Sunday, January 08, 2017

Father Callan's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1-6

A Summary of 1 Corinthians 4:1-6

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.

1 Cor 4:1 Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and dispensers of the mysteries of God.

The preachers of the Gospel are not independent workers, each doing what he pleases.  They have been chosen by Christ to do His work, and hence they are dependent upon and accountable to Christ for the discharge of their ministry.  Let everyone, therefore, consider them as ministers, i.e., as servants (ὑπηρέτης=hupēretēs= hoop-ay-ret’-ace) of Christ, doing the will of their Master; and as dispensers, i.e., as stewards (οἰκονόμος=oikonomos=oy-kon-om’-os) of the mysteries of God, i.e., of the doctrines of faith which the Apostles preached, including, of course, the Sacraments, of which the Apostles were the ministers (cf. 2:7 ff.; 3:5 ff.; Rom 11:25; Eph 1:9; Matt 13:11; Conc. Trid., Sess. XXI., De Commun., cap. 2).  The doctrines and Sacraments preached and administered by the Apostles are called “mysteries” because they are beyond human understanding.

1 Cor 4:2  Here now it is required among the dispensers, that a man be found faithful 

Since the Apostles are the servants and stewards of Christ, their Master, they must be judged by the norm which governs all servants and stewards, that is, by their faithfulness in the discharge of their duties.  If the Apostles are faithful in serving Christ and in dispensing the mysteries of God, it makes little difference what otherwise they may possess or lack, whether their natural gifts may be many and great or few and unimportant.

In the Vulgate inter dispensatores should be in dispensatoribus. 

1 Cor 4:3 But to me it is a very small thing to be judged by you, or by man’s day; but neither do I judge my own self.

But as God is the Master whom the Apostles must serve, He alone can judge them.  Hence St Paul says it is of small importance to him how he is considered by men, whether he is preferred to another or not, because men ae not able to judge of his fidelity to God. 

Man’s day means the judgment of men, as opposed to the judgment of God.  That the Apostle is not rejecting the judgment of men out of pride or other unworthy motive is evident from the fact that he says he does not dare to judge himself, so uncertain is he of his precise standing in His Master’s eyes.

1 Cor 4:4 For I am not conscious to myself of anything, yet I am not hereby justified; but he that judgeth me, is the Lord.

Although the testimony of his conscience bears witness to his faithfulness, or at least does not reproach him with fault or neglect, yet so great is human frailty that he would not dare to pronounce himself entirely faithful in the exercise of his ministry.  He that judgeth me is the Lord, because only the Lord can read the secrets of man’s heart with infallible certainty and correctness.  If, presently, the Apostle proceeds to judge the incestuous man, he does so by divine authority and illumination, which was not enjoyed by those to whom he was writing.

What St Paul says about himself is true of every Christian, because noen aside from a special revelation can be absolutely certain that he is in the grace and friendship of God (f. Conc. Trid., Sess. VI., De Justificatione, cap 16).  Of this we can have only moral certainty.

The present text is a refutation of the Protestant doctrine that faith is fiducia, or absolute confidence that one is in the friendship of God (Cornely).

1 Cor 4:5  Therefore judge not before the time; until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise from God.

From what has just been said the conclusion follows that the Corinthians ought no more to judge their preachers before the time, i.e., until all things are made known to them, which will be when the Lord comes for the General Judgment, to reveal to the light and knowledge of all the secret deeds, thoughts and desires of every man, good and bad. 

Then shall every man have praise, etc.  This shows that the Apostle is speaking directly only of the Corinthian teachers, all of whom are good, and each of whom, consequently, will receive  from Christ on the day of the General Judgment the praise that is due him.  Of course all men on that day will receive from God what they deserve, but all will not be praised.

1 Cor 4:6  But these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollo, for your sakes; that in us you may learn, that one be not puffed up against the other for another, above that which is written.

The Apostle now observes that what he has been saying about Apollo and himself applies equally to all preachers. 

These things, i.e., what he has just been telling them regarding the preachers of the Gospel.  I have in a figure transferred, etc., i.e., I have by a change of form (μετασχηματίζω = metaschēmatizō = met-askh-ay-mat-id’-zo), i.e., figuratively, applied only to Apollo and myself, for your sakes, i.e., for your benefit, that through us you may learn how to regard all preachers of the Gospel. 

That no one be puffed up, etc.  The meaning is that no one, or class, of the faithful should be considered better than another on account of any particular leader or teacher.  All should learn to practice humility according to “that which is written” in many passages of Holy Scripture.  The allusion is doubtless to such passages as 1 Cor 1:19, 31; 3:19-20; or perhaps to what is said in verses 1-2 of the present chapter; or, as some authors think, to a rabbinical proverb.  Cornely thinks the reference is to the Old Testament as a whole, where throughout man’s proper relation to God and genuine humility are taught.

Father Callan's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:18-23

The Faithful Should Be Careful Not To Prefer One Teacher To Another
1 Corinthians 3:18-23

From the doctrine so far explained against the Corinthian factions St Paul now deduces some practical conclusions.  By preferring one master to another the faithful have laid claim to the right and power of judging their teachers; but the Apostle warns them that this is exercising mere human wisdom, which goes for nothing before God.  It is wrong for them to glory in men, especially since all the good they enjoy, whether from this or that human agent, has been bestowed by God: in God and Christ only should they glory

1 Cor 3:18.  Let no man deceive himself: if any man among you seem to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

It is disputed whether the admonition of this verse is addressed to the teachers of the faithful, or their followers.  If any man among you, etc., i.e., if any of you Christians thinks himself to be wise and shrewd, or is so regarded by others, judging by the standards of this world, let him renounce this false wisdom, which God despises, and learn from the Gospel to be truly wise.  The admonition seems to be against those who thought themselves capable of judging the respective qualities of their different teachers,-Apollos, Paul and Cephas.

1 Cor 3:19.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.  For it is written: I will catch the wise in their own craftiness.
1 Cor 3:20.  And again: The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. 

That mere human wisdom is foolishness in the sight of God the Apostle now proves from two passages of the Old Testament.  The first is from Job 5:13, agreeing almost perfectly with the Hebrew, and substantially with the Septuagint.  From the words, It is written, we can see that St Paul regarded the quotation as having divine authority. 

I will catch, etc.  Better, “He catches,” etc.  (δράσσομαι-drassomai=dras’-som-ahee), i.e., God turns against the worldly-wise their own craftiness, in which they are caught as in a snare.  For example, Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery, but their action resulted in his becoming ruler of Egypt (St Thomas Aquinas).

The second quotation is from Psalm 94:11, taken substantially from the LXX.  The Psalmist is speaking of the enemies of Israel, who in their folly thought God did not know their secret designs against the chosen people.

The comprehendam of the Vulgate does not exactly express the Greek or Hebrew of Job 5:13, which literally would be “He who catcheth.”

1 Cor 3:21.  Let no man therefore glory in men.

Since, therefore, the wisdom of the world, separated from God and His grace, is vain and leads its patrons to their own confusion, the Corinthians ought diligently to keep from it, not glorifying in men, i.e., in this or that human leader.

1 Cor 3:22.  For all things are yours, whether it be Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; for all are yours;
1 Cor 3:23.  And you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.

All the teachers sent to the Corinthians were sent by God for the spiritual benefit of the faithful.  The Christians did not belong to Paul, or to Apollos, or to Cephas, as subjects to a leader, as servants to a master; but on the contrary, all those teachers were but instruments in the hands of God for the sake of the Corinthians.  On account of their dignity as Christians all things-teachers, the visible world around, life and death, things present and things to come-were theirs, to be made use of for their spiritual benefit and advancement.

But neither in these, their own privileges and dignity, should the Corinthians glory, for they were not for themselves; they were for Christ’s; they were the possession and property of Christ who created them (Jn 1:8), who redeemed them with His own blood (1 Cor 6:20; 7:23), and who, therefore, was their only head and only master.  If then they would glory, let them glory in Christ and in God. 

Christ is God’s, i.e., Christ, according to His divine nature, is one in essence with God (Jn 10:30), and, as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, He proceeds eternally from the Father (Jn 11:3).  Christ’s human nature was created by God, and was ever and in all things subject to the will of God (Jn 15:28).

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Father Callan's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:10-17

Since God Will Judge The Labors Of His Preachers, These Should Take Care How They Work
A Summary of 1 Corinthians 3:10-17

Although the various preachers of the Gospel are the same, as being servants of the one God and as working for the one end, yet God will Distinguish between them when He judges their labors and confers their respective rewards.  This reflection moves St Paul to call attention to the grave responsibility that rests upon the ministers of the Gospel.

1 Cor 3:10  According to the grace of God that is given to me, as a wise architect, I have laid the foundation: and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 

According to the grace, etc., i.e., the grace of Apostolate among the Gentiles,  That is given to me.  Better, "That was given me." 

I have laid, etc.  St Paul laid the foundation of the faith of the Corinthian Church, since he was the first to preach the Gospel at Corinth.  Afterwards another, i.e.,  Apollo, came to continue the work begun by Paul.  Perhaps "another" does not mean any one in particular, but only the teachers who were to come after St Paul. 

Let every man take heed, etc., i.e., let every preacher of the Gospel be careful of the doctrine he delivers, lest he add something which is out of harmony with the true foundation of the faith as laid by St Paul.

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

There is only one question of how preachers subsequent to St Paul should build on the foundation already laid; for the Church and the faith have but one foundation, and that is Christ Jesus, as preached by Paul.

1 Cor 3:12  Now, if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble:

All must build on the one foundation, which is Christ; but all do not build with the same material.  Some add solid enduring materials, i.e., solid, useful doctrine, represented by gold, silver, precious stones; others, whole unlike heretics, they do not try to lay a different foundation, contribute only useless material, i.e., needless, unsubstantial or passing doctrines typified by wood, hay, stubble.

The poor materials here do not signify heresies, because (a) they are supposed to be added to the one true foundation; and (b) those who build with them are said to be saved (vs. 15).  The Apostle likely had in mind those, like certain followers of James, who were extolling the Jewish Privileges and obligations and trying to impose them on the Corinthians.  At any rate, it is the doctrine of teachers, and not the conduct of the faithful, that is directly referred to here.

1 Cor 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.

At the present time it may not be easy to determine just what material each builder adds to the one foundation; but the day of the Lord, i.e., the General Judgment at the end of the world shall lay open each one's life, and shall manifest every man's work, whether good or bad.  "Of the Lord" is not represented in the Greek, but "the day" can only refer to the General Judgment, since neither during this life, nor at the Particular Judgment can every man's work be said to be made manifest (cf. 4:3, 5). 

Because it shall be revealed in fire.  Literally, "It is revealed" (ἀποκαλύπτω=apokalupto), i.e., the day of the Lord, or the General Judgment, is to be disclosed in fire.  The use of the present tense for the future indicates the certainty of the even.  That the world is to be destroyed by fire at the General Judgment we know from various parts of Scripture (cf. 2 Thess 1:8; 2 Pet 3:7), and hence "fire" here must be taken in its literal sense; real fire and real burning will bring about the end and renovation of this world, and so will usher in the General Judgment. 

Fire shall try every man's work, etc.  The action here attributed to fire can be more easily understood figuratively; for fire cannot really burn one's preaching or other actions.  The reference then would seem to be to God's judgment, represented by fire.  However, many of the Fathers have understood that "fire," i.e., the final conflagration that shall consume the world, will, in its literal sense, as an instrument of divine justice, test each man's works, leaving unscathed those that are good and consuming those that are bad.  That there is question here only of the final conflagration, and not of the fire of hell or of purgatory, is clear from the words το πυρ αυτο δοκιμασει, "that fire shall try," namely, the fire of the day of the Lord mentioned in the beginning of the verse.  "That fire" is read by MSS. B A C and Peshitto against the fire of D E, Old Latin, and Vulgate.

The Domini of the Vulgate should be omitted, to agree with the Greek.

1 Cor 3:14  If any man's work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 

If any man's work abide, etc., i.e., if the fruits of any preacher's doctrines to the Corinthians shall stand the test of the final conflagration and thus be found good, such a preacher shall receive a special reward.  There is not here a question of the essential reward which all the saved shall receive, otherwise it would follow, contrary to what is said in the next verse, that he who contributed poor material to the one foundation is lost.
It is uncertain whether "abide" should be present or future.

1 Cor 3:15  If any mans work burn, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.

Those who added poor material, i.e., poor and useless doctrines, to the common foundation shall receive the ordinary reward given to all the saved, but nothing more; hence their labors will be without the special merit and the special recompense promised to the Apostles.  Different workers may contribute different materials to the same building.  Some may add enduring things, such as gold, silver and precious stones; while others furnish only perishable materials, like wood, hay and stubble.  When fire comes, both classes of workers will escape and be saved; and the works of the one will endure, but those of the other will be destroyed. 

Yet so as by fire.  The meaning is that the preacher who is alive at the time of the final conflagration, and who has mingled useless words and human teachings with his sacred preaching, shall, while suffering the loss of the special reward of the perfect preachers, save his own soul, but only by passing through the fires of that dreadful time, which for him will have a purging and purifying effect, constituting his purgatory on earth.  Or, if we take διά πῦρ (by fire) in a proverbial sense, the reference is more clearly and directly to purgatory in the strict sense.  The meaning, then, would be that those preachers who, at their death or at the end of the world, are found to have been negligent in their teaching shall be saved, but only with difficulty, namely, after passing through the purifying fires of purgatory.

The Apostle is speaking here of what will take place at the end of the world, and not directly of purgatory;  and yet his teaching clearly is that, for venial offenses unsatisfied for at the close of life, there must needs be a purging and a purifying before the soul can enter heaven.  Hence the doctrine of purgatory naturally follows from this verse.  That there is fire in purgatory is made probable by this passage, but nothing more; neither has it ever been defined by the Church.

Some have concluded from the present verse that St Paul expected the end of the world during the lifetime of those to whom he was writing.  He speaks in a similar way elsewhere (1 Cor 15; Phil 3:20, 4:5; 1 Thess 4:14-17, 5:23; Titus 2:13).  But he certainly never meant to teach any such a doctrine, since he knew that the Gospel must first be preached in the whole world and the Jews converted.  In Eph 2:7 and in 1 Tim 4:15 the opposite of such a conclusion seems clearly taught by St Paul.

1 Cor 3:16  Know you not that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

The severity of God's dealings with imperfect preachers and teachers arises from the fact that they contribute unworthy material to a sacred structure.  Hence the Apostle reminds the Corinthians that they are the temple of God, i.e., God dwells in them through faith and charity, and hence it is of real moment that they should not be defiled in any way.  The Corinthians, like all good Christians, are the dwelling place of God, because the Spirit of God, i.e., the Holy Ghost, abides in them.  It is to be noted that the Apostle is here identifying the Holy Spirit and God.

1 Cor 3:17  But if any man violate the temple of God, him shall God destroy. For the temple of God is holy, which you are.

So far there has been a question of those who build on the one true foundation, some using good, some poor material.  Now the Apostle speaks of those who, by false doctrines and erroneous teachings, destroy the foundation, which is Jesus Christ. 

If any man violate.  Better, "If any man destroyeth" the temple of God, i.e., by preaching false doctrines and leading the faithful away from Christ.  The Corinthian Church was the temple of God, the special dwelling place of God, and therefore it was holy.  In other words, the faithful are the temple of God; but the temple is holy; therefore the faithful are holy.  If any man, by his false teachings, should destroy this sacred temple, God shall destroy him, i.e., will deprive him of eternal salvation.

Father Callan's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:5-9

A Summary of 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 

So far St Paul has given two arguments against the factions in the Corinthian Church.  In the first (1 Cor 1:13-17a) he showed such divisions to be injurious to the unity of the Church of which Christ is the head; in the second (1 Cor 1:17b-3:4) he established, against the followers of Apollo, that his own method of using simple, unadorned speech when preaching to them was in conformity with the character of the Gospel and accommodated to the capacity of his hearers, and consequently afforded no reason for their factions.  Now he comes to his third argument and proves the absurdity of Corinthian divisions from the fact that all their religious teachers were only ministers and servants of the one and the same God. 

1 Cor 3:5  The ministers of him whom you have believed; and to every one as the Lord hath given.

It is plain then who Paul and Apollo are; they are only ministers of God "through whom" the Corinthians have received their faith.  The term διάκονος (Diakonos) is used here in the sense of servants.  Instead of the phrase of him whom, etc., the Greek MSS. have: "through whom" (διά ων).  The Apostles are, therefore, not the authors of the faith they have preached, but only instruments of God who has called them all to His service, and has given to each the particular part of the ministry he is to perform.  In the Vulgate eius, cui should be per quos, to agree with the Greek. 

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

I have planted, etc.  The Apostle explains the different ministries exercised in the vineyard of the Lord.  He it was who first preached the Gospel, who sowed the seed of faith at Corinth.  Then came Apollo who by his preaching nourished that seed (Acts 18:27 ff.).  But both Paul and Apollo were only exterior agencies to the growth of the faith among the Corinthians; for it was God that made their labors fruitful in the hearts of their hearers 

1 Cor 3:7  Therefore, neither he that planteth is anything, nor he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.   
1 Cor 3:8  Now he that planteth, and he that watereth, are one.  And every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labor.

The first conclusion that follows from what has been said in the two preceding verses is that, without the grace of God in the hearts and souls of the faithful, the work of the preacher is vain and useless.  Secondly, it follows that, while compared with God the preachers of the Gospel are on no account, when compared with one another they are all on the same level and all equal, inasmuch as all are servants of the one God, working in the same vineyard and for the same end.

The faithful, therefore, should not make distinctions between the preachers of the Gospel, preferring one to another.  But from this we must not conclude that God will treat all alike, for every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labor, i.e., each one shall re rewarded, not according to the office he has held, nor according to the success of his efforts, but in proportion to his labors performed in the state of grace.

The Greek term μισθός (misthos), reward, used here means wages paid for work performed.  Hence this verse affords proof that good works do of themselves merit before God, as the Council of Trent teaches (Sess. VI De Justificatione, can. 32).  The same doctrine is declared more clearly in 2 Cor 4:17: "For that which is at present momentary...worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory." 

1 Cor 3:9  For we are God's coadjutors: you are God's husbandry; you are God's building.

This verse is to be connected with the second part of the preceding verse, and shows who will reward the laborers in the Lord's service.  The evangelical workers are not slaves who have no right to reward, but God coadjutors, i.e., free workers, who earn a wage for their labors; they are co-workers with God. 

Note:  The canon from the Council of Trent cited above reads: CANON XXXII.-If any one saith, that the good works of one that is justified are in such manner the gifts of God, as that they are not also the good merits of him that is justified; or, that the said justified, by the good works which he performs through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, does not truly merit increase of grace, eternal life, and the attainment of that eternal life,-if so be, however, that he depart in grace,-and also an increase of glory; let him be anathema. (source)

For more on the subject of merit see here and read sections 1 thru 3. See also the Joint Declaration On The Doctrine of  Justification By The World Lutheran Federation And The Catholic Church.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Father Callan's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:6-3:4

Why St Paul Did Not Teach Loftier Doctrines To The Corinthians
A Summary of 1 Corinthians 2:6-3:4.

In the previous section (1 Cor 1:17b-2:5) St Paul explained why he used simple language among the Corinthians, and not the loftiness of speech which they so much admired in Apollo; it was because simple diction was proper to the preaching of the Gospel.  In the present section he will explain his reason for avoiding also loftiness of doctrine in  his discourse to them.  It would be a serious error, however, on their part to conclude that the Gospel contains only simple teachings.  On the contrary, it embodies a wisdom that is above human powers to grasp (1 Cor 2:6-12), and which, having been revealed to the Apostles by the Holy Ghost, is announced only to the perfect (1 Cor 2:13-16).  If these sublime doctrines have been withheld from the faithful of Corinth, it is because the faithful are not yet sufficiently developed to receive them (1 Cor 3:1-4).

1 Cor 2:6  How be it we speak wisdom among the perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, neither of the princes of this world that come to nought;

This verse shows that St Paul did not preach to all Christians as he did to the Corinthians.  The Faithful, in fact, were divided into two classes: (a) those who were yet “sensual,” “carnal,” who were in “need of milk, and not of strong meat” (1 Cor 2:14; 3:1-2; Heb 5:12); and (b) those who were “perfect,” i.e., they “who by custom have their senses exercised to the discerning of good and evil” (Heb 5:14), who are not deceived by “cunning craftiness” (Eph 4:14), but who have arrived at the age of maturity in the Christian life, and, being spiritual, are capable of strong food (1 Cor 1:13; 3:2).  The latter are able to receive a profound knowledge of Christian mysteries, while the former cannot bear more than an elementary instruction.  The distinction is the same as the difference between a class in theology and a catechism class. 

Wisdom means the higher teaching of Christian mysteries, such as is found in the Epistle to the Romans and to the Hebrews.  This wisdom is not of this world, i.e., it is not the product of human reason, its object is not the things of this world, neither is it sought after or possessed by the princes of this world, i.e., by the philosophers, by the worldly Jewish scribes, or the like.  The wisdom of this world is perishable like its authors; it comes to nought.

Other authorities interpret “princes of this world” as meaning the devils, who are “the spirits of wickedness, the rulers of the world of this darkness” (Eph 6:12; Jn 12:31; 14:30; 2 Cor 4:4).  Doubtless the two explanations come to the same thing, since mere human teachers were devoid of spiritual insight into Christian mysteries, and were often in their false doctrines only instruments of evil spirits.  Hence “princes of this world” embraces both the devils and their wicked human agents.

1 Cor 2:7  But we speak the wisdom of God in mystery, a wisdom which is hidden, which God ordained before the world, unto our glory.

The Apostle now considers the positive character of the Gospel message.

We speak, i.e., the Apostles preached the perfect divine doctrines-a wisdom that came not from this world, but from God.  It is the wisdom of God because it proceeds from God and treats of God; and in a mystery, i.e., it consists of doctrines so exalted that the human mind, unaided by divine revelation, could never attain the knowledge of them.  It is hidden, i.e., even after revelation the mysteries of this divine wisdom remain abscure to us, and can be held only by faith.

Which God ordained, etc.  The mysteries revealed in the Gospel and preached by the Apostles, such as the fall of man, the Trinity, the Incarnation, the mystery of the Redemption through the cross of Christ, man’s eternal destiny, and the like, were decreed from everlasting in the counsels of God, and intended for the eternal glory of all the faithful (Cornely).  This glory the faithful, through the practice of virtue, experience to some extent even in this world; but it will be fully revealed only in the world to come when we shall see God as He is, face to face.

1 Cor 2:8  Which (Vulg. quam) none of the princes of this world knew; for if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory.

Which (Vulg., quam) must be referred to the “wisdom” which the Apostles explained to the perfect (vs 6).  We must understand princes of this world here also as we did in verse 6.  The wicked Jewish and Roman rulers and leaders who instigated and procured the crucifixion of Christ were the human instruments and agents of the evil spirits; the death of our Lord can rightly be ascribed to both.  While the demons could have known that Christ was the Messiah and the Son of God, yet they were not aware of the fact that His death would mean the end of their own despotic rule over men, and the exaltation of the human race to the highest glory (Cornely).  Had the devils, like the vicious human agents, been at all well disposed, they would have known that Christ was God.  The numerous miracles performed by our Lord throughout His public life, of which the demons were witnesses, were of themselves sufficient to convince any well disposed mind.  In fact it would seem from many passages of the Gospels that the devils did recognize, or at least strongly suspected Christ to be the Son of God (Mtt 8:29; Mk 5:7; Mt 2:11; 3:17; Jn 1:29ff).  “The evil one did not persuade the Jews to crucify Christ because he thought He was not the Son of God, but because he did not forsee that His death would mean his ruin” (St Thomas).  However, if for want of proper disposition or other cause the devils were ignorant of the high mysteries or purpose of our Lord’s life and death, how much more so were their human agents!

Christ is called the Lord of glory because, as God, He is the author and source of the glory prepared for us hereafter (Col 3:4; Heb 2:10).  This phrase is a proof of the Divinity of our Lord.

1 Cor 2:9  But, as it si written: That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him.

The Apostle now proves by a quotation from the ancient Scriptures that the exalted wisdom preached by him and the Apostles had before never been known to men, devils, or angels.

The words, as it is written, show that the passage is cited as a proof of what has been said.

Because this quotation, which St Jerome proves is here freely cited by the Apostle from Isaiah 64:4, is not found in the same identical words in any extant book of Scripture, some Protestants, after Origen, have thought that St Paul was quoting from an apocryphal work, the Apocalypse of Elias; others, like St Chrysostom and Theodoret, believe the reference is to some lost book of Holy Writ.  There can be little doubt, however, that we have here a free rendering of Isaiah 64:4; the Apostle is putting into clearer words the sense of the Prophet.  The meaning is that a supernatural knowledge of God which through the Gospel preaching, was revealed to the “perfect” (verse 6) was before revelation unknown to all created beings.  Even yet a clearer and satisfying grasp of the mysteries of faith is reserved for heaven, for the beatific vision.

For them that love him, i.e., for those who hear the teachings of the Gospel and practice them.  God gives the first grace gratuitously, and we thereafter, by cooperating with the graces we receive, can attain to eternal delights.

1 Cor 2:10  But to us God hath revealed them, by his Spirit.  For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

Although this deep wisdom of the Gospel was hidden from the great and wise ones of earth and from all men, nevertheless the Apostles can make it known, because to them God has manifested it through His Holy Spirit.

But to us, i.e., to the Apostles, the preachers of the Gospel.

God hath revealed them, i.e., the high mysteries of faith.

By his Spirit, i.e., through the Holy Ghost, by whom the Apostles were inspired.

The Spirit could make known these truths because He searcheth all things, etc., i.e., He understands all mysteries.  Since the Holy Ghost knows the deep secrets of God, it follows that He must be God Himself.  This verse, therefore, and the following verse afford a proof of the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, and also of His distinction from the Father.  If He were in every way identical with the Father, He could not be said to search out the deep things of God.

1 Cor 2:11  For what man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of a man that is in him?  So the things also that are of God now man knoweth, but the Spirit of God.

By an illustration it is shown that only the Holy Spirit could know the deep mysteries and secret counsels of God, and that consequently He alone could reveal them to the Apostles.  There is no question of excluding the Father and the Son from this perfect knowledge; the comparison is solely between the Holy Ghost and creatures, as in Matt 11:27 and Luke 10:22 there is comparison between the knowledge of the Son and that of Creatures.  As no one from the outside world can know with certainty what is going on in a man’s mind and heart, but only the spirit of the man himself; so no creature, but only the Spirit of God, can known the mind and counsels of the Most High.

1 Cor 2:12  Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is of God; that we may know the things that are given us from God.

We, i.e., the Apostles, as contrasted with the wise ones of this world.

The spirit of this world.  The definite pronoun, “this,” is not in the best MSS.  These words are understood by St Thomas and others to mean the wisdom of the world; but by Calmet and Cornely, to refer to the devil, considered as the author of false human wisdom (2 Cor 4:4; Eph 2:2).

The things that are given us, etc., i.e., the gratuitous gifts bestowed upon us by God through Christ for our eternal salvation.

The huius of the Vulgate should be omitted, according to the best MSS.

1 Cor 2:13  Which things also we speak, not in the learned words of human wisdom; but in the doctrine of the Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

The Apostles have received a knowledge of high spiritual truths in order that they may communicate them.

Not in the learned words, etc.  Better, “Not in the words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit,” i.e., the Apostles are to explain to the perfect (verse 6) in the manner dictated by the Holy Ghost the doctrines revealed to them by the same Holy Spirit.

Comparing spiritual things, etc., i.e., (a) comparing the doctrines of the New Testament with those of the Old, and illustrating them by means of figures and types drawn from the latter (St Chrysostom); or (b) explaining spiritual things to spiritual men; or (c) explaining spiritual things in a spiritual way; or (d) adapting spiritual language to spiritual subjects.

1 Cor 2:14  But the sensual man perceiveth not these things that are of the Spirit of God; for it is foolishness to him, and he cannot understand, because it is spiritually examined.

From the class of the perfect, to whom the Apostles explain the high mysteries of faith, certain others are excluded by their very unfitness.  These are now described (2:14-3:4).

The sensual man, i.e., not necessarily the man who is given up to concupiscence and sensual indulgences, but the merely natural man, guided by his own natural lights and contend with his own reasonings.

Perceiveth not, i.e., does not accept (οὐ δέχομαι = ou dechetai ) these things that are of the Spirit of God, i.e., the great mysteries which God, through the Holy Ghost, has revealed to the apostles.  The reason is because prior to taking the trouble to examine into them he regards them as foolishness (1:18).  And even if he would seriously consider them, he cannot understand, because he is without supernatural light of faith.  Just as the senses cannot judge about things of the intellect, and as the blind are unable to perceive color, so the natural man, without the gift of faith and the Spirit of God, cannot pass judgment upon the mysteries revealed by the Spirit of God; these truths are spiritually examined, i.e., they are subject only to spiritual tests by spiritual minds.

In the Vulgate est and examinatur should be plural to agree with their antecedents ea and quae sunt.

1 Cor 2:15  But the spiritual man judgeth all things; and he himself is judged of no man.

But the spiritual man, i.e., the man who has faith and grace, and is guided by the Spirit of God, is able to judge all things pertaining to his salvation and perfection, things of the higher as well as the lower order (Cornely).

But he himself is judged of no man, i.e., the spiritual man is judged by no one who is without the Spirit of God.  The natural man is deprived of the criterion by which to judge the spiritual man; they are not in the same category.

Certain Protestant sects appeal to this text to prove their doctrine of private interpretation of Scripture.  but it is clear, from the context, that St Paul is speaking of those who are able to grasp doctrines taught them by authorized teachers; hence he is teaching just the opposite of private individual interpretation in the Protestant sense.

1 Cor 2:16  For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him?  But we have the mind of Christ.

The statement of the previous verse is proved by a free quotation from the Septuagint of Isaiah 40:13.  Trying to fire the Israelites with confidence in the promise of God to deliver them from servitude the Prophet asks: Who hath known the mind of the Lord, etc., i.e., who has known the thoughts and counsels of the Most High so as to be able to instruct Him?  Obviously the answer is: So great is the wisdom of God, that no one can presume to act as His instructor.  This proposition the Apostle lays down as a major of a syllogism.  The minor is: But we have the mind of Christ, who is God.  Therefore the conclusion follows that the Apostles are judged by no man; for to judge or condemn them would be to judge or condemn God Himself.  The argument simply means that the believer has the mind of Christ, and  therefore of God, and that the workings of such a mind, enlightened as it is by a higher power, are altogether inscrutable to those who are destitute of spiritual vision.

It is to be noted here that the Apostle makes identical the wisdom of God and the wisdom of Christ; and the wisdom of Christ in this verse is the same as the wisdom of the Holy Ghost in verses 13-14.  Thus is furnished a clear argument for the Divinity of Christ and of the Holy Ghost.


A Summary of 1 Corinthians 3:1-4

1 Cor 3:1  An I, brethren, could not speak to you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal.  As unto little ones in Christ.

As unto spiritual, i.e., as unto perfect Christians, who have arrived at spiritual maturity.

But as unto carnal, i.e., as unto those who were yet weak in the faith, and not entirely free from the domination of the flesh, although members of Christ through Baptism.

As unto little ones, etc., i.e., as unto those who were still in their infancy as Christians.

1 Cor 3:2  I gave you milk to drink, not meat; for you were not able as yet.  But neither indeed are you now able; for you are yet carnal.

Since, therefore, the Corinthians were not matured as Christians St Paul, when he came to them first, explained only the elements of faith.  And even when he wrote this Epistle, some few years later, they were not able to receive the higher wisdom which consisted in a knowledge of the loftier doctrines of the Christian religion, as expounded in the Epistle to the Romans.

In the Vulgate there should be a period after Christo and a comma after carnalibus of the preceding verse.  Hence this present verse would better be separated from the preceding one by a full stop, as in our English version, in order to agree with the best Greek reading.

1 Cor 3:3  For whereas there is among you envying and contention, are you not carnal, and walk according to man?

That the Corinthians were still carnal to a certain extent was clear from their actions; for among them there was envying and contention over their various leaders.  These vices St Paul elsewhere (Rom 13:13; Gal 5:20) classed among the works of darkness and the products of the flesh.

To walk according to man is to live according to human nature, destitute of the Spirit of God (St Thomas).  In so far as they were given to jealousies and contentions the Corinthians were living according to man.

1 Cor 3:4  For while one saith, I indeed am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollo; are you not men?  What then is Apollo, and what is Paul?

St Paul now designates the contentions of which the faithful of Corinth were guilty.  Some were proclaiming him as their leader, others were adhering to Apollo.  Did this not show that they were men, i.e., carnal, judging things after human standards, uninfluenced by the Spirit and grace of God?  the Received Text and the Peshitto have “Are you not carnal (σαρκικός = Sarkikos)”; but this is likely due to a copyist, who omitted (ἀνθρωπος = Anthropoi = "men") as unusual in St Paul in the sense in which it is here employed.  The fact that we have ἀνθρωπος (anthropoi, men), therefore, where we might expect σαρκικός (sarkikos, carnal) as in the preceding verse, shows that “men,” and not “carnal,” must be the correct reading here.

Inquiring into these factions the Apostle asks: What is Apollo, and what is Paul, i.e., what office do they hold, what ministry do the exercise?  The answer is given in the following verse.

Father Callan's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

A Summary of  1 Corinthians 2:1-5 

After having shown (1 Cor 1:17-31) that the Gospel is both preached and received by the humble and the simple, St Paul now tells the Corinthians that when announcing to them the glad tidings he observed the characteristic method of evangelical preaching.  This he did in order to conform to the divine plane, as already explained, and also in order that the Corinthians might derive the greatest profit from hearing the Gospel.

1 Cor 2:1.  And I, Brethren, when I came to you, came not in loftiness of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of Christ.

And I, etc, i.e., in conformity with the nature of the Gospel ministry, when I came to you the first time my preaching was simple in style and contents; I simply declared unto you the Gospel, avoiding all loftiness either in form or in matter.  The Apostle came to Corinth from Athens, where he had engaged in high dispute with the Stoics and Epicurians (Acts 17:18 ff.).  Perhaps his failure there induced him to employ at Corinth a method more in harmony with the requirements of the Gospel. 

Testimony of Christ should be “testimony of God,” according to the Greek; and the meaning is that the Gospel, which Paul announced, was God’s witness to Christ.  Some MSS read “mystery” in place of “testimony.”

1 Cor 2:2.  For I judged not myself to know anything among you, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

For I judged not, etc.  If the negative οὐ, not, is to be connected with κρίνω, judged, the sense is: “I did not pretend to know,” etc.; if connected with ειδεναι, to know, we have: “I judged it better, or I decided, not to know,” etc.  The meaning is that, while at Athens just before coming to Corinth, St Paul had argued learnedly with philosophers, he made up his mind upon arriving in Corinth that it was better to keep to simple doctrines about Christ, especially the mystery of the Redemption.  Hence among you is in contrast with the Athenians.

1 Cor 2:3.  And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.

In weakness, and in fear, etc.  The weakness referred to was perhaps bodily infirmity (Gal 4:13; 2 Cor 10:10; 12:10), or the natural spiritual infirmity which he felt aside from the help of God (Acts 18:9-10).  the fear and trembling were probably caused by poor results he had just experienced at Athens (Acts 17:33), by prospect of stripes (i.e., being whipped) and persecutions (St Chrysostom), and by the greatness of the task that confronted him in Corinth (Acts 18:9).

1 Cor 2:4.  And my speech and my preaching was not in the persuasive words of human wisdom, but in shewing of the spirit and powers;

My speech, i.e., my private instructions given to individuals, and my preaching, i.e. my public discourse to the multitude (St Thomas), were not in persuasive words, etc., i.e., not after the manner in which the philosophers and rhetoricians were accustomed to address their hearers.

But in the shewing of the Spirit, etc., i.e., his preaching was directed by the Holy Ghost, who enlightened his mind to know and moved his will to say what was most useful and instructive; and who, at the same time, by his grace disposed the hearts of his hearers to receive his words with faith (Rom 1:16; 2 Cor 4:7).  Some authors understand the word powers to refer to the miracles that were worked in confirmation of the Apostle’s preaching.  

Human (Vulgate, humanae) is found only in MSS A C; it is omitted by all the best MSS., Old Latin, Peshitto, and some copies of the Vulgate 

1 Cor 2:5.  that your faith might not stand on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

St Paul had a special reason in avoiding a display of human wisdom and lofty language at Corinth, namely, that the faith of the Christians there might not be based on anything so vain and subject to error, but might have as its foundation the power of God, working through grace and miraculous gifts, which connot err or be led into error

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

1 Cor 1:26. For see your vocation, brethren, that there are not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble:

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

1 Cor 1:27 for the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the wise; and the weak things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the strong.

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

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

1 Cor 1:28. And the base things of the world, and the things that are contemptible, hath God chosen, and things that are not, that he might bring to nought things that are:

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

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

1 Cor 1:29. That no flesh should glory in his sight.

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

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

1 Cor 1:30. But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and justice, and sanctification, and redemption.

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

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

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

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

1 Cor 1:31.  That, as it is written: He that glorieth , may glory in the Lord.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 03, 2016

My Notes on John 2:1-12

One may wish to read my previous post on John 2:1-12 which looked at the context and structure of the passage.

Jn 2:1 On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.

On the third day is an allusion to the last day mentioned; the day on which Jesus met Philip and said to Nathanael: "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man" (see Jn 1:43-51).

Some scholars see a reference to 7 days in 1:19-2:1, and hold that John is hinting at a new week of creation, thus the Jerome Biblical Commentary: "Similarly, it is surely no accident that the first witness of the Baptist (Jn 1:19ff.) is climaxed seven days later in Jesus' own witness to Himself, in the first manifestation of his glory at Cana" (JBC., 63:31; see also 63:48).

Father Francis J. Moloney, in his Sacra Pagina Commentary on the Gospel of John sees something else in the time references.  Most notably, he see the third day reference of Jn 2:1 as an allusion to Exodus 19-24 where the ten commandments and Sinai legislation are given and God manifests his glory on the third day.

Parallels between these Exodus chapters and John 2:1-12 are the following:
The third day: Ex 19:10-11, 15...Jn 2:1.

"All the lord has said we will do" (Ex 19:8; 24:3, 7)..."Do whatever He tells you" (Jn 2:5).

The Lord reveals His glory (Ex 19:16-19; 24:17)..."Manifested His Glory" (Jn 2:11).  Note:  Ex 19: 16 speaks of a thick cloud (Greek: kabed anan) descending onto Sinai.  Kabed is virtually identical to kabod (glory) used in Ex 24:17.  The Greek doxa used in Jn 2:11 is equivalent.

The ten commandments and the Sinai legislation are God's words and they reveal God's will, focusing on man's relation with God and with his fellow man. The Word made flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ, reveals the same in His Person, teaching, and work (see especially Jn 13:33-14:31). 

A marriage at Cana in Galilee.  Even among the poorer classes wedding feasts would be quite elaborate, with many relatives and neighbors contributing to help the couple. 

The mother of Jesus was there.  This detail, mentioned at the very beginning of the episode, hints that she will have a roll to play in what is about to be narrated. 

Jn 2:2  Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples.

Some are of the opinion that the Greek may suggest that the invitation was hospitable rather than formal, i.e., they were not originally expected as having been formally invited, but the fact that they were in the region at the time necessitated their being invited, an act in accord with the hospitality of the time.  If true, this may account for the wine running out.

Notice that only Jesus, Mary and the disciples are said to be at the wedding as the episode opens, but when it closes Jesus' brothers will also be mentioned.  This may be important, and I'll attempt explaining it below. 

Marriage.  May be understood here as a symbol.  Israel had become like a bride to God, only to be corrupted by the ways of Canaan (Jer 2:2-7), but God had promised new nuptials: "The messianic symbolism of the miracle becomes evident when the reader recalls that messianic days are described in the Old Testament as days of God's new nuptials with Israel (Hos 2:16-25; Isa 54:4-8; 62:4-5; Matt 22:1-14; Jn 3:39; Rev 19:7-9)" (Peter F. Ellis, THE GENIUS OF JOHN).

Jn 2:3  When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine."

When the wine failed.  Actually, the Greek (ὑστερέω=hustereo)̄ describes the wine as "lacking", which need not necessarily imply its sudden absence but, rather, it's imperfection or lack of quality.  Note that the latter reference to the wine (vs 10) doesn't speak of absence either, but of better wine coming after inferior.

An abundance of wine symbolizes God's blessings, redemption, and the messianic age.  A lack of wine would symbolize the lack of these things (Deut 28:30, 31, 38, 39; Hos 2:10-11; Joel 1:5; Amos 5:11) .  The abundance of good wine heralds the dawn of the messianic age and its gifts and blessings (Joel 2:19, 24; 4:18; Amos 9:13-15; Jer 31:12-13).  I do not think that the wine ran out, rather I think our Lord replaced the inferior wine of the Old Covenant with the better wine of the New Covenant.  "The law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (Jn 1:17).

Jn 2:4 And Jesus said to her, "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come."

Several times in this Gospel Jesus responds to people with apparent harshness, but this is done to elicit faith (e.g., see the healing of the official's son in 4:46-54).  Our Lady, like many OT figures, just will not take no for an answer (see next verse).  What we have here is not arrogance, but rather a humble, confident faith (see Gen 18:16-32; Ex 33:12-34:9; 2 Kings 4:14-28).  I see the purpose of our Blessed Lord's question adequately explained by the very next verse:

Jn 2:5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." Here in a nutshell is what Mary has to do with Jesus.  Note the words of our Lady echo those spoken by the people on Sinai, as mentioned earlier.  The words, like the theme of marriage and wine are covenant motifs.

Jn 2:6-8. Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim.  8 He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast." So they took it.

Mary's command, along with what is narrated here forms what scholars call a command and compliance narrative.  Note that our Blessed Lord's actions (think grace here) are required for the fulfillment of our Lady's command. 

They filled them up to the brim.  Literally "up to the above", i.e., overflowing.  Their is an emphasis on the amount of wine, as later their will be an emphasis on its quality.  The new surpasses the old in every way.

Stone jars for the rites of purification.  The rites of purification is to be replaced by the shedding of Jesus blood, made available sacramentally at the Eucharist: "And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matt 26:27-28).

Jn 2:9 When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom 2:10 and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now."

Water now become wine.  Literally "made" or "born into" wine.  As noted in a previous post this provides a parallel with the discourse to Nicodemus.  On the basis of the structure of John's Gospel as proposed by Peter F. Ellis I believe that the Cana sign is meant to be seen in relation to the teaching of the Nicodemus discourse.  Jesus, who has the power to make/birth water into wine has the power to remake/rebirth us from above. 

The servants who had drawn the water knew.  They know because they fulfilled the command "Do whatever he tells you" (vs 5).  "He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?" Jesus answered him, "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him" (Jn 14:21-23).

Jn 2:11  This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him. 

The relationship between sign, glory, and belief in 2:11 are important, because the three are frequently associated in John's Gospel.  It is no accident, therefore, that the climax of the story combines the three concepts.  The sign-miracle testifies to the union of Jesus and the Father, and therefore to Jesus' glory, which will be revealed fully only in the 'hour' of his passion, death, and resurrection (cf. Jn 12:23; 13:1; 17:24).  Jesus glory is his total union with the Father.  The miracle manifests this union inasmuch as it testifies to Jesus' oneness with the Father in the working of the sign.  The belief of the disciples is related to their ability to see, inchoatively at least, that such a miracle involves the union of Jesus with the Father.  It testifies, therefore, to the truth of Jesus' claims.  The reference to the disciples recalls 2:2 and links the episode with 1:35-51 and especially with 1:51-the programmatic text for the remainder of the Gospel (Peter F. Ellis, THE GENIUS OF JOHN, pg. 43).

John 1:51 concerns Jesus' promise to Nathaniel: "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."  Our Lord is alluding to Jacob's dream in Gen 28:11-13.  Because of his revelatory dream Jacob called the place "the house of God" and "the gate of heaven."  Our Lord is now the locus of revelation.

Jn 2:12  After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples; and there they stayed for a few days.

As noted previously, the brothers were not mentioned as having been at the wedding, just our Lord with his mother and disciples.  Some very good manuscripts read here: "After this he went down to Capernuam, with his mother and his brothers; and they stayed there for a few days." The perceptive reader will have noticed that in these manuscripts the disciples are not mentioned in vs 12.  I believe this is the correct reading, but it introduces a question: If the disciples were mentioned in vs 2 but not in vs 12; and if the brothers are mentioned in vs 12 but not vs 2; then where did the disciple go, and where did the brothers come from?

I would suggest that the disciples mentioned in vs 2 have become the brothers of vs 12 as a result of their belief.  This fits well with the only other episode where Mary appears in the Gospel, at the crucifixion, the hour of Jesus glory, when she becomes the mother of the Beloved Disciple who witnessed the hour of Jesus.  "When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold, your son!'  Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold, your mother!' And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home...But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.  He who saw it has borne witness -- his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth -- that you also may believe" (Jn 19:26-27, 34-35).

Friday, November 11, 2016

Father Callan's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:17b-25


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

Having just written: For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel, St Paul continues:

1 Cor 1:17b. not in wisdom of speech, lest the cross of Christ should be made void.

The Wisdom of speech, etc.  There is no article in Greek.  The meaning is that it was not the will of Christ that St Paul, in preaching the Gospel, should have recourse to such human wisdom and such elegance of expression as the Greeks admired and cultivated.  This would have deprived the Gospel of the real source of its power, namely, the death of Christ on the cross, and would have made its success depend, or at least appear to depend, on human means.

Later preachers of the Gospel are not forbidden to  make use of the arguments of philosophy or of the powers of rhetoric in their sermons, first because the eficacy and preaching of the cross have been thoroughly established now; and secondly because, not having the inspiration and the marvelous powers of St Paul, they need those human aids.

1 Cor 1:18. For the word of the cross, to them indeed that perish, is foolishness; but to them that are saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God.

The word of the cross, i.e., the preaching of a crucified God, to them that perish, i.e., to those, whether Jew or Gentile, who by their infidelity are on the way to perdition, is foolishness; because to such worldly minds it was absurd to think of God becoming man and then dying the death of a malefactor in order to save the world.

But to them that are saved, i.e., to those who, through faith, are working out their salvation, the cross of Christ is the power of God, i.e., the source of the efficacy of the Gospel which, unlike Greek philosophy and rhetoric, is able to transform and perfect the life of all who sincerely believe it and put into practice it teachings.  The term for power here is δύναμις (dunamis), which means internal capability as opposed to ενεργεια, the exercise of power.

The cross, then, has the power to save men from sin, if they will make use of its teaching.  Saving power is also attributed by St Paul to the Gospel (Rom 1:16; 1 Thess 1:5), to God (2 Cor 4:7; 13:4), to the Holy Spirit (Eph 3:16, 20), to the Resurrection (Phil 3:10), and to Christ (Col 1:28-29).

1 Cor 1:19. For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the prudence of the prudent I will reject

That the preaching of the Gospel ought not to be according to human wisdom the Apostle now proves by appealing to the Prophet Isaiah (29:14) through whom God announced that He would confound the wisdom of those who confided in human rather than in divine help.  Literally the Prophet’s words, here cited almost exactly according to the Septuagint, refer to those Jews who, when God had promised to deliver them from the terrors of the Assyrian King Sennacherib (705-681 BC), relied on their own prudence and trusted in the help they hoped to recieve from Egypt, rather than in the divine promise.  It was not, says the Prophet, by such worldly wisdom that God would save His people from the coming invasion.  Now, what literally referred to these Jews had reference spiritually to the worldly-wise at the time of the preaching of the Gospel; these, like the jews of old, were not to be saved by means of human wisdom, but by the preaching of what seemed foolish to merely carnal and earthly minds.

The clause, I will reject, is put by St Paul in the place of “I will hide,” of the LXX.

1 Cor 1:20 Where is the wise?  Where is the scribe?  Where is the disputer of this world?  Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

Whether the Apostle is quoting here from Isaiah 33:18, or speaking his own words, is not quite clear.  Perhaps he is not quoting, but only referring to facts commonly known.  As the Jews triumphed over the Assyrians, so the preaching of the cross has won the victory over human learning.  For among the preachers of the Gospel where, asks the Apostle, is the wise? i.e., the doctor of the Jewish Law?  Where is the disputer? etc., i.e., the philosopher and the sophist, who dispute every question that arises?

The words, of this world, better “of the world” (with manuscripts B A C D), mean the sinful, faithless world, and are more probably to be connected with each of the preceding substantives,-”wise,” “scribe” and “disputer.”

Since God has not chosen the wise and the learned of this world to propagate His Gospel among the nations, is it not evident that he has made foolish the wisdom of this world?
In the Vulgate, huius mundi should be simply mundi.

1 Cor 1:21. For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world, by wisdom, knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of our preaching, to save them that believe.

There was a very good reason why God did not choose the wise of this world for the propagation of His Gospel, namely, because they could not grasp so great a mystery.  The wordly-wise and the carnal-minded failed to recognize God when He revealed Himself, both in the works of nature and in the revelation of the Old Testament; hence God chose to save, through the preaching of Christ crucified, those that believe.

Wisdom of God more probably means that divine wisdom that was manifested in the book of nature for the pagans, and also in the Old Testament Scriptures for the Jews.

The world, i.e., by the use of only natural learning, embracing the philosophical systems of the pagans as well as the doctrines of the unbelieving Jews (Cornely).

Knew not God, i.e., had not that correct knowledge of the one true God which was necessary and able to lead them to salvation.

In view of this failure on the part of the pagan philosophers and the carnal Jews to arrive at anything like an adequate notion of the Deity it pleased God, i.e., God in His wisdom, justice and mercy thought it well (Tertullian), or decreed (Hilary) to open a new way to divine knowledge and salvation, namely, the preaching of a crucified Savior, which would save all who would accept it with faith.

1 Cor 1:22. For both the Jews require signs, and the Greeks seek after wisdom.

This verse continues to explain how the preaching of the cross, or of Christ crucified, was a stumbling block to the jews and foolishness to the pagans.  The former were expecting signs, i.e., miracles of their own choosing to be performed by the Messiah; that is, they expected Him to be a glorious and powerful King who would subjugate the temporal rulers of the world and place the Jews in triumph over their enemies; while the Greeks always required something that whold appeal to their reason and human intelligence.  To the latter “it seemed opposed to human wisdom that God should die, and that a just and wise man should willingly give himself over to a most shameful death” (St Thomas).

1 Cor 1:23. But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumbling block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness:
1 Cor 1:24. for unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

But we, etc.  Contrary to the expectations of both Jews and Gentiles the Gospel is the preaching of a crucified Messiah.  It was, therefore, a stumbling block, i.e., a scandal, an offence, to the Jews, giving them a pretext to reject the Christ; and to the Gentiles, foolishness, because it seemed to them the height of folly that God should die and that human salvation should be obtained through the death of a man on an infamous gibbet.

But the reason why the Gospel is an offence to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles is because both these classes of infidels do not receive it with faith (vs 21).  For unto them that are called (δύναμις κλητοις), i.e., to those that hear and obey the call, whether Jews or pagans, the Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified is the power of God, i.e., the divine force that has manifested itself, not only in the whole series of miracles performed by Christ and narrated in the preaching of the Apostles, but which, through the Apostolic preaching, was constantly operating, making all things new.  It was furthermore the wisdon of God, because it unfolded a plan of salvation which God alone could have formulated and executed (Cornely).

 1 Cor 1:25. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

The reason why the results of a thing apparently weak and foolish are so extraordinary is because they are the effects of divine wisdom and divine operation; for the foolishness of God, i.e., that which to merely human minds appears to be foolish, is wiser than all the wisdom of men; and likewise, that which men call the weakness of God is stronger than all the strength of men.  This, indeed, has been verified in the preaching of the cross, which has effected what all the wisdom and power of earth could not effect, namely, the destruction of sin and the renovation of the world.

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

The First Part Of The Body Of The Letter
A Summary of 1 Corinthians 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 5:1-6:20).

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 schism 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 is 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.

First Argument Against The Divisions Among The Corinthians: Factions Are Detrimental To The Unity Of The Church A Summary of 1 Corinthians 1:13-17a

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

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).