Sunday, February 12, 2017

RSM Notes on John 18:1-14

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber;  ‎but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep... The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.  ‎I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  ‎He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.  ‎He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep.  ‎I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me,  ‎as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
Jn 10:1-2, 10-15

When he had said this. The NABRE and the NIV give the impression that the Evangelist is merely drawing a connection to the "High Priestly Prayer" of chapter 17, but this is incorrect. The Greek phrase used here, tauta eipon, and its synonymous equivalent, tauta lelaleka, are plural and are correctly translated as "these things."  Repeated and emphatic use of these phrases in chapters 13-17 indicate that what follows in chapters 18-21 should be read in close connection to the themes Jesus has been talking about, and the people he has been talking too, in those earlier chapters.

Jesus went out (exelthon) with his disciples to the further side of the winter flowing Kidron, where there was an enclosed garden, into which he entered (eiselthon), himself and his disciples (My translation). Notice how the sentence begins and ends with a reference to Jesus' movements and associates them with his disciples. The language is purposely intended to recall the teaching concerning the Good Shepherd and his sheepfold (Jn 10:1-18). "if any one enters (eiselthen) by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out (eiselusetai ksi exeleustai) and find pasture."  The fact that it is an enclosed garden into which Jesus and his disciple enter recalls the image of the door (or gate) and the sheepfold (see Jn 10:1-3, 8-9). 

Judas, "one of the twelve" into whom Satan entered, leading him to betray Jesus (Jn 6:70-71; 13:2, 27) now reappears. Recall that the last time he appeared in the narrative was when Jesus was "with his own who were in the world," and whom "he loved unto the end" (Jn 13:1). We were told that he "went out" (exelthon), leaving the company of Jesus "and it was night" (Jn 13:30). Having left Jesus, "the Light of the world" (Jn 8:12) we now see that Judas came (erchetai) with a cadre of people bearing lanterns and torches (phanon kai lampodon). Judas now walks in the night and the darkness (see Jn 8:12, 9:5; 12:46) as a spiritually blind man, like the chief priest and pharisees whose minions (guards) he now leads shepherd-like (Jn 9:35-40). 

Indeed, Judas is here being portrayed as a false shepherd. Having already been identified as "a thief" (kleptes, Jn 12:6; cf. Jn 10:1) he now comes as "the thief" (kleptes) who "comes (erchetai) only to steal (klepse) and kill and destroy" (Jn 10:10); thus those he comes with are bearing weapons. Only the Good Shepherd and his sheep can enter into and go out of the sheepfold, and so we see that Judas and his flock do not enter into the enclosed garden (image of the sheepfold). Rather, Jesus went out (exelthon) and said to them, "whom do you seek (zeteo)?" The question is ominous, for it recalls the fact that those who were not Jesus' sheep sought to kill him (Jn 10:26-39).  It also recalls other instances when people were "seeking" to kill Jesus (e.g., Jn 5:16, 18; 7:1, 25; 8:37, 40; 11:8). It also recalls the first words of Jesus recorded in this gospel which he put to the first men desiring to follow him as disciples: "What do you seek?" (zeteo, Jn 1:37-38). At one and the same time the failure of Judas' discipleship is being highlighted, but also the futility of being a disciple of a false shepherd.

The failure of discipleship theme continues as Jesus identifies Himself to the soldiers and guards with the Divine Name: I Am. In response to this we read: Now Judas His betrayer was standing with them. When He said to them, "I Am,' they went away back [apelthon eis ta opiso] and fell to the ground (my translation). Readers of John's Gospel are reminded of the first time they learned of Judas' defection, at the end of the Eucharistic Discourse when many of the disciples "went away back [apelthon ies ta opiso] and no more walked with Him" (my trans., see Jn 6:66-71). Here one should also recall that within the New Testament tradition the multiplication of loaves was not without its shepherd/sheep theme (Mk 6:34; Lk 9:11; see Ezek 34:11-16).

Having used the Divine Name to identify Himself, our Lord then says: So if you are looking for Me, let these men go. St John explains the reason for this: "This was to fulfill the word He had spoken: 'Of all those Thou gavest Me, I lost not one.'" The reference here is to Jn 17:12, but given the broader context it must also be seen in light of the Good Shepherd teaching. The thief and those with him have come armed with weapons to steal, kill and destroy (Jn 10:10) but Jesus offers Himself on behalf of the sheep to keep them from His fate.

It is at this point that St Peter acts more like a thief than a good shepherd. Having pronounced his willingness to "lay down my life" for Jesus (Jn 13:37, as if our Lord needed a good shepherd to protect Him!), Peter now acts like a thief, drawing his sword and striking with it. In response Jesus tells him to put the sword away; He must drink the cup the Father has given Him, for that is His sustenance (Jn 4:34).

Today's account ends with Jesus being led to Caiaphas who had previously stated that it was better for one man to die rather than that the nation should perish (Jn 11:49-50; 18:14); words reminiscent of the theme of the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep (Jn 10:11, 17-18).

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Father Callan's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:7-13

Notes in red represent my additions.


A Summary of 1 Corinthians 4:7-13. When recommending humility to all the Corinthians in the preceding verse, the Apostle doubtless had chiefly in mind the leaders of the factions at Corinth. Now he directly attacks them with bitter irony, placing before them the life of real Apostles (Estius, Comely, etc.). St. Thomas, however, and the Fathers generally believe that the present section continues the thought of verse 6, and that the Apostle consequently is here, as there, addressing the faithful rather than their leaders. We see no reason why both in general cannot be meant.

1 Cor 4:7. For who distinguisheth thee? Or what hast thou that thou hast not received? And if thou hast received, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

How foolish it was for the Corinthians to glory in those human leaders, in whom there was nothing whereof to glory; or to glory in themselves as if they were better than their neighbors! If they have anything that distinguisheth them, whether in the natural, or in the supernatural order, this is not due to them, but to God from whom they have received all they possess. Therefore they have nothing in themselves whereof to glory.

St. Thomas and most of the Fathers have understood this verse to refer to supernatural, as well as natural gifts; and St. Augustine constantly urged it against the Pelagians and Semipelagians to prove that man cannot accomplish, or even begin, a salutary work without the grace of God (MacR.). Using this verse the Second Council of Orange declared: If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock, but does not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought; or if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). [I've here quoted the text in full, Fr. Callan quoted just the pertinent part in Latin].

1 Cor 4:8. You are now full; you are now become rich; you reign without us; and I would to God you did reign, that we also might reign with you.

In their own estimation the Corinthian faithful and leaders of factions are completely sufficient unto themselves. They are full, i.e., they want nothing; they are rich, i.e., they possess all wealth ; they reign, i.e., already arrived at the state of the blessed they reign with Christ triumphantly even in this life,—all this without us, i.e., without the true Apostles, Paul and his companions, who converted them to Christianity and put them on the way to happiness.

I would to God, etc. Dropping the irony of his remarks, St. Paul says I wish you actually did reign, so that we Apostles, the founders of your Church, might also share in your felicity, being freed from our distresses, trials, labors, and the like.

1 Cor 4:9. For I think that God hath set forth us apostles, the last, as it were men appointed to death: we are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men.

I think that. "That" (Vulg., quod) is omitted by all the best MSS. How different from the apparently glorious condition of the Corinthians is the state of the true Apostles! Far from already reigning in Christ's kingdom, the Apostles are like men reserved for the beasts in the grand finale of the games; they are the most abject and the last of men.

God hath set forth, etc. God has made public display of us Apostles.

Appointed to death, i.e., doomed to die as gladiators or slaves in the public arena; "they were appointed to fight with beasts" (Tertull.).

A spectacle to the world, etc. Like men exposed to wild beasts in the theatre, the Apostles became a spectacle to good angels and good men who admired their fortitude, mildness and humility in the midst of sufferings and persecutions, and to bad angels and evil men who rejoiced at their trials and sorrows.

1 Cor 4:10. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are honourable, but we without honour.

Continuing ironically to take the Corinthians at their own measure the Apostle further contrasts their fancied state with the condition of the Apostles.

We are fools, etc., i.e., the Apostles who preached Christ crucified in simple language were regarded as fools by the worldly Corinthians who gloried in eloquence and human wisdom.

We are weak, etc., i.e., the Apostles were regarded as weak, because destitute of human resources ; they were without honour, i.e., derided and despised, because wanting in worldly science and eloquence: whereas the Corinthians gloried in their human aids and natural attainments.

1 Cor 4:11. Even unto this hour we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no fixed abode;

The abject and destitute condition of the Apostles was not something of the past that no longer endured; it continued even unto this hour when the Apostle was writing, and throughout his life. At all times Christ's true Apostles were in want of the things that were necessary for human life, such as food, drink and clothing; and moreover, they were unceasingly pursued by persecutions from one place to another.

1 Cor 4:12. And we labour, working with our own hands; we are reviled, and we bless; we are persecuted, and we suffer it.

In order not to be dependent on those for whom he labored preaching the Gospel, St. Paul worked at his trade of tent making to earn his daily bread (Acts 18:3; 20:34; 2 Cor 11:7; 1 Thess 2:9; 2 Thess 3:8). For reviling and persecutions on the part of his enemies he returned blessing, sweetness and resignation.

1 Cor 4:13. We are blasphemed, and we entreat; we are made as the refuse of this world, the offscouring of all even until now.

The refuse . . . offscouring, etc. The Apostles were treated as outcasts, as scapegoats (περίψωμα) , as unfit to live in human society. Some think the above words refer to the custom at Athens of reserving certain worthless persons to be cast into the sea as a kind of scapegoat sacrifice against plagues, famines, or other public calamities.

Note: the words περικάθαρμα, refuse, filth, and περίψωμα, offscouring, scum, were sometimes used to denote sacrificial scapegoats. Because St Paul speaks in this verse of being made refuse and offscouring of this world some see a connection with verse 9: "For I think that God hath set forth us apostles, the last, as it were men appointed to death: we are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men." St Paul is expressing a willingness to be a victim on behalf of others, as in 1 Cor 15:31; 2 Cor 4:10-11; Gal 6:17; Phil 2:17.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Some Scripture Passages on the Use and Abuse of Holy Scripture


2 Ti 3:16–17; Is 34:16; 2 Chron 17:9; 2 Kings 23:2; Lk 16:29; Jn 8:47; Lk 11:28; Ro 2:13; 2 Pet 2:21–22; Jm 1:22–24. Hab 2:2; Dt 6:6–9; Dt 30:11–14; Dt 17:18–19; Ezek 3:1–5; Dt 31:11–13, 19, 21; Jm 1:7–8; Prov 6:21–23; Dt 31:30; Dt 32:46–47; Jos 3:9; 1 Chron 16:15; Jb 22:22; Jer 36:6; 1 Tim 5:27; Rev 1:3; 2:29; Mt 13:3; Mk 4:3; Lk 8:5; Rev10:8–10. Ezek 2:8–9; Rev 10:9.

Versions of the Bible in the vernacular tongue, which are approved of by the Apostolic See, or published with note drawn from the Holy Fathers of the Church, or from learned Catholic men, are permitted.—Decree of Benedict XIV., 1757.

“At a time when a vast number of bad books, which grossly attack the Catholic rel gion, are circulated even among the unlearned, to the great destruction of souls, you judge exceedingly well that the faithful should be excited to the reading of the Holy Scriptures; for these are the most abundant sources which ought to be left open to every one to draw from them purity of morals and of doctrine, and to eradicate the errors which are so widely spread in these corrupt times. This you have seasonably effected by publishing the Sacred Writings in the language of your country suitably to every one’s capacity.”—Brief from Pius VI. to Martine, Archbishop of Florence.

“If the Bible be Catholic, and contain explanatory notes, everything has been done which the Church prescribes, and every person, as far as the Church is concerned, is at liberty to read modern and vernacular translations.”—Father Waterworth.


2 Pet 3:16; Is 7:9; Jn 7:17; Lk 8:10. Ps 119:66, 104; Dan 12:10; 2 Cor 4:3–4; Josh 1:8; Sir 32:19; Sir 5:13; 2 Cor 3:6; Jn 5:39; Dt 4:1; Prov 4:20–22; Dt 5:1; Dt 6:1–3; Jb 23:12; Ps 119:47–49; Lk 5:31–33.

  Examples of the Lovers of the Word of God:
            (1)      Our Blessed Lord. Jn 4:34
            (2)      Jeremias. Jer 15:16
            (3)      Esdras. Ezra 7:10
            (4)      Gamarias, Elnathan, and Balaias. Jer 36:25
            (5)      Timothy. 2 Ti 3:15
            (6)      Eunuch. Ac 8:28
            (7)      Cornelius. Ac 10:33
            (8)      Apollo, mighty in the scriptures. Ac 18:24
            (9)      The children of Israel. Neh 8:1
            (10)      Ephesians. Ac 19:20
            (11)      Antiochians. Ac 13:42
            (12)      Athenians. Ac 17:34
            (13)      Bereans. Ac 17:4
            (14)      Philippians. Phil 1:5
            (15)      Jews. Mk 12:37


2 Pt 1:19; 10:4–5; Jn 20:31; Je 15:16; Jn 2:1; Ps 119:11, 105, 162; Ps 119:130; Prov 24:13–14. Ps 119:103; Ro 15:4; 1 Macc 12:9; Dt 4:6; 2 Ti 3:15–16; Ps 11; Mt 7:24–25; 1 Jn 1:4; 1 Jn 5:13; Rev 22:6; Jn 8:31–32; Dt 32:1–2; Prov 1:2–4; Ps 19:8–9, 11–12; Jude 3; Ac 20:32; Prov 6:23; Prov 22:17–21; Rev 15:30–31; 2 Pt 3:1–2.

  Names and Emblems of Holy Scripture.
            1.      The Book or Bible. Βιβλος. He 10:7
            2.      The Holy Books. 1 Macc 12:9
            3.      The Book of Life. Rev 20:12
            4.      The Book of the Lord. Ga 3:10
            5.      The Book written and without. Rev 5:1
            6.      The Sacerdotal Book. 1 Ti 4:13
            7.      The Holy Scriptures. Ro 1:2
            8.      Scriptures. Mt 22:29
            9.      The Scriptures of the Prophets. Mt 26:56
            10.      Scripture. Ro 4:3
            11.      Writings. Jn 5:47
            12.      The Flying Volume. Zech 5:1
            13.      The Word of God. Eph 6:17
            14.      The Words of Truth. 2 Ti 2:15
            15.      The Words of God. Ro 3:2
            16.      The words of Life. Ac 7:38
            17.      The Prophetical Word. 1 Pt 1:19
            18.      The Law. Ro 13:8
            19.      The Law of Moses and the Prophets. Ac 28:23
            20.      The Law and the Prophets. Mt 22:40
            21.      The prophets and the Law. Mt 11:13
            22.      The Testimony. 2 Kings 11:12
            23.      The Testimony of Lord. Ps 19:8
            24.      The Old Testament. 2 Cor 3:14
            25.      The New Testament. He 12:24
            26.      The will of God. Mt 7:21
            27.      The Lantern shining in the dark place. 2 Pt 1:19
            28.      The Finger of God. Ex 8:19
            29.      The Rule of Life. Ep 6:16
            30.      The Oracle. Ex 25:20
            31.      The Light of Wisdom. Wis 6:23
            32.      The Bread of God. Prov 9:5
            33.      The Hidden Manna. Rev 2:17
            34.      The Two Pounds of Wheat. Rev 6:6
            35.      The Honeycomb. Cant 4:11
            36.      The Golden Pot. He 9:4
            37.      The Table of the Soul. Prov 9:2
            38.      The Divine Armory. Song 4:4
            39.      Holy Waters of the Sanctuary. Ezek 47:12
            40.      The Fountain of Life. Ps 36:10
            41.      The Fountain sending forth sweet waters. Jm 3:11
            42.      The Fountains of the Great Deep. Ge 7:11
            43.      Rivers of Living Waters. Jn 7:38
            44.      Jacob’s Well. Jn 4:6
            45.      The Well of Living Waters. Ca 4:15
            46.      The Fountain of Gardens. Ca 4:15
            47.      The Cistern. Prov 5:15
            48.      A Paradise of Pleasure. Ge 2:8
            49.      A Land of Brooks and Fountains. Dt 8:7
            50.      A Land of Wheat and Vineyards. Dt 8:8
            51.      The Tree of Life. Ezek 47:12
            52.      The Sword of the Spirit. Ep 6:17
            53.      The Golden Sword. 2 Macc 15:16
            54.      The Golden Chain. Song 1:10
            55.      The Treasure. Prov 21:20
            56.      An Infinite Treasure to Men. Wis 7:14
            57.      Inexhaustible Riches. Wis 8:18
            58.      Unspotted Mirror. Wis 7:28
            59.      A Comfort in cares and grief. Wis 8:9
            60.      A Company without tediousness. Wis 8:16
            61.      The Ark of the Testament. 2 Sam 6:2
            62.      The Sea of Glass. Rev 4:6
            63.      Shield against Temptation. Ep 6:16
            64.      Hollow Places of the Wall. Song 2:14
            65.      Mercury (God’s Messenger). Pv 26:8
            66.      A Measuring Reed. Ezek 40:3
            67.      A Hammer breaking the Rocks in pieces. Je 23:29
            68.      Samgar’s Plough-share. Jg 3:31


2 Cor 4:4; Hos 8:12; Ps 119:115; Je 20:8; 2 Pt 1:20–21; Dt 12:32; Dt 4:2; Je 8:8–9; Prov 30:6; Je 36:11–13; Je 36:16; Je 36:20; Je 36:23, 25; Is 28:13; 2 Pt 3:15–16; Je 23:33–40; Je 36:29–31; Rev 22:18–19; Mk 12:24; Mt 7:26–27; Is 5:24–25; Is 30:9–11; 2 Ti 4:3–4; Je 6:10.

  Examples of Unbelievers in God’s Word:

            (1)      Joakim. Je 36:23
            (2)      Amasias. Am 7:12
            (3)      Jews Ac 13:45
            (4)      Alexander 2 Ti 4:15
            (5)      Some of our Lord’s Disciples. Jn 6:67

  Books rejected by the so-called reformers:
            1.      Tobias chaps. 14 vers. 297
            2.      Judith chaps. 16 vers. 347
            3.      Wisdom chaps. 49 vers. 439
            4.      Ecclesiasticus chaps. 51 vers. 1552
            5.      Baruch chaps. 6 vers. 213
            6.      I. Machabees chaps. 16 vers. 929
            7.      II. Machabees chaps. 15 vers. 558

  Books mutilated by them:
            1.      Daniel, i.e.
                 A.      The Prayer of Azarias.
                 B.      The Canticle of the Three Children.
                 C.      The History of Susanna.
                 D.      The History of Bel and the Dragon.
            2.      Esther. The last seven chapters. From chapter 10 (verse 4) to chapter 16 (to verse 24).


Ps 119:18; Ps 119:19, Ps 119:125; Ps 119:144; Ps 119:34; Ps 119:133; Ps 119:73; Ps 119:135; Ps 119:17.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Some Scriputre texts on Humility, Lowliness and Pride

The following was excerpted from The Divine Armory of Holy Scripture by Father Vaughn.  [Vaughan, Kenelm. The Divine Armory of Holy Scripture. The American Edition Revised. Public Domain: Catholic Book Exchange, 1894.]


Ps 22:7; 2 Sam 6:22; Gen 18:27; Mt 3:11; Mt 8:8; Mt 21:5; Rev 4:10; Lk 15:18, 19; 1 Cor 15:8–10; 2 Cor 11:1; 1 Cor 4:10; 1 Cor 4:13; Eph 3:8; Mt 5:3; 2 Sam 6:22; Ps 18:22; Jb 22:29; Prov 9:4; Ps 115:6; Ps 102:18; Prov 11:2; Sir 7:4; Sir 3:20, 21; Mk 10:15; Lk 9:48; Lk 22:26, 27; Lk 10:21.


Jud 9:16; Is 57:15; Mt 5:3; Mt 18:3; Ps 33:19; Is 66:2; Ps 112:5; Ps 137:6; 1 Pt 5:5; Jm 4:6.


1 Pt 5:6; Prov 15:33; Prov 29:23; Job 22:29; 1 Sam  2:8; Sir 10:17; Sir 11:1; Lk 1:48; Mt 18:4; Lk 1:52; Ps 69:33.


Prov 11:2; Ps 119:130; Mt 11:25, 26; Prov 22:4; Mt 3:14, 15.


1 Cor 3:18, 19; Phil 2:3; Jm 1:9; Jm 4:10; Jm 4:7, 8; 1 Pet 5:5; Mt 11:29; Rom 12:16; Phil 2:5, 6; Sir 7:19; Sir 13:9; Sir 3:20, 21; Lk 14:10; Rom 11:20; Col 3:12; Jer 13:18.


Gen 32:10; Ex 3:11; Ex 4:10; 1 Sam 18:18, 23; 1 Sam 24:9, 15; 1 Sam 26:18; 2 Sam 6:10; 2 Sam 7:18, 19; Jn 5:13; Jn 5:41; 2 Cor 10:1; Mt 15:26–27; Ps 116:16.

Examples of Humility.

(1) Christ our Lord. Phil 2:7
(2) The mother of God. Lk 1:48
(3) St. Peter. Lk 5:8
(4) St. Paul. Rom 16:7
(5) St. Cornelius. Acts 10:33
(6) St. Elizabeth. Lk 1:43
(7) St. Moses. Ex 18:24
(8) St. Gideon. Jud 6:15
(9) St. David. 1 Sam 18:18
(10) St. Jeremiah. Jer 1:6
(11) Ruth. Ru 2:10
(12) Saul. 1 Sam 9:21
(13) Elihu. Jb 32:6


Sir 10:7; Sir 25:3–4; Is 16:6; Jb 4:14; Prov 3:7; Rom 12:16; Prov 8:13.


Rom 11:19–21; Rom 12:3; 1 Cor 4:7; Gal 6:3–4; Jer 9:23–24; Sir 11:2–3; Sir 11:4–6; Is 10:15; Sir 10:9, 13.


Am 6:1; Is 28:1–4; Prov 16:5; Sir 3:30; Sir 6:2–3; Is 5:21; Am 6:8–9; Ezek 28:5–8.


Is 47:10; Rom 1:21–22; Ezek 28:17; Jn 9:39; Prov 26:12; Jn 5:44; Jn 12:42. Sir 10:14–15; Prov 11:2; Prov 13:10; Prov 21:4; 1 Tim 6:4.


Is 2:11–12; Is 3:16–17; Is 3:25–26; Is 10:33–34; Is 23:9; Is 26:5; Ezek 31:10–11; Job 40:6–8. Job 24:24; Sir 10:21; Lk 1:52; Obad 4, 5, 5; Prov 21:24; Mt 23:12; Jer 50:32.


Is 10:12–13, 16; Is 13:19; Jer 11:15–16; Prov 15:25; Hos 9:11–12, 14. Is 47:8–9; Jm 4:6.


Gen 3:5; Ex 5:2; 2 Macc 5:21; Ge 11:3–4; 2 Sam 17:23; 2 Chron 32:25–26; Acts 12:21–23.

Examples of Pride:
(1) Herod. Acts 12:21
(2) Pharisees. Lk 18:11
(3) Jews. Mt 13:55
(4) Eve. Gen 3:5
(5) Builders of Babel. Gen 11:4
(6) Hagar. Gen 16:4
(7) Pharaoh. Ex 5:2
(8) Miriam and Aaron. Num 12:2
(9) Korah, and Dathan, Abiram. Num 16:3
(10) Abimelech. Jud 9:1
(11) Goliath. 1 Sam 17:42
(12) Absalom. 2 Sam 15:4
(13) Achitophel. 2 Sam 17:4
(14) Adonijah. 1 Kings 1:5
(15) Ben-Hadad. 1 Kings 20:3
(16) Naaman. 2 Kings 5:11
(17) Amaziah. 2 Kings 14:8
(18) Sennacherib. 2 Kings 18:19
(19) Hezekiah. 2 Kings  20:3
(20) Uziah. 2 Chron 26:16
(21) Haman. Est 3:5
(22) Azariah and Johanan. Jer 43:2
(23) Nebuchadnezzar . Dan 4:30
(24) Belshazzar. Dan 5:23


Ps 36:12–13; Sir 23:5; 1 Chron 29:11, 14; 2 Sam 7:18; Mt 11:30.

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