Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians is a divine commentary on the conduct inculcated in the epistle to the Romans. The secret of a life well pleasing to God lies in the crucifixion of the flesh and resurrection by the power of the spirit (Rom.6:6-11). The Corinthians failed in both of these requisites, as will be seen by the framework. The first part of the epistle shows that though the apostle had pressed the preaching of the cross, which puts an end to all physical pretensions, they persisted in making much of men, and thus created divisions among themselves. The close of the epistle shows also that some denied the resurrection, though the resurrection of Christ was fundamental to the evangel and an absolute necessity to acceptable conduct.
As is the case with so many of the epistles, each subject is taken up twice, as shown in the framework, dividing the epistle into two distinct parts, each having the same general subjects, but discussing them from distinct standpoints. In the first half all is personal. In the second all is ecclesiastical. The gifts in the former portion are men, Paul and Apollos. In the latter they are spiritual endowments, which were exercised in the ecclesia. Thus also, the abuse of the physical body is balanced by the abuse of the Lord's body. The private conduct of the marriage relation is replaced by their conduct in the public meetings of the saints. Idol sacrifices are discussed in their relation to the individual and as they affect the ecclesia, especially the Lord's table.
The central subject is the question of Paul's apostolic authority. First he discusses his personal rights, but then waives them all in his desire for the welfare of others.
Thus we see a marvelous symmetry and balance of thought in an epistle which is usually supposed to be without method.
This epistle is a severe rebuke to the present day ecclesiastical systems. Its division was a proof of carnality in Corinth, what does the multiplication of sects with which we are afflicted prove? There is far more need today of the salutary correctives in this epistle than there was in Corinth. There is need to proclaim, not only the death of Christ, but the manner of His death. A crucified Christ is the answer to the worldly wisdom and religious carnality of those who profess the name of God.
This epistle shows why so few are able to apprehend the marvelous mysteries of Paul's later epistles. If the Corinthians were so carnal that the apostle could not reveal these to them, it is no marvel that they are hid from the immature believer of today. Yet the apostle did disclose to them the secret of the resurrection.
In the midst of all the gifts the apostle points them to the transcendent grace which has since become ours by a later revelation. The gifts have ceased. Faith, expectation and love remain. Let us hope that soon faith will be lost in sight and expectation in realization. Then love alone will abide. May we give it the place pre-eminent!
I Corinthians 1:1-26
1 This is not the first time the apostle has written to the Corinthians. He had written a letter to them (5:9) and they had written one in return (7:1). This epistle is partly a reply to their letter. So that it is not to be taken as first Corinthians in the absolute sense, but in relation to the second epistle.
2 It is worthy of note that this epistle, like the Thessalonian and Galatian epistles, is written to a corporate ecclesia. Indeed, the whole of the latter half treats of ecclesiastical relations.
2 The name Sosthenes recalls much of Paul's career in Corinth. Crispus, the chief of the synagogue, believed and probably lost his place immediately, for we next read that Sosthenes was the chief of the synagogue. When Gallio refused to interfere, the crowd took Sosthenes and beat him in front of the dais. It may be that this man was also reached by the evangel, and became Paul's companion in Ephesus, where this epistle was, in all probability, penned. If so, it is a notable triumph of grace.
4 Corinth was the first place, after Paul's severance from the rest at Antioch, where he was allowed to continue long enough to teach and establish the saints in the truth. He was there a year and a half (Ac.18:11), and many of the Corinthians not only believed, but were recipients of many spiritual graces looking forward to the day of Christ's unveiling.
9 What a marvelous privilege and honor is involved in fellowship with the Son of God! Yet this is the portion of everyone who is His.
10 It should be an occasion of gratitude to God that the correction of the Corinthians, though of temporary and local interest at the time, still provides guidance on many points of practical importance. Thus their very divisions not only exposed their own carnality, but are the sure sign of the prevailing lack of spirituality today. Few, Indeed, would rebuke allegiance to themselves, yet Paul, first of all, objects to anyone saying "I am of Paul". No matter what name is used, schism is indefensible and deplorable.
14 The Crispus here referred to can be none other than the chief of the synagogue who believed on the Lord with all his house when Paul first came to Corinth. Gaius was probably his host on a later visit (Ro.16:23). The household of Stephanas was probably the first to receive the evangel. It seems that Paul, in his early ministry, like the Lord (Jn.4:2), did not usually baptize with his own hands. As Stephanas was the first to believe in Corinth, there may have been no one else to do so in his case. Crispus was the most prominent Jew in the city, hence the apostle officiated personally when he was baptized. After this we do not read of his baptizing. He couples baptism with circumcision, as being ours in the burial of Christ (Col.2:12) .
17 Baptism, like circumcision, was a physical rite, and seemed to give the flesh a place before God. The entire tenor of Paul's commission was against this. He draws a sharp line between baptizing and evangelizing.
THE WORD OF THE CROSS
18 The "word of the cross" has a far deeper significance than the death of Christ for our sins. It brings before us the manner of His death. The curse of the law was attached to such a death. It brought down the curse of God. On the human side, however, it showed what human religion and human wisdom can do. When God's Image was present among men they not only failed to appreciate Him, but displayed the innate hatred of their carnal religious hearts by dooming Him to the death of the vilest criminal. He Who spoke as never man spoke should have been welcomed by the wise men of the world, but they showed the essential stupidity of human wisdom by gibbeting the embodiment of all wisdom upon the ignominious cross. Yet God has made that scene of weakness and shame the brightest exhibition of His power and glory. Though it seems to sound the depths of powerless infamy, it eclipses all the power and wisdom of men. The word of the cross is still despised, but its proclamation is salvation to all who believe. The height and summit of man's wisdom cannot reach to the divine folly.
I Corinthians 1:27-3:4
21 To this day the great, the noble, and the wise are a small minority among the true saints of God. It is a matter of extreme thankfulness that this is so. If high birth or wisdom or any other attainment were necessary to His choice, how few would be able to measure up to His standard, and how little glory would there be for Him! Yet now we see those mentally deficient, chosen by Him, acting more wisely than the philosophers who shut God out of their lives. Here in Corinth we see the trembling apostle, scorned even by those to whom he has been the means of blessing, doing a work which has brought more glory to God and good to man than all the efforts of the might and nobility of all time!
30 Would that we would cease looking for anything in ourselves! Let us not boast in our wisdom, or our holiness, but find these only in Christ. Then let us boast to our heart's content in that which we have in Him.
1 Eloquent appeals, logical arguments, or profound philosophy, have no place in the proclamation of the evangel. We are to proclaim the word, testify to the truth. The subject matter is all provided by God. Nothing would have appealed to the Corinthians better than some new philosophy, or some astute line of reasoning. But faith does not rest on reason but on a message backed by the power of the Spirit of God. What is needed today is a return to the simple, unadorned proclamation of the evangel, the death of Christ on the cross for our sins and the resurrection of Christ because of our justification. The power of this good news is as great today as it proved to be in Corinth.
7 Though God has repudiated the world's wisdom, there is a divine wisdom, of which the world knows nothing, which even the saints do not apprehend until they attain maturity. This wisdom is fully unfolded in Paul's later epistles to the Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. It cannot be grasped, even today, by carnal saints. It is for the spiritual, who have seen the end of the flesh.
7 "Before the eons" shows that the eons or ages are not eternal in the past, but had a definite beginning.
9 We need only consider our own desire to surprise and gratify those who love us to realize a little of what is in God's heart toward us. God gives of His Spirit, that we may apprehend His further gifts. The secret here hinted at by Paul can be none other than the secret economy unfolded in his Ephesian epistle, which is based upon the secret of Christ, or His exaltation as the Head of the whole universe. As such He is the Lord of glory, for no one on earth, or in the heavens, approaches the honor and dignity which will be His in the eons of the eons.
11 The apostle appeals to our own experience. Human beings can understand one another because they have the same spirit. But animals cannot enter into the recesses of human experience. No more can a man apprehend things divine without the interpretive presence of God's holy Spirit.
13 The Scriptures often lay stress on the character of the words employed by the Spirit of God. A large measure of the current confusion may be traced to the loose, unscriptural terms which are used. Timothy was urged to hold to the pattern of sound words. If this is true in the original language, how much more should we endeavor to fulfill this charge!
13 The term "matching" has been rendered "comparing". But the thought of the passage is not the agreement between spiritual things, but the adaptation of spiritual things to mankind. It is useless to teach a soulish man spiritual things, for he has no means of grasping them.
1 Doubtless the apostle would gladly have instructed the Corinthians in the deep things of God, but they were not able to bear them. And what was the sure sign of their carnality? Division. While some were the partisans of Paul, who planted, and some of Apollos, who watered, and strove about God's gifts in the person of His servants, they were effectually frustrating any further outflow of His favor. And so it is today. If any yearn to know the deep secrets of God, let them purge themselves of all party spirit, and thus open their hearts to the great Giver Himself.
I Corinthians 3:5-4:7
5 Apollos was a Jew of Alexandria, a scholarly man, and able in the Scriptures. He came to Ephesus, full of zeal, but versed only in the baptism of John. Priscilla and Aquila heard him speak boldly in the synagogue, so they took him to themselves and expounded the way of God more accurately to him. On his way back he passed through Achaia and doubtless spent much time in Corinth. While there he parleyed much with the believers and strenuously and thoroughly confuted the Jews, publicly exhibiting, through the Scriptures, that Jesus is the Christ (Ac.18:24-28).
8 There is little doubt but that Apollos taught precisely as Paul did. They were one. Indeed, Apollos received much of his teaching indirectly from Paul, through Priscilla and Aquila.
9 Paul seeks to draw their hearts from occupation with men, by comparing them with a farm on which he was merely a laborer, or a building on which he was only a craftsman. He did the first work. He planted. Apollos gave the crop water. But they could not make a single seed grow. Growth is due to God alone.
10 Paul had laid the foundation in Corinth. Apollos and others were building on it. The gold and silver, precious stones, wood, grass, straw, represent the character of the doctrines with which these teachers seek to edify the ecclesia. It is not a question of quantity but quality. Wood, hay and grass would easily make an imposing pile, but they will not stand the fire in the day when each one's work will be tested. They doubtless represent the human philosophies and base additions to the truth which today almost cover up the great verities of divine revelation. Gold stands for that which is divine, silver for redemption, precious stones for those gems of grace which adorn them, especially the secrets at which Paul has been hinting.
14 Let all who teach take this to heart: their work will be tested to see what kind it is. It is better to have a little after the fire than much before it.
15 The question here is not salvation, but service. It is not concerned with the conduct of the believer but with the doctrine of those who teach.
18 The wisdom of the world is a far greater menace today than in the days of the apostle. The nominal church has no hesitancy in following, not only the wisdom of the world, but its folly as well. On every hand we are assured that the church must get on a business basis and use modern methods. The aim of the preacher is popularity, the confidence of the multitude is in men. Proclaim a great truth, freshly found in the word, and who will listen? Set up a great leader and men will flock to hear his eloquence. God is forgotten in the church more grievously than in the world.
22 The cure for a partisan spirit is the recognition that the men who are given by God to edify His saints are all ours. We should not single out a single one, but include them all. We should not say "I am of Paul", so as to exclude Apollos or Cephas, but realize that they are all ours, and a gift from God, not to quarrel about, but to appreciate and enjoy. The heritage of Huss and Luther and Darby has descended to us, though we may not belong to their party.
1 Doubtless those who were not of the Pauline party were inclined to be captious and question his motives or his methods. But Paul will not allow this. He did not receive his commission from them and refuses to acknowledge their right to examine him. What if they did? Their standards were not God's, and their surface knowledge was no basis for any decision. This is man's day. The current of the world's affairs is contrary to God and any arraignment of God's servants now will need very much revision indeed when freed from the prejudice and baneful influence of the day of man.
4 The possession of a good conscience is no justification. Paul knew that he had a good conscience even when he was a bitter opponent of Christ.
5 When the time for examining the service of God's stewards comes it will he based on truth. Not only the outward act but the inward motive will be brought to light. Many who seem to accomplish little, purposed greatly in their hearts, and will be rewarded according to their intention, rather than their failure to fulfill.
I Corinthians 4:8-5:13
8 The sharp contrast between the carnal Corinthians and the faithful apostle loses none of its force if we compare him with the church of today. We need not go outside of Protestantism to find churches sated, rich, and avowedly endeavoring to influence the world by political means. Every charge against the Corinthians in this passage is tenfold more applicable today. Those organizations which are not strong and glorious make every effort to become so. We have drifted far from our true place in the world. The world that hated our Lord and put Him to the accursed death, that hounded His apostle until he, too, was ready to be offered up, has not changed. It still persecutes those who want to live godly.
11 What a contrast between Paul and the dignitaries of the church today! Though loaded with the care of all the churches among the nations, he lacks every sign of such an exalted position. In actual want at times, and toiling for his subsistence at others, without sufficient clothing for comfort, undergoing all sorts of indignities, with no settled habitation, the apostle presents an abject, almost pitiable picture. Nothing could be worse than his own summary: "We became as the off-scourings of the world, the scum of the universe."
15 It was a custom among the higher classes to employ a slave in escorting the boys to and from school, and some families had learned Greek slaves for tutors. It would seem that the apostle is using this term to characterize those who had followed him in leading the Corinthians. They could not take the place of the one who had first brought them to the knowledge of Christ.
16 We need not stumble at Paul's putting himself forward for imitation, rather than the example of Christ. Since the Lord's ascension and the call of Paul there has been a radical change in the character of God's dealings with the nations. Paul's pattern call, and his later conduct, is the example for us to follow in this day of grace. The Circumcision follow in our Lord's steps. If we followed the example given by our Lord to His disciples we would proclaim the gospel to none but Jews (Ac.11:19).
21 It was some time before Paul came to Corinth. This epistle was probably written at Ephesus, whence Paul went to Macedonia. While there he wrote the second epistle to the Corinthians in which he lays aside the rod and manifests that spirit of love and meekness which he longed to show toward them.
1 Even when we remember the extreme laxity of morals which prevailed in many of the large and luxurious cities of the Roman empire at that time, the corrupting influence of the heathen deities which they had so recently served, and the eagerness with which they sought to right this wrong, we can hardly see how such a state of affairs could exist in Corinth, and, at first sight, it seems even more difficult to see why it should have been incorporated in Holy Writ, to be the butt of infidels and the sport of the ungodly. Yet such is all of God's word. It is a light which does not shun to expose all the shame and dishonor of the very ones who are declared to possess the righteousness of God. And it is full of comfort for those who fall, for if His grace was sufficient in such a case, it will suffice for all.
5 It will be noticed that the punishment, of being given up to Satan, was with a view to salvation. Thus are all of God's judicial acts. They are not vindictive, without any consideration for the welfare of those involved, but are of such a nature as to correct the evil.
9 The apostle had already written on this subject to the Corinthians. The state of society may well be imagined when he tells them that, should they refuse to have dealings with all such immoral persons, they would need to leave the world entirely. Now he makes it clear, however, that immorality will not be tolerated among those in the ecclesia. All such should be excluded. They are subject to the judgment of their brethren. Immorality outside the ecclesia is not a matter for the saints. God is judging those who are outsiders.
13 There is a striking contrast between the methods of dealing with moral evil and doctrinal heresy. There were those in Corinth who held fundamental
I Corinthians 6:1-7:7
error, for they denied the resurrection. The apostle reasons with them and shows them the consequences if their heresy were true, but he never suggests their excision. But when the behaviour of a brother became such that he brought reproach upon the holy brotherhood of believers, he was summarily expelled. This was the surest way of bringing him to repentance. By sending him back into the world, he realized the gravity of his misconduct.
1 It is unfortunate that our word "judge" usually takes on the sense of condemnation. The saints are not to condemn the world but to rule it during the eons. Saints in Israel will possess the kingdom on earth. We shall administer the rest of the universe. This destroys utterly the crude conceptions of "heaven" usually entertained. We shall not be idle, but, as members of Christ's body, will direct and control the angels, including the utmost bounds of the empyrean.
If, then, such a future is for the saints, how incongruous for us to appeal to the unjust to settle our differences!
It is a deplorable state of affairs when brethren in Christ go to law against one another. It shows that one or the other is unjust and so is not a fit subject for the sphere of God's rule. When the kingdom is established there will be no room for those whose conduct is contrary to the strict justice which will be its chief characteristic. If a believer has a case against another believer he should never have it tried before unbelievers. If they cannot settle it between themselves, they should choose some wise man, a believer in whom there is mutual confidence, and submit their case to him, and abide by his decision.
If this is impracticable, it rests with the aggrieved one to submit to the injury or loss rather than bring disgrace on the name of Christ. All that we do should be done with the single object of glorifying God, even if it entails shielding one who has wronged us, because his reputation cannot but affect the estimate with which the saints are held by the unbelievers in the world. We are not under law, but under grace. Let us use this rule in dealing with our brethren.
11 The city of Corinth was noted for its profligacy and, as the evangel makes its special appeal to sinners, some of the Corinthian saints could look back at a past of very doubtful character. But the evangel they received had cleansed and sanctified and acquitted them. In God's sight, at any rate, they no longer bore these characters, and His grace would constrain them to conduct themselves accordingly.
12 This is a necessary consequence of justification and the reign of grace. All is allowed to the one who has been vindicated by God. Nothing can ever touch his position before God in Christ. But this knowledge will not lead us to be lax in our conduct, as some might suppose.
15 The exalted honor of being members of Christ is the most powerful incentive to keep our bodies free from the gross sin which still afflicts humanity as it did in the days when this epistle was penned.
19 Wherever God dwells is the temple of God, and is hallowed by His presence. It was not the stately buildings or the sacred ritual or even the sacrifices which hallowed the sanctuary, but the presence of the glory of God in the holiest of all. The very ground of the desert was holy where Moses met Jehovah (Ex.3:5). So our body, whatever its physical appearance or condition, has become a temple by virtue of the divine Spirit which indwells us. It is no longer ours, but His, and like the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple in Jerusalem, should allow nothing that defiles to enter its precincts. God does not dwell in temples made with hands, but in the bodies of His saints. Holy conduct and loving acts are the ritual.
1 In this chapter Paul distinguishes carefully between his spiritual judgment and a commandment of the Lord. He gives the ideal, yet modifies it to suit the conditions under which the Corinthians lived. It will be noted that conduct pleasing to God always conforms to the divine activities. When God deals out justice He requires the same in His saints. When He is gracious, as in this economy, He is pleased when we deal with one another according to the
I Corinthians 7:8-30
higher dictates of grace. Perhaps we can carry this even further. Redeemed Israel is the bride of the Lambkin. His relation to them is figured by the marriage tie. The present ecclesia, however, is His body, a much closer and more vital union. Hence the ideal for the present time is to remain as Paul was. It was doubtless ideal, in this sense, for Peter to have a wife. Paul's celibacy is undoubtedly in accord with the great truths with which he was commissioned, which disregard all physical relationships, being spiritual conditions to be realized among the celestials, where marriage has no place. Perhaps these considerations account for the undecided tone and temporary character of this chapter.
8 It is evident that the preceding concession is only a general rule, not applicable to those not then married. Their relations are to be regulated by mutual consideration, but the unmarried need to consult only their own condition.
10 The law of divorce, in Scripture, varies according to the character of God's ways in each economy. Because of the hardness of their hearts God gave them the provisions in the law. This is no rule for us today. Where both are believers there is no divorce in this economy. The reason for this is evident, even as the reason for divorce in Israel. Israel was married to Jehovah, but He had to divorce her for her sins. But we are the body of Christ, and no one can be separated from His own body! Our union with Him is unbreakable. This should be reflected in our earthly relationships.
11 When there has been a separation, a woman may not marry again so long as her husband is living.
12 The rule where one is an unbeliever is modified to suit conditions. The believer is to make no move toward separation, but if the unbeliever obtains a divorce the believer is entirely free.
13 While it is not right for a believer to marry an unbeliever, grace makes ample provision for such, especially as many are called while married to an unbeliever. Just as everything which touched the altar was holy (Ex.29:37), so the unbeliever is hallowed by association with one of God's saints.
17 It is evident that God plans the time to call each of His saints. Some are in one station in life and some in another; some in one occupation and others in a different one. An important principle is laid down here which it were well for the saints to heed. It is this: The occupation and condition in which we were when God called us indicates, in a general way, what He would have us be. There is to be no radical change except in the case of those called in idleness or questionable occupations. There should, however, be a great change in our conduct, for we are to remain in our vocations with God. This it is which transforms the slave into the Lord's freedman, and makes the freeman a slave of Christ. This is the vital principle which replaces the outward rite of circumcision. It is not of great moment what a man may do for a livelihood, if he does it in such away as to please God and bring no reproach on His name.
23 Slavery has quite gone out of fashion, but those who have been bought with the blood of Christ should not be slow to acknowledge that in their case, it still exists. We are not our own. Let us glory in this. Not only are we His servants, but we are His slaves. We have no right to our own will and way. We are slaves of the Lord Christ, but not of any man, though he be Christ's apostle.
25 The record of Paul's opinion is as much inspired as the injunction of the Lord. It is evident that no set rule can be laid down for the regulation of such matters which would not lead to license or undue restraint. So we have only the apostle's opinion, based on the condition of affairs in Corinth at the time. There was evidently much laxity of morals, due perhaps to the fact that the members of the Corinthian ecclesia had been themselves involved in the loose manners for which the city was noted, and to the low level of conduct prevailing all about them. This opinion does not apply at all times or places, for it would lead to monasticism. Hence the apostle is careful to add that those who do not follow his advice are not guilty of any wrong action.
I Corinthians 7:31-8:13
31 The transient, fleeting character of all of this world's relationships and experiences should warn us not to let them take an undue hold upon our hearts. We cannot but use the world to a limited extent. Its joys and sorrows affect us, whether we will or no. If it were a permanent system instead of a temporary stage in the process of God's plan, our attitude would be different. In the semi-permanent millennial system, the saints will not be restrained from the full use of the world of that day. But the present system is distinctly hostile to God and occupation with it is calculated to interfere with our fellowship with God and the enjoyment of His permanent purpose.
32 No doubt both Paul and Peter were representative men whose personal affairs were in accord with the dispensations given them by the Lord. Peter went about with a wife, for the relationship between the Lord and the remnant in Israel, to whom Peter belonged, was figured by the marriage tie. They were the bride of the Lamb. Paul, on the other hand, revealed a nearer and closer union, that of the human body, in which Christ was the head and His saints the members. Paul, consequently, never married, but devoted himself undistractedly to the Lord's service. This is the ideal for this economy, yet the apostle is most careful not to press it as an injunction, for, unless such a course is entered upon whole-heartedly and with faith and fortitude which few possess, it would lead only to failure.
39 In this economy of grace there is no room for divorce. The marriage tie is binding for life. What Moses gave the hard-hearted sons of Israel is no rule for us. And even the single cause to which our Lord confined divorce was based on the kingdom code, not on the superabundance of grace in which we revel. Death alone can sever the marriage bond today, so far as two saints are concerned. If one, however, is an unbeliever, and deserts the believer, this also leaves the believer free. But, apart from this, it is entirely out of keeping with God's grace for two who have tasted of His favor, to seek to sever the tie.
1 Except in heathen lands, the question of eating that which has been offered in sacrifice to idols, is no longer a pertinent one, but the principle handed down is quite as important as ever. Those who are advanced in the faith know that there is no difference between food offered to idols and any other. Before God they may freely eat, but not before their brethren whose faith is not established. So we may freely do many things before God which might offend our brethren and cause them to stumble. Let us not flaunt our liberty in their faces, but rather let us refrain from that which may result in harm to a weak brother. Let us walk in love.
6 We have here a marvelously exact and concise definition of the relationship which we sustain to God and to the Lord, which, in turn, throws much light on their respective relationship to each other. Briefly put, God is the Source and Object of all; Christ is the Channel of all. Thus it is always found. We are never said to come out of Christ, but out of God. Indeed, Christ asserts that He Himself, came out of God (Jn.8:42). All is out of God (Rom.11:36). But God never deals with us except through His Anointed. Creation began in the Son of God and was carried out through Him. He has the same place in redemption. There is no conflict, for, while the Son, as the Image of the Father, is entitled to be called God and to receive the same honor as the Father, yet He Himself insists that His Father is greater than all (Jn.10:29). All that He had was received from His Father. His very life was a gift (Jn.5:26), and He lived by the Father (Jn.657). He did the Father's will, not His own. He sought the Father's glory, not His own. He was one with the Father, and desired that the disciples might become partakers of that unity (Jn.17:22). So that He Himself was in every way, out of the Father. On the other hand, He is the only Way to the Father, the only means through Whom we may know God. Hence, while all is sourced in God the Father, all is channeled through the Son. It is only by clinging closely to the exact language of Holy Writ that we may hope to gain a clear conception of the relation of the Father to the Son.
I Corinthians 9:1-24
1 The Corinthians questioned the apostleship of Paul. The phrase, "the twelve apostles" has been used to throw doubt on his commission, for if there were but twelve apostles, Paul could not have been one of them. He did not have the qualifications, and Matthias was duly chosen to fill Judas' place. Only one who had been with the Lord from John's baptism onward to His ascension was qualified to be counted with the twelve (Ac.1:22). Paul did not meet the Lord until some years later. The kingdom apostles are limited to twelve, for there will be only twelve thrones provided for them when they rule the tribes of Israel in the kingdom (Mt.19:28). It is evident that Paul and Barnabas and Timothy and Apollos will have no apostolic reward in that kingdom. Their apostleship is of an entirely different order. The gospel of the Uncircumcision was committed to Paul as that of the Circumcision had been to Peter. James, Cephas and John, chief of the twelve apostles, recognized this and gave Paul and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that they should go to the nations. The twelve confined themselves to the Circumcision. Thus there are two distinct orders of apostles, the twelve to the Circumcision, connected with the kingdom on earth, and an indefinite number, of whom Paul was chief, sent to the nations and connected with the successive ministries of the apostle Paul. Though the Corinthians denied his apostolic authority, he was not a whit behind Peter, the chief of the Circumcision apostles.
3 Paul had the undoubted right to do as the other apostles, but he chose the higher privilege of doing everything in his power to help the evangel. He worked with his own hands to supply his necessities when he might have demanded support.
8 It is God's pleasure that His servants who minister spiritual things should be requited with carnal things. In the present low state of spirituality spiritual things are accounted of no value, while material things are held in high repute. To acquire a sum of money without recompense is a crime, but many receive vast spiritual wealth without any sense of obligation.
13 God has always made due provision for the support of His servants. The priests and Levites were not concerned with their own livelihood, hence had no allotment of land to till, but depended on the labors of their brethren. They were wholly devoted to God's service. The same rule applies to the proclamation of the evangel.
15 It seems a marvel that the saints who owed so much to the apostle would have allowed him to engage in menial labor, when they could easily have supplied his meager needs. Yet herein was his glory, that, though supporting himself, at least in part, he still found time and strength to do more than any other apostle. The natural course would have been to use his authority to the full so that he could give himself wholly to the work of the ministry. The marks of true greatness are apparent in his anxiety not to use his full authority, but to do everything which in any way may be a benefit to the evangel. Such a course as this ought to be all the more effective in these days when the stain of filthy lucre is a prominent mark on many religious enterprises. The world has learned to look upon religion as a means of gain. The history of the church has been one long endeavor on the part of the clergy (with many noble exceptions) to enrich themselves at the expense of the laity. Had Paul's spirit prevailed, what a different story there would be to tell!
19 Many otherwise inexplicable events in Paul's career, as narrated in the book of Acts, are to be explained on the principle of conduct here laid down by the apostle. His course often seems to contradict the truth he had enunciated in the epistles he had penned. However strongly he insisted on freedom from the law, he could, nevertheless, take part in the rites and ceremonies of the temple when among his Jewish brethren. The whole narrative of Acts shows him becoming all things to all with whom he came in contact. On his journeys, in Jerusalem, in jail, on board the foundering ship wherever he was he adapted himself to the men and means at his disposal to forward the claims of the evangel. The same principle should regulate our efforts that we also may gain some.
I Corinthians 9:25-10:31
25 Contestants in the Grecian games had to take an oath that they had been ten months in training, and that they would violate none of the regulations. They lived on a prescribed diet and exercised severe self-restraint. The wreath or "crown" was made of the leaves of the pine. Groves of these trees surrounded the stadium near Corinth. Other leaves were used in other cities. For some time parsley was substituted for pine, but it seems that, in the time of the apostle, they used the pine wreaths. To avoid confusing these chaplets with the symbol of regal authority they are never called a "crown" in this version.
26 The subject before the apostle is not salvation, but service and reward. The apostle is not concerned lest he should be a "castaway", but whether he should win the prize. Two things are necessary, self-control and obedience to the rules of the game. Both are essential in order to win a wreath. In these days, when "success" is measured by human standards, it is of the utmost importance to press the fact that a violation of the rules absolutely bars the contestant from all hope of a prize. Service at the expense of truth or of conscience, to gain a livelihood or win popularity, no matter how strenuous, wins no prize. God looks on the motive and method, not on the apparent results. May we all so strive that He will be able to bestow the amaranthine wreath upon us!
1 The redemption of Israel out of Egypt was typical of the spiritual deliverance which is ours in Christ. All, indeed, were redeemed by the blood of the paschal lamb, but not all by any means pleased God in the wilderness journey. They all went through the Red Sea dry shod, all were identified with Moses, all ate the manna, and all drank the water brought forth by Moses' rod in the desert. Yet, notwithstanding these privileges, they failed in self-control, they went back in heart to the flesh pots of Egypt, reverted to idolatry, sinned and murmured. These are the very sins into which some of the Corinthians were ensnared. And these things still have their appeal to us unless we, like the apostle, reduce our bodies to bondage.
11 The eons are divided into two classes, the first three, which are preparatory, and the last two, called the "eons of the eons", which turn the evil of the first class into good. The last two eons, including the thousand years' reign and the reign of the saints in the new heavens and new earth, are the fruit and consummation of the evil eons. In spirit, Paul brought those under his ministry into the new creation, which is the spiritual counterpart of the eon inaugurated by the new heavens and new earth. It is only thus that the consummations of the eons had already reached the Corinthians.
12 Here again, the apostle is not considering salvation but the endurance of trial on the part of those who are saved. Salvation is entirely of God, through Christ. No one need be concerned about its efficacy or power. But beyond salvation there is the possibility of earning a reward, of winning a prize. This requires us to take due heed to our conduct.
13 God does not try us to break us down but to build us up. Hence He sends nothing insupportable. He does not however, make "a way of escape", as many of His saints have found by experience. If He did, why or how could that enable them to undergo it? They would not need to endure it if He took them out of it. He makes a sequel. This word occurs again in Heb.13:7: "contemplating the sequel (A.V. end) of their behavior." All the great examples of trial were sustained by a contemplation of its sequel. Joseph held the sceptre in the prison. David wore the crown in Adullam. Even Job knew that he would see his Redeemer. We should not try to escape trial, but seek grace to endure it. We should not occupy ourselves with it, but contemplate the blessed outcome which it is designed to produce.
20 There seems little doubt but that the heathen divinities were not mere myths, but actual demons. These are rampant today in Spiritism and often deceive the saints into believing that they are the holy Spirit of God by mimicking the gifts which were bestowed during the proclamation of the kingdom.
I Corinthians 10:32-11:20
32 It has been customary, in the study of "dispensational" truth, to divide the human race into "the Jew, the Gentile, and the church of God", and base the division on this passage. It is well, however, to note that the classification here is not Israel and the nations, but the Jew and the Greek. The Jew stands for the religious man, the Greek for the rationalist. One required signs, the other sought for wisdom. These, especially the Jew, would have a sensitive conscience on matters of small moment, and would be easily offended. Their modern representatives observe days, and abstain from foods, and have things sacred and profane. A tender solicitude for their conscience will keep us from becoming a stumbling block to them.
1 Is it presumption on the part of Paul to set himself up for our imitation? Not at all, for he adds, as I also am of Christ. He knew how to follow Christ. He did not make the mistake of following "Jesus" in His earthly walk, before His death and resurrection, for he never knew Him then. He followed the Christ Who was in the glory, Whom He had met on the Damascus road. It is noteworthy that the Christ Whom Paul knew never appeared to the Circumcision after His ascension as He did to Paul. They were associated with His earthly career and its resumption when He reappears on the mount of Olives at His advent. Paul imitates Him in His gracious dealings with himself and the nations from His heavenly throne. This calls for conduct in many respects radically different from the example He left the twelve apostles. A single point will suffice to show this. The Lord Jesus never preached to any but Jews and proselytes. He warned His disciples not to go to the other nations. How could we imitate Him in this?
5 The man should honor his head because it represents Christ. The woman should cover her head because it represents the man. It is a notable fact that, as men fail to subordinate themselves to Christ, women, in turn, refuse to be subordinate to them. And this is reflected, unconsciously, no doubt, in the matter of head dress. The lifting of the hat is a sign of man's headship over the woman.
7 The modern disregard and ridicule of these wise customs is but a symptom of the prevalent apostasy and insubordination to the truth of God, as well as of the ignorance which does not appreciate the profound wisdom which underlies them. It would seem that the messengers, or angels, realize these various headships and the signs which should acknowledge them. Hence, though men have lost all appreciation of their significance, it is still due to these unseen observers to comply with a custom which is in accord with both nature and revelation. The covering of a woman's head is no disrespect to her. It signifies that her head–the man–should be covered when in God's presence. The uncovering of a man's head is no boast of his. It represents his Head–Christ–Who is the Image and Glory of God.
18 The schisms of that early day did not begin to reach the open rupture we see everywhere about us today. The sects in the Corinthian ecclesia doubtless all came together in one place. No such thing was known as believers in Christ actually divided into independent ecclesias, though living in the same locality. The sin of schism and sectarianism seems to be the most incurable affliction of the church. The later history of the Corinthians shows that, though they were purged of the various heresies and immoralities into which they had fallen, after Paul's death they once more broke up into rival factions, each of which followed some distinguished leader. In recent times, various efforts have been made to restore this outward unity, but, in each case, it has led to another division. The true course for those who wish to please God seems to be indicated by the apostle's charge to keep the unity of the spirit in the tie of peace (Eph.4:3), and to have fellowship with all who invoke the name of the Lord out of a clean heart (2 Tim.2:22). The visible, outward unity of believers no longer remains. Let us cultivate fellowship with all, irrespective of the man-made walls which divide us. Soon we shall all be caught up into the presence of Christ and then every barrier will be banished. Let us do our share to realize this unity now.
I Corinthians 11:21-12:12
21 The phrase ..the Lord's supper" is misleading. Supper denotes an evening meal, but the word here employed has no such significance, though its first observance was at night. The word denotes the principal meal of the day, just as the word dinner does with us, without any reference to the time when it is eaten. The Corinthians brought their own dinners and ate them in the ecclesia. This custom was not approved by the apostle. He would have them eat at home.
23 The fact that Paul received a special revelation, after his severance from the rest, concerning the Lord's dinner, shows that it is in harmony with, and a part of, the new system of truth with which he was entrusted. It is in contrast with baptism, which he never received from Christ (1:17). He was thankful that he had baptized but few of the Corinthians. The Lord's dinner, however, he had given over to them pursuant to the special revelation which he had received. It was to be observed "till He should be coming". It is often called an "ordinance," (A V Eph.2:15, Col.2:14), but this refers rather to the decrees issued by James (Acts 15:20, 16:4) which were hostile to us and were taken away by the cross (Col. 2:14). These were given by James, whereas the Lord's dinner was accepted by Paul from the Lord Himself, after his severance from the other circumcision apostles (Acts 13: 2), to give to the nations to whom he was sent.
24 The word "remembrance" fails to give the full force of the Greek word here used. It is a strengthened form of the usual term for remembrance, denoting a voluntary and sustained effort, hence we render it recollection.
27 The manner in which the Corinthians partook of the Lord's dinner was not in keeping with the august solemnity befitting such a sacred recollection. The powers of the kingdom were still present among them and led to the judgment of those who had offended. Some suffered from illness and some even died. Even thus, the apostle explains, it is that such should not be condemned with the world. The discipline of the Lord is always salutary, even though it may seem most severe.
4 The threefold treatment of the subject of "spirituals" (as they are called in the Greek) is indicated in the opening sentence. First the graces are enumerated, as they are apportioned to each one by the spirit, in verses seven to eleven. Then the Lordship of Christ in the apportionment of service is illustrated by the figure of the human body, in verses twelve to twenty-seven. The rest of the chapter considers the operation of the graces under the disposition of God.
7 The spirit we have received, though one, manifests itself in a variety of ways. This was far more manifest among the Corinthians than it is today, for the signs which characterized that immature economy were closely allied to the miraculous manifestations which accompany the proclamation of the kingdom. As the next chapter explains, now that maturity has arrived, such exhibitions of the spirit's power are not in keeping with the perfection or maturity of this secret administration.
Spiritual endowments were not confined to one member of an ecclesia, or even to a few. Each one was given some special evidence of the spirit's presence, with a view to the blessing of all. None of these endowments, whether wisdom, or healing, or languages, was the outgrowth of natural ability. Neither could anyone acquire them. They were apportioned to each one quite apart from human instrumentality. Though these endowments are no longer given, the divine principle still remains, that God chooses His instruments quite apart from their natural qualifications.
12 The figure of the human body is the most notable of all the illustrations of our relationship to Christ. It is the most marvelous example of unity with diversity in the realm of creation. Spirit baptism unites all who believe God to one another and to Christ, and dissipates all the physical distinctions which divide humanity into diverse and antagonistic classes, making them one in Him. In Christ there is no Greek and Jew, bond and free, male and female. In the Lord, however, in relation to service, these distinctions still remain.
I Corinthians 12:13-13:10
13 The body of Jesus, or of the Lord, denotes His physical frame. The body of Christ. however, is quite a distinct thought. Christ, or the Anointed, is a title rather than a name. It suggests official position. We are not united to Him by physical ties, as Israel was, but by purely spiritual relationships. This is forcibly suggested by the two figures used, baptism, or dipping, and drinking. One spirit, within and without, binds us together and unites us to Christ. The true ecclesia, or "church", today is not to be seen in the multitudinous organizations of Christendom with their many heads, but in the one spiritual, invisible unity, composed of all who have God's Spirit, by which they are vitally joined to the living organism of which Christ Himself is Head.
All the members of this spiritual body are mutually dependent on one another. Some perform one function, some another, but none can be dispensed with. No one can choose his own place in the body, for God reserves this entirely within His own power. It is futile to usurp some function for which we are not divinely endowed. It is failure when we do not exercise the function for which the Spirit of God has fitted us. Each one should be deeply exercised to discover his own place in the body, whether high or low, respectable or mean, and seek, by God's grace, to fill it. None can be apostles or prophets now, for their work has been accomplished. Few can be teachers, but the work of a pastor, who shepherds the saints, or an evangelist, who proclaims the evangel, is, in measure, open to all in a private, if not in a public way.
25 It is the privilege of all who love God to cooperate with Him in avoiding schism in the body of Christ, by cultivating a due sense of their dependence on all other members, and a godly solicitude and sympathetic regard for their welfare; and this, too, even when fellow members despise and oppose them and persecute them. The body is one. We need only act accordingly. Christ is its Head. We need only accord Him His place.
28 In the later revelation (Eph.4:11) "suited to transcendence" (12:31), we have a revised list of the gifts. There the lesser graces, such as powers, healing, and languages are omitted. That this would be the case is predicted in the next chapter (13:8), where we are told of a time when the gift of languages would cease. The revised list given in Ephesians, however, looks backward as well as forward. Apostles and prophets are no longer necessary to the edifying of the body of Christ. We are distinctly told that prophecies will be abrogated (13:8) when maturity arrives. They were needed only so long as God's written revelation was incomplete. So that, today, the special gifts have narrowed down to three: evangelists, pastors and teachers.
31 Most of the graces were transient, suited to immaturity, hence the apostle seeks to lead them up to those which will remain in the impending transcendent administration, in which we find ourselves today.
1 The "gift of tongues", even when it was a reality, was nothing but a noise unless impelled by the power of love. Even those high endowments, such as prophecy and knowledge, amount to nothing unless love regulates their exercise. Yes, and every personal sacrifice, even martyrdom itself is without value apart from the spirit of love.
8 It would seem that a few were already mature (2:6), but the secret wisdom into which they were initiated was not made public until Paul wrote his Perfection Epistles, Ephesians (Eph.4:13), Philippians (Phil.3:15), and Colossians (Col.1:28, 4:12). The writing of these epistles was the signal for the abrogation of the gift of prophecy, as they completed the word of God (Col.1:25), for the cessation of the gift of languages, as it was a sign of earthly powers in the coming eon, and we are blessed among the celestials (Eph.1:3), and for the abrogation of the gift of knowledge (directly revealed), as there was a final written revelation.
9 These gifts belonged to the time of transition, when the full orb of truth was not revealed. When it was, there came the necessity of withdrawing much which did not accord with its final form.
I Corinthians 13:11-14:23
11 The time came when the apostle admonished and taught in order that he should present every man mature in Christ (Col.1:28 ). Epaphras struggled in prayers that they should stand mature and complete in all the will of God (Col.4:12). It is evident that maturity came with the last ministry of Paul, when he was a prisoner at Rome. Till then the saints, as a whole, were in a state corresponding to a man who has not yet attained his majority. But then, as was the case when a boy assumed the duties of manhood, there was a vast revolution. As a man discards the toys of his childhood, so they discarded the marks of minority. Chief among these were the gifts, especially prophecy and languages. Those who claim these now cannot avoid marking themselves as immature.
12 At this time the present secret administration (Eph.3:9) had not been publicly revealed. The destiny of the saints who had received Paul's evangel was clouded in mystery. Only a little was known. Their celestial allotment was still concealed. Israel's fate was still in the balance. It was not till their final rejection at the close of the book of Acts, that the secret was revealed that the ecclesia which is His body, to which Paul ministered, was not to have a place on earth subordinate to Israel, but was to be blessed with transcendent spiritual blessings among the celestials. Now that maturity has come, we no longer are in an enigma, but realize something of the unutterable grace which is ours in Christ Jesus.
13 Faith, expectation, and love are the abiding trinity in this administration of God's grace. Neither faith nor expectation will remain in the glory. Love alone will abide His coming. Let us believe God. Let us glory in expectation. But, above all, let us charge our hearts to love Him and His with a fervency which His love alone can inspire. These graces will not abide in heaven, to which they are usually relegated. Hope will then be past, faith unnecessary. This is the time of "perfection" or maturity.
1 Prophecy prepared them for further unfoldings and maturity. Languages tended to draw them back to the kingdom proclamation and its attendant signs.
10 Though without any manuscript evidence, it may be that the original reading of "nothing is soundless" was "none of them is senseless". This seems to be demanded by the context, which insists on sense as well as sound. A single letter P (which is the equivalent of our R) would change aphonon, soundless, to aphronon, senseless. As our Version is founded on facts, rather than the judgment of its editor, he could not make this alteration, however much it may appeal to him.
12 The gifts were given for mutual edification, not for entertainment or vain display. The misuse of the gift of languages was a clear indication of the childish immaturity of the Corinthians, for they were eager to display the possession of the gift without any regard for the edification of others. A foreign language is a mere babel of sounds to those who do not understand it. And even if it should be interpreted, of what real gain is it to use such a circuitous method when the same things could be told just as well without the need of interpretation? Such was not the divine intention in giving this gift. On the day of Pentecost this gift was used in a useful and rational way, for it was a sign that Jehovah was speaking to His people. Moreover, this sign is not for believers, or even to reach unbelievers, for it is written "neither thus will they be hearkening to Me" (14:21, Isa.28:12). Surely it is far better to speak five instructive words in the vernacular than any number in an unknown language, even if it be the exhibition of a spiritual endowment. The same argument applies with even more force to the use of a foreign language, which no one understands, in a church ritual. It may be imposing and spectacular but it fails utterly in edifying the saints.
22 Paul's high regard for the gift of prophecy is founded on the fact that it was the chief means used to bring the saints to that maturity which he earnestly desired they should attain. The gift of teaching, the exposition of the Scriptures, now takes the place of prophecy, for God has fully revealed His will in His word.
I Corinthians 14:24-15:11
24 Predicting, or foretelling, is not necessarily involved in the gift of prophecy. The prophet, in Scripture, is the mouthpiece or spokesman of God. He may speak of the past, the present, or the future. Prediction is incidental, not essential, to prophecy. Before the canon was complete it was needful for the saints to have some means of knowing the mind of God. The Scriptures fully meet that need now. What a decided contrast there would be between a meeting at which all declared God's mind in sober succession, so that all are helped, and one in which each seeks an opportunity to display a gift which is of no benefit to his fellow saints! Even unbelievers have discrimination enough to see how foolish it is to talk into the air, and can appreciate the solemn declaration of God's spokesmen.
27 To curb their childish desire to talk in unknown languages the apostle lays down rules to govern the exercise of this gift. It was not to be exercised unless there was an interpreter, so that the message would not be lost on the meeting. Not more than two or three were to speak in unknown languages in succession, and their speaking was to be in installments, that is, they were to pause at frequent intervals to allow for interpretation. If no one could interpret, they were not to speak in the ecclesia.
29 Prophecy, also, was to be exercised within bounds. It was not to be like the turbulent, unrestrained ranting of the oracles of the false gods to which they were accustomed, whose spirits were beyond their control, but peaceful, discriminating discourse, two or three in succession, yet ready to yield to another who may receive a revelation. The spirits of the prophets of the Greek gods were not subject to them. They worked themselves into a frenzy, foaming at the mouth. They were controlled by demon spirits rather than the Spirit of God.
34 "Now if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant!" (14:38) is the apostle's indignant protest to those who presume to oppose these words. And again "If anyone is presuming to be a prophet or spiritual, let him be recognizing that what I am writing to you is a precept of the Lord."
1 There is a notable contrast between the methods with which the apostle deals with fundamental doctrinal error and moral evil. The wicked man (5:5) is delivered to Satan, but those who denied the resurrection are not put away. In these days the contrary course is pursued. Doctrinal differences, not nearly so vital as the denial of the resurrection, are made the ground for disfellowshipping godly saints, while moral evil is often condoned and overlooked. Differences in doctrine do not demand a severance of fellowship, or Paul would have so dealt with the Corinthians who denied the one doctrine which, because it involves all others, has the right to be called "fundamental".
3 The evangel which Paul preached was concerned with Christ. Not, however, with His life, but with His death, burial, and resurrection. These are the fundamental facts of the evangel. Not His death only, for that would be no evangel at all, but His burial and His resurrection.
5 The evidence for the resurrection of Christ is as conclusive as it is possible for any evidence to be. There were over five hundred witnesses and some of these were especially appointed and given ample opportunity to convince themselves. But the crowning proof was the descent of the glorified Christ to call Saul, upon the Damascus road. Saul was His enemy, and would have done much to prove that He was not roused. His testimony is of special weight. The resurrection is of the utmost consequence to Paul, for he did not know the Lord before His death, like the twelve apostles. Consequently he never would have known Him nor would he have seen Him unless He had been raised. In a very special sense Paul is the apostle of the ascended and glorified Christ. He never bases his teaching on the life of Jesus before His death and resurrection.
9 Paul's persecution of the ecclesia was the necessary prelude to the transcendent grace which called and sustained him so that he became at once the least and the greatest of the apostles. It was necessary that he should be the most undeserving in order that he might become the pattern for God's present dealings in grace.
I Corinthians 15:12-39
12 The resurrection is the very fundamental of fundamentals. The death of Christ is essential to the evangel, yet it is not enough. A dead Christ cannot save. The resurrection is not only essential, but it involves His death, for only one who is dead can be roused from the dead. Without His resurrection we are still in our sins.
18 The state of the dead, apart from resurrection, is not one of ecstatic bliss, but of destruction.
20 Christ was not the first one to be roused from the dead. The prophets, and the Lord Himself, recalled some to life before He Himself suffered death. But He is the first One to be made alive beyond the power of death. All the others were roused to die again. He is the First fruit of those who are vivified, and die no more.
21 Death's entrance and exit are both through a man. Adam and Christ are the channels, respectively, through which death and resurrection reach all mankind.
22 The words "even as'' mark a close parallel. The universality of death, through Adam, is beyond question. "Thus also" we are told, "in Christ, shall all be vivified." This will not occur simultaneously but in three distinct classes at widely separated intervals of time. Christ, the First fruit, is already alive at God's right hand. We who are Christ's will be made alive at His presence. This includes His coming to the air for the believers of this economy (lThes.4:16; lCor.l5:52; Phil.3:21) and His coming to Israel before the thousand years. The rest, who are not included in "those who are Christ's," must wait until the consummation, when death, the last enemy, is abolished. This will not occur until the eons have run their course and Christ hands over the kingdom to the Father. At the great white throne judgment no one is vivified or made alive. Hence it is passed over. Authority and power are still in exercise in the new earth. The throne of the Lamb is there. The consummation must be later, for sovereignty is abolished before death, the last enemy. The consummation is at the close of the eonian times, at the close of the last eon which is presented to our view in the final vision of the Unveiling.
25 The reign of Christ is so beneficent, it brings mankind to such a state of perfection, that all further need of the restraints of government vanishes. Rule implies insubordination, and is unnecessary where there is perfect subjection. Rule is a temporary expedient to cope with evil. When evil is banished rule also retires. The effects of evil for mankind are concentrated in death. When the universe has been purged of all other evil, then death itself becomes inoperative and yields up its victims. Not till then is it true that all are made alive in Christ.
27 The universality of Christ's subjection of all under His feet is evident from the one exception–God Himself.
28 God is All in Christ now. He will be All in His saints when we are made alive. He will be All in all when death is abolished, at the consummation. What a marvelous outcome of God's purpose! What a Christ we have, Who can accomplish such a complete reconciliation! The Corinthians denied the resurrection of any: Paul insists on the vivification of all.
29 The argument here is founded on the sixth chapter of Romans. Baptism is a symbol of death. Its benefits are confined to those who are united to Christ in His death. But even then it is absolutely valueless except as it also figures the resurrection. Apart from the resurrection of the dead, baptism, instead of introducing to a resurrection experience, will lead to carelessness and indifference.
35 The human body is not composed of definite, unvarying substance, but is changing its components daily, so that, in a few years, it has completely renewed its elements. Yet it remains the same body. So it is in resurrection. We do not look for the identical elements to be roused in the resurrection, even though we will identify the body as our own.
37 The miracle of resurrection is wrought each spring in the fields of the farmer. Death sustains our life now and it will be the entrance to eonian life, if we are not caught up to meet Him ere it comes.
I Corinthians 15:40-16:7
40 There is no direct statement here that our bodies will be changed to celestial bodies, in accord with the later revelation of Ephesians, but such an inference would be in point. Even among the celestials there will be degrees of glory. Our Lord Himself has a body which excelled the noonday in its effulgence. Ours will be transfigured to conform to His (Phil.3:21).
42 In death the body disintegrates and returns to the soil whence it came. This loathsome process is reversed in resurrection. Disease and weakness accompany its dissolution, but power and glory will be the portion of all who are Christ's when He comes.
44 Our present bodies respond to the soul, or senses. They seek for physical comfort and satisfaction and pleasure. They do not respond to spiritual things. The soul is not a distinct entity. It is the effect of the combination of body and spirit. Adam was made of the soil. When the breath of life was breathed into him he became a living soul. He could feel, see, hear, smell. He became conscious. Such is the body which we have now. We are dominated by our senses. In the resurrection our bodies will respond to our spirit. Physical sensations will give place to spiritual perception.
47 The soil is the upper, oxidized crust of the earth from which Adam was formed and from which mankind derives its sustenance. It is the soil which sustains the plants and animals which provide us with food. Below the soil is the sphere of sulfation, which destroys life. As men are constituted now, they cannot exist apart from the soil of the earth. If we should be raised with bodies such as we now possess, we could not partake of a celestial allotment, for we would die from the lack of such food as our bodies can assimilate.
50 The soul (not the life) of the flesh is in the blood (Lev.1711). The Lord has no blood in His resurrection body (Lu.24:39) .
51 This is a secret. It had not been told before. It lies in the one word change. It leads us one step nearer the celestial destiny revealed in the epistle to the Ephesians. Soilish as our bodies are, they need to be radically changed before they can endure a life celestial. This change will come in an instant when the Lord descends from heaven with the trumpet of God (lThes.4:16). As the last note sounds we who are alive, who are mortal, as well as those who repose, who have gone to corruption, shall be changed. What a glorious prospect! Our bodies shall be like His–not as it was in His weakness before He was roused, not even as it was before His ascension, marvelous as that was, but as it was when Saul met Him and was blinded by the brightness of His presence. He will transfigure the body of our humiliation, to conform it to His body glorious (Phil.3:21) .
55 What a victory that will be! Now death is operating in our bodies at all times, and eventually succeeds in dragging us down to the grave. Then we shall not only be restored to life, but enjoy incorruption and deathlessness, and a body so changed and glorified that it corresponds to the one which befits the Head of the universe. Yet the enjoyment and appreciation of the glory will depend on our previous humiliation.
55 The Septuagint reads "0 Unseen, where is your sting?" (Hos.13:14), and some manuscripts follow this reading. As the tendency is to conform a quotation to its original, it is probable that Death was changed to Unseen by a copyist who knew the Septuagint reading but did not see that the apostle had enlarged the scope of the quotation to include the consummation, when there is no unseen (Un.20:14) and only the second death remains. A quotation is often varied from its original reading to fit it for its new context.
1 When Paul received the recognition of James, Cephas, and John, they asked him to remember the poor among the Circumcision (Gal.2:10). At this time the nations were partaking of Israel's spiritual things (Rom.15:27). It was not till later that they became joint partakers (Eph.3:6). So they made such return as they could by collecting a contribution. Paul was delivering this money to the saints in Jerusalem when he was imprisoned (Ac.21:18-22:21). Now we partake of our own spiritual things, for we have all spiritual blessings among the celestials, where Israel has none.
I Corinthians 16:8-24
8 Paul's delay in going to Corinth is fully explained in the second epistle. He wished to give them time for repentance. Besides, he was meeting with much success, for even his enemies acknowledged that "not only in Ephesus, but in almost the entire [province of] Asia this Paul influences a considerable throng. . .".
10 Timothy had been sent to Macedonia (Ac.19:22). He was young for such a mission (1 Tim.4:12) and could not command the respect which age inspires.
12 It is evident that Paul was not jealous of ApoIlos, though some in Corinth had made him the head of their faction. Neither was ApoIlos inclined to take advantage of their schism. He was a scholarly man (rather than eloquent) who had been taught by Paul's friends, PriscilIa and Aquila, and had gone to Corinth after Paul had left, being especiaIly successful in confuting the Jews, publicly exhibiting, through the Scriptures, that Jesus is the Christ (Ac.18:24).
23 Maran atha is usuaIly interpreted as "the (or our) Lord cometh" in accord with the Syriac version. But it seems far fetched to find a foreign expression here, whether it be Chaldee or Syriac, when the Hebrew furnishes a simpler and more agreeable solution. The Hebrew as in Malachi 3:9, "Cursed are you! " was probably the common phrase in which the anathema or doom was pronounced. The change of m into n is of frequent occurrence when Hebrew is turned into Greek. The Syriac version may simply insert the Hebrew without translating, in which case it should not receive a Syriac signification. The Hebrew ghahram and the Greek anathema are used for one another in the Septuagint and Hebrew Scriptures. Both mean to devote to destruction, to doom (Lev.27:21-29. Josh.7:1-15; 1Sam.l5:1-20). In these passages it is rendered destroy, devote, accursed, etc. The same form of expression, a repetition in a familiar tongue, is found in the phrase "Abba, Father". (Mk.14:36; Ro.8:15; Ga.4:6). Moreover, the coming of the Lord is never set before us as an act of judgment, but as the culmination of grace. That blessed expectation could never be used as an imprecation. It brings grace, not judgment.
23 Notwithstanding all their failures and their many shortcomings, Paul invokes the grace of Christ and assures them of his own love, which he poured out on them in lavish measure, as we find in the next epistle. He was a living example of the love which does not lapse.