1 Corinthians 13.
Love is the theme in hand, not “charity,” for which we are indebted to Wiclif’s too close following of the Vulgate. Tyndale and Cranmer gave “love,” from which our Authorized translators often went back again to “charity.” The apostle discourses on it worthily of Him who displayed its perfection here below. Not law, but love, is in harmony with God’s assembly. Doubtless it is handled with special reference to the need and dangers of the Corinthians, but the Holy Spirit gave it out with divine precision and fulness. Love was a new sound even to a Jew; how much more to the Gentiles, used to walk in the vanity of their mind, darkened in understanding, hardened in heart, who, after having cast off all feeling, gave themselves up to lasciviousness, though none the less hateful and hating one another! Selfishness reigned, whatever the sentiments and pretensions of men, and this because God Himself was unknown, sin was unjudged and unforgiven. For love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God; as, on the other hand, he that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love, while he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. So our apostle tells the Thessalonians that they were taught of God to love one another, and the Colossians, that love is the bond of perfectness, reminding Timothy that the end of the charge laid on him, and on others through him, was love out of a pure heart and good conscience and faith unfeigned.
It is well, however, to remark its connection here with the assembly of God, and the working of the Holy Spirit in it. Everywhere precious, never out of season, above all it is the lifebreath of the church. Where love is not the regulating power in the Spirit, the very nearness of the saints to each other, and the action of the gifts, prove the greatest dangers; where love governs, all else works smoothly to the edification of the saints and to the Lord’s glory. If the Corinthian saints, in their ministering of the gifts, had forgotten the supreme excellence of love, the apostle puts it forward with all prominence between his treatment of the Spirit’s presence and action in the assembly, and the order laid down for the due exercise of gift there.
Love, he shows, has intrinsic and divine excellency, surpassing all gifts, even the gifts that edify. For such gifts may be where there is no love. “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, yet have not love, I am become sounding brass and a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophecy, and know all the mysteries, and all the knowledge, and if I have all the faith so as to remove mountains, yet have not love, I am nothing. And if I should dole out in food all my substance, and if I should deliver my body that I might be burned, and have not love, I am nothing profited.” (Vers. 1-3.) The apostle begins with the superiority of love to the gift of tongues in any conceivable degree. It is as evident from this verse as from Acts 2 how baseless is the effort of Meyer and others to deny that they were articulate and intelligible languages. “Of angels” completes the cycle for the apostle, who here, as elsewhere, personates the supposed case. (Cf. 1 Cor. 9:26, 27; Rom. 7:7-26, according to the principle stated in 1 Cor. 4:6.) To speak all possible tongues without love were to become sounding brass or a clattering cymbal, not even vox but sonitus and praeterea nihil. But he goes farther. The possession of the prophetic gift, with an inward consciousness, and not merely acquired knowledge, of all the mysteries and all the knowledge that is revealed, nay, the possession of all the faith so as to remove mountains, if without love, leaves one nothing. It is plain that he is not treating of divinely given faith in Christ’s person, which is inseparable from eternal life and love too. It is the gift, or
χάρισμα, of faith. Power is not grace. (See Heb. 6; Matt. 7) If one should bestow all one’s property in charitable doles, and give over one’s body to the flames of martyrdom, without love, he is nothing profited, whatever others might reap.
We may notice that the reading,
μαι, “I may boast,” is that of A B, 17, the Roman Æthiopic, etc. But it is, as Matthaei said, whatever Jerome alleges, “prorsus absurda lectio,” and a change by one letter from
μαι, “I may be burned,” whether inadvertently, or by the design of such as did not understand the scope of the passage; for the motive of boasting would exclude love so completely, as to render
ἀγάπην δὲ μὴ ἔχω a needless addition. The fact however is instructive, in that it is one of not a few proofs how mistaken and perilous it is to accept absolutely the united verdict of the three most famous uncials.
Next we come, not to a definition of love, but to its qualities as in this world, specified for our instruction. It is what Christ was here, active as well as suffering in love above evil. “Love is long-suffering, is kind; love is not emulous, is not vainglorious, is not puffed up, doth not behave unseemly, seeketh not its own things, is not easily provoked, reckoneth not the evil, rejoiceth not over iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” (Vers. 4-7.) Patience in the midst of trial is the first-mentioned attribute of love, which even shows positive kindness instead of harbouring a vindictive thought. Again, as it does not indulge in envy or jealousy of another, so there is no self-display (or, as some think, forwardness), nor the arrogance whence it springs. Hence indecorum, or rude behaviour, is incompatible with love, as it is marked by disinterestedness and slowness to anger, and by readiness to forget the wrong that is done.
“Thinketh no evil” scarcely expresses the clause, but rather not having the evil in the mind and tongue. “No evil” would answer to the phrase if anarthrous. Here it is an actual evil done, which would rankle but for love, which is ever above evil, always free and always holy.
Hence love does not rejoice over unrighteousness, as malice does, too glad to cover its own evil by that of others; the joy, the sympathies, of love are with the truth, which is personified here as elsewhere. Thus love bears all vexations, believes all possible good (cf. Acts 9:27; Acts 11:22-26), hopes all, in spite of evil manifest enough at present, endures all things, persecutions or afflictions, knowing the! we are set for this. God being seen in Christ raises the heart above the depressing power of evil or even suspicion.
Strange to say, the Vatican manuscript (B) reads
οὐ ζητεῖ τὰ μὴ ἑαυτῆς, that is, love only seeks her own advantage! So do even the Gentiles, who know not God. It is the character of selfishness, not of love. Yet Clement of Alexandria cites this false reading, and reasons on it as if correct in Paed. iii. 1, sec. 3; though elsewhere he cites the clause as it should be. One sees the folly of making such men authoritative in the least degree.
The perpetuity of love, in contrast with means of present testimony or blessing by the way, is next urged. “Love never faileth; but whether prophecies, they shall be done away; whether tongues, they shall cease; whether knowledge, it shall be done away. For in part we know, and in part we prophesy; but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.” (Vers. 8-10.) Evidently this again proves the immense superiority of love. It will never be out of date. Prophecies, knowledge, shall be done away, and tongues cease; but love abides. They are suited to our time-state, they are but in part, and do not square with the perfection where no evil exists and love is in fullest exercise. Love is thoroughly in keeping with a condition of glory, while incidental and partial agencies as naturally terminate with its arrival.
There is a difference in the phraseology as to tongues as compared with prophecies and knowledge, and it has been inferred, perhaps justly, that the cessation of tongues intimates their dropping when God’s aim was achieved, whilst the means of edifying fall in with continuance, till the perfection of glory brings them to a comparatively abrupt end. Those habituated to the accuracy of scripture expression will not doubt that a difference is intended by the change of words. Certainly, however this be, there is the utmost care to maintain the Lord’s coming as our immediate hope. All expression of a long future for us on earth is avoided here and everywhere.
The apostle proceeds to illustrate the present and the future by the childhood and full growth of a man as follows. “When I was a child, I talked as a child, I thought as a child, I reckoned as a child; when I am become a man, I have done away with the things of the child. For we see now through a mirror in a dark form, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall fully know, even as I also was fully known. But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but [the] greater of these [is] love.” (Vers. 11-13.) Clearly the drift of the passage is not to cast uncertainty on our present measure of knowledge, but to set forth its partial character, as compared with the fulness in glory. He confirms the difference by another similitude, the reflection of a mirror with no more than a dim shape seen thereby, and seeing face to face. The medium, or rather our seeing now, is necessarily imperfect, and the result more or less dark. By-and-by it will be immediate vision, and I shall know fully as I was also fully known. It is a difference not merely of measure but of manner too. Our very learning now, no matter how much we have learnt, proves our ignorance. It will not be so then. The state which needs to grow, as well as the means which contribute to growth, will have passed away. Truth will be fully known as a whole in that day, not learnt piecemeal as now.
“But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but [the] greater of these [is] love.” The apostle speaks of the main moral principles characteristic of Christianity not of power in testimony; and here too love has the greater place, though all are great and abiding. But there is no intimation of faith and hope abiding throughout eternity. They remain, but to say that these three shall remain for ever is to interpolate rather than interpret. It is well known how some try to explain the continuance of faith and hope, where all is seen and enjoyed in glory: the one as anticipation certain to be fulfilled; the other as trust, entire and undoubting
But scripture cannot be broken; and faith is the evidence or conviction of things not seen, as hope seen is not hope. (Rom. 8; Heb. 11) Faith and hope therefore refer only to the present state, love alone to eternity as well as to the present. Fruition supersedes the faith that looks at God’s word for the object presented, and the hope that desires and waits for it; but love never fails. So it was laid down in verse 8, in contradistinction from the instruments or signs there given of God. Then, after the setting out of the intervening verses which explain or confirm, the apostle resumes with
νυνὶ δέ μένει, “now however remaineth” not love only, nor first, but “faith, hope, love, these three; but the greater of these is love,” which last is turned to grave account in the chapter following. They are the cardinal points of every Christian, as is attested right through the New Testament; and of the three love has the pre-eminent place, not because it contains in itself the root of the other two, but because they point and lead through Christ our Lord to it, as their end which has no end, that nature and activity of divine goodness which we share now by grace in a world of evil, and which will last everlastingly where there is no evil but only good in source and fruit.
In writing to the Thessalonians the Apostle could remember their labour of love and tell them that he had no need to write to them about it, they themselves being taught of God to love one another. Was it so at Corinth? He thanks God for enriching them in all word and all knowledge, so that they came short in no gift, but as to love kept ominous silence. Was it love to form rival parties? to cry up the servants into leaders? to crave after worldly wisdom? to slight impurity? to refer differences to courts of law? to enfeeble family ties? to seek relief in change of circumstances? Alas! the Corinthian saints were proud of their knowledge, though even at that time it had worms and stank, for they were perverting it to tamper with idolatry, and needed to learn that, while knowledge puffs up, love builds up; while the one gives no deliverance from self-seeking and self-indulgence, the other strengthens the believer in the self-sacrificing service of Christ, free from all, yet becoming slave to all, in order to gain the most possible. And assuredly the palpable alienation of the Lord’s supper, and even of the love-feast mixed up with it, from the divine object of it was the saddest proof that they needed that teaching on love which grace gave them: with what special aim we shall hear presently.
1 Corinthians 14.
Here we come to the application of love. Blessed as is always and everywhere this energy of the new nature, it is in the assembly of God that it finds its largest and deepest exercise, so far as we are concerned. Nowhere else is it demanded so continually, and in such varied forms. Without love souls therein make speedy and utter shipwreck; with it the sorest trials turn into the happiest testimony to the grace of Christ.
But hitherto the saints in Corinth had failed to learn it. They were far from the simple freshness of the Thessalonians, to whom the apostle could say some years before that they needed not that he should write, for they themselves were taught of God to love one another. Nevertheless he besought even them that they should increase more and more, as indeed (we learn from his second epistle) they did. At Corinth the failure was great, and not in private only but in public, as even shown on the solemn occasions when the assembly came together to celebrate the Lord’s supper and to exercise their spiritual gifts. Hence the exhortation that follows.
“Pursue love, but earnestly desire the spiritual things, yet rather that ye may prophesy. For he that speaketh in a tongue speaketh not to men but to God; for no one heareth, yet in spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh to men edification and encouragement and comfort.” (Vers. 1-8.)
Love, then, should be the main and constant object; but there were spiritual manifestations which had a place only subordinate to love, for the Holy Spirit, in giving and working thus, was glorifying the Lord Jesus. Among these prophesying has the chief place, the superiority of which over such a sign-gift as speaking in a tongue, the apostle rules, is proved by this, that such a speaker speaks not to men but to God, for none hears or understands while in spirit he speaks mysteries; whereas he that prophesies speaks to men edification and encouragement and comfort.
Assuredly the apostolic test is not always appreciated, and there are those in our day as indifferent to edification as the Corinthians. But a greater than they did not regard as a defect in spiritual tone the desire that men should be refreshed or helped in whatever way they needed. No doubt those who spoke in a tongue argued that they stood for the rights of Christ, who was glorified in the gift, and that theirs was the divine side — they spoke to God. But the apostle boldly maintains that the lack of speaking to men demonstrates the inferiority of speaking in a tongue to prophesying. He that so speaks is not taxed with speaking unintelligibly, or unintelligible things; on the contrary he is presumed to speak the truth, and high truth — “in spirit he speaketh mysteries.” But, the language being unknown, “no one heareth;” he is not understood. He that prophesies speaks to men edification, encouragement, and comfort. The testimony flows in blessing to souls. The apostle was not dazzled, as the Corinthians were then and many since, in their yearnings after it, with the display of power. But he unqualifiedly sets prophesying beyond such a display, for it brings in not power merely but God, and God in His building up souls, encouraging them and consoling them. This does not cast such a halo around man; but it really brings in God in grace, and gives the consciousness of His presence.
We must remember, however, that verse 8 is not a definition of prophesying, but its contrast with speaking in a tongue. Prophesying, again, has no necessary connection with the future, as some suppose, nor is it preaching or teaching in general. It is forth-telling rather than fore-telling. It is so speaking to man as to put him in the light of God — of God’s dealing with his heart and conscience. It gives His mind.
Hence the apostle proceeds to say (ver. 4) that he that speaketh in a tongue edifieth himself, but he that prophesieth edifieth the assembly. Here again the mistake of the Corinthians was exposed, and the grace and wisdom of the apostle evident.
Still more does the largeness of his heart come out in verse 6. “But I wish that ye all should speak with tongues, but rather that ye should prophesy. And greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, in order that the assembly may receive edification.” Such is his continual test. It was near the faithful servant’s heart, as it was in his Master’s. What astonishes is for the spiritual mind far less than what edifies. This he enters into a little more minutely in verse 6. “But now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, unless I shall speak to you either in revelation, or in knowledge, or in prophecy, or [in] doctrine?” It was not therefore that the apostle slighted the gift of tongues. How could he, seeing it was a manifestation of the Spirit promised of the Lord Jesus — a mighty testimony to the grace of God from the day of Pentecost and onwards? Still the less showy gift of prophesying has a far higher character in and for the assembly. The error he corrects lay in the misapprehension and misuse of the Corinthians. Had their eye been single, they had been full of light; but it was not so, and hence their unspiritual judgment, as well as conduct, draws out the instruction of the Lord. It is important also to observe how it is insisted on that all done in the assembly should be done in the Spirit. For the idea is not that he who spoke in the tongue did not understand what he said, yet it is never supposed that he would communicate, unless he had the interpretation of tongues. But his own knowledge of what was spoken is not the same as this interpretation; and unless he could interpret, there is no thought of his communicating to the assembly what was said in a tongue. For the assembly is the sphere,’ not for man’s ability, but for the Spirit of God. Interpretation must therefore be a gift, not a human power, to be available there.
It may be remarked also that revelation and knowledge seem to correspond in general with prophesying and teaching respectively. It is not meant that they are identical, but that they more or less correspond. They are the great means of edifying the assembly, not speaking in a tongue, unless the gift of interpretation accompanied it. To profit souls one must come thus. Indeed the apostle appeals to themselves whether it was not so.
Next he adduces the case of musical instruments to confirm the point. The sounds must be distinguished and understood in order to the wished-for result. “Nevertheless lifeless things giving sound, whether pipe or harp, if they give not distinction to the notes, how shall be known what is piped or what is harped?” (Ver. 7.) Now we do not distinguish the sounds of a language we do not know. The truths conveyed may be ever so weighty, but an unknown language is but a confused jargon. Nor is this the only illustration given. “For also if a trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare for war?” (Ver. 8.) The trumpet-call must be understood in short. “So also ye through the tongue, unless ye give a distinct speech, how shall what is spoken be known, for ye will be speaking into air?” (Ver. 9.) Distinctness, so as to be understood, is the point pressed; not exactly easy to be understood, but distinct speech, so as to be intelligible: otherwise all is lost for the hearers.
“There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none insignificant. If therefore I do not know the power of the voice, I shall be to him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh a barbarian in my case. So also ye, since ye are zealous after spirits, seek that ye may abound for the edification of the assembly.” (Vers. 10-12.) To be understood then is essential to edification. No matter how excellent the matter conveyed by the unknown language, it has no claim to be said to the assembly, unless it be duly interpreted. It is foreign there, even more out of place than a colloquy with a barbarian or foreigner If they really were in earnest for the power of the Spirit in their midst, why did not they seek to abound for the building up one another? This were divine love, not vain display, but worthy of Christ and His saints: It is flesh that likes distinction for itself, not the service of the Lord for the good of others, where God deigns to deal with souls.
Edification, then, is rule absolute for what is said in the assembly. No matter how astonishing may be the exhibition of divine power answering to the name of Jesus, if it edify not, it has no rightful place there. For love edifies, as knowledge puffs up, and power startles or stuns; and as God is love, so the assembly is the suited sphere for the exercise of this, the energy of His own nature. The children partake of His nature; for he who loves is born of God, and knows God. To keep up the exercise and testimony of this is of all moment; as it is to hinder what would give loose reins to the flesh, under cover of displaying the mighty effects of Christ’s victory. Hence the regulation that follows: “Wherefore let him that speaketh with a tongue pray that he may interpret.” (Ver. 18.) But the apostle proceeds to give reasons, and this, as his manner was, by application to his own case: “For if I pray with a tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, but I will pray also with the understanding; I will sing with the spirit, but I will sing also with the understanding. Since if thou bless in spirit, how shall he that filleth the place of the private person say Amen at thy thanksgiving, since he knoweth not what thou sayest? For thou givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. I thank God, I speak in a tongue more than you all; but in an assembly I desire to speak five words with my understanding, that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.” (Vers. 14-19.)
Thus the rule of love is still further enforced and maintained. Praying in a tongue is excluded on this principle as decidedly as any other kind of speaking in a tongue. And it is evidently the strongest case as being an address to God, who of course understood all, and conclusive against prayer in any unknown tongue. Communion is the joy of the assembly; at the least edification is indispensable. What cannot be understood by the assembly as such has no claim to be heard there, unless there were interpretation directly or indirectly.
But we see also that prayer, singing, blessing, thanksgiving, as well as prophesying, had their full place in the assembly. They are all to edification; and who could forbid any of them? Power is insufficient, however manifestly divine. What is with the understanding, and consequently addresses it, has the greatest weight with the apostle, as thus speaking authoritatively for the Lord; and this is as true of prayers and hymns as of teaching. The least in the assembly is presumed to go intelligently with the praise or thanksgiving that rises up to God.
Indeed fellowship is the aim of the Holy Spirit in all church action; and hence the all-importance of His guidance into the will of the Lord, which alone is entitled to govern all the saints, and into such worship as renewed hearts can feel and join in spontaneously. Influence and effort are alien and unseasonable, as they are human. The assembly is of God, with One there perfectly adequate to work in all hearts to the glory of the Lord Jesus; and the new man the apostle would have to do, say, and hear all intelligently. The day of vague emblems is past; ecstatic utterances, mighty effects, may have their scope elsewhere; but in the assembly there ought to be the exercise of the understanding. It is called to be “fruitful;” so that he who holds no public place (
ὁ ἀναπληρῶν τὸν τόπον τοῦ ἰδιωτοῦ) maybe able to go along with what is said. To be intelligible, so as to edify, is requisite in the assembly.
It is evident, from Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3, that the Christians of that early day had psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, quite distinct from those God inspired by David and others for His ancient people. Not a word implies that what was sung in the assembly of God was either a Jewish psalm or of New Testament inspiration. They were therefore, I presume, substantially such as Christians in our day, and in all days, are wont to use. Only they sought the Lord’s guidance, and the fellowship of all, on these solemn public occasions. Our chapter is of importance in proving that they sung in the assembly; as the other epistles referred to, as well as James, prove the use of hymns in private or alone. Of course the power of the Spirit was sought in both; as He indeed dwells in the individual Christian no less than in the assembly.
The apostle is careful to intimate that there was not the least reason on his part for jealousy of others speaking in a tongue; for he himself was gifted in this way more than them all. But in the assembly to speak five words with the understanding was to him more desirable than ever so many in a tongue; and this, because his heart was set on instructing others also. It is love which should animate, not self-pleasing; and love works with a view to edification. Hence the grave and wise exhortation that follows, not without reproof.
“Brethren, be not children in mind, but in malice be infants, but in mind be of full age. In the law it is written, By men of other tongues, and by lips of others,147 will I speak to this people; and not even thus will they listen to me, saith Jehovah. Wherefore the tongues are for a sign, not to those that believe, but to the unfaithful, while prophecy [is] not to the unfaithful, but to those that believe. If therefore the whole assembly come together unto the same place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in simple or unfaithful [persons], will they not say that ye are mad? But if all prophesy, and some unfaithful or simple one come in, he is convicted by all, he is judged by all;† the secrets of his heart become manifest; and thus148 falling on [his] face he will do homage to God, reporting that indeed God is among you.” (Vers. 20-25.)
Thus the apostle as a father again admonishes his beloved children that they should eschew the trifling natural to the young, the disposition to be occupied with some new thing of slight moment in itself, but apt to tend to mischief, as their fondness for and misuse of tongues in the assembly hindered a due estimate of prophesying, the weightiest of all gifts for such an occasion. But he would nave them to cherish with the artlessness of a babe the understanding of riper years. And he cites freely from Isaiah 28:11,12, so as to convoy a wholesome inference for the Corinthian saints. For God is there warning the Jews, dull to hearken to His prophets, that He would speak to them with the stammering lips of foreigners. Such a tongue speaking to Israel was a sign of their humiliation, and of God’s judgment. What perversity, then, for the saints in Corinth to turn from God, speaking in prophecy for their edification, to tongues which they could not understand! to find their pleasure as Christians in what was God’s solemn threat to His ancient people because of their unheeding refractoriness! The apostle, neither here nor anywhere, despises a tongue in its own place and season, used as a sign for unbelievers as God intended it. The unintelligent and unloving mistake was introducing it among believers, who could not profit by it. Divine gift as it was, its possession constituted no license to exercise it apart from the end of the Lord, who gave it in His grace and for His glory, and with His will now expressed to control its use.
The common English version needlessly introduces “serveth” in the latter half of verse 22. I think, however, that it is justified in not understanding “sign” with prophesying, which essentially differs from those powers correctly falling under that designation, like a tongue or a miracle. It was this, no doubt, which influenced them in changing the “to” of the former clause into the “for” of the latter, which reads more smoothly in English. But the change seems scarcely called for, and is not here adopted. We could equally well say tongues are as a sign for the unbelieving, prophesying for those that believe.
But the apostle is not content with this withering application of the Jewish prophet; he both exposes the folly of their conduct, and lays down the right aim in the assembly. On the one hand he puts the case of their all speaking with tongues in full assembly, and this in presence of simple persons or unbelievers. What must be the impression produced? That the saints were mad. On the other hand, if all were to prophesy, how would such an one feel if he came in and heard? In the discovery to himself of his heart’s secrets, divinely dealt with by them all, the profoundest conviction that God is truly among the saints. So, when the woman of Samaria had her life set out in a few words by One who had never met her before, she confessed, “Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.” By His words she could not but feel and own that all was out, and God was speaking to her conscience.
This is the characteristic of prophesying, not the announcement of the good news as in evangelizing, nor the unfolding of doctrine as in teaching, but God by His word dealing with the soul consciously. Such, in this hypothetical case, would be the conviction irresistibly brought home by all prophesying, and such the report made, as well as the homage rendered at the moment. It is supposed to be the effect, not of one preaching in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, but of God’s presence in His saints thus prophesying in the assembly. The apostle does not describe it as a fact that ever did take place, but as the natural effect under the circumstances.
How solemn that there is no such “assembly” now found, or even essayed, in the so-called “churches”! How blessed that ever so few have faith in His word and Spirit, who alone can make it good in the measure of their dependence upon Him! It is in the Spirit that we wait on the Lord, the central object of faith to the assembly gathered to His name. That the two or three who thus meet have “little strength” is most true; that they have deep reason to humble themselves is no less true; but they have the deepest and unfailing reason to praise Him for His faithfulness as they keep His word and deny not His name. Those who forsake or despise such assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of most is now-a-days, are scarcely entitled to speak. Unbelief or unfaithfulness should at least be silent. What can be worse than to invent plausible appearances to cover sin and shame?
The apostle now comes to the practical deductions from the divine principles laid down for regulating the assembly. The Corinthians had assumed absolute openness or really license for human will from the fact of the powers distributed to one and another by the Spirit. To control a meeting where He wrought thus seemed unreasonable. But here they were wholly mistaken; for the blessed One who is now sent down from heaven is a Spirit of order, and works in love for the purpose of maintaining the Lordship of Christ. Hence no power at work in or by man exempts from the rule of the Lord, but on the contrary exalts it, if exercised according to the will of God.
“What is it then, brethren? Whenever ye come together, each of [you]149 hath a psalm, hath a teaching, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edification. If any one speak with a tongue, [let it be] two or at the most three, and in turn, and let one interpret; but if there be no interpreter, let him be silent in an assembly, and let him speak to himself and to God. And let two or three prophets speak, and let the others discern; but if there be a revelation to another while sitting, let the first be silent; for ye can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all be exhorted. And spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not [a God] of confusion but of peace, as in all the assemblies of the saints.” (Ver. 26-33.)
Such was the restless desire of contributing each his part, not of general edification by whomsoever the Lord might deign to employ. Indeed they were thinking of themselves, not of Him nor of each other in love. Still none can deny to the assembly the fullest liberty: else it could not have been thus abused. Modern arrangements exclude not the abuse only but that liberty which ought to be; and in fact, where the Spirit of the Lord is, liberty is characteristic of His presence individually or collectively, and in the assembly it is marked according to scripture. Not that this was in the least understood by such as Neander, who founded it on the priesthood of all Christians, which is a wholly different relation concerning the saints in their freedom of access to God. Here it is a question of His assembly wherein the Holy Spirit acts by the members as He will to glorify the Lord and edify the saints. Hence power is subordinated to the Lord’s authority, the vessel of divine energy is made to feel responsibility in its use, and the vital principle of obedience is preserved intact. Thus is God in all things glorified through Jesus Christ, as says the great apostle of the circumcision, when exhorting that each should use the gift which he had received as a good steward of God’s manifold grace.
The apostle then limits speaking in a tongue to two or at most three on the same occasion, in turn, and then only in case of one there to interpret. So it was to be even with prophesying, where the others150 were to judge or discern, instead of one interpreting. Prophesying was of all gifts the most precious and suited to build up or otherwise act on the saints and even those outside for good; but there must not be an excess even of the best thing, for God is jealous for the blessing of His saints, and thinks of the weakest in the assembly who might be distracted, not edified, by more than three. Should a revelation be made to one sitting by, he could speak, the other being silent, for a revelation when thus given took precedence of all communication. There was room indeed for all to prophesy for the instruction and stirring up of all, but one by one. Power must not set order aside: spirits of prophets are subject to prophets, instead of there being an uncontrollable impulse. It was not with the working of the Holy Spirit as with demon power; and this because God is not the source of confusion but of peace, as in all the assemblies of the saints, where order was peculiarly due to His character as present. Excitement and tumult, even in the exercise of divinely given energy dishonour Him, the spring and giver of peace.
It is not quite certain whether we should connect the last clause with verse 33 as its close, or with verse 34 as its beginning. Many critics and commentators prefer the latter. There is no doubt that Lachmann was wrong in punctuating the Greek, so as to make “of the saints” the complement, not of the assemblies to which it unquestionably belongs, but of “the women,”
ὑμῶν being of course omitted on the authority of the three greatest uncials, six cursives, with most of the ancient versions and early citations. But safer editors, like Tischendorf, who also omit
αἱ γυναῖκες, “the women,” from
τῶν ἁγίων, “of the saints.” To begin with such a phrase is unexampled. “Let the, women be silent in the assemblies; for it is not permitted to them to speak, but let them be in subjection151 as also the law saith. But if they wish to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in an assembly.” (Vers 34, 35.)
This rule is of great moment. Women are forbidden to speak in the assemblies. It might have been supposed by those who love to reason that there if anywhere they might be allowed. The holy atmosphere, where man is as nothing, where God makes His presence and power known spiritually, might have seemed a fitting place for holy women to speak, who undoubtedly might have gifts, even that of prophesying like the four daughters of Philip the evangelist. (Acts 21:9.) But no; the apostle was inspired to forbid it in the assemblies, of course not absolutely, for every gift is meant to be exercised, but the manner must be in submission to the Lord’s direction. Divine revelation in the Old Testament gave clear intimation of woman’s place generally in subjection: the New Testament is no less peremptory as to the assemblies. The notion of their standing forth in proclamation of the gospel crossed no mind in those days. This was a violation of female propriety, which would have shocked even the heathen. It was reserved for the corruption of the best thing, for the innovating spirit and ways of modern Christendom. The apostle forbade their even asking a question on these public occasions. If they wish to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is disgraceful for a women to speak in an assembly.
The entire subject is wound up by the demand whether the word of God set out to them or reached to them only, The Corinthians were the first to depart from the apostolic order established everywhere. It was the beginning of ecclesiastical revolt. The church is to be subject. The word of God commands, and commands all assemblies alike.
“What, did the word of God go out from you, or reached it unto you alone? If any one seemeth to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge the things which I write to you, that they are [the] 152Lord’s commandment.153 But if any one be ignorant, let him be ignorant.154 Wherefore, my155 brethren, seek earnestly for prophesying, and forbid not the speaking in156 the tongues;157 but let all things be done becomingly and in order.” (Vers. 36-40.)
The assembly is bound to maintain the truth, and, whilst bearing with want of intelligence (for we all know but in part), to sanction no error. The assembly is bound to walk in holiness to the Lord, as becomes those called from darkness into His marvellous light. But the assembly is taught; it cannot and ought not to teach, but to accept those whom the Lord sends to teach. The assembly is called to act in receiving and putting away, in both subject to the Lord and His word; but rule properly is in the hands of those so gifted of God, just as preaching, teaching, or any other service. It is the Lord who gives; it is the Lord who commands, as we see here, in the authoritative injunction of His apostle. The word of God comes to the saints, and it comes to them all. Differing views may be found, alas! like every other failure; but the assemblies are surely to seek to walk in the fellowship of His mind and will. Different circumstances may modify in matters of detail, yet more in appearance than reality; while, in matters which concern not only vital truth but godly order as here, scripture leaves no justifiable ground for dissent.
Again, to be gifted with special insight into God’s mind, or to reap the fruit of this in spirituality, if real, would only deepen the sense of the Lord’s authority and the imperativeness of obedience. We see the perfection of this in Christ Himself here below. Let power of the Spirit then be shown in the recognition of His commandment! Does any one refuse subjection on the score of ignorance? Then let him keep the place of ignorance and not pretend to teach. Those who wish to guide others should know what is, and what is not, of the Lord. It is really a question of will in those who do not see; for His injunction fails not in power to reach the conscience. To reason further would be to indulge will and strengthen self-confidence, beside possible harm to one’s own soul. The refractory are best left in His hands whose words they cavil at: if His own, He knows how to break them down and make them thankful for the light, the refusal of which keeps them in ignorance.
The conclusion the apostle then shuts up the brethren to is, zeal for prophesying, and no prohibition of speaking with tongues, regulated as we have seen in the assemblies. For all things, not these merely, are to be done becomingly and in order. But the Spirit alone can give us to discern always what is comely, and the order is not left to human discretion, but revealed by the Lord. Thus man’s will, as it is condemned in every detail of individual life (for we are sanctified to obedience, yea, to the same kind of obedience as our Lord Jesus Christ), is no less excluded from the assembly of God which He has formed for the glory of Christ, and in which He acts by the Holy Ghost according to the written word.
1 Corinthians 15.
But there was another question of the deepest moment, and still more fundamental, which the apostle reserved for the last place. The resurrection of the dead was doubted and denied by some at Corinth. This was grave indeed; but it is incomparably more so now, after the ample testimony to the truth rendered here and throughout the New Testament. It was inexcusable ignorance then; it is far guiltier and more rebellious if we doubt in presence of the disproof we are about to study, and of much more to the same effect elsewhere.
“And I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I announced to you, which also ye received, in which also ye stand, by which also ye are being saved, if ye hold fast with what discourse I announced [it] to you, unless ye believed at random. For I delivered to you in the first place that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he was raised the third day according to the scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas, after that to the twelve. After that he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the most remain till now, but some also have fallen asleep. After that he appeared to James, after that to all the apostles; and last of all, as to the abortion, he appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God; but by God’s grace I am what I am, and his grace that [was] towards me became not vain, but I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God that [was] with me. Whether then I or they, thus we preach, and thus ye believed.” (Vers. 1-11.)
Nothing was farther from the intention of the Corinthian speculators than to compromise the gospel or the resurrection of Christ. But to this exactly does the apostle reduce their question. They forgot that there is an enemy behind who can take advantage of the mind no less than of the body, and whose artifice it is to array falsehood with a fairer garb than the truth, and so not only to gain admission for what is false, but thereby also to expel or undermine what is true, holiness suffering in the same proportion.
It was humbling therefore, but wholesome, to have the gospel made known afresh to saints, who ought rather to be in the fellowship of its activities — to have the apostle insisting on it, (1) as what he had declared to them originally, (2) as what they had received, (3) as that in which they had their standing, and (4) as the means of their salvation. The copulative conjunction,
καί, defines each consideration recalled to them; the hypothetical particle,
εἰ, supposes the fact of their holding fast the glad tidings, otherwise their faith was worthless. Salvation in this epistle, as in many others, is viewed as going on. (Vers. 1, 2.) It is
σώζεσθε, the present, and neither the perfect,
ἐστε σεσωσμενοι, as in Ephesians 2:5, 8, nor the aorist, as in 2 Timothy 1:9 and Titus 3:5.
If Paul was an apostle, and delivered to them especially the glad tidings, it was what he too received; he pretended to no more than a faithful discharge of the trust the Lord had reposed in him as a witness concerning Himself. He received it, as we are told elsewhere, immediately from Christ. There was no intermediate channel, but a direct revelation and a personal charge. And what is the foundation laid? “That Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.” (Ver 3.) Not for ourselves merely, not at all for our good ways, but for our bad, “for our sins.” Who could have said or thought it but God? And He has said it, not only now in the gospel, but from of old in the scriptures. From Genesis to Malachi all was a preparing the way for Christ to die for our sins. The law witnessed to it in the sacrifices; the Psalms declared that the sacrifices were but temporary, and that the Messiah must, and would, do the will of God; and the prophets showed that He would do it by suffering and death when Jehovah should lay on Him the iniquities of His people. Without the death of Christ for our sins, not only has the gospel no foundation, but the Old Testament has no adequate meaning or worthy end.
But God would give the amplest evidence. So it is added to Christ’s death (ver. 4), “and that he was buried.” Only here is made no mention of the scriptures. This is reserved for the immense fact of the resurrection: “and that he was raised the third day according to the scriptures,” which is followed by the repeated appearances, of course without any such attestation. It is not merely an accessory fact or corroboration of Christ’s death. His resurrection is the grand pivot of the chapter, the display of God’s glory as regards man, the fullest answer to all unbelief, and the knell of Satan’s power. This was the truth which the enemy sought to undermine among some at Corinth; but the result, under the grace of God, is the complete demonstration of its certainty, and of its all-importance.
But this is not all that the apostle points out. Christ was not raised only; He “was raised the third day according to the scriptures.” The first book of the law gave its early preparation for it. For from the beginning, even in Eden, though not till after sin entered, God announced that the bruised Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head. Still more distinctly do we see the Father ready to give His beloved and only Son, and that Son under the sentence of death till “the third day” (Gen. 22:4), when a ram in the type was substituted, and Isaac was received as from the dead in a figure. (Heb. 11:17-19.) The Psalms give their intermediate but glowing witness, Psalm 8 showing us the Son of man who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, but crowned with glory and honour, with all things put under His feet; Psalm 16, the dependent One, trusting in God through life and death, and beyond. What possibly more distinct? “My flesh also shall rest in hope; for Thou wilt not leave my soul in Sheol, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine holy one to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life,” etc., — words which, as a whole, apply as clearly to the dead and risen Messiah, as they cannot to David or any other. There is no mention of “the third day” here of course, which would be a foreign element, and destructive of the calm confidence of the psalm; but it is plain that for the soul not to rest in Sheol, and the body not to see corruption, there must be not only a raising from the dead, but this without delay. His flesh therefore should rest in hope, and not merely the spirit. But the prophets carry on and complete the testimony, for if Hosea 6 be only the principle applicable to Israel by-and-by, Jonah 1:17 is the striking type of the Son of man three days and three nights (so it was counted Jewishly) in the heart of the earth: what a sign to the faithless Jew!
The apostle confirms the resurrection of Christ by certain of His appearances afterwards, as He had the death by burial. “And that he appeared to Cephas, after that to the twelve.” (Ver. 5.) He omits Mary of Magdala and the other women, important as both might be for the objects which the evangelists had in view. There is no heaping up of proofs in either Gospels or Epistles, but a selection suitable to the design of God by each writer. The apostle gives only men who for weight, number, or other circumstances, furnished evidence unanswerable for every fair mind. The risen Lord appeared to Cephas, or Simon Peter, before He stood in the midst of “the twelve.” (Compare Luke 24:34.) Nor could any individual be of greater importance than Simon, especially at a moment when his soul needed reassurance so deeply. But no individual could have the weight of the entire company which knew him best; and the twelve are therefore next named, without noticing either the two disciples who had enjoyed His company to Emmaus on the resurrection-day, or that the apostolic body wanted somewhat to complete it on the same evening.
But there is another occasion, to which the apostle points as unsurpassed for magnitude of testimony: “after that he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the most remain till now, but some also have fallen asleep.” (Ver. 6.) Never was a truth better attested. The greater part of these five hundred united witnesses still survived if any one doubted. Even if a person were prejudiced enough to accuse the twelve of a plot, what unreasonable folly to allow such a thought of so large a body of simple disciples, above all suspicion of object or office? The Holy Spirit left Luke to record the Lord’s partaking of food when risen, and John the incredulity of the apostle Thomas, only the more to strengthen the truth; but Paul gives us this great body of witnesses, most then alive, if any chose to examine or cross-examine them. Surely had it not been the simple truth, some of that crowd of eyewitnesses must have disclosed the wickedness of thus conspiring in a lie against God.
“After that he appeared to James, after that to all the apostles.” (Ver. 7.) James had a place of singular honour, both in the church at Jerusalem, and as an inspired writer; and as he was the object alone of an appearance of Christ, this is mentioned, no less than His appearing subsequently to all the apostles. All was in place, and each had its separate importance; and this, extending over forty days with such a variety of occasions and circumstances, marks the care with which divine wisdom and grace made the resurrection known. The quiet statement of the fact is in remarkable contrast with what Jerome quotes from the spurious Gospel of the Nazarenes (Catal. Script. Eccl.), how James made a vow neither to eat nor drink till he saw the Lord risen again. Man spoils all he touches in divine things; he cannot even fill up a gap with a trustworthy tradition. James had no such superiority of faith over the rest; nor, if he had possessed it, would he have shown it by any such vow.
One more remained, the most extraordinary of all, and long after date; “and last of all, as to the abortion, he appeared to me also.” (Ver. 8.) It was from heaven, in broad daylight, as he drew near to Damascus, not only an unbeliever, but the hottest of adversaries, in the midst of a like-minded band of companions: all smitten down, all seeing the light, and hearing the Pound, but he alone seeing Jesus, he alone hearing the words of His mouth. Unspeakable grace he felt it was, with unaffected lowliness of heart; “for I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (Vers. 8, 9.) If Thomas illustrated the difficulties even of believers, Saul of Tarsus is the best sample of opposition on the part of earthly religion. But he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision; and the sight of a risen, ascended, Lord becomes the end of his old life (closed in grace by God’s judgment in the cross), the beginning of what was new and everlasting. No wonder that, as the others preached by Jesus the resurrection from among the dead, to the horror of the sceptical Sadducees, Paul was no less urgent to both world and church. It was the turning-point of his own conversion; and his penetrating, comprehensive, mind soon saw under God’s teaching that the death and the resurrection of Christ were none other things than what Moses and the prophets had said should happen, and light through this be announced both to the Jews and to the Gentiles.
Of this ministry the converted persecutor was to be the most honoured instrument. And this he himself could not but add; “but by God’s grace I am what I am; and his grace that [was] toward me became not vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God that [was] with me.” (Ver. 10.) The simple truth carried its own weight. His apostleship, which had been assailed by those who were not less hostile to his full preaching of grace, received no small confirmation; the pride of human nature, in its merits or its wisdom, was put down; God was in every way exalted; and the special point in debate had a crowning testimony from Paul himself, which also accounted for a revolution never surpassed, if equalled, in any man’s history since the world began: a revolution which was unintelligible otherwise in one trained, as he had been, in the strictest traditions and ways of Pharisaism, and now the boldest minister of the gospel, the most devoted minister of the church, yet withal a mind eminently sober and conscientious, logical and profound. The appearing of the risen Jesus from heaven explained all perfectly, not his conversion only, but his work beyond all laborious and blessed of God. Truly it was the grace of God that was with him, who loved to own it, while he abased himself.
But of those labours, so abundant and fruitful, what was the foundation truth, and what the animating spring? The resurrection of Christ with Paul, as with the apostles whom some pitted against him. “Whether then I or they, thus we preach, and thus ye believed.” (Ver. 11.) There was no change in the preaching: how then such a departure in some of the Corinthians? It was not so when they believed. Could it be of God?
Having thus shown the immense care with which God had provided witnesses to the resurrection of Christ, as it was preached by the apostles, and believed by all Christians, he now proceeds to reason from it to the resurrection of the dead, and also from their denial of the resurrection to its effect on Christ and the gospel.
“But if Christ is preached that he hath been raised from [the] dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of [the] dead? But if there is no resurrection of [the] dead, neither hath Christ been raised; and if Christ hath not been raised, then also empty [is] our preaching, and empty also your faith; and we are also found false witnesses of God, because we witnessed concerning God that he raised the Christ, whom he raised not, if indeed no dead are raised. For if no dead are raised, neither hath Christ been raised; and if Christ hath not been raised, vain [is] your faith; ye are yet in your sins; then also those that fell asleep in Christ perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are most to be pitied of all men.” (Vers. 12-19.)
Philosophy may issue in dualism, pantheism, or materialism; it may make reason or experience the sole criterion of truth; it may glory in the creative imagination of a Plato, or the pure reason of an Aristotle; but Stoics and Epicureans mock and evade the resurrection, which displays the power of God in the scene of man’s total nothingness and corruption. Of the soul they may boast. It is man’s soul; and its capacity, its intellect, may be as great in the wicked as in the righteous. But God alone can raise the dead. Man has not even the idea. Even the well-read Pliny (Nat. H.) denies the possibility: Revocare defunctos ne Deus quidem potest. Then Oriental thought, which ever thinks of matter as essentially evil, and therefore makes liberation from the body the highest blessing, would help in the same direction those who attach weight to such speculations. Christ, Christ risen from the dead, is not only the death-blow to all these workings of human intellect, but establishes, as the great fact presented by God to faith, victory over evil in Him who bore its consequences, in the righteous judgment of God, that He might deal in sovereign grace with man, give the believer power morally by the Holy Ghost meanwhile, and associate him openly and triumphantly with Christ in the same risen condition ere long and for ever.
We can understand, then, the effort of Satan to bring in among the Christians doubt and denial of the resurrection of the dead. As the seal of Christ’s grace and glory, of the miracles He wrought, and of the truth He taught, His resurrection is all-important; no less is it the proof of Satan vanquished, of redemption accepted, of God glorified, even as to sin and sins borne in Christ’s body on the tree. It is the power of the new and inner life, and it is the object and spring of the most glorious hope, in which the Christian and the church look to be blessed with Christ in heavenly places, and this in fact, as now in title, Christ having already borne God’s judgment for the believer, who has passed from death into life.
In vain, then, did reason object to a state of incomparable superiority to the present, or even to the past, before sin entered and spoilt the work of God on earth. In vain did it scorn the re-union of soul and body, as if it must be a hopeless imprisonment, a going back and not forward, and an everlasting degradation for the spirit after its emancipation. Christ risen is the completest possible answer, wherein God gives us already to behold by faith man according to His counsels of glory, flowing from His love, and founded on His righteousness: not an idea, but a fact, attested as none ever was singe the world began, for precision and competency and fulness as well as certainty, those witnesses alone being excluded which were incompatible with its nature, and which constituted therefore a moral impossibility.
It is impossible to read the Acts of the Apostles without seeing that the resurrection of Christ was the all but unvarying testimony presented to souls, Jews or Gentiles: not merely that He died for our sins, but that God has raised Him from the dead. To say that there is no resurrection of dead men is evidently to set that aside. (Ver. 12.) It is the introduction of Christ which brings every reasoning of man in divine things to the test. The universal message, the gospel to every creature, is that the Saviour is raised from the dead after suffering for sin. The denial of the resurrection denies not merely the future hope of the saints, but the standing fact of Christ, the mainspring of God’s good news. For it is plain that, if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, what becomes of the apostolic preaching? what of the faith of saints in Corinth, and everywhere else? (Vers. 13, 14.) He had told them before that there is salvation by the gospel for such as held fast the truth preached, unless they believed heedlessly, or at random (
εἴκη, ver. 2), in which case they would be as ready to give up as to receive. Now he goes farther, and, instead of speaking of their subjective state as a light reception of the truth, he points out that, if Christ has not been raised, as the gospel declares, the preaching of the apostles was objectively as empty (
κενόν) as the faith of the saints. But there is something more precise still: “and we are also found false witnesses of God, because we witnessed concerning God that he raised the Christ, whom he raised not, if indeed no dead are raised.” (Ver. 15.)
The resurrection of Christ is thus vital and fundamental. It is no accessory privilege, nor proof ex abundanti, which can be lopped off, leaving the stock of divine grace unimpaired. If it is not true, the foundations are gone, the gospel is worthless, God Himself misrepresented, and the witnesses impostors. The immense fact of resurrection was one which Christ not only predicted over and over again, but on it staked the truth of His mission and Sonship. It is the manifestation of that power of deliverance from death and judgment which is the present joy of the Christian, as it is the brightest witness to the efficacy of atonement, and the pledge of glory with Christ at His coming again. Hence too, if it be not true, the chosen witnesses are convicted of falsehood, because their testimony belies God in attributing to Him the raising of the Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact no dead are raised.
It will be seen how persistently the apostle binds together the resurrection of Christ and of the dead. This is no accident, but the fruit of God’s grace and wisdom, who would associate every hope and ground of confidence for His own with Christ; as indeed the Christian is truly united to Him, and knows it. “For if no dead are raised, neither hath Christ been raised; and if Christ hath not been raised, vain [is] your faith; ye are yet in your sins; then those also that fell asleep in Christ perished.” (Vers. 16-18.) Again, he argues that, if no dead are raised, neither has Christ been raised, and if He has not, vain (
ματαία) is their faith, in the sense of being without purpose, and without effect; or, as the next clause teaches, “ye are yet in your sins.” The consequence is, of course, no less serious for the believers already passed away: “then also those that fell asleep in Christ perished.” Inferences so shocking as to saints that are gone, as well as for their own souls, yet flowing legitimately from any principle, are no slight evidence of its falsity. But if the conclusions were so inadmissible, who could accept the premisses which make them not only just but inevitable?
Thus the future, according to God, is lost, and we are reduced to a hope in Christ for this life only. But if this be all, the Christian, instead of the happiest, is of all men most to be pitied; for he certainly falls under special trials because of his faith in Christ, which is nevertheless fruitless, and leaves him in his sins, if no dead rise; for in this case Christ has not been raised, and perdition must be the portion of all that sleep in Him; they suffer in the present, and they have lost their hope for the future. None can be more pitiable. (Ver. 19.)
The apostle, having thus brought to a climax of absurdity the consequences that flow from the assumption that no dead rise, turns next to the facts of revelation, and triumphantly displays their blessedness in Christ, as contrasted with the first head of the race.
“But now hath Christ been raised from [the] dead, 158first-fruits of those fallen asleep. For since by man [is] death, by man also resurrection of dead. For as in the Adam all die, so also in the Christ shall all be made alive; but each in his own rank: [the] first-fruits Christ; then those that are the159 Christ’s at his coming; then the end, when he giveth up 160 the kingdom to him [who is] God and Father, when he shall have annulled all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until161 he put all the enemies under his foes. Death, last enemy, is annulled. For he subjected all things under his feet. But when he saith that all things have bean subjected, [it is] manifest that [it is] except him who subjected all things to him. But when all things shall have been subjected to him, then also the Son himself will be subjected to him that subjected all things to him, that God may be all in all.” (Vers. 20-28.)
Thus the fact is that Christ is raised from the dead, not merely first, but “first-fruits of those fallen asleep.” It is uncalled for, therefore, to reason more on the disastrous results of non-resurrection. For not only is a dead man risen, but that dead is Christ, the conqueror of Satan, not only for this life in the wilderness, but from the grave for eternity. He is risen, so that death has no more dominion over Him; He is risen, the pledge that those fallen asleep shall consequently rise. It is the proof that all men shall live, unjust no less than just; but here He is viewed, not in His power to raise His enemies for judgment, but as the blessed spring of the resurrection of His own, first-fruits of those fallen asleep. Consequently He is said to be, as He was, raised from out of (
ἐκ) dead men, as His saints will be at His coming or presence. In His and their case it is not only
ἀνάστασις νεκρῶν but
ἐκ νεκρῶν (that is, resurrection of, but from among dead men), because in both cases other dead remain in their graves; whereas the resurrection of the unjust will be only
ἀνάστασις νεκρῶν, and not
Such is the simple statement of the truth as to this, which is sometimes missed through ignorance, if not prejudice. It is superfluous to argue that the resurrection of the saints is called a resurrection of the dead. Of course it is, as the resurrection of the unjust might be also. But the decisive point of difference is, that only the resurrection of Christ or of His own, who are raised without disturbing the wicked as yet from their graves, could be designated a resurrection from, or from out of, the dead, because the rest of the dead await His voice to wake them up to stand before the great white throne, and be judged according to their works. There are two distinct acts, as well as characters, of resurrection, according to our Lord, in John 5 (and so in Rev. 20); never, therefore, such a notion as one universal or indiscriminate rising of all (good and bad) at the same moment, as tradition supposes with an effort at proof from Daniel 12 (which predicts the revival of Israel on earth), and from Matthew 25 (which treats of all the Gentiles, or the nations which the Son of man will judge when He sits on the throne of His glory here below), neither scripture speaking of resurrection in the true and literal sense.
But more: we are shown the connection of resurrection, as of death, with man. If the weak and fallen Adam brought in the one, the glorious last Adam will bring in the other, Himself already the first-fruits. “For since by man [is] death, by man also the resurrection of dead. For as in the Adam all die, even so in the Christ shall all be made alive.” (Vers. 21, 22.) There are two families characterised by the irrespective heads. The Adam family consists of all mankind, and they all die; the Christ family consists of all that are Christ’s, and they shall all be made alive, that is, in resurrection. For the question is exclusively of the body, and not of the soul, important as this last may be in its place. What the apostle here demonstrates is, that the bodies of the dead rise, and this in virtue of Christ for all His people, as death is the portion of all Adam’s posterity as such. It is impossible to sever “all” in either case from their representative head: only “all” in Adam’s case embraces the entire race, whereas “all” in the case of Christ as necessarily attaches to His family alone. And as this is certain to the thoughtful believer, so is it made plain to the simplest in verse 23, “But each in his own rank; [the] firstfruits Christ; then those that are the Christ’s at his coming.” Then all that are made alive in virtue of the Christ are shown here distinctly to be those that are His, and none else. Are not the wicked, then, to be raised? Unquestionably; but so special is the resurrection here that they are not even named. It is the resurrection of life, and belongs only to those that have practised good. They are His. For them He has won the victory. To them even now He has given eternal life; and they, if fallen asleep, shall rise at His coming.
“Then the end, when he giveth up the kingdom to him who is God and Father, when he shall have annulled all rule and all authority and power.” (Ver. 24.) Here it will be noticed that the apostle introduces, not the rising of the wicked dead, but “the end,” when Christ delivers up the kingdom in which He is to come and appear. (Compare Luke 19:12; Luke 23:12; 2 Tim. 4:1.) “The end,” being the epoch of the delivery of the kingdom in which He is to judge, must be after all judgment is over, and still more after the rest of the dead have been raised in order to be judged. It is in this way, then, that the resurrection of the wicked is not expressed but involved; not in the blessed life-giving resurrection which is for His own, but in that exertion of His power which characterises His kingdom, when all the enemies are to be put under His feet, the last of those to be annulled being death. The unjust are no longer, even seemingly, under that power of death or Satan; for they must be raised, Satan punished, and death annulled. He must reign and judge the enemies, and theirs is expressly a resurrection of judgment according to the Lord’s express declaration; whereas believers do not come into judgment, but have life in Him, and will reign with Him then. The risen saints are associated with Him when He takes the kingdom; the wicked are judged before He gives it up. “The end” here is absolute. It is the close, not merely of the age, as in Matt. 13, Matt. 24, and Matt. 28, which inaugurates the Son of man’s coming to reign, but of that kingdom. It is strictly “the end,” when eternity in the fullest sense begins, the new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
It will have been seen that the grand point is God’s exaltation of the risen Man, the Lord Jesus, in contrast with fallen Adam. And we must carefully distinguish between the words of the two psalms applied to Him: in verse 25 of Psalm 110, and in verse 27 of Psalm 8. God, according to the latter, subjected all things to the Son of man, once humbled, now risen; and this so absolutely takes in the universe as put under Christ, that God alone is excepted. But according to the former the glorified Messiah sits on the throne on high till Jehovah makes Messiah’s enemies His footstool. He is waiting until that moment. Then is the rod of Messiah’s strength to be sent by Jehovah out of Zion, and He will rule in the midst of His enemies.
Thus the subjection of all things to Him risen is already true to faith, according to the use made of Psalm 8, while at His coming from the right hand of God His enemies will be made His footstool, and He will rule in their midst. To this last answers the necessity of His reigning till He put all the enemies under His feet, death’s annulling included at the last. It is what scripture calls the kingdom, during which the Lord is to reduce all rule and all authority, and power, and then render it up to Him who is God and Father. (Ver. 24.) This will be at the end of the thousand years’ reign, which reign is characterised in verse 26, verse 26 adding what will be at its close. Verse 27 states the universality of His present title, as bound up with His resurrection; as verse 28 the eternal condition, when the universe has been subjected in fact, and the Son Himself shall be also, to Him who subjected it all to Him, in order that, not the Father exclusively, but God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) should be all in all, instead of the kingdom of man in Christ exalted and reigning. Thus is the lie of Satan met by the truth, grace, righteousness, and glorious counsels of God: man in Christ governing all first; and finally God all in all, where righteousness needs not to rule, but can dwell in endless blessing and peace.
The apostle now resumes the reasoning interrupted by the great parenthesis of divine revelation in verses 20-28. Therein he had traced out the consequences of Christ’s resurrection, and its connection with the kingdom to the end, when God shall be all in all. And the simple apprehension of the unquestionable fact that he does take up again the thread laid down at verse 19 is of all moment in helping us to understand the true bearing of verse 29, which has been singularly misapplied by all who fail to see this reference. It had been shown that the denial of the resurrection affects alike the dead and the living saints. If Christ be not raised, not merely did those that fell asleep in Him perish, but if in this life only we have had hope in Christ, we are more to be pitied than all men. This directly in sense connects itself with the disputed clause.
“Else what shall they do that are baptized for the dead? If no dead rise at all, why also are they baptized for them?162 Why are we also in danger every hour?” (Vers. 29, 30.) There is no need of departing from the ordinary meaning of “baptized,” “for,” or “dead.” Still less is it admissible that the Corinthians or others, in that early day, had devised a new and superstitious application of baptism, either for catechumens about to die, or for relatives already departed, who had not been baptized. It is incredible that the apostle should have contented himself with so passing a notice of such a nefarious imposture; though Dean Stanley assumes its truth, and characteristically draws from it a testimony to the apostle’s charitable dealing with a practice for which he could have had no real sympathy. Calvin justly explodes the notion of any such allusion here. It is probable however that, though with Estius, etc., he is wrong in thinking “the dead” mean those about to die, such a misinterpretation of the language may have suggested the rite later to the excitable and perverted minds of the Syrian Marcionites, or other heretics, of whose practice we hear in the writings of Tertullian, Epiphanius, etc.
Neander’s mind revolts from the idea of such a baptism, yet he so far yields to the reasoning of Ruckert as to allow that it seems the most natural interpretation. (Hist. of the Pl. and Tr. of the Christian Church, i. 164, ii. 117, ed. Bohn.) He suggests the raging of an epidemic about that time in Corinth, which may have swept away believers before baptism, whose relatives were baptized in their stead; but he pleads that, if Paul might for the occasion have borrowed an argument from the conviction lying at the basis of such a custom, he would probably have taken care to explain himself at another opportunity against this custom itself, as he did in reference to females speaking in their public assemblies.
There is not the smallest foundation for any hypothesis of the sort. The context suggests the true substitutionary idea. That
ὑπέρ allows of some such shade of thought is certain, not only from its usage in all correct Greek, but especially from the New Testament, where the physical sense of “over,”163 so common elsewhere, does not occur. Thus we find the apostle’s use in Philemon 13, which is distinct. (Compare John 11:60-52; John 18:14; Rom. 5:6, 7, 8; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15, 20; 1 Thess. 5:10; 1 Tim. 2:6; 1 Peter 2:21; 1 Peter 3:18, etc.) Nor is this found in the inspired writers only. Viger has cited a decisive passage from Dion. Hal. (Ant. Rom. viii. 87, ed. Reiske, p. 1723):
οὗτοι τὴν ἀρχὴν παραλαβόντες, ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀποθανόντων τῳ πρὸς
Ἀντιάτας πολέμῳ ατρατιωτῶν, ἠξίουν ἑτέρους καταγράφειν.
The apostle then refers to those who had already slept in Christ, as well as the living trials of such as himself. What will become of those baptized for the dead? Why then be enlisted into such ranks, if no dead at all are raised? Why do we too incur danger every hour? It was a forlorn hope indeed, if the light of resurrection did not shine. There is no strange practice supposed, but a forcible association of any now baptized with those who had gone before; still less is there a reprehension, express or tacit, which it is only possible to conceive by indulging in the imagination. Had it been
οἱ βαπτισθέντες, there might have been some biding show of argument for an exceptional fact or class, but
οἱ βαπτιζόμενοι much more naturally suits the baptized in general, the objects of that action. To infer that the present participle, rather than the aorist, implies a practice not generally prevalent, is as illegitimate grammatically, as it is exegetically to conceive a practice not otherwise known to us. There is not the least ground to gather from the text that it existed then, or was here alluded to. There is no reason, therefore, for translating the phrase “on behalf of the dead.” Indeed it seems to me that, were there a reference to friends, believing or not, who had died without baptism, a much more definite and restricted formula would be imperatively called for than
ὑπὲρ τῶν νεκρῶν, which very naturally refers to those in verse 18, as present danger does to verse 19. This also accounts for the change from the third to the first person; so strict is the analogy, without the strange fancy that by the third person, and by the article before
βαπτ., the apostle indirectly separates himself and those to whom he is writing from participation in, or approval of, the practice.
I do not contend for, nor agree with, the views of the Greek fathers; but it is to be noticed that not one of them, as far as I am aware, saw any such reference, as Ambrose, Anselm, Erasmus, Grotius, etc., followed by Ruckert, Meyer, De Wette, Alford, etc.; still less does one state it as “the only legitimate reference,” which is indeed not only unfounded but presumptuous, if not to the last degree puerile. Nor do I understand what Hr. T. S. Green means by “baptized concerning the dead,” as he translates in his “Twofold New Testament.” In his “New Testament Grammar” of 1842, page 251, he cites Romans 1:4, and 1 Corinthians 15:29, as supposed instances where by
νεκρῶν only one person, namely, Christ, is really signified; but this is in both a mistake. C. F. Matthaei falls into the opposite error of supposing that, baptism being typical of resurrection,
ὑπὲρ τῶν ν. =
ἑαυτῶν, comparing Matthew 8:22 and similar passages. This resembles Chrysostom, Theodoret, Tertullian, etc., who taught that “for the dead” meant for our bodies. None of them saw the train of thought.
But G. B. Winer seems at least as uncertain as any in his Grammar of New Testament Greek (Moulton’s edition). First, he tells us (page 219) that
ὑπὲρ τῶν νεκρῶν can hardly refer to (the dead) Christ — in that case we should have had
εἰς τοὺς νεκρούς — but must be understood of (unbaptized) dead men. There is no such necessity, as we have seen. But, letting this pass, in page 349 we are told that the text is probably to be rendered, “who allow themselves to be baptized over the dead;” whereas, when formally treating of the prepositions, he admits that the meaning of
ὑπὲρ in the New Testament is always figurative, the nearest approach to its local signification being 1 Corinthians 4:6, unless we so render our text. In the same page (478) he gives “for the benefit of, for,” as probably meant in 1 Corinthians 15:29. But he does not close the paragraph without admitting that, as in most cases he who acts in behalf of another appears for him,
ὑπέρ sometimes borders on
ἀντί, “instead of,” and cites, besides Eurip. Alc. 700 and Philemon 13, Thuc. i. 141 and Polyb. iii. 67. 7. This last evidently sustains the real unforced sense of our text, which is as consonant with the context and argument, as it avoids the need of doing harshness to grammar, exegesis, early doctrine, and history.
It is the resurrection (and all is based on that of Christ) which, as it is the basis of Christianity, so also animates with a calm and constant courage more than human. Here the apostle turns to his own experience, the more vividly and solemnly to impress the saints addressed: “Daily I die, by the boasting of you, brethren,164 which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord. If after man I fought with beasts in Ephesus, what [is] the profit to me? If no dead rise, let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die. Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Wake up righteously, and sin not; for some are ignorant of God: I speak unto your shame.” (Vers. 31-34.)
The Corinthian saints were his boast and joy, whatever their faults, which no one had such reason to feel as the apostle; but he had it in Christ Jesus, which gave it force and permanence. Thus does he protest his dying day by day. It is not a doctrinal standing; there he could say, I died. Death with Christ is a fact; for faith it is never a mere and slow process going on, as mystics dream. Here it is a constant exposure to physical death. So he served the Lord, and boasted in His saints: how absurd if there be no resurrection l But it was not only joy in the saints spite of daily dying; what a spring for endurance in the world outside l “If after man I fought with beasts in Ephesus, what [is] the profit to me?” Faith is not fanatical; it reasons as soundly as it feels loyally and works by love.
Here again it was resurrection which cheered him in the fierce conflict, which, speaking as men do, he calls a fight with beasts. It is no uncommon figure. Compare Titus 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:17; and so, it seems, Heraclitus designated the Ephesians: see also Appian, Bell. C. ii. 763, and Ignat. ad Rom. 5. To me also with some ancients and moderns,
κατὰ ἄνθρωπον seems meant to qualify the phrase, so that it should not be taken literally.
To abandon resurrection then is to yield ourselves up to ease, pleasure, and indulgence. It is not the immortality of the soul, but the faith of resurrection, which keeps man from sinking to and below a brute. Men may cry up the soul, without a thought of God and only to self-exaltation; but the resurrection brings in the reality of God’s intervention with men, either in salvation or in judgment. And these human thoughts, which looked plausible and even spiritual, had deceived some of the saints in Corinth. Is it not more purifying to think of the soul apart from the body, and in heavenly glory? Not so; it is the hope of the body rising which encourages us to deny self, and mortify our members here below. See the place given to the body in Rom. 6, Rom. 12, as well as in the Epistles to the Corinthians, and elsewhere. Now is the time, here the place, to walk as dead with Christ, and alive in Him to God. In glory we shall dwell at ease, our bodies changed into the likeness of His glorious body.
The word of God maintains this life of unselfish faith and readiness to suffer, not the communications of men, as themselves confess. These puff up and corrupt: so say Euripides, Menander, and common proverbs. Hence the call to wake up righteously, or to righteousness, and not to be sinning. To deny the resurrection is to display ignorance of God. (See Matt. 22:29.) This was not wonderful in a heathen; but what a disgrace to the saints that some among them should be thus ignorant! So ends boastful knowledge. The Corinthians must begin again, and, starting from a dead and risen Christ, use the truth of God to judge the thoughts of men. He loves to be known as the God that raises the dead, while it is also true that all live unto Him.
The apostle next turns from warning to meet objections in the shape of questions physical, as our Lord met the social difficulty raised by the Sadducees. These he quickly exposes in their true character. They are folly; or he rather is a fool who employs his avowed ignorance to reject the testimony of God, who alone knows. Our wisdom is to know the scriptures, and so His word, without a question of His power to give them effect.
“But some one will say, How are the dead raised? and with what body do they come? Fool, what thou sowest is not quickened unless it die; and what thou sowest, thou sowest not the body that shall be, but a bare grain, it may be of wheat, or of some one of the rest; and God giveth to it a body as he pleased, and to each of the seeds its own body.” (Vers. 85-38.) Thus severely is the inquisitive mind of man rebuked, and especially so in this instance, where the clear revelation of God is doubted or denied, because the process, the how, of the resurrection may not be understood, or the character of the risen body. It will be found, however, that God does not withhold the weightiest information; but the apostle here administers a reproof which would be deeply felt by those who piqued themselves on their wisdom, yet were foolish enough to overlook the analogies of nature before their eyes, which refute the assumed likeness between the body as it is, and as it shall be. “Fool, what thou” (not God merely, but the feeble objector) “sowest is not quickened unless it die.” Death, therefore, was no barrier to the resurrection, of course not its cause, but its antecedent. There may be change, as shown afterwards, but no resurrection unless death be first. There is dissolution in death, but not annihilation. There is disorganisation in death previous to another mode of being. But the seed dies as such in order to pass into a plant; and so he adds, “and what thou sowest, thou sowest not the body that shall be, but bare grain it may be of wheat or of some of the rest, and God giveth it a body as he pleased, and to each of the seeds its own body.”
What springs up differs widely from what was sown, yet each seed issues in its own plant. There is such a thing as species, and this fixed from the first, as God pleased. “Natural selection” is not only contrary to fact but senseless, yet none the less the idol of modern materialists, as Ashtoreth was of the Sidonians and Molech of the Amorites. No doubt there is a germ or principle of life; but what does the objector know of it? If he is utterly unacquainted with this even in the seed, is he in a position to cavil as to the body? One may reason fairly from known truth, not from ignorance. If one rejects whatever is not understood, where is such unconscionable doubt to end? Not only is all spiritual being swept away, but one must begin with denying the existence of oneself and every other being. Nothing is less rational than to make reason the only inlet of thought, feeling, knowledge, conscience, or consciousness.
“Every flesh [is] not the same flesh, but one [is] of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fishes. [There are] both bodies heavenly and bodies earthly; but different is the glory of the heavenly, and different that of the earthly: one [the] sun’s glory, and another [the] moon’s glory, and another [the] stars’ glory; for star differs from star in glory. So also [is] the resurrection of the dead.” (Vers. 39-42.) The apostle shows how vain is the assumption of a condition for the body in resurrection similar to the present state, from the diversity even of flesh in the animal world that now is. There is no monotony in God’s creation. The flesh is palpably different in men, cattle or quadrupeds, birds, fishes: how unreasonable then, if that ground be sought, to take for granted that the body must be at all like what it is now in a condition so distinct as resurrection! Far more sensibly might one conceive the most striking difference. It is no question, however, either of reason or of imagination, but of faith as far as God has revealed. But there is a farther illustration, which the apostle draws even from sight, to set aside empiricism, petty and grovelling, as it always is.
“There are both bodies heavenly and bodies earthly,” and the glory of the one differs from that of the other; and not only this, but the heavenly ones, sun, moon, stars, vary from each other, as do those below. There is no need to suppose angels are meant, like Alford, de Wette, and Meyer; and to introduce saints here as do Chrysostom and his followers, is to confound the things compared. The objection to understanding “heavenly bodies” of the sun, etc., as if too modern a term, is simply want of knowledge; it is mere captiousness to boot that, if we apply these words thus, we must suppose the apostle to have imagined the stars to be endowed with bodies in the literal sense; for similar language occurs in the Hellenistic Greek of Galen (iv. 868, 869, ed. Kuhn), who lived not long after the apostle, as was pointed out by Wetstein, ii. 171, more than a hundred years ago. Yet the object is not to prove different degrees of glory in heaven, as thought by many ancients and moderns, but rather to contrast the risen with the natural state. “So also is the resurrection of the dead.” This is made plain from what follows. They are quite wrong who make the glory to be exclusively heavenly or earthly. Both will be found in the kingdom of God. (See John 3:12.)
“It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body: if165 there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual.” (Vers. 42-44.)
This is one among the scriptures where the present is used, not as an actual or continuous thing, but abstractly: a sense constantly forgotten by grammarians as well as expositors. Yet is it inexcusable ignorance, for the same principle applies to almost, if not all, languages, and seems to flow from the nature of language, the present being most suitable for an abstract, as distinguished from its historical, usage. Here it is impossible rightly to take it otherwise. Resurrection, and even burial, or sowing, as it is here figuratively called (and not the origin of our natural being, as Archbishop Whately understood), excludes a merely actual or a continuing fact. It is the statement of a truth.
The body of the believer is sown in dishonour, corruption, and weakness: so all see; what do we believe? It is raised in incorruption, glory, and power — not a mere ethereal or airy body, as Chrysostom and Origen respectively said, but a body instinct with spirit life, as once with animal life from the soul, yet not a spirit, but a spiritual body, not limited by earthly conditions, but capable either of passing through a closed door, or of being felt, able to take food, though needing none, if we may judge from Him who, risen as the great Head and pattern and power, declared that a spirit has not flesh and bones, as they saw He had.
The suitability of this for heaven is apparent. “If there is a natural (or soulish) body, there is also a spiritual.” As surely as there is the body which we have now, suited to the earth and the life that now is, there is also a spiritual body, which we shall have when the Lord Christ comes to raise those that are His. (See vers. 20-23.) God, who constituted the one for the sphere of responsibility and trial, will certainly adapt the other to the conditions of glory, where the eternal life which is now exercised in scenes of sorrow, itself in faith, hope, and love, will then enjoy the unclouded rest of God on high. The
εἰ, omitted by most of the later uncials and cursives, and even the Syrr. vv. as well as the Greek fathers, is attested by the most ancient and best manuscripts, uncial or cursive, the rest of the old versions, and the Latin fathers: only some, by
ὁμοιοτέλευτον, have left out the entire latter half of verse 44.
Now the apostle comes to the decisive proof of scripture, and the personal test of Christ. “So also it is written, The first man Adam became a living soul; the last Adam a quickening Spirit: yet not first [is] the spiritual, but the natural, afterward the spiritual; the first man out of earth made of dust, the second man166 out of heaven: such as he made of dust, such also those made of dust; and such as the heavenly [one], such also the heavenly [ones]; and even as we bore the image of the [one] made of dust, we shall bear also the image of the heavenly[ones].” (Vers. 45-49.) It is the way of the apostle, and indeed of the inspired in general, to trace up all to the sources; and so it is here at the end, as at the earlier part, of this discussion. Adam and Christ are before us, the first man Adam made only a living soul, the last Adam a life-giving spirit. Thus, as usual, first is seen man failing in his responsibility; then the obedient, suffering, victorious Man.
It is to be noticed too that the great occasion when scripture shows us the Lord become a quickening spirit was when He rose from the dead. Then, not before, did He breathe on the disciples, and say, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. It was not the new birth merely, but life more abundantly, because in the power of resurrection; and this quite falls in with the doctrine of the chapter, which looks neither at incarnation nor at ascension, however important, nor here at His death, though this be sacrificially and in moral power the foundation of all for us as well as for God’s glory.
Such was the order, and this the triumph, not yet in our resurrection, but in His who will raise the sleeping saints at His coming. It is not that Adam had not an immortal soul, or that Christ could not lay His life down; but the one at the beginning became a living soul, the other (after having been manifested in the end of the ages for putting away of sin by His sacrifice) a life-giving spirit as risen. “Out of heaven” is no more inconsistent with this, than “out of earth” with Adam’s being made a living soul, but each, on the contrary, most suitable.
And now we can go a step farther in each ease. Such as was the dusty one (Adam), such also the dusty ones (the race); and such as the heavenly One, such also the heavenly ones (Christians); and just as we bore the image of the dusty one, we shall bear also the image of the heavenly One. We were, and are, naturally the family of the first man, and bore his image (cf. Gen. 5:3); we, as now in Christ, shall also bear the image of Christ in the day that is coming. God has predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He should be first-born among many brethren. It is not a question of any transforming of us meanwhile according to the same image by the Spirit, which is true and momentous day by day; it is that full and final conformity which cannot be till Christ consumates salvation, and transforms our body of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory, according to the working of His ability even to subdue all things to Himself.
If we go alone by manuscripts, etc., we should have here
φορέσωμεν, “let us bear,” seeing that the great majority of the best authorities is in its favour, not (it is true) the Vatican, and a few cursives with some versions and fathers, while others lay the express emphasis on the hortative form. The context is decisively in favour of the fut. inc. How then is the erratum to be accounted for? By two considerations: first, the proneness, even of the best copies, to confound o and w; secondly, the readiness of pious men, who feebly know grace, to turn a promise into an exhortation. The rationalist naturally prefers a reading which puts forward man, so as to hide the glorious power of God in raising the dead into the likeness of the risen Christ.
Thus the dying man and the Man of resurrection power stand in full contrast, as do those who are respectively theirs, with the glorious issue for such as once, the first man’s, like others, became by grace of the Second, the last Adam. Adam became a sinner, and was sentenced to death before he became head of the family. Christ bore sin, and died to it, before He became Head of those who believed. Till He died He abode alone; after it He had much fruit. And as there never was a hope for man in another, so none other can rival Him. He is the last Adam, no less than the second Man. He who will finally pretend to it, ere the age ends, and secure the worship of what was once Christendom, as well as (strange to say) of the Jew, is only the man of sin, though sitting down in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. He is emphatically from beneath, as the Lord is from heaven, and they that follow him perish everlastingly, while the believer has life eternal in Christ, and shall be glorified with Him.
But we have more. “Now167 this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,168 in an instant, in [the] twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for it shall sound, and the dead shall live incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality. But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruptibility, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the word that is written, Death was swallowed up in victory. Where, death, [is] thy victory?169 where, death,170 thy sting? Now the sting of death [is] sin, and the power of sin the law; but thanks to God that giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore, my brethren beloved, be firm, immovable, abounding in the work of the Lord always, knowing that your toil is not vain in [the] Lord.” (Vers. 50-58.)
It will be observed that God’s kingdom is here viewed exclusively on the other side of death, in accordance with the great theme in hand. “Earthly things” have their place very definitely elsewhere; here, for the reason given, they are not found. Flesh and blood, man, as he is here below, cannot inherit God’s kingdom. It is not merely that corruption does not inherit incorruption, being incompatible, but man in his best estate is altogether vanity. Short of resurrection, which is the intervention of another Man, who is also God, he cannot inherit where God reigns. But in Christ we see the power which withdraws the believer completely from death, impossible without His death, not because He could not intrinsically quicken for evermore, but because the believer had been a sinner like others, and could not otherwise be saved consistently with God’s righteousness, holiness, truth, and glory.
His victory extends even to the living saints, not merely to keep them alive in the world, but to change them at His coming, without undergoing the humiliation of death in any shape. This is no doubt a truth unknown to Old Testament times, and the revelation there given; it is a secret made known now. “Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for it shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” The earlier communication was not a mystery; this is. Old Testament saints (witness Job) knew certainly the resurrection, not only of man in general (Job 14), but of the saint in particular (Job 19). But who could tell or think of saints being changed without going through death in virtue of the perfect victory of grace in Christ? It was reserved for the days of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, when the infinite work was done whereby souls, once guilty, could be brought into the efficacy and the knowledge of redemption. And what a proof of its efficacy, when the saints that remain alive are changed without dying, or still less any purgatorial process after death, and this, not in some specially known for practical holiness, but in all the saints then waiting for Christ here below!
Here man breaks down utterly. He revolts from what makes nothing of his power or his merits, yea, what exposes his total inability and demonstrates his ruin through sin, while it reveals the free and full and triumphant grace which saves — saves the body as well as soul of the Christian, through Christ, to God’s glory. Even saints, themselves owing all to it, find it often so beyond their thoughts, that they are apt to curtail its extent, too bscure its clearness, and to fritter away its power.
A notable evidence of this appears in the singular vacillation here found in the ancient copies and versions. There is no need, perhaps no ground, for accusing any of failure in good faith; but if not, it is hard to account for the departure from the words and truth given by the Spirit, save by the strangeness of it for those who copied or translated.
Thus the Latins followed the reading extant in the first hand of the Clermont manuscript, but corrected there later
, ἀναστησόμεθα, οὐ πάντες δέ ἀλλαγησόμεθα, omnes quidem resurgemus, sed non omnes immutabimur, “we shall indeed all rise again, but we shall not all be changed,” a double error, directly opposed in each part to positive scripture. Indeed the dead saints shall rise, but all saints are not to die, nay, none found alive and remaining unto the coming of the Lord, when the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we, the living that remain, shall be caught up together with them in clouds to meet the Lord in the air. It is appointed unto men, doubtless, once to die; but saints stand on another ground — of the second Man, not of the first; and such as live till He comes look to be not unclothed but clothed upon, that mortality be swallowed up of life, instead of dying and rising again like the rest. Thus those who teach that we shall all rise imply the universal dying of the saints, and in effect deny the power of life in Christ, which it is the great aim of the Spirit to press in 2 Corinthians 5. But they teach still more erroneously that “we shall not all be changed” in no less open contrariety to the invariable declaration of scripture, and the necessary exigencies of that glory of God in hope of which we rejoice.
For we look for the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven as Saviour, who shall change our body of humiliation that it may be fashioned like unto the body of His glory. In this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven. The earthly house of the tabernacle we have now is wholly unmeet for the glory of God: we need therefore a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, which we shall have at Christ’s coming. Consequently we must, and shall, be changed then and there. Hence the second clause of the Latin is as false as the first. They together ignore grace and glory in their full character and final issues. Accordingly, without a particle of prejudice against the Vulgate, one may say that it would be difficult to match such a departure from the true text and the truth in general in the worst version that ever was made. Yet human tradition dooms its votaries to the sanction, as authentic scripture, of these gross and grievous errors throughout half Christendom.
But the text of Lachmann the critic, founded on A C F G, and other authorities, is as bad, if not worse,
κοιμηθησόμεθα, οὐ π. δέ ἀλλαγ. For here we are taught in no sense the power of life, but of death, in the very chapter which develops resurrection in and of Christ, and in the part of it, above all others, which discloses the secret of victory by and with Christ when He comes for His own then alive on earth. A singular mystery it were, that “we shall all die (or sleep);” seeing that this is the common lot of the race, and in no way the disclosure of the exemption which grace will confer when the Lord Jesus will come and gather us to Himself. We need say no more of the further error which denies the change, after the pattern of Christ’s glorification, to any that are His. Rationalism shares this latter with Romanism; and though they differ as to the former point, the one affirming that “we shall all sleep,” the other that “we shall all rise,” they agree in adopting mistaken readings, which deny the special grace of Christ to His own who are to be found awaiting His descent from heaven, and the special mystery here added to complete the general truth of the chapter.
This is entirely confirmed by the context (ver. 52), which besides furnishes somewhat more to the believer. We shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. The glorification of the saints will be effected, immense as it is in itself, and from every spot of the globe, sooner than the mind can reckon, or the eye discern, when the final summons is given to the heavenly host to quit its halting-place. The allusion is to the signal last given on the breaking up of a camp, at that time too familiar a figure to escape the nations of Europe and far beyond it, which had been welded into the empire of Rome. “For it shall sound,” however little man may expect it, “and the dead shall rise incorruptible, and we shall be changed;” not, remark, we shall rise then, nor they only, but “we” too shall be changed, in exact accordance with the true and common text of verse 51, and in opposition to the changes of both rationalists and Romanists.
But we have more explanation, and a scripture rich in its connection of truth, cited from the Old Testament. “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality.” (Ver. 53.) The apostle expresses the truth with perfect precision. He does not speak of those corrupting in the grave; nor even of the dead or dying, but of what is “corruptible” and “mortal,” so as to take in the body even whilst we are alive, and thus be an object for the change, if not for resurrection. “But when this corruptible shall have put-on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the word that is written, Death was swallowed up in victory.” (Ver. 54.) The epoch of the change is the coming of the Lord from heaven. When the dead in Christ shall rise, and we who are alive be changed and caught up, then shall Isaiah 25:8 come to pass. But it is evident from the prophet that this must be at the end of the age, not of the world; that then the earth’s blessing begins, instead of passing away, and that then Jehovah will destroy in this mountain [Zion] the face of the covering cast over all peoples, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord Jehovah will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth: for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it. . . . In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah, We have a strong city, etc. It is the kingdom come in power and glory, instead of the end of it for eternity; and the risen or changed saints will share it, as well as eternity, with Christ. “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” It is to be feared that many Christians know it less now than the carnal Corinthians of old. Yet it is less excusable for those who have the apostolic correction to profit by.
No wonder that the apostle refers to the challenge of another prophet, “Death, where [is] thy victory? Death, where [is] thy sting?” (Hosea 13:14) with the comment, “Now the sting of death [is] sin, and the strength of sin the law; but thanks to God that giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Vers. 65-57.) What a triumphant answer is the resurrection and the change of the saints at the coming of the Lord! It is sin which gives not only occasion, but its sting, to death; and the law, however righteous, could work no deliverance for the guilty, but proves in effect the strength of sin, by provoking its rebellious will so much the more against the commands of God. His grace; not the law, is the strength of holiness, as we learn from Romans 6:14; and therefore does the apostle here break forth into thanksgiving as he sees God giving us the victory so completely and for ever, through our Lord Jesus Christ. “Wherefore, my brethren beloved, be ye stedfast, immovable, abounding in the work of the Lord always, knowing that your toil is not vain in [the] Lord.” (Ver. 58.) Christ’s resurrection is the pledge of ours, the witness of salvation, the pattern of deliverance, and the spring of hope in the midst of labour as well as suffering for Christ,
1 Corinthians 16
Another and a very different topic claimed the service of the apostle, because it fell under the Lord’s care for the church. It might seem wholly a matter for the saints; but experience itself proves how much they need in it the guidance of the Spirit through the written word. Hence pretension to superior spirituality here, as elsewhere, sinks below the instincts of love, and the dictates of every sound mind. How blessed to have the regulating wisdom of God, who deigns to give us His mind even for the smallest things of this life!
“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the assemblies of Galatia, so do ye also. Every first of a week let each of you put by him, storing up whatever he may be prospered in, that there be no collections when I come. And when I am arrived, whomsoever ye shall approve, them I will send with letters to carry your bounty unto Jerusalem; and, if it be suitable that I go, they shall go with me.” (Vers. 1-4.)
It is untrue that the assemblies were left without apostolic regulation, or that they were regulated differ entry. The snares and the circumstances of Galatia were as unlike those of Corinth as could be conceived; the directions given by the apostle were the same, and this, not merely on matters of the most momentous significance, as sound doctrine, and holy discipline, and the attesting institutions of Christ, so that the worship and public ways of the saints might present the same testimony everywhere, but here, as we see, even in the exercise of their liberality.
One cannot overlook the frequent remembrance of the poor saints at Jerusalem; and no doubt there were circumstances which gave them a special claim. Probably external distress prevailed, and persecution had left some widows and orphans. Not only were the believers very numerous there, but there only, so far as we read, had they sold their possessions and substance, so as to distribute to all, as any one had need; there only not one said that anything of what he possessed was his own, but all things were common to them, so that none was in want. But there, partly through this surprising testimony of unselfish love, poverty prevailed later; and none among the Gentile assemblies was so urgent as our apostle that relief should be sent for the brethren in Judea, not merely during the great famine under Claudius Caesar, but thenceforward, as we may gather from 1 and 2 Corinthians, as well as Romans. (Of. Gal. 2:10; Acts 24:17.)
Still a general principle and practice we find laid down of the highest value for any time. The collection for the saints was bound up with the solemn and gracious associations of the first, or resurrection, day. It was to proceed regularly, not occasionally; it was to be done with conscience, according as any might be prospered, not under influence, or pressure, or haste, still less with indifference, or on mere human grounds. Thus faith and love would be called out, and healthfully applied, while waiting for the coming of the Lord. It seems that each was to lay aside at home what he judged according to the means given; but the mention of the first of the week, or Lord’s day, points to their joining their contribution, when they came together, as every disciple did, to break bread. This is truly to lay up treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupteth, and where thieves do not dig through or steal.
Again, the apostle was careful to leave no room for evil surmise or appearance; and so he here indicates a fresh application of the apostolic wisdom which we see in Acts 6. The multitude chose their own administrators. They contributed the funds, and they, not the apostles, chose men in whom they had confidence to dispense them. (See also 2 Cor. viii.) As the church cannot impart a spiritual power, so the Lord alone gave gifts for the ministry or service of souls. (Rom. 10, Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4) The apostles, personally or by delegate (as Titus), chose elders, being the chiefs of that authority of which the presbyters were the ordinary representatives locally. (Acts 14; Titus 2) Everything in the church rests on its own proper ground. Here, then, the apostle promises on his arrival to send with letters whomsoever they should approve to bring their bounty unto Jerusalem.
But the letters were to be his, not theirs as the Authorised Version says, following the mistake of the Vulgate, Erasmus, Calvin, Beza, and the Text. Rec., which punctuates wrongly in consequence. For what would be the sense of their approving by their letters when the apostle came? The Corinthians really were to select whom they approved, and Paul, on arriving, would send them on, furnished with letters from himself. So too the Greek commentators understood.
It is common to make the genitive dependent on
ἄξιον, “meet,” and to deduce the meaning, “if the occasion, or magnitude of the collection, warrant an apostolic mission in order to carry it.” But such a sense, though grammatically possible, seems to me unworthy, not only of the apostle, but even of the delegates, and only tolerable because men have been lowered by the mendicant habits of Christendom. The truth is that the genitive of design, purpose, or the conclusion to be formed, as here, is a common Hellenistic usage, not infrequent in classical authors. The Authorised Version is therefore nearer the mark, and much more in unison with the dignity of all concerned, as well as with God’s word and Spirit, which, while cherishing the largest self-denial and generosity, are wont to slight the resources of unbelief, and to brand covetousness as idolatry. If it were suitable, then, that Paul also should go, the delegates should go with him. He would guard his services from all ground for reproach, providing for things honest, not only before the Lord, but also before men.
“But I will come unto you when I shall have gone through Macedonia, for I go through Macedonia. But perhaps I shall stay, or even winter, with you, that ye may send me forward wherever I may go. For I do not wish to see you now in passing; for I 171 hope to remain some time with you, if the Lord permit. But I will remain at Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great and effectual door is open to me, and [there are] many adversaries. But if Timotheus come, see that he be with you without fear, for he worketh the Lord’s work, even as I. Let none then despise him, but send him forward in peace, that he may come unto me, for I am awaiting him with the brethren. But concerning the brother Apollos, I besought him much to come unto you with the brethren; but it was not at all [his] will to come now, but he will come when he shall have good opportunity.” (Vers. 5-12.)
It is evident from verse 8 that the apostle was in Ephesus when he wrote to Corinth this first epistle. The spurious postscript in the common text, followed in the Authorised Version, says “from Philippi,” but it was really from Ephesus, as in the Vatican and some other copies; and therefore salutations are given from “the assemblies of Asia.” (Ver. 19.) His purpose was to pass through Macedonia: this is the force of
Μακ. γάρ διέρχομαι, a journey then before him as a settled thing, but not actually in progress. He might, perhaps, then stay, or even winter, with them, adding an expression of loving confidence that they might send him on wherever he might go. For he declined seeing them then, for reasons explained in 2 Corinthians 1, hoping to remain some time with them, under the Lord’s permission, instead of merely passing through. He should remain at Ephesus, where he then was, till Pentecost. That the Lord was there working was a sufficient reason, and none the less because there were adversaries many. He trusted to carry on the work, and help souls against Satan.
But his heart could not rest without commending Timothy, and the more as he was timid. He would have him be without fear in their midst, and deigns to put him as a workman of the Lord so far on common ground with himself. He is anxious that none should despise him — a danger among the saints, who are as open to be deceived by self-seeking men, as to slight true servants of Christ.
The case of Apollos is also instructive in more ways than one. Paul besought him to go to Corinth, rising above all feeling that not a few set him above himself; Apollos would not then go, it would seem, out of similar delicacy, unwilling to give occasion to such folly and wrong among the saints as they then were. We see how the Lord maintains freedom, as well as calls out grace, among His labourers, even when apostles were there, recording it for our guidance when there are none. Nothing, in its way, can be happier than this picture of unjealous love and respect, but free as before the Lord, among servants so varied as an apostle, his young companion, and a comparatively independent labourer like Apollos.
After these details the apostle gives a few pithy words of exhortation: “Watch, stand in the faith, play the man, be strong.172 Let all your doings be in love.” (Vers. 13, 14.) They are words eminently suited to the state of things at Corinth, besides being wholesome for all saints in all times and places. Carelessness had marked them as a company, and therefore were they now called to vigilance. They had allowed speculations to work even on foundation truths of revelation, and so they needed to cleave firmly to the deposit of faith. They had been walking after the manner of man (
κατὰ ἄνθρωπον), and had shrunk from reproach and suffering, feebly dreading the world’s opinions; they are urged, therefore, to quit themselves in a manly way (
ἀνδρίζεσθε), and to be strong. They kind need also, and above all, that whatever they did might be done lovingly. It is the final application of that which 1 Cor. 13 had opened out — the blessed energy of the divine nature, which lives and delights in the good of others; and it is the fitting preface to his next topic.
“Now I beseech you, brethren — ye know the house of Stephanas,173 that it is a first-fruit of Achaia,174 and that they appointed themselves to the saints for service — that ye also be subject to such, and to every one that co-operateth and laboureth.” (Vers. 15, 16.)
This entreaty of the apostle was, and is, of the highest, for the house of Stephanas represents a considerable class of labourers, if we reckon them up in every place where God has His assembly. They stand on a distinct footing from such servants of the Lord as Timothy, on the one hand, or Apollos on the other. They do not answer to one designated by prophecy, specially gifted to serve with an apostle; neither were they men eloquent and mighty in the scriptures, who from small beginnings learnt the truth more exactly, and could, in a freer action of the Spirit, either boldly speak before adversaries, or contribute much to those who believed through grace.
The house of Stephanas had no such prominent, wide, or energetic sphere; but they devoted themselves in an orderly way to the saints for service. It was their regular work, not a thing taken up perfunctorily now and then; and this, which some dare to deride as self-appointment, is as thoroughly maintained and commended by the apostle in the name of the Lord, as the call of a patron or of a congregation to the ministry of the word is absolutely unscriptural, and opposed to all sound and holy principle. The apostle establishes their attitude and activity as of God, whose love gave them a heart toward the saints in service. They were not elders. Indeed it would seem that as yet none had been chosen at Corinth to the work of oversight by the apostle. But none the less does he call on the saints also to range themselves under such, and every one sharing the work, and toiling. We see the same thing in Romans 12 and 1 Thessalonians 5, where no trace, of presbyters appear, and where, in fact, we can hardly conceive of their existence. But there were those who ruled, or took the lead, those who toiled among the saints, and presided over them in the Lord, entirely apart from exterior appointment. As this was of moment to sanction in those early days, so is it of at least equal importance in our own time, when we have no apostle, or apostolic delegate like Titus, to visit the assemblies, and to establish elders, as of old. The same holy liberty, the same solemn responsibility, and the same apostolic warrant, abide for our day of weakness and need. How evident the gracious wisdom of the Lord, while thus naming but incidentally, as it might have seemed, the house of Stephanas, really providing for all that call on His name, in every place, and at any time of the church’s career here below! How blessed in His eyes is the subjection of the saints, not only to such devoted servants, but to every one joined in the work, and labouring!
Another feature of interest is the delicacy with which the apostle notices some from Corinth who had not forgotten his temporal necessities. “But I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas, and Fortunatus, and Achaicus, because what was lacking on your part these filled up; for they175 refreshed my spirit and yours: own then those that are such.” (Vers. 17, 18.) It would appear from both epistles that the help did not come from the assembly as such, but from these three individuals, whose love the apostle does not fail to record. In his allusion there is certainly the grace which counted on the mention refreshing the Corinthian assembly as it had refreshed himself, but not without a hint that they had lost an opportunity which the three discerned and used before the Lord.
“The assemblies of Asia salute you. Aquila and Prisca176 salute you much in [the] Lord, with the assembly in their house. All the brethren salute you. Salute one another with a holy kiss. The salutation of Paul with mine own hand. If any one loveth not the Lord [Jesus Christ,]177 let him be anathema maranatha (a curse: the Lord cometh). The grace of the Lord Jesus [Christ] [be] with you. My love [be] with you all in Christ Jesus. [Amen].” (Vers. 19-24.)
The salutation from “the assemblies of Asia” falls in with the fact that the apostle was writing from the capital of that pro-consular province. But it seems to me a mistake to conceive that the name of the church or assembly is applied to a single family in the next clause. The truth really is that this godly pair appear to have opened their house habitually for the saints to assemble there wherever they might reside, whether in Ephesus or in Rome. Thus it was in those early days, when true unity prevailed and vast buildings for accommodating multitudes did not yet exist among Christians. So in Jerusalem, from the first they used to break bread
καἰ οἶκον. That Aquila and his wife should greet the Corinthian saints “much in the Lord,” as distinguished from the more general salutation, “all the brethren,” or of the Asiatic assemblies, is easily understood from their personal acquaintance with the Achaian capital. But the mode of salutation enjoined here, as on the Romans, and by the apostle Peter on the christian Jews scattered throughout Asia Minor, points to the ardent, but holy, affection which then knit together the saints as such: so should it ever be in a world where sin brings in distance or corruption.
The apostle, then, appends his salutation with his own hand; for here, as usually, the body of the epistle was not in his autograph. But he also adds the sternest denunciation of any one who loved not the Lord, under a seemingly familiar Syrian formula. Calvin ridicules the idea of writing so to Greeks in that tongue; but, explain it as you may, such is the fact, which does not seem mitigated by his own suggestion that it was a customary form of expressing excommunication among the Hebrews. To me it appears to go farther still: yet did it not in the least clash with the love which animated and filled his heart, as one sees from verse 23, and especially 24. It is to be doubted indeed whether love can be unfeigned without abhorring evil; and what evil can compare with bearing the name of the Lord without real attachment to Him?
Thus the first epistle to the Corinthians ends with a denunciation similar in solemnity to that with which the epistle to the Galatians opens. There the apostle in his zeal for the truth of the gospel imprecates a curse on himself, or an angel from heaven, or any one preaching aught besides what he had preached and they received; here he burns with no less vehemence against any one loving not the Lord, and in the light of His coming too, which goes beyond excommunication. But this in no way interferes with his prayer, that not His judgment but His grace might be with you, as he assures them all of his own love in Christ Jesus. Thus confidence and affection mark this autograph conclusion as well as the gravest warning, the wise and worthy personal message to his beloved children in the faith.
London: G. Morrish, 20, Paternoster Square. 1878.
147 So read A B and twice as many cursives, etc.; but the vast majority give the easier reading of the Text. Rec. “by other lips”
148 The Text. Rec., with two or three uncials and most cursives, etc., here inserts
καὶ οὕτως instead of before the last clause, contrary to the best authorities; it also puts
ὁ θεός whereas it should be before as I have translated.
ὑμὼν “of you” is not in A B, etc.
150 No adequate reason appears to limit
ἄλλοι, the others, or the rest, to prophets. The spiritual, not prophets only, can certainly judge all things. I am aware that some assert that “the spiritual” means inspired persons. Such teaching corrupts God’s word and demands not correction or disproof only, but the moral reprobation of every true-hearted Christian. The truth is, on the one hand, that, when the Corinthian saints abounded in every gift, they were as a whole carnal and not spiritual; as on the other hand we may and ought to be spiritual, if we have ever so little strength.
151 Text. Rec., with D F G 11( L, &e., has
ὑποτάσσεσθαι, which may be regarded as the more difficult, but
ὑποτασσέσθωσαν is in A B and other ancient authorities, besides, good cursives.
τοῦ “the” in Text. Rec., with many cursives, but not in the uncials, the best and most cursives, etc.
153 Tischendorf omits
ἐντολή with D E F G, etc.; Lach., etc.,
ἐστὶν ἐντολή, with A B, etc; Text. Rec.
εἰσὶν ἐντολαί, with most.
ἀγνοεῖται “he is ignored,” with A D F G, etc., the common reading has excellent authority.
μου, omitted by Text. Rec. with most, is in A B D, etc.
ἐν BDFG, etc.
δέ omitted by K L and most, is read by A B E F G P, many cursives, versions, etc.
ἐγένετο (Text. Rec.) is added by Dcorr. K L, most cursives, Syrr., Goth., etc., contrary to all the rest.
τοῦ is omitted in Steph. and the early edition, Elz., by mere carelessness.
παραδῳ (Text. Rec.) K L and most cursives, etc.,
παραδιδοῖ (or -
ῳ,) the best authorities.
άν (Text. Rec.) is added by a good many authorities, uncial and cursive, but not the more ancient, as is
αὐτοῦ by A F G, etc.
αὐτῶν A B Dp.m. E F G K P, twenty cursives, most versions, etc.
163 Yet this was the thought of Luther, Tyndale, and others here. They took
ὑπέρ as meaning over their graves; but the Greek Testament usus loquendi is against the sense.
ἀδελφοί, A B K P, many cursives, versions, and fathers.
εἰ A B C D F, etc., while Text. Rec. omits it with the rest: so also with the place of
καί after or before
ἐστιν, and further against or for
166 So p.m. B G D E F G, etc., with many ancient versions and fathers, T. Rec. adds
ὁ κύριος, “the Lord,” with most of the later uncials and cursives, Syrr. Arm. and Goth. It is even said to be a Marcionite corruption in Dial., and by Tertullian.
δέ is the reading of A B C K L P, all the cursives known, etc.,
γάρ “for” of D E F G, etc. So the future
κλ. is in C D F G, etc., but contrary to the mass and best.
168 The true text is
πάντες μὲν οὐ κ., π. δέ ἀλλαγησόμεθα, as in B E K L P, etc. But A F G, and many other excellent authorities support the absurd reading, “we shall all sleep, but we shall not all he changed,” as Lachmann actually edited not only in 1831, but in 1850. He also read with many MSS
ἐγ. in verse 52, but this makes scarcely a perceptible difference in translation.
169 p.m. B C I M, etc., support this order contrary to Text. Rec., with most.
170 “Grave,” or “Hades,” 2 A3 L M P contrary to the oldest as above.
δέ as in Text Rec. following K L and most cursives, but
γάρ in the A B C D E F G I M P, many cursives, the best of the ancient versions, etc.
172 Some manuscripts and versions, etc., prefix
καί, “and,” but it is not sustained by the best authorities.
173 Some add of “Fortunatus” here, others, “and of Achaicus” also, but the best oppose. It is a gloss.
174 In the common text of Romans 16:5, Epaenetus is said to be a first-fruits of Achaia; but the ancient and true reading is Asia, not “Achaia,” of which Stephanas’ house was the firstfruits.
οὗτοι B C K L P, and the cursives, etc., in general;
αὐτοί ADEFGM, etc.
176 Priscilla as in Acts, but Prisca also in Romans 16:3, and 2 Timothy 4:19, as in the common text.
177 I have given the best authenticated reading; but others add what follows in each case of the dotted brackets.