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1. Divisions in the Church

1Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2unto the church of God which is at Corinth, even them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, their Lord and ours: 3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus; 5that in everything ye were enriched in him, in all utterance and all knowledge; 6even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ; 8who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye be unreproveable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful, through whom ye were called into the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. 10Now I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11For it hath been signified unto me concerning you, my brethren, by them that are of the household of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12Now this I mean, that each one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos: and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized into the name of Paul? 14I thank God that I baptized none of you, save Crispus and Gaius; 15lest any man should say that ye were baptized into my name. 16And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. 17For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made void. 18For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written,

I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

And the discernment of the discerning will I bring to nought.

20Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was God's good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe. 22Seeing that Jews ask for signs, and Greeks seek after wisdom: 23but we preach Christ crucified, unto Jews a stumblingblock, and unto Gentiles foolishness; 24but unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26For behold your calling, brethren, that not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put to shame them that are wise; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong; 28and the base things of the world, and the things that are despised, did God choose, yea and the things that are not, that he might bring to nought the things that are: 29that no flesh should glory before God. 30But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption: 31that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

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13. Is Christ divided? This intolerable evil was consequent upon the divisions that prevailed among the Corinthians: for Christ alone must reign in the Church. And as the object of the gospel is, that we be reconciled to God through him, it is necessary, in the first place, that we should all be bound together in him. As, however, only a very few of the Corinthians, who were in a sounder condition than the others, 6464     “Mieux avisez que les autres;” — “Better advised than the others.” retained Christ as their Master, (while all made it their boast that they were Christians,) Christ was by this means torn asunder. For we must be one body, if we would be kept together under him as our head. If, on the other hand, we are split asunder into different bodies, we start aside from him also. Hence to glory in his name amidst strifes and parties is to tear him in pieces: which indeed is impossible, for never will he depart from unity and concord, because “He cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13.) Paul, therefore, by setting before them this absurdity, designs to lead the Corinthians to perceive that they are estranged from Christ, inasmuch as they are divided, for then only does he reign in us, when we have him as the bond of an inviolably sacred unity.

Was Paul crucified for you? By two powerful considerations, he shows how base a thing 6565     “Combien c’est vne chose insupportable;” — “How insufferable a thing it is.” it is to rob Christ of the honor of being the sole Head of the Church — the sole Teacher — the sole Master; or to draw away from him any part of that honor, with the view of transferring it to men. The first is, that we have been redeemed by Christ on this footing, that we are not our own masters. This very argument Paul makes use of in his Epistle to the Romans (Romans 14:9,) when he says,

“For this end Christ died and rose again, that he might be Lord both of the living and the dead.”

To him, therefore, let us live and die, because we are always his. Also in this same Epistle (1 Corinthians 7:23,)

“Ye are bought with a price: be not ye the servants of men.”

As the Corinthians, therefore, had been purchased with the blood of Christ, they in a manner renounced the benefit of redemption, when they attached themselves to other leaders. Here is a doctrine that is deserving of special notice — that we are not at liberty to put ourselves under bondage to men, 6666     “Addicere nos hominibus in servitutem“ — “de nous assuiettir aux hommes en seruitude;” — “To give ourselves up to men, so as to be in bondage to them.” Calvin very probably had in his eye the celebrated sentiment of Horace, (Epistle 1 50:14,) “Nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri;” — “Bound to swear allegiance to no master,” while enforcing the sentiment by a powerful consideration, to which the heathen poet was an entire stranger. — Ed. because we are the Lord’s heritage. Here, therefore, he accuses the Corinthians of the basest ingratitude, in estranging themselves from that Leader, by whose blood they had been redeemed, however they might have done so unwittingly.

Farther, this passage militates against the wicked contrivance of Papists, by which they attempt to bolster up their system of indulgences. For it is from the blood of Christ and the martyrs 6767     “Du sang de Christ, et des martyrs tous ensemble;” — “From the blood of Christ, and of all the martyrs together.” that they make up that imaginary treasure of the Church, which they tell us is dealt out by means of indulgences. Thus they pretend that the martyrs by their death merited something for us in the sight of God, that we may seek help from this source for obtaining the pardon of our sins. They will deny, indeed, that they are on that account our redeemers; but nothing is more manifest than that the one thing follows from the other. The question is as to the reconciling of sinners to God; the question is as to the obtaining of forgiveness; the question is as to the appeasing of the Lord’s anger; the question is as to redemption from our iniquities. This they boast is accomplished partly by the blood of Christ, and partly by that of the martyrs. They make, therefore, the martyrs partners with Christ in procuring our salvation. Here, however, Paul in strong terms denies that any one but Christ has been crucified for us. The martyrs, it is true, died for our benefit, but (as Leo 6868     Leo, ad Palaestinos, Epistle 81. The passage alluded to above is quoted at large in the Institutes. (Volume 2.) “Although the death of many saints was precious in the sight of the Lord, (Psalm 116:15,) yet no innocent man’s slaughter was the propitiation of the world. The just received crowns, did not give them; and the fortitude of believers produced examples of patience, not gifts of righteousness; for their deaths were for themselves; and none by his final end paid the debt of another, except Christ our Lord, in whom alone all are crucified, all dead, buried, and raised up.” Leo, from whose writings this admirable passage is extracted, was a Roman bishop, who flourished in the fifth century, and was one of the most distinguished men of his age. He was a most zealous defender of the doctrines of grace, in opposition to Pelagianism and other heresies. — Ed. observes) it was to furnish an example of perseverance, not to procure for us the gift of righteousness.

Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? Here we have a second argument, which is taken from the profession of baptism; for we enlist ourselves under the banners of him in whose name we are baptized. We are, accordingly, bound 6969     “Obligez par serment;” — “Bound by oath.” to Christ, in whose name our baptism is celebrated. Hence it follows that the Corinthians are chargeable with perfidy and apostasy, if they place themselves under subjection to men. Observe here that the nature of baptism resembles a contract 7070     “Syngrapha (the term employed by Calvin) was a contract or bond, formally entered into between two parties, signed and sealed by both, and a copy given to each.” Cic. Verr. 1:36. Dio. 48:37. It is derived from a Greek term συγγραφὴ (a legal instrument or obligation.) Herodotus 1:48; and Demosthenes 268:13. Π. στεφ.Ed of mutual obligation; for as the Lord by that symbol receives us into his household, and introduces us among his people, so we pledge our fidelity to him, that we will never afterwards have any other spiritual Lord. Hence as it is on God’s part a covenant of grace that he contracts with us, in which he promises forgiveness of sins and a new life, so on our part it is an oath of spiritual warfare, in which we promise perpetual subjection to him. The former department Paul does not here touch upon, because the subject did not admit of it; but in treating of baptism it ought not to be omitted. Nor does Paul charge the Corinthians with apostasy simply on the ground of their forsaking Christ and betaking themselves to men; but he declares that if they do not adhere to Christ alone — that very thing would make them covenant-breakers.

It is asked, what it is to be baptized in the name of Christ? I answer that by this expression it is not simply intimated that baptism is founded on the authority of Christ, but depends also on his influence, and does in a manner consist in it; and, in fine, that the whole effect of it depends on this — that the name of Christ is therein invoked. It is asked farther, why it is that Paul says that the Corinthians were baptized in the name of Christ, while Christ himself commanded (Matthew 28:19) the Apostles to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. I answer, that in baptism the first thing to be considered is, that God the Father, by planting us in his Church in unmerited goodness, receives us by adoption into the number of his sons. Secondly, as we cannot have any connection with him except by means of reconciliation, we have need of Christ to restore us to the Father’s favor by his blood. Thirdly, as we are by baptism consecrated to God, we need also the interposition of the Holy Spirit, whose office it is to make us new creatures. Nay farther, our being washed in the blood of Christ is peculiarly his work; but as we do not obtain the mercy of the Father, or the grace of the Spirit, otherwise than through Christ alone, it is on good grounds that we speak of him as the peculiar object in view in baptism, and more particularly inscribe his name upon baptism. At the same time this does not by any means exclude the name of the Father and of the Spirit; for when we wish to sum up in short compass the efficacy of baptism, we make mention of Christ alone; but when we are disposed to speak with greater minuteness, the name of the Father and that of the Spirit require to be expressly introduced.




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