4He is puffed up, knowing nothing Such persons Paul first charges with pride, foolish and empty pride. Next, because no punishment can be imagined that is better adapted to chastise ambitious persons than to declare that all that they delight in proves their ignorance, Paul pronounces that they know nothing, though they are swelled with many subtleties; for they have nothing that is solid, but mere wind. At the same time, he instructs all believers not to be carried away by that windy ostentation, but to remain steadfast in the simplicity of the gospel.
But languishing after questions and debates of words There is an indirect contrast between “ soundness of the doctrine of Christ,” and that “” for, when they have wearied themselves much and long with ingenious questions, what advantage do they reap from their labor, but that the disease continually grows? Thus not only do they consume their strength to no purpose, but their foolish curiosity begets this languishing; and hence it follows, that they are very far from profiting aright, as the disciples of Christ ought to do.
Not without reason does the Apostle connect “ and disputes of words;” for by the former term he does not mean every kind of questions, which either arise from a sober and moderate desire to learn, or contribute to clear explanation of useful things, but to such questions as are agitated, in the present day, in the schools of the Sorbonne, for displaying acuteness of intellect. There one question gives rise to another; for there is no limit to them, when every person, desiring to know more than is proper, indulges his vanity; and hence, there afterwards arise innumerable quarrels. As the thick clouds, during hot weather, are not dispelled without thunder, so those thorny questions must burst into disputes.
He gives the name
λογομαχίας (logomachies, or disputes about words) to contentious disputes about words rather than things, or, as it is commonly expressed, without substance or foundation; for if any person carefully inquire what sort of contentions are burning among the sophists, he will perceive that they do not arise from realities, but are framed out of nothing. In a word, Paul intended to condemn all questions which sharpen us for disputes that are of no value.
From which arises envy He demonstrates from the effects how much an ambitious desire of knowledge ought to be avoided; for ambition is the mother of envy. Where envy reigns, there also rage brawlings, contentions, and other evils, which are here enumerated by Paul.