Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
CONTRASTS WITH THE
THEM, BUT AS A
1. account . . . us--Paul and Apollos.
ministers of Christ--not heads of the Church in whom ye are severally
the headship belongs to Christ alone; we are but His servants
ministering to you
(1Co 1:13; 3:5, 22).
Not the depositories of grace, but dispensers of it ("rightly dividing"
or dispensing it), so far as God gives us it, to others. The
chazan, or "overseer," in the synagogue answered to the
bishop or "angel" of the Church, who called seven of the
synagogue to read the law every sabbath, and oversaw them. The
parnasin of the synagogue, like the ancient "deacon" of the
Church, took care of the poor
and subsequently preached in subordination to the presbyters or
bishops, as Stephen and Philip did. The Church is not the appendage to
the priesthood; but the minister is the steward of God to the Church.
Man shrinks from too close contact with God; hence he willingly puts a
priesthood between, and would serve God by deputy. The pagan (like the
modern Romish) priest was rather to conceal than to explain "the
mysteries of God." The minister's office is to "preach" (literally,
"proclaim as a herald,"
the deep truths of God ("mysteries," heavenly truths, only known by
revelation), so far as they have been revealed, and so far as his
hearers are disposed to receive them. JOSEPHUS
says that the Jewish religion made known to all the people the
mysteries of their religion, while the pagans concealed from all but
the "initiated" few, the mysteries of theirs.
2. Moreover--The oldest manuscripts read, "Moreover here" (that is,
on earth). The contrast thus is between man's usage as to stewards
and God's way
Though here below, in the case of stewards, inquiry is made,
that one man be found (that is, proved to be) faithful; yet God's
steward awaits no such judgment of man, in man's day, but the
Lord's judgment in His great day. Another argument against the
Corinthians for their partial preferences of certain teachers for their
gifts: whereas what God requires in His stewards is faithfulness
as indeed is required in earthly stewards, but with this difference
that God's stewards await not man's judgment to test them, but the
testing which shall be in the day of the Lord.
3. it is a very small thing--literally, "it amounts to a very small
matter"; not that I despise your judgment, but as compared with
God's, it almost comes to nothing.
judged . . . of man's judgment--literally, "man's day," contrasted
with the day
of the Lord
"The day of man" is here put before us as a person [WAHL]. All days previous to the day of the Lord are
man's days. EMESTI translates the thrice
recurring Greek for "judged . . . judge
. . . judgeth"
thus: To me for my part (though capable of being found faithful) it is
a very small matter that I should be approved of by man's
judgment; yea, I do not even assume the right of judgment and
approving myself--but He that has the right, and is able to
judge on my case (the Dijudicator), is the Lord.
4. by myself--Translate, "I am conscious to myself of no (ministerial)
unfaithfulness." BENGEL explains the Greek compound,
"to decide in judgments on one in relation to others," not simply to
am I not hereby justified--Therefore conscience is not an infallible
guide. Paul did not consider his so. This verse is directly against the
judicial power claimed by the priests of Rome.
5. Disproving the judicial power claimed by the Romish priesthood in
Therefore--as the Lord is the sole Decider or Dijudicator.
judge--not the same Greek word as in
1Co 4:3, 4,
where the meaning is to approve of or decide on, the
merits of one's case. Here all judgments in general are
forbidden, which would, on our part, presumptuously forestall God's
prerogative of final judgment.
Lord--Jesus Christ, whose "ministers" we are
and who is to be the judge
(Joh 5:22, 27;
Ac 10:42; 17:31).
manifest . . . hearts--Our judgments now (as those of
the Corinthians respecting their teachers) are necessarily defective;
as we only see the outward act, we cannot see the motives
of "hearts." "Faithfulness"
will hereby be estimated, and the "Lord" will "justify," or the reverse
according to the state of the heart.
then shall every man have praise--
Mt 25:21, 23, 28).
Rather, "his due praise," not exaggerated praise, such as the
Corinthians heaped on favorite teachers; "the praise" (so the
Greek) due for acts estimated by the motives. "Then," not
before: therefore wait till then
6. And--"Now," marking transition.
in a figure transferred to myself--that is, I have represented under
the persons of Apollos and myself what really holds good of all
teachers, making us two a figure or type of all the others. I
have mentioned us two, whose names have been used as a party cry; but
under our names I mean others to be understood, whom I do not name, in
order not to shame you [ESTIUS].
not to think, &c.--The best manuscripts omit "think." Translate,
"That in us (as your example) ye might learn (this), not (to go) beyond
what is written." Revere the silence of Holy Writ, as much as its
declarations: so you will less dogmatize on what is not expressly
puffed up for one--namely, "for one (favorite minister) against
another." The Greek indicative implies, "That ye be not puffed up
as ye are."
7. Translate, "Who distinguisheth thee (above another)?" Not thyself,
glory, as if thou hadst not received it--as if it was to thyself, not
to God, thou owest the receiving of it.
8. Irony. Translate, "Already ye are filled full (with spiritual
food), already ye are rich, ye have seated yourselves upon your
throne as kings, without us." The emphasis is on "already" and "without
us"; ye act as if ye needed no more to "hunger and thirst after
righteousness," and as if already ye had reached the "kingdom" for which
Christians have to strive and suffer. Ye are so puffed up with your
favorite teachers, and your own fancied spiritual attainments in
knowledge through them, that ye feel like those "filled full" at a
feast, or as a "rich" man priding himself in his riches: so ye feel ye
can now do "without us," your first spiritual fathers
They forgot that before the "kingdom" and the "fulness of joy,"
at the marriage feast of the Lamb, must come the cross, and suffering,
to every true believer
(2Ti 2:5, 11, 12).
They were like the self-complacent Laodiceans
Temporal fulness and riches doubtless tended in some
cases at Corinth, to generate this spiritual self-sufficiency; the
contrast to the apostle's literal "hunger and thirst"
I would . . . ye did reign--Translate, "I would indeed," &c. I
would truly it were so, and that your kingdom had really begun.
that we also might reign with you--
"I seek not yours, but you." Your spiritual prosperity would redound to
that of us, your fathers in Christ
When you reach the kingdom, you shall be our "crown of rejoicing, in
the presence of our Lord Jesus"
9. For--assigning the reason for desiring that the "reign" of himself
and his fellow apostles with the Corinthians were come; namely, the
present afflictions of the former.
I think--The Corinthians
"seemed" to (literally, as here, "thought") themselves "wise in this
world." Paul, in contrast, "thinks" that God has sent forth him and his
fellow ministers "last," that is, the lowest in this world. The
apostles fared worse than even the prophets, who, though sometimes
afflicted, were often honored
(2Ki 1:10; 5:9; 8:9, 12).
set forth--as a spectacle or gazing-stock.
us the apostles--Paul includes Apollos with the apostles, in the
broader sense of the word; so
(Greek for "messengers," apostles).
as it were appointed to death--as criminals condemned to die.
made a spectacle--literally, "a theatrical spectacle." So the
"made a gazing-stock by reproaches and afflictions." Criminals
"condemned to die," in Paul's time, were exhibited as a gazing-stock to
amuse the populace in the amphitheater. They were "set forth last" in
the show, to fight with wild beasts. This explains the imagery of Paul
here. (Compare TERTULLIAN [On Modesty,
the world--to the whole world, including "both angels and men"; "the
whole family in heaven and earth"
As Jesus was "seen of angels"
so His followers are a spectacle to the holy angels who take a deep
interest in all the progressive steps of redemption
Paul tacitly implies that though "last" and lowest in the world's
judgment, Christ's servants are deemed by angels a spectacle worthy of
their most intense regard [CHRYSOSTOM]. However,
since "the world" is a comprehensive expression, and is applied in this
Epistle to the evil especially
(1Co 1:27, 28),
and since the spectators (in the image drawn from the amphitheater)
gaze at the show with savage delight, rather than with sympathy for the
sufferers, I think bad angels are included, besides good
angels. ESTIUS makes the bad alone to be
meant. But the generality of the term "angels," and its frequent use in
a good sense, as well as
incline me to include good as well as bad angels, though,
for the reasons stated above, the bad may be principally meant.
10. Irony. How much your lot (supposing it real) is to be envied,
and ours to be pitied.
(1Co 1:21; 3:18;
Ac 17:18; 26:24).
for Christ's sake . . . in Christ--Our connection with Christ only
entails on us the lowest ignominy, "ON ACCOUNT OF," or,
"FOR THE SAKE OF" Him, as "fools";
yours gives you full fellowship IN Him as "wise"
(that is, supposing you really are all you seem,
we . . . weak . . . ye . . . strong--
we . . . despised--
because of our "weakness," and our not using worldly philosophy and
rhetoric, on account of which ye Corinthians and your teachers are
(seemingly) so "honorable." Contrast with "despised" the "ye
(Galatians) despised not my temptation . . . in my
naked--that is, insufficiently clad
buffeted--as a slave
the reverse of the state of the Corinthians, "reigning as kings"
So Paul's master before him was "buffeted" as a slave, when about to
die a slave's death
12. working with our own hands--namely, "even unto this present hour"
This is not stated in the narrative of Paul's proceedings at
Ephesus, from which city he wrote this Epistle (though it is
expressly stated of him at Corinth, compare
Ac 18:3, 19).
But in his address to the Ephesian elders at Miletus
he says, "Ye yourselves know that these hands have ministered unto my
necessities," &c. The undesignedness of the coincidence thus indirectly
brought out is incompatible with forgery.
13. defamed, we entreat--namely, God for our defamers, as Christ
(Mt 5:10, 44)
[GROTIUS]. We reply gently
filth--"the refuse" [CONYBEARE and
HOWSON], the sweepings or
rubbish thrown out after a cleaning.
of all things--not of the "World" only.
14. warn--rather, "admonish" as a father uses "admonition" to "beloved
sons," not provoking them to wrath
The Corinthians might well be "ashamed" at the disparity of state
between the father, Paul, and his spiritual children themselves.
15. ten thousand--implying that the Corinthians had more of them than
instructors--tutors who had the care of rearing, but had not the
rights, or peculiar affection, of the father, who alone had begotten
in Christ--Paul admits that these "instructors" were not mere
legalists, but evangelical teachers. He uses, however, a stronger
phrase of himself in begetting them spiritually, "In Christ Jesus,"
implying both the Saviour's office and person. As Paul was the means
of spiritually regenerating them, and yet "baptized none of them
save Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas," regeneration
cannot be inseparably in and by baptism
16. be ye followers of me--literally, "imitators," namely, in my ways,
which be in Christ
not in my crosses
17. For this came--that ye may the better "be followers of me"
through his admonitions.
sent . . . Timotheus--
Ac 19:21, 22).
"Paul purposed . . . when he had passed through Macedonia and
Achaia, to go to Jerusalem. So he sent into Macedonia Timotheus
and Erastus." Here it is not expressly said that he sent Timothy into
Achaia (of which Corinth was the capital), but it is implied,
for he sent him with Erastus before him. As he therefore
purposed to go into Achaia himself, there is every probability they
were to go thither also. They are said only to have been sent into
Macedonia, because it was the country to which they went immediately
from Ephesus. The undesignedness of the coincidence establishes the
genuineness of both the Epistle and the history. In both, Timothy's
journey is closely connected with Paul's own (compare
Erastus is not specified in the Epistle, probably because it was
Timothy who was charged with Paul's orders, and possibly Erastus was a
Corinthian, who, in accompanying Timothy, was only returning home. The
seeming discrepancy at least shows that the passages were not taken
from one another [PALEY, Horæ
son--that is, converted by me (compare
1Co 4:14, 15;
Ac 14:6, 7;
with Ac 16:1, 2;
1Ti 1:2, 18;
Translate, "My son, beloved and faithful in the Lord."
bring you into remembrance--Timothy, from his spiritual connection
with Paul, as converted by him, was best suited to remind them of
the apostle's walk and teaching
which they in some respects, though not altogether
as I teach . . . in every church--an argument implying
that what the Spirit directed Paul to teach "everywhere" else, must be
necessary at Corinth also
18. some . . . as though I would not come--He guards against some
misconstruing (as by the Spirit he foresees they will, when his letter
shall have arrived) his sending Timothy, "as though" he "would not come"
(or, "were not coming") himself. A puffed-up spirit was the besetting
sin of the Corinthians (compare
1Co 1:11; 5:2).
19. ALFORD translates, "But come I will"; an emphatical negation of
if the Lord will--a wise proviso
He does not seem to have been able to go as soon as he intended.
and will know--take cognizance of.
but the power--I care not for their high-sounding "speech," "but" what
I desire to know is "their power," whether they be really powerful in
the Spirit, or not. The predominant feature of Grecian character, a love
for power of discourse, rather than that of godliness, showed itself
20. kingdom of God is not in word--Translate, as in
to which the reference is "speech." Not empty "speeches," but the
manifest "power" of the Spirit attests the presence of "the kingdom of
God" (the reign of the Gospel spiritually), in a church or in an
1Co 2:1, 4;
21. with a rod, or in love--The Greek preposition is used in both
clauses; must I come IN displeasure to exercise the rod, or
and the Spirit of meekness