1:1 Paul, 1 called [to be] an 2 apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and 3 Sosthenes [our] brother,
(1) The inscription of the epistle, in which he mainly tries to procure the good will of the Corinthians towards him, yet nonetheless in such a way that he always lets them know that he is the servant of God and not of men. (2) If he is an apostle, then he must be heard, even though he sometimes sharply reprehends them, seeing he has not his own cause in hand, but is a messenger that brings the commandments of Christ. (3) He has Sosthenes with himself, that this doctrine might be confirmed by two witnesses. 1:2 4 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are 5 sanctified in a Christ Jesus, b called [to be] saints, with all that in every place c call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
(4) It is a church of God, even though it has great faults in it, as it obeys those who admonish them. (5) A true definition of the universal church, which is: 1:3 6 Grace [be] unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and [from] the Lord Jesus Christ.
(a) The Father sanctifies us, that is to say, separates us from the wicked in giving us to his Son, that he may be in us, and we in him.
(b) Whom God by his gracious goodness and absolute love has separated for himself: or whom God has called to holiness: the first of these two expositions, shows from where our sanctification comes: and the second shows to what end it strives for.
(c) He is correctly said to call on God who cries to the Lord when he is in danger, and craves help from his hands, and by the figure of speech synecdoche, it is taken for all the service of God: and therefore to call upon Christs name, is to acknowledge and take him for very God.
(6) The foundation and the life of the Church is Christ Jesus given from the Father. 1:4 7 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
(7) Going about to condemn many vices, he begins with a true commendation of their virtues, lest he might seem after to descend to chiding, being moved with malice or envy: yet in such a way that he refers all to God as the author of them, and that in Christ, that the Corinthians might be more ashamed to profane and abuse the holy gifts of God. 1:5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, 8 in d all utterance, and [in] all knowledge;
(8) He refers to that by name which they abused the most. 1:6 9 Even as the testimony of Christ was e confirmed in you:
(d) Seeing that while we live here we know but in part, and prophesy in part, this word "all" must be limited by the present state of the faithful: and by "utterance" he does not mean a vain kind of babbling, but the gift of holy eloquence, which the Corinthians abused.
(9) He shows that the true use of these gifts consists in this, that the mighty power of Christ might be set forth in them, that hereafter it might evidently appear how wickedly they abused them for glory and ambition. 1:7 So that ye come behind in no gift; 10 waiting for the f coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
(e) By those excellent gifts of the Holy Spirit.
1:8 11 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, [that ye may be] g blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(10) He says along the way that there is no reason why they should be so pleased in those gifts which they had received, seeing that those were nothing in comparison of those which are to be looked for.
(f) He speaks of the last coming of Christ.
1:9 God [is] h faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
(11) He testifies that he hopes that things go well with them from now on, that they may more patiently abide his reprehension afterward. And yet together in addition shows, that the beginning as well as the accomplishing of our salvation is only the work of God.
(g) He calls them blameless, not whom man never found fault with, but with whom no man can justly find fault, that is to say, those who are in Christ Jesus, in whom there is no condemnation. See ( Luke 1:6 ).
(h) True and constant, who not only calls us, but also gives to us the gift of perseverance. 1:10 12 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that 13 ye all speak the same thing, and [that] there be no divisions among you; but [that] ye be i perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
1:11 14 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them [which are of the house] of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
(12) Having made an end of the preface, he comes to the matter itself, beginning with a most grave testimony, as though they should hear Christ himself speaking, and not Paul.
(13) The first part of this epistle, in which his purpose is found, to call back the Corinthians to brotherly harmony, and to take away all occasion of discord. So then this first part concerns the taking away of divisions. Now a division occurs when men who otherwise agree and consent together in doctrine, yet separate themselves from one another.
(i) Knit together, as a body that consists of all its parts, fitly knit together.
1:12 Now k this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
(14) He begins his reprehension and chiding by taking away an objection, because he understood from good witnesses that there were many factions among them. And in addition he declares the cause of dissentions, because some depended on one teacher, some on another, and some were so addicted to themselves that they neglected all teachers and learned men, calling themselves the disciples of Christ alone, completely ignoring their teachers.
(k) The matter I would say to you is this. 1:13 15 Is Christ divided? was 16 Paul crucified for you? or were ye 17 baptized in the name of Paul?
1:14 18 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;
(15) The first reason why divisions ought to be avoided: because Christ seems by that means to be divide and torn in pieces, who cannot be the head of two different and disagreeing bodies, being himself one.
(16) Another reason: because they cannot without great injury to God so depend on men as on Christ: which thing those no doubt do who allow whatever some man speaks, and do it for their own sakes: as these men allowed one and the very same Gospel being uttered by one man, and did loathe it being uttered by another man. So that these factions were called by the names of their teachers. Now Paul sets aside his own name, not simply to grieve no man, but also to show that he does not plead his own cause.
(17) The third reason taken from the form and end of baptism, in which we make a promise to Christ, calling also on the name of the Father, and the Holy Spirit. Therefore although a man does not fall from the doctrine of Christ, yet if he depends upon certain teachers, and despises others, he forsakes Christ: for if he holds Christ as his only master, he would hear him, no matter who Christ taught by.
1:17 19 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: 20 not with l wisdom of words, lest the 21 cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
(18) He protests that he speaks so much the more boldly of these things, because through Gods providence, he is void of all suspicion of gathering disciples to himself, and taking them from others. By which we may understand, that not the scholars only, but the teachers also are here reprehended, who gathered flocks separately and for themselves.
1:18 For the m preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the n power of God.
(19) The taking away of an objection: that he gave not himself to baptize many amongst them: not for the contempt of baptism, but because he was mainly occupied in delivering the doctrine, and committed those that received his doctrine to others to be baptized. And so he declared sufficiently how far he was from all ambition: whereas on the other hand they, whom he reprehends, as though they gathered disciples to themselves and not to Christ, bragged most ambitiously of numbers, which they had baptized.
(20) Now he turns himself to the teachers themselves, who pleased themselves in brave and glory-seeking eloquence, to the end that they might draw more disciples after them. He openly confesses that he was not similar to them, opposing gravely, as it became an apostle, his example against their perverse judgments: so that this is another place in this epistle with regard to the observing of a godly simplicity both in words and sentences in teaching the Gospel.
(l) With eloquence: which Paul casts off from himself not only as unnecessary, but also as completely contrary to the office of his apostleship: and yet Paul had this kind of eloquence, but it was heavenly, not of man, and void of fancy words.
(21) The reason why he did not use the pomp of words and fancy speech: because it was Gods will to bring the world to his obedience by that way, by which the most foolish among men might understand that this work was done by God himself, without the skill of man. Therefore as salvation is set forth to us in the Gospel by the cross of Christ, which nothing is more contemptible than, and more far from life, so God would have the manner of the preaching of the cross, most different from those means with which men do use to draw and entice others, either to hear or believe: therefore it pleased him by a certain kind of most wise folly, to triumph over the most foolish wisdom of the world, as he had said before by Isaiah that he would. And by this we may gather that both these teachers who were puffed up with ambitious eloquence, and also their hearers, strayed far away from the goal and mark of their calling.
(m) The preaching of Christ crucified, or the type of speech which we use. 1:19 22 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
(n) It is that in which he declares his marvellous power in saving his elect, which would not so evidently appear if it depended upon any help of man, for if it did man might attribute that to himself which is to be attributed only to the cross of Christ.
1:20 Where [is] the wise? where [is] the o scribe? where [is] the p disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
(22) The apostle proves that this should not seem strange, seeing that it was foretold so long before, and declares further that God often punishes the pride of the world in such a way, which so pleases itself in its own wisdom: and therefore that it is vain, indeed a thing of no value, and such as God rejects as unprofitable, which they so carefully laboured for, and considered to be so important.
(o) Where are you, O you learned fellow, and you that spend your days in turning your books? 1:21 23 For after that in the q wisdom of God the r world by wisdom knew not God, 24 it pleased God by the s foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
(p) You that spend all your time in seeking out the secret things of this world, and in expounding all hard questions: and thus he triumphs against all the men of this world, for there was not one of them that could so much as dream of this secret and hidden mystery.
1:22 25 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
(23) He shows that the pride of men was worthily punished by God, because they could not behold God, as they properly should have, in the most clear mirror of the wisdom of the world, and this wisdom is the workmanship of the world.
(q) By the world he means all men who are not born again, but remain as they were, when they were first born.
(r) In the workmanship of this world, which has the marvellous wisdom of God engraved on it, so that every man may behold it.
(24) The goodness of God is wonderful, for while he goes about to punish the pride of this world, he is very provident and careful for the salvation of it, and teaches men to become fools, so that they may be wise to God.
(s) So he calls the preaching of the Gospel, as the enemies supposed it to be: but in the mean time he taunts those very sharply who had rather charge God with folly than acknowledge their own, and crave pardon for it.
1:26 26 For ye see your t calling, brethren, how that not many wise men u after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, [are called]:
(25) A declaration of that which he said: that the preaching of the Gospel is foolish. It is foolish, he says, to those whom God has not endued with new light, that is to say, to all men being considered in themselves: for the Jews require miracles, and the Greeks arguments, which they may comprehend by their intellect and wisdom: and therefore they do not believe the Gospel, and also mock it. Nonetheless, in this foolish preaching there is the great power and wisdom of God, but such that only those who are called perceive: God showing most plainly, that even then when mad men think him most foolish, he is far wiser than they are, and that he surmounts all their might and power, when he uses most vile and abject things, as it has appeared in the fruit of the preaching of the Gospel.
1:28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, [yea], and things which x are not, to bring to y nought things that are:
(26) A confirmation taken from those things which came to pass at Corinth, where the church especially consisted of the lowly and common people, insomuch that the philosophers of Greece were driven to shame when they saw that they could do nothing with their wisdom and eloquence in comparison with the apostles, whom nonetheless they called idiots and unlearned. And in this he beats down their pride: for God did not prefer them before those noble and wise men so that they should be proud, but that they might be constrained, whether they wished to or not, to rejoice in the Lord, by whose mercy, although they were the most abject of all, they had obtained in Christ both this wisdom as well as all things necessary to salvation.
(t) What way the Lord has taken in calling you.
(u) After that type of wisdom which men consider to be important, as though there were none else: but because they are carnal, they do not know spiritual wisdom.
(x) Which in mans judgment are almost nothing. 1:29 That no z flesh should glory in his presence.
(y) To show that they are vain and unprofitable, and worth nothing. See Romans 3:31
(z) "Flesh" is often, as we see, taken for the whole man: and he uses this word "flesh" very well, to contrast the weak and miserable condition of man with the majesty of God. 1:30 But a of him are ye in Christ Jesus, 27 who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
(a) Whom he cast down before, now he lifts up, indeed, higher than all men: yet in such a way that he shows them that all their worthiness is outside of themselves, that is, it stands in Christ, and that of God. 1:31 That, according as it is written, b He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
(27) He teaches that especially and above all things, the Gospel ought not to be condemned, seeing that it contains the principal things that are to be desired, that is, true wisdom, the true way to obtain righteousness, the true way to live honestly and godly, and the true deliverance from all miseries and calamities.
(b) Let him yield all to God and give him thanks: and so by this place is mans free will beaten down, which the papists so dream about.