Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 1:26 - 1:31

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Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 1:26 - 1:31

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B. As suited to the character of the called and the ends contemplated


26For ye [om. ye] see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and [om. yea, and] things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29That no flesh should glory in his presence [the presence of God]. 30But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God [om. of God], is [has been] made unto us wisdom, [from God, ἀðὸ èåïῦ ] and [both] 31righteousness and sanctification, and redemption: That according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.


[The connection. Kling here, as usual, follows Meyer in considering these verses as confirmatory of what immediately precedes 1Co_1:24. It were better, however, with de Wette and Hodge, to regard the Apostle as introducing here a new argument in support of the general position taken in the previous section. It is an argument drawn from facts directly under their eye. In proof of what he had said of the true method of preaching and the utter vanity of the worldly wisdom they were tempted to prize, they could see for themselves what course the Gospel had in the main actually taken among them who were its converts and what were the ends subserved by this. Accordingly he begins by directing attention to the character of the called, first described negatively].

1Co_1:26. For look at your calling, brethren.—The verb âëÝðåôå may be taken in the Indicative [as in the E. V.]; but the Imperative corresponds better with the animated style of the Apostle (see 1Co_10:18; Php_3:2). [“And is required by the emphatic position which the verb occupies in the sentence” Alf. So also Words., Wickliffe, Tyndale, and the Rheims version]. Nor is this at all inconsistent, as Bengel asserts, with the use of the “for,” since this is to be found elsewhere also in imperative clauses. [ ÂëÝðåéí : “to consider, take to heart, is employed to express a more intent, earnest, spiritual contemplation than ὀñᾶí . The one denotes mental vision, the other bodily sight.” W. Webster]. (Heb_12:3). The “calling” which they are requested to observe is not their secular vocation, or their external circumstances [Olshausen], in which they were found when called of the Lord. Nothing is said of this in the subsequent context. Nor yet can we admit Bengel’s explanation: “the state in which the heavenly calling proves an offence to you.” This anticipates a thought which is not mentioned till afterwards. It is more correct to understand it of the Divine call, both as to the act itself, and the method God pursued in calling them, especially in respect to the persons whom he had chosen and their condition. [This is seen in the very use of terms. “He does not say ôὴí êëῆóéí ὑìåôÝñáí , nor ôὴí ὑìῶí êëῆóéí but ôὴí êëῆóéí ὑìῶí ; the calling of you.” Words.]. What this was he proceeds to state—how that not many wise men after the flesh.—The “flesh” here denotes the purely human state or course of action, as utterly devoid of Divine influence or coöperation. It is the sensuous and selfish life, possessed by sin. Hence a wisdom which is suited to this life, which moves according to its ways instead of after the methods of that Divine spiritual principle from which all true higher knowledge springs, is “a wisdom of this age,” “of the world” (1Co_1:20), earthly, godless, and hostile to God. Such is its essential character. Yet without pushing the matter so far, we might simply abide by the idea of what is purely human. (Comp. Herzog’s Theol. Real. Ency. under the word “Fleisch”).—To attach this qualification to the remaining predicates, would be superfluous. These of themselves indicate what is external, worldly, and belonging to the lower extra-christian life.—not many mighty, äõíáôïé : persons of consequence in civil life, influential, powerful, whether it be by wealth or any other means,not many noble, åὐãåíåῖò : of distinguished descent, well-born. In highly-civilized, aristocratic Corinth, all this was regarded of great importance.—are called.—There is no verb in the original with which the above nominatives can agree, and it is best to supply the defect [as in the E. V.] “are called” from the word “calling” in the first clause. Others prefer “are,” and take it either as the sole predicate of the clause: “There are not many wise, etc., among you;” or they unite with it the adjectives as predicates: “Many are not wise, etc.” [Some of the Fathers thought that the persons employed to dispense this calling were here meant. So Theodoret. “God endorsed the nations in the evangelical net of Galilean fishermen.” Also Augustine. “Christ caught orators by fishermen, not fishermen by orators.” Wordsworth]. The supplying of “are called,” suits as well with the preceding words, “your calling,” as with the following, “hath chosen.” “In the early centuries it was often flung at Christianity (by Celsus and others) that its converts were, for the most part, common people, women and slaves.” Paul here not only confesses the fact, but also discovers in it one cause of glory for the Gospel; for it is precisely in this that the Gospel displays itself to be the power of God and the wisdom of God, that starting from such humble beginnings it had nevertheless both outwardly and inwardly overcome the world.

1Co_1:27-28. The positive aspect of the case. But the foolish things of this world.—Luther translates “in the eyes of the world,” as though the Genitive in the original were that of estitmaion. But Paul is here speaking of things not as they seem, but as they are; and here, as well as in the subsequent Epistles, we have the actual quality indicated. “The foolish things” ( ôὰ ìùñÜ ), the neuter for the sake of greater generalization. We have here a strong contrast to “the wise,” i. e. whatever is lacking in higher cultivation and insight, including, too, the additional thought of being deemed foolish, contracted and simple.—hath God chosen, an expression which is repeated three times with great emphasis. It denotes the Divine purpose which is made known in the calling; or that Divine decision in virtue of which a separation is effected among fallen mankind, and certain individuals are selected out of it to become a possession of God in Christ, and are so made blessed (comp. ἐêëÝãåóèáé Eph_1:4; Is. 15:19). The expression belongs to the Theocratic language of the Old Testament (comp. áָçַø Deu_14:2 ff.). “Foreknowledge” and “Predestination “are cognate terms, Rom_8:29; 2Ti_1:9, yet so, however, that the word “choose” here designates the free, eternal gracious will of God, as carried out in time, and therefore includes the “calling” in itself.—The object of such a choice is to confound the wise i.e., the wise after the flesh. By the fact that He selected the “foolish,” persons destitute of superior culture, to enjoy holy and blessed communion with Him, the wisdom in which “the wise” boasted, is exposed in all its insufficiency and worthlessness. Or we may say with de Wette, “the wise were put to shame by being compelled to see the foolish obtaining that which was denied to them.” In the latter case, it is implied that “the wise” are conscious of the preference made, “and so were stung to reform” (Osiander). But this is not sustained by the context as the parallel expression “bring to nought” shows. The jubilant contrast proceeds.—and the weak things of this world, i. e. the weak of every kind, bodily, mentally, politically.—God hath chosen to confound the things which are mighty.—The antithesis here is introduced by the neuter: ôὰ ßó÷õñÜ , denoting the category in general, although persons are meant. That any thing contemptuous was intended by this use of the neuter, is not probable, since he just before spoke of a kindred class, “the wise,” in the masculine. The “confounding” is seen in the fact that “the weak things,” by virtue of the indwelling “power of God,” evince an energy and an overcoming power which is denied to the strong of this world.—In the third set of contrasts there appears an expansion of thought on the one side, with which there is nothing to correspond on the other.—And the base things of the world, and the despised things hath God chosen—the things which are as good as not, in order that He may bring to nought the things that are.—Here we have the antithesis only to the last expression of the first series: “the things that are” ( ôὰ ὄíôá ). [This is readily accounted for, if the omission of the êáß as sustained by the best authorities (see critical notes) be correct. In that case the ôὰ ìὴ ὄíôá : the things which are not instead of being an addition to the previous specifications, would stand in opposition with them, as a sort of summary of their meaning, and so be the main word requiring the offset on the other side]. Observe also the order of thought in the specifications, “base things,”— ἀãåíῆ : of low origin. To this is added as a natural consequence: “despised things”— ôὰ ἐîïõèåíçÝíá : regarded as nothing. Then below both, as putting the matter in its strongest possible aspect, there comes the ôὰ ìὴ ὄíôá (to be distinguished from ôὰ ïὐê ὅíôá inasmuch as the ìὴ is not an absolute, but a subjective negative. Winer, § 59, 3): that which in the opinion of men is as good as nonexistent.—In the antithetic ôὰ ὄíôá , some would insert a ôß , making it read: things that are somewhat, of some importance. But this we are as little warranted in doing as in making ôὰ ìὴ ὄíôá = ôὰ ìçèὲí ὄíôá : things which are of no account, are nothing. What Paul here sets in contrast with the former are things which have being, are real, which are regarded as existing, and “which continue to make themselves pass for sole realities.” And for these things the verb “confound” would no longer suit. So we have another “bring to naught:” êáôáñãÞóῃ make null, deprive of all validity. This is a much stronger expression, and it puts its object, relatively to the highest good to be enjoyed, out of existence. The truth of the assertion has been well brought out by Neander: “In its scorned professors, the Gospel has in fact displayed a power of action and endurance, which far transcends the measure of the natural man. They alone never bowed to the despotism of the Roman Emperor. To them also the Gospel has imparted a steadfastness of conviction, which the proud philosophy of the Greeks never possessed; and a Christian mechanic, as Justin Martyr and Tertullian have affirmed, was able to answer questions which the Greek philosopher asked in vain.”

1Co_1:29. The reason of the above mentioned peculiarity of God’s procedure in “calling” men.—that no flesh should boast in the presence of God. ìῃ êáõ÷Þóåôáé ðὰóá óÜñî , lit.: that all flesh should not boast. A Hebraism. The negative belongs to the verb, and=that all flesh should give up their boasting. The sense is: “no man should boast that he, out of his own endeavors, or position, or worth, had contributed any thing to the great achievements of the Gospel.” Neander. It is a question whether we are to take the word “flesh” as simply denoting humanity in general, or are to associate with this the ideas of guilt and transientness which are also conveyed by it. As a general rule the expression occurs in this way only when the one or the other of these ideas is implied in the context. “Flesh beautiful, yet frail” says Bengel.—[“Here then we see that God by confounding the mighty, and the wise, and the great, does not design to elate with pride the weak, the illiterate, and the abject, but brings down all of them together to one level.” Calvin].

1Co_1:30. The ground in the Divine economy on which this end is obtained and the glory of salvation secured to God alone.—But of him ye are in Christ Jesus.—A two-fold construction and exposition is here possible. Either the first five words may be taken as a sentence by itself, stating the fact of their origin in God: “Of him are ye.” The subsequent words, “in Christ Jesus,” would then assert the ground of their being from God—of their Divine Sonship, and this too in such a manner as to carry the emphasis. Such a construction is supported by the fact that the important relative clause which follows is joined directly to it. Or the words “ye are in Christ Jesus” may be taken together as denoting their being in fellowship with Christ, and then “of Him” assigns the cause of this fact,—shows how they came to be in Christ. The latter construction is not contrary to usage, and at least is not more forced than to suppose the word “are” to be employed as a pregnant construction for ‘have sprung’ or ‘been born,’ as Osiander does. We might compare with this Eph_2:8, “And that,” to wit, being saved, “not of yourselves,” which is the same as ‘and ye are not saved of yourselves,’—stated in the positive form, ‘ye are saved of God,’ i. e. He is the author of your salvation. So here: He is the author of your being in Christ Jesus. This is sustained also by the “from God” ( ἀ ðὸ èåïῦ ) in the relative clause which evidently refers back to “of Him” ( ἐî áὐôïῦôïῦ ) and imparts to the thought additional emphasis by repetition. In relation to the truth conveyed see Joh_6:44; Joh_6:37; Joh_6:65. The preference accordingly is to be given to the second construction. In this way, on the one hand, we preserve the Pauline expression “to be in Christ,” and avoid one which never elsewhere occurs— ἐê èåïῦ åἶíáé : “to be from God.” By this explanation we would be compelled to refer ἐí êõñßῳ : “in the Lord” (1Co_1:31), to God and not to Christ, contrary to Pauline usage. But this need present no difficulty, singe these words in 1Co_1:31 are not Paul’s, but a citation from the Old Testament.—Who was made wisdom unto us from God, both righteousness and sanctification and redemption.—Here we have the rich treasure of blessings contained for us in Christ all laid open, revealing the largeness of our indebtedness to God, for what of real worth we have and are. “From God” is not to be connected with “wisdom” as indicating the source whence it came, but with “was made” as showing the author of the act. ( ἐãåíÞèç , a later Doric form for ἐãÝíåôï , not passive). This is the order of thought presented in the German [as well as in the English] version. The fact that Christ has been made to us “wisdom” depends on God; and not only “wisdom,” but also the other particulars specified. Observe, too, he here passes over into the first person plural, “unto us,” including therein himself as he frequently does elsewhere when specially moved by a sense of his fellowship with his readers in the salvation of Christ. The position of “wisdom,” coming in as it does before the words “unto us from God,” and thus separated from the remaining predicates, is not to be explained on the ground that “wisdom” is the leading thought to which the others are subordinated. Such a construction is neither called for by the ôå êáß , which only serves to connect “righteousness” and “sanctification” a little more closely, nor by the nature of the conceptions expressed by the other terms, which designate rather coördinate aspects of the one great scheme of salvation entirely distinct from wisdom, and therefore not capable of being included under it. Rather we may say that in consequence of the course of thought thus far pursued, the idea of “wisdom” pressed foremost upon his mind, and so came in where it did; or that he put the qualifying word common to the several members of the sentence right in among them as a word of connection (Osiander.) It is natural to look for some antithesis to what precedes in these four specifications, “wisdom,” etc. But it can only be called a mistake in Bengel when he attempts to find a contrast, as in “wisdom” to “the foolish things;” so also in “righteousness” to “the weak things,” in “sanctification” to “the base things,” and in “redemption” to “the despised things.”—When it is affirmed that “Christ was made to us wisdom,” by this we are to understand that in Him, in His person, the fulness of which was unfolded in His history, the mystery of the Divine plan of salvation has been disclosed, and with this an insight been afforded us into the dispensations and judgments of God, and we are enabled to recognize and lay hold upon that which shall conduct us to the goal of our noblest longings (comp. 1Co_2:7 ff.; Col_1:9 ff.; Col_1:26 ff.; Col_3:2; Col_3:10; Php_1:9 ff.; Eph_5:8 ff. etc.). As closely related ideas, “righeousness” and “sanctification” are so joined as to form a distinct whole: äéêáéïóýíç ôå êáὶ ἁãéáóìüò . The first reminds us of 2Co_5:21—“that we might be made the righteousness of God in him;” and of Jer_23:5—“The Lord our righteousness;” and also of the saying of Christ himself in Mat_3:15, as well as of Act_13:38; Isa_53:11; Gal_2:16-17; Rom_1:17; Rom_3:21 ff. In the language of Holy Writ righteousness denotes that conduct which comports with the law of God or the disposition suitable to it. This existed in Christ in absolute perfection; and it existed in Him as the second Adam (1Co_15:4; 1Co_15:7), the son of man, the head representing the whole body, and in behalf of the entire sinful race, whose obligations to the law He had fulfilled by a life of perfect obedience, and whose debt to justice He has cancelled by submiting to the penalty threatened upon sin in a voluntary sacrifice of Himself even unto death, thereby complying with the behests of the Father and revealing His holy and compassionate love towards the fallen. In this way has He become righteousness for us, that we may be counted righteous before God and enter into the possession of the rights and privileges which belong to this state of righteousness—that is, be adopted into the Divine family. This, regarded as an act of God, is expressed by the terms äéêáéïῦí äéêáßùóéò : to justify, justification; and the pardon of sin, as the negative side of justification, includes also, for its corresponding positive side, God’s cordial acceptance of us as pleasing in His sight. But in this judicial portion of Christ’s redeeming work there lies also, at the same time, an element of moral change—of sanctification ( ἁãéáòìüò ), and the intimate connection between these two things is expressed by the ôå êáß . (“In this conjunction there is implied at once distinction and equality, an intimation of similarity, as though the one were consequent upon the other.” Osiander. In order that the relation to God, in which our justification places us, may be subjectively sustained, so that we may say “the judgment of God is according to truth,” there must be an inward connection between the Head and the members who participated in the righteousness of their Head. This connection is effected by the love of Christ awakening faith in us. This love at once destroys in the subject of it all disposition to live for himself, as the moving spring of his existence, all ambitious aspiring, and transports him into a state of mind that leads him to live and to become every thing in Christ alone. And this is faith, humble, earnest faith, that works in us repentance as its result. In this emancipation of the individual from the thraldom of selfishness (an emancipation which is at the same time a deliverance from every thing to which selfishness binds us, even the idols of flesh and sense, and the world), and in this union to Christ as the sole worthy and worth-giving Saviour, lies the germ of our “sanctification.” By this we understand becoming godly-minded—the consecration of our whole life in all its elements unto God—the offering up of self unto the Most High, so that all labor becomes a Divine service, the springs of which are joy in the Lord and the witness of the Spirit to our adoption and final salvation. This ἁãéáóìüæ : holiness, may be regarded either as progressive—sanctification, or as a fixed quality—sanctity. The latter is the prevailing usage in the New Testament (Rom_6:19-22; 1Th_4:3-4; 1Th_4:7; 1Ti_2:15; Heb_12:14 etc.). It is to be so taken here. In reference to the thing itself see Joh_17:19, and the juxtaposition of “ye are justified” and “ye are sanctified” in 1Co_6:11. But while all are agreed as to the meaning of these foregoing terms as a whole, it is not so in regard to the last one, “and redemption” ( ἀðïëýôñùóéò ). Are we (with Meyer) to take this as denoting the work of Christ through which our salvation is achieved (as in Rom_3:24; Eph_1:7), so that it is for us an object of faith? or (according to the Catholic expositors) as our final deliverance from death and all the evils and temptations of sin (as in Rom_8:23; Eph_1:14), and so as an object of hope? The latter interpretation corresponds better with the position of the word, since it will hardly do, after having mentioned “righteousness and sanctification,” to go back again to the negative idea of deliverance from guilt, which is already involved in the term righteousness. On the other hand, its position renders the addition of any explanatory term like that found in Rom_8:23; Eph_1:14; Eph_4:30, unnecessary. Comp. for a fuller development of the thought Rom_8:10-11; Rom_8:21-24.—Here then is the final stage of our salvation a deliverance from the bondage of corruption unto the glorious liberty of the sons of God. That in this, as well as in the foregoing instances, Christ exhibits himself as the “power of God” victorious over the power of sin and its terrible consequence, death, is a proximate thought, so that here again those two chief predicates, “wisdom and power,” recur to view, only the second with greater prominence. But in the case of “sanctification,” as well as of “redemption,” it is implied that Christ is in Himself what He has become for us; that He in all His life and walk was entirely severed from all fellowship with sin and wholly consecrated to God, i.e. holy, and as such was the principle of our sanctification; that He arose victorious from the grave and the whole realm of sin, and at once ascended up on high, exalted over all, and as such carries in Himself the power by which our redemption is to be achieved. (Comp. 1Co_15:26; 1Co_15:55; Eph_2:6).

1Co_1:31. The final cause of the peculiar method of God’s call and the plan of His salvation by the free gift of an all-sufficient Saviour.—In order that, according as it is written, he that boasteth, in the Lord let him boast.—Here is where the argument conducts us. There must be a boasting, a glorying; not, however, in oneself before God, but in God as the author of all our advantages and blessings. And this boasting is the expression of a lofty emotion of joy and confidence. If by the term “Lord” Christ were meant, it should be explained as an exultation in His fellowship, in possessing a share in His salvation. But the relation to 1Co_1:29 points rather to God, the original source of all salvation. And such an application would not militate against Paul’s usage, because, as has already been remarked, the passage is a citation from the Old Testament (Jer_9:23), particular prominence being given to the chief thought by holding fast to the original form. Hence the anacoluthon, ἵíá êáõ÷Üèù , instead of êáõ÷ᾶôáé . If anything were to be supplied it would be ãÝíçôáé . For a similar case see Rom_15:3.


1. God’s thoughts and ways entirely unlike those of the natural man.—What is great and glorious in the sight of men, God sets at naught. What men slight as mean and contemptible, God prizes, or makes it precious. Man’s propensity is to exalt himself, and hold in honor whatever is the product of his own powers and bears the mark of mental or physical superiority, or can be used to personal advantage, or is of noble origin, while he treats all that is crude and powerless and vulgar, just as if it had no existence. God, on the other hand, in His work of redeeming vain man, especially at its very commencement, proceeds on methods quite the reverse. Here we see the Son of the Highest, who is in the form of God, the Fulness of Divine life and wisdom and power, and, as the perfect image of the Father, is infinitely exalted above the most eminent of created beings, yea, is the very substance and vital principle of all the excellence and power which these beings possess—we see Him emptying Himself of His glory, entering into a state of creaturely dependence, assuming the form of a servant, coming into association with a sinful race although Himself sinless, bearing in holy sympathy all their burdens and trials on His own heart, and sharing in their condemnation and suffering and death, even to the ignominious death of the cross. Thus, at the very start, did Divine Power and Wisdom and Holiness exhibit themselves as weakness, foolishness and sin; Life and Light, as death and darkness; Riches inexhaustible, as deepest poverty; the All in All, as nothing; Essential Being, as not being. Thus in His fundamental act did God confront and confound the vain conceit of men who aspired to resemble Him in power, wisdom and blessedness. And this initial procedure has shaped the whole method of salvation ordained in the Gospel. As the condition of pardon and acceptance God requires of men the absolute renunciation of their own wisdom, power and sufficiency, and a disposition to ascribe all honor and glory unto God, who has thus manifested Himself to them in Christ, and to regard His workmanship in them as alone possessing worth. But since this requirement is exceedingly difficult for such as have distinction in this world, it happens that among the saved there are found not many wise, mighty and noble; but the Divine calling proves effectual rather in the sphere of the rude, the weak, the ignoble and the lowly, inasmuch as it is among these that the disposition to accept salvation exists in the highest degree or is most readily awakened. Thus it cometh to pass that while the wise and the noble and the mighty of earth are passed by and deemed unfit for heavenly honors, the foolish are lifted up into the light of Divine wisdom, the weak are clothed with Divine power, the ignoble are invested with the highest nobility, those who are as if they were not, attain consideration as the only real personages, and by the contrast the pomp and pride of earth are put to shame. The reason of this is that there may be no boasting before God. To this there is the opposite.

2. Unto God the Lord be all glory—He is the author of all benefits which come to us through Christ, and as He is the author so is He their final cause. Of Him and to Him are all things.

And these benefits appertain to all the aspects and relations of man’s being and life as connected with God and His kingdom, viz. the intellectual, the legal, the moral and the physical. First, Wisdom. This in its highest form is the knowledge of God, and such a knowledge we have imparted in the revelation of His Gospel—a knowledge of His character, His works and ways, of the economy of His kingdom in its preparation, establishment, spread and final consummation, by means of which the thoughtful spirit may be led to choose the way of life, and to advance from the first appropriation of salvation in faith on to its full fruition in glory. Of this wisdom Christ is made to us the substance and the illuminating principle. The second is Righteousness, i. e., restoration of fellowship with God by the satisfaction of all the law’s demand, and the cancelling of all obligations incurred, so that the sinner can on this ground, be accounted righteous in the sight of God, and be reinstated in his forfeited rights, and have free access to the Father as one of His family. This righteousness Christ has been made unto us by His having fulfilled all the claims of the law, both in doing and in suffering, both by yielding a perfect obedience and by assuming the curse out of His free, infinite love, so that we, being found in Him, may be made partakers of His merits. The third, inseparably connected with the preceding, is the Sanctification of human life in all its inward and outward movements so far as they are determined by man’s own will. This is effected by the shedding abroad of the love of God in the heart through the indwelling Spirit, who, consequent upon the work of Christ, comes to appropriate to us His righteousness and to assure us of his pardoning grace. And when, notwithstanding all past sins, we become thoroughly conscious of this love to us, there is awakened in our souls a love in return which shows itself in perfect confidence and in entire devotion to God, and in the utter renunciation of all selfish and worldly affections. And this is holiness. But this holiness perfects itself gradually, in the daily exercise of repentance and faith, and love more and more takes possession of the whole life to the complete regulation of all our faculties and relations, so far as they can be determined by it. And this Christ is made, unto us by virtue of His holiness passing over into our hearts through the Holy Ghost, whom He hath given unto us, and who transforms us into a likeness to His all-perfect character. Finally, Redemption.—This is the destruction of all our enemies, even to the last, which is death, so that not only is the spirit life because of righteousness, but God, who hath raised from the dead the Lord Jesus Christ, will quicken our mortal bodies through the Spirit that dwelleth in us. Thus is man, in respect to his entire organism, delivered from the bondage of corruption, and introduced into the glorious liberty of the children of God. And all this is done through the power and after the type of Christ, who, Himself victor over death, has become the principle of life eternal for all who believe in Him. As they die with Him, so also will they reign with Him. In this that profound saying is fulfilled, that corporeity is the end of the ways of God; in other words, that the deliverance of our whole organization from the ban of death, and our introduction into the fulness and power of an indestructible life is the consummation of God’s work of restoring fallen man; a work which was begun in his deliverance from the Condemnation of sin. Short and good, Olearius: Christus est sapientia in verbo, quoad doctrinam, justibia in merito, quoad fidem; sanctificatio in spiritu, quoad vitam; redemptio in novissimo adventu, quoad salutem æternam.

3. [The efficiency of faith in the matter of salvation.—This consists not in any virtue or meritoriousness of the act itself but in the fulness of blessings contained in the Being whom it appropriates or to whom it unites us. It enlightens because it lets in the light of Christ’s wisdom; it justifies because it appropriates the righteousness of Christ; it sanctifies because it puts us into fellowship with Christ’s holy life, and it proves our victory over death and the grave by associating us with Him who, as the Captain of our salvation, has proved himself the mighty conqueror. Thus while the wisdom and the power of this world are limited by the weakness and imperfection of human faculties, faith proves its superiority over both by taking to itself the fulness of Him who filleth all in all.]

4. [Christ cannot be divided in the benefits accruing from Him. We cannot have Him for our wisdom or for our righteousness without at the same time having Him for our sanctification and our redemption. The lack of any one of these benefits proves the absence of them all.—Christ is a perfect whole, and His work a perfect whole, and to be accepted at all He must be accepted as a whole.]

5. [The surpassing excellence of God’s method of salvation is seen in the fact that he presents to us not a dead system of doctrines nor lifeless instrumentalities to be acquired and improved by us, but a living agency, a person, infinite, ever-present, ever-active, all-wise, all-powerful, all-good, who acts upon us while we act on Him, and saves us by an efficiency of his own.]


1. [The method of preaching the Gospel must be adapted to the nature of the Divine calling.—1. As to the subjects thereof. The preaching should be of such a kind, and be set forth in such a manner, as to reach the poor, the illiterate and the weak. One sign that the kingdom of God has come is that the poor have the Gospel preached unto them. As it was in the beginning so must it still be. God’s calling has not changed its nature. But in thus suiting the Gospel to the humble, we are not to set aside the noble and learned as though excluded from salvation. At the manger in Bethlehem the worship of the shepherds was followed by the worship of the wise men from the East; among the disciples there was a Joseph of Arimathea; the vacancy in the Apostleship made by the fall of Judas was filled by a Paul; among the converts at Corinth, was Erastus the chamberlain and the wealthy Gaius. 2. As to the ends it has in view, viz: the humbling of man’s pride and the promoting of God’s glory.—The aim at such an end must be seen in the style and manner of the preacher himself and in the effects which he seeks to produce. 3. As to its contents.—This must be Christ in all His fulness and in His manifold adaptations to the wants of the sinner; Christ Himself, not a system of doctrines, nor a code of precepts, but the living person.]

2. The reason why not many wise are called. 1. Not because God puts contempt on human wisdom, on rank or fortune, or upon man’s natural faculties and powers, for these are His gifts and were designed for good, 2, but on account of men’s guilt. They abuse these gifts into an occasion for withdrawing themselves from the grace of God, and setting up for themselves to the darkening of their own understandings and the ruin of all their own interests through their weakness and insufficiency. Spener in Starke.

3. Three classes of persons, the wise, the strong and the noble, are the special foes of God’s kingdom, partly because they think that God’s grace detracts from their power and consequence, and partly because they imagine themselves to be already in a blessed condition (Joh_9:39-41). Starke.

4. The fact that a majority of its professors at first were of humble rank redounds to the honor of Christianity. From this it is seen: 1. That it esteems all men alike. 2. That it owes its rise and spread not to human might and art, but to God. 3. That it requires not learning but an honest heart that is anxious for its own salvation.—A miserable hull often conceals a precious kernel. Heubner.

5. The obligations which spring from these truths.—The poor and needy owe Christianity their profoundest gratitude for being so honored by it. [At the same time they must be careful not to arrogate any superiority in the sight of God over those who are above them in learning or birth or ability. Pride in ignorance and meanness is no less abominable in the sight of God than pride in greatness, wealth and learning.] On the contrary, the rich and the noble have occasion to humble themselves. Christianity owes them nothing, and they should be mindful of the danger of being beguiled from it.

6. The proud and self-sufficient must be humbled.—The Saviour did not become the Son of David until the princely glory of David’s house had departed and his descendants had come to the saw-horse. This was to show that the loftiness of this world must be brought low, if it would enter the kingdom of God. [The heights of earthly promotion and glory lift us no whit nearer Heaven.—It is easier to step there from the lowly vale of humiliation and sorrow.] God’s kingdom is a cross-kingdom. Gossner.

7. Cheer for the lowly.—What the world rejects that God lifts up and transforms into a sanctuary. Art thou small and despicable in the sight of men, rejoice at it and consider that God looks down especially upon thee (Psa_113:6-8; Psa_138:6).

8. Instruction for the high.—To God belongs all the glory. If then God is to display his power in thee and make something out of thee, thou must consent to become as nothing. Everything in Christianity turns upon this one quality of humility. The blessedness of the children of God is that they possess nothing, the glory of which does not belong to God.

9. What incomparable riches in Christ!—Believest thou in Him? Then thou possessest Him. Let earth’s trifles pass. Thou hast Christ, and with Him thou hast all things.—He is thine in all his offices.—As a Prophet, he is our wisdom; as High-Priest, he is our righteousness; as King, he is our sanctification; and in all three offices, he is our complete redemption. Hedieger.

10. J. Spencer. 1Co_1:21. The superiority of Christianity over human science, on the subject of religion. I. Demonstrated as to a. a future state; b. Human duty; c. The character of God; d. The pardon of the sinners. II. Application; a. Guard against a so-called philosophical style of reasoning; b. Cling to the great distinctive doctrines of the Gospel; c. Prize the pure Gospel; d. Heedlessness of sinners, strange. J. Barrow. 1Co_1:23. The doctrine of the Gospel—the doctrine of the cross. 1. As a suffering—in appearance criminal. 2. As most bitter and painful. 3. As most ignominious and shameful. 4. As agreeable and advantageous to the intents of the passion. 5. As completory of ancient significations and predictions. 6. As apt to excite devotion, and enforce the practice of duty. H. Bushnell. 1Co_1:23. The power of God in self-sacrifice. I. God is morally passible; a part of His glory is to be compassionate. II. This compassion exhibited in Christ’s passion on the cross. III. The power of it as seen in the effect it has to subdue enmity. It conquers evil by enduring evil.—C. H. Spurgeon. 1Co_1:23-24. Christ crucified. I. The Gospel rejected. II. The Gospel accepted. III. The Gospel admired. Anonymous. 1Co_1:26-29. The Christian calling. I. Its nature; a. Not many mighty, wise and noble; but b. The foolish, the weak, the base, are called. II. The reason: a. Not that God is unwilling that the great, and wise, and noble should be saved; but b. Because the foolish, the weak, the base, are more ready to feel their need and accept grace; and c. that the glory of God may be the more signalized. III. In its bearings; a. Shows us the perilous position of the mighty, and noble, and wise; they are in danger of being passed by and confounded; b. Teaches us not to disparage the foolish, the weak and the base; c. The foolish, the weak and the base are not to be proud against the opposite class, as though any better in God’s sight; d. The true preparation for God’s kingdom is an entire emptying of self; e. The purport of the calling, the glory of God.—Jon. Edwards. 1Co_1:29-31. God glorified in man’s dependence. I. This dependence absolute and universal; a. As they have all their good of God; a. of his grace; ß. of his power; b. As they have all through God; c. As they have all in God both their objective good and their subjective good. II. God is glorified in it. a. In that it affords greater occasion and obligation to take notice of and acknowledge God’s perfections and all-sufficiency; b. In that it is hereby demonstrated how great God’s glory is as compared with the creature’s. III. Use of the doctrine; a. It shows us God’s marvellous wisdom in the work of redemption; b. Those systems of doctrine, that are opposed to this absolute and universal dependence on God, do derogate from God’s glory, and so thwart the design of the contrivance for our redemption; c. We learn the efficiency of faith; d. Our duty is to exalt God above, and ascribe to Him all the glory of redemption. A. Butler, 1Co_1:30. Christ the source of all blessings.


1Co_1:28.—The êáὶ before ôὰ ìὴ ὄíôá is not original. [“A mistaken supplement of the sense.”—Alf.]

1Co_1:29.—Instead of the rec. áὐôïῦ the best authorities read ôïῦ èåïῦ which is repeated by way of emphasis.

1Co_1:30.—The best attested order of words is óïößá ἡìῖí ἀðὸ èåïῦ . That in the Rec. ἡìῖí óïößá is to be explained from the tendency to take óïößá ἀðὸ èåïõ together in relation (Meyer). [See below].

[See also for a masterly analysis of the Ethical import of this word. Müller on Sin. 2 Book, 2 Chap. Also Sartorius, “Von der heiligen Liebe.”]

Whitby discovers an allusion in the above designations to the Jews and Gentiles. His observations are valuable. “The Jews looked upon themselves as the only ἐõãåíåῖò , persons of true nobility, as being of the stock of Abraham. ‘Even the poorest Israelite,’ saith R. Akibah, ‘is to be looked upon as a gentleman, as being the son of Abraham, &c.;’ but the Gentiles they horribly despised, as the base people of the earth, not fit to be conversed with, they being styled in their law, ïὐêἔäíïò : not a nation; ëáὸò ὁ ôå÷èÞóïìåíïò , a people that shall be born, Psa_22:31; ὁ êôéæüìåíïò , that should be created in the generation to come, Psa_102:19, and so yet had no being, Deu_31:21. ïὑ ëáὸò , not a people, Hos_1:10; and it being said by the prophet, that all the Heathens are as nothing, and were accounted as nothing. Isa_40:17, they still account them as such. Hence, Mordecai prays, Lord, give not thy sceptre ôïῖò ìὴ ïὖóé , to them that are not, Est_4:11; and Esdras. As for the people which also came of Adam, thou hast said they are nothing. And now, O Lord, these Heathens who have ever been reputed as nothing, have begun to be lords over us. 2Es_6:56-57. Thus Abraham is said to be the father of the Gentiles, before that God who calleth things which are not as if they were, Rom_4:17 : and Clemens Rom. saith of the Gentiles, “He called us who were not, and would that of no being we should have a being.” So filthy are the Gentiles represented here by things that are not, things base, things accounted as nothing. See also 1Co_6:4. And this is the ancient exposition of Origen, who, speaking of the rejection of the Jews, or the calling of the Gentiles, and God’s provoking the Jews to jealousy by them that were not a nation, he confirms this from these words: “God hath chosen the base things of the world, and things which are not, that he might abolish the things which were before, that Israel, according to the flesh, might glory before God.” Philœal c.p. 3. Now, however much we may feel constrained to take these designations in question in their more natural and broader acceptation as above, it is very evident that they were derived from the Theocratic usus loquendi.]

A question might then arise: why ἐî was not repeated and instead we have ἀðὸ . See below].

We have here given the exact order of the Greek in order to render the exposition more intelligible.]

We here insert the arguments in favor of the interpretation which Kling has simply set aside without refuting, and which seems worthy of consideration as best fitted to dispose of some of the difficulties under which his view labors—and also as fraught with valuable suggestions. This other interpretation has in its favor, that it takes in the thought as it flows upon the mind in the order of the words, “who is made unto us a wisdom from God—both righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” In a collocation of words so peculiar, it were natural to take the last three terms as an after thought exegetical of the main one—and such an addition was needed. Wisdom was what Paul had been disparaging throughout this section. But it was the wisdom of man. Now he glories in Christ as having been made unto us wisdom. It was necessary therefore to difference this from what he had been condemning. So he adds ἀðü èåïῦ —not ἐî , as in the previous clause where he wishes to express the cause of an act; but ἀðü : from, denoting derivation, showing whence this wisdom came. It is no objection to this that the article ôÞ is not mentioned before ἀðü , since the omission is quite in Paul’s style. Eph_3:13. (See Alf.: also 15). Then to characterize this wisdom, to exhibit its distinguishing peculiarities as practical and suited for man’s deepest deeds, instead of being merely speculative, he subjoins the three great points it contemplated. And here is where wisdom of the Gospel far surpasses that of secular philosophy. It gives him in Christ pardon, holiness, triumphant deliverance from woe to glory. Here then we find 1, an adequate reason for the order of the words; 2, not a repetition but a distinct thought in ἀðὸ èåïῦ , and so a reason for the change of preposition: 3, not a digression from the main course of thought as must be supposed in the other interpretation, which Stanley admits, but a glorious consummation of it, displaying the infinite superiority of the wisdom from God over all human Wisdom 4, an epexegesis quite in the manner of Paul. Rom_1:12. Since writing the above I see that the view above given is adopted, though not argued out, by Butler in his sermons on our text. It is substantiated also by the Syriac, Vul., and Rheims versions. Neander’s testimony may be added: “In these last three conceptions (righteousness, sanctification and redemption), there are presented to us the practical contents of the wisdom (from God), by which it is distinguished from the wisdom of to is world.”]