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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 1 - Verse 30

Verse 30. But of him. That is, by his agency and power. It is not by philosophy; not from ourselves; but by his mercy. The apostle keeps it prominently in view, that it was not of their philosophy, wealth, or rank, that they had been raised to these privileges, but of God as the author.

Are ye. Ye are what you are by the mercy of God, 1 Co 15:10. You owe your hopes to him. The emphasis in this verse is to be placed on this expression, "are ye." You are Christians, not by the agency of man, but by the agency of God.

In Christ Jesus. See Barnes "1 Co 1:4".

By the medium, or through the work of Christ, this mercy has been conferred on you.

Who of God. From God, apo yeou. Christ is given to us by God, or appointed by him to be our wisdom, etc. God originated the scheme, and God gave him for this end.

Wisdom. That is, he is to us the Source of wisdom; it is by him that we are made wise. This cannot mean that his wisdom becomes strictly and properly ours; that it is set over to us, and reckoned as our own; for that is not true. But it must mean simply, that Christians have become truly wise by the agency, the teaching, and the work of Christ. Philosophers had attempted to become wise by their own investigations and inquiries. But Christians had become wise by the work of Christ; that is, it had been by his instructions that they had been made acquainted with the true character of God, with his law, with their own condition, and with the great truth that there was a glorious immortality beyond the grave. None of these truths had been obtained by the investigations of philosophers, but by the instructions of Christ. In like manner it was that through him they had been made practically wise unto salvation. Comp. Col 2:3: "In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." He is the great Agent by whom we become truly wise. Christ is often represented as eminently wise, and as the Source of all true wisdom to his people, Isa 11:1; Mt 13:54; Lu 2:40,52

1 Co 1:24; 3:10: "Ye are wise in Christ." Many commentators have supposed that the beautiful description of wisdom, in Pr 8, is applicable to the Messiah. Christ may be said to be made wisdom to us, or to communicate wisdom,

(1.) because he has in his own ministry instructed us in the true knowledge of God, and of those great truths which pertain to our salvation.

(2.) Because he has by his word and Spirit led us to see our true situation, and made us "wise unto salvation." He has turned us from the ways of folly, and inclined us to walk in the path of true wisdom.

(3.) Because he is to his people now the Source of wisdom. He enlightens their mind in the time of perplexity; guides them in the way of truth; and leads them in the path of real knowledge. It often happens that obscure and ignorant men, who have been taught in the school of Christ, have more true and real knowledge of that which concerns their welfare, and evince more real, practical wisdom, than can be learned in all the schools of philosophy and learning on the earth. It is wise for a sinful and dying creature to prepare for eternity. But none but those who are instructed by the Son of God become thus wise.

And righteousness. By whom we become righteous in the sight of God. This declaration simply affirms that we become righteous through him, as it is affirmed that we become wise, sanctified, and redeemed through him. But neither of the expressions determine anything as to the mode by which it is done. The leading idea of the apostle, which should never be lost sight of, is, that the Greeks by their philosophy did not become truly wise, righteous, sanctified, and redeemed; but that this was accomplished through Jesus Christ. But in what way this was done, or by what process or mode, is not here stated; and it should be no more assumed from this text that we became righteous by the imputation of Christ's righteousness, than it should be that we became wise by the imputation of his wisdom, and sanctified by the imputation of his holiness. If this passage would prove one of these points, it would prove all. But as it is absurd to say that we became wise by the imputation of the personal wisdom of Christ, so this passage should not be brought to prove that we became righteous by the imputation of his righteousness. Whatever may be the truth of that doctrine, this passage does not prove it. By turning to other parts of the New Testament to learn in what way we are made righteous through Christ, or in what way he is made unto us righteousness, we learn that it is in two modes:

(1.) because it is by his merits alone that our sins are pardoned, and we are justified, and treated as righteous, See Barnes "Ro 3:26"

See Barnes "Ro 3:27"; and,

(2.) because by his influence, and work, and Spirit, and truth, we are made personally holy in the sight of God. The former is doubtless the thing intended here, as sanctification is specified after. The apostle here refers simply to the fact, without specifying the mode in which it is done. That is, to be learned from other parts of the New Testament. Comp. Note, See Barnes "Ro 4:25".

The doctrine of justification is, that God regards and treats those as righteous who believe on his Son, and who are pardoned on account of what he has done and suffered. The several steps in the process may be thus stated:

(1.) The sinner is by nature exposed to the wrath of God. He is lost and ruined. He has no merit of his own. He has violated a holy law, and that law condemns him, and he has no power to make an atonement or reparation. He can never be pronounced a just man on his own merits. He can never vindicate his conduct, as a man can do in a court of justice where he is unjustly accused, and so be pronounced just.

(2.) Jesus Christ has taken the sinner's place, and died in his stead. He has honoured a broken law; he has rendered it consistent for God to pardon. By his dreadful sufferings, endured in the sinner's place, God has shown his hatred of sin, and his willingness to forgive. His truth will be vindicated, and his law honoured, and his government secured, if now he shall pardon the offender when penitent. As he endured these sorrows for others, and not for him, self, they can be so reckoned, and are so judged by God. All the benefits or results of that atonement, therefore, as it was made for others, can be applied to them; and all the advantage of such substitution in their place can be made over to them, as really as when a man pays a note of hand for a friend, or when he pays for another a ransom. The price is reckoned as paid for them, and the benefits flow to the debtor and the captive. It is not reckoned that they paid it, for that is not true; but that it was done for them, and the benefit may be theirs, which is true.

(3.) God has been pleased to promise that these benefits may be conferred on him who believes in the Saviour. The sinner is united by faith to the Lord Jesus, and is so adjudged, or reckoned. God esteems or judges him to be a believer according to the promise. And so believing, and so repenting, he deems it consistent to pardon and justify him who is so united to his Son by faith. He is justified, not by the act of faith; not by any merits of his own, but by the merits of Christ. He has no other ground, and no other hope. Thus he is in fact a pardoned and justified man; and God so reckons and judges. God's law is honoured, and the sinner is pardoned and saved; and it is now as consistent for God to treat him as a righteous man, as it would be if he had never sinned—since there is as high honour shown to the law of God, as there would have been had he been personally obedient, or had he personally suffered its penalty. And as, through the death of Christ, the same results are secured in upholding God's moral government as would be by his condemnation, it is consistent and proper for God to forgive him, and treat him as a righteous man; and to do so accords with the infinite benevolence of his heart.

And sanctification. By him we are sanctified, or made holy. This does not mean, evidently, that his personal holiness is reckoned to us; but that, by his work applied to our hearts, we become personally sanctified or holy. Comp. Eph 4:24. This is done by the agency of his Spirit applying truth to the mind, Joh 17:19; by the aid which he furnishes in trials, temptations, and conflicts, and by the influence of hope in sustaining, elevating, and purifying the soul. All the truth that is employed to sanctify, was taught primarily by him; and all the means that may be used are the purchase of his death, and are under his direction; and the Spirit, by whose agency Christians are sanctified, was sent into the world by him, and in answer to his prayers, Joh 14:16; 15:26.

And redemption. apolutrwsiv. For the meaning of this word, See Barnes "Ro 3:24".

Here it is evidently used in a larger sense than it is commonly in the New Testament. The things which are specified above, "justification and sanctification," are a part of the work of redemption. Probably the word is used here in a wide sense, as denoting the whole group, or class of influences by which we are brought at last to heaven; so that the apostle refers not only to his atonement, but to the work by which we are in fact redeemed from death, and made happy in heaven. Thus in Ro 8:23, the word is applied to the resurrection, "the redemption of our body." The sense is, "It is by Christ that we are redeemed; by him that an atonement is made; by him that we are pardoned; by him that we are delivered from the dominion of sin, and the power of our enemies; and by him that we shall be rescued from the grave, and raised up to everlasting life." Thus the whole work depends on him; and no part of it is to be ascribed to the philosophy, the talent, or the wisdom of men. He does not merely aidus;—he does not complete that which is imperfect; he does not come in to do a part of the work, or to supply our defects;—but it is all to be traced to him. See Col 2:10: "And ye are complete in him."

{a} "in Christ Jesus" 2 Co 5:17; Eph 1:3,10

{b} "wisdom" Eph 1:17; Col 2:3 {c} "righteousness" Isa 14:24; Jer 23:5,6; Ro 4:25

{d} "sanctification" Joh 17:19 {e} "redemption" Eph 1:7

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