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1 Corinthians 3:16-23

16. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

16. An nescitis, quod templum Dei estis et Spiritus Dei habitat in vobis?

17. If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

17. Si quis ternplum Dei corrumpit, 188188     “Viole destruit;” — “Violates, or destroys.” hunc perdet Deus. Templum enim Dei sanctum est, quod estis vos.

18. Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise,

18. Nemo se decipiat, si quis videtur sapiens esse inter vos: in saeculo hoc stultus fiat, 189189     “Si aucvn entre vous cuide estre sage, qu’il soit fait fol en ce monde, afin qu’il soit sage — ou, sage en ce monde, qu’il soit fait fol, afin, etc.;” — “If any one among you seemeth to be wise, let him become a fool in this world, that he may be wise — or, wise in this world, let him become a fool, that,” etc. ut fiat sapiens.

19. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

19. Sapientia enim mundi huius stultitia est apud Deum. Scriptum est enim (Job 5:13) Deprehendens sapientes in astutia sua.

20. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.

20. Et rursum (Psalm 94:11) Dominus novit cogitationes sapientum vanas esse.

21. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;

21. Proinde nemo glorietur in hominibus, omnia enim vestra sunt;

22. Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;

22. Sive Paulus, sive Apollos, sive Cephas, sive mundus, sive vita, sive mors, sive prmsentia, sive futura: omnia vestra sunt,

23. And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.

23. Vos autem Christi; Christus autem Dei.

 

16. Know ye not, etc. Having admonished the teachers as to their duty, he now addresses himself to the pupils — that they, too, may take heed to themselves. To the teachers he had said, “You are the master-builders of the house of God.” He now says to the people, “You are the temples of God. It is your part, therefore, to take care that you be not, in any way defiled.” Now, the design 190190     “De cest aduertissement;” — “Of this caution.” is, that they may not prostitute themselves to the service of men. He confers upon them distinguished honor in speaking thus, but it is in order that they may be made the more reprehensible; for, as God has set them apart as a temple to himself, he has at the same time appointed them to be guardians of his temple It is sacrilege, then, if they give themselves up to the service of men. He speaks of all of them collectively as being one temple of God; for every believer is a living stone, (1 Peter 2:5,) for the rearing up of the building of God. At the same time they also, in some cases, individually receive the name of temples We shall find him a little afterwards (1 Corinthians 6:19) repeating the same sentiment, but for another purpose. For in that passage he treats of chastity; but here, on the other hand, he exhorts them to have their faith resting on the obedience of Christ alone. The interrogation gives additional emphasis; for he indirectly intimates, that he speaks to them of a thing that they knew, while he appeals to them as witnesses.

And the Spirit of God. Here we have the reason why they are the temple of God Hence and must be understood as meaning because 191191     Audieras, et fama fitit. Virg. Eclog. 9. 11. This is customary, as in the words of the poet — “Thou hadst heard it, and it had been reported.” “For this reason,” says he, “are ye the temples of God, because He dwells in you by his Spirit; for no unclean place can be the habitation of God.” In this passage we have an explicit testimony for maintaining the divinity of the Holy Spirit. For if he were a creature, or merely a gift, he would not make us temples of God, by dwelling in us. At the same time we learn, in what manner God communicates himself to us, and by what tie we are bound to him — when he pours down upon us the influence of his Spirit.

17. If any man corrupts the temple of God. He subjoins a dreadful threatening — that, as the temple of God ought to be inviolably sacred, that man, whoever he may be, that corrupts it, will not pass with impunity. The kind of profanation of which he now speaks, is, when men intrude themselves, so as to bear rule in the Church in the place of God. For as that faith, which is devoted to the pure doctrine of Christ, is called elsewhere spiritual chastity, (2 Corinthians 11:2,) so it also sanctifies our souls for the right and pure worship of God. For as soon as we are tinctured with the contrivances of men, the temple of God is polluted, as it were, with filth, because the sacrifice of faith, which he claims for himself alone, is in that case offered to creatures.

18. Let no man deceive himself Here he puts his finger upon the true sore, as the whole mischief originated in this — that they were wise in their own conceit. Hence he exhorts them not to deceive themselves with a false impression, by arrogating any wisdom to themselves — by which he means, that all are under a mistake, who depend upon their own judgment. Now, he addresses himself, in my opinion, to hearers as well as teachers. For the former discovered a partiality for those ambitious men, and lent an ear to them, 192192     “Trop facilement;” — “Too readily.” because they had too fastidious a taste, so that the simplicity of the gospel was insipid to their taste; while the latter aimed at nothing but show, that they might be in some estimation. He accordingly admonishes both to this effect — “Let no one rest satisfied with his own wisdom, but let him who thinketh himself to be wise, become a fool in this world,” or, “Let him who is distinguished in this world by reputation for wisdom, of his own accord empty himself, 193193     “Soit fait fol en soy de son bon gre s’abbaissant, et s’aneantissant soymesme;” — “Let him become, of his own accord, a fool in his own estimation, abasing and emptying himself.” and become a fool in his own estimation.”

Farther, in these words the Apostle does not require, that we should altogether renounce the wisdom that is implanted in us by nature, or acquired by long practice; but simply, that we subject it to the service of God, so as to have no wisdom but through his word. For this is what is meant by becoming a fool in this world, or in our own estimation — when we are prepared to give way to God, and embrace with fear and reverence everything that he teaches us, rather than follow what may appear to us plausible. 194194     “Bon et raisonnable;” — “Good and reasonable.”

The meaning of the clause in this world, is as though he had said — “According to the judgment or opinion of the world.” For the wisdom of the world is this — if we reckon ourselves sufficient of ourselves for taking counsel as to all matters (Psalm 13:2) for governing ourselves, and for managing whatever we have to do — if we have no dependence on any other 195195     “Que de nous-mesmes;” — “Than ourselves.” — if we feel no need of the guidance of another, but are competent to govern ourselves. 196196     “Nous semble que nous sommes assez suffisans de nous conduire, et gouuerner nous-mesmes;” — “It appears to us, that we are quite competent to conduct and govern ourselves.” He, therefore, on, the other hand, is a fool in this world, who, renouncing his own understanding, allows himself to be directed by the Lord, as if with his eyes shut — who, distrusting himself, leans wholly upon the Lord, places his whole wisdom in him, and yields himself up to God in docility and submission. It is necessary that our wisdom should in this way vanish, in order that the will of God may have authority over us, and that we be emptied of our own understanding, that we may be filled with the wisdom of God. At the same time, the clause 197197     “En ce monde;” — “In this world.” may either be taken in connection with the first part of the verse, or joined with the last, but as the meaning is not much different, I leave every one to choose for himself.

19. For the wisdom of this world This is an argument taken from things opposite. To maintain the one is to overturn the other. As, therefore, the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, it follows that we cannot be wise in the sight of God, unless we are fools in the view of the world. We have already explained (1 Corinthians 1:20) what he means by the wisdom of this world; for natural perspicacity is a gift of God, and the liberal arts, and all the sciences by which wisdom is acquired, are gifts of God. They are confined, however, within their own limits; for into God’s heavenly kingdom they cannot penetrate. Hence they must occupy the place of handmaid, not of mistress: nay more, they must be looked upon as empty and worthless, until they have become entirely subject to the word and Spirit of God. If, on the other hand, they set themselves in opposition to Christ, they must be looked upon as dangerous pests, and, if they strive to accomplish anything of themselves, as the worst of all hindrances. 198198     “Ce sont de grans empeschemens, et bien a craindre;” — “They are great hindrances, and much to be dreaded.” Hence the wisdom of the world, in Paul’s acceptation, is that which assumes to itself authority, and does not allow itself to be regulated by the word of God, or to be subdued, so as to yield itself up in entire subjection to him. Until, therefore, matters have come to this, that the individual acknowledges that he knows nothing but what he has learned from God, and, giving up his own understanding; resigns himself unreservedly to Christ’s guidance, he is wise in the world’s account, but he is foolish in the estimation of God.

For it is written, He taketh the wise He confirms this from two Scripture proofs, the first of which is taken from Job 5:13, where the wisdom of God is extolled on this ground, that no wisdom of the world can stand before it.

Now it is certain, that the Prophet speaks there of those that are cunning and crafty; but as the wisdom of man is invariably such without God, 199199     “Quand la sagesse de Dieu n’y est point;” — “When the wisdom of God is not in it.” it is with good reason that Paul applies it in this sense, — that whatever wisdom men have of themselves is reckoned of no account in the sight of God. The second is from Psalm 94:11, where David, after claiming for God alone the office and authority of the Instructor of all, adds, that He knows the thoughts of all to be vain. Hence, in whatever estimation they are held by us, they are, in the judgment of God, vain Here we have an admirable passage for bringing down the confidence of the flesh, while God from on high declares that everything that the mind of man conceives and contrives is mere vanity 200200     “The humbling tendency ef the statement referred to is well brought out by Fuller of Kettering. (Fullers Works, volume 4, p. 89.)

21. Therefore let no man glory in men As there is nothing that is more vain than man, how little security there is in leaning upon an evanescent shadow! Hence he infers with propriety from the preceding statement, that we must not glory in men, inasmuch as the Lord thus takes away from mankind universally every ground of glorying. At the same time this inference depends on the whole of the foregoing doctrine, as will appear ere long. For as we belong to Christ alone, it is with good reason that he teaches us, that any supremacy of man, by which the glory of Christ is impaired, involves sacrilege.

22. All things are yours. He proceeds to show what place and station teachers should occupy 201201     “C’est a dire, quelle estime on en doit auoir;” — “That is to easy, in what esteem they ought to be held.” — such as not to detract in any degree from the authority of Christ, the one Master. As therefore Christ is the Church’s sole master, and as he alone without exception is worthy to be listened to, it is necessary to distinguish between him and others, as even Christ himself has testified respecting himself, (Matthew 23:8,) and no other is recommended to us by the Father with this honorable declaration, 202202     “Nul autre ne nous a este donne du Pere authorize de ce titre et commandement;” — “No other has been given to us by the Father, authorized by this distinction and injunction.” “Hear ye him.” (Matthew 17:5.) As, therefore, he alone is endowed with authority to rule us by his word, Paul says that others are ours — meaning, that they are appointed to us by God with the view of our making use of them — not that they should exercise dominion over our consciences. Thus on the one hand, he shows that they are not useless, and, on the other hand, he keeps them in their own place, that they may not exalt themselves in opposition to Christ. What he adds, as to death, life, and the rest, is hyperbolical, so far as concerns the passage before us. He had it in view, however, to reason, as it were, from the greater to the less, in this manner. “Christ having put in subjection to us life and death, and everything, can we doubt, whether he has not also made men subject to us, to help us by their ministrations — not to oppress us by tyranny.”

Now if any one takes occasion from this to allege, that the writings both of Paul and of Peter are subject to our scrutiny, inasmuch as they were men, and are not exempted from the common lot of others, I answer, that Paul, while he does not by any means spare himself or Peter, admonishes the Corinthians to distinguish between the person of the individual, and the dignity or distinction of office. “As for myself, viewed as a man, I wish to be judged of simply as a man, that Christ alone may have distinction in our ministry.” This, however, in a general way, we must hold, 203203     “Pour vne maxime;” — “As a maxim.” that all who discharge the office of the ministry, are ours, from the highest to the lowest, so that we are at liberty to withhold our assent to their doctrine, until they show that it is from Christ. For they must all be tried, (1 John 4:1,)and we must yield obedience to them, only when they have satisfactorily shown themselves to be faithful servants of Christ. Now as to Peter and Paul, this point being beyond all controversy, and the Lord having furnished us with amply sufficient evidence, that their doctrine has come forth from Him, when we receive as an oracle from heaven, and venerate everything that they have delivered to us, we hear not so much them, as Christ speaking in them.

23. Christ is God’s This subjection relates to Christ’s humanity, for by taking upon him our flesh, he assumed “the form” and condition “of a servant,” that he might make himself obedient to his Father in all things. (Philippians 2:7, 8.) And assuredly, that we may cleave to God through him, it is necessary that he have God as his head (1 Corinthians 11:3.) We must observe, however, with what intention Paul has added this. For he admonishes us, that the sum of our felicity consists in this, 204204     “Car il nous donne a entendre, et remonstre, que le comble et la perfection de nostre felicite consiste la;” — “For he gives us to understand, and shows, that the summit and perfection of our felicity consists in this.” that we are united to God who is the chief good, and this is accomplished when we are gathered together under the head that our heavenly Father has set over us. In the same sense Christ said to his disciples,

“Ye ought to rejoice, because I go to the Father,
for the Father is greater than I,” (John 14:28,)

for there he set himself forth as the medium, through which believers come to the original source of every blessing. It is certain, that those are left destitute of that signal blessing, who depart from the unity of the Head. 205205     “Qui ne retienent ce seul Chef;” — “Who do not retain that sole Head.” Hence this order of things suits the connection of the passage — that those subject themselves to Christ alone, who desire to remain under God’s jurisdiction.


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