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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 1 - Verse 28

Verse 28. And base things of the world. Those things which by the world are esteemed ignoble. Literally, those which are not of noble or illustrious birth, ta agenh.

Things which are despised. Those which the world regards as objects of contempt. Comp. Mr 9:12; Lu 18:19; Ac 14:11.

 

Yea. The introduction of this Word by the translators does nothing to illustrate the sense, but rather enfeebles it. The language here is a striking instance of Paul's manner of expressing himself with great strength. He desires to convey, in the strongest terms, the fact that God had illustrated his plan by choosing the objects of least esteem among men. He is willing to admit all that could be said on this point. He says, therefore, that he had chosen the things of ignoble birth and rank—the base things of the world; but this did not fully express his meaning. iowa He had chosen objects of contempt among men; but this was not strong enough to express his idea. He adds, therefore, that he had chosen those things which were absolutely nothing which had no existence; which could not be supposed to influence him in his choice.

And things which are not. ta mh onta. That which is nothing; which is worthless; which has no existence; those things which were below contempt itself; and which, in the estimation of the world, were passed by as having no existence-as not having sufficient importance to be esteemed worthy even of the slight notice which is implied in contempt. For a man who despises a thing must at least notice it, and esteem it worth some attention. But the apostle here speaks of things beneath even that slight notice; as completely and totally disregarded, as having no existence. The language here is evidently that of hyperbole, See Barnes "Joh 21:25".

It was a figure of speech common in the East, and not unusual in the sacred writings. Comp. Isa 40:17:

"All nations before him are as nothing,

And they are counted to him less than nothing and vanity."

See also Ro 4:17: "God, who calleth those things which be not as though they were." This language was strongly expressive of the estimate which the Jews fixed on the Gentiles, as being a despised people, as being in fact no people; a people without laws, and organization, and religion, and privileges. See Hos 1:10; 2:23; Ro 9:25; 1 Pe 2:10.

"When a man of rank among the Hindoos speaks of low-caste persons, of notorious profligates, or of those whom he despises, he calls them alla-tha-varkal, i.e., thou who are not. The term does not refer to life or existence, but to a quality or disposition, and is applied to those who are vile and abominable in all things. 'My son, my son, go not among them who are not.' 'Alas! alas! those people are all alla-tha-varkal' When wicked men prosper, it is said, 'This is the time for those who are not.' 'Have you heard that those who are not are now acting righteously? 'Vulgar and indecent expressions are also called words that are not.' To address men in the phrase are not, is provoking beyond measure."—Roberts, as quoted in Bush's illustrations of Scripture.

To bring to nought. To humble and subdue. To show them how vain and impotent they were.

Things that are. Those who, on account of their noble birth, high attainments, wealth, and rank, placed a high estimate on themselves, and despised others.

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