the hearers. Thus, Paul does not always speak of circumcision in the same way, for when he has a view to the appointment of God in it, he says, that it was a seal of the righteousness of the faith, (<450411>Romans 4:11,) but when he is disputing with those who gloried in an outward and bare sign, and reposed in it a mistaken confidence of salvation, he says, that it is a token of condemnation, because men bind themselves by it to keep the whole law. (<480502>Galatians 5:2, 3.) For he takes merely the opinion that the false apostles had of it, because he contends, not against the pure institution of God, but against their mistaken view. In this way, as the carnal multitude preferred Moses to Christ, because he had fed the people in the desert for forty years, and looked to nothing in the manna but the food of the belly, (as indeed they sought nothing else,) Christ in his reply does not explain what was meant by the manna, but, passing over everything else, suits his discourse to the idea entertained by his hearers. “Moses is held by you in the highest esteem, and even in admiration, as a most eminent Prophet, because he filled the bellies of your fathers in the desert. For this one thing you object against me: I am accounted nothing by you, because I do not supply you with food for the belly. But if you reckon corruptible food of so much importance, what ought you to think of the life-giving bread, with which souls are nourished up unto eternal life?.” We see then that the Lord speaks there — not according to the nature of the thing, but rather according to the apprehension of his hearers. f429 Paul, on the other hand, looks here — not to the ordinance of God, but to the abuse of it by the wicked.
Farther, when he says that the fathers ate the same spiritual meat, he shows, first, what is the virtue and efficacy of the Sacraments, and, secondly, he declares, that the ancient Sacraments of the Law had the same virtue as ours have at this day. For, if the manna was spiritual food, it follows, that it is not bare emblems that are presented to us in the Sacraments, but that the thing represented is at the same time truly imparted, for God is not a deceiver to feed us with empty fancies. f430 A sign, it is true, is a sign, and retains its essence, but, as Papists act a ridiculous part, who dream of transformations, (I know not of what sort,) so it is not for us to separate between the reality and the emblem which God has conjoined. Papists confound the reality and the sign: profane men, as, for example, Suenckfeldius, and the like, separate the signs from the realities. Let us maintain a middle course, f431 or, in other words, let us observe the connection appointed by the Lord, but still keep them distinct, that we may not mistakingly transfer to the one what belongs to the other.
It remains that we speak of the second point — the resemblance between the ancient signs and ours. It is a well-known dogma of the schoolmen — that the Sacraments of the ancient law were emblems of grace, but ours confer it. This passage is admirably suited for refuting that error, for it shows that the reality of the Sacrament was presented to the ancient people of God no less than to us. It is therefore a base fancy of the Sorbonists, that the holy fathers under the law had the signs without the reality. I grant, indeed, that the cleftleacy of the signs is furnished to us at once more clearly and more abundantly from the time of Christ’s manifestation in the flesh than it was possessed by the fathers. Thus there is a difference between us and them only in degree, or, (as they commonly say,) of “more and less,” for we receive more fully what they received in a smaller measure. It is not as if they had had bare emblems, while we enjoy the reality. f432
Some explain it to mean, that they f433 ate the same meat together among themselves, and do not wish us to understand that there is a comparison between us and them; but these do not consider Paul’s object. For what does he mean to say here, but that the ancient people of God were honored with the same benefits with us, and were partakers of the same sacraments, that we might not, from confiding in any peculiar privilege, imagine that we would be exempted from the punishment which they endured? At the same time, I should not be prepared to contest the point with any one; I merely state my own opinion. In the meantime, I am well aware, what show of reason is advanced by those who adopt the opposite interpretation — that it suits best with the similitude made use of immediately before — that all the Israelites had the same race-ground marked out for them, and all started from the same point: all entered upon the same course: all were partakers of the same hope, but many were shut out from the reward. When, however, I take everything attentively into consideration, I am not induced by these considerations to give up my opinion; for it is not without good reason that the Apostle makes mention of two sacraments merely, and, more particularly, baptism. For what purpose was this, but to contrast them with us? Unquestionably, if he had restricted his comparison to the body of that people, he would rather have brought forward circumcision, and other sacraments that were better known and more distinguished, but, instead of this, he chose rather those that were more obscure, because they served more as a contrast between us and them. Nor would the application that he subjoins be otherwise so suitable — “All things that happened to them are examples to us, inasmuch as we there see the judgments of God that are impending over us, if we involve ourselves in the same crimes.”
4. That rock was Christ. So he absurdly pervert these words of Paul, as if he had said, that Christ was the spiritual rock, and as if he were not speaking of that rock which was a visible sign, for we see that he is expressly treating of outward signs. The objection that they make — that the rock is spoken of as spiritual, is a frivolous one, inasmuch as that epithet is applied to it simply that we may know that it was a token of a spiritual mystery. In the mean time, there is no doubt, that he compares our sacraments with the ancient ones. Their second objection is more foolish and more childish — “How could a rock,” say they, “that stood firm in its place, follow the Israelites?” — as if it were not abundantly manifest, that by the word rock is meant the stream of water, which never ceased to accompany the people. For Paul extols f434 the grace of God, on this account, that he commanded the water that was drawn out from the rock to flow forth wherever the people journeyed, as if the rock itself had followed them. Now if Paul’s meaning were, that Christ is the spiritual foundation of the Church, what occasion were there for his using the past tense? f435 It is abundantly manifest, that something is here expressed that was peculiar to the fathers. Away, then, with that foolish fancy by which contentious men choose rather to show their impudence, than admit that they are sacramental forms of expression! f436
I have, however, already stated, that the reality of the things signified was exhibited in connection with the ancient sacraments. As, therefore, they were emblems of Christ, it follows, that Christ was connected with them, not locally, nor by a natural or substantial union, but sacramentally. On this principle the Apostle says, that the rock was Christ, for nothing is more common than metonymy in speaking of sacraments. The name of the thing, therefore, is transferred here to the sign — not as if it were strictly applicable, but figuratively, on the ground of that connection which I have mentioned. I touch upon this, however, the more slightly, because it will be more largely treated of when we come to the 11th Chapter.
There remains another question. “Seeing that we now in the Supper eat the body of Christ, and drink his blood, how could the Jews be partakers of the same spiritual meat and drink, when there was as yet no flesh of Christ that they could eat?” I answer, that though his flesh did not as yet exist, it was, nevertheless, food for them. Nor is this an empty or sophistical subtilty, for their salvation depended on the benefit of his death and resurrection. Hence, they required to receive the flesh and the blood of Christ, that they might participate in the benefit of redemption. This reception of it was the secret work of the Holy Spirit, who wrought in them in such a manner, that Christ’s flesh, though not yet created, was made efficacious in them. He means, however, that they ate in their own way, which was different from ours, f437 and this is what I have previously stated, that Christ is now presented to us more fully, according to the measure of the revelation. For, in the present day, the eating is substantial, which it could not have been then — that is, Christ feeds us with his flesh, which has been sacrificed for us, and appointed as our food, and from this we derive life.
5. But many of them. We have now the reason why the Apostle has premised these things — that we might not claim for ourselves any dignity or excellence above them, but might walk in humility and fear, for thus only shall we secure, that we have not been favored in vain with the light of truth, and with such an abundance of gracious benefits. “God,” says he, “had chosen them all as his people, but many of them fell from grace. Let us, therefore, take heed, lest the same thing should happen to us, being admonished by so many examples, for God will not suffer that to go unpunished in us, which he punished so severely in them.”
Here again it is objected: “If it is true, that hypocrites and wicked persons in that age ate spiritual meat, do unbelievers in the present day partake of the reality in the sacraments?” Some, afraid lest the unbelief of men should seem to detract from the truth of God, teach that the reality is received by the wicked along with the sign. This fear, however, is needless, for the Lord offers, it is true, to the worthy and to the unworthy what he represents, but all are not capable of receiving it. In the meantime, the sacrament does not change its nature, nor does it lose anything of its efficacy. Hence the manna, in relation to God, was spiritual meat even to unbelievers, but because the mouth of unbelievers was but carnal, they did not eat what was given them. The fuller discussion, however, of this question I reserve for the 11th Chapter.
For they were overthrown. Proof is here furnished, by adducing a token, that they did not please God — inasmuch as he exercised his wrath upon them with severity, f438 and took vengeance on their ingratitude. Some understand this as referring to the whole of the people that died in the desert, with the exception of only two — Caleb and Joshua. (<041429>Numbers 14:29.) I understand him, however, as referring merely to those, whom he immediately afterwards makes mention of in different classes.

1 CORINTHIANS 10:6-12
6. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.
6. Haec autem typi nobis fuerunt, ne simus concupiscentes malorum, sicut illi concupiverunt.
7. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
7. Neque idololatrae sitis, quemadmodum quidam eorum: sicut scriptum est. (<023206>Exodus 32:6.) Sedit populus ad edendum et bibendum, et surrexerunt ad ludendum.
8. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.
8. Neque scortemur, quemadmodum et quidam eorum scortati sunt, et ceciderunt uno die viginti tria millia.
9. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.
9. Neque tentemus Christum, quemadmodum et quidam eorum tentarunt, et exstincti sunt a serpentibus.
10. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
10. Neque murmuretis, quemadmodum et quidam eorum murmurarant, et perditi ruerunt a vastatore.
11. Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
11. Haec autem omnia typi contigerunt illis: scripta autem sunt ad nostri admonitionem, in quos fines saeculorum inciderunt.
12. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
12. Proinde qui se putat stare, videat ne cadat.

6. Now these things were types to us. He warns us in still more explicit terms, that we have to do with the punishment that was inflicted upon them, so that they are a lesson to us, that we may not provoke the anger of God as they did. “God,” says he, “in punishing them has set before us, as in a picture, his severity, that, instructed by their example, we may learn to fear.” Of the term type I shall speak presently. Only for the present I should wish my readers to know, that it is not without consideration that I have given a different rendering from that of the old translation, f439 and of Erasmus. For they obscure Paul’s meaning, or at least they do not bring out with sufficient clearness this idea — that God has in that people presented a picture for our instruction.
That we might not lust after evil things. He now enumerates particular instances, or certain examples, that he may take occasion from this to reprove some vices, as to which it was proper that the Corinthians should be admonished. I am of opinion, that the history that is here referred to is what is recorded in <041104>Numbers 11:4, etc., though others refer it to what is recorded in <042664>Numbers 26:64. The people, after having been for some time fed with manna, at length took a dislike to it, and began to desire other kinds of food, which they had been accustomed to partake of in Egypt. Now they sinned in two ways, for they despised the peculiar gift of God, and they eagerly longed after a variety of meats and delicacies, contrary to the will of God. The Lord, provoked by this lawless appetite, inflicted upon the people a grievous blow. Hence the place was called the
graves of lust, f440 because there they buried those whom
the Lord had smitten. (<041134>Numbers 11:34.)
The Lord by this example testified how much he hates those lusts that arise from dislike of his gifts, and from our lawless appetite, for whatever goes beyond the measure that God has prescribed is justly reckoned evil and unlawful.
7. Neither be ye idolaters. He touches upon the history that is recorded in <023207>Exodus 32:7, etc. For when Moses made a longer stay upon the mountain than the unseemly fickleness of the people could endure, Aaron was constrained to make a calf, and set it up as an object of worship. Not that the people wished to change their God, but rather to have some visible token of God’s presence, in accordance with their carnal apprehension. God, in punishing at that time this idolatry with the greatest severity, showed by that example how much he abhors idolatry.
As it is written, The people sat down. This passage is rightly interpreted by few, for they understand intemperance among the people to have been the occasion of wantonness, f441 in accordance with the common proverb, “Dancing comes after a full diet.” f442 But Moses speaks of a sacred feast, or in other words, what they celebrated in honor of the idol. Hence feasting and play were two appendages of idolatry. For it was customary, both among the people of Israel and among the rotaries of superstition, to have a feast in connection with a sacrifice, as a part of divine worship, at which no profane or unclean persons were allowed to be present. The Gentiles, in addition to this, appointed sacred games in honor of their idols, in conformity with which the Israelites doubtless on that occasion worshipped their calf, f443 for such is the presumption of the human mind, that it ascribes to God whatever pleases itself Hence the Gentiles have fallen into such a depth of infatuation as to believe, that their gods are delighted with the basest spectacles, immodest dances, impurity of speech, and every kind of obscenity. Hence in imitation of them the Israelitish people, having observed their sacred banquet, rose up to celebrate the games, that nothing might be wanting in honor of the idol. This is the true and simple meaning.
But here it is asked, why the Apostle makes mention of the feast and the games, rather than of adoration, for this is the chief thing in idolatry, while the other two things were merely appendages. The reason is, that he has selected what best suited the case of the Corinthians. For it is not likely, that they frequented the assemblies of the wicked, for the purpose of prostrating themselves before the idols, but partook of their feasts, held in honor of their deities, and did not keep at a distance from those base ceremonies, which were tokens of idolatry. It is not therefore without good reason that the Apostle declares, that their particular form of offense is expressly condemned by God. He intimates, in short, that no part of idolatry f444 can be touched without contracting pollution, and that those will not escape punishment from the hand of God, who defile themselves with the outward tokens of idolatry.
8. Neither let us commit fornication. Now he speaks of fornication, in respect of which, as appears from historical accounts, great licentiousness prevailed among the Corinthians, and we may readily infer from what goes before, that those who had professed themselves to be Christ’s were not yet altogether free from this vice. The punishment of this vice, also, ought to alarm us, and lead us to bear in mind, how loathsome impure lusts are to God, for there perished in one day twenty-three thousand, or as Moses says, twenty-four. Though they differ as to number, it is easy to reconcile them, as it is no unusual thing, when it is not intended to number exactly and minutely each head, f445 to put down a number that comes near it, as among the Romans there were those that received the name of Centumviri, f446 (The Hundred,) while in reality there were two above the hundred. As there were, therefore, about twenty-four thousand that were overthrown by the Lord’s hand — that is, above twenty-three, Moses has set down the number above the mark, and Paul, the number below it, and in this way there is in reality no difference. This history is recorded in <042509>Numbers 25:9.
There remains, however, one difficulty here — why it is that Paul attributes this punishment to fornication, while Moses relates that the anger of God was aroused against the people on this account — that they had initiated themselves in the sacred rites of Baalpeor. f447 But as the defection began with fornication, and the children of Israel fell into that impiety, not so much from being influenced by religious considerations, f448 as from being allured by the enticements of harlots, everything evil that followed from it ought to be attributed to fornication. For Balaam had given this counsel, that the Midianites should prostitute their daughters to the Israelites, with the view of estranging them from the true worship of God. Nay more, their excessive blindness, in allowing themselves to be drawn into impiety f449 by the enticements of harlots, was the punishment of lust. Let us learn, accordingly, that fornication is no light offense, which was punished on that occasion by God so severely and indeed in a variety of ways.
9. Neither let us tempt Christ. This part of the exhortation refers to the history that is recorded in <042106>Numbers 21:6. For the people, having become weary of the length of time, began to complain of their condition, and to expostulate with God — “Why has God deceived us,” etc. This murmuring of the people Paul speaks of as a tempting; and not without good reason, for tempting is opposed to patience. What reason was there at that time why the people should rise up against God, except this — that, under the influence of base desire, f450 they could not wait in patience the arrival of the time appointed by the Lord? Let us, therefore, take notice, that the fountain of that evil against which Paul here warns us is impatience, when we wish to go before God, and do not give ourselves up to be ruled by Him, but rather wish to bind him to our inclination and laws. This evil God severely punished in the Israelitish people. Now he remains always like himself — a just Judge. Let us therefore not tempt him, if we would not have experience of the same punishment.
This is a remarkable passage in proof of the eternity of Christ; for the cavil of Erasmus has no force — “Let us not tempt Christ, as some of them tempted God;” for to supply the word God is extremely forced. f451 Nor is it to be wondered that Christ is called the Leader of the Israelitish people. For as God was never propitious to his people except through that Mediator, so he conferred no benefit except through his hand. Farther, the angel who appeared at first to Moses, and was always present with the people during their journeying, is frequently called hwhy, Jehovah. f452 Let us then regard it as a settled point, that that angel was the Son of God, and was even then the guide of the Church of which he was the Head. As to the term Christ, from its having a signification that corresponds with his human nature, it was not as yet applicable to the Son of God, but it is assigned to him by the communication of properties, as we read elsewhere, that
the Son of Man came down from heaven. (<430313>John 3:13.)
10. Neither murmur ye. Others understand this to be the murmuring that arose, when the twelve, who had been sent to spy out the land, disheartened, on their return, the minds of the people. But as that murmuring was not punished suddenly by any special chastisement from the Lord, but was simply followed by the infliction of this punishment — that all were excluded from the possession of the land, it is necessary to explain this passage otherwise. It was a most severe punishment, it is true, to be shut out from entering the land, f453 but the words of Paul, when he says that they were destroyed by the destroyer, express another kind of chastisement. I refer it, accordingly, to the history, which is recorded in the sixteenth chapter of Numbers. For when God had punished the pride of Korah and Abiram, the people raised a tumult against Moses and Aaron, as if they had been to blame for the punishment which the Lord had inflicted. This madness of the people God punished by sending down fire from heaven, which swallowed up many of them — upwards of fourteen thousand. It is, therefore, a striking and memorable token of God’s wrath against rebels and seditious persons, that murmur against him.
Those persons, it is true, murmured against Moses; but as they had no ground for insulting him, and had no occasion for being incensed against him, unless it was that he had faithfully discharged the duty which had been enjoined upon him by God, God himself was assailed by that murmuring. Let us, accordingly, bear in mind that we have to do with God, and not with men, if we rise up against the faithful ministers of God, and let us know that this audacity f454 will not go unpunished.
By the destroyer you may understand the Angel, who executed the judgment of God. Now he sometimes employs the ministry of bad angels, sometimes of good, in punishing men, as appears from various passages of Scripture. As Paul here does not make a distinction between the one and the other, you may understand it of either.
11. Now all these things happened as types. He again repeats it — that all these things happened to the Israelites, that they might be types to us — that is, examples, in which God places his judgments before our eyes. I am well aware, that others philosophize on these words with great refinement, but I think that I have fully expressed the Apostle’s meaning, when I say, that by these examples, like so many pictures, we are instructed what judgments of God are impending over idolaters, fornicators, and other contemners of God. For they are lively pictures, representing God as angry on account of such sins. This exposition, besides being simple and accurate, has this additional advantage, that it blocks up the path of certain madmen, f455 who wrest this passage for the purpose of proving, that among that ancient people there was nothing done but what was shadowy. First of all, they assume that that people is a figure of the Church. From this they infer, that everything that God promised to them, or accomplished for them — all benefits, all punishments, f456 only prefigured what required to be accomplished in reality after Christ’s advent. This is a most pestilential frenzy, which does great injury to the holy fathers, and much greater still to God. For that people was a figure of the Christian Church, in such a manner as to be at the same time a true Church. Their condition represented ours in such a manner that there was at the same time, even then, a proper condition of a Church. The promises given to them shadowed forth the gospel in such a way, that they had it included in them. Their sacraments served to prefigure ours in such a way, that they were nevertheless, even for that period, true sacraments, having a present efficacy. In fine, those who at that time made a right use, both of doctrine, and of signs, were endowed with the same spirit of faith as we are. These madmen, therefore, derive no support from these words of Paul, which do not mean that the things that were done in that age were types, in such a way as to have at that time no reality, but a mere empty show. Nay more, they expressly teach us, (as we have explained,) that those things which may be of use for our admonition, are there set forth before us, as in a picture.
They are written for our admonition. This second clause is explanatory of the former; for it was of no importance to the Israelites, but to us exclusively, that these things should be committed to record. f457 It does not, however, follow from this, that these inflictions were not true chastisements from God, suited for their correction at that time, but as God then inflicted his judgments, so he designed that they should be kept everlastingly in remembrance for our instruction. For of what advantage were the history of them to the dead; and as to the living, how would it be of advantage to them, unless they repented, admonished by the examples of others? Now he takes for granted the principle, as to which all pious persons ought to be agreed — that there is nothing revealed in the Scriptures, that is not profitable to be known.
Upon whom the ends of the world are come. The word te>lh (ends) sometimes means mysteries; f458 and that signification would not suit in with this passage. I follow, however, the common rendering, as being more simple. He says then, that the ends of all ages hare come upon us, inasmuch as the fullness of all things is suitable to this age, because it is now the last times. For the kingdom of Christ is the main object of the Law and of all the Prophets. But this statement of Paul is at variance with the common opinion — that God, while more severe under the Old Testament, and always ready and armed for the punishment of crimes, has now begun to be exorable, and more ready to forgive. They explain, also, our being under the law of grace, in this sense — that we have God more placable than the ancients had. But what says Paul? If God inflicted punishment upon them, he will not the more spare you. Away, then, with the error, that God is now more remiss in exacting the punishment of crimes! It must, indeed, be acknowledged, that, by the advent of Christ, God’s goodness has been more openly and more abundantly poured forth towards men; but what has this to do with impunity for the abandoned, who abuse his grace? f459
This one thing only must be noticed, that in the present day the mode of punishment is different; for as God of old was more prepared to reward the pious with outward tokens of his blessing, that he might testify to them his fatherly love, so he showed his wrath more by corporal punishments. Now, on the other hand, in that fuller revelation which we enjoy, he does not so frequently inflict visible punishments, and does not so frequently inflict corporal punishment even upon the wicked. You will find more on this subject in my Institutes. f460
12. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth. The Apostle concludes from what goes before, that we must not glory in our beginnings or progress, so as to resign ourselves to carelessness and inactivity. f461For the Corinthians gloried in their condition in such a way, that, forgetting their weakness, they fell into many crimes. This was a false confidence of such a kind as the Prophets frequently reprove in the Israelitish people. As, however, Papists wrest this passage for the purpose of maintaining their impious doctrine respecting faith, as having constantly doubt connected with it, f462 let us observe that there are two kinds of assurance.
The one is that which rests on the promises of God, because a pious conscience feels assured that God will never be wanting to it; and, relying on this unconquerable persuasion, triumphs boldly and intrepidly over Satan and sin, and yet, nevertheless, keeping in mind its own infirmity, casts itself f463 upon God, and with carefulness and anxiety commits itself to him. This kind of assurance is sacred, and is inseparable from faith, as appears from many passages of Scripture, and especially <450833>Romans 8:33.
The other arises from negligence, when men, puffed up with the gifts that they have, give themselves no concern, as if they were beyond the reach of danger, but rest satisfied with their condition. Hence it is that they are exposed to all the assaults of Satan. This is the kind of assurance which Paul would have the Corinthians to abandon, because he saw that they were satisfied with themselves under the influence of a silly conceit. He does not, however, exhort them to be always anxiously in doubt as to the will of God, or to tremble from uncertainty as to their salvation, as Papists dream. f464 In short, let us bear in mind, that Paul is here addressing persons who were puffed up with a base confidence in the flesh, and represses that assurance which is grounded upon men — not upon God. For after commending the Colossians for the solidity or steadfastness of their faith, (<510205>Colossians 2:5,) he exhorts them to be
rooted in Christ, to remain firm, and to be built up and
confirmed in the faith. (<510207>Colossians 2:7.)

1 CORINTHIANS 10:13-18
13. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
13. Tentatio vos non apprehendit nisi humana. Fidelis autem Deus, qui non sinet vos tentari supra quam potestis: sed dabit una cum tentatione etiam exitum, ut possitis sustinere.
14. Wherefore, my dearly be loved, flee from idolatry.
14. Quapropter, dilecti mei, fu gite ab idololatria.
15. I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.
15. Tanquam prudentibus loquor: iudicate ipsi quod dico.
16. The cup of blessing, which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
16. Calix benedictionis, cui bene dicimus, nonne communicatio est sanguinis Christi? panis, quem fran gimus, nonne communicatio est cor ports Christi?
17. For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
17. Quoniam unus panis, unum corpus multi sumus: omnes enim de uno pane participamus.
18. Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?
18. Videte Israel secundum car nem: nonne qui edunt hostias, altari communicant?

13. No temptation has taken you. f465 Let others take their own way of interpreting this. For my part, I am of opinion that it was intended for their consolation, lest on hearing of such appalling instances of the wrath of God, as he had previously related, they should feel discouraged, being overpowered with alarm. Hence, in order that his exhortation might be of advantage, he adds, that there is room for repentance. “There is no reason why you should despond; for I have not had it in view to give you occasion for despair, nor has anything happened to you but what is common to men.” Others are of opinion that he rather chides their cowardice in giving way, on being so slightly tried; f466 and unquestionably the word rendered human is sometimes taken to mean moderate. f467 The meaning, then, according to them would be this: “Did it become you thus to give way under a slight trial?” But as it agrees better with the context, if we consider it as consolation, I am on this account rather inclined to that view.
But God is faithful. As he exhorted them to be of good courage as to the past, in order that he might stir them up to repentance, so he also comforts them as to the future with a sure hope, on the ground that God would not suffer them to be tempted beyond their strength. He exhorts them, however, to look to the Lord, because a temptation, however slight it may be, will straightway overcome us, and all will be over with us, if we rely upon our own strength. He speaks of the Lord, as faithful, not merely as being true to his promises, but as though he had said. The Lord is the sure guardian of his people, under whose protection you are safe, for he never leaves his people destitute. Accordingly, when he has received you under his protection, you have no cause to fear, provided you depend entirely upon him. For certainly this were a species of deception, if he were to withdraw his aid in the time of need, or if he were, on seeing us weak and ready to sink under the load, to lengthen out our trials still farther. f468
Now God helps us in two ways, that we may not be overcome by the temptation; for he supplies us with strength, and he sets limits to the temptation. It is of the second of these ways that the Apostle here chiefly speaks. At the same time, he does not exclude the former — that God alleviates temptations, that they may not overpower us by their weight. For he knows the measure of our power, which he has himself conferred. According to that, he regulates our temptations. The term temptation I take here as denoting, in a general way, everything that allures us.
14. Wherefore, my beloved, flee, etc. The Apostle now returns to the particular question, from which he had for a little digressed, for, lest bare doctrine should have little effect among them, he has introduced those general exhortations that we have read, but now he pursues the discussion on which he had entered — that it is not allowable for a Christian man to connect himself with the superstitions of the wicked, so as to take part in them. Flee, says he, from idolatry. In the first place, let us observe what meaning he attaches to the term Idolatry. He certainly did not suspect the Corinthians of such a degree of ignorance or carelessness f469 as to think, that they worshipped idols in their heart. But as they made no scruple of frequenting the assemblies of the wicked, and observing along with them certain rites instituted in honor of idols, he condemns this liberty taken by them, as being a very bad example. It is certain, then, that when he here makes mention of idolatry, he, speaks of what is outward, or, if you prefer it, of the profession f470 of idolatry. For as God is said to be worshipped by the bending of the knee, and other tokens of reverence, while the principal and genuine worship of him is inward, so is it also as to idols, for the case holds the same in things opposite. It is to no purpose that very many in the present day endeavor to excuse outward actions f471 on this pretext, that the heart is not in them, while Paul convicts of idolatry those very acts, and assuredly with good reason. For, as we owe to God not merely the secret affection of the heart, but also outward adoration, the man who offers to an idol an appearance of adoration takes away so much of the honor due to God. Let him allege as he may that his heart is quite away from it. The action itself is to be seen, in which the honor that is due to God is transferred to an idol.
15. I speak as to wise men. As he was about to take his argument from the mystery of the Supper, he arouses them by this little preface, that they may consider more attentively the magnitude of the thing. f472 “I do not address mere novices. You understand the efficacy of the sacred Supper in it we are ingrafted into the Lord’s body. How unseemly a thing is it then, that you should enter into fellowship with the wicked, so as to be united in one body. At the same time, he tacitly reproves their want of consideration in this respect, that, while accurately instructed in the school of Christ, they allowed themselves in gross vice, as to which there was no difficulty in forming an opinion.
16. The cup of blessing. While the sacred Supper of Christ has two elements — bread and wine — he begins with the second. He calls it, the cup of blessing, as having been set apart for a mystical benediction. f473 For I do not agree with those who understand blessing to mean thanksgiving, and interpret the verb to bless, as meaning to give thanks. I acknowledge, indeed, that it is sometimes employed in this sense, but never in the construction that Paul has here made use of, for the idea of Erasmus, as to supplying a preposition, f474 is exceedingly forced. On the other hand, the meaning that I adopt is easy, and has nothing of intricacy.
To bless the cup, then, is to set it apart for this purpose, that it may be to us an emblem of the blood of Christ. This is done by the word of promise, when believers meet together according to Christ’s appointment to celebrate the remembrance of his death in this Sacrament. The consecration, however, which the Papists make use of, is a kind of sorcery derived from heathens, f475 which has nothing in common with the pure rite observed by Christians. Everything, it is true, that we eat is sanctified by the word of God, as Paul himself elsewhere bears witness, (<540405>1 Timothy 4:5;) but that blessing is for a different purpose — that our use of the gifts of God may be pure, and may tend to the glory of their Author, and to our advantage. On the other hand, the design of the mystical blessing in the Supper is, that the wine may be no longer a common beverage, but set apart for the spiritual nourishment of the soul, while it is an emblem of the blood of Christ.
Paul says, that the cup which has been in this manner blessed is koinwni>an — the comnunion of the blood of the Lord. It is asked, in what sense? Let contention be avoided, and there will be nothing of obscurity. It is true, that believers are united together by Christ’s blood, so as to become one body. It is also true, that a unity of this kind is with propriety termed koinwni>a (communion.) I make the same acknowledgment as to the bread. Farther, I observe what Paul immediately adds, as it were, by way of explanation — that we all become one body, because we are together partakers of the same bread. But whence, I pray you, comes that koinwni>a (communion) between us, but from this, that we are united to Christ in such a way, that
we are flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bones?
(<490530>Ephesians 5:30.)
For we must first of all be incorporated (so to speak) into Christ, that we may be united to each other. In addition to this, Paul is not disputing at present merely in reference to a mutual fellowship among men, but as to the spiritual union between Christ and believers, with the view of drawing from this, that it is an intolerable sacrilege for them to be polluted by fellowship with idols. From the connection of the passage, therefore, we may conclude, that (koinwni>an) the communion of the blood is that connection which we have with the blood of Christ, when he engrafts all of us together into his body, that he may live in us, and we in him.
Now, when the cup is called a participation, the expression, I acknowledge, is figurative, provided that the truth held forth in the figure is not taken away, or, in other words, provided that the reality itself is also present, and that the soul has as truly commununion in the blood, as we drink wine with the mouth. But Papists could not say this, that the cup of blessing is a participation in the blood of Christ, for the Supper that they observe is mutilated and torn: if indeed we can give the name of the Supper to that strange ceremony which is a patchwork of various human contrivances, and scarcely retains the slightest vestige of the institution of our Lord. But, supposing that everything else were as it ought to be, this one thing is at variance with the right use of the Supper — the keeping back of the whole of the people from partaking of the cup, which is the half of the Sacrament.
The bread which we break. From this it appears, that it was the custom of the ancient Church to break one loaf, and distribute to every one his own morsel, in order that there might be presented more clearly to the view of all believers their union to the one body of Christ. And that this custom was long kept up appears from the testimony of those who flourished in the three centuries that succeeded the age of the Apostles. Hence arose the superstition, that no one dared to touch the bread with his hand, but each one had it put into his mouth by the priest.
17. For we are one bread. I have already stated above, that it was not Paul’s particular design here to exhort us to love, but he mentions this by the way, that the Corinthians may understand that we must, even by external profession, maintain that unity which subsists between us and Christ, inasmuch as we all assemble together to receive the symbol of that sacred unity. In this second part of the statement, he makes mention only of the one part of the Sacrament, and it is the manner of Scripture to describe by Synecdoche f476 the entire Supper by the breaking of bread. It is necessary to warn my readers, in passing, as to this, lest any less experienced person should be put off his guard by the foolish cavil that is brought forward by certain sycophants — as if Paul, by mentioning merely the bread, had it in view to deprive the people of the one half of the Sacrament.
18. Behold Israel after the flesh. He establishes it by another example, that such is the nature of all sacred observances, that they bind us in a kind of fellowship with God. For the law of Moses admits no one to a feast upon a sacrifice, but the man who has duly prepared himself. I speak not of priests merely, but of those among the common people who eat of the remains of the sacrifice. Hence it follows, that all who eat of the flesh of the sacrificed victim, are partakers with the altar, that is, of the sanctification, with which God has set apart his Temple, and the sacred rites that are performed in it.
This expression after the flesh, may seem to be added in order that the Corinthians, on comparing the two, might set a higher value on the efficacy of our Supper. “If there was so much virtue in the ancient figures and in those rudiments of youthful education, how much more must we reckon that there is in our mysteries, in which God shines forth much more fully upon us!” At the same time, it is more simple, in my opinion, to say that Paul intended merely by this mark to distinguish the Jews that were still under the law from those that had been converted to Christ. Now there was a contrast that remained to be made — that if the sacred rites appointed by God sanctify those who observe them, pollution, on the other hand, is contracted from the sacred rites rendered to idols. f477 For it is God alone that sanctifies, and hence all strange gods pollute. f478 Again, if mysteries f479 unite and connect believers with God, it follows, that the wicked are in like manner introduced by their superstitious rites into fellowship f480 with idols. But the Apostle, before proceeding to this, answers by an anthypophora f481 (anticipation) a question that might be proposed by way of objection.

1 CORINTHIANS 10:19-24
19. What say then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?
19. Quid ergo dieo? idolum, aliquid esse? aut idolo immolatum, aliquid esse?
20. But I say, that the things which the Gentiles saerifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.
20. Sed quae immolant Gentes, daemoniis immolant, non Deo: nolo autem vos participes fieri daemoniorum.
21. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.
21. Non potestis calicem Domini bibere, et calicem daemoniorum: non potestis mensae Domini communicare, et mensae daemoniorum.
22. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?
22. An provocamus Dominum? numquid fortiores illo sumus?
23. All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
23. Omnia mihi licent, sed non omnia conducunt: omnia mihi licent, at non omnia aedificant.
24. Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.
24. Nemo quod suum est quaerat, sed quisque quod alterius est.

19. What do I say then? It might seem at first view as if the Apostle either argued inconclusively, or ascribed to idols something of existence and of power. Now it might readily be objected — “What comparison is there between the living God and idols? God connects us with himself by the sacraments. Be it so. How comes it that idols, which are nothing, (<460804>1 Corinthians 8:4,) have so much power, as to be able to do the like? Do you think that idols are anything, or can do anything?” He answers, that he does not look to the idols themselves; f482 but rather has in view the intention of those who sacrifice to idols. For that was the source of the pollution that he had indirectly pointed out. He confesses, therefore, that an idol is nothing. He confesses that it is a mere delusion when the Gentiles take it upon them to go through solemn rites of dedication, f483 and that the creatures of God are not polluted by such fooleries. But as the design of them is superstitious and condemnable, and as the work is base, he infers, that all who connect themselves with them as associates, are involved in pollution.
20. But the things f484 that the Gentiles sacrifice. To complete the answer, a negative must be understood in this way: “I do not say that an idol is anything, nor do I imagine it to be endued with any virtue, but I say that the Gentiles sacrifice to the devil and not to gods those things which they do sacrifice, and hence I estimate the work by their wicked and impious superstition. For we must always look to the intention with which a thing is done. He, then, who connects himself with them, declares that he has fellowship with them in the same impiety.” He proceeds accordingly with what he had commenced: “If we had to do with God only, those things would be nothing, but, in relation to men, they become faulty; because no one sits down to an idol feast, who does not declare himself to be a worshipper of the idol.”
Some, however, understand the term demons here as meaning the imaginary deities of the Gentiles, agreeably to their common way of speaking of them; for when they speak of demons they meant inferior deities, as, for example, heroes, f485 and thus the term was taken in a good sense. Plato, in a variety of instances, employs the term to denote genii, or angels. f486 That meaning, however, would be quite foreign to Paul’s design, for his object is to show that it is no light offense to have to do with actions that have any appearance of putting honor upon idols. Hence it suited his purpose, not to extenuate, but rather to magnify the impiety that is involved in it. How absurd, then, it would have been to select an honorable term to denote the most heinous wickedness! It is certain from the Prophet Baruch, (4:7,) that those things that are sacrificed to idols are sacrificed to devils. (<053217>Deuteronomy 32:17; <199605>Psalm 96:5.) In that passage in the writings of the Prophet, the Greek translation, which was at that time in common use, has daimo>niademons, and this is its common use in Scripture. How much more likely is it then, that Paul borrowed what he says from the Prophet, to express the enormity of the evil, than that, speaking after the manner of the heathen, he extenuated what he was desirous to hold up to utter execration!
It may seem, however, as if these things were somewhat at variance with what I stated a little ago — that Paul had an eye to the intention of idolaters, for it is not their intention to worship devils, but imaginary deities of their own framing. I answer, that the two things are quite in harmony, for when men become so vain in their imaginations (<450121>Romans 1:21) as to render divine honor to creatures, rather than to the one God, this punishment is in readiness for them — that they serve Satan. For they do not find that “middle place” f487 that they are in search of, but Satan straightway presents himself to them, as an object of adoration, whenever they have turned their back upon the true God.
I would not that ye. If the term demon were used in an indifferent sense, how spiritless were Paul’s statement here, while, instead of this, it has the greatest weight and severity against idolaters! He subjoins the reason — because no one can have fellowship at the same time with God and with idols. Now, in all sacred observances, there is a profession of fellowship. Let us know, therefore, that we are then, and then only, admitted by Christ to the sacred feast of his body and blood, when we have first of all bid farewell to every thing sacrilegious. f488 For the man who would enjoy the one, must renounce the other. O thrice miserable the condition of those f489 who, from fear of displeasing men, do not hesitate to pollute themselves with unlawful superstitions! For, by acting in this way, they voluntarily renounce fellowship with Christ, and obstruct their approach to his health-giving table.
22. Do we provoke the Lord? Having laid down the doctrine, he assumes a more vehement tone, from observing, that what was a most atrocious offense against God was regarded as nothing, or, at least, was looked upon as a very trivial error. The Corinthians wished the liberty that they took to be reckoned excusable, as there is not one of us that willingly allows himself to be found fault with, but, on the contrary, we seek one subterfuge after another, under which to shelter ourselves. Now Paul says, and not without reason, that in this way we wage war against God; for nothing does God more require from us than this — that we adhere strictly to everything that he declares in his word. Do not those, then, who use subterfuges, f490 in order that they may be at liberty to transgress the commandment of God, arm themselves openly against God? Hence that curse which the Prophet denounces against all those who call evil, good, and darkness, light. (<230520>Isaiah 5:20.)
Are we stronger? He warns them how dangerous a thing it is to provoke God — because no one can do this but to his own ruin. f491 Among men the chance of war, as they speak, is doubtful, but to contend with God is nothing short of voluntarily courting destruction. Accordingly, if we fear to have God as an enemy, let us shudder at the thought of framing excuses for manifest sins, that is, whatever stand opposed to his word. Let us, also, shudder at the thought of calling in question those things that he has himself pronounced upon — for this is nothing less than to rise up against heaven after the manner of the giants. f492 (<011104>Genesis 11:4.)
23. All things are lawful for me. Again he returns to the right of Christian liberty, by which the Corinthians defended themselves, and sets aside their objection by giving the same explanation as before. “To eat of meats that were sacrificed, and be present at the banquet, was an outward thing, and therefore was in itself lawful.” Paul declares that he does not by any means call this in question, but he replies, that we must have a regard to edification. All things are lawful for me, says he, but all things are not profitable, that is, for our neighbors, for no one, as he immediately adds, ought to seek his own advantage exclusively, and if anything is not profitable to the brethren, it must be abstained from. He, in the next place, expresses the kind of advantage — when it edifies, for we must not have respect merely to the advantage of the flesh. “What then? f493 Does a thing that is in other respects permitted by God, come on this account to be unlawful — if it is not expedient for our neighbor. Then in that case our liberty would be placed under subjection to men.” Consider attentively Paul’s words, and you will perceive that liberty, nevertheless, remains unimpaired, when you accommodate yourself to your neighbors, and that it is only the use of it that is restricted, for he acknowledges that it is lawful, but says that it ought not to be made use of, if it does not edify.
24. Let no one seek his own. He handles the same subject in the 14th Chapter of the Romans. Let no one please himself, but endeavor to please his brethren for their edification. This is a precept that is very necessary, for we are so corrupted by nature, that every one consults his own interests, regardless of those of his brethren. Now, as the law of love calls upon us to love our neighbors as ourselves, (<402239>Matthew 22:39,) so it requires us to consult their welfare. The Apostle, however, does not expressly forbid individuals to consult their own advantage, but he requires that they should not be so devoted to their own interests, as not to be prepared to forego part of their right, as often as the welfare of their brethren requires this.

1 CORINTHIANS 10:25-33
25. Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:
25. Quicquid in macello venditur, edite, nihil disceptantes propter conscientiam.
26. For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.
26. Domini enim est terra, et plenitudo eius. (<192401>Psalm 24:1.)
27. If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.
27. Si quis autem infidelium vos vocat, et vultis ire, quicquid vobis apponitur edite, nihil disceptantes propter conscientiam.
28. But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof:
28. Quodsi quis vobis dixerit, Hoc est idolo immolatum: ne edatis propter eum qui indicavit, et propter conscientiam.
29. Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another mans conscience?
29. Conscientiam autem dico, non tuam, sed alterius: utquid enim libertas mea indicatur ab alia conscientia?
30. For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?
30. Si ergo per gratiam sum particeps, quid in eo blasphemor, in quo gratias ago?
31. Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
31. Sive ergo editis, sive bibitis, sive quid aliud facitis, omnia in gloriam Dei facite.
32. Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
32. Nullis satis offendiculo, sive Iudaeis, sive Graecis, et Ecclesiae Dei:
33. Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
33. Quemadmodum ego quoque per omnia omnibus placeo, non quaerens quod mihi est utile, sed quod multis, ut salvi fiant.

25. Whatsoever is sold in the shambles. He has spoken above of dissembling in connection with idolatry, or, at least, as to those actions which the Corinthians could not engage in, without professing themselves to be the associates of the wicked in their superstitions. He now requires them, not merely to abstain from all professions of idolatry, but also to avoid carefully all occasions of offense, which are wont to arise from the indiscriminate use of things indifferent. For, although there was but one kind of offense on the part of the Corinthians, f494 there were, at the same time different degrees of it. Now, as to the eating of food, he makes, in the first place, this general statement — that it is lawful to eat, with a safe conscience, any kind of food, because the Lord permits it. In the second place, he restricts this liberty as to the use of it — lest weak consciences should be injured. Thus this conclusion is divided into two parts the first relates to liberty and power as to things indifferent: the second to a limitation of it — that the use of it may be regulated in accordance with the rule of love.
Debating nothing. f495 jAnakri>nesqai, the word that Paul makes use of, means to reason on both sides, f496 in such a way, that the person’s mind vacillates, inclining now to this side, and then to that. f497 Accordingly, in so far as concerns a distinction of meats, he frees our consciences from all scruple and hesitation; because it is proper that, when we are certain from the word of the Lord that he approves of what we do, we should have ease and tranquillity in our minds.
For conscience sake — that is to say, Before the judgment-seat of God — “In so far as you have to do with God, there is no occasion for your disputing with yourself, whether it be lawful or not. For I allow you to eat freely of all kinds of meat, because the Lord allows you everything without exception.”
26. The earth is the Lord’s. He establishes, from the testimony of David, the liberty which he had allowed. (<192401>Psalm 24:1, and <195012>Psalm 50:12.) But it will be asked by some one, “What has this to do with the point?” I answer, If the fullness of the earth f498 is the Lord’s, there is nothing in the world that is not sacred and pure. We must always keep in view, what the question is of which the Apostle treats. It might be doubted, whether the creatures of God were polluted by the sacrifices of the wicked. Paul says they are not, inasmuch as the rule and possession of the whole earth remain always in the hands of God. Now, what things the Lord has in his hands, he preserves by his power, and consequently sanctifies them. The sons of God, therefore, have the pure use of everything, because they receive them no otherwise than from the hand of God.
The fullness of the earth, f499 is an expression which is made use of by the Prophet to denote the abundance of blessings, with which the earth is furnished and adorned by the Lord. For if the earth were stripped of trees, herbs, animals, and other things, it would be like a house devoid of furniture and every kind of utensil: nay more, it would be mutilated and disfigured. Should any one object, that the earth is cursed on account of sin, the answer is easy — that he has an eye to its pure and perfect nature, because Paul is speaking of believers, to whom all things are sanctified through Christ.
27. If any one of them that believe not invites you. Here follows an exception, to this effect, that if a believer has been warned, that what is set before him has been offered to an idol, and sees that there is a danger of offense being given, he sins against the brethren if he does not abstain. He shows then, in short, that care must be taken not to hurt weak consciences.
When he says — and you are willing to go, he intimates indirectly, that he does not altogether approve of it, and that it would be better if they declined, but as it is a thing indifferent, he does not choose to forbid it absolutely. And, certainly, there could be nothing better than to keep at a distance from such snares — not that those are expressly to be condemned, who accommodate themselves to men only in so far as conscience permits, f500 but because it becomes us to proceed with caution, f501 where we see that we are in danger of falling.
29. Conscience, I say, not thine own. He always carefully takes heed not to diminish liberty, or to appear to take from it in any degree. “Thou oughtest to bear with the weak conscience of thy brother, that thou mayest not abuse thy right, so as to give occasion of offense to him; but in the meantime thy conscience remains, nevertheless, free, because it is exempted from that subjection. Let not, therefore, the restraint which I impose upon thee as to outward use, become by any means a snare to entangle thy conscience.”
It must be observed here, that the term conscience is taken here in its strict acceptation; for in <451305>Romans 13:5, and <540105>1 Timothy 1:5, it is taken in a larger sense. “We ought, says Paul, to obey princes, not merely for the sake of wrath, but also for that of conscience” — that is, not merely from fear of punishment, but because the Lord orders it so, and it is our duty. Is it not reasonable, too, that we should for the same reason accommodate ourselves to weak brethren — that is, because we are to this extent subject to them in the sight of God? Farther, the end of the commandment is love out of a good conscience. Is not the affection of love included in a good conscience? Hence its meaning here is, as I have already stated, more restricted, inasmuch as the soul of a pious man looks exclusively to the tribunal of God, has no regard to men, is satisfied with the blessing of liberty procured for it by Christ, and is bound to no individuals, and to no circumstances of time or place.
Some manuscripts repeat the statement — The earth is the Lord’s. But the probability is, that some reader having put it on the margin, it had crept into the text. f502 It is not, however, a matter of great importance.
For why is my liberty. It is doubtful, whether Paul speaks in this way of himself, or whether he makes this objection in the name of the Corinthians. If we take it as spoken in his own name, it will be a confirmation of the preceding statement. “In restricting yourself, for the sake of another man’s conscience, your liberty is not thereby made subject to him.” If in the name of the Corinthians, the meaning will be this: “You impose upon us an unjust law, in requiring that our liberty should stand or fall at the caprice of others.” I am of opinion, that Paul says this of himself, but explains it in another way, for hitherto I have been stating the views of others. To be judged, then, I explain here as meaning — to be condemned, agreeably to the common acceptation of the word in Scripture. Paul warns us of the danger that must ensue, if we make use of our liberty unreservedly, so as to give occasion of offense to our neighbors — that they will condemn it. Thus, through our fault, and our unreasonableness, the consequence will be, that this special benefit from God will be condemned. If we do not guard against this danger, we corrupt our liberty by our abuse of it. This consideration, then, tends very much to confirm Paul’s exhortation.
30. If therefore by grace. This argument is similar to the preceding one, or nearly so. “As it is owing to the kindness of God that all things are lawful for me, why should I act in such a manner, that it should be reckoned to my account as a vice?” We cannot, it is true, prevent the wicked from reviling, us, nor even the weak from being sometimes displeased with us; but Paul here reproves the forwardness of those, who of their own accord give occasion of offense, and hurt weak consciences, when neither necessity or expediency calls for it. He would have us, then, make a good use of our benefits, f503 that the weak may not have occasion of reviling from our inconsiderate use of liberty.
31. Whether, therefore, ye eat, or drink. Lest they should think, that in so small a matter they should not be so careful to avoid blame, he teaches that there is no part of our life, and no action so minute, f504 that it ought not to be directed to the glory of God, and that we must take care that, even in eating and drinking, we may aim at the advancement of it. This statement is connected with what goes before; for if we are eagerly desirous of the glory of God, as it becomes us to be, we will never allow, so far as we can prevent it, his benefits to lie under reproach. It was well expressed anciently in a common proverb, that we must not live to eat; but eat to live. f505 Provided the end of living be at the same time kept in view, the consequence will thus be, that our food will be in a manner sacred to God, inasmuch as it will be set apart for his service.
32. Be not occasions of stumbling to any. This is the second point, which it becomes us to have an eye to — the rule of love. A desire, then, for the glory of God, holds the first place; a regard to our neighbor holds the second. He makes mention of Jews and Gentiles, not merely because the Church of God consisted of those two classes, but to teach us that we are debtors to all, even to strangers, that we may, if possible, gain them. (<460920>1 Corinthians 9:20, 21.)
33. Even as I please all men in all this. As he speaks in a general way, and without exception, some extend it by mistake to things that are unlawful, and at variance with the word of the Lord — as if it were allowable, for the sake of our neighbor, to venture farther than the Lord permits us. It is, however, more than certain, that Paul accommodated himself to men only in things indifferent, and in things lawful in themselves. Farther, the end must be carefully observed — that they may be saved. Hence what is opposed to their salvation ought not to be conceded to them, f506 but we must use prudence, and that of a spiritual kind. f507
CHAPTER 11

1 CORINTHIANS 11:1-16
1. Be ye followers of me, even as I also am, of Christ.
1. Imitatores mei estote, sicut et ego Christi.
2. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
2. Laudo autem vos, fratres, quod omnia mea meministis et traditiones f508 tenetis, quemadmodum vobis tradidi.
3. But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
3. Volo autem vos scire, quod omnis viri caput est Christus, caput autem mulieris, vir: caput autem Christi, Deus.
4. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoreth his head.
4. Omnis vir orans aut prophetans velato capite, dedecore afficit caput suum.
5. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoreth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
5. Omnis mulier orans aut prophetans aperto capite, dedecore afticit caput suum: perinde enim acsi radatur.
6. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.
6. Si enim non velatur mulier, etiam tondeatur: si autem mulieri turpe est tonderi aut radi, veletur.
7. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
7. Vir quidem velato esse capite non debet, quum sit imago et gloria Dei: mulier autem gloria viri est.
8. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.
8. Non enim est virex muliere, sed mulier ex viro.
9. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
9. Etenim non est creatus vir mulieris causa, sed mulier causa viri.
10. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.
10. Propterea debet mulier potestatem habere super caput suum, propter angelos.
11. Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.
11. Caeterum neque vir absque muliere, neque mulier absque viro in Domino.
12. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.
12. Quemadmodum enim mulier ex viro, sic et vir per mulierem: olnnia autem ex Deo.
13. Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
13. In vobis ipsis iudicate, deceatne mulierem retecto capite Deum precari.
14. Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
14. An ne ipsa quidem natura vos docet, quod si vir comam alat, dedecus illi sit?
15. But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
15. Si vero mulier comam alat, gloria sit illi? quoniam illi coma instar velamenti data est.
16. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the Churches of God.
16. Quodsi quis videtur contentiosus esse, nos talem consuetudinem non habemus, neque Ecclesiae Dei.

1. Imitators of me. From this it appears, how absurdly chapters are divided, inasmuch as this sentence is disjoined from what goes before, with which it ought to have been connected, and is joined to what follows, with which it has no connection. Let us view this, then, as the close of the preceding chapter. Paul had there brought forward his own example in confirmation of his doctrine. Now, in order that the Corinthians may understand that this would be becoming in them, he exhorts them to imitate what he had done, even as he had imitated Christ.
Here there are two things to be observed — first, that he prescribes nothing to others that he had not first practiced himself; and, secondly, that he directs himself and others to Christ as the only pattern of right acting. For while it is the part of a good teacher to enjoin nothing in words but what he is prepared to practice in action, he must not, at the same time, be so austere, as straightway to require from others everything that he does himself, as is the manner of the superstitious. For everything that they contract a liking for they impose also upon others, and would have their own example to be held absolutely as a rule. The world is also, of its own accord, inclined to a misdirected imitation, (kakozhli>an) f509 and, after the manner of apes, strive to copy whatever they see done by persons of great influence. We see, however how many evils have been introduced into the Church by this absurd desire of imitating all the actions of the saints, without exception. Let us, therefore, maintain so much the more carefully this doctrine of Paul — that we are to follow men, provided they take Christ as their grand model, (prwto>tupon,) that the examples of the saints may not tend to lead us away from Christ, but rather to direct us to him.
2. Now I praise you. He passes on now to another subject-to instruct the Corinthians, what decorum ought to be observed in the sacred assemblies. For as a man’s dress or gesture has in some cases the effect of disfiguring, and in others of adorning him, so all actions are set off to advantage by decorum, and are vitiated by the want of it. Much, therefore, depends upon decorum (to< prepon,) f510 and that not merely for securing for our actions gracefulness and beauty, but also to accustom our minds to propriety. While this is true in a general way as to everything, it holds especially as to sacred things; f511 for what contempt, and, eventually, what barbarism will be incurred, if we do not preserve dignity in the Church, by conducting ourselves honorably and becomingly? Hence he prescribes some things that are connected with public order, by which sacred assemblies are rendered honorable. But in order to prepare them the more for obedience, he commends, in the outset, their obedience in the past, inasmuch as they observed his ordinances; for inasmuch as he had begotten that Church to the Lord, (<460415>1 Corinthians 4:15,) he had delivered to them a certain system, by which it was to be governed. By retaining this, the Corinthians gave reason to hope, that they would also in future be docile.
It is surprising, however, that, while he now bestows upon them this commendation, he had previously blamed them for many things. Nay more, if we consider the state of the Church, such as has been previously described, they were far from deserving this praise. I answer, that there were some that were infected with those vices which he had previously reproved, and indeed, some with one, others with another; but, in the meantime, the form which he had prescribed to them had been retained by the entire body. For there is nothing of inconsistency in saying, that very many sins, and of various kinds, prevail among a particular people — some cheating, others plundering — some envying, others quarrelling, and another class guilty of fornication — while, at the same time, in respect of the public form of the Church, the institutions of Christ and his Apostles are maintained.
This will appear more clearly when we come to see what Paul means by parado>seiv; (traditions;) f512 and independently of this, it is necessary to speak of this word, for the purpose of replying to Papists, who arm themselves with this passage for the purpose of defending their traditions. It is a common maxim among them, that the doctrine of the Apostles consists partly of writings and partly of traditions. Under this second department they include not merely certain foolish superstitions, and puerile ceremonies, with which they are stuffed, but also all kinds of gross abomination, directly contrary to the plain word of God, and their tyrannical laws, which are mere torments to men’s consciences. In this way there is nothing that is so foolish, nothing so absurd — in fine, nothing so monstrous, as not to have shelter under this pretext, and to be painted over with this varnish. As Paul, therefore, makes mention here of traditions, they seize, as they are accustomed to do, upon this little word, with the view of making Paul the author of all those abominations, which we set aside by plain declaration of Scripture.
I do not deny, that there were certain traditions f513 of the Apostles that were not committed to writing, but I do not admit that they were parts of doctrine, or related to things necessary for salvation. What then? They were connected with order and government. For we know that every Church has liberty to frame for itself a form of government that is suitable and profitable for it, because the Lord has not prescribed anything definite. Thus Paul, the first founder of the Corinthian Church, had also framed for its regulation pious and seemly enactments — that all things might be done decently and in order, as he afterwards enjoins. (<461440>1 Corinthians 14:40.) But what has this to do with those silly trifles of ceremonies, which are to be seen in Popery? f514 What has it to do with a worse than Jewish superstition? What has it to do with a tyranny worthy of Phalaris, f515 by which they torture miserable consciences? What has it to do with so many monstrous rites of idolatry? For the foundation of all right enactment was this: to observe the moderation that Paul made use of — not to compel persons to follow their enactments, f516 while, in the meantime, contriving everything that might strike their fancy, but to require that they should be imitated, in so far as they are imitators of Christ. But now, after having had the audacity to criticize everything agreeably to their own humor, to demand obedience from all is exceedingly absurd. Farther, we must know that Paul commends their obedience in the past, in order that he may render them docile also for the time to come.
3. But I would have you know. It is an old proverb: “Evil manners beget good laws.” f517 As the rite here treated of had not been previously called in question, Paul had given no enactment respecting it. f518 The error of the Corinthians was the occasion of his showing, what part it was becoming to act in this matter. With the view of proving, that it is an unseemly thing for women to appear in a public assembly with their heads uncovered, and, on the other hand, for men to pray or prophesy with their heads covered, he sets out with noticing the arrangements that are divinely established.
He says, that as Christ is subject to God as his head, so is the man subject to Christ, and the woman to the man. We shall afterwards see, how he comes to infer from this, that women ought to have their heads covered. Let us, for the present, take notice of those four gradations which he points out. God, then, occupies the first place: Christ holds the second place. How so? Inasmuch as he has in our flesh made himself subject to the Father, for, apart from this, being of one essence with the Father, he is his equal. Let us, therefore, bear it in mind, that this is spoken of Christ as mediator. He is, I say, inferior to the Father, inasmuch as he assumed our nature, that he might be the first-born among many brethren.
There is somewhat more of difficulty in what follows. Here the man is placed in an intermediate position between Christ and the woman, so that Christ is not the head of the woman. Yet the same Apostle teaches us elsewhere, (<480328>Galatians 3:28,) that in Christ there is neither male nor female. Why then does he make a distinction here, which in that passage he does away with? I answer, that the solution of this depends on the connection in which the passages occur. When he says that there is no difference between the man and the woman, he is treating of Christ’s spiritual kingdom, in which individual distinctions f519 are not regarded, or made any account of; for it has nothing to do with the body, and has nothing to do with the outward relationships of mankind, but has to do solely with the mind — on which account he declares that there is no difference, even between bond and free. In the meantime, however, he does not disturb civil order or honorary distinctions, which cannot be dispensed with in ordinary life. Here, on the other hand, he reasons respecting outward propriety and decorum — which is a part of ecclesiastical polity. Hence, as regards spiritual connection in the sight of God, and inwardly in the conscience, Christ is the head of the man and of the woman without any distinction, because, as to that, there is no regard paid to male or female; but as regards external arrangement and political decorum, the man follows Christ and the woman the man, so that they are not upon the same footing, but, on the contrary, this inequality exists. Should any one ask, what connection marriage has with Christ, I answer, that Paul speaks here of that sacred union of pious persons, of which Christ is the officiating priest, f520 and He in whose name it is consecrated.
4. Every man praying. Here there are two propositions. The first relates to the man, the other to the woman. He says that the man commits an offense against Christ his head, if he prays or prophesies with his head covered. Why so? Because he is subject to Christ, with this understanding, that he is to hold the first place in the government of the house — for the father of the family is like a king in his own house. Hence the glory of God shines forth in him, in consequence of the authority with which he is invested. If he covers his head, he lets himself down from that preeminence which God had assigned to him, so as to be in subjection. Thus the honor of Christ is infringed upon. For example, f521 If the person whom the prince has appointed as his lieutenant, does not. know how to maintain his proper station, f522 and instead of this, exposes his dignity to contempt on the part of persons in the lowest station, does he not bring dishonor upon his prince? In like manner, if the man does not keep his own station — if he is not subject to Christ in such a way as to preside over his own family with authority, he obscures, to that extent, the glory of Christ, which shines forth in the well regulated order of marriage. The covering, as we shall see ere long, is all emblem of authority intermediate and interposed.
Prophesying I take here to mean — declaring the mysteries of God for the edification of the hearers, (as afterwards in 1 Corinthians 14.) as praying means preparing a form of prayer, and taking the lead, as it were, of all the people — which is the part of the public teacher, f523 for Paul is not arguing here as to every kind of prayer, but as to solemn prayer in public. Let us, however, bear in mind, that in this matter the error is merely in so far as decorum is violated, and the distinction of rank which God has established, is broken in upon. For we must not be so scrupulous as to look upon it as a criminal thing for a teacher to have a cap on his head, when addressing the people from the pulpit. Paul means nothing more than this — that it should appear that the man has authority, and that the woman is under subjection, and this is secured when the man uncovers his head in the view of the Church, though he should afterwards put on his cap again from fear of catching cold. In fine, the one rule to be observed here is to pre>pondecorum. If that is secured, Paul requires nothing farther.
5. Every woman praying or prophesying. Here we have the second proposition — that women ought to have their heads covered when they pray or prophesy; otherwise they dishonor their head. For as the man honors his head by showing his liberty, so the woman, by showing her subjection. Hence, on the other hand, if the woman uncovers her head, she shakes off subjection — involving contempt of her husband. It may seem, however, to be superfluous for Paul to forbid the woman to prophesy with her head uncovered, while elsewhere he wholly
prohibits women from speaking in the Church.
(<540212>1 Timothy 2:12.)
It would not, therefore, be allowable for them to prophesy even with a covering upon their head, and hence it follows that it is to no purpose that he argues here as to a covering. It may be replied, that the Apostle, by here condemning the one, does not commend the other. For when he reproves them for prophesying with their head uncovered, he at the same time does not give them permission to prophesy in some other way, but rather delays his condemnation of that vice to another passage, namely in 1 Corinthians 14. In this reply there is nothing amiss, though at the same time it might suit sufficiently well to say, that the Apostle requires women to show their modesty — not merely in a place in which the whole Church is assembled, but also in any more dignified assembly, either of matrons or of men, such as are sometimes convened in private houses.
For it is all one as if she were shaven. He now maintains from other considerations, that it is unseemly for women to have their heads bare. Nature itself, says he, abhors it. To see a woman shaven is a spectacle that is disgusting and monstrous. Hence we infer that the woman has her hair given her for a covering. Should any one now object, that her hair is enough, as being a natural covering, Paul says that it is not, for it is such a covering as requires another thing to be made use of for covering it. And hence a conjecture is drawn, with some appearance of probability — that women who had beautiful hair were accustomed to uncover their heads for the purpose of showing off their beauty. It is not, therefore, without good reason that Paul, as a remedy for this vice, sets before them the opposite idea — that they be regarded as remarkable for unseemliness, rather than for what is an incentive to lust. f524
7. The man ought not to cover his head, because he is the image. The same question may now be proposed respecting the image, as formerly respecting the head. For both sexes were created in the image of God, and Paul exhorts women no less than men to be formed anew, according to that image. The image, however, of which he is now speaking, relates to the order of marriage, and hence it belongs to the present life, and is not connected with conscience. The simple solution is this — that he does not treat here of innocence and holiness, which are equally becoming in men and women, but of the distinction, which God has conferred upon the man, so as to have superiority over the woman. In this superior order of dignity the glory of God is seen, as it shines forth in every kind of superiority.
The woman is the glory of the man. There is no doubt that the woman is a distinguished ornament of the man; for it is a great honor that God has appointed her to the man as the partner of his life, and a helper to him, f525 and has made her subject to him as the body is to the head. For what Solomon affirms as to a careful wife — that she is a crown to her husband, (<201204>Proverbs 12:4,) is true of the whole sex, if we look to the appointment of God, which Paul here commends, showing that the woman was created for this purpose — that she might be a distinguished ornament of the man.
8. For the man is not from the woman. He establishes by two arguments the pre-eminence, which he had assigned to men above women. The first is, that as the woman derives her origin from the man, she is therefore inferior in rank. The second is, that as the woman was created for the sake of the man, she is therefore subject to him, as the work ultimately produced is to its cause. f526 That the man is the beginning of the woman and the end for which she was made, is evident from the law. (<010218>Genesis 2:18.)
It is not good for a man to be alone. Let us make for him, etc.
Farther,
God took one of Adam’s ribs and formed Eve.
(<010221>Genesis 2:21, 22.)
10. For this cause ought the woman to have power. f527 From that authority he draws an argument f528 in favor of outward decorum. “She is subject,” says he, “let her then wear a token of subjection.” In the term power, there is an instance of metonymy, f529 for he means a token by which she declares herself to be under the power of her husband; and it is a covering, whether it be a robe, or a veil, f530 or any other kind of covering. f531
It is asked, whether he speaks of married women exclusively, for there are some that restrict to them what Paul here teaches, on the ground that it does not belong to virgins to be under the authority of a husband. It is however a mistake, for Paul looks beyond this — to God’s eternal law, which has made the female sex subject to the authority of men. On this account all women are born, that they may acknowledge themselves inferior in consequence of the superiority of the male sex. Otherwise it were an inconclusive argument that Paul has drawn from nature, in saying that it were not one whit more seemly for a woman to have her head uncovered than to be shaven — this being applicable to virgins also.
Because of the angels. This passage is explained in various ways. As the Prophet <390207>Malachi 2:7 calls priests angels of God, some are of opinion that Paul speaks of them; but the ministers of the word have nowhere that term applied to them by itself — that is, without something being added; and the meaning would be too forced. I understand it, therefore, in its proper signification. But it is asked, why it is that he would have women have their heads covered because of the angels — for what has this to do with them? Some answer: “Because they are present on occasion of the prayers of believers, and on this account are spectators of unseemliness, should there be any on such occasions.” But what need is there for philosophizing with such refinement? We know that angels are in attendance, also, upon Christ as their head, and minister to him. f532 When, therefore, women venture upon such liberties, as to usurp for themselves the token of authority, they make their baseness manifest to the angels. This, therefore, was said by way of amplifying, as if he had said, “If women uncover their heads, not only Christ, but all the angels too, will be witnesses of the outrage.” And this interpretation suits well with the Apostle’s design. He is treating here of different ranks. Now he says that, when women assume a higher place than becomes them, they gain this by it — that they discover their impudence in the view of the angels of heaven.
11. But neither is the man without the woman. This is added partly as a check upon men, that they may not insult over women; f533 and partly as a consolation to women, that they may not feel dissatisfied with being under subjection. “The male sex (says he) has a distinction over the female sex, with this understanding, that they ought to be connected together by mutual benevolence, for the one cannot do without the other. If they be separated, they are like the mutilated members of a mangled body. Let them, therefore, be connected with each other by the bond of mutual duty.” f534
When he says, in the Lord, he by this expression calls the attention of believers to the appointment of the Lord, while the wicked look to nothing beyond pressing necessity. f535 For profane men, if they can conveniently live unmarried, despise the whole sex, and do not consider that they are under obligations to it by the appointment and decree of God. The pious, on the other hand, acknowledge that the male sex is but the half of the human race. They ponder the meaning of that statement — God created man: male and female created he them. (<010127>Genesis 1:27, and <010502>Genesis 5:2.) Thus they, of their own accord, acknowledge themselves to be debtors to the weaker sex. Pious women, in like manner, reflect upon their obligation. f536 Thus the man has no standing without the woman, for that would be the head severed from the body; nor has the woman without the man, for that were a body without a head. “Let, therefore, the man perform to the woman the office of the head in respect of ruling her, and let the woman perform to the man the office of the body in respect of assisting him, and that not merely in the married state, but also in celibacy; for I do not speak of cohabitation merely, but also of civil offices, for which there is occasion even in the unmarried state.” If you are inclined rather to refer this to the whole sex in general, I do not object to this, though, as Paul directs his discourse to individuals, he appears to point out the particular duty of each.
12. As the woman is of the man. If this is one of the reasons, why the man has superiority — that the woman was taken out of him, there will be, in like manner, this motive to friendly connection — that the male sex cannot maintain and preserve itself without the aid of women. For this remains a settled point — that it is not good for man to be alone. (<010218>Genesis 2:18.) This statement of Paul may, it is true, be viewed as referring to propagation, because human beings are propagated not by men alone, but by men and women; but I understand it as meaning this also — that the woman is a needful help to the man, inasmuch as a solitary life is not expedient for man. This decree of God exhorts us to cultivate mutual intercourse.
But all things of God. God is the Source of both sexes, and hence both of them ought with humility to accept and maintain the condition which the Lord has assigned to them. Let the man exercise his authority with moderation, and not insult over the woman who has been given him as his partner. Let the woman be satisfied with her state of subjection, and not take it amiss that she is made inferior to the more distinguished sex. Otherwise they will both of them throw off the yoke of God, who has not without good reason appointed this distinction of ranks. Farther, when it is said that the man and the woman, when they are wanting in their duty to each other, are rebels against the authority of God, the statement is a more serious one than if Paul had said, that they do injury to one another.
Doth not even nature itself. He again sets forth nature as the mistress of decorum, and what was at that time in common use by universal consent and custom — even among the Greeks — he speaks of as being natural, for it was not always reckoned a disgrace for men to have long hair. f537 Historical records bear, that in all countries in ancient times, that is, in the first ages, men wore long hair. Hence also the poets, in speaking of the ancients, are accustomed to apply to them the common epithet of unshorn. f538 It was not until a late period that barbers began to be employed at Rome — about the time of Africanus the elder. And at the time when Paul wrote these things, the practice of having the hair shorn had not yet come into use in the provinces of Gaul or in Germany. Nay more, it would have been reckoned an unseemly thing for men, no less than for women, to be shorn or shaven; but as in Greece it was reckoned all unbecoming thing for a man to allow his hair to grow long, so that those who did so were remarked as effeminate, he reckons as nature a custom that had come to be confirmed. f539
16. But if any man seem. A contentious person is one whose humor inclines him to stir up disputes, and does not care what becomes of the truth. Of this description are all who, without any necessity, abolish good and useful customs — raise disputes respecting matters that are not doubtful — who do not yield to reasonings — who cannot endure that any one should be above them. Of this description, also, are those (ajkoinw>nhtoi) would be singular persons f540 who, from a foolish affectation, f541 aim at some n