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3. On Division in the Church

1And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ. 2I fed you with milk, not with meat; for ye were not yet able to bear it: nay, not even now are ye able; 3for ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you jealousy and strife, are ye not carnal, and do ye not walk after the manner of men? 4For when one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not men? 5What then is Apollos? and what is Paul? Ministers through whom ye believed; and each as the Lord gave to him. 6I planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. 8Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: but each shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9For we are God's fellow-workers: ye are God's husbandry, God's building. 10According to the grace of God which was given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder I laid a foundation; and another buildeth thereon. But let each man take heed how he buildeth thereon. 11For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12But if any man buildeth on the foundation gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13each man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself shall prove each man's work of what sort it is. 14If any man's work shall abide which he built thereon, he shall receive a reward. 15If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as through fire. 16Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17If any man destroyeth the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, and such are ye. 18Let no man deceive himself. If any man thinketh that he is wise among you in this world, let him become a fool, that he may become wise. 19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He that taketh the wise in their craftiness: 20and again, The Lord knoweth the reasonings of the wise that they are vain. 21Wherefore let no one glory in men. For all things are yours; 22whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; 23and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.

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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.