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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.
22. For the Jews require a sign This is explanatory of the preceding statement — showing in what respects the preaching of the gospel is accounted foolishness At the same time he does not simply explain, but even goes a step farther, by saying that the Jews do not merely despise the gospel, but even abhor it. “The Jews,” says he, “desire through means of miracles to have before their eyes an evidence of divine power: the Greeks are fond of what tends to gratify human intellect by the applause of acuteness. We, on the other hand, preach Christ crucified, wherein there appears at first view nothing but weakness and folly. He is, therefore, a stumblingblock to the Jews, when they see him as it were forsaken by God. To the Greeks it appears like a fable, to be told of such a method of redemption.” By the term Greeks here, in my opinion, he does not mean simply Gentiles, but has in view those who had the polish of the liberal sciences, or were distinguished by superior intelligence. At the same time by synecdoche, all the others come in like manner to be included. Between Jews and Greeks, however, he draws this distinction, that the former, striking against Christ by an unreasonable zeal for the law, raged against the gospel with unbounded fury, as hypocrites are wont to do, when contending for their superstitions; while the Greeks, on the other hand, puffed up with pride, regarded him with contempt as insipid.
When he ascribes it to the Jews as a fault, that they are eagerly desirous of signs, it is not on the ground of its being wrong in itself to demand signs, but he exposes their baseness in the following respects: — that by an incessant demand for miracles, they in a manner sought to bind God to their laws — that, in accordance with the dullness of their apprehension, they sought as it were to feel him out 9393 There can be no doubt that Calvin refers here to an expression made use of by Paul in his discourse to the Athenians, Acts 17:27 Εἰ ἄρα γε ψηλαφήσειαν αὐτὸν καὶ εὔροιεν (if haply they may feel him out and find him.) The allusion is to a blind man feeling his way The same word is employed by Plato, (Phoed. footnote 47, edit. Forster.) ̔Ο δε μοι φαινονται ψηλαφῶντες οἱ πολλοι ὣσπερ εν σκοτει, (In this respect the many seem to me to be feeling their way as it were in the dark.) — Ed in manifest miracles — that they were taken up with the miracles themselves, and looked upon them with amazement — and, in fine, that no miracles satisfied them, but instead of this, they every day gaped incessantly for new ones. Hezekiah is not reproved for having of his own accord allowed himself to be confirmed by a sign, (2 Kings 19:29, and 2 Kings 20:8,) nor even Gideon for asking a two-fold sign, (Judges 6:37, 39.) Nay, instead of this, Ahaz is condemned for refusing a sign that the Prophet had offered him, (Isaiah 7:12.) What fault, then, was there on the part of the Jews in asking miracles? It lay in this, that they did not ask them for a good end, set no bounds to their desire, and did not make a right use of them. For while faith ought to be helped by miracles, their only concern was, how long they might persevere in their unbelief. While it is unlawful to prescribe laws to God, they wantoned with inordinate desire. While miracles should conduct us to an acquaintance with Christ, and the spiritual grace of God, they served as a hindrance in their way. On this account, too, Christ upbraids them, (Mark 8:12.)
A perverse generation seeketh after a sign.
For there were no bounds to their curiosity and inordinate desire, and for all that they had so often obtained miracles, no advantage appeared to arise from them.