Sunday, October 09, 2016

Part 2: Father Callan's Introduction to First Corinthians (5. Authenticity and canonicity; 6. style and language; 7. doctrinal importance; 8. division and analysis)

5. Authenticity and Canonicity. The authenticity of this Epistle has been so universally accepted by critics of practically every school that it seems hardly necessary to cite arguments in proof of it.  Even the German Rationalists of the Tubingen School admitted as genuine the Epistles to the Corinthians, the Romans and the Galatians.  A few minor objections to 1 Corinthians have in recent times been raised by such Rationalists as Bruno Baur, Nabor, Pierson and Loman; but they are too insignificant to merit any serious attention.  It will be sufficient, therefore, to give some of the principle proofs for its genuineness and canonicity.

(a) External proofs.  This Epistle was certainly known to the earliest ecclesiastical writers.  Clement of Rome, who was the friend and companion of St Paul (Phil 4:3), and later Bishop of Rome (Euseb., Hist. Eccl. 111. 4), in his first letter to the Corinthians (47:1-3) wrote about the year 98 as follows: “Take up the Epistle of the blessed Apostle Paul.  What did he write to you at the time when the Gospel first began to be preached?  Truly, under the inspiration of the Spirit, he wrote to you concerning himself and Cephas, and Apollo, because even the parties had been formed among you,” etc.  Polycarp, the disciple of St John the Evangelist, in his letter to the Philippians (11:2) cites 1 Cor 6:2, attributing it directly to St Paul: “Do we not know that the saints shall judge the world, as Paul teaches.”  The enumeration of the vices of the Philippians given by Polycarp in the same letter is exactly parallel with 1 Cor 6:9-10, and terminates with the very words of the Apostle: “They shall not possess the Kingdom of God.”  In the Greek edition of the letters of St Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch (circa 98-117), there are many quotations from this Epistle.  St Irenæus, Bishop of Lyons and a disciple of Polycarp, cites (Adv. Haer. 111. 11, 9; 18, 2) the Epistle over sixty times, often observing that it is the work of St Paul and was written to the Corinthians.  Clement of Alexandria (Pædag. 1. 6) and Tertullian (De rusur. mort. 18) also cites 1 Corinthians a great number of times, and frequently by name.  Many other authorities might be given in proof of the authorship of this Epistle, but it will be sufficient to add that it was also admitted as authentic by Basilides, Marcion and other heretics of the first centuries.

(b) Internal proofs.  Even a casual examination of the nature and contents of the present Epistle shows beyond question that it was written by St Paul.  Its historical facts and dogmatic teaching, its peculiarity of language and style, the manner in which it refers to the Old Testament, the characteristic way in which arguments are developed, beginning with general principles and coming to particular conclusions, the personal touches which it bears on every page,-all prove conclusively that it could not have been written by anybody except the Apostle Paul.  Moreover, all that we otherwise known of St Paul and of Corinth we find to be in perfect agreement with the information furnished by this Epistle.  As Charles Baur has said (Der Apostel Paulus, Stuttgart, 1845, vil. I, p. 260), “this letter is tis own guarantee of authenticity; for more than any other writing of the New Testament, it carries us to the living midst of the a Church in formation and gives us an inner view of the development of the new life called forth by Christianity.”

6.  Style and Language. Of all the Epistles of St Paul this one is perhaps the most distinguished for its simplicity and clarity, and for the beauty and variety of its figures of speech.  The kind and number of subjects with which the apostle deals in this lettter surely accounts in great part for the pleasing qualities of his language, but doubtless therre was also a desire to prove to the Corinthians that he was not by any means so rude and ungifted in the use of speech as they may have concluded from his presence among them.  Of course this letter, although much more logical than some other Pauline Epistles, is far inferior to Romans in argumentative force.  In the latter Epistle there was question of establishing a great thesis and of unfolding the essence of his preaching.  The present letter, on the whole, also comes far short of Second Corinthians in impassioned and sustained e, in anxiety for the spiritual welfare of his imperiled converts, in sterness and vehemence of feeling, in biting sarcasm, and in the general roll of his thunder peals against the enemies who would destroy his Apostolic authority and the fruits of his heroic life and labors; and yet the grace and polish of the diction here is far superior to theat of 2 Corinthians, and to many authoriteis this Epistle excels the other in the uniform loftiness of its eloquence (see Introd. to 2 Corinthians, 4-5).

This letter contains over 100 words not found in any other of the Pauline letters, and about the same number which occur nowhere else in the New Testament.  There is a general regard for the rules of syntax, anc comparatively few of the sudden digressions and unfinished phrases so frequent in Second Corinthians.  If certain words are employed too frequently for good taste, we can only say that this is a consequence of St Paul’s principle never to hesitate to repat the same word so long as it expressed his meaning. 

7.  Doctrinal Importance. In point of doctrine the First Epistle to the Corinthians is unexcelled by any other of St Paul’s letters.  The unusual variety of the subjects treated mainly accounts for this.  Practically every verse conveys some dogmatic or moral truth, as will appear in the exegetical treatment that follows.  It will be enough here to point out the principle doctrines to which the Epistle refers, or which it discusses: (a) Baptism (1:13-14); (b)excommunication (5:3-5); (c) ecclesiastical tribunals (6:2-5); (d) the states of matrimony and celibacy (7:1-40); (e) the signification of Holy Communion (10:16-17); (f) the institution and celebration of the Eucharist (11:23-34);  (g) the unity of the Church of which Christ is the head and the faithful the members (12:4-27); (h) the various ministries in the Church (12: 28-29); (i) the virtue of charity (13); (j) public worship, prayer, preaching, prophecy (14); (k) the Resurrection of Christ (15:4-7); (l) the general resurrection, the glorified bodies, the future life (15:25-58).

8. Division and Analysis. In this Epistle we distinguish three main parts: an Introduction (1 Cor 1:1-9), a Body (1 Cor 1:10-15:58), and a Conclusion (1 Cor 16).

1.  The introduction contains: [a] the salutation of St Paul and his “brother” Sosthenes to the Church at Corinth and to all those who call upon the name of the Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:1-3); [b] and expression of thanksgiving to God for the gifts of speech and knowledge accorded the Corinthians, and a hope of their final perseverance, founded on the faithfulness of God and their communion with Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:4-9).

2.  The Body of the Epistle falls naturally into two divisions, of which the first (1 Cor 1:10-6:20) reprehends the vices of the Corinthians, and the second, (1 Cor 7:1-15:58) replies to their letter and questions. 

A. The First Part of the Body of the letter, also composed of two parts, condemns first the divisions in the Corinthian Church (1 Cor 1:10-4:21), and secondly the moral disorders among the faithful at Corinth.

There ought to be unity in the Church, but it is a fact that there are divisions among the faithful (1 Cor 1:10-12).  These factions are most injurious to the Church of which Christ is the center and head (1 Cor 1:13-17a).  The fact that the Gospel was preached in simplicity to the Corinthians should not be a cause of dissension or disagreement, because God’s message is not after the manner of human conceptions, but according to divine wisdom (1 Cor 1:17b-3:4).  Preachers of the Gospel are simply ministers and instruments of God and must render an account of their stewardship (1 Cor 3:5-17).  The faithful, therefore, ought not to glory in this or that preacher, but in God alone: He only is the judge of His ministers (1 Cor 3:18-4:6).  Humility is necessary in preachers of the Gospel (1 Cor 4:7-13).  St Paul has suffered much for the faithful, and they should imitate him (1 Cor 4:14-16).  The Apostle is sending Timothy to visit the Corinthians and he himself will come shortly (1 Cor 4:17-21).

Following upon their lack of unity, moral disorders and relaxation of religious discipline set in among the Corinthians,  The faithful should have put out of their number the incestuous man, whom St Paul now excommunicates (1 Cor 5:1-5).  That case was a cause of grave scandal; the Corinthians should remember the warning contained in the Apostle’s first letter, to avoid sinners (1 Cor 5:6-13).  Disputes among Christians should not be carried to heathen courts; those who are the cause of such lawsuits shall receive a severe judgment (1 Cor 6:1-11).  All things lawful are not expedient; the faithful must fly from the sin of fornication. 

B. The Second Part of the Body of the letter (1 Cor 7:1-15:58) replies to the questions and the doubts raised by the Corinthians.

Matrimony and its use are perfectly lawful (1 Cor 7:1-9).  Marriage is indissoluble (1 Cor 7:10-24).  The state of celibacy is more excellent than that of matrimony (1 Cor 7:25-40).

With regard to meats offered to idols it is to be noted that such meats are not bad in themselves, although it may necessary to avoid them on account of scandal (1 Cor 8:1-13).  On account of the danger of scandal, the apostle says it is sometimes necessary to forego one’s rights, as he himself did in refusing support from the faithful (1 Cor 9:1-18).  He suffered countless privations and made many sacrifices for the salvation of souls (1 Cor 9:19-23).  Thus also should the Corinthians be willing to make sacrifices in order to save their souls (1 Cor 9:24-27).  Many benefits received from God are no guarantee that we shall be saved (1 Cor 10:1-13).  Therefore, all things being considered, the faithful should take no part in sacrifices offered to idols; we cannot be on the side of God and of His enemies at the same time (1 Cor 10:14-22).

At the public services of the Church women should have their heads covered, as is evident from various considerations (1 Cor 11:2-16).  All disorders and unseemly conduct are especially out of place at the Eucharistic celebration (1 Cor 11:17-22).  The institution of the Lord’s Supper, and the manner in which it should be observed (1 Cor 11:23-34).

The Corinthians have abused their spiritual gifts, allowing them to become an occasion of pride and envy.  The extraordinary gifts which the faithful enjoy come from God.  They should not be a source of discord, since they all come from the same Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:1-11).  The faithful are all members of the same spiritual body; and hence they who possess lesser gifts should not envy those who are blessed with greater ones; and, on the other hand, those who are more highly favored should not despise their more humble brethren (1 Cor 12:12-30).  While each one ought to be content with the gifts he has, it is not forbidden to desire the better ones (1 Cor 12:31).  The most excellent of all the gifts and virtues is charity, without which everything else is as nothing (1 Cor 13:1-3).  The nature of charity; it endures forever (1 Cor 13:4-13).  Of the gifts of tongues and prophecy the latter is more excellent, because more useful to the faithful and to unbelievers as well (1 Cor 14:1-26).  Some practical directions are necessary with regard to the use of the various spiritual gifts (1 Cor 14:27-36).  St Paul observes that he is speaking with divine authority (1 Cor 14:37-40).

Regarding the resurrection of the dead St Paul affirms its truth and reality, proving it first from the Resurrection of Christ (1 Cor 15:1-28), and then from a practice of some of the faithful and from his own life and sufferings (1 Cor 15:29-34).  Next the manner of the resurrection and the qualities of the glorified bodies are explained (15:35-50).  The just shall be transformed at the coming of Christ (1 Cor 15:51-53).  The victory of Christ over death (1 Cor 15:54-58).

3.  The Conclusion of the Epistle (1 Cor 1:16) treats [a] of the collection to be made for the poor in Jerusalem (1 Cor 16:1-4); [b] of the Apostle’s forthcoming visit (1 Cor 16:5-9); [c] of the welcome that should be extended to Timothy and Apollo (1 Cor 16:10-12); [d] of the necessity of earnestness and love (1 Cor 16:13-14); [e] of the charity and gratitude the Corinthians ought to show towards their delegates Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus (1 Cor 16:15-18).  The Epistle closes with a greeting, a warning and a blessing (1 Cor 16:19-24).

Part 1: Father Callan's Introduction to First Corinthians (1. The city of Corinth; 2. foundation of the church there; 3. occasion and purpose of the letter; 4. date and place of writing))

1.  Corinth. The city to which the Corinthian letters were addressed, and which St Paul first visited and evangelized on his second missionary journey, was not the ancient metropolis by the same name.  The old city, which Cicero called the “light of all Greece” (PRo Lege Manil. 5), was destroyed by the Romans under the generalship of Lucius Mummius in 146 B.C., and lay in complete ruins for an entire century.  In 146 B.C. Julius Caesar laid on the anceint site the foundations of the new metropolis and called it Colonia Julia Corinthus.

In a comparatively short time the new city became nearly as populous and flourishing as the old one had been.  This was due to its remarkable location.  Lying at the southern extremity of the isthmus, about four miles in breadth, that connects the Peloponnesus or lower portion of the Grecian peninsula with the mainland, and fed by the two famous seaport towns, Lechaeum on the west and Cenchrae on the east of the isthmus, Corinth was bound to be, as it had been in the past, a commercial center of highest importance.  Its position was conspicuous on the highway of commerce between the Orient and the Occident, and it was not without reason that the great business thoroughfare of the then-known world passed this way; for all trading between the East and Rome took this route in order to avoid the perilous and more or less continual storms that swept the seas about the southern coast of Greece.  Although inferior to Athens as an intellectual center Corinth was very eminent in this respect also.  It was proud of its many schools of philosophy and rhetoric, as well as the excellence of its architecture.

As might be expected, Corinth was unrivaled in its wealth, in the variety of its population, and in its profligacy.  Being the capital of the Roman Province of Achaia it was the residence of the proconsul, and its political and civil influence was mainly Roman.  Asiatics were also there from Ephesus, and Jews in sufficient numbers to have their synagogues.  And yet, having been Greek in its origin, the city never lost the spirit and customs of its ancestors; its language, its literature and its laws remained Greek.

St Chrysostom pronounced Corinth “the most licentious city of all that are or ever have been.”  During the daytime its streets were packed with peddlers, sodliers and sailors; with foreign and domestic traders, boxers and wrestlers; with idlers, slaves, gamblers and the like.  At night the great metropolis was a scene of drunken revelry and of every kind of vice.  “To live like a Corinthian” was to lead a dissolute and lawless life.  Far from correcting or restraining the shameless immorality of its inhabitants the religion of Corinth only added to it.  Aphrodite Pandemos, the goddess of lust and sinful love, was the guardian deity of the city.  In her temple, professional prostitutes who gave lascivious dances at public festivals, and carnal intercourse with whom was looked upon as a religious consecration.  Little wonder that a city of such gross sensuality should have been filled with defrauders, fornicators, idolators, adulterers, effeminate, liars, thieves, covetous, drunkards, railers and extortioners (1 Cor 6:8-10).  St Paul, from his long residence there, had personal knowledge of conditions as they existed, and hence the vividness and force of the letters he addressed to the faithful of that wicked city.

The ancient site of Corinth possesses now only a miserable town of five churches and a few thousand inhabitants.  Aside from some Doric dolumns, still defying in their massive grandeur the wastes of time, no relic remains of the glories and powers that once were gathered there.  The site of the old city is no so desolate because, not only has it been repeatedly plundered since ancient days, but in the year 1858, after a destructive earthquake, it was largely abandoned, and a new city by the same name was built on the west of the isthmus on the Corinthian gulf.

2. The Foundation of the Church in Corinth. Leaving Athens on his second missionary journey St Paul came to Corinth, perhaps around the year 52.  He found lodging and means of support with Aquila and Priscilla (also called “Prisca”), a Jewish man and wife who with other Christians and Jews had recently been expelled from Rome by the edict of Claudius (Suetonius, Claud. XXV; Acts 18:2).  Like Paul himself this couple were tent-makers.  The Apostle worked at his trade in their home during the week, and every Sabbath they were hearers of his preaching in the synagogue, being converts and devote Christians.  Silas and Timothy arrived without delay from Macedonia (Acts 17:14); and, encouraged by their presence, St Paul redoubled his efforts in declaring to the Jews that Christ was the Messiah (Acts 18:5).  This preaching, however, was shortly resented in the synagogue, and the Apostle in disgust turned from the Jews saying, “Your blood be upon your own heads: I am clean; from henceforth I will go to the Gentiles” (Acts 18:6).  Departing from the synagogue he enetered into the near-by house of a pagan convert named Titus Justus.  With him went also Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, and all his family, besides Aquila and Priscilla.  Soon they were joined by such influential persons as Chloe, Stephanus, Gaius and Erastus, the treasurer of the city.  Many more, doubtless, especially from the poorer classes, formed a part of this group of the first faithful of Corinth.  St Paul remained there for eighteen months.  So successful was his preaching and so great was the progress of the new Christian community that the Jews, being enraged, stirred up a great persecution against the Apostle and forcefully brought him before the judgment-seat of the Roman proconsul Gallio, who was the brother of Seneca, the famous philosopher.  Being little concerned about their religious controversies and disputes Gallio dismissed the Jews almost with contempt.  St Paul then continued his work in Corinth for some time, until he was ready to return to the Orient.  Aquila and Priscilla accompanied him from Greece to Ephesus, where they remained, while he went up to Jerusalem.  From Ephesus Apollo, a new convert to Christianity, was sent to Corinth to continue Paul’s work there (Acts 18:26 ff.).  Later on the Apostle himself returned to Greece and certainly must have visited Corinth (Acts 20: 2-3), but on this occasion he was probably engaged chiefly in collecting alms for the poor of Jerusalem.  It seems very likely that he also paid a visit to the Corinthians during his long stay at Ephesus on his third misionary journey (2 Cor 12:14; 13:1).  Some, with Cornely, think that after his arraignment before Gallio St Paul made the journey to Illyricum, and upon his return to Corinth tarried the “many days” spoken of in Acts 18:18.

St Peter also perhaps preached in Corinth; at least he had many followers there (1 Cor 1:12; cf. Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. ii. 24).

While it is clear that the Church of Corinth included among its members some Jews, such as Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, Aquila and Priscilla and others, it is also certain that the majority of Christians there were of Gentile origin.  Many of these were Romans, as we gather from their Latin names (1 Cor 1:14, 16; 16:15, 17; Rom 16:21-23; Acts 18:8, 17), but a number were also of Greek descent.  Among the various converts soem were of noble birth, wealthy and learned; but by far the greater number were poor and unlettered (1 Cor 1:26).  Slaves also there were (1 Cor 7:21), and those who aforetime had been addicted to hateful crimes (1 Cor 6:9-11).  It was a mixed community of Jews and Gentiles, learned and ignorant, slave and free; but the majority were of pagan origin and belonged to the poorer classes.

St Paul wrote at least three letters to the Corinthians, the first of which (1 Cor 5:9) has not come down to us.  The other two give us a pretty thorough insight into the moral and religious condition of the Corinthian Church.

3. Occasion and Purpose of this Letter. After St Paul had left Ephesus on his way to Jerusalem at the close of his second missionary journey, an Alexandrian Jew of great eloquence by the name of Apollo came to Ephesus and began to teach “diligently the things that are of Jesus” (Acts 18:25).  But Aquila and Priscilla, seeing that Apollo was not well instructed in the faith, knowing only the baptism of John, “took him to them, and expounded to him the way of the Lord more diligently” (Acts 18:26).  When they had thus imparted sufficient instruction and had doubtless baptized him, they wrote to the faithful of Corinth, whither he desired to go, to receive him.  Arrived in Corinth, Apollo preached the Gospel with his usual power, convincing the Jews that Jesus was the Christ (Acts 18:27-28).  So extraordinary was his eloquence and his knowledge of the Scripture that he made a much more striking appeal to certain of the educated classes among the Corinthians, who loved philosophy and rhetoric, than St Paul, the founder of the Church, had made.  These pursuers of earthly wisdom and lovers of the Old Testament Scriptures soon began to institute odious comparisons between Paul and Apollo.  The latter, unlike the former, they said, was a man of eloquence (1 Cor 1:17; 2:4-5, 13), he was practiced in the rules and art of rhetoric (2 Cor 11:6), he had the physique and appearance of an orator (2 Cor 10:10).  As for St Paul, besides lacking all these qualities, his very Apostolate was questionable, since he had not been among the original disciples of Jesus (1 Cor 9:1), his authority was inferior to the twelve (1 Cor 9:5-6), and his doctrine different from theirs (Gal 2:7-13).

About the same time there came to Corinth Judaizers, perhaps from Antioch, who had heard St Peter preach, or had been converted by him, and who therefore, as belonging to the Prince of the Apostles, considered themselves superior to the Corinthians.  They regarded Paul and Apollo, with their respective followers, as of inferior rank in the Church, and accused them of believing and preaching doctrines offensive to the Jews which had not the approbation of St peter and the other primitive Apostles.  Those among the faithful of Corinth who were of Jewish origin were naturally influenced by these teachings of their fellow-countrymen, and it was only a short time when a Judaizing party was formed that declared Cephas to be their patron.  We need not suppose that St Peter preached at Corinth, as did Apollo; and yet it is indeed possible that, passing through there on his journeys east or west, he did so.

It would seem there was still another faction in Corinth whose adherents pretended to belong not to Paul, nor to Apollo, nor to Peter, but only to Christ (1 Cor 1:12).  On what the superior boast of these Christians was based it is difficult to say.  Had they seen Christ here on earth in the flesh, and received their call to the faith directly from Him?  Were they Judaizers who, in their love for the obedience to the Law of Moses, claimed to imitate our Lord more strictly than others?  Or had they some special gifts of the Spirit which put them in more intimate communication with the Savior?  These are some of the conjectures which scholars have made to determine the character of those who protested that they were of the party of Christ (cf. Jacquier, Hist. des Livres du N. T., tom I, p. 115; Fillion, h. 1.; Lemonnyer, h. 1.).  Nevertheless Cornely, Le Camus and others hold that there were only three factions at Corinth, and consequently that the words, “I of Christ” (1 Cor 1:12), do not represent a distinct faction, but rather those right-minded Christians who kept aloof from all divisions and dissensions.  This opinion is now considered more probable, especially in view of the fact that St Paul nowhere condemns a fourth party, but on the contrary (1 Cor 3:22-25), when speaking of the three factions mentioned above, declares that all the faithful belong to Christ.

With reference to the various factions at Corinth, it is to be observed that there was no essential difference between them, as seems clear from 1 Cor 4:6, and as commentators admit.  Moreover, the Apostle’s words in this Epistle show that the several groups there was not a question of Doctrine, but only of preference for the different teachers of one and the same faith.  It was the relation which exists between every disciple and his master.  In the second letter, however, we see the division between Pauline and Judaizing Christians later became so marked as to threaten a real schism (2 Cor 10-13).  Still, even in the beginning these minor disputes and dissensions could not escape producing a general relaxation of authority and discipline.  (a) In consequence a grave social scandal had taken place, and the Corinthians had passed over it without notice (5:1-2).  Their difference of opinion on various subjects had led to open quarrels, and these in turn to lawsuits, even before heathen tribunals (6: 1 ff.; 7:1 ff.; 8:1 ff).  They thus gave the impression to the outside world of mistrusting and hating, rather than of loving one another.  (b) At the public assemblies of the faithful women appeared with uncovered heads, and insisted on the right to speak and to teach (11:3 ff.).  (c) The celebration of the Eucharistic mysteries had become an occasion of disgraceful disorders and shameful conduct (11:17 ff.).  (d) The special endowments of the Holy Spirit, so plentifully distributed in those early times, were often abused and made a pretext for pride and uncharitableness towards those who had not been favored with them.  And even among those who possessed these divine gifts there was often manifested such a spirit of rivalry in exercising them that the Christian assembly frequently became an exhibition of fanatical frenzy and irreligious antagonism (12:1 ff.; 14:1 ff.).  (c) Besides these disorders there were other difficulties and disputes demanding solution, such as the resurrection of the dead, the condition of the risen body, ect. (15:1 ff.).

A knowledge of Corinthian conditions came to St. Paul during his three years' sojourn at Ephesus on his third missionary journey. Corinth and Ephesus were only some 250 miles apart, and the distance could be covered under ordinary conditions in less than a week. Travelers were constantly going from the one city
to the other, except perhaps in the winter time. Accordingly, from the household of a lady named Chloe (1 Cor 1:11) the Apostle learned of the divisions and dissensions among the Corinthians. Apollo, who visited him at Ephesus (1 Cor 16:12), as well as the three legates of the Corinthian Church who came to him there
(1 Cor 16:17) must have informed him very thoroughly regarding conditions among the faithful of Corinth. Moreover, the Apostle had written a letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 5:9) which has been lost to us, but which at the time caused a number of misunderstandings and provoked not a few questions relative to marriage and celibacy, the eating of meats offered to idols, ect. (1 Cor 7:1 ff.; 8:1 ff.), that were submitted to him in reply.  The purpose of this present letter was therefore (a) to denounce and correct the existing abuses among the Corinthians; (b) to answer the questions and difficulties that had been referred to St Paul by letter.

It may be asked if there were not local superiors, a Bishop and some priests in the Corinthian Church?  And if so, why they did not attend to the matters treated in this letter?  In reply we may say first that St Paul had doubtless provided local superiors for Corinth, just as years before he had appointed “presbyters” in all the Churches he had founded in Asia Minor (Acts 14:22; 20:17; Phil 1:1; 1 Thess 5:12; Tit 1:5).  As to the other question we must remember that the local superiors at Corinth, like the Church itself, were very young and inexperienced and perhaps found it difficult to deal with so many and such grave matters as were demanding solution.  They felt the need of appealing to the infallible authority of the Apostle, and in all probability it was these local superiors themselves who replied to the lost Corinthian letter of St Paul (1 Cor 5:9), and who, consequently, were the immediate occasion and the first recipients of this present Epistle.  This letter was sent to the Church through the local superiors at Corinth, and hence the existence and authority of those superiors is not mentioned, but taken for granted.

4. Date and Place of Writing. From 1 Cor 16:8 it is clear that this letter was written at Ephesus; and from 1 Cor 16:5, where there is a question of a proximate visit to Macedonia, it is also clear that it was written toward the end of the Apostle’s sojourn in Ephesus on his third missionary journey, very probably in the spring of the year 57; for it was about this time that Timothy and Erastus were sent to Macedonia (Acts 19:22), just shortly before the tumult stirred up by Demetrius (Acts 19:23 ff.), following which St Paul left Asia.  That the Epistle was written around Paschal time also seems very probable from the allusions in it to the Pasch, to unleavened bread (5:6-7; 15:20, 23; 16:15), and to the Resurrection of Christ (15:4, 12).  Cornely thinks it was written in 58.  The exact time depends on the date assigned to the close of St Paul’s stay in Ephesus on his third missionary journey, and since this cannot be fixed with entire certainty and precision, the date given for the writing of the Epistle can be only approximate.

The Epistle was probably carried to Corinth by the delegates who had come from there to Ephesus, namely Stephanus, Fortanatus and Achaicus.  This is according to the note attached to the end of the letter in the Received Text.  That Timothy could not have delivered the letter to the Corinthians, as some have said, seems evident from the fact that he had departed for Macedonia before it was completed.

Father Callan's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

The First Part Of The Body Of The Letter
Overview of 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 Cor 1:10-12); then comes a stern condemnation of the existing factions (1 Cor 1:13-3:17); following upon this he gives certain practical results and a concluding exhortation (1 Cor 3:18-4:21, before taking up the evil consequences among the Christians of the relaxed state of their discipline (1 Cor 5:1-62).

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.

1 Cor 1:10. Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you; but that you be perfect in the same mind, and in the same judgment.

The Apostle exhorts the Corinthians, by the name of Christ which they invoke in common, first to external unity, that they all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among them. "Schism" means literally a fissure or rent; metaphorically, a division, a dissension. In theology it means a complete separation from the authority of the Church. Here it is taken in the sense of dissension.

But external unity is not sufficient; neither will it continue without internal unity.  Hence the Apostle requires that they be perfect in mind, i.e., that they profess the same principles, and that they draw the same conclusions, whether theoretical or practical, from their common principles.  In other words, St Paul wishes the faithful of Corinth to be one in thought and in word when there is a question of Christian doctrine,-a teaching somewhat opposed to the principles of Protestantism.

1 Cor 1:11. For it hath been signified unto me, my brethren, of you, by them that are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

The reason for the preceding exhortation to unity is now indicated.  The Apostle has learned through reliable witnesses that there are dissensions at Corinth. 

Signified unto me, i.e., made clear (εδηλωΘη) by certain information. 

My brethren, a conciliating term, so that they will accept in good part his reproof. 

By them that are of the house of Chloe. This Chloe was probably a pious woman who had lived at Corinth and was well known to the Corinthians, but who now had either moved to Ephesus, or had sent to St Paul at Ephesus one of her children or domestics for the purpose of informing him of the conditions among the Corinthians Christians.

1 Cor 1:12. Now this I say, that every one of you saith: I indeed am of Paul; and I am of Apollo; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

What the divisions at Corinth were this verse makes plain.  Every one of you, etc.  This must not be taken too literally; not every Christian at Corinth was involved in dissension (MacEvilly, Bisping), otherwise the preceding commendatory words in the Introduction to this Epistle would be false.  Many of them, however, must have belonged to one or the other of the factions mentioned. 

I am of Paul.  The divisions among the Corinthians consisted in adhering to one rather than another of the preachers who had announced the Gospel to them.  As St Paul was the founder of the Church (Acts 18:1 ff), all the faithful at first clung to him as their father.  But when he had left Corinth and had gone to Asia, Apollo, sent by Aquila and Priscilla, came to take his place.  Being remarkable for his eloquence, his allegorical interpretation of the Scriptures, and his physical bearing, Apollo soon so won the admiration of many of the Corinthians that they began to make unfavorable comparisons between him and St Paul, turning away from the latter and adhering to the former as their patron and leader.  There was a group, however, that remained steadfast to the Apostle and proclaimed him as their head.  Thus some were boasting that they were “of Paul,” and others that they were “of Apollo.”

Of Cephas.  Those who claimed St Peter as their leader were doubtless Judaizers, as would appear from their use of the Apostle’s Aramaic name, Cephas.  The organizers of this faction had likely come to Corinth from Palestine, where they had heard St Peter preach, and perhaps had been received into the Church by him.  Cf. Introduction, 3.

Of Christ. It is more probable that this was not a dissenting group like the others, but that it either represented those Christians who refrained from all dissension and division, or that the phrase was added by St Paul himself in opposition to the three parties he was condemning (Cornely, h. 1).  Cf. Introd., 3.

It is the common teaching that the parties here mentioned and condemned by St Paul were not guilty of any erroneous doctrines or formal differences in faith.  Their disagreement regarded rather the personality of their respective patrons than any real differences in teaching; and yet these divisions were injurious to unity and could easily lead in a short time to very serious consequences.   


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.

1 Cor 1:13  Is Christ divided?  Was Paul then crucified for you?  Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

The contending parties are rebuked. 

Is Christ divided? Christ founded on Church, of which He is the sole head.  As the head is one, so the body should be one.  But if there are in the body of the Church, among its members, different groups, disagreeing one with another, it is clear that the body is divided, and consequently also the head.  Christ would then be divided against Himself.  Such a condition would be, not only absurd, but destructive of all unity in the Church. 

Was Paul crucified for you? Since the faithful have been redeemed by Christ alone, who died for them on the cross, and since, through Baptism, they have been consecrated to Him (Rom 6:3), becoming members of a mystical body of which He is the head, it follows that they owe allegiance only to Him, and not to Paul or any other earthly leader. 

Were you baptized in the name of Paul? Literally, “Were you baptized into the name of Paul,” so as to become his followers?

1 Cor 1:14  I give God thanks, that I baptized none of you but Crispus and Caius.

Some of the Christians who were less instructed might have thought that they were in a sense bound to and dependent upon the one who had baptized them.  But the Apostle shows that is not so; and he thanks God that, while he was the founder of the Corinthian Church, he gave no occasion for any of their divisions arising from such a misunderstanding, for he did not baptize any of them, except two. 

Crispus was a Jew who had been the ruler of the synagogue in Corinth at the time of St Paul’s first visit (Acts 18:8), and Caius, or Gaius, was the Apostle’s host during his third visit, when he wrote the Epistle to the Romans (Acts 20:2-3; Rom 16:23).

1 Cor 1:15  lest any should say that you were baptized in my name.

Baptized in my name, i.e., into (unto) my name (εις το εμον ονομα), so as to become my followers.  A better reading has: “Lest any should say that I baptized into (unto) my name.”

1 Cor 1:16  And I baptized also the household of Stephanus; besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.

The Apostle remembers a few whom he baptized, namely, the family and domestics of Stephanus.  Later on (16:15-17) St Paul speaks of Stephanus as among the first converts of Achaia, and as one of the legates who came from Corinth to Ephesus before this letter was written. 

I know not, etc.  This shows what little importance St Paul attached to the fact of his having baptized anyone, so far as making followers was concerned.

1 Cor 1:17a  For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel….

The reason why St Paul did not baptize many, or why he paid so little attention to the number on whom he conferred the Sacrament of Baptism, was that baptizing did not strictly pertain to his mission; he was sent principally to preach the gospel.  This does not mean that the command given to the twelve (Matt 28:19) was not also for him, since he was a true Apostle, but only that his chief work, like that of the other Apostles, was to preach.  Baptizing, for the most part, they all left to their assistants, after the example of Christ Himself (John 4:2) and that of St Peter after he had instructed Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:48).

Father Callan's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:1-9


Summary of  1 Corinthians 1:1-9~In his own name and in that of Sosthenes St Paul, while asserting his Apostolic authority, greets the faithful of Corinth and of all Achaia with the wish that they may enjoy all heavenly grace and peace.  He gives thanks to God for the many divine favors conferred upon them, and expresses the hope that, through the goodness of the Eternal Father and their union with Christ, these blessings may abide with them throughout life.

1 Cor 1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, and Sosthenes a brother.

Paul, called to be an apostle, etc. See on Romans 1:1.  Although St Paul was called immediately by Christ to be an Apostle (Acts 11:3 ff; 20:7 ff; 26:13 ff), the reference here is perhaps not so much to the manner as to the fact of his divine vocation.

Jesus Christ.  There is about equal authority in the MSS. for the reading, “Christ Jesus.”

By the will of God, i.e., not by his own, or by any other human choice did St Paul become an Apostle, but only by the call of God.  He was therefore not free to refuse the Apostolate.  See on Gal 1:15-16.

Sosthenes a brother. Literally, the brother, i.e., a fellow-Christian.  All we know of this person is that he must have been an intimate associate of St Paul’s and well known to the Corinthians.  Le Camus and others identify him with the ruler of the synagogue spoken of in Acts 18:17, who, by this time, had become a fervent Christian and follower of St Paul.  Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. 1. 12) says he was one of the seventy-two disciples of out Lord (see Luke 10:1-12).

Sosthenes was not a joint-composer of this letter (Findlay), but a witness of it.  Some think he was the Apostle’s secretary, who wrote it down; but it is not St Paul’s custom to mention the name of his secretary (cf. Rom 16:22).

1 Cor 1:2 To the church of God that is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that invoke the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, in every place theirs and ours.

Church.  See on Gal 1:2.  Of God. This is added by St Paul to show both the divine origin and the unity of the true Church; “the name of the Church is not one of separation, but of unity and concord” (St John Chrysostom).

To them that are sanctified, i.e., to those who, through Baptism, have been cleansed from sin and consecrated in Christ Jesus to God.  The words  in Christ Jesus indicate the meritorious cause of our sanctification.  The use of the perfect participle, ηγιασμενοις, have been sanctified, shows that the holy state of the regenerated is supposed to continue.

Called to be saints.  Literally, “called saints,” i.e., saints through their call.  The Corinthians, like all Christians, are called to sanctify; and this call is due, not to themselves or their own merits, but solely to the gratuitous grace of God.  We are not to infer from the phrase here that the faithful of Corinth were called directly and immediately by God; their vocation was through the preaching and labors of St Paul and his co-workers.

With all that invoke, etc. These words are not addressed to all the Churches of the whole world.  They may be connected with the beginning of the verse; or, less probably, with the phrase “called to be saints.”  In the first case the meaning is that the Apostle salutes not only the Corinthians, but all the faithful of the Roman Province of Achaia.  In this interpretation the following words of the verse, in every place, etc., refer to all the places that have Corinth for their capital, and that have been evangelized by Paul and his companions.

If we connect the above passage with “called to be saints,” the sense is that the Apostle salutes only the faithful of Corinth, whose call to sanctity is the same as that of all who invoke the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place.  According to this interpretation the final words, of theirs and ours, are connected with name of our Lord, etc., and mean, “of their Lord and ours.”

1 Cor 1:3 Grace to you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

See on Rom. 1:7.  Cf. 1 Thess 1:1, 3:11, where the Father and the Son stand together as subjects of a verb in the singular, showing the perfect unity of their nature.

1 Cor 1:4 I give thanks to my God always for you, for the grace of God that is given you in Christ Jesus,

See on Rom 1:8.  The Apostle here speaks in the singular, in his own name, as sole author of this Epistle.  He thanks God for the graces given to the Corinthians at the time of their conversion, without saying whether that happy condition has persisted.

Always, i.e., as often as he prayed he actually thanked God for them.

In Christ Jesus, i.e., through Christ, as the medium of their graces, or as united to Christ.

1 Cor1:5 that in all things you are made rich in him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

That in all things, etc.  Better, “Because in all things (εν  παντι, in a distributive sense) you have been,” etc., i.e., in all things conducive to salvation.  Two of the graces received by the Corinthians at their Baptism are now mentioned.

In all utterance, and in all knowledge, i.e., in the Gospel truths that had been preached to them, and in their understanding of those truths (St Thomas, Cornely, etc).  Since knowledge is prior to expression, “utterance” does not seem the proper word for λογω here; neither is the reference to the gift of tongues, but rather, as we have said, to the teaching the Corinthians had heard preached by St Paul and his companions.

knowledge means such an understanding of the doctrine they had received as would enable them to explain it and give their reasons for holding it (St Thomas).  The Corinthian Church as a body had heard and understood all the teachings that were necessary for salvation.

1 Cor 1:6 as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you,

The abundance of doctrine and understanding which the Corinthians enjoyed is explained by the way in which the Gospel was preached among them; for the testimony of Christ, i.e., the preaching of the Apostles (Acts 1:8; 26:16; 2 Tim 1:8) was confirmed, i.e., was firmly established by means both of the external miracles which the Corinthians witnessed, and of the internal gifts and graces that they experienced.

1 Cor 1:7. So that nothing is wanting to you in any grace, waiting for the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The greatness of the divine gifts enjoyed by the faithful of Corinth is seen in this, that nothing is wanting to you, etc., i.e., they are not inferior in grace to any other Churches or any other Christians.  That the term χαρισματι (translated above as “grace”) here does not mean only gratiae gratis datae (1 Cor 12), but also gratia sanctificans is evident from the fact that it enabled the soul to look forward with faith and confidence to the manifestation, i.e., to the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ as judge.

Here again the Apostle is speaking of the Corinthians as a body.  We shall see later (1 Cor 3:1 ff) that there were among them some who were far from perfect.

1 Cor 3:1:8. Who also will confirm you unto the end without crime, in the day of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

After thanking God for the gifts already conferred on the Corinthians the Apostle proceeds to give thanks for those benefits which he trusts the heavenly Father is yet to grant them; or, according to others, he passes from an act of thanksgiving for gifts received to an act of petition for new benefits (cf. Cornely, h. 1).  God who has given the first blessings (verse 4) will also confirm you, etc., i.e., He will continue to keep you firm in faith and in the practice of Christian virtue.  Who, therefore, refers more probably to God (verse 4) than to Jesus Christ of verse 7, otherwise the rest of this verse should read: “in the day of his coming” (Estius).

Unto the end, i.e., to the end of your life, or to the end of the world, so that you may be found without crime, i.e., free from sin, when Christ comes to judge you.  In the Last Judgment the just will be free from all sin, venial as well as mortal.

Of the coming (Vulgate, adventus) is not represented in the Greek.

1 Cor 1:9. God is faithful : by whom you are called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

The fidelity of God is the ground of the Apostle’s confidence and hope.  He who began the good work of calling the Corinthians to the faith will also by His gace continue to help them to complete their salvation and to arrive at the judgment free from offence.  He will give them the helps necessary to work out their salvation, and to perfect their adoption through grace as His sons and as brothers of Christ.

By whom you are called, etc.  Better, “Through whom you have been called,” etc.

Fellowship of Christ is the natural consequence of the Christian’s adoption, through grace, as the son of God (Gal 4:5-6).

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Father de Piconio's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1-6

Text in red are my additions. 


Fr. de Piconio: Chapter 4. In this chapter the Apostle severely censures the conceited and presumptuous teachers who had undertaken the instruction of the Christians of Corinth, and threatens them with the Divine displeasure.

Fr. Callan: Thinking themselves capable of judging their spiritual teachers the Corinthians had made distinctions between them, preferring one to another and glorying in their choice.  after having shown that their glorying was human and vain, the Apostle points out the true norm by which the preachers of the Gospel are to be judged, but at the same time he warns that only the Omniscient God is able to make use of that norm.  The faithful, therefore, must refrain from judging their teachers, not putting one above another, but leaving all things for the final manifestation at the Last Judgment.

Notice that two different positions are being outlined above. Fr. de Piconio is of the opinion that the problem of coteries in Corinth is the result of teachers; Fr. Callan lays the blame upon the adherents of the various coteries rather than the teachers. My own opinion is that both are at fault. Most modern commentators would reject de Piconio's view, and, as a consequence, mine. The reason for the rejection is the fact that on the basis of 1 Cor 1:12 (cf. 1 Cor 3:5) the teachers in question are widely taken to be St. Paul, St. Peter, and St Apollo. In my opinion they are being used figuratively (see below on verse 6).

1 Cor 4:1. Thus let man esteem us, as ministers of Christ, and dispensers of the mysteries of God.

Do not glory in men (1 Cor 3:21), but when you pay us honour, honour us only as the ministers of Christ, not for any eloquence or attainments of our own. Let man esteem us, is a Hebraism: Let everyone so esteem us. As ministers serving: and representing Christ : as dispensers, in the Greek stewards, of his mysteries, the doctrine of the Gospel, and the sacraments of the Church. The admonition is addressed to both sides. Prelates to remember that they are Christ’s servants; the faithful, not to glorify them for their personal merits, but not despise them, for the honour of him whose ministry they bear.

1 Cor 4:2. Now here it is required among dispensers, that one be found faithful.

Now here. The Greek has, for the rest. The Syriac version reads as the Vulgate. What is required of a steward is not eloquent language, rhetoric, or philosophy; but fidelity. This is certainly his principal recommendation. How do your teachers stand this test? Are they faithful to the ministry they exercise?

1 Cor 4:3. But to me it is of very little moment to be judged by you, or by a human day: but neither do I judge myself.

It is of very little moment to be judged by you. For the Corinthians were always discussing their teachers, and comparing them. They ridiculed men who were good and holy, for their simplicity; but they thought a great deal of others, who were evil and full of faults, on account of their power of speaking. Saint Chrysostom. To me, your judgment is a matter I cannot seriously regard; compared with God’s, it is nothing, a very little thing. Or by a human day. A trial before an earthly tribunal, from the day fixed for the hearing.

Jer 17:6. The day of man I have not desired. I have had no solicitude about earthly judgment and human opinion. I do not even judge myself, for I am often ignorant from what end I act, with what motive, with what degree of knowledge. I am not indeed conscious of having neglected the ministry entrusted to me. I am conscious of nothing to myself; but it does not follow from this that I am free from fault in the sight of God. Who understands his faults? Ps 18:13. He finds error in his angels, Job 4:18. Of the greater part of our offences against God we are absolutely ignorant. St. Basil, in const, monach. 1. It is God who will judge me; and he knows not only what I do, but all my thoughts, intentions, objects, and motives, of which I am very imperfectly cognizant myself, and of which others know nothing.

1 Cor 4:5. Therefore do not judge before the time, until the Lord come: who both will illuminate what is hidden in darkness, and manifest the counsels of hearts: and then shall be praise to everyone from God.

Therefore do not judge before the time. Suspend your judgment upon your teachers, until you learn what the judj:3fment of God will be at the last day. Until the Lord comes. Wait for the arrival of Christ, the Judge of all. He will throw the full light of day upon all the actions of men, whether good or evil; and bring into that light not actions only, but the counsels of hearts, the will, latent in the heart, the design and intention with which all was done. Then shall it appear what degree of praise is really due to each of us, whose merits you so eagerly and busily compare. That praise will be real and true, as coming from him who searches the hearts of all men. That which comes from man is vain and worthless.

1 Cor 4:6. And these things, brethren, I have transfigured to myself and Apollo, on your account: that you may learn in us not to be inflated against one another for another above what is written.

I have transfigured. The Greek, I have changed the appearance or figure of. In all these remarks, which I have made ostensibly and nominally in reference to myself and Apollo, I have not in reality intended to allude so much to myself and Apollo, who are thoroughly in harmony, the only difference between us being in our mode of instruction, according to individual difference of mental habit, or variety of circumstances. I intended in reality to designate under our names, several other teachers whom I do not name, who have established themselves as heads of rival parties, and the contentions among whose followers divide and trouble the Church of Corinth. And this on your account. 

That you may learn in us, the Greek has, not to be wise above what is written. The Syriac, not to think of yourselves above what is written, and this is followed by the Arabic version, Saint Chrysostom, Theodoret, and Theophylact. This would mean that the teachers are not to arrogate to themselves more than I have accorded them in the words I have written above: nor you, their hearers, engage in party rivalry. The Vulgate omits to be wise, and reads as in the text; the meaning of which is that their followers were not to exalt their several leaders in opposition to one another in rivalry or contrast: championing against one another the cause of some favoured teacher. This, in the Greek, follows as an additional reason.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Sirach 15:15-20 and the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Yeshua Ben Sirach Teaching Wisdom
Image source and info

Sirach 15:15-20 In It's Liturgical Context:

The passage is used on the Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A. As is ususal with the Sunday readings the response verse helps establish the major theme: "Happy are they who follow the way of the Lord." The thematic significance of the three readings and the responsorial may be summarized as follows: "In Jesus is revealed a new wisdom (1 Cor 2:6-10), a new law, a new way of living (Matt 5:17-30). Happy are they who choose to keep His commandments (Sir 15:15-20) and follow His ways (Ps 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34)"  [Rev. Peter D. Rocca, C.S.C. ORDO: Order of Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours and Celebration of the Eucharist. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press Ordo].

The Broader Context of Sirach 15:15-20:

The context for the reading is Sir 14:20-16:21 which can be divided into three parts.

Sirach 14:20-15:10 is concerned with the pursuit of wisdom and the blessings that accrue to those do so. The end of this section emphasizes that God withholds wisdom from sinners (15:7-9).  Searching for wisdom and sinning both involve free will, so Sirach begins to focus on this in part 2 (Sir 15:11-20). This section begins by rejecting the idea that God causes sin and then turns to emphasize man's God given power to choose between good and evil. To claim that God causes someone to sin is not only a rejection of free will, it also would rob God of any basis for punishing evil acts, and so Sirach proceeds to speak about God's punishment of those who do evil in Sir 16:1-21.  

Notes on Sirach 15:15-20:

Sir 15:15.  If you will, you can keep the commandments, and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice (RSVCE).

These (commandments) would never be imposed, if man were not free.  (Calmet).  The idea here and in what follows is similar to that of Deuteronomy 30:15-20~ “See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil.  If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you this day, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to take possession of it.  But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you this day, that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land which you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess.  I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; for that means life to you and length of days, that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” (RSVCE).

Part of one's will to keep the commandments involves prayer, hence the importance of the verses selected for the responsorial psalm (see especially  Ps 119:5, 17-18, 33-34, 37)

Sir 15:16. He has placed before you fire and water: stretch out your hand for whichever you wish.

A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture: As further helps God added sanctions to his moral law, rewards for observing it, punishments for breaking it. ‘Water and fire are set before thee, stretch forth thy hand to which thou wilt.’ Water and fire are figures of reward and punishment. Possibly Deut 28-30 was in mind. Cf. Deut 28:11, 12, 21, 24.

Sir 15:17.  Before a man are life and death, and whichever he chooses will be given to him.

See Deut 30:1, 14-15; Jer 21:8. Choosing life takes sacrifice as part of today's reading teaches (Mt 5:29-30).

Sir 15:18 For great is the wisdom of the Lord; he is mighty in power and sees everything;
Sir 15:19 his eyes are on those who fear him, and he knows every deed of man

See Ps 33:18; Prov 5:21; 15:13; Jer 16:17; Heb 4:13.

God's knowledge of all that a person does is the basis for His ability to judge and thus a motivation for keeping His ways (see today's gospel, especially Mt 5:19-22, 27-30).

Sir 15:20 He has not commanded any one to be ungodly, and he has not given any one permission to sin

This repudiates the sinners attempted indictment of God in Sir 15:11-13.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

My Notes on Amos 6

Am 6:1 Woe to those who dwell in ease at Zion, and to the ones who think themselves secure on the mountain of Samaria, leaders of the first of th nations to whom the people of Israel come!
Am 6:2 Go over to Calneh and see, pass on from there to Hamath the great, and from there go down to Gath of the Philistines! Are you superior to these kingdoms? Are your borders greater than their borders?
Am 6:3 You would put far from you the evil day, yet you bring on quickly the reign of violence. (My Translation)

This is the beginning of the third woe oracle (see Am 5:1, 7) and is directed to the leaders of the people. Here the oracle is directed not only to the leaders of Israel but to the leaders of Judah as well. At this time Judah was in vassalage to the Israel which is described somewhat sarcastically as the first of nations, and it appears that the primary focus of the oracle is Israel. The fact is that both Judah and Israel were small, neither being much bigger than the nations and peoples they had subjugated. Their presumed military might seems silly in the face of rising Assyrian power but the leaders were unconcerned, trusting in their armies. In their carelessness and unconcern for the growing threat of Assyria they have, put far from themselves the evil day, yet their slovenly luxury will be their downfall for it brings on quickly the reign of violence.

Am 6:4 Woe to you who recline on beds of ivory and stretch out in comfort upon couches to dine upon lambs from the flock and calves from the stall
Am 6:5 as you compose songs to the tune of a harp and, like David, improvise the accompaniment;
Am 6:6 all the while drinking wine from bowls and anointing yourselves with fine oil, not at all sickened by the demise of Joseph!
Am 6:7 For this reason, you will be the first to go into exile, your unseemly celebrations shall come to an end. (My Translation)

The prophet now shows us how the people have put far from themselves the evil day (vs 3). It would appear that they were engaging in escapism through luxury, giving no thought, paying no heed to the moral decay in their own lives and in their nation. Food, finery, and freedom from manual labor would be their undoing. The reference to beds of ivory reminds us of what was said about the destruction of the houses of ivory in  Am 3:15. The reference to couches is a reminder of what was said in Am 3:12: "Thus says the Lord: As a shepherd grabs from the lion’s mouth two legs, or a portion of an ear, so shall the sons of Israel be saved with a corner of a couch, or a portion of a bed" (my translation).

The attitude of these people reminds one of our Lord's description of the people in Noah's day as the flood approached (see Matt 24: 37-39).

Am 6:8 The Lord God has sworn by his own self, 'I the Lord, the God of hosts say, the arrogance of Jacob I loathe, his strongholds I detest, and his city I shall deliver up with all that it contains.
Am 6:9 If ten men remain in a single house, then surely these shall die too.
Am 6:10 A handful will remain to dispose of the dead that are in the houses, and if one these should say to a survivor in a house "is anyone in there with you?" he shall respond "not one;" and he shall say "Quiet! The name of the Lord we must not speak." (My translation)

Once again the prophet returns to the theme of the military invasion and defeat of Israel (see Am 2:13-16; and Am 3:11-15). Israel, under Jeroboam the second had grown strong militarily and had expanded its borders, but without God it would be no match for the might of the Assyrian empire, the nu-named but obvious threat the prophet has in mind. Once again we see that the devastation will be immense.

A relative fulfilling his familial obligations is portrayed as calling into a house for possible survivors and finds that only one is alive. The command not to speak the Lord's name is probably connected to the fact that contact with the dead constituted ritual impurity.

Am 6:11 Because the Lord commands it, the great house shall be struck into fragments, and the small house into rubble
Am 6:12 Do horses run across the rocky heights? Does a man furrow the sea with his oxen? Yet you have turned justice into something toxic. You have made the fruit of righteousness sour.

Verse 8 attributed the judgement described in verses 9 and 10 to the arrogance of Jacob. Verses 11 reiterates that such judgement is commanded by the Lord, and verse 12 attributes the judgement to the perversion of righteousness, surely a sign of the arrogance of Jacob. Just as it is unthinkable that horses would run across rocky heights, or that a man would furrow the sea with oxen, so too is the perversion of justice unthinkable, but the people have done it.

Am 6:13 Yet you glorify yourselves over Lodebar, saying, 'did we not, by virtue of our own strength, take to ourselves Karnaim?'
Am 6:14 Look out! I will raise against you a people, O house of Israel, says the the Lord, the God of hosts, and they will oppress you from the opening of Hamath to the brook of Arabah. (My translation) 

Lodebar and karnaim were two Ammonite cities. The name of the first means "nothing," and that of the second means "two horns," a symbol of strength. In other words, the people are glorifying themselves with the taking of "nothing." They are celebrating their strength by the taking of "two horns." Horns were not only a symbol of strength, they were also found on altars. If one whose life was in danger could seize these horns he would be safe (see 1 Kings 2:28). The people trust that their own strength, by which they took Karnaim (two horns) will be their protection and salvation, but such is not the case. the opening of Hamath and the brook of Arabah defined the borders of the kingdom. The entire nation will be afflicted.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Father de Piconio's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:11-23

1 Cor 3:11 For other foundation can no one lay, beside that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus. 

Other foundation can no one lay.  He has just said (verse 10) he laid the foundation, and his metaphor might be misunderstood, as if he meant himself.  Christ is the foundation of foundations, like a rock, St Thomas says.  The Apostles are a foundation in a secondary sense (Eph 2:20).

1Co 3:12  Now, if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble:
1Co 3:13  Every man’s work shall be manifest. For the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire. And the fire shall try every man’s work, of what sort it is. 

The Apostle is still speaking of Christian teachers, as in verse 10.  He doesn’t not refer to heretical teachers, who destroy God’s temple, and will be condemned in verse 17; but who teach true doctrine, and build upon the true foundation.  Gold, silver, precious stones, things rare, incorruptible, and valuable, signify doctrine solid, pure, lucid, derived from Holy Scripture, or the principles of the faith, or the mysteries of the Church.  Wood, hay, stubble, things worthless and easily consumed, signify doctrine in itself good, or else it would be destroy instead of edifying, but valueless, curious, pompous, or fantastic, drawn from secular philosophy and learning, which may win applause, but cannot help to save souls.

13.  The day of the Lord shall declare it. This life is our day, says St Anselm and St Thomas, in which we do our own will, even when it is against the will of God.  The last day will be the day of the Lord, when he will do his will, and men, by justice, will either be rewarded or condemned. 

It shall be revealed in fire. “Fire will go before Him” (Ps 94:3).  the fire that will consume the world, the minister of divine justice, will go before the Judge, and the works of each will not only be made manifest, but tried and proved.  St Paul was under the belief that the day of judgment would come in the lifetime of many then living, and this may help to explain the present allusion to it.  That fire will prove the just, but leave them harmless and free from pain.  See Dan 3:92.  Those who are good and faithful, but imperfect by venial sin, it will purge by suffering.  The evil it will torment in hell for ever.  It is this fire to which the Apostle here alludes, in the opinion of Cornelius a Lapide, who examines the question at some length.  The Latin Fathers, in the Florentine Council, understood the purgatorial fire, which tries the souls of the just after death.  but they are, in the opinion of Cornelius, one and the same; and on the cessation of purgatory, at the end of the world, the same fire will try the just of the generation still existing.  there is a moral application of these two verses, distinct from their literal meaning, for which, see the Corollary of Piety below.

1 Cor 3:14  If the work of any shall remain, which he has built, he shall receive a reward.
1 Cor 3:15  If the work of any shall be burnt, he shall suffer loss; but himself shall be saved; yet as by fire.
1 Cor 3:16  Know you not that you are the temple of god, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
1 cor 3:17  And if any shall have violated the temple of god, God shall destroy him.  for the temple of God is holy, which is you

The workman whose work, built of solid materials, on the Foundation, shall stand the fire, shall be reputed a good worker, and receive his reward from the Supreme Architect; if his work of worthless hay or stubble, is consumed in the flames, he must bear its loss, but he shall save his soul, like one escaping from a burning house.  He has not yet spoken of heretical teachers, who destroy the work of God, and ruin his edifice.  You, Corinthians, are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in you by faith, hope, charity: as the Ark of the Covenant dwelt in the tabernacle in the desert, and in the temple of Solomon.  god ruins and destroys the violators of his temple, as Athalia, who profaned the temple (2 Kings 24:6-7), Baltasar, who applied the sacred vessels to common use (Dan 5:3).  But if God thus overthrew the profaners of his material temple, much more will he destroy those who violate his spiritual Temple, which is you, by false doctrine which leads you away from the Apostolic communion.

1 Cor 3:18  Let no one deceive himself; if anyone among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
1 Cor 3:19  For the wisdom of this world is folly with God.  For it is written: I will take the wise in their craft.
1 Cor 3:20  And again: the Lord know the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.
1 Cor 3:21  Let no one therefore glory in men.
1 Cor 3:22  For all things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollo, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or to come: for all are yours:
1 Cor 3:23  And you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.

18-20 It is evident that the instructors of the Corinthian Christians, against whom this rather severe admonition is levelled, must have assumed a great deal on the score of their rhetorical skill and familiarity with the intricacies of Grecian philosophy: so much so that there was ground of apprehension of their relapsing into actual heresy, or of suspicion that they were inclined to it.  The wisdom of the world is in God’s sight no better than folly: its wild conjectures and groundless theories must seem to him infinitely contemptible and absurd, since he knows all things.  It is written: see Job 5:13, Psalm 93:11.

21-23 Let none of you, therefore, boast or glory in the teacher you follow.  All are yours, at your disposal, for your salvation; Paul, Peter, Apollo, all Christian teachers are sent for your instruction and edification.  The world, and all contained in it, is for your use, temporal and eternal.  Life is yours, to prepare for eternity; death is the penance of your sins, and the entrance to immortality; in the present, you have God’s grace, in the future the hope of glory.  All good things, of nature, of grace, of glory, are yours: the world exists for the sake of God’s chosen ones.  You belong to Christ, who has purchased you at the price of his blood.  Christ is God’s son in his Divine nature, God’s servant in his humanity.  Glory, therefore, not in man, but in Christ, the source of all grace,  in God, the giver of all good. 

Corollary of Piety 

Every human soul in whom Christ dwells by faith, is God’s building.   God is its Architect: His fellow-workers are Apostles, Bishops, Priests.  The foundation is the faith of Jesus Christ: but man’s will is the workman who builds upon the foundation.  What will he build?  Gold, silver, precious stones; works of charity, penance, prayer, for himself and others, for the Church of God and for the holy souls in suffering; chastity: the ascetic perfection of the spiritual life.  There are things which shall stand the fire of the last day; fitting adornment and decoration for the temple whose inhabitant is the Spirit of God.  Wood, hay, stubble: earthly riches, influence, power, popularity, fame, fine houses, costly dresses, spectacles and amusements, races, balls, the trailing on the fringe of regal splendor: classic literature, pagan philosophy, reading and knowledge applied and applicable to no good and holy purpose, nor tending to the glory of God and the advancement of his faith; mere amusement to kill time and occupy the mind; sordid luxury, rough and vulgar play, thoughtless ribaldry and idle talk.  How shall these things help the soul in her hour of trouble; how shall such a building stand the fire of God’s justice?  How can such things as these enter God’s eternal kingdom?  What can such a builder expect but at the best to save his soul by fire, the purgatorial fire of God’s justice?

At worst, let him not ruin the temple of God, the dwelling-place of God’s Spirit.  Whoever lays waste God’s temple, him shall God lay waste.  For his temple is you, and in your heart the glorious presence given you in Baptism still dwells, for your worship and adoration, not for your forgetfulness, neglect, or contempt.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Father de Piconio's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:1-10

In this chapter the Apostle insists on the unity of the Church of Christ, as the field which God cultivates, the temple he is building, and compared with this unity, the rivalry of particular teachers is insignificant and contemptible.
1 Cor 3:1  And I, Brethren, could not speak to you as spiritual, but as carnal.  As infants in Christ,

The first three verses belong properly to the last chapter, and explain why St Paul has insisted so much on the distinction between the spiritual and animal man.  To you, Corinthians, I would not speak as spiritual.  You were animal, and a degree worse: for this implies limitation of intellectual power; you were carnal, which implies also some fault of the will and affection.  You were like children in Christ, unable to digest the solid food of higher spiritual instruction.

1 Cor 3:2 I give you milk to drink, not food: for you were not yet able, neither now are you able: for you are still carnal.
1 Cor 3:3 For when there is among you zeal and contention; are you not carnal, and walk according to man? 

Milk to drink.  Suitable to those who could taken nothing more solid and substantial; and yet containing in itself the principle of nourishment, on which the body gradually grows in strength and advances towards its full development.  I gave you as much as you could receive.  I could not give you more, not that I was not capable of giving it, but because you were not capable of receiving it. 

Neither now are you able.  A sudden and effective blow.  You are no better than infants even now.  There is among you zeal and contention-the Greek text and the Syriac version add, and dissension.

As long as you are divided into parties, full of party spirit, zeal for party, which divides you, not zeal for God, which would unite you, and childish rivalries between the followers of different teachers, are you not guided and influenced less by the love of God than by human and carnal affections?  Zeal of party, or envy, produces contention, and contention leads to division or dissension.

1 Cor 3:4 For when one says: I indeed am of Paul; and another: I Apollo; are you not men?  What then is Apollo? and what is Paul?
1 Cor 3:5 Ministers of him in whom you have believed; and as God has given to each. 

Are you not men? Guided by mere human reason, influenced by merely human affection and preference, carnal, animal, imperfect, infants? 

What is Apollo? Compared with God, the great Teacher, the human instrument is nothing.  They are ministers of Him in whom you have believed (vs. 5).  The Greek text and the Syriac read: the ministers through whom you believed, whose external ministry God made use of to preach to you the word, through which faith was given you.  As God gave to each the ministry he exercised, the power to fulfill it, the success that attended it, and from Him all three proceed.  The teacher is the minister, not the Lord, the channel, not the fountain.  The fount of wisdom is the Word on high.

1 Cor 3:6  I planted, Apollo watered: but God gave the increase. 

I planted, Apollo watered.  I first, as God’s minister, an Apostle, by the will of God, planted the faith of Christ in your city.  Apollo, coming after me, watered the seed sown with richer and fuller supply of Christian doctrine.  But God gave the increase, for it was he that supplied to you the grace of faith.

1 Cor 3:7 Therefore neither who plants is anything, nor who waters: but he who gives the increase, God.

The planter and the waterer are alike nothing.  God is the author of the grace of life, and of the increase of that grace.  They are nothing in or of themselves; they have nothing to teach but what God has given them; they are not the authors of the grace of conversion, or of sanctification and the further increase of that grace by faith, hope, charity.

God is the real cultivator of his field, though He uses the agency of mortal men,  et nos colimus Deum, et Deus colit nos, says St Augustine.

1 Cor 3:8 And he who plants, and he who waters, are one,  And each shall receive his own reward according to his labor. 

He who plants, and he who waters, are one. In themselves they are nothing, and in so far as they are anything they are alike, merely ministers of him who gives the increase.  And if one excels another in labor or in merit, that does not concern you, for God will give to each his reward.  According to his labor.  Not according to his success, which is not in his power,  His labor, solicitude, prayer, are in his power, and these God will reward.

1 Cor 3:9 For we are God’s helpers: you are God’s agriculture, God’s building.
1 Cor 3:10 According to the grace of God, which is given to me, as a wise architect I laid the foundation: and another builds upon it.  But let each look how he builds upon it. 

We are God’s helpers.  we are one, or alike, because we all co-operate with God, who directs our labors.  In MarK 16:20 we are told that the Lord worked with the Apostles.  Here we are told that the Apostles worked with God.  Although compared with God, the Apostles and Apostolic men are nothing, yet compared with us, and in what should be our estimate of them, they are worthy of the highest honor and reverence.  For their office is nothing less that to do-operate with the Creator of the world in the task of bringing the rational soul back to its principle and origin, the conversion of the souls of men to God.  Saint Dionysius, quoted by Estius, and Cornelius a Lapide. 

You are God’s building.  St Paul here introduces another metaphor.  You, the Church of the Corinthians, are a temple reared by God.  I laid the foundation of this temple (vs. 10) as a skilled architect; but he adds, I did so, according to the grace of God, the great architect-in-chief, of whom I am only the instrument.  Apollo, and others, have built upon this foundation.  Let each look how.  There was at Corinth a redundancy of eloquent talkers, rather given to display of their own powers, to whom, and to their hearers, the Apostle here administers a necessary caution.  There is no reason to think these last words are intended to apply to Apollo.

Father de Piconio's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1-16

In this chapter the Apostle declares that the language he had used when at Corinth was simple and unpretending; but that the truths he taught were high and heavenly, taught neither by men nor angels, but by the Spirit of God.

1 Cor 2:1  And I, when I came to you, brethren, came not in sublimity of language, or of wisdom, announcing to you the testimony of Christ. 

Not in sublimity of language.  The simplicity which the apostle has just declared a characteristic of the preachers of the Gospel, and which the Greeks, proud of their elaborate skill in rhetoric and philosophy, despised as folly, St Paul here declares he had practiced and adopted himself when he first went to Corinth.  He used no lofty language, made no parade of wisdom.  The Syriac version says: ‘not with grandiloquent language or show of wisdom, I proclaimed to you the secret of God.’  The Greek text has: the testimony of God.

1 Cor 2:2  For I did not judge that I knew anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 

I did not judge. I judged it best, coming to a city of learned men, to seem to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified.  The death and passion, resurrection and ascension of Christ, were the message he had to deliver, and this he delivered in the plainest language.  And to do this with more effect, whatever else he knew, he kept to himself.

1 Cor 2:3 And I was among you in infirmity, and fear, and much trembling.
1 Cor 2:4 And my discourse, and my preaching, were not in persuasive words of human wisdom, but in display of the Spirit and of power.

1 Cor 2:3 In infirmity and fear.  We may perhaps gather from these words, that St Paul was in feeble health while he was at Corinth.  It is certain also, from the narrative in Act of the Apostles, chapter 18, that he was subject to great persecutions and annoyance from the jealousy of the Jews, who ultimately raised a formidable outbreak of violence against him, which possibly caused his retirement from the city or hastened it.  (1 Cor 2:4)-His discourse, he declares, was in harmony with his circumstances and surroundings.  He delivered no great orations, but spoke on all occasions simply and plainly, proving the truth of his words by the display of the Holy Spirit and of power, that is by frequent miracles.

1 Cor 2:5 That your faith may not be in man’s wisdom, but in the power of God. 

That your faith may not be in man’s wisdom. May not originate or spring from human eloquence and wisdom.  Or that your conversion to the faith of Christ may not be ascribed to man’s wisdom, but to the power of God, may be a divine, not a human work.  That which you believe and are convinced of, should be, not the wisdom and knowledge of your teacher, but the power of God who commissioned the teacher, and wrought the miracles.
1 Cor 2:6  But we speak a wisdom among the perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, who are being destroyed.
1 Cor 2:7  But we speak the wisdom of God, in mystery, which is hidden, which God predestined before the ages to your glory.
1 Cor 2:8  Which none of the princes of this world knew: for if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory.

There is an inner or esoteric wisdom in the Christian faith, sublime and lofty mysteries of which St Paul here declares he was not ignorant, and of which he had freely spoken among the perfect, those whose fervor in faith enabled them to embrace and understand them.  It is possible that in these words he reflects somewhat upon the method of Apollo, who with the best intentions, may have somewhat rashly enlarged upon the sublimer truths of theology in the hearing of persons scarcely as yet able to understand them.  Modern commentators, and among them Cornelius a’ Lapide, join in mystery in verse 7 with the verb we speak; we speak of these things only in secret.  Theodoret, however, says: The meaning is not, we speak in mystery; but we tell to men the wisdom which is hid in mystery.  This seems more likely, for if the Apostle talked of these subjects only among the perfect, it would be unnecessary for him to add that he did so in mystery.

What is this hidden wisdom?  First, it is not of this world, secular and mundane; nor like the systems of philosophy accepted by the world.  Nor is it of the princes of this world, from the inspiration of demons and fallen spirits, who are so called in Jn 12:31.  Not a dark system of magian philosophy, the practice of divination and the magic art: all whcih were often imposed, in those days, upon the simplicity of the ignorant and credulous, and were even cultivated by the learned and powerful.  This power over the minds of men, founded in trickery and falsehood, it was one of the objects of the Gospel of Christ to overthrow, and its overthro was one of the results of the spread of the true faith.  Thr princes of this world are being destroyed.  If by the princes of this world is understood earthly rulers and great men, then these are continually passing away, as each dies in turn.

This is what the hidden wisdom is not.  It is, the wisdom of God, and therefore true; and it is hidden in the mystery: that is, the mystery of the incarnation; the splendor of God hidden in the flesh.  Christ, therefore, is the wisdom of Go hidden in mystery.  Not that St Paul concealed from any one the great mystery of the incarnation, which was, on the contrary, the center of all his preaching, ad the most important part of the message he had to deliver: but he treated it in a different manner, according to the capacity of his hearers, as he explains below.  The incarnation, death, and passion, and resurrection of Christ, were proclaimed to all men, as the ground of their redemption.  But the full intent, meaning, and end of Christ’s incarnation, the full significance of the adoption of the sons of God; possibly a prophetic view of the victory of the faith in the coming time; these perhaps were among the sublime mysteries of which the apostle spoke among the perfect, but which all could not at first comprehend.  And this further, that God has foreordained this mystery, from the beginning of time, for our glory-our glorification by the gift of the Spirit of God now, and in eternal life hereafter.  That God was hidden, and as it were annihilated, in the flesh, for the glory of that flesh which he assumed, that is for us human beings, was one of those mysteries which none of the princes of this world knew.  The powers of darkness did not comprehend, and would not believe, the depth of humility and charity in the character of God, which rendered this possible.  Had they known it, they would not have crucified him; because it was his cross which was the instrument of his victory, and gave him his irresistible power over the hearts of men.  Rather than this, they would have allowed him to reign in earthly power and glory, in which case he could not have so completely overthrown their empire among men.  It must be admitted, however, that this interpretation of verse 8 is open to some difficulty, since it implies that the Devil was either ignorant of, or would not believe, the Deity of Christ.  It may be more simple to understand by the princes of this world, in this verse, earthly rulers, as in the expression of St Peter, in Acts 3:17: I know that in ignorance you did it, as also your princes.  If Herod and Pontius Pilate had known that Jesus was the creator of the world, it is hardly to be believed that they would have put him to death,  Not that their ignorance of this truth was sufficient to excuse them, after the miracles Christ had wrought, and the evidence they had of his innocence and sanctity.

1 Cor 2:9  But as it is written: That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor has ascended into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love him:
1 Cor 2:10  But to us God has revealed by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.
1 Cor 2:11  For who among men knows what belongs to a man, except the spirit of the man, which is in him?  So also what belongs to God, no one knoweth, but the Spirit of God.
1 Cor 2:12  But we have received not the spirit of this world, but the spirit which is of God; that we may know what is given to us of God:

See Isaiah 64:3 (Isa 64:4 in some translations): “From the beginning of the world they have not heard, nor received with their ears, eye hath not seen, O God, without thee, what thou hast prepared for those who wait for thee.”  That is, the great mystery of the Incarnation, beyond human intelligence and expectation; not to be understood or believed without thee, otherwise than by God’s revelation.  And in the Incarnation is included its result, the salvation and ultimate glory of man.  This the Spirit of God has revealed to us, and no other could reveal.  As none knows the secret of a human heart, other than his own, so only the Spirit of God knows, and he knows fully, all the secrets of God.  And this Spirit we have received, no earthly spirit, but the spirit coessential and consubstantial with God (St Athanasius, Theophylact), under whose teaching we know the full extent of the great gifts which have been given to us of God, his Son to redeem us, his Spirit to sanctify us.  And of these mysteries and gifts of God we speak, not in philosophical language, but in words taught us by the Spirit of God.

1 Cor2:13 Which also we speak, not in words taught by human wisdom; but in the doctrine of the spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 

Comparing spiritual things with spiritual. Conveying things spiritual in spiritual language.  So Saint Chrysostom, and many other writers, ancient and modern.  Theophylact, who is followed by St Thomas, takes the word spiritualibus in the masculine, and comparantes in the sense of the Greek συγκρινοντες (sygkrinontes=distinguishing, also, interpreting, understanding), and understands, reserving high and spiritual doctrine for the hearing of spiritual persons.  This is more literal, and agrees with what the Apostle has said in verse 6, we speak wisdom among the perfect.  The whole of this passage may then be considered an illustration and expansion of what he there asserted.

1 Cor 2:14  But the animal man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for it is folly to him, and he cannot understand; because it is examined spiritually. 

The animal man.  The word animal is used in three senses in Scriptures.  First, in the sense of the English word, that which grows and lives on food, as all animals do, and in this sense it is used 1 Cor 15:45.  Secondly, one who habitually follows animal impulses (Jude 19).  Thirdly, as in this place, those who are guide only by right of natural reason.  Such a person may be instructed in the faith, and give assent to its mysteries, but yet be unable to comprehendnd the higher and sublimer truths which are taught by the Spirit of God.  These truths will appear to him folly, or meaningless, because they are beyond the reach of his capacity, and supernaturally understood.  They should not, therefore, be rashly obtruded upon him, because, as St Thomas says, arguments are not to be given to those who are incapable of receiving them.

1 Cor 2:15  But the spiritual judges all things; and himself is judged of none.
1 Cor 2:16 For who knows the sense of the Lord, to instruct him?  And we have the sense of Christ.

The spiritual judges all things. The spiritual man is also understood in three senses in the holy Scriptures.  1. Who does not require food, as Christ now.  2. Who follows the guidance of the Spirit; in this sense the animal man may be spiritual, though he cannot comprehend the higher mysteries of the faith.  3. The sense in which the word is here used, who is capable of understanding these higher mysteries, by a supernatural illumination.  In this sense the spiritual man is the same with the perfect in 1 Cor 2:6.  He is capable of judging or discussing all things, even the highest; and is not to be judged by his inferior, the animal man.  For if he was, the animal man ought to know the mind, or secret, of God, better than he.  But this mind of God can only be known by natural reason, which is impossible; or by supernatural illumination, which is contrary to the hypothesis.  For who by reason and nature can know, and teach him, the mind of God?  The sense of Christ.  The Syriac reads: the mind; the Arabic: the intellect;  the Ethiopic: the thoughts of Christ.  We, the Apostles, know the mind of Christ by supernatural revelation.  In the whole of this passage the Apostle evidently intends to assert the infinite superiority of the Christian philosophy to the other philosophical systems which it was brought into comparison at Corinth. 

Corollary of Piety:

The highest wisdom the human intellect can attain is the knowledge of Jesus Christ.  he is the eternal wisdom of God, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  Whatever God knows, he knows, for he is God.  The nature and character of God are fully known to him, for he is himself God.  He knows all the causes and motives of the creation of the universe, for he is himself its Creator.  He understands every detail of  its complicated framework, down to the minutest, for his hands framed it.  He understands the mode of dependence of the finite upon the Infinite creating will, for that will is his.  He knows the law of connection between spirit and matter, inscrutable to human research, possibly beyond the reach of any finite intelligence, for he is the Creator equally of the spiritual and the material.  Not only has he all wisdom and knowledge in himself, but it is he who imparts it to man, so far as man is capable of apprehending it, for he is the sun and the illumination of the human intellect.  To penetrate the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden in God the Word, have recourse to him, and take him as thy teacher; for there is no truth known to any finite intelligence, but from his teaching.  Wonder: for this wisdom was for thee hidden, and as it were annihilated, in the mystery of the Incarnation.  Love: for to this humiliation he was predestined from eternity in gloriam nostram, for our advancement to the glory of earth, which is sanctification, here, and the glory of eternity, which is his love, hereafter.