Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

To help provide context I’ve included in this post several very brief summaries by Fr. Callan.

  1. A summary of THE FIRST PART OF THE BODY OF THE LETTER [on 1 Cor 1:10-6:20];
  2. A summary: THE EXISTING SITUATION IS DECLARED [On 1 Cor 1:10-12];
  3. A summary: FIRST ARGUMENT AGAINST THE DIVISIONS AMONG THE CORINTHIANS. FACTIONS ARE DETRIMENTAL TO THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH [on 1 Cor 1:13-17a];
  4. A summary: WHY ST. PAUL MADE USE OF SIMPLE SPEECH IN PREACHING THE GOSPEL TO THE CORINTHIANS [on 1 Cor 1:17b-2:5].

The notes on today’s reading follows these brief summaries.

The First Part Of The Body Of The Letter

A Brief Summary of 1 Copr 1:10-6:20~Although in his introduction the Apostle lauds the Corinthian Church for its spiritual progress and perfection, he is not unmindful that there are those in it who are guilty of serious disorders.  In fact, the unity of the Church is not a little imperiled by the existence among the faithful of a number of disturbing factions; these, which have already led to serious moral disorders, he forthwith condemns and endeavours to correct.  Beginning, therefore, with a general exhortation to unity, he introduces the subject he is about to treat (1:10-12); then comes a stern condemnation of the existing factions (1:13-3:17); following upon this he gives certain practical results and a concluding exhortation (3:18-4:21, before taking up the evil consequences among the Christians of the relaxed state of their discipline (5:1-6:20).

THE EXISTING SITUATION IS DECLARED

A Summary of 1 Corinthians 1:10-12~In view of the many and special graces which the faithful of Corinth have received, one would suppose that the greatest unity and concord should be reigning among them; they ought to have one mind and one voice. But St. Paul has learned, on the contrary, that there are contentions and minor divisions among them which disturb their peace and hinder their progress

FIRST ARGUMENT AGAINST THE DIVISIONS AMONG THE CORINTHIANS. FACTIONS ARE DETRIMENTAL TO THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH

A Summary of 1 Corinthians 1:13- 17a~As Christ is the head of the Church and of all Christians there should be no divisions among the faithful. It was Christ who died for all, and in His name all have been baptized. St. Paul thanks God that he has not been the occasion of any of the Corinthian factions.

WHY ST. PAUL MADE USE OF SIMPLE SPEECH IN PREACHING THE
GOSPEL TO THE CORINTHIANS

A Summary of 1 Corinthians 1:17b-2:5~Human wisdom and loftiness of speech are not to be made use of in preaching the Gospel, lest the cross of Christ be deprived of its real power and efficacy.  This is clear, first from prophecy (1:19); secondly from experience, which shows that the wise of this world have not been chosen to preach the Gospel (1:20-25), nor are many of them to be found among those who have embraced its teaching (1:26-2:5)

1:26. For see your vocation, brethren, that there are not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble:
1:27. for the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the wise; and the weak things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the strong.

1:26.  Not only did God cast aside the wisdom of tis world in choosing the preachers of the Gospel, but He did likewise in the choice of those whom He first called to embrace the teachings of the Gospel.  This is illustrated among the Corinthians themselves.  Hence the Apostle bids them to consider their own vocation.  Among those who had become Christian there were not many distinguished for their human learning, not many who enjoyed great wealth and influence, not many of noble birth; the vast majority of the faithful of Corinth, as of all the early Christians, were from the humbler walks of life and society.  The pagans in fact reproached the Church for being made up of low classes,-fo slaves, artisans and the like (Tacitus, AnnXV. 44; Justin, Apol. ii. 9; Origen, Contra Celsum, ii. 79); and yet all this was in conformity with the prediction of Isaiah and with what our Lord Himself said of His Kingdom (Isa 61:1; Matt 11:5; Luke 4:17; etc.).

1:27.  The reason of the foregoing actions on the part of God is now given.  Man, in his pride and self-sufficiency, had misused the gifts of God, thinking that all the blessings he enjoyed were due to himself, and despising those who were less favored than he.  Thus, earthly wisdom and power had been made by man a means of sin and disorder.  To counteract this state of things God called, as preachers of His Gospel and as members of His Church, those who were considered ignorant and weak, while He left to their own confusion those who considered themselves wise and powerful.

1:28. And the base things of the world, and the things that are contemptible, hath God chosen, and things that are not, that he might bring to nought things that are:
1:29. That no flesh should glory in his sight.
1:30. But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and justice, and sanctification, and redemption.
1:31.  That, as it is written: He that glorieth , may glory in the Lord.

Although foolish things and weak things are in the neuter gender, they are understood for the masculine (cf. John 6:37; Gal 3:22; Heb 7:7).

1:28.  Here again we find the neuter plural used for the masculine to heighten the paradox between the ways of God and the ways of men.  The Apostle cites three classes of persons, called by God to the faith, who were in striking contrast to those of noble birth (vs 26) that were not called: the base, i.e., those who have not sprung from noble ancestry; the contemptible, i.e., those that are despised and regarded as nothing; things that are not, i.e., those who are considered as not existing.  All these kinds of persons God has brought to the faith of the Crucified, in order to confound and prove to be useless in the work of saving the world those who were considered great according to earthly standards.

If, with A C D F G and Old Latin, we omit και before ταμη οντα, things that are not, these words form only a clause in apposition to the preceding clauses of the verse, an are not the climax of the sentence.  Manuscripts B E, The Received Text, Vulgate and Peshitto are in favor of retaining και.

1:29.  The purpose of God’s action in choosing the rude, the weak and the “things that are not” to confound the wise and the strong and to bring to naught the “things that are,” was that no flesh should glory in his sight, i.e., that no one might be able to attribute his justification and salvation to his own wisdom, or power, or noble birth, but only to the goodness and mercy of God, and that thus all should recognize God as the sole author of human sanctification and salvation.  Supernatural things are from us only through the operation of God’s grace.

In his sight (Vulg., in conspectu eius) should be “in God’s sight,” to agree with the best Greek reading.

1:30.  Although the Corinthians have nothing of themselves whereof to glory before God, they may, nevertheless, glory in this, that of him, i.e., from God, as form the source of their supernatural life, they are in Christ Jesus, i.e., they have, through Baptism, been incorporated in the mystical body of Christ, being made members of Christ’s Church.  To be “in Christ Jesus” means in St Paul to be a member of the Church of Christ (cf. 9:1; Rom 16:7; Gal 1:22; etc.).

Who of God, etc.  Since Christians are His members, Crhist communicates to them the gifts he possesses from God, namely, His wisdom, by which the darkenss of error and ignorance are expelled fromn the mind; His justice and sanctification, by which they are made truly holy and pleasing in the sight of God; His  redemption, by which they are liberated from the serive of sin and the devil.

Justice and sanctification are closely connected by τε και to show they are really the same; for man is not first justified and then sanctified, but both at one and the same time through the infusion of sanctifying grace (Cornely).

It is evident that the Apostle here is not speaking about imputed justice in the Protestant sense, because just as Christ, through faith, has commuincated to us real wisdom, so has He imparted to us real sanctity and justification.

1:31.  Therefore, since the Christian has received all from God, if he wishes to glroy, he must do so in god, as is clear from Jeremiah 9:23-24.

He that glorieth, etc.  The citation here is only a summary of the Prophet’s word.

After that in the beginning of the verse the verb is understood (γενηται, it may come to pass).

May glory should be imperative, “let him glory” (Vulg. glorietur).

Lord (κύριος, Lord, in the LXX) really means Yahweh, God.

After havig shown (1:17 ff) that the Gospel is both preached and received by the humble and the simple, St Paul now tells the Corinthians that when announcing to them the glad tidings he observed the characteristic method of evangelical preaching.  This he did in order to conform to the divine plane, as already explained, and also in order that the Corinthians might derive the greatest profit from hearing the Gospel.

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One Response to Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A | stjoeofoblog

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