《Beet’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians》(Joseph Beet)
Joseph Agar Beet was an English Wesleyan, born at Sheffield on Sept. 27, 1840.
He attended Wesley College, Sheffield (1851-56), and took up mining engineering, but afterward studied theology at the Wesleyan College, Richmond (1862-64). He was pastor 1864-85 and professor of systematic theology in Wesleyan College, Richmond, 1885-1905.
He was also a member of the faculty of theology in the University of London 1901-05. He delivered the Fernley Lecture on The Credentials of the Gospels in 1889, and lectured in America in 1896.
01 Chapter 1
SECTION 1. — PAUL'S GREETING TO, AND GRATITUDE FOR, THE CORINTHIAN CHRISTIANS CH. 1:1-9
Paul, a called apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, to the church of God which there is at Corinth, men sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints, with all who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place belonging to them and to us. Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God always about you, for the grace of God given to you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you have been enriched in Him, in all utterance and all knowledge, according as the testimony of the Christ took a firm place in you; causing you not to fall short in any gift of grace, at the same time waiting for the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ; who will also make you firm until the end, unimpeachable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is God, through whom you were called to partnership with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:1. Paul, called apostle, Christ Jesus: Romans 1:1. Paul belonged to Jesus of Nazareth, the Anointed One, as one sent by Him on a special mission to men and thus placed by Him in the first rank in His Church: Acts 26:17 f; 1 Corinthians 12:28.
Through the will of God. 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:1; more fully, 1 Timothy 1:1. As usual, Paul rises from the Son to the Father, whose will is the source of whatever Christ has done, and therefore of Paul's apostleship. Cp. Galatians 1:4. In this letter Paul will be compelled to use his apostolic authority. He therefore begins by reminding his readers that he received this authority by an express summons, and by the will of God.
Sosthenes: joined with Paul as joint author of the Epistle, or rather as sanctioning its contents. So “Timothy,” in 2Co., Php., Col.; “Timothy and Silvanus,” in 1 and 2 Thess.; “all the saints,” in Galatians. The close connection of Timothy and Silvanus with the church addressed, moved Paul to join their names with his own. Sosthenes, however, is quite unknown to us. (The same name in Acts 18:17 is small proof or presumption of identity.) But he was evidently known to the Corinthians. And, doubtless, Paul had reasons for intimating in this way that he approved the contents of the Epistle. He may have been Paul's penman. But this would be no sufficient reason for his mention here; any more than Tertius, Romans 1:1; Romans 16:22. Nor is it proved by his mention here. For it is not likely that two penmen were needed for the Epistles to the Thessalonians: nor could that to the Galatians be written down by “all the saints with” Paul.
1 Corinthians 1:2-3. The church: see below.
Of God. 1 Corinthians 10:32; 1 Corinthians 11:16; 1 Corinthians 11:22; 1 Corinthians 15:9. As church members they stand in a special relation to God. Cp. 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1.
Which there is etc.: emphatic assertion that at Corinth there is a church of God.
Sanctified in etc.; made objectively holy; see Romans 1:7. Subjectively, some of them were very unholy: 1 Corinthians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 12:21. This reference to the objective holiness of the whole church, implies that in Christ Jesus refers to what took place objectively in the historic and personal body of Christ. By giving Him to die and raising Him from the grave and to heaven, and by proclaiming the Gospel through His lips, which Gospel they had accepted, God claimed these Corinthians for His own; and thus placed them in a new and solemn position, in which, even in spite of their unfaithfulness, they now stood. Cp. Hebrews 10:10.
Called saints: Romans 1:7; Romans 8:28. After reminding them that they were members of the church of God, and that, in the historic facts of the death and resurrection of the Anointed Jesus, God had claimed them for His own, Paul reminds them that it was by a special summons that they had been brought into the solemn position in which God's claim placed them. This three-fold description of their position is specially appropriate at the beginning of a letter written mainly to correct behavior altogether inconsistent with their holy calling.
With all that etc.] To others besides the Corinthians, Paul writes. To call upon Jesus in prayer, was to confess that He is Lord and Christ and was therefore a distinctive mark of a Christian. It also made prominent the Name of Him addressed. Hence the full emphatic title. Cp. Romans 10:13.
Belonging to them, i.e. to the Christians at Corinth; goes naturally with the preceding words in every place, giving to these a definite reference. Otherwise the Epistle is addressed to all Christians everywhere; which its contents makes very unlikely. The above simple reference is supported by the equivalent “in all Achaia,” 2 Corinthians 1:1. There were probably other churches in Achaia, e.g. Cenchreae, (Romans 16:1.) some founded perhaps by Paul himself during his sojourn at Corinth, and others by the efforts of the Corinthian Christians, which looked up to the metropolis of the province as their mother, and thus belonged spiritually to the Christians at Corinth.
To us: reminds us that these daughter-churches belonged also to Paul and his colleagues, both as being within the divinely marked limits (2 Corinthians 10:13-16) of their labor and as directly or indirectly the fruit of it. The added words remind us again of Paul's apostolic authority, which he will soon be compelled to use.
Us; may include Paul's colleagues, Timothy, Silvanus, etc.; or, for reasons unknown to us, Sosthenes; or may be somewhat indefinite, as in Romans 1:5.
Grace and peace: Romans 1:7.
1 Corinthians 1:4. I thank: Romans 1:8. Although this letter was written, with many tears, (2 Corinthians 2:4,) to reprove and correct, Paul's first thought, as he begins it, is gratitude. For, in spite of the gross immorality (1 Corinthians 5:1; 2 Corinthians 12:21) of some and the spiritual childishness (1 Corinthians 3:1 ff; 1 Corinthians 5:2) of the church generally, a great work had been done by God at Corinth. And this good work Paul thinks of and acknowledges before he begins to find fault.
My God: Romans 1:8.
Always: 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:3. Gratitude for the work done at Corinth and elsewhere was to Paul an abiding habit of mind. He cannot say “about you all,” as in Romans 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:2.
Grace given to you. Cp. Romans 1:5 : not the general favor with which God smiles on all the justified, as in Ephesians 1:3, but His special favor shown to the Corinthians in the gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:5. So Romans 12:3; Romans 15:15. Consequently, in Christ is also subjective, denoting that inward spiritual contact with Christ through which we personally receive God's favor and the various undeserved gifts it moves Him to bestow. This implies the objective sense found in 1 Corinthians 1:2; but is distinct from it. Through the death and resurrection of the historic Jesus, and through personal contact with His Spirit, God's favor shines upon us.
1 Corinthians 1:5. That in etc.; specifies “grace given.” In everything 2 Corinthians 9:11 : limited, like all universals, by the writer's mental horizon; (see under Romans 5:18;) and here expounded by all utterance and all knowledge, which include all the spiritual capacities needed for church progress.
Enriched: Romans 2:4; Romans 9:23; Romans 10:12; Romans 11:12; Romans 11:33; 2 Corinthians 6:10; 2 Corinthians 8:2; 2 Corinthians 8:9; 2 Corinthians 9:11, etc.
In Him; repeats “in Christ Jesus;” and thus lays stress upon the truth that all real wealth comes through spiritual contact with Him.
All knowledge: mental comprehension of the truth in all its aspects.
All utterance: ability to speak forth the truth in all the modes needful to convey it to the various sorts of men. These gifts seldom go together in one man. But he who possesses either of them is an enrichment to his church. And the church which possesses, in its various members, these gifts in a special degree is truly rich.
Utterance is put first as the more conspicuous. [The R.V. were enriched gives to the indefinite tense a definite reference which does not belong to it. See The Expositor, 1st Series vol. xi. p. 296.]
1 Corinthians 1:6. Testimony of the Christ: 2 Timothy 1:8 : probably Paul's witness about the Messiah. Cp. Acts 1:8, “You shall be my witnesses.” For Paul thought, probably, of Christ more frequently as the great matter than as the preacher of the Gospel. That Paul's preaching is here called a testimony, agrees with the Epistle to the Romans, of which the argument rests on five unproved assertions which Paul accepted because they came from the lips of Christ. See my “Romans,” dissertation i. 3.
Took-a-firm-place: same word in Romans 15:8; (cp Romans 4:16;) there objectively, here subjectively. “The testimony was fully believed by you, and thus became an immovable conviction in you.”
According as etc.] Their enrichment in utterance and knowledge was a result proportionate to their firm belief of the Gospel. For, a firm grasp of the great foundation truths enables us to make progress in all Christian knowledge, and to speak out suitably, clearly, and forcefully the word we have believed.
1 Corinthians 1:7. So that etc.: result of their firm faith, and therefore a negative parallel to “in everything you have been enriched.”
Fall-short: Romans 3:23; 1 Corinthians 8:8; 1 Corinthians 12:24; 2 Corinthians 11:5; 2 Corinthians 11:8; 2 Corinthians 12:11 : in view either of others who have more, or of our own need. Here, probably the latter. It is the exact opposite of enrichment.
Gift-of-grace; Romans 1:11, (see note,) Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 7:7; 1 Corinthians 12:4; includes all spiritual gifts wrought by the favor of God. All such are capacities for spiritual growth, and for usefulness to others; and are therefore spiritual wealth. No such capacity was lacking to the church at Corinth. And these gifts were a result of their firm faith.
Revelation of etc.: 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 1:13 : the sudden uplifting, at the great day, of the veil which now hides our Master from our view. Spiritually, He is already (Galatians 1:16) unveiled to us. Since the appearance of Christ will be an outward objective fact, He is said (Colossians 3:4) to be “manifested:” since He will be actually seen by all, His appearance is also a revelation. See under Romans 1:17; Romans 1:19.
Waiting for: Romans 8:19; Romans 8:23; Romans 8:25. They already possessed spiritual gifts which were a proof of God's favor: while at the same time they were eagerly looking forward to that day when Jesus will visibly appear to bring in the final glory. These added words remind us that the Christian life is essentially a looking forward to future glory. All present enrichment is but an earnest of the better things which Christ, at His coming, will bring.
1 Corinthians 1:8. Who also etc.: another blessing which will follow. The spiritual wealth already received can be retained, and our expectations fulfilled, only by the stability which day by day Christ will give. Cp. Romans 16:25; 2 Corinthians 1:21.
Make-you-firm: same word as in 1 Corinthians 1:6. They in whom the Gospel has a firm place, are themselves immovable. These words must be understood in harmony with Romans 11:20, etc., which teaches that continuance in the Christian life depends upon continued faith, and implies the possibility that faith may fail, even finally. But this does not prevent us from cherishing a firm confidence of the final salvation of ourselves and others. Cp. Philippians 1:6.
To the end; of the present state of probation, whether ended by death or by the coming of Christ. So 2 Corinthians 1:13; Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 3:14; Hebrews 6:11.
Unimpeachable in the Day etc.: so that they will then (Philippians 1:10) lie open to no charge (Romans 8:33) such as will exclude them from the Kingdom.
The Day of our Lord Jesus Christ: 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:14; Philippians 1:6; Philippians 1:10; Philippians 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:2. To the day of Christ's return the early Christians looked forward, as Israel did ages before to the “Day of Jehovah,” (Joel 1:15; Joel 2:1, etc.,) i.e. to the day when Jehovah would rescue His people and punish the wicked. To stand unimpeachable (cp. Colossians 1:22 f) in the Day of Christ, is to obtain the glory which He will bring.
1 Corinthians 1:9. Faithful (1 Corinthians 4:17) is God: 1 Corinthians 10:13. Again, as in 1 Corinthians 1:1, Paul rises from the Son to the Father; and supports the assurance of 1 Corinthians 1:8 by an appeal to the character of God.
Partnership: 1 Corinthians 10:16; 1 Corinthians 10:18; 1 Corinthians 10:20 : same word in Romans 15:26 f. Already (Romans 8:16 f) we are sharers of the sonship of Christ: and therefore those kept “to the end” will share the Firstborn Son's inheritance of glory. For this, they were (Romans 8:29) predestined and called. Cp. Revelation 3:21. Notice the emphatic and repeated title in 1 Corinthians 1:7-8, culminating in the fuller title here.
Through: Romans 1:2. The gospel call (1 Corinthians 1:2) is not only always said to come from the Father as its source, but comes to us by His immediate activity, sending His Son to announce it and raising Him from the dead to prove that the call is divine. Cp. Galatians 1:1. “All things are from Him and through Him,” Romans 11:36. This call, given to us by the agency of God Himself, implies that His faithfulness is a pledge that Christ will give us the stability needful to obtain that to which we are called.
Approaching the Corinthian Christians, in whom he has much to blame, Paul reminds them that by an express summons, by the will of God, he has been placed in the first rank of the servants of Christ. He thinks proper to add that in what he is about to say, Sosthenes agrees with him. He remembers the dignity of his readers as members of the church of God; that, through the death and resurrection of Christ, they have been claimed by God to be His own; and that, like his own apostleship, this claim was conveyed to them by a divine summons. Nor does he forget that other churches around look up to that at Corinth as their mother; churches which belong to him as well as to them. To the mother and her daughters he sends greeting from the common Father and the common Master.
Although writing to them in tears for their unfaithfulness, it is ever in Paul's mind that he has at Corinth cause for gratitude to his God. The church there has evident marks of the favor of God. The Gospel they have firmly believed has made its members rich in knowledge of the Will of God and in ability to declare it. In no gift needful for spiritual progress are they behind. They are looking forward to the appearance of Christ. And Paul cherishes a hope resting on the faithfulness of God that Christ will keep them steadfast to the end.
Notice that Paul speaks first in 1 Corinthians 1:2, of the objective holiness of the Corinthian church arising from the divine call which has gathered them together and made them a church, a holiness belonging to all Christians alike; and then, in 1 Corinthians 1:4-7, of their own special subjective development in the Christian life.
The word CHURCH represents a common Greek word, Ecclesia, or “calling out;” from which we have “ecclesiastic,” etc., and the French “eglise,” etc. The ecclesia was the assembly of the free citizens of a Greek city, summoned by herald to discuss and determine matters of public interest. The word was also used for any public assembly, whether regular as in Acts 19:39 or occasional as in Acts 19:32; Acts 19:41, where we have the same word. It is often used in the LXX. for the regular gatherings of Israel, in reference either to the event, or to the people gathered together. Cp. Deuteronomy 9:10, “in the day of the assembly;” also Psalms 22:23 with Hebrews 2:12; 1 Kings 8:65; Deuteronomy 23:1-3, 1 Chronicles 28:2; 1 Chronicles 28:8; Nehemiah 13:1, where we have the “church of the Lord,” “of God;” and Judith 6:16; Judith 14:6; Sirach 15:5; 1 Maccabees 4:59. Similarly, in Acts 7:38 it denotes the nation of Israel assembled in the wilderness.
This name, familiar both to Greeks and Jews, but with different associations was chosen by the followers of Jesus for their frequent gatherings, for mutual edification and for joint-worship: cp. 1 Corinthians 11:18; 1 Corinthians 14:19; 1 Corinthians 14:28; 1 Corinthians 14:34 f. It then came easily to denote a company of believers in the habit of thus meeting together. This naturally included all professed Christians living in one city. But even small assemblies, parts of larger churches, and held in private houses, were called churches; as in 1 Corinthians 16:19, etc. The totality of believers in even the largest cities is spoken of as the one church of that city; but those living in different cities of one country, as (1 Corinthians 16:1; 1 Corinthians 16:19) “the churches of Galatia,” etc. The only exception is Acts 9:31, “The church throughout all Judea.” This local sense is that of three-fourths of the cases in which the word is found in the New Testament.