18For many walk The simple statement, in my opinion, is this — Many walk who mind earthly things, meaning by this, that there are many who creep upon the ground (195), not feeling the power of God’ kingdom. He mentions, however, in connection with this, the marks by which such persons may be distinguished. These we will examine, each in its order. By earthly things some understand ceremonies, and the outward elements of the world, which cause true piety to be forgotten, I prefer, however, to view the term as referring to carnal affection, as meaning that those who are not regenerated by the Spirit of God think of nothing but the world. This will appear more distinctly from what follows; for he holds them up to odium on this ground — that, being desirous exclusively of their own honor, ease, and gain, they had no regard to the edification of the Church.
Of whom I have told you often He shews that it is not without good reason that he has often warned the Philippians, inasmuch as he now endeavors to remind them by letter of the same things as he had formerly spoken of to them when present with them. His tears, also, are an evidence that he is not influenced by envy or hatred of men, nor by any disposition to revile, nor by insolence of temper, but by pious zeal, inasmuch as he sees that the Church is miserably destroyed (196) by such pests. It becomes us, assuredly, to be affected in such a manner, that on seeing that the place of pastors is occupied by wicked and worthless persons, we shall sigh, and give evidence, at least by our tears, that we feel deeply grieved for the calamity of the Church.
It is of importance, also, to take notice of whom Paul speaks — not of open enemies, who were avowedly desirous that doctrine might be undermined — but of impostors and profligates, who trampled under foot the power of the gospel, for the sake of ambition or of their own belly. And unquestionably persons of this sort, who weaken the influence of the ministry by seeking their own interests, (197) sometimes do more injury than if they openly opposed Christ. We must, therefore, by no means spare them, but must point them out with the finger, as often as there is occasion. Let them complain afterwards, as much as they choose, of our severity, provided they do not allege anything against us that it is not in our power to justify from Paul’ example.
That they are the enemies of the cross of Christ. Some explain cross to mean the whole mystery of redemption, and they explain that this is said of them, because, by preaching the law, they made void the benefit of Christ’ death. Others, however, understand it as meaning, that they shunned the cross, and were not prepared to expose themselves to dangers for the sake of Christ. I understand it, however, in a more general way, as meaning that, while they pretended to be friends, they were, nevertheless, the worst enemies of the gospel. For it is no unusual thing for Paul to employ the term cross to mean the entire preaching of the gospel. For as he says elsewhere,
If any man is in Christ, let him be a new creature.
(195) “Qui ont leurs affections enracines en la terre;” — “ have their affections rooted in the earth.”
(196) “Perdue et ruinee;” — “ and ruined.”
(197)“ Ne regardans qu’ eux-mesmes et a leur proufit, font perdre toutela faueur et la force du ministere;” — “ merely to themselves and their own advantage, undermine all the influence and power of the ministry.”
(198) Such is Calvin’ rendering of the passage referred to. See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. 2, pp. 229, 233.—